Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Arrival in Paradise

It was a very long day. We woke up to near freezing temperatures and made our way to a speck of land in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Time-wise it wasn't too bad. We left home at 8am and by the time we landed, checked out our rental car, drove the 16 miles to Lahaina, registered at the hotel, unloaded our luggage, parked our car, and made our way down the street


we found ourselves walking down the "strip", Front Street where all the stores and restaurants are located. Lahaina is compact with a small town feel. The major industry seems to be catered to tourism and you hear the greeting sounds of "Aloha" everywhere, and when you leave the store with or without purchasing something they bid you a sincere "Mahalo" . All the salespeople are so polite


There are Official and "unofficial" tourist booths everywhere which offer discount prices to the major attractions if you register for a "2 or 3 hour seminar". So if you have half a day to waste you could enjoy a full Luau with entertainment for $19.95, instead of having to pay the regular price of $99.95 . I think if you enlarge the following photo to 100% you can see some of the day specials


We didn't have much time to spare as we don't normally take long vacations. It was now close to dinner time and we hadn't eaten anything since the Tim Horton's at the airport in Vancouver early in the morning. We wanted to eat somewhere with a water view and were walking up and down the street looking at the menus.


We eventually settled on this place which advertised they won the award for the best burgers on Maui. Being a non drinker I order my usual soda, Coke (or facsimilie) and Mrs Skoot had some tropical concoction with exotic fruit juices with minimal alcohol. (I did take a small slurp)

From our vantage point at our table, at the water's edge it was with great effort that I grabbed my camera and aimed it at the feeble sunset being displayed before our eyes.


While we were waiting for our meals and chatting about this and that we tried to be artistic and were playing with our cameras, and starting to unwind a bit in this warm, tropical paradise. I notice that the other customers were probably tourists like ourselves and on the table next to us were a young couple from Alberta.


Our meals finally arrived. A couple of simple meals; a burger for me and Ahi Tuna salad for Mrs Skoot and a couple of beverages. That's all you get for $53. after tips and exchange

(Our $53. dinner in Lahaina, Maui)

It was so warm, unlike the freezing temperatures back home only a few hours away. It was T-shirt & Shorts weather, even as we walked around and browsed the stores

Other restaurants more geared towards the younger set with loud modern music had lines of people waiting to get in


There seemed to always be a constant stream of cars going up and down the "strip" . We've returned home nearly 2 weeks ago and it is like a dream, a distant memory which didn't happen, except through photos and video

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Lahaina, Maui: Front Street

Lahaina was once the whaling capital of the world. Today they are more interested in protecting these mammals with eco tours and this historic town is very active with many shops and restaurants


You can read more info HERE

I know that many of you have been here before so I thought that I would go up and down Front Street (the main street) and show you what it is like now. For instance, I know that Dar hasn't been here since 1989 but I am not sure if things have changed all that much . We stayed on Front Street at the Historic Pioneer Inn . We don't normally stay in the heart of the action, but it was refreshing to be able to see the people and the cars pass by as we sat on our lanai. Also the many Harley Davidsons which I am sure were rented from the local HD dealer down the street.

It was very busy the day we arrived as there was a large cruise ship anchored offshore. We were told that due to this economy, there is only one ship a week instead of 3 per week as it was in past years. We were happy to be able to leave our rental car parked and just walk up and down the street to look at all the stores.

The following video was recorded early one morning before all the stores were opened so there are not many people strolling along, but you will get an idea of what this town looks like. I would say that the main area is about a mile long and parking comes at a premium.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Maui OGG to Kona KOA via Cessna

When we went to Hawai’i this year we decided to visit another Hawai’ian Island. The last time (two years ago) we went to Kona on the Big Island so after a bit of internet surfing we picked Maui. We had heard so much about the beaches and the road to Hana so it was off to consult with our travel advisor. She managed to book direct flights to and from. We would land in Maui first (direct flight from Vancouver), spend a few days there, then make our way to Kona, spend a few days and take a direct flight back home to Vancouver. In between we were our own travel agent, I was booking our accommodations on-line trying to find condos with oceanfront views, booking our rental cars (both locations) and then we had to find a way to get from Maui (OGG) to Kona (KOA).

ogg to koa

It would have been so easy to just book with Hawai’ian Air or Island Air but with a sense of adventure I decided to take the local commuter flight using Go ! Mokulele Airlines and travel on their Cessna TurboProp 9 passenger commuter plane. We thought that we were on an adventure. Because they use little planes, everything had to be weighed before we loaded. We had to put our bags on the scale, our backpack, and then ourselves with our weights being tallied on the passenger manifest. To avoid embarrassments they weighed each of us as we carried our carry on luggage/backpacks. The plane also had to be loaded by weight priority to balance the planes centre of gravity. The flight captain looked at the manifest and decided our seat positions which were assigned as we walked out on the tarmac towards our waiting plane.

WOW, flights were grounded in December, 2011

We looked upon this alternative as an adventure and luckily everything went as planned and we left and arrived in Kona on time. Now that I am preparing this post I find that we are probably one of the few who have had a good experiences. I did a google review of Mokulele and they are all horrible. Bad customer service, cancelled flights and then I find out that their planes were recently grounded due to parts or possibly maintenance problems.

mokulele grounds

Then there is this political mess of Mesa Airlines and their takeover of Aloha Airlines and the messy aftermath which has the locals avoiding them like the plague, and also their Bankruptcy earlier this year until they found a new investor to bail them out.

molokai news
Remember what that white plane with red lettering looks like

Looking back and knowing what I know now, It was a REAL ADVENTURE the magnitude of which, we were largely unaware. I am glad the flight was uneventful and all went well and we arrived unscathed and will live to breathe another day.

Hop aboard and join us on this Uneventful Flight. I hope it has all of its nuts and bolts this time

Mrs Skoot still thinks that we were being adventurous, I mean . . . ignorance is bliss

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

The Road to Hana, Hawai'i

Ever since I found out about this road many years ago I knew that if I ever came to Maui, then I would have to drive it. It is one of the curviest roads in the world with over 600 curves in less than 50 miles. The actual twisty section is only about 34 miles with 59 bridges (46 of which are single lane), and around 34 waterfalls.


you can read more information about the Hana Road HERE

It is the perfect road for a 2-wheeled vehicle but other than tourists who rent bikes while they are here on vacation I don't see many bikes, but there are lots of 49cc scooters . I mean why would you own a sport bike or a V-strom when there is only one main road which gets repetitive after a while.

From all the literature we have read the Road to Hana was described as an all day affair, taking at least 2-1/2 hours, or if there is lots of traffic . . . closer to 4 hours each way to drive the mere 50 miles. The road is narrow with narrow lanes and most of the 59 bridges are one-lane, having to yield to oncoming traffic at most curves. The posted speed often crawls to 10 or 15 mph. The road is not conducive to taking photos as there are few places to pull over and you can't stop in the middle of the road since there are too many curves.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

A few hours with a Diva, Princess Scooterpie

It had been nearly a year since I first discovered Dar: Princess Scooterpie . I was over in Victoria on the May weekend (2011) to attend the large scooter rally and I was keeping an eye out for her. I had come over on the morning ferry from Victoria with a group from VancouverScootering.com and it seems that everyone had met her (from our group) except me. I was delayed at the hotel due to a minor bike issue and arrived at the meet up point a few minutes late and missed the morning ocean ride. Our paths never crossed again during that weekend as she never showed up at any of the later events. I was crushed . . . and very disappointed.

You can imagine how excited I have been during the past month anticipating this weekend when she would finally be in town to visit the Vancouver Motorcycle Show. I mean, I have never met a genuine, original scooter Diva before.

There is not much to add to what Dar: Princesss ScooterPie has already written HERE, and I also have some "fun" photos to post if there is enough interest but I suppose what happens at the MC show, stays at the MC show (she knows what I mean)

I also met Deb, the transplanted Kiwi, you could visit her BLOG HERE.

It was a fun day with new friends. I have a short video featuring the screen debut of Dar: Scarlett Vixen, Diva Princess Scooterpie . . .

Friday, January 20, 2012

What a difference

a day makes. We woke up on Thursday morning, early as normal and ate our last meal in our oceanfront condo in Kona, Hawai'i


We were lucky to find this place with a beach right under our lanai (sundeck), and where you can view the sunset without any effort except to grab our camera. It was just luck that we managed to book our vacation during the recent cold snap at home. There's nothing like taking a break somewhere warm while it is snowing and below freezing where you live. When we travel we usually take our rental car and drive to the ends of the earth looking at all the sights, taking in all the scenic beauty we can and squeeze every waking moment doing something. This time was a bit different, we were more laid back. I was more interested in compiling more video and eating where the locals eat. We found some great local eateries and we also took a small 8 passenger commuter flight from Maui to Kona. There were a couple of "must sees" which were the scenic road to Hana and the Place of Refuge which we missed the last time, and other than visiting a few music stores we acted like beach bums


We normally don't duplicate trips to recently visited places. We were in Kona only two years ago at the insistance of friends who were having a yearmark wedding anniversary. We visited with our friends in the fall of 2011 and they mentioned that they wanted us to come to Kona again for his Special Birthday. We decided that if we came again we wanted to "squeeze" in another Island. We were going to pick Molokai, but in the end chose Maui. The second half our our vacation to Kona was to attend this dinner. There were 9 one us; two from Maple Ridge, two from Vernon, two from Whistler, one from Denver, CO and us from Vancouver. All of us were also here in 2010. Dinner was in the Posh Hilton Resort in Waikaloa. I like Kona, coming back here is like coming home as we know where everything is. They want to come back here in 2 years for another dinner.

We had to check out of our condo at noon and live out of our car until our plane was scheduled to leave at 11pm that night. The flight was 5 hours and we arrived back in Vancouver around 7am and home by 9am after some errands. We unpacked our suitcases and after putting everything back to their rightful places we headed out for lunch as we had no food at home and were too tired to grocery shop, let alone make something. So we were getting very tired after being up for 31+ hours.

We had gotten used to the warm temperatures of Hawai'i around mid 80's every day but now we return home to snow and freezing temperatures, but I'm defiant . . .


except our sand is WHITE and I still have on my Hawai'ian shoes . . .

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Two Ki'i, and then there were three

The last time we came to the Big Island of Hawai'i we drove everywhere, and around the Island but we were time challenged so even though we drove right past, we didn't stop at "Pu'uhonua o Honaunau" National Historic Park, aka: "Place of Refuge". A massive stone wall was built around 1550 and still stands. (more info here: www.nps.gov/puho). It is basically a place where they have restored the ancient Hawai'ian ways and was the residence of the Royal Chief, great great grandfather of Kamehameha I.

On the way here, which is south of Kona we stopped at Kealakekua Beach which is very picturesque


The waves are very powerful here and is a popular spot for scuba divers and kayaking


We probably spent about an hour here watching the waves and having a snack and soon we get underway and arrive at the Historic Park


I saw photos of these figures after we returned home and I knew that if we returned I just had to take some photos for myself. Here are two Ki'i, Gardians of the Palace of Refuge

Ki'i: Gardians

From the photos that I have seen I thought that they would have been larger than they were, and they also face towards the sea. There was also another figure on the lava rocks but since this is considered to be sacred land you are not allowed to walk anywhere off the trail, nor can you climb onto any ancient structure or over the sea wall, nor can you wade into the water, nor sunbathe, so I had to keep my shoes on. Otherwise I would have gotten a front view photo


They seemed to be a friendly two-some so we both posed for a group picture


It was hot standing here under the Hawai'ian sun but they asked if I could stand guard with them

(Three Ki'i: Guardians of the Place of Refuge)

. . . and so I did

Monday, January 16, 2012

Heading East from Maui

It was a long day. We started with an early breakfast, packed our bags and took one more peek at the view outside of our Historic Hotel in the middle of Lahaina


We have spent the last few evenings outside our room looking at this scene and watching the cars and people pass by. There are two bars across the street and it was hard to get any rest because of the loud music and rowdy patrons. This morning it looks peaceful and quiet.

We loaded our luggage into our rental car and headed downtown towards the airport and ended up at the commuter terminal, which is not where you would normally catch a plane. I decided that it would be nice to take a flight with "the locals". It was quite the experience. Little was I prepared for what was in store. Since we were taking a small Cessna Turbo Prop, all the weight had to be accounted for. We had to have everything weighed and pay to bring our luggage aboard. First our luggage hit the scale, then we had to step on the scale ourselves along with our carry-on luggage & backpacks. They wrote our weights beside our names and the captain had to arrange where we sat on the plane, which carried 8 passengers


The lady that checked us in also had to do triple duty. She loaded our luggage onto the cart and pull them out onto the tarmac and waited for our plane to land. When the plane made its appearance she brought out those two lit battons and guided the plane to the parking spot where she unloaded the luggage of the disembarking passengers, and loaded our luggage into the compartments below the plane. Eventually our plane landed 45 minutes later and our luggage was unloaded and put next to the plane where we had to bring them to the terminal all by ourselves.

It surprised me that there was no security, no scanners and no one to check our luggage before we boarded the plane.

We eventually found our way to our rental car and drove 20 miles south into the small town of Kona where we finally had lunch at our favourite place across from the beach


I had a very tender, delicious, great tasting prime beef dip sandwich with salad. After lunch I headed across the street to show you this view


Today felt like a very warm day into the mid 80's (around 29C) . We tried to check in earlier but we were told to come back after 3pm, so we went to the local KTA supermaket in Kailua and picked up a couple of steaks, condiments, sweet bread, eggs, bacon and juice, Oh and a tub of Ice-cream. We always buy ice cream so we can sit outside and enjoy the sunset. It almost feels like home here as we know where everything is from our last visit. We even stopped at the local Costco in search of Shrimp and prawns.

Buy the time we get settled and get our steak dinners ready it is dark.


We managed to find a Condo with the ocean right outside our balcony. The waves make such a racket because they are so close


The sun had just set. If you had been looking a mere 10 minutes earlier you would have seen this . . .

(view from outside our lanai)

Another ordinary, spectacular sunset from Kona, on the Big Island of Hawai'i .

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Lost in Maui, Hawai'i

We have been on the go continuously since we arrived last Thursday. There is no time to smell the roses. One of the main tasks was to drive the Road to Hana. It is a mere 50 miles but it took nearly 4 hours to get there, on a windy road with over 600 curves and 34 waterfalls. It is known as one of the most scenic roads in the world. There are few places to stop for photos and the road is very narrow in spots. Most of my "Photos" are in Video mode so I will have to edit my footage when I return home, and to think that I didn't even consider bringing my GoProHD until the final moment as a last minute decision.


One of the first things I did was to ditch my shoes and go Hawai'ian, and I think I blend right in with the locals . Compared to the weather at home it is relatively warm and it was nice to be able to sit on the edge of a cliff and watch the waves . There was also a pod of whales offshore but I only got to see the small puff of water from the blowhole before they disappeared


We found a remote beach at the end of the road and I made a few footprints in the sand. Feels good . . .


Much better than the snow at home

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Lahaina, Hawai'i

The day started with temperatures hovering around -2C as we made our way down to YVR. Our Plane was waiting


and before we were allowed to take off we had to de-ice the wings


After a thorough spraying we headed west towards our intended destination 6 air hours away on a tiny speck of land in the middle of the Pacific Ocean


I told the rental agent that I wasn't fussy. But I needed a car with a trunk and he complied by bringing over a white one for use to use while we were here


It was a very pleasant 79F and I quickly changed into my warm weather attire and tried to blend in with the locals. Here I am at our hotel right in the heart of Lahaina. A street filled with tourists, noise, and lots of traffic


It has a feel of an historic place, lots of old buildings, narrow streets, hundreds of restaurants and souvenier shops


A scooter or small motorcycle would be nice to have here as parking is hard to find


It's as if summer has arrived in the blink of an eye


Right now, shorts and T-shirts are my friend and it feels good to be able to escape the ice and frost for a week or so

PS: sorry about the aspect ratio of the photos. I am blending shots from two cameras and I am too tired to fix them tonight. Tomorrow may be a long day if we try to tackle the Hana Road

Monday, January 9, 2012

The Tax System & I'm getting

pleasingly plump. When I was much younger we coined this phrase which we used to describe those of us who were heavier than what those health charts indicated. I mean no one could possibly get down to their "ideal" weight, or could they ? Lately, everyone has been commenting about their New Year's resolution to eat healthier. ( SonjaM & RichardM, to name a couple) . I mean we changed our lifestyle a few years ago and started to eat healthier, less carbs, less soda (soft drinks), more fish, less red meat. All told things were going along fine until the past few months when I started to eat more junque food. I gained a few and it seemed harder to get rid of the extra luggage. Then came Christmas, Turkey, desserts and tons of Hollandaise sauce made with butter and cream puffs with chocolate topping.

The other day, our son said to me that my jeans were falling apart. Well, I know they were getting frayed, with some holes in strategic places but I thought it was the style. I mean, I have seen many younger people wearing jeans with holes in them and half tattered and ripped, and also sneakers with toes poking through. I never really embraced the jean revolution in the past preferring to wear corduroy but they never held their shape, or those twill pants which were considered between jeans and slacks.


I only discovered jeans about 20 years ago and now I wear them all the time. I just get the cheap, non-brand name ones from the big membership C+ store. I keep thinking that one day I may splurge and get a brand name label, but so far I haven't been tempted but the cheap ones are thinner and seem to wear out faster. I took a photo to show you my current tattered pair but then I wasn't sure I had the GUTS to show you my GUT, and I am holding my breath, otherwise you could imagine another inch or so in "expanded" mode.

(Pleasingly Plump)

There is also a worn through hole in the rear of my pants, but I couldn't twist around enough to capture an image of it.


The rear cuffs are also getting badly frayed but you don't notice from the front . I am most usually without shoes so the cuffs get dragged along the ground .



I found the following on a forum a few months ago which you may find interesting. I hope you enjoy this as much as I did .


"Suppose that every day, ten men go out for beer and the bill for all ten comes to $100.
If they paid their bill the way we pay our taxes, it would go something like this...

The first four men (the poorest) would pay nothing
The fifth would pay $1
The sixth would pay $3
The seventh would pay $7
The eighth would pay $12
The ninth would pay $18
The tenth man (the richest) would pay $59

So, that's what they decided to do.

The ten men drank in the bar every day and seemed quite happy with the arrangement, until one day, the owner threw them a curve ball. " all $80.

The group still wanted to pay their bill the way we pay our taxes. So the first four men were unaffected. They would still drink for free. But what about the other six men ? How could they divide the $20 windfall so that everyone would get his fair share?

They realized that $20 divided by six is $3.33. But if they subtracted that from everybody's share, then the fifth man and the sixth man would each end up being paid to drink his beer.

So, the bar owner suggested that it would be fair to reduce each man's bill by a higher percentage the poorer he was, to follow the principle of the tax system they had been using, and he proceeded to work out the amounts he suggested that each should now pay.

And so the fifth man, like the first four, now paid nothing (100% saving).
The sixth now paid $2 instead of $3 (33% saving).
The seventh now paid $5 instead of $7 (28% saving).
The eighth now paid $9 instead of $12 (25% saving).
The ninth now paid $14 instead of $18 (22% saving).
The tenth now paid $49 instead of $59 (16% saving).

Each of the six was better off than before. And the first four continued to drink for free. But, once outside the bar, the men began to compare their savings.

"I only got a dollar out of the $20 saving," declared the sixth man. He pointed to the tenth man,"but he got $10!"

"Yeah, that's right," exclaimed the fifth man. "I only saved a dollar too. It's unfair that he got ten times more benefit than me!"

"That's true!" shouted the seventh man. "Why should he get $10 back, when I got only $2? The wealthy get all the breaks!"

"Wait a minute," yelled the first four men in unison, "we didn't get anything at all. This new tax system exploits the poor!"

The nine men surrounded the tenth and beat him up.

The next night the tenth man didn't show up for drinks so the nine sat down and had their beers without him. But when it came time to pay the bill, they discovered something important. They didn't have enough money between all of them for even half of the bill!

And that, boys and girls, journalists and government ministers, is how our tax system works. The people who already pay the highest taxes will naturally get the most benefit from a tax reduction. Tax them too much, attack them for being wealthy, and they just may not show up anymore. In fact, they might start drinking overseas, where the atmosphere is somewhat friendlier.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

The power of photography

exceeds the value of the paper that it is printed on. Steve Williams posted a very thought provoking essay (LINK). I read the letter and went to the author's site and then to the subsequent post and it only confirms what I already know that photography is not valued by many. I know people who never take a photo and don't even own a camera. I am the opposite, I take photos of everything I see, the ordinary, and special events in a style that I have adopted by hanging around photographers in my past life. It wasn't always this way. I remember a time when I knew nothing and I got a job developing film in a pro-lab. This led to a retails sales position in the camera department at Eaton's, part-time when I went to high school. I received my first camera on my 8th birthday, a Kodak Brownie 127 roll film. Remember the Kodak slogan "one click and we'll do the rest", and when the film was ready to be developed everyone would say, "I want to see them IF they turned out". While I was working for the lab, I bought my first Minolta SR-1 SLR with std lens. I knew nothing about how to work it but I suddenly became one of the school photographers.

Yesterday I stumbled across a blog where Martha mentions that she used to have a Nikon F2 photomic . She also has a photo blog HERE This got me thinking that I still have my Nikon F which I bought used from my uncle back in the early 70's


I have 3 heads for this body. The plain prism, the cds version, and the Photomic FTn later version but I prefer to use the camera in complete manual mode. It still has the original 5.8cm 1.4 mounted. If you are a Nikon collector this is a sought after model being produced in the first year of production, 1959 with a low serial number starting with 64xxxxxx. Being a camera collector, I used to keep my eye out for these models and I have another one in this number series.

Everything I have learned has been by reading and experimenting. From bulk loading film, hand developing, printing and framing, I do it all myself. I have many cameras, mostly medium format and large format as I was always interested in producing large, sharp, technically perfect enlargments (in Black & white).

For many years I walked the streets of East Side Vancouver taking stealth photos where Leica was my camera of choice


Notice that the cameras have their logos blacked out. All the street photogs we knew did the same to not draw attention to the camera brands. The two M6`s have Abrahamsson RapidWinders. I have known Tom Abrahamsson for many years and he anodized them for me so I could identify which one had slow speed or high speed film. The other M body is a Leica CL with 35mm f2 summicron

I have thousands of negatives taken of virtually everything around town. It was expensive back then having to purchase film, develop and print. After a while I moved to medium format nearly exclusively in my quest for big prints. You know what they say Bigger is Better. I used to take photos of my unsuspecting subjects with the intention of producing a framed print to give away. Of course I never told them ahead of time. I have always felt that photos were a way of preserving memories, of happy times and if it gave them joy, then it made me feel good that my hobby has brightened someone``s life. Because I do everything from start to finish, when I look into my viewfinder I don`t see an image, but rather I see a framed photo.

I don`t collect cameras anymore but I really haven`t sold any either. I am sure that digital has reduced the demand for film based equipment. Perhaps it would be nice to take a step backwards once in a while and do things the OLD way


I used to be sucker for Leica LTM (screw Mount M39). Whenever I saw one at a camera swap meet it was like a magnet. I just had to hold them, and often it was hard to put it down and walk away.


These are two nearly pristine models in my collection which have SCNOO`s attached. I believe that they are very rare and hard to find, but I have two. CameraQuest rates these as èxceptionally rare`` , perhaps one will show up once every 3 to 5 years.

It took me a long time to embrace digital and I had a lot of catching up to do. I never thought that digital would surpass film in resolution. I was a hold out until the end.

I still take a lot of photos but once you have the equipment to process, the cost is irrelevant. I still make memories and whether it be an edited Video or a framed enlargment, I still take pleasure in giving them away to my friends. I have complete control of my project from start to finish, which includes printing and framing. It is my hope that they appreciate my gesture and it will give them fond memories of a moment in time