Saturday, February 22, 2014

Orange.

Not the fruit.  Sunsets, mainly.  The past few days we've enjoyed some truly beautiful sunsets and I want to share them with you...and another thing.

This was the show on February 19th.

Same sunset, but with camera settings which more closely captured the colors we saw.

Almost gone.

It's just down now as an Air Force C-17 Transport aircraft is seen departing Hickam Air Force Base, located adjacent to Honolulu International Airport.

This photo was taken February 20th, at 6:27 PM.  Wow!

Two-minutes later, 6:29 PM.  Click on the images to enlarge.

Saturday, 22 February, 6:26 PM.  If you like orange and blue, this was your sunset.  The last few days, a weather system over-powered the normal NE Trade Winds with winds from the southeast.  That airflow carries volcanic exhaust our way courtesy of Mount Kilauea on the Big Island, aka, Hawaii Island.  This "vog", as it's known here, reduces air quality and visibility somewhat, but does give us some exceptionally colorful sunsets.  The photo seen here, doesn't do justice to the intensity of the orange sun.  I adjusted the colors to downplay what we saw, as it simply wouldn't have been believable.

And, speaking of orange and blue...How about an edible orange orb!  Our first cherry tomato has achieved the blush of ripeness!  I hope this colorful bit of life brings a smile to your faces and renews your faith that Spring will soon arrive once again.

 Here is the monster cherry tomato plant on which that ripening fruit is growing.  You can see I'm awe-struck at its growth.  It's loaded with tomatoes-in-progress. :)

Have a nice Sunday, everybody!

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Makapu'u Lighthouse Trail.

Yesterday was cloudy and not too hot, so we decided to head east to climb up the paved trail to Makapu'u Point Lighthouse.  It's one of those "must see" O'ahu treasures we should've visited long ago and finally did today.

From the highway going by the parking area, it's nothing to get too excited about and that kept us from stopping on previous vacations.  Boy!  Appearances can sure be deceiving!

The drive from our building took a little less than half an hour, but we departed after the morning rush hour.  The parking area was nearly full when we arrived, though we managed to find a spot and soon headed up the trail.  It was well-worth the effort and the views and whale watching opportunities along the route and at the top are simply spectacular.  Here's what we saw today:

At the "summit"!  Michele scans the sea for whales from the observation area above the lighthouse.

Early in the climb, here's a view of what was once a farm/ranch, destroyed by a tsunami in 1946.  That's Koko Head in the distance. 

Got cactus?  There were plenty along the route.  Could prickly pear be indigenous? 

This climber is obviously an adrenalin junkie.  Off the paved trail are many places to test your lack of fear of heights, death or injury.  We behaved ourselves.  Click to enlarge any of the photos.

 This trail-side information sign describes the various whale behaviors commonly seen.

Further along the way, this lady sure looks familiar.  The giant conglomeration of lava rocks upon which she is seated was precariously close to oblivion.  I did approach it, but remained along the side to get the next photo.  It was here that we began to see a lot of whale activity.  Michele had her great new binoculars, but it was easy to spot them with the naked eye, too.  We saw numerous examples of the behaviors described in the trail-side information plaque.  It was thrilling.  We could also see neighboring Moloka'i, about thirty miles to the southeast.

From beside the rock in the previous photo, I shot this zoomed image of more thrill seekers way down below.  The tide pools are filled by huge waves coming up-and-over where these young men are standing.  I guess they made it out of there okay, as I didn't hear about any deaths or injuries on the late news. :)

Continuing, this view shows the highway turnoff and the parking area.

A view from just below the summit, looking north.  That sandy area is Makapu'u Beach Park.  A few years ago, we took photos from down there and could just see the lighthouse.  It's a spectacular view which no photograph can do justice to.  The colors of the water are breathtaking as is the immense Pacific spread out to the horizon.  The whales seemed to be everywhere today and the peace and quiet was wonderful, too.

We found this memorial plaque near the summit.  Michele's father served in the navy as a Catalina PBY aircrewman during World War II, so this sad story held special significance for her.

A bumble bee and two small islands seen from near the summit.

A look at the summit.  These two young boys walked into the frame just in time to add a sense of perspective.  To my surprise, there isn't a nickname for that rock face just below the observation point.  I'll work on that.

I've joined Michele on the summit observation area.  The folks in the distance are where I just was.  The entire top of this area has World War II pill boxes scattered about.  Visitors are allowed to explore the off-trail areas, at their own risk.

Looking down on the lighthouse.  It's automated, so no keepers or their former houses exist today.  A fence keeps "explorers" about fifteen feet from it. 

This was taken on our way to the top and it's not as dangerous as it appears.  Michele had no interest in tempting fate by getting near any edges.

Michele searches for more whales.  The locks on the summit fence have been placed by lovers to commemorate their visit to the top.  Don't ask me! :)

A young father, teases the tiger, just after telling his son to stay within the fencing!  It's a long way down to the water.

A young woman can't resist the thrill photo.

Whale Ho!  That dark shape just above center left in this photo is, indeed, a whale.  We had been watching it and another one or two, swimming to just below our viewpoint on the summit.  I zoomed the camera and snapped, with little hope of capturing an image like this.  Every now and then, one gets lucky.  There were many opportunities today, but it's still a matter of luck.

Again, just after a mini-breach, you can barely make out the whale to the left in this photo.

On the way down, Michele stopped to have another look.  You can just see a pill box near the tip of the peak beyond.  I would've liked to have a look, but stuck with the paved trail.  Getting old, I guess.

Back at the beginning, we took the time to learn more about what we'd just seen.  Click on the image to enlarge this part of the story of the lighthouse.

A bit more about the construction of the lighthouse.

What better way could there be to end a post?  A flower in February.  Sweet!  I hope you had a great Tuesday, too.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Sunday: Nippon Maru Departs And Fifth Annual POW!WOW! Festival.

Sunday, the Japanese tall ship, Nippon Maru, departed Honolulu for its return voyage to Japan.  I did my best to be harbor-side for her departure, but the Daily Shipping Schedule had her sailing time wrong.  Luckily, I headed for the harbor early and was able to get a few photos.

On her way!  The Nippon Maru leaves Honolulu Harbor on her return voyage to Japan.

The Japanese Naval Ensign waves from her stern.

The Navitek Atlantis is on the left and the Falls of Clyde on the right, with the Nippon Maru in the distance.  I desperately wanted to see her under sail, but it was not to be.  She looks magnificent even with her sails furled.

There she goes.  "Fair Winds and Following Seas".

After the Nippon Maru departure, I continued on a jog, with a slight detour to have a look at a mural painting festival called, "POW!WOW!" in Kaka'ako.  There are many small light industrial and commercial buildings in this waterfront neighborhood and this was the fifth year of the festival, dedicated to adding color and life to the area through wall murals.  Mural artists from here and all over the country are invited to take part.  This festival and other revitalization activities have had a significant impact on the revitalization of the neighborhood.  Here's a sample of what I saw Sunday:





Artwork made during the POW!WOW! Festival.

And more.

More.

Even more!

Artist at work.

This portrait was not done in the usual manner.  See the close-up below.

It looked like paint was applied, then taken away with a sand-blasting tool...or something.

The innovation and creativity of the murals was wonderful to see.

That's it for today. :)  There were many other murals, but the camera battery died!

I hope you had a nice Sunday.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Valentine's Dinner At Cafe Julia.


This video was taken by Michele as Cafe Julia President and General Manager, Mr. Emerson Ribao and one of his skilled chefs prepared our desserts selections.  She has titled this, her first video:  "Dueling Dessert Chefs".  The placement of this production is rather odd, as it should be located toward the end of the post, but I'm not sure how to move it.  Maybe next time I'll figure it out.  At any rate...enjoy the show! :)



About a month ago, we discovered the most wonderful restaurant in, of all places, the downtown YWCA.  Cafe Julia is a gem of a restaurant and last night we were lucky to dine there again to celebrate Valentine's Day.  Please join us through our photos.

A gift for my sweetheart.  Most of yesterday, I was finishing our taxes, grousing all the while, feigning no interest whatsoever in celebrating this most romantic of holidays.  My cranky attitude perfectly set Michele up to expect nothing as I headed out for a run.  With the surprise set, my jog ended with a stop at a nearby grocery store where I picked up this single rose and the card seen below.

Both completely surprised her and the only thing left to do was decide on a place to dine.

As you might expect, most of the restaurants we enjoy were fully booked on this special Friday night, but luckily, Michele decided to give Cafe Julia a call.  We were in luck and had a pleasant stroll to the restaurant.  I hope you click on the link above to have a look at this surprising place, but in case you don't, I captured a few
 images from their website to share:

This is the entrance to the YWCA downtown.  The building was designed by one of the few female architects working in America in the 1920's, Julia Morgan.  She was the first woman to design a public building in Honolulu.  Though most famous for designing Hearst Castle in San Simeon, California, the YWCA Laniakea Center always held a special place in her heart.  The restaurant is named in her honor.

Between the facade and this space, a beautiful courtyard is also available for drinks, lunch or dinner.  The large "windows" you see have no glass, allowing the Trade Winds to provide a most pleasant breeze.  High above the tables, ceiling fans slowly turn, reminding one of Hawaii's early days.  As you can see from the photo, tables are well-spaced allowing conversation without the need to raise voices.  Both times we've dined here, a three-piece combo entertained us with a delightful variety of dinner-appropriate tunes.  But, hey, let's get on with dinner!

Here's the courtyard, also available for drinks or dinning.


Michele began with a martini-type cocktail made with Sake and Yuzu, among other things and she really loved it, as you can see.  I had a Scotch.

Keeping with the celebration theme...This fun-loving gentleman is preparing a lovely Caesar salad for us.  One of our favorite things about Cafe Julia is the staff.  They're friendly, eager to satisfy customers and professional.  Though this is not an inexpensive place to dine, there is no sense of stuffiness or pretense.  It's fun.

Michele, happily about to dig into her salad.  Or could her smile be the afterglow of the drink! :)

Since I'd exercised earlier, there was no hesitation in selecting their excellent prime rib.

I selected Scaia-Corvina, a northern Italian wine to accompany my meal.  It reminded me of the wines I so enjoyed drinking (and helping to make) during our nearly two years in Italy.  Made from grapes grown near  Verona, click on the link above to learn more about this wine.  You might think from my smile I'd already had a second glass.  I did indeed, but a little later. :)

Michele's choice was lamb, with garlic mashed potatoes and veggies.

Here, Cafe Julia President and General Manager, Mr. Emerson Ribao, gives us a "thumbs-up" after carving Michele's rack of lamb.  Maybe his smile explains the wonderful attitude demonstrated by the staff.

This lovely lady is Annie.  She took wonderful care of us during our meal, including bringing me that second glass of wine.  I'm sorry I failed to get the names of several others who worked so hard to make this Valentine's dinner memorable.  Thanks to everyone!

Mr. Ribao did such a nice carving job, Michele had to work extra-hard to enjoy the last bits on each rib.  Lucky we don't have a dog.  Fido would've been shut-out tonight.

Wow!  Dueling desserts chefs!  Mr. Ribao, once again demonstrated his skill and showmanship as he prepared Bananas Foster for me, while another master did the honors for Michele and her Cherries Jubilee.  These still photos were taken by me with the good old camera, while Michele used her phone to make the YouTube video at the beginning of this post.  I wanted the video to be located here, but for some reason, it appeared at the top.

Flaming brandy flows down the beautifully-carved orange peel.  It was quite a show.

Anticipation.

A toast to Cafe Julia and everyone who works there! :)))  We had a wonderful Valentine's Day dinner and we salute you for making it special.