In October we took a trip to the Udvar-Hazy wing of the National Air and Space Museum. Since I was with the kids I didn’t get a chance to properly explore it. But it’s a great museum for kids since it’s full of big things which they understand. And concepts like “fastest plane ever” or “space travel” are things that impress them. The hanger is huge and it’s indeed a lot of fun to see so many of these iconic aircraft in the flesh.
While some of the important smaller artifacts are in the DC museum—Mercury 7, Apollo 11,* Spirit of St. Louis, and the Wright Flyer—there’s not enough room to house the larger aircraft. And it’s fantastic to be able to see things like a Blackbird, the Enola Gay, the Space Shuttle Discovery, or a Concorde. In the same way the you can only really grok the insanity/bravery of the early astronauts by looking at how small the capsules they were in, you have to also see how huge things like the Space Shuttle are.
*Actually, when I wandered through there in December after seeing Ragnar Kjartansson, Nation to Nation, and Horace Poolaw shows, Apollo 11 was not on display and is supposedly being shipped to Udvar Hazy. I’m curious what’s going to become of the DC museum as more and more iconic planes end up in Virginia. I didn’t write about the December visit because it was mainly just seeing the highlights of the collection. But I can say that the New Moon Rises exhibition was kind of neat.
I particularly like being able to see the textures and details of the aircrafts from how the Space Shuttle is so many different colors of white to all the different panels and things on all the airplanes’ surfaces. When I imagine airplanes I imagine them with sleek seamless surfaces even though I know better.
Continuing my magazine experiments, this time I figured I’d give Magcloud a whirl. I was happy with Blurb’s magazines but I wanted to try smaller formats and experiment with saddlestitching. Magcloud’s 5.25″×8.25″ format looked ideal since it’s a decent size for vertical photos and the saddlestitch format is much more forgiving for crossovers so I can use similar-sized horizontal or square photos as well.
I’m pretty happy with the results. Magcloud uses very-good toner-based printing technology and the results are about as good as I’d expect from that. They do still show the typical telltale heavy-gloss in high-coverage areas* though so the overall result doesn’t feel as high quality to me as Blurb’s printing. But the print quality itself—screening, color, etc.—is plenty good.
*This is admittedly something I’m sensitive to and it only shows up in certain lighting situations anyway.
The only other thing which caught my attention is that Magcloud’s bindery operation is pretty loose. They want an eighth of an inch for bleeds and they mean it. I had a few photos where I could only spare a sixteenth of an inch for bleed and that wasn’t nearly enough, Magcloud needs the full eighth of an inch. Similarly, while the crossovers are mostly satisfactory, there’s a decent amount of play—over a sixteenth of an inch again—in terms of where the center fold is.
These aren’t complaints as the price is more than fair and the results are still fine. But they‘re worth keeping in mind so I don‘t expect anything better than that and treat these as the mini-projects/project dummies that they are. I don’t expect any of my magazines to be the final form of the projects, they’re just waypoints which scratch my urge to get things printed and which I can live with and look through until I’m ready to take the next step.
The magazines I made are all working through a bunch of small projects which I’m not sure what to do with yet. There are two which are photos from Powwow—one of the Aztec dancers, the other of the powwow itself.
There are two which are photos from Obon—one of San José Taiko, the other of the obon odori.
And there’s one which consists of photos from all the bounce house birthday parties I’ve been to.
Some of those projects I don’t expect to be adding to. Others might get a photo here or there each summer but I’m reaching the point where I’ll want to replace existing photos rather than add to the project overall. In all cases though I expect I’ll be heading back to Magcloud to do some more small projects and see how they work together.
In our last full day on Hawai‘i we set off early to go see Punalu‘u beach. Obvious but obligatory since I’d also always wanted to see a black sand beach ever since I was a little kid.* Punalu‘u is the easiest to access on the island plus I’d previously scanned a photo of my grandmother taken when she visited there around 1940.
*Also Papakōlea’s green sand but taking the walk (or hiring a drive) to South Point was a bit more than I was ready to undertake.
It is indeed very pretty and even past the color difference the sand is very different than the sand I’m used to. Rather than being the soft, rounded and eroded sand we have on beaches in California,* the black sand is rough and abrasive since it’s powdered lava. Rather than being formed by wave action on solid lava rock, it’s a result of explosions when the molten lava hits the ocean water. It doesn’t hurt to walk in but your feet do get exfoliated a bit. After all the walking we did the previous day this wasn’t a bad thing.
*Or even the coarser sand made of broken shells in Waikoloa.
We even saw a few honu here. We’d seen one on our first excursion to Kaloko-Honokōhau so it was nice to be able to say goodbye as well.
After walking along Crater Rim Drive to see Halema‘uma‘u and before going to the Jagger Museum, we drove Chain of Craters Road to the Hōlei Sea Arch. We took our time, pulling over whenever we saw something interesting or if there was a pullout to go look at yet another crater. It’s a fun drive out toward the ocean through fresh lava fields. The nice thing about this drive is that each pullout explains the date of the field we would be standing in and describes each eruption, how it occurred, what parts of the road were covered, etc.
In most parts of the world, the geologic history of the land is hidden in the stratigraphy under the earth and only where the stratigraphy is exposed can you figure out what happened there. On Hawai‘i, the lava flows are visible everywhere and tell the story of how the island was built. Because the Chain of Craters road goes through the most-recent flows, it serves as a primer on looking at the landscape in general and allowed us to think about the other parts of the island we’d been to and put together how the lava flows had created and shaped the landscapes everywhere else too.
Our hotel in Hilo had a wonderful map on the wall which marked all the lava flows on the island and included the dates—or where they predated western contact with the islands, the Hawaiian names—of those flows. I’ve been trying, and failing, to find a copy of that map since the lava flows have become one of my most-vivid memories of this trip. It’s not the being on the flows either, it’s the driving along the highway and just seeing dark patches flowing down the mountain side* or noticing that the vegetation has gotten more sparse and recognizing that we were passing through a newer portion of the island and wondering when that flow occurred.
*This was the other thing besides the cinder cones that we kept seeing when we drove over Mauna Kea.
At the end of the road is the Hōlei Sea Arch and a parking lot for the trailhead to go look at the lava from Pu‘u ‘Ō‘ō as it flowed into the Pacific Ocean. It would’ve been an 8-mile round-trip walk to see the lava. Nothing too strenuous but it would go over rough lava and after having hiked Kīlauea Iki earlier, we were both wary of how sharp the lava could be.
The little kid in me who had always wanted to see volcanos wanted to take that walk. The grown-up part of me thought better of it. The grown-up part of me won.
We’d seen so many people being stupid already by walking close to the edge and trying to get a better view of the ocean that we didn’t want to see them be stupid around lava either. Having already seen Halema‘uma‘u breathe we knew we respected the volcano too much to be with a bunch of tourists messing around with it.
So we enjoyed looking at the ocean and seeing it crash into the lava cliffs. Then we turned around and went back up the ridge to go to the Jagger Museum. Do I still have some “what ifs” and “if onlys”? Absolutely. But I’m also perfectly satisfied with what I did see.