Yes, the title of this gallery is “Postcards From the Volcano,” but this was our first stop: South Point, or Ka Lae. The ancient Hawaiians used to tie up their canoes here — you can still see the old anchor rocks — but we saw just one lonely boat. © 2012 Sugar + ShakeShake and I spent a week and a half on the Big Island with our hanai (“adopted”) parents earlier this month. My big regret (besides getting sick at the end of the trip) was not taking a wide-angle lens, which would’ve really been useful. I didn’t because I’m tired of lugging around so much gear, and I opted for the 50mm and the 70-300mm instead, and barely used the long lens at all. You always want the thing you’re not carrying, right? (In case you’re feeling like you want to buy me a Christmas present, this would be fantastic.)

This isn’t my regular post format (I usually like to write a bit more), but I’m going to try something different since I took so many photos and, like I said, I’ve been sick, so not much time for writing, much less photo processing and captioning. Hope you like. (This is just a portion of the photos. For more, check out the full gallery.) Hover over the photos for more detailed captions.

And, yes, the title of this gallery is “Postcards From the Volcano,” but this was our first stop: South Point, or Ka Lae. Deciding to take no wide-angle lens means you can’t see in this photo just how immense these cliffs were — probably about 30-40 feet high, at least.

Deciding to take no wide-angle lens means you can’t see in this photo just how immense these cliffs were — probably about 30-40 feet high, at least. © 2012 Sugar + Shake

Moving on: Punalu‘u Black Sand Beach. Also at the southern end of the Big Island.

Moving on: Punalu‘u Black Sand Beach. Also at the southern end of the Big Island. © 2012 Sugar + Shake

Some of the lava rock at Punalu‘u Black Sand Beach. This gets worn down to create the black sand. © 2012 Sugar + Shake

The bed & breakfast we stayed at in Hilo, Old Hawaiian Bed & Breakfast, had a beautiful garden out back, with tons of flowers and fruit trees. Breakfast each morning featured multiple fruits fresh-picked from the yard by the owners. The yard was great — I took a wrong turn at the palm grove and ended up in the neighbors’ yard. Oops.

The bed & breakfast we stayed at in Hilo, Old Hawaiian Bed & Breakfast, had a beautiful garden out back, with tons of flowers and fruit trees. Breakfast each morning featured multiple fruits fresh-picked from the yard by the owners. © 2012 Sugar + Shake

Love the smell of white ginger. © 2012 Sugar + Shake Palm tree grove in the yard. Sugar got turned around while exploring the yard and ended up in the neighbors’ yard. Oops. © 2012 Sugar + Shake

We are here. (Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park.)

Moving on to Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park. © 2012 Sugar + Shake

Halema‘uma‘u Crater, Kīlauea Volcano summit. Day.

Halema‘uma‘u Crater, Kīlauea Volcano summit. Day. © 2012 Sugar + Shake

And night.

Halema‘uma‘u Crater, Kīlauea Volcano summit. Night. © 2012 Sugar + Shake

Miscellaneous volcanic landscapes:

All kinds of life on the volcano. Moss on a tree. © 2012 Sugar + Shake Looks like Mordor, doesn’t it? The floor of a volcanic crater. © 2012 Sugar + Shake

Same crater (Kīlauea Iki, to be exact), different view. You can see the trail that people take to hike across it. © 2012 Sugar + Shake

Volcanic landscape. © 2012 Sugar + Shake Hōlei Sea Arch at Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park. © 2012 Sugar + Shake

Lava field landscape. This type of lava seen in the foreground is called pahoehoe — it’s smooth and liquid-y looking. © 2012 Sugar + Shake

Processing boosted up a bit extra to really show the contrast between the pahoehoe lava (the smooth liquid-y stuff in the foreground and all the silver-y streaks throughout). The black and purples are ‘a‘a lava, which is rougher and sharp textured. © 2012 Sugar + Shake “God Rays” on a lava landscape. © 2012 Sugar + Shake

Lava landscape at Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park. © 2012 Sugar + Shake

Welcome to Mordor.

Welcome to Mordor. On a tip from a ranger friend, we hiked out to Keanakakoi Crater, a newly re-opened trail. This is a view of Kïlauea Crater, seen earlier, but from the “backside.” As our friend noted, it seems like you’re closer to the crater than the view from Jagger Museum, but it’s really not — it’s just that the angle of view is different. © 2012 Sugar + Shake

If you’re interested in seeing what this shot looked like before processing (it’s an HDR composite), visit the gallery.

What lava looks like. Well, some of it. Lava varies greatly. In this particular area, there were a lot of little pebbly bits.

Walking on lava. © 2012 Sugar + Shake

An enlargement of a section of the previous photo. In the left third, you can see a very thin gold “hair.” This is “Pele’s hair” — bits of lava that fly up into the air during eruption and cool in thin strands before it hits the ground. It’s as thin as real hair, but made of rock, so you want to be careful it doesn’t blow into your eye.

An enlargement of a section of the previous photo. In the left third, you can see a very thin gold “hair.” This is “Pele’s hair” — thin strands of lava that cool in strands before it hits the ground. It’s as thin as real hair, but made of rock, so you want to be careful it doesn’t blow into your eye. © 2012 Sugar + Shake

Out of the Park and back to our volcano jungle retreat, Kipuka Cottage.

Out of the Park and back to our volcano jungle retreat, Kipuka Cottage. © 2012 Sugar + Shake Cottage steps. © 2012 Sugar + Shake
Kipuka belongs to a friend of ours who built it as his little volcano jungle getaway. It has amazing windows all around. © 2012 Sugar + Shake It gets cold in the jungle, so the wood stove is a welcome addition. It helps if you have someone along who knows what they’re doing with a fireplace. © 2012 Sugar + Shake

Kipuka belongs to a friend of ours who built it as his little volcano jungle getaway. It has amazing windows all around. It’s a beautiful place to stay (my photos don’t do it justice), very convenient to visit Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park, and available for rent. But if you want to stay, you should have a sense of humor (there are quirky design touches like a bust of a man perched on a pole outside staring into the bedroom window), and be comfortable with the fact that there aren’t any curtains. Anywhere. Even in the bathroom.

Jungle greenery:

Jungle greenery. © 2012 Sugar + Shake

Back to the jungle greenery. Except this is kind of purple. © 2012 Sugar + Shake

And we’ve moved on again, this time to Kona.

And we’ve moved on again, this time to Kona. © 2012 Sugar + Shake

The view from our room at the Outrigger Keauhou Beach Resort, which is being closed down at the end of October and slated for demolition. (We didn’t know at the time.) © 2012 Sugar + Shake

The view from our room at the Outrigger Keauhou Beach Resort. Our room looked out over a tide pool lagoon — and beyond that, to the ocean — where we could see turtles, fish and eels daily. Shake named the smallest, prettiest (he had the nicest shell) turtle “Otis Redding Turtle.” There was also a pair of cute kitties (OK, they were really scruffy up close, but we mostly saw them from several stories up so I thought they were durned cute) who loafed around on the rocks. We found out a few days after we returned home that the hotel is being closed down at the end of October and is slated for demolition. We didn’t know while we were staying there that we could never go back.

We were about to leave for dinner when Shake noticed lights out on the reef. Guys were out with nets and spears, probably looking for octopus.

We were about to leave for dinner when Shake noticed lights out on the reef. Guys were out with nets and spears, probably looking for octopus. © 2012 Sugar + Shake

So that pretty much wraps it up for our vacation adventures. We also visited a fantastic tiki bar in Kona that features craft cocktails, but I’ll be doing a separate post on that. Stay tuned! (Of course, if you want to cheat, you can just go to the full photo gallery and take a sneak peek at the photos.)

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