Sunday, December 26, 2010

Red dirt canyon waterfall

The day started with a sail and snorkel trip out of Port Allen in Kauai.  We saw humpback whales, sea turtles and spinner dolphins.  It was a laid back way of seeing the Napali coast.  

Later in the day, we got a bit more adventuresome and visited the Waimea Canyon on the west side of the island.  

Stretching over 10 miles long and a mile wide, the Waimea Canyon has many opportunities for taking pictures, hiking and mountain biking.  The conditions for taking photographs in the afternoon weren't the best, there was quite a bit of haze. I met a man with incredible camera gear and asked him for some tips.  He said to come back another day, the conditions are best at 8am. That time didn't work well for this vacation.

Waimea means red water and this is the home of the Dirt Shirt Company where the shirts are dyed with "100% red dirt."

At the Red Dirt outlet, the episode of Mike Rowe's Dirty Jobs plays telling the story of his experience in Kauai learning about the process.  

One of our favorite stops at the canyon was this red dirt waterfall across the street from the 1500 foot elevation sign on Highway 550.

We stopped at a turnout for a view of the canyon and saw a couple across the street looking intently at something.  Afraid we might be missing something, we wandered their way.  

I'm glad we did.  

Over the years, I have met many landscapers who designed streams and waterfalls with pockets of plantings along the banks of the streams.  Sometimes with success, sometimes a bit forced.  Here nature created a beautiful design.  The pockets of plants have grasses, ferns and bamboo orchids.  

The mountain bikers have a route through this area and even built bridges including this one.  I just stood back and watched in awe as they traveled across ridges along the edge of the canyon.  

This adventure ended with meeting an older woman standing by the bridge alongside the canyon.  I was concerned maybe something was wrong.  It turned out she was the lookout person for her son, a professional photographer.  She was to alert them when anyone came close to their location down the slope of the canyon along the exposed roots of trees.  The subject of the photograph was nude.  That was one place I didn't go exploring!
Other waterfalls in Kauai we visited:

Opaekaa Falls

Wailua Falls

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Where the lava meets the road

At the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, we learned in volcano class that the first plants to emerge after a lava flow are ferns.  Where the lava meets the road ferns now grow.

My husband and I followed the Chain of Craters Road and were amazed that land as far as the eye could see had been covered by lava at one time.  And, at each stop, we saw ferns growing.  I don't understand how ferns can grow in cracks of lava rock but not in my suburban garden in the Kansas City area.  Maybe it has to do with the amount of rainfall in Hawaii.  The day we visited the volcano it rained the whole time.  But, since it was volcano day on our schedule, we made the most of it as did the other visitors.  And, we didn't let a road closed sign stop us from exploring.


Though I was prepared for the weather, I wasn't prepared for the plants we saw on this journey.  

It was fascinating to see palm trees growing where lava once flowed into the ocean.  

In this same area of the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park along the sea cliff is the Holei Sea Arch. 
Back to the plants in the area; here's a few of the ones we saw at the park and some photographs of the Kilauea Caldera:


Bamboo Orchid

Beach Naupaka

'Ohi'a lehua

The Hapu'u ferns are just spectacular.  I remember seeing large ferns in the Jurassic Park movie and thinking they must be fake.  Guess not.  These ferns can grow as tall 40'.  There is a section between the Crater Rim Drive and Chain of Craters Road where the road is lined on either side with Hapu'u ferns.  Of course, we had to find a place to pull over for a picture. 

One of many steam vents
Edge of the Kilauea Caldera
Steam from the volcano during the day

Volcano glow at night

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Hanging on to autumn

In mid-October I stopped in Target to pick up something.  There, prominately displayed by the aisle, were Christmas dishes.  They caught my eye and I thought how pretty a holiday table would look with them.  Then, I remembered it was October.  Christmas dishes in a store in October?

Halloween morning the Sunday newspaper arrived full of ads.  Toy ads.  The kind of toy ads that usually are in the Thanksgiving morning paper.  Again, I wondered, wasn't it a bit too soon to be thinking about Christmas?  

Monday morning, November 1, on the way to work I was doing my usual searching on the car radio trying to find a song I like.  Unfortunately, I pushed the button for our local radio station that plays Christmas music 24/7 in November and December.  

I'm really not in the mood to think about Christmas yet.  We have had such a beautiful fall in Kansas City and see no reason to rush from one season to the next.  Is Thanksgiving just a bump in the road from Halloween to Christmas?  Not for me!  I hanging on to autumn for a while longer.  If you feel the same, you might enjoy these photos of fall color:

Carpet of ginkgo leaves
Gold Pillar Barberry in the fall
Heptacodium (Seven Son Flower)
Shantung Maple
October Glory Maple
Aronia (Chokeberry)
Garden Mum

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

A rugged landscape

Our journey home from Colby, Kansas a few weeks ago took many detours.  It was the road sign on I70 that caught my husband's eye.  Next thing you know we are headed down a gravel road, through a farmer's field, and across a cattle gate.  The rutted road took us to the top of a rock formation overlooking Castle Rock.  

Though crops grow to the south of this chalk formation, this view to the north and east shows only a few junipers dotting the landscape and grasses. 

Fortunately, we were in a Jeep and it could handle the road that winds around the rock formations.

We stopped several times to get out for a closer look and hiked in the area.

I was on the lookout for rattlesnakes and was just certain this was a great place for them to call home.  Fortunately, we didn't see any.  

We did see small plants growing in the cracks of the rock formations along with yuccas and grasses in the open areas.  Castle Rock is a rugged landscape with a rugged beauty.