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September 29, 2010

POTD: Flying over the Kilauea volcano on the Big Island

Helicopter trip over the Kilauea volcano in Hawaii, one of the most active volcanoes on the planet. Taken during a December 2007 trip to the Big Island.

September 19, 2010

POTD: Sea Turtles on the Big Island

hawaiian sea turtles

hawaiian sea turtles

Sea turtles in Anaeho’omalu Bay on the Big Island of Hawaii. Yeah, these guys are livin’ the life. Photo taken during a December 2007 trip.

January 27, 2008

Hawaii: Whale Watching off the Kohala Coast

our boat

We took an early morning whale watching tour on our last full day in Hawaii. I was skeptical that we would actually see whales, but in reality there were over 20+ sightings while we were on the boat. It was pretty cool, and I would definitely recommend it if you are ever on the Big Island.

Our guide had a great sense of humor and was brimming with facts (which I can no longer remember) about the whales that were surfacing just yards away. She spoke with an accent, and when someone asked where she was from, she replied Budapest, Hungary (which, by the way, is completely landlocked).

our boat
The boat

Kohala coast
Kohala Coast

whales off the Kohala coast
OMG dude! Whales!

whales off the Kohala coast

whales off the Kohala coast

whales breaching the water off the Kohala coast
One breaching the water off in the distance

whales off the Kohala coast

whales off the Kohala coast

January 7, 2008

Hawaii: Flying over the Kīlauea volcano

view from the cockpit

I really wanted to take an air tour of the Kīlauea volcano while we were vacationing on the Big Island, so we booked a flight with Sunshine Helicopters and drove across the island to the Hilo airport.

Our method of transportation. I’ve flown in a helicopter only once before, on a big, lumbering Russian Mi-8 that was more widely known for transporting Soviet soldiers throughout Afghanistan than for providing obnoxious American tourists with a background prop for our best Nixon impersonations.

view from the cockpit

It was raining when we took off, but this is Hawaii, so wait a few minutes and the weather will change.
approaching the Kilauea volcano
Approaching Kīlauea

lava on the Kilauea volcano
Lava flows. I was lucky enough to be assigned the seat right next to the pilot (granted, the photos still suck…taking photos while in a helicopter is not as easy as I had imagined).

lava on the Kilauea volcano
More lava. We spent a few minutes hovering over the area, which smelled strongly of sulfur.

Kilauea volcano
Kilauea volcano
Kilauea volcano
Kilauea volcano
The lava fields stretch to the coast. Several small towns were destroyed by eruptions in 1990, and some residents rebuilt their homes there against the wishes of the Hawaiian government.

Kilauea volcano
Kilauea volcano
The coastline. 2km of prime real estate added, courtesy of the current eruption.

Waterfall spotted while returning to the airport.

family after helicopter tour

Obligatory family photo in front of helicopter. In case of a crash landing on the volcano, the inflatable life vests we had to wear around our waists would not be of much help.

More photos here.

January 3, 2008

Hawaii: Anaeho’omalu Bay

View of Anaeho’omalu Bay from my room

While on the Big Island of Hawaii, we stayed at the Waikoloa Beach Marriott Resort & Spa, which sits directly on Anaeho’omalu Bay. With the temperature a bone chilling 20 degrees here in DC, I thought I’d upload a few photos of last week’s trip to the Big Island to remind me of better times.

View of Anaeho’omalu Bay from my room
View from my room

our hotel

I’ll take a Mai Tai over eggnog anyday

Lava rock
Lava rock

Anaeho’omalu Bay

Sea turtles at Anaeho’omalu Bay
Stumbled across some sea turtles

Sea turtle at Anaeho’omalu Bay
Dear haole tourist, please stop taking photos and leave me the eff alone so that I may suntan in peace. Mahalo.

Anaeho’omalu Bay
Anaeho’omalu Bay
Anaeho’omalu Bay fish ponds
Fish ponds

lava fields
Lava fields on the Big Island. Upon arriving at the airport, I was convinced we had landed on Mars.

Palm trees on Anaeho’omalu Bay
My favorite trees

Outrigger canoes at Anaeho’omalu Bay
Outrigger canoes

January 1, 2008

What can you do with an $8 ukulele?

Not much, except drive everyone at home and the office absolutely crazy.

December 29, 2007

Hawaiian breakfast

Hawaiian breakfast, originally uploaded by lfincher.

Loco Moco (white rice topped with a hamburger patty, eggs, and brown gravy), pineapple, and a pineapple daiquiri.

December 28, 2007

My new ride

My new ride, originally uploaded by lfincher.

Flew over a volcano today. New career track: helicopter pilot. That’s just how I roll.

December 25, 2007

Meli Kalikimaka

Meli Kalikimaka, originally uploaded by lfincher.

Just arrived. View from the room.

Merry Christmas, everyone.

December 18, 2007

Hawaiian islands beckon, and I’ll be back here someday, I reckon


In exactly one week, I’ll be here:
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I fly back to California this Saturday, and on Tuesday my family and I will board a flight to Hawaii, where we will spend a few days on the Big Island’s Kohala Coast.
This will be my third trip to Hawaii, but my first to the Big Island. I first visited Hawaii back in November 1997 (gah, was that really 10 years ago?!) on a family trip. My brother and I were under the impression that we were going to Sparta, Illinois to spend Thanksgiving with our relatives, but when we arrived at LAX my parents said “Surprise, we’re going to Hawaii!” (yeah, they are pretty awesome). My little brother, ever the family man, was devastated, and replied “But…I want to go to Illinois.” I very clearly remember yelling “JOHN ARE YOU SERIOUS?!” and pummeling him while we stood in line to check-in. We spent a few days on the North Shore of Oahu and then flew to Maui, where we stayed for the remainder of the week. For Thanksgiving dinner we went to a ridiculously cheesy luau (my idea) that was interrupted by heavy rain showers. In that year’s Thanksgiving family photo we are soaking wet and decked out in multi-colored disposable ponchos. It’s a classic.

My second trip to Hawaii was in June 2000, when my friends and I flew to Oahu a few days after our high school graduation. If I remember correctly, there were eight of us on that particular trip. I’ll make a long story short and just say that while the trip definitely had its fun moments, as a whole it was pretty FUBAR and I think we were all relieved when our return flight landed at LAX so that we could go our separate ways. Some of the personalities on that trip just didn’t…mesh very well. The resulting video footage of a fight over a surfboard and towels (and Ryan can attest to this) is hilarious, however.

Nevertheless, I have a feeling that this upcoming trip will be considerably better.