Lanyon Quoit Neolithic Tomb In The Mist At Dusk

I LOVE prehistoric piles of rocks. Standing stones, hill forts, stone circles… love them! Unsurprisingly then, when we were in Cornwall this time two years ago, we visited as many as we could fit in.

One evening around dusk we ascended onto the moors about seven miles from Land’s End, the most western point in mainland England. Our destination was Lanyon Quoit, a Neolithic tomb built about 6000 years ago, which means it’s older than the Pyramids at Giza in Egypt.

Originally, the 13-tonne capstone stood on four upright stones, not three as it now does. It is said that a man on a horse could ride underneath it without ducking. But millennia of treasure hunters digging around the dolmen (as these types of prehistoric monuments are called), weakened the structure, and it dramatically collapsed during a thunderstorm in 1815, breaking one of the uprights. It was re-erected using the three surviving uprights, but is now shorter than it was originally (although still mightily impressive!).

Me at Lanyon Quoit (look closely)

To this day, archaeologists can’t agree about Lanyon Quoit. Was it tomb covered in a mound of earth? Were the stones left uncovered, meant to be seen and impress? Were bodies placed on top of the exposed capstone to be dismembered by wildlife and the elements?

One legend even claims it was where King Arthur had his final meal before heading off into his last battle, and where he and his knights will meet again before the End of the World.

Yet one thing is for sure… Lanyon Quoit would be an atmospheric place even in bright summer sunshine. But a misty, darkening December evening, raised this to a whole new level.

Expand the minds of you and your children by travelling the World with Jaspa’s Journey adventure novels! The first three – The Great Migration, The Pride of London Jaspa’s Waterloo -are now available in both paperback and ebook formats. Click here for more information.

Jaspa’s Journey: Perfect for Kids 8 – 80!

This post was inspired by the photo themes of Words including the letter ‘Q’ (in this case ‘Quoit’) from Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge, Ascend from Krista of The Daily Post, and Love from Ailsa of Where’s My Backpack?

Advertisements
Posted in Adventure, Environment, History, Travel, United Kingdom | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

‘Lost’ on Oahu’s North Shore

I was a big fan of the TV show Lost. So when I found myself on the North Shore of Oahu, I couldn’t help stopping to see a couple of the locations used in the show.

The first location was Mokule’ia Beach, which was transformed during filming into the Crash Site, the central setting for all six seasons. With the set now long gone, it’s barely recognisable. For those of you who didn’t watch Lost, just enjoy the beauty of this isolated beach framed by thickly vegetated mountains, Pacific rollers and a perfect blue sky.

Unlike Mokule’ia Beach, the second location we visited was instantly recognisable from Lost, as the village where ‘the Others’ lived. In real life it’s actually Camp Erdman, owned and operated by the YMCA.

As a bonus, we found a geocache at both sites!

Expand the minds of you and your children by travelling the World with Jaspa’s Journey adventure novels! The first two, The Great Migration and The Pride of London, are now available in both paperback and ebook formats from Speaking Volumes. The third instalment, Jaspa’s Waterloo, is being released any day now! Click here for more information.

Jaspa’s Journey: Perfect for Kids 8 – 80!

This post was inspired by the photo themes of Words starting with the letter ‘N’ (in this case ‘North Shore’) from Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge, Transformation from Jen of The Daily Post, and Traces of the Past from Paula of Lost In Translation.

Posted in Geocaching, Travel, USA | Tagged , , , , , | 9 Comments

Lollapalooza Music Festival, Chicago

Today’s post is a little different from my usual blogs, since it’s not directly about travel. Not unless you count going to Chicago to attend a rock music festival travel!

Stitched photo of the Chicago skyline behind one of the two main stages at Lollapalooza (during Lou Reed’s set)

Lollapalooza began as an annual touring festival back in 1991, and is today held each year in up to six different cities, spanning three continents. But since 2005, the festival’s undisputed home has been Chicago.

The north main stage during The Kaiser Chiefs’ set

For one weekend a year, Grant Park in downtown Chicago temporarily becomes one of the biggest music venues in the World. The event lasts three or four days, with a diverse range of performers taking part on multiple stages.

Nighttime Chicago from the south end of Grant Park during Lollapalooza

We attended for just one day (the Sunday) back in 2009, and got to see a bunch of artists including The Killers, Lou Reed and The Kaiser Chiefs, as these photos show.

The Killers perform on the south main stage

Expand the minds of you and your children by travelling the World with Jaspa’s Journey adventure novels! The first two, The Great Migration and The Pride of London, are now available in both paperback and ebook formats from Speaking Volumes. The third instalment, Jaspa’s Waterloo, is being released any day now! Click here for more information.

Jaspa’s Journey: Perfect for Kids 8 – 80!

This post was inspired by the photo themes of At least two syllable words starting with the letter ‘L’ (in this case ‘Lollapalooza’) from Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge and Temporary and Dancing from The Daily Post.

Posted in Travel, USA | Tagged , , , , , | 6 Comments

Škocjan Caves UNESCO World Heritage Site, Slovenia

The breathtaking Škocjan Caves are located beneath the Karst limestone plateau, less than 50 miles southwest of the Slovenian capital of Ljubljana, near the Italian border.

The region gives its name to geological landscapes of this type around the World, where the topography of otherwise flat limestone plateaus has been heavily modified over thousands of years by the simple process of water dissolving the calcareous rocks.

At the surface, dissolving of the rocks can produce features such as limestone pavements, sink holes or gorges. Underground it can result vast networks of tunnels, caves and caverns. On occasion, these two worlds meet, for example where the roof of a cave gives way, to form a feature known as a collapse doline.

The Škocjan cave system was formed by the Reka River. The river flows 35 miles from its source, before disappearing underground beneath the modern village of Škocjan. It re-emerges over 21 miles away at the Timavo springs in Italy, although the precise route it takes through the underworld remains a Mystery to this day.

The Reka River below the village of Škocjan

Without doubt, the highlight of any tour through the Škocjan Caves is crossing the Cerkvenik Bridge, nearly 150 feet above the Reka River as it rushes below through the Murmuring Cave.

Murmuring Cave, Škocjan (photo from whc.UNESCO.org)

Sadly, you’re not allowed to take photos for most of the tour, so the only subterranean photos we have of our own from this wondrous place are from the final cave before you return to the outside world.

About to exit the Škocjan Caves

Last look back into the caves

But the sight of the Reka River plunging into and through Big Collapse Doline at the end of the tour (which we were able to photograph) more than made up for this.

The Škocjan Caves are a true wonder of the natural World. Although you only get a small Peek at the entire system during your tour, you come away unsurprised they were named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1986.

Expand the minds of you and your children by travelling the World with Jaspa’s Journey adventure novels! The first two, The Great Migration and The Pride of London, are now available in both paperback and ebook formats from Speaking Volumes. The third instalment, Jaspa’s Waterloo, is being released any day now! Click here for more information.

Jaspa’s Journey: Perfect for Kids 8 – 80!

This post was inspired by the photo themes of Words containing the letter ‘K’ (in this case ‘Škocjan’) from Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge and Peek and Mystery from The Daily Post.

 

Posted in Adventure, Environment, Europe, Travel, UNESCO World Heritage Site | Tagged , , , | 6 Comments

A Drive Around St. John, US Virgin Islands

On our second visit to the US Virgin Islands we decided to escape the traffic and shops of St. Thomas and instead escape to the peace and quiet of neighbouring St. John. We caught the boat from Redhook Bay on St. Thomas to Cruz Bay on St. John.

On the boat to St. John

Anywhere else, Cruz Bay would be considered a sleepy little town, but with nearly two-thirds of St. John given over to the Virgin Islands National Park, here it counts as the island’s economic hub.

Approaching Cruz Bay

Cruz Bay during rush hour

Looking down on Cruz Bay

We left Cruz Bay by car, heading clockwise around the island on the North Shore road. Around every bend we were met by a new and wonderful vista of curving bays and gently-rounded headlands.

The exclusive Caneel Bay resort

Trunk Bay, one of St. John’s most popular beaches

Overlooking Mayo and Francis Bays

Maho Bay beach

Leinster Bay, with Tortola (British Virgin Islands) in the distance

Leinster Bay

Not everything in St. John is idyllic: the sign says the leaves, bark and fruit of this Manchineel tree contains caustic sap… no wonder Columbus called its fruit ‘Death Apples’!

One of the highlights of our visit was the long-abandoned Annaberg Sugar Plantation above Leinster Bay.

Annaberg Sugar Plantation ruins

The circular tower is all that remains of the Annaberg plantation windmill

Round sugar kettle at Annaberg

Leinster Bay from Annaberg

From Annaberg, we headed back towards Cruz Bay through the heart of the National Park along Centerline Road, which follows the spine of the island, providing us with yet more spectacular views of forest clad curvaceous Caribbean coastlines.

Coral Bay from Centerline Road

Back in bustling Cruz Bay

Not exactly the busiest port in the World

St. John airport?

Not a bad spot to wait for the boat back to St. Thomas

A St John farewell

Expand the minds of you and your children by travelling the World with Jaspa’s Journey adventure novels! The first two, The Great Migration and The Pride of London, are now available in both paperback and ebook formats from Speaking Volumes. The third instalment, Jaspa’s Waterloo, is being released any day now! Click here for more information.

Jaspa’s Journey: Perfect for Kids 8 – 80!

This post was inspired by the photo themes of Six letter or more words containing ‘J’ (in this case ‘St. John’) from Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge and Rounded from Ben of The Daily Post.

 

Posted in Caribbean, Environment, Photography, Travel, USA | Tagged , , , , , | 17 Comments

Breathtaking Kaniku Lava Flow Sunset, Hawaii Big Island

Dawn and dusk are often a special time in Hawaii. I don’t know if it’s the island chain’s location in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, but its amazing how often the rising or setting of the Sun can really take your breath away.

Haleakala summit on Maui at sunrise

Haleakala summit at sunset

One evening we were crossing the Kaniku Lava Flow on our way back to our apartment in Waikoloa on the Big Island, when Rich unexpectedly pulled the car over to the side of the road. At first we thought there was something wrong. But as Rich grabbed his camera and got out of the vehicle, we realised he’d seen something that the rest of us had missed.

To the east a storm was brewing over the volcano Mauna Kea. What Rich had spotted was the iridescent glow of a resulting rainbow. As we watched, a second rainbow appeared.

Turning to the west, we were greeted by one of the most colourful and richest sunsets I’ve ever witnessed. The contrast of the black lava and the fiery orange sky was truly awe-inspiring.

The scene reminded me so much of the Serengeti Plains, where I come from.

The oranges and violets were amazing, it was almost like another rainbow

Tell me this doesn’t look like something out of a Mad Max movie

Expand the minds of you and your children by travelling the World with Jaspa’s Journey adventure novels! The first two, The Great Migration and The Pride of London, are now available in both paperback and ebook formats from Speaking Volumes! The third instalment, Jaspa’s Waterloo, is coming soon. Click here for more information.

Jaspa’s Journey: Perfect for Kids 8 – 80!

This post was inspired by the photo themes of Words beginning with ‘I’ (in this case ‘Iridescent’) from Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge, Glow from Jen H. of The Daily Post and Storm from Ailsa of Where’s My Backpack?

 

Posted in Environment, Photography, Travel, USA | Tagged , , , , | 6 Comments

The Spruce Goose: The Biggest Airplane Ever Built

I love airplanes, but my brother Bisckits adores them. So he couldn’t have been happier when, during a West Coast roadtrip from Seattle to San Francisco, we called in to see a very special aircraft.

Me and Bisckits at the Evergreen Aviation and Space Museum

Just outside McMinnville, Oregon, is the Evergreen Aviation and Space Museum. It has an incredible collection of air and spacecraft. But it’s pride and joy is the Hughes HK-1 (H4) Flying Boat.

The colossal Hughes Flying Boat

This aircraft is special for so many reasons. Firstly, it’s a unique, one-of-a-kind, never to be copied, prototype.

Secondly, due to wartime restrictions placed on the designers, it is built almost entirely of wood.

Thirdly, at over 218 feet long, with a wingspan of almost 320 feet and a height of more than 79 feet, it’s the biggest airplane ever built.

The Spruce Goose: a scale model beside the real thing

The towering tail fin

The aircraft is powered by eight Pratt & Whitney engines

The original idea came from businessman Henry Kaiser in 1942, but it was the famous film director Howard Hughes that actually designed and built the aircraft.

The Hughes Flying Boat dwarfs everything around it…

… including this replica of the famous Sprit of St. Louis, the first aircraft to cross the Atlantic at the hands of Charles Lindbergh, just 20 years before the Spruce Goose‘s brief flight

The Hughes Flying Boat has been called many names, not least of which is the Hercules, because of its size. But it’s best known as the Spruce Goose, a belittling nickname given to it by the press of the time, which Hughes hated. It’s also inaccurate, since the ‘Spruce Goose’ is actually mostly constructed of birch wood.

Inside the belly of the Goose

The nose of the aircraft from the main cargo area

Inside one of the giant wings

During a test taxi run in Long Beach Harbor, California, on November 2nd, 1947, Hughes (who was at the controls) made the unauthorised decision to take off. In that moment, the Hughes Flying Boat went from simply being the biggest airplane ever constructed, to being the biggest airplane ever to fly.

The flight deck, looking forwards

The flight deck, looking backwards

The Spruce Goose flew above the waves for around one minute, covering a distance of about a mile. Hughes had proved to the World that his massive flying boat could fly, even though it would never do so again.

The cockpit

Howard Hughes’ pilot seat

At the pilot’s controls!

Nevertheless, Hughes kept his beloved creation air-worthy until his death in 1976, just in case. Afterwards, it was displayed in a museum in Long Beach, before finally moving to its current home in Oregon, where it went on display in 2001

On top of the World… well, on top of the biggest airplane in the World, anyway

Although the Hughes Flying Boat was mocked in its day by the press and Howard Hughes’ critics, Bisckits and I think it’s Exceptional. We couldn’t have been happier to see, and even go inside, the Spruce Goose.

Expand the minds of you and your children by travelling the World with Jaspa’s Journey adventure novels! The first two, The Great Migration and The Pride of London, are now available in both paperback and ebook formats from Speaking Volumes! The third instalment, Jaspa’s Waterloo, is coming soon. Click here for more information.

Jaspa’s Journey: Perfect for Kids 8 – 80!

This post was inspired by the photo themes of Happy from Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge,  Scale and Exceptional from The Daily Post and Names from Ailsa of Where’s My Backpack?

 

Posted in Adventure, History, Travel, USA | Tagged , , , , , , | 13 Comments