Monday, December 31, 2012

Happy New Year!

Buh-Bye 2012 "The Big Suck".  Hello 2013 "The Big Awesome" (hopefully)!

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Amateur Night the 2012 edition

UPDATED: I have added a couple more restaurants to the list.

Do you have plans for New Years Eve yet?  Are there NYE traditions that you do every year?  Looking for something to do on NYE in Cache Valley?  I generally stay home or go to a family party, so that I can avoid the masses.  If going out and partying is your thing, well then I'm sorry you live in Cache Valley...we aren't exactly party central.  However there are a few options available.

Elements restaurant will be hosting a gourmet buffet: Adults $28.95, Kids $19.95, 5-9pm, Call for Reservations: 435.750.5171.

Savannah's BBQ will have live music provided by Hoodoo from 6pm to 8pm.

Jack's Wood Fired Pizza Oven NYE bash will start at 8 PM ticket and will last till 2013, live music, dancing, all you can eat pizza, soups, salads, soda.  Tickets are $15 in advance, $20 at the door, and they are going fast so get yours soon!

Coppermill restaurant will be hosting a gourmet buffet: $24.95 per person, 5pm to 9pm, call for reservations 435.752.0647.

Sultan's Tavern will have live music: Jay Davis, Scott Jaggi, Afu Latu and Danny Hankins will play shows at Sultans this Saturday and Monday nights for this New Years weekend. Come to the party!!! Music starts at nine.

The George S. Eccles Ice Center is hosting a family NYE party: $10 per person for the party, dinner is an extra $10 per person for dinner.  Dinner will be provided by Cafe Sabor and will include a fajita bar with rice, beans, and dessert.  7pm to Midnight, live music provided by 3 different bands throughout the night, dancing, ice skating, movies, and a bounce house.

Gaucho Grill is serving up an exotic NYE buffet:  In addition to the full churrasco and salad bar they are offering several special meats that are not on their regular menu (alligator, rattlesnake, rabbit, elk, calamari, and tilapia).  Price is $24.95 per person and is served from 4pm to 9pm.

The Bluebird is also having a NYE buffet: $19.99 per person, seniors get a 10% discount.  Buffet runs from 5pm to 9:30pm.

Callaway's Bistro will be having their regular dinner service plus a special NYE menu: Dinner for Two: Flat Iron Steak & Salmon, Soup or Salad, Breadsticks & Dessert. Seafood Bisque, Bacon Wrapped Filet Mignon, Filet Mignon topped with Shrimp & Hollandaise Sauce.  Reserve your favorite table & server! 563-9179

Get yer Charlie on!

I just discovered there is now a Charlie The Unicorn Part 4!  Why hasn't anyone told me about this?  In case you have no idea what I'm talking about please join the 21st century interwebs and catch up on Charlie's adventures below.

The original Charlie The Unicorn:

Charlie The Unicorn 2

Charlie The Unicorn 3

Charlie The Unicorn 4

Zeppe's North

The Zeppe's North location next to Sweetly Divine has closed down, but it looks like their Providence store is still open for business.

Washing Machine Ice Cream Night 2012

I had some of my nieces and nephews over last night and we made washing machine ice cream.  For flavors I just pulled out what I had in my cupboards or fridge that might make good ice cream: candy, nuts, marshmallows, ice cream toppings (hot fudge, caramel, cherries), peanut butter, jams, extracts (lemon, orange, vanilla, almond, peppermint), graham cracker cereal, oreos, chocolate chip cookie dough, chocolate chips, toffee chips, nutella.  I totally forgot about it, but I should have gotten a bottle of peaches from my food storage as well.

This is a list of the flavor combinations that the kids made:
  • Mint chocolate chip
  • Cookie dough fudge
  • Oreo marshmallow
  • Cookie dough nutella
  • Oreo nutella (apparently this is "a little yucky but I still eated it")
  • Cookie dough toffee
  • Cookie dough caramel
  • Chocolate marshmallow
  • Cookie dough toffee caramel
  • Toffee chip caramel fudge
  • Toffee chip caramel
  • Rocky road
My three year old nephew enjoyed watching the washing machine at work, in fact he spent more time in the laundry room than in the living room watching the movie we had on.

I took a few photos with the new camera, testing out a couple different settings.

Some of the kids enjoying their personalized ice cream.
Everyone hanging out and watching the movie.
Leftovers, ready to take home.
I can't wait for my 50mm f/1.4 prime to get here.  I had a couple prime lenses for my canon film SLR but when I quit shooting with my film cameras I sold the good lenses on ebay along with a lot of my medium format gear.  Now, of course, I am kicking myself.  I did manage to find this lens at $125 under Canon MSPR, with no tax, and free shipping.  Good glass can be really expensive but there are bargains if you know where to look.  I'm trying not to be "camera poor" but after looking at my indoor flash photos I am definitely investing in a good bounce flash in the very near future.

Sugar, sugar, everywhere

Ever wonder if all those sugar myths you hear are true?  Well you're in luck.  Time just published a great article discussing a lot of commonly held sugar beliefs that may or may not be true.  I love this article because it is simply stated without being dumbed down.  It will take you all of about 3 minutes to read it and it is 3 minutes of your time well spent.

All that being said and next post is about ice cream, stay tuned.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Aloha Oe!

I figured I had better get the last of my 2012 vacation photos up before the year is over.  

No trip to Kona would be complete without some snorkeling at Kahalu'u beach.  This is the beach that I learned to snorkel at when I was a kid.  When I was little I was afraid to put my head under water so my parents would have me float on a boogie board and just hang over the edge with the snorkel mask to look at the fish.  It quickly became one of my favorite things to do.

Kahalu'u is an interesting place.  There are several sacred and historical sites on and around the beach, but it is also one of the busiest beaches in Ktown.  It isn't a sandy beach, it has a pebbly texture and lots of lava rock.  It is a great place to learn to snorkel because it has a man made breakwater that surrounds most of the beach and keeps the worst of the ocean swells out.

This is one of the best places on the Kona coast to see honu (green sea turtles).  Unfortunately a lot of the coral is dying off and the fish aren't as plentiful as they used to be, but there is still a lot to see.  The day we were there the water was a little murky, especially in close to the beach, but we still managed to spot sea turtles, eels, and Humuhumunukunukuapuaa, as well as more yellow tang than you could ever hope to see in one place.  It gave me a good excuse to test out my new point and shoot camera which was advertised as being waterproof down to 14ft.  It actually worked, not super well, but it worked.

Uhu (blue parrot fish), Na'ena'e (orangeband surgeon fish), Laui Pala (yellow tang)
Yellow tang
Parrot fish
Spot cheeked surgeon fish
Honu...camouflage, you're doing it right.
Humuhumunukunukuapuaa (reef trigger fish)

A'ha, (needle fish)
Na'ena'e (orangeband surgeon fish)

 Tang and parrot fish

Black and red sea urchins.
Lau hau (4 spot butterfly fish), and brown surgeon fish.
Humuhumu'ele'ele (black triggerfish), and a spot cheeked surgeon fish.
Blue parrot fish, and Ha’uke’uke ‘ula’ula (slate pencil urchin).
Strawberry crab
Kihi Kihi (moorish idol).  These guys are really shy and it was hard to get a good photo of them.

Black triggerfish, yellow tangs, and a Manini (convict surgeon fish)

Hinalea'aki'lolo (yellowtail coris wrasse)
Red parrot fish

As we were swimming out towards the breakwater wall, Sandee pointed out an eel but I didn't understand what she was trying to tell me since we were underwater and I was trying to get my camera to switch modes.  (Yet another moment where I wish ASL was a mandatory language study in American schools)  I didn't realize that I had accidentally turned on the video function and was recording, but I was glad I did.  Watch until the end of this video:

Then I took this picture:

And then I freaked out because it came out of its hiding place and swam RIGHT.AT.ME.  I am not afraid to admit that I squealed like a little girl and then swam away like I was being chased by sharks.  But hey, at least I got a cool photo.

Kahalu'u is also a popular spot for beginner surfers.  Just on the other side of the breakwater they can get some gentle waves without having to paddle too far out.

After snorkeling I took dad for fish and chips at Mahi's Beer Battered Fish N' Chips (Thanks Scott and Sandee for finding that for us!).  Then I met Sandee and Scott at the Kona Brewing Company for dessert and this lovely portrait courtesy of Sandee.

Later that night Sandee, Scott, and I drove to Mauna Kea.  I had packed my owl hat especially for this occasion.  We donned as many layers of clothing as we could and headed up to the mountain.  The visitor information station at the Onizuka Center was packed with tourists and telescopes.  We stopped so that Scott could chat with some of the employees there about the best places to shoot starscapes.  I wandered over to the waiting area and took photos of this sign:

Damn sneaky invisible cows
A lot of people at the visitor station were in heavy winter coats and acting like they were freezing, I thought it felt great, but it was definitely on the cool side up there at 9,000 feet above sea level.  After some discussion with the employees at the station, Scott was given permission to drive up to the summit.  This is a huge deal because no one is allowed to drive to the summit after dark.  There are several reasons for this but the first and foremost is that it is a steep, winding, unpaved road that requires a four wheel drive vehicle and good driving skills even in full daylight...translation: WE'RE ALL GONNA DIE!  Except we didn't 'cause Scott's got mad driving skills.

When we reached the summit we tried to to be as quiet and respectful as we could.  Not only is the summit of Mauna Kea considered sacred to many Hawaiians, it is also home to 12 major observatories and we didn't want to disturb their work.  Scott set up his tripod and camera and set to work photographing the observatories and the night skies.  I put my point and shoot on a post and used the longest shutter speed I could find and this is the result...

Stunning, I know.
Contrary to the evidence in my photo I would like to point out that I saw more stars on the summit of Mauna Kea than I had on any other night of my life.  These are just a few of the beautiful images that Scott managed to make that night.  All shot with Canon Mark III 1DS with a 14mm f2.8 wide angle lens with a wide open aperture on a 30 second shutter speed.  I do not own these images, they belong to Scott Andrews, please give credit where credit is due if you share these.

After 10 minutes of pacing back and forth and trying not to accidentally walk into Scott's shots (he was using a super wide prime lens), I decided it would be better to wait in the SUV.  It was only marginally warmer than outside but I could lay down comfortably on the backseat and stare at the sky out the window, because I'm lazy when it comes to my star gazing.  I thought I had worn enough clothing but I underestimated how cold it was going to be at almost 14,000 ft after the sun went down.  I had on an undershirt, tshirt, long sleeved hooded tshirt, leather jacket, shemagh, hat, gloves, jeans, and running shoes...and I was FREEZING...but it was totally worth it.

The next day was the last day on the Big Island for dad and me.  We walked down and took a tour of Hulihe'e Palace.  It was severely damaged in an earthquake a few years ago and had been closed for renovations but had recently reopened to the public.

Hulihe'e palace entrance.
View from the lanai at the rear of the palace.
The back of the palace.

Right across the street from Hulihe'e is the Moku'aikaua church, the oldest christian church in the Hawaiian Islands.  The interior beams and pillars of the church are made from 'ohi'a wood and the pews are made from koa.  There were people holding a meeting when we stopped in so I didn't take any interior shots, but this is the front of the church from the palace lawn across Ali'i Drive.

The rest of the day was spent doing a little last minute shopping and a lot of last minute packing.  We did finally manage to get a photo of the four of us together.  Dad and I left for the airport just half an hour after this photo was taken, and yes like a baby I cried when the plane took off because I didn't want to leave.