Above is a little video Karen made of our time in Hawaii. Note: Many of these are iPhone shots.
Here is part two of our Hawaiian interlude. If you read the last blog post, you know that we spent a week on Oahu and then hopped over to Maui. where we spent this past week. Before we left for Maui, we attended a Luau at the Polynesian Cultural Center. Before the feast started, we got to explore the grounds a bit, and were very impressed by their setup. It’s a huge park-like village with separate areas for many of the individual Polynesian cultures (Hawaii, Fiji, Tahiti, etc.). At each area, you could see shows, demos, or just explore the buildings. The Luau was fun, and on the way in, we each got a fresh orchid lei. There were hula dancers and live music throughout the whole event. When it was over, we headed over to the large theater for the live show, “Ha: Breath of Life.” Karen and I were both pretty surprised at how big of a production it was. There were at least 70 performers, and a huge staff for effects and such.
We flew to Maui on Tuesday, where I taught a 3-day Photoshop course at the Maui Institute of Visual Arts. The institute is run by Randy and Becky Hufford, and we stayed in their guest suite during our visit. The course went really well, and all the students seemed to enjoy it a lot. We had one interesting day where the power went out completely, and we all had to work on the battery power from our laptops, with no projector at all! I kept plugging on, and the class seemed to make do just fine, which was great. When I was down to 3% battery life left, I started to wrap things up for the day and that’s when the power came back on … just in the nick of time! We were able to continue the class with no problem. Many thanks to my students and Randy for making the most of the situation!
If you read this blog a lot, you know that as we travel around the mainland in the motorcoach, we are constantly running into friends (and making new ones). You would think that out here in Hawaii, we would be less likely to be running into people we know. Well that couldn’t be further from the truth! As soon as we landed in Maui, we were picked up at the airport by my great friend Steve. You may have heard me talk about Steve and his wife, Beverly, in many of these posts. They live in Las Vegas and that’s one city we’ve been visiting a lot lately (mostly because of friends and convenience… not because of the “Vegas scene”). In fact, the bus is currently parked in their driveway! Here’s what’s crazy: It was sheer coincidence that we happened to be traveling to Hawaii at the same time! It sounds almost impossible, but that’s how our lives seem to roll. But wait… this gets better. My awesome friend Diane (who is also a mutual friend of Steve and Beverly) happens to live on Maui and was with Steve when he picked us up at the airport. So on our first night on the new island, we had a small gathering of close friends, and considering we hadn’t seen Diane in over a year, it was somewhat of a reunion.
One morning, we woke up early to go whale watching with my friends Mark and Shayla. I had met them during a previous visit to Maui, where they attended the class I was teaching. They were kind enough to take us out on their boat to search for humpback whales. We spotted several of them, but didn’t get close enough to get nice photographs. That’s ok, though. We were just thrilled to be able to get out on the water and catch up with Mark and Shayla. Later that day, we went sight-seeing with Steve and Bev all over the south side of East Maui.
While I was teaching my three-day class, Karen spent a lot of time exploring the island. This was her first time to Maui, and she wanted to see as much as she could. In just two days, she drove the perimeters of both the east and west sides of Maui, as well as part of the interior. She’s going to post a bunch of photos on her blog (as well as some interesting stories from her adventures) and I’ll link to it when she does.
As I mentioned above, we stayed in Randy and Becky’s guest room (aka the Pineapple Love Suite) while we were in Maui and spent a lot of time with them in the evenings. Becky is an incredible chef and had delicious things in store for us every night. Karen has really been getting into cooking lately, so she was eager to soak up all the tips Becky could give her. On Saturday, we had a joint birthday party for Randy and Steve. Everyone had a blast … maybe too much of a blast, because many of us needed some “recovery time” the following morning!
Me and Karen at the “Three Bears” waterfall on the Road to Hana
On Sunday, Karen and I drove the famous Road to Hana together, stopping to shoot along the way. It rained for a good part of the way, but cleared up toward the end of our drive and we managed to get some nice late-afternoon/early-evening shots of the coastline at Waianapanapa State Park. Since it would have been a long and dark drive back, we decided to spend the night in Hana, which is where we are as I type this. We’re right on the ocean, and the place we’re staying is semi-open, so we can hear the wind and the water from the room. Not a bad way to wrap up this post, I’d say! Aloha!
More to come…
Extra note: Karen posted a free desktop calendar wallpaper for March up on her blog, The Pixel Diaries. It features one of her images from Oahu. You can download it HERE.
This week, I’m checking in from the Hawaiian Island of Oahu! We flew here after moving the bus back to Las Vegas, where it will stay while we’re on the islands. The main reason for my visit here was to teach a two-day course at the University of Hawaii for Pacific New Media. Karen and I are even staying right on the campus, which is less than 10 minutes from Waikiki and downtown Honolulu.
Mai Tais at the Hula Grill in Waikiki
On the day we arrived, we landed around noon and immediately went to pick up our rental car, which happened to be a lime green Volkswagen Beetle. Karen really got a kick out of this. Since I was starving, I did a Yelp search for a nearby food place that was fast and had good reviews. What I came up with was Helena’s Hawaiian Food. It not only had amazing ratings, but we later learned that it had been featured on some food-related TV shows. The place was small and very “no-frills,” but it is a local gem, for sure. Everything on the menu is very Hawaiian, and there was a line out the door to get a table. We took our food to go and ate in the car at a parking locale that overlooked the city of Honolulu. Not a bad intro to our stay in Hawaii!
After lunch, we explored the eastern side of the island for a bit and then checked in at the hall we would be staying at on campus. For our first evening, we went down to Waikiki for drinks and dinner. I first did a Yelp search for local happy hours and found a place with wonderful reviews called Bacchus. It was supposed to be a wine bar. When we arrived, we thought it was a little odd that there wasn’t much of a wine selection, and the music was louder than we’re used to for a wine bar. This didn’t bother us too much though. It was a fun place and the bartender was really friendly. I went up to get drinks while Karen got a table. When I got back to our table, Karen gave me a funny look, leaned in, and politely informed me that I had taken her to a gay bar and she was the only female in the place. When I looked around, I noticed that the place was full of very “affectionate” guys. Now gay bars don’t bother us one bit, but the fact that this was totally unintentional on my part made the first part of our night VERY amusing. After leaving Bacchus, we walked around for a bit in the downtown Waikiki shopping area and then eventually ended up at the Hula Grill for dinner. There was live Hawaiian music, our table was on a terrace that overlooked the beach, and the food was amazing.
Karen got this shot at the Pipeline surf break on the North Shore of Oahu.
On our second day, we decided to drive around the island, starting in Honolulu and heading up counter-clockwise. We first stopped at the easternmost point, Makapu’u, where we hiked to the lighthouse there. It was a good workout, and the route was scenic. Part of the walk overlooked a sanctuary for humpback whales where you could easily see dozens of spouts and tail fins. When we got back to the car, we continued the drive, stopping at any place that looked interesting. We spent a good amount of time on the North Shore, stopping at many of the popular beaches up there. This place is a surfer’s paradise, for sure. Karen really wanted to find the famous Pipeline break, which could possibly be the most famous surfing spot in the world. (We didn’t see it that day, but she eventually found it when she returned alone during a day I was teaching) We stopped for dinner in Hle’iwa, a town on the western side of the island, where we had some excellent curry food. By the time we got back to the university, we were both pretty beat.
My Photoshop Mastery class at the University of HawaiiCampus
On Saturday and Sunday, I taught my two-day class called Photoshop Mastery on the University’s campus. Both days went really well, and I think the students got a lot out of it. On Saturday night, Karen and I went back to Waikiki for a night on the town. We started off with a happy hour in a rotating bar that overlooked the city and the ocean. What’s funny is that we didn’t realize that the place was rotating until at least 15 minutes after we arrived! For dinner, we went to a place called the Genius Lounge, which also had amazing ratings on Yelp. We got a table outside and the food was both delicious and unique. I had Pumpkin and Bacon along with breaded deep fried hamburger on rice topped with a fried egg and Demi glacé sauce. Karen, of course, had two salads. We always like going to places with interesting menu items.
On our way back to the car, we noticed a lot of activity in Peter Lik’s photography gallery, so we decided to stop in and see what was going on. It turns out, there was an open event going on where servers were handing out wine and appetizers. Nice way to end the night!
We have one more day before we leave Oahu and move on to Maui. I will be teaching another two-day class there and I also have some great friends to visit on the island. More to come!
Karen got this shot of me during our hike in the Valley of Fire.
After spending the first month and a half of 2012 in California, we finally ventured on … all the way to Nevada. The first part of the week was spent in Las Vegas, where we met up with lots of friends. We parked at the home of Steve and Beverly (who you’ve read about in previous blog posts). As it turns out, our mutual friends, Eddie Tapp and Judy Host, were staying with Steve and Beverly as well! Six friends all together under one roof (and driveway)! We arrived on Monday night and all went out to dinner in honor of Judy’s birthday, which happened to be the same day.
The next day was Valentines Day, and although Karen and I don’t really get into it, we used it as an excuse to spend a nice night out with our nomadic friends, Sean and Louise, of the blog Our Odyssey. We started off with some cocktails in their bus, which was parked very close to the Vegas strip. Then we went up to the Foundation Room on the top floor of the Mandalay Bay hotel. This place has become one of our favorite hangouts in Sin City. It has a rich, asian atmosphere, with dark colors, buddha statues and unique and comfortable furniture. After the Foundation Room, we went to dinner at Pan Asia, another favorite for me and Karen. It’s a no-frills kind of place (far from the strip), but the food is amazing, the couple who runs it are adorable and it’s byob. It was great to catch up with Sean and Louise, who we hadn’t seen in over a year!
The new MINI just got its new bonnet stripes installed. Pretty snazzy!
I mentioned in recent blog posts that we just got a new MINI Countryman. It’s red with a white roof, white wheels and white mirrors. On Tuesday, we took the MINI to get its new white bonnet stripes installed. They look pretty sleek and really add to the unique look of the car.
While we were still in Vegas, Sean helped me out by taking a look at the generator on the bus. The generator has been giving me issues for two years and stopped working completely. It’s been a major source of frustration for us. Sean managed to narrow things down and actually get it running… not problem-free… but running.
My bus and Sean and Louise’s Odyssey share a little peninsula on Lake Mead.
On Friday, we joined Sean and Louise on a short journey to Lake Mead. They went ahead of us and scouted out the perfect “camping” spot for our two buses. We literally have water on three sides of us. The atmosphere is extremely relaxing and at sunset, the color is beautiful. Sean and Louise even set up their portable hot tub, and we’ve been using it every night, with a view of the stars and the water.
Sean inspects my problematic generator at our “camping” spot on Lake Mead.
While we were camped on Lake Mead, Sean and I spent even more time on the generator, and we managed to make a lot of progress on it. (I say “we” but my part really consisted of handing tools to Sean when he needed them). The rest of the time was spent relaxing, working and enjoying meals together.
Sean, Louise, Karen and myself
From our parking spot at Lake Mead, the Valley of Fire was only an hour’s drive away, so the four of us took a day trip to the park and did some hiking. It’s the perfect time of year to visit the Valley of Fire, because we didn’t feel like we were actually on fire. In the summer months, that place can easily reach above 110 degrees. Karen and I did some shooting along the hike, and we enjoyed the scenery during the drive (except for the flashing police lights in the rear view when Karen was driving a little too “spirited.” Luckily, she’s cute and the cop let her go.)
Our next stop will be Las Vegas again. We are flying out this week to Hawaii, where I’ll give two seminars – one in Honolulu and one on Maui. More to come…
Ben: I'm a traveling Photoshop guru who loves to explore everything unique and extraordinary. I'm a photographer, former graphic designer and world traveler. Back on March 14th of 2006, I got sick of sitting still and waiting for my next vacation, so I sold 98% of my material possessions and started living on a tour bus ...for more visit my blog, photo site, or photoshop training site.
Karen: I’m a photographer and graphic designer with an aptitude for anything involving pixels. I love being on the move, exploring the world and capturing it all with my camera. I joined Ben living on the road January 24th, 2010. For more on my work and play, visit my blog or photo site.