Stat Counter

A Valley Isle reportage. Shoot first, write later.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Here Comes the Wind

Maui is famous for its daily tradewinds, but today, we got to see a fierce, almost scary side of it.  Blowing through the "valley" portion of Maui going from northeast to southwest, today's 50+ knot winds shut down Maalaea Harbor.  Maalaea is home to many snorkel, dive, and fishing operations, and for the boats not to go out, it means conditions were dangerous to say the least.

This tree broke in half.

I recall taking this photo of the Four Winds II and not only leaning into the wind, but taking spray all over my face and camera!

I actually considered standing on top the the cement wall to get a better shot, but decided not to go swimming.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Knot Your Bag

Effective January 2011, Maui County will ban all plastic shopping bags.  These convenient yet ultimately environmentally disastrous grocery carriers kill fish, birds, and turtles by the thousand.  I went to the Central Maui Landfill today and these series of shots were taken in literally 5-6 minutes among our usual howling afternoon tradewinds.

Note the extremely large hill in the background.  That is the landfill mound - the final destination of the wooden umbrella that was in your Mai Tai last night.  What's horrendous about these plastic bags is the fact that they act like little sails and catch the wind very well.  So well in fact that they take flight.  You can see the metal fences erected atop the hill to try and prevent the bags from leaving the area.  They're incredibly ineffective.  The photo below shows about two dozen various plastic bags on a one-way flight to the ocean.

What can you do about this situation until the January 2011 ban?  You can tie a knot in your plastic bag before throwing it away as to prevent it from taking flight.  Of course using reusable shopping bags help greatly.

Maui County Plastic Bag Reduction

Don't Add to the Garbage Patch - the giant floating mass of garbage (mostly plastic) twice the size of Texas located in the Pacific Ocean between Northern California and Hawaii.

See an updated post from May 4 here.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Wailea Work Outs

If any of you are planning on staying in Wailea during your Maui trip, bring your running shoes!  What most people don't know prior to coming is that as Wailea is a natural desert climate, it has very little to no rain.  All those palm trees and green grass are the products of millions of dollars of landscaping and irrigation.  All this lack of rain a generally mild and sunny climate make Wailea a natural tourist mecca, and a great place to plunk a row of resorts.  These resorts being from north to south - Wailea Marriott, Grand Wailea, Four Seasons, Fairmont Kea Lani, and Hotel Wailea and finally, the Makena Beach and Golf Resort (the resort former known as the Maui PRINCE).

So, what does this all mean?  Well, if you like your morning exercise, you can run along Wailea Alanui (street).  There are sidewalks for entire stretch so you don't have to worry about oncoming traffic.  You can even extend your run from Wailea all the way down to Kihei for some real mileage and still be along the shoreline.  Let me show you what I mean about exercising along the street.

Please keep in mind I shot all these from my truck blind with my Nikon D40 out the window!

In front of the Grand Wailea

Off to tennis - there is a Wailea Tennis Center as well.

 Biking along South Kihei Road

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Just Another Day at Hookipa

The real call of the North Shore - its whole existence really - is based on the surf.  Oahu has Waimea Bay and Pipeline, and here on Maui, we have Peahi a.k.a. - Jaws (tow-in), Kanaha (kitesurfing), and the granddaddy of them all - Hookipa Beach.  Arguably the finest stretch of windsurfing to be had anywhere, this place attracts world-class talent and Hookipa regularly hosts various windsurfing and surfing contests.

However, before I starting showing you the meat of today, I just have to show you this couple who walked in front of my truck to cross the street in Paia.

I don't know about you, but to me, that looks intentional... :)

OK, back to Hookipa... As I pull into the overlook parking lot, I see all sorts of people ranging from locals to visitors gazing in awe at these superheroes of the wind and waves.  I heard stuff like, "did you see that guy fall?  I hope he's not hurt!" and "look at that turn, that's crazy!"

Oh, to be placed on a pedestal.

Everyplace has its rules and regs, and Hookipa is no exception.  You can see the windsurfers in the nearer distance and kiters in the background.  In the immediate foreground directly underneath me and not in the shot are the surfers.  Clearly designated, yet invisible boundaries separate these three cousins.

On the beach now and waiting at the water's edge for windsurfers to get out of the water, I kneel camera in hand to get close-ups.  As I wait and watch one windsurfer after another glide to a halt and proceed to walk up the beach, I realize that everyone seems to really know what they're doing.  Not like the I'm kinda-good intermediate know what I'm doing, but the if you shoot me and show the logo on the bottom of my board, you the photographer can make money selling my image to a magazine kind of good.  Don't get any ideas people and steal my photos!  However, this is how I heard it works in the surfing mag photo business - the more advertiser names and stickers showcased, the better for the surfer and the photographer.

Now all I need a 600mm telephoto lens...  In the meantime, I'll just get paparazzi close.

Superhero #1

Superhero #2

Superhero #3

Now that's what I call using your head.

In the parking lot I come across the Hawaiian version of the lemonade stand, the infamous and deliciously addictive Pickle Mango for sale.  That's the stuff sitting atop the blue cooler.  Wonderful!

Future Superhero

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Well-Come to Why-Lay-Ah

Not Miami, but Wailea.

In this completely fabricated and made up section of South Maui, in what was once a large stretch of barren desert-like Kiawe plain, lies a Vegas-esque fantasy world of gushing resort waterfalls, multi-million dollar vacation homes, and the odd celebrity.  As soon as you descend off Pi'ilani Highway and down into Wailea, you are immediately and I'm sure very deliberately reminded by a conglomeration of Maui consumerism - The Shops at Wailea.  Holy Rodeo Drive Batman!

I'm in the area to shoot pics of neighboring Makena, and yes, there is another reason as well which I will get to.  Even though I may not want to, as I'm the Maui Observer, I need to represent all of Maui.  So, here are a bunch of peeps enjoying their morning coffee outside Honolulu Coffee Co. inside "The Shops."

Note the additional water fountain to the left.

Now I've been told that lots of Japanese women come here to loot the stores of their wares as the goods are apparently much cheaper in Maui than back in Japan.  What kind of stores?  Well:

Everyone's heard of Rolex right?  The monster timepieces that double as brass knuckles.

What the hell do these guys sell?  If I remember the movie Collateral, this place carries leather handbags.

From a friend that works here, apparently the Japanese really like Goo-CHEE.

The Koreans really like Kim-CHEE and this store.

I just like how this establishment resembles a friggin' bank vault.

Now I knew there was a reason I myself was in The Shops.

I head down the escalator, past White House Black Market, turn right, and stroll down a long hallway.  At the end of the hallway, I turn left and enter:



Feel free to stare my friends, as it doesn't get better than this on the Valley Isle.

You will never see so many pristine empty stalls and johns with a floor so clean your slippers squeak as you walk back and forth trying to decide which one to piss in.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Close Encounters of the Humpback Kind

Sometimes we just get lucky.  There's a common phrase in fishing that "it's better to be lucky than good."

I'm a Lucky One

When it comes to photography, I'm definitely in the former category.  I'm spoiled by technology and digital photography - I can shoot, process, and export photos in record time... I can't imagine actually developing photos by feeling up film canisters in the dark wondering the entire time if I got the correct exposure.  Cropping?  You mean I actually need to get the scissors out?  My respect goes out to film photographers...

I'm a Lucky Two

We had this escort/mother/calf trio approach us the other day and oh my, they just kept coming.  They didn't turn away.  In fact, they came straight at me and my Nikon D40.  I didn't even have to move, just hold my breath and slap the shutter release.

I'm a Lucky Three

Machine gunning away, I realize that not only are the whales close, one of the whales decides to roll over and show us his/her pectoral fins.  Is this a threat/protection display by the escort?  You can see the two adults together.  In the last shot, you can see the calf coming up.

FYI, humpbacks usually travel (around here anyway) in groups of three - comprised of mother, calf, and escort.  An escort is usually a male, not necessarily the father, that will protect the mother and calf.  At least this is what has been explained to me.

BTW, this is rare guys, I don't see this everyday, and yes, I was excited. :)

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Little Beach Unplugged

Did you know that the Uhu - or "parrotfish" in Hawaiian - is responsible for up to 70% of the sand found on Hawaii's beaches?  The little uhus munch on coral,  digest it, and defecate sand.  Pictured above is Big Beach in Makena on the south shore of Maui.  It's one of the longest and most scenic stretches of uhu shit I've ever seen.  I parked my truck at the first entrance of Big Beach and find someone metal detecting.  I'm here for morning light and I try to catch some shots during "Golden Hour."

I'm facing roughly north and over that little lava hill you see in the background lies a quaint, quite stunning, crescent-shaped piece of sandy oceanfront aptly named Little Beach.  For those of you who don't already know, Little Beach is the clothing optional beach, and that's all we tell the visitors.  On a nice sunny day, you will find all manner of people of both sexes partially or totally de-robed playing paddleball in the surf, lounging around reading a book, or swimming.  On Sunday nights, LB is known for hosting weekly fire dancing and drum circles.

We sometimes motor by Little Beach on our snorkel tours and let our passengers gawk.  It's all part of the nickel tour (notice the lack of actual nude pics).

Assuming you don't have a boat and can't swim in, you can access LB by walking over that little red volcanic mound in the right side of the above photo from BB.   You will see this sign, and yes, please don't get hit by falling rocks or try to climb that cliff face.

Once you reach the acme of the petit hill, you may start getting excited in anticipation of seeing droves of naked young vixens prancing in the surf slathered in Hawaiian Tropic SPF 5.

I assure you that you WON'T.

You see a path in the sand.  Where is the beach?  Turn left.  There it is.  Notice all the footprints.  Where are the people?  Well, on this day, I was there early, so I saw only two people.

One of them - a middle-aged Causcasian male wearing nothing but sunglasses - started to stroll back and forth along the beach near the water's edge.  What's he doing?  It looks as if he's trolling for Marlin.

There's nobody else here, he can't possibly see me, I'm in the kiawe bushes behind the sand trying to make my way to the far side of the beach to access the tide pools (these tide pools on the right side of LB  just invite you to jump in, and you'll typically never know they're there unless you go to LB).

What else is on the right (north) side of LB?  Remember that earlier pic of the path in the sand wandering through the kiawe, well, if I face the tide pools and turn right, I find more paths leading seemingly nowhere.  Snaking through a mix of sandy dirt, piles of volanic rock, and rough patches of kiawe, the area seems like the least inviting place on the island.  I need to investigate.  So I venture farther in, and what do I see scattered randomly on the ground:

I take it all in and decide to leave.

As I make my way back across the sand to the main entrance of LB, I spot another middle-aged, nude Caucasian male who has arrived in the meantime, and who, when he observes the Nikon DSLR slung around my neck, promptly puts his pants back on.

Don't worry dude, I won't shoot.

How symbolic of our time - two beaches next to each other, one grand, out in the open for all to see, and another more hidden refuge, with covered paths and secret enclaves.  Big and Little Beaches - mirrors of our larger society, it's all there.