I accidentally went on vacation.

 
 Black Sand beach via my magical flying powers

Black Sand beach via my magical flying powers

     Okay, this isn't my best writing. I just got home yesterday but wanted to take this time to get back to work and that's meetings and writing and working on my website as well as blogs. This is all fresh in my mind and I wanted to get it out. I'm a little bit jet lagged and tired and malnourished (my version of malnourished is not enough salt, chocolate and fatty foods). Anyways here's a little bit about my latest exploits. 

     So I recently went to Hawaii for work. It wasn't a wedding, it wasn't a model and macadamia farms didn't hire me. I was actually working for the government, the Army in fact. I was there with Shawn Pacheco shooting a military ball with nearly a thousand people in attendance. So all I knew going into this was I was going to be shooting couples, the formal photos portion as Shawn made his rounds taking video of the event and ceremonies. The event was huge, I hoped I had brought enough equipment when I arrived there. I brought some Yongnuo flash guns and some compact Manfrotto nano stands in addition to some umbrella mounts and some Neweer modifiers for the lights. I had no idea if my luggage would get lost so in preparation for a few thousand lost in gear I opted for the cheaper gear. I purchased a nice grey and white backdrop from B&H which arrived just in time. To get everything out there cost a bit as well. I actually did a little research after talking for a friend and was able to create a media pass for my gear which dropped the price of the luggage to fifty dollars instead of a hundred dollars.  Anyways the logistics of planning and implementing all this equipment to land alongside me in Hawaii was a little daunting.

     So i'll jump ahead a few days into my trip when I'm actually doing work which is the real reason I was out there in Honolulu. We arrived at the Warrior's brigade ball at the Honolulu Convention Center and had the pick of where we would set up. Luckily the sun wasn't out and there was plenty of overcast which allowed me to get an amazing spot. I set up my backdrop stand and lights while couples approached me with the inquiry to be first for photos. I didn't have time to even do test shots on my friend Shawn to get everything tuned in. I immediately started doing photos as soon as everything was up, a line forming to my left. Each time I looked back I would see more and more couples until I realized I couldn't see the end of the line. I was sweating and not because of the pressure of performing at these high stakes, it happened to be eighty or so out which was giving me that sweat. Each couple got their own treatment and time with me. As long as the line was I was able to say hello to the couples and pose them a little bit, a little different each time. I shot for around two hours straight before the ceremonies began which offered me some down time. Each time I would turn someone away because the ceremonies would start I would reconsider, mostly because each person that came through looked like they outranked the last. I was later explained most of the ranks by Captain David Fowler. 

     Towards the end of the event I was beat and we packed up and headed out. Driving back to our host's home at Ewa (Pronounced Eva if I remember correctly) I already was receiving e-mails asking about the photos. The best part of doing these photos was giving some of the couples the chance to sneak in an engagement session or maternity photos or just to show off how good they looked that night. I did have to do some minimal corrections, a few of them had obviously worked hard a few days prior and had scratches on their faces. I got to meet a lot of nice men and women at this ball. Here's a few sample photos from the event, i've also provided a link below to check out all of the photos. 

The video above is Shawn Pacheo's cinematography from the ball.

So here's where the story begins now that I prefaced it with work. Work work work, that's what i'm always doing, I don't mind it. In fact it's my natural state most of the time and it's pretty normal to me. I actually feel anxious or weird if i'm not working. Part of working for yourself means that if you're not working then you're not making money which is essential to surviving. So I was pulled apart from my documents, my computer most of the time and also put in places which I was not always taking photos so I actually was removed from most of the components that usually curtail me into productivity. So here's what I did instead of work, I relaxed. I hiked, swam, snorkeled, ate, flew my drone, ran, explored, saw lava. 

     It was lovely not working, our hosts David & Beth provided us with daily rituals of Mai Tais and healthy food. Shawn who brought me on this "vacation" was also into the healthy food and exercise, which I swayed him from by the end of the week. We spent a lot of time visiting waterfalls, exotic locations and checking out some pretty awesome spots for food.  I highly suggest Monkey Pod, awesome food and desserts as well as a very modern atmosphere.  We had our own room at their housing which happened to be a two minute walk from the beach. Our beach was actually on the backside of Pearl Harbor in Honolulu. One of the awesome benefits to our hosts and our housing was the inclusion of having a big dog named Girl. Girl was a pit bull that won me over. She loved treats, being lazy and was very attentive in exchange for some petting. 

 hiking to Manoa waterfalls

hiking to Manoa waterfalls

     One day of our days we took a plane over to the Big Island where we visited where Captain Cook was murdered (turns out the locals who thought he was a god weren't convinced he was a god after giving the local ladies STDs). Our journey down to this location involved a two and a half mile hike down a mountain side to a small lagoon. We snorkeled there for awhile and fed many mongoose (I want to say mongeese). The waters where we swam contained lots of sea urchin within the coral and rocks which meant flippers were a necessity.  The hike up the mountain was pretty tough, dry, arid weather in addition to loose gravelly trails. So David and Beth are both in the Army. Beth in the reserves and David full-time. Shawn is into MMA and has owned his own school and still trains people weekly. Myself, I like visiting places to get donuts, sandwiches or various meat dishes. The hike was tough for me but I couldn't really tap out so I had to take my time. Later that day we visited black sands beach, I can't recall the exact name of this beach. There are actually a few black sand beaches in Hawaii. These beaches have this soft black sand derived from the lava rocks being pulverized in the Hawaiian surf. The views at this beach were amazing and even more so from my drone.  So currently we are at about five miles give or take for the day plus some swimming and snorkeling. We are heading south towards active lava fields. We start a five mile hike down a paved road and then a gravel road and finally onwards through a cooled lava field. Okay, the five miles actually ended before we hit the lava fields but because of a recent collapse of the cliffside and lava fields we had to trek around the active lava which was about a mile and a half. Oh yea, it's dark out too; in case I didn't mention that. We didn't know how long our walk across the lava fields would be, for all we knew it was a half hour. Each person we passed told us various distances and estimates as we conversed this sharp, treacherous path alongside a thick singular rope which stretched into the darkness. When we arrived at the final location it was raining and crowds dispersing. Our view wasn't as spectacular as previously observed by our hosts. Despite our current view we had an additional option of seeing a better view of the flow.  On our trip back we stopped and set up the drone and managed to fly it within shouting distance of the red and orange stuff. We all had our iPhones out lighting our way back and I did take a nasty spill on the rocks but we made it back to the gravel road. We took this endless trip back to the car, each of us carrying out own burden of tiredness. We made it back to our hotel a few hours later and slept, only to wake up before any actual rest had occurred to fly back to Oahu. We did around eighteen miles that day and I will never ever forget it, because I'm out of shape and it's bragging rights for me ;).

 This is David and Beth

This is David and Beth

     So the rest of the trip we visited beaches, snorkeled, had close calls in the water between waves, water and snorkeling mishaps. My friend Shawn at one point swallowed a good deal of water a few hundred feet out and was towed in by the lifeguard. I was held down at one point around sixteen seconds in the surf of a big wave, go ahead and hold your breath for sixteen seconds now add getting rolled around while that's happening. We had an awesome time doing it all regardless of the danger. After a few days of this "vacation" I actually realized I was vacationing. I wasn't taking calls non stop and answering e-mails in a timely manner. I did however manage to book five meetings for when I returned home. Future Mike will appreciate past Mike's initiative. 

     We had many other days that are worth mentioning but sometimes it's nice to not share every little bit of my day. If I didn't do wedding photography or photography and didn't rely on attention then I would absolutely love being a bit more private. But honestly it's nice to share my travels with everyone too.  I had an awesome vacation and it was nice to have the opportunity to shut down and enjoy the moments. I accidentally went on vacation and I liked it.

     I do want to take a second to write about my experience with United airlines. I booked with them before their recent choices to overbook and literally drag a paying passenger over their plane. I was hoping that they would be over the top trying to win everyone over with service and maybe a little bit extra. It was a plain experience on this plane, cramped seats, no complimentary meal on our six hour flight from Honolulu to Denver. I only found out about paying for food as they went through the plane at that exact moment they were taking orders. There was also no display units on the back of the seats which meant all I had was my phone to watch movies after connecting to their wifi. I had enough battery to last me a movie and then I had to reserve my battery so I could call my ride when I reached my destination.  I typically fly Delta because of their upgraded economy class and meals included. I won't be flying United again because of their treatment of this passenger and also it's nothing that stands out as far as service goes. I did however get a lot of suggestions of social media to try out JetBlue, so that's in the mix soon.  

P.S the naked guy in the waterfall is me. Check that off my bucket list.