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March 26, 2011

6 Hours in Colorado

6 hours in Colorado

I get in at 1:00 a.m. and head for the house. On the way, I stop and gas up the truck. Grab a burger. Stop at a grocery store and stock up on snacks for the flight.
No one wants to be spend the whole day flying aross the on a six hour flight without plenty of snacks. Then up to the house where I start trying to pack for our 8:00 a.m.
flight. There will be no sleep tonight. That's a dream.

I unpack all the FedEx packages my neighbors graciously signed for me. My 400mm camera lens. A new laptop. Some extra lens caps. Dig out the flippers and masks and
snorkels. I'm trying toA think of everything I might need in a place I've not been in 5 years. I imagine myself digging my toes into the sand at Hanauma Bay or walking
the jagged coral at Waimea Bay. What am I wearing? What should I bring?

I start copying files onto the new laptop. Music. Movies. Utilities. Everything I can think of. I plug everything in and start charging everything at once.
GPS. Cell phone. Laptop. Camera batteries. The house is glowing at 4:00 in the morning. Like aliens have taken over my house.

I start counting cameras...trying to decide how many to bring. The truth is that carting around a 600mm lens halfway across the planet is not easy. I'm certainly not
going to let the dimwits at the TSA or US Air put their filthy, leacherous hands on my camera gear. That's not going to happen. Initially, I'd hoped to travel
with 4 cameras and 4 lenses, but I settle for 3 cameras and 3 lenses. Even so, we will essentially be on a rolling photographic safari through one of the most beautiful
places on earth. So, we should have a lot of fun and hopefully get some decent shots along the way.

I've been ordering gear non-stop for 2011 and some last minute things are trickling in. Circular polarizing filters and lens caps. Batteries and chargers. And then
at some point this week, I started having them just ship any additional items direct to Oahu so I'll pick a few things up when we get there, if all goes as planned.

Hawaii is a beautiful place. Indescribably so. I've been there many times and it's had a significant impact on my photography. The first time I was there was back
in 93 I think. And I went up to this jungled valley on Oahu and I remember standing there, drinking in the view and I didn't take any photos. Not one. Because I
honestly didn't feel like I could do the scene justice. That somehow I'd denigrate the valley by taking a poor photo of it.

And then I didn't go back there for about 10 or 12 years.

And instead of a photograph, I was left with nothing. Just nothing. So that, over the years, my memories faded almost completely so that all I could remember was
that the valley was lush and green. Tropical and wild. Indescribably beautiful. But there were no details in my memory to hang anything on.

And I told myself that, if I ever did stumble back across that valley, I'd be sure to take some photos. To shoot or 'not to shoot' had come down solidly on the
side of "shoot first, ask questions later". So this was a big philosophical shift for me.

That same summer, I ended up working in Honolulu on and off for several months, bouncing back and forth between Colorado, San Francisco, Austin, Honolulu, Portland,
and the Bahamas. I became much more serious about my photography and purchased several different cameras in fairly rapid succession, trying to find something that
worked for me. That I was happy with. I lost a camera going down the interstate in California and immediately thereafter, found myself on the beach in Oahu watching
some guy shoot surf photos with a nice looking setup and I said "What kind'a camera's that?" and he said Canon EoS 20D. And I went home and bought one immediately and
I've been in love with Canon ever since.

So, Hawaii has inspired me to shoot for years. It's only fitting, I think, that I show up with enough gear to get some decent shots of the island, possibly for the
first time ever. Hopefully they'll be some of the best photos of the island I've ever taken.

So I'm throwing things around. Looking at the tripod and gimbled head and all of our gear. Finally, I resign myself to just take a steamer trunk sized suitcase.
US Air is going to charge me $25 each way but I don't care. This is where we are. it's the cost of doing business. Not many people fly across the country planet
with 600mm lenses either. No one said it was going to be easy being cool. If it was easy, everyone would do it.

I feel bad for Jennifer. She's not seen the Pacific Ocean in nearly 4 weeks. I am a bad father. I know this, as surely as the apple knows it must one day
fall from the tree. I am far from perfect. Only I do what I can. Little things here and there to ease the pain of being alive.

Everything goes into the truck and at 5:00 a.m., I'm rolling down through the canyon. I dunno why, but I don't feel like the laws of the road apply to me. Like
I'm above them for whatever reason. Traveling does that to me. i'm in a hurry. I don't care what the law is. I'm on a crazy flight path of SFO - DEN - Phoenix - Honolulu.

The people at work asked me this..."where are you going next week for spring break"

"My daughter and I are going to find a beach somewhere and chill out for a few days."

"Oh, fun. Where are y'all going?"

"Waikiki." and they're just like "Dayum! That will be nice."

Yes, it should be. Should be nice indeed.

But why are you flying from San Francisco to Denver. Isn't that like way out of the way?"

"Yes but there's something very important I have to pick up there. My daughter."

Everyone gets this. Yes. But of course. What else is there in life?

I get to Jennifer's house and we load up the truck and we're racing down the streets at 5:30 a.m. I'm running a little ahead of schedule. Don't want to screw this
one up. With work, you can take some risks. With vacation, it's different. I don't want to screw this up. And missing an 8:00 a.m. flight would set us back in
a big way.

We get back to the Canopy Parking lot where I keep my truck and I collect a ticket as I enter. I've been in Colorado for approximately 6 hours.

The meter starts racing now. I now have a truck at the airport in Denver. A motorcycle at the airport in San Francisco. Later today, we'll rent a car in Honolulu.

In the middle of the Pacific there is nothing save the sky, clouds, and ocean. We fly for hours and hours and nothing changes. No turns. Just straight on to infinity
and then, after we've been flying about 5 hours, the plane turns slightly to the right. I poke Jennifer. That's it. We're getting close, I tell her.

You don't turn in the middle of the Pacific ocean for no reason. He saw something. Some island or landmark. Something made him adjust his course a twinkle and
inside the cabin, we're all hoping against hope that we're somewhere close to the Hawaiian islands.

They show two movies on the flight. The first movie, we skip and instead watch "The Other Guys" on my laptop. We have a little Y-shaped adapter that splits the audio
into two headsets so we can both listen and watch the same movie. She has her own laptop, of course. But it's more fun to watch it together. We've probably seen it
5 or 10 times together already. It's a funny movie. What can I say?

Posted by Rob Kiser on March 26, 2011 at 1:14 AM



Posted by: sl on March 26, 2011 at 8:05 AM

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