Saturday, 20 December 2008

The enchanted forest

There is a very special place on the windward side of Hawai'i - the Puna coast. I won't be specific about the location but those that live here know where it is and I'm sure you won't give it away either! It's where I go to watch humpback whales and just get away from everything when I need to. It's quiet, on the whole mostly devoid of tourists, stunningly beautiful, in fact I think the most beautiful place on the island, and only a thirty-minute drive from home. I went there today.

The coastline road has been redirected recently and one or two of my favourite spots are a little harder to get to now, but it's still the best place on the planet to escape everyday life. If I could play slack-key guitar you'd find me out there for every sunset - when I'm not working at the summit of course!

Although the road that runs along the coastline has undergone a few changes in the last year or two, one part is unchanged and has always caught my attention; I like to call it the "enchanted forest". It's hard to photograph well, not least because I have absolutely no idea what I'm doing when it comes to photography, but I had a go anyway:

On the way back from the forest I stopped to watch the surfers at Isaac Hale Beach Park but they were too far away, even this great little camera couldn't make up for the distance, so I took a picture of the ocean and a green-looking plant instead. I didn't want to go away empty-handed.

Between the Puna coast and home is Lava Tree State Park. I'm always amazed that there are so few visitors there although the reputation it has for cars being broken into may play a part in that. No matter, it's beautiful, and offers something I don't think you can see in other places around the world - lavafied trees.

I may have this wrong, but what I believe happened is that this area was subject to quick flowing lava flows a few hundred years ago. The molten lava flooded the area, but then fissures opened up in the ground and the lava drained away very rapidly, fissures like this:

The lava that contacted the ohia trees was cooled by the trees' moisture and didn't drain away quite so quickly and what remained were lavafied tree stumps like this:

I suspect one of my few readers is going to have a field day with that last picture! In any case, it's a place a few more people should visit - it's a well-kept jungle and there aren't too many places in the world like that.


Mama Wheaton said...

Those were really beautiful pictures. I saved the ocean one for my screen saver. Thank you for sharing your day, it sounds perfect.

Anonymous said...

You want us to say that it's a p*n*s don't you? Do you think we'd stoop sp low? But you're right, it does look like a petrified penis... ouch!!

Actually, my first thought was that this particular lava tree was giving its final salute, i.e. 'the finger', as it petrified (not lavafied, or very scared for that matter).

In all seriousness though, this is also one of my favourite places on the island, and the tree tunnel is absolutely fantastic.

(could you show Mila and I your secret whale watching place?)


Zuzana said...

Tom, in this post the romantic side of you comes through.;) I like the "enchanted forest"; both the pictures and the name.
When it comes to the last image, it is as they say;
all in the eye of the beholder.;)

Diane said...

Well, clearly more than ONE of your readers has a gutter mind (you did mean me originally, didn't you? I've sealed my reputation with you, haven't I? Sigh. I'm really quite deep, you know, and don't ALWAYS head into the gutter. But now Ant has told all your other readers there's a little gutter in there, too! Well done, Ant!).

The pics are, as always, beatiful. I'm trying to stop being jealous and just be thankful that I get to see them. TRYING. I'm envious that you get to see humpbacks regularly. I took my little girl camping in Maine this past summer and we went on a whale-watching tour. It was truly one of the most amazing things I've seen -- humpbacks breaching and slapping their tails on the water, just feet from us! Next summer is the Grand Canyon for us... wonder what we'll see there?

John Powell said...

Very nice, especially the lava trees, although "most beautiful place on the island" is bound to raise some hackles on those in other parts of the island. (Looking up "hackles" I see that they are defined as "erectile hairs" which really needs no further comment)

alice said...

Breathtaking! (And I kept my mind out of the gutter, thank-you!) ;-D

Anonymous said...

I feel sorry for the Male tree.

Tom said...

All - thanks for your comments and for making me giggle, I really needed that today!

Mama Wheaton - (what a great name!) - I tend to reduce the size of the images I post quite a bit so if you want a higher resolution image please let me know. You're the first person I know who's actually used one of my pictures!

Diane - have you been to the Grand Canyon before? If not, you're in for a real treat. I actually blogged about it a couple of months ago I think.

Hilary said...

Beautiful photos. I love your enchanted forest. It does indeed look magical. Everyone should have such a place to escape. Thanks for sharing yours.

Tom said...

Hilary - you're not wrong. In fact there was a very special place within walking distance here but someone's bought the land and it's no longer accessible, but at least I can still visit this coastline.

And Ant - I forgot to tell you about the whale-watching spot. Ask me about it next time we bump into each other. I'd prefer to keep it secret!