Diamond Head

I spent my final day in Hawaii by hiking up Diamond Head for some outstanding views of Honolulu and the surrounding area.  Diamond Head is a dormant volcano crater and used to be home to a military installation, but now it’s just a public park that’s home to a weather station.  The path is paved in most parts, there are a few staircases and tunnels to go through to get to the top, and the walk up takes about 30-40 minutes.

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There are a few leftovers from when the military was a presence here.

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The area towards the top left is where the trail begins.

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Once you go up the staircase that’s pictured above, you go through a tunnel and then into a bunker where you walk up a spiral staircase and exit through this area onto a path that brings you to the observation post.

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That opening in the hill is where you exit the bunker from. It’s kind of a tight squeze.

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After my hike I met up with John and Cat, and they brought me to the airport.

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Honolulu-Seattle-Atlanta-Hartford followed over the course of the next 18 hours.  Now I’m home, but whatever phone number you have for me is not correct because I don’t have a phone yet.  But if you want to say hi there is always email!!!!

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Hawaiian Night

The sunset pictures were taken at about 6:30pm outside of a very cool bar called Duke’s.

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This is Duke’s, right on the beach in Waikiki.   www.dukeswaikiki.com

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This the view from Duke’s where I had lunch.

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I went out to dinner one night with my friends John and Cat to Kona Brewing Company, where I demonstrated my mad chopsticks skills.  There is a Kona Brewery in New Hampshire, so I now have a summer road trip destination.

http://konabrewingco.com/

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Spam Jam

“Spam (shortened from spiced ham)[1] is a canned precooked meat product made by the Hormel Foods Corporation, first introduced in 1937. The labeled ingredients in the classic variety of Spam are chopped pork shoulder meat, with ham meat added, salt, water, modified potato starch as a binder, and sodium nitrite as a preservative. Spam’s gelatinous glaze, or aspic, forms from the cooling of meat stock.”  Thanks Wikipdeia!

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http://www.spamjamhawaii.com/

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On Saturday April 27 I met up with my friend Andy for lunch in Waikiki.  We ate at Duke’s (fish tacos…mmmmmmm) and then went out for a stroll through downtown.  A bonus of the day was that the 11th annual Spam Jam was going on, and as you will see it is quite an event.  The main street gets closed to traffic, vendors set up booths that sell all thing Spam, bands play along the boulevard, and thousnads of people turn out to sample all varieities of Spam delicacies.

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Why a festival dedicated solely to Spam?  I’m glad you asked.

“The residents of the state of Hawaii consume the most Spam per capita in the United States. Hawaiian Burger King restaurants began serving Spam in 2007 to compete with the local McDonald’s chains.[14][15] In Hawaii, Spam is so popular it is sometimes referred to as “The Hawaiian Steak”.[16]

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“The perception of Spam in Hawaii is very different from that on the mainland. Despite the large number of mainlanders who consume Spam, and the various recipes that have been made from it, Spam, along with most canned food, is often stigmatized on the mainland as “poor people’s food”.  In Hawaii, varieties of Spam unavailable in other markets are sold. These include Honey Spam, Spam with Bacon, and Hot and Spicy Spam.  ”     Thanks Wikipedia!

I shook hands with a giant can of Spam!!!!  How cool am I?!!!!

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Here are some samples of the dishes that were available.  Who knew Spam was such an adaptable culinary ingredient?

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“One popular Spam dish in Hawaii is Spam musubi, where cooked Spam is combined with rice and nori seaweed and classified as onigiri.[17]”                        

Andy bought me this towel.  I just keep getting cooler and cooler, don’t I?

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There was an Alaskan Airlines booth because…..well, why wouldn’t there be?

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My version of Game of Thrones.

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Spam Jam at 3pm.

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Spam Jam at 6pm.

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Spam Jam at 8pm.

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We didn’t spend 5 hours at Spam Jam, but we didn’t wander too far from it, hence all the pictures.  It was a lovely Saturday with plenty of Spam and beer!   MMMMMMM…..Spam.

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Bye OZ, Hi HI

My final day in Australia was another beautiful, 75 degrees and sunny day.  I took one last leisurely stroll through Darling Harbour and pondered how 4.5 months in Australia could pass by so quickly.  I covered a lot of ground here in the Land Down Under: by sea, by air, by trains and planes and buses, I met many interesting and wonderful people, saw more beautiful mountains, deserts, streams, oceans, rivers and wildlife than I can count, and had fantastic experiences that I thought I’d only ever read about.  If Australia wasn’t so hard on the wallet it would be just about perfect.

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Alas, it was time to leave.  I boarded a plane at 6pm on April 23 that would take me from Sydney and 9.5 hours later, through the magic of time travel, set me down in Honolulu at 6am on April 23.  That’s nearly two full days of Shakespeare’s birthday, and I guess makes up for not having a September 18.

On the approach to Hawaii I got to see the sun poke its head above the clouds, so that’s sky above and clouds below that you see, separated by the light of dawn.

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Upon I arrival I was re-introduced to humidity.  It was about 80 degrees but felt hotter and a bit uncomfortable.  After experiencing 110+ degrees with no humidity, I can assure you that is indeed not the heat, it’s the humidity.  Anyway, what the hell do I have to complain about?  Nothing ever again.  So I checked in, dropped my bags off, and headed for the beach.  Here is what April 23 looked like in Waikiki.

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It rained and rained the night of the 23rd, but here is April 24.  80 degrees, no humidity, water temp of 77.

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My friends John (the guy with the VW van) and Cat, who since my previous visit in September have become Mr. and Mrs. Langan with baby on the way, had me over for dinner as the full moon shone down on Honolulu.

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And here is what April 25 looked like, pretty much a carbon-copy of the previous day.

This is Duke, a surfing legend.

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So far the layover in Hawaii has done me a world of good.  I still don’t quite feel like I’m back in the US, and the money feels a little strange, but there are enough honking horns and ESPN on the TVs that I am slowly adjusting.  Three more days to go.

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I Was Born to Run Some Concert Videos

Here is a little taste of the concert-going experience:

“Born in the USA”, Melbourne 1: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QhM9K_Scsvc

“Born to Run”, Melbourne 1:  http://youtu.be/I1UBAMUIQ_A

“Lost in the Flood” Intro, Melbourne 3: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Mse5ljM1Ao

Get off Yer Arses, Melbourne 3: http://youtu.be/XYFuXwvTbgA

“The Ghost of Tom Joad”, Morello solo, Melbourne 3:  http://youtu.be/gqfrdc65h9o

“Jungleland” Intro, Melbourne 3:  http://youtu.be/QfAyZyQoyIQ

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A Night at the Opera

This past Sunday I had an Opera House Day.  At 3pm I took the 1-hour tour that brings visitors through some of the seven theatres as the guide gives a historical overview of the building.  It was fabulous!

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At 5pm I then went into the Drama Theatre to see a performance of Bell Shakespeare Company’s Henry 4.  It was just a regular old play, no opera, and it combined parts 1 and 2 of the Henry IV plays into its 3.5 hour performance.

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The Opera House has quite an interesting history, and even though I’m not into architecture I was fascinated by the history and process of constructing this building.  You can read about that here: http://www.sydneyoperahouse.com/about/house_history_landing.aspx

…but I’ll bring you on the discount tour and offer up a few highlights that I found interesting.

The original estimations for the Opera House were 3 years and $7 million; in reality it took 16 years and cost about $104 million.

These structures are referred to as “sails”.

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It was begun in 1957 and officially opened by Queen Elizabeth II in 1973.

The exterior, all that beautiful off-white tile, is self-cleaning.  All it needs is a good rain storm and the water washes it clean.  It’s designed so that all the crevices in the tiles act as drainage so the water doesn’t sit and leave dirt.

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The sails are actually interlocking grids of concrete and metal that are covered in tiles.  Here is an interior view, and all those lines of concrete you see are separate grids that are fastened together through space-age technology and manual labor.

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The sails themselves are shells that cover interior buildings.  The guide described the Opera House as “a building within a building”, with the sails being one building that cover the theatre buildings.  The wooden part that you see below houses some of the theatres, and then the concrete on the right is part of the support for the sails.

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The seats in all of the theatres absorb sound so perfectly that an empty theatre offers the same sound quality as a full theatre.  The seats are also ergonomically (?) designed for maximum comfort, and yup, they are maximally comfortable.

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Microphones are rarely needed as the acoustics are nearly perfect.

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There are 7 theatres in total in two separate buildings that are side-by-side.  The theatre I saw the show in holds 550 people, and I think the largest is 2500.

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The stages are just below sea level, as are first few rows of seats, which allows for improved acoustics.  The Greeks did this too with many of their theatres.

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The play was excellent, the tour was great, and I got to spend one of my final nights in Sydney down at the harbour.  It was a good way to spend the day and night.

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A View from the Bridge

Well, not really from the bridge, it’s like “of” the bridge.

Because it is such an iconic structure and it seemed to hover around me wherever I went, here is a final look at Sydney Harbour Bridge, along with some interesting facts and figures.

An average of 14,000 people were continuously employed to construct the bridge between 1924 and 1932.

The Bridge is affectionately known as the ‘Coat Hanger’, because that is what it looks like.

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The opening of the Bridge on Saturday, 19 March 1932, was a huge event for the city.

The Bridge measures 1.15km (just under 1 mile) when including both approaches.

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Initially the Bridge was painted three times. This used 272,000 litres of paint.

The Bridge is held together by approximately 6 million rivets that add 3,200 tonnes to the weight.

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The Bridge pylons are 86.87 metres (1 meter = 3.3 feet) tall.

134 metres is the distance from sea level to the top of the arch. The Sydney Harbour Bridge is the worlds widest span bridge, and the worlds tallest steel span bridge. It is the worlds fifth longest steel arch bridge.

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When the Bridge opened, an average of 11,000 vehicles crossed it each day. Today the bridge carries 20 times more traffic.

from: http://www.inside-sydney-australia.com/sydneyharbourbridgefacts.html

 

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