Aloha and Mahalo from Volcano Hawaii

Well, it’s hard to believe but I’m back in St. Louis as we wrapped up a great week of training in Volcano, Hawaii. The trip home was long to say the least.

A little bit of sightseeing

Picking up where I last left off, last Thursday afternoon we finished class a little earlier than planned and so Wilson and I hopped in the car and did a little sightseeing. We drove over to see the Thurston Lava Tubes which is a 500-year old lava cave located within Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. Lava caves like this are formed when a river of lava gradually builds solid walls and a ceiling. When the lava flow stops and the last of it passes downhill, a cave is formed. These caves can be a few feet high and only yards long, or they can stretch for miles with high ceilings. After walking through the cave and the surrounding rain forest, we drove down to see where the lava flows went into the ocean. Along the way we passed several lave fields that dated back to the early 1970’s. Finally, when we reached the ocean and the blue water of the Pacific was beautiful.

Friday was our final day in class. For me personally, it started off with a wonderful six-mile run along Crater Rim Road. As I ran past the Volcano Observatory and then the open field with the steam vents I couldn’t help but wonder if I’d ever get the opportunity to return to this place and see more of God’s wonders. I sure hope so.

Polynesian culture

We started class off with another unique opportunity. As I mentioned in previous blogs this week, our class was very diverse. Not only did we have attendees from the Hawaiian Islands, but also from Guam, the Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands, and American Samoa. One of the gentlemen from Samoa was actually with us two years ago when we were first in Honolulu Hawaii. In talking with him about the Samoan culture, we agreed there are many similarities with the Native American culture. I explained that in the Native American classes we’ve taught, we usually have someone from their tribe open the class with a prayer in their native language. Along those lines, he shared with me that Samoan tradition is similar and he agreed to open our last day of class with a morning prayer in his native Samoan language. What a great way to start our last day of class.

Another cultural item we learned about was that in the various Polynesian cultures, it’s customary to give your guests a gift. After our morning prayer and before we actually started class, Wilson and I were both presented with blue conference bags with the logo of Guam Homeland Security and Civil Defense. Inside were homeland security/emergency management related gifts that students from each of the regional areas brought with them to give to us. What a surprise! I’ll proudly display these in my home.

This trip will go down as one of those life experiences I won’t ever forget. My good friend and teaching buddy Wilson and I made many new friends during this trip, and were able to see “up close and personal” one of the greatest natural disaster risks we have – a live volcano.

Well, let me close by sharing some final pictures from our trip.  I hope you enjoy them.

“Mahalo” to all of you who read my blogs during the trip and I hope you’ll come back starting July 28th for a new adventure.

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Day Two CERT Training in Hawaii and Volcanos

In my blog yesterday, I mentioned we are at the Kilauea Military Camp (KMC) located in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. The park and camp are located at a elevation of 4,000 feet above sea level. I tell you this because the weather here is so different that what you might expect for a tropical area. The last couple of nights the temperature dipped down to the mid to upper 40’s (F; 7+ C) and during the day the temperatures have been in the low 70’s (F; 21+ C). Our host while we are here told us we are on the one Hawaiian island where they actually get snow in the higher mountain elevations! Snow in Hawaii? Not the Hawaii you would expect.

Running by volcanic steam vents

This morning I got up and went out for my morning run. It was spectacular. The sun was just starting to rise and as I started out from the camp I headed east on the Crater Rim Drive toward the park’s main gate. About a mile into my run I came across a large field that has several steam vents. Here rainwater sinks through the ground and is warmed by rocks which carry heat from the lava below. Hot water then rises through fissures to condense in the chilled air. It was really something to see.

Our class

Day Two of our CERT Train the Trainer class went really well today. While most of our time was spent review the core Basic CERT material, our primary student activity was their first “teach back”. This exercise allows students to stand before their classmates as an instructor and apply the training (skills) they’ve learned so far and actually conducted a very small section of material in our class. Past experience has validated that students really enjoy and benefit from the experience. And what’s more, not only do our students learn, but so do we as instructors.

Today one of our students demonstrated a wonderful way to help determine if you have an adequately sized fire extinguisher to put out a fire. He referred to this as his “Yes, No, Maybe” check. Basically it’s a way to size a fire extinguisher against the burning item. If the extinguisher is as big or bigger than the item burning, then yes, you probably have a large enough extinguisher to put out the fire. If the extinguisher is smaller than the burning object, then No you don’t. And of course, there’s always Maybe’s in life.

Lunchtime presentation – Hawaiian Volcano Observatory (NVO; www.hvo.wr.usgs.gov/ )

One of the key motivators for us to come to Hawaii to teach was the fact that we were going to be at the Hawaiian Volcano Park and we’d get an up close and personal presentation and tour of the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory.

Dr. Jim Kauahikaua, joined our class today and provided a terrific overview (and slide show) of Hawaii’s volcanos as well as the island’s earthquakes. Jim is the Scientist-In-Charge of the USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory. Later this evening, Jim met us at the Observatory and provided us with a “behind the scenes” tour of the Observatory.

Tomorrow, we’ll wrap up our CERT Train-the-Trainer class. I hope you’ll come back tomorrow to see what else we are getting in to in the wonderful and interesting location. Until then, I hope you enjoy these pictures that I took today.

We're here!  The sign at the entry of the Observatory

We’re here! The sign at the entry of the Observatory

The USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory

The USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory

Looking out on to the crater

Looking out on to the crater

The crater

The crater

Inside the Observatory

Inside the Observatory

A view looking into the crater

A view looking into the crater

In image looking down into the creater looking at the lava flow.

In image looking down into the creater looking at the lava flow.

That's Dr. Jim Kauahikaua, Scientist-in-Charge at the USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory.

That’s Dr. Jim Kauahikaua, Scientist-in-Charge at the USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory.

An even better picture at night

An even better picture at night

A nice nighttime glow picture of the crater

A nice nighttime glow picture of the crater