Two Ways to See Active Lava Flow in Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park

One of the things I was excited to see in the National Park was molten lava flow. This is something that you can only experience at a few places in the world at the moment, and Volcanoes National Park is one of them.  After some research, I found that active flow has been relatively consistent in two places, with great visibility.

The first option is easy. A couple miles from the park entrance is the Jaggar Museum, which has a viewpoint overlooking the active Kīlauea Caldera. The caldera is about a half mile away, so you can’t get close, but it’s still an incredible view. It’s best to go at night, as during the day it can be difficult to see the lava itself. Even with the distance, you can still see quite a bit activity, especially with binoculars or a zoom lens:

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The second site requires a bit more planning. The Puʻu ʻŌʻō crater on the eastern side of the park has been active for some time, and most recently lava flow from a branch called 61g has been spilling into the ocean. But unfortunately, it’s not easily accessible from the park. You can see the fumes from the end of Chain of Craters Road, but the best way to actually see the lava is by hiking from the other side. It’s an 8 mile round trip walk or bike ride, which begins outside the park, but you re-enter mid-way.

To get there,  it’s about an hour drive from Volcano, HI to the end of Highway 130 in Kalapana:

There’s plenty of parking, and lots of people selling water and flashlights and renting bikes for $20. It opens at 3pm each day (although some reviews say this isn’t enforced), and the best time to go seems to be a little over an hour before sunset. This way you can see the landscapes and lava while there’s still light, and then watch as it gets more impressive in the dark.

We chose to walk, and it’s relatively easy terrain on a gravel road. At the very end you need to maneuver over some lava stone to get to the area where the lava can be seen flowing into the ocean.

Here are some shots from the walk there:
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After about an hour and fifteen minutes, we arrived at the lava flow location. Check the next post for the photos.

The Books I Read in 2016

I was reflecting back on the books I read throughout 2016 this morning, and thought I’d share the list, roughly grouped by how much I enjoyed them. I’ve gotten better about quitting books that aren’t right for me after a couple chapters, so nothing in here I wouldn’t recommend.

Highly Recommend:

The End of Eternity by Isaac Asimov: This is my new favorite Asimov book, displacing ‘The Gods Themselves‘, which I also highly recommend. It’s a great story, with a clever approach to exploring the philosophy of time.

Skyfaring by Mark Vanhoenacker: A detailed account about what’s it’s like to be a commercial aircraft pilot, with many interesting anecdotes. If you enjoy flying, you’ll probably enjoy the book.

The Idea Factory by John Gertner: A well written history of AT&T’s Bell Labs and all of the important technology innovation that came out of that institution.

The Vital Question: Energy, Evolution, and the Origins of Complex Life by Nick Lane: Probably not for everyone, but fascinating. A theory of how complex life may have first begun, with a focus on the processes that generate the energy needed to sustain it.

Sprint by Jake Knapp: An easy read on how to run a design sprint to rapidly prototype and test new products or features.

Reputations by Juan Gabriel Vasquez: A fictional story about a prominent political cartoonist in Colombia reflecting back on his career and influence.


Second Foundation by Isaac Asimov: I continue to work my way through the Foundation series. I enjoyed this one more than ‘Foundation and Empire’ (the second book excluding the prelude and forward) but less than ‘Foundation’ (the first book). Two more to go.

Blood Song by Anthony Ryan: The first book in the Raven’s Shadow fantasy series recommended by a friend. Like most fantasy books, I found it to be fun and I got through it quickly, but I wasn’t impressed enough to commit to the rest of the series.

Life on the Edge by Johnjoe McFadden: An overview of the rising field of quantum biology (i.e., how many biological processes can only be explained using quantum mechanical physics rather than classical physics). I found it to be intriguing. However, some of it is speculative and is still being researched.

The Serengeti Rules: The Quest to Discover How Life Works and Why It Matters by Sean Carroll: A look at some of how life is regulated at scales ranging from populations of cells to entire ecosystems. It was interesting, but not as good as my favorite by Carroll, ‘Endless Forms Most Beautiful‘.

The Challenger Sale by Matthew Dixon: A detailed description of the challenger sales methodology. It’s a great sales framework and the book offered some useful insights.

Cautiously Recommend:

Napoleon’s Pyramids by William Dietrich: A historical fiction on Napoleon’s invasion of Egypt in 1798. The story was good, not great, and I mostly enjoyed learning some of the history, which seems to have been accurately represented at a macro level.

The Origin of Species by Charles Darwin: This had been on my list for a while. I’ve read so many evolutionary biology books over the years that I felt I needed to read the first as well. I appreciated it’s scientific and historic brilliance, but found it a bit tedious at times, and not surprisingly found the subsequent work that has built on Darwin’s insights to be more interesting.

Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson: I purchased this right when it came out, but kept passing it over. I finally decided to work my way through it. The book was well written with good stories, but it didn’t quite grab me. I probably would have enjoyed it more when it was first published, before all of the movies and media on Jobs.

Two Days in Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park

Following our beach day in the Kona and Kohala coast area, and then our drive to Volcano, HI with a few stops along the way, Laura and I had two full days in the National Park. Unfortunately, it rained like crazy the first day. We were told it was the heaviest rain the area had gotten in years. But we ventured into the park anyway, hoping to catch a break in the downpour. We stopped at the visitor center for some recommendations on hikes, and Mark, a ranger, convinced us that despite the rain, and despite the forecast for 24 more hours of rain, the park was filled with “micro climates” and there could be plenty of relatively dry areas. So we decided to take our chances and go for a hike.

We drove a few miles into the park, and then the weather improved slightly. Seemed like a reasonable opportunity, so we started the Kilauea Iki trail, which was the most highly recommended hike and also happened to begin right where we were when the rain stopped. It’s a 4 mile loop that begins along a the Kilauea crater rim and then descends into a crater where you walk across a hardened lava lake from an eruption in 1959. We enjoyed the first mile, and then the downpour kicked back in. In a big way. So we got soaked for three miles, but the landscape was still impressive.

The weather wasn’t great for photos, but I got a few while we were walking across the lava lake, which looks like a giant parking lot that was destroyed by an earthquake.

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The next day we woke up early and the rain had stopped, so we went back into the park to explore a bit more and do a couple more hikes. We first stopped at the Thurston lava tube, which is a tunnel created by lava flow about 100 years ago. It feels a bit like walking through a cave. We arrived before 8am and were the only people there. By 10am it seems to get packed with tour buses, so early was good.

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Next we drove along Chain of Craters road all the way to the coast where we did a couple mile hike across some of the hardened lava flow. Some interesting patterns.
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On the drive back, we did another hike up Mauna Ulu. I didn’t get many interesting landscape shots, but focused quite a bit of some of the plants we saw along the way:
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Afterwards, we went back to our cabin for lunch, and then ventured out on an 8 mile hike to see some lava flow, which I’ll cover in the next post.

Drive from Kona to Volcano

After our first day at the beach outside of Kona, Laura and I drove to Volcano, HI to spend a few days in Volcanoes National Park.

We first stopped at Big Island Bees, a local honey farm that’s south of Kona and is just outside Captain Cook. We picked up a few jars of honey, and I was able to get a few shots of one of their demonstration hives, which was inside a large glass container:
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Just around the corner, we found a beach with perfect blue water:
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The guy at the honey store had recommended a hike along our route that’s only open on weekends. It’s called Kahuku and is in a separate section of the National Park that isn’t connected to the main area. We took a quick detour, and did a couple mile loop hike in the park, which had some beautiful landscapes and was our first time seeing lava beds:
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After the hike we made a quick stop at the Punaluu black sand beach, but it started raining so we didn’t stay long. Got a few overcast shots that looked better black and white:
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The rain got worse as we arrived in Volcano and checked into our cabin, so I wasn’t able to get any more shots. But more to come.

Here was our route:

Turtles, Lava Rocks, Sunset

Laura and I arrived on the Big Island Thursday evening for a week long getaway, and we had our first full day yesterday. Had perfect weather, a great start to the trip. Here are a few of the highlights.

A bird on a tree while we were having breakfast at our B&B outside Kona:

Some turtles, or Hono, on the beach at Kaloko-Honokohau National Historic Park:

Some lava stones at Mauna Lani:

And then finally the sunset from Anaeho’omalu Beach:

Time for day two.

CO2 Emissions by Country

Yesterday I was searching for some public data, and stumbled upon some good carbon emissions data from the European Commission. I decided to toss it into Tableau to visualize CO2 emissions by country – current state and trend. It’s been a while since I’ve done any data visualization outside of work. Here’s what I came up with after a couple beers.

Seagull – Photography Archives

I’ve recently begun going back through photos I’ve taken over the past ten years and carefully editing some of my favorites. Many of them are shots that I previously reviewed as part of a batch, and at the time didn’t give any one particular photo a meaningful amount of attention.

In doing this, I’ve also begun building a portfolio at Shutterstock, one of the more popular stock photography websites. I view it as a bit of a challenge, as their technical requirements and standards are quite difficult to meet. Historically I’ve taken a more artistic approach to photo shooting and editing, and as I first submitted shots, most were rejected. Gradually I’m learning what I need to do to get them accepted, which has been rewarding.

It’s been some time since I’ve written on this blog, and view this as an opportunity to share some of the photos I’ve been editing.

The first is a picture of a seagull I took in Chicago in June of 2009:

Samuel Kornstein: Photography Archives &emdash; Seagull

I’ve also included the Lightroom Preset available for download: Seagull

Sorachi Ace Single Hop Home Brew Recipe

This is one of my favorite recipes of all time. I discovered Sorachi Ace when someone brought a homebrewed gallon to a friend’s party and I gave it a try. For the first time in years, I felt as though I was trying a new style of beer. It wasn’t just good, it was completely unfamiliar. A hop profile I had never experienced. It’s a strain that was developed in Japan by Sapporo in the 70’s and 80’s, and is only now making it’s way to the US market in meaningful quantities.

I went home and immediately did some research, eager to brew something similar. The below recipe is what I came up with. And I’m very happy with it.

Here’s what I went with:

3 lbs Maris Otter Light
3 lbs Pilsner Light
1 lb Wheat
1 lb Rice
1 lb Flaked Barley
2 oz Sorachi Ace (30 min, 15 min, 5 min, flame out)
2 oz Sorachi Ace (Secondary dry)
California Ale Yeast

The rice lightens it up a bit, the flaked barley adds a creamy head profile, the the California Ale Yeast is unobtrusive, allowing the hop profile to dominate the taste.

A few weeks after this was ready I tried the Brooklyn Brewery Sorachi Ace single hop. It seems to be the most popular one on the market. It was alright, but I think the high 7.6% ABV and Belgian yeast they use masks the Sorachi Ace flavor. I’m still looking for something on the market that I like, but until then, I’ll keep brewing it.

As always, shoot me an email with any questions.


Here was the first pour:72A007E5-EBAE-4E9F-82F0-E4ABC42E2051