While the entirety of New Zealand has a number of pristine beaches, only one beach has a unique off-shore man-made feature and that beach is Victory Beach on the Otago Peninsula. The beach is named for the SS Victory, which, in 1861, ran aground at the end of the beach when under the control of one George Hand (who was later found to be intoxicated at the time of the wreck). While the majority of the wreck was auctioned off during the nineteenth century, and is now absent from the beach, one item remains - one of the huge flywheels of the wreck, which remains affixed about ten feet from the shore, a giant steampunk relic of a long-lost time.
One of the most magical things about Ireland is that no matter where one goes in the country, that area is guaranteed to have a local legend of some sort. From Saints, to Holy Wells, to ghosts, monsters, the Devil himself, sprites, fairies, leprechauns and more, the land is inhabited by magical creatures and secret portals to other magical realms. And, with many places of otherworldly scenery, even if you are a non-believer, it is easy to see how such myths, legends, and stories came about. Out of all of these places, however, there is only one spot where one can visit where two giants battled, or depending on the account, where one giant tricked another, and that is the Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland.
I recently made it out to the Devils Postpile, and here’s what I have to report: it is indeed something you need to see. My former boss was right: this is an area that is remote and lesser known than its bigger cousin, Yosemite. I say “lesser known” because I am well aware that it is directly outside of Mammoth. This is not something that should dissuade you from visiting: even though it is directly outside of Mammoth, it is still tucked away in its own corner of the Eastern Sierra. Also, in this case, being tucked away next to Mammoth is a good thing: there are well signed parking areas for the park from which you will take a shuttle into the park during the summer months. While Devils Postpile is named for the amazing geologic feature of the park – the columnar basalt “piles” that formed over one hundred thousand years ago from cooling lava, and the basalt is amazing to see, I think the best day hike in the park is the hike to Rainbow Falls.