California is a state with natural beauty that stretches the entirety of the state to each of its borders. It is also a state where the beauty above ground in some areas pales with the beauty below ground. Like a sunset on an unknown beach, each of these areas offer solitude, otherworldly beauty, and in some cases, some of the most unique terrain on the planet. Even if you've never explored a cave before, each of these spots will interest and intrigue you, and provide you a great introduction to the world below your feet.
The most unique thing about Lava Beds National Monument are its many lava tube caves, which were created by lava flows over a period of fifty thousand years from 10,000 to 60,000 years ago. As the lava flowed from the Medicine Lake volcano, the surface cooled and solidified. Underneath the surface, lava continued to flow to various areas, eventually emptying the “tube” underneath. Over the course of time, the rock cooled, cracked, and collapsed, producing openings to the surface. Today, there are over 700 lava tube caves in the National Monument, of which over twenty (20) can be explored.
And yet, Riverside is indeed home to one of the strangest buildings in California (second only to the Winchester Mystery House): the Mission Inn. The Mission Inn began as a normal hotel under the ownership of Christopher Miller; but in 1902, ownership passed to his son, Frank Augustus Miller, who changed the name to the “Mission Inn”, and began adding on to the hotel in a variety of design styles until his death in 1935
My story takes place in the Ozark Mountains, which stretch from central Missouri down into northern Arkansas. When I was a kid, “going to the Ozarks” meant going to the family farm. In order to get to the farm, we had to drive four hours south on the Interstate, then take a rural route exit. I can’t remember the name of the exit, but I’d still recognize it today if I saw it. We’d cross Old Route 66 at an old ghost town where most of the buildings had been abandoned and the only real activity was the railroad that ran nearby.
On Thursday, October 23, 2014, there will be a partial solar eclipse of the sun, and the first visible partial solar eclipse that has occurred in North America since May 20, 2012. Even more spectacularly, the partial eclipse will occur during the sunset hours on the East Coast, which should provide a fantastic visual spectacle at or around sunset. However, skywatchers in the midwest and West Coast regions will also have excellent views of the eclipse as well during the mid-afternoon hours.
The Queen Mary is an ocean liner out of the golden age of sea travel. Built in 1936, she was designed to ferry passengers from Europe to New York City. From 1936 to 1939, she transported passengers along Atlantic Ocean; but when World War II broke out, she was converted into a troop transport ship, and transported soldiers – including a record 16,082 American troops from New York to the United Kingdom in one trip – a record that still stands to this day. After the war, she again carried passengers until 1967, until she was retired from service. Upon her retirement, she was bought by a private company and sailed to Long Beach, where she sits moored today.
To me, Halloween is the best time to celebrate this danger – and risk with stories that deal with any of the topics above – or any wilderness danger topic that I failed to mention. For the last two years, I’ve covered some of the dangers I’ve seen in the wild with Tales of Terror from the Yosemite Backcountry in 2012, which is a story about me facing an unknown problem on a trail patrol in 1998; and Freedom of the Open Road in 2013, which is a story about me facing problems from my fellow man while camping in Colorado. I’ve also been lucky enough to get a story from Melissa Avery about her experiences with the unknown in Peru (More Than Myth), and will have a great post from Missouri Howell later this month about the unknown in Missouri.