01/01/2012 Auburn Christmas count
Wayne and I participated in the Auburn Christmas Count today. We counted 56 species in the area
west of Auburn Way from Emerald Downs south to Ellingson, birding primarily around Fred Meyer,
Emerald Downs, the new Main Street mitigation area and the ponds on Ellingson at C street. The
fields between the race track and Hwy 167 were the most productive area, with lots of
ducks along with an adult Peregrine Falcon and a Coyote, both taking a break from duck hunting.
We also had a nice variety of ducks at the Ellingson ponds, including the three diving ducks
01/06/2012 Maalaea, Maui
View from our balcony
North Kihei farmer's market
We arrived yesterday and are staying in Maalaea again, this time just one condo building down from
the little park at the end of the road. We're on the second floor in Hono Kai #B3 and the beach is
just 30 feet from our door. The temperature is perfect, around 80F during the day and 65-70F at
night. The sun rises over the west ridge of Haleakala sometime around 8AM and sets over Kealaloloa
Ridge sometime before 6PM. We sit on the small balcony off our living room and watch the activities
around the pool and lawn of the condo next door, and on the beach beyond. Unfortunately I have a
head cold and perhaps even a bit of a fever, so we didn't do much today.
Cattle Egret at the pool
Eventually we set out for Kihei to get some food and rent snorkel gear. At Snorkel Bob's Susan, thinking
we needed to try something new for a change, bought tickets to a luau performance next Tuesday evening.
I was OK with that until I saw the price, $298 for the four of us. Prices were better at the farmer's
market, which didn't close until twenty minutes after we arrived.
It was better stocked than I remembered from our last visit four years ago. We bought papayas,
avacado, pineapple and a few vegetables. The boys tried out their snorkel gear our in front of the
condo before we returned to Stella Blue's in Kihei for a rather ordinary dinner.
01/07/2012 Big Beach, Maalaea
Lava and sand
Determined to get out early, the boys and I left Susan at the condo and drove down to Big Beach. We
walked down around the point at the south end of the beach and took a bunch of photos then returned
to the car and drove down a bit farther, to a cove right by the road where snorkelers were getting
ready to go in. I think it was Ahihi Cove. Though improving, my sinuses still felt pretty clogged
so I helped the boys get ready then drove farther south to scout out La Perouse Bay while they
snorkeled. The road crosses the relatively fresh and very rough A'a lava flow of 'Ahihi-Kinau
Preserve for about two miles before ending at the parking area for La Perouse Bay. The ancient
Hawaiian King's Road continues across the A'a past low stone walls, the ruins perhaps of former
settlements. Expecting paving stones, I was disappointed to find that the King's Road is now just
an ORV track leading into over-browsed kiawe groves along the shore. The boys were waiting for me
when I returned to Ahihi Cove. They'd seen eels and turtles and lots of fish.
The boys snorkeling
In the afternoon I went out with them in front of the condo for an hour or so. The water was
somewhat murky, especially close to shore, but we still managed to find some familiar fish. We
ended up swimming nearly to the breakwater. Back in front of the condo, David and I snorkeled in
the gentle shore break picking up little shells where the sand dropped off. I found a cowrie and a
cone, both about an inch long, and a handful of others. It felt good to get out and do
We'd arranged to meet Rob and BG at their place in Kihei at 5:30PM to view the sunset (and hopefully
photograph the green flash) from their rooftop deck before dinner. I'd offered to bring salad and
beer. We were late leaving the condo and the checkout line at Safeway was ridiculously long. Too
late to get to the condo before sunset, we drove to a beachfront park just in time to hear the
sunset-watchers applaud the green flash while we were getting out of the car. Rob and BG treated us
to a wonderful dinner under the stars on the roof of their condo building. I helped Rob grill the
fish fish and vegetables for supper, both so delicious that I regretted overindulging in the
appetizers, which were also delicious - chips and guacamole from the farmer's market, marinated raw
tuna, three cheeses and several kinds of crackers. We brought a fruit salad to accompany dinner,
unaware that BG had prepared fruit salad for desert. It was OK - papaya, avacado and mango in Maui
are a treat no matter how often they are served. Susan invited them to join us at the luau but Rob
said they didn't generally do shows. He did try one of the beers we brought, a Green Lake Organic
Pale Ale, but he preferred his Bud Light. We left fairly early because all of us were still
somewhat jet-lagged. I had a bit of trouble at times following the conversation because my ears
kept popping and gurgling due to snorkeling with my head cold.
01/08/2012 Kealaloloa Ridge hike
Starting up the ridge
Meadows and Ironwood at 2000'
Gorge by Puu Ani
Eight years ago David and I hiked up the Kealaloloa Ridge above Maalaea but Daniel had been asleep
when we left so we had gone without him. This time we made sure to include him, but having been up
somewhat late the night before, we didn't leave the condo until almost 8AM. That was a mistake.
The trail was already in the sun when we started up and the steep ascent up a fire road onto the
ridge was much warmer than it would have been had we left at 6:30AM as I'd originally intended.
We stopped twice to rest in shady spots but were soon dehydrated and enervated by the heat. The
boys lagged farther and farther behind me but caught up when I detoured over to the saddle above
Pu'u Ani to look down into the deep gorge east of the peak.
We followed a grass track up across a wide meadow and through a gate, then continued up an eroded
road, turning sharply back to the right when the road veered off to the left. We tried a shortcut
through the grass, which from a distance appears to be only a few inches tall and somewhat hummocky.
It was tough going. The ground is a foot or more below the apparent surface of the grass so we
found ourselves post-holing with every step. Still, walking through the grass was easy compared
with the ferns we found overgrowing the trail above the end of the road at about 3600'. The ferns
branch repeatedly at right angles forming an interlocking canopy anywhere from one to three feet
above the ground. Wading through it is even more difficult than high-stepping over it. At one
point Daniel and I tried to cross about fifty feet of the stuff in order to look down into the
Ukumehame gorge. We made it about twenty feet before we dropped into a knee-deep ditch completely
hidden by the ferns. Crossing that, I found a waist-deep ditch about ten feet further along. At
that point the ferns were up to my armpits and not liking the trend, we gave up. I worried that the
"ditches" might be schrunds and that the next one would probably be deeper yet. About a quarter
mile up the ridge the trail pulled right alongside the edge of the gorge and we got the view I had
remembered from last time. It's a good one. Below us the slope plunges two or three thousand feet
down into a gorge which drains into a narrow valley and on out to the ocean beyond. Kukui trees
grow in pale green patches on the lower valley walls. Fluted green cliffs coated with scrub brush
rise up to razor-sharp ridges which continue up into the clouds. The whole vast canyon is silent
except for calls of birds and the soft hush of the wind.
We gazed into the gorge for a long time and ate some lunch before starting down. Though we heard
numerous bird calls in dense brush below us I wasn't able to spot any of them. We did flush a
Short-eared Owl from Ohia trees near the overlook and spotted at least one White-tailed Tropicbird
far below us in the gorge. No Nene in the meadows this time. As we were descending the meadow
David spotted a man with a pickup down by one of the upper wind turbines. I doubt he noticed us.
For supper we drove over to La Pinatas again. I had fish tacos this time and they were good.
01/09/2012 Hosmer Grove nature walk More info
Pacific Golden-Plover at the Haleakala visitor's center
Native shrub habitat above Hosmer Grove
This morning we drove up the Haleakala Highway to Hosmer Grove, just inside the park boundary and
about an hour from Maalaea, to join a naturalist-led walk into the Waikamoi forest preserve. Unlike
last time, which was perhaps a decade ago, the birds were very active this morning. The drive up from
Maalaea took less than an hour; I'd planned on almost two so we spenat a half hour at the national
park visitor's center, where an unusually tame Pacific Golden-plover was patrolling the parking lot.
West Maui from the Haleakala Highway at sunrise
At 0845 we met our tour leader Michelle and the rest of the group at the entrance to Hosmer
Campground. The sun had risen about an hour earlier over the shoulder of Haleakala and the light
was clean and fresh. Birds were continually flying between the trees below us and the shrubland
Michelle and tree ferns
uphill from us, mostly Amakihis, Apapanes and House Finches. The Amakihis are bright olive green
and have a mewing call like a gnatcatcher. They forage for insects as well as nectar, reminding me
somewhat of an orange-crowned warbler in their foraging habits, though perhaps a little more active.
The Apapanes are red with black wings and white under the tail. Their calls include "chyeeet" and
other more nasal scratchy notes; apparently they imitate other birds which makes voice
identification more complicated. Their song, is the junco-like trill we kept hearing in the woods.
I transliterated it as between "chreee chreee chreee chreee chreee" and "chyiee chyiee chyiee
chyiee", sometimes sounding more like a yellow-rumped warbler than a junco, but I never spotted an
Apapane actually singing it. They are very active birds, flitting rapidly around the Ohia trees and
shrubs they prefer.
Amakihi in Pukiawe
I'iwi in Ohia
Maui Alauahio in Koa
On our walk Michelle led us down a road bulldozed through the non-native forest planted by forester
Ralph Hosmer and others about a hundred years ago. Of the variety of trees he planted, several have
thrived and even become invasive, including varieties of eucalyptus, Mexican weeping pine, western
red cedar, a toxic Acadia from Australia and Sugi, a Japanese "pine" which David correctly noted was
related to redwood. As we descended into a gully we began to see native trees and shrubs. Ohia
lehua and Acacia koa were the dominant native trees. The Ohia has red flowers bristling with
stamens, the primary food source for bright red I'iwi birds and Apapanes. The Koa has
scimitar-shaped leaves which are actually modified stems; the finely pinnately-compound leaves fall
off as they develop. Maui Honeycreepers forage for insects in the mossy lichens on the Koa
branches. We saw all four species of native birds but not the Crested Honeycreeper or Maui
Parrotbill which are seen occasionally on the tour.
Paia Fish Market
Susan, Daniel & David
Rob had recommended the Paia Fish Market for lunch so we stopped there on the way down the mountain.
The fish tacos were excellent. We sat at a communal table with a man in his 30's wearing a pork-pie
hat and carrying a ukelele. The guitar was his usual instrument but he'd been working on the
ukelele for about six months. I was curious what he did for a living but didn't want to ask, though
I did find out that he'd been on Maui for seven years. On the way home we stopped at Hawaii Photo
in Kahului (at the start of the Hana Road, about a half mile towards downtown from the Airport road)
and rented a Canon D10 with which we could take photos of fish underwater. I also rented a brand
new 28-300 lens for David so he could photograph birds, since he didn't bring the 70-300.
Back at the condo Susan called and cancelled our luau booking. She also urged me to arrange another
get together with Rob and BG but I didn't get around to it today. Towards sunset we all took a
After the green flash
stroll down the beach. Susan talked with Daniel while David and I walked ahead. I was hoping to
catch the green flash again, which required a ten minute drive down to the north end of Kihei, but
we didn't leave quite soon enough. The top of the sun's disk was just slipping below the horizon as
we drove up to the beach. It vanished with the most spectacular green flash I can remember, richly
colored and clearly visible without binoculars. At least we saw it, but I was quite frustrated that
we weren't able to get there a minute earlier to photograph it.
01/10/2012 Ahihi Cove, La Perouse Bay snorkeling
Great snorkeling today. We spent an hour at Ahihi cove then drove down to La Perouse Bay at the end
of the road and went out again. Both places were excellent. The camera worked remarkably well too.
I was able to get photos of most of the fish that we saw, and once out of the water, we were able
to identify almost all of them. The book we used, Hawai'i's Fishes, A Guide for Snorkelers
Second ediion by John P Hoover is by far the best and most complete guide to Hawaiian
reef fish that I've found. Not only did it have every fish we saw, but the photographs are excellent
and are all accompanied by helpful notes.
We entered the water at the north edge of the Ahihi Cove (where an underwater concrete boat ramp
provides easy footing) swam across the cove towards the south. The water was murky where we first
got in but cleared as we moved out of the cove. We didn't see big coral heads, probably since the
lava flows which make up that portion of the coast are relatively recent, but the rocks were well
covered with smaller corals. Fish weren't abundant but we saw more than 30 different kinds, and sea
turtles as well. After an hour I felt that we'd seen about all we were going to see there so we
located the boys and swam back to shore.
Black Durgon (Triggerfish)
La Perouse bay has a sandy beach a hundred yards or so northwest of the parking area but we slipped
into the water from a lava shelf just beyond the fence on the north side of the parking area. A
narrow channel formed by a submerged ridge of rock on the right leads away from shore out into the
bay - a little tricky to find on the way back. We swam diagonally across the bay to the far side
where lava ridges formed sheltered coves and pools with lots of fish. I had taken my wetsuit top
off and couldn't get it back on so was wearing a t-shirt instead, not enough to stay warm, so after
a while I handed the camera off to Daniel and hauled out on the rocks to warm up. On the other side
of my rock ridge was a circular turquoise pool about a hundred feet across fed by waves surging
Spotted Boxfish (not a Spotted Puffer)
Rough crossing w/ Daniel & Susan
between the rocks. I could see yellow and convict tangs swimming in the clear water so I went in
again and swam around a few minutes but didn't find much else. I climbed out onto the rocks again
while Daniel and Susan paddled around the pool. We did a little more snorkeling in the coves before
heading back across the bay. The wind had picked up and the crossing was pretty rough.
We bought lunch to go at Maui Taco and ate our tacos on a grassy lawn overlooking the water at a
little park across the street. Java Sparrows were foraging under the palms - they seem to be more
common this than during our last visit. At a glance their black caps and white faces remind me of
chickadees. On the way home we hit a new farmer's market, this one by a little church on the ocean
side of the main street in downtown Kihei. I spent some of our dwindling supply of cash on skinny
purple eggplant and another papaya. Our mastercard card maxed out over the weekend so we've been
spending cash instead until the payment I made online Sunday clears.
Daniel checking Facebook
Pallid Ghost Crab on Maalaea beach
We spent a quiet afternoon at the condo. I took the camera and tripod out to the beach and
photographed sand crabs. They excavate holes in the sand then park next to them, darting out to forage at the foam line as a wave begins to recede. Most were only an inch or so wide
but we found a few holes the size of ping pong balls excavated by larger crabs which we never saw.
Daniel built a dribble castle. Later in the afternoon we drove over to Costco so Susan could pick
up a prescription. David and I chased Mynas around trying for photos and found a few feral cats in
the parking lot. We made it back to North Kihei just in time to catch the sunset but unfortunately,
there was no green flash this evening. After supper David and I photographed geckos around the
light fixtures on the outside of the building.
01/11/2012 La Perouse Bay snorkeling
I wanted to return to La Perouse Bay but in the morning the sky was dark to the south so we delayed
heading out. I considered trying someplace to the north, perhaps Coral Gardens or Olowalu, but
eventually the storm moved on and the sky cleared down south so we got ready to go. There were big
puddles in the parking area for La Perouse Bay when we arrived and the lot was only half full.
Conditions were calmer than yesterday though the swell was a bit larger. Susan decided she wasn't
up for snorkeling so just the boys and I went out. From the parking lot we swam southwest about 300
yds past the farthest visible point (where the surf was a bit intimidating) then followed the shore
into several small and protected coves. The water was very clear there and though the sun had been
behind clouds it eventually emerged and the photography was great. The fish weren't as skittish as
they had been in Ahihi Cove and often allowed us to get quite close. Unfortunately the battery went
dead and I hadn't brought another but we got photos of quite a few fish first.
Longjaw Squirrelfish, an unusual find
David and I got cold and had to get out of the water for a while. We stumbled over to a black
(basalt) and white (coral) cobbly beach to get out of the wind and see what we could find. Someone
had an old camp there with a fire circle and a tarp or old coat, I'm not sure which. No evidence of
recent occupancy; the area is officially closed to entry from the land. I found a nice small cowry
shell and several unbroken fragments of branched coral which I would like to have taken home but was
afraid would tear a hole in my wetsuit. It was difficult to explore very far because A'a lava is
tough on bare feet. I kept my socks on and quickly wore holes in them.
Daniel & David snorkeling
Whitemouth Moray, about 2 feet long
Susan had suggested a couple of times that we invite Rob, BG and Marilyn over to our place for dinner,
or perhaps just for hors d'oeuvres and drinks beforehand. I kept forgetting to email them but finally
did so this morning before we left to go snorkeling. When we got out of the water we were hungry so
we stopped a Maui Taco on the way home, then at the fruit stand to pick up more papayas but they
didn't have any. By then it was getting close to 5PM, the time Rob would arrive if he was coming. I
was surprised that he hadn't called, so I checked my phone and realized that I hadn't turned it on.
Rob had called twice and they were on their way over. We arrived back at Hono Kai just ten minutes
ahead of them.
We shared papaya, pineapple and cheeses on the balcony then drove down to Wailea to watch a free
luau show complete with hula dancing, coconut opening and a fire dance. David got called on to
participate at one point and aquitted himself well. Afterwards we drove up the hill to Matteo's
Pizza. We had a Vegetarian and a Greek pizza and both were delicious, especially the vegetarian
01/12/2012 Coral Gardens snorkeling, Hana
Humuhumu Nukunuku Apua'a at Coral Gardens
We were due to check out at 11AM but I figured we could get a little snorkeling in if we went
somewhere nearby. Kihei was cloudy, not good for underwater photos, so we drove north instead to
Papalua park where the road drops down to the water on the north side of the Kealaloloa ridge. We
Green Turtle (by Daniel)
parked at the trailhead for the Lahaina Pali trail because David wanted to hike instead of snorkel.
Daniel and I slipped into the water from a bouldery beach and swam around a point to the south to
get to a cove called Coral Gardens, popular with the tour boats according to our guidebook. As
Daniel 12 feet under
promised, the diversity of coral and fish was quite good. Photography wasn't; the water was for the
most part too deep or too murky and the sun refused to emerge from behind the edge of a patch of
stratocumulus overhead. I did manage to get some half-decent photos of the Wedgetail Triggerfish
(famous for its long Hawaiian name "Humuhumu Nukunuku A Pua'a") which had been too skittish for
photos at our previous snorkeling sites, and Daniel photographed a Green Turtle.
Returning to the condo around 10:30AM, the boys and I showered, changed and packed as fast as we
could and managed to be out within a few minutes of 11AM. I talked with the housecleaners while Susan finished getting ready. They were
trying to save money to go to Alaska where they hoped to get better-paying work. I suggested that
they might find Alaska pretty chilly after Maui but they'd been there before. Their little boy
hadn't; he'd be seeing snow for the first time.
We hit Paia Fish Market again for lunch and it was just as good the second time. The older couple
across the table from us was from Snohomish. We'd been planning to return the snorkel gear and the
Bamboo and Eucalyptus
African Tulip Trees
underwater camera before heading out to Hana but the boys were still interested in snorkeling and it
wouldn't cost much to keep the gear a few more days, so we did.
The afternoon drive to Hana was cloudy and uncrowded. We stopped at a couple of fruit stands but
the prices were too high so we didn't buy anything. The farmers markets in Kihei had offered better
quality and variety at lower prices, and we were bringing a fair amount of food with us. We did a
couple of photo stops too but the light wasn't very good.
Distracted by a fruit stand on the opposite side of the road, we missed our turn at Ulaino Road the
first time we drove by. I recognized the road when we started down it - it was the place we'd
bought a big bouquet of tropical flowers to take home four years ago. It was also the same road the
boys and I and hiked down four years before that on our way to Blue Pool. Hana Botanical Garden is
an inconspicuous driveway on the right about a mile down, across from another fruit stand. I'd come
across them on the internet and had rented two studio apartments from a woman named Jo Loice.
The studio building was a single storey duplex with a carport in front of each studio. A sliding
door opened into a single spacious room containing a bed, a table with mismatched chairs and a
kitchen along one wall. Our kitchen had a working gas oven but no refrigerator, just a large cooler
in one corner. The bathroom was off the other corner and was somewhat better finished than the main
room, with a nice shower and well-lit sink. The boys' room had a queen bed in addition to two
single beds and a refrigerator at one end of their kitchen, but their oven didn't work. Their walls
were painted blue and in keeping with the marine theme, were decorated with fish pictures and
ceramics and stuffed toys. Our room was painted bright yellow with a floral theme less obviously
manifested than the boys' fish. In both rooms the ceiling consisted of aluminum-faced rigid
insulation packed between widely-spaced 2x10 joists and the wall studs were all exposed, making them
feel rather like converted workshops. Only the window on the back wall, where the kitchen was,
actually opened outdoors (though ours didn't open); the other windows faced covered porches so the
rooms were fairly dark. At night they were even darker; the whole establishment runs on solar power
so the lights are low voltage and fairly dim.
When I first walked in I was afraid Susan wouldn't like it but I needn't have worried. She loved
the seclusion and quiet in the daytime, and the deep darkness of the night, and didn't mind the
threadbare look of the place. Though rustic, it was clean and that helped. For being in a tourist
town the place was definitely secluded. During our entire stay we saw only one other car pull into
our driveway and we felt no need to lock our doors; in fact, I don't know if we even had a key. The
studios were at the end of the driveway, past Jo Loice's house, and were surrounded by tropical
fruit trees - coconut palms, bananas, papayas, avacados, passionfruit and various other trees I
couldn't identify. The trees didn't appear to be maintained but someone diligently mowed broad
grassy paths through the woods. It could have been Jo Loice; she was on a riding mower when we
arrived, though her health isn't good so I'm sure she has help.
Daniel and David explored the neighborhood and brought back a couple of ripe papayas. I wandered
around the mowed paths and found some passionfruit and several unripe but promising avacados to add
to the several I'd picked up at one of the fruitstands on the Wainapanapa road. I fixed a fruit
salad for supper. we went to bed early.
Whitebar Surgeonfish and Convict Tangs
The boys and I drove over to Hana Bay to go snorkeling. The morning was sunny and we'd hoped to
start early but didn't. When we left the idea was that we would go over and scout it out, then come
back to get Susan and go out again with her. By the time we worked that out clouds had already
filled most of the sky. Road construction prevented us from driving beyond the pier so we went in
at the beach and swam over. A young Hawaiian woman had suggested we snorkel in the area beyond the pier,
after telling us not to park just beyond the restaurant where we'd initially planned because semi
trucks needed to turn around there. We doubted that but her advice on where to snokel was good.
Around the pier we found more debris than coral or fish but beyond it was an extensive shallow reef
with lots of fish. The water was reasonably clear and quite calm in the bay though considerably
rougher out towards the point, beyond the shelter of the first big rock outcrops. After about 40
minutes I began to get cold then the sun came out and, absorbed in taking photos, I forgot all about
being cold. We saw lots of Convict Tangs and Whitebar Surgeonfish grazing on the reef. Other
surgeonfish were common as well - Orangespine, Orangeband, Ringtail and Brown. New fish included a
colorful Belted Wrasse, a pallid-looking Bluespine Unicornfish and a Lagoon Triggerfish. There weren't
a lot of butterfly fish but we did see Oval, Longnose, Teardrop and Fourspot.
While we were gone Susan walked down the road hoping to get to the shore. She ended up at meeting a
young man named Ben, tall and slender with long hair and a thin beard, who had a place on the water.
He showed her how he caught fish, by baiting a large hook with a chunk of meat and running it out at
low tide on a cable strung out to an offshore rock. When the tide came in the meat would
be submerged, and when it went out again a fish would be dangling from the hook. He said he caught
big fish that way sometimes. Several other young people appeared to be staying at Ben's place,
including a woman named Jessica with whom Susan talked about Jesus. Jessica had left her Bible in
Kihei so Susan arranged to return and bring her another one. Ben told Susan he'd be cooking lunch at
Uncle Bill's on the way into town and invited her to drop by later. That's how we ended up eating
at Uncle Bill's instead of going out snorkeling again, which was OK because we'd had a fair amount
of snorkeling already.
The boys and I were hungry so we ate before we went out to Uncle Bills. Daniel and I had coffee and
a few bites of the vegetarian pasta dish that Susan and David ordered. It was fairly good. Ben
hung out and talked with us since the lunch business was slowing down. His interest in us seemed
genuine but without warmth; I don't recall that he ever smiled. He explained that Uncle Bill opened
up his certified kitchen to whomever wanted to use it. Different people in the community would sign
up to fix and sell lunch, keeping what they made and leaving a little extra in the till for Bill.
Ben did so a few times a month, when he felt like it or needed a little money. He seemed to be an
anchor, or perhaps a host, for the loose community of transient young people hanging out in the
area. He apparently held big parties down at his place, and people came and stayed as they pleased.
Ben and Susan at Uncle Bill's
Ben told us he worked from time to time as a concert promoter, arranging bookings for groups. He
named a few but I didn't recognize them. There was a bluegrass concert this evening over in
Kipahulu, he told us. Though not one of his bookings (I don't think), he was planning to go and
invited us along. I was curious about how the different groups of people in Hana got along and he
said everyone was pretty easy-going. That attitude seemed to apply to weed as well. As long as
people were discrete about it the police didn't pay much attention.
We also met Lucas there, sitting at a nearby table drinking one of the local IPA's from a sixpack in
a paper bag at his feet. He was in his early 30's but looked ten years younger, with shaggy hair
which framed his head like a cape and hadn't felt a brush in weeks. Originally from Ohio, he'd
drifted onto Maui a few years ago, perhaps from one of the other islands, and was currently working
at the Ono organic farm in Kipahulu cleaning banana groves and packing bananas. Apparently vines
and dead leaves accumulate in the dense foliage of the banana groves and need to be cleared out
periodically. One of the hazards of the work, he explained, was that rats occasionally fell off the
huge leaves and onto your head. The farm ships out a ton of bananas and papayas several times a
week to central Maui, along with a dozen other more exotic kinds of tropical fruit. For labor, the
farm uses a rotating coterie of interns which, Lucas noted, currently included several hot young
women. Workers signed up for a six-month stint on the farm and in turn for working 40 hours a week
in the orchards and at the fruit stand in town, learned different aspects of the farm operations and
received room and board along with a $100/week stipend.
We'd hoped to get over to Kipahulu in the afternoon to hike up to the bamboo forest but we had to go
shopping first since the store might be closed by the time we got back. Unfortunately by the time
we got home it was too late to do the hike. For supper I fixed rice and vegetables using the skinny
little eggplants I bought a few days ago in Kihei. It turned out surprisingly well. I also made a
pancake out of the ripe breadfruit I'd bought at the Ono farm stand. To prepare the breadfruit I
first sliced off the coarse green skin. Though I oiled the knife first to facilitate cleaning off
the gummy latex afterwards, there was no latex; that precaution must apply only to unripe fruit.
The interior of the breadfruit consisted of mushy-soft pale green flesh with a fibrous texture
surrounding a large spindle-shaped seed in the center. It quickly turned brown on exposure to air,
like avacado only faster. Perhaps it was only the name, but both the fragrance and the texture of
the flesh reminded me of bread dough as I stirred it before putting it in the pan. I spread it out
thinly in a buttered non-stick pan and fried it as slowly as I could over a gas burner. In the pan
it smelled like a pancake with a hint of cinnamon. When it was firm enough I flipped it, and judged
it done when it was no longer gooey in the middle. It tasted more like sweet potato than pancake
but was quite good with Susan's lilikoi jam.
The boys were getting ready for bed when we left for Kipahulu. I envied them. When we arrived a
band named Conjugal Visit was playing. They weren't bluegrass, which was just as well in my
opinion. I found the sax player's lines particularly satisfying. The center of the pavilion, in
front of the band, was cleared for dancing and several of the dancers were quite good, a muscular
dark-skinned man wearing only shorts and a tall thin young woman who turned out to be the fiddler
for the next group. Picnic tables were arrayed around the dance floor and some people were eating.
The food for sale included tasty-looking vegetarian plates but we were full. The crowd was seemed
to be mostly local residents, a mix of Hawaiians, haoles and hippies. There were a few older men
and women but no other tourists. We wandered around looking for Ben but never found him, though we
did see Lucas, and one of his coworkers named Lindsay from whom I'd bought the breadfruit. When I
told her about the pancake I had the impression I was the first person she'd ever talked with who'd
actually eaten breadfruit. Lucas danced with Lindsay some, and Susan and I danced for a half hour
or so to the headliner band. They were a little too loud and in my opinion, not as good as the
first band, but the music had a strong beat, good for dancing. We left by 10PM and gave Lucas and
Lindsay a ride up to the Ono farm on the way home.
01/14/2012 Kaupo Trail hike
Kaupo Gap from Haleakala National Park boundary
Waterfall near Kipahulu
The boys and I hiked up to Paliku cabin on the Kaupo trail today. Susan drove us over from Hana.
The drive over took an hour and a half. Beyond Kipahulu the road is gravel in places and rough and
narrow almost everywhere, cut into dramatic cliffs above the water. With a stop to photograph a
waterfall on the way and time getting ready at the trailhead, we didn't start until after 9AM. We
thought maybe Susan would drive back to Hana for the day but she stayed in Kaupo instead, waiting
for us at the trailhead and down at the store. She had a good day and we had a good hike.
The Kaupo trail runs up the east side of an old a'a lava flow which descended from the Haleakala
summit rift and partially filled the Kaupo Gap some 120,000 years ago. The terrain consists of
vertically- aligned furrows and ridges lightly eroded and blanketed with a veneer of soil. Above
the national park boundary at around 4000' and continuing up above 6000' a scrubland composed mostly
of native shrubs is the dominant habitat with scattered meadows and stands of low A'ali'i, Ohia, Koa
and Mamane trees. Outside the park goats and cattle have devoured the native woody plants leaving
pasture in the upper reaches interspersed with groves of invasive trees, mostly Christmasberry, at
Susan at trailhead, 1200'
Guava and pastures, ~2600'
Koa grove in the park, ~3800'
Native scrub, ~5500'
We missed the road to the trailhead at first. It's a narrow track which starts up the hill just
east of the Kaupo store and climbs about a mile and a half to the trailhead at 1100'. The first
mile or so of the trail follows jeep tracks in and out of the trees. The next couple of miles climb
steadily through rocky pastureland of coarse bright-green grass dotted with black boulders and
outcrops of basalt. The goats and cattle keep the grass grazed smooth but not necessarily short.
In places it forms an elevated mat which conceals rough ground underneath but where the grass was
cropped short in the jeep tracks the walking was easy. Where we first came out into the pastureland
we stopped for a break and exploring, I stumbled across an enormous bull hiding in the shadows under
some pepper trees. Fortunately he was not aggressive. Farther up the hill we flushed herds of
goats, big shaggy brown and gray animals with long curved or spiraling horns.
Scrub forest, ~5900'
Haleakala crater, ~6200'
Paliku cabin, 6300'
The weather was beautiful, sunny and mostly clear with a breeze most of the time, but hot hiking
just the same. Guava bushes were common along the way. Most had only flowers or small green fruit
but a few bore ripe fruits, yellowish and soft with pink flesh full of hard round seeds. The flavor
is somewhat like a tart strawberry, more appetizing on a hot trail than back at home. After hiking
for a couple of hours we stopped for a lunch on a breezy ridge at 3200' overlooking a small gorge.
We each had a sandwich and some of the papaya I chopped up this morning. The papaya was incredibly
satisfying. Clinging to the far wall of the gorge was a yellow-flowered Ohia in bloom - the first
native plant I recognized on our hike. Not far above that we began to pass broad stout Koa trees
with their gray-green leaves shaped like crescent moons. A ridge began to rise up on our right.
Three miles above the trailhead we crossed a fence and cattle guard into a Koa grove with an
understorey of uncropped grass - Haleakala National Park. Scrubland quickly replaced grass as we
continued up the trail. The gullies and ridges became somewhat more pronounced and the ridge on our
right became a wall above us. We began to hear bird calls - native birds, along with White-eyes and
the mystery bird with the "eerrrrr wichew" song. We began to see Mamane trees covered with yellow
flowers, particularly in a valley between us and the high ridge on our right. In a grove of young
Koa's surrounding a very large old Koa tree we spotted our first Amakihis, a nice close-up view but
Lunch by the cabin
I didn't have the 300mm lens attached. I put it on after that. Daniel pointed out a distant red
bird so I photographed it, and it turned out to be an I'iwi. Above that the trail ran along the
edge of a small gorge at the foot of the high ridge on the east side of the gap. The gorge
originated at the foot of a dry waterfall several hundred feet high. Numerous small birds were
flitting between mature Ohia trees in and above the gorge. The mystery bird was singing there too.
Daniel and I managed to get a few Amakihi photos and I eventually identified some of the others as
Apapanes and Japanese White-eyes.
View down over Kaupo to the Big Island
South flank of Haleakala
The long break at the gorge put us behind schedule and we didn't reach the cabin until almost 3PM.
Nene were awaiting us. We photographed them and ate another lunch sitting on the grass out front
while a pair of Nene nibbled around us. Fifty yards away from us a young woman was setting up her
tent in the shade of a tall shrub; otherwise the area was deserted. The cabin sits at the foot of a
scrubby cliff at the east edge of the Haleakala "crater", framed by a few good-sized Mamane and Ohia
trees and overlooking a gently sloping meadow. The front door was locked. Peering in the window I
saw a dozen bunks and two tables, spare but well-kept. Out front is a square stone turret with a
water spigot on one side and a chipped enamel catch-basin underneath it. As we finished lunch one
of the Nene sat down in the basin and attempted to bathe. They probably don't get much opportunity
for that in their natural habitat.
We hurried on the way down but also made a few photo stops. As the sun dropped near to the horizon
the green grass of the meadows took on a particularly rich hue. Susan was waiting for us at the car.
Back at the car
Sunset at the trailhead
We'd been able to call her about an hour earlier so she wasn't worried for us. The sunset was stunning.
On the way back to Kipahulu we passed more than a dozen cars coming the other way, most of them filled
with young men headed for a party at the sprawling house by the Kaupo trailhead. For supper we found
wood-oven fired pizza at the fruit stand near Ulaino Road, as Ben had recommended. Lucas and Jessica
were both there, along with a motley crew of local stoners. Despite being out of some ingredients,
the cooks fixed up some delicious pizza for about $15 a pie.
01/15/2012 Red Beach
Red Beach is a remarkable spot, a coarse reddish-brown sandy beach hemmed in on three sides by
cinder cliffs and fronting a shallow cove sheltered by a low wall of eroded basalt. A narrow gap at
one end of the wall opens into the deeper water of a small bay with cliffs on the left and rough
rock outcrops on the right. Not much coral grows in the cove; the bottom is mostly boulders and
cobbles with thin crusts of brown algae. Outide the cove clusters of cauliflower coral adorn
underwater shelves and cliffs. Although fish weren't abundant in the cove, over time lots of
different species seemed to circulate through. Shallow water, sunshine and little wave action made
good conditions for photography and I took lots of pictures.
Susan swam with me outside the cove and across the little bay to a shallow area among the rocks
but the water was too turbulent for her. Swells rebounding off the basalt wall made the bay crossing
pretty rough. She was getting too tired so I took her hand and pulled her through the channel and
into the shelter of the cove again, where she was able to swim to the beach. I swam back out to
join the boys out where the swells were breaking on a point of the cliff. David tried to photograph
the waves but the light was too bright so we swam across the bay to where swells were cresting over
a shallow ledge. I photographed fish while the boys tried to ride the breaking waves but eventually
I got cold and had to go in.
Blue-eye and Bright-eye Damselfishes
Squarespot Goatfish and Orangeband Surgeonfish
Brown Surgeonfish defending territory against Convict Tangs
Red Beach seems to be a local hangout. Several of the other women we had met at the pizza gathering
last night were there when we arrived. The silent one was leading the others in a poi class,
twirling tennis balls in tube socks. Jessica and Lucas were there too. The plan had been for us to
pick up Jessica at Ben's at 9AM and take her snorkeling but we didn't get going early enough for
Susan and I with Jessica
Susan and I with Lucas
that so Jessica apparently caught a ride with Travis. He had promised to take Jessica snorkeling
but went out without her. She seemed content to stay on the beach anyhow. On his way down to the
water he told us not to use fins and warned us not to go out of the cove. A few minutes later he
came by again and told us we could go out if we wanted to.
Lucas and Jessica ended up coming back to our place with us. Daniel and I fixed rice and stir-fried
vegetables, and breadfruit-banana pancakes. We had lots to eat because we cooked for six guests but
no-one was at Ben's place so only Lucas and Jessica came for dinner. They spent much of the time
sitting close together talking on the back porch like teenagers on their first date. After dinner
Susan took them both back to Ono Ranch, after first writing a long letter of recommendation. We're
hoping that Jessica can stay with Lucas at the ranch and work there, giving her a chance to get
settled and figure out what to do next.
Everyone enjoyed the breadfruit pancakes but I thought the ones without bananas were better. One
apple banana per breadfruit might be OK but I used four, which made the pancakes gooey and sticky.
When I stopped over at Jo Loice's house to tell her we were leaving in the morning, I told her about
them and she explained how she prepares unripe breadfruit. She boils them whole in a big pot of
water for 10-15 minutes then cuts them in half and cooks them until they are tender, like a boiled
potato. After peeling off the skin she slices or cubes the flesh and serves it as is or saves it to
fry or reheat later. We'll have to try that on our next visit to Maui.
01/16/2012 Piilani Hwy
Last beach before Kaupo
The Kaupo store
The Kaupo storekeeper
Kaupo Gap in the clouds
The Kaupo Catholic church
Hibiscus flower in the churchyard
Another bright sunny morning, our last in Maui - our flight home leaves Kahului at 4:15PM. We
checked out of the Hana Botanical Garden at 9:30AM, early enough to drive back to Kahului via the
south coast highway (the Piilani Hwy?) through Kaupo and Kula. We stopped at the Kaupo store to get
a box of crackers to go with the guacamole I mixed up this morning in order to use up our remaining
Grassland beyond Kaupo
ripe avacados. A few miles beyond Kaupo we came across an old Catholic church and stopped for lunch
in the churchyard. Above us a cloudbank filled the Kaupo Gap - apparently we were fortunate to get
sunshine all day when we hiked up there.
Beyond the Kaupo church the climate dries out quickly. Sparse forests of spindly Kiawe trees yield
to arid grassland and narrow canyons cut through layers of old basalt. The coastline consists of
View west along the coast at Wai'opai
View east over Manamainui Gulch
basalt headlands with occasional steep bouldery beaches. After about ten miles the terrain changes
again and grassland is replaced by newer A'a lava flows with shrubs and stout yellow wiliwili trees
growing in the hollows. As we rounded the southwest ridge of Haleakala we could see La Perouse Bay
and lava flows of Cape Kinau, where we were snorkeling last week, 3000' below us.
Cape Kinau from Piilani Hwy
West Maui from Kula Hwy
We reached Kahului around 1:15PM, returned the camera and lens to Hawaii Photo and drove over to
Kihei to return the snorkeling gear to Snorkel Bobs. After repacking our suitcases in a parking lot
somewhere in North Kihei we drove back to the airport. Our flight was delayed a bit so we had time
for some more lunch, leftover rice and stir-fried vegetables with breadfruit-banana pancakes, before
we boarded. The flight passed quickly but the weather in Seattle was a shock, 32F and snowing. We
had about 3" of new snow on top of a couple of inches of old snow at our house so I had the Shuttle
Express driver drop us off at the foot of the driveway. Welcome home!
01/19/2012 Ice Storm - not on Maui anymore
During the ice storm
Grass and poplars
We lost our power yesterday evening around 10:30PM but when I woke up at 3:30AM the lights were
back on. Losing power was no surprise since the snow yesterday morning changed over to freezing
drizzle around noon and by evening the trees were pretty well encased in ice. Before the rain
we'd received about five inches of snow on top of the three inches or so already on the ground.
According to the weather forecast, the freezing rain was supposed to be confined to southwestern
Washington; too bad they were wrong about that.
The power went out again around 8:30 this morning, a good reason to finally unpack the generator we
bought a year ago. With tree limbs cracking and ice showering down several times a minute from
trees all around the house it didn't look as though power would be coming on any time soon. About a
half inch oc ice has accumulated on weeds and trees alike. The weeds are bearing up better than the
trees under the load. The poplars are faring the worst. Half of their normally upright branches
have already fallen and the rest are bent over like weeping willows. Every few minutes while I was
working on the generator in the carport, another limb would snap sending twigs and ice skittering
across the icy snow on the driveway. Around 3PM, some twenty years after we had our generator
sub-panel installed, we finally had a generator hooked up to it. Unfortunately we had no gas.
The gas station at Brown's Corner was open and guys in pickup trucks were lined up waiting to fill
five gallon containers with gas. We took our turn then called Rainier Grill to see if they were open.
They were, and when we arrived at 5PM they were full. I walked around the block taking photos while
we waited. The ornamental trees along the streets glittered in the lights. When our table came up
we offered to share it with the next party in line. Michael and Mike, father and son from Maryland,
had just flown in with plans to ski up at Crystal Mountain for a few days, except that hwy 410 was
closed. We offered them the boys' rooms in case all the motel rooms in Enumclaw were full. Back at
home we filled up the generator gas tank and got the lights on. Mike called an hour or so later
offering to let us use their motel room to take showers but we were already all cozy and settled
in the den with the lights on and the stove pouring out heat. We stayed home.
Enumclaw parking area
Lilacs and cherry trees below our yard
In the evening after I had the generator running I was talking to Daniel on the phone and descending
the stairs to the basement in my fleece socks when I slipped and fell hard. I slid all the way down
the stairs on my lower back. Susan told me later that it sounded as though I'd dropped a load of
firewood on the stairs. It hurt like nothing I've experienced in a long time, an excruciating
stinging sensation throbbing somewhere above my pelvic bone on the left side. I stumbled into the
schoolroom yelling and swearing, with Daniel still on the phone. Susan came running and helped me
into the den where I lay down on my stomach on the carpet, woozy from the pain. As I lay still the
stinging subsided to a tolerable level. Any attempt to move triggered it again so I lay there for
about ten minutes before gingerly trying to get up on my hands and knees. After a couple of tries I
made it but still felt as though I might pass out. Moving the wrong way would immediately bring
back the pain. To my surprise though, after about a half hour I was able to stand up and walk
around, carefully. I even managed to brush my teeth before crawling into bed.
02/05/2012 Titlow Park
GogLeHitTe epic Bald Eagle
GogLeHiTe Common Merganser
David and I went out this morning to GogLeHiTe Natural Area in Tacoma to take photos of birds. We'd
planned to go to church afterwards but didn't make it. Instead we drove over to Metropolitan Market
and sampled cheeses, then bought a couple of sandwiches and a salad for lunch. We planned to have a
picnic at Titlow Park on the Narrows south of the bridge but couldn't wait that long so ate in the
car before leaving the Metropolitan Market parking lot. I didn't think I'd gotten any good photos
at GogLeHiTe and was feeling frustrated with the long lens, in part because I couldn't figure out
how to use the memory recall feature. My main complaint is that when the autofocus misses its
target, it runs all the way to the closest focus point then won't attempt to refocus again on a
distant point. I wanted to use memory recall to rest the focus to about a hundred feet, from which
point the autofocus will readily refocus longer or shorter, but I couldn't figure out how to set the
focus memory point. I probably should have read the instructions long ago, but never did.
Belted Kingfisher at Titlow Park
We did somewhat better at Titlow Park. In the two saltwater ponds we found a small flock of gulls,
mostly Glaucous-winged and Mew with an adult Western as well, and a larger flock of American Wigeon
with three Eurasian males among them. David took some good gull photos and I got my first Eurasian
Wigeon photos. Susan called and told us she'd like to come join us so I gave her directions.
While we waited, David and I walked along the narrow beach north of the piers that are across the
railroad tracks from the south end of the park. The afternoon was clear and sunny and fairly
comfortable for February. We were just coming back when Susan called to let us know she'd arrived.
We hung out on the piers while she talked with some divers we'd seen offshore earlier. They told
us that the pilings offshore hosted a colorful variety of invertebrates including large anemonies
and bright orange and yellow nudibranchs. One of the men was a dive instructor and gave me his
card. He told me it would cost about $400 to learn to dive in his classes. For photos, diving can
be better than snorkeling because you can stay underwater and while the fish grow accustomed to you.
His outfit is Seattle School of
02/15/2012 Nisqually Bird list
Parking lot Peregrine
Lunch with Susan and the big lens
Marsh Wren on display
Susan and I drove down to Nisqually for an afternoon of birding today. We'd planned to join Shep
Thorpe's Wednesday morning group but didn't arrive until after they were done. At the visitor's
center we were surprised to meet Susan Boyington, the mother of a friend of Daniel's at Charles
Wright. We didn't know she was a birder. We were also pleased to discover that the female peregrine
which I photographed in flight and in the big cottonwood by the corner of the parking area
back in October
was still present in the same tree. Susan had been birding all morning so didn't join us but maybe
we'll get together another time.
We ate lunch on the boardwalk along the slough north of the visitor's center. The sun was shining
and the air not too chilly and Susan was delighted to be out. I carried the big lens and the heavy
duty tripod and got lots of use out of both. BTW, I read the manual on the long lens and figured
out how to save and recall an autofocus setting, and it proved quite helpful today. After a stop at
the barns (Susan loves old barns), we walked out on the dike to view the baby owls reported in a
hollow cottonwood and got distracted by a Marsh Wren calling in the matted grass right below us.
For a half hour we hung out there while I tried to get a photo of the wren but it wouldn't fully
emerge from the cover of the grass. Finally as we were about to leave, it popped out into the
sunshine. For once I was ready and got half a dozen sharp photos in the ten seconds or so before it
dove into the grass again.
An even better surprise was awaiting us a hundred yards down the dike - my first American Bittern in
years. It was posing in full view right at the foot of the dike, at the edge of the big freshwater
marsh-pond. I took a ton of photos while it alternately posed and skulked through the grass. Despite
being somewhat backlit its plumage was beautiful, a complex pattern of streaks and bars in various
shades of rich brown and beige. We delighted in watching it move ever so deliberately through the
grass, with a curious habit of swaying gently as if it were stirred by a soft breeze. We must have
pointed it out to a dozen people walking by while we watched and photographed it - definitely a
highlight of the day.
I finally had a good run today - 13 miles with no significant IT band soreness. The outside of my
left heel, which had been sore by the end of the day at Nisqually, was OK as well. Both the heel
and the IT band problems are left over from my fall down the steps a month ago during the power
outage. I've been concerned that I might not recover in time for Boston, but now it looks as though
I'll be OK, and may even be able to do the Gorge Waterfalls 50K in five weeks. After the first mile
today I ran 10 at 9:15/mile with no stops and felt good most of the way, though a little stiff
towards the end.
Without getting out for marathons, it's been a pretty uneventful month since we returned from Maui.
I've been working on photos and on this journal quite a bit but haven't gotten around to the Maniac
programming work. Susan hasn't been getting out much either - it's as if we've been hibernating
through the gray days and wet weather of winter.
02/27/2012 Snowy Owls Photos Route
Three Snowy Owls on Damon Point
This winter has seen one of the larger Snowy Owl irruptions on record, at least in the Midwest
where they're wintering as far south as Missouri and Texas. Here in the Pacific Northwest they're
concentrated at Damon Point in Ocean Shores and around Boundary Bay just across the border in
British Columbia. I've been intending to get out and see them and this afternoon, Susan and I
finally did so. We left around noon and reached Ocean Shores at 3PM. Even as late as it was on a
weekday, a dozen or more cars were parked along Marine View Drive at Damon Point. The map shows a
road out to the point but it apparently washed away in a storm a few years ago so it's now about a
mile and a quarter walk along the beach out to the area of the sand spit where the owls are
roosting. Finding them was easy - each group of owls (they apparently don't mind company) was being
monitored by one or more photographers. We joined the biggest crowd, a half-dozen people with
lenses long and short trained on three Snowy Owls sitting on driftwood out in the dune grass.
Watching Snowy Owls is a peaceful pastime. The sun was shining for a change and the winds were
light so even my hands stayed warm. Susan watched the owls for a few minutes then sat down in the
grass with her back to them, facing the sunshine. I set up my tripod and lens next to three or four
other photographers and peered through my lens at the owls. They mostly just sat there with their
eyes closed as if squinting in the sunlight. One was panting, fluttering its throat to cool off.
For them 40F at Ocean Shores must be like 85F on the beach in Maui is for us. Occasionally one
would preen for a while, or open its bright yellow eyes and look around. People for the most part
took care not to disturb the birds and for their part, they didn't seem to pay any attention to us.
During the half hour or so that I watched those first three birds, they stayed put though the
photographers moved around a bit, trying for a new angle or better light.
After I'd taken at least a hundred photos, Susan and I moved over to another group of owls, two of
them on a couple of logs in the dune grass. Two women were crouched behind more driftwood about
thirty yards from the owls so we joined them. One owl was heavily barred which usually indicates a
juvenile; the other was much paler, perhaps an adult. Within a half hour after we arrived, the
adult flew up into a bare tree even closer to us than he'd been before. I took lots of photos,
especially when it flapped its wings while trying to get a better grip on the branch. About an hour
before sunset the owls began to leave their roosting places and fly off towards the trees a few
hundred yards away. A fifth owl flew by us from farther out on the point, then the juvenile took
off. For us the sun slipped behind the leading edge of a cloud layer coming in from the west but
the Olympics were still illuminated when the adult moved to a bigger dead tree at about 5:30PM. For
us and the remaining photographers, that meant it was time to head home.
As we were walking back along the beach we met a woman and her sister who were helping their mother
walk on the beach with the aid of a wheeled walker. Mom had long loved Snowy Owls but had never
seen one in the wild so they'd brought her out to Damon Point. Together they each used a short
strap to tow the walker across the sand while Mom walked behind, leaning on her moving support.
Susan had met them while I was photographing the owls so when we overtook them on the way back we
stopped to talk. Mom had been delighted with the owls. While we were with them a man and a woman
passed us and Susan recognized the man as Barry, who used to own the Rosewood Cafe were she often
has lunch with the boys. It turns out that Barry has a house in Ocean Shores, so they've walked out
several times to see the owls. We asked Barry if he could suggest a local place to eat dinner. At
first he wasn't very encouraging, but then he recalled that some friends had eaten well at Bennett's
Fish Shack so we told him we'd try it.
On the way back into town I spotted an owl sitting on the phone wire along Ocean Shores Blvd. It
was too dark to see anything but the bird's silhouette but with Susan's encouragement we turned back
and pulled off the road so I could put the camera on the tripod and try for a photo. Susan
maneuvered the car so that the owl received a little extra light from the headlamps. The exposure
was two seconds even at ISO 800 but the owl stayed very still so I was able to get a reasonably
sharp image. Back in town we couldn't find Bennet's Fish Shack. A restaurant named
Alec's By the Sea
was occupying the address where my phone map said Bennet's Fish
Shack should be, so we ate there instead. The place was clean, the service quick, the prices
reasonable and the food quite good - we'd definitely go there again.
Pelton Basin (11x14")
Damon Point Snowy Owls (14x18")
I took up painting yesterday and completed the acrylic of Pelton Basin that I started two years ago.
Everything below and to the right of the line of trees which starts in the lower left corner is new
- the foreground and middle-ground. I think it turned out well, especially considering that
foregrounds have typically been my weak point.
Today I started the owls and worked perhaps six hours on them. I thought maybe it might be too
difficult for me at this point - not only the freehand drawing of the owls but also the extensive
foreground textures of grass and logs. So far it's turning out different than I expected - more
texture, less detail. The small log was easy so I thought the big log would be too, but the best I
could do so far was create a ledge. Since there are no ledges at Ocean Shores, I plan to redo it
tomorrow. And the owls. The middle and background grass areas need work too. Still plenty of
Our big achievement yesterday was finding Susan's charm bracelet. It had been missing since before
Christmas and Susan was very concerned that it might have been lost forever. It was her mother's,
and irreplaceable. I'd already searched my car but Susan suggested that we look again and there it
was, sitting in plain sight under the passenger seat. I'm sure it wasn't there when I looked before;
maybe it was a miracle. In any case, it was as if a great weight had been lifted off Susan. Perhaps
that's what gave me the initiative to start painting again.
Damon Point Snowy Owls (14x18")
I worked on the owls again today, my sixth day of painting on them. I figure I've worked about 24
hours on them so far, more than I'd hoped to spend but not unreasonable considering the complexity
of the subject. The two owls alone took almost half that time. I added the stub on the left today.
It changed the whole feeling of the painting, serving as a counter-balance to the two owls and
tying the composition together. Here's what it looked like before the change to the logs.
Before the log change
I reworked the nearer line of hills too; I painted them with Pthalo Blue the first time around but
have been using Ultramarine Blue in the painting since, so the hills no longer fit. They were too
dark too. David wants me to smooth out the sky and the distant mountains, and now that the owls
are done, I agree with him. Susan suggested that I trim off the section of the log to the left
of the lower owl and I agree - despite several tries I wasn't able to make that part of the log
work. With those two changes, and a little refining of the background dune grass, I think the
painting will be about done. I'm really happy with how it has turned out.
Hopefully it isn't just beginner's luck. I was talking to Ed the other day and he lamented that
his early paintings wore no worse, and several cases were better, than almost all of his subsequent
work. I don't think that was true for me when I was painting after college; I think several of my
later paintings were the better than anything I'd done before. I think I fell into a compulsion to
paint too much detail when I was painting before, and I'm hoping I can avoid that trap this time.
I've given up hope of running the Gorge Waterfalls next weekend. My right knee is still stiff and
swollen from sking up at Crystal with David three days ago. Though we didn't get there until 1:30,
we skied hard and accumulated about 16K feet, much of it in deep but chopped-up powder, tough going.
Skiing was more fun than I remembered - I don't know when I did it last, but it must have been at
least a dozen years ago. Unfortunately running marathons doesn't condition you for skiing. I think
(and hope) my knee problem is just a severe case of DOMS in the Vastus medialus and the muscle in
the corresponding position on the outside of the knee. Both are swollen and soft, and the edema has
extended down on both sides of the knee. There's essentially no pain though, which is odd, but
which I hope indicates that I didn't tear anything.
I had a similar problem for a few days last week after jogging back to the car from Damon Point with
my camera, lens, spotting scope and tripod. My pack weighed at least twenty pounds and the sand was
generally pretty soft on the beach, so I adjusted my gait to land flat-footed and slide my foot back
rather than pushing off my toes. I noticed I couldn't kneel on my right knee; the leg would only
bend about 120 degrees, but I didn't take the trouble to analyze what the problem was. This time my
knee is much more swollen; bending 90 degrees is difficult. The knee troubles, along with a bad head
cold last week, have kept me from running for about ten days now. Hopefully I'll still be able to run
Yakima Canyon at the end of the month, and Boston exactly a month from today.
Susan and I had a nice overnight birding trip back to Ocean Shores last week. We stayed at the
spare but clean Oasis Motel for only $55 including tax and ate at Bennett's this time. It was good
but I preferred the more expensive dinner at Alec's. We hiked out to the tip of Damon Point and I
got a few more owl photos, along with shots of Western Grebes and a Common Loon foraging in the
tidal rips just off the point. And the female King Eider, a life bird, though unfortunatly not very
close. On the way back I waited for the sunset but distant clouds blocked the green flash. The
moon was rising though, and I found an owl on a tall stump and photographed it framed by the full
moon, kind of a cool shot. Susan was tired in the morning so she slept in while I dragged myself
back out to the point, then over to the jetty, despite a continuously runny nose and a stiff
southeasterly breeze. Bad combination, that. Fortunately I brought my new lens cover so the camera
and lens stayed dry. I missed a few good flight shots due more to my gloves than the lens cover,
but did OK overall, particularly with a pair of Sanderlings on the beach by the jetty. Later in the
afternoon Susan and I returned to the jetty where I found the Rock Sandpipers and Black Turnstones
I'd been looking for in the morning. A good trip overall.
Damon Point Snowy Owls (14x18")
I worked for five or six hours on the Damon Point Snowy Owls today and finished them. I didn't
change the owls other than to make a few changes around their feet to help ground them but I
repainted the sky and the mountains and truncated the log to the left of the lower owl, changes
suggested by David and Susan respectively. I also finished up the background and middle-ground
grass. Overall I'm quite happy with it, in fact I feel a bit intimidated because it sets a high bar
for my next painting. The frame is a little too bold but the price was right; it's a stock frame
from Blick's and cost me about $16.
A note on my palette - I ended up using mostly Ultramarine Blue, Raw Umber and Yellow Ochre, along
with Titanium White, of course. The sky has more Thalo Blue than Ultramarine, and there's a fair
amount of Burnt Sienna as well as some Orange (Quinacridone?) in the foreground and some in the
logs. I used a little of both Hansa Yellows, but not much, for highlights in the grass and a bit
of Sap Green for the tree in the left background. Thalo Blue and Red in the middle mountains came
out too intense so I scumbled them with Ultramarine Blue and White, if I remember right. The owls
are shaded with Ultramarine Blue and Yellow Ochre (I think), with Raw Umber making up the bulk of
the dark markings.
The swelling around my knee doesn't seem to be going down much but walking feels almost normal
now so it must be improving a little. Perhaps I'll try running tomorrow. I read up a little on ACL
injuries and apparently they tend to prevent full extension of the knee. Now that the swelling has
diminished some, I am able to fully extend my knee, so hopefully that isn't the problem. Diagnosis
will probably require an MRI for which Enumclaw Hospital charges about $5000, but fortunately there
are a few websites which enable comparison shopping for MRI's, and I may be able to get one for as
little as $700. Or I could fly to England and pay half that much. Might be worth it.
We spent this evening with Vo and Sonya. Mai was home early on break so David came with us. Vo fixed
Chickpeas (Indian), Tofu w/ pickled mustard (Vietnamese) and Eggplant and beans (Chinese) and Sonya
braised Alaskan Weathervane scallops they'd purchased at the Charles Wright auction a week ago. The
scallops were among the best I've ever had, and the vegetarian entrees were delicious too, especially
the tofu w/ pickled mustard greens. It was a very pleasant visit.
We opened registration for the 2012 Light at the End of the Tunnel marathon today. I'd promised a
10:00AM opening but forgot about it last night so didn't get the link up until noon. By the time I
logged in around 11:00AM half a dozen people had already emailed me to remind me. This evening we
have already received 92 entries, so we are one quarter full. Based on that, I'm going to go out on
a limb and predict that the race will fill by the end of May.
On jury duty for the past two days, I got excused from the jury pool for the first trial that came
up; I was added to the pool for a second trial which was subsequently canceled; I was bypassed for
the pool for a third trial, then at 3PM on my second and last day of service I was added to the pool
of potential jurors for a fourth trial, a criminal trial which could last for three weeks. I need
to return on Monday for jury selection. Fourteen jurors will be selected out of the 35 in the pool,
so I figure I have about even odds of ending up on the jury. Could be interesting, though the
process could be pretty tedious too.
After 96 hours, we have 160 entries for the Light at the End of the Tunnel marathon, 40% of the
total we're planning to allow to sign up. Thirty of the registrations were from the 55 people
who've contacted me over the past year asking about the marathon, and whom I emailed ten days ago, a
week before registration opened. Another thirty or so either ran or signed up for the race last
year. That means that 100 of the people who've signed up so far this year are new to the Tunnel
Marathon, having discovered it presumably by word of mouth or through Marathon Guide or the Maniacs,
the only two places that I know of where the marathon is listed. Today I spent about six hours
setting up and sending an email to the rest of last year's runners who haven't yet signed up or
received notification of registration opening - about 280 people altogether. I'd promised sometime
last year that I would email them when registration opened. It will be interesting to see how many
more registrations we pick up from that group; my guess would be somewhere between 50 and 100 over the
next week. I'm now expecting the marathon to fill by the end of April.
03/25/2012 Mercer Island Half Marathon
I was signed up to run the Gorge Waterfalls 50K today but I've only run two days, and a total of
four miles, in the past three weeks thanks to a bad cold and my swollen knee, which is now almost
fully recovered. A few days ago I called Jeff P, having
not talked with him in a while, and he mentioned he was running Mercer Island with his daughter
Katie. Having concluded that I wouldn't be able to handle the 50K I signed up for Mercer Island
instead. I met Jeff and Katie before the start and we ran the whole distance together, the first
half at about 9:15 and the second at closer to 10:00. I started feeling pretty stiff around mile
10 so was glad I didn't try for the longer distance. Jeff did, tacking on another 8-9 miles after
the race. I went home to their apartment with Anita and we sat and talked for an hour or so while
we waited for Jeff to get home. They've downsized from their house to an apartment while having
their house remodeled, but now are thinking that they won't return to the house after all. Both
of them found the remodeling process very difficult. The general contractor proved incompetent
if not actually crooked so they've hired an architect to oversee the job. Downsizing has been
difficult too, particularly for Anita. We found that we have the same temperment regarding
posessions - we're both collectors. We attach memories and affections to the things in our lives
so find it painful and depressing to discard them. Unlike me, Anita doesn't have other collectors
in her family so she doesn't get alot of sympathy. She talked some about her own family - her
parents and siblings. Her fraternal twin was her mother's favorite - and things more or less
went downhill from there. She turned out pretty well, considering.
The lower field in early June (11x14")
I'm on the jury but court doesn't meet on Fridays and we had yesterday off, so I did this painting.
I intentionally tried to stay loose and work quickly but it took a while to work out the sky and
clouds, probably 4 hours there and about 10 altogether. The sky is mostly Thalo Blue with a little
Ultramarine Blue and Titanium White, the same as for the owls but less Ultramarine. I also brushed
in a little Hansa Yellow Light here and there. For the clouds and the blue of the mountains I mixed
a little Quinacridone Violet into Thalo Blue and lots of White, adding a little Burnt Umber in the
dark areas and a touch of Hansa Yellow Medium (or Dark?) in the lighter areas. Later I touched
up the shaded portion with a little Ultramarine Blue mixed with white because it seemed too pale.
The clouds still need more shading but won't get it because I don't want to invest more time in this
painting. Wildcat Mountain is done with the same colors, along with Hansa Yellow Light in the lower
portions to provide the green tones. The nearer mountain on the left is also a mix of Thalo Blue,
Quinacridone Violet and Hansa Yellow Light, with a subsequent wash of Ultramarine Blue and White
because my initial pass was too green.
I initially washed the field with Sap Green and Hansa Yellow Light then realized that what I needed
was almost pure Hansa Yellow Light, with a touch of White and Burnt Sienna on the right side. The
dark area in the trees was an initial wash of Burnt Sienna and Sap Green; I liked the transparency
but it was just roughed in so I ended up repainting most of it with various opaque combinations of Burnt
Sienna, Thalo Green (Yellow Shade), Thalo Blue and Sap Green. I'm not totally happy with that approach.
The other greens in the trees are a hodgepodge of Sap and Thalo Greens, Hansa Yellow Light and Medium
and a little Burnt Sienna. Hansa Yellow Light predominates and makes the trees very bright because it
was applied directly to the white canvas.
The colors are nice and bright, which I really liked when I initially finished the painting but which
lost some of their appeal as I spent some time with it. The problem may lie more in the opacity and
lack of definition in the darks than with the brightness of the highlights. I like the mountains and
the field quite alot, the clouds and trees not as much. Still, for 10 hours and a new palette, it's
Tunnel Marathon registrations are up to 225, including 10 mail-ins. We've added 65 this past week.
Since I'm not sending out any more emails, I think we'll add only about 30 per week, so my current
estimate of when we'll fill is May 15.
03/31/2012 Yakima River Canyon Marathon
This was my fourth, and at 6:30 my slowest, Yakima Canyon Marathon. I've now run one at each hour increment
from roughly 3:30 to 6:30. My excuse this time was that I walked much of it with Don Kienst, the "Rev"
but that's only an excuse since I wasn't planning to finish in under 5 hours anyhow. Other than the
Mercer Island Half last weekend and the Invest In Youth 6 hours back on the 3rd, I've only done a few
short runs all month and I wasn't even sure I'd be able to go the full distance. But of course I did,
and thanks to all the walking I didn't even feel that bad afterwards though my legs were a little
beat up and my hamstrings rather tight.
Susan and I drove over yesterday. Just before we left I was able to book a room at the Day's Inn right
at the start. We left later than planned so didn't do any sightseeing, stopping only in Cle Ellum for
dinner at Lentine's, an Italian place just off the main drag. I had ravioli in sage butter sauce and
Susan had the pesto, both very good, if a little rich for the night before a race. When I mentioned
the marathon our waitress remembered talking with me last year, when Monte and I stopped for dinner
and sat at the next table over. I think I had the ravioli then as well. We arrived at the Days Inn in
time for a relaxed evening and made it to bed before 11PM, early for us.
The air was filled with wet snowflakes when I looked out the window in the morning but no snow had
accumulated on the ground. I dressed warmly and didn't regret it, though I did regret sleeping in
because I missed out on visiting with the many Maniacs hanging around the motel before the race. I
barely had time to pick up my bib, get dressed and eat a bit of breakfast. Susan accompanied me out
to the start. I brought a pen and notebook for birding but due to the weather I carried neither
binoculars nor camera, and regretted the lack of both because I ended up spotting quite a few birds,
and the canyon in fog and snow was even more beautiful than usual. I tried taking photos with my cell
phone but most came out blurred. It may take a painting to do the scenery justice.
I met up with Rev around mile five, already over an hour into the race thanks to a potty stop at the
little lakeshore park just north of the canyon entrance and a birding stop or two before that. At the
lake I found a big flock of swallows and my fifth Osprey of the day. I told Rev about the birds, and
a little about the geology of the canyon. We talked about running and marathons, which ones we liked,
when we started running, how we ended up becoming Maniacs. He signed up after running Marine Corps and
New York on successive weekends, having signed up for both intending to run either one or the other
depending on the weather. In the eight years since then he's run 70 or so. We talked about training
and I went on for a while about my various observations on the correlation between pace and weight,
heart rate, elevation change, wind etc. He suggested I write an article about it. I asked him what
kind of minister he was and learned he had been of the American Baptist persuasion. I told him about
the five generations of Baptist ministers in the Wood family and we went on the compare notes on our
spiritual journeys and current beliefs. To him, Jesus is what's (or who's) important, and not all the
other beliefs that people argue over. He has no more affection than I do for the many Christians out
there who believe that their own, or their community's, beliefs should be imposed on society at large.
Doesn't care much either for the politicians who hypocritically pander to those Christians to advance
their own agendas. absorbed in conversation we passed the miles quickly (in relative time) if not
entirely comfortably. Starting up the hill at mile 22 we caught up to Bob Dolphin, four miles from
the finish of his 500th marathon. I continued on ahead with Takao, who was carrying not one but two
Nikon DSLRs, a D90 and a D7000, to document Bob's 500th. Takao had a 70-200 f2.8 on the D7000 and
photographed two distant birds for me so I could identify them. He finds the low light performance
of the D7000 noticeably superior to the D90.
I ran mile 26 in 10:12 making it one of my fastest, and picked up bird species #40, a Yellow-rumped
Warbler, in the last 0.2 mile before the finish. Susan arrived about 20 minutes later just in time
to see Bob cross the finish line and be crowned with a laurel wreath. Susan hadn't checked out yet
so we drove back to the start and I got a quick shower. I didn't feel like driving back down to
Yakima so we at in Ellensburg at Morelli's after a quick stop across the street at the Iron Horse
brewery outlet to get my growler refilled. After tasting all five of their offerings on tap I decided
on the Malt Bomb brown ale, a little lighter than Irish Death with a hint of honey. A growler is alot
of beer but it only cost $8 and should last me a week or more.
As sunlight began to spread across the valley we drove back down into the canyon. Susan marvelled
anew at its beauty. At Umtanum Creek we stopped to go for a little hike, following a footpath up
the slope to the north of the mouth of the creek. As I suspected it led to an old petrified wood
digging, now filled in with basalt cobbles slumped in from above. I didn't see much of any quality
in the fan of chips drifting downslope from the spot. Returning across the bridge, I spotted a pair
of Wood Ducks paddling along the bank and pulled off a few photos despite the low light. I've been
thinking about a painting of Wood Ducks and was delighted to come across them. Following 13 other
new birds I picked up during the marathon, the Wood Ducks made 115 species for the year to date.