This week’s Sunday Stills challenge theme is ‘Eerie.’ See more responses here.
I couldn’t think of too many eerie things amongst my photos. This image of trees on the lower slopes of Mauna Kea, shrouded in cloud, is as close as it gets. This is a fairly common occurrence as clouds tend to build up during the day and often reach this area in the afternoons.
Also posted in response to Becky’s October Squares challenge theme of ‘Past Squares – Sky’ (See more responses here), and to the current Friendly Friday challenge theme of ‘Weather’ (See more responses here).
This week’s Sunday Stills challenge theme is ‘Favorite Vacation Spot.’ See more responses here.
It’s been a long while since I took a vacation, but a favorite day out is a road trip to the east side of the island and a visit to Hawaii Tropical Bioreserve & Garden.
The day starts with a drive out of Hawi, up the hill to Kohala Mountain Road. This winding road climbs to around 3,500 feet before descending into Waimea. One the way, it passes through pastureland that is home to cattle, horses, and sheep.
A few miles after driving through Waimea, there’s a left turn onto Old Saddle Road. These days, the main road across the island is a smooth, wide thoroughfare, but it’s not so long ago that the highway was all like Old Saddle Road – narrow and twisting. In those days, rental car companies would not allow their cars to be driven on that road. Old Saddle Road is the last remnant of the original road and it’s one of my favorite roads to drive here, not just because of the road’s qualities, but because it’s one of the most reliable places to see pueos, the Hawaiian short-eared owl. On this road I drive like one of those people you follow and say ‘What the !@^%$@)&^ is that idiot doing?’ I’m prone to zipping off the tarmac and bolting from the car, camera in hand, snapping photos as I go.
Old Saddle Road joins the new highway a just before it reaches Pohakuloa Training Area, a large military base in the saddle between Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa. It’s not unusual to hear the sound of shells exploding here as they do live ammunition fire. Past this area, there are several good hiking trails that venture into the high elevation landscape. This is one of the best areas for seeing native birds that are still hanging on in much reduced habitat.
After that, there’s the descent into Hilo and then a jog north to the garden where, every time I visit, I see something different, something that wasn’t blooming on previous visits or that I’d just missed in the profusion wonderful plants to see.
And on the way back there’s a good chance that there’ll be a splendid sunset to be enjoyed.
Also posted for this week’s Friendly Friday challenge theme is ‘Road Trip.’ See more responses here.
This week’s Friendly Friday challenge theme is ‘Mountain Top.’ See more responses here.
Mauna Kea is the highest mountain on earth, when measured from its base to its peak. It logs in at 33,476 feet, 13,803 of which are above sea level.
The top photo is a late afternoon view from near the summit of Mauna Kea, with the Subaru Telescope on the left and the two Keck Telescopes to the right. The top of the cloud layer lies a thousand or more feet below them, which is one of the reasons it’s such a prime site for astronomy.
The second photo is a view from Upolu, showing the summit with a lot of snow on it. While this photo was taken in February, the volcano is high enough that snow can fall at any time of year.
The current Friendly Friday challenge theme is ‘Hands & Feet.’ See more responses here.
I wasn’t sure I had anything for this topic, but then I thought of these paniolos, who I saw at Upolu last month. Paniolos are the Hawaiian version of cowboys and these days they often ride four-wheel vehicles. But there are still occasions when they’ll saddle up while moving or tending cattle.
This scene occurred last month when they were moving a herd of cattle into a new pasture. I arrived at the tail end of the process, when the paniolos were walking back to their vehicles.
So what does this have to do with hands and feet? Well, it occurred to me that hands and feet are the main tools of the trade for communicating with the horse being ridden. And as for the horses, their feet are shod with lucky horseshoes and their height is measured in hands.
This month, Becky’s April Squares challenge theme is ‘Bright.’ (See more responses here.) First up I thought I’d share something very unusual, which I consider myself lucky to have seen.
You’ve probably heard of stick insects, but the stick swimming crab is a far less often encountered creature. Most crabs scuttle about on the sea floor, but swimming crabs have flattened segments on their legs, which they use to propel them through the water. But even with this different method of propulsion, swimming crabs tend to stay close to the bottom.
The stick swimming crab (Charybdis baculum) has a different approach. It heads for the bright light at the surface where it paddles along, maneuvering with its spindly legs. It will sometimes snag bits of floating debris and attach them to its body to enhance its appearance. Its goal is to look like a small, drifting haven for juvenile fishes and other marine organisms that often gather under such floating islands, which offer them some protection from predators. With the stick swimming crab, that safety is an illusion. Instead, they’re part of the crab’s lunch box, to be picked off at its leisure.
Stick swimming crabs spend most of their time at the surface, but return to the sea floor for periodic molts. This one looks like it has recently molted.
Oh wait, it’s just a stick.
Also posted in response to this week’s Friendly Friday challenge theme of “Something Learned.” See more responses here.