Sunday, 15 June 2014

Under The Milky Way Tonight

On our recent trip to Hawaii my husband and I went stargazing. The night sky in Hawaii is clear and crisp and free of urban light pollution making it the most wonderful place to take in the vista of the Milky Way. We trekked deep into Volcano National Park to capture Pele's glow in Halema'uma'u crater late at night. It was very, very cold from the high elevation; I was very unprepared in a light cotton long-sleeved shirt and thought I might freeze to death. I have to say my teeth also chattered a little from fear seeing the eerie glow of the volcano and smelling the sulfurous gases belching out.
Halema'uma'u by night under the Milky Way
Everything you've heard about Hawaii is probably true. However it's the things you haven't heard about Hawaii that make it my favourite place in the world. Well, my favourite after my own home and San Diego. If we could afford to up stumps and go anywhere to live for the rest of our lives, we'd be on a plane to Honolulu before the day was out, then we'd make our way to the Puna District on the Big Island and fall quietly off the grid.
Danny, Simon and I in the Kalapana Lava Fields
Hawaii never fails to remind me that I'm not really in control of anything. The inhabitants live in the shadow of several active volcanoes, which, at any time, could erupt and wipe them literally from the face of the earth, and more than once have done just that. For part of this trip we stayed in the Kalapana region only a few miles from where active lava destroyed 182 homes in 1990, then flowed again in 2010 over the same area causing further destruction. Some residents returned to live on their land yet again, perched off the grid in their homes powered by solar and connected by satellites.
Houses dotted on the lava
Lava is unstoppable, cannot be redirected, and destroys everything in its path. The only good thing is it is usually slow-moving enough for you to see it coming, pack your stuff and get out. Hawaiians believe that the fire goddess Pele resides in Halema'um'au crater at the summit of Kilauea, and that she is the creator of all new land. Having seen the results of her eruptions, I believe she lives there too.
Halema'uma'u Crater in the Kilauea caldera




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