Monday, March 31, 2014


Papeete, Tahiti

Tahiti is a place that the Oldies have wanted to see for as long as I've been with them. Dad specially wanted to see it because of the history and the romantic novels that are attached to the place. Well, it came as a bit of a shock to them. The island is spectacular with jagged, jungle covered mountains. The areas away from the towns are probably OK too, but we only had time to check Papeete and Venus Point. Apart from some of the parks, Papeete is a run-down, scruffy sort of place. A bit like the descriptions of backwater villages in the stories about the South Seas. Some of the old buildings are great examples of colonial architecture, so it is an interesting place to roam around. The traffic is horrendous, about as bad as Cairo according to the Oldies. However, sailing into the harbour early in the morning is beautiful. The top picture shows part of the outer suburbs of Papeete and one of the valleys where most Tahitians lived before Europeans arrived. The bottom photo shows some of the reefs and bays, looking toward Papeete from a lookout point near Venus Point. Actually, I would like more time in Tahiti so that I could see some of the areas away from "civilization".

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Monday, March 24, 2014


Lovely Lava

 Lava is not just impressive in big flows. It is also very interesting when you look at it close up. It is full of small crystals of various colours. The colors depend on the temperature of the lava as it flows from the volcano and the chemical composition of any impurities that are in the liquid rock. Colors can include black, red, grey, brown and tan, metallic silver, pink, and green. Here is a close-up of a bit of lava that we examined in Hawaii. It has stringy tan and silvery crystals, some clear black ones and beautiful small green crystals of Olivine. Some beaches on Hawaii are actually green, due to the breakup of lava. Be sure to take a pocket magnifier with you when you visit the lava fields. The most important thing to remember is to put the bits of lava back where they came from. It is a criminal offense to remove any. I made sure that the Oldies took all the bits we handled right back to where we found them.

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Wednesday, March 19, 2014


More Moorea

Cruise ships can't get right into a dock on Moorea, so they anchor in one of the deep bays and use the ship's lifeboats to take passengers ashore. We anchored in Opunohu Bay and were ferried ashore to the town of Papeto'ai. You can see one of the lifeboats in the top photo. They are not very big, but can hold around 100 passengers. I hope that I never have to be crammed into one of these in rough seas after our ship sinks. Anyhow, Moorea is a beautiful island and I would like to see more of it. Some travel authors consider it to be the most beautiful in the world; I need to see more islands before I decide. It is surrounded by a fringing reef and wherever there is a lagoon between the reef and shore you will find boats anchored and usually a resort as well. I would love to spend some time in one of the over-water bungalows in the bottom picture. The towns are fairly small, as you can see in the background of the bottom photo (just click on the picture for a bigger one). Bart's tip for travellers: When a cruise ship brings passengers ashore here, there are hordes of local tour operators waiting and you can get some real bargains, much cheaper than the ship price for the identical tour.

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Thursday, March 13, 2014


The Mountains of Moorea, Milky and Me

Just 17 Km northwest of Tahiti is the island of Moorea. You can easily see it from Papeete on a clear day. "Moorea" means "yellow lizard" in Tahitian. I looked at it from all angles as our ship "Celebrity Millennium" arrived and departed from the island, but couldn't see any lizard shape. In fact, the most obvious thing about Moorea is its mountains. They are high and jagged, really spectacular when you can see them clear of cloud. Most of the people on Moorea live right on the coast or along the valleys. Our ship anchored in Opunohu Bay on a cloudy day. My little friend Milkshake was very excited to be there. She figured that any place with "Moo" in its name had to be a special place for cows. Here are photos of me showing her the sights from the top deck. I think she was disappointed that there were no cows.

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Wednesday, March 05, 2014


Pacific Aviation Museum

When you visit Pearl Harbour, make sure that you go to the Pacific Aviation Museum on Ford Island. You can get a combined ticket to this, the USS Missouri and the USS Bowfin. Mind you, you need a full day to see all these and the USS Arizona Memorial as well. Ford Island is in the middle of Pearl Harbour and civilians can only get there by shuttle bus from the visitors centre. It was a military airfield from 1918 until 1999 and you can see it in many of the movies that include the attack on Pearl Harbour. Tora Tora Tora is the best and most accurate of the bunch in my opinion. The hangars now house a collection of aircraft that have been based in Hawaii and the Pacific. The top photos are full-size dioramas featuring the main opponents in the early Pacific war, the Japanese Mitsubishi A6M Zero and the Grumman F4F Wildcat. There are lots of other aircraft in the museum and you can even see some of them being restored. The bottom photos show two things that are in every Pearl Harbour movie. They are the 1940's control tower and one of the fire engines. There is a petition active at present to save the tower from demolition. It has been signed by both Oldies and one small bear. Historic sites like this should be preserved so that we never forget.

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