February 27, 2017

Carlsbad Caverns National Park via El Paso

A week ago I had the great pleasure of traveling out to El Paso to spend the weekend adventuring with Julie Rivera and her super-fun daughters.  Our first day we high-tailed it out of town, up the highway, and into New Mexico to venture deep down into Carlsbad Caverns.  And, wow.  So worth the drive.  An astoundingly, unbelievably, immensely other-worldly destination.  You drive through the middle of seemingly nowhere, having no idea (from outward appearances) what lies below you.  And what lies below you is … VAST.  Approximately 300 limestone caves VAST.

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The super neato bonus of adventuring with a fellow photographer is that you both end up in some of the pictures (grin).  This is the amphitheater just outside the natural entrance to the cave.  From this theater, during part of the year, you can observe the evening exits and morning return of 400,000 bats.  Yes, bats, whose daily flight patterns first alerted teenage cattle rancher Jim White to the presence of this enormous cave.  He’s reported to have said, “... any hole in the ground which could house such a gigantic army of bats must be a whale of a big cave.” 

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And thus we begin the descent, a 750’ descent, via switchback after switchback after switchback.  The hike down from the natural entrance is … spectacular.  And “down” is my favorite kind of hike. 
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These next three pictures are the last bits of natural light in the caverns.  From there on out, it is DARK, illuminated only by artificial sources.  And my pictures do none of the splendors of the cave justice.  Not even a little bit.

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Can I just say?  An elevator that effortlessly transports you quickly up 750’ of elevation is all kinds of wonderful?  It is.  Truly.  What a great day!carlsbad caverns-28

February 22, 2017

Kauai, Wainiha days …

Our next 5 days were up on the north side of Kauai  in Hanalei/Wainiha.  We always stop at this vista.  And it is always awesome (apologies if I’m beginning to sound like a broken record … but Kauai is kinda … awesome). 

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This is the narrow dirt road to/from our delightful vacation house.

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And this is our delightful vacation house on a hill, on grounds filled with flowering trees and bushes and palms, a rooster, and even a wild pig or two.

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The bedroom is all kinds of peaceful and beautiful.  To say it’s a room with a view is an understatement.  We started each day watching the weather and the light filling the valley and coffee.  Good coffee (our aeropress travels with us). 

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The road back to Hanalei…wainiha days-11wainiha days-12wainiha days-13wainiha days-14

Taro is the main crop on Kauai, and the bulk of the fields are on the north side.

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When you’re up at the vista, looking down over Hanalei, this is the river you see, and the taro fields are on the right.  We drove down this road to hike the Okolehao Trail, which climbs up through a forest and overlooks the fields and the bay.

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