Best vacation ever!

Discussion in 'Non Disney Photos / Mobile Phone Photos' started by ddindy, Sep 13, 2017.

  1. ddindy

    ddindy Member Staff Member

    I've already posted a few notes about viewing the 2017 total solar eclipse from my sister's house in Oregon. Two days after the eclipse, she and I hopped on a plane to Hawai'i to do a little sightseeing.

    We had all kinds of plans for interesting things to do (some of which were cancelled due to circumstances beyond our control). Not ones to sit around a posh resort sipping mai-tais, we booked a time share on the south side of the big island of Hawai'i for the first part of the trip so we could explore some interesting places.

    I plan to do a full trip report once I have some more photos processed and posted, but here's a teaser to give you an idea of what two old farts can get up to without parental supervision.

    Just a Little Toasty
    Scottwdw, Tim and Joanie Eddis-Koch like this.
  2. jbwolffiv

    jbwolffiv Member

    Very cool, looking forward to seeing more!!!
  3. mSummers

    mSummers Member

    Nice! Did your shoes melt?
    Joanie Eddis-Koch likes this.
  4. ddindy

    ddindy Member Staff Member

    Yes, as a matter of fact, they did. But only because I unknowingly stood somewhere that I shouldn't have. Watch this space!
    mSummers likes this.
  5. ddindy

    ddindy Member Staff Member

    Trip report part 1

    Here's a little background on the trip:

    My sister is a retired air traffic controller living in Lincoln CIty, Oregon. The town is on the Pacific coast, southwest of Portland. I had originally planned to visit her in early May, but she called and said that she found out one of the local campgrounds was totally booked up for the middle of August. I naturally asked "What's going on in the middle of August?" As you now know, it was the total solar eclipse, and after some research I found that her house was about 8 miles north of the center of the path of totality. So I hastily changed my May flight from Portland to Santa Ana (so I could re-visit Disneyland) and waited for Southwest to open its schedule so I could book another trip to Portland.

    In the week before the eclipse, the town of Lincoln CIty sent out eclipse-preparedness information. Among the tips was buy groceries and visit the ATM in advance, prepare for heavy traffic and occasional cell-phone outages due to the expected crowds. So naturally my sister followed their advice and decided, rather than risk sitting in traffic jams on the 2 1/2 hour (each way) trip to Portland to pick me up, she told me to book a ride on the daily airport shuttle.

    On Saturday, two days before the eclipse, I got up at 4 am (the first of too many early mornings to come) for the trip across town to the airport. The flight from Indianapolis to Portland via Las Vegas was uneventful. The highlight was passing over Crater Lake in Oregon. The shuttle ride was full but uneventful. There were no traffic jams. Apparently, everyone heard about the expected crowds and stayed away in droves.

    Traffic in Lincoln City was below normal levels, unusual for a tourist town in summer. The weather was pretty decent, though cold (highs in the 50s) with morning and evening fog. I spent the days before the eclipse playing with the Tamron 150-600 lens that I had rented. My sister has three hummingbird feeders with lots of traffic, so the visiting Anna's hummingbirds gave me lots of targets of opportunity.

    Anna's Hummingbird

    Anna's Hummingbird

    Anna's Hummingbird

    Anna's Hummingbird

    I have a few more hummingbird photos in my Oregon Coast 2017 Flickr album.

    Next installment: The eclipse!
  6. ddindy

    ddindy Member Staff Member

    Trip report part 2

    The Eclipse!

    On Monday, August 21, 2017, I woke up before dawn to answer the Call of Nature. Looking out of the window, I saw that the fog had rolled in and was so thick I couldn't see the lights of the businesses at the bottom of the hill. I wasn't too worried because the eclipse didn't start until 9:30 am, so there was plenty of time to burn off the fog.

    It never really completely cleared up. Here's an example of what we were seeing all day.

    Fog Over Siletz Bay

    My sister, her friend John (who was on a road trip from Palm Springs, California) and I all settled in on the deck behind her house. It had a great view of the sun. Here is our schedule for the morning:

    09:04:40 PDT: Start of partial eclipse (C1)
    10:16:05 PDT: Start of total eclipse (C2)
    10:17:03 PDT: Maximum eclipse
    10:18:01 PDT: End of total eclipse (C3)
    11:36:11 PDT: End of partial eclipse (C4)

    (Unfortunately, the EXIF times from my photos don't quite sync up with these times. I probably should have checked my camera's clock that morning.)

    Due to the fog, my photos of the sun between first and second contact range from very bright to very dim, depending on how thick the fog was.

    (I am posting smaller shots of most of these photos in order to fit more in the post. You can click on them to see slightly larger versions on Flickr.)

    Total Eclipse 09:14:28 am

    Total Eclipse 9:33:05 am

    Total Eclipse 09:41:18 am

    At this point, the temperature was dropping and the fog had thankfully cleared up.

    Total Eclipse 10:05:22 am

    Total Eclipse 10:14:45 am

    With so much of the sun covered, the ambient light had an unusual look to it. There were distinct shadows being cast by the sun like any other clear day, but the light was noticeably dimmer. It reminded me of those old movies where they put an ND filter on the camera and pretended it was night time.

    Total Eclipse 10:15:32 am
    Scottwdw likes this.
  7. ddindy

    ddindy Member Staff Member

    Trip report part 3

    Totality and the aftermath

    Total Eclipse 10:16:12 am

    When totality hit, we could hear voices all over the neighborhood exclaiming in amazement. The three of us did our share of exclaiming, too. I remember my sister saying to me "Look at the sun, not the camera!"

    When we took our eclipse glasses off, these photos pretty much matched what we saw. In retrospect, I wish I had taken some wide angle photos of the scene. It wasn't completely dark, but the bright ring of light surrounding the black hole that was the moon really drew one's attention.

    I backed off on the zoom to get more of the corona in the view.

    Total Eclipse 10:17:09 am

    I also varied my exposure to try and get more details of the corona.

    Total Eclipse 10:17:36 am

    I forgot to look around to see how the surrounding area looked; I was either fiddling with the camera or staring at the sun. Next time I'll know better.

    Here's a tighter crop of one of the shots above. Notice the solar prominences visible at the top and right side.

    Total Eclipse Close-up

    Before we knew it, the total eclipse was over. My sister said "Look, it's the diamond ring" as the moon moved off of the sun. We were all blinded for a second as we scrambled to put our eclipse glasses back on.

    Total Eclipse 10:19:00 am

    Total Eclipse 10:29:19 am

    About this time John opened up a bottle of champagne to celebrate the historic event.

    Total Eclipse 10:48:54 am

    Total Eclipse 11:25:05 am

    Just a few more seconds until fourth contact, which signals the end of the eclipse.

    [​IMG]Total Eclipse 11:33:58 am by Dennis D, on Flickr

    Here I am relaxing after the big event (and after a couple of glasses of champagne).

    After Total Eclipse
    by Diane Dunkman

    You can see my Nikon D300 hanging off of the end of a Tamron 150-600mm lens, which gave me an apparent maximum focal length of 900mm. I used a DayStar solar filter for all of my sun shots. I bought the largest one they had (90mm) and it fit nicely on my 28-300mm lens. But it was too small to fold up and sit on the rented Tamron. so I had to scramble and use blue painter's tape to stick it to the reversed lens hood.

    Why did I take my old-but-reliable D300 rather than one of my newer bodies? If I messed up and fried the sensor, I figured it would be better to lose an old camera than a new one. Of course, the rest of my vacation would have been a disappointment because I couldn't take the wonderful photos that you'll see future installments.

    The rest of the world returned to normal. The hummingbirds resumed humming.

    Anna's Hummingbird - Male

    So that was the first bit of excitement. The next day was spent re-packing and trying to relax in preparation for an early-morning road trip to Portland to catch a flight to Hawai'i. Stay tuned for part 4.
  8. mSummers

    mSummers Member

    Nice shots of the eclipse, Dennis!
  9. ddindy

    ddindy Member Staff Member

    Thanks. I was so lucky to be able to see it. Next time it's in my back yard.
  10. ddindy

    ddindy Member Staff Member

    Trip report part 4

    Winging to Hawai'i

    Two days after the excitement of the eclipse, we were up at 2 am for the 2 1/2 hour drive to Portland. We had a 7 am flight to Seattle, followed by an 11:45 flight to Kona, Hawai'i. It was the brilliant idea of my sister to spend a little bit of our inheritance for first-class tickets between Seattle and Hawai'i. This allowed us access to the Alaska Airlines VIP lounge in both Portland and Seattle.

    After a snack in the Portland lounge and a fruitless attempt at a nap, we headed north. The flight from Portland to Seattle took less than an hour, but gave us good views of four different volcanoes: Mt. Hood, Mt. Adams, Mt. St. Helens and Mt. Rainier. That set the tone for the coming week.

    The first-class lounge in Seattle is relatively new. They even had free local beers on tap. Too bad it was so early in the morning.

    The flight to Kona wasn't my first experience flying up front with the well-to-do, but it was certainly the best. There was a continuous flow of drinks, starting with champagne, and food, ranging from hot nuts to snacks to a multi-course lunch. The food and service was really good. We also had free access to entertainment tablets loaded with movies, TV shows and music.

    Five hours later, it was 3 pm and we were in Kona on the west coast of the big island of Hawai'i. This was my second visit, the first being in 2006 when my sister and mother took me there as a 50th birthday present. We picked up a rental car and stopped in town for some groceries for the week ahead. There was a bit of rain in the Kona area, which is unusual. Normally, the east side of the island gets most of the rain.

    The drive to our timeshare on the south side of the island took two hours over twisty roads that limited our speed. We stayed at the Sea Mountain resort, next to the Punalu'u black sand beach. It's pretty much in the middle of nowhere, but it's one of the two resorts on the island that my sister has in her timeshare plan. We chose it because it is only 30 minutes from the entrance of Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park.

    Sorry, no photos for this leg of the trip. I'll make up for it in part 5, Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park.
    Joanie Eddis-Koch and mSummers like this.
  11. Thanks for writing your trip report. It's really great to hear about your adventures.

  12. Tim

    Tim Administrator Staff Member

    You're killing it, dude! Great job!
  13. jbwolffiv

    jbwolffiv Member

    Awesome report, well except for the part where you said it was too early for some beer. It is NEVER too early.
  14. gary

    gary Member

    beer is a food group unto itself, and a well balanced breakfast to boot
  15. ddindy

    ddindy Member Staff Member

    Thanks for all the kind words. And normally I would agree that it's never too early for beer, but when it's 9 am and I've already been up for seven hours, it's too early for beer.
    jbwolffiv likes this.
  16. ddindy

    ddindy Member Staff Member

    Trip report part 5

    Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park

    Note: there are several links in this report. If you have any interest at all in the Hawai'ian volcanoes or just want to know more about the place that I visited, please take the time to explore them. Also, you can click on any of my photos to view them on Flickr. And finally, you can check out my Hawai'i Flickr album, which is where you can find my growing collection of photos from this trip.

    On Thursday (August 24, 2017, for those keeping track), we had booked a tour that would take us up Mauna Kea to see the astronomical observatories at the summit. We chose a daytime tour over a night tour because we would be able to visit the inside of one of the observatories. Unfortunately, before we even left Kona on Wednesday afternoon, we learned that we were the only ones to book the tour on that day, and the company requires a minimum of four. So we were out of luck. The tour was available on other days, be we already had other plans on those days.

    So rather than getting up at 5 am to drive to Hilo, we decided to sleep in on Thursday. (It wasn't a hard decision, after getting up at 2 am to drive to Portland on Wednesday morning.) Once we were up and awake, we headed up the hill (all 4000 feet of it) from our sea-level condo to Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park. We had no firm plans, we just wanted to see whatever we had time to see.

    Our first stop was the visitor center. It's relatively small, but the displays were interesting. We listened to a ranger give a short "things to do" presentation and picked up a couple of trail guides from the gift shop. Park trivia: Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park was created in 1916, and had just observed its 101st birthday.

    Our first hike of the day was a short jaunt to the sulphur banks. This is an area where volcanic gases loaded with sulphur dioxide seep up through the rock, killing the plants and leaving behind sulphur deposits.

    This is what we saw when we arrived at the banks:

    Kilauea Sulphur Banks Panorama

    You can see the steam rising in several areas and the effect it has on the vegetation. Here's a closer view of the area on the right of the panorama.

    [​IMG]Sulphur Bank

    There is a boardwalk through the area to provide a safe pathway. As you know, steam is hot!

    Close up view of sulphur deposits.

    Deposits at the Sulphur Bank

    After enjoying the view (but not the smell) of the sulphur banks, we stopped by Volcano House, the hotel within the park. If you book far enough in advance, you can have a room that overlooks the Kilauea crater.

    We then drove around the crater to the Jaggar Museum, another small visitors center with interesting exhibits and an observation deck overlooking Kilauea caldera.

    Kilauea Caldera Panorama

    The mountain visible on the right is Mauna Loa volcano, also part of the national park.

    In the center, you can see Halema'uma'u crater, which became active in 2008. It now contains the largest lava lake in the world. Unfortunately, the lava is too far below the edge of the crater so be seen from publicly accessible areas. If you're interested in a closer view, the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory has a couple a webcams that offer a good view of this and other interesting sites.

    Halema'uma'u by Day

    Looking over the trail map, we decided to do the Kilauea Iki hike. The rim of the crater is approximately 3900 feet above sea level, but the 4-mile hike includes a 400-foot descent to the floor of the crater (and a corresponding 400-foot climb back out). The crater was flooded with lava during an eruption in late 1959.

    (If you like, you can download the Kilauea Iki Trail Guide. It contains lots of interesting information, and I will be referencing points along the trail map as shown on pages 10 and 11.)

    Looking in a westerly direction from the trailhead, you can see the floor of the Kilauea Iki ("little Kilauea") crater. On the left is the cinder cone created by the Pu'u Pua'i vent, the source of the lava. Behind Pu'u Pua'i, you can see Halema'uma'u smoking from with the big Kilauea crater.

    Kilauea Iki Western View

    Looking in the opposite direction at trail stop 1, we can see the eastern end of the crater. You can see the trail across the lava. Around the edge of the basin, there is a sloping bank of lava. This "bathtub ring" was created as the hot lava cooled and shrank, something that is still happening today. The upper edge of the ring marks the high point of the lava before shrinking began.

    Kilauea Iki Eastern View

    Near trail stop 3, we get a good view of the Pu'u Pua'i vent. The area that looks like a cave blocked by a big red rock is where the lava emerged. It's pretty obvious where the near side of the cinder cone has worn away over the years. Note the group of hikers along the trail near the bottom of the photo, which gives you an idea of the scale.

    Pu'u Pua'i

    After a pleasant hike through the forest, we took a series of switchbacks with steps carved into the ground, dropping 400 feet to the crater floor. We're standing at the top of the bathtub ring here, looking across very rugged terrain. You can also see hikers in this scene. This is trail stop 7.

    On the Bathtub's Rim

    Despite the seeming desolation on the crater floor, life is returning. Ohi'a trees such as these, along with ferns, are the first signs of life among the lava.

    Ohi'a Color

    This trail has a difficulty rating of "moderate to challenging," and this view from trail stop 8 shows you one of the reasons. Most of what you see in the foreground is lava that was originally part of the cinder cone. Time, weather and gravity all contributed to it falling down onto the crater floor.

    Rough Going

    Here is a close-up view of the sealed up vent at the base of the cone, at trail stop 9. You wouldn't want to be here when lava was spewing hundreds of feet into the air.

    Vent Plug

    Once we got past the source of the lava, the crater floor smoothed out considerably. Between trail stops 11 and 12 there were several areas of broken lava like this, probably caused when a large chunk of hardened lava from an earlier eruption stuck up through the receding lava.

    Broken Terrain

    Looking back the way we came from trail stop 13, lit by the afternoon sun, the relative smoothness of the crater floor is obvious. Also obvious is one of the many steam vents, created when rainwater seeps down and finds still-hot rock.

    Kilauea Iki Looking Back

    The climb back up to the rim was heavily forested, with few good photo spots. On the home stretch, almost back to our starting point, I grabbed this shot of the crater floor showing several steam vents. The low sun angle really made them stand out.

    Late Afternoon Steamers

    Thus ended our first full day in the Aloha state. Once back at the condo, we went to bed early because Friday was going to be a big day with another too-early start.

    Next: Things get hot!
    Last edited: Apr 30, 2019
    mSummers and Joanie Eddis-Koch like this.
  17. OOOH! Sounds like a sneaker melting preview!

  18. ddindy

    ddindy Member Staff Member

    No spoilers!
  19. ddindy

    ddindy Member Staff Member

    While you're waiting (patiently, I hope) for the next thrilling installment, please browse my sister's Flickr page. Like us, she takes photos for fun, but she's taking full advantage of her early retirement by travelling to far off and exotic places. Last year she took a cruise to Antarctica and the year before went to Alaska. For quite some time she has taken an annual trip to swim with humpback whales in the Atlantic. (She kind of makes Disney parks sound a bit boring in comparison.)
    Last edited: Apr 7, 2019
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