There is nothing like hearing the thrill in your kid’s voice saying, “I see lava!”

And it’s red. As in hot, fresh, earth-being-born lava.

We’re in the Big Island of Hawaii and it’s been two days of volcanoes and it has been great, traveling with our resident 13-year-old vulcanologist. And it is particularly sweet when we are doing it in a place where volcanoes are just part of the rhythm of life.

Our adorable ranger at Volcanoes National Park told us how the volcanoes were intertwined with her parents’ romance. The first day her father asked her mother out in the 1980s, Kīlauea shot a 17,000-foot plume of lava into the air–a sign of the power of her father’s love for her mother, or so family lore went.

Dating in Hilo mean dinner and a movie-and then going to watch the lava flow for her parents and their contemporaries.


Our Volcano Treehouse hotel in the town of Volcano–which is essentially rainforest!

Even dormant volcanoes are part of the fun. The ranger and the super sweet and engaging staff at the Hawaiian Style Cafe in Hilo (where we went on the recommendation of a cop–‘so you like our poke?’ he said, gratified when we told him what we were looking for) all told of driving up to Mauna Kea and loading up the backs of their trucks with snow to take and down and play in the back yard or the beach.

Volcanoes are a constant presence in the Big Island, or at least the part around Volcano, (I want to join the Volcano Rotary, I kid you not, there is one there!).


In the town of Pahoa, wherethe Hawaii-meets-Haight-Asbury-with-Asian-touches, the proprietress of a food stand at the Sunday market just shrugs when I ask her about the flow that stopped at the edge of town in October. “I just make sure I have red wine,” she says.

The Hawaii office of Civil Defense gives daily volcano updates on the radio, speaking in a very FM voice. Gotta love it.

Next: our open-door helicopter ride with Paradise Copters! Very not FM!