Cabrillo National Monument

While in Sand Diego, I visited Cabrillo National Monument. Actually I visited it twice. I went in the morning, and the entire area was covered with thick fog. I explored the tidal pool area and met some cute crabs, limpets, and snails. I then went to the peak area and tried to view San Diego underneath the clouds. It was kind of amazing to be on a peak about 400 feet above the ocean and look at a giant fog encompassing almost everything below. I then came back in the afternoon and was finally able to get some good views.

Tidal pool area

Tidal pool area

Tidal pool area

Tidal pool area

Tidal pool area

Tidal pool area

Colorful, rock layers

Colorful, rock layers

Tidal pool area

Tidal pool area

Colorful, rock layers

Colorful, rock layers

Colorful, rock layers

Colorful, rock layers

Chiton

Chiton

Snails and limpet

Snails and limpet

Snail

Snail

Crab

Crab

Crab

Crab

Anemone

Anemone

Gooseneck Barnacles

Gooseneck Barnacles

View across bay

View across bay

View out to sea

View out to sea

Cueva Ventana

I got to visit Cueva Ventana (Window Cave) today in Arecibo, Puerto Rico. The tour starts by walking by Pee Wee Cave, which only meets the bare minimum requirements of a cave.  You don’t go in. There is no point or room really. There is a short walk through the forest, which when I visited meant getting to see among other things a bunch of giant snails on the trees. Then you walk through cave number two, which I don’t think they actually named. The middle portion of this cave is, well, cavernous, with huge ceilings and wide walls. However the walk through it is fairly short. Then you walk down an extremely steep path to get to the actual Cueva Ventana. There are bats living in there among the limestone columns. At the end of the cave is the Ventana. It has amazing views of the Arecibo River valley. The valley is gorgeous, and you can see the mountains beyond. The tour is worth the view alone. However the caves are really neat to see also, and I love bats, so getting to hear and see them was also a highlight. Sadly while there, you can see vandalism from years past, but tourism is now helping to support security and clean up for the site.

Entrance to Cave 2

Entrance to Cave 2

Entrance to Cave 2

Entrance to Cave 2

Entrance to Cave 2, at very lower left side of dark cave area, opening on other side of cave is visible

Entrance to Cave 2, at very lower left side of dark cave area, opening on other side of cave is visible

Cave 2

Cave 2

Opening to Cave 2

Opening to Cave 2

Entrance to Cueva Ventana

Entrance to Cueva Ventana

Columns in Cueva Ventana

Columns in Cueva Ventana

Stalagmite in Cueva Ventana

Stalagmite in Cueva Ventana

Ceiling of Cueva Ventana

Ceiling of Cueva Ventana

Floor and side of Cueva Ventana

Floor and side of Cueva Ventana

Cueva Ventana's Window to Arecibo River valley

Cueva Ventana’s Window to Arecibo River valley

Arecibo River valley viewed through Cueva Ventana's Window

Arecibo River valley viewed through Cueva Ventana’s Window

Arecibo River valley viewed through Cueva Ventana's Window

Arecibo River valley viewed through Cueva Ventana’s Window

Greece: Meteora

Today we visited Meteora, an area in central Greece, of beautiful, amazing rock towers. They are composed of sedimentary rock, and the towers are for the most part bare rock. Portions of the towers have crevices that have been created from erosion. In the 9th century, monks sought refuge and solitude in the caves, and later, monasteries were built on top of several of the towers. Until the introduction of electricity, monks accessed the monasteries via ladders or a basket suspended via ropes, and evidently very strong will and stomachs. Now, those of us with not quite that strength, can visit the monasteries via roads and stairs.

Meteora

Meteora

Holy Monastery of Varlaam

Holy Monastery of Varlaam

Meteora

Meteora

Meteora

Meteora

Meteora

Meteora

Meteora

Meteora

Meteora

Meteora

Meteora

Meteora

Meteora

Meteora

Meteora

Meteora

Meteora

Flying Over Greenland

My flight back home from Iceland flew over the southern tip of Greenland. It was an afternoon flight, and it was an almost cloudless sky. Luckily I had a window seat and my camera at my feet. Actual, it wasn’t luck. I always get a window seat if I can. Also, I trust neither the TSA nor any airline with my camera, so it is always carried on the plane. Greenland is gorgeous from above. Not so sure I want to visit though, maybe, for a short visit sometime. I’ve been to Antarctica, so perhaps I should venture to the arctic also.

Ice spreading west from Greenland

Ice spreading west from Greenland

Sea ice meets land

Sea ice meets land

Western edge of Greenland

Western edge of Greenland

Ice breaking off glacier

Ice breaking off glacier

Glacier ending at water, note water color change

Glacier ending at water, note water color change

The mountains in this area had little snow

The mountains in this area had little snow

Ice floating on water

Ice floating on water

Diving Silfra

Day 3 in Iceland was spent in the Golden Triangle, visiting GeysirGullfoss, Bruarfoss, and Þingvellir National Park. We ended the day at Þingvellir, which I later returned to at the end of our trip. While at Þingvellir that day, I dove Silfra, which is a part of Þingvallavatn (Thingvallavatn). Silfra has crystal clear water that sits between high rock walls. Those rock walls represent the spreading of the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates, and in one place, a diver can reach out and touch both plates, which makes for very fun and memorable photos. At the end of this post is a photo of me doing just that. The canyons are somewhat disconnected, and the route through Silfra consists of swimming between deep canyon walls then turning through very shallow portions, of less than a meter, then back to a deep canyon, then shallow, etc., until it ends with a wide open plane. There is very little life in Silfra, except some algae. Perhaps some animals are there, but I never saw any. This was one adventurous thing that I decided I had to do if I was going to Iceland, and I got my dry suit SCUBA certification just to do it because the water in Þingvallavatn stays 2-4°C year round. I dove that day with Dive.Is. All the photos below are my own, except the ones which feature me. I purchased those photos through Dive.Is.

Silfra from above water

Silfra from above water

Canyon in Silfra

Canyon in Silfra. In the middle of the photo is the place where a diver can touch the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates.

Canyon in Silfra

Canyon in Silfra

Canyon in Silfra starts to become shallow

Canyon in Silfra starts to become shallow

Silfra canyon side

Silfra canyon side

Diver in Canyon in Silfra

Diver in Canyon in Silfra

Silfra canyon exits to a wider plane

Silfra canyon exits to a wider plane

A shallow portion of Silfra

A shallow portion of Silfra

Lava flow marks on rocks

Lava flow marks on rocks

Lava formation

Lava formation

Me in a Silfra canyon

Me in a deep Silfra canyon

Me in a small Silfra canyon

Me taking a photo in a shallower Silfra canyon

Me taking a photo where a canyon ends. In the upper right is a diver exiting the canyon to another canyon through a shallow portion.

Me taking a photo where a canyon ends. In the upper right is a diver exiting the canyon to another canyon through a shallow portion.

Me taking a photo as the canyon ends in a wider, shallow plane

Me taking a photo as the canyon ends in a wider, shallow plane. I’m taking a photo that is featured above.

Me touching the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates

Me touching the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates

Þingvellir

Þingvellir (Thingvellir) National Park is one of those places that you must go to if in Iceland for good reason. It is historically significant as the place where the original Iceland government met, and it is amazing and beautiful site to see. It is also geologically fascinating because it sits where two major tectonic plates are spreading apart. Also, if you watch Game of Thrones, you will evidently recognize it. The very tall rock wall you can walk along side is known as Almannagjá, and it is just one of things you need to do in person to really grasp the awe of it. I found this to be a good source of information on the geology of the area.

Thingvellir view from visitor's center

Þingvellir view from visitor’s center

Thingvellir view from visitor's center

Þingvellir view from visitor’s center

Almannagjá

Almannagjá

Almannagjá

Almannagjá

Top of Almannagjá

Top of Almannagjá

Drekkingarhylur

Drekkingarhylur

Thingvellir

Þingvellir

Thingvellir

Þingvellir

Moss on Thingvellir wall

Moss on Þingvellir wall

Thingvellir Church

Þingvellir Church

Þingvallabær

Þingvallabær

Thingvallavatn

Þingvallavatn

Hverir

While exploring the Mývatn area of Iceland, we also visited Hverir. Hverir is a small area at the base of a mountain with steaming fumaroles and boiling mudpools and is totally cool. I am sure I have already described Iceland as cool, but this area is just so cool and fun to look at. Steam hisses out of fumaroles and mudpools just bubble up in front of you. In one of the mudpools, there was a less dense fluid on top of the bubbling mud, and it formed really interesting patterns as the liquid moved. There is caked mud and bubbling mud. There are sulfur and other mineral deposits on the ground. There is hissing steam. It is awesome.

Hverir landscape

Hverir landscape

Hverir landscape

Hverir landscape

Hverir mud pool

Hverir mud pool

Hverir mud pool

Hverir mud pool

Hverir mud pool

Hverir mud pool

Hverir mud pool

Hverir mud pool

Hverir mud pool

Hverir mud pool

Hverir mud deposits

Hverir mud deposits

Hverir cracked dried mud

Hverir cracked dried mud

Hverir mud

Hverir mud

Hverir mineral deposits

Hverir mineral deposits

Hverir mud pool

Hverir mud pool

Hverir mud patterns

Hverir mud patterns

Hverir mud patterns

Hverir mud patterns

Hverir mud patterns

Hverir mud patterns

Hverir fumarole

Hverir fumarole

Dimmuborgir

Another site in the Mývatn region of Iceland that we explored is Dimmuborgir. It is an area of unusually shaped formations from volcanic activity. That is a boring way to describe it really. It is awesome, and it looks like hell, and I mean that in the nicest possible way. The formations are just bizarre really. Also the rocks vary in color and are quite pretty.

Dimmuborgir

Dimmuborgir

Dimmuborgir

Dimmuborgir

Dimmuborgir

Dimmuborgir

Dimmuborgir

Dimmuborgir

Dimmuborgir

Dimmuborgir

Formation with clear layers of volcanic rock

Formation with clear layers of volcanic rock

Colorful volcanic rock

Colorful volcanic rock

Grjótagjá

While exploring the Mývatn region of Iceland, we visited Grjótagjá. Grjótagjá is a small cave that has a geothermally heated natural pool inside it. It used to be used for bathing until volcanic activity in the 1970’s raised the temperature of water too high. It is still really cool though. The water is crystal clear, and steam can be seen rising from it. Above the cave, the landscape is fissured from the volcanic activity. It is just an incredibly interesting area.

Grjotagja

Grjotagja

Grjotagja

Grjotagja

Grjotagja's crystal clear water

Grjotagja’s crystal clear water

Grjotagja cave entrance

Grjotagja cave entrance

Fissured landscape above the cave

Fissured landscape above the cave

Fissured landscape above the cave

Fissured landscape above the cave

Fissured landscape above the cave

Fissured landscape above the cave