For 4 Yankee dudes from Maine, who's collective experience is pretty scant, we had a blast riding thru the lush hillside meadows of the Kohala mountains. At nearly 4,000 feet, the air was crystal clear and the scenery breathtaking. It was a thrill to look down and see our sunny seaside cottage  on Puako Beach Road from this mountainside. We did pretty with  help from the trusty steeds.
On the way to Volcano National Park on the Big Island's East side, we stopped at Akaka falls just on the outskirts of Hilo. These plunge freefalling 420 ft . The resulting crater is green with ferns soaking in the mist.
Hilo is a wonderful old city with a large oriental population. I love to visit the old Japanese hardware stores where you can still buy large copper soldering irons and wonderfully crafted pull saws. We also brought large stainless steel chopping knives from a Chinese importer.
On to Volcano National Park , we visited the two very interesting exhibit/museums and rode around the huge steaming crater. The lava was not flowing, so we passed up the 27 mile drive to the shore where it can sometimes be seen. But the mandatory walk through the huge Thurston Lava tube in the tree fern forest was as awesome as always (this was my 6th time through ) - I can't pass it up.
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