Beautiful nature to brighten up the day
It used to be a secret. Each year around October / November I’d hear through the grapevine about sunflower fields popping up on Oahu’s North Shore and camera-toting enthusiasts venturing illegally onto private property to capture the beautiful blooms.
“So we decided, since people were determined to visit the fields, we’d open them up to the public,” says Derek, one of several DuPont employees minding the fields on Saturday, November 22, when I arrived toting my camera.
Actually, I had tried in years past but could never find the fields. “We moved them around from year to year,” says Derek, pointing to a brown patch of earth, which had once been a sunflower field further down the valley, “so they were in different places.”
Derek also mentioned that DuPont grew the fields for scientific purposes, testing growth rates of different seeds. Now, he says, computers can take over that job, so this might be the sunflower fields’ last year.
That is, unless DuPont decides to keep planting the fields as a community service. “We’re giving back to the community,” says Derek. “Your parking fee ($5) and profits from anything you buy here (t-shirts, souvenirs, food) go to support our local high school’s activities. By the way,” he adds, “the pineapple/guava lemonade is really good.”
Two of my Hawaii photos have been selected for magazine covers recently. The voyaging canoe was taken on the North Shore of Oahu, and the sunset at Anaeho’omalu on the Big Island of Hawaii.
In this image I miraculously transported my pa’u rider from the shade trees of Ala Moana Park to the rugged Ka Iwi coast of Oahu, just past Hanauma Bay. (see previous pa’u rider post)
The idea of ‘new’ can mean so many things. In this case, it refers to new beginnings and a new commitment (and lots of new paperwork) when two people who are best friends decide to take that extra step. Thank you, Ailsa at Where’s my backpack?, for such a perfect New Year’s theme.
Jack and Jill had been a couple for almost seventeen years and had shared many wonderful times—travels to exotic places, sunset walks on the beach, cooking meals and watching football games together, long talks, and even—when Jill could persuade Jack, which was rare—going dancing.
They’d also tackled their share of difficulties, but no matter the circumstances, they’d always been there for each other—as confidante, coach, cheerleader, Florence Nightingale, and general support system.
So in the fall of 2012, Jack planned a surprise for Jill. She plagued him with questions, trying to trick him into revealing even miniscule hints about this surprise, but he was resolute (and, if truth be told, enjoying the game). The only clues he would divulge, which weren’t really clues at all, were that she should take two cameras and that the setting would be outdoors.
At 2:15pm on December 22, they set out, driving west. Just before they reached the Honolulu airport, Jack turned down a road that led to an industrial area by the ocean. This was quite puzzling because Jill knew the area. It was mainly used for airfreight services such as FedEx and UPS. As they passed FedEx on the right, Jack turned into a driveway on the left that Jill had never noticed before. And there it was, adjacent to the ocean—a little office, hidden by a hedge, bearing the sign, Island Seaplane Service.
Now she knew—they were going for a ride on a seaplane. Jill had flown on small planes before but never a seaplane. A new adventure. She was delighted.
Inside the office, Jack checked in, then disappeared for a few minutes. He came back carrying a cardboard box, and Jill could see a bouquet of yellow roses—her favorite—peeking out of the top. How sweet, she thought.
Jill was so surprised and overwhelmed by all this, she barely noticed the three TSA security guards until she was told, “You can’t take your camera bag on the flight.” And there were more rules—cameras were allowed but the straps were not and had to come off. While Jill attended to this task, Jack engaged in a serious, hushed discussion with the three security guards who refused to let him take the box containing the flowers on board.
As it turned out, President Obama was in town (Jill didn’t know because she’d been too busy to watch the news in recent days). That’s why the guards were there. That’s why the heightened security. But roses—a security threat? The guards did eventually relent, and after checking the contents of pockets, plus a thorough pat down and wanding (the zipper on Jill’s cargo pants caused a “beep” and had to be investigated), Jack and Jill were allowed onto the floating dock next to which the seaplane awaited, its pontoons bobbing on the water.
The guards followed them, watching for suspicious activity, Jill suspected. One guard offered to take a photo of them together in front of the plane. Then they climbed aboard, Jack in the back seat with his box and one camera, Jill in the fold-out seat in front of Jack so she could have the flexibility to take photos from either side (Jack’s idea because he was accustomed to Jill’s obsession with photography).
After fastening seat belts, they all donned headsets so that Jack and Jill could hear the pilot talking to them during the tour. It would take about five minutes, he told them, to taxi out to the take-off spot.
And that’s when Jack made his move. Out of the box he took an exquisite lei—a garland of perfumed tuberose interlaced with golden royal ilima flowers—and placed it around Jill’s neck. Then, before Jill knew what was happening, he handed her a letter. It read, in part, “I cannot imagine being without you. I would like to share the rest of my life with you. Jill, will you marry me.”
The headphones made it impossible for Jack and Jill to talk to each other, but she turned around and took his hand, squeezing it and nodding vigorously. But Jack wasn’t done. He reached into the box again and pulled out a necklace—a double strand of deep-green jade stones—and fastened it around her neck. She wanted to throw her arms around him and kiss him almost more than she could bear, but again she squeezed his hand and held on tight while the little plane lifted off effortlessly into the Hawaiian sky.
At first they flew east, the high-rise office buildings of the city glistening below them in the afternoon sun, the deep blue of Honolulu Harbor, the green-roofed Aloha Tower Marketplace sitting aside its namesake ten-story clock tower—once the tallest building in the state and still a beacon welcoming ships into the harbor.
Then came Waikiki. From this vantage point, how azure and enticing the ocean looked as it flowed over coral reefs and onto the most famous strip of beach in the world.
Earlier, the pilot had told them they would circumnavigate Diamond Head for a good view of the storied peak, even though it meant veering slightly off the approved course. But at his attempt, the radio crackled and a voice said, “Are you familiar with the blue line?” meaning, ‘get back on course!’ Air-traffic officials were allowing no deviation today, so the pilot turned around and headed back the way they had come.
Still, there was more to see. Punchbowl National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, its worn volcanic crater rising from the congested city like the Acropolis in Athens, Greece, seemed deserted, although the next day it would be overflowing with a thousand guests—including the President—attending memorial services for the late Hawaii Senator Daniel Inouye, a decorated WWII veteran and until a week earlier, at his death, a powerful force in Washington and third in line for the Presidency.
When they reached Pearl Harbor, the Arizona Memorial came into view, its white frame spanning the sunken ship below. It, too, was eerily deserted, its flag at half-mast in honor of Senator Inouye.
At Hickam airfield, the pilot pointed out Air Force One on the tarmac. Nearby, an orderly array of eight fighter jets appeared, with space for a ninth. Was one jet in the air at all times? Patrolling the coast while the President was on island? Ready to shoot down any plane, even a tiny seaplane, that veered off course? A chilling thought.
From there, the pilot headed inland, over Oahu’s elevated central plain with its quilted acres of pineapple fields, coffee and cacao plantations, alongside the island’s western mountain range and across a deep rift in the earth known as Kipapa Gulch, to the North Shore, where winter waves can reach heights of 25-plus feet, drawing surfing competitions and crowds that often bring the two-lane shoreline road to a standstill.
At the edge of sunshine, a wind farm appeared, and beyond it, a rain squall. The pilot ventured a little closer to the island’s northwestern tip, edging out to sea to avoid the inclement weather, and then turning back (they couldn’t continue around the island because, with the President in residence at his Kailua vacation compound, a ten-mile, no-fly zone was in effect).
The partnership of sun and rain must have known what this day meant, though, because it conspired to bestow upon Jack and Jill a blessing in the form of a rainbow before whispering farewell.
Too soon the southern shore came into view, and the pilot landed on the tranquil waters of Keehi Lagoon with a gentle rapid-fire series of smacks rather than the usual rubber-wheel-on-concrete thud. The proposal ride was over. The TSA guards said their goodbyes and left.
And Jack revealed to Jill why he’d been allowed to bring the box on board: He’d confided to the guards that he planned to propose, they made the call, and the Secret Service had given its permission.
His high-flying, Secret-Service-approved proposal accepted, Jack got the “yes” hug and kiss he was waiting for.
A spring ceremony is planned.
Action, adventure and insights into Hawaiian culture. While trying to prove herself as a new detective, Lily Graham is going to learn more about her past and herself than she wants to know.
Following is a possible blurb on the book’s dust jacket. You know—that old-fashioned cover flap you used to read when trying to decide whether to buy the book. I hope you find it intriguing.
When the body of socialite Helen Dupree is found dismembered in a shark tank at the Honolulu Aquarium, newly minted HPD homicide detective Lily Graham is assigned to her first murder case.
To complicate matters, someone is stealing from ancient Hawaiian burial sites, and Lily’s Hawaiian ancestors contact her for help. Haunted by visions of rituals and human sacrifice, Lily is guided to the lava fields of Hawaii’s Big Island where she comes face to face with a deadly 700-year-old priest and is led on a hunt for a cunning grave robber who may hold the key to Helen Dupree’s murder.
To solve the case and appease her ancestors, Lily must not only interpret the visions and make sense of obscure clues left behind by Helen Dupree, but also fend off a diabolical killer who stands between her and the truth—a truth that will change her life forever.
Just as Tony Hillerman’s Native American mysteries unveil the Navajo culture and the rugged landscape of the American Southwest, The Shark God’s Keeper reveals the hidden culture of Native Hawaiians and showcases the mysterious, volcanic landscape of the world’s most remote archipelago.
Jennifer Crites is the co-author of Sharks and Rays of Hawaii (Mutual Publishing 2002), a nature book, which includes a chapter detailing the significance of sharks in Hawaiian culture. She’s written extensively about many aspects of Native Hawaiian culture as managing editor of ALOHA magazine and as a freelance writer for a number of local, national, and international publications.
According to one definition, a liquid is a sample of matter that conforms to the shape of its container, and which acquires a defined surface in the presence of gravity. Another calls it a substance that exhibits a characteristic readiness to flow, little or no tendency to disperse, and relatively high incompressibility. In other words, you would be hard pressed to compress it. Ever tried compressing water? I haven’t, but I feel sure it would be impossible. Squeeze it one way and it squirts out another.
But I digress. A liquid could be many things, but I choose my favorite liquid—water. How much of the human body is water? A Google search supplies conflicting answers, but I rather like this breakdown: the body is more than 60% water, blood is 92% water, the brain and muscles are 75% water, and bones—yes, even bones—are about 22% water. Now I’m definitely getting off track, so to get back on, I’ll take a pictorial look at water as found on the Garden Isle of Kauai. In addition to keeping our bodies hydrated at an optimum level, water can do all the following and more.
Entry to a great photo challenge by Where’s My Backpack?
I am on a hiking trail—the famous eleven-mile Kalalau Trail, carved into the steep cliffs of Na Pali on the Hawaiian island of Kauai. After 35-plus years living in Hawaii, this is the first time I’ve set foot on the Kalalau Trail. I’ve thought about it, talked about doing it and even planned it on a previous trip to Kauai, but this is the first time I’ve ever done it, even though I can only claim the first mile and back. Next time I’ll go further.
And that’s my inspiration to blog—traveling and trying things I’ve never done before, and not letting my age (let’s just call it “advanced”) or physical limitations hold me back. This past summer on a cruise up the coast of Norway, I joined a bird-watching excursion to the Stappen Islands at Norway’s North Cape. My goal was to photograph puffins, Arctic turns and other seabirds in flight, and it proved a tougher task than I imagined. Our little boat rolled and pitched in the sea, and although I wedged myself against the railing, at times I worried about falling overboard (I’m tall and the railing was only waist high). I also admit to a little seasickness. But yes, I did get a few good shots.
A year earlier, I took a tour through Turkey. On the itinerary, our brochure listed a visit to an underground city in Cappadocia. When we arrived at the entrance, I was taken aback to learn that the underground passageways were extremely low, narrow and claustrophobic. Several members of our group declined to continue, but I was determined not to miss anything, so down we went—seven levels, each deeper than the first. The tunnels were so small, we had to crouch or walk on our knees, and our arms brushed the rough walls. Sometimes the line of people in front of me would stop for several seconds. I’d wonder what was happening and imagine getting stuck in there, running out of air, but then we’d move again. Thank goodness I’d worked on squats before leaving home.
Looking back, I can think of other times I was fearful but determined to press on, like when I was faced for the first time with driving a left-handed-stick campervan on New Zealand’s North Island roads where truckers speed madly around slowpoke tourist campervan drivers, jumping off a rocky ledge in Hana Maui to join my friends in the waterfall-fed pool below (and being sure I was going to die by doing so), commanding a sled-dog team on an Alaskan glacier (braking is the hardest part), swirling above the clouds in an open-cockpit biplane over the San Juan Islands and leaning out to take photos while my stomach did some swirling of its own, and even swimming with sharks (no cage) in Midway Atoll’s lagoon.
All these travels inspire me to blog. I can’t wait to share each moment, and conversely, read about others’ adventures. I’ll probably want to try some of those adventures. And if I do, I’ll blog about them.
This post has been a special photo challenge by the Daily Post. For others’ blogging inspiration, check out the link.
Every February-March, my editor asks if I can once again update the Destination Hyatt books for the Maui, Kauai and Waikiki resorts. I look forward to this assignment because I’m a wordsmith, and it’s a chance for me to get creative, writing new sidebars, little-known facts, and intros for each of the resorts and the islands they inhabit. And that means I have to come up with new themes and ideas each year.
A few years ago, I wrote this one for Kauai. And since I just returned from six days on the Garden Isle, now seems like the perfect time to put words and photos together for a blog post. My husband calls this “flowery” writing, but I call it fitting for a garden island.
I hope you enjoy it, and if you have any Kauai experiences, do tell.
Kauai: The Magician
Abracadabra! Endless stretches of powdery-sand beaches strung together like jewels glittering gold in the sunlight. Throngs of red-footed boobies and other acrobatic sea birds soaring gracefully above the cliffs and lighthouse at Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge. An impregnable mountain fortress known as Na Pali flaunting its steepled spires, sea arches, and isolated, idyllic pillows of sand.
When it comes to sleight of hand, Kauai is a master, transforming the raw lava of a once barren volcano into an emerald-robed Garden of Eden complete with groves of coconut palms and a smorgasbord of fruits: papaya, banana, breadfruit, guava, lychee, mango, passion fruit, and the tempting mountain apple.
Like pulling a rabbit out of its hat, the island reveals hidden gardens filled with colorful tropical flowers, the languid Wailua River and its ethereal Fern Grotto, waterfalls galore, a replica Grand Canyon known as Waimea, and towering Mount Wai‘ale‘ale—the wettest place on earth.
Once Kauai has mesmerized, resistance is futile. You’ll find yourself playing 18 holes on a world-class, cliff-top golf course, hiking into Waimea Canyon’s wilderness of pastel reds and yellows or along Na Pali’s carved-into-the-cliffside footpath, kayaking a rainforest river, sipping coffee made from the island’s homegrown beans, relaxing in a rejuvenating spa, visiting locations where movies such as Jurassic Park and South Pacific were filmed, exploring by horseback or astride an ATV, stretching out on a beach in the company of a Hawaiian monk seal or green sea turtle.
Kauai waves its magic wand and you gladly fall under its spell.
Sharing this sunset from a few nights ago.
I’m standing on the rocks below Diamond Head, and the structure you can see on the hill at right is the Diamond Head Lighthouse. Most people view it from above, when they climb to the top of Diamond Head Crater on a hiking trail and look down from the pinnacle.
In the 1800s, with so many ships running aground on reefs and shoals during the night, something had to be done, and in 1878 a lookout station was built. Its first attendant, John Peterson (from Sweden), known as “Lighthouse Charlie,” was on duty seventeen hours a day, watching through his telescope for incoming vessels. He lived in a small cottage nearby and was paid $50 a month.
When a steamship ran aground in 1897, a stone tower topped by a fixed white light was built. In 1918, after Hawaii was annexed as a territory, the federal government built the current lighthouse, which is on the National Register of Historic Places. It stands 55 feet tall, 147 feet above sea level, and its 1,000-watt electric light magnified by a 7,300-candlepower lens can be seen 18 nautical miles away.
East of Malaga offers an intriguing challenge for September, and so I again focus my lens on Hawaii, where repetition usually means colorful and fun. Usually….but not always.
My two selected blogs for this theme, I think are clever interpretations and so different—tires and beehive:
Today, September 21, 2012 is the thirtieth anniversary of the UN’s International Day of Peace. To commemorate this day and its message, Ailsa has asked bloggers to create posts of white—representing peace. Her white photos include a fitting quote by Martin Luther King and the snow-covered Imagine memorial to peace activist John Lennon. http://wheresmybackpack.com/2012/09/20/travel-theme-white/
Here in Hawaii, we look at peace through the terrible lens of war, and nothing exemplifies that more than the glistening white Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor, which hovers over the sunken battleship—a watery grave for 2,340 servicemen—reminding us all to put peace above the horrendous destruction of war.