Weekly Photo Challenge: Above The Alps

Above The Alps

This week’s challenge is all about inspiration from stories and lyrics, and I thought of “Learn To Fly” by the Foo Fighters, one of my all-time favorite songs. Particularly this:

Make my way back home when I learn to fly high
Make my way back home when I learn to…
…fly along with me, I can’t quite make it alone

Try to make this life my own

I took this shot during near the end of my flight from Barcelona to Munich, and I’m so glad I was able to get this amazing view. You can just see the curvature of the Earth’s horizon, all the snow-encrusted imperfections in its surface, and the moon looming in the distance. A larger version is viewable here.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Pompeii Forum

Pompeii Forum

This week’s photo challenge is all about time, and there’s nothing that captures it quite like the city of Pompeii. It was famously destroyed by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius (seen looming in the background) in 79 AD. It was completely wiped off the map, and it wasn’t until 1599 that traces of it were unearthed. It wasn’t properly rediscovered until 1748, and it’s been a major archaeological site ever since. Its preserved remnants – victims and their culture, forever frozen in time – are both beautiful and tragic. A larger version is viewable here.

View From Kohala Highlands

View From Kohala Highlands

During my trip on the Big Island, I happened to travel along Kohala Mountain Road in the Kohala District. This high, winding highway stretched through seemingly endless fields and hills, resulting in epic vistas like this. On the far right is the west coast of the Big Island, and Mauna Kea looms in the clouds on the left. It’s so awesome, I decided to make this the blog’s new header.

*Photo can also be viewed here.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Achievement, Or: Haleakala Summit

This week’s challenge is all about achievement, so I immediately thought of my time on Haleakala. It’s an ancient volcano that comprises the majority of Maui, Hawaii. I didn’t realize just how tall it was until I started the trip up its slopes. Green plains and lush forests gave way to rocky outcroppings and sparse vegetation. The weather at sea level was pleasant enough, but I soon found myself in the thick of nasty rainstorm. Utterly drenched from head to toe – my camera suffering a little water damage – I finally reached the top. 10,023 feet up, all in a drive that took two hours. It was the highest location on the planet on which I’ve ever been (not counting flights, of course), and I spent a few minutes taking it all in. I stood on Puʻu ʻUlaʻula, AKA the Red Hill. The flooded, rocky abyss resembled the Moon more than Earth. Fittingly, there’s an astronomical observatory just down the road…that’s closed to the public. Hopefully, at least the skies will be clear the next time I go.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Signs, Or: Haleakala Nene Crossing

Haleakala Nene Crossing

This week’s challenge is all about signs, so I was reminded of something I saw near the peak of Haleakala on Maui. The Nene is the rarest species of goose in the world; it’s exclusive to the Hawaiian islands, and Maui’s population is hidden on the upper slopes of Haleakala. I was lucky enough to see four of those rare birds during my journey. Great trouble has gone to ensure the Nene’s survival, and this crossing sign on the volcano is just one example of it.

Haleakala Forest

Haleakala Forest

Maui’s Haleakala National Park is defined by its variety. Considering that it consists of a 10,000 ft. climb in a two-hour drive, the drastic changes are not surprising. Some lower areas are defined their graceful, green slopes. The peak looks like a moonscape. In between, there’s plenty of forest to go around.

Hiking On Mount Diablo

Hiking On Mount Diablo

Hey, folks. Yesterday’s Daily Prompt was all about the summer solstice. Specifically, what you did with all that extra sunlight during the longest day of the year. I got up bright and early, got dressed, ate, grabbed my old hiking stick, and went to Mount Diablo. Despite its sinister name, the mountain and the surrounding state park is one of the most beautiful natural places in the Bay Area. You can spend hours walking is well-marked trails, enjoying the spectacular views along the way. Going in the summer is kind of ill-advised, though; it’s dry and hot up there at this time of year, and the recent drought has dried up all of the streams. My mother and I used to hike the mountain once or twice a month when I was a child; I like to think my appreciation of nature came from those long treks. This time, however, we couldn’t go so far. We had other errands to run, and Mom’s knees aren’t what they used to be. After three hours, we called it quits and headed back to civilization. At least I got a few great photos while I was there!

The Mountain

Video

Need a reminder of how awesome nature can be? Check out this modern classic on Vimeo. Pro-tip: Play the video in full-screen mode, and turn all the lights in the room off. Trust me.