We arrived in Hilo, back on the Big Island, early morning. Hilo is said to be the wettest city in the U.S. and it lived up to its reputation this morning. Our tour started off with a stop at Rainbow Falls; it gets its name from when the morning sun shines through the mist and forms a rainbow, no sun this morning so no rainbow, but the falls were still really pretty.
Next stop brought us to the Maua Loa Macadamia Nut Factory and shop. We made a mad dash through the rain and used the factory tour time to browse the shop and get something to eat for lunch. There won't be any eating facilities or time at Kilauea. We love macadamia nuts and Joe got several bags to stock us up for a while. We got a nice sandwich and some ice cream for lunch.
The next part of the tour was the highlight of course, a drive through the lush tropical forest to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, 4,300 feet above sea level. We stopped at the Visitor Center to take a look at the exhibits followed by a drive along the spectacular crater rim. Although no flowing lava can be seen here, the steam rising from the crater was eerie in itself. The Jaggar Museum, named for Professor Jaggar who was instrumental in persuading Congress to preserve this area as a national park, was loaded with exhibits and artifacts dealing with volcanology. Last adventure was a stroll through the Thurston Lave Tube, a tunnel left behind when a lava river drained away. An easy trail took us through the tunnel and through a grove of giant ferns.
Hilo is also known as the flower capital of the world so what would a visit be without a stop at Akatsuka Orchids. These flowers are really beautiful and we enjoyed looking at the various varieties. We got a cold drink to tide us over until we got back to the ship.
Dinner fare tonight was tropical and the food was good. The entertainment headliner was an act called Sideshow Bert. He started out slow but improved as the show went on. He did comedy juggling and other dangerous stunts. We had our usual drink at the Viking Crown Lounge. Tonight, we sail by Kilauea again and, if conditions are right, flowing lava can be seen. We didn't see any and there was radio silence from the Captain so we guessed he didn't see any either. Time to go to bed. Next five days, we're at sea and looking forward to the down time.