Sunday, August 30, 2009
I won't use it as an excuse, but the course was in poor shape. It was wet, very wet after a heavy downpour overnight. The wet kept the ground crew from mowing the course at all, so things were long and slow.
My biggest error was not staying in the fairway. The rough was largely thick-grown crabgrass. I couldn't get an iron through that stuff at all and so was not hitting with any distance from the rough. I didn't putt well wither. I finished at 114.
Andy, on the other hand, played very well, particularly on the back 9. He carded a 94 after pars on 4, 8, 17 and 18 and a birdie on 15.
I had just enough good shots to make me eager to get back out and get some revenge on the golf course and on the golf gods.
Friday, August 28, 2009
I live-tweeted it, though that was a little painful just using my cell phone. Democratic Party twitterer DelDems was also tweeting; I'm guessing DelDems had a better keyboard than I, or maybe more nimble thumbs.
I've tried to use Twitter's advanced search option to create links to just our tweet streams from this evening. It mostly worked... You will have to read from the bottom up. Please pardon my typos.
I came in leaning towards Rob Robinson. I know him a little bit, and I tend to vote Democratic. It is also the case that a friend of mine serves with Robinson on the Georgetown Planning Commission and speaks very highly of him as a worker and as a leader. And Robinson has appeared in court before another friend, who says he is a good lawyer.
Robinson did well tonight. He was comfortable and charming. He was polite, but firm when he needed to be. He showed independence and a thoughtful approach. He has my vote.
Ruth Briggs King wasn't terrible, but I wasn't very impressed. I thought she contradicted herself at times and that she was trying to get in a few digs at Robinson without being obvious. I didn't like that.
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
Andy and I wanted to play on Sunday morning and thought we'd go back to the Heritage course, largely because of its play-all-day for $10 pricing. That's very tempting, but sometimes you do get just what you pay for.
Andy got me started playing golf. I had taken some indoor lessons as a gym class at Colby College, up in Maine, some 25 years ago, but it wasn't until a few years back that I picked it up as a steady thing. And when I started, we mostly played the Heritage, at that time an executive-length 9-holes with a few long par-4 holes and a respectably challenging par-5. It cost a bit more to play then than it does now, but was still low-priced.
Since then, they've chopped up the back third of the property and built town houses, drastically shortening many of the holes. They closed the pro shop; you pay your ten bucks in the hotel lobby. As Andy noted, at this point they basically just keep it mowed. More or less.
So it's in poor shape and our play seemed to reflect the state of the course. We had a few good holes, but neither of us was particularly proud. And it was quite hot. So after nine holes we broke for lunch. After we'd eaten, we decided we'd gotten ten dollars worth of "golf" and called it a day.
Sunday, August 23, 2009
Mr. Adams, who was sailing to Russia to serve as President James Madison's minister plenipotentiary to that nation, spent his time that day reading about Timoleon and Paulus Aemilius (in Plutarch, I think), according to his personal one-line-a-day log.
He gave the ship's position as 52 degrees, 46 minutes north latitude and 34 degrees, 30 minutes west longitude, which put them almost exactly halfway between Newfoundland and Ireland, in the north Atlantic.
Now, two centuries later, the folks at the Massachusetts Historical Society have started a project to publish Adams' log in the closest thing to a modern "line-a-day" log -- twitter. They've begun posting each day's entry to a John Quincy Adams twitter account: JQAdams_MHS.
View John Quincy Adams in a larger map
And they have geo-published those entries, using Adams' recording of the ship's position. Now we have both a regular text update of Adams' days, and we have a daily chart showing his location and basic log entries.
That is in addition to his full diaries from the journey, which are also available, and which contain more detail and thoughts. In fact, the Massachusetts Historical Society has 51 volumes of diaries that President Adams kept throughout his life; he was one of those diarists who left a rich legacy for historians and biographers.
Of course I could draw the comparison between the 19th centuries diarists and 21st century bloggers. But I think that, more than any one technique or technology, it is the practice of daily recording of data, location, thoughts, and activities, that is of value here.
Not every diarist or blogger who writes down their thoughts each day will turn out to be a leader that future generations will want to study. But we do hope that every leader will keep such a record for the future. And we don't know ahead of time who those folks will be. So, it is, I think, a good thing to have at least some part of the population in the habit, just in case one of them turns out to be someone special some day.
Saturday, August 22, 2009
This is my very first East Coast sunrise at a beach - a thrilling experience to see the sun coming up from the ocean and not at all too early to see (6:13 am). I wonder if there is a green flash right before the sun comes up.It reminded me of my feelings watching sunsets in Hawaii, and thinking it odd that the sun should disappear into the water like that.
Friday, August 21, 2009
It was a hot afternoon, but there was a steady breeze to cool us off as well as drifting almost-thunder-heads to cut the sun's heat. Old Landing is also well shaded with trees, so we were fairly comfortable.
The course was in tolerable shape, though the greens had just been sprayed with some sort of pesticide with a strong green hue. It caused grubs to flee to the surface where the local crows were having a feeding frenzy. The grubs themselves, and the holes dug by the crows looking for more, made putting a bit of a challenge on some of the greens.
I started poorly, but settled down somewhat over the first nine and finished with a nice par 3 on the 9th hole for a total of 54.
The second nine holes were a bit better. I scored another par on the 15th and managed a 51 to finish the round at 105.
I find it interesting that I've carded my personal best in two games in a row now.
Sandy played well, he broke 100 with a 99; it included an impressive birdie on the 15th.
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
I have been tracking fill-ups and miles at Fuelly, the social network for gas-mileage freaks, and on a Google documents spreadsheet. The Fuelly badge, at right, reflects the long-term average MPG. The table below is my one-year summary, based on the data in my Google spreadsheet.
During the year between delivery on July 23, 2008 and my fill-up on July 24, 2009, I drove a total of 15,827.3 miles. I had 53 fill-ups and averaged 298.63 miles per fill-up. I used 491.67 gallons of gas, an average of 9.28 gallons per fill up. That gas cost me $1,639.62, averaging $30.94 per tank. Over the year, I averaged 32.19 miles per gallon.
Aside form all that data, the little blue scion is a fun little car. It is sporty enough for this old dude, comfortable, and I think practical.
Monday, August 17, 2009
Ocean Resorts is a nice low-cost course in decent shape. It has challenges and fun holes. Andy and I have been there a few times, Most recently back in early July.
I started out badly, but settled down to a so-so front nine. I did better on the back nine managing to par the two par 5 holes on that part of the course. I finished with a 105, which I think ties my personal best. So far.
Sunday, August 16, 2009
The boat, the Sea Smoke, was formerly a speed-sailing catamaran owned by James Arness of the TV show Gunsmoke. It has been reconfigured for whale-watching, snorkel cruises, and sunset cruises. It had a crew of four, Shane at the helm and three others hoisting sales, handing out drinks, popping champagne corks and generally acting the gracious hosts.
Heading out, we had great views of Mauna Kea, including a segment of rainbow. As we got further out, we could see Maui in the distance, surrounded by clouds.
We ate, drank, chatted and enjoyed the ocean air. Shane took my picture at the helm, and we had a family picture taken at the rail.
And then the sun hit the horizon and, 180 seconds later, it was gone. The crew had popped champagne; we toasted the sky and headed back to shore.
We were watching carefully for the green flash. I didn't see it, but Christina thinks she did, just as the last of the sun went down.
Saturday, August 15, 2009
We drove around the north end of the Big Island, but cut up and across the shoulder of Mauna Kea and through the small town of Waimea before heading south along the east coast to Hilo.
It was a fascinating drive -- about 100 miles around half of a large island and covering several different sorts of landscape.
The northern part of the Kona coast is arid and mostly lava that has been colonized by grasses. As you head upland, however, there's more and more moisture until you reach Waimea, which was fog bound and looked to be damp ranch country. The drive along the coast to Hilo was full-on tropical with jungle-clad, steep hills falling away onto a blue ocean.
Hilo is an older-looking town. We only brushed past it, along the waterfront, before starting up the slopes of Mauna Loa to reach the Park and the vast caldera of Kilauea.
We did not really have enough time to properly explore the park. I had planned to drive the Crater Rim drive around the Caldera but about half was closed due to sulphur-laden gases venting out of the Halema'uma'u crater that dominates the western part of the caldera. That's the great big hole with gases coming out in the photo above. It was impossible for me to capture the whole of the Caldera, it is really quite large.
We drove to the farthest-along overlook still open and then came back by way of the steaming bluffs, where cracks and crevasses leak steam from the great heat below. From there we hiked a trail part-way down into the caldera through a broken landscape that looks llike it was formed when a part of the caldera wall slumped-in. This trail became progressively more tropical as it descended, past plants we'd never seen, through rocks and past cliffs, until it rose again to a completely different sort of arid plain.
We also took some time to walk through the Thurston Lava Tube before having a light lunch at the Volcano House, an inn that sits on the edge of caldera wall.
We took the southern route back to Waikoloa, completing a circling of the Big Island. This is a slightly longer drive, but took even longer still as it slowed drastically to wind around along the south Kona coast. This route also features a long descent from Kilauea through a completely empty landscape of lava fields. I knew we were in an empty place as, one by one, the radio stations faded away and there were none.
So we made a circle around the island, which I'll admit I'd been thinking about. It was a long drive, though.
We spent a quiet afternoon swimming and sunning. At one point, we took a walk away from the populated part of the beach and came upon a group of green sea turtles -- Honu in Hawaiian -- sunning themselves on a shelf of volcanic pebbles hidden behind a lava peninsula.
We didn't want to disturb them, so we kept back a respectful distance and just snapped a few pictures.
There were also several turtles hanging around in the lagoon at the Hilton where we stayed. Several times, we took kayaks out and visited them. There's nothing better than drifting quietly while watching one of these lovely animals flying around beneath you.
Friday, August 14, 2009
I played the beach course at Waikoloa one morning with an older gent and his son-in-law. They were from California. The starter matched me with them. It was that or play with a trio of Japanese tourists and I don't think they had any English.
It's a challenging course. The holes are surrounded by mounds and hillocks of lava. There are lava traps in place of sand traps. If you're not hitting over water, you are hitting over fields of broken volcanic rock. I was wondering what happens if you hit one into that lava.
I had a pretty good round, all things -- rented clubs, playing in sneakers, etc. -- considered. I finished with a 109. My play was up and down. I had a par on the sixth, for example, but followed that with a triple bogey on the a par-5 seventh.
The seventh was also where I learned what happens when you hit it into the lava field. I had had a good drive and second shot and had just a 9-iron shot left to the green. Instead of hitting it clean and getting on in regulation, I hit it low and slicing into the lava on the right. It bounced almost back to where I was standing but on the other side of the fairway. I was lucky to make an eight.
On the other hand, the scenery is great. On some holes you are looking at a mountain. On others, you overlook the Pacific Ocean. The sun is bright, the foliage is rich and green, and the trade winds blow steadily and keep you a bit cool.
I liked it.
Thursday, August 13, 2009
The cruise from Keauhou to Kealakekua takes about an hour, sailing along a rocky coast that features a shelf of old lava that was pummelled by waves. We were looking for dolphins but were visited by a giant manta ray instead.
The girls had picked up a cheap underwater camera and tried to capture some pictures of fish. The water was just a bit too murky for that camera but we did get some underwater action shots of ourselves. This picture of Christina is the best. There's also an unfortunate one of me swimming below the girls.
We had a great time. The people with Fair Winds were wonderful hosts. Their boat is well equipped for diving and has water slides and a high platform. Both Christina and I tried the platform. Water turns out to be pretty hard when you approach it from way up high.
Kealakekua Bay is a broad open place towered-over by a high lava cliff that has been crumbling into the water from time to time leaving boulder islands here and there. On the north is a flat area where Captain Cook was killed by the Hawaiians in 1779. There is now a monument on the shore near where we snorkeled.
This was such a cool trip that I argued, unsuccessfully, that we turn around and go back again later in the week. It also reminds me that future vacation plans should probably also include snorkeling opportunities.
Wednesday, August 12, 2009
The coast there is arid, lacking the rich foliage of places like Honolulu. And the coast includes wide swaths of dark brown and black, broken and crumbling lava.
It looked to me, as we drove north from the airport, like the lava had flowed sometime in the last 10 to 20 years. I learned, though, that the lava we drove through -- imagine a two-lane ribbon through broken black rocks -- flowed down the mountain and into the sea in the middle of the 19th century. It was in 1850 or some time around then.
But we stayed in a created oasis amid all that lava. Someone had ground up acres of the ineral-rich rock, added topsoil, and created a lovely green spot at Waikoloa. We were in the huge Hilton portion of Waikoloa, which includes at least two other hotels, two shopping malls, two golf courses, condos and villas.
Later in the week, we drove around the Big Island and found other landscapes, volcanoes, tropical forest, and mountains.
We had an active time. We swam, we saw sea turtles, we snorkeled, we hiked, we ate well and I got to play some golf. But those are future blog posts...
I've lived all of my life in states that border the Atlantic Ocean; Maryland, Maine and Delaware. For almost half of my life, I have lived with just a few miles of the ocean coast here in Delaware.
I have a strong internal compass; I almost always can orient myself to the cardinal directions regardless of time of day or whether I am indoors or out.
The ocean belongs to my east. The sun is meant to come up over the water.
In Honolulu, the ocean is to the south. On the Kona Coast of the Big Island, the ocean is to the west. The sun sets into the water.
It was just slightly disorienting -- in a good way. It's good sometimes to be somewhere where your internal compass goes just slightly askew.
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
Things started on the surf shop, where the students were fitted out with board shirts and shoes and long boards. They got some basic instruction there and had a chance for a dry run before carrying their boards down to the beach and setting out.
The instructors had them all shoved off into the waves and many of the up and surfing, at least a little, almost immediately. Colleen and Christina both got up and had some success. And they kept heading back out for more until the class was called back to shore.
I'm not sure who in the family has picked these two in the family Christmas draw, but I'll just say that both Colleen and Christina really enjoyed their lesson and showed signs of becoming surfer girls.
Monday, August 10, 2009
While we waited our turn, the girls had their picture taken with a Pearl Harbor survivor. A number of these gentlemen volunteer at the memorial and are eager to sign autographs, pose for pictures and share their stories. That morning, the man signing autographs was Alfred Benjamin Kame'eiamoku Rodrigues, a Pearl Harbor survivor. he was born and raised in Hawaii and in the Navy at the time of the Pearl Harbor attack in 1941.
There's a museum, a museum shop, and an introductory film before the boat takes you out to the site of the Arizona Memorial. The Memorial itself is small and intense and moving. There's not much to say except that it touches you.
Afterwards, we toured the USS Missouri, now anchored next to the Memorial as a Museum. This is a fascinating ship to visit. She served in both World War II and the first Gulf War and includes examples of naval warfare technology and living from several generations.
I was in picture-taking heaven. There were red phones, alarms, compasses, and lots of other cool things.
Pearl Harbor is well worth a visit. It is an important part of our history and fascinating to a history buff. But get there early.
One tour guide, an older gentleman and a vet, started his Obama-iliad this way (I paraphrase):
I did not vote for Barack Obama, but now that he is the President he has my support 110 percent. I understand there are some people on the mainland who think he was not born in the United States -- I think they are called "Birthies" or something? But here is the hospital where he was born. I was born here too!And then we continued to circle around his various apartments and schools.
I also heard similar sentiments from a cabbie and from the older contractor I sat next to on our flight out of Kona.
Sunday, August 9, 2009
Like many activities in Hawaii, the Luau starts with a bus-ride. The buses collect tourists from all the major hotels and take them for an hour-long ride out to the Point. When you get there, they take your picture. There's no obligation to buy, but they are trying to sell it to you. This was a common feature, particularly on Oahu.
The Luau is a dinner and show. The traditional in-ground roasting of a pig, and other fine foods, adult beverages and not, and a long show featuring a review of traditional Polynesian dancing and music (including stereotypical "Hawaiian" music of the Don Ho variety). Members of the audience are invited up to try the Hula. And, of course, there is a fire dance.
It was tacky, but fun.
One of the great things about the experience, for us, was the tour guide who ran out bus -- Alika. His job was to check us in, tell us what was happening and when, and entertain us on the long bus rides to and from the Luau.
On the ride out, Alika wen through the bus, back to front, and introduced himself to every passenger. But more than that, he introduced the passengers to each other, row by row and seat by seat until he seems to have learned every one of us and something about us.
On the ride back, he broke out his ukulele and proved to be a talented picker and singer, creating Polynesian rap and covering a range of pop songs. keep an ear out for this kid. He's good.
Saturday, August 8, 2009
Our Hawaiian vacation started in Honolulu, where we had a four-night stay at a hotel just two blocks from the beach at Waikiki. The trip was born last summer when Karen bid on the four nights in a silent auction to benefit Epworth United Methodist Church. Honolulu wouldn't have been our first choice, but we knew we needed something like that to force us to plan the rest of the trip.
We arrived in the afternoon, and managed to fill enough time looking at the beach and finding dinner to get us into the evening and to bed at a reasonably late hour to start working on adjusting our internal clocks to Hawaiian time. We hit the beach the next day and promptly got various levels of sunburn.
We attended a Luau and visited Pearl Harbor and the girls took a surfing lesson. Each of these events will have their own blog posts before too long. This one is meant to convey a general impression.
Honolulu is a big city and our hotel room, 14 floors up, echoed with the sounds of trucks and buses and police and fire vehicles. We awoke one morning to find that a water main had blown-out in the street below. We watched the day-long effort to fix it and patch the street.
One evening we watched from our balcony as the police subdued and arrested a man on the sidewalk in front of the hotel. I was reading while waiting for the girls to shower for dinner when I heard shouting. I looked down to see police cars pulled up and officers pointing handguns at a man. He eventually dropped whatever weapon he threatened with and was taken into custody, but not before an officer tried pepper spray (which went astray and was blown into a fellow officer's eyes).
And it seems like everyone in Waikiki who is not a tourist is trying to sell to tourists. They take your picture (no obligation to buy?), they hand out discount coupons, they panhandle, and they hawk their wares. We were surprised to see prostitutes on the sidewalks near the hotel when we returned from restuarants in the evening.
Yet, Waikiki is a beautiful spot. The beach is lovely and the men selling surfing lessons, canoe rides, catamaran sailings, food, umbrellas, chairs and other things are only a minor irritant. Early morning and late evenings find Honolulu locals on the beach for a surf or a swim. Many sit comfortably among the homeless enjoying the evening breezes.
There are many high-end stores and restaurants. We are not immune to shopping and the girls are developing a taste for haut cuisine. We ate one evening at Roy's (he had appeared on Top Chef Masters and the girls are fans). I amused myself by recording our meal via cellphone photos.
Another evening we ate at Tanaka of Tokyo, a Hibachi-style Japanese steak and seafood restaurant recommended to us by a local. We are fans of Hibachi restaurants and were very pleased with Tanaka. We shared our table with two Japanese ladies on vacation from somewhere near Sasebo. They had little to no English and we spoke no Japanese. Our Hawaiian chef, Jared, helped with some translation but he admitted that, despite his Japanese heritage, he spoke only enough to sustain his chef-ly patter. Still, they were lovely ladies and we had a pleasant, friendly meal.
So. We enjoyed Honolulu and Waikiki, but we were glad to move on to the Big Island to continue our Hawaiian visit in a somewhat quieter environment.
Friday, August 7, 2009
We had a late-night flight from Kona International Airport, leaving at 10:59 p.m. on Wednesday. That meant that we had to find a way to kill the hours between a mid-day hotel check out and the 8 p.m. check-in at the airport. We stayed in our room as late as we could and then had a longish lunch. We shopped and drove around a bit and finally had a late supper before heading to the airport.
As it was, we had to wait a bit before even starting the check-in process. That involved having the USDA check our checked bags for contraband plant life, a long wait to check-in with the airline, a fairly quick TSA security check, and returning to the USDA for a check of our carry-on bags.
When we finally boarded the flight, things went fairly smoothly. I ended up seated away from Karen and the girls. We were together but decided I should trade seats with a woman traveling with a child who otherwise would have had to be seated far from the kid. That put me next to a gent who was born and raised in Honolulu (a haole) who had lived and worked in Florida before moving to Kona. He had worked as a tour bus driver, so we compared notes -- I explained what we had seen and done and he told me what we should have seen and done.
We dozed away what turned out to be about a five and a half-hour flight to Phoenix, arriving there at about 7:30 am. After a brisk walk to our next gate, we breakfasted on muffins from Starbucks and waited a short time to board the next plane.
It was 7:30 am in Phoenix, but about 4:30 am Hawaiian time. Our bodies were on Hawaiian time. When we boarded the next flight, we immediately dozed off. Karen and I woke up for the take-off and then nodded off again. The girls slept through take-off and woke up on and off during the rest of the flight.
We arrived at BWI in Baltimore at about 4 pm Eastern time, or around 10 am Hawaiian. After retrieving our bags, and our car, we headed east across the Chesapeake and made it back to Lewes around 8, or just after lunch by our internal clocks.
So there we were, unpacking at the end of what felt like a long day, but was actually part of two. We'd gotten up early on Wednesday to squeeze-in the last bit of sunshine and pool time before leaving. We spent a long last day in Hawaii and the most of the next day sitting in planes and airport waiting lounges. Before we knew it it was midnight Eastern (dinner time in Hawaii) and we tried to head to bed.
Now it is the next day and we're attempting to return to east-coast time. That's why today seems such an odd sort of day.
Thursday, August 6, 2009
We're back home in Lewes after a red-eye return flight from Hawaii. We're doing laundry, checking in with the cats, and generally trying to recover.
We left last Monday for four nights at Waikiki on Oahu and five at the Waikoloa resort area on the Big Island.
I had brought the laptop along, with plans to post updates along the way, but the damn thing died after a few posts of pictures from Waikiki. I used a flickr/twitter application from my cellphone to post a few more photos to the start of a set. But most of what I snapped will have to wait...
...as will posts on, among other things, Pearl Harbor, surfing, swimming, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, snorkeling, golfing, and lots of lava.