Aloha from the Ihilani resort at Ko Olina, Oahu!!!
Talk about a bit of a shock. My beautiful wife, mazisexton, outdid herself for my birthday this year. She had told me that she'd a surprise planned, and that it would be getting here on Saturday morning. The surprise turned out to be an Airport Limo. As we drove out, she informed me that we were going to the airport to catch a plane out to Hawaii, and that the next week had a variety of activities mapped out on Oahu.
We arrived that evening, after an uneventful and equally unpleasant flight. Then yesterday -- my birthday proper -- I got to go out for a surf lesson all morning (I suck, but it's a lot of fun anyway). I then spent the afternoon on the beach with Mazi & Rah. Later, I found out that I've picked up a sunburn -- in of all places -- the back of my knees. No, of course I didn't put sunscreen there. I figured I'd be chest deep in the ocean all day, so where's the risk. Evidently, I must have had them exposed long enough while I was on my stomach paddling my surfboard out to the waves. Ouch! :P
"And what about today", you're wondering? Well, we got up at about 5 in the morning for this:
And two more pics beneath the cut...
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Yes, these are the actual photos we took today, and not stock images ripped off some nature site. Those are 10-12 foot Tiger Sharks, and they were so close to the shark cage that we could have reached out and touched them (not that I did; I may be crazy, but I'm not stupid). The good pics were snapped by Mazi, since I got all overexcited and started trying to chase them as they circled the enclosure. Vertigo kicked in, followed quickly by motion sickness, so I spent about a third of the cage time losing my breakfast.
After about twenty minutes, they reeled us in. It was pretty trippy. They normally get Sandbar and Galapagos Sharks, which can be very beautiful to watch. If you're out free in the ocean, these species -- particularly the Sandbar -- can be annoying to a diver, but won't really do anything more than nip at you at best. The Tigers, however, are considerably more impressive. They will circle the cage, then vector straight in to the bars (the other sharks beat it out of there fast when they showed up, BTW) and you can even see their eyes roll back as they butt the cage. They didn't seem as if they were *really* interested in having us for a meal, but you don't need to stretch your imagination very far to visualize what a real attack must look like.
Rah-Rah even came with us out for the trip. Little guy wasn't afraid of the sharks at all, but did freak out with all the bobbing and churning when we got him into the water. They reeled him back in and he spent the rest of the time helping the deckhands feed/chum the sharks, as well as a few local birds that showed up to scavenge.
The rest of the week: well, I've got more surfing tomorrow, then we fly over to Kona (on the Big Island) Wednesday to snorkel with a school of Manta Rays. Back to Oahu on Thursday for a lecture at the University of Hawaii's Center for Japanese Studies. Friday is a jaunt over to Molokai for the day, and Saturday is a rest day before flying home Sunday.
Boy, when my wife plans a birthday surprise, she really knows how to plan a birthday!!! :)