Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The Wonder Under the Sea at Molokini Crater

I'd like to think that the airport x-ray machines damaged my film because it was ISO 800 and we forgot to ask for the hand inspection, but I think the reality is that the camera was just crappy. No zoom, no preview - we were stuck with whatever came out. And then LATER, I read on the back that the underwater pictures are supposed to be taken within a range of one meter. Good thing Walgreens screwed up my order and I got them developed for free!

So, the color you see here is very dull compared to what we saw... see, I told you that you just had to be there! Try to use your imaginations, okay?

Cool long, skinny fish... fish sticks?


It was like swimming in an aquarium.


I tried to capture the breath-taking drop off into the abyss... imagine harder, people!


Lots and lots of black fish... and one yellow one doing his own thing.


This was taken at a shallower depth, so you can see a LITTLE more color. I love the orange ones, don't you?


My legs can't be THAT white, right? Dang those x-ray machines... they totally washed me out... totally...


Hi Russ!


Lookin' cool...


Now go see it for yourselves, people! It'll be like watching Dorothy step out into the colorful land of Oz.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Aloha from Maui

Ain't nobody ever say, "I don't like no Maui." We liked it so much in 2005 that we decided to go back to celebrate our 10th anniversary (I know, how much celebrating do we need? Do we have to stop now?). Amazing doesn't even begin to describe our trip... lots of things are amazing, but this was special amazing :)

Our first day, we drove up the coast of west Maui.


None of the pictures I took can come close to showing the wonder of the lava formations, the immensity of the surf, or the intensity of the raging sea. You just have to be there. For example, this blowhole was shooting at least 50 feet in the air. We just didn't want to get very close for fear of being washed out to sea.



The pounding surf.


We dubbed this formation "Poseidon's Thumb" (even if it does look more like a middle finger) - it's saying, "Epic surf, dudes!"


On our second day, we took a fantastic snorkeling and sailing trip to Molokini Crater. I brought an underwater camera to take pictures of the coral and fish, but I haven't had the pictures developed yet. (Developed... what's that, right?) Along the side of the crater where it slopes down into the sea, we looked over the edge of the coral reef into the the abyss... an awe-inspiring sight that makes you feel so small. I hope I got some good pictures, but like the coastline... you probably just had to be there to experience it yourself.

The boat crew actually put up the sails, but not to full mast. What you see here is maybe halfway up the mast.


There were only five other customers on this boat that normally can take 38, so it was almost like a private charter... very cool!


That night, we saw a magic show at Warren & Annabelle's. Fun, unique atmosphere, yummy appetizers, and really funny and talented sleight of hand magicians... thumbs up! (But I'm still wondering... how did he get that ring inside the walnut?)

Our hotel was great, but we didn't want to spend extra money on an ocean view, so we got this mountain view instead (I did a nice job of cropping out the parking lot, don't you think?).


And here we are sitting on the beach right behind our hotel.


On our last trip to Maui, we took the road to Hana, but we stopped so many times that it was dark by the time we got to Hana, and we never made it to Ohe'o Gulch. This time, we decided we'd only hit our favorite stops from last time.



And we added some of the places we didn't see last time, like the state-run arboretum. Here are some lovely examples of the plant life we encountered...




I'd like to interrupt this program to bring you a public service announcement... please slow down around turns on the road to Hana!


Thank you. And now back to your regularly scheduled program.



By mid-afternoon, we had made it to Ohe'o Gulch, but what sad news... it was a high water day, and they weren't letting anyone play in the water. We went all that way for NOTHING! Okay, it was still cool, but that just made us want to play there even more.


We hiked up close to this massive waterfall and were literally blown away by the force of the water and soaked by the overspray.


One of the best stops from 2005 was the bl ack sand beach. Alas, there was an endangered monk seal lying on the beach, so no people were allowed down there. How many bummers can there be on this excursion?!? (Note: A bummer in Hawaii is much less crummy than a bummer at home.)


On our last full day in Hawaii, we went on a zipline tour, which was something we had wanted to do last time. This one happens to be the first commercial zipline in the United States, so the equipment was a little old school, but it was still fun.







And then we drove up to the 10,000 foot summit of Haleakala Crater, which we hadn't ever visited before. Nothing like the lush crater on Kauai, this crater was vast, barren, and starkly beautiful.



This plant, called a silversword, really is silvery when viewed in the sunlight - quite unique in the plant world. It blooms once in its life and then dies... and it only grows here on Haleakala crater.



I'm telling you, this place gave me chills... you won't get that from my photos, but I tried.





At 10,000 feet, we were above the clouds... it was like being in heaven (or Care-a-lot).


We decided to have a special dinner on our last night, so we ate at the restaurant at our hotel that is right by the beach. We got there right when they opened, and so we got the table closest to the ocean. It was bright at first...


But before our dinner was served, the sun started to fade into the horizon, and we got front row seats for our last sunset in Hawaii. It was PERFECT!


The next morning before our flight home, we spent a little more time playing on the beach, saying goodbye. I miss it already.


PS - Thanks Mom and Dad for watching our kids so that this trip could be possible for us. You're the best, and we love you!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Halloween Etc.

For trunk-or-treat this year, we did a cemetery theme to complement our costumes. Do you like my tombstones?


And I even composed one line of music to go along with my costume. I enjoyed playing and singing it in a melodramatic fashion while wearing my costume because it annoyed my kids. Payback time!


This year, we scaled back and only carved one pumpkin. That was good because it was hard to find volunteers to do the work. I cut the lid, and Will was our designated gut cleaner and scraper. The girls wanted nothing to do with that.


Apparently Brandon didn't either.


I asked the girls to design a pumpkin face. They drew Hello Kitty, which we couldn't figure out how to do (a bow on the ear... really?). So, I told them to draw just eyes, a nose, and a mouth. They drew a ghost face. Will wanted a spider, so we decided on a two-sided pumpkin. Everybody wins! Plus, how special is this father and son bonding time?


The girls served up "brownies" while we worked.


Here comes the ghost face.


And now the spider.


Pretty cool. Does this remind you of an old Disneyland commercial? I can't place it...


Good job, Will... and Russ, who had to finish the last SEVEN legs after Will gave up. That sure is a fat, nasty spider.


My little clowns were having a great time posing for the camera.


Halloween night, we had Blueberry Muffin...


A fierce girl dragon...


And a sweet little jack o'lantern eyeing the candy.


This is what bored people do while answering the door for trick-or-treaters... they take silly pictures of themselves!



Here's my better half.


The happy couple... I mean, the dreadful couple.


And afterward, more brownies. Cuz we always need more sugar!