Monday, April 29, 2013

Ron is Famous

Or at least his cute little butt is.  Ron wrote up his RV emergency escape idea and submitted it for publication in the Escapees magazine.  Well, we received our copy today and there he is on page 55 in the Tips column.
The article is shorter than my post here and only has the one picture.  But what a picture!

Also in the same magazine, Diana and I each have a picture in the Viewfinder section.  Diana's is actually the featured picture and takes up about 2/3 of page 48.  It's her amazing picture of House on Fire, an ancient ruin that she posted last October here.  Here's her picture.

My picture was bumped to page 73 and is Ron standing under the 40-foot high pheasant along the Enchanted Highway in North Dakota.
The Enchanted Highway is a 32-mile stretch of otherwise ordinary road with these extraordinary giant sculptures that seem to spring up out of the surrounding fields.  I blogged about it way back in September of 2009 here.  I think it might be the best roadside attraction I've ever encountered.

This month's Viewfinder theme was oddities and I think both of these certainly qualify.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Trip East

I took a quick trip to visit my father in Pennsylvania.  His daffodils are in glorious bloom.

My mother, who passed away in 2001, was a master gardener and collected many unusual varieties.
(Both pictures taken by my father.)

As always, I had a nice visit with my father.  I am constantly amazed by him.  Meanwhile, Ron was busy.  Every time I leave, he surprises me with a project.  This time he replaced the patio roof support posts that had been bent during some high winds.

Nice, but he also surprised me with one of his inventive efforts.  Our mail drop goes right into the garage and when we go away for months, the mail ends up all over the floor.  Ron put together this clever mail shoot and  large tin container which will easily hold all our mail until our return.
 Pretty cool, huh?

Friday, April 12, 2013

Final Hawaiian Notes

I have a confession.  I spent two weeks in Hawaii and never went in the water.  I came prepared with goggles and a raft, but we never hit the perfect spot.  It seemed that all the beaches were either too rocky.

Or the waves were frightening.
As you can see, the surf didn't bother Diana and Phil at all and you'll see (or have seen) lots of amazing underwater shots of hers.  Here's my excuse.  While Diana is a Pisces and very comfortable in the water, I am a Capricorn and goats don't swim.

Ah, would this be the Hawaiian symbol for a marina?

This is about the closest I came to the water.

Near the Hilton Waikoloa Resort, is the Waikoloa petroglyph field.  Situated near the border of the former kingdoms of Kohala and Kona, maybe they had some significance related to crossing that border.

Not all the carvings were as old.

We were excited to find a wiliwili tree.  Once plentiful in Hawaii's dry lowlands, now they are rare.  This one was obviously brought in for the resort.  The truck is orange, almost glowing.

As you can see, it's a challenge to build on the Big Island.

I thought the evening view from our condo balcony would be a fitting end to my last blog post of our Hawaiian vacation.
I guess it's no secret that we had a wonderful time.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Flora and Fauna

Okay, this is just an excuse to post some pretty flower pictures.
Looks like a hibiscus that I have in my garden, but this variety grows into a tree.  Hibiscus brackenridgei or Ma'o hau hele in Hawaiian is the state flower but is currently endangered in the wild.

These cute little birds were all around the condo (identified by Diana as a saffron finch.)

During our touring we spotted this black-necked stilt (I think.).

Bougainvillea abounds in every color.

And I found this water lily in a shopping center where we stopped for lunch.

And even the oleander is extra fancy, having double flowers instead of the single ones around Mesa.

We were hoping this was the ne ne or Hawaiian goose, but after looking it up, we realized it was just a plain old goose.

Another one I can't identify, but pretty.

Plumeria smells wonderful and is a popular lei flower.

And my caption here would be - "Under the spreading Kukui tree."
I think I have just one more post on Hawaii - so sad.

Monday, April 8, 2013

North on the Big Island

Another day we headed north from our home base in Kona.  Our first stop was a coffee plantation where Diana demonstrated the correct way to pick coffee beans.

We stopped to explore the historic Parker Ranch.  Established in 1847, the ranch grew from 2 acres to the largest single owned ranch in the United States.  According to the brochure, it currently is the 5th largest at 130,000 acres and is owned by the Parker Ranch Foundation Trust.

We toured the original houses and grounds.  This is house number 2.

We saw these HUGE flowers.  I asked the receptionist what it was and she said 'Buttercup'.  I just thanked her and thought, "That sure doesn't look like any buttercup I've ever seen!"  I have since googled it and it's a 'Cup of Gold' (Solandra Maxima) and every part of the plant is poisonous if ingested.  So if you see one, don't eat it.

We also saw some of the Parker Ranch horses.

At the north end of the island in Kapa'au we searched out the statue of King Kamehameha.  Newly painted, he welcomes visitors to the island.

  There is a really interesting story about this statue - it was lost, then magically found.

Forged in Florence, Italy in 1880, the ship that was ferrying it to Honolulu sank off the Falkland Islands. Believed to have been lost at sea, a replacement statue was commissioned and was erected in downtown Honolulu and has become one of the most photographed landmarks on Oahu. However, the original statue was miraculously found and recovered in 1912. The restored statue was then installed near Kamehameha’s birthplace at Kapaau. 

We drove to the end of the road to the Pololū Valley lookout where we had a great view of the coastline.

And the valley below.
We could have hiked down to the valley floor, but it just looked too hard.

It was at the overlook that we saw these unusual flowers.
Cool, huh?

Saturday, April 6, 2013


We couldn't visit Hawaii without attending a traditional luau.   We picked the one at the King Kamehameha Hotel where Diana and I stayed 20 years ago.  It looked a little familiar.

I don't know how traditional the luau was, but it was really fantastic.  Before the main event, we were greeted and treated to mai tais and punch.  Wimpy me, I took the punch.  We were instructed in the art of fire twirling.

And the pretty girls applied temporary tattoos to willing guests.

This I could do.

They demonstrated how to make an angel fish out of a palm.  I missed that, so asked this nice lad to pose with his masterpiece.

Then the king and his queen arrived by water for the festivities.

And were royally entertained.

So here's the really amazing part.  Once we were all seated and the dancing began, the king was very much a part of it.  He truly is a man of the people.

We had the traditional pork and poi, along with some kind of raw fish.  Are they trying to poison us?  I tried it, but sadly, I'm not an adventurous eater.  Diana and Phil look pretty happy and you might be able to see that we all enjoyed the desserts.

As darkness fell, the main entertainment began.  It was similar to what was done on the ship in that the dancers portrayed native dances from various Polynesian islands.

Once again, I don't remember where most of them were from.

I think this was Tahiti.  I really liked how both female and male dancers were involved and how different their moves were.

And this was New Zealand.  I remember that one because the guys stick out their tongues.

I think this was Samoa.

But the highlight was the fire dancer.  Pretty fancy twirling.

And he did some fire eating.

But just wait until you see what he does in this video.  It comes under the category of "Are you kidding me?"

Thursday, April 4, 2013

The Island of Hawaii

I'm not going day by day for our week on the Big Island, but I'll just hit some high points.  I'll start with the day we headed south of our condo in Kona.

Puʻuhonua o Hōnaunau (Place of Refuge) is now a National Historic Park and has really changed since Diana and I last visited 20 years ago.  Then we were the only people there.  From the last trip, I remembered that Hawaiians who broke a kapu (ancient law) could avoid death if they could make it to this location.  There they could be absolved by a priest and freed to leave.  I didn't remember that royalty also lived there.  

This is the reconstructed Hale o Keawe heiau (temple) which was the burial place of Kona nobility until the early 1800's when the kapu system was abolished.

The heiau is surrounded by these cool totems, although I'm sure they're not called totems.
And these two.

Ron demonstrates an ancient game.

And we found a tree mold, formed when lava surrounds a tree.

How about this for adaptation?  Black crabs climbing over the lava.

Next, we visited St. Benedict's Church, also known as the Painted Church for obvious reasons.


And of course, we had to go to the southernmost point on the island, and therefore in the United States.

Nearby, young people were jumping off the cliff into the ocean. then climbing up a very shaky ladder.

Are they crazy?