The Other Half and I recently celebrated our anniversary in Hawaii. As part of this trip, we had a one-day stopover in Honolulu so we could visit Pearl Harbor while we were in the state.
We arrived mid-morning and went out for brunch before walking around downtown Honolulu. After a bit of local wildlife-watching, we caught the bus to the west side of town to visit Pearl Harbor.
Our original plan was to spend the afternoon hiking the area surrounding the Craters of the Moon monument, but we enjoyed our time in Hagerman enough that we stayed for a few extra hours after lunch. When we got to the lands surrounding the monument, we were surprised to find that Craters wasn’t as barren as we expected. Shrubby pioneer plants have all but taken over many of the lava flows, which continue right up to the base of the surrounding mountains.
The lava fields of the monument lie within the Great Rift of Idaho, an area of tectonic fractures which includes one of the deepest open rifts on Earth. Due to the efforts of Robert Limbert and others in the 1920s, the area was declared a national park during Calvin Coolidge’s administration.
The loop road is usually closed during winter, but due to the lack of snow, it was open when we arrived. The road leads to several geologic features, including some spatter cones visitors can walk up into. The difference between the two most accessible ones is striking: one cone has had several feet of its elevation eroded due to visitor traffic through the years, while the other is only just starting to show the wear caused by the weight of several thousand dusty shoes. Other stops provide parking spaces at trailheads to see petrified trees, different ages of lava flows, and the burgeoning plant and animal life which have a slightly tenuous grasp in the rugged area.
The views of the area at sunset are quite striking, with the bruised blue of twilight arising behind the black hills of the east, while ravens cry over the pink-orange sun which finds its daily rest amidst the burnt red volcanic rock of the west. Nestled in between, the chipping cries of douglas squirrels cease as the day turns into night over the small sheltered valleys of the area. Heck, its landscape unique and beautiful enough to make even the worst writers among us try to wax eloquent.
Last month, the Other Half and I decided to take some time off for a road trip. We planned to spend several days in Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks, but our plans changed due to the need to bring our dog with us. I know, I know, it’s the opposite of what most people do: plan to bring their dog and then, after doing their research, decide to leave the dog at home or at a kennel. Instead, we changed our trip to accommodate his presence in the car.
Despite the Other Half’s insistence that he would NEVER AGAIN get up several hours before sunrise so I could drive him around the countryside, he dutifully piled into the car at 4:00 in the morning for the drive to Hagerman, Idaho. Really, I couldn’t ask for a better partner than that guy.
The Other Half and I decided for our most recent anniversary to celebrate both our love of the outdoors and our relationship with a trip to knock something off the bucket list: seeing an active volcano.
Okay, no, there wasn’t lava bubbling and spewing forth from a cone, nor were there sacrificial rites or even a vaguely smoking shoe sole. As a matter of fact, the volcano in question hasn’t even erupted in the last 1300 years. Despite this, however, there remain enough hot springs and seismic activity for Newberry Volcano to maintain its label as an active volcano.
For our last day together in Washington, DC, before we parted ways for the summer, the Other Half and I decided to visit the National Aquarium in Baltimore. Then we realized it was a Saturday during the summer, so we set out to find something else to do. We discovered we had the prime opportunity to visit a bucket list site, Fort McHenry National Monument. Fort McHenry is also a Historic Shrine, but we didn’t see the Shrine circus while we were there. Just kidding, but Fort McHenry is the only National Monument which is also a shrine.
By now, I’m on the east coast enjoying the cold, unwelcoming weather that it has to offer. I actually had to buy a jacket. In June. However, a few weeks ago we were in Washington, DC, for a definitely-not-vacation. It was a definitely-not-vacation because it was ostensibly a way for the Other Half to show me how to use and ride the subway. It was a learning experience, and definitely not just an excuse for us to go on another vacation in only a month’s time. Regardless of my reasoning, we decided to do the monument tour while we were conveniently located in the nation’s capital.
One of the places we visited on our way home was the White Sands National Monument. Though we didn’t get to see any missile silos, we got to see a lot of sand. It’s pretty starkly white. Even the lizards, especially these fence lizards.