Friday, March 28, 2014

Swimming With Dolphins--Part II

Thursday, we received a file of wonderful photos taken by the crew during our dolphin swimming adventure.  Our thanks go out to Captain Cullins, First Mate Malori and First Volunteer, Loren, for so beautifully capturing our day at sea.  Here we go:

What a show the dolphins put on for us! :)

With a bunch playing around the boat, it was tough to see every amazing thing they did.

I don't know if animals "play", but these dolphins certainly seemed to enjoy themselves.

After a breath, a humpback whale dives.  Malori taught us that baby whales can only stay underwater for about five minutes before needing to surface for a breath.  That came in very handy for knowing when we might next see the group surface!  Learn something new every day! :)

Seeing two (or more) whales swimming together is a spectacular sight.

What a graceful view of the flukes as this whale heads down.

This may have been the "half-breach" I missed.  I'm sure glad the crew caught it! :)

Another spectacular photo.

That's me with my new friends.  We were thrilled that the crew got some shots of us in the water.  These images make the dolphin swim "real" for us and less like a dream.

Me, again, looking at what appears to be a young Spinner Dolphin.  What pure joy!
This image captured the four of us and Malori.  Michele is wearing a pink shirt, on the right side, lower figure.

This is Michele again.

This looks like it might be a bottle-nose dolphin.  Malori used a GoPro camera, mounted on a pole to take this shot.  It's a nice way to end this post. :)

If you ever have an opportunity to go on an adventure like this, do not hesitate!  Just do it!

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Swimming With Dolphins.

Inspired in-part by the urging of friend and fellow blogger, Jeanette Jobson, Sunday, March 23rd, we finally went swimming with wild dolphins. In case you might be interested in the specifics of the trip, click on this link to the Best of the West tour.

You could say we were a bit excited, making the drive to Waianae Boat Harbor, located on the west side of the island, in only forty-five minutes instead of the expected hour.  We arrived a full hour prior to check-in time of eight AM!  About a half-hour later we saw crew members, Malori and her sister Loren arrive to prep the Alaka'i for today's trip.

Captain Tori Cullins came aboard last and after a brief about the boat, the rules to be observed with respect to the sea life and signing waivers, we got underway.  We were barely out of the berth when a large green sea turtle popped its head up for a look around!  It was a good omen of what was to come.  I took 168-photos today, though none were underwater. :(  Happily, many previous adventurers had underwater cameras and they have generously shared their photos on the Internet.  I've labeled the underwater images taken from the Internet and have only used those which show exactly, or very closely, what we saw today. :)  Let's go!

Captain of the Alaka'i, Ms Tori Cullins, on the flying bridge.  Her impressive credentials can be found on the Best of the West link above.

This curious green sea turtle popped-up just as were getting underway.  Click on any of the images to enlarge.

On our way, with a view of the west side of Oah'u looking north.

Zooming out to sea, Michele and the other couple on board, as well as the crew, look for signs of dolphins or whales.  They require a minimum of four customers to go out, with six being the maximum.

Dolphins along side!  Our crew said they were Spotted Dolphins.  The ocean was moderately rough today and taking photos while hanging on to a rail proved challenging.  Many images I thought captured dolphins or whales ended-up showing nothing but the vacant sea or sky.   

If memory serves, this is a Bottle-Nose Dolphin traveling along-side the boat.

I'm guessing these are Spotted Dolphins.  We saw Spotted, Bottle-Nose and Spinner dolphins today, but due to the rock-and-roll of the boat, the dolphin's incredible speed and water distortion, it was difficult to remember now, just which variety I was photographing.  Life is hard in Hawaii! :))

Splash!  A playful dolphin returns to the water.

Captain Tori made several wide turns, creating a wake which the dolphins found irresistible for body surfing.  This is one of my favorite shots of the trip. :)

Another good shot, though it was pure luck.  Sometimes, luck is better than skill.

The playful dolphins also liked riding the bow wave and this one is just diving in front of the Alaka'i.

I'm hanging out over the bow (notice the anchor) for this photo and again, pure luck that I caught this amazing athlete in mid-air.

Another one riding the bow wave, just below the surface.  They swim so fast and make it seem completely effortless.  What a joy to be in their presence.

First Mate Malori points out a whale soon after the dolphins disappeared.  To be honest, we'd been around many dolphins, but hadn't entered the water yet.  Now, we were watching whales and I was beginning to wonder if actually swimming with dolphins would ever happen.  Oh, "me" of little faith!

Michele and the rest of us were hugging the port rail to marvel as this humpback whale took a giant breath and headed down.

Today was the closest we've ever been to whales in Hawaii and it was quite a thrill.

I believe this was a mother humpback and her calf.

Here, the giant's flukes are just about to break the surface as it dives.

 As the captain maneuvered to keep proper distance from the whales, this large green sea turtle crossed our path.

I got this picture as the turtle thanked us for not running over her. :)

The aftermath of a half-breach.  It's also my most disappointing "half-missed" photo.

This may be a male escort, a female and her calf.  What a day!  And we're not finished  yet! :)

Flukes!  Finally.  I missed many others, capturing only the whales backs.  Not long after this was taken, Captain Tori turned the boat toward the location of the Spinner Dolphins we would soon be swimming among!! :)))

This gentleman was having a great time surrounded by Spinner Dolphins.  Our captain brought us to the resident pod's hangout and invited us to get in the amazingly clear water. 

This is a photo taken from the Internet, but it shows, almost exactly what the four of us, plus Malori, looked like in the water.  The Spinner Dolphin pod is huge and they seemed to be lounging in groups from about a dozen to thirty-plus.  The water was crystal clear--the clearest we've seen, so far, on Oah'u.

Another shot taken from the Internet, by folks doing the same tour as us.  The dolphins have likely just taken a breath and are lazily heading deeper.  They never came close enough to reach out and touch, but that's okay as we were instructed not to touch them.

Once again, an Internet photo showing a group of Spinners meandering along.  This is exactly how they looked as they passed beneath me several times.  I counted nearly fifty!

A final Internet image.  I'm not sure you'll be able to enlarge this one, but it's a good approximation of how things looked in the water today.

The experience we enjoyed today was exciting, educational and fun.  To be so close to these wonderful creatures, in their environment, is something we'll never forget.  We'd like to express our appreciation and thanks to Captain Cullins and her crew for their  professionalism and doing their utmost to ensure we all had a wonderful time.    

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Tuesday, 25 March 2014 Travel-Jog.

Our wonderful landlady, Cori, came by this morning to pick-up some mis-directed mail and after I handed her the mail, she handed me a box of pastries from Kamehameha Bakery, located at 1339 N. School Street.  It's only about 1.6-miles northwest of our building, so I decided it was time for another "Travel-Jog".

What really prompted this "journey of discovery" was tasting the contents of the box.  Every version of pastry in it was wonderful.  One of their claims to fame are the poi glazed donuts.  I know, I know...for many of you who have only tasted poi in its paste form at a luau, it might not sound particularly appealing, but trust me--whatever they do to, or with the poi, which I believe is used in the dough, it is anything but bland.

When Michele was looking on the map to see just where the bakery is located, she also noticed Helena's Hawaiian Food, located at 1240 N. School Street, not far from the bakery.  When we visited their website and had a look at their menu, I simply had to add this restaurant to my itinerary.  Both establishments are neighborhood gems and we can't wait to try them both.

Let's get going!  Don't forget:  Click on the photos to enlarge.

Turns out, Helena's Hawaiian Food restaurant was the first place I came to and this lovely lady and her daughter volunteered to pose by the sign.  Her husband and (I think) another child were sitting nearby, waiting for their chance to get inside.  People wait patiently for the opportunity to eat here--always an indicator that the food is great.  The restaurant has been in business since 1946--Wow!  In 2000, The James Beard Foundation awarded Helena's Hawaiian Food the Regional Classic Award.

I should have arrived earlier, but instead, caught everyone busily turning out lunches for the full house.  I was lucky the staff had a generous amount of Aloha Spirit, allowing me to take photos.  This very busy and shy employee had to be coaxed to pose, but I think she enjoyed it.  Hanging above the stove to dry, are their famous and very popular, short ribs  Pipikaula style.  If you click on the link, you'll be an expert on how these delicious-looking ribs are prepared.

This wonderful lady is the mother of Craig Katsuyoshi, who runs the restaurant.  She knew exactly what I was there for and commandeered another employee to take our photo. She told me tourists come in all the time and she's delighted to see them and make sure they go home with full stomachs and great photos.  She inquired where I was from and laughed heartily when I told her, "Nuuanu and Beretania". :)

Here's a tray of Hawaiian delights about to head for a table.  I recognize poi (center bowl), pipikaula-style short ribs (top, middle), sweet onions, Hawaiian pink sea salt and a bowl of tomatoes.  Top left bowl looks like Kalua pig and the top, far right plate looks like haupia, a traditional coconut milk-based Hawaiian dessert.  Middle item, left side...not a clue.

After thanking the most gracious staff at Helena's Hawaiian Food, I was on my way to find Kamehameha Bakery.  It didn't take long.

Here it is!

It's a small store front, but there must be a lot of space in back for ovens which never cool.  When I arrived, it was about 11:17 AM (notice the clock on the wall) and there were still customers lined-up outside the door!

I'd love to show you a photo of their famous poi glazed donuts, but an employee told me they sold out by nine AM! 

Open at either 2 AM or 3 AM on weekends!  Brutal, but good for customers! :)

A haupia-filled taro donut.  If memory serves...we ate two of these this morning, courtesy of Cori.

Here is one of the two poi glazed donuts included in our gift box this morning.  The poi (taro) is somehow mixed-in the dough, but I'm only guessing.  The bakery was too busy for me to waste their time prying into what are probably company secrets.  For example:  How do they make the inside purple?  Simply adding food coloring?  Poi is sort of purple.  Could that do it?  If you find out, let me know. :)  All I can say for certain is that they are truly delicious.

Cori also included a couple of these strawberry-glazed donuts.  Fabulous!

I think we had a couple of these haupia-filled taro buns, but we were too busy consuming them to take photos.  The images of the baked goods came from generous and contented Kamehameha Bakery customers who shared their experience on Yelp.  Thanks!

So, I departed the bakery and on my way home, took the time to get a few photos of the beautiful flowers.  Hope you had a "sweet" day, too! :)

Plumeria blossoms always grab me.

Bougainvillea is another favorite.

This magnificent tree, crowned with yellow flowers, was at a gas station.

The way home passes Foster Botanical Garden and this could be an exotic tropical fruit, but I just don't know.

There was a huge tree on a street corner, loaded with these bright orange flowers.  It's truly amazing how much beauty is almost everywhere you look here.  Having the time to take a look really helps. :)  Hope your Tuesday was filled with discovery, too.