August 23, 2009

Hawaii All The Long Faces?

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , — geoff @ 9:01 pm

Good morning and greetings, back to school fans. After last week’s chronicling of my papaya-filled North Shore adventure, I thought it was time to and take a look at some of the summer floral madness that colors the westside of Santa Cruz. But then I came across an article written by Mark Niesse of the Associated Press, and before you could say “Holy chocolate covered macadamia nuts,” I knew what direction this blog was heading. And that would be due west, back to the islands.

Hawaii turned 50 years old last Friday, but there were no parades, no fireworks, no displays of native culture, not even a damn luau. Organizers of the observation were not even willing to call it a party. It is simply a “commemoration,” one that is sensitive to a painful history of the Hawaiian monarchy’s overthrow and unresolved claims of Native Hawaiians. Or in the words of “The Honeymooners” Ed Norton, “That’s the surprise. There ain’t gonna be no party.”

Alaska, by contrast, which joined the union in January, 1959, embraced their 50th anniversary of statehood with concerts, fireworks, a prize-winning float in California’s Rose Parade and a dunk tank featuring Sarah Palin. Were residents excited to see the former Governor/Vice Presidential candidate turned Lens Craft model getting moist in a wet t-shirt? You betcha.

The main event of the island commemoration was a low-key, daylong conference reflecting on Hawaii’s place in the world. But behind the tourist-friendly tropical images of beaches, sunshine and teriyaki beef plate lunches, many natives, lifeguards and Tahitian dancers remain uncomfortable with the U.S. takeover of the islands and the idea that businesses have exploited Hawaiians’ culture.

“Instead of state government having huge parties and fireworks, we’re having a convention,” says Manu Boyd, cultural director for the Royal Hawaiian Center. “That shows the strength and spiritual power of the Hawaiian people, whose shattered world has not yet been addressed.” Or as Mick Jagger says, “Love and hope and sex and dreams, I’m shattered.” My main man Manu is not a happy camper.

Sovereignty groups advocating independence from the United States make up a minority, but many residents recognize the long-standing issues associated with the 1893 overthrow of the monarchy, the islands’ annexation and past harms to the Native Hawaiian people. Hawaii was admitted into the United States on Aug. 21, 1959. About 94 percent of island chain’s voters supported statehood. Opponents argue that the vote was tainted because the only choice on the ballot was to become a state or remain a territory — independence was not an option. I believe I saw this movie, it’s called “Shaft.”

The Hawaiian kingdom was overthrown in 1893 when a group of white businessmen, after a day of snorkeling off Molikini, forced Queen Liliuokalani to abdicate while U.S. Marines came ashore. This never would have happened if Queen Latifah had been manning the thrown. She would have kicked some royal butt.

“This newfangled idea of celebrating statehood shows that people don’t understand Hawaii’s history, or if they do understand, then they’re celebrating a lie, a theft, that essentially stole a people’s right of self-determination,” said Poka Laenui, a Hawaiian and attorney who has worked for independence for more than 30 years. The natives are pissed and I don’t blame them. Or as it stated in my rental car agreement, “Remember the Alamo.”

Along with statehood came striking changes to the islands, as the first commercial jetliner’s arrival in Honolulu just a few weeks earlier began the dawn of the tourism era. Today, Hawaii’s economy depends on tourism as its primary industry, with nearly 7 million visiting the islands in 2008 to snap photos of Pearl Harbor, swim in the warm tropical waters and purchase every possible concoction made from pineapple at the Dole Plantation store.

One way Hawaiians are moving toward having a voice in their self-determination is through legislation pending in Congress that would treat them similarly to Native American tribes and Alaskan natives. After a decade of efforts, the measure could pass into law as soon as this year with the support of Hawaii-born President Barack Obama. Or as the sticker says, “Lucky You Live Hawaii.” Well, we’ll see about that.

On to round two of our North Shore photo funfest. The first image is the lovely view from the deck of our Sunset Beach cottage, followed by a rainbow shot from the front yard. Then it’s on to our neighbor’s papaya tree and some coconuts that fortunately didn’t conk us on the head. We conclude with the sunrise from our first morning followed by the sunset that evening. These were taken the day before my camera went into early retirement and forced me to re-examine my life, liberty and the pursuit of tree-climbing geckos.

On to some late night humor. “I didn’t think this day would come. Squeaky Fromme tried to assassinate President General Ford. She’s been let out of prison. She was paroled. Is she going to get a job? If you think about it, there aren’t many jobs for unstable, gun-toting women, unless she wants to run for governor of Alaska.” How about this? Brett Favre is coming out of retirement and joining the Minnesota Vikings. He’s getting $12 million from Minnesota. Talk about cash for clunkers. Now, here is a statistic — 90% of all paper currency has traces of cocaine. Ninety percent of all paper money in this country, traces of cocaine. Had a $20 bill today. I thought Ben Franklin looked a little jumpy.” –David Letterman

“It’s been reported that former Vice President Cheney is hard at work on his memoirs. It’s called ‘The Five People You Meet in Hell.’” –Conan O’Brien “You remember John Edwards? He finally admitted he’s the father of his mistress’ baby after denying it for over a year. So it’s a pretty classic case of whoever denied it, supplied it. Fortunately, some good news came out of the whole thing, he agreed to join Bristol Palin on the abstinence tour.” –Jimmy Fallon

So that’s our report from the South Pacific. I’d once again like to thank all the firefighters that had a hand in putting out the Lockheed fire that raged last week along the north coast. This past Friday the air was choking with ashes-I hadn’t seen smoke that thick since my last Doobie Brothers concert.

But the skies above Monterey Bay are once again fresh and exciting, as we had some sunset action on Saturday night. So enjoy the summer breeze that makes you feel fine and the final days of August. Loved watching the Yankees beat up on the Red Sox this weekend. We’ll catch you in the deep center. Aloha, mahalo and later, Usain Bolt fans.

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 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 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.

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