Back from Alaska and Seattle

My wife and I just returned from a 7 day cruise on the Norweigian Star to Alaska. It all started with an overnight flight from Honolulu to Seattle, a few hours in Pike’s Farmer’s Market and then off to Alaska.  We stopped in Juneau, Skagway, Ketchican and Victoria.  Perhaps some photos and trip reports will be up soon 🙂

Deep Diver Certification

Greetings, long time no post. I was able to complete my deep diver specialty at Ocean Concepts this past weekend. It was great to finally get back in the water and even better to keep marching on my way towards the Master Scuba Diver certification. Since moving to Oahu, I’ve been able to get my open water, advanced open water, underwater photographer, underwater naturalist, underwater navigation, and deep diver specailties. I’m looking forward to the Rescue Diver course and then on to being a master diver.

Now if I could just convince my wife to get open water certified so we could dive the Galapagos islands next August…

Our First Visit to Maui

With two greats friends in town, believer and I decided to hop over to Maui for six wonderful days exploring another isle. Maui reminded us lots of Ireland and allowed for us to relax some. We were able to take the Road to Hana drive, view the sunrise at Haleakala Crater, and overall experience a completely different side of Hawaii.

praise the lord!

The I95 project near the mixing bowl in Springfield is moving along great. Previously Southbound 395 dumped into the left hand lane of 95S. 495-outer-loop dumped into the right hand lane of 95S and 495-inner-loop dumped into the center. These three form I95 south.

On this Memorial Day weekend (which I recall as wasting about two hours of my time last summer) things are much better. 495-inner-loop (the primary 95 south road) dumps about a mile down from the other two, and on the left hand side. Most 95 south drivers want to get into the HOV lanes and that is a left-exit as well.

I got home in 30 minutes — that’s the same as any other day.. and I even left in more rush hour (5:30 instead of 6:30 like normal). I am a happy p0ny.

Kiawah Island

This past weekend was a cousin-in-law’s (congratulations) wedding at Kiawah Island near Charleston, SC. It was a nice reception and a fairly decent location, but the island itself left a lot to be desired.

Rooms at Kiawah are fairly expensive. Though I can’t vouch for the quality of the rooms, I can vouch for the quality of two ‘villas.’ The villas at Kiawah Island are privately owned and rented through the Kiawah Island Resort company, or something along those lines. The quality of the room left a lot to be desired. It wasn’t as if it was horrible accomodations, but do not believe any of the hype surrounding the price. I’ve been to hundreds of luxury and budget hotels and the villas at Kiawah were as pricey as a luxury hotel with quality sub-par to what you’d expect from Motel 6 (no offense, dave).

The island itself is fairly private, and is definately remote from downtown Charleston, expect a 20-45 minute drive, depending upon traffic. The scenery which they claim makes it one of the best 10 beaches just doesn’t come close. I must admit, the sand was powder-white, but I’m still deeply disappointed in the quality of the island itself. If you are a golfer, you’re probably in heaven, if you’re not, go somewhere else, save money — or better yet, eat at an expensive restaurant with the money you’ve saved.

Housing falls along the same lines. The architecture in the private two-thirds of the island left a lot to be desired. Most houses were situated on marshland without beachfront access or even ocean views. Prices? Outrageous. Living in Washington, DC metro area, I tend to understand the “location, location, location” mantra, but not here (we’ll pretend you can afford to have someone go to the grocery store for you as it’s a 20 minute drive, minimum). I entertained the possibility of investing in a private residence to be used as rental property for many people are drawn to the luxury and privacy of the island, but I couldn’t see dropping the premium price demanded for this island. I’d say they are 30-50% over-valued in so many ways.

If you’ve got money to blow, go for it, it will probably to continue to appreciate, but if you like to invest in things you believe in (or can use) I highly recommend looking elsewhere. Isle of Palms, Topsail Island, and many, many, many, many, many, other islands are likely more up your alley. I won’t be going back to this island as a pure vacation spot, it’d take another wedding to bring me there. But please, save your money!