September 2008 Log

A photo diary of life in Hilo Hawaii






The last Sunday in September the Liliuokalani festival was held in Hilo at Liliuokalani gardens. The festival is in honor of Queen Liliuokalani, the last reigning monarch of Hawaii. The event included hula dancing, music, Taiko drumming, and a large array of food vendors selling local foods.

Liliuokalani gardens festival

The crowds were very interested in the Japanese Taiko drumming.

Liliuokalani Festival in Hilo

You can hear the drumming in the background of this video.

The Royal entourage huddled under a tent to keep out of the hot sun.

Royal Court in Liliuokalani festival

The food was a big draw.

Festival in Hilo

Poi balls in Hilo

Food stands in Hilo Hawaii

A glorious day for a festival in Hilo.

Beautiful Hilo Hawaii


The annual downtown block party sponsored by the radio station KWXX rocked the town on Saturday night.

Hilo Ho'oleaule'a

The event consists of 3 bandstands, food stands, and folks sitting and dancing in Kamehameha street in front of downtown Hilo.

Hilo block party bandstand 1

Hilo bandstand 2 for block party

Hilo bandstand 3 for block party

The bandstands are within earshot of each other, making a very loud night of music. From 5PM to 10PM each bandstand had an array of bands playing a wide range of music. KWXX and other sponsors of the event brought in bands from Oahu and the mainland to join bands on the island to entertain folks in Hilo.

Hilo Block Party Sept 2008

Kamehameha street was closed to auto traffic and covered with food vendors and merchants.

Hilo Block party food

Hilo food stands


HELCO, the Big Island's Electric company, sponsored an energy fair for the public in the Prince Kuhio Mall in Hilo.

HELCO energy fair in Hilo

They had a large number of displays for adults and kids to explain how the island is getting it's power, how we can save power, and explain their program to support solar power.

HELCO Energy fair display

HELCO Energy fair display


Hawaii County Fair in Hilo

This weekend we went to the Hawaii county fair at the Civic Auditorium in Hilo. They had a midway set up with rides, games and junk food.

Hawaii County Fair

Three buildings were filled with displays and information booths about the upcoming election, county organizations, schools and churches.

Hawaii County Fair September 2008

We enjoyed walking around and seeing the happy people thrilled with the rides.


Hilo Downtown Bandstand

A Political Rally was well attended tonight in the Mooheau Grandstand in downtown Hilo.

Hilo Political Rally

Obama Rally Hilo

Obama's sister, Maya Soetoro-Ng gave a great speech to an approving crowd.

Obama's Sister in Hilo Hawaii



Vog in Hilo Sept 14, 2008

Now that summer is near an end, the tradewinds have stopped blowing and Hilo is filling with volcanic emissions (vog). Hilo's closest vog producer is from fumes spewing from the Pu'u'O'o area vents. Elevated sulfur dioxide levels continue to affect Kona and Pahala, but now the plumes are lingering around the Kilauea summit in Volcano, Mountain View and Hilo without the air flow to blow the vog out to sea.

The increased volcanic activity began this past March 19, when a huge explosion opened the Halema'uma'u vent in the main Kilauea crater. Soon after, several new vents near the Pu'u O'o crater began emitting plumes and lava. Pu'u O'o is on the Hilo side of Kilauea.

You should be able to see trees, houses, and Hilo Bay in the picture below.

Hilo Vog September 14, 2008

On September 2 a volcanic explosion from Halema'uma'u vent blanketed Crater Rim Drive up at Volcanoes National park, spattered the parking lot, and material from the explosion burned a hole in their collector box. On September 5 the Halema'uma'u vent opened enough to show a bubbling lava lake under the rim of the vent. Seismic activity under the volcano continues; 11 earthquakes beneath or nearby Kilauea occured just yesterday. The seimic activity with increased sulfur dioxide emissions (the average measurement was 800 tonnes/day on September 11 compared to pre-2008 background rates of 150-200 tonnes/day) seem to indicate our active volcano is gearing up for a major display.


Today we visited the Hawaii Tropical Botanical Gardens , a few miles north of Hilo above Onomea Bay. The land was purchased by the Lutkenhouse family in 1978 and they spent 6 years creating the pathways and gardens. They created a nonprofit nature preserve and allow the public to view the gardens for $15 per person. A couple can join for a year for $50.

Hawaii Botanical Garden path

Most of the folks at the gardens were from the NCL cruise ship in town and were challenged by the steep decent to the ocean and difficult climb back up. The Gardens uses golf carts to ferry folks back up the steep 500 foot boardwalk.

Hilo Hawaii botanical gardens

We were impressed with the variety of flowers and flowering trees and bushes on the trails.

Hilo Purple Orchid

The 1.25 miles of trails lead you past waterfalls, orchids, bromelaids, a huge cage of parrots, and al lillypond with orange koi fish.

At the bottom of the trail is Onomea bay. The seas were rough so it was fun to watch the waves crashing on the rocks.

Onomea Bay Hilo, Hawaii


It seems like there is a never ending number of things to do in Hilo. The excitement this week started with my computer screen freezing. After several hard resets, the overused system wouldn't even boot. Fortunately, Hilo has a computer repair shop. No luck getting it fixed though; the repair person said the RAM chip was covered with mold. I am surprised the heat from processing images didn't cook the mold off.

We are going to Kawamoto Swimming Complex regularily now after discovering that the shallow end is warm enough thanks to the sun pouring through the glass covered roof to the pool below.
Hilo Kawamoto pool

It is amazing how empty the huge pool is in the morning before lunch.

Hilo Astrotalks have started up again. This past Friday, Dr. David Jewitt spoke in the evening at the University of Hawaii in Hilo. His talk was about "Comets, Asteroids and Oceans: Where Does Water Come From?" . Dr. Jewitt works at the University of Hawaii Institute for Astronomy on Oahu and has been working on observing objects with the UH telescopes on Mauna Kea that have water. These talks are always full of fasinating information.

Dr. David Jewitt UH


After 10 months in Hilo, the weather continues to be a surprise to us. We expected it to be much hotter and more rainy. Instead, the days are mostly sunny and the winds keep the temperature cool and the air clean. Below is an adventure cruise ship that arrived on a glorious day in Hilo to enjoy the town and nearby volcano.

Yacht in Hilo Harbor

We've heard that this summer Hilo has been less rainy than usual; the rest of Hawaii, particularily Oahu is having a drought.

According to NOAA's rainfall graph, Hilo's rainfall this year from Jan to Aug was about 70 inches. According to The Weather Channel, Hilo's average yearly rainfall is 126.27 inches and average rainfall from Jan to Aug is 81.41 inches. Based on that comparison, Hilo rainfall is down by over 10 inches this year so far. It might account for the abundance of sunny days we have had this year.

We've heard that the trade winds blow all summer and stop in the winter. August and September are normally the warmest time of year, so the trades off the ocean are a major factor in keeping Hilo cool in the summer. We are wondering about the impact of the trades stopping this Fall. Last year we didn't have this level of volcanic emissions and constant vog (it started this year in Feb and March). Lack of trade winds may result in vog settling in Hilo. We shall see.


Usually the summit of Mauna Kea is covered with clouds in the evening, so it was a treat to see this sight. The telescopes are visible even as the light fades.

Mauna Kea at dusk

Previous August 2008 Hilo Log posts


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