Next, we stopped at Ahalanui Park to take a dip in the natural hot spring. That's where we met Noah. He was selling little seashell trinkets and Kukui nut necklaces. He's an Indiana University grad, moved out west to Boulder, CO during the hippy movement. He told us how he lived in Santa Monica and played an extra in the beginning of White Men Can't Jump! He moved to Hawaii because "why would you want to live anywhere else?" He loved it so much. He's one of the friendliest, happiest people I've ever met. He reminded me of a tan Santa Claus, super jolly, always making jokes. He loved people and making connections; you could see the love in his eyes.
We told him we were going to check out the hot spring. He started telling us about two large sea turtles he saw earlier that day down on the rocks. Before we knew it, he had left his trinket stand to show us around. We saw the giant 'warm pond', surrounded by palm trees. It had manmade cement walls with ladders and an inlet to the ocean to allow sea-life into the pool. We climbed along the stone wall barrier, peering out into the ocean. The turtles had gone, but he told us about a much warmer, smaller, less popular hot spring just past the dock at Isaac Hale Beach Park. Andrew bought his mom a Hibiscus flower clip and I picked out a cute, wooden turtle magnet. He said we looked like a good couple and hoped we last. We said our goodbyes, hugged, and waved aloha as we drove off to Isaac Hale Beach Park.
After swimming in a volcanically heated thermal pool, we got hungry and decided to head back. However, along the drive, we passed Lava Tree State Park and had to stop! There was a fenced off section which resembled Jurassic Park and had a bold sign "do not climb over, ground can cave in!" I remember looking up and seeing a veil of green lace covering the sky. The sun began to set and it became dark as we made our way into the town of Pahoa. We stopped at Ning's for a tasty thai dinner.
Photos by Andrew Gregor