Mary Branscombe (marypcb) wrote,
Mary Branscombe

Purple sand in purple shoes

I picked up a pair of fivefinger vibram wet shoes in Seattle (in purple); they're great for walking volcanic sand beaches and paddling in volcanic rock tide pools and swimming in volcano-warmed hot springs. But before we got to any of those we had banas picked fresh off the bunch for breakfast and drove round downtown Hilo looking for downtown Hilo. It's like a New Zealand town' sprawling out from the waterfront with a handful of tourist shops and local staples in downtown. Wednesday and Saturday is the farmer's market; crafts and Hawaiian shorts and hemp clothing and tat and thai food, and produce across the road - we bought a pineapple coconut smoothie, a bag od pork rinds, masaladalas (doughnuts (alas, not from the renowned Sputnik)) and something wrapped in a banan leaf composed of sweet thai rice, banana and young coconut. We walked over the footbridge to Coconut Island to picnic and watch children throw themelves off a tower into the water and turtles ignore everyone, then we drove into Puna, stopping at Pahoa to get an iced coffee from Sirius - I think it was Puna-gorwn coffee and I wonder if I should have tried ti with the raw sugar...

The coffee sustained us through another round of 'where have they hidden it?' (we've only lost one round of this - the Original Hawaiian Chocolate Factory we located but it had no sign and didn't look at all open so we didn't go in, O's Bistro in Kona has closed but we did find where it used to be so that's a draw). The Lava Trees park is makred by a sign tht decalres itself 1.1 miles from the spot and then nothing else at all. First time round we were distracted by the lovely canopy of trees meeting overhead. Second time around I took us up a side road but we decided it must be a private house. Third time we didn't want to drive an unpaved road. Twice I gave up as we headed off down roads to the south and then turned back. Finally we approached from a die that gave the GPS enough of a signal for it to tell us where the turning was an be right. It looked familiar - it was road #2! The chickens mocked us and some island plant brought Simon out in nettle-like stings when he crouched down to photograph a fern unfolding but we found the lava trees, In 1790 a flow of lava swept through the rainforest so fast that iflowed up the trees and formed moulds around them - the trees inside burned away, leaving hollow lava trunks. The trees grow back around them, but many were cut down in a vain attempt to get rid of those noisy sonar frogs (you should hear the racket outside tonight), but that does put them more on display. Many have fallen and broken up, others have weathered away and a couple have saplings growing out of the top in best ironic Inigo fashion (hall! I am Rainforest Tree - you killed my trunkfather; prepare to fertilise). The bracket fungus is small but perfectly formed and brightly coloured.

We had a couple of false starts on the way to the Wai;Opae tide pools; we balked at another unpaved road (the gravel tends ot be lava cinders) and fetched up at a private gated community (locked gates! video surveillence!) but third time lucky. The swell is beatiful and the pools clear and welcoming but I'm still getting used ot my footing in the Fivefingers so we headed on to 'Ahanalui park, where there is a volcanic hot pool with the kind of steps into the water that real explorers spurn. I soaked and splashed and drifted for a while - the eels which the sign warned might be frisky did not appear (or shriek) and the waves crashed over the wall of the pool periodically to cool things down.

We followed the 137 as far as it goes these days, up and down some lovely humpbacks and to a brand new black beach. Kalapana used to be a village, until Pele sent the lava. Now the road ends abruptly and you can trek over the ridges and ropes of the new lava to a beach of coarse black send that's gradually becoming softer and finer; the waves came rushing over our feet, determined to help (and somewhere here I picked up the purple sand betwen my toes - the fivefingers fit so sungly the sand doesn't rub and you only know it's inside when you take them off and wash the sand off the outside. Back to what's left of the 130 road towards the lava viewing platform; this is another trek over new (1990s) lava to where the flow of lava from the volcano plunges into the sea, currently in twin streams. You can see the reflected glow in the cloud that boils up from the water and as it gets darker you cn occasinally see 'sparks' - which must be huge gobs of molten rock spewing up from the impact. The lava flow down the hill is marked by steam and after dark there was a lva breakthrough and we could see lines and spurts of lava flowing - though from a long way off. Nutters in boats were only a few hundred feet offshore from the outflow where the water literally boils so closer doesn't ahve all the advantages. Walking back over the uneven lava (marked by random spots of yellow duct tape) was actualy easier by torchlight and we tracked down yet another stripmall restaurant for dinner - Nori's Saimin. Saimin is ramen with the usual suspects - char siu park, cabbage, menma and in this case shredded omelette and a chicken teriyako skewer, with the option of won ton. Far too much to finish. The tree frogs waited for us: the sound drowns out the fridge and fan in the room!
Tags: food, travel

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