Friday, November 21, 2014

Lost 2014 Tour: Kualoa Ranch

For sheer visual splendour the valley within Kualoa Ranch is hard to beat.  The area has attracted many film and television productions including Jurassic Park, Godzilla, and LOST.  In fact, the day of our tour there was a crew shooting in the valley, allegedly for a Shakira music video.  Jurassic Park 4 had also been filming recently.  In terms of LOST there are multiple locations scattered over the property: the Tempest station, Richard Alpert's pre-Island home, the area where Ana-Lucia killed Goodwin, Jughead's tower, the hill down which Hurley drove a Dharma van, the suspension bridge Hurley and Charlie crossed to reach Rousseau, the spot where the Man in Black smashed Jacob's wine bottle, and Hurley's golf course to name a few.

In 2011 I toured Kualoa Ranch in a humvee with 3 of my LOSTie pals.  Our driver and guide was a guy named Greg who was actually an extra on the show; one of his appearances was in the Santa Rosa scenes with Hurley.  After arriving back home from the LOST 2014 gathering, looking through pictures I noticed that he had actually attended the event!

For the 2014 tour we transferred from the buses that had brought us to the ranch from Honolulu to a set of open-window buses owned by the ranch.  We then set off along the dusty dirt roads.  After the bombings at Pearl Harbour the military ramped up their presence on Oahu, and there are many remnants of this on the ranch.

Military bunker.  (Photo: Ian)

Our first stop was at the "Jurassic Park log".  I'm not sure if it's the original, but there is a branch at the location much like the one that appeared in the first Jurassic Park movie in the scene where Sam Neill's character and the two kids must protect themselves from a stampeding herd of dinosaurs.

Running for cover.  (from "Jurassic Park")
Protected behind the log.  (from "Jurassic Park")
Kualoa Ranch, 2014
On the lookout for T. Rex.
I can't help but wonder if this tree...  (from "Jurassic Park")
... is the same as the tree behind the guy in white shorts.
I can't get enough of these mountains.
Kissing gorillas rock formation, 2014.
Partially obscured kissing gorillas in the background.  ("Jurassic Park")

Next we stopped at an old military bunker which has been converted into a mini-museum featuring artifacts from some of the movie and television series that have shot on the ranch grounds.  One of the rooms inside is dedicated to LOST and features the Galaga submarine model.

Making a second stop.
Artifacts from the Journet 2's Atlantis scenes.

There are actually two entrances to the bunker; the right-side entrance was filmed as the exterior of the Tempest station in LOST.

Right-side = entrance to The Tempest.
Remnants of Dharma times.
The left-side bunker entrance.

There are also spectacular views in every direction at this location.

View down the coast.
View of Mokoli'i island.  (a.k.a. Chinaman's Hat)
View down the road, just beyond the bunker entrance.
View out to sea
Heading back to the bus.

At this point our guide was about to head back to the parking lot to drop us off, but for many on the bus the #1 goal of the tour was to see Hurley's golf course.  So, after a bit of convincing and an Austin Powers worthy 15-point turn, we were on our way back into the valley.  Probably due to the aforementioned video shoot, the sign marking Hurley's golf course had been taken down.

Climbing the incline towards Hurley's golf course.
The fairway needs a little trim!
LOSTies survey The Island's only golf course. (Photo: Ian)
Video shoot on the edge of Hurley's golf course. Note kissing gorillas.
Mountain view.
Awesome, right?
Solitary palm.
Returning to the bus. Note Godzilla tracks.  (Photo: Ian)

We then high-tailed it back to the Kualoa Ranch parking lot, half-an-hour late but happy that we'd been able to get an up-close look at one of LOST's most memorable locations.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Lost 2014: Day 6

Day 6!  Another early wake-up call to catch the bus for our half-day LOST tour.  I arrived at the pick-up location around 7:30AM after woofing down my remaining kettle corn and granola bars.

Early morning view from the hotel.
This day our bus won the lottery because we had Tom as our guide.  Tom was our guide for my full-day LOST tour back in 2011 with Hawaiian Escapades, and he's great.  Knowledgeable, funny, and knows when to say something useful and when to just let the tourists enjoy the sights.  Along with the usual suspects we also had LOST 2014 organizer Kelley aboard our bus that day.  She had slipped on the rocks at Waimea Falls on Sunday and wasn't sure if she would make it, but fortunately she felt well enough to join the tour.

Bus for our half-day tour!  (Photo: Kelley)
With Tom as our guide.  (Photo: Ian)
With only a few hours to work with our time was focused on two locations:  Kualoa Ranch and the Byodo-In temple.  Both are fabulous must-see stops for any LOST fan, and I'll cover them in separate posts.

After the tour a few of us went over to re-watch the LOST pilot at Alice's hotel room.  It was, after all, Monday the 22nd of September, ten years to the day that LOST debuted on ABC.  That episode is as good today as it was then, a nearly perfect introduction.  (If I had to quibble it would be the hokey "climbing the hillside" scene, and the fake-looking CGI trees in the scene where the survivors hear the Smoke Monster for the first time.)

Setting up to watch the LOST pilot.  (Photo: Alice)

After the screening it was back to Lulu's for a bite to eat and a few adult beverages.

Adult beverage #16.

After a quick cleanup it was back to the Hilton for the official LOST 10th anniversary party, already in full swing when I arrived.  The setup was impressive -- a large room with perhaps 25 round tables, ringed around the edge with food and drink and tables displaying some of the items to be auctioned off for charity at the end of the evening.

The big event!  (Photo: Ian)
Yums.  (Photo: Ian)
Cake by Numbers.  (Photo: Ian)

After everyone had a chance to eat, Kelley and Jo welcomed the crowd and played a few videos on the big screen.  One of the videos featured many of the attendees who had sent in photos of themselves holding "thank you" signs, in appreciation of Kelley's hard work over the previous year to make the LOST 2014 event a reality.  We were also treated to three videos from the LOST cast: one from Daniel Roebuck (Dr. Arzt), one from Malcolm David Kelley (Walt), and one from Evangeline Lilly (Kate) from the set of Ant-man.

Following the presentations we had time to circulate around the room and enter bids for the many amazing auction items.  I probably bid on a dozen or so goodies, but unfortunately was outbid on each and every one!
Entering auction bids.  (Photo: Ian)
The MacCutcheon twins.  (Photo: Ian)

With Amy.  (Photo: Amy)

At one point in the evening someone really got the party started with some Dharma beer and Apollo bars.

Although the Cancer Gets LOST onsite auction was intended to be a relatively low-key precursor to the big online auction held a few days later, some of the items proved to be massively popular.  A custom Dharma van, a custom packaged Desmond action figure that Bonnie Craft and Scott Adams had teamed up to create, a replica of Jacob's wine bottle, and a replica bottle of MacCutcheon's all fetched very high bids.  As I recall more than $10K was raised that evening for the American Cancer Society.

Following the event a group of us got together for dinner at the Hilton restaurant.  For some this is where we said good-bye.  For others, although the official LOST 2014 events had ended, we still had one more day of adventure in store.

Post-party meal.  (Photo: Chris)

Monday, November 17, 2014

Lost 2014 Tour: Drive-by sights

In addition to making five stops on our Sunday tour we also enjoyed a fleeting glimpse of several LOST locations as we drove by in the bus.

For example, leaving the crash beach we drove alongside Dillingham Airfield which was used to film the scene where Yemi is shot while attempting to leave Nigeria on the beechcraft.  (Those crazy kids Paul, Alice, and Terri went skydiving here as well.)

Dillingham Airfield
Dotted along the North Shore are antenna towers much like the one featured in the season 3 finale where, with much drama, Jack finally makes contact with the offshore freighter.

The source of Rousseau's transmission. ("Through the Looking Glass")

Radio tower along the North Shore of Oahu.
 We also caught sight of a very familiar blue van as we made our way across the North Shore.

Hurley and Walt out for a ride?
We passed by the Waialua Service station, which I also saw back in 2011.  It appeared in the season two episode "The Long Con".

And finally, on the way back home, we crossed paths with the Aloha Stadium, which I've covered in a 2011 blog entry.

Aloha Stadium

And with that our full day tour of The Island came to and end.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Lost 2014: Waimea Valley

Perhaps the happiest surprise of my second trip to Oahu was the beauty and grandeur of the Waimea Valley park.  As much as I was looking forward to seeing the Beechcraft cliff and the waterfall, I was equally delighted by the other areas of the park. It is easy to understand why some of the early settler in Hawaii gravitated toward this area.  With lush tropical vegetation, old tall trees and stone-strewn riverbeds, the park transported me to a time in the distant past.

Turn-off to the Waimea Valley park.
Incredible trees.
Rocky streams.
Colourful flowers.
Fantastic fronds.
Ancient grandeur.
Burst of red.
Pad-filled stream.
Sexy bird.
Me in a banyan tree.