Houston – May 2019 – Random Views

We had a great couple of days in Houston, coming away with a great feel for the city. This posting is to cover the random sights that don’t fit anywhere else, like the featured image above from the Sam Houston Park Village with a little church in the middle of the skyscrapers downtown.

Even though I had been in Houston briefly a couple of times previously I had never seen the Astrodome. The world’s first indoor baseball and football stadium when it was completed in the early 1960s, it still stands unused.




The Wateralls across from the Williams Tower is 64′ high, 1 foot for each floor of the nearby skyscraper.




The ‘Twilight Epiphany Skyspace’ is located on the campus of Rice University. I had read that this was a cool thing to see, but when we got there in the middle of the afternoon I couldn’t understand why. It turns out you must be there at sunset or sunrise – maybe next time.




Houston is notorious for their traffic, with over 6 million people in the area and very little public transportation. They do however have a streetcar that covers a few miles in the center of the city.




As well as crossing a man made pond in the middle of Main Street.




Discover Park has an interesting pinwheel display with a device that when you blow into it just right, kicks off fans that make all the pinwheels spin.




Buffalo Bayou Park is a nice urban park space complete with a skateboard park.



The highlight of the park though was our tour of the Buffalo Bayou Park Cistern. Once used for retaining water for the city, it is now a cool space to explore on a guided tour.




The city has numerous examples of public art.









I have often wondered who has the concrete contracts for road construction in Texas as they build ramps that seem far longer than needed, and never pile up dirt to make the overpasses shorter.




In the theme of ‘Everything is Bigger in Texas’ – As we left the city and reached the suburb of Katy, Texas we made a stop at a Buc-ee’s. A Texas based chain, Buc-ee’s are massive – this one has over 60 gas pumps (the photo is only showing about 1/2 of them)!



The highlight though was the World’s Longest Car Wash (according to the Guiness World Records) – the 255′ long one at Buc-ee’s easily cleaned off 2,000 miles of dirt and grime. Now it is off for San Antonio!

Houston – May 2019 – McGovern Centennial Gardens

Just south of downtown Houston is Hermann Park, and the McGovern Centennial Gardens. It is a small, well thought out space with flowers, plants and statues.














The statues featured great Latin American leaders, as well as (strangely) Scottish poet Robert Burns!












Cumberland Plateau, Kentucky & Tennessee – May 2019 – Waterfall Tour

The Cumberland Plateau is situated just west of the Appalachian Mountains, running from Kentucky through Tennessee and into Alabama.

The area has a number of highlights including this natural bridge in southern Kentucky.



The Cumberland Falls is the most famed natural feature of southern Kentucky. They claim to have the 2nd most volume of water for a waterfalls in the eastern United States (a far second to Niagara Falls).



From below the rush of the water is impressive.



Just south of Byrdstown, Tennessee is the Obey River Recreation Area.



Cummins Falls is a 75′ high waterfall on the Blackburn Fork River in Jackson County, Tennessee. This waterfall has two options for viewing – one is the overlook seen here. The second is to go down to the river and wade for 1/2 mile in the river to get to the waterfalls. Because of high water conditions (and not being prepared for wading waist high in water), we opted for the overlook view only.



Burgess Falls is on the aptly named Falling Water River in east central Tennessee. This remains of an old bridge crosses the river just above the series of waterfalls.



There are some cascades before you arrive at this falls, nearly 80′ high.



But the main Burgess Falls is this impressive 136′ drop into the ravine.



Not far from Burgess Falls is Falls Creek Falls. It is the highest free fall waterfall east of the Mississippi, dropping an impressive 256′.



A closer view of the top.



A robust hike into the ravine gives a totally different perspective.



Within the same park is this nice cliff and small falls.



Also in Tennessee is the Rock Island State Park. It has a number of features including this falls along the Caney Fork.



This falls once powered this historic cotton mill.



The Caney Fork continues down. Depending on the release of water from the dam it can look like those, or be totally submersed in water.



The highlight of the Rock Island State Park are the Great Falls. Here it appears the entire hillside is the waterfalls, with water seemingly coming from everywhere along the hillside.



This closeup of the smaller cascade portion show the beauty of the falls.



Finally we had a bonus waterfalls early in the morning in Tullahoma, Tennessee. The Rutledge Falls is on a church’s property but they welcome visitors to come check them out.





Logan, OH – March 2019 – Last Ice Posting of the Year (Hopefully)

With winter hopefully coming to an end soon it was a good day to check out Hocking Hills State Park, and the numerous waterfalls throughout the park.





For this hike we started at the top of the gorge, where the aptly named Upper Falls is located.





As we made our way downstream we passed numerous ice formations on the gorge walls.





While the icicles are all bumpy, the icy spots on the trail were perfectly smooth, and very slick.





The day was mostly cloudy but we did have a peak of the sun highlight the lower falls and rock formation near one of the trails exiting the gorge.





Much like snowflakes, it seems no two icicles are the same.





The stream continues down the gorge with numerous small waterfalls.





We reached the lower falls before heading off for other trails.





Broken Rock Falls is at the end of a short side trail. Despite the narrow path for the water to travel over the wall, it came down with significant noise.





We moved on to Cedar Falls where the path to the falls took us past more interesting formations on the gorge wall. It seems the ice here was ‘stuck’ to the wall, as opposed to the numerous icicles elsewhere, although there were some here too.





The light mist that comes over the edge causes the light coating.





Cedar Falls is one of the nicer ones in the park.





Another waterfalls was hidden around the corner from the main falls, and all of the people. Note the two logs framing the sides covered in ice as well.





Our final stop was Ash Cave. We saved this for our ‘grand finale’, however the cone at the bottom wasn’t nearly as tall as in previous years.

Still it is an impressive falls.



A close up of the ice ‘cone’ at the bottom with the mist of water barely visible in the center.

All in all it was a great day in the park, and my phone says I climbed the equivalent of 54 stories of a building! Exercise and photography, what could be better.







Columbus – February 2019 – The Ice is Back

This weekend is a bit of a repeat from last weekend with visits to icy places and botanical gardens (to recover from the cold)

While Columbus doesn’t have anything close to Lake Erie, they do have a few streams that have enough drop to have small waterfalls, including Indian Run Falls in Dublin.





The falls are very small, but with enough splash onto the rocks for some nice ice formations.





As noted in the Cleveland ice posting it had warmed up and rained (a lot) but it is now very cold again, resulting in frozen puddles, with interesting patterns frozen in them.




Further down river is Hayden Run Falls, the best in town. There is a nice boardwalk to get back to the falls, crossing over the flooded bottom.





After a short distance you arrive at the falls. The Featured Image for this posting has a closer photo of the falls.





Everything within 200′ of the falls had a nice coating on it from the continual mist coming off the water, although mostly on the side facing the falls.









The ravine walls had numerous icicles all over them










As we made our way back down the boardwalk we could hear the ducks quacking away.





Our last stop was Griggs Dam. Again with all the recent rain and snow melt off there is flooding, so the dam’s for the reservoirs are running at full capacity.





With this being a dam, and not a waterfalls there is little spray to cause ice formation right at the dam, but just down stream the trees along the banks were covered in ice.





They aren’t Niagara Falls, but a nice way to spend a few cold hours on a Sunday morning.







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 17 The Road To Hana (and Beyond)

The Road to Hana is a famed Maui attraction. Winding for 52 miles from Kahului, it passes over 46 one lane bridges, and has over 600 curves.

5780.jpg

 

 

It basically runs up and down the gulches throughout east Maui, with many of the gulches featuring waterfalls.

It was raining fairly hard as we made our way down this early morning, so some of the falls were more impressive than normal. The good news was our early start meant we missed most of the very slow tourist traffic on the way down.

Unfortunately unless you had a 4WD high clearance vehicle you had to come back the same way, which we did later that afternoon.

5782 - Copy.jpg

 

 

Eventually we reached Hana, and continued on to the portion of Haleakala National Park that is on the ocean. As we passed into the park grounds we were met with another great waterfall.

5791 - Copy.jpg

 

 

Our main destination for the day was the Pipiwai Trail.

5799 - Copy.jpg

 

 

 

This trail takes you up the mountain past the Seven Sacred Pools.

5800 - Copy.jpg

 

 

Through an amazing bamboo forest.

5805 - Copy.jpg

 

 

After clearing the bamboo forest you are presented with the highlight – the 400′ high Waimoku Waterfalls.

5813 - Copy.jpg

 

 

After returning back down the trail we started backtracking up Hana Highway. Just beyond Hana is the Wai’anapanapa State Park.

5833 - Copy.jpg

 

 

The seas were angry that day, and the waves were high and frequent.

5837 - Copy.jpg

 

 

The blowhole at the park was more impressive than any of the others we saw elsewhere.

5847 - Copy.jpg

 

 

Even the birds seemed excited.

5853 - Copy.jpg

 

 

As we continued our journey back to Kahului we passed an area where numerous cars were parked along the road. Following the others we made our way down to an overlook where everyone was checking out the waves.

They were reported to be 20-30′ high here, which brought out locals as well as the tourists.

5876 - Copy.jpg

 

5886 - Copy.jpg

 

 

The only surfboards we saw that day were lining the parking lot of the shops.

5901 - Copy.jpg

 

 

As we made our way back to the hotel for the night we passed this architecturally interesting temple. We were fortunate that despite quite a bit of rain we remained dry for our couple hours of hiking, as well as the visit to the state park.

5904 - Copy.jpg