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This blog is about travel experiences and adventures -  places I can hike, or bike through, with camera (s) in hand and share the excitement of capturing a moment or a story.

I hope you enjoy the journey as much as I do.

bette ann

Backyard Bird(s) Story

May 16, 2017  •  9 Comments

Our backyard was quite prolific this past month. A photo-journal opportunity for sure.

First we spotted a dove tucked in a tree and figured she just might be sitting on a nest. Sure enough. Only 2 of 4 eggs hatched though, and we were away the week these babies flew away.




In the same tree, just a few branches down, we spotted a hummingbird nest. Then a newborn. Then mom and newborn in the nest. And then that baby flew away.

Another very smart mommy hummingbird built her nest in a spiny ocotillo, right by a window. This one we could photograph without bothering mom or babies at all! Watching this drama unfold was fascinating!




















Hawaii February 2017 - Part 1 :The Cruise

March 03, 2017  •  2 Comments

Uncruise/Safari Explorer 7 days from Moloka'i to the Island of Hawaii (Big Island)


This is the same operator and boat we traveled with to Alaska a few years ago. 36 guests, quite comfortable cabins, amazing chef and pastry chef in a small boat galley, knowledgeable adventure guides, and a good staff that deals effortlessly with table service, pouring wines, tidying rooms, yoga class, and managing the the skiffs, kayaks, etc as if there were no swells bobbing everything everywhere. 

safari explorersafari explorer

For this trip we were only 24 passengers, including Linda/Denny Trostle with whom we traveled in Alaska, and our good buddy Sue from Denver. Here's a fun comparison. Uh, kids, 3 years and you still don't have that nsync thing going with the oars :)


Linda and Denny Trostle

Sue's lovin' the water.


Unforgettable Cultural Experiences

We met up on Moloka'I.

Our first activity as a group, en route to the boat, was a stop at Moloka'i Plumerias – the largest plumeria farm in Hawaii. In addition to a tour of the farm, we each had our hand at making a lei. It takes roughly 50 flowers to make a lei. It took me about 5 minutes to gently string on 4. It takes the trained staff less than a minute to complete one lei without losing one single flower.

Plumeria Trees as far as the eye can see, all maintained to the same moderately low height so all the flowers can be hand picked without ladders.



Here's half of our group who went to lei-making class while the rest of us toured the farm - sitting there looking so smug, like they actually each made their lei, right? Ha - they'd all still be there trying. But it was pretty funny to come around the bend and see them sitting there like this.


After our first night on the boat, we had one more day on Moloka'I. A long, winding van ride took us to the remote Halawa Valley for a hike and cultural visit with Anakala Pilipo Solatorie and his son Greg. Here is the description they have in their literature – sort, sweet and very impressive, so no need to edit this. It was, indeed, an honor to spend time at their Hale and learn of their culture and deeply felt commitment to continuing their cultural practices.


Pilipo is the last living Hawaiian descendent to be born and raised in Halawa who still resides there. He was chosen at the age of five to study and become the cultural practitioner for his family. This honor meant he was given responsibility of carrying on their traditions and cultural practices. Pilipo is one of the few witnesses of the April 1, 1946 tsunami still living.


Greg is one of Anakala Pilipo's six children and is the only son currently residing in Halawa Valley. Like his father, he too has been chosen to perpetuate the Hawaiian culture. Greg grew up hunting, fishing, and working in Halawa Valley before leaving Moloka'i for Oahu to start a family. He has recently returned to the valley to manage the family farm and follow in his father's footsteps

This is a photo of Greg sounding the shell to announce our arrival onto the property. In prior times, Greg explained, no one would come onto your land without announcing themselves this way, and waiting for a reply.

A wonderful lesson we might all keep in mind today: Look for Similars rather than Differences.

Greg told us a story of one of his first experiences as a young boy when his dad left him at the beach and said he could come home when he found something similar.  He said he sat there for the better part of the day having no idea what his dad intended him to see. And then he noticed that the Ti leaf is the shape of a heart (like I have, he thought); the Taro Root from the Ti Leaf feeds us and gives us life. We give it life, it gives us life. Sharing Similars.

Here is Greg making poi for us from his farm's Ti leaf and Taro Root, using a generations-old bowl and his personal stones for grinding.

greg_making_poigreg_making_poiGreg is the next in line as cultural leader of the original Hawaiian descendants living in the Halawa Valley on Molokai.Here he is making poi from taro roots grown in their garden, using a wood bowl generations old and stone grinders made of stones that "selected him."

A closer look at the "mise en place."

mise_en_place_for_making_poimise_en_place_for_making_poithis is Greg's prep table

For those who enjoy history, the Halawa Valley is home to the first Moloka'I residents. (, settled during the 7th century by settlers from the Marquesas Islands in southern Polynesia. For over 1200 years the valley was a center of taro lo’i (patches), heiau (spiritual temples) and a thriving population. In 1836, one of the first missionaries on Molokai reported a population of about 500 Hawaiians farming more than a thousand lo’i and other types of produce in the valley. However, in 1946 and again in 1957, tsunamis with waves as tall as 45 feet swept up the valley and destroyed nearly all the homes, the taro lo’i and devastated the area.

It is stunning territory.


Our final experience on Moloka'I was to visit the Moloka'i Museum for a pa'ina (party) where they served an amazing luau (feast) of traditional dishes - and of course, hulu dancing and outstanding local music with cultural instruments.  There is also an extensive display of photographs from the days when Moloka'i was a leper colony.

Whale of a Tale

One of the reasons we took this specific trip is because our adventure guide on the Alaska trip (Jill) said we really should close the loop of our experience following the humpback whales. When we saw them in Alaska, early August, they were calorie loading and getting ready for their long journey to Hawaii.  By early February, they would be getting ready to start their journey back to Alaska, now with their calves.

This is likely more detail than most of you want but, for those interested, here's the condensed version of the Humpback Whale Migration.

(SOURCE: WILDHAWAII.ORG) Humpback Whale Migration
North Pacific Humpback Whales leave the icy waters around Alaska during the fall, swimming practically non-stop for nearly 6 to 8 weeks before reaching their Hawaiian winter home, where they mate, give birth, and nurture their calves. Their annual migration of about 6,000 miles is one of the longest of any mammal. Like most northern hemisphere baleen whales, humpbacks feed during the summer in sub-arctic regions and migrate to sub-tropical waters in winter to breed. Today, there may be as many as 6,000 humpbacks found in the North Pacific, in three somewhat distinct populations.

The central stock summers in southeast Alaska and the Gulf of Alaska and winters in the waters around Hawai'i. Beginning in mid to late November, mother whales nursing their calves usually arrive first in Hawai'i. Then juveniles and newly weaned yearlings come. The adult males arrive next, double the number of adult females who follow. Finally, the pregnant females arrive, after feeding up to the last minute in Alaska. The waters surrounding the Hawaiian Islands are one of the most important humpback whale habitats. Humpbacks prefer two major areas in Hawai'i: the four-island region of Maui, Molokai, Lanai, and Kaho'olawe, and the Penguin Band, a tongue of shallow water extending 25 miles southwest of western Molokai.


So now, let's move onto something photogenic.

The waters are a little rough, so no kayaking or snorkeling. But, Kent (adventure leader) said – let's at least head out on the skiffs and see if we can spot a whale. Kent drops a microphone into the water and we can hear the whales singing. We were having a chat about whale acoustics when -- the whales spotted us!

Mom and calf started at one skiff, just about sticking their heads up onto the pontoons for a better look at the folks inside. Then they came over to our skiff.  We were all holding our collective breadth that this was a friendly visit.  The baby rolled on its back right at our skiff (you could see the light aqua belly); mom rolled over and gently tail-flapped. The bowsmen decided to tie the skiffs together as a safer position (they are not allowed to turn the engines on with the whales this close). Mitch – one of our adventure guides – stuck his camera underwater and got the amazing shot right at the whales head. Carlo got some amazing videos with his GoPro that we are all hoping he will share. LInda and Steven each got some good shots shared here. This went on for a quite awhile  – and then, --  they just swam away.

And then, -- we all remembered to breath.

whale nearby- shot by lindawhale nearby- shot by linda

Photographer: Linda Trostle

whale really really close!whale really really close!

really really close- shot by mitchreally really close- shot by mitch

Photographer: Mitch


On The Water

We had a few good days for snorkeling, which is better than no days but not as many as we had hoped.  Our first water adventure was pretty unique though – snorkeling in the Molokini Volcanic Crater. This is one of only 3 volcanic calderas in the world.

Of course I didn't take this photo, but I like that it gives you an idea of what this caldera looks like.

When we got back to the boat we continued our on-water activities with high board jumping (some, not me), swimming, and stand-up paddle boarding . Or, in my case, stand up sit down stand up get on your knees before you fall paddle boarding. 

For our second on-water opportunity, we transferred from our skiffs onto Captain Zodiacs speed boats (very cool) and in addition to taking us into the cove to snorkel, we had a great tour of the cliffs, coves, and sighting of the trifecta of the ocean – whales, dolphins, sharks.

Our second snorkel was in Kealakekua Bay, Big Island – otherwise known as Captain Cook's Cove.  This is the very cove where Captain Cook had an argument with the King and was, in turn, killed by the Hawaiians. It's quite a good story about bad timing and misunderstandings. If it interests you to learn more,

This trip was my first try at water photography and it took me close to an hour to figure it out. I think Carlo made the better choice with a GoPro on a Stick, but stuck with my choice, here's what I learned. If you stay on top of the choppy, swirling water it is nearly impossible to steady a small camera.  But, if you go down just a bit and chase the fish, it is calmer and you are heading in the same direction – and you can get some shots.

So -- here are several shots of these various water activities.

pink tail trigger fish



raccoon butterfly fishraccoon butterfly fish

raccoon butterfly

trumpet_fishtrumpet_fish trumpet fish


yellow tang, black urchin on coral




a beautiful view

too rough to standtoo rough to stand scaredy cat


The snorkel of all snorkels though was the Night Manta Ray experience. Oh my goodness, when one of those gigantic rays flows up from the ocean floor to right underneath you it is nothing short of other-worldly. Most of us literally gasped and giggled right into our snorkels. One of our team got this shot -- my little camera was useless in all the turbulence and dark.

manta_raymanta_raynight snorkel sighting

Here's what a manta ray looks like when it's not a dark outline shadow (stock photo). Imagine that being up to 15 ft across.

We kayaked only one day, and even that was plenty rough and choppy. We were able to paddle fairly close to a 400 ft. high cliff and see the water caves, but it was too rough to get any closer. Kent said the trip was about 2 miles, and I think we were all truly delighted to sight our boat and know that the kayak trip was about done.

Off we go--


Anyone want to go in there ?

With Kent up ahead setting the boundary, Carlo and Carrie sneaked up on this cave.


Seemed a good idea when we started -- where's that darn boat of ours?


We'll just have to come back and hope for calmer seas.

On Shore Events

We had 3 town opportunities.We didn't take too many shots in the towns, so, just a few for flavor.

Lahaina'i (Maui). 

1.94 acres of Banyon Tree - the largest in the United States

Lahana'i has some outstanding art galleries, but this was my personal favorite - the old jailhouse cells, now galleries.

Ok, Buffet fans, here ya go.

Lanai City (Lanai) used to be home to Dole Pineapple plantations.  Now it is 98% owned by Larry Ellison, with 2 Four Season Resorts. 

Kona (Big Island)

Indeed - a tree runs through it.

Rambutan in the Farmer's Market

Me playing tourist


Just Photography
























school of jumping fishschool of jumping fish










one big spider and webone big spider and web

and one without the spider



stunning palm bloomstunning palm bloom

New coconut tree starting 


Safari Explorer skiffs tied to the back of the boat. Plenty choppy out there.

island of Lana'Iisland of Lana'IThis island is just slightly southwest of Maui.

View out of our cabin door one afternoon
Big Island - water power 

lava and water everywherelava and water everywhere storm_swells_cpt_cooks_covestorm_swells_cpt_cooks_cove

photographer's paradisephotographer's paradise View from Molokai Hotel

first night's sunset on moloka'ifirst night's sunset on moloka'i Moloka'i sunset


hui hou kākou


Hawaii February 2017 - Part 2 The Big Island

March 02, 2017  •  1 Comment

This will be a shorter story, but affords the opportunity to share a few extra photos.

We left the ship and travel-buddies and now we are on our own. We decided we needed to try to get in a snorkel before heading to our condo. Our goal was "2-step beach" which is just below where we had gone snorkeling the day before in Captain Cook's Cove. There is a Historic Park there we wanted to explore, too.

Well, this didn't turn out as well as we had hoped. I don't know why we thought the waters would be any calmer just because we were no longer on the boat. Sue watched as I did the obligatory "2-step" -- lava cliff drop down onto lower lava cliff, push off across the breaker into calmer snorkeling waters -- except, there was no "calmer snorkeling waters." Instead, it was all about swells pushing me back into the lava ridge. Not fun. Get me out of here. 

In short, then, here was the rest of our stay on the big island.

From our condo in Waikoloa Beach Resort area we could walk the Petroglph/Waikoloa Kings Trail hike. These are petrogphs dating 1400-1800's. The entire field of the hike is covered with these drawing. The entire hike is on lava.

Actually most of the big island is lava

Steven and I played golf one day, and this next shot pretty much tells the tale. First I'll put up our excuse -- we were using rented clubs so we didn't have a lot of confidence about club distances. Anyway -- here ya go. If you fade (push right) you go into lava. If you draw (pull left) or hit short, you're in a deep sand trap. Too far, your ball is in the ocean. Well, how much fun is this!

We did a day trip to Volcano National Park - yes the Kīlauea Volcano is still very active. The VOG (volcanic gases -  aka a fog-like effect with high levels of sulphur dioxide from the volcano) was pretty strong when we started - even the park Visitor's Center was closed. But as we moved upwards, we were fine. We did several good hikes across lava fields, in lava tubes, and in the rainforest. We were hoping to see/photograph one of those fabulous lava explosions. But, (a) that kind of activity doesn't happen now,  (b) we were on the ground and if we wanted to see the fire-like lava flowing into the sea at night we needed to be in a helicopter or switch our all day hiking to an twilight 10 mile hike down to that viewing area. Next time. We did get a photo of the lava lake activity in Halema‘uma‘u Crater from the visitor'c center (1+ mile away). The fog was rolling in so we were lucky to see even this.

Keanakakoi Crater: 115 ft deep; 1500 ft wide, from the 1974 eruption 

Lava Trail Hike

Steam from lava

Rainforest end of hike just before sunset

Hapu'u pulu

This is just such an interesting fern. A descendant from prehistoric plants, the fiddleheads of this tree fern are covered with pulp - golden wool, amazingly soft to the touch - that protects its new growth from drying. Soft pulu was used as a dressing for wounds or for stuffing pillows and the like.

Lava Lake from the Visitor's Center. The evening fog rolled in just as we got to our viewing spot, so we were luck to see even this.

Just a touch of humor. En route to the park we stopped for a snack at a local cafe. Here is a shot of their "Tea Garden."

While I'm at it, here's another touch of humor. This is a shot at a restaurant - up to you to decide how this happened.

Sue went diving for dolphins with Linda Trostle. We went fishing for marlin. Sue and Linda swam with dolphins. We toured the ocean for 4 hours, saw some dolphins, a shark, and some humpback whales. None of the boats in the area caught anything. We seem to be caught in a questionable karma space. On the bright side, we are playing in Hawaii and other people are working. It's all about perspective, right?


That's pretty much the end of the tale. We had some excellent dinners around Waikoloa, and went back to Kona for the farmer's market and lunch one day. We walked down to a local beach near the Honokohau Marina and waded out to to find the turtles. We found some good beach bars for watching those unbelievable sunsets. And then, as one of my friends messaged, it was time for us to return to Paradise (aka sunny Palm Springs).

Steven got this shot of a swarm of mussels at the "turtle" beach

Thanks for taking the time to let us share our travels with you. As always, we look forward to your comments. Next up: Mojave Desert/Valley of Fire photo group trip, and then sometime this summer, the Channel Islands.  

bette & steven



September 19, 2016  •  7 Comments


36 days

3586 miles

4 States (NV,UT,WY,CA)

42 miles hiking; 40 biking (10 at a time x 1000+ gain each); 19 fish landed; 8 rounds of golf; 3639 photos.

447 (Palm Springs altitude) to 10,700 (Mirror Lake Byway) with most of our trip at 6,000-7,000 altitude.


The Last Segment: Park City to South Lake Tahoe to Mammoth Lakes and Home

The drive from Park City to Tahoe was far more interesting than we expected. Who knew there was so much salt! 

Catching this public art piece as we drove by it, literally in the middle of nowhere, we learned afterwards that it is a rather famous piece of art, titled "Tree of Utah." From Wikipedia: It is an 87-foot-tall sculpture that was created by the Swedish artist Karl Momen in the 1980s and dedicated in 1986. It is located in the desolate Great Salt Lake Desert of Utah on the north side of Interstate 80, about 25 miles east of Wendover and midway between the former railroad communities of Arinosa and Barro. The sculpture, which is constructed mainly of concrete, consists of a squarish 'trunk' holding up six spheres that are coated with natural rock and minerals native to Utah. There are also several hollow sphere segments on the ground around the base. The sculpture currently has a fence surrounding the base to protect people from falling tiles.

First sighting of Lake Tahoe -- one REALLY large lake. Just a little basic information, from Wikipedia: Lake Tahoe is the largest alpine lake in North America. Its depth is 1,645 ft, making it the second deepest in the United States after Crater Lake (1,945 ft). Additionally, Lake Tahoe is the sixth largest lake by volume in the United States at 122,160,280 acre·ft (150,682,490 dam3), behind the five Great Lakes.

Our first night in Tahoe,  we headed to the beach for the annual Labor Day (night) fireworks show.

The sunset was maybe even better than the fireworks show. I had a little photo-art fun presenting the fireworks.

I have 2 shots here for all our golfing friends. Edgewood Golf (Nevada side of Tahoe): check out this shot tee-to-green from the red pine cones (aka t- box markers). And, the second photo seems aptly titled, "Bridge Over Water Trouble." 

Brad and Jordan joined us for a few days; hiked; rented a boat for a spin of this gigantic lake.
Brad moving boulders.

They said it was a moderate hike AROUND the lake! 

And then we headed to our last stop: Mammoth Lakes. Stunning scenery!

We had a final fishing trip lined up for Crawley Lake (steelheads in mind) but at 29-degrees at 7am, with thunderstorm predicted - we summoned up our adult and cancelled. Instead, we did a little shore fishing from Lake Mary (zip, zero except for cold feet), then took a drive over to Crawley Lake. Indeed, here's that storm rolling in - and we were delighted to view fit rom the inside of the car rather than from a cold bench on a small boat in the middle of the lake!

We decided it was time to head back to the desert heat. 

We are home.

Thanks for sharing this year's journey with us.

Next up - February, Hawaii. Stay tuned …



September 05, 2016  •  12 Comments

Week 3, and we are now in Park City UT. We've been in this area before to ski, but this is our first time seeing the canyons without snow. We arrived just in time for the Saturday night rock-blues concert . 



Sunday we went over to the Olympic Training Village and by chance a team was practicing ski jumping. If you've ever wondered how in the heck they practice these jumps well here it is -- they have a huge safety pool and their practice skies have holes in them to soften the landing. Of course, I can't figure how anyone learns to do (has the courage to do) these moves with our without water.


Speaking of timing, we arrived just as the leaves started to change. Our first day - everything was green. Then the night weather changed to close to freezing and it pushed Fall. Every day the colors intensified. Awesome.

This is a shot at the Olympic Training Village of the bobsled track and the hill above, just starting to turn color. (8/21)


This is one week later. I couldn't resist doing a little photo-art technique here - the scene begged to have a watercolor effect.

We met up with friends from CA, Kal and Linda Kaplan. Kal joined us one day for golf. Steven and I did some biking, notably a ride with a huff-a-puffa 950 ft. elevation gain, add 40mph+ gusting winds and I literally had trouble moving forward. We did several hikes up in the high canyons and lakes.

Here are a few shots.







And, finally, let's talk about the fishing. We were fly fishing in rushing mountain-stream water, waist to chest high in waders. We caught some pretty decent fish but after about 3 hours I was frozen numb and Steven agreed he'd had enough--  right after he landed the 2-fister sized brook trout. (We agreed that next fishing event has to be in a boat --or we need to get 5mm waders!). 

Steven's best.





Bette's best.


Finally, I wanted to share a gorgeous sunrise, and equally stunning sunset.






Next stop - South Lake Tahoe. 

Thanks for spending some time with us. Thanks to all who sent along comments from the first bog - keep it up. It's fun hearing from everyone.