Monday, October 18, 2010

The Beagles Extreme Lava Flow Experience

Okay people, listen up!  This was the absolute highlight of our whole trip and I’m pretty sure it will end up being one of the highlights of a lifetime!  Before we get started here I want to just query each of my family about what they thought of this lava flow experience.  Here’s a sampling:  
Walking is not something I in physically exerting myself much, but if I had to walk for this experience I would have gone twice as far to see this!  --Bradley K Beagles  
(And that is the truth, I have traveled with this guy extensively and he doesn’t go very far on foot to see anything!) 
It’s dope! --Mackay Beagles       (Is that good?) 
It was cool!  One of the coolest things I’ve ever seen --Liz Beagles  (She should know, she is the closest thing to cool, hip and happening at our house.)
This should be illegal! --Amanda Beagles  (Who does by the way have first hand knowledge about what is legal.....T.P. ing someones house....illegal!)
Well, there you have it.  Are you getting to feeling that this was pretty rad?  We really didn’t know what to expect.  We had heard that basically you just walk out to the lava flow and BAM there it is, you get to see lava flowing.  Okay, so, what makes this safe?  What makes this sane?  What makes this something people sign up for and pay money to do?  We will answer all of those questions and more in this lovely little blog post about what I like to call Our Extreme Lava Flow Adventure.  
We started out at about 3:30pm on Thursday afternoon at the lovely Arnett’s Lodge (you’ve seen pictures previously in this blog) in our familiar out door waiting room, consisting of some plastic chairs, two bamboo couches and a plethora of vending machines to help you get stocked up on snacks for the drive out to the volcano.  We were greeted by our sturdy guides Brandon and Michael.  Two native Hawaiian boys who seemed to have made quite a few trips out to the lava flow in their life time.  They spent the 45 minute ride filling us with facts about the island and the volcano and prepping us for our 8.5 mile round trip, half of which would be done before sundown and the other half we would be walking in the dark.  I didn’t think too much of this as we started out on a well graveled path, until Brandon took an abrupt veer to the right and strode out across the field of lava flow rock.  This rock that we were walking on looked exactly like the lava had just flown over it yesterday with lumps and bumps, huge deep cracks and ripples across the surface.  It was crazy to walk on, no trail at all because it was all rock and so we just followed along the best we could with one guide in front and the other bringing up the rear, making sure we didn’t leave anyone behind.  

About half way there we reached the ocean and from there we walked along the top of the cliffs.  This was so cool because it was beautiful watching the ocean and Brandon showed us how Black Sand Beaches are formed.  It happens when the Lava hits the ocean and some of it shatters into tiny pieces.  It starts out rough but within a few months the ocean rounds the edges of the sand and there you have it the newest black sand beach. 

We could see the plumes of smoke and so we knew where we were headed.  The terrain we were crossing was so interesting because some of it had no recent lava flow at all and then we would be walking on sections where you could still feel the heat of it and you could see the trees that it took out in it’s path and didn’t entirely consume.  It was kind of freaky to think that just a few weeks ago the lava was flowing exactly where you were walking.  

A recent lava flow that took out these trees

As we grew closer to the smoke plume, our destination, Brandon had us stop and take off anything we didn’t need.  Then we all, one by one, crossed a chasm in the rocks and when we came up on the other side he took us a few at a time over to the lava flow.  You could feel the heat before you even approached it.  He helped us to step up onto the day or hours old lava flow in order to take a picture up close and personal with the lava flow.  As I looked down on what I was standing on you could see a red hot glow coming from the cracks.  In fact if you stayed on it too long your shoes started to smoke.  As Brandon was taking our picture Amanda went to bend down and Brandon said, “Don’t touch the lava rock, it is very hot!”  Okay, that freaked me out, just a little.  After we took pictures I turned to really look at the lava flow and I was absolutely floored.  It was one of the most amazing sights I have ever seen.  We were so close you could see it just pouring into the ocean.  The waves were beating against it and causing it to spark and spurt into the air.  You could hear the sizzle as the hot magma hit the cold ocean and see the steam pour off of it.  It was one of those surreal moments when you say to yourself, I can’t believe I am standing here.....right here.....watching this.  Absolutely, hands down one of the most amazing sights I have ever seen.  

Up Close and Personal

The Lava
So enjoy the video and the pictures, I think we really captured much of the experience to take home with us and remember it.  I have to admit here that I had nightmares that night.  I don’t know if it is just me but I often have anxiety after the fact.  Laying in bed that night and seeing it all again in my head I kept saying to myself, one  misstep, one weak part in the crust of the lava we were standing on, one accidental touch, one really high explosion from the lava and.......oh my gosh, I realized how crazy this was.
As we were leaving we paused a little way back to gather our things and just to take it all in.  As we all sat together and stared back at the lava it suddenly began to explode high into the air for several minutes.  It was as if we got to see the grand finale, one last fireworks display.  We certainly got our money’s worth out of this one.  There was not one person there that night that regretted taking this crazy, unsafe, insane, expensive excursion.  Not even during the long arduous walk back in the dark. 

Sunday, October 17, 2010

It's not always the lap of luxury

Just a note to say that things aren't always the lap of luxury on our vacations.  I had to post a few pictures of the motel.....or more like it the hostel that we stayed in while going on our adventure tours.  If we booked one night there we got a substantial discount on our two tours that we took and so we did.  If we had known what the accomodations would be like we might have reconsidered.  It was about a two hour drive from our beautiful condo in Waikoloa to the other side of the island where we climbed the mountain and then the next day we wanted to stay over and see the volcanos and hike the lava flow.  So we stayed.   As you can see Mackay would not even sleep on the bed, he chose the floor.......scarey.  I didn't want to sleep in the bed either, but the floor didn't look any better.  Good times....this is was makes vacations memorable.

Mackay refused to sleep on the bed!

I was really worried about him sleeping on the floor next to this kitchen.....who knows what might come out at night!

I just had to take a picture of this plastic chair...ha, ha!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Adventure Trip to the top of Mauna Kea

We took a tour to the top of Mauna Kea.  It is a climb of over 13,000 feet.  On the way up we stopped at 9,000 feet to get acclaimated to the height.  Of course those of us from Utah had a little bit of an advantage.  At the 9,000 foot point is a visitors center and we stopped there along with the bus loads of tours to eat and get used to breathing thin air, I guess.  Amanda and I took the little adventure walk out to see a Silver Sword.  A plant that only thrives above 9,000 feet.  Supposedly it only blooms once and then dies.....this gave me pause to think about that....what if I had only one chance to bloom in a lifetime...hmmmmm. 

Back on the road again and our trusty guide Daniel took us to the top.  Well, I should say, not the tippey top.  That you had to hike on your own.  We took pictures of all the cool huge telescopes and waited for the sunset.  Just before sunset Amanda and I decided to hike to the tippey top of Mauna Kea.  We wanted to say we had been to the highest mountain on earth.  Yes people, it is the highest mountain on earth, even higher than Mt Everest, measured from the sea bed!  So off we went to hike the rest of the way.  It was very cool until we realized we forgot to take the camera and so I, being a newly turned 50 year old, played the "your legs are younger than mine" card, you know the one my mom used to play on me when she wanted me to run downstairs for something.  So cute, fit, Amanda, ( she IS taking 3 fitness classes this semester, pilates, volleyball and I forget the other one but that ought to count for something) was game enough to run back down the mountain and get the camera and run back up again.  She made it just as the sun was nearly down...but oh well, we can now say we have been to the highest mountain on earth!  Oh YEAH!
On top of the ClOuDs!

Chillin' by the Scopes

Amanda at the TOP!

Karen at the TOP
After dark everyone has to get down to 9,000 feet off of the mountain.  So we found a great spot a little further down and one of our guides introduced us to the Hawaiian way of star gazing.  It was cool to hear about how they navigated by the stars and had their own names for the constellations.  Then we went back to the visitor's center and the park rangers had brought out all kinds of cool telescopes and tuned in to some of the planets like Jupiter, the moon and some really cool star formations.  We had a blast at this really special star gazing party!  (If you heard the word cool alot in this post, it could be because it was literally very COLD on this whole trip.  Quite a shock to our little sun worshipping, beach going systems...if you know what I mean.  I'm just sayin'.....)

The BiG Guns at the Visitors Center

Star Gazing is a Beagles Family Favorite

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

I seriously swam with a sting looked just like the one in this video! So Cool!

Who Cares About Swimming with the Dolphins....I Swam with the TuRtLeS!

Oh my goodness, the best thing happened today! I got to swim with turtles! So amazing, right up and personal, totally swimming right next to a big old turtle or two or three!

The Hilton Wikaloa Village has the most amazing Lagoon for swimming.  It is full of wonderful sea life.  Today we saw an eel, lots of turtles, lots of beautiful fish, one stingray, dolphins, and one little baby 2 month old dolphin (so cute).  We had such a great day, the kids took out the kayak and then we rented snorkels.  It was so amazing to swim with the turtles, they did not even care if you were swimming right next to them.  At one point I looked up and there were two big ones right in front of me and then I felt something brush my fin and a turned and there was another one right behind me.  It was a little freaky but soooooo much fun!  

Tuesday, October 12, 2010


We spent the afternoon at Hapuna Beach.  It was amazing with beautiful white sandy beach and warm clear water.  We enjoyed swimming in the beautiful ocean and then when it was time to dry off we didn't have to lay in the sand, we went up to the grassy area.....perfect!  Love, love, loved this beach.  I take back what I have said about the island of Hawaii, it DOES have good beaches.....well, at least one that I know of!

Monday, October 11, 2010

A Trip to the Big Island Hawaii! Kona here we come ! October 2010

Our fall break is to the big island of Hawaii!  Brad and I have been here once but we were excited to bring the kids to show them this beautiful, scenic and special island. We arrived late in the day on Saturday October 9th and we were surprised to find top notch accommodations at the Hilton Kings Landing time share in Waikoloa.  Really beautiful suite with a kitchen, two bedrooms, two baths, lovely sitting porch and a spectacular pool.

Hawaii is very different than the other islands.  It has a very rugged landscape that is filled with lava rock, not much vegetation as you drive through the island.  The beaches are more rugged with lots of lava rock and not as friendly for swimming as the other islands.  It has it's own wonderful beauty and the lava rock takes on a very artistic, beautiful touch as you view the landscape.

Enjoy our first pictures of Hawaii!

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