Sunday, October 11, 2015

Volcanoes - Hawaii

I recently took a trip to Hawaii with friends.  This is one of the things we did.

As most of you probably know, the Hawaiian islands are formed from a series of volcanoes.  The Big Island, the youngest, still has volcanic activity.  You can't go to Hawaii without exploring a volcano, since every rock you see comes from one.  But to truly explore you need to go to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.  There are vast undeveloped areas of lava flow to explore.

Lava flows are like alien landscapes.  Harsh, bare landscape.  And it wants to hurt you.  It eats at your shoes, it will draw blood if you are not careful.  (I came home with five cuts on my hands.)

But it is also fascinating, especially for a geology nerd like me.  But just looking at lava isn't enough to understand everything that is going on.  So we invited a vulcanologist from the University of Hawaii, Dr. Cheryl Ganeski.  There is nothing like the energy from a scientist who loves their discipline.

There is so much to learn about what happens when an eruption happens.  For example, this hole is what happens when lava flows around a tree and solidifies before the tree burns out.

This lava was formed at a cooler temperature and different chemical makeup than the smoother lava in the second picture.

The thread in this picture is actually lava rock known as Pele's hair.

Finally, here is the glow of an active lava flow.

Be good, have fun,

Bonus Track:
Imagine a musical.  Imagine a musical about Alexander Hamilton.  Imagine a musical about Alexander Hamilton performed by a mostly African American cast.  Imagine a musical about Alexander Hamilton performed by a mostly African American cast with hip hop songs.

No go get the soundtrack.  This is amazing.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Astronomy - Hawaii

I recently took a trip to Hawaii with friends.  This is one of the things we did.

My trip to Hawaii was put together by Science Getaways.  Science Getaways was created by Marcella Setter, spouse of The Bad Astronomer, Phil Plait.  So it wouldn't be a trip without a dose of astronomy.

We chartered a pair of buses to take our group to Mauna Kea at sunset.  At the top of Mauna Kea are a collection of at least a dozen telescopes at its 13,000+ foot peak.  I was amazed at the variety of domes that housed the various instruments.

(On a side note, as you can see in the last picture, it feels like nearly every rental car is either a Jeep or a Camaro convertible.)

Afterwards we found a quiet place on the mountain and did some stargazing of our own with a couple of eleven inch scopes.  All in all an enjoyable evening.

Be good, have fun,

Bonus Track:
Seth Boyer is an accomplished musician and song writer.  He often tours with Marian Call.  This version of this song is the only version you should ever listen to.  It shows what the song really means.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Snorkeling - Hawaii

I recently took a trip to Hawaii with friends.  This is one of the things we did.

Years and years ago I tried snorkeling.  It didn't take.  Never figured out the whole breathing thing.

This time around we chartered a trip to snorkel at the coral reefs in Captain Cook Bay (  Our captain gave us all a five minute lesson and that made all the difference in the world.  I could do that a lot.  Here are some pictures I took.

Be good, have fun,

Bonus Track:
Later in the week I snorkeled near the resort and came across a sea turtle.  There are parts of this video where the current brought me too close to dude, you should keeps some space for their protection (and yours).

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Sea Horses - Hawaii

I recently took a trip to Hawaii with friends.  This is one of the things we did.

Located in Kona, Hawaii, the Ocean Rider Seahorse Farm was founded to save seahorses from being killed off through the pet market, by breeding them for the pet market.

Seahorses mate for life (and they really mean life, unlike most humans).  When they are separated from their mate they quickly die.  Since it is near impossible to keep mates together through the whole process of capture, separating, shipping and sale most seahorses live very short lives once they make it to their final fish tank.  In addition seahorse eat a diet that is hard to come by at the pet store.  As a result many, many more are captured to replenish the ones already lost.

Ocean Rider set out with the goal of breeding a variety of seahorse that is less dependent on its mate as well as eating a diet that can be easily acquired by the average American.  They are replacing the traditional sources for seahorses with themselves, and as a result are lowering the overall number of fish sold.

In addition to their goal of reducing the number of seahorses captured for fish tanks, they also have breeding programs for other varieties of seahorse to be returned to the wild.

I have to say it was a neat visit to people who are passionate about what they are doing.

Be good, have fun,

Bonus Track:
This song got stuck in my head today.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Bishop's Castle

It has been a while since I've written here.  Bad on me.  This one will be mostly pictures to get me (hopefully) back into the swing of things.

Bishop's Castle is a man made structure in the southern Rockies near Pueblo Colorado.  I say man made because it is made by man.  More specifically by a man.  Even more specifically by a single man.  At least that is the story.

Do embiggen!

What I can say for sure it that is is an amazing accomplishment, even if a few more than one person built it.  It's a massive stone structure that rambles through narrow passages and staircases to large open spaces.

Surrounding the castle, weaving in and out of it, open wire catwalks and bridges challenge the fortitude of those who dare to explore it.  Seriously, walking around on all of the welded iron jutting from the castle is a thrill ride.

Quite the life work of what you may call a crazy man.  And that may b.  e true.  Dotted through the property are hand made signs expressing views that are, shall we say, not mainstream.

Despite the views of its creator, Bishop's Castle is an amazing bit of architecture that is well worth a few hours of drive.  If you are ever nearby then you won't be sorry for taking the side trip.

Be good, have fun,

Bonus Track:
Marion Call is one of my favorite singer song writers and also someone I could maybe call a friend.  She is launching a kickstarter project for her next album as well as releasing some new cover songs for us all to enjoy.  Go here if you are interested in supporting her project:

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

The Road to the Grand Canyon

It is a long drive from Denver to the Grand Canyon.  Even longer as we did not take the fastest route.  Our trip took us through Gunnison, CO so I could drop my daughter at college on the way back.

The drive from Denver to Gunnison will take you through the South Park region.  (Not the fictional town, but the part of Colorado it is named after.) I've done this trip several time and I always enjoy it.  It is beautiful, green and expansive.  (Expansive is a word I'll use again I'm sure.)

You climb out of South Park over Monarch Pass and then down into the Gunnison Basin. The town of Gunnison is a combination mountain / college town surrounded by lovely, mostly unspoiled nature.

Traveling southwest from Gunnison takes us by the Blue Mesa Reservoir and past Black Canyon of the Gunnison, where the Gunnison River carves a stunning canyon.  The canyon is a hidden gem, well worth spending a few hours.

At this point we are maybe a quarter of the way through our journey.  Up next in our trip is to traverse the San Juan mountains via the San Juan Skyway.  A lovely road with flowing curves and stunning scenery.  A real drivers road.

Coming out of the San Juans finds a short drive through common rural western U.S. when the scenery takes a drastic turn as we move into the Ute and Navajo lands.

These lands are beautiful, expansive and a hard place to make a life.  Scrub brush, dry soil, clear skies.  Acres and acres of rock pretending to be soil.  And an electric railway.

It was a loooong drive.  But it wasn't boring.

Be good, have fun,

Bonus Track:
Rock Band was one of the most immerse music games ever created.  I played hours and hours of it with my family.  Well, it's coming back.  This song was the hardest of the previous generation.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

The Grand Canyon

This is the first of three posts covering my trip to the Grand Canyon with my kids.  The next two post will cover my trip from Denver to the Canyon and a picture dump to show some more of what I saw.

Some years ago I went skydiving with friends from my work, a team building exercise.  Once I was on the plane, when it became real, I was quite nervous.  Nervous to the point of fear.  That is, until I my legs swung out over the door of the plane.  Looking down at the earth so far below, my fear melted away.  It didn't seem real, like a painting or a children's play rug.  One of the people I was skydiving with described it as an irrational height.  Standing on the roof of a house and seeing the ground below is rational, our minds can comprehend it and therefore fear it.  Jumping out of a plane, our minds cannot comprehend and the fear goes away.

The Grand Canyon is irrationally large.

From the south rim looking across to the north rim, you know the far edge is ten miles away.  Looking across you know the far edge is a thousand feet higher than where you are now.  Your mind, however, will have none of it.  It simply does not have the facility, the experience to assimilate the scale. The near peaks, mesas and fins are sharp, clear in rich reds and browns.  Across the vast expanse the haze mutes the far features.  This creates a surprisingly sharp contract, like a movie backdrop that was painted poorly.  Yet it is all real.

Looking from side to side does not help.  The canyon has the sense that it has no beginning or end.

Looking down does not help.  There is no sense of how far you would fall.

Luckily, all this irrationality is easily accessible.  The National Parks Service has good facilities in the park.  Lots of trails and walkways, from flat afternoon walks to multi-day trudges that will test even the most adventurous.

There are lodges and campgrounds to stay in.  The campground we stayed at was nice, and private by NPS campground standards.  Our camp came with wandering elk.

All in all, an amazing few days to spend with my family.  I need to come back with more time and explore all the way down to the canyon floor.

Be good, have fun,

Bonus Track:
This song came up several times on the drive.  I quite like it.

Monday, March 16, 2015

The Veracity of Love

I was talking with a dear friend about the state of their relationships and that led to a discussion of my past relationships.  An interesting fact that I never really thought about came to me.  I loved my ex within a month of the start of our relationship.  I loved her through multi-day arguments.  I loved her for months after she gave up on me.  I loved so much that I let structural issues in our relationship go, modifying my own behavior instead of dealing with them head on.

While I still have love for her, I am not in love with her anymore, and I never will again.  (Interesting how a single event can change how one feels.)

But that is a fact, immutable, in my past.  I know I have moved on, that I can have true love with someone else.  Nonetheless it is there.

It's not something I want to dwell on or talk about, really.  But it came up and I thought it was worth writing about.

Be good, have fun,

Bonus Track:
I've started dessert making lately.  It is a change of pace from my normal routine and it is a great way to show appreciation to those around me.  I think this is what I'm making next.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Road Trip - Grand Junction and Palisade

In my last post I talked about the outdoors stuff we did on my weekend road trip.  We also spent some time in Grand Junction, which is a lovely place with a nice downtown and cute neighborhoods.  That was all overshadowed by an odd bit of city planning choices.  On our way into town the first time we noticed a sign for a road named "29 1/2 Rd".  The next road was "29 1/4 Rd".  As our stay continued we found there were many fractional roads in Grand Junction.

I looked up the history of the road naming, and it makes an odd sort of sense.  The original road naming were establish by the county and were spaced widely apart.  As the town grew and filled in streets they named them with fractions.  Eventually the town switched to "normal" road names.

But it actually gets a little worse, as Grand Junction has a second set of numbered streets.  The county roads are marked with "Rd", while city streets are marked "St".  This caused us some confusion and leads to "26 1/2 Rd" changing to "7th St" when it crosses "F Rd".  (East/West county roads are lettered.)  Given the pattern with numbered roads, this really shouldn't be a surprised.

But, that is not what I came here to write about.  I want to talk about alcohol.

One of the goals of the trip was to visit a couple of Grand Junction breweries and try some beer we never had.  Frankly, we were a little disappointed.  The two places we visited were OK, but not special.  Since Palisade is nearby and is the center of Colorado wine, we decided stopped there and try out a winery.  While we were there we found a distillery and I got to sample high quality spirits for the first time.  (I have not been much of a hard liquor drinker.)  It was lovely.  The bourbon was lovely and the other offerings were quite interesting.

Next door was a winery where I found a couple of wines that I enjoy rather than just be OK with.

Next door to that was a brewery with a wonderful collection of beers.  I've always found a brew I enjoy at most every brewery, but here I found that I enjoyed the entire selection. Here is a picture of me and the flight we shared.

So, if you are in the area, I highly recommend going to Peach Ave near the tracks and try out these three alcohol providers:

Be good, have fun,

Bonus Track:
Inside joke for Kat.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Road Trip - Hanging Lake and Colorado National Monument

Last weekend my buddy Kat and I took a road trip out to Grand Junction and Palisade Colorado.  Mostly because neither of us had visited there yet.  While  on that side of the state we also hit a couple of great outdoor spaces, Hanging Lake and Colorado National Monument.

Hanging Lake

Located in the middle of Glennwood Canyon, Hanging Lake exists in a high crevice nearly at the top of the canyon wall.  Due to its unique location it has a unique ecosystem, including bacteria species that don't exist elsewhere.

The approach trail is only a little more than a mile, but gains 1,800 feet of elevation.  This makes it strenuous hide when dry.  On this day, however, the trail was half covered in snow and ice, and half covered in melted snow and ice (commonly called mud).  I made it in good hiking boots, but Kat had an easier time using her trekking poles.

Which brings me to an interesting point.  Don't try and do these things if you are not prepared! Hanging Lake is right off the interstate, easy to get to and well known.  This brought a lot of people to the people to the trail head, to read the sign that said how difficult the trail was.  Yet we still saw people in dress shoes, gym shorts and other questionable choices in hiking wear.  In all likelihood they never made it to the lake, and hopefully did not get hurt in the process.

For every unprepared person, however, we found several others well enough prepared for the conditions.  Lots of people taking the effort to see a unique and beautiful place.

Colorado National Monument

Colorado National Monument wasn't even on our itinerary. We had a few hours to spare and found a great big green area on the map.  Much to my pleasant surprise we had found ourselves in a stunning canyon on a winding road climbing up and over the rim to panoramic views like this one...

That is Kat on the side there taking a panorama picture herself.  Panoramception!

I will be back there sometime to explore it more.

More Pictures

Here are some more pictures from these two lovely places.

Next time I'll write about what we did in town.

Be good, have fun,

Bonus Track:
I don't know why I'm late to this.
Welcome to Night Vale