Hawaii Volcanoes National Park was on our bucket list, as the day we arrived in Hawaii was the day that Kilauea started erupting. We tried visiting last week so that we could see it at night, but as we mentioned in our last post, it started raining quite heavily. So we made it a day trip yesterday, driving all around the Big Island. Kilauea was not erupting, but we went out to see the caldera and the steaming vents. We also visited a lava tube, made by lava quickly running in a stream. The tops and sides cool first, and when the lava finishes traveling through, leaves a “tube,” which takes about a year to cool down. There is a long switchback path down to the tube, which is nestled in ferns and trees. The tube is about 1,000 feet long, and is an interesting little feature of the park.
Did you ever hear of a Blackwater Dive? Mike went on his first one last night. It was different than any dive he had ever done before. There was a small group of six divers, one dive guide (Noam), and the captain of the boat (Frank). The Hawaiian islands were formed by volcanoes that rise from the deep ocean floor, and they are not surrounded by a continental shelf, so when one heads directly out from the islands the water gets deep very quickly, approximately one mile deep for each mile out.
For this dive the boat headed out about three miles. A parachute-shaped piece of material was dropped off the bow of the boat, and the boat was allowed to drift during the dive, with the “parachute” pulling the boat through the water with the current. Prior to the dive, Noam said that if a shark was spotted, he would tap out a certain signal to let the divers know it was there. If the shark was showing an excessive amount of interest in the divers, he would tap out a different signal, indicating that the divers should surface and return to the boat.
The six divers were each tethered to the boat, with rope that allowed them to descend to about 50 feet below the surface. The divers were separated so that they were surrounding the boat on both sides and from bow to stern. The only lighting provided was a flashlight assigned to each diver. Noam was untethered and swam to each diver from time to time to point out something interesting and/or to check on the diver’s progress.
No sharks or other large animals were spotted, but lots of small animals were seen, including a small, juvenile flounder, shrimp, and many worm-like animals. Mike didn’t see anything that was larger than about two inches in size. The main interest was the surreal experience of floating a few dozen feet below the surface in pitch black water for an hour with several other divers, with light provided only by small hand-held flashlights. Captain Frank told us that we drifted two and a half miles during the dive. All in all, like the night manta dive Mike did last week, it was an amazing experience.
In just a few days, we will be leaving the warm, sultry weather of Hawaii. It has been glorious, but it is time to move on…again. As always. As soon as we know our way around, and all the tricks, directions, shortcuts, and amenities of a place, it is time to stretch our brains again and adapt to a new environment. But home is wherever we both are, so every place feels cozy and welcoming. We look forward to…traveling.
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