Thursday, May 28, 2009

The Road to Hana

The Road to Hana is a journey and not destination. The trip along this winding road is more like leaving Maui and entering a different world. The road is 52 miles long and it follows the old King’s Trail that had been the main path before the Highway showed up. However, we only did about 36 of the miles on our trip. We turned around in Hana (population 709) instead of going all the way to Lindbergh’s grave. We started our trip with a breakfast at Charlie’s in the Historical Plantation Town of Paia. The Bride knew of this restaurant because of her devotion to Rachel Ray. I will admit the macadamia nut pancakes and coconut syrup were delicious.

After filling our bellies we started the trek in our rented Jeep. I had always heard the road was Jeep very dangerous (which appealed to me) and very beautiful (which appealed to the Bride). However, the legend of being unpaved, with rickety bridges, and no guard rails is false. Since the 1980s the road has been paved and the bridges in very good repair. You still have to be very careful while driving due to the road having over 600 turns and 54 different bridges in less than 40 miles.

Our first stop was Twin Falls around mile marker 7. We chatted with the lady at the Twin Falls Fruit Stand, got directions to the first waterfall and sRoad-to-Hanna-1st-Waterfalltarted our trek. This was not a long trek to the falls, but it was slippery as we climbed down the creek bank and followed to the falls. We stopped long enough for me to take some photos. Even though this is called Twin Falls we only saw the bottom water fall, because we did not want to take the hour round trip to the upper falls and get behind a lot of traffic.

A few miles down the road we turned off the main road and found the most wonderful deserted beach. We were the only two people there for most the time and only one other car bothered to “get off the beaten path” and Road-to-Hanna-3 enjoy this secluded area. Since this was May the waves where not rolling in and it was actually hard to believe that in the winter months you can get 30-60 waves. The Bride commented after we had returned to the hotel that this beach was her favorite part of the trip.

The next location that was memorable with the old Hawaiian Village of Keanae. Road-to-Hanna-4 The village stands out against the blue water like a place time forgot.  Based on the guide book we were using this is one of the last coastal enclaves of native Hawaiian people. They still grow taro in patches and make their own poi. We drove to where the road ends to enjoy the view of the waves of the Pacific bKevin-Road-to-Hanna-1reaking over the lava rocks. Other than the cars and buses, primarily from tourists, you would have thought that you had gone back in time. It would have been very peaceful but another bus of tourists showed so we beat a hasty departure.

The rest of the trip was one more astonishing sight after another. Road-to-Hanna-1 We turned around in Hana after discussing driving further, but our bellies were talking. And we wanted to beat the traffic back to “civilization”. Once we Road-to-Hanna-Waterfall-2 returned around 3pm, we stopped at Mama’s Fish House and I enjoyed a magnificent meal of freshly caught mahi-mahi. MMMMMM.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Cruising The Big Island at 500 feet AGL

We have covered the bike ride and the scuba diving. The other really cool thing we did was take the Big Island Spectacular with Blue Hawaii Helicopters. This was a great two hour trip up and over Kilauea which is still active. Here is a photo of the Bride and I after returning from the flight. The Bride did not look as relaxed prior to the trip. She had never been in a helo before.


Our pilot was a Vietnam era pilot who had also flow for NBC in Los Angeles. He was the pilot of the chopper that followed OJ during the infamous Low Speed Chase.

We started up a valley and it was rainy and foggy and it did not appear we got more Lava 1than 500 ft above the ground, but I looked at the altimeter and realized we had climbed up to over 6500 ft. We cruised around the smoking top of the volcano and then headed back down toward the sea, so we could see where the lava was flowing into the Pacific.

Lava 3

Then we flew the coast over to Hilo and explained how the Big Island is of one of the few islands with an active volcano and valleys. It has to do withHelo-1 the age of the island and the Big Island is actually big enough to have both. We circled a bridge next to what use to be an old Sugar Plantation. There use to be a railroad bridge next to the road bridge, but it was not rebuilt after a tsunami.

We continued our flight along the coast and it really was the picture you imagine when you hear about the cliffs of Hawaii. These cliffs were steep Helo-2 and high, with the blue water of the Pacific rolling in them. You can see the white surf crashing into the coast line. It was so absolutely beautiful. At this point another helo passed us (if you look closely you can see the dark speck—that gives you a good idea of the magnitude we are dealing with here).

We continued down the side of the Big Island and saw some amazing water falls. Helo-Waterfall-2 These sights were truly something out of a book. It was so amazing to see them for real.

Finally we headed up into the valleys where there were giant water falls.


We went up and down the different valleys looking at different water falls.


Finally we headed back to the heliport and have many fond memories of a great 2 hours in the air over the Big Island.

The next report is the Road to Hanna.

And so you don’t think I haven’t been working out—Tuesday I did 2300 yard in the pool and about 30 minutes of drills on the bike. This morning I did an easy 40 min run before work.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Why My Ears are Ringing or Diving Hawaii

Friday May 8th I planned on diving the Molokini Crater. However, when I got to the dive boat, the planned had changed to dive the back wall of Molokini. A group of people who were diving all week with this organization had already dove the crater and were looking to dive the back side. This turned out to be a really bad idea. First of all, getting near the backside is tough. The waves crash on the back side, so you have to get in the water a fair distance away and then swim over there. There is a strong current from the wave action which really messes with your equilibrium. In addition this is 90+ foot dive and I haven't dove since August of last year. I was the first one in the water and it took me a while to equalize. What really blows about this dive is that there was nothing to really see. I am normally an airhog anyway, but after 19 minutes I was running low on air and went back to the surface. Since this dive my right ear has been ringing.

The second dive of the day was much more to my liking. This was a 50 foot dive on a sunken shrimp boat, The Saint Anthony. During the surface interval the Bride got to snorkel the inside of the crater and said it was absolutely amazing. The St Anthony was great and my ear felt better was in the water. I was not going to continue if I felt any pain. I actually had hope that a good equalization would solve the problem. Needless to say it did not.
The dive site has a large abundance of fish and turtles. The photo below is of the dive master clapping and bringing the yellow tang in. He started clapping and I looked behind and all I could see was this huge school of fish coming my way. It was very cool.

The boat also had a couple of sea turtles who lived on it. I took a bunch of photos of the turtles but unfortuately, not many turned out. This was the best of the lot.

The second day of diving I did was Tuesday May 11 on the Big Island. We went out and did a night dive with the Manta Rays. I don't have any photos because it was a night dive and the flash reflected off all the plankton in the water. However, I do have a professional video of the dive and when I figure out how to get it cut down in length I will post it.
My last day of diving was also on the Big Island and we left from the hotel. This was the best dive of them all. We dove the reefs on the west side of the Big Island. We also explored some lava tubes. This was a very easy and fun morning of diving. It was just me and another diver on the boat.
The Bride did some snorkling while we dove. This is a white tipped reef shark that I was able to photograph in one of the lava tubes. It was actually very difficult to see the shark due to the lack of light and my eyes not having adjusted. I am not sure how big this one was. But looking at the other fish, he could not have been more than 4 feet long.

I also was able to get a good photo of me swimming with a turtle. The dive master on the boat was a marine biology student at the University of Hawaii and was a very informative man. I wish I had a job like that when getting my masters.

And finally I have the obligatory photo of me diving. You can't go diving with out it.

And if anyone is worried about my ear, I have been to the doctor and she did not see any damage, just a little swelling and has put me on Claritin-D to drain the fluid off. We will see how that works the next couple of weeks.

Tomorrow I am back in the pool.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

First Hawaii Report

We are back from Hawaii. Actually we have been back since last Saturday afternoon. However, I deemed it more important to do laundry, organize the photos, cut the grass (it is not good to let your yard grow for over 3 weeks), actually get back work, and have the ringinging in my ears looked at (more on that in following reports).

We departed Reagan National at about 7am on 7 May for 13 glorious hours of air travel. But before you feel too sorry for us, we did have 1st Class seats. The bride is a frequent traveler and has amassed an ass-load (in airline jargon) of miles. Her status does make traveling with her very nice. Up front with the free drinks--not in the back with the sheeple. We make it to Phoenix, changed planes and started the long over-water leg of our trip. All total from take-off to landing was about 13 hours. The beauty was we landed at 2pm Hawaii time. (Bree I don't know how you make those long hauls).

We rented our Jeep and took off for the hotel. We arrived at the hotel, had a celebratory drink, gawked at the beauty, and settled into our room. I know we ate dinner, but to be honest I can't remember where. All I know is we were in bed very early because we had to be up early so we could catch get to the Haleakala Bike Company for to catch the van to the top of Mount Haleakala for the glorious sunrise and the ensuing bike ride down the mountain.

We checked in about 3am and were fitted with our helmets, wind top and pants, and of course the much needed helmet (they all had face guards--is this a message). One of the ladies on the trip was from the Boston area (sorry if I can't remember your name) who had competed in the Tri Nationals last year (if you do read this, please say hello and I do apologize for not remembering your name). The trip up the mountain took about an hour and it was full of plenty of switch backs.

We arrived at the top about 520, put on all of our snivel gear, took a potty break, and arranged our selves to see a very glorious sunrise. I did not take a tripod with me due to the bike trip back down the mountain. It was a pain in the ass to shoot in low-light handheld. Most of these photos were at either 1600 or 3200 iso.
This is the bride and I (in all our snivel gear) right after sunrise. It was about 35 degrees with a pretty strong wind.
The sun is just breaking over the clouds at over 10 feet. It really was spectacular.

The sun is trying very hard to get up. The clouds over the lower peaks were truly amazing. The bride coudn't have had a better big number birthday.

After the sunrise, we loaded back in the van and headed out of the park (you can't start organized bike rides in the park) and saddled up. The first part of the ride was rather windy and chilly. I was riding a well used Gary Fisher Soft tail mountain bike. I was not use to a bike that was the so loose. It took a few miles to get where I was comfortable on it. The ride down the volcano was exhilirating and took about 2.5 hours. That does include a stop for a very yummy breakfast of pancakes with coconut syrup.

The next post--Why my ears are ringing.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Weekend up or Why I prefer Waffle House to IHOP

Last week I was able to actually swim and run more than I have in a while. Wednesday, Running Buddy and I were able to get in a moderate 5 miles in the morning. It was rather on the humid side, but thankfully it did not rain during our run. I do think this was the first weekend morning run that I have been able to complete in just shorts and t-shirt.

Thursday morning was back in the pool. I swam about 2200 yards in about 50 minutes. I am still a little slow, but it is coming back. This workout was a combination of medium distance at a moderate pace and finishing up with a longer slower set.

Friday was a non-run day due to having 3 days of playing Army with my Reserve Unit. It was a pretty decent weekend. The range went smoother than I expected and we qualified about 2/3 of the shooters. And for the Reserves that is pretty damn good. We just don't have the opportunity to shoot as much as we like due to travel to and from ranges and ammo constraints. But then I love to shoot and I would be happy to 30K rounds a year just for myself. It rained some on Saturday, but it was not enough to make the time shooting uncomfortable. Below are a couple of photos from Saturday.

Sunday was a trying day for everyone. The Bride came to the Unit to get an ID card made, but the machine ending up being broken after she drove up in the rain and then had to wait on the ID guy. So much for me being proactive. :) After I returned home she wanted Ice Cream for dinner (she is almost to turn the big 4-0) so who am I to critize. We drove to Baskin and Robins, but I commented on wanting a waffle. We sat down at the IHOP next to BR and I had the worst waffle of my life. I guess that is what I get for having a waffle at IHOP. Then off to BR for icecream. The coffee ice cream the we wanted had freezer fungus on it--so that was a no go. Then off to another icecream shop in the neighborhood and it was closed!!! The Bride was not happy.
However, I reminded her that in 72 hours (from the ice cream and waffle fiasco) we would be landing in Maui!!! Less than 48 hours from now we will be departing from Washington. Other than the long flight (first class baby) I am ready to get there.
I don't know how blogging will go while we are there. However, I do plan on trying some of the mobile blogging.
Well time to get to work.