Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park is a wonderful park full of contrasts on the Big Island of Hawaii. The volcanic landscape seems so harsh and inhospitable and yet beautiful plants and delicate flowers are everywhere within the park. I was very happy to make four visits to this wonderful park during my month in Hawaii and each brought new insights into this amazing park. The Kilauea Iki hike brought us all the way down into this crater to explore the area where just last year a lake of lava could be seen. The Chain of Craters Road took us through incredible volcanic landscapes full of Ohia Lehua trees and lava formations. The Holei Sea Arch at the end of the road was incredible to sit and watch as powerful waves crashed into it and sprayed us on the rocks above. Ancient petroglyphs at Pu’u Loa provided some small insight into what life was like for Native Hawaiians who lived in the area. They buried their children’s umbilical cords here to connect them to the land. While there is currently no flowing lava to see in the park (a huge disappointment for this photographer), it is still a magnificent park with a lot to offer. While I enjoyed many things about Hawaii, this amazing National Park was definitely a highlight. I hope you enjoy these photos from Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park.
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I’ve had an amazing month in Alabama, and these are the very best photos from my trip. I started my journey on beautiful Dauphin Island right on the Gulf of Mexico, traveled through the shrimping town of Bayou La Batre, and then made my way north into the stunning city of Mobile. From there, I dropped down to Gulf Shores and then out to Dothan in the southeast corner of the state. I traveled up the east coast to charming Eufaula and then through breezy Tuskegee to the State Capital in Montgomery. I made my way out to fascinating Selma and then on to tiny Demopolis in the west. From there I headed northeast through Tuscaloosa, Bessemer and Birmingham before zigzagging back west into The Shoals region. Finally, I made my way across the north through Huntsville before dropping south to Gadsden and Anniston and then north again through Fort Payne and Little River Canyon on my way out of the state. Alabama has so much to offer from history to natural beauty to clean and beautiful small towns and cities. The tragic history surrounding slavery and civil rights is not hidden away, but right in plain view and interpreted thoroughly and honestly. I found wonderful and welcoming people everywhere I went, and of course enjoyed some fantastic food and music as I’ve come to expect from the South. It was an incredible month, and my camera was very busy throughout. I hope you enjoy this “Best of Alabama” photo gallery as I take you along for one final romp through the Heart of Dixie.
St. Francisville, Louisiana may be small, but it sure packs a big punch. This beautiful Southern town got its start way back in 1809. It was built on a hill overlooking the older French settlement of Bayou Sara, which was at one time the largest port on the Mississippi River between New Orleans and Memphis. For 74 days back in 1810, St. Francisville served as the capital city of the independent Republic of West Florida when it ousted its Spanish occupants before being annexed by the United States. In the years leading up to the Civil War, St. Francisville was the supply center and main town for surrounding plantations, perfectly situated for trade on a bluff high above the river. Today it contains a fascinating collection of antebellum, creole and Victorian homes, and some beautiful churches and businesses as well. I spent a lovely afternoon there, wandering the quiet streets and taking these photos. The few people I met on my stroll were remarkably pleasant and kept pointing me towards even more beautiful parts of town for me to shoot. The river has been high this year, and you’ll see a few photos at the end of the flooding in the area. St. Francisville is a wonderful escape from the big cities and offers a magical combination of small-town charm, fascinating history and delightful people. You should definitely put it on your list!
Myakka River State Park surrounds Florida’s first designated Wild and Scenic River. The river winds through a vast expanse of wetlands, prairies, hammocks and pine forest, and is a welcome break from the Tampa-St. Petersburg corridor just a little over an hour north. The park showcases an amazing diversity of flora and fauna and it felt so unspoiled when I visited. I went with my friend Amber, who is a serious naturalist, and she showed me all kinds of wonderful things while we were there. We started our visit at the suspension bridge and observation tower which took us through and then above the canopy for a bird’s eye view of the park. It was amazing to look out across the park and not see a building in any direction. From there we went and hiked out to Mossy Hammock Campground along the Fox’s High Road and were surrounded by live oak draped in Spanish moss and beautiful birdsong. We emerged into the prairies for a while, where her dog could run at full speed. When we finished our hike, we spent some time by the lake, enjoying the magical reflections we saw there. In all, it was an amazing day out in the wild with good company and beautiful weather. It was a little wet on the trails, but we managed. This was a great park to visit, and I hope you enjoy my photos from Myakka River State Park.
South Bass Island is a tiny little 3.7 mile by 1.5 mile island which sits 3 miles off the coast of mainland Ohio and is surrounded by Lake Erie. I love islands and have lived on several in my life, and am particularly fond of those not connected by road. They are neat little pockets of culture and I always enjoy visiting them. Accessible by boat or air, South Bass Island is often called Put-In Bay, and has been referred to as the “Key West of Lake Erie”. While that may be a bit of a stretch, it is a really neat place with some great bars and restaurants and some interesting history. I enjoyed visiting the fascinating Perry’s Victory and International Peace Memorial, which commemorates the naval battle for Lake Erie during the War of 1812. While I was there in the off-season and on a chilly and rainy Monday, I still had a really great time on the island and wanted to share these photos from my trip. While not as off-the-beaten-path as the trip you may remember I took to Daufuskie Island in South Carolina (read that story HERE), Put-In Bay is a really cool place and definitely one you should visit if you are in the area.
The mountains in the eastern United States are nice. These are the mountains I grew up with and hiking their trails is where I fell in love with the great outdoors. They have character and grace which come with their age, and it is always great to be in them. Having traveled the world though, and seen the Rockies and the Alps, the Andes and the Wrangells, the Cascades and the Brooks Range, it's difficult to look at the Appalachians with awe and amazement. They're gentle and rounded and beautiful, but "awesome" just doesn't come to mind when I crest a hill and they come into view. Hidden among them, though, are some absolute jewels of nature. The waterfalls of Appalachia are truly some of the most spectacular you will find anywhere. For three days last week, I went out to woods in western South Carolina to get some fresh air, soak in the cool spray of these magnificent waterfalls and practice the art of photography. I love photographing a good waterfall, and while I don't think a photo can ever do some of these justice, it was well worth the effort. Some of these waterfalls were right off the road and others were buried deep in the forest, but all of them were worth the time and energy to get to them...