UPDATE May 23, from cousin Georgine who lives in Kailua-Kona:  “The news makes it sound like the volcano is all over the island (see the picture with imagined).  The reality is the picture on the right.  Was glad to see this.  It is hard to describe.”

The Hawaii volcano in perspective. The reality is the smallest box on the right.

By no means does this minimize the disaster for the people who are directly affected.  On the other hand, news media visuals exaggerate the reality.  Hawaii is called the “Big Island” for a reason.

UPDATE May 11. Today’s Accuweather on the impact on local weather can be seen hereLailani Estates geographic location here.

Volcanoes are not my normal “beat” but Dec 22, 2015 and Jan 3, 2016, we were on our first trip to the Big Island, and I had two encounters with Kilauea (click on the word for lots of resources).  Kilauea is the youngster besides the huge Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea which are, one would hope, more or less dormant in these days of human habitation.

The Big Island of Hawaii

Kilauea is the brownish area towards the southwest edge of Hawaii.  By road, it is about 95 miles or so from Kailua-Kona.  It is where the roads (white lines) intersect.  As the crow flies, the volcano is perhaps 50 miles from Kailua-Kona.  In between is the massive Mauna Kea, to its north the even more massive Mauna Loa, immense ancient volcanoes of which, I suppose, makes up Kilauea.

The Kilauea area: map at Hilo airport

Kilauea is in the news today because it is slowly overrunning some roads and houses.  It is not to be deterred.  I won’t repeat the news about the earthquakes and the general mayhem if one’s area is affected.  Thoughts are with my cousin and her partner who have lived for many years perhaps 100 road miles away from the current eruption, on the other side of Hawaii.  Their relative location to Kilauea is here.

Dec. 22, 2015, I was with grandson Ryan, doing the “extreme” helicopter experience over the area – no doors.  Of course, they don’t do foolish things with tourists, like diving into craters or such, but nonetheless we saw occasional visual evidence of what the volcanic area looks like.  Below is one example from December 22.  One can almost imagine how the lava is moving in this photo.  At the edge of this area is forest, some parts of it smoldering due to the invasion of lava, but mostly just forest, and farms and occasional housing areas.

Kilauea area Dec 22, 2015

A couple of weeks later, Jan 3, 2016, my sister and her husband and I took a land trip to Kilauea and saw it from another perspective, from the area of the main caldera, which when we were there looked very serene, but has not always been such.

At Kilauea Observation Point, January 3, 2016

In the Visitor Center overlooking the Kilauea Caldera January 3, 2016

Not much story beyond this.  Grandson Ryan, “the kid”, really liked the helicopter jaunt above the Kilauea area.  So did I.  I’m glad I could provide the opportunity.

There is a side story, for me, about this: the “news” of Kilauea.

Kilauea, like a catastrophic tornado, or other violent acts of humans or of nature, makes for good visuals – the lead on the evening news.  What could be better than a sea of molten rock engufing a hapless car, or someone’s house, setting it afire with no opportunity to rescue.  We watch tragedies from afar these days.

It is a tragedy, for certain, for the owners of the car, or the houses.  But even on the map of Hawaii, the area is the tiniest of pin pricks.

It is just another piece of daily “news”.

Is it important to report this to the entire nation?  I suppose.  But is it representative of the Big Island of Hawaii?  No.

In this age of instant communication we’ve become a “sound bite” society, and that is not at all healthy for us.

There are so many things to appreciate in this world of ours.

In January, 2016 I managed to see Kilauea, and enjoyed the visit.

Very unfortunately there are residents in Kilauea’s path now who are not  now pleased….


from Larry: Dick..those shots remind me of some of the ones I may have taken…but I’m thinking more of the video I took at one of the times we were there. I need to find that helicopter ride video over the cauldron…I believe that was Kilauea…will post it and send you the link when I find it….

from Ken: Thanks for sharing your thoughts and insights. I enjoy reading them. We, too, flew over Kilauea ten years ago and saw the lava flowing from the volcano. Mother nature does what she wishes at her own time. It is more active now, certainly.

from Georgine (in Kailua-Kona area): There is much confusion about the geographic location of the eruption.  We have not been affected, even by the earthquakes.  We of course feel them, but there has been no destruction on this side of the island.  I have sadness for the people whose homes are being destroyed  They did know they were purchasing on an active volcano, but of course hoped that the volcano would not erupt in their lifetime.  The vog [volcanic fog] is thicker than it was.  There is no new odor.  The vog is always with us.

from Mary L: I have been thinking about Georgine a lot with the recent news. Our trip last summer has been in my mind a bunch… Hard to imagine some of the roads that we just recently drove on are now covered with lava. And frankly a bit crazy to think we were there at the volcano less than a year ago! My heart goes out to those that have lost all and pray that everyone stays safe.

from Darleen: Most interesting.  I clicked on some other options.  What came to mind with reading about those who would not leave Hawaii or the area of the volcano was a couple North of Fargo [N.D. on the Red River] who would not leave their home when the flood came with water rising because that was all they had.

from Mary M: I did speak with Georgine on Sunday afternoon, May 6.  She and Robert are not immediately affected by the eruptions and quakes but the whole area is unstable and that could have (or may already) have changed.  I can not even imagine the horror of watching volcanic lava swallow up life as they know it.  Hoping and praying for the best outcome possible but lives in that area are affected – forever.

Response from Dick: Yesterday I sent a note to Georgine: “I sent out a blog about Kilauea today, and I’ve been feeling guilty about the comments at the end…hope you didn’t/don’t take offense.  I was just noting that over and over again, today, they keep using the same photos of the same house burning, and the car.

I know volcanoes are a fact of daily life on the island, the earthquakes, the occasional eruption at Kilauea.  Probably where you are, ash and the like.  
I remember when you picked us up at the airport in Dec. 2015 [other side of the island], and I asked about volcanic smell.  Mostly, I think I was imagining things, since I had this notion that we’d be driving close by an active volcano.  Of course, we weren’t, and nothing was active anyway.  
All best wishes for everyone for an early end to the eruptions and the earth tremors.  My apologies, in any event.”
Georgine said “no need to apologize”, and also added the comments you see above.   Possibly, my nostrils, new to the Big Island, did smell the “vog” back in 2015….  On our trip we drove around the entire Big Island, and across the “saddle” between Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea, so we have at minimum a sense of this large island with a small population.  Most certainly, living there, especially towards the Hilo “side”, has to be a time of nervousness now.  Everyone on Hawaii is in my thoughts and prayers.
Our trip was certainly an opportunity to gain context.
1 reply
  1. Ken Nordquist
    Ken Nordquist says:

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts and insights. I enjoy reading them. We, too, flew over Kilauea ten years ago and saw the lava flowing from the volcano. Mother nature does what she wishes at her own time. It is more active now, certainly.

    I also want you to know I enjoy when you write about your time growing up and the photos of yesteryear. I, too, grew up not far from you. Our farm was north of Litchville (it is still in the family) so I relate to that area.

    Again, thanks for the blog,

    Ken Nordquist


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