John & Anne Wiley

2017/01/08

Perfect Dream

We favor the thread of philosophy encouraging us to notice the Perfection in all things. It’s implemented in our Five Step journey model, noting that the first step isn’t actually planning.

0. The Trip We Dream.

We dreamed a trip flying small planes (aka General Aviation – GA) over all the Hawaiian Islands, New Zealand, and Australia.

6998 Chasing Rainbows

6998 Chasing Rainbows

1. The Trip We Plan.

We’d planned for months with online research and countless phone calls, emails and texts, to set up the Cessna 172 rental at Moore Air so we could fly from HNL around Kauai and other islands. Already we’d released that part of the dream, due to the marginal weather and adverse orientation of the company. But by anticipating and finding the Perfection, we had a Plan B of flying Mokulele Airlines relatively low to Maui via Molokai.

1. The Trip We Take.

So when a rainbow framed Waikiki our hearts were Perfectly ready to soar light and bright. We could delight in the differences between dreaming, planning, and unfolding our journey.

For example, flying GA it’s unlikely due to airspace restrictions that we’d have enjoyed this overview of Diamond Head providing a completely different perspective on the iconic silhouette.

7029 Diamond Head Crater

7029 Diamond Head Crater

We’d also dreamed of snorkeling with the tame colorful fish at enchanted Hanauma Bay as we had on that first romantic journey long ago, so we smiled as it slipped beneath our wings, refreshing memories.

7053 Hanauma Bay

7053 Hanauma Bay

Now some may say Molokai is less interesting and beautiful than the other islands, but we beg to differ. We were greeted by the muted red dirt roads between brilliant red/green of irrigated farms on the flat terrain of the West end.

7088 Red, Green, Blue

7088 Red, Green, Blue

But the real magic began after the stop at little MKK airport in Kualapuu, when our Mokulele Air pilots treated us to a departure below the clouds along the towering cliffs. The cliffs of Molokai alone would be spectacular, but the innumerable waterfalls are breathtaking! Our fav was this one leaping in rainbow mist from a cliff.

7278 Flying Falls

7278 Flying Falls

Despite low light from thick clouds, haze and mist, milky airliner windows that don’t open, and of course reflections on the inside of the windows; Anne managed to capture this that I was able to tweak into something close to the majesty we saw.

7276 Impression of Wonder

7276 Impression of Wonder

It’s tall, starting above what you can see in the first pic, rests briefly in misty pools on the way down as you can see in this pic, and the blown mist is making tiny new waterfalls at the bottom-right. Obviously we have many more pix of this day, especially the flight, so I’m saving some future views of these areas and moving now to our Kahului arrival.

7425 PHOG Approach

7425 PHOG Approach

Unlike KSBA and other mainland airports, those in the Pacific islands start with P as in PHOG which also goes by the “name” OGG. It’s surely nothing to do with Fog or P-HOG, but the distant rainbow over the runway delivered on the promise of a wet walk to the terminal building. We laughed as the rain stopped the instant we stepped under the shelter, and set out to meet dear friends who live nearby. They took us for a delightful dinner at the open air restaurant in Kihei. Early Hawaiians created an ancient fish farm from a rock enclosure next to Kalepolepo Beach, providing a seafood bounty like the one we enjoyed there. Out beyond the quiet beach, everyone watched the colorful end to this Perfect day.

7505 Sunset Over Lahaina

7505 Sunset Over Lahaina

2017/01/07

Over Under Adventure

If you were wondering why we haven’t posted anything here since Halloween, we have a great excuse: we’ve been over down-under. That is, we had a grand 5-week+ trip that included Hawaii, New Zealand, and Australia! It all began with takeoff crammed into a commuter jet from SBA to LAX.

123007 SB High & Fast

123007 SB High & Fast

We prefer Tripp low and slow hereabouts, but it was a change of pace to be instantly above the clouds bidding farewell to Home through plexiglass rather than Tripp’s open windows. But as you’ve guessed, this journey followed our standard 5-step model starting with

1. The Trip We Plan.

That step began long before Halloween but intensified as departure just after Thanksgiving quickly approached. Even with many months on this step, the last few weeks were increasingly crazy but we managed to board that flight with just two small checked bags and two backpacks.

2. The Trip We Take.

Soon we were zipping out across the Pacific in a much larger jet, to land at HNL and immediately drive our rented car across the airport to Moore Air where I’d pre-arranged a check-ride in a 172. Our plan was to then rent that plane and fly all the Hawaiian Islands. The trip we took was different. Lifting off from HNL the weather was marginal as you can see in this view of Diamond Head.

6745 Distant Diamond

6745 Distant Diamond

It got worse, and the flight instructor’s goal seemed to center on proving that only airline pilots are qualified to rent their island-weathered planes. So my focus quickly shifted from flying to photography, knowing that the plan was out the window (which unlike Tripp’s, would only open a few inches). Even so, the views were thrilling and minutes later we were low over the North Shore.

6814 Oahu North Shore

6814 Oahu North Shore

I’ll probably say this more than once, but it’s puzzling why anyone would visit a beautiful place and not fly in a small plane. Especially with two of us, so that charter and tour prices are more than renting a plane with pilot. Many glorious scenes and countless pix later we were nearing HNL when ATC told us to circle over Ford Island. If you know something about history or aviation, that will have special meaning as it did for us.

6897 Ford Island Tower

6897 Ford Island Tower

The iconic control tower seen in so many WWII movies is next to an excellent aviation museum. Nearby is the somber Pearl Harbor site memorializing the Navy’s losses on Dec. 7, 1941.

6883 Pearl Harbor Memories

6883 Pearl Harbor Memories

Anne’s recently departed Dad and her grandfather both served here as officers during that conflict, so the family is steeped in stories. A reverie settled over us as we circled where Japanese aircraft once did.

6926 Weeping Arizona

6926 Weeping Arizona

The empty gun turret and stream of slowly weeping fuel oil bear silent testimony to the frantic men who met their end beneath these waters.

Times change, with the many Japanese residents, visitors and friends in HI and the U.S. mainland sharing our hope for an ever more peaceful world. On that note, after landing we drove to the iconic Aloha Tower where I shot panoramic videos from the four sides of this free tourist attraction. Here’s a screencap toward Waikiki.

153801 Aloha Tower View

153801 Aloha Tower View

Next we visited the famed Royal Hawaiian where we’d gone together soon after meeting in cold Seattle, for a warm romantic adventure.

6944 Royal Hawaiian

6944 Royal Hawaiian

Now even more dwarfed by the surrounding high-rise towers, it still commands an amazing view from its infinity pool where time seems to stand still as people ride the long waves to shore.

6952 Long Ride

6952 Long Ride

Our own long ride had just begun on this first long and varied day. In coming posts we’ll share some highlights with you. 🙂

2016/11/01

Halloween Fun

One of the many things we love about living here is the annual parade of costumes strolling “Altered” State Street. We try to walk and/or drive the street chatting with people and snapping pix like these. This year we were joined by dear friend Di. Hope you enjoy them too. 🙂

5429 Radiation Survivor & Deer

5429 Radiation Survivor & Deer

One of the simplest costumes was this sweet deer whom we first mistook for a rabbit due to the ears. We gave up guessing about her friend in the beautiful burgundy coat, and when we finally asked she gave a very complex description. As I recall she’s a radiation survivor who grew antlers and wears antique clothing.

5458 Dahlia, Krueger & Friends

5458 Dahlia, Krueger & Friends

This happy family had clearly invested much thought and effort into their costumes, starting with the Black Dahlia who told us a little about her character. Freddy Krueger stood smiling behind her and the whole family was so ebulliently happy we smiled despite the dark themes. The very essence of Halloween perhaps.

5467 Party Bound?

5467 Party Bound?

Some of the people out promenading the scene were probably headed for or perhaps returning from parties, like this happy couple.

5430 Serious Devil

5430 Serious Devil

This young girl may have been the most serious child we saw, so involved in her character we felt a slight chill.

5427 Happy Family

5427 Happy Family

Because we go early there are lots of families going store to store for treats, so it makes for a warm and happy time. Sometimes we stay or return late, and it’s quite a different scene – especially in the three-block bar district on lower State. This year we had to rush back and greet the young grand-daughters of a friend so we moved pretty quickly. Still, we three had time to stop and chat with people.

5440 Rest Break

5440 Rest Break

This tired family had cozied up to rest on a bench, so we paused for a few words.

5434 Costume Cafe

5434 Costume Cafe

Another group had stopped for refreshment in a coffee shop, and when they saw the camera their faces beamed sweetly for me.

5459 Girl's Night

5459 Girl’s Night

It wasn’t just families of course, so we saw young at heart of all ages including some much older than we. This pair had a comfortable closeness.

5452 First Halloween

5452 First Halloween

The young kids like this just melted our hearts, and the proud “scarecrow” Dad’s smile warmed the night.

5449 Red Rat Exec

5449 Red Rat Exec

We didn’t get the story on this outfit, so I came up with the idea of a smiling businessman of the Rattus genus. [We’ve since been informed by our favorite Canadian that this headdress represents the deadmau5 (“Deadmouse”) leet icon of performer Joel Zimmerman.]

5423 Baby Raccoon

5423 Baby Raccoon

This procyonid baby in contrast, is so cute we could barely contain ourselves. 🙂

5424 Sweet Serenity

5424 Sweet Serenity

There was a calm demeanor radiating from this trio that we enjoyed, and the poise with which the blue girl holds her princess dress didn’t waver as she strolled.

5448 Enigmatic Dancer

5448 Enigmatic Dancer

After passing this wandering solo dancer with quiet indigeonous music emanating from somewhere inside the costume, we talked for a while about what it might represent. Like many of the characters we saw, the ubiquitous cellphone in one hand was a talisman of our time.

5472 Waiting

5472 Waiting

Finally, here’s a moment I like that captures the origin of the Waiter job title. Hope you had a Happy Halloween!

2016/10/30

Remarkably Ordinary

I was thinking today about how flying can become remarkably ordinary. For most people, flying means being hundreds or thousands of miles away in a fraction of the time to drive. For those who get over any irrational fear, this remarkable experience tends to quickly become ordinary. Not for us. Why? Well, there’s the constantly changing stream of vast and fascinating diversity of stellar views that people will drive for hours to see from a “Vista Point.”

0765 Alpine Lake

0765 Alpine Lake

Then there’s the travel aspect. We saw this alpine lake South of Grants Pass on the same day we landed about 600 miles away in Santa Barbara. That’s about 11 hours by car just for the driving without all the detours, visits and exponentially more striking and numerous scenic wonders we so enjoyed. Also on that day we visited with three Uncles in two states and three counties, took off just before noon, arrived before dark, and saw countless more scenes of remarkable beauty like this.

0788 Earth, Water, Life

0788 Earth, Water, Life

After the third Uncle visit we headed directly home along the parched and smoky Sacramento Valley. The interactions of terrain, agriculture and nature offer endless fascination. This view is so different from yet evocative of, the quietly immersive joys of standing in such places.

3348 Quiet Meander

3348 Quiet Meander

Also on this stretch are innumerable human fascinations, like Mc Clellan AFB where the story of airfield changes over decades is so visible from above.

3312 Mc Clellan AFB

3312 Mc Clellan AFB

For those who share this interest I’ve circled in green at upper left the place where dedicated volunteers and sponsors maintain the lively Aerospace Museum of CA. A smaller blue circle below that is where more aircraft are parked close together in front of a hanger. The purple circle shows areas off a taxiway where aircraft used to be parked during the military era of the now mostly public airfield, like the ones where B-17 bombers once parked at the Santa Maria Airport. The yellow arrows point out old pavement that was probably asphalt runways before newer concrete ones were built.

So much beauty, adventure, travel and other remarkable experiences are available to those who enjoy aviation. Yet for so many people it can seem scary or ordinary. We feel so incredibly fortunate that for us it is somehow both relaxing and exciting!

2016/10/29

Say Uncle

Child bullies used to issue that demand when they had a victim pinned, but sometimes the pain was easier to endure than the shame of the tearful word, “Uncle!” Smoke seemed to have us down on this flight, but every time we thought of that word it seemed better. Like this pic of Grants Pass along the Rogue River as we took off after a fun night stopover with a dear Uncle.

3063 Grants Pass

3063 Grants Pass

But looking along our route South the smoke was thick as ever.

3061 Smoke Signal

3061 Smoke Signal

No, that’s not cloud on the horizon. There was a big fire off to the right, and as we climbed higher to scope out options we talked about trying the coast but decided to fly parallel to I-5 and stay high if needed. We stayed above it as Shasta bravely peeked out at us.

3077 Smoke Shrouded Shasta

3077 Smoke Shrouded Shasta

It had finally thinned some by the time we got this look down at Lake Shasta, now with much more water than our last passage.

3160 Lake Shasta Fuller

3160 Lake Shasta Fuller

We have more pix from this flight, but they’re so smoky as to be annoying for me. But we were spared a relatively boring flight home high above smoke by two of the many things we love about flying a small plane: flexible stops, and getting low. Yes, we decided to visit another Uncle and it yielded one of my fav pix from this day’s flying.

3209 Animal Island

3209 Animal Island

I love the colors and textures of it, and how sometimes it transmorgrifies into tufted fur along the spine of a giant half-submerged animal. It’s in Clear Lake, but as you can see the water was somewhat less than clear that day.

3215 Clear Lake Wake

3215 Clear Lake Wake

That dark vertical line next to another small islet in the lake, is the wake of a small boat that recently departed the dock. Minutes later on our descent we arrived at the iconic little airport, and perused the small aircraft “boneyard” as we wait for our Uncle to arrive for a brief visit.

3243 Aircraft Boneyard

3243 Aircraft Boneyard

After a refreshing lunch break chatting with him about old times and what’s new, we took off again for the short hop over to have a few minutes with our third Uncle of the day – in Marysville. More smoke of course, though thinner, but as we descended toward that airport this farm caught my fancy.

3304 Ancient Shapes

3304 Ancient Shapes

Small farms can evoke ancient times when our species settled down from hunter-gatherer to agriculture. Did a boy walk from Clear Lake to the Yuba River to visit an Uncle back then?

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