Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Lava Covers Ahalanui Park

Hawaiian Lava Destruction

Recent Hawaiian volcanic eruptions and lava flows are happening near where we stayed in Pahoa during our December, 2011 visit to the big island. Our shoreline rental house was located only about 5 miles from the spectacular (fissure 8) lava fountain and the homes it obliterated. Some roads we used are now under impassable black lava, and one of the parks we visited recently disappeared under advancing molten rock.

One day in 2011 we drove along Route 137 to Ahalanui Park, a lovely small park along the coast featuring a natural, volcanically heated, spring-fed, warm water swimming hole next to the ocean.
Palm trees and a small grassy area preceded the swimming hole.
The main attraction was the swimming hole seen in the next four-panel panorama. (Click on the image for a larger view.)
The warm water pool opened directly into the ocean.
My 1.5 year-old granddaughter, Sophie, enjoyed the warm water with her Dad, Keegan.
My daughter, Ellen, did some snorkeling and snuggled little Sophie in a towel.
These beautiful scenes now remain only in photos and memories because lava has completely covered and obliterated Ahalanui Park. The next two maps from the US Geologic Survey (USGS) on July 12, 2018 show where ongoing lava flows eventually found their way to the sea and the park. (Click on the next two maps to see them at full size.)
Our rental house was located on the shoreline in the Hawaiian Beaches neighborhood seen at the top of the previous map. The actual location is just off the top of the map. We drove on Routes 132 and 137 to reach Ahalanui Park. The next picture from the USGS shows the lava-altered coastline where Ahalanui Park was located. The largest white plume near center is the park's former location.
An even more spectacular aerial USGS photo from July 14th shows glowing red lava and three bright white plumes from the approximate location of Ahalanui Park.
A more head-on view on July 15th shows the same three major plumes. The small pond, slightly inland, seen to the left of the plumes is approximately a half mile from the Ahalanui Park location.
Notice the significant expansive change of the coastline in the light pink Vacationland Hawaii area on the map above. Hawaii must be the only state with growing land area! Who owns the new land? Probably the state, of course. But if lava flows expand the shoreline immediately adjacent to privately owned land, does the property owner suddenly own more property?

This would be a fantastic time to visit Hawaii to see spectacular active lava flows, although I don't know how close tourists can actually get to the action. Many roads are blocked by lava, and authorities have probably erected barriers on other roads to keep people away. But the opportunities now are surely greater than what we experienced on our lava hike in 2011.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Beach Time

Outer Banks Fun

C likes nothing better than standing in the surf watching waves. C loves the sea.
The whole family spent lazy days on the beach.
Granddaughter Annabelle was happy to play in her pool and nap in grandma's arms.
Granddaughter Sophie did some reading. She was confident and exuberant in the water, even standing on the paddle board!
Sophie also enjoyed electric go karts with her Dad, Keegan.
Our beach house had a rooftop crow's nest which would have been ideal for stargazing if glaring neighborhood lights weren't assaulting my eyes from all directions. I walked to the beach to escape the lights, but without success. Houses along the beach felt compelled to light their back porches, so, even though there were no lights to the east over the ocean, sky views were not truly dark. The constellation Cygnus, the Northern Cross, was rising over the ocean in the following ten-second exposure made on the beach with my tripod-mounted phone camera. Lyra and Vega can be seen above Cygnus.
The next image was taken looking south along the shoreline. Lights from more heavily developed areas made a glow near the horizon. The Milky Way was washed out, but the constellation Scorpius was visible in the lower center. The bright object in the upper right is the planet Jupiter close to the star Zuben Elgenubi.
About 1.5 miles north of our beach house was the little town of Duck, home of an interesting variety of small shops. One morning we biked on sidewalks from our house into Duck to get donuts. Duck had its charms, but the traffic and crowding were sometimes overwhelming. One evening we got some ice cream from a shop called, Donuts on a Stick. Yes, they sold donuts on a stick, but they weren't just plain donuts. The donuts themselves were glazed and covered with sprinkles. Ice cream went on top of the donuts along with more toppings, whipped cream, and optional chocolate sauce. This insane caloric bomb was too much for me. It just made me laugh. The over the top extravagance of ice cream and donuts was balanced by another extreme - insect snacks!
Duck has a beautiful boardwalk that winds along the water of the Currituck Sound. As you progress along the boardwalk open areas alternate with small shops. We had a wonderful evening stroll on this boardwalk.
A pleasant warm breeze off the water enhanced peaceful scenes near sunset.
It's easy to understand why so many people vacation on the Outer Banks. 

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Sand Dunes

Jockey's Ridge

Immediately after visiting the Wright Brothers National Memorial on North Carolina's Outer Banks during our recent vacation we drove three miles further south to Jockey's Ridge State Park, home of the tallest natural sand dunes in the eastern U.S. The walking path from the parking lot to the dunes began with a short, pleasant, shaded segment before opening up to a long, hot, sandy march under a blazing sun. The next picture shows the scene as we headed out toward the giant dunes. This panoramic view captures some of the enormous scale, but the image needs to be viewed at a larger size to see the full effect. (Click on the image for a bigger, more realistic view.)
We hiked to the top of the high dune seen in the upper left of the previous image. Of course, it's not easy walking on soft sand, so it was a long, slow slog, especially the final climb up the dune itself. Next is a panoramic view from the top of the high dune. This image might take a while to load. Once again, you should click on the image to view it in full size.
We feel fortunate at our age to be fit enough to hike out onto these dunes. C still looks fresh at the outbound limit of our hike.
Thank goodness for breezes, the same windy conditions that drew the Wright brothers near this locale for their glider experiments. Lots of hang gliders waited for favorable wind conditions at the top of the highest dune, and many kites were aloft.
A young girl took off for a short flight.
We watched hang gliders for a while. Then it was time to walk back. During the return hike heat and soft sand took a toll. We are both distance runners, however, so we knew how to pace ourselves and endure. The drinking fountain in the visitor center was a welcome relief. Afterward we were definitely ready for some dinner and air conditioning!

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Wright Brothers

First Powered Flight

During a recent beach vacation on North Carolina's Outer Banks we visited the Wright Brothers National Memorial in Kitty Hawk. At this spot, on December 17, 1903, the first powered flight took place. A stone marker, dedicated in 1928, now stands at the launch point. A replica of the launching rail leads to the spot where the airplane lifted off as you can see in the picture below.
The following sign explains the role of the launching rail. (Click on the image to more easily read the text.)
Amelia Earhart was present along with Orville at the 1928 dedication.
The first three flights were only short hops before a much longer fourth flight took place as explained by this nearby sign. (Click on the image for a better view.)
The endpoints all four flights are marked with stones. We were too lazy to walk all the way to the fourth stone in the heat.
The present day memorial has recreated the crude 1903 buildings used by the Wright brothers. One is a hanger, and the other served as a workshop and living quarters.
South of the first flight stone marker is a larger monument erected on Kill Devil Hill. The park ranger explained how the present hill is roughly 200 yards or so from where it was located when the Wrights used it for glider experiments. The hill and surrounding ground were all bare sand in 1903, and the huge hill/sand dune migrated to its present position due to the natural action of winds. Vegetation was added to halt further migration, and you can see grass now covering the original sandy field.
On the south side of Kill Devil Hill sculptor Stephen Smith created a magnificent life size reproduction of the moment the first flight took off. It was hard to get pictures without other visitors in the photos. Next is a panorama showing the entire sculpture. (Click on the image for a larger view.)
The next two pictures show members of the Kill Devil Hills Life-Saving Station who helped the Wright Brothers move the plane and then witnessed the first flight. One of them, John Daniels, took the famous historical first flight photo.
The Wright brothers had flipped a coin to decide who would pilot the first flight. They took alternating turns thereafter. Wilbur made an unsuccessful try on December 14th, therefore, it was Orville's turn to try three days later on December 17th. The sculpture shows Wilbur running alongside as the plane lifts off under his brother's control.
Here's the plane with Orville at the controls next to the motor.
It's hard to believe this contraption actually flew!

I loved this sculpture! It was the best part of the Wright Brothers National Monument.    

People say I'm crazy doing what I'm doing
Well they give me all kinds of warnings to save me from ruin
When I say that I'm o.k. well they look at me kind of strange
Surely you're not happy now you no longer play the game

People say I'm lazy dreaming my life away
Well they give me all kinds of advice designed to enlighten me
When I tell them that I'm doing fine watching shadows on the wall
Don't you miss the big time boy you're no longer on the ball

I'm just sitting here watching the wheels go round and round
I really love to watch them roll
No longer riding on the merry-go-round
I just had to let it go

John Lennon