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This is the second week in a row that my friend Jonny (@jonnyhooksphotography) and I were able to make our Thursday schedules match up for another bike ride/photo adventure. I was more excited than last week to get outside and shoot because I received my new Tamron 18-400mm lens in the mail Wednesday evening, just in time to test it out a few times before our big trip (read The I’s Have It for more information).
Having never bought a Tamron lens before, I was slightly apprehensive to use something that wasn’t a Nikon product on my multiple Nikon camera bodies. Fortunately, my friend Erik (@ejbphotos) has had good experiences with his Tamron ultra-telephoto lens, so with his recommendation, I put the 18-400mm on my radar many months ago. Last week the price dropped $100 on the lens, so I attempted to pull the trigger to purchase it, but was thwarted by Amazon’s shipping policy to Hawai’i. I eventually called a camera company who sold the lens to me $50 less than Amazon’s price ($20 less after shipping costs). My hope is that it will be the ultimate walk around lens while exploring our neighborhood, or while on vacation exploring ancient cities, quaint towns, and hidden hamlets in Ireland. It will not replace my ultra-wide angle lens for long exposure sunrises and sunsets, but at half the weight, it may be able to replace my Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8 while traveling.
This is not a product review blog, so I won’t bore you with lens specifications and numbers. Below is a quick sample of the extreme ends of the ultra-telephoto lens in action. The subject was a survey marker about one meter in front of of my feet.
For today’s biking adventure we found ourselves at the former HC&S Pu’unene (Poo-oo-nay-nay) Sugar Mill. Although the mill is shut down, locked up, and off-limits, there are still plenty of places to explore around the area, such as the old Pu’nene school, multiple abandoned plantation era churches, the Maui Friends of the Library store, as well as a few secrets hidden in plain sight. As we rode along the newly paved rode leading past the sugar mill, I was reminded of my childhood and the freedom we were given when we were allowed to ride our bikes past our neighborhood with friends and explore places we had never been before. It was a lovely piece of nostalgia that I have not thought about in decades.
Jonny had never been back towards the Maui Friends of the Library store, so it was fun pointing out all the buildings to a pair of fresh eyes. Now that sugar cane is no longer being harvested, the fields are growing unchecked and seem to be trying to swallow up some of the buildings back in that area. After over 150 years of planting, harvesting, and replanting the sugar cane fields appear to be rejoicing in their freedom to be wild.
After visiting the historic buildings behind the sugar mill, I had one other place I wanted to share with Jonny. I took him to an old sugar plantation Catholic church cemetery that I had stumbled upon many years prior with my friend Deb. At that time, we did not have a chance to really explore it, as we were asked to leave by HC&S security (back then they were still harvesting and producing sugar and it might not have been safe for us to be there at that time). I have always wanted to revisit it and since I had not seen any security trucks so far, I figured today was they day we would give it a shot. When we visited years ago, the grass was waist high, and it was very difficult to get around, but it seems as though someone or some people have been trying to take care of the small lot.
An abandoned cemetery might not seem like the most exciting place to take someone, but I feel that you can get a real sense of history from local cemeteries. You have to understand that when the sugar industry was in full swing, there were many camps housing the field workers close to the fields. With the houses in these camps came places of worship, and with these places of worship came cemeteries. As the need for labor decreased, many of the camps were torn down, abandoned, and left to nature. So although the church is no longer around, the headstones and grave markers continue to tell the story of the community that thrived there at one point in time. According to some of the former sugar mill workers, there are a lot of these cemeteries scattered throughout the thousands of acres of sugar cane fields.
We respectfully visited the cemetery and eventually rode our bikes back home, dodging cars along the way, in order to get ready for lunch. Another great biking/photo adventure is already in the books.