I have traveled extensively across the U.S. and a fair amount outside the U.S. I have lived in Boston and San Francisco; I have visited many parks and places within California, Florida, Massachusetts, and Hawaii; I have been to France, Germany, Belize, Guatemala, Mexico, Puerto Rico, and Canada. I have seen many National Parks, including Death Valley, Badlands, Yellowstone, Yosemite, Grand Teton, Glacier, Olympic National Park, and others. In 2013 I drove across country from San Francisco to Boston and visited many parks along the way. I was an avid caver for many years and have photographed many caves in California, New York, and Puerto Rico. I hope my next destination is tropical!
In 2013 I went on a long, circuitous road trip of 6000 miles from San Francisco to Boston in my trusty Honda CRV. I meandered quite a bit, stopping by the side of the road to take photos whenever I felt like it, and generally taking the long way around. I stopped at many national parks along the way and took a gazillion photos. I had no real schedule or agenda. It was glorious.
I used to have two blogs, one primarily for photos, and one primarily for writing. So where do I put my travel stories? They always contain a number of photos, but, there’s also a lot of story to go with them. An example is this post I wrote about Rhyolite, Death Valley. Do they belong here? Or there?
In the end I decided to host them all here, in the one blog to rule them all. This blog may be all over the place with photos, writing, and whatnot, but at least I’m not splitting my brand.
On the northeastern edge of Death Valley is an abandoned ore mining town called Rhyolite. The weathered old ruins, some still standing, are breathtakingly beautiful. Rhyolite was a thriving town at the beginning of the last century. It declined as soon as the ore was depleted. At its peak, the town hosted several thousand residents. Now it’s a ghost town with rusting cars and crumbling, abandoned buildings.
I like the structure of this crumbling building. Rhyolite is a study in the sad beauty of decay. Decrepit buildings crumble and wilt against the stark desert background. Man-made structures weather like the nearby ashy bushes that struggle in the arid climate. The environment is harsh for urban and plant growth alike. It’s a perfect setting for photography. I went a little nuts taking photos.
I am glad the crumbling buildings haven’t been dismantled. Dusty and weathered, they are perfect accompaniments to the dry desert environment and are reminders of our fragile existence. Without a constant influx of resources and water, a town becomes a dry husk. These buildings are an elegant reminder of mortality. The ruins complement the harshness of the Death Valley environment perfectly.
Quinault Rainforest, part of Olympic National Park, is on my shortlist of places to visit again. In July 2013 on my way from San Francisco to Boston, I visited this mossy, verdant wonderland in the northwest corner of Washington State. I could have spent a month taking photos there. The park features overflowing ferns, moss growing off giant trees, and numerous other epiphytes that only grow where it rains all the time. Epiphytes are plants that grow on other plants in a non-parasitic way. Examples include ferns, mosses, spike mosses, and lichens. It rains almost fourteen feet a year in the park, so the place is very green.
Quinault Rainforest is verdant and amazing
The paths were particularly beautiful because the sunlight shone through the hanging moss and ferns and created a green backlit effect. Much of the lush greenery was brightly dappled. The mixture of shadow and light was spectacular. Many fallen trunks in stages of decay were thick with moss growth. Shades of green were very intense. This place is loaded with ferns and moss.
Quinault Rainforest could have been a lovely home for elves and gnomes
Plants grew from every square inch of the earth. Moss draped from every tree. Light filtered through everything. The park was scenic and postcard-perfect. There are hikes of shorter and longer durations, all radiating out from Lake Quinault in the center. It’s a very family-friendly park. There’s even a seafood restaurant on one edge of the park with a view of the sunset.
A few years ago I visited Kauai, Hawaii, and discovered this large, bulbous, green, and knobby fruit, about the size of a pear.
Is it edible? Is it poisonous? Is it full grown? What the heck is it? My website received a lot of Google hits from people searching for “bulbous fruit”, which is what I called it before I realized its true name.
I have since learned that this is the fruit of the noni tree. It is edible (though not too tasty) and not poisonous (if you don’t eat too many). Proponents claim that the noni fruit and its juice can treat a wide variety of health problems, ranging from cancer to senility to psoriasis. Science hasn’t backed up these claims, so if you get a case of psoriasis, see a doctor. The noni fruit has also been used in many commercial skin and hair care products. Go ahead and slather it on if you need to moisturize, just don’t expect a cure for cancer.
I would go back to Kauai in a heartbeat. The plants there seemed bigger, greener, weirder.
This is a storm gathering down the road on the way to Devil’s Racetrack in Death Valley, California. It was probably a three-hour ride down unpaved road but it took us six because we kept stopping to take photos, such as this one. The sun was setting in the background and we never got rained on.