Exploring the Big Island of Hawaii: a Photo Essay Using the Boomerang App

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Shaka symbol shadow puppets on the Big Island

I just got back from  a girls trip to the Big Island of Hawaii. I decided to document our trip using the Boomerang App from Instagram on my iPhone 6s (Boomerang is also available for Android users). The Boomerang app creates short videos from bursts of still photos. Below are some of my favorite Boomerangs from the trip to the Aloha state.

A video posted by Jen Pollack Bianco (@lax2nrt) on Jul 21, 2016 at 5:56pm PDT


 
Sunset Zen on the Big Island of Hawaii

The Big Island of Hawaii excels at sunsets. I took this Boomerang on the beach at the Fairmont Orchid Hotel on the Kohala Coast.

A video posted by Jen Pollack Bianco (@lax2nrt) on Jul 15, 2016 at 5:54pm PDT


 

Hang Loose Shadow Puppets

The Hulihee Palace in Kona was once a vacation home used by the Hawaiian royal family. Built in 1838, it is now a cool Victorian era museum with a great collection of Hawaiian artifacts and pictures. You aren’t allowed to take pictures inside the palace, so I made this boomerang of the “hang loose” shaka symbol. The shaka symbol is used as greeting in Hawaiian culture.

A video posted by Jen Pollack Bianco (@lax2nrt) on Jul 22, 2016 at 5:42am PDT


 
Rush Hour on the Kona-Kohala Coast

The waters off the beach at the Fairmont Orchid are perfect for swimming, kayaking and stand up paddleboarding. It’s a great snorkeling spot as well. The local fish and giant turtles (known as honu) happily share this portion of paradise.

 

A video posted by Jen Pollack Bianco (@lax2nrt) on Jul 20, 2016 at 6:27am PDT


Hula Dancing on Hilo Bay

My friend, Zan Aufderheide, learned a few hula dancing basics during a tour of the Big Island. Here she is showing her mad hula skills on Hilo Bay.

A video posted by Jen Pollack Bianco (@lax2nrt) on Jul 16, 2016 at 2:08pm PDT


 
Yummy Tuna Crudo

The Beach Tree Bar and Lounge at the Four Seasons Hualalai is one of best spots on the Kailua-Kona Coast to take in the sunset and enjoy a meal with a view. The tuna crudo (ahi sashimi) with spicy aioli was both satisfying and light and paired perfectly with the tropical cocktails. I recommend trying The Green Flash made with Patrol Silver Tequila, Grand Marnier, lime, cream of coconut, Genovese basil, and fresh jalapeno.

A video posted by Jen Pollack Bianco (@lax2nrt) on Jul 15, 2016 at 1:24pm PDT

 

Yellow Flags at the Fairmont Orchid

I stayed at the Fairmont Orchid. The hotel has a lovely beach and bay which is a great place to snorkel with the giant turtles, known locally as Honu. These yellow flags amongst the palm trees gave a real sense of being on vacation.

A video posted by Jen Pollack Bianco (@lax2nrt) on Jul 16, 2016 at 9:02pm PDT

 

Handsome Furry Local

Much of the Big Island of Hawaii used for ranching, complete with cattle and cowboys. I met this furry local, a dog known for guarding cattle up in Waimea. If you’re in the area, try one of the locally sourced burgers at Village Burger. Located in an laid back strip mall, locals and visitors flock to Village Burger for their cooked to order Hawaii Big Island Beef Burger. I wasn’t even hungry and I could not resist the delicious smell wafting in the Hawaiian breeze.

For best results, Boomerangs are best viewed using the Instagram app. If you’re not yet following my Instagram, here’s a link.

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Exploring the Pacific Northwest: Abandoned Houses of the Palouse Region

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A crumbling, abandoned house in Colfax, Washington

Driving around the Palouse region of Washington state, you’ll come across quite a few abandoned houses and old barns. Photographers visiting the area love these “zombie houses.”

Cloudlapse above an abandoned house in the Palouse

Some can be found right off the Palouse Scenic Byway and others are found by exploring the off-roads in the area. You can check the Palouse Photography Hot Spot Map for an idea of where abandoned houses can be found in the area, although some have fallen down since the map was drawn.

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This abandoned granary was right off the highway

An owl and her owlet had taken up residence inside. Mama owl dive bombed if you got too close.

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Green fields and an abandoned barn in the Palouse

While some of the houses are boarded up or have fallen completely down, some are left in a time capsule-like state of disrepair. Peek inside of a few and you’ll see 1950’s era wallpaper crumbling from the walls and a few leftover pieces of furniture.

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This barn structure collapsed entirely

One abandoned farm house had a few beer cans scattered about, but none of them felt as though they had been trashed by vandals or occupied by squatters for long periods of time.

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Peeling paint on the wall of an abandoned farm house in the Palouse

Photographing the abandoned houses and structures was a nice contrast to the farmland and agricultural structures the region is best known for.

Abandoned house still life in the #Palouse is today's virtualvacay #WA

Abandoned house still life in Colfax, Washington

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Exterior of an abandoned farm house in the Palouse region

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One of the abandoned houses of the Palouse region of Eastern Washington

For more on exploring the Palouse region, you can check out my previous post and photo essay on the area.

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Exploring the Pacific Northwest: The Palouse in Black and White

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 Dramatic clouds above an abandoned house in Pullman, Washington

The Palouse Region of Southeast Washington is best known for it’s vibrant colors and vivid landscapes, but some of my favorite images from my recent trip to Southeast Washington work better in black and white.

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France photographing her favorite tree near Steptoe Butte

The rolling agricultural landscape of the area can be striking in black and white when it plays up the graphic lines, dramatic clouds, and light of the area.

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Treads on a tractor and striped fields

I like how the treads on this tractor mimic the striped fields in the background.

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Vintage Truck in Garfield, WA

Editing in black in white can also help when skies are a bit flat, like in the shot below of the crumbling grainery just off the Palouse Scenic Byway.

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Crumbling grainery in Pullman

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Photo above by France Freeman

My black and white edits were inspired by this shot my friend, photographer France Freeman, took of me in Pullman. Who knew Pullman had street art?

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Exploring the Pacific Northwest: Washington’s Palouse Region

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Rolling green and sun flare in Colfax

I recently took a road trip from Seattle to the Palouse region of southeast Washington with a photographer friend. The area is agricultural and gorgeous in June, when the fields are growing winter wheat, rapeseed (used for canola oil), and other crops. It’s no surprise, the area is popular with photographers in the Pacific Northwest.

Hyperlapse of the drive down Steptoe Butte

Red barns, abandoned houses, and glorious rural landscapes are a feast for the eyes (and cameras).

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Crumbling grainery

Photographers should pack their tripods as well as wide angle and telephoto lenses to make the most of the rural scenery.

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Striped fields in the Palouse

Among the don’t miss sights are the view from Steptoe Butte (particularly at sunrise and sunset). To catch the sunrise, we needed to leave our hotel in Pullman at 4 am, but it was worth it.

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This lone tree is ready for it’s close up

The Pullman Chamber of Commerce’s Photography Hotspots in the Palouse map is a great guide to the area.

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Power lines in the agricultural land in the Palouse

The colors in the Palouse were almost cartoonish in their vivid hues of green, yellow and blue. Red barns dot the landscape as well.

4V1C3358An abandoned barn 

Not all the area is friendly to photographers. While shooting the image above, my friend and I got crop dusted.

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Magic hour with tree and wheat in the Palouse

Driving loops around the Palouse Scenic Byway, you can take in quite a lot. Not to be missed are Palouse Falls, Steptoe Butte, and driving the backroads in search of rural gems like red barns, abandoned houses (more on the zombie houses in a future post), and some magnificent trees.

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 Shaft of sunlight through the wheat

Colfax and Pullman are the best places to stay if you’re interested in exploring the Palouse region. Pullman has more dining options since it’s the home to Washington State University.

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 The view from Steptoe Butte

The Palouse region extends to Moscow, Idaho although you would not know it from the boundaries of the maps.

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Rolling Hills of Palouse and windmills seen from Steptoe Butte

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Sunset view from Steptoe Butte

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Lummi Island in 21 Bites: Chef Blaine Wetzel’s Pacific Northwest Tasting Menu at the Willows Inn

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Smoked sockeye salmon

Chef Blaine Wetzel has put The Willows Inn on Lummi Island on the Pacific Northwest’s culinary map. Wetzel, a native of Washington state, has an impressive number of awards to his name considering he’s barely 30. He was named Food & Wine’s Best New Chef in 2012, and won the James Beard award for Best Rising Chef in 2014 and Best Chef Northwest in 2015.

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The lobby at the Willows Inn

Chef Wetzel’s tasting menu, Lummi Island in 21 Bites, is known for being almost entirely local. It’s also one of the toughest reservations to get in the Pacific Northwest. The Willows Inn seats only 26 and does one sitting per at 6:30 pm. The hotel is closed for a few months in the winter, so getting a reservation during the prime summer season can be challenging. I couldn’t make it happen last summer but got a reservation for June 2016.

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The  cottage at the Willows Inn

Known for it’s super locavore focus, almost everything on the menu is farmed, foraged or raised on or near tiny Lummi Island’s nine square miles.

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Charming details at the 100 year old Willows Inn

The Willows Inn even offers guests tours of the local farm where most of their produce is grown, making it an intriguing foodie destination in the San Juan Islands.

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Craftsman charm at the Willows Inn

Lummi Island is reached by a 10 minute ferry ride from Bremerton. With a population of less than 1,000 residents, little Lummi Island is punching way above it’s weight class in fine dining.

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Pacific Northwest charm at the bar

The evening started with cocktails around 5:30. I had the Pineapple Weed Fizz ($14), made with with pineapple weed gin, egg white and chamomile bitters, which was refreshing in the hot weather and inspired. I liked the lack of formality in the service. It was top notch, but relaxed.

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Mason jars on display in the bar

The meal started with small bites in the bar. First up was a crispy crepe with golden char roe. It was beautiful.

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Left: Flowers and candlelight right: cocktails with fresh garnishes

In honor of National Donut Day, intriguing smoked cod doughnuts were served next. The third course was a standout for me– Kale leaves with black truffles. Next were small bites of roasted sunflower root and green rhubarb.

Willows Inn smokehouse action video

At this point we left the bar and sat at our table, where we were served native oysters in a juice of watercress followed by lightly cured rockfish in a broth of bones.

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roasted sunflower root

The vivid hues of the turnip stems with caramelized razor clams were followed by a Lummi Island “tostada” made with wild herbs served on crispy mustard greens. It was colorful crunchy goodness.

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Kale leaves with black truffles

Stewed porcini mushrooms were served next and, for me, they were the standout course of the evening with their delicate texture and savory umami goodness.

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Scenes from a tasting menu

Dungeness crab served in a puree of pine nuts came next. This delicate yet satisfying dish was followed by a rare seasonal treat of local salmonberries served with petals of Nootka roses. Not overly sweet, the berries were very flavorful and bursting with color. It is a memorable dish.

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Stewed porcini mushroooms

Pacific Northwest staples of smoked sockeye salmon and a seared skirt of razor clam came next. I was starting to lose steam by the time the halibut and lovage arrived.

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Left: Turnip stems with caramelized razor clams Right: Native oysters in a juice of watercress

I found some more room for the wheat bread with pan drippings, but couldn’t muster the strength for the aged leg of venison, which was the last of the savory courses. Epic meals can be too much for me.

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2010 Golden Grape Semillon was part of the wine pairing

The toasted birch branches (served as a tea) were much appreciated with it’s earthy heat acting as a bit of digestive before the dessert courses.

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Seared skirt of razor clam

While I tend to favor savory over sweet, the desserts at the Willows Inn were exceptional and light. Grilled strawberries were served with fresh chamomile in a pleasing combination.

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Green rhubarb

Candied green pine came next, followed by pumpkin seed fudge which was shockingly light and flavorful. I almost asked for seconds.

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Crispy crepe and golden char roe

Wine pairings can be ordered with dinner for $90, or a juice pairing for $40.

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Native oysters in a juice of watercress

The wine pairing focused on the Pacific Northwest and skewed towards the whites, which was appropriate for the seafood-centric menu. I must confess I am not a white wine lover. While I normally adore wines from Oregon and Washington, I thought the wine pairing was the meal’s one misstep. It was also a bit surprising since the cocktails were so good.

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Left: smoked cod donuts Right: Dungeness crab in a puree of pine nuts

If you can’t get a reservation at the Willows Inn you can try checking out Blaine Wetzel’s cookbook, Sea and Smoke: Flavors from the Untamed Pacific Northwest.

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Lummi island “tostada” (wild herbs and crispy mustard 

The Willows Inn also serves breakfast and lunch.

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Left: salmonberries with nooka roses right: grilled strawberries and fresh chamomile

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toasted birch branches tea

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Pumpkin seed fudge

The Willows Inn

Menu $175
Wine pairing $90
Juice menu $ 40

Address: 2579 W Shore Drive
Lummi Island, WA 98262

Phone: (360) 758-2620
Toll Free: (888) 294-2620

Email: reservations@willows-inn.com

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