Aloha, friends! Well, my summer vacation is drawing to a close, but this past weekend I crossed off three things on my “must do” list! Stairway to Heaven was one, photographing a sea turtle was two, and seeing Oahu from the air was the final one! This, boys and girls, is it. I’m glad it was one of the last things on this trip, because I got to revisit several of my previous adventures from 1,500 feet! This is the Cessna we flew in. IMG_5727 We almost didn’t get to go up! The weather was less than pleasant yesterday morning, and this is a small plane. It would’ve been tossed around like a leaf on the wind if the conditions had stayed like that. But we got the call around 10 that we were set to go, but it may be a little bumpy. Here we are preparing for takeoff. IMG_5728 We headed up to the North Shore. Captain Kevin Loughnane, our pilot (and Kelsey’s boss at work), flew over the water so that we could follow the shore. It was beautiful! I cannot get over how bright and jewel-toned the water is! DSC_3963 DSC_4024 This valley has been the location for several big movies, including Jurassic Park and Windtalkers. DSC_4029 Look how clear the water is. You can see everything below! DSC_4046 We also passed the previous day’s hike. You can just barely make out the radar station in the clouds. DSC_4067.1 The water is deeper here, around Makapu’u Lighthouse DSC_4100 And here’s a small island off the coast from Makapu’u. DSC_4090 We flew by the butt-kicking Koko Crater. DSC_4118 And nearby Hanauma Bay, which is a popular snorkeling spot. DSC_4133 And one final shot of the coast before we went in for a landing. DSC_4152 How’s that for adventure? I’m so thankful to Captain Loughnane for offering me this unique opportunity to view the island from the air! And I couldn’t repay Kelsey’s hospitality this summer if I had two lifetimes to do it! But I can keep saying thank you!

Readers, don’t think I’m done yet. My plane leaves on Thursday, so I plan on trying to fit in at least one more adventure.

Mahalo,
Jen

This morning, I dropped Kelsey off at work and decided to check out the lookout park off Pali Highway. Very close to downtown Honolulu, Pali Lookout offers great views of the windward side of the island. When I went this morning, it was still hazy from the clouds that cling to the mountains overnight. nuuanu pali lookout nuuanu pali lookout nuuanu pali lookout, windward oahu

Panoramic view of the windward side of Oahu
Panoramic view of the windward side of Oahu

This weekend, we’re tackling Olomana again, but this time all three peaks will be ours!

Mahalo,

Jen

Day three of our Maui vacation started early. Like, “sometimes-I-go-to-bed-this-late” early. We set the alarm for 1:45 am. The plan? Watch the sun rise over the clouds at the summit at the Haleakala National Park. Travel time from the hotel took about two and a quarter hours, so we got there earlier than we needed to for even first light, but we were glad we did. We got a great parking spot right next to the stairs up to the observation deck, and the very dark environment made for some excellent stargazing. DSC_3204

You can see the bands of the Milky Way.
You can see the bands of the Milky Way.

Did I mention it was freezing? Elevation was 10,000 feet (and change), and the wind was blowing. We were above the clouds. Now, being from Florida, the middle of July is not a time to don long sleeves and pants. As such, what with the very little planning time, I didn’t even bring shoes that weren’t flip-flops, let alone a jacket or long-sleeved shirt. Fortunately, Grant had a pair of water shoes in the car. They were mesh, but still better than sandals. There was also a closed-in structure on the summit which was at least 15 degrees warmer than outside because the wind was blocked. We did at least get tips from reviewers beforehand that it would be cold. So we grabbed a couple of blankets from our hotel room, and boy am I glad we did! Here’s a piece of advice to anyone planning a trip to Maui, no matter what time of year: bring a jacket, long pants, and at least one pair of closed-toed shoes! Hiking boots are probably the best, but if you’re not a hiker, then…*shrug*. Layers are also a good recommendation, as it warms up fairly quickly once the sun hits the observation deck. Enough that I was able to shed my blanket(s) and walk around in my short-sleeved shirt.

Back to the photos, though. Once I saw the telltale signs of first light, I went outside the shelter of the observation deck and staked out a spot that wasn’t blocking or being blocked by someone else. I’m glad I brought my tripod, because a) it was dark, and b) I was shaking like a Jack Russell terrier on espresso. I set up my shot to a delayed shutter release, then would quickly hit the shutter button before tucking my hand safely back into the relative warmth of the blanket. It’s times like this I regret not having a remote shutter release (goes to add it to Amazon wish list). Anyway, here’s a shot of the first light preceding the sun. DSC_3214 And here’s an idea of how cold it was waiting for the sun to come up.

You can see the clouds below us!
You can see the clouds below us!

Just as the sun starts peeking above the clouds, it looks like it sets them on fire. DSC_3301 DSC_3317 DSC_3348 And here we are. Grant was very sweet and gave me his blanket before running into the observation booth away from the wind. He told me I was crazy at least 5 times. DSC_3344 Now you can really see the clouds as the sun climbs higher. DSC_3373 DSC_3375 DSC_3376 This is a view from the other side of the crater. DSC_3370 And I found this very interesting plant growing atop the summit. DSC_3378 We drove back down and made it to our hotel around 8 am, at which time we took a two hour nap before grabbing breakfast. The rest of the day was uneventful. Some reading and relaxing in our room and out on our balcony. We did go out to dinner at a restaurant across the street from our hotel. Grant was determined to try the poke, so we got some poke tacos, which were delicious! IMG_5527 That sums up day 3 of our 4-day trip. Our final day in Maui will be up shortly.

Mahalo,

Jen

Well, day one in Maui was exhausting because of the long drive and the very little sleep the night before. So, we decided to sleep in a bit on day two and then go to the beach for water and sunset. Before I forget, here’s the view from our hotel room’s balcony.

Thank you, Kelsey and Devlin!
Thank you, Kelsey and Devlin!

A few different sites recommended Ka’anapali Beach for nice sands, good snorkeling, and great sunsets. Sold! We took the highway along the southwestern coast of the island, and had to stop at this lookout we found. IMG_5472 It’s apparently a great spot for watching humpback whales during the colder months when they’ve migrated down to these waters. Since it’s summer, we just got a beautiful, clear view of the Pacific and some islands in the distance.

We got to our destination (after a bit of driving around trying to find the place), and staked out our spot on the sands (which were very soft, as advertised). I didn’t take many pictures while we relaxed on the beach, but when it got closer to sunset, the Nikon came out to play. IMG_5481 IMG_5478 DSC_3137 Next up: freezing our butts off for a sunrise on a mountain. Stay tuned!

Mahalo,

Jen