The story of Heimaey Island in the south of Iceland makes geology class feel like a modern day adventure movie. As our ship sailed toward the narrow opening to its fishing boat harbor, a first look at the land bore witness to the 1973 volcanic eruption that nearly closed the harbor entrance. I’ve never before seen hardened lava looking like wet mud that just dripped and dried quite recently. Later, we learned that men battled the lava flow threatening the harbor with fire hoses in a successful and historically unique effort to cool the lava and shorten the length of its flow, preserving the harbor entrance and the way of life for the fishermen.
The fog that would settle in for the day and cancel our flight-seeing tour was descending on us as well. Nevertheless, this view from our cabin this morning was quite beautiful. As a backup plan, I walked on my own into the village.
The volcano that forced the 2am evacuation of all the island residents in January of 1973 erupted for six months. All residents were safely evacuated to the mainland on fishing boats that happened to be in the harbor due to a recent storm. The people had wait all that time before they could return and find out the status of their homes.
A paragon of resilience, the residents returned to Heimaey to rebuild and resume their quiet, communal lives. I strolled up the street past new homes to see the volcano, and to visit the Museum of Remembrance, where recorded voices of residents describe personal stories of what happened as they realized the volcano was erupting and gathered their families to flee toward the harbor.
Alau Island off the coast of Maui reminds me of the small rocky islands in the Great Barrier Reef. As creatures of the 21st century, we can’t help but rejoice to find a piece of land undeveloped and basking in its natural glory. How many places on the planet can we find like this?
Just before sunset, Alau Island was shrouded with a pastel pink and blue blanket of color. I set my Nikon D800 for a long exposure to smooth the waves, the bright surf reflected some of the pink tones as well. It was not long before this scene slipped into darkness, and the full moon rose to give the scene a completely different feeling. See Alau Island with a darkening sky and full moon rising in this earlier blog post.
At the far end of Maui’s Road to Hana, a series of waterfalls splash into terraces on a path to the Pacific. It wasn’t easy to get there through record rainfall, floods and numerous mudslides onto the road. But you can see the Sun God smiled on us late that afternoon, and the scene was brilliant, even though it was backlit. My Singh Ray graduated ND filter enhanced the final image.
We have arrived at the lowest point of the Haleakala National Park, after watching the sunrise at the 10,00 foot summit a few days earlier. (See my Blessed Sunrise post.)
As a landscape photographer, I am drawn to waterscapes everywhere I travel — from New Zealand to Hawaii and many other scenic locations. I find myself watching the surf, the rocks, the sunsets, the weather and the natural vegetation around the world.
When I encountered this scene in Maui recently, I was intrigued by the island — the way the surf had eroded it, the way the surf continued to interact with it and the vegetation that grew on it.
The lava island in Maui reminded me strongly of a rocky island that caught my eye in New Zealand in 2014. The NZ island was also constantly buffeted by the surf within a bay, and supported an interesting crop of vegetation. The two islands actually look quite different, but my fascination with them made a strong echo in my mind.
As the fiery orange sun was moments away from dipping into the Pacific, just below the distant rain clouds, sunbeams also appeared high in the sky. It almost seemed as if the afternoon sun was peaking through that opening in the clouds! Sure enough, blue sky, golden light and a brightening of the ocean’s surface right below created a unique illusion.
There is something soothing about watching water break on the rocks. Watching the smooth and repetitive motion is mesmerizing like watching fire burning logs in a fireplace. While a fire is hot and orange, and the surf is cool and blue — both natural scenes promote relaxation. I wonder why that is.
While we tend to complain about rain often, rain isn’t all bad. Remind yourself that rain feeds and sustains all our plant life, and through the food chain, all of us. If you need a graphic reminder that rain is a gift, just gaze upon a rainbow. Water and light are both powerful life-giving forces of Nature. When they collaborate to form a rainbow, it’s magical and evanescent.
The waves crashing on the lava rocks in the foreground make a dramatic foreground. Maui is well worth a visit, any time of year. Be prepared for both showers and rainbows.
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