This is getting ridiculous. It's been over 3 weeks since I've come back from Maui, and I still haven't posted any of the three or four blog entries I mentally outlined. Work has been CRAZY, so I don't know if I'll get to them all, but things are beginning to fall out of my head. So here goes the first one.
For those of you who don't know, Chiara and I did a Sierra Club Service Trip in the Honokowai Valley on Maui. It was a 10 day trip that we rounded out to a full 2 weeks. The whole trip was amazing! We saw and experienced so much of the island, and spent time on many things most tourists pass by without even being aware it's there.
It was such a rewarding experience. We were able to take a wonderful vacation, while also giving a little something back to the community we were visiting. Everybody wins. Two weeks was the perfect amount of time. It was long enough that we didn't feel rushed (though some of the breakneck scheduling done by the Club helped us get to things we wouldn't have otherwise) and let us relax completely, yet it was just about over as we started to get antsy about going home.
Over the course of these two weeks I took 1900 (!!) photos. Some of those were at 5 per second on the whale watching trips. But that wasn't the majority.
I've pruned that to the 400 "essential" photos I uploaded to Flickr, but I thought I'd pull out a few (too many in the end, but I can't prune any farther) highlights, and describe my trip.
Essentially, this is the modern equivalent to an invitation to "come over and watch my slides from the trip." On the plus side, you can go at your own pace (or skip them entirely). On the down side, there will be no popcorn or cocktails, unless you provide them.
The images on this page will take some time to load, to be kind to you folks (and Flickr), I'll put them below the fold.
The silliness and vacation started on the plane. We took pictures of the "unveilling" of our meals (her vegetarian meal looked good, my "normal" meal did not.) There were various action shots, and this precious "Vanna Shows a Bagel" moment.
My mother arranged a night dive for us the night we arrived. It was great! We saw four sea turtles, some frog fish, a coronet fish, and a puffer. Unfortunately, I didn't quite get the hang of the camera/flashlight juggling until the end. So this is the most interesting picture I have.
Friday was mostly spent coordinating everyone's pickup from the airport and the drive to Hana, where we spent our first 3 days. Along the way, we stopped to have lunch and take some pictures.
On Saturday, we went on a hike along the coast. I spent the day completely transfixed by the contrast of the vibrant green flora against the black volcanic stone, with the incredibly broad shading of blue in the sea and sky.
I included this photo because it was here that I crossed the first of a series of thresholds. At the end of this instruction Bob said, "And for those of you with cameras, the Sierra Club welcomes photos of people on their trips." Something clicked in my head. I set aside my normal "I suck at portrature" mentality, and set out to document this trip.
I love the movement of the Monarch in this photo, especially against the stationary leaves.
Khoa was one of the first people who warmed up to my always sticking a camera in their face (though I tried to be discreet about it). This does remind me of a fashion model pose, but I really like the way it turned out. I never once said, "Show me love!".
This was a really neat stop, it was a lava tube that was open to the sea, and the surf would come rushing in and explode out the other end. Elle got a great vantage point.
We stopped for lunch at an old fishing shack about halfway up the trail. I loved the color of these buoys, and the quality of the light.
As it turned out, this was the only group photo we ended up taking. We wedged my monopod into a broken chair and I set the timer. Not too bad.
The color of the water was just incredible!
As I said on the AIDS Ride: "The back of the pack is where the party's at!"
We started Sunday by doing some work in Kipahulu (the part of Haleakalā National Park in Hana). We were pulling out invasive species, and planting endangered natives. Essentially we were weeding. I don't really like weeding, because I'm never sure I'm pulling the right plants, and when you're told that the stuff you're trying to save is endangered, it only adds to the anxiety.
I still managed to take a break and shoot a few pictures.
After working part of the day in Kipahulu, our volunteer coordinator, Farley, took us on a hike up (and I do mean up) to a waterfall. It wasn't hard terrain, but after the hike the day before and working in the sun all morning, it was a bit taxing.
It's a shame that the bamboo is such a voracious invader, because it really is beautiful. There's a whimsical feel to the forest from a distance and I felt a very serene and calming feeling as we hiked through it. The knocking in the wind was really quite neat.
There is a small hope for the endemic species in the area. The bamboo that has invaded Maui is a "social" variety. For reasons nobody's figured out yet social bamboo goes through cycles of dying off. All over the world, a particular species will just start dying all at once, even if it's just been planted. It's a truly bizarre phenomenon, and the species on Maui is due for a cycle.
The hike being more taxing than I might have liked made the water that much more rewarding. I really debated the wisdom of taking my boots off (once they come off your feet expand, and it's harder - if not impossible - to get them back on). I had my Tevas with me, but I wasn't sure I'd be able to hike 3 miles down hill in them.
After a bit of deliberation I decided to cool my feet in the water (I was developing blisters) It was the right decision. It felt wonderful and when it came time to leave, I cinched down my Tevas and had no trouble getting back down. I think it was probably easier, since my feet had gotten a nice break.
The local Hula Hui (club) performs a few times per week at the large hotel in Hana. The problem was that they'd changed their schedule without our leaders realizing it, so we missed our chance to see them. But Pat talked to them, and worked out an arrangement where they came to us. This was a real treat, because we saw a wider array of ages and skill levels (the precision of these women was incredible).
Monday was our last day in Hana. Before we left, we got up early to take a short hike over to a protected cove where we went snorkeling for the first time. Unfortunately, I was too bleary-eyed to remember Matt's camera. I love the depth of field on this first image.
I love the solitary feel of this picture, it really captures some of the intimacy of the location.
We spent the remainder of the day driving around the south side of the island. It's beautiful terrain, and so differeint from anything else we'd seen.
For lunch, we hiked up to a waterfall with a nice reflecting pool and shaded rocks on which to eat. This is a random sunbather, but the scene was too perfect for me to let it go.
Before they harvest cane sugar they burn the fields to make it easier to collect. Makes for a pretty, if disturbing (and maddening) picture.
We spent most of Wednesday working, so most of the photos I took were of a "photojournalistic documentation" nature. Not very interesting.
This little guy was hanging out on the outside of one of the Pineapple Hale windows when we came home. I really like this view from the inside.
We got up early Thursday morning to go on a whale-watching trip. we really lucked out. There were two males who seemed to be competing for the top escort spot. They were breaching all over the place, and ramming, and generally being photogenic.
Ok, see, here's the thing. People always mock my 70-200 f/2.8 lens. It is a bit unweildly, and even I have to admit it looks like I'm compensating for something. But push comes to shove it gets the job done.
So, go ahead, laugh. Shots like this make it all worth it.
On our way back to shore, we took a detour to follow a pod of spinner dolphins. There were at least 20 or 30 of them. These guys aren't as big as the bottlenoses with which most people are familiar, but their aerial acrobatics make it look like they're overcompensating. They jump several feet in the air (higher than they are tall, to be sure) spinning like a top as they do it! It's so surprising!
After our whale-watch, we spent some time in the Lahaina Jodo Mission. This Amida Buddha is the largest of it's kind outside of Japan. It's 12 feet tall.
The day before I left, a friend of mine (who also happens to be my boss) came to me and we had the following conversation:
- So, I have this Sony Cybershot camera. I bought it used from [a friend] with the underwater housing.
- [not getting the hint.] Wow, that's neat. Have you used it underwater yet?
- Not really. Oh, I took it in the bathtub to make sure it doesn't leak.
- Heh. Well, now you know.
- So, assuming I can remember to bring it in, you should take it with you tomorrow.
- . . .a moment of stunned silence . . .
- Um. ah. Ok. [finally recovering] That would be fantastic!
Matt rewls. And not just as a boss.
Even if it didn't look cool, even if it wasn't the (unofficial?) state fish, the name alone would guarantee the Humuhumunukunukuapua‘a a place on this list. Even if it probably breaks some people's word-wrap.
This is the Honokowai Valley, where we did our service work. This is also the first rain we'd seen since we arrived. It's a very serene location.
Saturday Evening was our evening in Lahaina. It was our chance to get a little dressed, go out for some drinks, dinner, and shopping as ones tastes ran. And, as could be predicted, 4 hours was about all I could stand in the throngs of tourists milling up and down in front of shops jammed with everything from the tacky to the down right repulsive in f-art, jewelery, and clothing.
There were a few bright spots. Two galleries which really caught my eye, and one that absolutely Blew. Me. Away. (But I'm saving that for another post).
For the record, the rainbows really were that intense. Maui isn't called the Rainbow Island for nothing. Even if we hit a drought.
Ok, I know taste is a very subjective thing. And given most (ok, all but a handful) of my choices in this realm from, say 1979-1993, I'm in no position to lecture anybody on taste. But can someone explain to me why this mass-produced, cookie-cutter tripe is everywhere, meanwhile someone like Vladmimir Kush (who's wonderfully surreal canvases* were a welcome oasis in this dearth of art) is pushed to the rear to make room for someone (I assume) more commercially viable.
I know, intellectually, that people must buy it. A lot of it. Or these galleries would be filled with something just as tacky, yet entirely different. But I can't wrap my mind around that fact. I just can't fathom it. Oh, and the poster to the right is an invitation to meet the artist. About 20 minutes after this photo was taken. It's good that I walked away, or there may have been an ugly scene.
(*) Looking at Kush's paintings in small web images make them seem like . . . I don't know, childrens' book images. They lose some of their potency. In person, I got many of the same chills and tingles looking at his work as I did the first time I saw a Magritte in person. I suppose it could have been that surrounding them with f-art (I've always loved Joni's phrase) made me appreciate them that much more, but I don't think so. I spent quite a bit of time in that gallery.
Yes, the "childrens' book images" comment is a very telling look into my psyche, thank you for pointing it out. I am a living legacy of Roald Dahl, Shel Silverstien, and William Golding.
Sunday morning, we went on a second whale-watching trip, but there was no possible way for it to live up to the expectations set by the first one.
We saw a few breaches, of which I managed to capture one. and some flukes and dorsal humps.
Sunday was our "unstructured" day. We spent the morning on the peak of Haleakalā. Flat Stanley joined Chiara & I. The views were spectacular!
I have to confess, the first time I saw this sign I wondered how many fat, out of shape, stupid American tourists passed out here before they put the sign up. And how many they still get in an average year.
Silverswords are some of the oddest plants I've ever seen. They live for 15-50 years, bloom spectacularly once, and then die.
At first, I assumed that the little silver hairs were to reflect the harsh radiation from the sun at that altitude to keep what little water they must get, and to keep it cool. But I hadn't considered the parabolic shape of the center. It's actually focusing the sun's radiation and heating the center by upwards of 20°C (That's 36°F for backwards 'Mericans)!
On our way back down from the peak (those of us who opted not to hike into the "crater"), we stopped at a Protea farm. Proteas are so varied in their appearance, from beautiful to creepy (ok, even the hairy ones are pretty, but they're also really creepy)
Chiara & I spent a few days . . . decompressing after the Sierra Club Trip. We spent a few days in a B&B in Wailuku. We went out in the evening to take some pictures of the sunset.
On Tuesday morning we went on a dive trip of Lanai. It was absolutely spectacular. The visibility was great, and the Cathedrals were wonderfully eerie. We saw all manner of fish, eels, black coral, and other creatures. Flat Stanley joined us here, too, in his own special drysuit.
We had to make a quick trip into Lahaina to pick up some sparkley. Here's some of the nicer portions of that area.
This is where we stayed for the last 2 nights.
I'm really happy with the way this lily turned out. I'm also happy that the last photo I took turned out so well. Let's think of it as a reward for anyone who actually got to the bottom of this entry. Thanks!