Christmas Cactus Tree Trimming Party Honolulu Hawaii

We recently met a group of surfers in Honolulu, Hawaii just outside of Waikiki. Walking along Diamond Head Road and the Pacific Ocean, we headed from Waikiki Beach toward Fort Ruger and Kapiolani Community College.

Doug at Christmas Cactus Tree Trimming Party in Honolulu Hawaii

Doug at Christmas Cactus Tree Trimming Party in Honolulu Hawaii

This group looked like they were having so much fun, we stopped to talk with them. After a morning of surfing, they met for a potluck at the beachfront park. They had quite a spread including homemade pumpkin bread. This group surfs together in this spot and gathers for informal parties regularly. Any excuse for a potluck is welcome. Recently celebrated were Christmas, Thanksgiving and their patriarch Gilbert’s birthday.

We watched this garden over the past six years and it is a highlight of our early morning walks. It is a favorite place to stop, admire the view, talk to the gardening crew and others gathered at this local hangout.

This is their fourth annual tree trimming party. There are not many evergreens growing along the tropical Pacific coastline and the local preference against tree removal has force the community to improvise using a cactus tree.

Jan said, “We end up feeding everyone who comes along.”

The group set the food selections on the low wall. Next, they assembled several boxes housing an eclectic collection of ornaments amassed through the past four years. One of the bravest souls, Doug, teetered on the tall step ladder as they decorated the 20 foot cactus tree and shared memories sparked by the decorations.  Kevin Simon is holding the ladder steady.

When I asked where all the ornaments come from, Jan said, “They come and go. That’s how it is.”

As we looked at a cartoon character ornament, another tree trimmer Loke Simon said, “Some have stories. Some just appear. Some just disappear.”

Thanks to Jan, here are some of the cast of the video and behind the scenes details.

Gilbert is the patriarch of the garden, the older Asian man. Without him, the garden would be non-existent, as he has nurtured it from dirt for the past 10+ years with plantings from his own residence. We are just his “helpers.” Soyu Kawamoto is the man who said his favorite ornament was the burlap “rat.”  He is an awesome surfer! Steve Casar was the elf that put up the “McCafe'” ornament. Other people that I could see in the background are Meiko, Fe, Ihan and her daughter Jade, and Aussie Pete (we have approximately 6 “Petes:” Aussie Pete, Painter Pete, Dr. Pete, El Camino Pete and a just-plain Peter). There’s also Buddha Pete, a religion professor at the University of Hawaii.  A somewhat somber person when I first met him, I now call him “Sunshine” when greeting him out in the water…he likes that, it makes him smile.

If you are near Diamond Head Road and you spot one of these beachfront potlucks, pull over, park your car and share your malasadas and a few laughs with the crew.

Mele Kalikimaka from the crew of Where Are You Today?

Preserving Falls of Clyde the Last Iron Hulled Tall Ship Honolulu Hawaii

What does it take to preserve and restore The Falls of Clyde, the world’s last iron-hulled sailing tall ship now docked in Honolulu, Hawaii?

The “Falls of Clyde” currently berthed in Honolulu Harbor near the Aloha Tower is the only surviving iron-hulled four-masted full rigged ship and the last sail-driven oil tanker in the world. The ship has been closed to the public for several years as work continues to restore and stabilize her.

We first learned about the ships plight from Jeanette Ainlay who has worked on the ship for over 20 years. Watch our interview with Jeanette at Scottish Fest in Waikiki.

First launched in 1878, the Falls of Clyde sailed from England to India along international trade routes. According to the Friends of Falls of Clyde, the ship is 266 feet long with 1,746 net tonnage, and is one of a series of ships named for waterfalls in Scotland.

Around the turn of the century, Captain William Matson of Matson Navigation purchased the ship. Her route then began in San Francisco with a belly full of fuel and supplies destined for Hilo, Hawaii. She returned with the steel tanks full of molasses from the sugar plantations. With her four masts and sails unfurled, the ship could cross the ocean in about 10 days, depending on weather.

Falls of Clyde

Over the years, she was converted to an oil tanker and hauled fuel to Hawaii returning to San Francisco with molasses.  She was sold to Associated Petroleum in 1906 maintaining the same route and cargo.  She headed to Alaska in 1921 as a fuel bunker where her rigging was removed. Honolulu residents brought her back to the islands the 1960’s, beginning preservation efforts.

During the late 1980’s, the ship went into dry dock for extensive repair. While docked at the Aloha Tower, the ship served as an educational center as part of the Bishop Museum. Locals reminisce about attending fundraiser parties on her decks in those days. The ship was in danger of deteriorating beyond salvage. In 2008 the Museum intended to scuttle the ship when the Friends of Falls of Clyde organized. The group raised funds to purchase the ship and long-term plans were developed including fund raising strategies.

In August, the group was awarded a federal National Trust for Historic Preservation grant for pre-dry dock work. They are counting on a “Save America’s Treasures” grant to help fund dry dock and repairs. A matching funds campaign has also been organized. Plans are to raise money to move the Falls of Clyde into dry dock where the hull will be sandblasted and the ship will be reinforced to increase safety to those who work on her. She will return to her pier at Aloha Tower where the deck will be replaced, the ship repainted and rigging reinstalled. The carved wooden bowsprit or maidenhead will be replaced.

The first step in the process is to stabilize the ship to maintain its structural integrity. Once the ship is stable, she can be moved to dry dock for further maintenance and preservation. Only then will restoration efforts begin. The Falls of Clyde is listed as a National Landmark and the goal is to restore the ship to its days as an iron-hulled oil tanker.

Bruce McEwan, President of The Friends of Falls of Clyde took us on a tour of the ship where we saw her current state for ourselves.  The hull of the ship is rusty and is in need of sandblasting and painting. Once we boarded, we could not miss the crumbling and badly deteriorated teak deck in desperate need of replacement. The four masts, rigging removed long ago from, once reached 70 feet towards the sky, now lay on the deck. The rusted sections are marked to prevent injury from stepping on a weak area.

“Most of us who have lived here, we have seen it when it was first restored in all its elegance so we sort of have a mental picture of what we want to take it back to“ said Bruce EcEwan.

Below deck where there is less exposure to the elements, the ship is in better shape. The first room we entered was a sparse crew sleeping area. Four short wooden bunk beds attached to the sides of the walls made for tight quarters. Cubbyholes built into the sides and front of the room stored minimal personal belongings. Nearby was the head, a wooden box with a hole to sit on and a porthole for natural light.

As on most ships, the cramped kitchen area required good organization skills to manage meal planning, cooking and serving. The massive iron stove was the focal point in the galley.  On cold nights, this stove would make a cozy warming station for weary sailors.

Entering the Captain quarters in the stern of the ship was like walking back in time. The wood paneling and teak benches formed a rounded room which showed an air of sophistication and elegance I had not seen on other parts of the ship.  The white painted walls curved around the built in teak benches covered with burgundy velvet covered cushions. The Captain and his officers might have spent evenings in this spacious entertaining area discussing politics or business deals over a glass of port.

As we toured the ship, I thought of the 12-16 man crew sailing across the sea. In port, on a sunny Honolulu afternoon the ship was quiet. Sailing 10-14 day across the Pacific, the ship’s crew would experience wind, rain, waves, blistering heat and bitter cold. The extreme conditions, cramped living areas and long days away from family was exchanged for good wages.

For now, the teak deck is eroding and the ship is a reminder of days long ago. Her future depends on those who believe she is a valuable part of history worth saving for posterity.

Do you want to learn more about what is happening with the Falls of Clyde today? Follow Falls of Clyde on Facebook or the Captain’s Log to learn about recent updates and events.

The Friends of Falls of Clyde is a 501C non-profit organization accepting donations to save this unique part of history. Building on the Million Penny campaign begun by Honolulu Advertiser news reporter Bob Krauss in 1960, is the current Million Quarter drive. All funds collected are converted to 25¢ increments for tracking purposes and you can visit their website to follow the progress of the campaign.

Click on the image below to watch the video of our tour of the Falls of Clyde with Bruce McEwan, President of The Friends of Falls of Clyde.

For more information, visit the Friends of Falls of Clyde on the web.

Earth Month Waikiki Aquarium Honolulu

The Waikiki Aquarium in Honolulu, Hawaii hosted Earth month celebrations on April 10, 2010. Free admission to drew a long line at the 9AM opening. Special interactive educational displays were popular with the keiki. Scientists, educators and volunteers were on hand to talk about sea life, invasive species, conservation and habitats. The messages were conveyed with coloring books, ring toss games and learning puzzles. A seahorse release was a highlight for many attendees.

The Waikiki Aquarium partners with Duke’s Waikiki for educational events.

In addition to the Earth month special events, we visited the ongoing exhibits including Hawaiian monk seal, puffer fish, anemones, and jellyfish. Click on the image below to view this episode of “Where Are You Today?”

Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Waikiki Beach Reef and Ocean Expo

This week we visited Duke’s Waikiki sponsored Reef and Ocean Expo. Ross Anderson, Regional General Manager was inspired to host this event by local fisherman Mac Poepoe who created a sustainable fishing plan for Moloka’i bay. By working with local residents, the retired firefighter created a plan allowing locals to fish and the Bay to replenish.

When we met with Ross on the beach he talked about Mac Poepoe, his passion for the ocean, sea life and his kids. His son Dakota and his schoolmates spent the day helping out and greeting attendees.

Educational displays were set up beach side with a variety of information on ocean life and conservation. We learned about non-native seaweed that raises havoc with our native plants. Volunteer divers put this vegetation from the waters and have disposed of truckloads of these invasive plants.

Ryan, a Waikiki lifeguard was on hand showing jellyfish caught off Waikiki Beach. These ocean critters are abundant in the waters about 10 days after a new moon. According to Ryan, the jellyfish tendrils are covered with thousands of pockets of venom. When swimmers are stung these pockets are transferred to our skin and the pocket opens. Some swimmers feel a faint twinge while others experience a more severe stinging and swelling. Each Waikiki lifeguard station is stocked with vinegar they can spray on victims to prevent the venom pockets from breaking, releasing their toxins. Occasionally, the stings produce an allergic reaction that may become deadly if untreated.

Two artists practiced fish painting called gyotaku. They brushed paint on an octopus then transferred the design onto t-shirts and posters.

If you are in Waikiki, take a break at Duke’s and check out the memorabilia of legendary Duke Kahanamoku. You never know who you might run into while you are there! Follow them on Twitter.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Gyotaku Fish Painting Waikiki Beach Reef and Ocean Expo

Gyotaku Fish Painting Waikiki Beach Reef and Ocean Expo

Ryan shows us jellyfish Waikiki Beach Reef and Ocean Expo

Ryan shows jellyfish found in Waikiki Beach

Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Doris Dukes Shangra La Honolulu Hawaii

Doris Duke created Shangra La, a home on a five acre patch of ocean front property over looking Diamond Head. The home is decorated with Duke’s passion, Islamic treasures collected from around the world.

Doris Dukes Shangra La Honolulu Hawaii

Doris Dukes Shangra La Honolulu Hawaii

This is the first view we had when the front door opened.

Oh, to live in Shangra La!

Great Pacific Garbage Patch

While many of us just recently learned of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch floating 1000 miles off the California coast in the North Pacific Gyre, scientists tell us it has been growing steadily since the 1950’s. Birds and animals get entangled in the trash and ingest tempting looking pieces of plastic causing a high concentration of chemicals in our food chain.

Weight is estimated at over 100 million tons spanning an area twice the size of the state of Texas. The Great Pacific Garbage Patch even has its own Wikipedia entry. Experts believe 80% of the plastic comes from land based sources while 20% comes from ships.

I delighted in taking my kids snorkeling in Hanauma Bay in Hawaii this month. They were wide-eyed as they watched the colorful tropical fish swim arms length away. At all the beaches we visited in Hawaii we found plastic bags and other trash on the shore and in the water. It’s not just Hawaii beaches. We find garbage everywhere we go. While out hiking or geocaching, we take a bag to collect garbage. In fact, the other week I had to buy a tactical backpack to carry our hiking snacks/water in one compartment while filling up the others with beach trash. Cache in – Trash out.

Hanauma Bay in Hawaii

Hanauma Bay in Hawaii

Plastic is 100% non biodegradable. It never breaks down.

What do you do about this growing problem? Start locally.
* Bring reusable bags with you when you go shopping. It’s an easy step.
* Pick up trash you find on your walks
* Reduce your waste. Can you fix it? Repurpose? Do without?

Only humans are to blame for this disaster and we are the only ones who can resolve the situation.

Profile for Diamond Head

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