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

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.

August 21, 2011

Big Girls Don’t Kauai

Good morning and greetings, back-to-school fans. That’s right, last week it was mid-August, and my kids were happy as linguini and clams to back in the classroom. For me, it’s been two weeks since my return from vacationing in the South Pacific and I still have the aloha spirit sprinting daily through my mind. Kauai is a slice of paradise one doesn’t soon forget, and besides, I’m going to be milking these pictures from the Garden Isle longer than I reminded my parents I made the Dean’s List at Syracuse back before there was history.

So while I still have the island fever, let’s learn some more fun facts about our 50th state.

According to the early descendants of Steve McGarrett, the Hawaiian Islands were one of the last places on Earth discovered and occupied by humans. The first Polynesians landed in Hawaii after leaving their home in the Marquesas Islands some 2,500 miles away, in search of pineapples, papayas and plate lunches with two scoops of rice and a scoop of macaroni salad.

As I mentioned last week, modern contact was not made until Captain James Cook first anchored off Kauai in 1778. He named this sweeping archipelago the Sandwich Islands after his sponsor, the 4th Earl of Sandwich and his wife, the 1st Dutchess of Soup.

Hawaii is the most isolated population center on Earth. It is 2,390 miles from California, 3,850 miles from Japan, 4,900 miles from China and light years from Fort Lee, New Jersey. Much like my midsection, it is the only state whose land area is increasing as a result of lava flows from volcanic eruptions and the addition of Roseanne Barr to the Big Island.

Hawaii is the only state that is is not geographically located in North America, although some wonder if Arizona still belongs in the mix. It was one of only four independent countries before becoming a state, joining the Republic of Texas, the Vermont Republic, the California Republic and the Banana Republic, where new fall styles are now available for him and her.

Kauai offers seven distinct microclimates and breweries, from lush interior jungles to very dry areas on the west side. Mount Waialeale is at the center of the Garden Isle and is the rainiest spot in the world. Ancient Hawaiians recognized the importance of this location and built a temple on the summit along with a gift shop.

How it rains over 400 inches a year on the middle of the island while just 18 inches drop on the west side is a mystery to me and to the surviving members of Fleetwood Mac. Fortunately for the Tourism Bureau, much of the rain falls at night and the showers are brief, like my resolution to follow through on projects. But island rains bring rainbows, and that’s where dreams that you dare to dream really come true. Just ask any happy little bluebird.

Hawaii consists of eight larger, populated islands and 124 small, uninhabited islands, reefs, atolls b-tolls, and the Rolling Stones. It spans the distance of 1,524 miles, making Hawaii the longest island chain in the world. The islands are the subtropical tops of the biggest mountain range in the world. Hawaii’s tallest mountain, Mauna Kea, is higher than Mount Everest and Yao Ming when measured from its base, which is on the ground floor of the Pacific Ocean, from which there is no elevator, so you have to take the stairs up.

Hawaii is the only state that grows coffee and whose majority of people are non-white. Except for big wave surfers, It has the highest life expectancy in the United States. Aloha is a Hawaiian word that means hello, good-bye and slow down, this isn’t the mainland. The oldest newspaper found west of the Rocky Mountains is the Sandwich Island Gazette in Hawaii, which has a great sports and lava flow page. And finally, by law, no building on Kauai is allowed to be built taller than a palm tree. Suck on that for a while, Empire State Building fans.

For this week’s pictorial pleasure, we are going with a variety pack. We start out at the golden sand of Lumahai Beach, one of the most photographed beaches in the world where Mitzi Gaynor in “South Pacific,” washed that man right out of her hair” using a coconut conditioner. We then move on to the basketball court at the Hanalei Community Center. It’s always nice to be shooting jumpers with waterfalls cascading down the mountain in the background.

We then cruise over to Opaeka’a Falls, which flows year round off the north branch of the Wailua River. The names dates back to the day when shrimp swarmed the river and were seen frolicking in garlic sauce at the base of the falls. Next we head to the south shore and Poupi Beach, where the waves are smashing against the rocks in an area teeming with sea turtles and more crabs than you’ll see on Chinese New Year. Then about 100 yards from this spot, I snapped a shot of this highly endangered monk seal. The Hawaiians call them llio holo i ka uaua, which means “dog that runs in rough water.” (As a side note, back in Jersey, they used to call me, llio hoho i ka italiano, which means “boy that walks with thin crust pizza.”)

There are less than 1,000 monk seals left on the planet and is was a treat to take a quick snooze with this one. We close out the tour with a shot of the world’s largest snail that I shot cruising along the front lawn at our house in Hanalei. With a cornucopia of amazing colored birds, exotic fish and tanned locals, Kauai is truly a visual paradise.

We’ve still got more to come on the photo front, including island flowers, south shore sunrises and red clay waterfalls, so stay tuned, Magnum P.I fans.

On to the late night. “Obama said the housing market may not pick up again for another year or longer. On the bright side, President Obama now has nine people interested in his house.” –Conan O’Brien “Donald Trump may be running for president, and why not? He’s got that everyman quality that we can all relate to. Donald Trump told CNN he may consider getting back into the presidential race. He said he has to mull it over, comb it over, and he’ll go from there.” –Jimmy Kimmel

“Michele Bachmann wished Elvis Presley a happy birthday even though it’s actually the anniversary of his death. When told about the mistake, Bachmann said, ‘My apologies to Elvis, and the entire Costello family. Michele Bachmann won the Iowa Straw Poll. She said she hasn’t been this excited since she won last year’s ‘Who’s Crazier Than Sarah Palin’ contest.’” –Conan O’Brien

“President Obama will begin a three-state bus tour. I believe the three states are confusion, delusion, and desperation. The Republicans had their big debate in Iowa. You know who the winner was? Anyone that didn’t watch.” –Jay Leno “Some political analysts are saying that President Obama is making many of the same mistakes that President Bush made. Obama said, ‘That’s ridiculous, and if you’ll excuse me, ‘Spongebob’ is on.’” –Conan O’Brien

“Finally some good news: the price of gas is going down. They say it could soon be under three dollars a gallon. Do you know what that means? You can now afford to drive by the house you used to live in, go by the job you used to have, and go see the bank where you used to have money. It’s the trifecta of the recession! According to the Mexican government, the number of people leaving Mexico for the United States is now practically zero. It’s true. The other day I was in downtown Los Angeles and I heard something down there I haven’t heard in years: English.” –Jay Leno

“Sarah Palin’s daughter-in-law just gave birth three months after getting married, and thus won the annual Palin Almost Abstinent Award.” –Jay Leno “Levi Johnston, who got Sarah Palin’s daughter Bristol pregnant, has a sister Mercede, who just posed for ‘Playboy’ and said some very unflattering things about the Palins. She said Track Palin, who she dated, used cocaine and oxycodone, that Sarah Palin forced him to go into the military to protect herself, and that if Palin became President she’d have a mental breakdown. Then the photographer asked her to turn a little so he could get both nipples.” –Jimmy Kimmel

“There was a small fire today at President Obama’s vacation home in Martha’s Vineyard. Or as Obama told China, ‘Darn! That’s where I was keeping the $14 trillion I was about to give back! After all the rioting in London this week, officials are worried that it could mean security problems for the Olympics next year. On the bright side, the guy running with the torch will just blend right in.” –Jimmy Fallon “A study showed that every hour of TV you watch after the age of 25 shortens your life by 22 minutes. That doesn’t sound too bad to me. You’d probably watch TV with that 22 minutes anyway.” –Jimmy Kimmel

So that’s it for our South Pacific fact finding tour. I was shocked last Monday when we had our first clear morning in over two months, before it went back to the usual dreary fog the next day. For me, sports fans, it’s a completely different feeling when the sky is Carolina blue and not Joel Grey.

Enjoy the NFL exhibition season and we’ll catch you going deep to right center. Aloha, mahalo and later, Jim Thome fans.

September 6, 2009

It’s A Labor Day Of Love

Good morning and greetings, college football fans. Well, it’s Labor Day, the national holiday that traditionally signals the end of the summer for most of the nation. But that is not true for the residents of the central coast, for this day, which serves as a salute to women getting ready to deliver, brings on the start of our Indian Summer, which is not to be confused with my golden retriever Summer, Donna Summer or Johnny Winter.

Temperature and personality wise, September is our warmest month of the year here in Santa Cruz. So far this month, the days and nights have been extremely pleasant with the evening sky highlighted by the full moon that rose on Friday night. As per my recent streak of photo luck, my camera is still in the shop and it’s just not the same etch-a-sketching the rising harvest moon. But I was mistaken last week when I mentioned that my Canon replacement part was coming via rowboat. Actually, I had a choice of stage coach, covered wagon, horse and buggy or pony express. I checked the last box thinking it said Fed express, thus I’m still playing the waiting game. But as the adage says, good things and tips come to those who are waiters.

So for today’s photo fantasy tour, I thought I would share some of the wildlife I viewed this summer when I was still in possession of a working Digital Rebel. We start out with a sea lion that was lounging on the rocks in front of my old house on West Cliff Drive. The reason I’m alluding to this location is because I lived here for 14 years (1975-1989, better known as the wonder years) and never once in my lifeguarding, frisbee-throwing, cave-exploring days did I see a sea lion venture to this beach. And since my return from the southland there were no sightings until a couple of months ago, when this lovely marine mammal had its back arched up in the air like it was posing for the cover of Vogue.

Of course, being the intrepid photographer that I am, I don’t carry my SLR on these coastal walks so I scurried home like Katie Couric, grabbed my camera and Usain Bolted back to this spot. This lion of the sea was no longer in an Annie Liebowitz pose, but was snoozing on the rocks (photo #1.) I approached and asked a few questions, and as you can see from the second photo his tiny ear perked up as he was fascinated by my Bob Woodward, Deep-Throat type of reporting.

We then move over to the pond at Natural Bridges State Beach where I shot this snowy egret (photo #4) reflecting on what’s important in a bird’s life. I actually shot this a couple of years ago but it just went along too well with the previous shot, which is in a little water hole just north of Natural Bridges. I happened upon this great blue heron as he edged out from the reeds and caught him in the silver ripples. This is one of my favorite new shots that will be available for purchase at the Capitola Art & Wine Festival. And good news is, I’m right next to the Bonny Doon Vineyards so if my photos don’t work for you I’m sure the alcohol will.

We close aloha-style with a pair of North Shore geckos that were running amok on the deck and lawn of our beachfront cottage. The vibrant green fellow was climbing up and down the bamboo trees and resting in some exotically-colored plants which made for some great photo ops. The final shot depicts a brown gecko I believe I caught in the mating throws. It is giving out one of its three courtships signs with its thrush. This orange means caution, red means stop and green means go. And of course, always come to a full stop when you approach an intersection and yield to some pedestrians in a crosswalk.

On to the late night jokes. And there were plenty to choose from this week. “Former VP Dick Cheney says President Obama is setting a ‘terrible precedent,’ not to be confused with George W. Bush, who was a terrible president. That’s a different deal. In 2012, the Republicans are now talking about the presidential ticket, Dick Cheney and running as vice president Sarah Palin. Talk about your dream ticket. Oh buddy, the comedy recession is over. I mean, come on, talk about your shotgun marriage. An article in Vanity Fair claims that Sarah Palin really couldn’t see Russia from her house. The article also says that Sarah Palin was not much of a hunter. And I was thinking, I don’t know, she killed John McCain’s chances.” –David Letterman

“Summer vacation’s sadly coming to an end. Not for the Obama family. They just got back from Martha’s Vineyard. And now they’re going on another vacation to Camp David. Joe Biden is really excited for the car trip. He loves sticking his head out the window.” –Jimmy Fallon “Of course, the healthcare debate is raging. And yesterday, John McCain spoke to nearly 100 doctors and nurses. It wasn’t a political meeting. It was McCain’s annual checkup.” –Conan O’Brien “McCain at one point had to have a crazy woman removed by security at one of these town hall meetings. And I’m thinking, jeez, he should have done that a year ago.” –David Letterman

“Big election scandal in Afghanistan. The loser of the Afghanistan presidential election, a man named Abdullah Abdullah, is claiming that the winner, Hamid Karzai, artificially inflated his number of votes. In response, Karzai is claiming that Abdullah Abdullah artificially inflated his number of Abdullahs. Abdullah Abdullah says he deserves to be president and, ‘They’re going to hear from my lawyer, Shapiro Shapiro. State Department’s conducting a big investigation into a wild party thrown at the U.S. embassy in Afghanistan. Of course, in Afghanistan, a wild party is any event where a girl takes her socks off.” –Conan O’Brien

“It looks like they’re starting to get the wildfires under control. Firefighters in the LA area have been working nonstop all week long. And this morning, as a reward, Governor Schwarzenegger personally served them breakfast. Unfortunately, due to the California’s budget crisis, he was forced to charge them $12.99 each. As of today, same-sex couples may now legally get married in Vermont. So finally, finally, after years of waiting, we’ll get to hear these words out of Vermont: ‘I now pronounce you Ben and Jerry.’” –Conan O’Brien

So that’s our first post for September, 2009. And I’ve got some breaking news. No, I’m not talking soaring unemployment numbers, national health care reform or the ongong debate about the senseless war in Afghanistan. No, this week, my now 5’10″ son Jason dunked a baseball and nerf ball for the first time on a 10 foot hoop. He said he could have done it a couple of months ago but didn’t want to take the spotlight away from my summer three-point shooting clinic. You know, I love the straight A’s and the academic awards, but it’s sports and particularly basketball that coarses thru my veins. He’s getting closer to the Gilbert Family’s Mount Everest so I’ll keep you updated as he nears that Pat summit.

No blog next week as I’ll be in deep meditation at the Capitola Art & Wine Festival. Stop by and say hello, I love to see my cyber peeps. So enjoy the start of the NFL season and we’ll catch you warming up in the bullpen. And try not to sweat the small stuff. Aloha, mahalo and later, Paul O’Neill fans.

August 16, 2009

Hawaii Did My Camera Have To Break?

Good morning and greetings, national health care fans. After taking a week off to recharge my battery and replace a water pump, Sunrise Santa Cruz is back with our annual, “What I Wish I Had Done On My Summer Vacation.”

For the last five years, or half decade for you historians, the Gilbert Family Robinson has ventured to Sunset Beach, which sits on the North Shore on the island of Oahu. To get there, you fly into Honolulu, head north and before you can say, “Hurricane Felicia,” you hit Haliewa and Eddie Aikau country. Or as the locals would say, “Geoff Wouldn’t Go.”

Not much was happening here before 1899, as people didn’t know the North Shore from Dinah Shore. Then Oahu sugar baron Benjamin Dillingham built the Haliewa Hotel and introduced the very popular Teriyaki Tuesday. Then in the 1940′s, people from Honolulu began to head northward to check out the epic waves and the mahi mahi lunch specials that make this macadamia crusted shoreline world class famous.

But the place really starting pumping in 1966, when filmmaker Bruce Brown produced the classic “Endless Summer,” which opened the eyes of the world to the big wave action that is the North Shore. Starting in November, this seven mile stretch from Haliewa to Sunset Beach takes center stage for the best big wave surfers, dedicated surf groupies and flight attendants from Hawaiian Air.

The North Shore is still rural and remote, much like it was 50 years ago, when as a child I was riding the big waves in the pool at the Hackensack YMHA. There is only one grocery store, appropriately named Foodland, one hotel, the Turtle Bay Resort, or as the locals say, “Nuff Hotels,” and one real food spot, Ted’s Bakery, which is renowned for its plate lunches, chocolate haupia creme pie and free valet parking.

On the nature front, squadrons of brown and electric green geckos run as rampant as oil lobbyists did during the Bush administration. Throw in the extremely colorful parrot fish at Sharks Cove, the orange butterflies floating by in the warm breeze and the golden lemon chicken with two scoops of rice and a scoop of macaroni salad and that’s island life. Lucky you eat Hawaii.

So here we are a Sunset Beach in the summertime, when the swell is as gentle as the hands of my on-call masseuse Helga. The water is a mind-blowing, crystal clear, kelp-free, aqua turquoise blue that clocks in at 80 degrees. And this, my vacation loving friends, is the number one reason for this annual trek. I need warm ocean water the same way Tom “Magnum P.I.” Selleck needs a mustache trimmer. As much as I adore this cold water paradise called Santa Cruz, the difference in the air and weather is dramatic. No layers, no sweatshirts, no fog hanging on the coast. This is what a sub-tropical paradise is, boys and girls, and unlike guests or brie cheese, it doesn’t get old.

So it was much to my dismay that on the second morning of our trip, my camera decided to take its own vacation. I already had a few shots in the can, but the Kelly Slater in me cried out for more. So when my Canon announced its early retirement I took it like a man and curled up in the fetal position and sobbed uncontrollably for few hours. I’m just kidding, it couldn’t have been more than 45 minutes.

Rather than question my vacation karma, God’s will or try and make sense of a digitless universe, I put on my newly ironed black Speedo, belted down a big gulp of sunblock and let the smell of the plumerias drift softly thru my brain. Or to paraphrase the words of Gerry and the Pacemakers, “Don’t let your son catch you crying.”

Our beach cottage overlooked the break at Sunset, which in the winter, along with Waimea Bay and Pipeline, play host to the Triple Crown of surfing. Come August, we pretty much have the beach to ourselves, although on one weekend day I saw more butts on the beach than you’d find in the Boardwalk sand after a Friday night Eddie Money concert. The Money Man has been to the islands as he’s got “two tickets to paradise.”

So in our photo lineup, we start with Sunset Beach and then move over to Waimea Bay. From there it’s a green sea turtle that came ashore for tourists along the Kamehameha Highway followed by a friendly neighborhood gecko. We close with a duo of the Hawaiian plumeria, whose scent is another reminder of paradise found. I had hoped to photograph the tradewinds, which is another key factor in the nirvana experience. Or in the words of the Association, “Everyone knows it’s windy.”

Now for just a taste of late night humor. “The two female journalists held captive in North Korea are saying they were shocked to walk into a room and see Bill Clinton there. That’s what they said. Then they said they were even more shocked to see him wearing nothing but a towel.” –Conan O’Brien “Meanwhile, this morning, Former President Bush rescued two purple stars from his Lucky Charms.” –Jimmy Kimmel “Hey, yesterday, did you hear this? Computer hackers managed to shut down Twitter and my favorite, Facebook, for several hours. In a related story, yesterday American productivity jumped by 159%.” –Conan O’Brien

So that concludes my 2009 North Shore chronicles. Another classic “Hawaii Five-0″ adventure, or as Jack Lord would say about interisland flights, “Book ‘em, Dano.” With a daily intake of fresh papaya and Maui gold pineapple, my memories of this trip are still as tasty as a pina coloda smoothie.

It would be wrong not to mention the over 2,000 heroic firefighters from throughout the state that are fighting the Lockheed fire raging in the Santa Cruz mountains. This latest blaze has already burned close to 7,000 acres and is not expected to be fully contained for another week. It’s burning hotter than New York Yankee bats. Another example of the power and fury of Mother Nature. So we’ll catch you down the right field line. Aloha, mahalo and later, Robinson Cano 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.

July 1, 2008

Hawaii Is The Sky Blue

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , , , , — geoff @ 9:27 pm


Good morning and welcome to July, 2008. Since we are talking Hawaii today I thought we’d go tropical and head over to Sunset Beach on the north shore of Oahu. Sunset Beach is one of the classic spots where the big boys flock to in the wintertime. Along with Pipeline (“The Pipe”) and Waimea Bay, it is where the Triple Crown of Surfing is held. However, at this time of year, except for a rare swell, the waves break as gently as a summer’s breeze and that’s when yours truly heads over there for a little rest, relaxation and a variety of plate lunches.

All these photos were taken from the area (Mother’s Beach) where the locals hang out and where I will be parking myself in August. The water temperature is around 80 degrees, the trade winds blow in the afternoon and the beach is always open. The flowers smell like perfume from heaven and the fruit is sweeter than candy. It’s the summer school course I never mind repeating-Tropical Paradise 101.

But there is trouble in paradise. Surrounded by royal guards and tourists who can’t find the North Shore, Her Majesty Mahealani Kahau and her government ministers hold court every day in a tent outside the palace of Hawaii’s last monarch, passing laws, slicing and dicing pineapple, papaya and coconuts and discussing how to secure reparations for the Native Hawaiian people.

Kahau and her followers are members of the self-proclaimed Hawaiian Kingdom Government, which is devoted to restoring the Hawaiian monarchy overthrown in 1893. Nearly two months ago, while tourists cruised Wakiki Beach, they stormed the gates of the old Iolani Palace, and they have politely occupied the grounds ever since, operating like a government-in-exile while selling maps of the star’s houses on the island of Oahu.

“We’re here to assume and resume what is already ours and what has always been ours,” said Kahau, who is a descendant of Hawaii’s last king and was elected “head of state” by the group. Unlike my montra, “If nominated I will not run. If elected I will not serve.”

The Hawaiian Kingdom Government, which was founded seven years ago and claims 1,000 followers, uses its own license plates, recipes for rice and macaroni salad and maintains its own judicial system. In recent years, members have voted to dissolve the state of Hawaii, its land titles, welfare programs, public schools and surf shops. They also claim the right to confiscate all bank assets in Hawaii.

The organization’s actions do not carry the force of law, and the state has mostly taken a hands-off approach. It has not confiscated any of the license plates, for example, or arrested anyone for using them. However, they have seized some mangos and bananas from the group that were suspiciously overripe .

Hawaii has about 200,000 Native Hawaiians out of a population of 1.3 million. The Hawaiian Kingdom Government is just one of several native organizations that claim sovereignty over the islands, tapping into a strong sense among Native Hawaiians that they were wronged by history. I’m not a historian and have never played one on TV but I think they’ve got a pretty good case.

More than a century ago, a group of sugar planters, wind surfers and other businessmen, most of them Americans, overthrew the Hawaiian monarchy with the support of U.S. military forces. Queen Liliuokalani was imprisoned at the ornate Iolani Palace, built in 1882 by her brother, King David Kalakaua. Hawaii was annexed by the United States in 1898 and became a state in 1959.

“We are definitely trying to correct a wrong that we feel has been done to us as a people,” said Hawaiian Kingdom Government spokesman Orrin Kupau. On April 30, members of the Hawaiian Kingdom Government stormed onto the palace grounds in the heart of Honolulu and shut the gates behind them, leading to a few tense hours before they finally reopened the entrance so tourists could take pictures, buy postcards and “Give Us Our Damn Island Back” bumper stickers.

Every day, Kahau and about a dozen of her government officials meet in the tent for guava juice and sweet rolls. Every evening, they fold up their tent and go home to watch reruns of “Hawaii Five-O” and “Magnum P.I.”, returning in the morning. State officials have largely ignored them, and police have made no “Book em, Dano” arrests. The Hawaiian Kingdom Government has said it has no intention of resorting to violence.

Every week, the Hawaiian Kingdom Government obtains a public-assembly permit that allows it to occupy the grounds of the palace, a museum, a shaved ice stand and a popular tourist attraction next door to the state Capitol. As far as the state is concerned, the Hawaiian Kingdom Government is treated the same as any other group that wants to conduct activities on public ground and secede from the United States, said Deborah Ward, spokeswoman for the Department of Land and Natural Resources. “As long as they comply with the permit conditions, they may continue to request permits to meet,” she said.

Those conditions prohibit the Hawaiian Kingdom Government from interfering with access to the palace, harassing pedestrians, collecting money, posting banners, hang gliding, sail boarding, Zodiac rafting or entering several government buildings. It is unclear how the organization’s members intend to oust the state government. They also want reparations in the form of housing, low-cost health care, cash and macadamia nut farms. The kingdom slapped a $7 trillion fine on the Hawaii state government in 2007. So far, no payout from Uncle Sam.

That’s the island report. We’ll take Friday off for the 4th of July but come back with something fresh and exciting on Monday. So enjoy the holiday weekend and maybe for a moment think about what we are celebrating besides the birth of fireworks. Enjoy the beach, mahalo and I’m out of here.

Follow Sunrise Santa Cruz on Twitter
Sunrise Santa Cruz in the news!