Thursday, February 24, 2022

Hawaii's volcanoes attract worldwide audience of curious tourists

On a blustery but sunny day at Hawaii's Kilauea Volcano, Bruce Keller and Christene "Cookie"
  Meyers take a selfie against the eerie but beautiful landscape of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. 

Volcanoes formed the landscape and are still active.


The Kilauea Volcano in all its glory.
                                        photo courtesy Hawaii Volcanoes National Park


HAWAII'S ACTIVE volcanoes are constantly causing a stir on The Big Island, where locals are ready for steam, smoke and fire at any time.  

Volcano and earthquake hazards occur regularly, so that is always on the mind of the people.

Tourists -- including the two of us travel writers and photographers -- make it a point to have a look at these wonders of nature whenever we're in the area. The island's jet-black lava fields, white sand and snowy mountains make a photographer's dream, with hiking trails across a lunar-like landscape, and viewpoints to show it all off.

Pele, goddess of volcanoes and fire, is the star of a spectacular
 sound and light show at Smith Family Garden Luau.

SINCE THE Hawaiian Islands were born of lava flows, it's not surprising that volcanoes are still part of the landscape.  They have long been part of the islands' lore as well.
The native Hawaiians revere Pele, goddess of fire and volcanoes, and honor her in sound and light shows across the islands. 
The most spectacular one is fittingly on  The Big Island,  where two of the world's most active volcanoes are found.
In a dramatic musical story Pele comes alive as the volcano puts on a show at Smith Family Garden Luau.  The creation of the island is dramatically told. 
 So whether one believes in pure science, or the revered Pele myth, plate tectonics met the goddess with fire, light and dramatic sound effects. In the show, Pele rises above the mountains to create one of the world's most majestic landscapes.
SINCE KILAUEA and Maunaloa volcanoes are both found here, there are national parks to give visitors the updated story and a chance to survey the ever changing landscape.
Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is about an hour from Hilo on the east side of the island, or two and one-half hours from Hilton Waikoloa Village on the western side of the island.
Image result for volcanoes on big island background
Looking much like forest fire damage, its
possible you might see the volcano burn
   Maunaloa last erupted at its summit, in March of 1984. A series of fissures subsequently opened along the Northeast Rift Zone, feeding lava flows that came to within 17 km (11 miles) of Hilo Bay in 5 days. The eruption ended on April 15. Kilauea's last eruption was 1983 with others occurring sporadically into 2018. That last major eruption in 2018 destroyed more than 700 homes and displaced thousands of residents.
Other volcanoes on Hawaii Island include: Maunakea, Hualalai, and Kohala.
Our homework revealed that between 1912 and 2012, there were nearly 50 Kīlauea eruptions and 12 Mauna Loa eruptions.Park officials say the summit eruption of Kīlauea Volcano, within Halemaʻumaʻu crater, has continued with minor fluctuations in lava output. Its active lava lake was estimated to be 89 meters (292 feet) when lava emerged on Sept. 29, 2021, not that long ago.

Informative guides give lively, scientific
information on the volcanic action at
Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.

IT IS NEVER possible to predict the exact date and time of an eruption. Our naturalist guide told us, "Because these are active volcanoes, we can't say when they might blow again." Geophysical measurements indicate that Maunaloa's magma storage system has been recharging since the 1984 eruption. Since 2019, there have been signs of elevated unrest, but the next Maunaloa eruption doesn't appear imminent, our guide added.Hawaii has many remarkable features, including that Maunaloa is the largest active volcano on Earth. She covers an impressive half of the island, rising to 4,170 meters (13,681 feet) above sea level. Her long submarine flanks descend 5 km (3 miles) below sea level to the ocean floor.

MAUNALOA, like Kiluea, has a summit caldera and two active rift zones extending from its summit. Eruptions vary from short- to long-lived, and occur at the summit, or radial vents on her north and western flanks. Mauna Loa eruptions can begin with little warning, producing intense lava flows traveling long distances in short periods of time. Villages on the flanks of the volcano are naturally impacted.

These tourists admire the landscape of steam and smoke
at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park on the Big Island
THE FASTEST high-volume eruption from Mauna Loa began on June 1, 1950, when fissures opened from the uppermost Southwest Rift Zone, generating a ferocious lava flow that traveled 15 miles, reaching the ocean in less than three hours, shutting down the highway in three places.
Hawaii is at the southeast end of a chain of volcanoes that began forming more than 70 million years ago. Each island is made of one or more volcano which erupted on the floor of the Pacific Ocean, emerging above sea level only after countless eruptions. Six volcanoes collaborated over a million ears to create The Big Island.
 ENTRANCE to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park with its excellent visitor center is $30 per vehicle, $25 per motorcycle, $15 per pedestrian or bicyclist. The receipt allows entry for seven days. We happily used our national park senior passes, obtained a few years ago in Yellowstone National Park and much used across the U.S.

Bruce Keller and Christene "Cookie" Meyers enjoy a
sunny autumn day in Yellowstone National Park.
:  Speaking of volcanoes, we're marking a very special birthday this week.  It's the 150th anniversary of the establishment of Yellowstone National Park, a world wonder, sometimes referred to as the Yellowstone Caldera, or Supervolcano. The park's wonder are enjoyed each year by millions of visitors from around the globe.  Although it's mostly in Wyoming, we Montanans claim it, too, and are proud to have three of the five entrances. We'll celebrate this living treasure with Bruce Keller's award-winning photos and a lively look at our visits to this wonderful place. Meanwhile, remember to explore, learn and live and catch us weekly for a fresh look at travel, nature, the arts, family, loss, love and

Thursday, February 17, 2022

World famous art creates intriguing walk-through museum in resort

This larger-than-life-size chariot with driver is among 1,800 stunning artworks at Hilton Waikoloa
Village. The resort acquired a multi-million dollar collection of fascinating multi-media artwork.


Editor's Note: This story was written and
photographed days before the writer and 
photographer experienced the tragic loss
of their brother, Patrick. They plan to 
resume travels, including a trip planned 
with Patrick to Ireland. Now, his ashes
will accompany them.

A classic selection of art pieces includes a variety of
oars and weapons. Here, Bruce Keller admires them.


A RESORT WITH its own museum.
That's an apt description of Hilton Waikoloa Village, where a unique art collection awaits.
We found the 1,800 pieces of the hotel's "Museum Walkway" so enticing that we spent an hour of each of our days there discovering and appreciating it.
Like many of our readers, we're museum aficionados, true devotees, having toured many of the world's great art houses --  from Russia's Hermitage to New York City's Metropolitan Museum of Art, Madrid's Prado, London's National Gallery, the Louvre in Paris,  Amsterdam's Rijksmuseum, and more.
A horse greets visitors by the ice machine
on this floor of the Makai Tower. Makai is a
direction, meaning towards the sea.
But even in Tokyo, Hong Kong, Jakarta and Singapore, we had never experienced such an immersive look at Asian, Western and Oceanic cultures. While the emphasis is on Asia and the Pacific, there's a nod to classical European art in bronzes, sculpture and elegant fountains.
We've not seen a more artful and beautifully displayed collection anywhere in our travels.
IT HELPS TO have a background of palm trees, waterfalls, orchids, perfectly manicured hedges, ponds and pretty buildings. All that and more form an enhancing backdrop for this splendid collection.
Island batik and silk artworks are elegantly
hung throughout the resort complex.

We discovered this eye-popping art bonanza during a brief visit a few years ago and vowed to return to give it more 
time.  The collection includes more than 1,800 unique pieces with emphasis on celebrating the cultural heritage of the Pacific Island life. In so doing, it encourages an appreciation of all the world's great art, helping tourists gain specific insight into life in the islands whose people and culture settled in Hawaii.
Like great museums, the pieces are thoughtfully placed in separate areas.  Four divisions are skillfully woven together so that one gets a cohesive experience.
THE "MUSEUM WALKWAY''  demands a good three or four hours to enjoy it all.  We divided our "tour" over several days. We spent an hour with the Oceanic Art, which features art and artifacts from the Oceanic Region: Polynesia and Melanesia. It was right out the door of our Makai Tower, beginning near a modern train that navigates the resort from the main lobby. We also enjoy stays at Palace and Ocean Towers, all with art to admire.
The Asian and Southeast Asian Art tour covers works from China, Thailand, Burma and Indonesia, plus a variety of Hawaiian galleries. Again, we spent nearly an hour beginning at the lobby and walking toward Palace Tower, another building in the center  
Keller and Cookie near Palace Tower, with
its own Italian inspired fountain.

of the 62-acre resort.  Located as it is on the renowned Kohala Coast, this gorgeous playground -- Hilton Waikoloa Village -- is more an elegant theme park than a hotel.
EAST MEETS West in another portion of the exhibition with art from Asia, Japan, Polynesia and Europe. Again, 45 minutes to an hour to fully appreciate the collection between Palace Tower and Ocean Tower.
Finally, the "Side Trips" tour includes artwork found along the Ocean Walkway along such stopping places as Buddha Point. A grand staircase and entrances to the resorts restaurants are also tastefully accented with artwork -- bronzes, paintings, sculpture, wall hangings, musical instruments, oars, clothing.
 EVERYTHING in the Makai Tower, the tower with prime beachfront, is designed to incorporate the elements of island life.  Dark lava rock tile
floors, cheery coral bathroom counters, with wall paper to mimic tapa -- the delicately designed Hawaiian paper bark cloth.
Musical instruments and ceremonial drums
are on view in the resort's slate walkways.
A stroll from Ocean Tower to the lobby is
a pleasant 10 minutes, and offers beautiful
art. The train is an option and a boat winds
leisurely through the canals past sculptures. 
The showpiece of all the hotels within the complex is Makai Tower. Here Polynesian heritage and Hawaiian life are artfully honored. We in turn were honored to be part of this magnificent art -- if only for a few treasured days.

"One lion to another."  Christene "Cookie"
Meyers, a Leo on the astrological chart,
stopped each day to admire a lion inspired
by Indonesian folklore.


UP NEXT: If you've not experienced the
wonders of the "Big Island," as the
On the volcano trail, Keller and Cookie pose for a selfie by
the barren landscape and steam of Hawaii's active volcanoes.
Visitors enjoy changing wonders each day. Since the Park
service began keeping records in the 19th century, eruptions
irregularly occur. 
frequently at Mauna Loa and Kilauea.

island of Hawaii is known, you're in for a treat. We'll take you there to view two of the world's most active volcanoes. You'll soon see why tourists, scientists and students have been making it a research, holiday and vacation stop for decades. Both Kilauea and Mauna Loa are located on the island, largest in the Hawaiian chain, thus its moniker.  Both volcanoes are on the Big Island and well worth investigating.  Remember to explore, learn and live and catch
us weekly for a fresh look at nature, family, travel, the arts and more:

Thursday, February 10, 2022

Death of beloved brother spawns outpouring of grief, love, generosity

The love of father for daughter is expressed in this photo of Christena Lynn Cosgriffe, taken on
her second birthday.  Christena, born with Down Syndrome, kept Patrick going until last week. 


Six Cosgriffe siblings, 11 years ago, with Patrick center in
black "Clay Day" t-shirt and shamrock hat. From left,
Rick, Olivia, Misha Kelly, Christene (Cookie), Patrick
and Robbie, youngest sibling, who died in 2010. 


THE LAST phone visit I had with my brother Patrick was a philosophical one.  Perhaps he sensed the end was near -- but I had no inkling.
He'd survived 14 surgeries and many hospitalizations, ambulance rides to the ER and long stays in physical rehab. His stamina surprised surgeons and his humor charmed nurses.
He'd conquered drugs and alcohol addictions, accidents, falls, the loss of his spleen, hernias, back and more.  Despite tremendous odds, he'd always returned home to his beloved daughter, his only child, Christena.
OUR GOOD fortune ended Feb. 5, when he was removed from life support after a hopeless decline.
Christena, now 11, believes her daddy is in heaven but asks, "when is he coming back?"
Born with Down Syndrome, she survived several surgeries while still a baby.  
From left, a few Christmastimes ago: Christene (Cookie),
Patrick, Misha, Rick and Olivia at Tate House, Georgia.
Last week, with Patrick feeling chest congestion, and several friends and family with COVID, he was awaiting results of a home test for the virus that killed him.
DEEPLY RELIGIOUS, he teased me for my agnostic leanings.  I thought he should be hospitalized, but he was holding out -- likely fearful of what might unfold. 
"I think you should get to the ER," I urged. "Meanwhile, you'd better talk to your boy,"  He coughed and wheezed. "Cookie, he's your boy, too," he said earnestly. 
I hope so.
I know the old saw -- "there are no atheists in a fox hole," suggesting fear encourages belief in a higher power. I'm no atheist, perhaps a skeptic, but I hope there is a hereafter -- for us humans and our "Rainbow Bridge" animal pals.
My college minor was philosophy so like many of us, I've read Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Epicurus, Zhuangzi and scores of modern thinkers. If there is a heaven, Patrick belongs there. When he was found not breathing, it was too late for the ER and after a few days in the ICU, an MRI revealed what we feared: no brain activity. After consultations with the doctors, we made the decision every family dreads.
Patrick Cosgriffe, left, and Bruce Keller, enjoying
fishing on the West Fork near Nye, Montana. 
PATRICK WAS devoted to his buddies at Alcoholics Anonymous, and struggled to attend meetings, even in a wheelchair or with a walker. After the resurgence of COVID, he attended AA via Skype. His friend and sponsor, Vince, came to his home to watch football with him.
In healthier days, he fished the Stillwater, Yellowstone, Musselshell, West Fork, and a pond in Wheatland County at our cousins' ranch. He inherited my first husband Bruce's antique Gibson guitar, which he played beautifully.
He was a wise and wonderful brother with a lilting laugh and teasing wit, a cherished member of the large and loving clan, a devoted father to Christena. "I want to see the kid to 20," he'd say. "Then I'll be 70 and we'll go out together."
CHRISTENA IS sad, too -- we aren't sure exactly what's going on in her young head.  But she'll continue to be surrounded by love -- from her aunties, uncle, cousins, friends, school mates and "mama Diane," Patrick's partner and fiancée. Although Diane has grown children and grandchildren of her own, she adores Christena and has been her sole mother figure for the past nearly six years.  She loves Christena, "as if she were my own flesh and blood."
Fresh from a run through the sprinkler, Christena is happy
in the mountains near the West Fork of the Stillwater River.
This happy child likely faces more surgeries, and has already survived five for heart and lung defects.  Her immune system is compromised and she bounces back from consistent painful treatments for ear problems -- narrow canals are common in DS children, causing pain and infections which she braves with grace.
She knows the lyrics to "Frozen," loves to sing and dance.  She dresses up for Halloween and loves holidays and celebrations.  Her Christmas gift from us was a pair of tickets to "Shen Yun," with her "mama" Diane. "I could hardly keep her from climbing up on the stage," Diane said. "She was mesmerized." When she comes to our place on the West Fork of the Stillwater, she loves to help me feed the birds then run through the sprinkler, roll in the grass, play with our ancient Yorkie, Nicky. "May I help you?" is her frequent question, as she reaches for a broom or stacks plates from the dishwasher.  
Christena and "Auntie Jane" dress
up for Halloween. She delights
our large, theatrical family with 
her own sense of fun and drama
WHEN PATRICK died, my sister Olivia and his partner  Diane were in the room with him. Niece, nephew, cousins cried in the waiting room. The tubes were disconnected, the heart slowed, he took a last long breath. Good night, sweet prince.   
I used his hospitalization time to do what I do best: write, co-ordinate, make calls, consult the attorney to make sure the codicil to Patrick's will is followed: that guardianship of his beautiful daughter goes to Diane -- loving, devoted partner who helped nurse him through many battles.
We've organized a fundraiser and generous donors who love the child and her papa are responding. (See link below). Huge expenses are the least of our worries. We are heartbroken.  Still, we remember it takes a village to raise a child, and we have one.  We will continue to nurture Christena, fight for Diane's permanent guardianship, and in so doing honor our brother's memory and his love for her -- and us.
Rest in peace, dear Patrick. May "your boy" watch over you, take care of you and save a place for the rest of us.

 Interested in the fundraiser for Christena's care and education?


This stunning big horn sheep stands sentinel atop a rock above a pool
at Hilton Waikoloa Village, near Makai, one of the beautiful hotels.

UP NEXT: A wondrous collection of art awaits
and one doesn't need to buy a ticket to a museum.
A visit to the renowned Hilton Waikoloa Village
offers a world class collection of art from the South Pacific.  Sculpture, paintings, ceramic and more celebrate the genius of master craftsmen and artists from Asian, Western, and Oceanic cultures – with more than 1,800 pieces. We enjoyed our immersion in the heritage, culture and traditions of the many and varied South Pacific people, gaining insight into life in the Pacific. Remember to explore, learn and live and catch us weekly for a new twist on art, music, history, travel, culture, family and more:

Thursday, February 3, 2022

Flying high above Kauai -- splendors in the sky await in airplane tour

Hawaii's fourth largest island, Kauai, is captured from high above the coast in an Air Ventures plane.


The "Garden Isle" of Kauai as photographed from an
Air Ventures Airvan, with large windows and fabulous views.

SOARING HIGH above the land where the musical "South Pacific" was filmed, we could feel the "sunlight on the sand, moonlight on the sea."
The mangoes and bananas the sailors in the movie sang about were out of sight.  It had rained earlier in the day, giving a gleaming patina to the hills. 
The sun flirted with us -- muted part of the time, with rainbows surrounding us.  But it was a gloriously sunny day for a few treasured moments.  
WE WERE truly "somewhere over the rainbow" as we flew high above the lushest of the Hawaiian chain, the "Garden Island" of Kauai.
The nurses help Mitzi Gaynor "Wash That Man
Right Out of My Hair" on Lumaha'i Beach.
                    --photo courtesy 20th Century Fox
We signed up for one of this verdant island's most popular air tours. There are several, but our choice was "The Big Kahuna," a delightful hour soaring above the clouds, wrapped in the splendor of some of the world's most spectacular scenery. 
  In more than 50 visits to Hawaii -- and a dozen plane and helicopter tours -- we've found the Garden Island to have the most breathtaking landscape of the chain.  We transited above the subtle curves of Waimea Canyon, admired the majestic Napali Coast -- which we've viewed from the ocean -- and sighed above Lumaha'i Beach, humming tunes from that  favorite movie, "South Pacific." ("What ain't we got? We ain't got dames!")
Bruce Keller and captain Nate give
thumbs up for the spacious GA-8 Airvan
which offers spectacular views.
Hawaii's fourth largest island -- yes, the "Garden Island," -- earns its moniker. The oldest and northernmost island in the Hawaiian chain is draped in emerald valleys, sharp mountain spires and jagged cliffs, aged by time and the elements. We saw it all. And reveled in the views from above.
OUR PILOT Nate gave us a nicely narrated bird’s eye view of the spectacular landscape, with interesting anecdotes. (We didn't know Kauai is the only island not conquered by King Kamehameha as he tried to unite all the Hawaiian Islands.) -  
Keller and Cookie take a pose before boarding.
 We had seen the entire island many times by land, so it was fun to see it from the air: the Menehune Fish Pond, the Eucalyptus Tunnel of Trees, Waita Reservoir (the largest reservoir on Kauai), Captain Cook’s Landing in Waimea Town, and the 
Air Ventures planes offer stunning views, and
here, one plane can spot another above the sea.

fabled Waimea Canyon.
WE WERE humming "Bali Ha'i" as we flew above the majestic Napali coastline and back over Lumaha'i Beach.  (Bloody Mary was almost visible!)
Then on to Hanalei Valley, with its silvery, cascading waterfalls, and Kilauea Lighthouse with one of the world's largest frigate bird sanctuaries.  
Mile after mile of stunning coastline and beaches offered visual treats galore.  We were sad when we quietly and safely landed, ending a spectacular time.

More about this Air Ventures Hawaii, and its options for an exciting view of a beautiful island:

Patrick Harry Cosgriffe and his beloved daughter, Christene,
born with Down Syndrome and now left without a father.
The sudden death of my baby brother Patrick has rendered me in an depressing state of inertia.  I am unable to write anything unrelated to him and our family, so I yield to this suffocating state. The next piece will focus on our beloved Patrick and my namesake, Christena, a Down Syndrome child. I'll use this period of intense grief to write about him and our family's traumas, love, sorrow and considerations for the future of his only child. Thank you for the indulgence. Please remember Patrick, say prayers for Christena's future and continue to love, explore, learn and live. Catch us weekly for a fresh twist on art, music, history, travel, culture, family and more: