Sunday, December 10, 2017

Maui Day 5 Helicopter Tour

Maui Day 5 had an early morning helicopter tour on the itinerary. It took a 12 hour tour yesterday to see the island of Maui from the ground. Today we would see the same territory and much more in only an hour.Two tours providing very different points of view of the same scenery, both of them worth the money. 


It was the first time in a helicopter for me, although I have been in small two seat planes many times, even flown them on the sly, but that is another story.  :)
Annette had been on a very memorable doors-off helicopter tour around the mountains north of Maple Ridge flying over the twin peaks of Mt. Blanshard, known locally as "Golden Ears". Fantastic views of the tops of the mountains, small tarns (alpine lakes), glaciers, and vistas in the back country mountains not usually seen by man due to the impossible terrain. She was a lucky girl to get to go on that private tour, today would be another highly memorable sight seeing trip from up high.

We splurged on the more expensive tour as we wanted to ensure ourselves of the better views the more expensive tour brought as they employed newer helicopters with the wide glass windows which afforded better views for the occupants.

Besides, the tour brought huge smiles to Annette's face, and I'm a sucker to do anything that makes her smile.That's why we have cats even though I am allergic to them. When people ask me "why did I agree to bring home a cat, let alone two"? My answer is simple. "Cause they make her smile"

Within a few short minutes our view of the island changed from a land based flat earth view to one of a soaring eagle  Green smooth hills revealed themselves to be full of ripples and mini canyons. Our average speed was around 120 MPH but as the view was so expansive it seemed like we were only doing 30 MPH.

We rose to 10,000 feet to get above the clouds to be able to view the Haleakala Observatory operated by the U.S. Air Force as part of the Air Force Maui Optical and Supercomputing site (AMOS0 whatever that is.

When you drive by car around the island you lose track of the fact that the Hawaiian Islands are products of volcanic activity and are in reality all large volcanoes themselves. From the air it is easier to see the truth. In this picture alone there are 4 mini-craters through which the lava flowed when the main chimney was plugged.

We circled Maui in a counter clockwise fashion, opposite of yesterday, so we seen the sights in reverse order. Even so it was pretty easy to know when we were over the wetter north coast of the island. This is the "tropical jungle" side of the island; much more lush vegetation and greenery to show for the extra rain fall. On the north-east coast dryer land has the mini craters all brown in their appearance. On this coast the mini-craters blended into the greenery of the jungle.

In North America, especially our home province of B.C., Ice Age glaciers and melt water runoff are responsible for most of the topography. In Hawaii, volcanoes and lava and rain have created all the land formations we surveyed from the comfort of our flying ship.

Flying lower at 5,000 feet the rugged coast lines of the west shore were brought into close view for a treat for the eyes and the senses. Pity that pictures never can show the full beauty that the human eye can capture. It was a treat to know that were were seeing parts of the island that we would never have known about had we stuck with the car exploring on our own.

Before too long we knew we were getting close to the end of the tour as civilization started to appear on the landscape in the form of small farms which edged all the way to the cliffs. I hope the farm animals are smart enough not to take that last step. !!

A last pose in front of our whirlybird before we went inside to take off our bright yellow personal flotation devices and grabbed our souvenir recording of the flight. I thought it was pretty cool that the entire time we were on the flight a camera was recording your sight seeing and they made that available to you at the end of the tour. It was $25.00 which I thought was a pretty cheap memento to take home to be able to relive our really fun tour of paradise as seen from 10,000 feet.

The complete set of pictures highlighting Maui from 10,000 feet can be seen here on my Flickr web site     

Monday, November 27, 2017

Maui Days 2 - 3 - 4


Day 2 was a quick skip to the north central coast to check out Ho'okipa Beach Park. We had heard it was pretty cool place to see, so we did the drive and had a look around the area. Unknown to us, we were only a hundred yards away from where the Green Sea Turtles pull themselves onto the beach to rest. We wold find out a few days later and return here on our last day on which we spent the day touring the island before we turned in the rental car and caught our flight home.

Click on any picture to see larger versions of them. The scenery deserves nothing less 


Ensuring I looked like the tacky tourist I picked up an Hawaiian shirt and wore my Canucks hat for the day to hang around the beach. Sandals and long khaki shorts completed the picture of the snow white tourist from the world of cold.

Annette and I organised a few tours/outings starting on Day 3, Annette had a stand up paddle board lesson scheduled in the morning and I was free to take the pictures.

With instructions from their instructor the small group headed off down the shore for practice near the shoreline. Annette later said it was difficult to get the hang of the standing on the board as the waves kept pushing her off balance.

When they got back to the launch area Annette had managed to stand up a few times but it was as clearly not as easy as you think it should be.

The morning work out was rewarded with a great plate of fish tacos at the Paia Fish Market in Lahaina.. Annette's reward seems to have been a great deal of sun on her body. Something she wold pay for in the coming days.


Day 4 was a very long day indeed - we took a bus tour around the island. Pick up time was 6.30 AM, (it was still dark), drop off time turned out to be 6.30 PM (in the dark). That was a long day to be on a 15 passenger bus but it was worth taking the guided tour.

The Road To Hanna as it is commonly referred to, is a 64 mile long stretch of narrow two lane road cutting through the tropical forest side of the island. The road boasts of over 600 turns and 51 one lane bridges. Many of the turns are blind corners and they suggest you honk your horn in case a larger vehicle is trying to squeeze around the corner.

The road is a very busy land connection for both the locals and the tourists. Doesn't take long for a backup to form once you have a stoppage in the traffic. The views are spectacular and I couldn't possibly try to do the drive justice on this write up. Instead I'll post a few pictures here and you can see all the other pictures by clicking here for the link for Days 2 - 3 - 4 on my Flickr site.

As the chain of islands are volcanic in nature, in many places historically recent lava flows dominate the landscape. This leads to dramatic seascapes where the harsh jut of land causes the waves to crash over the rough shore.

Where the road rises on the side of the mountains it affords beautiful views of the lush vegetation and of the always present seashore.

The islands have always attracted people to the warm climates, both famous and non-famous. One of the surprises on the day was visiting the small graveyard where Charles Lindbergh is buried.

"Lava, lava everywhere" sums up the north east coast of Maui. This has had the most recent volcanic eruptions and it shows. For many miles the road cuts across a barren lava flow that has just recently allowed vegetation to gain a foot hold.
The first picture shows the road descending through a cut in a lava wall. The second picture shows a small crater, one of the many where the lava pushed up through the land when the main chimney was blocked.

This was the end of the most scenic part of the drive, more pictures of the trip can be seen here.
Day 4 would find us on a helicopter tour over the same land path we took on Day 3, only it would take just one hour to cover the same land and we would do it from 10,000 feet. 
Watch for that story shortly ...

Check out more pictures from our many travels here at my main Flickr page

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Maui Day One

Annette and I had a week in Maui recently, our second time to Hawaii but the first was so long ago that we were just kids it seems.
With both our work lives hectic and demanding with projects tasking our brains we knew we had to take a break and what better place to recharge the body then some where in the sun.

All of Day One's pictures can be seen on my Flickr web site here

So a trip to the travel agent had three choices in our hands in a couple of days, and a week or so later we were on a plane to Maui.

The first day was a day to just chill as we had one of those late night flights that had us getting to our hotel at 3.00 AM our time, so we were pretty beat the next morning.
We awoke to the view you see in the picture above - not a bad view to wake up to at all.

 We toured the local town of Lahaina which was a whaling town and before that was one of the Hawaiian King's residences.

In the central courtyard at the Old Courthouse is a banyan tree that has been nurtured and helped to grow to provide shade from the tropical sun for the local residents. 134 years of growing has created one of the largest banyan trees in the world.

Many celebrities have made a home or started a business on Maui: above is a sign for Mick Fleetwood's restaurant (of Fleetwood Mac fame). Among other names we would here were Woody Harrelson, Oprah Winfrey, and Weird Al Yankovic

By late afternoon we were back in our hotel room with the necessities of a a tropical holiday laid out on our balcony table. A cold beer, a glass of wine, some brie and bread to spread it on.
A little downtime to rest up and then we were off to tour the north side of the island.

As we were already close to the north end of the island we did not have to go far before the climate changed and we went from the dry west side to the wet north side and the tropical jungle began to appear.

The winding topography created sheltered lagoons that only the locals seemed to know about. Large houses take up prime real estate for the fantastic views, have to say I'm kinda jealous.

The sun begins to set around 6.00 PM and by 6.30 it's already dark. Not like home where you can track the sun for the last couple hours of the day. In Maui it's like 20 minutes and then it's dark.

Our hotel room faced west so every night we had great views of the sunset. By the time you got seated on the balcony with a glass of wine and a book to read, the sun was already beginning to dip into the ocean.

Just like watching the sand run out of the hourglass, you can watch the sun hide it's bright face behind the ocean. The quickness of the approaching night makes watching the sun set a spectator sport.

The last rays of sunshine creep over the horizon to light up the distant sky but the light is already too far away to highlight the clouds. Every minute the light changes enough to have a true photographer's heart all aflutter.
No more sight seeing for this day, what should we do now to end the day honey?

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

B.C. Geocaching Road Trip - Part 2

The long awaited part 2 of the write up of our late summer geocaching road trip to Merritt - Kamloops - Vernon.

Click on any of the pictures to see the full size version

Day 3 we awoke in Kamloops and cached in the city for a while as we picked off a few in the south part of the city near our hotel. Eventually we headed north towards the Thompson River area and then east as we followed the river out of town towards our next destination of Vernon.

We have cached several time sin Kamloops and I have many photos and enough video already so I opted to not repeat material from past posts and instead will pick up the storytelling in Westwold.

Westwold is a small community on Highway 97 as you run south from Kamloops down to Vernon.
Our first memorable geocache was located at a business named Wildrides Hotrods. It is a combination garage/car servicing and restoration business, as well as having some old cars and trucks out front to entice folks to stop by for a view and a bite to eat from the small cafe the have on site.

We got to have a look around at the old cars and find a cache at the same time, not a bad two for one stop on the road.

We cached our way steadily south through small communities with the highlight of Falkland being the "big" city on this highway. I had planned a route that was heavy in Kamloops and lighter on the road so we could make time as we headed to Vernon to visit another brother and his wife As the day wore on we realized that we had to stop caching and start making time if we were to keep our "dinner" date with Wayne and Inga so we put aside the GPS and put the pedal down so we could spend some time visiting family.

Day 4 and the last day of the road trip we spent the morning caching in urban Vernon enjoying the downtown core on an early Sunday morning before the crowds woke up.
This gave us the opportunity to see some of the murals in the core area representing the history of Vernon. Transportation seemed to be the theme with multiple murals depicting some sort of travel method.

Seems like where ever you are in Vernon you are not far from a lake...whether it be Okanagan Lake or Woods Lake or Kalamalka Lake one of them is always in your view.

As we headed south out of Vernon back down towards home on the Coast we opted to take the scenic route and cached along a back road named Commonage Road that straddled the high ground between the big waters of Okanagan Lake and some of the smaller lakes.

Here you see a good division of work between brothers...sorta like the well oiled caching machine we are. MrTJ works on some potato chips, tjguy98 runs the video camera, and Bowser98 does the work of finding the cache and signing the log book. Works like a charm!  :)

Further south you are back on the shores of Okanagan Lake in aptly named
"Lake Country". This is one of those areas where every driveway has a boat and/or seadoos to go with it. A truck to tow the boat is the typical family wheels, no travel trailers or RVs to be seen here.

Lake views and cool breezes from the lakes are the normal experience when you are in Lake Country. We were a bit late in the year for the crowds but a few die hards were still out enjoying the last days of an Indian Summer before they had to put the boats away for the winter.

Into Kelowna we sailed picking up a roadside cache here and there as we continued our return trip home. One of the caches we stopped for was in West Bank at Paynter's Fruit Market where a local farming enterprise had a large market-type operation that was obviously well appreciated by the local residents. Many types of fruit and vegetables were sold outside  and inside many locally produced food items were available...tempting enough that we grabbed a few items off the shelf for the long lonely drive home.

But I digress...we were here on a mission to find a geocache and the old tractor on display made a convenient location to place a magnetic cache box hidden from muggles but a quick find for cachers.

On our last leg of our journey we headed along the Coquihalla Connector, which joins West Bank to Merritt, picking up new caches since our last run down the highway. We were now in "make-up-time" mode as we grabbed a few caches right off the on ramps/off ramps of the highway never straying far from the main thorough fare.

The last three caches were all along the same short spur road, which was actually part of the old Highway 5A. A yellow middle line on the pavement and an old brake check sign told us we were standing on an outdated piece of motor car history.

The very last cache we found was jsut east of Merritt on the long downhill stretch into Merritt . Some joker has left an old toilet as if they came here to use the open air facilities while enjoying a magnificent view of the Nicola Valley with Merritt as it's centre piece.

This was also the place where, after 4 days of crashing through bush and scrambling up and down hill sides, MrTJ decided to gash his leg open on the old potty...ewwwww....

Watch the video and you will see that MrTJ, trooper that he is, found the cache first and then tended to the gash on his leg. Bowser98 and myself  had the same geocaching dedication so we signed the log book and then tucked the cache back away in it's hiding place before we went back to the truck to render first aid to MrTJ.

This was the last cache of the day, the last cache of the 4 day road trip through the Interior of BC, and my very last video shot of the trip.
The sun came out from under a dark cloud and bathed Merritt in a blast of sunlight. The scene was so pretty I expected to hear angels singing.

I realized the video shoot was something I couldn't top so I put the camera away and we jumped into the truck to make a run for the Coast and back to our home sweet homes.

Four days on the road netted us 160 caches, a visit with a brother and his wife, and a load of new memories for the memory banks. A pretty satisfying road trip for the Jeep Brothers once again.

Watch the video below by clicking on it or by visiting my YouTube page here.