Saturday, April 19, 2014

How Lucky Can You Get!

How lucky, indeed.  After living in Hawaii a full year, we still marvel at what each new day brings our way.  The show is always different, despite a certain rhythm to what we see every morning from the lanai.

We routinely watch three older Chinese gentlemen get their exercise by shooting baskets at the park across the street.  Two or three women power walk a circuit on the park's pathways as several homeless people pack-up their cardboard beds and move into the morning sunshine.  Neighborhood residents, usually older women, pull small carts toward their favorite markets in Chinatown to shop for the food they'll turn into the family meals later today.   

We play our part, too, with a choreographed, well-rehearsed kitchen dance, deftly avoiding collisions as we prepare and move our breakfasts to the lanai.  Included with the food and coffee are two pairs of binoculars.

During our meal, we frequently grab the binoculars to scan the rectangles of ocean between downtown office towers.  Searching for whales and dolphins has become an important part of our own morning routine.  The harbor and airport are included, too.  Regularly schedule ships and aircraft appear like old friends, while there is always the possibility that we'll spot an unusual vessel or aircraft, or navy ship operating off shore.

Here's what we saw this morning.  Click on the photos to enlarge.

A showery morning produced another "low rider" rainbow, though this one was much more intense than what we saw a couple of days ago.  What a wonderful way to begin the day. :)

We watched this Air Force Boeing C-17 Globemaster III depart as we had breakfast this morning.  This exceptionally versatile heavy-lift transport aircraft was designed to replace the aging C-141 in the Air Force inventory.

This is the R/V Falkor, an oceanographic research vessel operated by the Schmidt Ocean Institute  You may have heard of Eric Schmidt, chairman of Google.  I've featured the vessel in a previous post, but this is the first time we've seen the ship heading to sea.

Another first this morning.  The Sea Moon fishing vessel heading to sea.  We often see fishing boats come and go in the harbor, but the bold red paint job caught my eye today.

A huge tanker anchored off-shore.  Sorry, no particulars on this one.

We do occasionally see navy submarines, but this was the closest and clearest view we've had so far.

Here's something we don't see takeoff every day.  It's a U.S. Air Force C-5 Galaxy, the largest heavy-lift aircraft currently in their inventory and one of the largest military aircraft in the world.

Another view of the C-5 as it got a little closer to us.  The new camera has a much greater zoom capability and it's been fun taking these distant photos.

Here's one of those surprises I was talking about.  Not only do we see the Falkor heading east after leaving port, but also, a para-sail boat either hauling-in, or letting out line for the lucky adventurer, a large catamaran and finally, a pleasure fishing boat beyond the Falkor.  Seldom do so many vessels happen to end-up in a single photo.

Here's the unknown tanker again, only this time a navy submarine is passing by.  If you click on the image, then click again, you can see what may be either a pleasure craft or harbor vessel just aft of the submarine's sail.  It was great fun to see all of this activity this morning.

The Princess Cruise Lines, Grand Princess happened to be berthed within our view this morning and who'da thunk the navy would provide me with such an interesting photo op!  On top of everything else, we saw what we believe to be three whales skirmishing for the favors of a female, based on what we've learned about their behavior.  What a morning!!

Since most of my posts are written in the evening, I had this sunset photo available to wrap up this most amazing day in Paradise.  I wonder what tomorrow will bring? :))  Hope your day was a good one.         

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

A Busy Day On Land And Sea.

Breakfast on the lanai this morning was whales sighted, no dolphin pod zooming by, just a quiet morning.  At least until a little past nine AM.  Here we go:

Say Aloha to the U.S.S. Boxer (LHD-4) as she cruises by.  The Boxer is a Wasp-class amphibious assault ship, weighing-in at just over 41,000-tons fully-loaded and 844-feet long (257-meters).  She can carry nearly 1,900 Marines, as well as, up to 42 aircraft, usually H-53 helicopters and V-22 Osprey tiltrotors.  Her crew complement consists of 1009-enlisted and 73-officers.  Click on the photos to enlarge.  The Boxer is the largest navy ship we've seen, so far.  Personally, I keep waiting for that first aircraft carrier.  Nostalgia, I guess.

At about the same time, this ghost-like navy ship appeared on the horizon.  We were not able to see a number or name, but based on the unique profile, it's either the U.S.S. San Antonio (LPD-17), or one of nine ships in her class.  It's an amphibious dock ship weighing in at 25,000-tons fully-loaded and is 684-feet in length (208-meters).

Here's the U.S.S. Boxer just outside the entrance to Pearl Harbor.  In the foreground you can see the taxiway for Honolulu International Airport's Reef Runway.

The Boxer entering the channel into Pearl Harbor.  You can clearly see the flight deck and superstructure, highlighted by the big "4" painted in white.  That's the control tower of Honolulu International Airport on the right and in the foreground are a couple of 747's and a FedEx DC-10 cargo hauler.

Click on any of the photos to enlarge...this one for sure.  The Boxer is entering Pearl Harbor (look for the large "4" in white to help find the ship) as a Korean Airlines 747-400 is about to touch down.  To the right in this photo, a Hawaiian Airlines inter-island jet is waiting to takeoff.

 Finally, I thought I'd leave you with a rainbow, even though this photo was taken on April 13th.  We'd never seen one so low until that morning.  No matter how high or low, who doesn't love a rainbow?! :))

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Ho'omaluhia Botanical Garden

Monday is a great day for retired folks to venture out and we did just that, driving to the Windward side of O'ahu to see Ho'omaluhia Botanical Garden.

The Garden, built by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, was actually designed for flood protection for Kaneohe.  I guess after building a dam and the associated infrastructure, they just went nuts and couldn't stop until this beautiful park and botanical garden were created. :)  And what a fine job they did! 

There are six or seven gardens within the four hundred acre park.  A map of the garden(s) can be found by clicking on this link to the Honolulu Parks and Recreation website.

Being located on the east, or Windward side of the island guarantees the garden gets plenty of rain and today was no exception.  Luckily, it only started raining about the time we returned to our car to head home. :)  The place is incredibly lush and the great variety of plants are labeled with easy-to-read signs.  The Visitor Center, library and other facilities are excellent.  It's a paradise of tranquility and beauty.  Here we go:

I have no idea what the name of the plant sporting this gorgeous cluster of blossoms is, but it was stunning to see among all the seemingly countless shades of green throughout the garden.

This plaque commemorates the creation of the flood control dam, as well as, the garden.

The garden backs up to the Ko'olau Mountains which were shrouded in rain clouds today.  The range runs basically south-to-north on the eastern side of O'ahu and most of the rains, as well as, the Northeast Trade Winds impact this Windward side of the island first.

This watercolor show was a bonus today.

This original watercolor by Noel Fishman is titled, "Happy Honu".  As most of the works were covered in either glass or plexiglass, I had to work to try to reduce the glare, resulting in some jaunty angles.

Another painting in the show.

This painting, titled, "Red Sky In The Morning", was done by Jeanne Snell.  Lots of nice work in the exhibit, but it's time to get back to the garden!

Click on the photo to enlarge up to two times to read.  The Courtyard Garden features plants carried by the first settlers who arrived in the Hawaiian Islands and the title of this informative article certainly makes you think about what you might want, or need to carry on...oh...I don't know...maybe a trip to colonize Mars.

In case you were wondering. :)

A "Panama hat" plant.

Again, click on the image to enlarge.  I mentioned the great labeling of many of the garden's botanical specimens and this is an excellent example.

This fruit has taken the world by storm and the garden has an example of the tree.  See the next photo.

An Acai palm.  I bet my blogger buddy, Caio Fern eats this every day!

Banana plant.  No big deal...right?  It IS a Big Deal!  The info sign told us that the banana plant is the 4th-most cultivated food crop in the WORLD!  We easily guessed the first three:  rice, wheat and corn.  But who knew the banana was number four?  We also learned about the lipstick plant--its seed pulp is used to produce one of the world's oldest dyes--annatto or achiote--used to color butter, cheese, margarine, snack chips and rice dishes.

Take a break class and look at Michele standing by some truly giant plants.

Pretty.  For a kid from the Midwest, almost everything in this garden is amazing and exotic.  Colorful, too, beyond imagining.

While many plants in the garden had everything one could want to know, others had only the scientific name and where it normally grows.  This is an example of the latter, so we simply enjoyed its beauty.

The flood control plan called for a dam and the result of that was a lake.  These mallard ducks and Hawaiian coots were happy to see us and approached without fear.  Too bad we didn't have any of those annatto-colored snacks to share with them. :(

Michele inspects another curious plant.

The lake with the Ko'olau Mountains for a backdrop.  In the distance, a family was looking at the ducks and coots.

I have no idea what these are, but they looked more carved than alive and growing.

This strange flower reminded me of a hitchhiker's thumb-extended gesture.

A palm tree of unknown variety showing off.

Michele and an Australian White Paperbark tree.  They are a painter's dream!  Now here's a tree with character.  No kidding--the peeling bark looks exactly like sheets and reams of paper.  I had to get a close-up.

I wonder if anyone uses the bark for correspondence in the Bush?

An "up-close and personal" inspection of a most interesting bunch of flowers.


These lovely flowers look like they should be in the plumeria family, yet they had no scent whatsoever.

Another group of watercolorists were having a class today and in a space near the Visitor Center, their work was on display.  Their work was all botanicals.


Another watercolor.  Four hundred acres of natural beauty and two watercolor exhibits today.  Not bad. 

We had a pretty good day today.  We departed for the garden after rush hour and made it home before the afternoon rush hour started.  We saw whales again this morning and watched the Golden Princess cruise ship come in.  The brisk Trade Winds kept it cool today, so my run late this afternoon was quite comfortable.  I hope your day was good, too.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

"Art At The Capitol"

April 4th, 2014, happened to be "First Friday", Honolulu's monthly art night and for the sixth year, the public was invited to visit the Hawaii State Capitol Building for a look at the public art which graces the governor and lieutenant governor's offices, as well as, most of the legislator's offices.  The title of this post is also the title of the annual event.

The state legislature in 1967, passed the Art-in-State-Buildings law.  This law established the State Foundation on Culture and the Arts, Art in Public Places Program.  Hawaii became the first state to set aside one percent of the cost of state buildings to acquire and commission works of visual art, which are then placed in or around state buildings to beautify and humanize the built environment.

Our plan for the evening was to look at both the art work and the capitol building's upper floors, then walk across the street to Cafe Julia for dinner.  It was a great opportunity to see where our state legislators work and our laws are crafted.  The spectacular views of Honolulu from the fifth-floor were a delightful bonus.

We didn't realize just how many offices would be open and how much art there was to view, so we rushed from floor-to-floor in hopes of seeing as much as possible and still be at the restaurant in time for our seven PM dinner reservation.  Luckily, the walk from the capitol building to Cafe Julia only took about five minutes.

We were warmly greeted first by Sonia Ribao, then her father, Cafe Julia President and General Manager, Mr. Emerson Ribao, and shown to our table.  We enjoyed another wonderful dinner in this beautiful space, along with delightful live music.  Here are some photos from the evening:

The State Senate chamber viewed from the gallery.  On the floor,  you're looking at the Hawaii Youth Symphony String Quartet #2, which was about to begin entertaining visitors.  Above the chamber is a light sculpture designed by Otto Piene, titled, "The Moon".  His design for the House chamber is titled, "The Sun".  These two light sculptures really need to be seen in person to be appreciated, so book that flight to Hawaii now! :)

View from the second floor.  The architect took maximum advantage of Hawaii's perfect climate, making outdoors an integral part of the space.  Light and the Trade Winds make this a very special place.

We both liked this oil painting titled, "Durian Tree".  It was painted by Paul Yardley in 1995.

A striking watercolor portrait graced one of the offices.  We were in such a hurry, I didn't have time to make note of most of the artists or who's office we found them in.  Next year, we'll arrive much earlier! :)

This was rather large and a thousand times better seen in person.  The battery on my new camera ran out shortly after we arrived, so most of the photos in this post were taken with my phone.

"White Birds in Paradise" is a vibrant watercolor.

This portrait of former Governor Benjamin J. Cayetano, was done by famous portrait artist, Daniel E. Greene.

Michele enjoys a couple of the paintings in the governor's ceremonial room.

Michele about to exit the Lieutenant Governor's reception room.  Many spaces in the building, including the House and Senate chambers, are paneled with beautiful koa wood seen here.

A bronze and copper sculpture created in 1979 by Satoru Abe , titled, "Wheel No. 5".

This large painting in one of the legislator's offices was most impressive.

Another striking painting.  We missed more than we saw, but we'll do better next year.  It's on to dinner at Cafe Julia! :)

Edible art!  This is foie gras with caramelized onion, poached apple slices and a port wine reduction.  What a great way to start a meal! :)  We shared this.

Chateaubriand for two was our choice for the main course last night.  It was perfectly prepared and so delicious there was nothing to take home.

Say Aloha to Sonia and her fiance, Elijah.  They both work very hard to ensure their guests have a wonderful dining experience and last night they hit another home run.  In the background is Sonia's father, Mr. Emerson Ribao, President and General Manager of Cafe Julia.  I believe he's busy slicing a rack of lamb for other guests.  The man never rests!

 Here he was slicing the Chateaubriand for us.

Thanks to Mr. Ribao, we enjoyed a different dessert last night;  Crepes Suzette.   It's not on the menu yet, but he invited us to try it.  Here he is, in-action table-side, preparing this famous treat.

Chef Almar Arcano stopped by to check the boss's technique. :)  I think he approved.

The finished Crepes Suzette.  It was the perfect ending to our fabulous dinner.  A few minutes later, as I was enjoying coffee, Mr. Ribao came by and we chatted for quite some time.  What an interesting culinary life!  On top of everything else he does, he's a runner, too!  He's a dedicated restauranteur, with a lifetime of experience and that's what makes Cafe Julia special.  If you're ever in Honolulu, I hope you have the opportunity to meet him and try his restaurant.