Maui_(10)-01.jpgThe anticipation culminated in reality when after 5 days at sea the Spirit arrived in Hawaii. The night before our first call in Hilo on the Big Island, Captain Pagano drove by the south-eastern shore line to show us the lava flow. Pu’u'O’o has been erupting since 1983, and streams of lava flow into the sea ever since. We passed by that site at a distance of about 2 miles which allowed us to see a few orange lights glow up every few minutes. It was cool, though, and the passengers and crew who were standing all along deck 10, acknowledged the extra effort with many Ahs and Ohs.

The past weeks have been used to research various activities that one can enjoy in Hawaii. I’m not able to get off the ship every day (due to the fact that there needs to be an I/S Manager on the ship at all times and we’re just two in the department), therefore my shore time needs careful planning. For the first port – Hilo on the Big Island – I had planned to rent a car with some friends and drive up to the Volcano National Park. I had reserved a car in advance but when we arrived at the airport car rental, they offered us a Jeep for a minimal surcharge (not to be individual but rather blend in because pretty much everyone rented a jeep). We received our white Jeep Wrangler and tried to open the roof, something that miserably failed at first. Well, let’s get on the road with a roof top then… We stopped at Walmart which was on the way for a quick lunch – we hadn’t eaten yet. That’s what everybody else was thinking, too, and we realized that the average crew member’s first thing to do in Hawaii is to besiege Walmart. Gail was done shopping first and tried her luck with the roof top and hey, she figured it out! Now driving in a proper vehicle, we started our day…

The approximately 40 minute drive was pretty enjoyable. Mauna Loa was covered in clouds so we didn’t get to see much of it. Once in the park, we decided to go around the Kilauea crater and then down to the coast, always hoping to spot some red, hot lava. Down at the coast the road is covered with lava and so you park the car and walk across thick black silver-shining lava stone. A short distance away a steam cloud rose up where lava flowed into the ocean. Visitors are not allowed that close to the danger-zone so we only took pictures from the distance and headed back to Hilo.

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