Jimmy Buffett – Phoenix

•November 3, 2011 • Leave a Comment

Hey fellow Buffett fans. Well… a few weeks back I got a huge surprise for my birthday when a good buddy thought he should take me to see the old guy. Since this was my first Jimmy Buffett concert I thought I’d put up my thoughts and some fairly good pics considering the only camera that was allowed are those little tiny personal things. While they take decent pics they are no match for a good Nikon and a telephoto lens.

The concert was a big surprise and well worth the drive up to Phoenix. Even the warm up band was great though I’ve forgotten their names. Jimmy does draw a crowd. The parking lot was full of “parrottheads” from their early teens to the older generation of which I am part of. Now I’ve got to say that I’ve been a big Jimmy fan since the 70’s and my daughter is also a huge fan. I think it’s amazing that this is one guy who’s managed to transcend the generation gap. How many kids do you know who are fans of rockers that their parents were fans of. Only a few come to mind.

Anyway Jimmy puts on quite a show. While he’s been singing the same songs that he did in the 70’s and 80’s he managed to put a new spin on all of them. His backup band the “Coral Reefers” have been with him for a long time but don’t look tired or old. Jimmy is showing some signs of aging but what the heck many of us are and who really cares. So… for a good two hours we were treated to an amazing show featuring lots of his old stuff and even some new songs that I hadn’t heard before. The venue was an outdoor theatre which made it all the more fun. The weather was good… wish you were here… or “Fins to the Left – Fins to the Right”. After all this was the “Welcome to Fin Land” tour.

That’s all folks… rock on and see all you “parrettheads” in “Margaritaville or maybe the Caribbean someplace.

Kauai, Hawaii 2011

•November 1, 2011 • Leave a Comment

Aloha all you island fans. Guess it’s about time that I got some images up from our recent trip to the Kauai. This year we went with another couple who have been friends of ours for many, many years. Since they’d only been to Kauai once before and that was only for a day we had a great time showing them the sights.

I’m kind of at a loss as to what to discuss about our trip other than we had a great time but here goes nothing. So… I’ll take you on a tour from West to North. The West side of the island is fairly dry and a contrast to the East and North shores. There is one very long beautiful beach on the West side called Polihale. Locals drive on to the beach in certain areas and spend the weekend camping. It’s the last beach before the Na Pali coast. Might add that the rental car companies tell tourists that they don’t cover damage to their vehicles if you drive on to Polihale. Additionally if you get stuck and need a tow truck you might as well bring the title to your house. The U.S. Navy also has a missile facility on the West side as well. Since 911 it’s very restricted as you might expect. I did see a missile launch a few years ago while on a catamaran cruise.

The South or sunny side of the island is where we’ve stayed since we started going to Kauai 4 or 5 years ago. It generally has the best weather on the island. The beaches or at least some of them have areas where kids can swim and one can snorkel. However not all. Kauai is an island where many of the beaches are dangerous and one needs to find out how the ocean is behaving before jumping in. Some beaches have lifeguards but not many. Be sure to check with the locals. There are some great snorkel areas on the South shore.  The South side is also dotted with what used to be sugar cane fields that now grow coffee or have been turned into developments. Koloa Town used to be the hub of the sugar business in Kauai however it’s now a small sleepy sort of touristy town. With that said it’s a great area of Kauai to vacation, relax, play in the water and generally experience island living.

Lihue to the East is the major town in Kauai. Not a whole lot going on there. Some restaurants, a museum (which has some great info on Hawaiian heritage) and shopping… even a Costco. The Costco might seem out-of-place and initially I don’t think the locals liked the idea of a Costco being built on their sleepy little island but it has helped many local families because of their selection and the food is much less expensive than the local mom and pop grocery stores. Farther East there are Foodland and Safeway stores as well. Oh… the airport which is also fairly small is also located in Lihue. Not to say that there are not fun things to do in and around Lihue but it’s more business than anything else.

Farther East we see many resorts, condos and apartment complexes. This is where most of the locals live because it’s less expensive than living in the South or North where most of the resorts are located and where most of the tourists gravitate to. Kapaa on the East side has many condo and resort complexes but seem to be more geared to retired folks whereas the South and North side are geared to the more affluent. There are some very nice beaches on the East side. Lydgate Beach Park has good areas for kids to swim because it’s protected by a seawall and reef. Farther up the coast you’ll pass the Wailua River (don’t miss Wailua Falls) and Kealia Beach (good for experienced boogie boarders so be careful is you go in the water). There are many beautiful beaches and bays farther up the coast towards the North. One being Moloa Bay. A bit tricky to get to but worth the drive. The more you explore the path less traveled the more you’ll enjoy your visit.

Farther North you’ll come to Kilauea where you’ll encounter Kilauea Lighthouse. You’ll want to drive out to the lighthouse and check out the view. You’ll see the entire North coast from this vantage point… beautiful. The North coast is much more jungle like and very green compared to the rest of Kauai. This is because of the amount of rainfall this area gets. If you didn’t know… the interior of the island specifically Mt. Waialeale is said to be the wettest spot on earth so no wonder the North shore of Kauai is so green. Not only is this area jungle like but the beaches are very beautiful. Next stop is Hanalei Town and Hanalei Bay. Quaint little town with lots of shops and restaurants. Also lots of surfboard and paddleboard rental shops. Hanalei Bay and river is a great place to learn to surf or paddleboard. Once you’ve passed Hanalei Town you’ll encounter about 7 one lane bridges that lead to a variety of beautiful beaches. Some you can swim and snorkel in and some you’ll not want to get in… just watch. A beautiful beach to snorkel at is Haena/Tunnels Beach. It has a huge reef where you can view a variety of fish, green sea turtles and maybe a shark or two. A few miles farther down the road is Kee Beach which also has amazing snorkeling when the sea is calm. Kee Beach is also the farthest you can go on this side of the island and the start of the Na Pali Coast on the North side. One can either hike to Kalalau Beach from Kee Beach or you could rent a kayak and paddle. Keep in mind that either one is a long way and dangerous. Be sure to check with people in the know before attempting either one. Kalalau Beach is about half way between Kee Beach and Polihale Beach… an 11 mile journey by boat. On your way back you can stop at Lumahai Beach (dangerous to swim in but amazing to watch). Oh… forgot to mention that you’ll pass Princeville on your way back to the South side… great golf courses and some shops if you’re so inclined.

So… I’ve put together a variety of images that I took on the island. Hope you enjoy… Aloha

While I have about 800 more images I figured that would be a bit too much. So… Aloha and Mahalo for checking out my images. Hope you enjoy.

By the way… I’ve written a few blogs in the past on paddlesurfing. Something I may be getting into soon. So look for more on my paddlesurfing adventures. Only thing I need to figure out is how to get a 12′ board on a 12′ Mini Cooper…

So long for now.

Dallas/Fort Worth… Who Knew

•October 19, 2011 • Leave a Comment

Who knew is right…

Recently… well it’s been a few months now my wife and I took a trip to visit relatives in the Dallas/Fort Worth area. This was before it got really hot over there but it was still pretty toasty. I’d been to the are before on business but never really got a chance to take a look around. I knew it would be humid but being used to the dry Arizona weather we were not fully prepared for the high humidity coupled with temps in the high 90’s. Pretty darn sweaty if you ask me.

It was a great visit however and we spent lots of time with our son, his family and our grandkids. This was only the second time we’d seen the grandkids so it was great fun and I must say we are blessed to have two wonderful granddaughters. They gave us the royal treatment and showed us all the fun stuff to do while in the area. More specifically I never knew what a great zoo, wildlife park and botanical gardens they have in Fort Worth. So the images you’ll see at the bottom are mostly of those places.

The other thing that amazed me is how well Texas seems to be doing economically. Arizona has been in a serious slump for quite a few years now and most of the rest of the country as well but I was amazed at all the building, developments, housing, shopping centers, schools and so forth that are being built in that area. Not to get into anything political but someone over there seems to be doing the right things.

Texas also seems to have an amazing freeway system which allows one to travel and get places pretty quickly. Now the Dallas/Fort Worth airport is another story. It is efficient but huge. If you actually had to figure out where you were going without the help of the rental car bus you’d be in a world of hurt.

One other thing that impressed me about the Dallas/Fort Worth area is how pretty and green it is. One thinks of Texas as flat (which it is) and a bunch of scrub brush. I suppose there are parts that are like that but not this area. It was beautiful with lakes, trees and lots of greenery. Guess all that humidity has something to do with that. The parks were amazing and huge. Most had bike and walking trails that followed rivers, golf courses and such. The only thing I’d do differently is go back when the temperature is a bit cooler staying away from the tornado season as well.

So here are some shots of places and wildlife taken in and around Fort Worth…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Oh… I wanted to mention a couple of things. First of all the zoo doesn’t really have dinosaurs but they look darn real. The other is the image of all the Koi with the duck sitting in the middle. I thought that was an interesting shot. That scary looking ram did get a little upset with us and tried to ram the rental car. Might be difficult to explain that the dents came from a mountain goat. The giraffe’s seemed to want to eat the car. By the way, all the photos from the wildlife park came from inside the car. They won’t let you get out for obvious reasons… I tried however.  

Guess that’s enough wildlife stuff. Forgot to mention that the Botanical Gardens includes a Japanese Garden where I took many of the photos but there are also four other theme gardens in the same complex. Well worth a visit if you’re in that area.

O.K. another blog in the can, as the say. Hope you enjoy… the next version of this thing will be our Kauai trip that we took a few months back. Maybe a bit more interesting since the island part of this blogging thing is the reason I started it in the first place… Aloha

Battle of the Paddle 2011 – Dana Point

•October 17, 2011 • Leave a Comment

Seems like it’s been a long time since I updated anything on this darn blog. Don’t think I ever got it in my head that once you start this stuff you need to keep it going.

So here’s my latest adventure. Since I’ve been trying out this paddleboard thing I thought I’d take a road trip over to Dana Point/Doheny Beach and check out the latest “Battle of the Paddle.” I did this last year and it was a bunch of fun so why not. This year the weather was not as cooperative as it was last year. Woke up Saturday morning to gray skies and lots of beachy mist but it didn’t dampen anyones spirits. I got there early before much of anything started, however the parking lot was almost full what with sponsors, surfers, paddleboarders and their trucks and vans. The photo opportunities were a bit lacking because of the gray weather but it did clear a bit around noon so I got some good shots of the race and festivities which are below.

A little about these races… The people who compete in these paddleboard races are some of the premier watermen in the world. Many have transitioned from surfing and canoe paddling which is a natural transition. Paddleboarding is fast becoming a huge sport mainly because it’s fairly easy and you can do it most anywhere there is water… lakes, rivers, ocean, bays, etc. So, even here in Arizona there are opportunities to go paddleboarding. O.K back to the race itself. The main race consists of three heats of approximately 4 miles each. They head out and around buoys in various patterns then head back to the beach where they jump off their boards run up the beach around a sort of chicane and back on their boards and out again. The best half of each heat competes in a final heat to determine the winner. It’s always amazing that after the start of these things with maybe a hundred competitors that maybe five end up being out front after only about a mile or so. Paddling a board that is from 14′ to 18′ as fast as you can for miles is tough. There is also a ten-mile endurance race. Again the same four or five people end up winning these endurance races. Guess that gives you an idea of what the races are like and the amount of physical conditioning it takes to compete. Having said all that there were people from their early teens up to their seventies competing. As I said, it’s a sport anyone can do with a little practice.

Below are a few images from the event…

Hobie Surf Shop – Dana Point

On Stewart Surf Shop in Dana Point… painted by Bill Stewart I believe

So… there you have it… the 2011 Battle of the Paddle. The winner was Connor Baxter and the pic of the three guys running up the beach are Connor Baxter (1)on the left, Danny Ching (3) in the center and Jaime Mitchell (2). The picture right above the three guys is Kai Lenny of Maui. An amazing athlete who is only 20. He came in 6th. The last picture of the guy in the blue hat and shirt is Mr. Pipeline – Gerry Lopez. In his mid 60’s now he’s still charging waves and still competes. Not only is he famous for his amazing surfing abilities from the 60’s and 70’s on the North Shore of the Oahu but also has been in a few movies probably most recognizable as Conan’s sidekick in Conan the Barbarian… pretty sure it was that one.

Hope you enjoy the ride… now get out there and paddle.

Spring and Summer in the Desert

•July 27, 2011 • 2 Comments

So let’s change gears a bit. This time we’re in the desert… an island of cactus so to speak.

With a variety of images of the desert in bloom I thought that I should share some of them. The Sonoran Desert is amazing in the spring and summer. Depending on the amount of rain that occurs during the winter the desert blooms into an amazing palette of colors… cactus, wildflowers, trees, etc. all bloom into a variety of amazing colors. Below are just a few examples. Hope you enjoy…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This last one isn’t really native to the Southwest but since I grew it in my backyard I thought I’d include it. Hope you enjoyed the images.

Japanese Gardens – Portland

•July 24, 2011 • Leave a Comment

Well… back again but not from an island. Water, rain and cold temps… yes, but no island. Anyway I’ve been traveling a bit over the last couple of months so thought I’d put some thoughts to paper. First of all I made a trip to Portland to see relatives and ended up visiting the famous Japanese Gardens. While we did have some sun on that  particular day it wasn’t quite so nice during the time I was there. While I do love Portland (hey, I was born there) I’m not too fond of the weather. But as they say… when it’s nice up there it’s really nice but it’s not all that nice most of the time. Most of my relatives would probably disagree though. I never have regretted moving to the Southwest… love the heat.

So… first of all to get to the actual entrance of the Japanese Gardens you first need to hike up a path that is quite steep. So if you’re not in good shape or of a certain age you might want to rethink this path. I think there’s another way to the entrance for people who are not so athletically inclined. Not sure what it is but there must be a way. With Portland being so diversified and liberal they probably have a helicopter that would fly you up there… just kidding of course.

Anyway, below are some images. As I said, the weather did cooperate but just barely. It was very cold (well, at least for us people from the Southwest) and cloudy at times but the sun did pop through at times. As you’ll notice in the photos there is a ton of moss on everything. I recently read some info on Kauai (parts of that island being the wettest spots on earth) that talked about everything being moss covered up on the mountains where the rain is. Probably couldn’t be much more moss than Portland has. But all in all the Gardens are very interesting with many great photo opportunities.

Moss, moss everywhere. It carpets the ground. Sort of neat looking though.

Some neat Japanese fountains… also covered in moss… cool huh?

Kind of a spooky picture and… still moss covered but very photogenic.

Wow… sunshine at the Portland Japanese Gardens.

O.K. so now we’ve taken a quick tour of the Japanese Gardens in Portland. While the temps were a bit cold and the weather a bit wet I had a great time and I highly recommend when in the Northwest if you get a chance do visit the Gardens. Well worth the effort.

Lake Havasu Adventure

•May 23, 2011 • Leave a Comment

In my last post I mentioned that I was headed to Lake Havasu, Arizona to see what this SUP thing was all about. Well… I gotta tell you it’s pretty amazing and far easier than I thought it would be. Since part of this blog is about travel info as well as photography I should probably mention the trip itself. The trip up the Colorado River is just beautiful. It’s been a long time since I drove up the Colorado and had forgotten how beautiful it is… bright blue water and high cliffs. Kind of like a mini Grand Canyon all the way. With that said, Lake Havasu itself is a bit of a tourist trap but still lots of great things to do. It has grown tremendously since I was there last about 15 years ago. It’s all about water sports, boats, SUP, lots of great restaurants and nice people… even a casino on the California side of the river.

O.K. back to the SUP. Me and my buddy rented boards at The Standup Connection located right under the London Bridge. You’ve heard of the London Bridge right? So with about 5 minutes worth of what to do and what not to do the guy tossed the boards into the canal that goes between the island and the mainland and off we go. It took about 5 minutes to get up on the board itself and about 15 minutes to get comfortable. The legs get a bit tight initially but then they start to relax. Our first time out we traveled the full length of the canal which took about an hour. Then thought we ought to get some lunch. Found a restaurant called “The Place To Be” and the food was excellent. I highly recommend it. We were then off to do another stint on the paddleboards. Easier the second time. I did take a dump into the river on two occasions. My own fault for not paying attention to what I was doing. Water is a bit chilly this time of year but nothing too drastic. I guess I can say that I recommend this sport to just about anyone… good exercise and mucho fun.

All in all a great experience and good prep for our upcoming Hawaii trip where we plan to paddlesurf the Hanalei River and Bay.

London Bridge, Lake Havasu

Don’t have a clue who these people are but this shot gives you an idea of what this is all about. The duck was having fun too… Happy SUP…