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by Donald B. MacGowan

New at iTunes: Hawaii Dream Vacation iPhone/iPod Touch App Puts the Magic of Hawaii in the Palm of Your Hand. Interactive maps, GPS and WiFi enabled, dozens of videos…available at iTunes or www.tourguidehawaii.com.

Halema'uma'u eruption from Volcano House, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park: Graphic from Photo by Donald B MacGowan

There are many wondrous, enigmatic and fascinating attractions on the Big Island of Hawaii, some better known than others, many out of the way and generally off the beaten track. Tour Guide Hawaii has produced an encyclopedic collection of the most up-to-date information, presented as short GPS-cued videos, in an app downloadable to iPhone and iPod Touch that covers the entire Big Island, highlighting the popular and the uncrowded, the famous and the secluded, the adventurous and the relaxing.

Volcano House

New at iTunes: Hawaii Dream Vacation iPhone/iPod Touch App Puts the Magic of Hawaii in the Palm of Your Hand. Interactive maps, GPS and WiFi enabled, dozens of videos…available at iTunes or www.tourguidehawaii.com.

Volcano House Driveway, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park: Photo by Donald B MacGowan

The grand tradition of hosteling at the edge of Kilauea Volcano began with construction of the first Volcano House in 1846; as such, Volcano House is Hawai’i’s oldest continuously operated hotel. Famous Guests include Queen Liliuokalani, Samuel Clemens, Theodore Roosevelt and Elvis Presley.

New at iTunes: Hawaii Dream Vacation iPhone/iPod Touch App Puts the Magic of Hawaii in the Palm of Your Hand. Interactive maps, GPS and WiFi enabled, dozens of videos…available at iTunes or www.tourguidehawaii.com.

Halema'uma'u Crater from the back door of Volcano House, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park: Photo by Donald B MacGowan

Since Polynesians first arrived in Hawai’i, temporary grass shacks had been constructed on the lip of Kilauea Crater to shelter kahuna and ali’i who went there to give praise and worship to Madame Pele. Chiefess Kapiolani, a converted Christian, had a grass hut constructed on the edge of the crater, then filled with a molten lava lake, in 1826 from which she and her retinue held ceremonies to denounce the goddess.

New at iTunes: Hawaii Dream Vacation iPhone/iPod Touch App Puts the Magic of Hawaii in the Palm of Your Hand. Interactive maps, GPS and WiFi enabled, dozens of videos…available at iTunes or www.tourguidehawaii.com.

Kilauea Calder and the Halema'uma'u eruption from Volcano House, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park: Photo by Donald B MacGowan

Benjamin Pitmann Sr. built a grass shack he named Volcano House as the first structure to serve solely for the sheltering of kama’aina and tourists visiting the volcano. In 1866, this structure was replaced with one of ohi’a poles and pili grass. American novelist and humorist Sam Clemens, who stayed at Volcano House in 1866 proclaimed: “The surprise of finding a good hotel at such as outlandish spot startled me, considerably more than the volcano did.”

New at iTunes: Hawaii Dream Vacation iPhone/iPod Touch App Puts the Magic of Hawaii in the Palm of Your Hand. Interactive maps, GPS and WiFi enabled, dozens of videos…available at iTunes or www.tourguidehawaii.com.

Madame Pele fireplace bas relief at Volcano House, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park: Photo by Donald B MacGowan

In 1877 the first fully wooden Volcano House was built, which featured 6 rooms and a large parlor with a fireplace. This building is now being used as the Volcano Art Center and was moved to its present location in 1941. Although the hotel has continued to grow and change over the years, the fire in Volcano House fireplace has burned continuously for more than 130 years. In 1940 most of the hotel was destroyed in a boiler fire and Uncle George Lycurgus built the structure that stands as the current hotel in 1941 of wood and stone.

New at iTunes: Hawaii Dream Vacation iPhone/iPod Touch App Puts the Magic of Hawaii in the Palm of Your Hand. Interactive maps, GPS and WiFi enabled, dozens of videos…available at iTunes or www.tourguidehawaii.com.

View along the sulfur banks to Volcano House, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park: Photo by Donnie MacGowan

A tour of the Volcano House and small museum should include the parlor with its koa piano, paintings and welcoming fireplace, the restaurant (the only food available in the Park) and the two gift shops as well as the breath-taking view of Kilauea Crater from the back lanai of the main building.

To see the new iPhone/iPod Touch App, please visit http://www.tourguidehawaii.com/iphone.html.

New at iTunes: Hawaii Dream Vacation iPhone/iPod Touch App Puts the Magic of Hawaii in the Palm of Your Hand. Interactive maps, GPS and WiFi enabled, dozens of videos…available at iTunes or www.tourguidehawaii.com.

View from Volcano House to Steaming Bluff on a wet day, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park: Photo by Donald B MacGowan

The best of Tour Guide Hawaii’s free content about traveling to, and exploring, the Big island, can be found here.

For more information on traveling to Hawaii in general and on touring the Big Island in particular, please also visit www.tourguidehawaii.com and www.tourguidehawaii.blogspot.com.
All media copyright 2010 by Donald B. MacGowan. All rights reserved.

New at iTunes: Hawaii Dream Vacation iPhone/iPod Touch App Puts the Magic of Hawaii in the Palm of Your Hand. Interactive maps, GPS and WiFi enabled, dozens of videos…available at iTunes or www.tourguidehawaii.com.

Kilauea Caldera from Volcano House, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park: Graphic from Photo by Donald B MacGowan

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by Donald B. MacGowan

New at iTunes: Hawaii Dream Vacation iPhone/iPod Touch App Puts the Magic of Hawaii in the Palm of Your Hand, available at iTunes or www.tourguidehawaii.com.

Looking Out of Kaumana Cave: Graphic from Photo by Donald B. MacGowan

There are many wondrous, enigmatic and fascinating attractions on the Big Island of Hawaii, some better known than others, many out of the way and generally off the beaten track.  Tour Guide Hawaii has produced an encyclopedic collection of the most up-to-date information, presented as short GPS-cued videos, in an app downloadable to iPhone and iPod Touch that covers the entire Big Island, highlighting the popular and the uncrowded, the famous and the secluded, the adventurous and the relaxing.

Kaumana Cave

New at iTunes: Hawaii Dream Vacation iPhone/iPod Touch App Puts the Magic of Hawaii in the Palm of Your Hand, available at iTunes or www.tourguidehawaii.com.

Kaumana Caves Couny Park, Hilo Hawaii: Photo by Donald B. MacGowan

A skylight opening in the 25-mile long Kaumana Cave is located at this county park, just west of the 4-mile marker on the Hilo side of the Saddle Road (Hwy 200 or Waianuenue Avenue).  Concrete stairs take you down through the fern, philodendron and rain forest jungle to the floor of the cave at the bottom of a collapse pit, which also forms two entrances to the cave. Even the casual visitor will be fascinated exploring the openings to these caves, which are cool and welcoming during hot weather, and dry (or ”drier” at least) when rain pours in Hilo.

New at iTunes: Hawaii Dream Vacation iPhone/iPod Touch App Puts the Magic of Hawaii in the Palm of Your Hand, available at iTunes or www.tourguidehawaii.com.

Staiway into Kaumana Caves, Hilo Hawaii: Photo by Donald B. MacGowan

The lava tube was created by a flow from Mauna Loa in 1881 that threatened the city of Hilo. History has it that Princess Ruth Ke`elikolani camped directly in front of the advancing lava flow and stood praying, beseeching the goddess Pele to spare the city.  The flow stopped a scant 2 km from the city, so it would appear that her prayers were answered.

New at iTunes: Hawaii Dream Vacation iPhone/iPod Touch App Puts the Magic of Hawaii in the Palm of Your Hand, available at iTunes or www.tourguidehawaii.com.

Looking ut the large entrance of Kaumana Cave, Hilo Hawaii: Photo by Donald B. MacGowan

Most people are drawn to the entrance on the right, a large, opening leading to cavernous rooms.  In this entrance, graffiti from hundreds of years ago to the present is preserved, scratched into the rocks.   The entrance on the left, however, is more interesting, leading through squeezes and low spots to numerous rooms with fascinating speleo-architecture and cave formations.

New at iTunes: Hawaii Dream Vacation iPhone/iPod Touch App Puts the Magic of Hawaii in the Palm of Your Hand, available at iTunes or www.tourguidehawaii.com.

The smaller, uphill cave entrance is less frequently visited, Kaumana Caves, Hilo Hawaii: Photo by Donald B. MacGowan

The average visitor will want spend their time in the lighted openings of the caves, which go to true dark in fewer than 300 feet in either direction. A quick tour of the caves, for which no flashlights are needed, takes fewer than 20 minutes.

New at iTunes: Hawaii Dream Vacation iPhone/iPod Touch App Puts the Magic of Hawaii in the Palm of Your Hand, available at iTunes or www.tourguidehawaii.com.

The path down to the larger Kaumana Cave entrance, Hilo Hawaii: Photo byDonald B. MacGowan

For the adventurous, there are more than 2 miles of easily accessible, wild cave to explore here.  If you intend more than just a cursory inspection near the entrances, bring a hard hat, water and at least 3 sources of light.  The caves open onto private land—the County of Hawaii requires you to get prior permission of landowners and sign an assumption of risk waiver (available at the cave) before exploring deeply into these caves. A brief discussion of exploring Kaumana Cave more deeply, including a list of equipment and clothing to bring and discussion of risks, is contained here.

New at iTunes: Hawaii Dream Vacation iPhone/iPod Touch App Puts the Magic of Hawaii in the Palm of Your Hand, available at iTunes or www.tourguidehawaii.com.

Loking out of Kaumana Cave's Entrance, Photo by Donald B. MacGowan

Parking for the caves is located across the road from the park; extreme care should be taken when crossing the highway.  Public restrooms, drinking water and picnic tables are available at the park.

To see the new iPhone/iPod Touch App, please visit http://www.tourguidehawaii.com/iphone.html. The best of Tour Guide Hawaii’s free content about traveling to, and exploring, the Big island, can be found here. For more information on traveling to Hawaii in general and on touring the Big Island in particular, please also visit www.tourguidehawaii.com and www.tourguidehawaii.blogspot.com.

New at iTunes: Hawaii Dream Vacation iPhone/iPod Touch App Puts the Magic of Hawaii in the Palm of Your Hand, available at iTunes or www.tourguidehawaii.com.

Kaumana Cave's Historic Graffiti, Hilo Hawaii: Photo by Donald B. MacGowan

At Tour Guide our goal is to insure you have the most fun, most interesting and enjoyable vacation here in Hawaii–that you are provided with all the information you need to decide where to go and what to see, and that you are not burdened with out-dated or incorrect information.

For independent reviews of our product, written by some of our legions of satisfied customers, please check this out.

New at iTunes: Hawaii Dream Vacation iPhone/iPod Touch App Puts the Magic of Hawaii in the Palm of Your Hand, available at iTunes or www.tourguidehawaii.com.

Frank Burgess works feverishly filming in Kaumana Cave, Hilo Hawaii: Photo byDonald B. MacGowan

All media copyright 2009 by Donald B. MacGowan. All rights reserved.

Photo by Donald B. MacGowan

The view of Mauna Loa from the Shrine at Pu'u Weiku on the Summit of Mauna Kea: Photo by Donald B. MacGowan

Polynesians encountered the snow goddess, Poliahu, for the first time when they reached the Big Island of Hawaii sometime in the Fourth Century C.E. and beheld the snow-clad summits of the great volcanoes. The eldest daughter of the sky god Kane, Poliahu is said to have created the verdant, tropical beauty of the Hamakua Coast on the Big Island; its lushness, clear, cold streams and lovely waterfalls a perfect playground for her to indulge in her favorite pass-time–cavorting with human men.

Though she regularly visits Haleakala on Maui and Mauna Loa on the Big Island, Mauna Kea–in Hawaiian the “White Mountain”–is rightly considered the home of Poliahu. The prominent surviving myth about the Goddess Poliahu involves her besting the Volcano Goddess, Pele, at the Hawaiian sledding sport of “he’eholua”. So angry was Pele at being defeated that she attacked Poliahu with streams of glowing lava. Poliahu retaliated by bringing down storms of snow to freeze the molten rock in place. The goddesses fought each other to a standstill, although the sledding defeat has always rankled Pele. Even now as she dominates at Kilauea, Pele submits to Poliahu’s rule on Mauna Kea; still, to this day, Pele is said to dispute with Poliahu over Mauna Loa.

Photo by Donnie MacGowan

Hikers on the Summit Ridge of Mauna Kea; Mauna Loa in the Background: Photo by Donnie MacGowan

Mythology aside, Mauna Kea’s summit is an exciting, fascinating place. A dormant shield volcano which hasn’t erupted for about 4500 years, Mauna Kea is 13,803 feet tall, the highest point in the state of Hawaii. Because the summit rises some 33,476 feet above its base on the sea floor, Mauna Kea is the tallest mountain on earth. All this mass, this huge bulk of a mountain has grown in fewer than a million years–geologically the blink of an eye. Glaciers covered the summit of Mauna Kea three times between 200,000 and 13,000 years ago, leaving behind many glacial features and a few remnant rock glaciers near the summit. In addition, the summit area is home to Lake Waiau, the seventh highest lake in the United States. Also on the summit block is the largest, and most modern collection of international astronomical observatories located anywhere on earth.

Photo by Donnie MacGowan

The Summit of Mauna Kea Contains a Small Metropolis of the Most Modern and Sophisticated Astronomical Telescopes and Observatories in the World: Photo by Donnie MacGowan

I love visiting the summit of Mauna Kea–whether I spend the day hiking the six-mile trail to the top or I drive to the end of the road for the 10 minute walk up the summit at Pu’u Weiku. I spend hours and hours watching the clouds, listening to the silence, soaking up the island-wide vistas. I’m not sure what draws me out of the tropical torpor of Kona, time and again, to the summit of Mauna Kea–maybe the exhilaration of altitude and the crisp, clean air, or the opportunities for snow-play, solitude; perhaps unconsciously I hope to see one of the legendary cat-fights between Pele and Poliahu, fire and ice.

Secretly, deep down, I suspect that honestly I am just hoping to become yet another in the long, long line of human men that Poliahu has chosen to, ahem, cavort with.

For more information about traveling to the Hawaii in general and touring the Big ISland in particular, please visit www.tourguidehawaii.com and www.tourguidehawaii.blogspot.com.  For a video about hiking up Mauna Kea, go here.  For information about the author, please go here.