Friday, May 29, 2015

A Round Of Golf And Painting

I bet you thought all that gets done around here is swimming, jogging, dining at many of the hundreds of restaurants in Honolulu and taking photographs of planes and ships.'d be wrong...sort of.  Occasionally, golf and painting work their way onto my schedule, too.

Actually, work has continued on the self-portrait at 65 non-stop.  And for golf, until last Wednesday, I'd played only two rounds, limited to just nine holes.  The rest of the visits to the course, I've been practicing at the driving range in a semi-futile attempt to regain some semblance of a swing.

Wednesday, I joined Mr. Richard Chang and his friends at Mamala Bay Golf Course for my first eighteen holes since moving here a little over two years ago.  They are a hardy bunch, arriving at the course at 6:30 AM!  Not easy for a night owl like me, but I toughed it out and was there on time.

I won't bore you with the details, but rather share some photos from the day.  The course is on what used to be known as Hickam Air Force Base.  Back in 2010, it was combined with Pearl Harbor Naval Station into a joint base, now officially called, "Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam".  Several of the holes run alongside the ocean, specifically Mamala Bay, with its beautiful aquamarine water.  It's also close to a couple of the runways of Honolulu International Airport.  In fact, to get to the course, you drive beneath the taxiway to the reef runway.  If your timing is good, you just may have a 747,  KC-135 or F-22 Raptor in front of you as you approach the tunnel.  I admit, and know that you know how much I love being so close to this variety of great aircraft.

After the round and an early lunch, I took a walk behind "Wright Brothers" Restaurant to have a look at Aloha A'ina Park.  The park runs along the east bank of the channel into Pearl Harbor.  What a thrill to see the narrow channel I'd sailed through on the U.S.S. Coral Sea (CVA-43) and the U.S.S. Kitty Hawk (CV-63) in my carrier days.  At the southeast end of the park, which is the beginning of the channel entrance, sits a very impressive monument to the famous Air Force "Missing Man" maneuver.

It was a great day.  Perfect weather for golf, very nice companions and some new scenery.  Don't even ask me about my score.  I'm trying really hard to accept the idea that you don't "win" at golf.  You only play the game.  It's a concept I have never embraced until now.  And despite my ever-dwindling testosterone levels, trying to win often trumps a balanced, coordinated swing with predictably horrid results.  Anyway...I'm trying. :)

A UPS DC-10 cargo carrier waits for takeoff clearance on the reef runway.  The waters of Mamala Bay are so beautiful.

A Korean Airlines Boeing-777 about to land on the runway parallel to the reef runway, but located on the island--if that makes any sense.  If we lived in the continental U.S., I'd say this runway is on the "mainland", parallel to the man-made reef runway.  Does that help? :)

My playing companions, Richard and Stan.  I'm the "kid" of the group, but these two gentlemen "just played the game" better than I did today. :)

The famous Missing Man formation, honoring comrades lost in combat.  Those beautiful aircraft are F-22 Raptors.  In the distance, a Hawaiian Airlines jet is coming in for a landing on the reef runway.

The plaque at the base of the Missing Man Formation.  Click to enlarge, or grab your reading glasses.

The park was being enjoyed by quite a few ladies and children during my visit.

View across the narrow channel entrance to Pearl Harbor, looking west.

When I took this photo, I didn't notice what appears to be a dolphin heading into the channel.  Click on the image for a closer look.

Couldn't resist taking a shot of the many Bird of Paradise flowers...just in case Jeanette Jobson sees this post! :))

Almost forgot I mentioned a painting in this post title.  This detail is how the self-portrait at 65 is looking as of today.  I'd show the entire painting, but the part not shown is about to be slightly re-designed.  You'll have to come back in a few days, or maybe a week to see the changes.

And finally, how about a sunset to wrap this post up.  The speck in the upper left is a Hawaiian Airlines jet heading for a nearby island.

Have a great tomorrow.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Memorial Day 2015

On Memorial Day, I jogged up to Punchbowl crater, more correctly known as, the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific.  It was crowded with those honoring family members buried there, as well as, tourists, paying their respects, or simply visiting this spectacular and beautiful resting place for so many men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice in service to our country.

It's impossible not to feel the depth of emotion spread across this hallowed ground.  Wandering slowly among the countless rows of headstones, I paused many times to read the names and units of the dead.  I almost felt like an intruder among the many families sharing this special day honoring their loved ones and friends.  More than a few were seated on blankets at the grave of a loved one, others placing flowers, or significant objects to honor a family member or friend.  While certainly a somber experience, it's also uplifting to know our nation doesn't forget those who sacrificed so much.

Later, the Memorial Day Lantern Float took place at Ala Moana Beach Park for the seventeenth year.  I didn't attend, however, there is an "older post" about this very moving event.  We enjoyed this beautiful ceremony on live television this year.  The photos came from the live TV broadcast, thanks to KHNL/KGMB.

Red ginger marks the grave of this veteran.

A family rests by a loved one's grave.

At the crater rim, a special space is reserved for Medal of Honor recipients and this plaque tells visitors about it.  Click on the image to enlarge.

Partial view of Honolulu from the Medal of Honor space at the crater rim.  The state of Hawaii capitol building is visible in the center of the photo.  If I knew how to "stitch" photos together, you'd be seeing a 180-degree panorama from Diamond Head to Ewa Beach.  It's a spectacular view of the entire city, including the airport and harbor.

Several graves had oranges left by loved ones.

Empty beer bottles and cans were the other most frequently seen remembrance today.

A family marks the day with photos.

There are many giant trees like this one, providing shade for visitors.

Every grave was marked with a flag, and hard-working volunteers made over 42,000-leis which were also placed in tribute.  Of course, as seen here, many families and friends added their own flowers in memory.

Unknown dead from the Korean War rest in a special area of the cemetery.

A beautiful floral display, special stone and flags marked the Korean unknowns area.

A last photo as I headed for home.

Legend of the Seas left Honolulu on Memorial Day and I was lucky to catch the Harbor Pilot about to leap from the ship to his launch, his work complete.

This photo gives some sense of the huge crowd attending the 17th-annual Lantern Float, held at Magic Island, part of Ala Moana Beach Park.  To the upper left in the photo, is Ala Wai Yacht Harbor.  In the center of the image you're looking at the elaborate stage set-up for the event.  The crowd was estimated to be fifty-thousand people this year.

This young boy represents what the event is all about.  The Buddhist branch which sponsors lantern floats around the globe, believes that we are united in the experience of loss of loved ones and the shared honoring of those loved ones can lead to understanding between peoples of the world, fostering peace.  It's hard to argue against that!

The ceremony is quite a production.  These assistants are beginning to take these main lanterns to the water.  They represent all people who have ever lived on our planet and our connection to those who have gone before.

The main lanterns being moved to the launch point.

One of the six-thousand lanterns going in the water, each with very personal messages of remembrance.

Young and old, men and women, boys and girls--the theme of this event seems to strike a universal chord with people.  Many participants are in tears during the floating and even when watching on TV, it's tough to remain unaffected.

As darkness fell, the thousands of lanterns on the water is quite a sight.

This is the final part of the ceremony, with everyone holding hands on stage.  It's like a "We Are The World" moment. :)

Hope we can all learn to play nice...someday.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Ships Today...Planes Are So-o...Sunday.

What an unexpected treat:  As I looked out at the blue Pacific this morning, there was a tall ship, seemingly anchored in the vicinity of a tanker.  I watched for nearly a half-hour and finally the    Kaiwo Maru, a four-masted training barque out of Tokyo, got underway, heading for the harbor.  My guess is she arrived early and decided to wait until the appointed time.  Just a guess, however.

As she was approaching the harbor entrance beacon, I noticed what appeared to be a most curious  navy ship traveling at high speed to the east.  I'd never seen anything like it, but thanks to Google, I quickly found out it was the USNS Millinocket-JHSV-3.  Click on the links to both ships to find out more about them.

As the strange navy ship rapidly disappeared from view, I focused the camera on the Kaiwo Maru.  For those of you who have followed this blog for the last two years, you may recall my posts about her previous visits to Honolulu.  Luckily for us, she was berthed at Pier-10 today, so we were able to watch two highly-skilled tugboat captains "shoehorn" her in behind the Le Sein.  Le Sein has been moored there shortly after a fire over a week ago, likely for repairs.  Here we go!

This is what I saw first this morning.  You can barely see the Kaiwo Maru, nearly at the horizon.  Click on this, or any of the photos for a closer view.

She's heading for the harbor with one of the two tugs standing-by.

Have you ever seen anything like the USNS Millinocket-JHSV-3?  It's part of the U.S. Military Sealift Command, which explains the "USNS", instead of simply, U.S..  According to "Live Ships Radar", a website which tracks every ship with an active transponder, the Millinocket was traveling at 22.2 knots and she's capable of going much faster!

The folks aboard that sailboat in the upper left of this photo, must've had quite a thrill seeing the Kaiwo Maru approach the harbor entrance, escorted by those two tugboats.

In the harbor now, the two tugs are maneuvering her toward her berth behind the Le Sein in the left side of the photo.  From our vantage point, it looked like it would be a very tight fit and that those tugboat captains would surely earn their money today.

A crowd of young cadets on the bow, watching and learning how a vessel reaches her berth.  Notice the bowsprit in gold.  Click for a close-up.

A tugboat nudges the stern toward her berth.

Seems impossible that she'll fit in this tight space, but I guess the tugboat captains were pretty certain.  I was surprised to see how much the ship heeled-over due to the tugs pushing.  I always thought the bow of a tug was low enough to the water line that this wouldn't happen.  Wrong!

Almost there.  The line-handlers are busy doing their job.

The welcoming committee is eager to greet the crew.

Michele kept track of the action while making her breakfast.  Without doubt, this is the most amazing kitchen window view we've ever had! :)

I'll end this post with a photo taken at Fort DeRussy today.  After watching the Kaiwo Maru come in, we headed for the beach.  After an hour snorkeling, we relaxed for awhile here at the Hale Koa Hotel pool.  The pink hibiscus were particularly showy today.

Hope you all had a great day, too!

Monday, May 18, 2015

A Sunday At The Beach

Sort of...Michele dropped me off at the Mamala Bay Golf Course just after noon.  It's the Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam golf course, located along the shore of what used to be called Hickam Air Force Base.  The two bases were merged back in 2010 as a cost-saving measure.  I worked on my golf game while she visited the base Exchange for some recreational shopping.  At about three PM, she picked me up and we headed for the Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam beach.  After a nice swim, we had a wonderful late lunch at Sam Choy's Seafood Grille.  The restaurant is located on the beach with excellent views of the aquamarine waters of Mamala Bay--just about the prettiest we've ever seen.  The camera is hard-pressed to even come close to real color.  

Both the beach and golf course aren't far from the taxiway to Honolulu International Airport's reef runway, so I had many opportunities for photos of aircraft today from a completely different perspective.

Here's how things looked from ground level for a change. :)

How lucky can you get!  This was a simple shot of the aquamarine water and those small sailboats, when this bird decided it was time to do a fly-by.  It seemed like the most "natural" way to open this post which features so many "mechanical" birds.

View from one of the two practice putting greens.  The emerald water is a slice of Mamala Bay which the course runs along side of.  If you click on the image, you'll see an aircraft nearly hidden by the palms, just above the water.  It's on the reef runway of Honolulu International Airport, getting ready to take off.

One of my "implements of mass frustration". :)

At the beach, Michele looks at the beautiful scenery, while a Korean Airlines 747 taxis to the reef runway.  It's almost the same color as the water, and instantly recognizable.

Kids and parents enjoying their Sunday at the beach, while a Hawaiian Airlines B-767-300 is about to take the reef runway for takeoff.  In the far distance, a tanker is anchored.  Click on any of the photos for a closer view.

From the blurry areas behind the engines, you know the aircraft is at full power and rolling for takeoff.  Notice the orange wind sock standing straight out.  It's not from the engine exhaust, but the strong trade winds, which kept us very comfortable today.

Airborne!  In the distance, you're looking at the north end of Diamond Head and some Waikiki condominium towers.  Those are fiberglass kayaks adding a splash of color to the foreground.

A Delta 747-400 ready to go.  Our friend and Delta Flight Attendant, Barbara Smith, may have been aboard today.  She has been hoping I'd be able to get some photos of this aircraft taking off and today we got lucky!

On her way.  This shot was taken from our table at Sam Choy's Seafood Grille at the beach.

Lift off!  Diamond Head provides an appropriate background.

Gear coming up and on her way.

Back to our lunch. :)  I chose this beautifully colored drink to slake my powerful tropical thirst:  The "Green Flash". 

Michele tried this refreshing drink called a Li Hing Margarita.  The normal salt on the rim has been replaced with li hing, a dried plum powder with a sweet-sour-salty taste. 

We both had one of these monster burgers.  We should've shared one!

Another shot from our table.  That's a United Airways jet heading for the reef runway.

A stand-up paddler enjoying the late afternoon.  The detail of this sixty or seventy yards distant shot amazed me.  Click on the image for an even closer look at the splash and the board leash.

It was a good day.  Hope yours was, too.

*Our condolences go out to the family and friends of the U.S. Marine killed and the 21-injured in the crash of a V-22-Osprey aircraft today on O'ahu.