September 29, 2013

Birds Of A Feather Dine Out Together

Good morning and greetings, fall weather fans. Last Saturday, folks on the central coast were surprised as rain showers from a cold front blew in and soaked local basketball courts. It was the first significant amount of rain we had since the end of June, as the summer weather was a rather dry. How dry was it? A salmon knocked at my door asking for a drink of water.

But lo mein and behold, it’s been ever drier in the Bay Area, as they have received less rain from January 1 to mid-September than in any year in recorded history, which goes back to the gold rush and early years of Joe Montana.

According to Paul Rogers in the San Jose Mercury, only 3.94 inches of moisture has fallen since New Year’s Day in San Francisco, not including the amount of tears shed by 49er fans after recent losses to the Seahawks and Colts. San Francisco has the oldest rain gauge and strip clubs west of the Mississippi, dating back to 1850, around the birth of John McCain. At least that’s why Carol Doda told me.

San Jose and Oakland are also experiencing record dry years for 2013. Now I don’t need a weatherman to tell me which way my hair is blowing, but I would think that our little community would be on close to a record pace. In the words of either Julius Erving or Irving Berlin, “Nobody knows how dry I am.”

But according to clinical psychologists and local meteorologists, the lack of precipitation is not as bad as it looks. Bob Benjamin, a forecaster with the National Weather Service in Monterey says, “Don’t panic yet. We need to look at all the winter rain from the end of last year to put this in perspective.”

Which reminds me of a story. Two frogs fell into a bowl of cream. One didn’t panic, he relaxed and drowned. The other kicked and struggled so much that they cream turned to butter and he walked out. And then God created ice cream.

It rained 50 percent more than normal in November and December in the the Bay Area. Those early winter storms filled reservoirs and had Golden State fans getting soaked in the parking lots outside Oracle Arena.

Now unlike the chances of the Warriors making the playoffs this year, the odds of having a wet winter aren’t looking good. Water temperatures in the Pacific Ocean indicate an El Niño year of a wet winter is not in the cards. According to four out of five climate scientists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration who chew sugarless gum, the chance of an El Niño developing through Dec. 31 is only 6 percent, or the same odds that the Oakland Raiders will be a playoff team this year.

But then again, if weather forecasters were really able to predict what lies out there on the weather front more than a month from now, they’d be in Las Vegas, playing roulette and doubling down on Wayne Newton. And when it comes to large cities, Las Vegas gets the least amount of rain in the country. But it does get the most degenerate gamblers pouring into town. So I guess you could say it’s a wash.

So once again, pelicans took center stage of my morning strolls along West Cliff last week. On Wednesday I had to stop twice in my tracks to admire the formations flying by, as they were easily each 200 to 300 strong. Their flight patterns were amazing, and as I stood there, an old Chinese proverb came into my mind. “You cannot prevent the birds of sorrow from flying over your head, but can can prevent them from building nests in your hair.” And that’s why I wear I baseball hat whenever I walk.

Then on Thursday, after having breakfast on the wharf with my brother Paul, we took a leisurely drive along West Cliff and as we approached the parking lot at Natural Bridges, all hell broke loose. In the water and the air were hundreds and hundreds of pelicans dive bombing head first after the anchovies. Every time a group would hit the water, the gulls would scream like they were at a Justin Bieber concert.

There were thousands and thousands of gulls and various shore birds stretched out a half mile along the coast, as they were twisting and shouting all morning and then late into the afternoon. It was a spectacular sight that also included some seals, sea lions and enough anchovies to make Caesar salad dressing to fill Lake Michigan.

The only thing missing were the whales, but field scout Jerry Hoffman reported seeing them breaching along the coast in Aptos that afternoon. And then the next morning, as I patrolled along the shoreline, the vast majority of birds were gone, with just a few stragglers to entertain the troops.

It had been one of those magical moments which lasted for hours. This event brought to mind a Turkish proverb that says, “God finds a low branch for the bird that cannot fly.” Yet this is the same guy who couldn’t find his way to let me dunk once. I guess no one said life is fair.

On to the late night humor. “So to express your opposition to Obamacare, you go to the book about a stubborn jerk who decides he hates something before he’s tried it, and when he finally gets a taste, he has to admit after he’s tasted it, ‘This is pretty f**king good.’” –Jon Stewart on Sen. Ted Cruz reading Dr. Seuss’s “Green Eggs and Ham” on the Senate floor. “Texas Senator Ted Cruz had quite a day yesterday. To protest a government bill that would fund Obamacare, he decided to take the floor of the Senate and keep speaking until he was no longer able to stand – at which point he would collapse, be taken to the hospital and be treated for exhaustion by Obamacare.” –Jimmy Kimmel

“Ted Cruz read “Green Eggs and Ham” aloud. That has now replaced jumping on Oprah’s couch as the weirdest thing done by a Cruz on television.” –Jimmy Kimmel “Breaking Bad” airs its final episode on Sunday. It’s about a chemistry teacher who has cancer and starts making meth to help cover his medical bills and provide for his family. Or as Republicans call that, a legitimate alternative to Obamacare.” –Jay Leno “Thanks to “Breaking Bad,” the ratings for AMC have skyrocketed. You know what else has skyrocketed? — the number of high school kids now taking chemistry.” – Conan O’Brien

“The U.N. General Assembly is here in New York City. Today, President Obama gave a big speech on the Middle East. The leaders from the Middle East said, ‘You have touched our hearts, and from now on we shall have peace.’ And Obama said, ‘Really?’ and they said, ‘No, but the look on your face was priceless.’ Another study says parents are biologically programed to dislike their children’s spouses. I asked my father-in-law if that was true, and he was like, “Not now, I’m watching “Craig Ferguson.” – Jimmy Fallon

“The NBA is considering introducing jerseys with players’ nicknames rather than their last names. Players like the nickname jersey because it’s easier for fans to relate to them and harder for women looking for child support to find them.” – Conan O’Brien ” A North Carolina woman stabbed her roommate’s ex-boyfriend because she claimed he wouldn’t stop playing Eagles music. He’s OK, but apparently she stabbed him with those steely knives but she just couldn’t kill the beast.” – Jay Leno

So that’s my last blast for September. We’ll catch you making your last appearance on the mound at Yankee Stadium one of the great moments in baseball history. Aloha, mahalo and later, Mariano Rivera fans.

September 22, 2013

The Hunt For Red September

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , — geoff @ 1:17 pm

Good morning and greetings, autumn equinox fans. Back in 1966, the song that rose to #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 charts was “Cherish,” a pop hit recorded by the Association. As I told my my wife numerous times while I was courting her, “You don’t know how many times I wished that I could hold you. You don’t know how many times I’ve wished that I could mold you into someone who could cherish me as much as I, cherish you.” She was a tough nut to crack.

That same year, the Happenings had the #3 hit, as they harmonized with, “See you in September. See you when the summer’s through.” It’s funny how summertime comes around in our little cold water paradise. To quote the lovely Mandy Pepperidge from the comedy classic “Animal House,” the weather this past June through August, “It really wasn’t that great.”

And then all of a sudden, it’s September, and the hot fun in the summertime returns to our central coast. The tourists have left, the kids are back in school, and my liver enzymes are returning to normal. And best of all, we are experiencing the warmest month of the year, with the skies clearer than my colon after prepping for the colonoscopy I had last week.

Fortunately, I came through this procedure with flying colors and it’s now on my resume as a film credit. I’ve always maintained that true happiness starts inside and one needs to look within. However, for the next ten years I’ll be probing my mind, not the silver lining of my intestines.

Which brings us back to September, which according to my Miley Cyrus Rocks calendar, is the month back in 1850 that California became the 31st Golden State in the union. I believe it was either Jimmy Kimmel or the Dali Lama’s barber who reminded me of this quote for September. “You may be only one person to the world, but you may also be the world to one person.” And in the words of Billy Joel, “But she’s always a woman to me.” From the mouth of one of four men to be divorced from Christie Brinkley.

Labor Day is the only legal holiday in September. It brings back childhood memories, as I always labored on this holiday, making sure my parent’s nursery school, which was located in our home, was set to go the next day for the rampaging youngsters. It was a day of painting tricycles and footsteps leading into the school. As I carefully painted the small footprints, this quote would come to mind. ‘Others will follow in your footsteps easier than they will your advice.” Hey, I just didn’t want them to end up in the neighbor’s backyard.

So back on Labor Day weekend, I wasn’t expecting any digital action, as the skies had been fog-free with few clouds to tweet home about. Besides, over the past nine years, I could count the sunsets I’ve photographed in September on one hand, so my expectations were lower than rainfall totals in Death Valley this summer.

But then on Sunday over the holiday weekend, a boatload of moisture surged into the atmosphere, which brought clouds and drama to the sky. As I peered out in the late afternoon at the formations and fronts moving in, I saw there was a window of clear sky at the horizon, indicating that could be a ruckus down at the junction in the near future.

My instincts were correct, as the sky blew up on this night. With a warm breeze blowing, the clouds just kept getting brighter and brighter, as people flowed into Natural Bridges to take in this unexpected sight. From where I was shooting, the brightest hues appeared over the sand and trees at the Bridges, denying me some of the incredible reflection that would have painted the Pacific waters. But to to be alive and experience something like this was a gift, an incredible visual display of light and color that I simply did not want to end. I was at peace, and so thankful to have captured these magical moments.

Moving along, I had one of those bittersweet moments on Saturday, as my son left home to start his sophomore year at UC Santa Barbara. I’m happy for him as he is loving the college experience. However, it’s sad to see him go as part of my heart goes with him. But he did make some history last Thursday, as he became the first Gilbert to reach the Jewish summit of Mount Everest. As he wrote on his Facebook page, “I just dunked a basketball. Now what do I do with the rest of my life?” Either way, I figure he’s now a lock to get into medical school.

On to the late night humor. “President Obama warned that the government could shut down in two weeks. Obama added, ‘Not because of a budget impasse but because we’ll all be watching the last episode of ‘Breaking Bad.’” “The CEO of Starbucks is asking customers to stop bringing guns into the coffee chain stores. He said, ‘It’s our job to rob you guys.’ Kevin Trudeau, the king of infomercials, has been sent to jail for fraud. The judge sentenced him to 10 years. But then he said, “Wait, there’s more,” and added another five years.” – Conan O’Brien

“For the first time ever, Miss America is a woman of Indian descent. The judge asked her three questions: Why do you want to be Miss America?, What will you do with the prize?, and How do I get my laptop to reboot?” – Conan O’Brien “For the first time an Indian-American has won Miss America. A 24-year-old named Nina Davuluri won by answering a question no one else could possible answer: “What is the name of last year’s Miss America?” – Jay Leno “The big controversy in the pageant this year was that Miss Kansas had tattoos. Miss America’s main competitor is the Miss USA Pageant, which is run by Donald Trump. Trump said tattoos made Miss Kansas look silly. Then he stuck his head into a cotton candy machine to whip up a fresh batch of hair.” – Craig Ferguson

“Saturday night was the big fight in Las Vegas between Floyd Mayweather and Canelo Alvarez. Justin Bieber and Lil Wayne actually walked Floyd Mayweather to the ring. It really psyched out Alvarez. When he saw the three of them together he was like, “I don’t know who to hit first.” Yesterday, Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco actually missed the birth of his son so that he could play with his team against the Browns. It was 8 pounds, 7 ounces. Not the baby — the diamond Flacco had to buy his wife to make up for it.” – Jimmy Fallon “Dairy farmers now warn that there could be a jump in the price of milk by the end of the year. Milk could be as much as $6 a gallon. Today Senator John McCain outlined a new plan to invade Wisconsin.” – Jay Leno

So the summer of 2013, like the New York Giants getting a first down rushing this season, is now history. We’ll catch you amazing the baseball world that you can win division titles with a tiny payroll in back-to-back seasons. Aloha, mahalo and later, Oakland A’s fans.

September 15, 2013

The Bay Of The Jackal

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , — geoff @ 10:41 am

Good morning and greetings, late summer fans. You know, life is full of surprises and prizes, and I don’t just mean the kind you find in a box of Cracker Jacks. If you keep your eyes open and your wings spread, you never know what you’ll encounter in the the journeys that lie ahead.

So with that thought, let’s go back to last Tuesday, when a light rain and my radio career were falling when I awoke. Since the coast looked drearier than the news I had received the day before, I decided to try and clear my head by walking around my neighborhood. It’s not nearly as exciting as skipping along the edge of the continent, but it does get my heart pumping and that’s just what my psychiatrist ordered.

So with my Steely Dan poncho on my back and my trusty golden companion leading the way, we set off into the mist. What immediately came to mind was a couple of classic Woody Allen lines, “Life is divided into the horrible and the miserable,” and ‘Life is full of misery, loneliness and suffering-and it’s all over much too soon.” Okay, so I was a little down.

But what happened next caught me completely by surprise, as standing not 30 feet away was a large coyote, who was licking his lips like wanted to order something off the menu. Now I’ve partied with a few of these jackals on the westside, and my greatest coyote moment was when I photographed one in the rain outside of Natural Bridges State Park. The amazing thing was that when I first saw him, I was without my camera, so I raced home and luckily when I returned, he was still there, talking to an insurance salesman.

So there he stood, his tan pelt dusted with moisture, eyeing my two legs like a couple of medallions of cocker spaniel. I waited at the edge of the arroyo, hoping for a roadrunner to zoom by so as to distract him from sizing me up like a Yom Kippur appetizer. And after a few minutes, this wily creature trotted down the street and disappeared back into the Animal Planet. I stood there and quietly took my place back at the top of the animal kingdom.

Now early one morning two weeks ago, I watched the movie “Life of Pi,” the story of a boy who is shipwrecked and ends up stranded on a lifeboat in the Pacific Ocean with a Bengal tiger and Cincinnati Bengal’s cheerleader. The film was a visual masterpiece, and the 3D images of fish, waves and clouds were extraordinary. With these images seared in my mind like some ahi tuna, I headed down to West Cliff, and was immediately taken in by the flocks of the birds flying over the water.

In my mind I was back in movie mode, but this was the real thing, and it was fantastic. I then equated the relationship between the boy and the tiger onto my oceanside journey with my golden retriever. While there was not a life and death issue at stake, she can be as dangerous as the big cats if you don’t pet her enough.

Right then a large chain of pelicans came upon us. Now flocks of pelicans flying by are no big deal, but this group seemed to have no end. I immediately started to count, and I gave up when I hit 160. The gathering was at least 200 strong, and I just stood there and watched in amazement as these prehistoric-looking birds kept changing formations and exchanging tweets as they headed north up the coast.

This image marinated in my mind all week, and then last Wednesday, I was back again on West Cliff in search of answers to the question, “Why do bad things happen to people with good hair?” But before I could take a look within, wave after wave of pelicans flew by in formations on their way south. Hundreds and hundreds and hundreds. There was something incredible happening to the south in Monterey Bay, and it wasn’t the combo seafood sliders at Phil’s Fish Market in Moss Landing.

I later learned these fish-loving sea birds were joining an epic number of humpback whales, who were feasting on the massive anchovy blooms in the bay. In an article written by Nadia Drake for wired.com, marine biologist Nancy Black says there were “tons and tons” of anchovies in the area, more than have been seen in years. She spotted one school estimated to be 200 feet deep and more than a mile long by the way Sheryl Crow flies. Black estimated that there were 250 whales in the bay, the most she’s seen in her 26 years in the area, which has provided folks with the best whale watching since the humpbacks left Notre Dame.

And best of all, sports fans, this wild scene with the humpbacks blowing giant underwater bubbles to herd the fish into a bait ball and then go to town was happening right in the giant submarine canyon located in our front yard. It’s nature gone wild on Monterey Bay. I chalk it up to another prize awarded along the journey, but one that requires some dramamine for those of us who aren’t so crazy about the motion of the ocean, if you catch my continental drift.

So for today’s floral display we are heading back to our 50th and most tropical state. My brother Brad joined us on our recent adventure to the Garden Isle, and the home he stayed in had grounds that looked like botanical gardens. The variety of exotic plants were simply amazing, with one flower more vibrant and exotic than the next. But being a simple man, its the basic garden variety plumeria (photo #8) that does it for me. The fragrance of these flowers drives my olfactory system aloha wild. It is the true scent of the islands. Well, either that or Old Spice.

On to the late night humor. “Fox opposes a Syria peace plan because its modus operandi is to foment dissent in the form of a relentless and irrational contrarianism to Barack Obama and all things Democratic, to advance its ultimate objective of creating a deliberately misinformed body politic whose fear, anger, mistrust, and discontent is the manna upon which it sustains its parasitic succubus-like existence.” –Jon Stewart

“You can tell that fall is coming. The leaves are changing faster than the White House position on Syria. “A new survey found Americans clicked on Miley Cyrus stories 12 times more often than stories about Syria and President Assad. Well, that makes sense. Wouldn’t you rather watch a twerk than a jerk?” –Jay Leno “John Kerry has given Syria one week to hand over its chemical weapons. And if they don’t . . . he’ll give them another week.” –Jay Leno

“Secretary of State John Kerry said that Arab countries have offered to pay the entire cost of unseating Syria’s president if we take the lead militarily. They will pay for the whole thing. See, this is how global politics works. We invade Syria to get money from Saudi Arabia that they got from us for putting their oil in our Japanese cars so we can pay back China all the money we owe them.” –Jay Leno

“The United States is going to make a deal with Russia and Syria. What could possibly go wrong? Here’s the deal: Syria will turn over their stockpiled chemicals and we send them Alex Rodriguez. Syria is now saying they will agree to give up their chemical weapons if Miley Cyrus agrees to give up whatever it is she is doing. McDonald’s is now serving steak. Nothing says fine dining like rolling down your car window and screaming out, “medium rare!” – David Letterman

“Today was the primary for mayor of New York City. The city had to use old, lever voting machines from the 1960s because the electronic machines were too hard to program. Of course, it was awkward when Anthony Weiner said, ‘That’s not a lever.’” –Jimmy Fallon “If Christine Quinn wins the New York City mayoral race, she’ll be the city’s first lesbian mayor. Which is why her campaign slogan is, ‘Christine Quinn: as far away from Weiner as you can get.’” –Conan O’Brien

So the final post of summer 2013 is in the books. For all of you Rosh Hashanah fans, I hope the upcoming year will be a sweet one. For New York Giant football fans, you have my severe sympathy.

We’ll catch you doing more than signing autographs and wowing a national audience by throwing for a career-best 464 yards in the loss to number one ranked Alabama. Aloha, mahlao and later, Johnny Manziel fans.

September 8, 2013

No Man Is A Garden Island

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , — geoff @ 8:32 am

Good morning and greetings, NFL fans. Maybe it’s a delayed reaction from the 1987 Harmonic Convergence or just Murphy’s Law of tourism, but as soon as our out-of-town visitors exited from our lovely, kelp-filled shores, the weather turned as glorious as the 49ers chances of returning to the Super Bowl this season. And much of it depends on the health of star QB Colin Kaepernick, who has more biblical phrases inscribed on his skin than were on the bathroom walls of Noah’s Ark.

The above statement about our meteorological conditions is not completely true, as the weather for Labor Day weekend was as outstanding as quarterback Peyton Manning’s seven touchdown passing performance against the Ravens on Thursday night.

Summertime comes late here on the central coast, as we have recently been blessed with warm, fog free days accompanied by soft breezes that drive my endorphins crazy. It’s a season with a special feeling. There’s a Swedish proverb that says “A life without love is like a year without summer.” But I much prefer the lyrics, “I could live without love if I wanted to in this lonely room. But I don’t want to so I leave it up to you to wash away my gloom.” And that is why I didn’t get married until age 36.

So I’ve been back from Kauai for over two weeks, yet remnants and traces of love from long ago and the aloha experience are stuck in my mind like gum on the bottom of my flip flops. It’s not easy coming home and transitioning back to the realities of everyday life. It brings on feelings of anxiousness, depression and auditory hallucinations. But it’s an adjustment we all have to make. Which brings to mind something very poignant my wife said to me a few weeks back. “You’ve been on vacation since the day I met you.” Lucky I’m not Mr. Sensitive.

So despite the fact that I like to get away from it all while off the mainland, I will admit to watching a tiny bit of TV over in the islands, so as just to keep up on the local news and any new Seinfeld episodes. I’m totally captivated by the channel that lists what’s being shown currently on the cable, as it’s a 24 hour Hawaiian islands weather report of trade winds, nautical conditions and monk seal sightings.

I love when they drone on about the latest water temperature, buoy and tide reports, sunrise and sunset times, and the amount of lava and macadamia nuts flowing from the Big Island. It’s this constant droning that served as my island mantra. It fills in many of the gaps in my life and covered commercial breaks while watching the University of Hawaii Sports Channel.

We viewed this station rather extensively during the hottest part of the day, when we were forced indoors and replenished ourselves with ladels of guava and orange passion juice. I don’t want to say my son and I watched a lot of previously taped women’s NCAA volleyball, but by the end of our trip, I knew Jane Croson and her Rainbow teammates better than the results of my last blood test.

Ah, Honolulu. What a lovely place to attend an institute of higher learning. I’ve always been a big fan of the University motto, Ma luna a’e na lahui a pau ke ola ke kanaka, meaning above all nations is humanity and don’t worry about your SAT scores.

Immediately upon my arrival in the South Pacific, I adjusted to Hawaiian time and thus slept in until 3:38 am the first morning. I then lay there like a vacationing gecko, waiting for the monsters and darkness to go away. Fortunately, I was not alone as every rooster and cornish game hen on the North Shore had been notified of my arrival.

Finally, at 6 am, I left our beach cottage and headed to where Anahola River meets the Pacific Ocean. There I stood at the ocean’s edge, a warm breeze blowing, alone and unafraid. At that point I knew the challenges that lay ahead. My mission was to shoot all seven vacation sunrises, and later post the highlights of the best mornings in a blog. That’s me, always working. At least till 7 am.

So the sun rose and I took it in. Nothing too spectacular, at least compared to Santa Cruz, but each morning had a few James Worthy moments. Truthfully, it didn’t matter because I was in Hawaii, a tropical paradise, and I get all the sunrises I need and more in the Cruz. And each morning, when I listened closely, I heard like a soft breeze the words, aloha wau la ‘oe, which means I love you and give the islands back to the Hawaiians.

So today I’m featuring the best sunrise shots from a week of shooting from the northeast coast of Kauai. And just for nostalgia sake, I’m throwing in my favorite sunrise shot from last year. It’s always exciting when the sun makes it’s first appearance of the day along the horizon. It’s something, unlike the thought of the U.S. getting involved in the horrific mess in Syria, that I will never tire of. It brings to mind the words Detective Steve McGarrett uttered in every preview episode of the original “Hawaii Five-O, “Be there. Aloha.”

On to the late night humor. “This weekend, leaders from the NAACP met with leaders from the KKK. After seven hours of talks both sides agreed that they don’t really care for Bryant Gumbel. Yesterday a news anchor accidentally hung up on Oprah while he was interviewing her. He is survived by his wife and children. – Conan O’Brien

“Happy Rosh Hashanah. In honor of the Jewish new year, Mayor Bloomberg has banned the 16-ounce brisket. Diana Nyad swam from Cuba to Florida without using a shark cage. She swam all the way from Cuba to Miami — accompanied by five Cuban pitchers.” – David Letterman “Senator McCain was caught playing poker during a hearing. The worst part is that he didn’t even know he was playing poker. He was just trying to text his wife. “How’d I lose $1,500 asking Cindy what’s for dinner?” – Jimmy Fallon

“President Obama is trying to get congressional approval before we attack Syria. And if that works, there’s talk we might even consider bringing back the rest of the Constitution. President Obama is pretty clever. Did you see what he is doing to get Congress to approve the attack? He told them Syrian President Assad supports Obamacare.” – Jay Leno

“All the big-time world leaders are at the G-20 summit. All eyes are on Obama because of Syria. He wants to use military strikes. Even his allies don’t agree with him. Britain wants to use economic embargoes. France wants to use sarcasm. Tonight was the NFL’s season opener, with the Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens playing the Denver Broncos. I ordered a pizza while we were watching the game — which got weird when Tim Tebow delivered it.” – Craig Ferguson

Over the Labor Day weekend we had amazing back-to-back nights of sunset delight along with a sunrise that wasn’t too shabby. Just goes to show you always have to expect the unexpected.

We’ll catch you putting up perhaps your greatest NFL quarterbacking performance at age 37. Aloha, mahalo and later, Peyton Manning fans.

September 1, 2013

What I Didn’t Do On My Summer Vacation

Good morning and greetings, September fans. A new month is now upon us, which means for many, August is a fleeting memory of summer vacation family fun. Or as writer Robert Orben put it, “A vacation is having nothing to do and all day to do it in.”

I would say that pretty much describes my level of activity while on holiday, as I try to stay as active as a young veal. However, those calves probably don’t awake early in the morning to shoot the tropical sunrise, so I guess you’d say I’m slightly more motivated than my milk-fed friends.

So back in August, when I was a much younger and a whole lot paler, the Gilbert family took their annual pilgrimage to the South Pacific. When on vacation, we are very concerned with having the choice of numerous activities to go along with a flourishing nightlife. That is why we chose the Garden Isle of Kauai, where the bars and hibiscus flowers close up at 3 pm.

When people talk about Kauai, they think of the Princeville, the lovely sands of Hanelei Bay and the bustling south shore of Poipu Beach. And that’s why we choose to vacation in the lovely isolation of Anahola, which in Hawaiian means “no reception.” It’s 110 miles northwest of Honolulu on the northeast shore. If you like to be alone on a golden sand beach with your thoughts, DNA and sunburn, then this is place to be.

Unlike other beaches on the island that are written about extensively in all the tourist literature, you have to look through a microscope to see any mention of Anahola. And you don’t have to wake up early to make sure the parking lot isn’t filled. We come and go to this beautifully crescent shaped beach all day and rarely see a soul. To me, that is a beautiful experience because the last thing I want to hear on my vacation is someone else’s conversation. Well, that and my rental car is on fire.

But of course, I Iike to remain somewhat busy while in the South Pacific, so I did my fair share of hiking. The Kalalua trail along the rugged Na Pali coast offers a thrill for adventurers seeking the best of what nature has to offer. It is a hidden gem in this tropical paradise. However, I chose to take a different path as my hikes led me to Foodland, ABC Stores and Hilo Hatties in Lihue. And let me tell you, things can get pretty dicey around the calendar aisles when the cruise ship crowds hit the stores. It’s every man for himself, as the terrain can be treacherous when a new batch of “I got lei’d in Hawaii” t-shirts hit the shelves.

Snorkeling on the island is tremendous, and that’s why my brother Brad and his family headed up to Tunnels Beach every morning. Well, that and to catch a glimpse of Charo and Pierce Brosnan. The reefs are full of schools of incredibly colorful, exotic fish and giant sea turtles, who swim around like they own the place.

I did not hit this coral wonderland, as I never liked the way I looked in googles and with paparazzi lurking, that could have been a problem. But I saw it all as Brad was snorkeling with an underwater camera, and each night he showed us the video for us to ohh and ahh about between bites of chocolate coconut macadamia nut pie while we critiqued his camera work. It’s called exploring the wonders of the sea flipper free.

Food might be a little more expensive over in the islands, but it doesn’t bother me. As long as I can wake up in the morning and start my culinary day with a golden papaya, fresh mango or a sweet Maui Gold pineapple, then life and my digestive tract is good. I always like to explore the island’s small fruit stands and sample the various varieties of tropical fruit. We came across a little place on the island called Costco where I purchased five papayas for $5.99. Right then I felt like a was thousands of miles away from civilization and truly in vacation mode.

During the trip I had an exciting agricultural experience, as the house next door to where we stayed had 40 papaya trees with a least six different varieties of this special fruit. I spent the early morning picking papayas and scooping mangos off the top of the trees. I can truly say that it was one of the most enriching experiences since my bar mitzvah, but without the sponge cake and the gifts of savings bonds that put me through hand modeling school.

So here’s the bottom line on a vacation in the Garden Isle. The temperature on the island ranges between 72 and 86 degrees, including Jewish holidays. The beaches are lined with lighty salted macadamia nuts, with the ocean temperature a comfortable 75 to 80 degrees. The smell of napalm and plumeria fill the air, and if you’ve had a whiff of plumeria, you know what heaven smells like. The trade winds blow in and you think to yourself, I’m in paradise. So what if cream cheese is $6 a package?

So it all comes down to this. I believe it was either Buddha or Dr. Phil’s brother who once said, “A vacation is like love. Anticipated with pleasure, experienced with discomfort and remembered with nostalgia. And I still have the sun poisoning to prove it. No vacation goes unpunished.

So for our sunny September wall of photos, I am going to be parked in the islands. We will stroll down the aloha highway as I’ll feature images of sunrises, flowers, fruits and jellyfish stings. However, for today, I’ll start with the homefront, as the first shot is Anahola Bay, and then sunrise on the Anahola River, where we were lodged just steps from. I never tired of sitting in the river as the ocean tide flowed in as the river current flowed out. I believe this process is called ebb and flow or how am I ever going to get all this sand out of my bathing suit?

The next shot is the view from the kitchen window of our beach cottage and the mountain where they filmed King Kong. It was also featured as the opening sequence in “Raiders of the Lost Ark.” We then head west cruising on Highway 560 towards the north shore through Princeville, where I photographed this lovely mountain range, followed by Tunnels Beach, which is alongside a mountain and has the best snorkeling on the island. We end with a shot at sunset of the sun blowing through the clouds proving once that again, as I like to tell my rabbi, “Maika i no Kauai,” which translated means, “So beautiful is Kauai, especially when you can use your miles to pay for air fare.”

If you want to read more about the Anahola experience, go to http://www.sunrisesantacruz.com/blog/2012/08/i-want-to-anahola-your-hand/

On to some late night humor. “John Kerry said it’s “undeniable” that the president of Syria is using weapons of mass destruction. Kerry said President Obama needs to build a coalition of countries and attack soon, no matter what others might say. Today former President George Bush said, “Hey, good luck with that. Let me know how it works out. The state attorney general of New York is suing Donald Trump for $40 million, claiming that Donald Trump University is not a real university. The state claims it’s not a real college because students get very little education and were unable to find jobs after they graduated. Sounds like a real college to me. I guess the attorney general got suspicious it wasn’t a real college when Donald took the senior class on a field trip to try and find President Obama’s birth certificate.” – Jay Leno

“The Kardashian family — looks like now another marriage may be in trouble. They’re saying now that Khloe Kardashian and Lamar Odom are having marital problems. And the state department says its warships are already rushing to the area. So former President George W. Bush had to go into the hospital, had a little heart surgery and he’s OK. “Doctors told him to avoid any heavy exertion, so that means no reading. He had a little touch of coronary artery disease. One of his arteries was clogged with old Al Gore ballots.” –David Letterman

“The mayor of San Diego has been accused of sexually harassing 14 women. Now a Hooters in San Diego has put up a sign saying they won’t serve Mayor Bob Filner because he disrespects women. A spokesperson for Hooters said we don’t want him as a customer, but would love him as a manager.” “Sixty-two percent of New Yorkers say they are embarrassed by the sex scandals of Anthony Weiner. Weiner said, ‘Let me know when that number reaches 69.’” –Conan O’Brien

“Yesterday, Obama met with the prime minister of Greece at the White House. When he heard the leader of Greece was there, Biden said, ‘John Travolta’s here?’ ” –Jimmy Fallon ” The NFL is considering hiring a mother of three to be a referee. They wanted someone who’s used to giving time-outs.There’s a new cable channel of entirely dog-based programing called Dog TV. In a related story, there’s also an entirely cat-based channel called YouTube.” – Conan O’Brien

That’s our first blast for September. I welcomed in the new month by shooting a beautiful sunset on Saturday that came out of nowhere. It was truly spectacular and I’m taking it as a good sign.

We’ll catch you showing the nation what being a real American hero is all about and being awarded the Medal of Honor at the White House. Aloha, mahlao and later, Army Staff Sgt. Ty Michael Carter fans.


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