Category Archives: April 2018

Window cleaners descending

Window cleaners Honolulu

Window cleaning Honolulu

More lines from downtown Honolulu buildings, this time complimented by the lines of the window washers as they work their way down the building. When I look at the top photo, I think of a filing cabinet. Something to do with the solid face on the left with just the little ‘handles.’

Posted in response to this week’s WordPress Photo Challenge ‘Lines.’


Whitetip reef shark encounter

Whitetip reef shark

I went for a snorkel a few days ago and saw a shark for the first time in a long while. Well, I did see one a couple of months ago at Two Step, but it was tucked into a small cave, having a nap. The recent one definitely wasn’t at rest.

I was fairly far out, near where rock and coral gives way to sand, and happened to be looking out towards the sand when the distinctive shape of a shark came zipping into view. It was headed my way at speed, which was an invigorating moment, I can tell you. However, I did have the presence of mind to snap a few photos, of which this is the best. Considering the state of the water and the shark gliding across the bottom, I was pleased with how well this turned out. I think it shows the infamous lines of the shark and something of its powerful, sinuous motion and I was glad to capture the eye and lines of the gills.

I suspect it had detected my presence and was checking me out. When it saw what I was, it decided I wasn’t too interesting, cruised by, and then disappeared in the opposite direction. I headed back in, taking frequent glances behind me to make sure the shark hadn’t changed its mind.

A couple of weeks ago, a couple of paddle-boarders were attacked by a tiger shark near Hualali Resort. Tigers sharks are responsible for almost all the shark attacks that happen around Hawaii. The shark I saw was a whitetip reef shark (notice the white tip on the dorsal fin – many have white edging on other fins, too), which is capable of mischief, but mostly doesn’t. This one was around 5 feet long, maybe a bit more. For scale, the yellow tang at bottom right of the photo is probably between 6 and 8 inches long.

Posted in response to this week’s WordPress Photo Challenge ‘Lines.’

Lava lake rising

Kilauea lava wall of flame

The Overlook vent, in Halema’uma’u Crater at the summit of Kilauea Volcano, has been active since 2008. The level of the lava in the vent goes up and down, mostly 100 feet or so below the crater floor.

Last week, I was looking at the daily activity report and saw that the level was just 30 feet or so below the crater and lava was again visible from Jaggar Museum for the first time since April, 2015. My wife and I had visited during that previous viewing window and thought we’d like to do so again, particularly if the level rose until lava spilled onto the crater floor.

Next day, the level had dropped 40 feet. So much for that. The day after, it was back up 30 feet. We decided to monitor the situation. The lava kept rising, and over the weekend spilled out beyond the vent. Then it went down again. Then it came up again. Etcetera, etcetera.

On Monday, the lava spilled out over the crater floor and we thought about going early Tuesday, but the level dropped and we decided to wait. Tuesday morning, lava was spilling out. We decided to definitely go Wednesday morning (yesterday).

As noted in the previous post here, the issue is that the volcano is about 100 miles from where we live, a two-and-a-half to three-hour drive. Last time we got up at midnight to begin the journey. This time, we gave ourselves an extra hour’s sleep, trading that for breakfast at Ken’s in Hilo at 3 a.m..

So alarms went off, coffee was made, and tiramisu eaten (breakfast of champions), and we hit the road. Happily, the trip over was made under a mostly clear, starlit night and we rumbled into the Jagger Museum parking lot right on schedule at 4:30 a.m.. This time we were better prepared with actual warm clothing. With clear skies and a moderate breeze, it was chilly, especially for Hawaii.

There were already several people there, but not as many as in 2015, so it was easy to find a good viewing spot. Alas, we didn’t get to see lava spilling out because, as I learned later, the volcano had begun a mild deflationary phase (going down) after spilling out in even earlier hours of the morning.

Still, it was worth the journey. For a while, the lava lake was quite active, bubbling away and throwing up spatters in several different areas. One of the things I like about the lava lake, when it’s visible, is that the surface is mostly dark, but it’s cut through by ever-changing lines of bright lava. Sometimes, lava will burst forth from these lines in a frothing hotspot. Other times, a line might disappear as activity moves elsewhere.

These photos show activity along the crater wall (top), a hotspot on the edge of the pool (below left), morning light seeping in above the volcano (below right), an active hotspot in the center of the lava lake (bottom).

Posted in response to this week’s WordPress Photo Challenge ‘Lines.’

Kilauea lava lake lines

Kilauea lava morningKilauea lava lake




American painted lady butterfly

American Painted Lady Butterfly feeding

American Painted Lady ButterflyA while back, I posted photos of a painted lady butterfly (Vanessa cardui) here. The American painted lady butterfly (Vanessa virginiensis) is similar, but with some noticeable differences.

On the upper-side, the American painted lady markings are more pronounced on both the forewings and hindwings. On the underside, the same is true, with the American painted lady’s color standing out more. In addition, the hindwings have two large circles as opposed to the four smaller circles of the painted lady.

The American painted lady is also known as simply American lady or painted beauty. Alternative names for the painted lady butterfly are cosmopolite or cosmopolitan.

Signs: Drive very carefully

Signs-Speed limitRecently, these two new speed limit signs appeared, alongside the main road, not far from where I live. Nothing too remarkable about that, you may say, but it is odd. The first sign gives the speed limit as 45 miles per hour, but the second sign mandates a minimum speed of 40 miles per hour. Seems like a prime area for tickets to be handed out. I can’t imagine anyone getting very far without breaching one of those two limits.

As it happens, about a quarter mile before this pair of signs, there’s another pair that have been there a long time. Those signs, which mark the departure from a more residential area to a largely uninhabited stretch of road, mandate a speed limit of 55 miles per hour, with the same minimum speed of 40 miles per hour.

So why would the county want people to speed up to 55 only to put the brakes on a few hundred yards down the road? They don’t. They just put up the wrong sign. It was gone a few days later.

This isn’t the first time the Hawaii County Department of Public Works has had a sign problem. In late 2016, a major new road project, the Mamalahoa Highway Bypass, south of Kailua-Kona, was completed. Where this new road joined the existing Mamalahoa Highway, a dangerous Y-shaped junction became a fully-signaled, four-road intersection.

Most people were thrilled with the new, safer setup, but not all. People unfamiliar with the area were perplexed. They didn’t know where to go because the major new highway intersection didn’t come with any signs. If that sounds like it must be an exaggeration, it is a bit. There was one sign, on the old road, that had not been removed during the project. Unfortunately, because of the intersection’s redesign, the directions it gave were wrong. It indicated the main highway went straight ahead, but that now sent traffic plunging down a steep, winding road into a populous residential area.

As with our local sign, after a few days the old highway sign disappeared and a week or so later proper signage was erected for the new intersection.

Planes landing at Kailua-Kona Airport

Plane landing at Kailua-Kona airport

Hawaii has the reputation of being a tropical paradise, but arriving at Kailua-Kona Airport looks anything but. The final approach to the airport comes over the 1801 Huʻehuʻe lava flow from Hualali volcano. This flow is still quite barren with next to no vegetation. For first-time visitors, touching down on actual tarmac can come as something of a relief.

Exiting the plane, it will most likely be hot, but sunny? Not so much, especially if touchdown is after noon. Typically, clouds roll in during the morning and vog (volcanic smog, caused by pollutants from Kilauea Volcano) settles over the area. The appearance, seen in these photos, is sometimes called ‘concrete skies.’ Not a bad description.

Plane landing at Kailua-Kona