This is the entrance to Nawilliwilli Bay in Kauai, Hawaii at sunup in early March. It was taken from the balcony of our starboard side aft Deck B stateroom on the Sapphire Princess with the trusty Nikon D3100. The wind, the waves and the sunlight all coming in from the east combined to create a colorful photo that almost seems alive. The lighthouse-looking structure is actually a navigational aid located at the very southern end of the main runway of Lihue Airport. Kauai is great for exploring on your own. It’s small and uncrowded and you can see a lot in one day. We rented a Jeep and took off for the day. (If you go that route, make sure you have a reservation.) One of the hidden gems we found was a state park dedicated to a Russian fort – Fort Elisabeth. Turns out the Russkies had eyes for Hawaii before America did. Aloha tovarich.
This is one of my favorite photos – a gorgeous afternoon snapshot of the Lahaina waterfront, complete with sailboat and little red bird. I took this from the second floor balcony of the Old Territorial Courthouse which was built in 1859. With renovations, it served Maui until 1990. It is now a museum. The lighthouse has a fascinating history all its own. Lahaina is a protected anchorage called a “roadstead”. It has no large piers of jetties. Instead, the anchorage is protected by a massive offshore coral reef that has a narrow opening. Once inside, ships drop anchor and water shuttles take cargo and passengers back and forth. The lighthouse helps mariners navigate through the reef and into the anchorage. In the early to mid-1800’s, Lahaina was a big Pacific whaling port and grew up supporting the industry. Whalers from all over the world, including New England, stopped here to provision and party. Today, it is cruise ships. A succession of lighthouses were built on the same spot starting in 1840. The one in the photo is the current one, built in 1917 and modernized several times. It flashes a three second long red light every 7.5 seconds and can be seen 12 miles away. Maui was our favorite place in Hawaii. Lahaina’s character is a cross between a Hawaiian village and a New England whaling port. If we ever go back, we’ll be on Maui. And yes, there are lots of geocaches there. In fact, there is a virtual cache contained in the historical marker at the base of the lighthouse.
In the years that we’ve been geocaching, we’ve seen some awesome places and sights. The real prize is getting that special view that only presents itself for a very short time. Clouds, color, wind, sun, light, shadows, fog, precipitation and ground cover can combine in infinite ways to present a unique natural canvas that is gone in seconds. We’ve been lucky enough to see a number of those and catch them on camera. Unfortunately, cameras have not been our strong suit or a priority. So we’ve lost or missed some really good stuff that we’ll most likely never see again. We always vowed, “We’re getting a better camera.” I’d check cameras, choke on the price tag (over $1000) and that would be the end of the new camera vow. That changed when we cruised to Hawaii.
We left port with our trusty old picture-losing Sony point’n’shoot. As we got close to the islands, I started having second thoughts about this camera business. We took the old Sony up to Volcanoes National Park on the Big Island. There were some great shots that we simply couldn’t get. So here we are, spending thousands of dollars on this Hawaiian cruise and taking pictures with a four year old $200 camera.
I always said I would never buy anything on a cruise ship. They’re like a bunch of grifters always hawking something at exorbitant prices. We got back to the ship, dropped our stuff and went straight to the camera store. A very knowledgeable (and patient) young lady spent over an hour with us as we looked at everything they had. In the end, they made us an offer we couldn’t refuse on a Nikon D3100 SLR package.
The next morning, I was up at the crack of dawn taking pictures from our stateroom balcony. My first keeper was the shot in this post. Taken right at sun up, you can almost see the clouds moving, feel the wind blowing and hear the waves crashing. We’ve got an 8×10 framed on our wall.
The rest of our Hawaiian photos, including the ones in our previous posts, were taken with the new Nikon. The picture quality, even with the basic settings I’m using, is light years ahead of what we’ve been doing. This one was the first keeper.
The Holy Grail of geocaching is getting an FTF (First to Find) on a newly hidden cache. Some people are really hung up on them. Others just kind of take them if and when they happen along. That’s the way we are. So imagine our surprise when we picked up our rental car on Kauai, called up caches on our Droids and there is a two day old FTF sitting up near Waimea Canyon. The cache is named “End of the Road.” As it turns out, they weren’t lying. Where we live, an FTF is gone in minutes. We figured we’ll check it out. Maybe there’s something to this “island time” business and nobody’s bagged it yet. Off we went. The GPS took us right to the cache and its empty log book. A couple of geocachers from Minnesota just passing through grabbed a Hawaiian FTF.
Several years ago, KidsRN and I set a goal to find at least three geocaches in every U.S. state. We’ve been knocking them off pretty steadily. The only areas left are New England and the Pacific Northwest. We recently got back from Hawaii, where we cached on four islands – Hawaii, Oahu, Kauai and Maui. That’s state number 38. Our favorite island was Maui. It’s got the best blend of island life, outdoor activities and amenities. The town of Lahaina is an old whaling village with the look and feel of a nautical New England town. It was the setting for James Michener’s book Hawaii and the movie version. We didn’t get to spend a lot of time there, but when we go back to Hawaii, that’s where we’ll be headed.