Day Eleven: A Volcano, Black Sand Beach and Lava Cake

Our final full day in Hawai'i started with a yummy breakfast at our favorite chain hotel, Holiday Inn Express (low price, nice rooms, great free breakfast and usually a pool). After we got on the road I had to use the bathroom. We stopped in a little town where there was a community bathroom. When I say 'community' I think it was being used by ... the whole community. We saw a lot more poverty in Hawaii than I expected. I had to supply my own toilet paper that I bought at the grocery store. It was the best $1.29 I spent on the trip.  

We traveled south along the shore until we reached the Black Sand Beach in Naalehu. The sand is made from lava that flows from the volcano, and it was beautiful. 
We played in the tide pools and visited with the turtles. 

We stopped at the Lava Rock Cafe for a great lunch in Volcano, Hawaii (yep, that is the name of the town) and made our way to the Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park. Super interesting. Mount St. Helens is the only volcano we have visited, but this one is active. We were able to convince Annelies to join us for a family photo overlooking the volcano crater (I promised not to use the selfie-stick). Doesn't she look thrilled?
Below is the volcano's active crater. Eight years ago they had a wooden bridge that jetted out over the crater. Due to the high levels of sulfar that are emitted daily, they had to close the road. Good thing, because two weeks after closing the road the volcano erupted and rocks destroyed the bridge.

Annelies earned her last Junior Ranger badge of the trip. Reminder: Paradis does all the work. Annelies merely stands for the ceremony (the assignments for each badge increase in number as you get older, and Paradis never wants to do the whole book). Great team work.

On our way back to Hilo we drove through a Rain Forest. The ferns were ginormous. The one below is a smaller version. It was a beautiful drive.

We were in Hawaii for nearly two weeks and it never rained. Until today, when it rained on and off throughout the day. The weather was absolutely perfect for this trip.

We stopped at McDonalds for salads, and Dominos for pizza (yes, we got a couple Chocolate Lava Cakes to commemorate our day on the volcano). We checked in to our hotel, did the Luggage Shuffle (all liquids and questionable TSA items into the one bag we will check) and went to bed. It was a great day.

Day Eleven: Gas $34.03 ($73.58 total); Lodging: $132.69 ($3,437.55 total); Souvenirs $177.54 ($509.24 total); Tourist Traps $10 ($775.60 total); Fights 0 (1 total). || Airfare for entire trip: $8,470.08 (of which $7,228.08 was free, using miles). Car Rental for entire trip: $469.76. Note: I'm not tracking driving miles, Redbox rentals or states (2 total) on this trip.

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