Wednesday, December 12, 2012

12/12/12 Lucky day? Well, we did see a neat lizzard.

Pat and I were busy packing up our house and one of our old friends dropped by, old friend being a person who stayed in our downstairs vacation rental 13 years ago and has since become a friend we look forward to seeing every few years when he visits Kona.  While we were shooting the breeze out on the rock wall in the front yard he looked up and said "what's that crawling on the power line?"  Pat and I looked up and saw that it was a Jackson's Chameleon.  Cool!  I've seen them crossing Napo'opo'o road about a hundred foot higher in elevation than our place, and know they're all over further up the mountain, but haven't actually seen them at our property (not that we're looking) before.

Perhaps I should say NOT so cool, they are an invasive species.  Jackson's Chameleons are native to East Africa.  The story goes is that someone over on Oahu down around Kailua/Kaneohe had a bunch of them breeding in outdoor netted enclosures and a storm came through and they escaped.  From there they went uphill to the popular pali park hiking areas and eventually were spread all over the islands by people who thought they were cool.  Invasive species are a real problem here in Hawaii, but it does make things interesting.... we've had a wild boar problem this week, tearing up the yard, digging up plants and such, first time in years but it does happen.

Back to the lizzard... I broke out my camera and managed to get a couple of shots, kinda tough but I had picked up a zoom lens for my Pen e-pl1 a little while back.  Here's a couple of shots, one from the front yard, and one from underneath on the neighborhood road. This one is a male, you can tell because it has the 3 horns all males have.  It was staring at a spider web with a couple bugs in it.  These guys are neat in that they have a super long tongue... roughly triple the length of their body or so, and they'll nab a target a significant distance away.  They're about a 7-8 inch long lizzard, but with the horns you'll find them magnified to gigantic proportions for monster/dinosaur movies on occasion.

I did talk to someone years ago who said he used to collect them about 500' higher up our mountain than our elevation.  Apparently you can go out in the coffee and use a flashlight at night, and their eyes (independendantly articulating, they can look multiple directions at once) apparently reflect light very well.  I might have to walk out with a flashlight and look at the bushes to see if I can find any before I go - I just hope the eyes looking at me aren't those of a 200 lb tusked wild boar...

  later,

    Steve

Big news for Wanna Dive...

Well, I've got a big announcement to make.  I'm shutting down Wanna Dive.

It's been a fun decade of diving, meeting people, diving, and meeting people.  You couldn't ask for a more interesting career.

This last spring we put our house up for sale, with the idea of downsizing, moving closer to work, and possibly picking up a small place back in Oregon so we could have a home base over there to visit family and friends from and have a place to retire to.

This fall we went back for a 3-4 week trip for house/condo hunting.  While we were there we got to thinking about what we wanted for our futures, the expense of trying to manage two households, where the business was going, our friends and family, etc, and made the decision that it makes sense to make a permanent return to the mainland.  In November we received a serious offer on our house, and it should put us in a postion to make the move, get a nice place, and lower our living expenses all at the same time.

....So.... I'm not sure that scuba could support us where we're headed, and there's not a lot of call for boat Captains in Corvallis, Oregon as far as I know...  Looks as though I'm looking for a new career. How exciting!

We're in the process of packing up the house and parting out the business... BIG garage sale at our place this weekend by the way.... now that the house is officially in the final stages of closing - the papers are supposed to be ready on the last day of the world (December 21st for those who haven't been paying attention to the Mayan calendar), and then we're out shortly afterwards.  We'll probably be hanging around Kona for a short while afterwards, I hope to be getting in some fun dives over the holidays.

The blog will continue, heck, I may be posting more frequently now that the business won't be taking up so much of my time and energy.

Aloha for now.

   Steve

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Back from my attempt to get to the boat harbor....

Well traffic leaving town was crazy nuts, going into town not so bad until I got about h half mile south of the King Kam3 highway, there to Lako was near a dead stop.   It took ages to get past Lako and by then I was well past the time that they'd shut off all coastal bound traffic, so little to do but head uphill and head home..  Keeping my fingers crossed that the tsunami is less, or at least little more than expected.  Supposedly the first surge should be hitting the NE shores of Maui and the Big Island about now.  Sirens are going off frequently.  Gas stations were full on the way into town, lots of police activity on the ocean side of the highway directing traffic, lots of cars parked alongside the uppper highway after I'd turned it around.

So the tsunami sirens started about 5 minutes ago.... surprisingly the neighborhood dogs are silent..

What gives? The state of Hawaii sets off the sirens at 11:45 am on the first weekday of the month every month, and the dogs howl and bay.  It's kind of fun.  Tonight, it's surprisingly quiet.  I'm debating on whether or not I'm heading down to the harbor to move the boat.  It's a 30 minute trip and the reality is the boat park is quite a ways above the water, but when things are coming our direction we usually move the boats.  This one's tough because it's coming from the northeast.  Better safe than sorry, I'm likely to head that way in the next few minutes.

  Aloha,

   Steve

More tsunami news....

OK, more like stories.  I've been watching a rather dissappointing Oregon State versus University of Washington game (Beavs lost) and after the game ended a friend called and said to turn on the news.  I did, it is news here.  They're not expecting much, maybe 3-6 feet on sides of the island facing Canada, however it's really hard to tell what will happen.

Tsunami time in Hawaii again. Hilo has just been recommended to evacuate...

Not expecting much here, but you never know.  Looks like I get to drive down to the harbor to move my boat again.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Pacific Bottlenose Dolphins in Kona...

Howdy.  Just got back from vacation (Oregon, first time I've been back for more than a few days since I moved here in '99) and I'm back to diving. 

Haven't posted in ages... I had a minor camera flood last year and set the camera aside (it's OK), didn't want to deal with camera issues with customers in the water, and have been busy with dive charters for most of the year.  Now that we're in the slower season I need to get back to taking photos.

On to dolphins....

Our commonly seen dolphin species here is the Hawaiian Spinner Dolphin.  They're a smallish dolphin, maybe in the 5 foot range, and hang out in large groups to rest in the bays during the day.  We see these quite often on charters, and with some frequency underwater as well.  It's always neat to see them on the way to a dive site or underwater.

There are numerous other dolphin and whale species that we can see from time to time.  On occasion we see Pacific Bottlenose Dolphins in the wild.  These guys are a larger heavier dolphin.  We usually see these in twosies or threesies, smaller groups anyways.  We don't see them frequently underwater, but I've seen them a few times underwater over the years.  There have been 2 or 3 coming into the night dive the last half a year or so, it's been a thrill for everyone that sees them.  Earlier this spring I did a whale watch with a group and we went offshore and ran into a group of several dozen that were hanging out with a group of whales... quite the thrill... I haven't seen a large group before.

 Well, on yesterday's dive we had a special moment.... more like a special 5-7 minutes.  We'd seen some dolphins on the surface off the Golden Arches area and they submerged, did not approach the boat as spinners will often do, so I thought since I only noticed 3 or 4 that they were likely Bottlenoses.   We went on up to Hoovers (north end of the Kona airport) for our first dive (lots of shrimp, a couple flame angels, two reticulate frogfish and more) and then moved on down to the Kaloko Ponds area for a dive.  While diving I heard one of the diver's shaker going and turned to see a couple of dolphins just behind me, they passed me and laid down in the sand....

Check it out...  Customer Jeff was shooting video at the time...

http://youtu.be/62AerqSdjDM

Thursday, July 05, 2012

Nice Captain Cook Kona house and land for sale...


I mentioned earlier I'd run a house 4 sale post, this is my big real estate sales pitch.  Way back in '97 my wife and I took a trip to Kona for a 10 or so day vacation. By day number two, Pat, my wife, said "wouldn't this be a great place to live?"... well, it took us a year and a half, but the rest is history.

On that trip we fell in love with South Kona.  It was rural, yet close in if staying in the area of Captain Cook.  We spent much time down around Kealakekua Bay, checking out Napo'opo'o village, the Place of Refuge, Napo'opo'o road, the stretch from Honolo to Capatain Cook, and the surrounding area.  I remember clearly us taking a ride up Napo'opo'o road after hanging out at Kealakekua Bay and Pat mentioning she wasn't sure if she'd want to live at the top of the road near the highway, nor at the bottom of the road in the village.  I remember pointing out the window and saying "somewhere around here would be ideal".  We didn't intend it, but after we moved to Kona in '99 and house hunted for a couple of months, checking out areas from the  Palisades subdivision up by the Kona airport, on up to the Holualoa area, and all the way down to Capatin Cook, we ended up choosing our future home... our driveway is probably within about 300 feet of where I said would be the ideal place to live. Cool coincidence.

We've been in the house for 13 wonderful years now, but we've decided it's time to downsize and move a bit closer to my work (Pat works from home and can be anywhere).

Location:

 The property is located roughly half way down Napo'opo'o road above Kealakekua Bay, at what we consider an ideal 900' elevation.  Kona is unique in that there are numerous micro-climates.  If you are near sea level, it can get quite warm at times, if you are away from mountains it can be kind of a desert, if you are on a mountain at a high elevation it can be a humid and wet jungle a significant portion of the time.  At our elevation you still get sun in the morning, then cloud cover around mid-day to where it cools off, and live in a green jungle without it being a humid wet mess. It's a great place to visit the coast, then cool off a few degrees after a day in the sun.

One of the great things about the location is that it's 5 minutes to the ocean, 5 minutes to a gas station, 6 minutes to groceries and restaurants, 18-20 minutes to movie theaters and more shopping, and no more than 30-45 minutes from anywhere else in Kailua Kona, often quicker in non-school traffic drive times.

The property:

We're situated on 1.72 acres of land overlooking the ocean above Kealakekua Bay. Unlike many properties in the area, most of our property is gently sloping, as opposed to straight up and down, and affords having an extensive yard out front of the house for lawn, fruit trees (we've got breadfruit, jackfruit, white pineapples, mangos, bananas, limes, navel and valencia oranges, mandarins, honey tangerines, papayas, jaboticaba, mac nuts and a few varieties of avocodos, as well as coffee and quava and lillikoi and such that grows wild around the place) without having to look at the roof tops of your neighbors... we pretty much own our view (excluding the coastline and ocean down below of course) for the most part. 

There is nothing like sitting on your lanai, sipping a maitai in the evening and listening to all the bird songs (we have doves, cardinals, finches, mynahs, pheasants and more wandering through most every day) and enjoying the view, without the trappings of being surrounded by loads of neighbors (to be fair, we just cut down some trees for a view and can see our next door neighbor for now, but that'll grow out).

The house:


The floorplan is large and open, with roughly 1900 feet of living space (not including the lanais which surround the house) on the main living level upstairs. There is an additional living space I'm taking the above photos from I'm not showing that we currently use as an office, the original owner had a pool table in it, it's plumbed for a wet bar as well.

The house features  an extremely nice koa wood kitchen.  Koa has become a very expensive exotic wood in recent years and is highly sought after.  You'd pay a pretty penny for a koa kitchen these days
The master bedroom is large, with twin skylights over the bed, with an adjoining koa wood and marble bath featuring separate shower and partially sunken bath tub.
The second bedroom and bath, on the opposite side of the house from the master, both open to jungle views, with the bedroom also getting a coastline view as well.


The downstairs:
Downstairs is a completely separate one bedroom one bath living area of over 700 square feet.  When we purchased the house we took a look into fixing it up and renting it out as a vacation rental.  That is probably one of the smartest things we've done with the propety.  Fully updated, it has a huge bedroom and a nice sized bath with a nice little living area and a kitchenette/wetbar.  One could live there quite comfortably.
 The Kealakekua bay area is quite in demand for vacation rentals, and it's done us well.  We've run it since about a half year after we bought the house.  It was slow going for a while, but we started picking up and in a few years we were bringing in roughly 2K a month and keeping it booked full time... that really helps with the bills. 



The last few years we've been buffering the length of time between bookings and taking the rental out of service 2-3 months a year, but we've still been bringing in about 2K a month when we want to have it booked.  With the tourism downturn, '09 was a slow year, then in early '10 we were looking at no bookings after our typically full winter season we were getting a bit worried... decided to play with our VRBO.com listing for the first time in ages and changed some things and ended up booking up the rest of the year in 5-6 weeks.  We just took the vacation rental out of service to have it available for showings (although we are open to short notice stays if anyone feels like visiting Kona soon) and have dropped our VRBO lising, but we've kept the information and would be happy to pass that along to the next buyer if they are interested in a jumpstart on renting out the unit as a vacation rental.

The specifics:

Land- 1.72 acres
Extensive rock walls on the property
House- 2646 square feet
Built in 1985
Garage- 987 (I think, haven't checked lately, I've lived in houses and apartments smaller than our garage) square feet
3 bedroom, 3 full baths, laundry facilities upstairs and downstairs,  large living areas, nearly a 1000 square feet of lanais
Hawaii MLS Number- 254553
Our agent- Sue Brown, Livingston Realty
Price- 699K   I think there's a good opportunity for increased valuation the next time the market turns around, it was worth in the million + range the last time the market was up.

The house has been well maintained.  We recently upgraded most of the skylights in the house.   We wanted to get away from metal roofing some years ago and had it reroofed with composit shingles (wow, what a difference in both heat in the sun and noise from rain, much nicer).  We're in the process of repainting the eaves and replacing the rain gutters.  Nearly all electrical and lighting fixtures, as well as the appliances and several plumbing fixtures (aka low flow toilets) have been upgraded over the years.

If you are house hunting in the Kona area, and looking for a rural place in good condition with room to entertain (I haven't even touched on our parking) guests or just enjoy a tropical paradise, check out our listing.  Note: It's July 5th 2012 right now, I know how things tend to hang on forever on the internet, so check that MLS number to see if we're still on the market if some time has passed.

Happy house hunting!!!!