Monday, December 22, 2014

Oahu: Hanauma Bay

We did so many fun things during our two weeks in Hawaii on Oahu and Maui that it is difficult to say what my favorite activity was. Although my response might be different on different days, I think if I was hard-pressed to provide an answer to the question about my favorite activity, it would often be snorkeling in Hanauma Bay.

I had heard many fabulous accounts regarding snorkeling on Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve from people who had snorkeled there many years ago and from people who has snorkeled there relatively recently. Some had even stated that it is the one thing that one must do on Oahu. At the time of this writing, TripAdvisor reviewers had reviewed it with a "thumb up" 86% of the time and it is ranked #15 of 124 Honolulu attractions.

One of the things that I had heard about snorkeling in Hanauma Bay was the number of fish that were so easily accessible to the snorkeler. Years ago, people fed peas and other things to the fish and this brought even more fish of the more aggressive species up close to the snorkelers. Improved conservation efforts have eliminated this practice and the park ranger warned us that we'd not see as many fish up that close if we were used to that from years ago, but I was still very pleased with the number of fish and number of species of fish that we were swimming alongside. These photographs of the fish don't do their numbers justice because I tended to use video more than still photographs for the more impressive sightings.

I had never snorkeled before this two-week trip to Hawaii and I became a much better snorkeler by the end of the two weeks. Hanauma Bay was a good place for a beginning snorkeler to practice because of the protected and relatively calm water and because of the many places with sand bottoms and shallow water that I could stand to figure out what I was doing without touching coral or rocks.

We arrived at Hanauma Bay just a few minutes after the 6 am opening of Hanauma Bay and I'm glad we got up early enough to do that. We got one of the closest parking spots in the main parking lot to the park's entrance, but more importantly, we avoided the mob of people that would show up later that morning. There is normally a video to watch about preservation of the ecosystem at Hanauma Bay, but the staff was not fully available at 6 am, so we were instructed to review the instructions on personal, marine life, and ecological safety in the entry building before descending to the beach.

Because we snorkeled at Hanauma Bay early in our trip before we had decided to buy own own snorkeling equipment, we needed to rent some and that rental shack was not open until around 6:30 am. Fortunately, we had one snorkeling kit of our own we had purchased near Waimea Bay and we were able to set up on the beach and enjoy some wading in the water until the rental shack opened. The Hanuama Bay rental snorkel sets were reasonably good ones. They were not as good as the ones we'd purchase or the ones we were provided at Shark Encounter, but they were better than the ones we were provided on a couple other snorkeling excursions we took.

I cannot believe how quickly the time went by. We snorkeled for over 3 hours to just past 9 am, but it felt like we had been out there much less time than that. I also felt like I had so much left to see. We had other plans for the late morning and afternoon and so needed to leave. I was surprised at how busy the beach had become in those three hours, but was even more shocked when we ascended back up the paved trail to the park entrance and saw the long line of people curling around the entrance and onto the sidewalk in front of the park. Whereas we had been able to walk right into the park at 6 am, there was a lengthy wait by 9 am. Part of this was probably due to the film, but I also don't think that Hanauma Bay would be nearly as much fun with all those people snorkeling and on the beach at the same time. The main parking lot was also full and people were driving in circles waiting for a spot to open.

Although I was disappointed in having to leave, I realized that if I ever have the opportunity to visit Oahu again, I'll make it a point to visit Hanauma Bay on multiple days as soon as it opens (6 am). The lesson I learned from this experience is that it would be better to visit Hanauma Bay multiple times in the early morning hours for smaller sessions than to visit it once for a long session. Two to four hours at Hanuama Bay on 2-3 early mornings would be far superior to 8-12 hours there at a single time. Snorkeling is best when there are fewer snorkelers and they all know how to calmly float and watch the fish and let the fish swim around them with confidence. As the number of snorkelers increases, and particularly just one flailing snorkeler, can scare most of the fish away.

Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve is currently closed on Tuesdays as part of their conservation efforts. The admission and parking costs are very reasonable and well worth it, especially in the morning when so few others are there. For people who have their own snorkeling equipment, the overall cost of the visit is very small. It is also ideal for beginning snorkelers, but offers interesting sights for everyone in a picturesque environment. For more experienced snorkelers, the water farther out into the bay and beyond the reef that breaks up the outside rough waves, greater challenges are available.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Oahu: Pu'u 'Ualaka'a State Wayside

We planned our two weeks in Hawaii for more than a year before going and, during that year, I watched all the episodes of Magnum, P.I., via NetFlix streaming to see if any sites popped out that I wanted to make sure to see while in Hawaii. Because much of that show was filmed on Oahu, I especially hoped to find some Oahu attractions in the show. It really paid off in the latter part of the series when Thomas Magnum went to Pu'u 'Ualaka'a State Wayside. Based on the view from this park as seen in the television episode, I decided to go see it and am glad that I did.

The Hawaii State Parks page on Pu'u 'Ualaka'a State Wayside describes the spectacular view from there like this: " Lookout provides sweeping view of southern O'ahu from Diamond Head to Pearl Harbor, including Honolulu and Manoa Valley." That pretty much sums it up. We went to this point above Honolulu multiple times and had the good fortune to have clear days each time that did allow us to see all the way from Diamond Head crater (on the left when viewing the city) to Pearl Harbor on the far right with downtown Honolulu in between.

Pu'u 'Ualaka'a State Wayside, which is also referred to as Pu'u Ualaka'a State Park, includes a short hike/walk called Ualaka‘a Trail that is rated "Easy" and is about one-half mile long. We did not take this hike, but instead focused on the breathtaking views from the lookout point.

It is a very short distance from the small parking lot to the lookout point. The slope is gradual and heads down from the parking lot to the lookout point, but most people should have no issues returning up the short slight slope to the parking lot after they've finished looking at the views from the lookout.

Because Pu'u 'Ualaka'a State Wayside is above the city on Mount Tantalus, drivers must travel on a Round Top Drive that is a winding road through residential areas to get to the state park. There are some pretty impressive views of the city as this ascent is made.

Pu'u 'Ualaka'a State Wayside, at time of this writing, has 86% of reviewers on TripAdvisor rating it "thumb up" and it is currently #28 of 124 Oahu attractions. It has also been called "a must see scenic point for anyone visiting Oahu" and I agree!

The proximity of Pu'u 'Ualaka'a State Wayside to Honolulu, the easy accessibility of the stake park and its lookout point, and the ability to see so much of the Oahu coast from Diamond Head to Pearl Harbor make this an attractive destination for just about anyone of any age or fitness level to enjoy even when their time on Oahu is limited.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Maui: Waiala Cove at Ahihi-Kinau Natural Area Reserve

Peg from Paddle on Maui recommended Ahihi-Kinau Natural Area Reserve in South Maui as a good place for snorkeling and it was great!

Although much of the ʻĀhihi-Kīnaʻu Natural Area Reserve is currently (as of this writing) closed to the public, one of the areas open to the public is Waiala Cove and that is where we went snorkeling.

We parked in the larger parking lot with a very rough surface about a quarter mile south of Waiala Cove. There were two port-a-potties in this parking lot and it was a leisurely stroll along the road back to Waiala Cove.

There is a sign on the south part of Waiala Cove warning about the negative environmental impact of walking on the coral and other things in that area of the cove. This is also the more difficult side to enter the cove from because of sharp rocks and coral. The better entrance is at the north end of the cove where there is a cement block at the entry point that can be used to stand or sit on while adjust snorkeling gear.

When you enter the code from the area near the concrete block, the cove appears as shown in the next two photographs.

One of the appealing features of Waiala Cove for those who do not snorkel (such as very young children) is that fish will swim right up near and around people standing in the water near the concrete block without going very far out. In fact, you wouldn't want to go too far out because there are sharp rocks, coral, and lava that waves can push you into if you're not ready to snorkel.

There is a narrow corridor starting at the concrete block that waders can walk in or snorkelers can use to adjust to the water. The bottom here is made up of generally smooth rocks and pebbles and fish swim in and around your legs as you walk along.

Unfortunately, we did not learn of Waiala Cove until close to the end of our time on Maui. We liked it so much, however, that we went snorkeling there twice in two days. The first day was in the later morning and the second day was in the early morning. Mornings seemed to generally be better for snorkeling because the water is calmer, there are fewer other people there, and the water is clearer because of the calmer water and fewer people stirring up sand. When we went in the later morning, we shared the cove with about 15 people. When we went around 6 am the second time, we had the cove to ourselves.

Because it is a cove, Waiala Cove is a nice place for beginning and intermediate snorkelers. The cove protects the snorkeler from the worst of the ocean's waves. However, early mornings seem to be calmer even in the cove and snorkelers still need to be aware of how close they are to sharp rocks and coral in the cove as occasional waves come in hard enough to push snorkelers into or on top of these rocks and coral.

There is very little legal parking right next to the cove, but there is a decent sized dirt parking lot just past (south of) the cove.

The Ahihi-Kinau Natural Area Reserve has other interesting features besides Waiala Cove, but many of them are not currently open to the public. However, even walking from the dirt parking lot to the cove has some interesting lava on the side of the road.

Waiala Cove is a beautiful cove with several species of fish readily viewed in its relatively clear water. There are also some interesting features on the bottom of the cove. It's a relatively small cove and the parking lot is only moderately sized, so it's often best to get there early to enjoy it at its fullest.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Oahu: Diamond Head State Monument

One of the most advertised must-see attractions on Oahu is Diamond Head State Monument. At the time of this writing, TripAdvisor has 93% of contributors giving the attraction a "thumbs up" and it's ranked #9 out of 123 Honolulu attractions. EveryTrail.com states, "The Diamond Head Summit trail hike is likely the most popular hike in Oahu, and for good reason."

Diamond Head is located on the southeast portion of Oahu and just east of Honolulu. It can be seen on the upper (slightly left of center) portion of the next photograph (taken from Pu'u 'Ualaka'a State Wayside view point).

Some hikes are great because of the scenery and experience of the hike itself while some hikes are great because of the ultimate reward that awaits at the finish of the hike (usually a view or waterfall or something else special at the summit). The Diamond Head Summit Trail hike, in my opinion, is in the latter category. After living in and hiking in Colorado and Utah and after hiking Maui's Pipiwai Trail just a couple days earlier, I may have had a higher than normal threshold for what makes a hike interesting in and of itself, but I felt like the Diamond Head Crater hike itself was largely unmemorable. Fortunately, the hike's ultimate destination is what makes it memorable. The next photograph shows a view of Honolulu and the coastline from the top of the crater.

The overall difficulty rating of this Diamond Head Summit Trail is often described as "moderate." The hike is very easy (flat on a wide sidewalk) at first, starts to gain some elevation with some gradually climbing switch backs, and then has a steep staircase that presents the most difficult portion of the hike. The surface is normally smooth (concrete, steel, and wood) to slightly bumpy (hard earth) to uneven (loose earth) with relatively little difficult terrain. In addition, there are some dark tunnels and some spots where taller individuals will have to lower their heads a bit. It is difficult to describe the hike precisely, but I've included some photographs in this post to provide an idea of what it's like. I'm not including any photographs of the flat beginning of the hike, but the next two photographs show the gradually inclining part of the hike that includes multiple switch backs. The best way to get a graphical idea of what the hike involves is to reference the graphic on the second page of the Diamond Head State Monument brochure.

There are a couple places where the hiker goes into structures. One of these, a 225-foot tunnel, is dimly lighted, but light visible from both ends on a sunny day makes it very manageable without a flash light.

The most difficult aspect of the hike is the steep staircase near the top. The Diamond Head State Monument brochure provides details on the sets of stairs, including mention of "steep stairway of 74 concrete steps" and "second stairway consisting of 99 steep steps." The next images depict this staircase from two perspectives (looking up from the bottom and looking down from the top).

It is the hike's summit that makes it special. The next photographs show various views from the top.

Diamond Head State Monument opens at 6 am each day. We arrived there at about 7 am on a weekend day and there were only 3 parking spots left in the main parking lot closest to the trailhead. Had we arrived even five minutes later, we'd likely have had to park at the parking lot down the road. The walk from that parking lot to the main parking lot would add very unexciting and slightly uphill walking to the overall hike.

Because this hike is well-known, is easy to access, and is itself a moderate hike, it's very popular. There were few places on the hike where I had more than a few feet between the me and the person in front of me or the person behind me. Large tour buses were stopping regularly to drop tourists off and there was a relatively steady stream of people ascending to the summit and descending from the summit.

I enjoyed hiking the Diamond Head Summit Trail and especially enjoyed the view from the summit. If I was able to visit Oahu multiple times, I'd probably not take this hike every time I visited, but I think it's definitely worth doing the first time one visits Oahu. It's a relatively short hike of 1 to 2 hours and allows one to see some spectacular views of Honolulu and the Oahu coastline.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Our Two Weeks in Hawaii: Oahu and Maui

We were able to spend the first two weeks of June 2014 in Hawaii on Oahu and Maui and I plan to write a series of short blog posts on some of the activities we participated in while in Hawaii for those two weeks. The posts will feature some text and personal opinions, but the focus will be on photographs and links to other references with greater details. This post will be updated to include links to those posts that are added as the individual posts are written.

The following are some photos representative of the locations on Oahu and Maui that I intend to post about in this series of posts on our fortnight in Hawaii.

 

View of Honolulu from Diamond Head Crater (Oahu)

 

View of Diamond Head Crater and Honolulu
from Pu'u 'Ualaka'a State Wayside (Oahu)

 

Hanauma Bay (Oahu)

 

Wailala Cove (Maui)

 

Haleakala National Park Coastline (Maui)

 

Iao Valley State Monument (Maui)

 

Kahakuloa Bay (Maui)

 

Bamboo Forest on Pipiwai Trail in Haleakala National Park (Maui)

 

Waterfall Alongside Road on Road to Hana (Maui)

 

Posts on Specific Oahu and Maui Attractions

Monday, May 12, 2014

Viewing TCP/UDP Information on Windows

I occasionally need to quickly identify which ports are being used on a Windows-based system. This post briefly summarizes the two approaches I typically use to do this.

The netstat tool is a command-line tool that can be run in the "Command Prompt". I typically like to use the netstat options -n, -a, and -o. The available netstat commands can be viewed on the command line by running "netstate/?"

When I want the ability to easily sort the output, the graphical tool TCPView is handy. Although this often requires a separate download the first time it is run, it is a small tool that is quickly downloaded and easily installed by unzipping it. The executable can then be run by clicking on Tcpview.exe. The graphical tool displays (and allows sorting by) process names, process identifiers (PIDs), protocols, local and remote addresses, local and remote port numbers, and states.

TCPView is provided by the wholly-owned Microsoft subsidiary Windows Sysinternals as part of its Networking Utilities.

When a particular process ID is needed, it can be found through Windows's Task Manager or on the command line with the command tasklist.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Windows Vista User Profile Service Failed

I recently could not login to my account on an old laptop with Windows Vista and was presented with this message: "The User Profile Service service failed the logon. User profile cannot be loaded." Fortunately, this was easily remedied by following the steps outlined in Microsoft Article 947215 ("You receive a 'The User Profile Service failed the logon' error message"). That article outlines three methods for resolving the issue (fixing the user account profile, copying data to different profile, and deleting the error SID and creating a new profile).

I used the first approach (fixing the user account profile) by following the steps on that article:

  1. Restart machine and enter "Safe Mode"
    • Typically done by clicking F8 while restarting and selecting "Safe Mode"
  2. Run the Registry Editor (regedit)
    • The registry can optionally be backed up before editing it.
  3. Access "HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\ProfileList" folder and then the "S-1-5" subfolders with really long names and containing ProfileImagePath in registry
  4. Rename the folder with .bak to not have that extension and rename the one that started without extenson to have .bak extension.
  5. Change RefCount's value to zero and change State's value to 0.

After following those steps (which are explained in more detail and illustrated with screen snapshots in the Microsoft Article 947215), closing Registry Editor, and restarting the laptop, I was able to log in again. I took this opportunity to create a separate Administrator account as advised in this Microsoft Community Question.