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Hawaii News

Heading to the volcano

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Tree ferns in Volcano, Hawaii island. (Photo by annmue/Special to the Star-Advertiser)
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This image of the Halema'uma'u overlook vent was taken at 8:54 a.m. Wednesday, April 23, by a temporary thermal camera. (Hawaiian Volcano Observatory/Special to the Star-Advertiser)

The Hawaiian Airlines interisland terminal seemed quiet for a day this close to the world-famous event about to happen in Hilo. Still, all flights were full, folks standing by with the hope of getting out earlier to settle in for the big game.

Lots of halau bags piled in the waiting area. Dancers were milling around but not all dressed in official halau shirts, not really ready for the hundreds of photos that would be taken in the next week. One dancer had a stick, smiled and told someone it was a golf club. She held it straight up as she was walking, even to her seat in the cabin. It was, of course, not a golf club. It was a tiny video camera getting a 360-degree view of the entire Merrie Monarch experience, start to finish. “What fun,” another dancer said. “You would need to not be looking dorky.”

Headed right over to the Volcano House to catch the glow of the Halema’uma’u fire pit, home of Pele. Perfect clear sky, Mauna Loa without a cloud, gray smoke coming from the pit. As the sky turned darker she turned up the steam to hot orange. The temperature was chilly but no one could stop taking photos, which only come out as a red-orange ball in the center of the shot.

When the chill got a bit much, the glowing fireplace and koa rocking chairs in the lobby called. It feels a bit like being in an epic movie, hanging out there. It also looks like a great spot for marshmallows on a stick. Probably not allowed though.

Looking at the posters and the T-shirts, half the visiting folks in the gift shop were asking what this Merrie Monarch thing was. The other half jumped in to explain.

Morning in Volcano, warm cottage, sun, grabbed a few photos of the tree ferns that make you feel like an elf. Birds singing instead of traffic sounds, wow! Hilo was cloudy, but inside shopping craft fairs you don’t really notice.

Lynn Cook is a freelance arts and cultural writer who has studied hula for 25 years.

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