One highlight of our trip was our time spent in Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park. It really blew our minds.
This rainforest path lead to the Thurston Lava Tube, a cave made by lava flow not unlike the Ape Caves we visited in Washington.
Along the park's hiking paths you can see, feel, and smell evidence of the volcano underneath you through the Steam Vents.
The Volcano, called Kauea, erupts at different levels throughout the year. We could only imagine what it's like to see it erupt at full force.
A trip to the observatory at night gave us a better idea.
Another highlight of the park was Chain of Craters Road, a 23 mile drive from the top of the volcano, following the lava flow all the way to the sea. I think we stopped the car every 10 minutes to take in the scale of the changing lava landscape.
Part meringue, part massive drip, I have never walked on or touched anything like it. It was what I imagine the surface of the moon to be like...very prehistoric.
Finally the road bends, and you see the sea.
And on the other side of the car, the lava trail to the sea emblazons the mountain.
You can go no further on Chain of Craters Road when you get to where the lava has crossed it.
They've added a picnic bench to the middle of the road, for the perfect packed lunch experience.
Visiting national parks always makes me somewhat emotional. I love the Rangers and the workers in the Visitor's Center, so eager to help you see the park's amazing sights. I love knowing that we're actually preserving this land, as I see so many strip malls take away so much of it in daily life. I love being flabbergasted at the scale and beauty of the scenery. It actually makes me feel quite patriotic (yes, me!).
The park was incredibly unpopulated, even at the height of Summer. When we told the owner of our Bed and Breakfast, Audrey, how much we loved the Big Island she said, "This island is very special to Hawaiians. I think it's the Volcano". We understood completely.