Archive for August, 2010

Micro Four What?

August 25, 2010

For years I’ve debated whether I should buy an expensive, bulky digital SLR camera to improve the quality of my travel photos and avoid this from ever happening again.  But the “bulky” part keeps holding me back.  Besides, with these iPhone images out there, I have hope that a micro SLR is in the works.

Digital SLRs (Single Lens Reflex) have become the industry standard for taking/getting professional-quality photos. But over the weekend I was perusing the latest 2010 Consumer Reports book and came across a product that’s new to me – the Micro Four Thirds.  This type of camera allows you to change lenses – which is key in capturing the type of photograph you want based on your surroundings – and packs the manual functions and other perks of a digital SLR in more compact body.  I asked my Facebook universe – which includes a few professional photogs – if anyone knows the real pros/cons of this type of camera, and got nil.  I’m wondering if this model will take hold in the marketplace or just fade into the ether before it catches on.

I’m digging the retro vibe of this Olympus model…I may just have to make a trip to B&H to check it out.

Micro Four Thirds...worth the hype? Wait...there IS no hype. Yet...?

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Kauai Revealed…or not

August 11, 2010

I like to think I’m an adventurous person (hey, I’ve been skydiving twice and even did this), but I am constantly reminded what a scaredy cat I really am.  So many things frighten the bejeezus out of me, such as bugs, some varieties of fish, and the thought of falling off a cliff to a rocky death.  Coincidentally, all of these things also make up a trip to Kauai.

Enter Kauai Revealed – one in a set of books written by locals for tourists-who-want-to-feel-like-locals and experience things only those who have spent years exploring the island would know about. The book has special chapters just for those super adventurous people who prefer to risk death over relaxing while on vacation. The most important lesson learned while using this book as a reference is realizing that a Hawaiian’s standard for “adventurous” is likely 10X riskier than yours, wherever you happen to live.  We discovered this while struggling to accomplish even the most basic outing: hiking.

Hiking = walking with a backpack whilst surrounded by trees, no?  Not in Kauai!  This island is home to some of the most extreme hiking trails in the world, including the legendary 22-mile round trip Kalalau Trail along the cliff’s edge of the Na Pali coast:

This is definitely not me.

That one was definitely out of our league, so one day while exploring the island we attempted to find something that was more suitable to our minimal hiking experience (we live in the urban jungle of NYC). The Kauai Revealed book talked about a nice trail that led to the famous Wailua Falls of Fantasy Island fame, but it was supposedly unmarked and therefore unknown to most tourists (and discouraged by officials).  All we had to do was count 100 meters backwards from the guardrail by the falls and there would be an unmarked but well-traveled opening.  After a bit of searching, we found the spot that would seem most obvious, mainly identified by – what else – an open air Jeep.

We assume the Jeep people have the same book we do, so we embark down the trail – and dooooown it goes.  We climb down to the riverbed, grasping onto tree roots and slipping on the clay-like soil. James finds a walking stick the size of a small tree, which saved my life about 4 times.  We finally reach the leafy bottom near the river and follow the water towards the falls.  Easy! Except then the trail kinda sorta disappears. So we try to figure out the most obvious way one would get to the falls (which we could literally hear!), but each route we tried ended in almost falling to our deaths.

While contemplating whether to forge ahead or turn back, we hear noises and realize it’s the people from the open air Jeep.  Lo and behold, an older man and an even older woman come hiking along from the opposite direction. We make polite conversation and ask about the remaining trail, and find out that there is one point that has only ropes to help you traverse a rock wall (hm, totally not mentioned in the Kauai Revealed book) and we also discover that this woman is 82 years old and hiked further than we were able to!  I had to ask her secret (aerobics!), and then we made one more attempt to make it to the falls so we weren’t shown up by an octogenarian (albeit a very likable one).

An 82-yr old woman did this??

Alas, we never made it to the bottom of the falls, but it was such an adventure regardless.  The best part was that the hike uphill from the riverbed was much easier than going down, so we survived!  Maybe next time, we’ll heed the signs from the beginning…

We Interrupt This Travel Blog…

August 10, 2010

Eeek!  It’s been nearly two months since my last blog post.  Not that the masses are holding their collective breath for my travel missives…but there are still some trip-related stories I want to share!  Long story short – I have a new job but the same number of vacation days (phew!); let’s just hope I get a chance to use them all!

Now back to business. Or, vacation…