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Janice Describes Her Visit to Hawaii

The Hawaiian islands are situated in the Pacific ocean over 2,000 miles from the nearest continental land mass. There are eight main islands. Hawaii is the name of the largest of the islands and is commonly called the Big Island. Kilauea volcano on this island has been erupting since January 1983. As the red hot lava flows into the sea, huge billows of steam rise above the water. This was an awesome site to view from a helicopter, but I prefer hands-on studies and being able to walk on the cooled lava fields was exciting. The lava reminded me of gigantic pieces of fudge candy. In fact, now when I cook fudge I am reminded of the lava I saw in Hawaii. My too often over cooked fudge looks much like the rough, jaggaged, chunky lava. But an occasional good batch of fudge with its smooth, glossy appearance looks much like pahoehoe lava. Standing inside mammoth caves and lava tubes formed by flowing lava gave me a perception of the tremendous volume of lava that can flow from a volcanic eruption.

My visit to Kauai, the garden island, was mind boggling. Like all the islands, there was too much to see and too little time. Helicopter rides over the island gave me a bird's eye view of the beautiful sites from the lush tropical forests that cover Mount Waialeale, the wettest spot on earth, to the white sandy beaches and even a canyon that it rightly called the Grand Canyon of the Pacific. But again I most enjoyed being up close and personal. I was awe-struck with the beauty of Waimea Canyon and standing on its rim certainly reminded me of the majesty of the Grand Canyon in Arizona. With all the vast varieties of biomes in Kauai, it is no wonder that it has been the setting for some popular movies including Jurassic Park, South Pacific, and Raiders of the Lost Ark.

While Kauai is known as the garden island, I found all the islands overflowing with beautiful flowers and lush green plants. Maui was unique in that it has a desert on one end of the island and a tropical rainforest on the other. While the geographic and biological studies were extremely interesting, the Sun rising above the Haleakala crater was an unforgettable sight. I was told to bring warm clothes since the crater's edge sits 10,023 feet above sea level, so I wore slacks and a jacket. It was shockingly cold and I ended up stuffing newspaper inside my clothes for warmth. But it was worth the pain. One second it was pitch black, then the tiniest sliver of light spread like liquid gold across the crater's rim . No description or photograph can capture the true beauty of sunrises on Mount Haleakala. You have to see it for yourself.

Hawaii is certainly the place to study biomes. It has a sampling of them all, from sea level deserts and rainforests to mountain top alpine vegetation. Aloha! is the most common expression in the islands. It can mean hello and goodbye, welcome or farewell.