Hawai'i - Bring on the lava!

For a true island experience we didn't stay in just any hotel but at the Wild Orchid Inn, a former home of plantation workers. Which means that open windows with mosquito nets are the natural air-condition (as we are used to from Willow's home in Honolulu). Which then means that you get the full "concert" of high pitched frog songs all night long... Thank goodness for earplugs!

Since we went to bed so early the night before, we got up easily at 6 AM and slowly started our day. 

View from the lobby - contrary to the day before it wasn't sunny and it had also been raining during the night.
You can hardly get more local than purple bread!
A little visitor to our table

After breakfast we called a taxi to drive us to the car rental - we'd had enough walking the day before!

Many of the local small businesses have visitors centers. On our way to the volcanoes we stopped by this one:
There were a lot of different kinds of orchids on display, some of which I had never seen before.
These are the speciality of the house. Not only do they look gorgeous, they even smell nice, which most orchids don't do.

The crown of the collection: a flower worth 20'000 dollars!
Oli sniffing some orchids
The growing of orchids, from right to left - it actually takes some years to grow them.
Air roots
Our main goal of the day: Volcanoes National Park. In the rain...
A young ranger took us on a short hike over an old road. It had been closed to traffic after parts of it fell into the crater during an earthquake.
We learned a lot about the local plant and animal life from the ranger.
This is where we would have a great view over the crater if it wasn't for the clouds...
We had lunch in the Volcano House before driving down to the ocean on the Chain of Craters Road. The landscape often changed within the blink of an eye from lush rainforest to lava field and different stages between the two.

A lava field from 1973 
Looking down to the coast
Smiling in the rain
Finally out of the rain!
In the background you can see a black newer lava flow.
The lehua tree is often the first plant to grow on the lava.

Rainbow lava!

The lava is quite fascinating, it looks as if somebody had just stopped a film and it could start moving again any moment.
Further down on an older field we went for a little hike.
This is where ancient Hawaiians left their petroglyphs. We learn cool new words when we travel!
There's a picture of a bicycle on the right, I swear!
This is what we walked over for 20 minutes to the petroglyphs and then again back.
Warning for the nene, the local goose: Don't run over the street!
Down by the cliffs where the waves beat against the lava rocks.

And right there the rain caught up with us. We only made a very short stop on the way back up to look at this crater.
Next stop: a lava tube - we thought it would at least be dry inside there. But first we had to walk down to the entrance through the "rain" forest.
And then it wasn't even dry, because water was dripping down from the ceiling. But it was impressive to think that lava was once quickly flowing through this big tunnel.
Roots of the lehua tree
It was the end of the afternoon, the big  crater was still hidden in the clouds and we shortly debated if we should drive home or go over to the Jaggar museum just to check it out. And were we glad that we did! Over there the clouds had lifted and it didn't rain. Instead we saw this:
Pictures don't do this justice, it's so awesome! Sometimes we could even see lava shooting up.
The Jaggar museum is a small center whith a lot of information on volcanoes and seismic activity. 
After we had looked at it we came back out to see the spectacle of glowing orange fumes in the night.
It was a worthy end of this visit and a good moment to drive back to Hilo and get some rest.