Kohola Kama’aina

We went on Captain Andy’s Na Pali Adventure cruise yesterday – billed as a snorkel trip, but too rough to actually go in. But we were happy to see all the dolphins (spinner and bottlenose) and whales.


I didn’t get very many good fluke shots, but I’m happy with this one. I have another one that’s more suitable for researchers who identify individual whales by the unique patterns on the undersides of their tails.

The day started VERY early, but not horribly early. We just had to be about 30 minutes down the road before 7:15 am, which is not too unreasonable. Like most mornings here, it was cloudy and actually raining gently, but our experience at the North Shore the day before taught us that the weather often clears in the afternoon, especialy if you go “around the corner” of the island.

We found the office of Captain Andy’s down in the Ele’ele Harbor, also known as Port Allen, which probably was a lot busier during WWII and the height of the sugar days. Like many places in the Hawaiian Islands, there’s a slightly raffish air to industrial buildings, but Andy’s office was in a brand-new complex, across from the Red Dirt Shirt factory, which seemed to be working noisily.

A crowd of adventurers in various kinds of sun/fun/rain/swim togs waited to be escorted down to the boat by the lovely crewmember, Stephanie, who was completely encased in foul-weather gear except for her tanned, shapely legs. Off we went down to the slip, along a pier criss-crossed with old donkey rail lines from the days when more cargo moved in and out of there. The boat was an attractive catamaran, captained not by Andy but by one of his other captains (Bernard).

We met up with a few companions for the day, Jennifer from Michigan and Nigel and Caroline from Yorkshire, and had great fun laughing and talking while we motored up around the point by the missile range station and on to the wild cliffs of the Na Pali coast. It was quite rough but the weather was clearing, so we tended to stay in the cabin and watch ahead through the forward windows.

At one point a number of people were seated on the two “trampolines” strung between the hulls, getting plenty of fresh air. Even though they’d been warned they’d get wet, they were betting that that just meant a little spray now and then. Invigorating, right? No, more like irrigating. A few good solid waves came up from in front and in the final indignity, from below, thoroughly drenching everybody from all sides. Fortunately for them, they couldn’t hear us laughing hysterically at their plight.

We slowed first to see some turtles, but they were so close to the side that I couldn’t get them framed right, as I had the long lens on. Soon enough, we slowed down to see something… which turned out to be DOLPHINS!!! YAAAY!!!


There were whales there too – but the dolphins were doing everything they could to get our attention, including slapping their tails with a light clapping sound, as in “Hey! Lookit meee! Don’t look at the stupid big whale, silly humans! I’M the star of the show!” There were even little pups. So cute. Here’s an example of interspecies friendship:


This shows a Pacific Humpback whale swimming on the surface with his (or her) head out of the water, with a spinner dolphin riding the bow wave. This is cropped down a lot and I used a telephoto, but they were pretty close to the boat. The legal limit the boat may approach is 100 yards, but quite often the animals encroach on their own so you get the thrilling close-in experience now and then.


Yeah, these guys were having a blast. The whales were more active while they were around. Nigel joked that we were on the human tour for the cetacean tourists.

This guy was getting pretty big air.


Yeah, they were having big fun.

This is about the only usable picture for whale researchers, I’ll be uploading this one to Flickr first.


I didn’t take any pictures of the Na Pali cliffs because the sun was right behind them and the lighting wasn’t going to be good for me, and also I would have had to change lenses and possibly miss a wildlife shot. David stayed with a single lens that’s kind of intermediate between my short lens and my long lens – he could get better wide shots and closeups but not zoom quite as far as I could. He’s already updated his blog banner with one of his shots…

When we got off the boat, we headed back home feeling tired even though we hadn’t snorkeled – it was so bouncy that just maintaining balance against the railings when we were photographing was quite a workout for the entire body. We lounged for a while drinking ginger-mint iced tea that I made, and then went out for a few groceries and sundries. For dinner, we marinated some chicken breasts in thick teriyaki sauce, Maui onion, lime juice, POG, and ginger, and then grilled them. Had rice and locally grown green beans. YUM. Also Kaua’i Ale. YUM.

Today: late start, obviously. Going out geocaching and looking for “treasure” left by a friend of ours who was on the island week before last.

Adventures in Paradise, Part 1

All the obvious hints aside, yes, we were gearing up for a return trip to our second spiritual home, Maui. This time we're staying in Napili, an area north of the Ka'anapali area that's s supposed to have good snorkeling. We had an uneventful flight, although a cramped one – it was absolutely jammed full of elderly group travelers from Wisconsin. After some delay in getting the rental car, which we may swap out again later, we drove up around Macgregor Point, and encountered our first whale, and our first Na Pali traffic jam.

It's been one of my peeves for years – development on Maui is dictated not so much by the people who have to live here, but by the big landowning interests. So roads didn't get built because they needed to be, they got built as afterthoughts around the edges of valuable land. Then when the local agriculture-based economy got switched over to development for tourism (big landowning interests again), the roads remained underfunded, badly routed, and soon became massively congested. We got stuck in a slow moving crawl, but once we inched past Lahaina, it eased up. Never did see an actual REASON for the delay. We kept an eye out for whales, watched for interesting things along the way, and managed to tune in NPR and lsten to "Car Talk." Hey, some things we do on vacation are a lot like the things we do on weekends.

This post is going to be VERY VERY LONG. Basically, it's one big post for the whole two weeks, that will be updated frequently but not published until just before our ::sniff::: return. To see the whole thing, see the extended entry… See you at the end!

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Here’s a picture of our first Geocaching success story, Herzilein. We took him (her?) out to dinner at Hanafuda, then went to the village of Hana a couple of nights, went to the store, and finally said farewell somewhere on the south coast of Maui.

I’m currently reading up on the whole geocache game, hunt, boondoggle, or what-have-you at Geocache-U.

For instance, most geocachers have to print out the information, but there’s a way to download the page information to a Palm – this method is pretty complicated, but might work better than the way we were doing it in Maui (which was write stuff down since we didn’t have a printer or a cable to download the basic waypoints to David’s Palm). So, our success rate was piss-poor, because we just didn’t have the intel. Needed the info.

However, back to our few, proud successes. Meet Herzelein, a world-traveling (maybe) bear. It appears from a reading of the rules that we made an elementary newbie error – in the future, need to remember NOT to take a picture of travelbugs with the number showing. Don’t know why, but I’m sure there’s a good reason.

Geocachers are pretty funny. The FAQ says:

Unless you have a tracking system implanted by aliens, you should be safe from the satellites above. As an extra precaution, however, you can put aluminum foil on your head to deflect the “gamma” beams.

Yippee! We’re all set! David actually has a working tinfoil hat!

(yes, he does. It’s a camping/hiking hat with a Mylar top layer that supposedly reflects UV/IR wavelength and is designed to keep him cool and comfy on a hot day).

Useful links for this new hobby/sport/obsession:
Creating your first cache
Cache listing guidelines

And now, back to work. Dammit.