Wednesday, December 30, 2009


“Diamond Jewel Of The Pacific”, features a tropical scene of turquoise seas and a palm lined beach with the world famous landmark, Diamond Head, in the background.
Life in Hawaii can’t get much better than this!!

Mahalo (Thank You) for taking the time to view my artwork.


Lisabongzee's Island Dream Life Website

Thursday, December 24, 2009


(Merry Christmas & Happy New Year)
from Lisabongzee's ISLAND DREAM LIFE!

I wish you all the best for 2010
and a huge MAHALO (Thank You !) for supporting
my artwork throughout this past year.

Have a very Happy Holiday Season.


LisaBongZee's Island Dream Life Website

Saturday, December 19, 2009


“A Perfect Day In Opunohu Bay”

On the beautiful island of Moorea, Tahiti, lies Opunohu Bay. It’s gorgeous scenery attracts many visitors to it’s calm clear waters and breathtaking Mount Mouaroa (also known as the Bali Hai of the Pacific), soaring up into the clouds above. It is here that Captain Cook actually anchored in 1769 and where the movie "The Bounty" was filmed.
Opunohu is the Tahitians' favorite bay because it is less populated, and has small secluded beaches.
Life in Tahiti can’t get much better than this!!

LisaBongZee's Island Dream Life Website

Thursday, October 29, 2009


Last month was my Birthday. I wasn’t really expecting to do much to celebrate. We had already been on two great vacations this summer, so I knew any type of travel was completely out of the question. Dean asked what would I like to do for my Birthday, and jokingly I said “Go back to Haleakala” and we both laughed. “Yeah Right!”

Then, I was visiting my mom and dad one morning, and they happened to mention that Hawaiian Airlines was running a deal for the month of September. $25 airfare to the outer Islands. Wow! That was unreal, an offer too good to pass up! Even though we were completely broke from our last two trips, we found a way to scrounge up enough (where there’s a will, there’s a way!) and I booked us a flight to Maui that very afternoon! I couldn’t BELIEVE we were going back to Haleakala!

Something unusual also happened that week. I actually sold a few of my original paintings! This was more than enough to cover the entire Haleakala cost! I took this as a sign that this trip was “meant to be”.
We have never had to plan or pack for a backpacking trip so quickly before (we only had 2 weeks), but somehow we managed to get everything in order. The fact that we had just done this great adventure last June helped with our planning and knowing what to expect.

My Mom and Dad also thought the airfare deal was too good to pass up. Since my Mom’s Birthday is in September, as well, they decided to celebrate it over on Maui, and booked a flight along with us. They wouldn’t be joining us on the Haleakala backpacking trip, that’s not their thing. But they did enjoy 5 days of lounging on the beach, snorkeling off of Molokini, and being our taxi service up to the “House Of The Sun”. They had never seen Haleakala before, so it was fun to get to show them a place that we find so very special to us. As they looked out over the vast landscape from the visitor center, all they could say was “Amazing…… just Amazing….” My thoughts, exactly.

And so we were off… back to Haleakala! I could not believe it. We ended up doing basically the same route as in June, and even though we knew what it was like, that didn’t take away from the experience. In fact, looking back, I can’t decide which trip was more fun. The weather was perfect, and this time, we were more prepared for the cold nights (we had bought 15 degree rated sleeping bags for the Tetons that we took to Haleakala this trip, and they kept us toasty warm). The nights did get down to the low 30’s (yes, believe it or not, parts of Hawaii CAN get this cold!) and the days were hot. It is amazing, that it can be SO COLD at night, and as soon as that sun pops up over the mountain, you can literally watch the mercury rise (about 2 degrees a minute!) Before you know it, you are ripping off the hats and jackets and heavy layers, wondering how you ever needed them as you start sweating in the morning sun. That is one thing about Haleakala that does take some getting used to. The temperatures are pretty extreme. But if you know and plan for it, it isn’t too much of a concern.

We hiked down to Paliku and spent the night there with the nene keeping us entertained. Although they are adorable and friendly, restrain yourself from feeding them. They are wild and need to stay that way!

Unfortunately, there weren’t as many nene as there were in June, but this trip we were lucky enough to see several Ahinahina in full bloom! What a treat! This one was over six feet tall!!

Dean on a frigid Paliku morning. Hard to believe it can get so cold in Hawaii. Where's the sun??

Our second day, instead of resting at Paliku, as we did last trip (it was way to hot to stay around the tent anyways - yes now it was hot!), we decided to head down the Kaupo Gap trail a ways. You can actually take the Kaupo Trail all the way down to the ocean!
Here are some beautiful views from the Kaupo Trail.

It is a long steep trail that many people lose toenails over, and once you get to Kaupo, you need a ride to pick you up. We only went about 2 miles down, but the ocean views and rain forest scenery made it well worth the trip. We got to an area that had dense tree cover and rested in the shade a bit.

There were tons of little birds all around, and the longer we sat, the more we saw. The highlight of my day was here, where I finally got to see, up close, the adorable little Amakihi birds that I love to paint!! We also saw a few Apapane, which are a brilliant red color. (Of course they flew around so quickly, I was unable to get any decent photos of them.) It was so neat to see these native Hawaiian birds in their own habitat, and I had a huge smile on my face the whole way back to camp.

Another chilly evening at Paliku. Down jackets in Hawaii?
Yes, you need them here!!

The next morning, the nene came to bid us farewell.

So long, Paliku. We love this special place!!

On the long hike to Holua, we stopped at about the only shade on the trail for a quick break and one last look at beautiful Paliku in the distance.

Our fourth day was my Birthday, and also our last day of our hike. We woke to a gorgeous (but cold) Haleakala sunrise coming up above the clouds of the Koolau Gap. As I looked around, the whole of Haleakala was glowing in a bright orange morning light. I told Dean “Now this is the best Birthday Card I could ever ask for!” It was amazing!

Once that sun comes up over the mountain, be prepared for instant warmth!!

We hiked up and out of the crater yet again, up the spooky switchback trail, and met up with my parents. We were so happy that our Haleakala Adventure was every bit as soul-satisfying as our first one. And after our disappointing Teton’s trip, we finally felt we had redeemed ourselves!

We drove back down the side of the huge volcano, completely content. On the way down, we stopped at the Kula Lodge for a Birthday Lunch.
We had never been there before, but we were glad we chose it. The place was amazing. The view from the restaurant looks like a postcard! It looks out over all of West Maui.

The food was outstanding too. They have a real Kiawe wood burning brick pizza oven outdoors, and lush tropical gardens.

Beautiful protea flowers grow in abundance along the cool slopes of Kula.
They are spectacular!

It is also the home of the Curtis Wilson Cost Gallery, and we sure enjoyed looking at all his beautiful artwork. This is one of my favorites of his.

Maui has more art galleries than people (well, not really, but almost!), but unfortunately, we didn’t have the time to visit many of them, as our plane was to leave in a few hours, back to Oahu.

Haleakala poking out above the clouds.

There was NO BETTER way to celebrate my Birthday than being back in the Heart Of Haleakala. It is a very special place and I feel it is now a little part of me!

Click Here to see our first Haleakala Camping Adventure!


LisaBongZee's Island Dream Life Website

Friday, October 23, 2009


Well, it's "Aloha Friday" here in Hawaii, and what a great morning it has been. My little yorkie, Brighton, and I went to the beach with my mom and dad very early, just as the sun was coming up. My parents are two of the coolest people I know (although I didn't think that when I was younger), and I always have a great time hanging out with them.

The water was beautiful, the waves were crashing against the dark lava rock shoreline and the sand just glistened. Not many people were around, as it was still early.

My mom loves to hunt for sea glass and anything else unusual that may have washed up on shore during the night. But today, as we were walking down the beach, we saw something rather amazing. At first, we thought they were just two large rocks, until we got a bit closer.... There, we saw a pair of endangered Hawaiian Monk Seals, just lying on the sand, soaking up the morning sun without a care in the world. I have seen a single Monk Seal down at this beach one time before, but never two at once. It was pretty cool!

"Can life get much rougher than this???"

Then, as we continued down the beach, there was a THIRD Hawaiian Monk Seal. I couldn't believe it! We didn't get too close, as they are endangered, you are suppose to keep back and give them their space. But Brighton wanted me to snap his picture with this guy.

After a few minutes, he popped his eyes open and seemed to say "ALOHA". He was adorable.

We continued on down the beach, hunting for sea glass, and enjoying the beautiful scenery all around.

I ended up with a small handful of seaglass,

but a great experience of seeing three beautiful
Hawaiian Monk Seals.

What a GREAT WAY to start the weekend!!


LisaBongZee's Island Dream Life Website

Thursday, October 22, 2009



"Auntie Strings Aloha" is one of my latest original oil and watercolor ACEO's.
Auntie loves to make beautiful fragrant smelling Plumeria flower leis for all the people she loves. It is her way of showing Aloha, and everybody loves Auntie! Looks like she’ll be busy all day.

MAHALO for taking the time to view my artwork!


LisaBongZee's Island Dream Life Website

Monday, September 28, 2009



What could be better than sailing the gorgeous turquoise waters of Waikiki, with the world famous landmark of Hawaii, Diamond Head, as your backdrop. You won’t ever want to go back home!

MAHALO for taking the time to view my artwork!


LisaBongZee's Island Dream Life Website

Tuesday, September 8, 2009


After our botched Teton Backcountry Trip, we decided to head back down to Utah, to spend the remaining days of our vacation hiking the Wasatch Mountains. Utah never disappoints us, and this time was no exception. The wildflowers were exploding with prolific color everywhere we looked. Entire mountainsides were covered.

The flowered trail to the lakes of Brighton.

Even the rockiest terrain puts on a show for us.

Dean on a hillside covered in flowers.

A brilliant orange Indian Paintbrush stands out among the rugged mountain terrain.

I enjoy hiking through an entire hillside of red Indian paintbrush, while the hummingbirds buzz all around!!

I would expect to see this on a movie set, or at a garden nursery, but not out in the wild.... total nature.... having to hike most of the day, but to find these fields and fields of beautiful colorful flowers just sitting there, waiting to be enjoyed by anyone who bothered to come along.... it was a special treat, indeed !!!


LisaBongZee's Island Dream Life Website

Tuesday, September 1, 2009


"Three Little Birds" is one of my latest original oil paintings. No, it is not one of the usual bird paintings that I have been doing recently!!

The inspiration for this painting was my beautiful Bird Of Paradise plant that I have had growing in my garden for over 13 years. To me, the Bird Of Paradise is one of the most beautiful of all the tropicals. I am lucky enough to be able to grow them in my yard here in Hawaii, and their bright vibrant colors always bring a smile to my face. They are truly fascinating.

I really enjoyed painting these tropical birds.

This painting is 1 ft. wide by 3 ft. tall.



LisaBongZee's Island Dream Life Website

Sunday, August 30, 2009


I know this may seem off art topic, but so much of my inspiration for painting comes from visiting new places and experiencing new surroundings, I feel the need to share it with you. Thank you for taking the time to read my blog. ALOHA!

A few weeks ago, Dean and I went on what we thought would be the adventure of a lifetime… and in many ways, it did turn out to be just that…. Sort of.

The Grand Teton National Park is located in Wyoming, right below Yellowstone. It is a much smaller park, but large in grandeur. The mountain peaks just seem to pop straight up out of the ground. Photos cannot quite capture just HOW dramatic they are, you must see them in real life. “The Grand” towers at 13,770 above sea level!

We were dying to see this land up close and personal, and spent many months planning a multi-day hiking route, studying the topography of the trails, making our menu and preparing all our food. Every single ounce had to be taken into consideration. A five day trek doesn’t sound that long, but when you have to carry everything on your back, up and down steep mountainous terrain, in much thinner air than the sea level climate we are used to here in Hawaii, you have to make sure you are not taking any unneeded items.

We packed up and headed for the GRAND TETONS!!!

We flew from Honolulu to Salt Lake City, Utah, and then drove about 5 hours up through Idaho and Wyoming. Thunderstorms came along when we were about an hour from the Tetons, and did not let up the rest of our drive there. Although it was a “scenic route” we didn’t see much. In fact, we were lucky if we could get the windshield wipers to move fast enough to even be able to see where we were going! This wasn’t a very good sign!!

When we finally arrived, the Grand Tetons did look grand, but they also looked a bit ominous. Large, bright bolts of lightning streaked down from the sky across the mountain range, and it reminded me of a setting in a Disney cartoon where the mean old witch might live. I wasn’t too confident in our hiking plans at this time.

By late afternoon, however, the black clouds rolled away but the air was still thick with a fog that gave us a bright red ball of a sun for the rest of the evening.

We camped at the Gros Ventre (pronounced “Grow Vaunt” – it’s French, meaning “Big Belly”) campgrounds the first night, setting up the tent in a quick thunder/lightning/hail storm. They were expecting another large storm to roll in tomorrow….. the very day we had planned to start our hike! OH NO!

But the next morning we woke up to bright clear skies and we were hopeful. We set out for the Moose Visitor center to obtain our permits for the hike.
The buffalo are plentiful near the Gros Ventre Campgrounds. What a beautiful setting!

The rangers informed us that another thunderstorm was scheduled to roll in today, but it looked like clear skies and nice weather for the following days. Although we hated to, we decided to play it safe and postpone our hike one day, in hopes of better weather.

We weren’t too disappointed in our change of plans, as this gave us a chance to drive around and see some of the sights of this beautiful National Park. We ate lunch at Signal Mountain Lodge and then checked out Jackson Lake, the largest of several lakes in Grand Teton. The scene is just gorgeous, the mountains look fake. They are so unbelievable, although, here you can see the afternoon clouds starting to roll in. Rain followed.

Luckily, it didn’t last very long at all, and we kinda wished we had started our hike today as previously planned. Instead, we took the Antelope Flats route (in which we saw no antelope) and made our way to “Mormon Row”.

The main attractions of “Mormon Row” are the abandoned barns that were homesteaded by the Mormons in the early 1900’s. I had seen many photographs and paintings of these beautiful buildings with a backdrop that was just breathtaking.

It was so neat to finally be able to see these old barns and homes in real life, and I had many thoughts of great painting opportunities. Needless to say, I took many photos for later reference.

"Still Standing Before The Grand"

Yet again, the weather did not want to cooperate, and started to turn on us. We headed back to our tent at Gros Ventre for a second night.

The next morning was not so clear and sunny, and clouds hung over the Grand Tetons. We were a little pessimistic about hiking up into them, but time was an issue, and we couldn’t postpone another day. It was now or never. Maybe the weather would clear as the day wore on…..

At 8:30 a.m., we were finally starting our long awaited adventure. Here I am heading up Paintbrush Canyon. We had planned to hike in about 8 miles up the canyon the first day and camp in the Upper Paintbrush Zone.

It began to drizzle, and our views of the beautiful Teton Mountain range were blocked by the ever-looming clouds. We did see many beautiful waterfalls though, and streams ran down next to the trail a lot of the way. Had it been nice weather, this place would have been absolutely gorgeous!

Our first critter we encountered on the trail was a Marmot. He was busy scurrying among the boulders, but when he saw us, he took a minute to pose for a picture.

Wildflowers near Holly Lake grew along the edge of the trail.

Hours and hours of hiking in the rain. Luckily, we had waterproof rain covers for our packs, and our rain gear worked well in keeping us dry. Not the most ideal hiking conditions, though. That is for sure.

We saw many little Pika’s running in and out of rocky areas. They were fun to watch, so comical, (they sure reminded us of our little Brighton SuperYorkie, back home. How we missed him!) Most of the little Pika’s were busy collecting wildflowers and taking them back to their winter stash. They would make a funny little “scream” that sounds almost like a bird. We spent a few minutes watching them, and we should have stopped for lunch, but the weather was getting worse, and we wanted to get up to the camping zone as soon as possible, so we hungrily trekked on.

We had been hiking about 6 1/2 hours. It rained almost the entire way, and was not letting up. In fact, it looked like it was actually turning worse. The mountain passes were completely covered in clouds. The higher we got, the colder it got. We were hungry, and our clothes felt damp, probably from the sweat of hiking in only semi-breathable rain gear all day. All we wanted to do was get our tent set up and get a nice warm meal made.

About a quarter mile from the camp zone, the rain turned to SNOW!! Yes SNOW! In August! It started coming down in full force, big large flakes! What were we doing??!?? Were we CRAZY???

We reached the Upper Paintbrush camping zone. There are not actual camp sites, you just have to find a decent place off the trail to pitch your tent. We didn’t have much time, as the snow was starting to stick to the ground already. Dean found a fairly level area, and we started setting up as fast as we could. Our hands were frozen, which made pushing stakes into the ground painfully difficult, but with the way the snow was coming down, we knew we had to get the tent up and get everything inside as quickly as possible before it got all wet.

By the time we got our tent pitched, and all our gear stowed, the trail we had just come up was completely covered! We couldn’t have hiked back down if we had wanted to. Looks like we’re going to have to ride this storm out!!

It was only about 4 pm, and it doesn’t get dark in the Tetons this time of year till after 9pm, but we were COMPLETELY exhausted from hiking all day with much too heavy packs, in the rain, and no meal since our early morning breakfast. It tends to wear you out quite quickly. Plus, I think we still were not quite adapted to the high altitude. We were at about 10,000 ft. now. At that altitude, you should expect snow any time of year, I suppose!

We quickly changed into dry clothes. It was freezing cold, and the snow kept coming down, but luckily, there was no wind. We opened up our 15 degree rated sleeping bags and crawled inside, hoping they would warm us up. We were cold, tired, and hungry, but didn’t want to go outside to cook because we didn’t want to end up wet. Grand Tetons is “bear country” so you are not suppose to have any food in your tent AT ALL. (Couldn’t we make an exception this once?)

Our 5 day food supply was stuffed in a bear canister, and stashed under a tree about 50 yards away. We were too scared to eat. Being from Hawaii, we thought we might freeze to death, we were not used to bears either. We were so tired, we didn’t really care. We curled up in our sleeping bags, and luckily, they did seem to work. We were not too cold at all. Every 10 minutes or so, we had to whap the snow off the fly of the tent. It would build up quickly. Around 8 pm, the snow finally let up a little – I did not bother to get out of my warm sleeping bag to take a picture – although now that I am back home and warm and safe, I wish I had. (The photo below was taken around 5 pm, after we got the tent set up.)

We just wanted to go to sleep, stay warm, and have this night be over with as soon as possible! On more than one occasion, we were JOLTED upright by sounds of falling rocks. “Falling Rocks” is an understatement, it sounded more like large boulder slides. Then there was the constant “plop” “plop” “plop” of the snow falling off the tree branches. In my overactive imagination, I kept thinking it was a killer grizzly bear walking around our tent, ready to rip us from our nylon fortress and have his “Two Hawaiians Dinner”.

I was on edge most of the night, Dean was too comatose to care about anything. He had a major “High Altitude Headache” and didn’t give a single thought to the snow or the falling boulders, bears, wind, lightning… etc. He left all the worrying to me!
(How nice of him!)

I peeped out of the tent around 11 pm with my headlamp, and fully expected several green glowing eyes to be staring back at me, but that wasn’t the case. In fact the night was still and, for the most part, quiet. It was actually kind of peaceful out there with the almost full moon and ground blanketed in white. I began to relax just a bit, and finally was able to doze off to the sounds of our hungry stomachs growling.

Early the next morning, we awoke to hail popping off the top of our tent.
We looked out to see that (unfortunately) the storm was still hanging around, and the pass that we were suppose to go up and over today was completely covered in clouds. It MUST be snowing up there! We had to decide if we should try to wait it out, maybe the snow would melt and we could continue on…. Or head back down the mountain the first chance we got.

We waited… the hail kept coming down…. We were hungry.... and thirsty….. and tired..... and sore, we knew the pass must be completely covered in snow, and potentially dangerous. Would we even be able to FOLLOW the snow covered trail up at the top, and what if the storm turned worse? We had no choice, we had to go back down. We waited about an hour more, and finally the hail let up a bit. We quickly packed up all our wet gear, donned our rain jackets and started the long and depressing trek back down the mountain. We felt like such failures….. but we wanted to be safe, and this was really our only choice.

I was able to stop and filter some water from a stream. Boy did that taste good. We also gulped down a couple breakfast bars and were on our way.

The clouds cleared for a few minutes, and we looked back towards the pass we were supposed to have been crossing today, had the weather cooperated. Totally snow covered. Something we had not expected in our planning. Oh well, we will try to make the best of it anyways.

A few miles down, the weather cleared a little, and we did get to see a bit of the beautiful canyon. Here was a nice view of Jenny and Jackson Lakes.

More fields of wildflowers.

Lower down the trail, we spotted a Mama Bear with two cubs. She was busy digging through the downed trees for ants. We didn’t want to stick around, but we couldn’t pass because she kept coming out onto the trail and crossing over to the other side. The fact that she had cubs with her made us even more cautious. We talked loudly and she was aware of us, but didn’t seem to care.

We snapped a quick pic of one of the cubs walking along the trunk of a fallen tree, and when Mom was preoccupied with an appetizing ant filled tree trunk, we slipped past quickly.

What an amazing sight that was! We hadn’t seen any wildlife on the trail other than the Marmots, Pikas, and a few birds. No deer, no moose, nothing…. But to get to see a mama bear with two cubs in the wild like that was pretty amazing. I was sure thankful they hadn’t been up at our “Snow Camp” though!!

And then, as quickly as it cleared, the clouds rolled back into Paintbrush Canyon. You just can’t predict Mother Nature!

After a long and tiring downhill hike, we finally made it back to String Lake, where we started our hike the morning before. Carrying back down the heavy 5 days supply, not using any of it. All that planning…. All that work….. All the optimistic expectations of a wonderful journey to the backcountry of the wild, rugged Tetons…. And to end it like this. We were fully bummed, to say the least.

But we had to think “It could have been worse!” We could have froze to death up there, or been eaten by a bear. Aside from some sore and tingling feet, we were safe and sound once more.

We looked back toward the far away mountain we had spent the night on. It was still covered in a bit of snow, perhaps it had melted enough throughout the day that we could have carried on with our adventure. That is something we will never know.

As we walked back to the car, the dark clouds and rain began to roll back in. We were confident now that we had made the right decision to come back down the mountain. It was just not meant to be. We decided to drive back down to Utah and spend our remaining days hiking around the Wasatch Mountains that we love to snowboard on every winter. So….. that’s what we did.

We had an awesome time hiking in Utah, the wildflowers were exploding in brilliant color everywhere, and the weather was perfect. But you know, when we got back home, the thing that stayed with us most about this entire adventure was the “Snow Camp” night. We had been miserable and hungry and scared and would never want to repeat it again, but that is the thing that stuck out most, almost in a good way. Our “Snow Camp” pictures are our favorite of our entire trip, so even though it did not turn out as we had hoped, we did have a lifetime experience that we will


CLICK HERE to continue on to UTAH

"Storm Watcher" is a small original ACEO of a photo we took while driving through the Grand Teton National Park. A big black raven sits stoically atop an old fence post watching the ever darkening sky move in above the Grand Teton range. He has seen this many times, and knows that rain will soon be upon him, but it won’t last for long.

"Storm Watcher"

LisaBongZee's Island Dream Life Website