Sunday Stills: Recreational

The road down to Waipi’o Valley on the Big Island of Hawaii is steep. The 800 foot (243.84 m) vertical rise averages a 25% grade. At .6 miles (0.9 km) in length, it is the steepest road of its length in the United States. Because of the grade, only hikers and four-wheel drive vehicles are allowed on the road.

Although our shins ached after making the trek down to the bottom, we were rewarded with one of the most beautiful black sand beaches on the island. Waipi’o means curved water in Hawaiian and it’s easy to understand why the gently rounded coastline earned its name.

We found this beautiful outrigger canoe on the beach just waiting to be taken out for some recreational pleasure.

After exploring the shoreline and wandering a few trails that took us further into the valley, we began the slow, calve-challenging hike back up the hill to where we started. (This photo was taken several years ago. Waipi’o Valley is located on the northeast side of The Big Island. The current volcanic activity is located much further to the south.)

Sunday Stills is a weekly photography link-up co-hosted by my blogging friend Terri Webster Schrandt. Each week there is a new word prompt to inspire a shared photo (or photos). Follow this link to learn more about it, see other submissions, and to share your own.

GratiTuesday: Pearl Harbor Memory Keepers

Tomorrow marks the 75th anniversary of the surprise attack on the U.S. naval base at Pearl Harbor by the Imperial Japanese Navy. On December 7, 1941, the residents of Pearl Harbor were just waking up to a quiet Sunday morning when, just before 8 a.m., the first wave of Japanese fighter planes and bombers began their quest to destroy the Pacific Fleet and cripple the U.S. military. The following day, December 8, the United States declared war on Japan.

The USS Arizona during the attack. Photographer unknown. This photograph is in the public domain.
The USS Arizona during the attack. Photographer unknown. This photograph is in the public domain.

Ninety minutes after it began, the attack was over. 2,008 members of the military and 68 civilians died and 1,178 were wounded. Eighteen ships were sunk or run aground, including five battleships. All of the Americans killed or wounded were non-combatants, given that there was no state of war when the attack occurred.

As we continue to lose members of the Greatest Generation, this special group – those who were witness to the attack – is also dwindling rapidly. Those who were there shared the rallying cry: “Remember Pearl Harbor!” Sadly, fewer and fewer people really do. In fact, the national organization of the Pearl Harbor Survivors Association disbanded five years ago after its membership, once close to 30,000, fell to less than 3,000.

Commemorations of the attack are held annually at the Pearl Harbor memorial site in Oahu. On this 75th anniversary, a key focus will be on our country’s relationship with Japan and a celebration of 71 years of peace between us. In fact, on Monday, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced that he would visit Pearl Harbor, becoming the first sitting Japanese leader to go to the site of the attack.

Yesterday’s unexpected announcement came six months after President Obama became the first sitting U.S. president to visit the memorial in Hiroshima for victims of the U.S. atomic bombing of that city. Prime Minister Abe, in a brief statement to reporters, said he would visit Hawaii on Dec. 26 and 27 to pray for the war dead at the naval base. “We must never repeat the tragedy of the war,” he said. “I would like to send this commitment. At the same time, I would like to send a message of reconciliation between Japan and the U.S.”

I am so grateful for those who are keeping the memory of Pearl Harbor alive. As we “Remember Pearl Harbor,” it’s also important to appreciate the power of reconciliation. For anyone witnessing the attack that day it would have been nearly impossible to believe that the United States and Japan – bitter adversaries – could now be close allies. I am grateful that we are.

Photo101: Moment

Today’s assignment was to post a picture that captures a “moment” of life. It was suggested that showing movement can help capture the fleeting moment.

This picture was taken a few weeks ago while we were in Hawaii. One moment, this woman was standing on a rocky outcropping, looking down into a cylinder formed of craggy lava with the ocean some 25 – 30 feet below. The next moment she jumped. I barely had time to frame and shoot the picture before she disappeared. Fortunately, she made it into the water safely and soon climbed out to jump again.

Cliff Diver

Photo101: The Natural World

We have been awed by the natural world here on Hawaii; from the tranquil beauty of the ocean to the fiery advances of the lava flow. Everywhere we look, we are amazed.

The water in this lagoon was so crystal clear that when the green sea turtle slowly swam by it was almost as if we were looking through glass.


Photo101: Bliss

Bliss is all around us in Hawaii; it’s hard to choose an image to best illustrate the theme.

I took this photo today on the beach in Waipi’o Valley. The fifty or so people who live here have no power, water, sewage, phones, cell or TV coverage. But, somehow, they have all they need.


Greetings From the Top of the World

Mauna Kea, one of the five volcanos that form the island of Hawaii, stands 13,796 feet above sea level. From its base, which in 17,000 feet below sea level, to its peak, Mauna Kea rises over 30,000 feet – more than twice the height of Mount Everest.

The volcano’s last eruption occurred over 4600 years ago. It is currently dormant but scientists expect there is another eruption in its future. Although all of us will be long gone when this happens (it could be tens of thousands of years from now) it should be quite a show!

Because of Mauna Kea’s high altitude, dry climate, and stable airflow, its summit is home to over a dozen telescopes. It is considered one of the best locations in the world for astronomical observation.

Other than from an airplane, we don’t usually get to observe clouds from above. The view from the summit of Mauna Kea is incredible – the vista, the clouds, the sunset, and then the amazing night sky filled with stars – and I will always be grateful to have had the opportunity to see it for myself.