USA

Kingston, Ontario to Niagara Falls

Disappointed to learn Fort Henry, a UNESCO World Heritage site in Kingston, Ontario, closed for the season on September 3, we, nevertheless, walked around a bit and took a few photos on day 7 of our Great Lakes Road Trip. Built in the 1830’s atop Point Henry and overlooking the St. Lawrence River on a military route from Montreal to Ottawa,  the strategic value was readily apparent and the views were outstanding.

IMG_7211

View from Ft. Henry toward Kingston

IMG_7212

The gate at Ft. Henry at the upper fort

IMG_7216

View of the lower fort

IMG_7217

The lower fort

Kingston is the door to the 1000 Islands, a region located in the St. Lawrence River along the U.S./ Canada border. We drove 20 miles east to Ganonoque for a boat tour of the Thousand Islands with Gananoque Boat Line, billed as the largest and oldest of the cruise companies in the islands.  We decided on the 1-hour Beauty of the Islands cruise departing from Gananoque for $24.95 rather than the 5-hour Boldt Castle Stopover for $48.80.

Screen Shot 2017-12-26 at 9.23.46 AM

Beauty of the Islands cruise route

The 1000 Islands are rich with history, beginning with First Nations people who inhabited the area before French explorer Jacques Cartier discovered the area in the 1500s followed by Samuel de Champlain in the 1600s. By the late 1800s, the area became the summer vacation destination for millionaires during the Gilded Age. George Boldt, the wealthy owner of the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York City, built Boldt Castle for his wife, Louise, who died before its completion without ever seeing it.

Incidentally, Thousand Island salad dressing was created here. One version of the story says George Boldt’s chef created the recipe but another version says it was created by Sophia Lalonde, the wife of a fishing guide. Whichever story you believe, when George Boldt got ahold of the recipe, he put it on the menu at the Waldorf Astoria, and the rest is history.

Today, the archipelago of 1864 islands in the St. Lawrence River remains a vacation paradise for outdoor enthusiasts. Only a few islands are reachable by ferry; otherwise private watercraft are required with plenty of boat rentals available throughout the area. Twenty-one islands comprise the 1000 Island National Park of Canada with docks, trails, and camping facilities.

As we embarked our cruise boat, the day was warm and sunny. We enjoyed the ride with commentary to accompany the close-up views of many small islands and cottages.

IMG_7234
IMG_7237_edit

IMG_7255

I have no idea which ferry we saw in the photo below but if you look carefully, you can see it’s cable-driven. This method is safer on a river with a strong current. We were lucky to have gotten a look at this one in action.

IMG_7257Many of the islands are small enough to accommodate just one cottage. In fact, on our cruise they told us to be considered an island, it must be at least 6 square feet of land with at least 2 trees. I read on various websites, however, that the requirement is one tree and the land must be fully above water 365 days a year. Either way, some of these islands are very small and could easily be submerged by a high wake.

IMG_7286

IMG_7295

IMG_7309

Note the sign “PLEASE NO WAKE”

IMG_7315

IMG_7329

IMG_7331

IMG_7338

IMG_7371

Following our cruise, we crossed the Thousand Islands International Bridge to re-enter the United States.

IMG_7351

IMG_7352

Thousand Island International Bridge

IMG_7370

View of the St. Lawrence River from the Thousand Island International Bridge

We had planned to follow the shore of Lake Ontario to Niagara Falls but when I saw Seneca Falls, NY on the map, I was keen to visit the site of the first women’s rights convention in the U.S. and Jim was willing.

Screen Shot 2017-12-18 at 3.03.14 PM

In July 1848, over 300 women and men gathered in the Wesleyan Chapel in Seneca Falls, NY to discuss the rights of women. Led by Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Mott, on the first day only women were allowed to attend and discuss principles. On the second day, 100 women and men discussed and signed the Declaration of Sentiments which expanded on the sentiments expressed in the Declaration of Independence and began with, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men and women are created equal.”

IMG_7418

Restored Wesleyan Chapel where the convention was held

IMG_7420

Interior of Wesleyan Chapel

IMG_7373

Sign outside Wesleyan Chapel

IMG_7403

Outside the Visitor Center at Women’s Rights National Historical Park

For me, the most moving exhibits inside the Visitor Center were the First Wave Statue and an exact replica of the suffrage banner. The First Wave Statues represent the first wave of women’s rights activists including the 5 organizers of the convention, the men who supported their efforts, and others who did not sign the Declaration of Sentiments.

IMG_7377

The suffrage banner celebrated the ratification of the 19th Amendment in 1920 granting women the right to vote. The colors in the banner are purple for justice, white for purity of intent, and gold for courage. The stars represent the 36 states that ratified the amendment.

IMG_7407

In 1980, the Women’s Rights Historical Park was established as part of the National Park Service. It’s easy to forget the struggles of those who led the way to establish the rights of women. It took another 72 years after the convention to secure the right to vote for women. Today, we have enjoyed that right for fewer than 100 years. This national park serves as an important reminder.

We finished day 7 in Niagara Falls to celebrate our wedding anniversary which I’ll share in my next post.

 

Based on events from September 2017.

 

SaveSave

Categories: Canada, History, National Parks, Travel, Uncategorized, UNESCO, USA | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Great Lakes Road Trip 2017

We like to take a road trip in the fall. The kids are back in school so there are fewer tourists competing for views, roads, hotels, etc. The weather is usually pleasant. We try to plan our trip around our anniversary in September but we also have to work around home football games at Iowa State where we’ve held season tickets for over 30 years. We had planned to circle the Great Lakes in late September 2016 but when a good deal on a river cruise in France came up, we canceled the Great Lakes trip. We rescheduled the Great Lakes for 2017 when we had a 2-week window of opportunity in September.

I’m normally a careful trip planner but frankly, very little advance planning went into this trip. Here’s what we knew: we would begin by heading north to Duluth; we wanted to see all five Great Lakes; we wanted to drive along the lakes whenever possible; we wanted to stop at Jim’s former fishing spot in Canada and visit Niagra Falls and Mackinac Island; we wanted to avoid Toronto having read about the traffic; we also wanted to avoid Chicago traffic. Beyond those parameters, we had no plan. We weren’t sure how far we would travel each day or how many stops we’d make so we didn’t want to reserve lodging ahead and we had not even plotted the route.

With maps, AAA Tour Books, and my smartphone, we planned as we went. We didn’t use my phone for the internet while driving in Canada, however, because data charges through my provider are high. (We did have wifi in hotels at night.) While Jim drove, we watched signs and I studied the AAA books or internet to find places of interest and we stopped at anything that struck our fancy. When we were tired or just felt like stopping, we found a hotel for the night.

How did it turn out? We visited the places on our list, we discovered some amazing places, and we missed a few due to lack of advance planning. We saw all five Great Lakes, we have a new appreciation for them, and we definitely want to return to some areas for further exploration. We got off the beaten path and drove a lot of two-lane roads with little traffic, beautiful views, and road construction. One night we did have a problem finding lodging but we’d brought an air mattress and sleeping bag in case we had to sleep in the car and didn’t use them in the end. Not having internet access in the car while in Canada was a mistake I’ll not repeat. We have these and many more stories to tell about our experience so watch this space.

Would we do it again? Absolutely! The sense of adventure and freedom it gave us was priceless.

 

IMG_5400

Embarking on our road trip

 

Screen Shot 2017-10-08 at 7.12.14 AM

Our route

 

 

 

Based on events from September 2017.

 

 

Categories: Canada, Travel, Uncategorized, USA | Tags: , | 4 Comments

American Gothic Visited

Tiny Eldon, Iowa (population 916) is home to the backdrop of one of America’s most famous paintings. The artist, Grant Wood, visited the town in 1930 and sketched the Dibble farmhouse which would later appear in the painting, American Gothic. Today the original painting resides at the Art Institute of Chicago but Eldon is worth a visit to see the inspiration that led Grant Wood to create this iconic piece.

We’ve passed nearby many times on our way to and from St. Louis via Des Moines. Eldon is just 6 miles off highway 34 between Ottumwa and Fairfield. Once you reach Eldon, signs direct you quite easily to the American Gothic House.

Screen Shot 2017-10-02 at 7.34.55 AM

IMG_4836

IMG_4837

IMG_4843

The center contains an informative collection of exhibits about the house, Grant Wood, and Art Regionalism. Charles and Catherine Dibble built the house in 1881-1882. The style, called Carpenter Gothic, used somewhat incongruous fancy details on a plain farmhouse. The gothic windows in the gables of the house would normally be used in a church but were chosen from the Sears catalog to grace the Dibble home. Incidentally, my husband’s mother’s maiden name was Dibble and the Dibbles came from New York state as did my mother-in-law’s relatives. That, however, is a subject for future research and possibly another blog post.

 

IMG_4872

American Gothic House

 

According to information at the center, the couple never posed together for the painting and didn’t actually meet until 12 years later when the photograph below was taken. The woman was Grant Wood’s sister, Nan Wood Graham, and the man was his dentist, Dr. B.H. McKeeby. The artist assured them they wouldn’t be recognized in his painting but that turned out to be incorrect and caused some hard feelings especially with his dentist.

IMG_4859 2

Photograph of Nan Wood Graham and Dr. B.H. McKeeby at the American Gothic House Center

 

IMG_4857

This is our dour look

 

Grant Wood was an Iowa native, born in 1891 on a farm outside Anamosa where he lived until his father died when he was 10. His mother then moved the family to Cedar Rapids where he won third place in his first art contest at the age of 14. Following graduation, he spent a short time studying art in Minneapolis but returned to the Cedar Rapids area to teach school and lived in that area most of his short life. During a trip to Munich, he came to the realization that he needed to paint from his own experience. In 1929, he painted a portrait of his mother called Woman with Plants, launching his new style and taking his place in the Regionalist movement. The following year he painted American Gothic and, as they say, the rest is history.

IMG_4844

Except for one more interesting side note: Grant Wood spent the summer of 1941 painting in Clear Lake, Iowa (which is 8 miles west of our home). I found this article in our local paper written in 2008 about the artist’s stay in Clear Lake.

Version 2

Information at American Gothic House Center

Grant Wood died the following February of cancer at the age of 50.

IMG_4875

IMG_4878

 

 

References: All information was found in displays at the American Gothic House Center.

Based on events from July 2017.

Categories: History, Travel, Uncategorized, USA | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments

Virginia Beach Family Tradition

Both my love of travel and my love of history stem from childhood travels. My maternal grandparents lived in Virginia so in the summer my parents piled us four kids into the station wagon and Dad drove from Wisconsin to the Blue Ridge Mountains in southern Virginia for a 2-week visit. Along the way, my mother, an avid antique collector, offered us kids a nickel for every antique shop we spotted and a full quarter if my father stopped. I loved poking around the musty old shops with my mother who could always be convinced to buy me an old book for a quarter, often a Nancy Drew mystery. We didn’t eat in many restaurants but my mother pulled an endless supply of pimento cheese sandwiches, fried chicken, and cold milk from the battered green Coleman cooler. After three days in the car squabbling with three of my four brothers, (the fourth came along after I was grown) we’d pull into Roanoke for an idyllic summer vacation, free to roam my grandparents’ neighborhood with little adult interference. This was heaven to me with the smell of boxwood wafting through the air, the soft sound of southern accents, and as much Dr. Pepper as we wanted to drink.   As a bonus during our stay, we’d sometimes take day trips to the Blue Ridge Parkway, Appomattox, Williamsburg, Yorktown, Jamestown, and Virginia Beach. I have fond memories of all these places and the history I learned there.

After a long absence, in 1984, I was pregnant with my first child and I returned to Virginia with my husband to visit the Williamsburg area and Washington, DC, and introduce him to relatives in Richmond and Arlington. It was the beginning of a new family tradition.

Over the years, we returned again and again to Virginia with our children in tow to spend a week at Virginia Beach with my extended family and various friends, as well as visiting the historic sites, museums, and monuments in Washington, DC; Williamsburg; Yorktown; Jamestown; and numerous Civil War battlefields. I hope my children remember these childhood experiences as fondly as I do.

Last summer my older brother’s kids and their spouses organized a reunion of sorts. They are now married with children of their own and it was time for another generation to experience the beach. My youngest brother wanted to rent a house rather than our usual suites in the beachfront hotel area of Virginia Beach, so we searched across Rudee Inlet at Croatan Beach where we found two large houses across the street from the beach that would accommodate all 27 of us.

Jim and I headed south, picked up one son in Des Moines, (the other and his wife couldn’t make the trip this time), and stopped first in St. Louis to caravan with my youngest brother and his family. A stop in Louisville, Kentucky at the Louisville Slugger Museum and Factory broke up the trip and was great fun for all of us.

img_3533

Louisville Slugger Museum and Factory

img_3545

Leah at the Louisville Slugger

img_3535

3 J’s: Jonah, Jackie, and Jim.  Jackie Robinson was the first African-American to play major league baseball.

We also found Mrs. Rowe’s Restaurant and Bakery for lunch the second day on the road in Staunton, Virginia, which fed my nostalgia with a pimento cheese sandwich.

img_3576

Mrs. Rowe’s in Staunton, Va

img_3572

You can’t take these people anywhere

img_3574

Pimento cheese sandwich YUM!

We were thrilled with our lodging choice on quiet Croatan Beach. With four bedrooms and 3 1/2 baths, there were plenty of beds for the 13 of us and enough bathrooms, too. The other house, a couple blocks south, was also outstanding with plenty of space for 14. Between the two houses and 8 nuclear families, we divided into teams to cook dinner on 6 nights for the entire group. The seventh night we all went out to dinner en masse to Captain George’s Seafood Restaurant, another family tradition.

img_3962

Our place at the beach

img_3786

Living room with two sofa beds

img_3789

Kitchen

img_3965

Back of the house with balconies for each bedroom

img_3761

Backyard pool with the kids

img_3812

Wisconsin brat night at the other house

img_3722

My brother, Paul, shucking oysters for dinner on his night

img_3738

Sister-in-law Sarah, grilling the oysters

img_3752

The finished product–DELISH

Sadly, two of my brothers are already deceased but they loved the beach, too, so we brought them along in spirit.

img_3600

My brothers, Bill and Collier, with their daughters, two of whom were on this trip with their families

img_3603

My brothers, Stafford and Paul, at the beach

We had plenty to celebrate with Gavin’s birthday and the 4th of July.

img_3611

Gavin’s birthday party

img_3596

My son (in the middle) and nephews celebrating the 4th of July

Several mornings my brother, Stafford, and I rode our bikes about 3 miles north over the Rudee Inlet on General Booth Boulevard to the beachfront hotel area. We missed the action along the boardwalk and we ended up renting a suite at the Comfort Inn in addition to the houses on Croatan Beach.

img_3776

Bike trail from Croatan Beach to Virginia Beach

img_3971

View from the Comfort Inn

img_3773

Virginia Beach morning view

img_3968

Enjoying the view from our hotel

For this group of beach lovers, the real draw is catching the big waves for a great ride on a boogie board.

img_3708

Watching for the right wave

img_3878

Boogie Boarding

img_3701

Riding the waves

img_3699

Sand time

img_3777

My son, Michael

The week went by way too fast and before we knew it, it was time to head for home. When we left, my brother, Paul, and his family decided to visit Jamestown Settlement, just 66 miles from Virginia Beach. We hadn’t been there since our own kids were small and we were eager to go again.

For anyone not familiar with Jamestown, Virginia, this was the first permanent English colony in America founded in 1607. The outdoor living history exhibits, including the Powhatan Indian Village, James Fort, and the Jamestown Settlement Ships were there when we last visited but they have since added a large museum with many exhibits incorporating authentic artifacts from the period. Both the museum and the outdoor living history exhibits are very child-friendly with demonstrations that appeal to kids and engage them in the presentations.

img_3975

Replica dugout canoe the kids are encouraged to try in the museum at Jamestown Settlement

img_3977

Filling their bags with corn for bartering at Powhatan Village

img_3998

Trading their corn for goods at James Fort

img_4084

They even have armor for visitors to try but you can’t shoot the cannon

img_4080

Jamestown Settlement replica ships

img_4060

Jonah trying out the bilge pump on one of the ships

img_4063

Leah checking out a small bunk on the ship

After our visit to Jamestown Settlement, we headed for home in earnest. Until next time.

 

Based on events from July 2016.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Categories: History, Travel, Uncategorized, USA | Tags: , , , | 7 Comments

Siesta Key and Beyond

At the end of my four-day solo travel experiment, my long-time friend Gail joined me on Siesta Key. The slow pace quickened immediately to a flurry of activity. Morning walks, paddleboarding, dinner at different restaurants each night, boating, visits with various friends in the area, and a trip to urgent care for Gail’s bronchial infection interrupted our number 1 priority, beach time. Here are the highlights.

Siesta Beach is my clear all-time favorite with a wide beach and soft, fine, white quartz sand that stays cool under the feet. Most mornings we joined other walkers getting their exercise in this beautiful setting directly across the street from our condo.

img_0907

 

img_0774

Siesta Beach

img_0784

Morning walkers

When our walks took us off the beach, we twice succumbed to the temptation to stop for breakfast. Sun Garden in the village and Toasted Mango Cafe on Midnight Pass Road both got high marks from us.

My daughter-in-law’s mother, Tricia, kindly invited us to Ft. Meyers for a day of boating. A sunny day on the water was irresistible. I hadn’t been to the Ft. Meyers area previously so seeing more of this part of Florida by water was fun and Tricia and Gary were excellent hosts.

img_0827

Our hosts, Tricia and Gary

 

img_0850

Tricia and me- the mothers

img_0859

Gail and me at lunch

Another day we drove north from Sarasota to Anna Maria Island, stopping at several beaches along the way.  As we drove through Sarasota, I snapped a photo of the 25-foot tall sculpture by Seward Johnson, Unconditional Surrender, based on a photo taken on V-J Day in Times Square.

img_0951

Unconditional Surrender sculpture

Following lunch at the Sand Bar on Anna Maria, we relaxed on the beach for awhile and then checked out several of the piers in the area.

img_0962

Lunch at the Sand Bar

img_1054

My beach umbrella and Gail’s beach blanket at Anna Maria Beach

img_0966

Anna Maria Beach

img_0971

Rod and Reel Pier

img_0980

Anna Maria City Pier

img_0991

View from Anna Maria Pier toward the Sunshine Skyway Bridge

img_1003

Anna Maria Pier

Ever since we discovered Dan at Siesta Key Paddleboards, we rent boards from him each year. He delivers the boards to us at Turtle Beach and we paddle through the canals to a secluded beach that only boaters frequent. Recently, a friend asked me if there are alligators in the canals. This is salt water and the gators prefer brackish water so no, we have never seen an alligator here…thankfully. We did see a dolphin in the canal, however.

img_1011

Our man, Dan, setting us up with paddleboards

img_1050

Paddleboarding fun

It’s always fun to see friends from home while we’re in Florida. We visited Gail’s friends, Jenny and Jeff, who now live full-time in Venice and my friends, Nancy and Jamie, who winter at a golf community just south of Siesta Key. Unfortunately, we didn’t have enough time to visit our friends, Deb and Dan, in Naples this year but we hope to see them soon.

img_0909

Jenny and Jeff

img_0880

Nancy and Jamie

Finally, we had some outstanding meals during our stay.  Casey Key Fish House and Indigenous were my favorites.

 

img_0938

Gail and I have been friends for over 50 years. Check back in the next 50 for more of our adventures together on Siesta Key and beyond.

Based on events from March 2016.

 

Categories: Travel, Uncategorized, USA | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Solo on Siesta Key

My friend, Gail, and I have spent a week together in Florida at Sarasota or on Siesta Key in March for the past 5 years. In 2016, in order to extend my stay to two weeks, I planned to spend the first 4 days alone. Most condos in Siesta Key rent by the week from Saturday to Saturday and Gail couldn’t get there until Wednesday. I’ve never particularly aspired to solo traveling but my husband consistently declines to join us on this trip. Regarding the opportunity as a growth experience, I was willing to give it a try to get out of the winter cold in north Iowa for a little longer.

In the past, I’ve flown into Tampa, met Gail at the airport, picked up our rental car, and Gail drove the 72 miles south to Siesta Key. This time, I flew into St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport where I found a cheaper flight and picked up my rental car and faced my first challenge with trepidation: driving the Sunshine Skyway Bridge across Tampa Bay. As a recovering acrophobe, I knew this would be a definite test. Frankly, I was very nervous and I talked out loud to myself to calm my fears. Meanwhile, Siri was also talking out loud to give me directions on my I-phone. Safely taking a photo under those conditions  would have been totally impossible for me so the pic below was taken 2 weeks later on the way back to the airport with Gail driving. (As you can see, it was also raining so it was a good time to leave.)

img_1065

I made it! The worst part was in my head– seeing it and thinking about it. Actually doing it wasn’t nearly as bad.

After a stop at the grocery store in Sarasota, I headed out to the island to check into La Siesta Condominiums. Aah…that view. Yes, I know there’s a pool, a clubhouse, a street, and a parking lot between me and the Gulf but it’s heaven to me.

img_0759

Our view

I planned to return my rental car the following morning in Sarasota and walk back to Siesta Key. Until Gail arrived I would relax on the island, walk the beach, eat my meals on the lanai with a view, read a little and write a lot.

img_0758

Our condo

img_0771

Kitchen at the condo

img_0770

My workspace

img_0789

Siesta Key Beach

img_0781

Breakfast at the beach

img_0763

Beautiful Siesta Key Beach

img_0779

Gulf view from Siesta Key Beach

img_0184

Day’s end on Siesta Key

So how do I feel about solo traveling? It’s definitely not my preference. Although I’m perfectly capable of entertaining myself and I love to spend time alone especially in the morning, I tend to do less when I’m alone. That’s probably because I’m kind of a scaredy cat and somewhat shy. So I did the things I enjoy doing alone like walking the beach, meditating, reading, and writing, but I didn’t go out to eat or socialize. If I traveled alone more often or for longer periods, I’d have to make a greater effort to plan activities to prevent feeling isolated. Fortunately, I have several great travel partners so, at least at this stage of my life, I won’t be traveling solo too often.

 

Based on events from March 2016.

Categories: Travel, Uncategorized, USA | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

Aloha ‘Oe, Hawaii

One of the challenges faced by cruise passengers is what to do with luggage while sightseeing before or after a cruise. Most airports no longer offer lockers due to security issues. If you have a hotel reserved, they’ll usually keep your bags until check-in but if not, what’s a tourist to do? We decided to rent a car to store our luggage while we toured Oahu upon our return to Honolulu. For around $50, we had wheels for the day and storage for our bags while we waited for our evening flight.

As soon as our cruise ship, the Pride of America, docked, we took a taxi from the port to the Honolulu Airport to pick up our car. Happy to have the protection of our own vehicle due to intermittent rain showers throughout the day, we headed across the lush Koolau Mountains to the Kamehameha Highway on the windward side of the island.

IMG_9212

Koolau Mountains

The Kamehameha Highway follows the coastline with plenty of stopping points to capture the incredibly beautiful views.

 

 

IMG_9214

Water view along Kamehameha Highway

We stopped at the ruins of the Kualoa Sugar Mill in the Kaaawa Valley of the Koolau Mountains where the scenery looked like Jurassic Park, probably because the movie was filmed in this area. The first sugar mill on Oahu, Kualoa Sugar Mill was built in the early 1860’s and abandoned in the 1870’s because there wasn’t enough rain in the area to grow sugar. Who’d have thought?

 

IMG_9217

Koolau Mountains with ruins of the Kualoa Sugar Mill

IMG_9216

Ruins of Kualoa Sugar Mill

We stopped next at the Polynesian Cultural Center but alas, it wasn’t open yet. The “cultural” part of the name attracted us but honestly, it was more of a theme park. We read some of the cultural and historical signs and left before they opened.

After meandering up the eastern coast, we finally arrived at the famous North Shore, home of the perfect wave for surfers. The Van’s Triple Crown of Surfing, a three event men’s professional competition has been held on the North Shore each year since 1983 and in 2015, the dates of the competition were November 12 through December 20. We happened to be there on November 21 toward the end of the second crown, the Van’s Cup of World Surfing, which took place on Sunset Beach. Too bad we didn’t see any action that morning.

 

IMG_9222

Sunset Beach

 

IMG_9223

Sunset Beach, home of Van’s World Cup of Surfing

 

IMG_9226

View from Kamehameha Highway

Waimea Valley Park with a hike to the famous Waimea Falls was on our to-do list but untimely showers made the 1.5 mile hike unappealing. We walked around the botanical garden a bit and then stopped at Waimea Bay Beach in time to see blue skies briefly.

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Hawaiian vegetation at Waiamea Gardens 

IMG_9228

Waimea Bay Beach

The rock at Waimea Bay Beach in the photo below provides a popular albeit dangerous attractive hazard that locals climb then jump into the water. We didn’t see anyone up there that morning so maybe the tide was too low.

Version 2

The rain returned as we drove through the North Shore town of Haleiwa. Further exploration including a shaved ice would have to wait for next time.

IMG_9229

Haleiwa

We skipped the Dole Pineapple Plantation  this trip but it’s wildly popular among families, entertaining and educating one million visitors each year. Jim and I were there in 2003 with our teenagers and enjoyed the experience. We did, however, see lots of pineapple fields and snapped a few photos. We also ate every bit of fresh pineapple offered to us while in Hawaii. Yum.

IMG_9231

Pineapple Fields

After our drive to the North Shore, we headed to the Dole Cannery in Honolulu, once the largest pineapple cannery in the world, now a retail space containing a movie theater with 18 screens. Our friend, Rick, discovered a film festival that he was keen to check out.

IMG_9235

The restored Dole Cannery

IMG_9238

Rick ready to see a film at the Hawaii International Film Festival

While Rick attended a more artistic film, Lori, Jim, and I watched the last movie in the Hunger Games series, Mockingjay Part 2. Afterward, we stopped by Max’s for an outstanding Filipino dinner prior to our long foodless flight home.

IMG_9239

Outside a Filipino restaurant, Max’s

IMG_9241

Inside Max’s

IMG_9246

Tasty Filipino chicken adobo

IMG_9243

Filipino veggies

The tradition of throwing lei into the water dates back to the early 1900’s. Upon leaving Hawaii by boat, visitors threw their lei into the water to return it to Hawaii as they hoped one day, they, too, would return. Leaving by plane and not knowing whether it’s allowable to toss our lei from the Pride of America, we simply left them behind to signal our intention to return one day.

IMG_9124

The remains of our beautiful lei

Aloha ‘oe (farewell to you), Hawaii. A hui hou (until we meet again). (🤘🏽🤘🏽🤘🏽shaka, shaka)

Listen to Elvis sing Aloha Oe from the movie, Blue Hawaii,  here.

 

Based on events from November 2015.

Categories: cruise, History, Travel, Uncategorized, USA | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

The Na Pali Coast of Kauai

The iconic Na Pali Coast on the north shore of Kauai is only accessible by boat or air. Well, except for that treacherous 11-mile hiking trail that didn’t especially appeal to us. Fortunately for us, the Pride of America was scheduled to sail along the 17-mile coastline of Na Pali. We were excited to experience sublime views of the emerald-green cliffs on our last day aboard the NCL Pride of America. Unfortunately for us, the weather did not cooperate.  Our first view looked like this.

IMG_9139 (1)

Approaching the Na Pali Coast

The coastline was almost completely obscured by clouds. As we got closer, they began to dissipate a bit but our views remained misty at best.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Low clouds on the Napali Coast

IMG_9146

The first bit of green appears before our wondering eyes

We made the best of the situation, however, and enjoyed what we could see. Actually, in retrospect, I think it was fortunate that we initially thought we’d see nothing because then we appreciated what we did see so much more.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Misty Na Pali Coast

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Closer view through the mist and low clouds

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Na Pali Coast

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Looking up the valley along the Na Pali Coast

IMG_9156

Another view

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Na Pali means cliffs–you can see why

IMG_9170

My favorite view of Na Pali coast

We had considered a helicopter or a catamaran tour but I’m glad we didn’t spend the money in view of the weather. The fact that our tour was included in our cruise made us feel like we got something extra. The captain of the Pride of America tried so hard to get us close enough to the shore to see the amazing lush vegetation and velvety emerald cliffs through the mist. We tell people if you haven’t experienced surreal Na Pali in the mist, you haven’t seen Na Pali. But I know I’ll go back  hoping to see Na Pali on a crystal clear day.

 

Based on events from November 2015.

 

Categories: cruise, Travel, Uncategorized, USA | Tags: , , , | 4 Comments

More on the Garden Isle of Kauai

Back on the south coast of Kauai after our visit to Waimea Canyon, we stopped first at Russian Fort Elizabeth State Park where hundreds of feral chickens greeted us in the parking lot. Sights like these are the most memorable for me –they stand out because they are unusual or unique.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Parking lot at Russian Fort Elizabeth

Named for the czarina of Russia, Fort Elizabeth was one of three forts built by Russia on Kauai between 1813 and 1817. I had no idea Russia had a presence in Hawaii so this historical trivia was intriguing to me. Apparently, we were alone in our interest, however, because we were the only people there. According to the signs on-site, Russia wanted to establish a trade relationship with Hawaii to obtain food for their Alaskan settlements. That seemed odd in view of the fact that it’s only 55 miles across the Bering Strait to Russia  (I’ve heard you can see Russia from your porch in Alaska) while it’s over 3000 miles from Hawaii to Alaska. Nevertheless, that was the plan. King Kamehameha wasn’t a fan, however, and expelled the Russians in 1817. Not much remains so it was a brief stop.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Remains of Russian Fort Elizabeth

We drove on to the Kauai Coffee Company, Hawaii’s largest coffee grower. Originally a sugar cane plantation, the first coffee trees were planted here in 1987 and today they have more than 4 million trees. The Visitor Center and Museum had a lot to offer, including unlimited self-serve coffee samples.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Kauai Coffee Company

While we savored amazing coffee, we watched a video about the coffee production process and viewed the historical exhibits.

IMG_9062

IMG_9063IMG_9064

Admittedly, we were there for the coffee but this visitor was mainly interested in the spilled sugar. The gold dust day gecko is not native to Hawaii but was introduced in the 1970s. Because they help keep insect populations in check, they are usually welcome guests.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Gold dust day gecko

The people at Kauai Coffee Company definitely have a sense of humor. This was the first of a number of signs that caused me to chuckle.

IMG_9070

With coffee in hand, we wandered out to the self-guided walking tour. It was a paved trail with lots of explanatory signage along the way about growing, harvesting, and processing coffee.

IMG_9073

Signs like this explain coffee growing and processing

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Jim along the trail

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Our friend, Rick, a true coffee lover, in front of coffee trees

The signs contained interesting coffee facts that I didn’t know previously. For example, did you know that longer roasting reduces the caffeine in coffee? Consequently, a medium roast has more caffeine than a dark roast. There are usually two coffee beans inside the coffee cherry but when just one forms, it’s called a peaberry. The peaberry roasts more evenly and produces a superior cup of coffee which we confirmed in our taste tests. And each coffee tree produces just one pound of roasted coffee per harvest.

IMG_9072

More humor

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Coffee cherries

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Plumeria growing at the coffee estate because this is Hawaii, after all

This was a pleasant stop with lots of interesting information. We purchased some coffee to take home, returned our rental car, and headed back to the ship in time for dinner.

Based on events from November 2015.

Categories: cruise, History, Travel, Uncategorized, USA | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Visiting the Garden Isle of Kauai

Kauai, the oldest of the Hawaiian islands, is nicknamed the garden island with good reason. Every rainy, verdant, undeveloped, dramatic landscape looks like an untamed garden.  Due to its appeal, over 60 movies have been filmed here, including the Jurassic Park series, Jurassic World, Pirates of the Caribbean, Avatar, and The Descendants, just to name a few.

The Pride of America docked at Nawiliwili where we rented a car. For just $50 a day, we had the freedom to explore wherever we liked on the island. Of the many choices to see and do, the top of our list was the Napali coast followed by Waimea Canyon. You can only see the Napali coast by boat or air and, fortunately for us, the Pride of America would cruise along the coast the following day. We chose to drive to Waimea Canyon, once dubbed the Grand Canyon of the Pacific by Mark Twain.

The drive was just 31 miles but it was up a curvy 2 lane road with amazing scenery so we took our time and stopped along the way. At first, it seemed odd that the landscape appeared somewhat arid with red soil and shades of yellow and brown vegetation interspersed with patches of lush, verdant plant life. Then I remembered this was the leeward (drier) side of the island.

IMG_9004

The drive to Waimea Canyon

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

View on the road to Waimea Canyon

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

View of the Pacific

 

IMG_9008

Our friends and travel companions, Rick and Lori

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Red Dirt Waterfall

 

IMG_9083

Laura and Jim at the entrance to Waimea Canyon

 

IMG_9022

Waimea Canyon

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Waimea Canyon

IMG_9023 (1)

Waimea Canyon

Waipoo Falls rising 800 feet above the canyon floor amazed and inspired us.

IMG_9048

Waipoo Falls in Waimea Canyon

IMG_9082

Overlook at Waimea Canyon

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Waipoo Falls

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Waipoo Falls

In the parking lot at Waimea Canyon Lookout, vendors sold exotic tropical fruits and other products. We tried the dragon fruit which the sign told us tastes like pear plus kiwi. Yum!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Vendors at Waimea Canyon Lookout

IMG_9034

Tropical fruits for sale

I wish I had tried the manapua which is a pork pastry originally introduced to Hawaii by Chinese immigrants. I noticed there was also a sweet variety with cream custard, probably to appeal to today’s sugar addicted consumer.

IMG_9031

The vendor where we bought our fruit

We were intrigued by the chickens we saw wandering freely all over the island including this parking lot. The protected feral chickens supposedly have no natural enemies on Kauai so they flourish in larger numbers here than on other islands. My research, however, led me to this article from the Hawaii Invasive Species Council. The mongoose was introduced in 1883 on other islands to control the rat population in the sugar cane fields. An unintended consequence occurred because the mongoose has no natural predators on the islands and it also reduced the population of island birds including feral chickens. The mongoose was never introduced on Kauai but a number of sightings and one capture have occurred. If indeed, the mongoose has gained a foothold, Kauai will need to develop a management plan.  (First Live Mongoose Captured on Kauai, May 2012)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Mama and her brood

IMG_9045

Colorful rooster

Come back to read more about our visit to Kauai. Spoiler alert: more chickens, a fort, and good coffee are coming up.

Based on events in November 2015.

 

References:

Press Release. (2012, May 23). First Live Mongoose Captured on Kauai, May 2012. Hawaii.gov. Retrieved from http://dlnr.hawaii.gov/hisc/news/kauaimongoosepr/

Categories: cruise, Uncategorized, USA | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

%d bloggers like this: