Thursday, April 30, 2009

Aloha Nancy

A familiar-looking mermaid emerged from the ocean this morning and called out my name. As vivacious as ever, former Pink Cap Swimmer Nancy is back on the island for one day only and, of course, had to get into the ocean for a swim.

She marveled at the intensity of all the vibrant colors offered by Maui. Nancy travels the third world encouraging people to practice good hygiene. Having come from dry, dry Ethiopia where everything is a shade of brown, she couldn't get enough of our blues, greens, reds, yellows, and more.

Alas, she is here for a funeral and flies away to return to doing good deeds on the morrow. It was great seeing you again, Nancy. Next time stay a little longer.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

The New Waikiki

Has an alien craft from another planet landed? This yellow pod was not there last week.

This changes everything. First, regular public bus service; and now, a Lifeguard station at Big Beach! Skyscrapers can't be far behind. It's funny how change creeps up on you.

We on Maui always think of ourselves as a rural society. Somehow a sneaky transformation has occurred and we have to realize that we now live in an urban setting. Honolulu, prepare to step aside for the new kid on the block.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The Procrastinator Triumphs

Well, actually I've been working not procrastinating. Anyway, I've finally finished processing the photos of our camping trip to Kipahulu for Christine's birthday. I know, I know, about time. And they can be found by clicking HERE.

I thoroughly enjoyed swimming in the pools at the bases of several different waterfalls. Somehow they did not seem frigidly cold this year. Maybe the cold winter ocean water prepared me for them. After all, nothing could be as icy as Maui beach water has been the past few months. Brrrr. In fact some of the pools were almost warm.

We came and went via the back way. The drive made me feel like I was in an old cowboy western movie. I got to eat clouds of dust as I bounced along bumpy dirt roads, rounding a turn to suddenly encounter cattle staring me down, daring me to make them move. I was emboldened by being part of a wagon train of several cars of swimmers.

I am already looking forward to next year.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Swimming In Style

When I encountered this turtle during my ocean swim this morning, I thought "Awww, poor thing." I started thinking about how I might go about removing the large fish hook stuck through its front left fin. Then I realized it might not be so bad off. After all, I encounter people nearly every day who are pierced more radically than this little guy was. I don't think they would appreciate me attempting to rip out their hardware. Who knows, maybe this turtle is proud of its bling.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Happy Birthday

Wow! After all the gloomy weather forecasts, we had a glorious weekend
out in the wilderness of Kipahulu. Happy Birthday Christine - Mahalo

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Heading To Kipahulu

Hooray! We're heading off the grid. Finally

Friday, April 24, 2009


Three more dead this week. All killed by people. The endangered Hawaiian Monk Seal now has a population of less than 100 in the main Hawaiian islands. I was extremely fortunate to have encountered this one several years ago since I may never get to see another again. How sad.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Beyond Civilization

I drive across the rugged lava fields to the end of the road several mornings each week. Out there past the last vestiges of modern man, I stand on the rocky cliffs for a half-hour and absorb a bit of wild tranquility. Sometimes I am bounced around by walls of wind and soaked by great crashing waves; then there was this morning when absolute peace reigned.

After my meditation fix today, I dodged sea turtles and coral heads for a good one hour swim. OK, now I'm ready to take on the day. Bring it on!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Resurrecting the Past

I couldn't resist posting the photo above simply for its awwwww value. The couple on the left were posing the two on the right and taking snapshots. Father? Uncle? Godfather? Who cares, they're adorable.

One of Maui's production companies was setting up for a party at one of the ocean resorts. I liked the petroglyph props that they were struggling to erect. Pretty much the only art to survive from ancient Hawaiian times were carvings in rock faces which can be found all around the islands, if you know where to look. I think it was clever of them to take these iconic "negatives" and turn them into "positives."

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

They're Gone

For the first time since January I couldn't hear any Humpback Whales during my ocean swim. Sometimes the moans, groans and whistles sound like the cries of all the tormented souls in hell, other times they are more like a noisy barnyard. And now all is quiet. There is an emptiness and a void and swimming isn't quite the same. They'll be back next winter and I'll be waiting.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Good Old Days

More and more of the South Maui oceanfront is being made accessible by walking paths. Mahalo to all of you wonderful volunteers for opening up Maui's treasures to the rest of us. I used to walk this trail by the Kihei boat ramp when it was a little more exciting. Our car break-in thieves would dump everything they didn't want along this stretch of dirt road, so this would be a great place to find a new wallet or purse. Of course, it wasn't exactly the safest place back then. Grouchy old me will have to finally concede that not everything was better in the good old days.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

New Friend

Wow! Lucky us. The Maui Pink Cap Swimmers encountered a new, young Hawksbill Turtle on our ocean swim this morning. I was just talking about how incredibly rare Hawksbills are . . . and suddenly we discover one not before seen in our area.

The water was so flat and smooth that swimming fast was irresistible. It would have been a great morning for water skiing.

State of Emergency - Bangkok

Caught in an ongoing battle for three days, my friends Janet and Patti have gotten photos and a video of the shooting on their blog. Click HERE to check it out - and be sure to watch the video.

Trouble seems to follow them. They passed through Mumbai hours before the big crisis there, and have been in Bangkok for both sets of riots recently.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

All A-Twitter

Lots of dolphin people gathered this morning but, alas, no dolphins; just lots of talk story. The topic of Twittering and Blogging came up and I got a little shock. I always assumed this group of older (my age) people were as informed and cynical as I am. They're not! They were giggling like a group of teenagers over their little double-entendres using the word "Twitter." How silly - and how fun.

So, the main question asked was "Why? Why Twitter or Blog?"

It's true, Twittering and Blogging help build a sense of community among a widely spread group of friends. But for me, the main purpose is to get me to actually live my life.

In my case Blogging is keeping a Journal or Diary which is made public as it happens. Since I am committed to writing something (nearly) every day, I have to pay attention to my own life. I can't simply get up, go to work, come home, watch tv, go to bed, then do it all over again. No! I have to observe what I do, and pay attention to what goes on around me. Otherwise I'll have nothing to write about.

So, what was my discovery today? That the ocean is not as cold as I keep telling myself. I saw several whales off shore, so I jumped in the water and swam way out. And I was comfortable. Even without a wetsuit. By the way, no whales came by to check me out, but I did see their tails above water and got to hear them singing loud and clear. Most of them may be gone, but there are still a few around. Maybe they will feel playful tomorrow morning when the Maui Pink Cap Swimmers head out to sea...

Friday, April 17, 2009

The Trouble with Tribbles

OK, I know, the title makes a terribly arcane reference, but these little creatures (above photo) look so soft and cuddly. They are popping up all over the reef in every nook and cranny. I don't know what they are, but suddenly there sure are a lot of them. Everywhere.

Note: thanks to a comment from Haley, I now know that they are Common Razor Coral.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Capturing Beauty

Work, work, work. I had an all-day photo shoot on Tuesday (this sunset picture was from that shoot), and another today. Spectacular houses, exquisite interiors, and great views - what a great job I have!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Turtle Soup

Now that whale season is almost over and the chance of a Humpback Whale encounter is slim, I am no longer doing deep sea swims. So I had fun this morning getting reacquainted with the usual denizens of South Maui's shallow water reefs.

The turtle in the upper photo is a Hawaiian Green Sea Turtle which, while technically an endangered species, is thriving around Maui. I see several every time I get in the water and this morning was no exception. There were so many swimming around that it was practically turtle soup out there.

The turtle in the lower photo is a critically endangered Hawksbill Turtle. I have only ever seen three or four of these turtles in all of my years of swimming around Maui. I watched today as this one munched on a broken off piece of coral, but I didn't hang around too long because the water is still a bit nippy. When, oh when, is summer going to get here?

Monday, April 13, 2009

More On The Way

Several large bunches of bananas are ripening and with this new flowering, yet another bunch will soon be on the way. What does one do with way too many bananas? Eat them, of course. And bake with them, and dry them, and give them away. Bananas are the tropical equivalent of zucchini in the Midwest. I've never tried a zucchini smoothie though...

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Happy Easter Bunny Day

Watch out for the chocolate!

Easter Bunny Joyce handed out chocolate easter eggs before the swim this morning and, whoosh, off went a crowd of Pink Cap Swimmers in a bubbly sugar high. We didn't see them again until they zoomed past us on the return, arms churning and feet splashing. Click HERE for Today's Photos.

The water actually felt a little warmer today and the sun peeked between clouds every now and then. I've retired the super-warm wetsuit for the season but am not looking forward to once again wearing the pink men's bikini (the group's official suit). Time to get serious about the diet, I guess.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Snap Out Of It!

I have been reading a post-apocalyptic book recommended by my brother called The Road by Cormac McCarthy. Save me. I am a little more than half-way through and so far it is all doom and gloom, and gloom and doom, and doom and gloom. I don't know if I can take any more. Then I step outside into yet another day of gloom here on Maui, and I'm not sure if I am in the book or just reading it. Since I've read this much, I have to keep on. Somehow something good has to happen sooner or later, doesn't it?

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Enough Already!

This is getting ridiculous!

During our first fifteen years on Maui, we had maybe one day of solid overcast skies each year. Maybe one. Yes, it rained every now and then, but only for part of the day and then the skies would clear.

This winter gray skies have become the rule. What is going on?

I blame Al Gore and his "climate change" nonsense. Maybe if he were to back off, the skies would become blue once again.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

The New York Times says . . .

My buddy Bobby from NYC wanted to check out "The Aquarium" this morning. He had read about it in the New York Times, but didn't realize that the hiking trails across the lava have been closed since August (click HERE for the Article).

Although the land is closed, the ocean is open to swimmers. It looks like an intimidating swim, but we made short work of it (snorkel fins didn't hurt).

One nice thing about the closure was having the cove all to ourselves. It used to be crowded with kayakers and snorkelers, but on each of my recent visits the place was empty - except for lots of fish, of course. Yes, that is me in the pink cap.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Shell Ginger

Ginger of all different varieties are grown here on Maui for their colorful flowers. The flowers of the Shell Ginger are distinctive because of their separate blossoms which resemble small sea shells.

I enjoy eating the flowers of the White and the Yellow Ginger which is sweet with nectar while having a small snap of ginger taste. The kind of ginger which provides ginger spice (made from the root) has the most uninteresting of the ginger flowers. I haven't noticed any growing on Maui because -- they're not very noticeable.

Spring break seems to be in full swing, I haven't seen Wailea Beach this crowded in ages. The hotels have been suffering low occupancy due to the recession, but everyone seems happy right now. Sunny with light breezes and temperatures in the eighties; who wouldn't be happy?

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Will You Still Need Me...

A co-founder of the Maui Pink Cap Swimmers is also our youngest swimmer at heart. Doug scrapes the top of his age group tomorrow when he turns sixty-four, but he is still waiting for his body to readjust to his real age of 24. Yes, he probably was around when the dinosaurs roamed the earth, but that does not mean he is old.

His beautiful wife, Christine, another formidable swimmer, handed out lyrics this morning. Instead of another horrible chorus of Happy Birthday, we sang a modified version of the Beatles' song When You're Sixty Four. Click HERE for photos from Today.

He may be a Reverend and a Doctor, but he is a physical force to be reckoned with. Every week at the start of the ocean swim, he demonstrates defense against shark techniques. I pity the tiger shark that threatens him. He also passes down swimmer lore, ask him about Ted's Point sometime...

Happy Birthday Doug

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Dolphin People with a Purpose

As they do every Saturday, Maui's Dolphin People gathered in hopes of swimming with Spinner Dolphins. Today their wish was granted and conditions were unparalleled. It didn't matter that the usual pod of only fourteen dolphins was outnumbered by snorkelers. The water was exquisitely clear and the dolphins were gently playful and interactive.

The dolphins and dolphin people weren't the only ones who had fun, I had fun today too. Of course I got way too many excellent photos and way too much top-notch video footage. Click HERE to see a sampling of the photographs. Click HERE (or Below) for Today's Video.

I am exhausted, but in a really, really good way. What a life!

Friday, April 3, 2009

Words from Dorothy

I bought my teeny tiny little kayak in December to pull behind me on my deep water ocean swims. Until today deep water is all it has seen.

Now that the whales are mostly gone, I decided to explore the Makena coastline. What fun! I've hiked and swum the shoreline, but never visited it from a floating vantage point. I was able to paddle into spots which are too shallow for swimming, including this sea cave near my house.

I've always enjoyed hiking the treacherous sea cliff trails of Makena State Park and even maintained a Geocache in a cave there for a couple of years (click HERE to check out Geocaching). To me, the trails were fun, but I got a lot of feedback comments complaining about how life-threatening they were. Once upon a time I would have been petrified too, but after hiking through Nepal and partway up Mount Everest, these paths seemed downright tame.

While pulling in toward home this morning, I saw my friend, Joe, a little way out. He is always easy to spot because he has the exact same kayak as me. As I paddled out to him, a mom and baby whale swam between us. No whales all morning, then there they are right by shore in front of my house! What is that saying from The Wizard of Oz? Something about not looking any farther than your own back yard.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

A Swim Too Far

I went for a swim this morning out into the wilderness where I can count on being alone. On my way back I saw a flash of blue - then nothing. I watched carefully and there it was again; aha, a snorkeler.

It was my buddy, Lynne, swimming with a small group of Spinner Dolphins. I tried keeping up with them, but I had already gone too far and shore was looking mighty good. Maybe next time...

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Family Outings

More and more I see paddleboarders carrying their children and pets out to sea with them. There is no way as a child that I could have sat still on one of those. I would certainly have tried to help out, and would have made a mess of it and landed everyone in the drink. And myself in deep trouble. Ohhh, it would not have been pretty.

I am so happy to be (mostly) grown up and (mostly) away from authority figures. My favorite part of being an adult? Being able to eat whatever I want, whenever I want it. Mmmmm.