Of Obsidian, Lava Casts and Waterfalls: Newberry National Volcanic Monument

The lava sparkles. In a sea of black, rocks reflect light like mirrors. It's eerie enough to walk through a lava field where the ground beneath seems scorched by a cataclysmic firestorm, inhospitable to life, meager vegetation struggling to stay alive. Here in Newberry National Volcanic Monument in Oregon there also happens to be an enormous... Continue Reading →

Hello to Nice Weather on the Little Si Trail (North Bend, WA)

There's nothing like the promise of a beautiful day, after an extended period of wet weather, to stimulate the desire to do something outdoors. Last Friday was such a day. We decided to hike on the Little Si Trail near North Bend, which strangely we'd never done for all the years we'd been living in western Washington. The trail is very... Continue Reading →

Hiking the Easy Trails of Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Gatlinburg, TN

Hurricane Joaquin was whipping up chaos along the lower Atlantic coast. As of last week, forecasts predicted heavy rainstorms, including inundation of the Great Smokies where we were headed. Plans we had for hiking around the Gatlinburg area of Tennessee hung in the balance as we contemplated our next move from the relative calm of Nashville. Suddenly, the... Continue Reading →

The Hiking Trails and Wildflowers Around Sun Mountain Lodge (Winthrop, WA)

The first time my wife and I stayed at Sun Mountain Lodge over a decade ago, there were abundant wildflowers on the trails nearby. In spots, they were so profuse that the ground was covered with them. It was an experience that stayed in my memory, one only matched by the wildflower displays on the Big... Continue Reading →

Forest to Sea—Brookings to Mendocino

We had hoped to time our arrival to Brookings when the Easter lily fields would be in bloom. At least, that was what we were expecting after reading about the farms. Left to their own devices, they would naturally bloom in July. You're probably wondering like I did, isn't Easter-time their time to flower? It... Continue Reading →

Hiking in the Cougar Mountain Regional Park (WA)

The greater Seattle area—as a matter of fact, the entire western Pacific Northwest—has been basking in sunshine since late last week, and is expected to continue to do so through the next. I can't ever recall sunny skies with temperatures in the 70s-80s this early in May and for such an extended period. The inevitable... Continue Reading →

Makapu’u Point Lighthouse Trail (Honolulu, HI)

To walk off the big breakfast (Rainbow Drive-In and Leonard's) we had this Easter morning, we took the bus to Ka Iwi State Scenic Shoreline to hike the 3/4-mile trail to Makapu'u Summit. We were told about this hike by a couple we met at the Eat the Streets event. The bus doesn't drop you... Continue Reading →

Turtleback Mountain Trail (Orcas Island, WA)

Several years ago, Orcas Island residents opposed plans to develop Turtleback Mountain, once privately owned by Norton Clapp of the Weyerhauser Corporation, and sold to a foundation. They filed a lawsuit in court and won. The mountain is now an island preserve. Additional trails beyond the logging roads have been developed in the park, with... Continue Reading →

Lake Chelan (Chelan, WA)

Over the past few years, good friends of ours have invited us over to their cabin on the shores of Lake Chelan. Prior to a wedding in 2009 and our friends' invitation two weeks later, we'd never been here. In the summer, it is a very popular playground for water sports, rarely raining here as... Continue Reading →

Ruakuri Bush Walk (Waitomo Caves, NZ)

The Ruakuri Bush Walk, whose trailhead is but a few kilometers beyond the Waitomo Caves attraction, is considered one of the ten best short hikes in New Zealand. In under an hour, you can see verdant forests, limestone outcroppings, caves, gorge, natural bridge, tunnel, and the Waitomo Stream, all in what is called a karst landscape.... Continue Reading →

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