Brookline, New Hampshire – August 2019 – Sculpture Mountain (Andres Institute of Art)

In Southern New Hampshire there is a small mountain (but high enough!) that is the home of the Andres Institute of Art. So put on your hiking shoes/boots and head up the hill – you will be rewarded with a higher pulse rate, and some great sculptures.




































When you get to the top you get rewarded with a great view too!

Well worth the hike up the mountain.






Barre, Vermont – August 2019 – Rockin’ Out in Vermont

While New Hampshire may be known as the Granite State, Vermont has their fair share. Their statehouse is a great example of Vermont granite.



Just outside the nearby town of Barre is the Rock of Ages Granite Company.



It is like many of the old company towns I grew up seeing in Pennsylvania and Ohio, only instead of coal it is granite – everywhere.



When you arrive at the top of the mountain and look down you see this massive pit. It is 600′ deep, but 300′ of it is under water.



Everything is super sized here, as they cut away giant chunks of granite for processing.



This quarry has been used for over 100 years. Their tools today are much better than the early days, which have been left behind. In the early days they climbed down these sketchy looking ladders to use drilling and dynamite to break the granite apart.



The years of removal have left interesting patterns on the quarry walls.



The tall yellow tower was used to bring the multi ton pieces up to the surface.



It was dangerous work.



As we made our way back down the mountain we passed their stockyard. Nothing was behind fences as the threat of something carrying away a rock weighing thousands of pounds without getting noticed is fairly low.



It wouldn’t even fit in their pickup truck.



We arrived while the factory was on lunch, so we spent some time bowling on the granite bowling lane, with granite pins. They claim that they used to use real bowling balls, but the pins would break the balls, so now they use foam.



The factory is quiet…. for the moment.



The crew has returned. With the weight everything is moved with cranes.



The granite business has gone down tremendously over the years. In the early years much was used in the construction industry (all those cool Art Deco buildings), but now it is relegated to mostly head stones. Even those aren’t used as much as in the past.



This day all the work we saw was on the aforementioned headstones.







Artisans still do the detail work.


And someone named David is about to get his headstone.





Fairview, Oklahoma – May 2019 – Little Mountain on the Prairie

As you drive across the flatlands of Oklahoma one feature you do not expect is a redish mesa rising 200 feet above the prairie, but that is exactly what Gloss Mountain does.



In fact there are a few of these features in the area just outside of the small, appropriately named town of Fairview.



The hike up the mesa was on some sketchy looking stairs, but they worked – from the top you have a panoramic view of the area.






These unique features were formed long ago when the area was under a sea that left behind layers of shale and siltstone, with a top layer of gypsum. There is something known as selenite in gypsum that is glossy, hence the name.



The mesa’s were formed from erosion over thousands of years.





From here you have a seemingly endless view across the flat lands.





Once you reach the top you pass numerous fields of wild flowers.





Gloss Mountain – an unexpected and fun hike in the middle of Oklahoma.








Hawaii – November 2018 – Day 20 Rainbow Trees and An Abrupt Stop

Our second morning at the Kauai Inn started after sunrise, which gave us a chance to see how beautiful the grounds and background was.

6511.jpg

 

 

As we left to go out for the day we found a new city have moved in down the street.

To quote a line from the movie ‘Groundhog Day’ – “I’m bettin’ he’s gonna swerve first”

6504.jpg

 

 

Our day had us headed to some waterfalls – first was Wailua Falls. I was expecting to drive into a park and go for a hike to the falls, but we ended up driving up and getting a glimpse of them from the overlook in the fog.

6457.jpg

 

 

Still the double falls was impressive.

6456.jpg

 

 

We then headed to the nearby Opaeka’a Falls. While more distance, you did get a better view – but still no hiking.

6458.jpg

 

 

The Wailua River Valley is historically a Native Hawaiian settlement area.

6463.jpg

 

 

 

We continued up the road as far as it could go until we got to the Keahua Arboretum.

Not a traditional arboretum, but more of a ‘woods’, it nonetheless has some amazing trees. These are known as Rainbow Eucalyptus trees.

6468.jpg

 

 

As Wikipedia states: “The unique multi-hued bark is the most distinctive feature of the tree. Patches of outer bark are shed annually at different times, showing a bright green inner bark. This then darkens and matures to give blue, purple, orange and then maroon tones. The previous season’s bark peels off in strips to reveal a brightly colored new bark below. The peeling process results in vertical streaks of red, orange, green, blue, and gray.”

6470.jpg

 

 

Easily some of the coolest trees I have ever seen.

6477.jpg

 

 

With that we headed back down the mountain, passing some houses with great views.

6481.jpg

 

 

We stopped by Poliahu Park.

6486.jpg

 

 

Where the remains of a Heiau (temple) remains from ancient Hawaiian times. People have left lei’s as an offering.

6483.jpg

 

 

Our plans were to continue north to a wildlife preserve and lighthouse when we ran into a bit of a problem – literally. An elderly man missed seeing us coming down the road and pulled directly in front of us – BAM.

Airbags are an exciting event – scared the #$%^ out of me.

Fortunately nobody was seriously hurt, and after getting a replacement car from Avis (who get’s a shout out about how well they handled this situation), we got checked out and were on our way.

6520.jpg

 

 

We decided to skip the lighthouse and instead went to the Spouting Horn Park, where we met some of the local sea birds.

6500.jpg

 

Spouting Horn was nice, but with the much smaller waves it wasn’t nearly as impressive as the ones in Maui.

With that our eventful day came to an end.

6496.jpg

 

 

 

Hawaii – November 2018 – Day 16 From Maui to the Moon

Early on a Sunday morning we took off and headed up the tallest mountain on Maui.

5595.jpg

Up we went until we were at the same level as the clouds.

5557.jpg

And the road kept going – we could see Molokai in the distance, and we kept going.

5569.jpg

we were looking down on the 5000′ high West Maui Mountains and the clouds now. Where could we be going?

5570.jpg

The moon!

No not really, it is Haleakala Mountain (and National Park). The buildings are an observatory.

5529.jpg

But if you could visit the moon in shorts this is the place (to be fair it was in the upper 50s but it is Hawaii so I am wearing shorts).

Haleakala is a volcano, and the top is the crater with numerous cauldrons. They like to point out that while it is officially 10,023′ above sea level, there is another 19, 680′ below sea level, so it is taller than Everest (but shorter overall than nearby Mauna Kea).

5608.jpg

There are numerous cauldrons in the crater, which is a deceptive 2600′ deep.

5610.jpg

While barren of vegetation, the crater floor is full of color, as this series of photos will show. These are some of my favorite photos of all time, all from the same place!

5614.jpg

5627.jpg

5631.jpg

5646.jpg

5648.jpg

5657.jpg

5667.jpg

5675.jpg

We went down the path into the cauldron for about 45 minutes – resulting in a 2 hour hike back up. For me this was one of the tougher hikes, it is 10,000′ in elevation, it is continuous, without shade (and I likely only went down 700-800 vertical feet)

It is an incredible place, and we were fortunate that it was a very sunny day the day we visited, as the clouds often obscure the mountain (at least parts), and later in the day and for the rest of our time in Maui, it was at least partially obscured.

5638.jpg

We returned to Maui (aka sea level) and went for a drive to Kahakuloa. While most people drive the famed road to Hana (we did – later), this road was far more impressive and challenging. It was mostly a lane and a half, often clinging to the cliffs to the ocean, with minimal guard rails.

It was great!

5703.jpg

Great unexpected views would just pop up without warning.

5708.jpg

The road passes through a couple of little towns.

5713.jpg

Eventually you make it back to a road with state highway maintenance (aka – two lanes), but the views continue.

5731.jpg

We stopped at the Nakalele Blowhole.

5743.jpg

Another north shore coastline (note the road running along the top of the hill).

5761.jpg

Maui’s north shore is known for the surfing. We watched a number of them catch waves before calling it a day.

5764.jpg

5768.jpg

Hawaii – November 2018 – Day 15 – Best 30 Minute Flight in the World

We left the ship in the morning and spent a bit of time in the town of Kaunakakai at a farmers market, while we waiting for our flight’s scheduled time.

5232.jpg

 

 

Eventually it was time to go – in our 9 passenger Mokulele Airlines flight to Maui. As we boarded the plane I asked the pilot if we were taking the north route to Maui, and with a smile she said ‘yes’!

5277.jpg

 

 

We took off over the only flat land on Molokai.

5285.jpg

 

 

The north route takes you over the famed Sea Cliffs. Known as the highest sea cliffs in the world, some are over 4000′ high. Now you know why the pilot was smiling.

5293.jpg

 

 

A family owned airline, they are known for their island hopping routes.

5296.jpg

 

 

The best views in the world out the windows of our little 9 passenger plane on a regularly scheduled route..

5303.jpg

 

 

One of the saddest policies in Hawaiian history was the sequestering of leprosy patients. One of the most famous of these is on Molokai, where over a 100 year period over 8,000 people were sent to spend the rest of their lives in isolation.

Today it is a National Historic Park accessible only by mules down the 1,600′ high cliffs, or by plane.

5308.jpg

 

 

More of the steep valleys along Molokai’s north shore.

5311.jpg

 

5314.jpg

 

5319.jpg

 

5336.jpg

 

 

There are numerous waterfalls coming off of the cliffs.

5337.jpg

 

 

Two of the 8 highest waterfalls in the world are along these cliffs. I ‘think’ we are looking at Olo’upena Falls and ‘Pu’uka’oku Falls, both nearly 3000’ high.

5342.jpg

 

 

Amazing cliffs and waterfalls.

5344.jpg

 

 

Our last view of Molokai was of the Halawa Valley, where we spent the day before with Pops and his family learning of Hawaiian culture.

5347.jpg

 

 

After crossing the 20 mile channel we were over Maui,

5360.jpg

 

 

While rugged, the mountains are not as abrupt as Molokai. They do however have a great little road running through them (more on that tomorrow).

5362.jpg

 

 

More canyons as we approach the airport.

5375.jpg

 

 

Maui is basically one massive mountain on east end, with other tall mountains on the west end, with a flat valley in the middle. All of a sudden it looks like Southern California!

5379.jpg

 

 

The water in the ocean just off shore had great color though.

5382.jpg

 

 

Making a couple of quick turns to land and we were in Maui. What a spectacular flight!

The traffic and congestion will quickly make you wish you were back in Molokai.

5383.jpg

 

 

We did make a quick trip up to Iao Valley before the sun set though.

5402.jpg

 

 

The ‘needle’, a 1200′ high (from the valley floor). It is really a ridge, as it continues beyond sight.

5398.jpg

 

 

As we walked to dinner along the coast we saw this great turtle hanging out in the lava rocks.

5267.jpg

 

 

 

Hawaii – November 2018 – Day 6 Hilo

Day 6 started with some rain as we made our way down the mountain towards Hilo. As we drove along in the rain to our first destination I found the Apple Maps (the rental car has Apple Car Play) can let you down.

It had me turn on this ‘street’, which after about a mile I decided to give up, and back up until I could turn around. It is literally at the edge of town, so we weren’t way out in the middle of nowhere.

2283.jpg

 

 

Eventually we reached the town of Kalapana, about 20 miles south of Hilo, and Kaimu ‘Beach’. At one time it was a black sand beach, but in 1990 a lava flow overtook the beach and filled the entire bay.

As noted yesterday many believe that Hawaii is an independent Kingdom, not part of the U.S., especially for any new land that wasn’t part of the U.S. acquisition.

2287.jpg

 

 

This lava flow had some large cracks in it when it cooled.

2296.jpg

 

 

We are standing ‘in the bay’ looking back towards town.

2294.jpg

 

 

Further down the road is where the Spring 2018 lava flow wiped out 700 houses. While I feel bad for the people and their loss, who builds their house in the path of a volcano that has been flowing nearly continuously for 100 years or more.

2314.jpg

 

 

Yet here they are again, already popping up these little houses on the freshly cooled lava.

2324.jpg

 

 

Returning the other direction along the coast, we passed through some great forests.

 

2335.jpg

 

 

Eventually we reached MacKenzie State Park. Note the fisherman climbing the precariously placed ladder on the left and his fishing pole on the right. I am not sure what he is catching, but I hope it is worth it.

2345.jpg

 

 

On another recent lava flow people have placed Cairns made out of coconuts and leaves instead of the traditional rock piles.

2420.jpg

 

 

But it did lead to another great coastal view.

2430.jpg

 

 

Returning to Hilo, we went to Wailuku River Park, and found this impressive Banyan tree.

2455.jpg

 

 

The highlight of the park is Rainbow Falls. If you are there in the morning you will most likely see a rainbow, but it was afternoon so alas, we only saw the waterfall.

2475.jpg

 

 

About 20 miles north of Hilo is Akaka Falls. The hike down was through another ‘jungle’, although this one was nicely paved.

2481.jpg

 

 

At 442′ high it is one of the tallest waterfalls in America.

2485.jpg

 

 

There are even small waterfalls coming out of the rocks to the side of the main falls.

2501.jpg

 

 

The falls in located near the town of Honomu.

2544.jpg

 

 

Interestingly many small Hawaiian towns are built in the ‘old west’ style, albeit much more colorful.

2540.jpg

 

 

Once again we had a great view from our hotel, facing west across Hilo Bay towards the mountains (obscured by clouds in this photo).

2547.jpg

 

 

Next door was Lili’uokalani Park and Gardens. The site was donated by Queen Lili’uokalani, with the park being built in 1917 in the Edo style Japanese Gardens.

It is thought to be one of the best in the world outside of Japan.

2555.jpg

 

 

Well maintained with beautiful trees and landscaping.

2561.jpg

 

 

Along with some sculptures.

2565.jpg

 

 

I am not sure what these are known as so I called them Bonsai Palms.

2572.jpg

 

 

The park was very relaxing, and a great way to end the day.

2588.jpg

 

2604.jpg

 

 

Many of the native trees have really cool, funky looks to them.

2605.jpg

 

2608.jpg

 

 

Chillin’ on Coconut Island.

2624.jpg

 

 

2640.jpg

 

 

Our hotel grounds were directly on the bay.

2656.jpg

 

 

As the sun was setting the last of the days flights were arriving. The airport was nearby, and the flight path brought the planes down the coast with a hard left turn just before the field. The clouds and setting sun added to the look.

2788.jpg

 

 

Another great Hawaiian sunset. Note that Manua Loa has come out of the clouds in the background.

2734.jpg

 

 

With that it was time for dinner, with entertainment.

2803.jpg