The Knitting Nurse

Rambles and Travels

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Hawaii – Part 2 of ? – Volcanoes National Park – Glowing gasses and lunar landscapes.

Let’s travel back to Hawai’i. It’s March. And Pete and I are in search of sun and new terrain to explore.  After hanging out in Kona, we head to Hilo via Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park.

The first day started with an outstanding meal at the Volcano House. We ate there twice. With a view over the Kilauea Caldera, the Halema’uma’u Crater venting, it was my first glimpse into an active volcanic process.  Wait…I’ve been to Yellowstone NP.   The Hawaiian chain was created by volcanoes which con’t to add land mass in a more fluid, less explosive manner than what we commonly associate with volcanoes. In this park, 70 million years of activity are showcased. It was fascinating. The visitors center is packed with learning.

We chose the Destruction Trail hike that day.  From it’s start, there’s an overlook into the Kilauea Iki Crater. A popular day hike, the Kilauea Iki Trail passes through the crater below. The last violent eruption of the Kilauea crater occurred in 1959.  Lava filled to the demarcation of brown and green you see on the opposite wall.


Our trail set off through forest, thick and gnarled, twisted while lush at the same time. This trail is wheelchair accessible.


Pre-historic looking vegetation abounds.





The trail pops you out into this lunar landscape. It’s breathtaking.


Pu’u Pua’i is the cinder cone in the background. It formed with the 1959 eruption. The crater above, for reference, is tucked down behind the cone in this photo.

The view is dry and sparse. Bits of vegetation slowly grow. I found it quite beautiful.


Many sunken spots pock the land. Our knowledgeable friend and natuaralist explained to me the land continues to shift and change.

This is the Ōhelo berry and plant.  Related to the cranberry, they are edible but protected in this park, being the food for the beloved Nene Goose.  I thought the color against the cinders striking.

Our walk took us to the start of Byron’s Ledge Trail. It was stunning! We parked ourselves here and drank in the sounds, sights and smells.


There’s just no way to capture all that in a photo so I’ve uploaded a video I took, a meager substitute.

I’m not knowledgeable on taking video and making it look great. Imagine the birdsong magnified so it completely fills the space, several times louder than you hear, almost deafening.   We gaped. And listened. And enjoyed.

A real treat, Ohi’a lehua flower buds and blooms up close:


The blooms’ nectar feeds the Crimson honeycreeper.  Check out this page for some fun facts about the plant and some photos of it’s aerial roots (which don’t reach the ground but collect moisture from the air).

This pretty little plant I cannot find information about.

My mind spun at the foreign nature of the land and the flora.

Later that night we returned and saw the park at night. The gasses from the first photo in this post glowed in the dark. Some lucky visitors see lava. On this night, no lava percolated out.  But still, what a thrill!

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I’d spend a whole week at this park next visit.

Next leg of the trip, into Hilo.


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Hawaii! Part One of ? – Kona-The dry side. Boy they aren’t kidding.

We recently escaped WA’s winter for Hawaii. On day number one, I stumbled out to bright, sunny warmth and brilliant flowers.

Hibiscus and Bougainvillea.  How I’ve missed them! I used to grow both on my CA balcony.  So lovely! Someday I’d like a sun room that allows for growing such at home.

The tail end of winter made for big swell. This stirred up the water for unsafe swimming in some locations as well as poor snorkeling visibility. We did find swimmable spots.  Pete, an experienced and brave snorkeler swam farther out and saw oodles of colorful fish.

Plunk me in front of the ocean,anywhere, and I’m happy. Here, my first ocean view that morning.

After a reunion with a friend of Pete’s we headed south to Kealakekua Bay where we’d stay the next couple nights at the most comfortable Air B and B accommodation I’ve found to date.   It’s called the Plumeria Cottage.

This is the dry side of the island. And they aren’t kidding. In some places old  lava flows sent brown, porous lava rock in jumbled piles and streams clear down to the ocean. Though the trees are lushly green, you can tell this is a  dry climate.

This bay is famous for having The Captain Cook monument on the far side of the photo below, where he met his demise. It can be reached by a steep hike or a KAYAK across the bay. Because of it being a haven for dolphins, access is limited. We enjoyed it from the shore.

The cottage was just up the road from Painted Church Road. This is a lovely, narrow road on the hillside above the bay. Organic produce and coffee Farms line the way. It reminded me a lot of the quiet, narrow roads in New Mexico that follow creeks and pass tiny towns.

One stop on this road is the Painted Church. The linked website gives much history and explanation of the paintings inside.  If you travel there, I recommend a stop.

It’s a beautiful structure. Hand-painted, folksy art adorns the walls and ceiling.

A cemetery, dry and rocky in places has pockets of  unusual flora both native and introduced. We enjoyed strolling about and looking at the unfamilliar plants.


Up on the highway, there are produce stands. The South Kona Fruit Stand specialized in fruit and smoothie drinks which were tasty.  I bought delicious small tangerines that rivaled anything I’ve ever had that came from CA.

In search of a beach  we went to Pu’uhonua O Honaunau National Historic Park.  This is called “Place of Refuge.”  From their website, “In old Hawaii, if you had broken a law, the penalty was death. Perhaps you had entered into an area that was reserved for only the chiefs, or had eaten forbidden foods. Laws, or kapu, governed every aspect of Hawaiian society. The penalty for breaking these laws was certain death. Your only option for survival is to elude your pursuers and reach the nearest puuhonua, or place of refuge.”

This was that place.

A high swell warning had park staff close off the immediate waterfront. We found a shady spot and listened  to the pounding waves for a while.  It was beautiful to see the folds and swirls of lava rock meet the pale, gritty sand.



This is a park of much a store called significance. There were lava rock partial walls  towards the end of the beach.

This is the dry side of the island. And people aren’t kidding when they say it’s dry. Here, lava flows have reached for or met the sea on many occasions. I enjoyed looking for flow patterns in the rocks along the beach.


Coconut palms. Wouldn’t be a trip to somewhere warm without coconut palms.

Peter fit some snorkeling in that evening. I held off for Calmer  waters as I am a total newbie to snorkeling.

The next day we headed away from this neck of the woods for part two of the trip, en route to Volcano national Park and Hilo.


CO to NV to CA-Cold Nights, Car Camping Kitty, Caves and Run-Down History

Getting from CO to CA was an adventure made much more fun by sharing it with a travel partner, my friend Kurt.  A spur of the moment decision, he and I caravaned to GREAT BASIN NATIONAL MONUMENT located on the UT/NV border off Hwy 50. 

Headed west from Denver, out I-70, the weather gods smiled and gave us wet but non-icy roads.  Refueled at the Charco-Burger in Glenwood Springs, a must-visit old-school burger drive in. 

Sunset, past Green River, UT:
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Camped in UT the first night.  It was icy cold, reminding me I desperately need a new, fluffy down, sub-zero sleeping bag.  I’m a cold camper-sleeper.

We (I, he was still sleeping) woke up to this glory:

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I get a kick out of pulling into a camping spot, in the dark, and waking up not knowing what the view will be.  This was stunning, the pic does not do the color justice.  We were near Moore, UT.  Fueled up on coffee, stamping the feet, down bags traded for down jackets.   Temp gauge in the truck showed temps in the high teens.  Brrrrrrr!

Annabelle was a champ. This was her FIRST car camping experience. She made me proud.  I had my fingers crossed, hoping she could handle it.  The cab of the truck became her “tent” complete with all the comforts of home, including a sleeping bag and blanket to nest into.  I peeked in on her that night, making sure she was warm enough, and concluded she may have been warmer than I.  Tunneled into the sleeping bag, she was a ball of firey warmth.  I was tempted to stuff her into MY sleeping bag!

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Carried on through rural UT, home of LARGE Dodge trucks, (more Dodge than Ford or Chevy, we noticed). 
People prospected for gold and tungsten in the area starting in the 1840’s.  Ruins along the shores of ancient Lake Bonneville (the giant lake, its shoreline located just 10 miles away from the park, of which Great Salt Lake is a remnant of) make prehistoric life evident.  Imagine a lake that huge? 
Ruins in the park place Native Americans in the area from about 1100-1300.  Members of the Freemont culture, they irrigated corn and beans.  Rock art is scattered through the park.  Shoshone and Paiute people, currently in the area, date back to abot 1300.  Hunters and gatherers, the pinion nut was a mainstay of their diet.  (I love cooking with pinyon nuts…so earthy…)
Wheeler Peak, a   13’er, dominates the skyline.  The was road closed for snow (but was it really snowy up there?  Didn’t look it.)   I made a mental note to return in the summer for a trip up it.  Glaciers nestled against it, the views from the top and its flanks look incredible (at least the ones I saw in a book.) 
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“Bah Ram Ewe!  Bah Ram Ewe!  A wool sweater I should be for you!”
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We had the park nearly to ourselves. Granted, it is the off-season. Even in the “on” season, it is an uncrowded park.  I can see why.  Not many just “pass through” that neck of the woods.  It is out of the way.  (But well worth the trip.)
Snuck in a quick hike beofre dark that first day, near the campsite.  Headed up a meadow, through HUGE aspen.  Views of Pyramid Peak and peeked through (not in this pic, though).
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The vegetation made no sense, varying from sage brush to manzanita to oak to aspen to pine to grassy meadows.  I wished for a park ranger’s company and made a mental note to buy a field guide for the area. 
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Kurt got a kick of the GINORMOUS aspens:
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Not a fan of outdoor graffitti, litter or anything that defaces Mother Nature, this trail had some historical graffitti, names and dates carved into the trees.  Done at a time when Smokey the Bear was not teaching outdoor ettiquette, I forgave the calling cards.  Becoming a game, we hunted for the oldest dates and pondered who was up here and why.
The oldest, Chloe and Emma, 1833:
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LH Larsen came in 1939:
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This person made the return trip to cancel their declaration of love. NO GOOD!
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HA!  I find this so funny…
Camped that night next to an old Tungsten mining shack (per the nice ranger man we asked). Kurt freaked me out with ghost stories. 
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Remains of a rusty bed spring and layers and layers of trash were all left.   Trash piles of rusted out cans covered the radius. Whoever used this shack must have ate canned goods, a lot, and had no care for where they threw them.  (Smokey the Bear was not around, remember?)  One can labeled DDT, a spam can and a couple beer cans were the only I could see remnants of labels on.)
GREAT BASIN NATIONAL MONUMENT also claims a large, underground cave system, comprised of limestone and marble. A rancher and miner, Absalom Lehmen discovered and explored the cave in 1885. Can you imagine spelunking that long ago with hemp ropes and candles?  On the tour, the ranger turned off the lights, briefly.  I wondered how the flutters in my belly compared to their experiences? 
The cave formed in two segments over a loooong time. (Punctuated below)
1)  Acidic surface water mixed with water at the water table, swirling around, opening up caverns.  Evidence of this can be seen in the domed ceilings.  This drained out. 
2)  Water percolated in from the outside surface, depositing bits of limestone into “decorations” such as stalagtites, stalagmites, columns, draperies, and soda straws.  Such fun names! 
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Soda Straws:
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My personal favorite, Mmmmmm…”Bacon” formations:
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A twisty, narrow corridor:
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An exposed portion fo the floor.  See the numerous layers?  Fascinating.
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Kurt and I snagged a primo camping spot far up a dirt road our last night.  Hooray for high-clearance!    Now I can finally get to those out-of-the-way spots the little Ford Focus just couldn’t get to.  At the top of a meadow, with a stunning view to the basin below, we had it to ourselves save some elk. 
It was a cold night, again. 
The view from our campsite at dusk:
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The time came to part ways. Kurt headed back to CO.  This cemented my part from home.  A little misty-eyed, I headed out “The Lonliest Hwy in America.”  No, really…Hwy 50 is signed as such, for good reason.
NV is actually one great big basin.  If you looked at a topographical map, you’d see the state looks a big accordian, parallel ranges of mountains with valleys and basins between.  Water sometimes does not make it to the sea but drains into marshes, shallow salt lakes, and mudflats re-entering the water cycle through evaporation. 
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It’s pretty, in a quiet sort of way. 
Towns being sparse (only a few with gas between UT and CA, I filled my tank at each. 
Passed places of historical interest.  Here, the Ward Charcoal Ovens: 
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Can you imagine the plumes of smoke that filled the sky?

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Built by Italian Masonrists, they were rather beautiful in form.  Sturdy!

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EUREKA was only a couple blocks long but had some intact buildings:

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Some not intact:

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This scared me.  These trucks should be illegal.  A triple! 

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Passed through AUSTIN, famous for its Pony Express station, I noted the historical buildings, all on a hilldide that looks like it’s about to slide away, numerous, in a sad state of disrepair:

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The rest of the trip’s photos are gone.  I lost a memory card!   The good news is there was not much on it save for the Tahoe area pics.   The drive from Carson City to Stockton went smoothly.  Was refreshing to the eyes to see some snow in the Sierras.  Would like to come back to the Tahoe area.  (Maybe with skis?)

So ends the trip from CO to CA.

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California Dreamin Part 4 of ? – Not knowing Grapes about Wine and Winery ettiquette. Then, the sea! The sea! The sea!

Seems a little silly, adding posts from a trip I took WAY back in October.  I have a goal, it’s to get the rest of that trip posted in the next two days.  So much has happened since. So much to share. 

I’m in CA now, Stockton, I start work this Tuesday.

More on that later, here’s more travel tidbits…

This is October, mind ye.  I left Yosemite in a funk, feeling awful, I’d read countless magazine articles on climbing there. Heard others’ tales.  Have always fantasized about being planted in some secluded little part of Tuolome Meadow or staring up at some bullet-hard chunk of granite.  Making it there for the first time (mentioned in this post:…-where-are-youcalifornia-dreamin-part-3-of-trees-older-n-dirt-a-lake-saltier-than-the-sea-yosemite-where-are-you/

My hopes were dashed.  My brain was numbed from all the fog and throngs of tourists.  I couldn’t believe the number of tourists swarming Yosemite Valley!  I was cold and rainy!

“Another time.” I pined.

Pointed the rental car (Which I later realized I left a library CD in, $10 wasted) north and drove through the central valley (which, ironically, I now am making a temp home of) and bee-lined for wine country.


I headed to the nearest tourism center.  Made like a good little tourist and asked the volunteer, “Where may I find a behind-the-scenes tour of a winery?”  The lady behind the desk looked at me as if I’d asked for a key to the city.  “Well…dear…those require reservations.”  I had no idea.  In fact, I really know little about wines, just what I like the taste of when it hits my mouth and that sometimes, I buy wine by looking at the illustrations on the label. Come on, I’m not the only one, right?

She kindly gave me a map, showed me a drive that would be pretty, recommended several tasting rooms.  I didn’t really want to just sit somewhere and taste wine. I wanted to be in the working areas, learning about the vines, how they harvest and make the wine.  Another trip…I’ll schedule a tour…did drive past some beautiful sights. This was early fall there.  Leaves were changing.  Grape vines looked like this:

IMG_4156 by you.  Made me want to run down the rows like I did as a kid through the cornfields aplenty.  Hills rolled.  I could feel pretty safe and happy in a landscape like this.  Imagine the scenery on bike rides!

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Drove through the quaint little town of SONOMA, which I liked much better than Napa, wishing I had more time to explore the town. Wrote it into the to- do list for the next time.  Found camping at a lovely little CA state park called Sugarloaf.  How many Sugarloaf Mtn’s are out there?  Must be one in every state, except, maybe Nebraska or Florida?

CA has a HUGE number of state parks.  This one was quiet, clean, simple, just what I needed.  Picked up supper goods at the Sonoma Whole Paycheck (I mean, Whole Foods).

The view from the tent:

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Worked on Rachel’s B-Day socks.  Had a November deadline and I was going to make it! Wasn’t the first time I knit by headlamp.

PS:  I did finish them before her b-day but sadly the mailing was delayed due to poor planning on my part and the fact PO’s aren’topen when I’m done with work at 7:30 PM.  Sorry, Rachel!

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Drove through SANTA ROSA, a larger town north of Sonoma and on the way to the coast that I decided I REALLY wanted to work in.  Now, I’m in Stockton, NOT Santa Rosa…hmm…anyway, passed through beautiful, twisty roads lined with farms and nut trees and vineyards.  Reminded me a bit of Wisconsin, yep…I said Wisconsin, and it’s pastoral scenery, minus the nut trees.

But…fog…I was getting worried.

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Passed through several quaint, pretty little towns on the way to my next stop, POINT REYES NATIONAL SEASHORE (Which I will from now on call P. Reyes, this is a long post, my fingers are cramping.)  ; )

Maritime climates are completely foreign to me.  I grew up in MN afterall.  I can’t find the name of the tiny town I spotted this old school. Wasn’t much of a town, just a few well preserved old bldgs (a mercantile, a church) and a trinket shop. All adorable.  The type of place that apears around a bend in the road and you hit the brakes in order to see it.  This gem of a bldg. was a school for K-8 that opened in 1873.  It is called the Potter School. A private party owns it.  They and their family restored the school from a condemmed condition.  It has ocassional open hrs to the public. Magnificent!  Of note, the school made an apearance in The Birds by Albert Hitchcock. (Must Netflix that movie.)

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Main street through TOMALES, I believe it was. Had a cup of coffee and chatted with two fellas out for a ride on their bicycles. From their descriptions, this area seems like a road-biking mecca of gentle, scenic routes.  Loved the simple houses, which my camera did not do justice, the looked after yard with tidy gardens.

IMG_4226  Antoher pretty home enroute.  See a trend in style?

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I would love to sit on that dock for hours. Looking quite different, a home on the edge of Tomales Bay, I believe it was. A few Oyster shacks popped up along the route.  Yeck!  Tried them.  No go.

Passed through Inverness and headed out the peninsula towards POINT REYES NATIONAL SEASHORE.

Fog…why me?  Am I cursed?  Will I get to see the sea?  By this time, my palms were getting sweaty.  No tears, yet…

IMG_4192 by you.PR  P. Reyes is a park of rugged beauty. A lighthouse juts out into the sea.  Miles of rugged, windswept seashore offer homes to elephant seals and other critters.  It is notoriously cold, windy and, yes, foggy.  One drives out a peninsula a long ways. On it are numerous farms (operating) that seem an oddity there.  Hardy cows!  Stinky too.

Parked and walked the 1/2 mile up a road to the lighthouse.  Cliffs drop off on the ocean side and there was a hint of water lapping on the other side.  I couldn’t see for sure, (FOG, Yep…) but could tell the land dropped off to a beach of some sort.  By then I was worried.  Would I get to see the sea?  Would my first sighting of an actual sea be thwarted by Mother Nature?  Kept telling myself it was her way, so be it, another day but really, I was nervous.


Sure, I could only see a cople hundred yards up the coast and less out, but hey, I could smell it, hear it, see some, I was one happy chicky.  Giddy happy.  A little misty in the eyes happy.  I really could use a pair of binoculars, I decided at that moment. 

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The 200 some stairs down and up to the lighthouse were great physical therapy, I kept thinking.  I was two months out of knee surgery at that time.  Knee was still ouchy.  Sandy, my PT would have been proud of all the non-traditional excercises I put in during the trip. None involved gym equipment.  Hee Hee!  See the humidity induced frizz?

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I was in love.  The nostalgia, the senses, I knew I wanted more.  Inside the lightkeepers house, neat gadgets and thingys that once made the light spin.  Now, obsolete but of interest to me.

IMG_4208    IMG_4211    IMG_4213    IMG_4212   Generators, an old horn, a worn desk. What a hard job.  Can’t imagine. The weather!

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I’ll return in January. The Pacific Gray Whales migrate past in the winter. This will be my next big trip out of Stockton, hopefully with four or more days to go.  I must return…