Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Hawaii 2015, Day 1 - Flight and Arrival

And now, back to my O'ahu 2015 trip reporting. Click on any picture for a better look. 
Saturday, 7/25/2015. JFK Airport. 9:15 AM. And there she is, the most beautiful airplane in the world to me at that particular moment in time - yes, that's the Hawaiian Airlines flight that's going to take me back to O'ahu, a place that I think will always feel like home no matter how long I've been away.

Honolulu, what a beautiful name. HA51, what a beautiful flight number. Boarding, what a beautiful word. And I'm not waking up! I so frequently dream about going back, but there's always something frustrating about those dreams, something's always off kilter and then I wake up before I can fix it and I'm sad - but nope, this is the real thing, I'm off there for a beautiful beautiful week.

Fun thing about flying out of JFK is that you frequently get a fantastic aerial tour of Jamaica Bay - OK, ecologically it's bad news to have an airport bordering this sensitive place 'cause it sends all kinds of noxious airplane maintenance gunk into the bay, but there's not much to be done about that and when flying on a clear day, I do enjoy getting this bird's-eye views of the bay where I spend so much time. If this flight had been a little later, I might have spotted a few of my sailing friends who were going out that morning - no luck there but a nice clear morning for a circle above the bay.
Ruffle Bar. If you click for the bigger view you'll see the marsh we like to go into at high water clearly. Beyond Ruffle Bar, you've got (l to r) Stony Creek Marsh, Yellow Bar Hassock, Black Wall Marsh, and Ruler's Bar (I went out there hunting a snowy owl Don Riepe, our Baykeeper, had photographed one winter when we were having a snowy owl irruption - took me a while but I did find the bird just before sunset, very neat), and then beyond that you've got Broad Channel Island, with West Pond (foreground on the island, freshwater until breached by Hurricane Sandy) and East Pond (long skinny pond on the other side of the island). Those are part of the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge - Sebago's done some nice paddles over that way, and we've also had a couple of excellent winter hikes there in years when the bay iced up too much to get out in our boats.

Circling around a little further, now we're looking more to the north. That's still Ruffle Bar just to the right of center here, with Canarsie Pol and the Elders Point Marsh beyond. Above the wing, you can see Floyd Bennett Field, the Mill Basin inlet, and then above that, the Paerdegat Basin - Sebago's on the eastern shore there. Still don't see any little white dinghy sails, the gang must just be gathering. 
Heading East, here's Hempstead Bay - I haven't spent as much time here but there have been a couple of pleasant paddles here with Sebago. Much more marshy than J-Bay.

Looking back now at Jamaica Bay - here you can see both the Rockaway and East Rockaway inlets.

Continuing to circle around towards our final direction of travel today (West! West! West!), here's a view of Manhattan (we're passing north of the city, looking south in this shot; the big green rectangle on the right side of the shot is Central Park), Brooklyn, and Queens, with the East River running down the middle and then off to the left, where it will run on into Long Island Sound, and New York Harbor off in the distance.  

Tappan Zee, with bridge and bridge construction - 

And one last look down the Hudson as we cross over to NJ. 

Here's the route we just flew. After that, I read and snacked when the flight attendants brought us snacks, and then I think I slept for a few hours. It was pretty cloudy for a while - since this is a very long flight, they asked people to pull their shades to people could rest, but I couldn't resist sneaking peeks now and then and for a long time there wasn't much to see.  
A few hours later, things had cleared up and we're flying over a very very dry section of Nevada.

And this is interesting - I took a picture of this lake, which reminded me of a skull in shape, never thinking that I would quite be able to identify it, but I just looked over the Google map for this area based on my recollection of the seat back video flight path info, and I do believe this is Mono Lake. If you've seen High Plains Drifter, this is where it was filmed. Mark Twain also describes it well in Roughing It. 

And now we've crossed the Sierra Nevadas and are over the California farmlands to the west of San Francisco -
And now we're over Fremont, waaaay down at the southern end of SF Bay, I think -

Heading on out over the Pacific. Hey, Joe, you down there under that fog? 

A few hours later, LAND HO! Think that's Molokai over there.
Makapu'u Point - nearly went for a full-moon hike out here but got waylaid by the sheer gorgeousness of moonrise at the Halona Blowhole overlook. Ah well, good to save something for next time. This is the easternmost point on O'ahu, we'll fly just a little farther west.
Coming in over Waimanalo; Ko'olau Mountains in the middle, Hawai'i Kai off beyond the mountains, with the big shallow harbor that goes well inland, and if you see the little blue thumb of water sticking into the land to the left of that, pretty much in the center of the picture, that's Hanauma Bay. I had two great visits there with friends and have already posted a couple of pictures and a bit of video - great sheltered snorkeling spot there.
Diamond Head Crater (I hiked there a couple of days into the trip, the Diamond Head neighborhood (that's where I stayed), and Kapiolani Beach Park. Getting into the Waikiki area here.
I'd been reading Sam Low's Hawaiki Rising, an excellent retelling of the Polynesian voyaging canoe Hōkūle'a's story, so of course I was wondering what these streaky dark clouds on the horizon would mean to a navigator...

Approaching the airport, there's Pearl Harbor
Descending - I like this shot because the first pair of tall buildings on the far shore of Pearl Harbor (slightly to the left of center) are at the bottom of the Pearlridge development in Aiea, and that's where I grew up!

In the airport! First thing I see here is an inlaid version of Nainoa Thompson's star compass - a couple of the airport staff saw me taking pictures and said hello, and when I explained that I'm helping out with the NYC welcome, they instantly offered to take my picture with the compass. Nice welcome home!

Getting the car took a while, I rented from Economy Car Rental and their base of operations turns out to be up in Salt Lake (I thought the van was taking me to Aiea!) and then driving to my hostess's home took longer than it should have because the stupid GPS decided I should drive through the Kakaako section of Honolulu, which is in the throes of construction and had lousy traffic (and I was stupid enough to listen to it even though I was thinking it was weird to be getting off the highway that soon for where I was going), but I finally got there around 6 and...ahhh, plumeria...
aaah, Kapiolani Park...

Wow, pretty good surf!

one more sunset shot...

and evening falls on Waikiki

And then off to the Pioneer Saloon Plate Lunch for the garlic ahi steak my hostess, Lulu, suggested - onolicious.  Home again, home again!


JP said...

Great views from the plane. It really bugs me the degree to which simply looking out of the window is frowned upon - its by far the best thing about air travel!

bonnie said...

I agree! I don't remember when they started that but I love looking out the window and seeing what's passing underneath. Always have.

Carla said...

Ooooh. I need the literal Hawaii. Some day.

bonnie said...

It's a wonderful place. It's got its own share of troubles (homelessness is a huge problem there), but it's a very beautiful part of the world to visit.

Tillerman said...

Totally agree about the thrill of looking out of the plane window. On my recent trip to Oregon I had a fabulous view of the Columbia River Gorge - the place where I would be sailing the next day - and the mountains to the north. We basically flew parallel to the river all the way into Portland

bonnie said...

Nice it was clear for you so you could get that preview.

Looks like you had some spectacular sailing there. I actually went for a beach day in the Columbia River Gorge a very long time ago (it was with the farmer that I worked for one summer in Walla Walla, his family, and the other harvest help, possibly an end-of-harvest celebration although I'm not sure on those details) - we were on the dry end of the state but it was still pretty beautiful.

pia said...

Love this post!

I have the same kind of dreams about NY!

bonnie said...

I bet you do - you lived here for so long!

I had a funny thing happen at a big resort that felt so much like one of my dreams - I'll get to that but I almost laughed out loud at the shock of recognition.

RozWarren said...

Fun post!