“Pic of the Week”, February 27, 2015: Silversword, Hawaii


Among the pleasures of being atop Hawaii’s giant volcanoes — Haleakala on Maui, and Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa on the Big Island — are the unusual things you see.  Standing on an otherworldly landscape of reddish-brown or gray-black lava rock, the views over the clouds are often breath-taking.  You can often see the Big Island from the top of Haleakala, and Maui from Mauna Kea.

If you divert your eyes from the magnificent views to the ground, you’re likely to see this rare gray-silver spikey plant known as “Hawaiian Silversword”.  It only grows in Hawaii and then only a mile or more above sea level.  Your best chances of seeing it are on the giant volcanoes.  The climate up here is harsh — …

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“Pic of the Week”, December 19, 2014: Ferns, Hawaii

POD 05a Ferns, Volcano House

The vegetation around the Visitor’s Center in Volcanoes National Park on Hawaii’s Big Island is in a cool tropical rainforest.  Situated at 4000′ above sea level (1220m) there’s a lush growth here including ferns of several varieties.  Some ferns are only inches tall, struggling for survival in the volcanic rock.  Others are up to 35 ft (10 m) in height, the size of a small tree.

While walking to the visitor center, I came across a thick patch of ferns, one of the larger ones including a lot of new growth that we in Canada like to call “fiddleheads”.  I’m not sure about this variety, but fiddleheads can make excellent eating.  Regardless of their culinary value, I’m fond of walking in forests rich in …

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“Pic of the Week”, Sept. 13, 2013. Volcanoes National Park, Big Island of Hawaii

2013-037-Sept 13

I love visiting the Big Island — it’s such an awesome destination!  Where else can you walk on the tallest mountain in the world (Mauna Kea, as measured from it’s base on the ocean floor) and watch lava flow from an active volcano (Kilauea), all in one day?

This photo was taken in Volcanoes National Park on the Chain of Craters road.  Over the years lava flows have completely obstructed what once was a loop drive, but it’s still very interesting to see.  Park near the end of the road and walk out on to the hardened lava shield for a great view — Pacific Ocean on one side, and endless acres of recent lava on the other.

I love …

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The Big Island of Hawaii (Part 1) Volcanoes Park

The Big Island of Hawaii 1) Volcanoes Park

There are many places in the world I wish everyone could visit.  At the top of this list is Hawaii.  It’s a great travel destination and for me retains its magic even after multiple visits.  Hawaii — the name of the island chain and also it’s biggest island — is one of the most remote places in the world, thousands of miles from other major land masses.  Still, hundreds of planes land on these islands each day and much of the island chain is “touristy”, though there’s still a “real Hawaii” to be found.  For me the “real Hawaii” is not natives living in primitive conditions but rather in memorable natural beauty — mountains, rain-forest, lava flows, desert and beaches.  …

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