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Recalling a Little Face Time with Hawaii's Kilauea Volcano

Kilauea Volcano update: The Los Angeles Times reports that officials at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park have closed Chain of Craters Road, all coastal trails in the park's east rift zone and the Kulanaokuaiki Campground due to increased volcanic activity that caused the Pu'u O'o Crater to collapse over the weekend.

Video footage of the eruption is likely to periodically pop up on the web as the event continues. This additional account carried by The Times features a good clip, and the Pacific Island Parks website includes an interesting 5-pack of short videos taken by the U.S. Geological Survey.

News of this new eruption phase reminds me of my 1983 visit to the park, shortly after large eruptions first began. Exploring the park was, to use a phrase well-suited for the occasion, a fluid situation. An area I explored one week was closed to visitors the next due to lava flows. This is a place where landscapes can change quickly.

I remember being invited by an intrepid couple to spend a couple of nights in the shadow of Kilauea. They were staying inside a red double-decker bus, which they had somehow driven to a large bulldozed plot in the upper reaches of what had been drawn up as a plush community of luxury homes on the Big Island's southern coast. This grand layout had been abandoned by developers after Kilauea entered its active phase, which is now nearing the 30-year mark.

I was given the guest room—a hammock struck up from the roof of the upper deck—and for 2 nights watched Kilauea's glow be reflected in the night sky, shades of purple, rose and orange light pulsing above the horizon. Perceiving that those lights looked much brighter on the second night, I headed out the next morning.

By the time I hitchhiked my way north and prepared to enter Waipio Valley to explore the Big Island's north coast, I read a report in a local newspaper that lava from Kilauea had entered that abandoned development. I sighed at the news. I've always wondered what happened to that couple and their double-decker bus.

What's your volcano story?

Posted on at 12:22 PM

Tagged: Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, Hiking, Kilauea and national parks

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