Saturday, December 22, 2018

Turtles and Sunsets on a Secret Beach, Big Island Hawaii

Just me and this turtle on our own Big Island beach
  With another month of trips onboard the Safari Explorer with UnCruise Hawaii in store I managed to find a quick adventure in my remaining few hours before going onboard. After landing at the Kailua Kona airport on the Big Island where I will meet the ship, I grabbed a rental car and cruised a few minutes north on the highway to a turnoff for the lava rock coast. A long bumpy road ensued over the lava fields. Off in the distance and slowly coming closer into sight was a beautiful oasis of palm trees surrounded by the jet black lava rock.

  The road to Kekaha Kai Beach park is not one for the faint of heart or cars with low clearance. However after seeing the secret beaches and beautiful coves from the plane as we descended made me have no doubt this adventure would be worth it. The close the park at 7pm, and the sun was already low on the horizon so I knew I had to act fast. Luckily I'm pretty adept at jumping from lava rock to lava rock in my local slippers which definitely came in handy.

  The setting sun through the palms provided a wonderful opportunity for photos. A few people remained but by this time of day I had big swaths of the beach to myself. I did end up sharing the beach with a couple of green sea turtles that hauled themselves up for a respite. I managed to get a few photos without disturbing their rest that really encapsulated the amazing experience of an exploration paying off. Now to switch my mind back into leading trips through the islands from the comfortable platform of the Safari Explorer.

 Check out these pics and more of the Hawaiian Islands at
Beautiful Big Island Sunset

Friday, December 14, 2018

Snorkel with Dad at Two Step, Big Island Hawaii

A secret spot of sand
Snorkelers at Two Step
One of my favorite snorkel spots in the Hawaiian Islands is locally known as Two Step. A beautiful bay south of Kailua Kona, lined with black lava rocks and filled with gorgeous protected coral draws loads of tourists and locals to its clear waters. Sometimes early in the mornings groups of spinner dolphins cruise around the bay, and there are always tons of beautiful fish here. Some of the healthiest, biggest corals in the state also can be found here at Two Step.

School of Yellow Tangs
  A perfect lava bench sits at the edge of the bay. Stepping down onto another bench just at water level that provides easy access to the snorkel site is where the bay gets its name. This was Catalina's first trip to the bay and luckily we found a great little spot of sand that we shared with a couple of other families. The snorkeling was great as usual, and even though the dolphins weren't around, it was fun to share this experience with my dad. Couldn't ask for a much better birthday gift than that.

Dad giving the OK sign

Freediver extreme

Freediving into a cave

Thursday, November 22, 2018

Fall Colors in Vermont

  As the first of the leaves started changing in Vermont and my excitement level rose Heidi reminded me that some years the autumn colors turn out to be duds. I quickly realized that this year would be the opposite of a dud.

We traveled up Smuggler's Notch and were surrounded by some of the most beautiful fall foliage that I have ever seen. I tried to get so iconic Vermont images with the fall colors all around. I found old covered bridges, working farms, hidden rocky streams, and even the mountain town of Stowe to show off the Vermont charm.

  Enojy these classic images of the Green Mountain State. I already find myself coming up with ideas for photos for next Fall!

  But for now, with the first snows on the leafless tress in Vermont, it is time to head to warmer weather, different wildlife, and whales as we move into our new place in Maui!

Monday, November 19, 2018

Our Kenya 2018 Safari Track

  It has been a wild and wonderful African safari here in Kenya. We covered 8 different parks over our 2 week trip. Here is the track that we followed as we explored this wonderful country.

Thanks to Chris, David, Becca, Deedee and Erica for being up to fly halfway around the world so I could share this incredible place with you. We couldn't have done it without our faithful drive James, putting some serious miles on our safari vehicle through all kinds of wild driving conditions. 

We experienced the absolute best of what Kenya has to offer. We had close encounters with lions, charging elephants, wild dogs, birds of all colors and sizes, the great migration, carnage and the circle of life. There were hot air balloon rides, drinks around the campfire, baby warthogs, the Big 5, screaming monkeys, and waterhole overlooks. It was the trip of a lifetime.

You can find all the post from this trip by searching keyword Kenya2018 in the search box on this site. If you are inspired to take your own personalized trip head towards for contact info and of course check out photos for sale at

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Witnessing The Great Migration, Masai Mara, Kenya

On the Great Migration
Endless lines of wildebeest
   This was our last day on safari and we were spending it at one of the most exciting parks in East Africa. Known as the jewel of Kenya, the Masai Mara National Reserve is the continuation of the Serengeti plains of Tanzania. It is also the home to the Great Migration.

Its a tough, croc eat wildebeest world
 This migration of millions of wildebeests, zebras, and antelope plays out in one of the most exotic ecosystems on earth. Seemingly endless lines of some of Africa's most resilient animals follow the rain and green grass in a treacherous circular route. Along the way they must sustain themselves, fend off attacks from Africa's biggest predators, and give birth to fuel future generations of migrators.

  To see this natural phenomena is a bucket list item that everyone should have but relatively few get to experience. You have to time your trip to Africa, visit the right part of the Mara or Serengeti, and still get lucky. And lucky we were.

    On our last day Deedee, Becca, and Chris all got up at 2:30am to catch a ride for their sunrise hot air balloon trip. The rest of us had breakfast at camp then headed out through the reserve to meet up with them. The three ballooners were riding high after their trip and their champagne breakfast. On the way to pick them up we had noticed a large amount of wildebeest and zebra gathering up near the Mara river. Could we possibly experience a river crossing on our last day? What where the chances?

 We gathered up a little ways back from the river where the majority of the animals were congregating. Other safari vehicles parked alongside of us, no one wanting to get too close and scare the animals into not crossing. We decided to settle in and wait and eat our packed lunches.

  Shortly after passing out the lunches a dust cloud kicked up by the river and all the vehicles took off, roaring across the ground towards the cliff overlooking the river. The first of the migrating wildebeest and zebra emerged from the river below onto our side. We were the fifth or sixth car so we ended up with a wondering view looking down into the river. Hundreds....thousands of wildebeest and zebra charged down the far bank, racing towards the river.

It is happening!
  A huge croc, the biggest I've ever seen, snapped onto a full grown wildebeest and dragged it off downriver. Other wildebeest raced past their downed comrade, bolting across the river to the "safety" and promise of green grass beyond. Little did they know what lie in wait on the far bank. Or maybe they did know and the instinct to come was just too strong. For one wildebeest the instinct failed him.

Just as quickly as the migration river crossing started it stopped. Although it seemed like it stopped a little too suddenly. Some animals turned around and ran back up the other side, a few came up by us, and a dozen or so were just stopped in the river looking confused. That is when an adult lion sauntered out of the shrubs in front of us. None of us had seen it coming. Apparently the wildebeest had. This is why they stopped crossing.

 The lion stared hard down into the river where the last dozen sat looking like sitting ducks. Then in a blur of a movement the lioness disappeared over the embankment. We heard an audible gasp from the people in vehicles on the opposite bank. We knew why a moment later. The lion came striding up over our side of the bank dragging a wildebeest in its mouth. It must have leaped right ontop of it, grabbing it by the throat.

 We watched the wildebeest idly struggle for a couple of minutes and then resign to its fate. This river crossing had ended in spectacular African fashion. When imagining how this final day would go I could not have hoped for a better result. The circle of life and the great migration played out in real life right outside of our vehicle door. It is something the six of us will never forget. This is Africa.

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Entering the Masai Mara, Kenya

 Before we entered the gate of the famous Masai Mara reserve in Kenya we had already seen bathing zebra and a pack of banded mongoose doing their best meerkat impersonations. The group new that a big day lay before them as we had planned to stay the entire day in the reserve. We brought our lunch and our adventurous attitudes and before we knew it we were right in the thick of things.

   The term 'mara' to the maasai people means spotted. And as we looked over the vast savannas of the Masai Mara we could understand what prompted the name of this place. Lone acacia trees spotted the plains like dark dots. Herds of elephants and smaller creatures ambled off in the distance. But before long something much closer caught our eye.

  Numerous vultures perched in the low acacia trees brought us to the sight of our first kill. A female lion was guarding and mawing at a slain buffalo. She seemed pretty full but not yet willing to give the meal up for good. After about ten minutes she finally trotted off into the nearby trees. It only took seconds for all of the vultures to descend upon the free meal. They fought and squawked at each other. A few maribu storks also joined in the fray.

 Not to far away we came across two more lions. These two were ambling from shade to shade...which included the shade made by these safari vehicles. We all got a very close look at these two lions.

 I was hoping to catch the tail end of the great migration, although October can be a bit late for that here in the Mara. I was pretty excited to see a long, long line of wildebeests heading South. We didn't find any big groups near the river, which is where the migration can get really exciting, but we did have some elephants and hippos playing in the water.

 As we explored we came across more lions, some hyena, a cute pair of black back jackals, and tons of hoofstock. We found the bulk of the wildebeest, zebra, and topi hanging out in the very green grass past the Serena lodge. This is where we found one of the best picnic spots you could ever ask for. We ate our lunch under one of the lone acacia trees with the migrating wildebeest and zebra as far as we could see.

  Back in the car we saw a couple of beautiful male lions. The big manes instantly gave them away. I was most impressed by the fact that James spotted these two lions while driving and talking on a cell phone.

  We had an amazing first day in the Mara and were excited to come back tomorrow. Stay tuned for the culmination of our trip in the next post.