Thursday, July 14, 2011

Banzai Bonsai and the end of an era

Wednesday started off being one of those days where everything turns to $#!+. I was planning to pick up Ryukyu Mike for our regular weekly escape from the wives day. The night before the weather gal said it was going to be sunny and hot. Well, it was for about 15 minutes. Once I got in the car and pulled out of the driveway, I could see the storm clouds looming on the horizon. 

Before I even got out of town the rain was falling in sheets and the view across Nago bay just a few minutes later looked even more discouraging! A series of rain squalls was all lined up to the south and west headed in my general direction. I hoped to myself that perhaps they would quickly pass and we’d have clear skies. As I cleared the next rain squall the sky opened up just enough to reveal thunderheads towering above the peaks on the other side of the island.

I arrived at Mike’s bar about an hour later only to find him soaking wet and madder than a hatter in need of a double dose of Prozac. Between all the cuss words, I could make out that the main shutter to the building that shares his business was jammed and he couldn’t get in to get his equipment. To make matters worse, he didn’t have a key to the back entrance and the owner of the building was nowhere to be found.

To more fully understand the situation, you must understand that Mike without a camera is like showing up to your mother’s funeral in flip-flops and a wife beater T-shirt because you forgot to pack a suit. Wait a minute, Mike might actually do that! It’s more like an alcoholic without a nickel in desperate need of a beer or, more correctly, Anthony Weiner without nasty pictures of himself to email to underage girls or post on his Face-book page and twitter account.

We really didn’t have a plan that day and initially I thought about heading up north as the skies looked better in that direction. There was a coffee farm up in the hills there that I had never been to and Mike, in addition to being a camera addict is a coffee fiend. Instead, once I got Mike in the car we just headed out. We were a couple of miles down the road before Mike stopped cussing and asked, “where the hell we going?” Far, I answered but, we were in fact headed south.

It wasn’t long when Mike spotted a really cool bonsai tree. I was focused on the road and it took a minute or two before I saw what the hell he was talking about. I crossed three lanes of traffic and did a U-turn to get over closer to it. Mike didn’t have a camera but, he made do with what he did. Fortunately his cell phone has a camera built in to it. I made up my mind that we had to do something about the situation right then and there.
We weren’t too far from the Kitamura camera store in Chatan Town so after we snapped a few quick pictures of the bonsai tree, we made a “B” line for the camera store. Mike had been talking about buying a Cannon G-12 ever since they came out and now seemed like the perfect time for him to get one. I couldn’t see him suffering any more.

At first he talked about just checking it out. That lasted all of about 11 seconds. In a flash the plastic was out and the clerk was helping him program it in “Engrish” and charging up the batteries for him. A few minutes later, our favorite camera expert and Kitamura employee extraordinaire Hiro, short for Hirohito, who happens to speak perfect English showed up.

I was wandering around the store while we were waiting for Mike’s batteries to get charged when I spotted a used Pentax K-7 at a decent price. I have been shooting with a Pentax K200D for the last two years. It’s a fine camera for a beginner learning to shoot a DSLR but it is a bit limited in its range of functions. I wanted to do more and with Mike drooling over his new toy and Hiro there to help us, it wasn’t but a few seconds before I was negotiating a trade up.

Within an hour we were leaving the store with new toys in search of some blue skies to go play with them in. I spotted a patch of blue over toward the other side of the island. We drove out there only to find it pouring rain when we got there. My Pentax can handle the weather but Mike was worried about his new Cannon getting wet.

We stopped at a place for a late lunch to wait out the weather but, as soon as we got back on the road it took a turn for the worse. We ended up driving around for a while and planning future trips out with the toys but this day the weather just wouldn’t cooperate. The skies didn’t clear again until I got back home.

But, the day wasn’t a total wash. We both have new toys to play with and today marked the end of an era for me. I took my last picture with my old K200D that you see here. From now on I’ll be exploring the wilds of Okinawa and taking pictures with a K-7. Let just hope they don’t have a great deal on a K-5 or newer model any time soon.

My contribution to Travel Photo Thursday for July 14th, 2011.

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  1. K-7... I know it, I have a good friend who loves that camera. He even tried to convince me to move to Pentax ^_^

  2. what a hoot, your new camera story. the bonsai that changed the (photography) world? yep.

  3. Nice shot. Good thing you didn't run into anyone to get this fun shot.

    come post your url for photo Thursday

    could not find a twitter or facebook to follow you, not sure why?

  4. Now I want to buy a new camera too.

  5. Hah,
    What a day. Your photo looks a heck of a lot better than what I caught with the cell phone.
    I hope that K7 lives up to your expectations !

  6. Boy that picture sounds expensive! Great story along with a very interesting picture :)


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