John & Anne Wiley

2017/08/01

Many Maui

We added to the “Maui” we first explored together some years ago and the ones we enjoyed recently, as previously described here in the O.U. Adventure. Adding my family is the biggest new Maui, because it’s a wonderful place for family fun. We started off the last day of 2016 hanging out, then formed a threesome for a drive from Lahaina through Kapalua and beyond. That’s the rainy side.

2960 Rain Shrouded Molokai

2960 Rain Shrouded Molokai

It was beautiful! We’d thought about driving all the way to Kahului, but the weather changed our minds. As you might imagine, we have lots of pix. Speaking of which, all of us took many pix of the family fun and closeness but we’ve already shared those around so I’ll mostly stick with scenery. Like this striking clash of rock and surf.

2967 Fluid vs. Solid

2967 Fluid vs. Solid

By the time we were driving back, Molokai was melting out of the clouds.

3014 Mist & Mountain

3014 Mist & Mountain

Back on the dry side we all enjoyed cool Maui drinks and were treated to a final 2016 sunset out beyond Lanai.

3026 Lanai Finale

3026 Lanai Finale

We quietly took in a distant fireworks show to launch 2017. I have to share this blurry pic after the show, of the kids squealing with delight as they ran around the lawn with sparklers. If you recall this from childhood or have watched kids doing it, maybe you can understand why I smile recalling it from this painterly cellphone pic.

203500 Sparkling Youth

203500 Sparkling Youth

Also this next pic of a little angel fearlessly climbing high into a mall playground structure as adults watched alertly. 🙂

143425 Climbing

143425 Climbing

After a full day 1/1/17 recovering from one drink too many and discovering more Maui in assorted small groups, we reconvened for group pix that ended at the beach. While kids ran in the sand, the rest of us talked quietly as if unconsciously realizing that our time here was growing short. Again the sun slipped into the sea beyond Lanai, and we plotted more Maui for the morrow.

175320 Savoring Sunset

175320 Savoring Sunset

2017/07/31

Aloha

We slept perhaps three hours between us on that long NZ-HI flight, so when Honolulu lights appeared we got to watch.

061813 Honolulu Lights

061813 Honolulu Lights

We sleepily enjoyed our first day back in the U.S. despite a canceled flight from HNL to Maui, and our third phone failure including the expensive new one from Sydney. Yet our spirits soared when we finally did lift off, giving us yet another aerial look at Oahu and now familiar Waikiki, Molokai, Lanai, and even distant Hawaii.

162900 Waikiki

162900 Waikiki

Needless to say, we have quite a few pix of that crossing even though they’re from a phone (with at least a working camera) looking through an airliner window. One of the clearest pix in the set is this one on final approach to OGG at Kahului, Maui.

165752 Kahului

165752 Kahului

With our schedule for the day now completely random, we had the great good fortune to connect with sweet friend Paula. She too was exhausted, so after some warm conversation we turned in early for an especially delicious sleep. After a morning walk with more deep dialog we began the family phase of this epic journey. We met up with our daughter, husband and grand daughter at a traditional Hawaiian location.

120954 Ancient Ritual

120954 Ancient Ritual

Yes, that’s Costco. With so many family members about to arrive, we needed to get supplies. Our precious little one had acquired blisters on her feet so I carried her around the store to our mutual delight. Then we drove in two cars to the magnificent vacation home gifted to all of us by my amazing sister. It was her gift that had prompted our extension of the trip to include all the wonders of NZ & AU. So it was no surprise to see this rainbow over the house as we arrived.

165147 Rainbow Greeting

165147 Rainbow Greeting

Soon our bundle of delight joined us exploring while everyone else trickled in and her perfect parents continued setting up for the stay.

171430 Memories with Grammy

171430 Memories with Grammy

Much of our next day was taken up by my sudden intense sore throat. We were all terrified it was contagious, but in the end it may have been an extreme allergic reaction. I was well enough the next night to join the family for an authentic luau meal and performance.

194514 Luau

194514 Luau

Also performing were the kids, after having watched the show intently.

200548 Apprentice Dancers

200548 Apprentice Dancers

By the next morning I was feeling nearly normal, and once the pix from our last day of 2016 are ready to post here you can come along on our driving tour and join us celebrating an especially Happy New Year.

2017/03/21

Up Again At Last!

Excited as I was last week to begin posting pix of our two amazing NZ South Island flights in a single day, it was delayed by resolving a minor avionics issue with Tripp. So here are my fave pix from the first of those two flights. You may recall our drive to the Alexandra airport on a mesa in the previous post. Well the next day we scored a free short ride with a generous expert pilot in their club!

0964 Clyde Perspective

0964 Clyde Perspective

Just a couple of minutes after liftoff we had this glorious view up the valley to Clyde next to the dam and to snow-capped peaks beyond. Driving and hiking in the area had been interesting, beautiful and fun of course. But seeing it all now from this perspective made our aviator hearts soar with delight! Soon we passed over the red roof of our B&B on the cliff above the river.

0967 Clyde B&B

0967 Clyde B&B

In just a few more minutes we got this new view up the gorge to Cromwell.

1020 Cromwell & Beyond

1020 Cromwell & Beyond

We just Love the spectacular views and perspective provided by flying in small planes (G.A.), and how many different delights like this you can enjoy in just a few minutes aloft. About ten minutes after takeoff we saw these beautiful jagged peaks above Queenstown to the West, as we turned back South toward summery Alexandra.

1033 Distant Snowy Peaks

1033 Distant Snowy Peaks

Along the gorge on the way back I got a new view of the many ancient rocks, far beyond what we’d glimpsed on the bus ride from Dunedin. This outcrop had a natural stone bowl sheltering a bog at the base.

1098 Stories in Stone

1098 Stories in Stone

As you might guess from my rock obsession, I snapped far too many pix like this. But here’s just one more I really like, with magical shapes that shifted before our eyes as we drifted past with a Tolkien dragon’s eye view of this terrain ideally cast for scenes in Hobbit and Lord of the Rings films.

1170 Rune Stones

1170 Rune Stones

As we approached Alexandra to turn back again to overfly the airport before turning yet again to land, we saw it anew. You can’t really make them out in this pic, but we could see the old bridge abutments beyond the new bridge. Off to the left a little we could see the footbridge we’d walked with the giant clock on the hill above, now looking so small as to be nearly invisible in this pic.

1226 Alexandra Anew

1226 Alexandra Anew

Thrilling as it is to see newly familiar places from above, we were about to fly over territory completely new to us. Too much excitement for one day? Not at all, but maybe too many pix from that flight for our next post?

For this incredible half an hour aloft, we dearly thank Mike and the wonderful group that is the Central Otago Flying Club. I hope they’re reading this, because true to the open spirit of the international aviation community we dearly hope they’ll visit so we can return the favor flying them around Santa Barbara.

2017/01/28

Over The Rainbow

Rainbows appeared everywhere we’d been on Oahu & Maui, and it was all the more magical to lift off from HNL toward New Zealand cruising miles above the rainbows. We passed over Kiribati, which holds fascination for me since Y2K when it featured in New Year celebrations as the first place on earth to greet the new millennium. Alas, it was lost in clouds below us, and foretold of fuzzy weather awaiting us in Auckland after our 9-hour flight.

182947 Gray Greeting

182947 Gray Greeting

In the hazy distance you can just make out the Sky Tower, a tiny point on the horizon just left of center. We descended over the island and saw many hints of what was ahead, yearning for clear air and windows that open. Rather than take the rather expensive new light rail, we opted for the cheapo shuttle bus with lots of locals and other visitors to chat with, giving us an intro to the city. Of all the fun scenery along the route, this dance bar sign caught my Yankee psychologist eye.

125618 You Are Wanted

125618 You Are Wanted

By the time we checked into our cozy affordable room right in the heart of Queen Street downtown, it was getting dark as we ventured out into the mist.

8117 Into Mystery

8117 Into Mystery

Despite all our Dreaming and Planning we had little clue what to expect, so a sweet sense of mystery brightened our weary eyes. We’d paid the relatively small extra fee for a “SkyCouch” but didn’t get more than half a night’s sleep (we’re told ANZ’s Premium Economy is better & cheaper). After an hour of wandering a few blocks we settled in and dreamed the night away.

Morning found us blearily greeting a new reality, both in Kiwi country and because Anne’s phone with expensive NZ calling plan died. If you have a “smart” phone, you’ll guess the trauma that entails at the start of an enchanted adventure. After doing all I could to resuscitate it without tools, the view from our window of Auckland Town Hall coaxed us “half-connected” out beyond Cyberia into the colorful new world around us.

8133 Window On Wonderland

8133 Window On Wonderland

We love Auckland! The architecture, people, and enchanting mix of calm cosmopolitan bustle. It totally made up for the fuzzy weather (see the Sky Tower disappearing into it?), especially after French Coffee at the cafe around the corner. Across the street is this fanciful square in front of the concert hall.

8197 Art Walk

8197 Art Walk

In our already altered state, the creativity here helped us see the artistic magic in everything (and everyone) on our meander down Queen Street.

8185 Green & Human

8185 Green & Human

It’s a great place for walking, with little traffic compared to other big city cores and lots of green. Though there are lots of people on the wide sidewalks, as conveyed by this pic…

8180 Quiet Din

8180 Quiet Din

…we were well spread out and mostly moving at a sedate pace in remarkably quiet yet colorful and stimulating surroundings. Plenty of tall buildings to gawk at, with a wide array of styles and eras welcoming yet another boom of new construction.

8174 Architectural Variety

8174 Architectural Variety

One surprising landing we made on our walkabout was at the music shop. Surprising because we’d packed very light for 5.5 weeks in climates ranging from tropics to snow: one small “travelpro” checked bag and small soft backpack each. After all that frugal winnowing of every square inch, only the muse can explain our purchase of this candy apple red ukulele to poke his head out my backpack on the rest of our journey.

8199 Creative Impulse

8199 Creative Impulse

Well, we also got a great deal (esp. with USD exchange rate) and we love the bright tone.

With low clouds and only two nights before our quick jaunt to Australia, I didn’t try to ferret out any GA flying options. Instead we went up in the Sky Tower and got this glimpse down at our hotel.

8430 Down Home

8430 Down Home

Looking up across the island we could almost make out the airport in the hazy distance among the gradually clearing cloud cover. Rising above the streets we’d wandered, our hearts were already starting to move toward the journey beyond.

8312 Beyond The City

8312 Beyond The City

In a few hours we were already back aboard another airliner climbing toward Sydney, glancing back where we’d just been in that distant tower. From these two high perspectives, we’d begun to sense the adventures awaiting us after “Oz.”

8456 High Perspective

8456 High Perspective

Yet as we got this last glance back at the New Zealand coast, a touch of melancholy upon leaving this sweet place quietly passed, before we looked ahead to the vast cloud-dotted blue of the Tasman Sea.

8493 Looking Back & Ahead

8493 Looking Back & Ahead

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 (hence the name “Over Under” aka “O U” for this Big Adventure). 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. [Note: click here to read in sequence, or else you’ll end up struggling with reverse post sequence]

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. 🙂

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