.All Trips / Hawaii / North America

“Pic of the Week”, January 30, 2015: Saddle Road, Hawaii

POD 04 Saddle Road Mona Kea

I love a scenic road-trip!  One of the greatest short drives in America is Saddle Road, which crosses between the dry and wet sides of the Big Island of Hawaii, across broad lava flows and the saddle between Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea, the world’s largest and tallest mountains respectively (base of Mauna Kea is 19000′ below sea level; the part above ocean is 13796′ high).  The drive is best done on a clear day, especially in the morning as it often clouds over in the afternoon.  It’s a windy road but of good quality.  It used to be that not all car rental companies allowed you to take your car rental across it, but the road is so good now …

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.All Trips / Hawaii / North America

Volcanoes National Park, Hawaii, Redux

00 Volcanoes National Park.  Chain of Craters Road

I’m a huge fan of National Parks, and one of the most amazing parks anywhere is Volcanoes National Park on Hawaii’s Big Island.  When you visit, you’ll know why it’s a UNESCO World Heritage site!  I’ve previously shared some of my experiences here, which you can read at this link if you’re interested.

I recently revisited Volcanoes NP (something about the volcano draws me back again and again).  Kilauea is still active, currently only to a limited extent within the park boundaries itself, although this could change at any time as volcanoes are notoriously unpredictable.  Where Kileau’s lava flows are most active right now is outside the park in the southwestern part of the island near the …

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“Pic of the Week”, August 29, 2014: Vista House and the Columbia River Gorge

03 Columbia River 3-2006 057 Vista House

One of the most dramatic road trips one can make in the United States is through the Columbia River Gorge.  The Columbia River, the mightest river in the American West, originates in British Columbia but near its entry to the Pacific serves as a dividing line between Washington and Oregon State.  This historic river route was traveled by the Lewis and Clark expedition over 200 years ago.  The drive along the Gorge just to the east of Portland is breathtaking!

A favorite stopping point along the way on the Oregon side is Vista House, constructed on the Crown Point Promontory.  Once called “Thor’s Heights,” Crown Point is a basalt rock formation created by volcanic lava and sculpted by the elements.   …

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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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.All Trips / Idaho / North America / Pacific Northwest

Craters of the Moon National Monument

Craters of the Moon National Monument

Sometimes as I reflect on my travels, trends stand out that I might otherwise never have noticed.  For example, I’d not have thought myself unusually interested in volcanoes or lava, but in the past year I’ve visited three locations rich in recent volcanic history — Iceland, the Big Island of Hawaii and now the Snake River Plain in Southern Idaho.  So at some subconscious level I must be deeply fascinated by volcanism and lava flows.

Idaho is a state rich in natural beauty and is one of my favorite places to explore.  It’s a mountainous land (home of its big timber business) with several grand lakes and fertile plains (where all those big potatoes are grown).   This …

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