Thursday, December 31, 2009

Bit of a Shock

Whoah! Was I was surprised!

A Humpback Whale surfaced less than twenty yards in front of me on my ocean swim this morning. By the time I pulled the camera out, powered it on and clicked the button, all I managed was the faintest outline of its tail and body. It was still quite close but they blend in amazingly well.

Then came a giant school of what I call "whale fish." When I see these fish there is usually a whale nearby. Duh! So I floated with them for a while, hoping to see something (dolphin or shark) come by for lunch, but no luck today.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Warm Night

The low last night was seventy-six degrees so people were at the beaches and in the water earlier than usual this morning. The whales, though, seemed to be sleeping in.

Monday, December 28, 2009


I forget myself sometimes and begin feeling envy for these people who are relaxing on the beach and playing in the waves while I sit working in front of my computer. I forget that most of them wait all year for their two weeks here, while I get to go to the beach (briefly) every day. I think I would really rather be me.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Get Out Of The Way

(Big Surf) = (Murky Water) = (No Swim)

Fortunately, the big surf missed the truly south-facing shores on Maui so the Maui Pink Cap Swimmers headed down to La Perouse bay for our Sunday swim. Motivation was definitely absent in most of the group. A few waded in right away, but it took quite a while for everyone else to psych themselves up to brave the chilly water. It was worth it. Conditions were better than usual and the aquarium was gorgeous. We may be slow in starting, but there's no stopping us once we get going.

Click HERE for more photos from this morning's swim.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Sleepy Time

I went down to hang out with some of my friends this morning, but they weren't at their usual spot on the shore. I found their cars, so I figured they must be in the water. I quickly swam out to them and a few minutes later a group of 32 Spinner Dolphins swarmed up around us.

The dolphins were definitely in sleep mode but moving fast. I HATE not getting enough sleep, so me and my friends respect the resting time of the dolphins. We floated on the surface and watched them pass under us again and again. They would usually surface to breathe nearby, and sometimes they would come up among us to breathe. Who cares if there was no direct one-on-one interaction? It was great just being around them.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Revelations Come To Pass

Except for the crashing of giant waves, today was the quietest day of the year. Stores were all closed and the roads were eerily empty of traffic. We drove across the island and felt an almost post-apocalyptic vibe, as if everyone had suddenly vanished and we were the last people in the world. Tomorrow the mad rush will resume but I am enjoying Peace on Earth while it lasts.

Mele Kalikimaka everyone!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Ice and Cold

Where's the snow? It is Christmas Eve day on Maui and the temperature is a balmy 82 degrees - which just ain't right!

Aha! A solution. Even with a late start, my friends and I found ice crystals melting along the trail high up on the mountain (photo below). We hiked along the cliffs down into the crater and were still above the clouds. Nice chilly weather! This is how it should be.

But enough is enough. Christmas or not, it felt great to take a dip in the warm ocean as the sun was setting.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

New to Me

I have never seen one of these before. While swimming in deep water this morning I came across an area rich with jellies and jellyfish. I saw several Venus Belts which these new creatures resemble, except the Venus Belt is clear while this obviously is not. While I watched, it unrolled both ends of the scroll then rolled them back up again. It is always fun to find critters that are new to me.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Longest, Shortest, Who Cares?

Today is the shortest day of the year but, guess what, it doesn't matter here. We still have a full eleven hours of sunlight. Back where I grew up there were only nine hours of daylight - or would have been, if the sun had come out from behind the clouds today.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

So Sad

Lightening had been flashing all night long, thunder was booming, a cold wind was blowing and the ocean looked extremely uninviting. Do we swim, or not?

The question was pondered for some considerable time. Long enough, it turns out, for the sun to appear and the wind to die. So swim we did. Besides, Cheryl, Olivia and Jonathan would be leaving us forever tomorrow, so a final Maui swim had to be made.

Aloha. You will be missed.

Click HERE for more photos from today's swim.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Up Close And . . .

I don't do this often, so when I do, it must be pretty special.

Go see the movie Avatar in 3D!

And sit in the front row. The 3D process shrinks the screen, so sitting in the front row is equivalent to sitting halfway back at a regular movie.

Yes, there has been way too much hype about this film for over a year. But guess what? It actually lives up to it!

Go see this movie.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Masters of Disguise

I resumed swimming out in the deep water this morning, once again towing my teeny-tiny little kayak behind me. I could hear the Humpback Whales singing loudly, which meant they were quite close, but I never saw one the entire swim.

When I finally got tired and climbed into my kayak, there they were, all around me. It is amazing how little you can see while swimming. Especially around whales - they are masters at blending in.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Island Stereotypes

No, the women on Maui do not wear grass skirts - this was a beach photo shoot. But the men do wear Slippers (pronounced SLEE-pah and known elsewhere as flip-flops), Shorts and Aloha Shirts. Actually, that is business attire. Casual attire for Maui men consists of Slippers, Surf Shorts and T-Shirts.

Someone asked me the other day what I was all dressed up for. I was on my way to a concert but I couldn't understand why they (seriously) thought I was dressed up. Then I noticed that I had shoes on. Aha!

There is a joke on Maui (more of a truism, actually) that if an invitation says "Formal Attire," the women dress-to-kill and the men wear shoes.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Almost Retired

I was almost run over by a dive boat today.

The SCUBA boat did slow down before hitting me, so I was able to push off the front of the boat to keep from being chopped to bits by the propellers. The captain of the dive boat claimed he was blinded by the sunlight, but what was he doing that close to shore at such a popular snorkel and dive spot? Especially if he couldn't see where he was going, as he claimed. Can you tell I'm a little angry? This was the first time in all my years of ocean swimming that I was almost killed by a boat. I could understand it if it happened while out in the middle of the ocean, but close to shore? OK, calm down Don.

The good news is that I encountered the spottiest Spotted Eagle Ray that I've ever seen AND two Humpback Whales repeatedly breached a couple of hundred yards from me.

All in all, a very exciting morning.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Holiday Fix

Here in Hoity-Toity land where we now live, neighbors complain if holiday decorations do not meet some vague definition for being "Tasteful." Back in the real world we used to have fun putting up colorful lights and wreaths and such - the more, the merrier.

Our only opportunity to get our seasonal "fix" of viewing decorations this year is to drive through the front entry of the Grand Wailea Resort. Even the Four Seasons did not put up lights this year. Click HERE or Above for the video of our drive.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

There's Magic in the . . . Water

The magic is back! We heard Humpback Whales singing their strange songs throughout our swim this morning. We still haven't seen any up-close and personal, but it won't be long now...

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Island Time

Jokes are often made about "Island Time" because projects move a little slower in the tropics. This is the Kealia Boardwalk which finally opened a couple of months ago, fourteen years after it was begun. It is 3/8 mile long and cost 2.2 million dollars to build.

My biggest question is - why was it built? It parallels the public beach only twenty feet to the left. It runs along the highway and is the best place on Maui to breathe the exhaust of the power plant which generates most of Maui's electricity. As we took the not-very-interesting walk we did have two questions: what kind of ground cover plant surrounds it, and what causes these depressions in the soil (see photo right)? But nowhere are there any (nope, not a single one) informational signs.

All we can do, as aways, is shrug our shoulders and laugh. This is Maui after all.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Signs of the Season

Halloween there wasn't a black cat or witch's hat anywhere to be seen. Residential yards are an entirely different matter now with Hang Gliding Christmas Bears and Reindeer galore. I even saw a car drive by this morning with antlers on either side and a big red nose up front. Thank goodness this is a serious Holy-Day with no room for crass commercialization.

Thursday, December 10, 2009


What a spoiled brat! (me, of course)

I was feeling down today because "nothing" happened. I only saw fish and sea turtles on my ocean swim (boring), then sat on the beach and watched three Humpback Whales breaching and spouting just off-shore (wasn't able to get any good photos, though - bummer).

How can I so easily forget that I live an amazing life which most people would love to experience?

Fortunately, this little time when I reflect on my day helped me snap out of it. Especially when I realized that THE WHALES ARE BACK!! Wow!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Stop and Smell the . . . Ginger

Sometimes (sometimes? Most of the time!) I get too caught up in my little thoughts and worries to notice the beautiful world around me. I did an eleven mile walk this morning and when I got home I realized that I hadn't seen a thing! I am committed to taking a (good) photo every day to post to my blog, but more than two hours outside and - nothing! Luckily, on a ginger plant outside my front door I noticed something green on the red flower. This little lizard was so content lying in the sun that it allowed me to take a photo before scooting off. Thank you little guy.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Holiday Spirits

I'm doing my best to maintain my Bah Humbug holiday spirit, but it hasn't been easy.

This morning a group of fourteen Spinner Dolphins came up to me during my ocean swim, but I wasn't having any of their playful nonsense. So I turned and swam in the opposite direction. Moments later they had surrounded me again. This time I allowed them to get a little ahead of me before gently turning and quietly swimming the other way. No luck! They were almost immediately swimming along side me once again. What could I do? Nothing. So I humored them and acted playful for an hour until they finally got bored and left. Good riddance!

Click HERE or Below for today's video.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Getting Ready

Bah Humbug! That is how I usually feel about the Holiday Season. But tonight I took a break from my usual bad attitude and watched a holiday movie, then put up the tree. Enjoy the video! (Click HERE or Above to watch the Video)

Sunday, December 6, 2009

The Fine Print

Frighteningly High Surf has been in the forecast: 20 foot wave faces on West facing shores (where we swim) and 50 foot faces on North shores. What else could be the reason so few people showed up for our weekly ocean swim this morning?

It is true that a ten-foot-high wall of water bearing down on me will scare the beheck out of me. Twenty feet? Forget about it! I'm outta there.

The problem is... HEY, you've got to get beyond the headlines, people! The giant surf is predicted for tomorrow, today was only three-foot faces on West facing shores.

The few of us who showed up had a fun and energetic swim out in the deep water hoping to see one of the newly arrived Humpback Whales. It didn't happen today, but soon...

Saturday, December 5, 2009

All a Blur

Oops! Today's Spinner Dolphin photos once again fall into the "artistic" category (out of focus, blurry, poor quality - you get the idea). Still, I was thrilled that this group of 52 dolphins came up to check me out during my ocean swim this morning. Click HERE for several more photos from today's encounter.

Oh, and if you have time to kill (and like my blog), vote for me for the 2009 Photoblog Awards by clicking HERE.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Love It

I love this time of year.

No, it is not because of the pink Christmas trees (but if I had one, I would never have difficulty getting into the Christmas spirit). I love the winter because of the weather - or lack of weather.

Where I grew up in the Midwest it did not get above freezing today. Brrrr. Here on Maui I took a stroll along the beach, took a dip in the ocean, then laid on the sand basking in the hot sunshine. Mmmmm.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Closer and Closer

I used to be so very afraid of sharks.

I remember being out on a Sunday swim with my friends when we saw a White Tip Reef Shark swimming below us. We all cautiously followed behind it - until it turned around. Boy did we take off swimming in the other direction in a hurry!!

Now when I see a shark, I try to get a closer look and photo if possible. Quite a change.

I have gotten bolder around all kinds of large underwater critters. I was able to get fairly close to both this morning's shark and to this Manta Ray as it was doing repeated back flips. Fun, fun, fun.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

How The Heck?

Maui is only 38 miles long, so how the heck was my commute today 170 miles? Way too many winding roads, I think. I did get to photograph another spectacular home so the journey was worth it.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Finally - Finally - Finally

Finally! I have finally finished processing photos from our group outing to Lanai.

Click HERE to join in the fun.

There Is No Escape

I go for months without seeing a single dolphin, then suddenly I can't get in the water without being accosted by them! Today a group of sixty Spinner Dolphins came by for a visit while I was doing my ocean swim.