Honolulu and Waikiki Beach is a photographer’s dream…Photo of our tent, one year ago…

Last night’s sunset at 6:15 pm.

I’ll never profess to be an experienced photographer. After less than two years of passionately taking photos, I still have a lot to learn. Perhaps, in another two years, I’ll be able to consider myself in a class of an experienced amateur photographer. 

The Waikiki Trolley.

For now, I’m reveling in the pure joy of capturing moments as we see them, Tom with his keen eye for the perfect scene, sunset or moon, and me, with my curiosity for the less common scenes. Together, we find ourselves constantly holding a camera when out and about, scanning our surroundings for the next shot.

A fountain and surfer statue at Waikiki Beach.

Based on our current equipment and my inability to hold a heavy SLR camera, we make do with the camera we recently purchased, an inexpensive Canon SX50 HS. As mentioned in an earlier post, if this camera lasts for two years, we’ll be thrilled. By that time, newer technology will aid my accumulated skills.

Another surfer statue at the beach.

Some of our distant photos aren’t as clear as we’d like. Although at times, we choose to share them for their content, as opposed to their acuity. I can’t imagine hauling a tripod and multiple lenses around the world with us. The weight restrictions are a constant source of concern.

A sign describing the beaches at Waikiki.

Each night on our way to dinner, we head out early to ensure we have a chance to capture the sunset in Waikiki from the perfect location across the street from our condo-hotel. Each night is different.

The Royal Hawaiian Hotel.  Long BT (before Tom) I stayed at this hotel on a few occasions.  Now, the rooms start at over $400 a night

Other than a daily walk in the area and again going out at 5:30 for the evening, we’ve tended to stay inside the little condo in air-conditioned comfort. Each sunny day we head up to the 10th-floor veranda where there are chaise lounges for a quick 40-minute dose of Vitamin D and a little tanning.

The breakwaters at Waikiki to protect the bathers.

There’s a pool on the property but, it’s entirely shaded by trees making it useless for our occasional sun tanning. What do we do for the remainder of our time? We do what others do in their homes; laundry, cleaning up, checking Facebook and our email, banking, and financial tasks, talking and laughing. Tom often listens to his favorite radio podcast, Garage Logic, using his earpieces while I listen to the news in the background.

The surf at the breakwater should be increasing with the upcoming trade winds.

Also, we spend considerable time each day taking and preparing our photos and stories which easily fill a morning or afternoon. Preferably, the next day’s post is completed by late afternoon, leaving our evenings free to go to dinner and later relax watching a movie or favorite TV show. 

Tom thought that Spam was a popular item in Hawaii which was confirmed by this Spam sandwiches to go display at an ABC store, of which there is one at almost every block.

In many ways, it’s a simple life when one is free of “stuff,” household maintenance, and social obligations. We do miss the social interactions but after two fabulously social cruises, we’re good for a while. 

On the pier in Waikiki Beach.

In six days, we’ll leave Honolulu, heading to Maui for a six-week stay in a condo with more space where we’ll feel more comfortable. Our 40-minute flight is booked and we’ve checked our baggage restrictions consisting of a maximum of 50 pounds per bag at $35 per bag. We’ll use our travel scale to get this right hopefully, avoiding excess baggage fees.

Have a wonderful weekend, whatever you may do. We plan to.

                                            Photo from one year ago today, October 10, 2013:

This was the interior of our tent at Sanctuary Retreat’s Camp Olonana in the Masai Mara where we went on safari. It was quite a tent with AC, indoor plumbing, and electrical. The WiFi didn’t work in the tent requiring us to work in the lobby of the main building. We were so happy to be there, we didn’t mind a bit. Plus, they turned off the electrical power during the day to save on power. But, they left ours on to recharge our equipment. For details of that post with more photos of the camp, please click here.

Venturing out to another village on the steep and winding roads…A year ago…A photo from Mykonos, Greece…

This fenced garden we passed on a steep road.

Yesterday, we drove up to a few other villages to gain perspective of the views from another vantage point. At times, we were within a foot, .3 meters, of an unprotected edge that a slight wrong move could result in falling off a steep cliff.

We drove the steep, winding roads to Barreiro yesterday.

Luckily, I stayed preoccupied taking photos and not looking over the edge. There was a haze of fog in the air preventing a clear view in some of our photos, although the sky was blue and clear. We’re constantly looking for changes in the weather that can occur in a matter of minutes.

Cactus growing out of a stone wall.  With the temperate weather in Madeira, it’s surprising to see cactus growing wild. One expects cactus to grow in desert climates.

As we drove through the steep winding roads, we realized that the roads that appear risky to us is everyday driving to the locals. They zip around the curves, hairpin turns, and up and down steep inclines at full speed, never giving it a thought.

Looking out at this view, we notice the point in the upper left.

There aren’t any police cars in Campanario and few in other areas. The locals don’t worry about getting a ticket, only about getting around quickly and hopefully safely.

Zooming in we got a better view of the craggy point.

Without a doubt, Madeira feels like the safest place in which we’ve lived in our travels. Of course, we’re still cautious in locking doors at night and when leaving, more out of habit than fear.  t’s a far cry from living in Kenya with gun-toting guards everywhere. How far we’ve come.

Homeowners often have to walk up or down elaborate stairways to get to or from their homes that are built on the steep hills.

Speaking of Kenya, last night we went through many of our photos from our travels that are stored in Google+.  So far, since January 3, 2013, we have almost 10,000 photos stored. Considering that we seldom took photos in our old lives, we sure have made up for the lost time.

I have an app that allows me to remove wires such as these shown here.  But, Madeira has wires everywhere in an effort to provide great service to its residents. We have the best WiFi connection here included in the rental, that we’ve had since we were in Minnesota, 20 months ago. Who’s to complain?

Looking back, had we known we’d be traveling, I wish I’d have learned to take photos on a decent camera instead of my phone. As a person with reasonable digital skills, the camera alluded me, intimidated me and I struggled along. Now, the ease and enjoyment of taking photos remind me of how many magic moments we missed that could have been documented in photos.

There we are in the sunshine one minute and then the fluffy clouds roll in. The wonders of this gorgeous island continue to astound us.

Oh, well. One can only go forward as to wasting time with what “could have” or “should have” been. Although I love taking photos, I don’t take it seriously enough to want to let it turn into an obsession or to try to present more professional-looking photos with editing and enhancements. Most often, we take only one shot of each sighting unless it’s a classic shot of a special location or moving target. If it comes out, great. If not, we delete it.

View over the rooftops.

The only editing I ever do on a photo we present here is to remove the spots that appear in some of the photos from dirt or lint located on the lens of our camera. I haven’t removed those spots today, as we hope to head out the door soon.

Whatever the angle or the view, the beauty of the ocean is worthy of a shot.

When we arrive in Boston in three months, we’ll purchase a new camera or will pick one out online and have it shipped to Boston. Our Sony Cyber-shot is showing signs of wear and tear after 10,000 photos especially when held in my sweaty palms over many miles with hot and humid climates. 

The car was moving when we took this blurry shot. We were on a dangerous curve and couldn’t stop.

Today, we’re waiting for the produce guy’s musical truck to appear before we head to the supermarket to shop for the week. We’d rather buy produce from him as opposed to the grocery store. 

The dedication to farming and gardening is evident everywhere on the island.

He doesn’t always have everything we need making it tricky to go to the grocery store without buying produce, hoping to catch up with him later. We’ll wait for him until noon and then we’re off, having no choice but to purchase some of the items we need, filling in with him later in the week.

The blue sky makes for a blue sea.

Oh, we love the mindless drivel in our lives at times, the simple decisions, the time spent observing a flower, a passing bird, or a wafting cloud. Then, when the hard parts are imminent we know that soon they too will pass and we’re back to the joyful ease of living this pleasing life we’ve chosen.

Few homeowners miss the opportunity to grow gardens on the hills.


Photo from one year ago, June 9, 2013:

The island of Mykonos, Greece was beyond our expectations. So beautiful. Due to a poor WiFi connection, we were unable to post photos from the ship. The next day, the 10th, we were in Mykonos Greece where we took many photos of the exquisite island. Here is a photo from the 10th. For more please check back tomorrow for more. For the link to the post on the 9th, please click here.

Bells ringing…Embarrassing confession…Videos

Here is our video from last night of the clock tower slightly beyond our yard:
Confession: This is embarrassing for a purported technology nerd such as me…the above is one of only two videos I have ever taken and posted on this site.
Put me in front of any digital or electronic gadget, including computers, and I can figure it out in minutes, often avoiding the necessity of reading instructions. Many people do the same thing!
In my “old life,” I despised taking photos and never had any interest in taking the time to learn to take a decent photo due in part to a missing piece in my brain (my only assessment, which perhaps was a rationalization for “lack of interest”). It’s similar to the missing piece regarding “sense of direction,” of which I have none. 
Of course, taking videos fell into that same category as taking photos: I never took them, never wanted to take them, never learned to edit them, and never learned to upload them to any website subsequently, Facebook included.
Another apparent reason, my discomfort while attempting to take this video, is evidenced by my inability to hold the camera steady. I can learn this, and we do have a small tripod.
Our first Saturday here in Boveglio, at precisely 5:16 pm and again at 6:00 pm, we ran to the veranda to hear and see these bells ring for five minutes each time. Not anticipating we had enough time to get them and record this occurrence, we missed the opportunity. 
Yesterday, to record the bell clanging, we set the alarm for 5:10 pm on my phone to alert us that soon the bells would be ringing and being prepared this time, camera in hand, set to video with the sound enabled. I’d posted yesterday’s blog only moments earlier when the Internet had finally returned an hour earlier.
With the alarm yet to ring, the bells started at precisely 5:00 pm. What??? What about 5:16? Nope, the bells began to ring this particular Saturday at 5:00 pm. 
The moment we heard the untimely loud clanging, I dashed for the camera, turned it on, set it to video, and checked the sound while Tom unlocked the old wooden veranda door, and we were off of the second bedroom that leads to the veranda. 
Keep in mind getting from the living room to the veranda is quite a hike, with multiple uneven steps on the stone floor of the hallway. Plus, there are low ceilings in spots. If not careful, one can bang their head on the way, which both of us have done on several occasions.
By the time we were standing on the veranda, me with camera in hand, yes, my hand was shaking, not so much from nervousness, but rather from little time to prepare myself to take my second video ever mentally. After all, when one has little skill, it seems to help to take a deep breath, concentrate and fire away. With time for neither of those two, this was the result.
Then, the worse part began. I tried to upload the video here on our blog for several minutes. When it wouldn’t download on Blogger or Facebook, in the back of my mind, I knew the file was too large to upload. Looking at my Windows 8 computer, I found no program that would reduce the size, nor would I want to pay for an external program.
For the heck of it, I also tried to upload it to YouTube to no avail, with it showing as “stuck” and unable to load due to its large size. Now, after 6:00 pm, I’d yet to begin making dinner, hoping to be able to dine by 7:00 pm. Frustrated, I decided to leave it for Sunday morning (today). I made dinner; we ate; we watched another episode of The Bible and the second half of a 48-hour video rental, with only 24 hours left to go, The Silver Linings Playbook (quite entertaining!).
This morning I was at it again, bound and determined to upload the video after figuring out how to re-size it.
My favorite spot to visit for free software uploads is C/Net, which I’ve used for years. Here is the link to the free video converter software I downloaded this morning. 
Please remember that when downloading software from this reliable site: many of their downloads are free and noted as such. However, many allow a limited use to get users to buy it. 
We tend to choose the downloads that millions of other users have used, including good reviews that don’t show a price at installation or a button that says “BUY NOW.” In most cases, millions of users didn’t pay. Read the reviews for any “tricks” the developers may have instituted to get the user to pay.
The video converter software, Any Video Converter,  which I downloaded this morning, does not require payment now or in the future, from what I can tell. Still, it does ask if you want to upgrade to the more professional version. Don’t give a credit card or PayPal authorization unless you’re prepared to pay. Click the “x” at the top right of the screen to make that disappear. 
After only a few clicks (reading no instructions), I could easily convert the video to a smaller size, enabling me to post it on my Facebook page and here.
Now I feel more at ease posting a video occasionally, provided a solid wireless signal allows me to edit it for posting. Of course, I won’t start making videos of everything we see. 
I’ve got a long way to go before I become a reasonably good videographer, and I still have miles to go (literally and figuratively) before I even get the photo-taking pinned down!