Random Shots – Cruising Into Kauai

Entrance to port in Kauai.

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.

dasvidaniya … Boris and Natasha

Our new blog

Sgt. Blogger
My student teacher – Sgt. Blogger. Here he makes a point during a “teachable moment.” You’ll see him around the new blog “Teaching Kids Math and Other Stuff.”

Hi again,

I’ve had three real passions in my life – my family, the outdoors and teaching.

My family continues to evolve as my kids have grown up, I got re-married and now we have grandkids.  You’ll see them in some of our posts and pictures.

I grew up in the Allegheny Mountains of central Pennsylvania running around with the guns and the dawgs.  Then the Marine Corps gave me my outdoor fix for 20 years.  Now, adventures in retirement get me outside.  That’s all covered by this “Off the Beaten Path” blog.

I’ve always felt that my real calling was teaching.  My mom was a teacher and I guess I inherited the gene. She always said that good teachers are born, not made.  I discovered early on that I was good at it and liked it. 

The Count
Count Cachula, a regular guest lecturer.  That’s one blog post. Ah ah ah

The Boy Scouts, martial arts and the Marine Corps gave me plenty of practice on how to teach and no shortage of subjects .  When I retired from the Corps, I never really considered anything else but teaching as a second career.   I taught middle school math for five years, freelanced as a Microsoft Certified Trainer for another five years then went back to a different middle school for five more years.  During most of that time, I was also an adjunct instructor at a local community college teaching computers and general education subjects.  In 2008, I got re-married.  Pam and I both retired and became geocaching fanatics.

Teaching was the hardest I ever worked.  At times it was more stressful than combat.  I had a lot of success in the classroom and was nominated for the Who’s Who of American Teachers three times.  Teaching is first and foremost a leadership challenge.  Running a classroom is a lot like commanding a military unit.  You have to lead by example, establish routines, make your standards known and enforce them firmly but fairly.  When a classroom is firing on all cylinders, there’s nothing quite like it.  I found it to be very rewarding and satisfying.

I always thought the biggest part of my job was to model successful and responsible adult male behavior since students see so little of it.   In TV, movies, video games etc, men are routinely portrayed as losers and idiots.  I was determined to change that perception. On the back of my car, I had Marine Corps and recon stickers and my NRA life member sticker.  I had a dad come up to me at parent conferences one night and say “We’ve never met, but I could tell from the stickers on your car that you’re the kind of guy I want teaching my kids.”   I live for high praise.

Johnny Bravo
Another adoring parent. He also appears on the guest lecturer circuit.

Like most teachers, I was a pack rat and never threw anything away.  In addition to this “geostuff”, which I used in the classroom a lot, I’ve got a ton of material unique to the teaching side of things.   This includes years  of accumulated ideas, opinions, forms, sheets, letters, exercises and evaluations.  Some of it is on paper, some is on my hard drive and some is in my head.    It seemed like a shame to toss it or forget about it, so I decided to give it a new lease on life and blog it. 

Introducing “Teaching Kids Math and OtherStuff.”   The title is self-explanatory.  Most, if not all, of the content in my teaching blog will be useful to parents, coaches, youth leaders and even grandparents (whose ranks I have now entered.) If it gives one good idea or one chuckle to one person, it will have been worth it.

You’ll  find some opinions and reflections on this site which you may or may not agree with.   You may find my sense of humor a bit wacky but it goes with the territory I’ve been in for five decades.  There are several issues in particular that I wrestled with for years without a good resolution. You’ll be seeing a series called “Classroom Capers”  where I free write about anything that comes to mind.  I hope you find something of interest or value somewhere on the site.

I’ll keep adding stuff until I run out, which will probably never happen.  Where appropriate, I’ll cross-link things.  I welcome your feedback and ideas.

Click this link  Teaching Kids Math and Other Stuff to get started.

Thanks …. Dan

First Picture with My New Nikon D3100

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.

Ninini Point, Kauai, HI
My first picture with the new Nikon D3100 SLR – Ninini Point Lighthouse. Taken at daybreak from the balcony of our cruise ship as we entered Nawiliwili Bay in Kauai.

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.

Say cheese….The Cachemanian Devils

Hawaiian FTF (First to Find)

Wai'ali'ali Gorge in Kauai, HI
Wai'Ale'Ale Gorge on the north coast of Kauai. If we had not gone for the FTF, we would have missed this view. Not a whole lot of people come here or know about the place. That's the lure of geocaching. It takes us places we would have never seen otherwise. The altitude at this vantage point is 5,148 feet. Sea level down at the breakers, of course, is zero. You can do the math in your head. This gorge is almost as deep as the Grand Canyon.

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.

Mahalo…The Cachemanian Devils

38 down, 12 to go

The waterfront in Lahaina, Maui
A view of the Lahaina waterfront taken from the second floor balcony of the old territorial courthouse. This was one of the first pictures I took with my new Nikon D3100. There's a geocache at the base of the lighthouse.

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.

Book ’em, Danno….The Cachemanian Devils