Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Strange Winds

Strange winds were blowing this morning and my usual swim spots frothed with white caps, so I took a rare swim along the lava cliffs of La Perouse bay. Swimming along rock faces which drop off into deep water is great fun because I can get right up to the edge and waves throw me up and down, but not sideways into the cliff. I was happy to not see any wild life on this swim, because the only kind usually seen out there in the deep water are the big kind. No thank you.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Castles in the Sand

Doug's birthday was this past weekend and everything else (this blog included) fell by the wayside.

This morning I was appreciating the staggering beauty of South Maui's resorts. Lush flowering landscapes and huge waterfalls seem out of place here in the desert of Wailea except they are the rule rather than the exception. Fifteen year old buildings are sparkling and fresh as if they were built last week, and nearly priceless art sits out on public display. What a great place to live.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Recipe for Success

We have lunch out most Fridays and our big favorite is Cafe O'lei in Kihei. Excellent food, great atmosphere, substantial portions, and some of the lowest prices around. They follow these four simple standards, they are wildly successful, yet they stand almost alone among South Maui restaurants.

We always arrive early while there are still tables available and love the eclectic mix of people. At the next table were two beautiful women in dresses and high heels sipping mojitos, and a few tables over were four construction workers covered with paint spatters and dust who started with the french onion soup (sorry, the two women are just beyond the edge of this photo). By the time we finished lunch the restaurant was packed.

We see so many restaurants start then fail, and few of them meet more than two of the above standards. Is it really that difficult to understand what will draw customers in? I guess so.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

You Shall Not Pass

I hit the wall today, and I have the cuts and bruises to show for it. Not literally, of course; well, the cuts and bruises are real. The Tahiti Express ocean current was ripping along and this morning was the first time in years that I was unable to swim through it to the other side. I could approach the current from the side, slide into it and swim as hard as I could, but time after time I was pushed back and out.

So, smart me decided to climb onto the rocks and walk to the other side of the current; which is where the cuts and bruises come in. One good wave and I was history. No way was I going to swim with blood streaming out, so I let the current take me back to the beach and headed in to work. The bleeding has stopped so I am looking forward to swimming on Sunday.

Nice sunset today. A squall passed just as the last light infused the rain with a red glow.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Four Rays A-Swimming

I met these four while out swimming this morning. First, one swam under me and I followed it. Then a second joined us. While taking a photo, I suddenly realized there were now three. And then a fourth came up.

On my way back I ran into one of the regular snorkelers and told him about the Spotted Eagle Rays. He turned to his buddy who was carrying a spear and said, "Let's grab one and get a ride." That was the last time I will ever tell him what I've seen out there!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Natural Bouquets

Another foot-long flower, the Monstera, is blooming like crazy right now. Plumerias are also going off in large fragrant bouquets.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Dragons Coming Soon

In the far south desert of Makena along a stone wall grows a huge cactus hedge called Panini O Kapunahou. It grew from a cutting brought from Oahu's Punahou school. Shortly after a heavy rain (which isn't often) and deep in the night, the entire wall erupts with huge foot-long flowers. They shrivel in the hot light of day and aren't seen again until the next major downpour. Unless you are an early riser (like me) you will probably never see one of these magnificent flowers.

I will be keeping a close eye on these plants because in 30 - 50 days they will supposedly bear Dragon Fruit and I am really looking forward to finally sampling one.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Dolphins and Barracuda

Five spinner dolphins stopped by for a visit while I was out swimming this morning. As they approached me, one of them repeatedly leaped from the water, spinning in the air. Twice it landed right next to me. I was so excited that I pushed the wrong button on my camera causing - nothing - to happen. By the time I realized my mistake the dolphin was down to its last jump, which can be seen by clicking the brief video below (or by Clicking HERE).

They circled slowly below me for about ten minutes, drawing me over and over towards this big barracuda just below the surface. I don't know why the fish made me nervous, maybe it had something to do with the fact that it was nearly as big as I was and kept following me.

Anyway, the dolphins were idling below me, then suddenly sprinted off as if something had frightened them (I have the same flight reaction when I look in the mirror these days).

Friday, September 19, 2008

Only In Hawaii

Even though I've lived here for over seventeen years, it still took me a minute of concentrated effort to get the pronunciation of this name seen on a roadside sign.

Kah ho oh hala hala

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Exercise, What Exercise?

Mmmmm. My favorite time of the year for ocean swims, well, ocean floats. The water is nice and warm and I hover in place watching parrot fish chasing other fish off their turf. Then I swim on and stop to watch these spotted eagle rays hanging in the current, drifting right then left. Then a little bit further where a peacock grouper scoots from one hiding place to the next. Well, you get the idea...

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Mmmmmm, Sweet

Ahhhhh! It feels great to take big breaths of clean air once again. That vog (volcanic smog) stinks!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Tako & Kaku

Tako and Kaku didn't listen to warnings from their parents and decided to hitch-hike down the shore. Tako stuck out his eight thumbs and Kaku grinned a big friendly smile. Spearfisher guy gave them one ride allright.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Alone, Alone, All All Alone

Usually, clear skies and clean air prevail on Maui. Usually. Every now and then the trade winds die and emissions from the active volcano on the Big Island of Hawaii slowly build and spread -- until the horizon and other islands disappear. Almost like they were towed away in the middle of the night leaving us all alone hanging in the middle of nowhere.

This morning and all day yesterday the sulphur dioxide was so thick that even the mountain had vanished and we were floating alone in space. Except for the occasional oceangoing visitor.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Aloha Patti and Janet

Janet and Patti are heading off to the third world (defined as having only one Starbucks per neighborhood instead of on every other block) for six months. Oh no! First Evelyn, now you two! All the happiness has gone out of the world! Oh, the Humanity!

They were given a farewell this morning by two manta rays and lots of turtles. And, of course, the usual suspects minus several spouses. What was this, singles day at the beach? Anyway, we will miss you two.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Sure and Steady

While a do enjoy a well-prepared escargot, the fact that these guys munch on prodigious quantities of chemically treated landscaping has kept them safe from my kitchen. Vog levels seem to be enhanced and this is how I was moving today. Slow but steady. And leaving a trail of slime.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Smooth Sailing

Even though it feels like I'm living in front of my computer working, working, working; I still managed an ocean swim this morning. Unusually, the surface of the water was glassy and swimming was easy, as if I were doing laps in a pool. Not much to see other than fish and turtles, but it doesn't matter - it was great getting out of the office!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Simple Is Best

My mind! Rather than look for the obvious solution, I am always trying to make things more complicated.

I replaced the o-ring on my underwater camera housing and it no longer leaks. It can't be that easy, can it?
One of my test shots this morning accidentally captured four different kinds of Sea Urchin

  1. Slate Pencil Urchin
  2. Pale Rock-Boring Urchin
  3. Blue-Black Urchin
  4. Collector Urchin
Hooray! It feels great to go into the water without the nagging worry that another camera will be destroyed by salt water. I am looking forward to another long swim tomorrow morning.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Three Eagle Rays

Good thing I carry a back-up camera when I swim. Shortly after my underwater housing flooded this morning, I ran into three frisky Spotted Eagle Rays. One of the three was skittish and kept zooming away, one was oblivious to my presence, and the third kept swimming up to me to check me out.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Bloomin' Monkeypods

It is hard to believe those big ugly sticky monkeypods come from such delicate flowers. They don't look like your average legume flower either.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Shooting In Paradise

Instead of swimming, I spent the day photographing another little bit of Paradise. Through sliding glass walls all of the living spaces looked out on unobstructed views of the azure Pacific. In the pleasant shade of long eaves were day beds and an outdoor dining room. The four-poster beds were beckoning me to take a nap. Oh, and I wanted to succumb.

Last night was not filled with sleep, instead I joined my very best friends for an early Thanksgiving dinner. I have not so thoroughly enjoyed myself in a long, long, long time. Thank goodness we were out in the countryside where our gales of laughter kept only the cattle and mongooses awake. I will sleep well tonight.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Surfin' USA

Surf's up on the south shore, so I made it a lazy Saturday and sat around with my buddies watching the surfers in action.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Death in Makena

My exercise walk this morning ended in tragedy.

Exquisite is the only way to describe a Makena morning. Cool air draining down from the mountain top and clear blue skies. As I walk, heat and humidity rise as the ground bakes under the merciless sun. Each patch of shade evokes a moment of bliss as I enter. I look for any excuse to take a break during these summer walks.

I stopped for a nice chat with a realtor friend and again when I met a couple visiting from New Jersey. Considering how socially inept I am, I get a surprising amount of pleasure from interacting with others.

As I was striding the home stretch, I saw a fluttering against a rock wall. A poor Barn Owl must have been hit by a passing car. I was hoping that it was only stunned and would soon fly away, but it did not survive. I find it strange that I could be so emotionally shaken by the death of a wild animal. Then again I was primed by the tragic movie we watched last night about a family dealing with the death of a parent. I sure hope we can find a comedy to watch tonight.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Nice Haircut Dude

Rainbow Wrasse specialize in cleaning other fish by eating parasites attached to them. The other fish gather around these cleaning stations, wanting to be rid of pests. But that doesn't mean they have to like it. Like small children getting haircuts, the fish scoot away when the wrasse gets to work. They even put up their defensive spines in irritation. Yet, they continue to come back for more.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Mundane Beauty

Some days my mind is open to all possibilities and I see unusual beauty everywhere. My camera goes click, click, click so that I can share this great stuff with you. Today, I couldn't seem to see past blue skies and clear tropical water, and only took one photo all day.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Swimmers and Dolphins

I was hoping to encounter Spinner Dolphins today because some of the Maui Pink Cap Swimmers were joining me for an unusual mid-week swim. And sure enough, dolphins materialized out of the murk and swam with us for an hour and a half. I couldn't get an accurate count due to the poor visibility, but who cares? We had fun, fun, fun. Click HERE (or Below) for today's Video.