August 28, 2008

Sunset At Sunset

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , — geoff @ 8:55 pm


Good morning and welcome to our final blog for August 2008. For the last two weeks we have perused the North Shore of Oahu. We’ve looked at the natural beauty of this tropical paradise that featured rainbows, geckos, plumerias and a cast of thousands of macadmia nuts. For today’s Hawaiian finale we’ll take a look at why this marvelous stretch of sand is called Sunset Beach.

This dusk delight appeared in the sky on our final night at what has to be one of the most beautiful beaches on earth. What made this sunset exceptional was that after the sun hit the horizon the sky turned red (photo #6) and then shades of Linda gray. As I pondered the meaning of life in the less than chilly, crystal clear 80 degree water, I watched the sky as it once again turned red, a phenomena I don’t recall seeing before, except in a dream I had about “John From Cincinatti.” The sky glowed for at least 45 minutes and it was an incredibly beautiful way to end our North Shore excursion. I hadn’t felt inner peace and tranquility like that since I learned that “Law & Order-Criminal Intent” was being renewed for another season.

A large part of Hawaii’s spiritual draw and shelves is attributed to its unique and inspirational sunsets and the phrase, “Book em’, Dano.” Gorgeous red, orange, pink and purple hues fill the skies as the orange barrel sunshine that provided 12 hours of beach fun dips gently into the ocean, very similar to the way I sink into my pillow at night right after downing my soy milk and vegan cookies.

At sunset, more light is piercing the atmosphere than at other times during the day except during Magnum P.I. reruns. The heating process and old episodes of Hawaii Five-O during the day create large numbers of particles in the air, which are able to scatter more light. Sunsets derive their red hues because the long wavelengths are the least scattered. The combination of the unique geographical location of Hawaii, tropical temperatures, humidity levels and never having to put on a sweatshirt combine to give Hawaii its world class sunsets. Twilight is also relatively short in Hawaii. After the sun disappears, you may only have 15 or fewer minutes of residual light. That is what makes this night’s sunset so unusual.

So here’s the bottom line. I’ve experienced a few sunrises and sunsets in the islands and they are Hawaiian Tropic gorgeous. But when it comes to world class sunrises and sunsets, Santa Cruz blows this South Pacific paradise off the map. Maybe I’m being provincial but from what I’ve seen there’s no comparison. I’ve checked out the calendars, post cards and photos in many gift shops and the work of local photographers of the islands. Of course there are many mornings and evenings of incredible tropical beauty. But if you like mind-blowing colors and skies and clouds that change by the moment into even more spectacular splendor, then you’ve come to the right site as Sunrise Santa Cruz will continue to be the place to see the best of what the central coast skies of our Golden State have to offer.

That’s it for August. We’ll take Labor Day off but coming up next Wednesday we’re going to blast out the most beautiful Santa Cruz sunset of the summer. And we’ll have information about the upcoming Capitola Art & Wine Festival that yours truly will be doing next weekend. And even though the flame has been doused, we’ll have a recap about the Olympic medals you won’t want to miss. So have a fabulous holiday weekend, enjoy the sky and we’ll catch you in September. Later, Monte Ellis fans.

August 26, 2008

Waimea Me Crazy?

Filed under: Uncategorized — geoff @ 9:23 pm


Good morning and greetings from the left coast. We are now on day five of our Polynesian postings and today we are looking at palm, banyan and other arbor exotica from the North Shore. One afternoon as I was sitting on the deck text messaging Michelle Obama I heard loud thuds coming from the yard next door. Being a former hand model and a photographer I had to go check it out. A Samoan family crew was chopping down all the coconuts and huge branches from the palm trees (photos 1 & 2) so they wouldn’t fall on the coconuts of the renters who were paying the big bucks. These guys were scaling the palm trees in spiked boots the same way I used to climb the rope in gym class. The difference was I wasn’t carrying a machete and whacking away at coconuts like Michelle Wie in a sand trap.

One day we headed over to the incredibly beautiful Waimea Valley, which is right across from Waimea Bay. The first thing we saw as we entered the valley were peacocks, which I hadn’t seen since I took the wrong turn going to Yankee Stadium and ended up at the Bronx Zoo. These birds were the favorites of Princess Ka’iulani because she loved their exotic feathers. I love their shrill shreik, which is very similar to the sound my wife will make next Thursday when the NFL football season begins.

The Waimea Valley has been a Hawaiian spiritual center on the North Shore since the 12th century. I was going to say or at around the same time as the birth of John McCain, but that would be wrong.

In 1779, the renowned explorer and chef, Captain Cook noted in his journal, “The banks of this river…are well cultivated …and the face of the country is uncommonly beautiful and picturesque.” The Waimea Valley still produces the breadfruit, coconut, yams and slim jims which made Hawaiians beautiful in 1779.

Waimea Valley is home to 36 botanical gardens, 6,000 rare species of plants and a great snack bar and gift shop. The valley was once a thriving taro producing area for ancient Hawaiians If I’m not mistaken, they also produced the first taro cards. Archaeological excavations have uncovered many house foundations, several large heiau (sacred temples) and a bowling alley.

Waimea Valley also contains one of the finest collections of Polynesian plants in existence, as well as excellent collections of very rare Hawaiian plants and individual gardens dedicated to plants from Guam, Madagascar, the Seychelles, the Mascarene Islands, the Ogasawara Islands and Coney Island.

When you enter the valley you immediately come upon these outrageous banyan trees (photos 3 & 4) that just take your breath and sunscreen away. As you walk the grounds you come upon more beautiful flowering trees (photos 5 & 6.) If you take the 3/4 of a mile hike into the valley you come upon Waimea Falls. I didn’t go for two reasons. One, I didn’t want to blow my whole allowance on plants and two, my anonymous source in the gift shop confided to me that the waterfall was at a trickle. If I’m hiking a mile and a half I’m going to need two things-white water action cascading down a cliff and a hot plumeria oil massage afterwards.

So there’s our arbor day celebration of the North Shore. Coming up on Friday we’ll look at how Sunset Beach got its name. So until then, enjoy the day, be grateful for your health and enjoy the Democratic Convention. Peace, love, Hillary rocks and I’m out.

August 21, 2008

Cloudy, With A Chance Of Paradise

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , , — geoff @ 9:19 pm


Good morning and greetings, island lovers. The Hawaii siege continues here on day three as we head to the skies for some cloud and sun convergence. But before we harmonically do that, let’s take a look at some fun facts about our 50th state that happens to lie in the middle of the South Pacific. How and why this tropical paradise is part of the United States I don’t know, but as the locals say. Kauai not?

Hawaii is the most isolated population center on the face and neck of the earth. It is 2,390 miles from California, 3,850 from Japan and light years from my home state of New Jersey. It is the only state that grows coffee and donuts and supplies the world with one-third of its commercial supply of pineapples. Speaking of which, we bought a fresh golden pineapple every afternoon from our local roadside stand and each day it tasted like sugar-as sweet as Misty May and Kerri Walsh’s gold medal win in beach volleyball over the Chinese.

There are only twelve letters in the Hawaiian alphabet and from east to west Hawaii (and not Charles Barkley) is the widest state in the U.S. Undersea volcanoes that erupted thousands of years ago formed the islands of Hawaii and the ABC stores scattered throughout the islands. Hawaii has its own time zone ((Hawaiian Standard Time) and there is no daylight savings time or school closings on snow days. It is our only state completely surrounded by water and not geographically located in North America. Yet, somehow it is part of the good old USA although there are many native Hawaiians who are not in agreement with this American vacation reality.

So let’s move on to today’s photos of Sunset Beach. At night before sunset, clouds would move across the sky (photo #1) faster than John McCain buys houses. These white puffy pillows of magnificent moisture would blow by overhead at amazing speeds. Sunrises on the North Shore are nothing to text message home about but the best occurred on our first morning (photo #3 and my 11th daughter’s birthday.) With the air temperature around 72-75 degrees and the northeast trades blowing its it’s just a delightful way to start the day. Well, that and a trip to the fabulous Ted’s Bakery, another legendary spot on the North Shore. Throw in some fresh papaya and I’m a happy Hawaiian camper.

The last three shots are from the end of another action packed day of chanting, meditation and tackling those 1-2 foot waves at Sunset Beach. The most colorful sunset to decorate the sky presented itself to us on our final night and we’ll take a look at that next week. Also coming in week two we’ll take a look at some Hawaiian flowers, exotic plants and different flavors of smoothies across the island. So enjoy the sky, have a fabulous weekend and we’ll catch you Monday. Mahalo, Olympic fans.

August 19, 2008

When The Going Gets Tough, The Tough Geckoing

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , — geoff @ 9:09 pm


Good morning and welcome to our aloha version of wildlife Wednesday. This marks day two of our two week look at the goings on in this tropical paradise. As I honorably mentioned on Monday, we parked ourselves on the North Shore of Oahu for eight days of peace, love and macadamia nuts. Sunset Beach is a fabled surf break, but for our time on this righteous reef, it was as swimmable as a Michael Phelps’ final lap.

When we arrived at our beach house the first thing I noticed was that it was Gecko City. All colors and sizes running road races all over the place. But the ones that really caught my attention were the Gold Dust Day geckos that you can see in photos # 1 and 2. Their green, turquoise blue and red colors were just amazing. They first came to Hawaii from the island of Madagascar, which is off the East Coast of Africa and a great kid’s movie.

Hawaii has five common species of nocturnal geckos, two of which are all female, many of whom are gym teachers. They are the only lizards who are able to make sounds, other than hissing or booing at sporting events. They have highly specialized toe pads (made by Nike) covered with microscopically small suction cups that allow geckos to run easily on smooth surfaces, such as glass, ceilings and ping-pong tables. The first geckos might have traveled to Hawaii as first class stowaways aboard the first Polynesian canoes over 1,500 years ago. So you could say there have been there from the gecko.

Moving along, while my youngest brother was snorkeling at Sharks Cove he saw a sea turtle swimming alongside him. He later remarked to me that he hadn’t seen anything that beautiful come out of the water since Darryl Hannah mermaided in “Splash.” Hawaii is home to five species of sea turtles, the most popular being the green sea turtle. I ran into this fellow (photo #4) on a North Shore beach. He was a magnificent looking specimen and offered us a free night’s stay and complimentary breakfast at the Turtle Bay Hilton (the only hotel on the North Shore.)

Hawaii is home to 28 species of reptiles, including a sea snake and the five species of sea turtles, of which only six are indigenous. The islands are also home to the monk seal, the most endangered seal species in the U.S. There are only around 1,300 in Hawaii and like to haul out on sandy shores. This monk seal (photo #4) came up onto Sunset Beach about 100 yards from our house and stayed for a few days. But after watching the North Korean women win the gold in team archery she took off to check out the lava flow on the Big Island.

Each morning I would get up and walk down the beach to shoot the sunrise, a very unusual activity for me. On the way there I would run into clusters of crabs, who would dig holes in the sand to then come out and run like young Gale Sayers. I spotted this soft-shelled beauty (photo #5) and thought he would make a nice addition to the blog or a tasty appetizer.

One day we took a trip to the Waimea Valley Audubon Center, which is right across from Waimea Bay. As we drove in we came upon the this NBC peacock (photo #6) strolling down the road. This bird was a montage of brilliant colors starting off with the Bejiing blue on its neck. Waimea Valley is home to incredible plant life which we’ll take a look at next week. It also has a tremendous gift shop and the guava smoothies at the snack bar looked outstanding.

That’s it for today. Coming up on Friday we’ll go to the sky and check out some cloud formations from the place where surfing’s Indy 500 is held every winter. So enjoy the geckos, savor the day and we’ll catch you on Friday. Aloha, football fans.

August 17, 2008

Are You North Shore About That?

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , , , , — geoff @ 9:07 pm


Good morning and greetings, photo blog fans. Sunrise Santa Cruz is back from the lovely South Pacific and we are ready to pick and roll. Ah, there’s nothing like being on vacation, getting away from the daily grind of shooting mainland sunrises and sunsets over the blue Pacific. It’s a different world on the the North Shore of Oahu. Take it from a rugged outdoorsman like me, it’s not easy going from a cold water paradise on Monterey Bay to the crystal clear 80 degree water on Sunset Beach. Somehow, I was able to make the tropical transition and relax Olympic style at the place known as the Jerusalem of surfing.

After a five hour flight from San Francisco filled with delicious airline snacks (well, a can of soda and a napkin, anyway), we landed at Honolulu International Airport, remembered the Alamo and headed to the North Shore. It’s about a 40 minute drive past the Dole Plantation thru the pineapple fields to surfing’s holy land. The most famous coastline of surfing on Earth lies at latitude 21,950 north, longitude 158,112 west. The Hawaiian islands comprise the most isolated archipelago on the planet, located more than 2,000 miles southwest of the United States and light years away from the layered sweatshirt dominated climate in Santa Cruz.

This geological miracle called the North Shore is home to waves that are considered the most powerful on earth. Or in the words of oceanographer Dr. Ricky Griggs, “The swells hit the northern shore of Oahu with their power intact, not slowed by any other island chains or continental shelves. What breaks on the North Shore is North Pacific power, pound for pound the most powerful wave on the planet.” Fortunately, the good doctor is referring to wintertime action. That is why yours truly brings his family over in the summer, when the swell is as gentle as a kiss from Oprah.

So we rented a house right on the sand at Sunset Beach. As you can see from photos #1 and 2, the beach and landscape are spectacular with very few people in sight. The third shot is the view from our deck and the colors are just dreamy. The weather and sky would be in constant flux. One second it would be deep blue and then a minute later the warm rain would come, bringing rainbows (photo #4) and then back to blue within minutes. Like they used to say when I lived in Boulder, “If you don’t like the weather, wait a minute.”

Speaking of Boulder, my Colorado-based brother Brad made it to the North Shore and forced me to accompany him on early morning snorkeling trips to Shark’s Cove (photo #5), a five minute ride from Sunset and right across the street from the wonders of Foodland. Just 50 yards off the Kam Highway, a different world lies beneath the water’s surface. Fish of every race, creed and particularly every color swim in the coral reefs right off shore. We’re talking orange, yellow, pinks and purples, just super exotic colored fish available to anyone with a mask. What I liked most was the feeling of being surrounded by a group of hundreds of silver fish. It was surreal feeling and just an incredible display of what God has put into his sea collection. Just an awesome way for a land based former hand model to start the day.

The North Shore is also home to legendary surfing spots like the Pipeline and Waimea Bay (photo #6.) In honor of our 50th state we’re going to go with the Hawaii theme thru the Olympics and beyond. On Wednesday we’ll take a look at some of the wildlife on the island. And let me welcome a bunch of new people to the blog. I think you’re going to like the ride. So enjoy the day, the beach views and we’ll catch you for wildlife Wednesday. Aloha, mahola and God bless chocolate. Later, macadamia nut fans.

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