Thursday, December 19, 2013

Neighborhood Christmas Lights

Over the past few years I've always been on the hunt for Christmas lights around neighborhoods.  Every year I always seem to take new people trying to perpetuate the feel of the Christmas spirit through going to see Christmas lights. 

It's not your ordinary Honolulu Downtown Christmas light show.  I like to take in the views created by everyday people trying to stand out and be creative with their own homes.  Two homes had lights synchronized to the music!  It was amazing!  The usual happened at Hanapa'a St.  This year was a little dumbed down though... they didn't go all out like the past years... hopefully they put up the rest of the decorations before Christmas ends.  The houses in Kaneohe near Castle high school had their usual stuff up.  If anyone has anywhere special they'd like to share please let me know!  Would love to check it out before the year ends!  Merry Christmas!

You'd be able to see this tree from miles away.  They decorate their tree every year in Kahala.

One of the more impressive displays which often gets overlooked.  This display is in one of the valley's in East Honolulu. 

Katie accompanied me this year.  She was impressed with the Christmas spirit people have here. 

Several houses behind the mall in Kaneohe had inflatables and lights adorning their yard.

The entire front side of the house was covered in lights.  The driveway on the right side of the house (not shown) has a canoe with lights strung up.  Check out the grinch on the boat being pulled by dolphins!

People let us on their property to take a picture in their gazebo.  Such aloha spirit in the community!

The next few shots were on Hanapaa St. in Kapolei! 

The famous Heineken tree!

The same house with the Heineken tree had a driveway down the length of the house adorned with Christmas decorations. 

The other half of the driveway looked like this!

This was probably my favorite decorated house.  It had music and a station to tune into to listen to.  Cars were stopped on the road just to watch.  We were there for a good half hour!

There is a street in Waikele just like the one in Kaneohe.  I think next year if they keep it up they might be one of the more popular streets.

This one is pretty original.  A fully lit up mustang with santa and rudolph in it! 

This last house also had an electronics show with music!  This house actually coordinated with neighbors and the neighbors houses were in sync as well!  At least four houses were in sync and also that street light was in sync as well!

Mele Kalikimaka 2013 from Ryan Chang on Vimeo.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Big Island 2013

I've only been to the Big Island twice.  This would be the third time visiting the island.  This time around I wanted to get a grasp on what is in and around town. 

Thanksgiving was spent with Katie's mom down in Puna, just south of Hilo.  Just south of Hilo means forty five minutes away!  I had to get a grasp on how "big" Big Island is.  Everything was at least and hour away for us, what we wanted to explore was volcano, Kalapana, Kohala and south point just to name a few places. 

Katie and I flew in Tuesday night to Hilo airport.  Right as we were getting on the escalator Katie's mom Carol was down there waiting for us.  We drove with her and her boyfriend Jim down to grab a bite.  I decided on Panda's for something quick and Katie and mom went to Jamba Juice.  After dinner we headed to target for some groceries and supplies for the weekend. 

It was a really long drive back to the house.  When we got home all I could hear was coqui frogs, something I might not ever get used to.  They are so loud and it's hard to sleep with them blaring throughout the night. 

The next morning we took a drive down to Pohoiki to check out the surf.  It wasn't happening so Katie and I decided to hit up Volcano National Park.  We got to check out Halemaumau crater from the Jagger museum and we took a drive down to chain of craters road.  It was unbelievably hot.  At the end of the road we took a 15 minute walk down the road to meet where the lava met the road and closed it off.  For miles all we saw was hot rugged coast line.  Because of the extreme heat and hazy conditions I vowed never to come back!  I don't get how people would wanna do Halape, I give them credit for backpacking such a long distance in the blazing sun. 

We made our way back up to the mountain and took a quick hike on the Kilauea Iki trail just to see the crater from a different view.  It was nice to hear so many songs from the native birds, something you don't hear on Oahu very much.  After that we headed to Thurston lava tube.  It was dark and damp.  It's a pretty cool feature if you want to do touristy things. 

After volcano we went back to the house to spend time with mama Ersbak.  She got us some fresh lau lau for dinner and we watched black fish.  Black fish was a good documentary on how orca whales are kept at sea world. 

Next morning was Thanksgiving!  We had a quick bite to eat and headed out the door.  The first thing we did was check out lava tree state park.  The park had cool features where the trees were burned from the inside out.  The landscape was nice like a park but had weird black rock formations where lava had burnt the trees.  After the park we headed to Hilo town to pick up Jenny and Christian at two but we had lots of time to kill.  I had brought my bodyboard over so I wanted to check out a local break.  We headed to Honoli'i beach.  It was breaking small but really clean.  I jumped in anyways because this was the only day I would get to surf.  After a quick surf session we headed up a little ways to Akaka falls.  It was really sunny already so I couldn't get good pictures.  Maybe next time I come back I'll hike to the base of the falls. 

We picked up Jenny and Christian and headed back home for the Thanksgiving festivities.  Mama Ersbak had a bunch of friends over helping her cook and prepare.  We had a turkey dinner with stuffing, mashed potatoes, salad, yams, and apple cobbler.  It was delicious and reminded me of home.  After dinner the tryptophan in the turkey made me kanak!  I was feeling so drowsy but stayed up to watch some chasing mavericks with the family. 

The next morning we woke a little late and ate some left overs.  The plan was to head up to Waimea to check out a hike.  We drove up the coast for hours and finally hit the trail head.  The trail is closed because of the earthquake that damaged the trail and made it dangerous.  On the trail though there were many hikers we ran into.  Our goal was to hit a water slide made by the people that made the flumes in the mountains.  We hiked for a half hour and were rewarded with an amazing vista.  We followed the trail on a contour that was cut in the mountain.  After following that for a while we dropped down into a flume and walked through the tunnel.  We hit the slide and there were a few locals there chilling.  Christian and I slid down the slide a few times.  There is nothing like it on any of the other islands besides wet n' wild but you didn't have to pay $50 to have fun on a water slide.  After hiking we hit up a little strip mall in Waimea to eat some burgers for dinner. 

We decided to hit saddle road and try make it up to Mauna Kea for sunset but it was too late in the day that when we got to the visitor center it was night already.  Unfortunately it wasn't cloudless so we couldn't see any stars.  We headed off the mountain and back home.  We all were very tired and we knocked out pretty early. 

Saturday morning was mine and Katie's last day.  We wanted to explore down south.  Before going out and exploring mama Ersbak and Jim treated us to breakfast down in Kalapana.  We ate a big breakfast and checked out Kalapana.  We walked down to the new black sand beach.  I really wanted to jump in because there were waves there but I didn't know how the rip and current was.  There was no one out so I decided on not going in the water and taking pictures.  After breakfast we headed up to volcano and down south.  We stopped in Punalu'u and checked out some turtles.  We hit up south point after where Christian jumped off a 35 ft cliff.  It was nuts because it was pretty high but safe kind of jump because it was over hanging the ocean.  There was a ladder to aid in climbing back up too!  I decided not to jump because I didn't feel well.  I think the vog was affecting me and making me feel a little weird.  After that we headed back home.  Mama Ersbak made us a really delicious chicken fajita.  It was so good I passed out second night in a row! 

Sunday morning came too fast and we had to leave already.  I enjoyed my stay there, next time more exploring or maybe backpacking Waimanu again.  Till next time!

Looked at Pohoiki and the surf. 

Up at volcano national park we checked out some steam vents. 

We took a drive down to chain of craters road where the lava met the road. 

We got to see some cool lava formations and plants growing out of the rock. 

The strange black formation that Katie is sitting in used to be a tree.  This was at lava tree state park.

The closed hike we decided to do.

Forty five minutes into the hike we were greeted with this vista. 

The trail goes onto this contour.

Sliding down this flume was a real treat after the hike. 

The last day we hit up south point. 

Big Island 2013 from Ryan Chang on Vimeo.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Following the fence

For Veteran's Day weekend we planned some backpacking.  Unfortunately we couldn't go because of the weather.  Instead we did an over night stay in the Waianae mountain range the weekend after. 

Saturday morning Katie, Andrew, Jay and I met at Cory's house.  Andrew was our designated driver so he dropped us off and picked us up the day we came out.  We started on the Mokuleia trailhead around 7 and trudged our way with our 25lb packs on our backs.  Garvin also met up with us on the trail head, he had brought lots of fruits, I was envious of the fruits but wasn't with his pack weight!  We followed the fence line all the way up to a place called Three Corners.  From that point you can see Mount Ka'ala, Makaha valley, Ohikilolo Ridge, Kea'au peak, Makua Valley and the North Shore of Oahu.  It was probably the best view on the entire Waianae mountain range.  We stood up there for a good thirty minutes, ate snacks and left. 

On the ridge line there was a fence we had to follow to our destination.  A cabin tucked near the Kea'au peak on Ohikilolo ridgeline.  From Three Corners to the cabin was a crumbly, craggy, fencey ridge.  We negotiated about 5 notches to the cabin which was extremely dangerous with huge packs.  If we had day packs it would have been considerably easier.  We reached our destination a little after 3 pm.  Another group of our friends headed up a different way because they had their dog Tango in tow.  They beat us to the cabin! 

We unpacked and rested at the cabin.  Did a little exploring and stayed up near the landing pad to watch the sunset.  There was also a moon rise we got to catch just before sunset.  It got dark quick and a lot of us were tired.  We made some hot meals sat around drank some whiskey and beers.  Most of us crashed out early but some stayed up to watch the moon. 

The next morning we woke up before the sunrise.  Lots of us captured it on cameras some hiked up to Ohikilolo peak.  I stayed in the cabin stayed warm because it was so cold.  After the sunrise we slowly packed up and made our way down the mountain.  We got picked up on the West side and ate at Chili's for post hike meal.

 Mid morning checking out the view.  

Jay pointing out where we need to go.
The view.  Ka'ala on your left with Makaha valley below.  Ohikilolo, the ridge we need to be on. The right side valley is Makua Valley. 

The view of Makua valley.

I thought the KST was a beast.  Check out Ka'ala in the back.  This is part of the WST.

Dropping down into a notch.  Lucky the fence was there so you could hold onto something. 

Once we reached the cabin we relaxed and soaked in the view. 

Will, Amanda and Tango the dog met up with us. 

Tango didn't have a problem conquering dirt eroded sections!

The group enjoying the sunset.  Pictured from left to right, Garvin, Will, Katie, Amanda, and Cory.

The sun went down and the goofballs came out.  Oh wait... the sky changed colors! 

Happy to be here... and warm!

The sun went down and the moon came out.  The colors in the sky still lingered after the sun went down.  

The moon was full that night.  This was our view for the evening... EPIC!

The next morning the sun rose.  

The outhouse with a view in the back of Makua valley. 

On the way out we spotted a few of these native snails. 

These were about the size of your pinky fingernail!

We followed the fence line all the way to the coast.  BTW it was HOT!  

Following the fence from Ryan Chang on Vimeo.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Veteran's Day weekend

This past weekend ushered in some rain.  Unfortunately it cancelled our backpacking trip in the north Koolaus.  Friday night I told the group it would be miserable if we went, I felt bad because we had been planning it for weeks.  So instead we went chasing waterfalls.

Saturday morning it rained and rained.  We decided to sleep in a little and get a late start.  We met at Swanzy beach around 1 pm and hit up a 300+ ft waterfall I had seen almost a year ago.  It only forms when there is heavy rain.  Near the beginning of the trail head we were greeted by a fast flowing stream.  Amanda and Will's dog Tango, led the way.  We got to the first obstacle where the group had to carry Tango up a fast flowing waterfall that was two tiered.  Cory helped out with that because he's and expert climber.  We got to the waterfall shortly after.  It was just like I remember the last time I visited except it had a little more water coming down.  The wind generated from the waterfall was making it chilly so Katie and I posed for a few pictures but went downstream to wait for everyone else because it was too cold.  We came back out the way we came and went to a restraunt with some ramen to warm us up after.

Saturday night the rain didn't let up.  We planned to hit more waterfalls!  Our first stop was in Nuuanu.  Nuuanu is notorious for waterfalls.  But the waterfall we wanted to see is really rare and only a handful of people seen it's full effect up close.  There are stories of an upside down waterfall.  We went search and we definitely found it.  

Driving up the Pali highway on Sunday it was so cloudy and rainy but through the clouds we saw it and were super excited.  We met up with a few friends.  Emma, Jessie, Will and Amanda met up and headed to the obscure trail head.  We headed Mauka for about thirty minutes and hit the wall.  The rain was falling and water was misting everywhere.  The waterfall wasn't running against the wall but instead falling and getting blown up by the wind hence, "upside down waterfall". The name is Waipuhia and we hit two of the chutes on our initial approach.  We had to hug the wall and scramble a little to hit the third and final chute.  This one was flowing well!  Sometimes the water would fall and sometimes it would be blown by the wind.  It was extraordinary to see and just VERY different than any other waterfall I had ever seen.  When we were finished watching we headed back to our cars and went to our second hike.

Our second hike was Koolaupoko Chutes.  This time we only visited chute four and one.  It wasn't flowing as well like the last time we went because we went later in the day when the rain let up a little.  As we were hiking there we could see that all four chutes were going but not like the last time we were there.  Chute four was going good, we visited there first.  On the way there I got some nasty cats claw thorn stuck in my fingers, it hurt a lot!  Passing chute three and two we headed straight to one after that.  Because it wasn't flowing as well I could actually take my DSLR out and shoot a little.  The wind coming off the falls wasn't string either.  After hiking to all of these places we decided to finish there.  Tomorrow was going to be our grinder hike.  

Veterans Day we did the "Going against the flow" hike.  I was really looking forward to it because this time around the water levels were a bit higher which made for a more challenging and technical hike.  We had a larger group this day than the other days.  Our friend Garvin decided to join us on today's hike.    We hit over eighteen waterfalls.  Most of which you have to climb or have the aid of a rope to help you up.  We celebrated at the last falls with some beer and snacks.  

Veteran's Day weekend was great even though we didn't get to do what we originally planned.  Hopefully we get to do our North Koolau trek soon!

 Friday waterfall hike.
First hike on Sunday morning.  Upside down waterfall.

The second hikes 4th chute. 

Where the water falls into at the 4th chute.

The biggest falls we saw all weekend. 

Hard to imagine the last time I was here I was being blasted by mist.

Our Veteran's Day hike consisted of climbing series of waterfalls like the one pictured above. 

Veteran's Day weekend from Ryan Chang on Vimeo.