Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Pololu Valley, north end of the Big Island...

Yesterday Pat and I both had the day off. My charter customers arrived on the weekend and one of them had a nasty cold so we rescheduled for later in the week. Pat and I decided to head on up to Hawi and Pololu Valley. I'd been itching to try a hike, and this one is in the moderate to moderately difficult range (for us 50 year old flabby guys anyway) and is probably a smarter one to start on than doing the Captain Cook Monument trail right off the bat.

The Pololu Valley overlook is on the north end of the west side of the Big Island. From the overlook you can hike down a trail that's roughly 3/4ths of a mile long, by my guess, and about a 500 foot elevation change. The trail is reasonably steep, with several cutbacks and consists mostly of rock and packed dirt. It took maybe 15-20 minutes in each direction for us... although Pat beat me to the top by a good minute or two... I'm still working on this fit by 50 thing... gotta turn it to fit while 50 now that the birthday's passed.
I consider this to be a high reward short hike, worth a little huffing and puffing on the way back up. There's a beach at the bottom as well as the view of the valley and some tremendous views on the way down the trail. It was blowing a pretty good gale yesterday, maybe a constant 25-30 or so, and was overcast, so it was actually pretty comfortable for hiking.



Sunday, November 23, 2008

Sunday Green Market in Captain Cook Kona Hawaii....

I had the day off today and thought I'd go out for a hike, but it turned to rain so that plan was ditched. I've been wanting to hike the trail to the Captain Cook monument, to see if I can still do it after all these years (maybe a stupid thing if I make it down but have troubles on the way up). It's been very gray yesterday and today and I figured it might be a good day without sun to do the hike. Not a good idea in the rain though as it's got a 1300-1400 foot elevation change and parts of the trail would not be good when wet.

....So I checked out the Green Market that is held on Sundays in Captain Cook across from the Manago Hotel. It's a bit bigger than the picture above shows, and has a mix of locally grown produce and locally produced craft and art items. They started this Sunday market a few months back, I'm hoping it's a success and keeps up. There was a reasonable sized crowd when I went through.



Sunday, November 16, 2008

Flame angels and other stuff.....

We're busy for the next little bit with a student and several certified divers. Today we had a rather strong north wind from a front that was passing by, didn't do anything to the diving but it made it look kind of rough 'til it settled down mid-day. Conditions have been pretty reasonable, we had a bit of a swell last week, but Thursday was really the only day that it made for crummy conditions. I've not personally been in the water since Wednesday, tomorrow that'll change as I plan on working with the student. Cathy said it feels as though it's cooled off the last couple of days, so it'll be curious to see if I'm noticing it or if it shows cooler on my computer. We're getting into that time of year where if a big north swell comes in the temperature drops a degree or so.

We had a fun group on the other day. I thought I'd mention it because the entire boatload was very good on air. I'm thinking the shortest dive for any in the group was in the 70 minute range, and we had two divers hit the 100 minute mark (that's real good on air and we don't see that all too often) on one dive.

Blogstuff... I added a little mapping widget on the sidebar. If you click on the map you get a larger map and can see where clicks are coming from. It's kind of interesting to see where people are popping in from, and sort of amazing that that type of information can be tracked.

So here's another Flame Angel (Centropyge loriculus). I took this one using the long zoom/no flash diffuser and hope for the best method I mentioned several posts back. These guys are generally so shy you can't get within 5' of them without spooking them into the coral within seconds. Recently I found one that seems rather unphased by close company with divers, but I didn't have a camera in hand that day. I'm hoping it's there the next time I visit. Flame Angels have a very small territory and once you find them you can almost count on seeing them at the same spot (I really mean spot, often within a foot or two) an a frequent basis. If we brief Flame angels, that generally means we know exactly where it's going to be.... I've got a flame angel at one frequently visited site that I've been watching since early 2005 that I've seen all but 3 or 4 times I've been there since finding it. We're coming across more of them all the time as there seems to be a bit of a bloom of them lately.



Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Reticulated Frogfish... Kona Hawaii scuba diving...

We keep seeing these little fish from time to time. Cathy found this one practically right under the boat at Golden Arches on our first charter back after the trip, so I had to pop over the side and get a quick photo. It's since moved and we haven't been able to find it. We've found several this year up and down the coast, now that we know what we're looking for I suspect we'll keep finding them.

Last night's manta dive trip was a success. There were four mantas off the Sheraton, they also apparently had mantas up north off the airport again. There's definitely more surge off the Sheraton site than on the airport site, and as the surf was up a bit yesterday it made for an interesting dive for the divers -- it's hold on for dear life at times. Everyone enjoyed it. I hadn't done a trip down south for the manta dive since getting the boat back as we've had good luck up north pretty much the entire year. It's kind of fun heading south for a change though, and the boat makes the trip much faster and more smoothly than it did before the hull extension and engine change.



Monday, November 10, 2008

I've reached a couple of "milestones" this week....


I reached the "big five-oh" today. I guess that's supposed to be a "milestone", but for me it's no biggie.... I actually feel younger than I have in about a couple of years thanks to some exercise and a boat that's working well these days. Yup that's the big "milestone" - I started running the boat after the big rebuild on November 6th of last year, and have made it through an entire year with zip for troubles with the boat.

I clearly recall when I was talking to my Oceanic dive gear rep several years ago and said I was getting a boat and getting away from the shore dive operation that he said... "You know what boat stands for don't you? Bust Out Another Thou". I had no idea what he meant in those days. Well, I learned pretty darned fast.... 3-4 years, three engines, two outdrives, a fuel tank and numerous mechanical, electrical and linkage problems later and it was overdue for a complete overhaul.... best thing I ever did! It's been smooth sailing since. Pat and I were thinking back and realized that except for a single one week vacation a couple years back, this was the first trip that we've taken since we got the boat that it wasn't in the shop and we knew it'd be ready to go when we returned. The joys of boat ownership. All of the shops here "feel for the other guys" from time to time when we see a boat down as we've just about all have been there.

Anyway, the "new" boat had it's 1 year anniversary and it's going strong. All I've had to do is get it into the shop every hundred hours for a couple hours of tinkering and it's been ready to charter

So last night's charter was a blast, primarily because the customers were a fun group. We, and several other boats, were skunked on the manta dive last night so tonight we're going to head off to the south site off the Sheraton. Apparently they've had mantas the last few nights. The airport site is usually the far better site, but it's nice to have a backup that we can go to the next night if it doesn't work out.

Here's a shot of part of the atrium at the Bellagio in Las Vegas. They do a seasonal theme where they plant flowers and have neat displays. This random onlooker has hair to match the flowers in the display.



Sunday, November 09, 2008

Night dive tonight...

We've got manta night dives scheduled for both tonight and tomorrow night. They're always fun. I was looking at a list of top 100 dives in the world this morning, and the Manta night dive here in Kona was #7.... not bad, it's truly a world class dive. Apparently the list was voted on by readers of some scuba diving magazine.

We've been pretty busy since returning from our vacation, which is good. November is usually a slow time for the dive industry here, and considering the water conditions are typically quite good in November that's kind of surprising, and this year's probably slower for a lot of folks doing business here because of the economic downturn and lower travel numbers (a report in the Honolulu paper said visitor arrivals for the Big Island was down 31% for September as compared to last year, it's down all over the state).

We just finished off a set of Open Water referral students and I've got one or two more groups of students scheduled up in next couple of weeks, along with our certified divers we take out on tours, so it looks like we'll stay reasonably busy for a November. We managed to see a lot of stuff on the training dives... several frogfish, indigo darts, several sets of flame angels, loads of butterflyfish and tangs, an octopus or two, morays and all.... Kona's a great place to do the open water diving end of a course because you get to see all that stuff in nice warm water - beats the heck out of doing your open water dives in a muddy quarry or lake for the most part.

Here's a decent sized Yellow Margin Moray from last month before our trip.



Ignore this post... I'm trying something...

Now I realize asking for it to be ignored will probably lead to it being read... I'm trying some yahoo blog thing and I don't really know much about it, it involves posting code - just like this: Edit- code removed by Steve.

Apparently yahoo has a pretty good sized blog community and I've added a little gizmo at the bottom of my sidebar that'll show visitors logged into it.... thought I'd put it on for kicks to see if anyone shows.

I've also added a follower widget near the top of the sidebar. If you've got a blog and you "follow" mine, you can add your tag apparently and maybe get some traffic yourself.

Anyway, I'm pretty new to this stuff and I'm just seeing if it'll generate a bit of extra traffic over time.... I'll make a normal post soon.



Thursday, November 06, 2008

Working on a few things....

Hi there,
I'll be updating the template on the blog for a bit here so it may look a bit unusual compared to normal. In the end it should be close to what it was. Here's a shot of the squid we saw this last summer on the manta ray night dive.

We're busy running charters again, hopefully it'll keep that way for a while 'til the Christmas season kicks in. Yesterday the water was still at the 79 degrees we've been seeing for a couple of months now.

Interestingly enough, my 14 pound weight gain of vacation has turned into 3 pounds in just 4 days... must've been all the french fries, salt and fatty stuff I pigged out on in the last few days of the trip... the diving's probably helped, but I think it's more likely not eating the carbs that's doing the trick.



Sunday, November 02, 2008

Yay... back home... vacation was good... can't wait to get back to work/diving...

Well, it was a good vacation for us. We finished off our trip staying in Flagstaff and making day outings to Sedona. Here's a couple of shots from the Sedona outings. We did the obligatory barefoot crossing in Oak Creek below Cathedral Rock to get a shot of it reflecting off the water as sundown approaches and then on our last day we did something I've alwasys wanted to do... visit some cliff dwellings. The dwellings we visited in the Sedona area may not be as well preserved as some, but they were very interesting. Not only were we able to see structure, but there were plenty of ancient drawings too, some said to be carbon dated as old as 6-10 thousand years old.
Apparently at least the two ruins areas we visited had been used/occupied by 4 cultures over the years... the oldest drawings were done by an ancient civilization that used the spots for ceremony and such, while the actual structures and more recent drawings were initially done some 600-1000 years ago, with other cultures moving in as recently as 300 years ago. Facinating stuff.

It's nice to be home. My sinuses and lips are suddenly back to normal. It's amazing what 0% humidity does to you when you aren't used to it, you can literally feel things moisten back up as you step off the airplane back into the humidity you're used to.

Diet report... Wow, I only gained 14 pounds the last two weeks... probably a lot of that was yesterday eating french fries at a sports bar/book in Vegas while watching the ASU/OSU football game before our flight out. Fries are like a weight sponge, it'll be courious how fast, or if, the weight drops now that I'll be going back on the regular diet.... I ate about two years worth of fries, pizza, deserts and other garbage in the last couple of weeks... yummy.

Tomorrow will be a catch up day and then Tuesday we start charters again. These will be the last of the trip pictures, unless I decide to post one from time to time. From here on out it'll be "back to our regular programming" for the most part.