On the way up to Volcano, we stopped at a black sands beach. This differs from most other beaches on the Big Island by having some sand; otherwise it looks pretty much like the rest of the lava-rock coastline. (Okay, the historical park had a coarse salt-and-pepper sand beach, but it's mostly rocks.) Lava rocks make great tidepools and, like most of the other times we were on the coast, there were some sea turtles hanging around just offshore.
In the afternoon, we checked out the Volcanoes National Park visitor centers and the view of the main Kilauea caldera from the new overlook. The old overlook, along with most of Crater Rim Drive, has been closed for a while because of the clouds of poisonous gas and steaming ash the volcano has been spewing on it for a year or so. They had some nice big rocks and burnt fenceposts that had come from the old overlook to demonstrate.
Cathy was tired, so she rested in the house while Brooks, Andrés, and I went to Kipuka Puaulu, a little island of forest in the midst of newer lava flows. We saw a great many chickens and pheasants, and a lot of really interesting plants.
The next day we hiked across Kilauea Iki, the small crater that we'd watched spew boiling rock hundreds of feet in the air in a film in the visitor center the previous day (it did this in 1959, so Not That Long Ago Really). It was a little nerve-wracking but also very cool. It rained on us most of the hike, which was dispiriting but probably more pleasant than the grueling-sun alternative. Afterwards, we drove Chain of Craters Road, and got out in a few places to hike across lava flows crossing the old road (1979 -- this gave a much more visceral sense of the recentness than watching video clips, even much more recent video clips), through a huge petroglyph field, and across the lava flow covering the road we were in fact on. Sometimes we could see the steam plume rising from where the current lava flow was reaching the water, some kilometers east. We had no desire whatsoever to get closer to it, given the clouds of hydrochloric acid and tiny bits of flying glass created by lava flows hitting seawater.
The next day we drove up to the Hilo area to see various waterfalls and did some shopping. We bought fantastic jam, some cookies, sarongs, a Christmas present for my mom (hi, Mom!), and a bigger suitcase to fit the art we'd gotten in Kona that turned out to be just this much too big to fit in the big suitcase we had.
Part 4: Maui
This is where they put the nice beaches! After our flight arrived, we checked into the astoundingly wonderful bed-and-breakfast, went out for brunch, and spent the rest of the day at the beach swimming and digging and snorkeling and eating fruit and having a generally lovely time in the pretty, soft sand.
The next day, we went to see Iao Valley, which was the site of a major battle in uniting the Hawaiian islands, and discovered that our legs were really sore from swimming. Mine didn't feel all that tired, but the right one kept trembling. We had planned to go to the aquarium afterwards, but it was more expensive than we'd realized and nobody seemed very enthusiastic, so Cathy picked out a beach with really big waves to try for better boogie-boarding than at the first beach and we went there instead. I thought that the brown churning water at the shoreline indicated quite clearly that swimming at this location was a good way to get covered in sand and probably injured (especially given the trembly leg), so I sat in the shade and read my book while the other three got covered in sand and in some cases injured. Then after we'd all cleaned up we climbed on top of the roof of the main house to watch the sun set.
Oh yeah, and somewhere in there we drank, and then ate, fresh coconuts. Not quite the sort of impractical beverage I was thinking, but any foodstuff that requires a machete to properly appreciate is only so sensible.
 In Volcano, we rented two rooms in what turned out to be a great big house with a fully-equipped kitchen and nice common areas to hang out in -- the rooms themselves were pretty lousy (and at opposite ends of the house -- one on the top floor and one in the basement) but the common areas were pleasant, and it was nice to have a kitchen. I liked it better the first day, when we were the only people there; the second day it was fully booked and a lot of random people kept wandering through and making me nervous while we were eating dinner.