Monday, March 02, 2015

It Was A Kona Kind Of Day

What better way to start your day than with coffee?  Our first stop was Kona, on the Big Island of Hawaii, .  Here's what I found out at the coffee plantation store:

Kona coffee is the only coffee grown in the United States for commercial use.  It's grown on the western slopes of the great of the great volcano mountains Mauna Loa and Haulalai, between the 800 and 2,000 foot elevations.  Only coffee grown in this Kona district of the Big Island of Hawaii can legally be called Kona coffee.  All other coffee grown in Hawaii but outside of this geographical boundary must be sold under other identification names.  The coffee tree takes two years to produce “first fruit,” but four years to reach full maturity and produce a commercial crop.  In one year, one coffee tree will produce only enough fruit to make one pound of roasted coffee, and it takes more than 5 pounds of cherry coffee to make one pound of roasted coffee.  The coffee tree is a member of the gardenia family and coffee is a tropical fruit - coffee beans are the seeds of the fruit.  Royal Kona Coffee is ranked as one of the top three coffees in the world.  More than a billion pounds of coffee are consumed every year in the U.S.A.

After we had several sample cups of coffee and ate a handful of chocolate covered coffee beans, we were flying high on caffeine and off to Puʻuhonua o Hōnaunau National Historical Park on the coast of Honaunau Bay.  
 The entire area is built upon the lava flats of the Kona Coast.  It's a beautiful and sacred place with much history.
After we visited the national park, we headed to the St. Benedict's Church in Captain Cook, Hawaii.
St. Benedict's is a Roman Catholic church better known as "The Painted Church" for its hand-painted interior.  
Father Velghe is responsible for painting the interior of this small church.  The panels tell a story and came in handy during a time when many people couldn't read or write.  He was a self-taught artist and did all of the work himself, but when his health started to fail, he was unable to complete the painting.  Read more about its completion here.  
The walls, the altar, the ceiling - all colorfully painted.  
It looks like a regular little church, sitting high on a hill overlooking beautiful Kealakekua Bay.  
But it's unassuming quaint white exterior doesn't at all prepare you for the complete surprise of what you find when you step inside - a rainbow washed ceiling, stripes swirling around support poles, trompe l'oeil at the altar, and wispy colorful palm fronds that really make you feel as if you're on an island.  
A happy place for prayer, shelter, refuge, or quiet reflection.

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2014: Award-Winning Plan
2013: Watch Closely Now
2012: Mission Of The Sacred Heart
2011: Vintage Photo And Clothing
2010: Just How I Like It…Cold And Colder
2009: Snagged
2008: The Writing Is On The Wall
2007: Eddie Waits For A Ride
2006: Truckers And Travelers Know Good Food
2005: Sorry, no post on this day. The blog didn’t start until May 2005!

Sunday, March 01, 2015

Hawaiʻiloa's Favorite Son

Our second port stop was Nawiliwili on the island of Kauai.  Our excursion on this day was a Hollywood Movie tour.  We saw the filming locations of The Descendants, Six Days and Seven Nights, Gilligan’s Island, The Amazing Race, Fantasy Island, Blue Hawaii,  Pirates of the Caribbean and more.

We also saw waterfalls, the house where The Thorn Birds was filmed, the beach where the S.S. Minnow washed up, the field where dinosaurs roamed in Jurassic Park.  The weather was a little funky, kind of overcast and threatening rain.  Sadly, the pictures I got were not so great.

My favorite part of the tour was visiting the historic Coco Palms Resort, which closed in 1992 after being destroyed by Hurricane Iniki.  This resort has a long, royal history and it's the place where Elvis filmed Blue Hawaii.  We even got to meet Larry Rivera, who had a part in that movie and who entertained us during our visit, right on the banks of the hotel's lagoon.

The thing I loved most about the Coco Palms resort grounds?  The fact that there were over 2,000 coconut trees.  The coconut grove was planted from coconut tree nuts brought to Kauai from Samoa in 1896 by William Lindeman.  We took one of those coconuts back to the ship and feasted on it for the next few days.  It's rumored that Hyatt will be taking over and opening a new resort on the grounds but from the information our tour guide gave us, the island people aren't happy about it.

From what I saw, Kauai didn't strike me as "the most beautiful island" some people said it was.  I think it was the weather.  It may have been the fact that we only saw movie locations.  It may have been the very cramped van I had to sit in for six hours, I'm not sure.  I don't want to say it wasn't a beautiful place, because how many times does one see a waterfall, on an island?  I think I just needed to see more.  Another time, perhaps.

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2014: Into The Mouth Of A Lion

2013: A Barn Serving Steak Good Enough To Eat
2012: A Quick Update
2011: It Takes Nothing To Win A Contest
2010: Sorry, no post for this day.
2009: The Hags Hit The Big Time
2008: One Thing At A Time
2007: Snaking Across Broadway
2006: Psssst! Wanna Buy A Hot Dog Truck?
2005: Sorry, no post on this day. The blog didn’t start until May 2005!

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Hawaii Five-O

If you saw Halona Beach Cove in Honolulu, Hawaii, would you think it seemed familiar?

If I told you it was famous, would you know why?

I'll admit that I had no idea.  But once I was told what took place there, I immediately knew.

It was the place where Burt Lancaster and Debra Kerr did this:

Google Images
It's one of the most recognizable movie scenes of all time.  The movie was From Here To Eternity. The year was 1953.  And from what I've heard, this scene was scandalous.

From "Shot on location (including a three-week shoot in Hawaii's Schofield Barracks), this film was a monumental award winner - its thirteen nominations won eight Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Supporting Actress (Donna Reed), Best Supporting Actor (Frank Sinatra), Best Screenplay (Daniel Taradash), Best B/W Cinematography (Burnett Guffey), Best Sound Recording, and Best Film Editing. It won the most Academy Awards for any picture since Gone With The Wind (1939)(Its other five nominations were: Best Actor (Montgomery Clift and Burt Lancaster, who split the votes), Best Actress (Deborah Kerr), Best Scoring, and Best B/W Costume Design."

Google Images
We had two days on Oahu.  The first day we did Pearl Harbor and the Mighty Mo.  The second day we did a circle tour of the island with lunch at the Polynesian Cultural Center. 

Halona Beach Cove, where the From Here To Eternity Beach is and where the Halona Blowhole is also located, was the first stop on the circle tour around Oahu. Continuing on, our island tour took us past the palm tree lined south shore.

And alongside Waimanalo and Kailua Bays.  I think Oahu is my favorite of the four islands we visited.
Then we made a quick stop at the Byodo-In Temple, where Ed charmed the birds (4 in one hand, two in the other) and we marveled at the hundreds of Koi swimming in the ponds on the temple grounds.
Then we headed to the North Shore, where the famous Bonzai Pipeline is.  There were waves and surfers.

After that, we stopped at the Dole Pineapple Plantation for a little shopping and a cup of their famous Dole Whip - a dairy-free pineapple sorbet that comes out of a machine like soft-serve ice cream, topped with pineapple chunks and shaved coconut.  Dole-licious!
And once done with the refreshing pineapple treat (see how happy Ed is?), we headed through the Koolau Mountains, stopping at a scenic lookout along to way to get one last picture of the coastline, before we headed back into Waikiki.

We had a great time on Oahu.  The scenery was gorgeous - and this is without the famous colorful flowers everyone talks about - and I would love to go back and some real time on the beaches, exploring the North Shore, and visiting the famous hotels and strips of sand in Waikiki.  

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2014: I Like Big Boteros And I Cannot Lie
2013: The Young Never Have Trouble Screwing
2012: Making Tracks Across The Country
2011: Eddie Is The King Of The Dome
2010: Do It For Half An Hour A Day
2009: Sipping In Nyack
2008: The Tink Tink Tinkle Of Recycling
2007: Ralph’s Service Station
2006: The Isle Of Capri
2005: Sorry, no post on this day. The blog didn’t start until May 2005!

Friday, February 27, 2015

Not Your Average Hula Girls

Our first port of call was Lahaina, Maui where we spent the morning snorkeling.  It wasn't the best location - just a broken up concrete pier near the shore where the water was cloudy and there weren't many fish - but we did see two white-tipped reef sharks that were each about 4-5 feet in length.  They were lying side-by-side, on the bottom of the ocean, about 25 feet below us.  Lots of snorkelers were swimming around above them, pointing and gesturing wildly with their hands.  The sharks didn't move.  That was about the most exciting part of the snorkeling portion of our trip.

After we all got back on the catamaran, the crew took us for a ride around the bay where we were lucky enough to see humpback whales breaching the water right before our very eyes.  I didn't get any great pictures but Ed got a few that I'll share in another post.

After the snorkeling/whale watching thing, we went back to the ship to get cleaned up for the Drums of the Pacific Lu'au that was held at the Hyatt Regency Maui Resort & Spa.

The place was packed.  It was an open event so cruise ship passengers mingled with hotel guests and tourists from other locations.   

The show started as the evening sun was setting.  We were directed by table to enjoy the all-you-can-eat buffet which included Kalua Pork, Huli Huli Chicken, Grilled Fish, Polynesian Rice, Vegetables Makamaka, Tropical Fruits Anuenue, Soba Noodles, Lomi Lomi Salmon, Pacific Ahi Poke, Tossed Green Salad, and Poi (taro).  There was an open bar service beer, wine, mixed drinks, mai tais, and fruit punch.

After dinner, the dessert spread was just as delicious - 
Macadamia Nut Lu'au Cream Pie, Haupia with Toasted Coconut, Pineapple Cake and Bread Pudding. 

I had been to a lu'au once before - 29 years ago on my first visit to Hawaii - but didn't remember a thing about it except the pig in the ground.  This show was spectacular.  
The performers are exceptionally talented and put on a beautiful performance for us.  It was well worth the money.  Check out a short preview here.

Here are a few photos taken by Ed:

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2014: Some Links Are Sexier Than Others

2013: Who Says I'm Spoiled?
2012: So That’s How It’s Done
2011: Sunny Bright Yellow Moments Ahead
2010: Loaded
2009: C’mon, Just Do It Already!
2008: Counterproductive
2007: If You Need A Reason To Cook More Often, I Think I Have One
2006: Warning: May Contain Traces Of Nuts
2005: Sorry, no post on this day. The blog didn’t start until May 2005!

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Mayday! Mayday! Mayday!

At 9:30 pm on the first day we boarded the ship, four and a half hours after we left the port of San Diego just as we were finishing up our first meal in the ship dining room, the captain came on the PA system with an important announcement.  He said there was an emergency on board, a passenger needed immediate medical attention, and we had to go back to San Diego.

What??  Sonofabitch.

That's when we met Steve.  He was walking on deck when I asked him the time.  Before we knew it all three of us were debating about what we would do if we were the captain.  Turning around was not one of our solutions.

I bet Ed and Steve a hundred dollars that it was a man.  That he probably wasn't feeling well before the cruise and his wife told him they probably shouldn't go.  And that's when he said, "We're going.  I paid for this damn trip and we're getting on that ship."  And he did.  And then he had a heart attack.

Later in the cruise we heard that he had triple-bypass heart surgery and was still in the hospital, but that he was fine.  We got a little more detail about why they couldn't send a Coast Guard boat or helicopter out to us since we weren't too far out.  But they determined that he wouldn't have been able to be airlifted in his condition.  I'm guessing his wife got off the ship with him but we were told the rest of his family continued on to Hawaii.

So, we had that.  But oh no, the excitement wasn't over yet.

A few days later, en route to Maui, there was another announcement by the captain.  He was asking the passengers to either go back to their cabin or, just sit down and stay put wherever they were at the moment.  The reason?  We were called upon by the US Coast Guard to assist in a rescue operation of the pilot of a downed plane.  The captain said that because the ship would be slowing down quickly there might be a bit of erratic movement and he didn't want anyone falling and getting hurt.

Ed and I immediately made our way up to the Crow's Nest to get a better view.  And what a view we had - everything was happening right outside the windows that wrapped around the uppermost point on the bow of the ship.

The first thing we saw was a US Coast Guard C-130 plane circling the downed Cessna SR22 plane.  The plane has its own parachute system, which you can see in this photo.  If used properly, this parachute can save the life of the pilot.  

 Here's Ed taking pictures of the plane.
In the picture below you can see more clearly the tail of the plane and the attached parachute.  Once the pilot was rescued, the plane was just left in the ocean, about 230 miles off the coast of Maui. 

The pilot was flying from Tracy, California and ran out of fuel.  He couldn't make it to the island and contacted the Coast Guard to tell them that he needed assistance.  The Coast Guard contacted our ship, the ms Veendam, and coordinated with the pilot to ditch the plane close to the cruise ship so the staff on the ship could go out in one of the lifeboats to get the him.  You can watch video of the pilot ditching the plane here.  

Below, some of the crew watch the rescue lifeboat below.  In the background you can see the Coast Guard plane, who was circling the ship after he made sure we had everything under control.  He then buzzed us a few times before he took off.
Ed got this shot of our crew and the pilot in the lifeboat.  The pilot is in the green shirt, not wearing a helmet.  
It was a very exciting event and I'm sure the pilot was thrilled that not only did he run out of fuel during daylight hours, but that there was a cruise ship nearby to help him.  I'm sure he was scared having to ditch the plane as he did and he's very fortunate he hit the water as he did.  We were told it could have been worse, causing him injury or even death.  Once onboard, the ship's medical staff checked him out to make sure he was okay and then I'm pretty sure they probably fed him.

What's the use of being on a cruise ship if you can't eat every twenty minutes?

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2014: ¡Bienvenido! 
2013: We Couldn't Catch Him
2012: It’s Vital For My Existence
2011: Boxed In By Hills
2010: Ask A Trucker
2009: Getting Our Truck Tweaked While Making New Friends And Enjoying A Free Lunch Pie*
2008: Sunglasses Also Required Here
2007: Windows Vista, Trucker Style
2006: Being A Girl Again
2005: Sorry, no post on this day. The blog didn’t start until May 2005!

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Stateroom 342

The cruise we took wasn't our first vacation choice.  We were planning to go on a snowy vacation.  We don't ski, but I wanted a quaint ski village type of atmosphere.  We looked at Wyoming, Utah, Colorado, Vermont, Northern California, Lake Tahoe, and all over Canada.  We eventually settled on Whistler, British Columbia.

But...we couldn't make up our minds.  We had a daily argument discussion about which hotel we wanted, what activities we wanted to do, how long we planned to stay, whether we'd fly or drive, etc.  It was an exhausting conversation.  Our friends, Marlaina and MacGyver were present for most of the discussions and although they offered their wise words about Canada, Ed and I couldn't come to an agreement.  So we decided to scrap the "ski" vacation and do something completely different.

Plan B came together when I blurted out, "How about a cruise?".  Ed agreed pretty quickly - he loves warm weather and he'd been wanting to go through the Panama Canal for a very long time - so that's what we did.  We found a cruise through Holland America that went through the canal, and since Ed wanted to leave right away we decided to do what they call a "Collector's Voyage" cruise - two cruises back-to-back, making one long voyage. Thirty-two days, six countries, thirteen ports of call.

We were very excited when we boarded the ship.  The first thing we did was visit the room and explore the ship before the mandatory safety drill.  This would be our home for the next 32 days:

Since we were used to traveling in an 8' x 11' space, this was going to be a piece of cake. What made it even better was room service, no cooking, no cleaning, no bed-making, no driving for over a month.

The no-driving part pleased Ed beyond measure.
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2014: The Higher The Hair, The Closer To God

2013: My Two Cents On Oscar Fashion
2012: A Little Nip Of A Love Affair
2011: It’s A Serious Addiction
2010: Why Play Fantasy Football When You Can Spend Your Time Making Lists For The Halle Experiment?
2009: I Hope There Isn’t Going To Be A Quiz
2008: Sunglasses Required
2007: Golden Eye
2006: Making A List And Checking It Twice
2005: Sorry, no post on this day. The blog didn’t start until May 2005!

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Not So Fat Tuesday

Every night on the cruise, in the wee hours of the morning, cruise ship staff changed the rugs in the elevators to reflect what day it was.  It reminded me of those day-of-the-week panties that were so popular when I was a kid.  I wish we had this in the truck because when we're working I really lose track.  If I didn't have an phone that displayed the date and time, I'd never know what day it was.  

Yesterday was our first full day back at the house and boy was I busy.  We've been off since Christmas Eve, but thirty-four of those days were spent on pre-cruise, cruise, and post-cruise, and I even though I wrapped up everything before I left, now that I'm back I still have quite a bit of stuff to do.  How is that even possible??

I'm not fully able to sit and do nothing until I take care of all the luggage, go through all our mail, return emails, do laundry, etc.  I unpacked today while Ed did some stuff on the truck to get it ready to get back on the road.  Our 120-day inspection is due and some of the reflectors on the back of the sleeper fell off from being parked in the sun for over a month (weird).  He has another appointment today that will likely take most of the day, and only when he brings the truck back to the house will I be able to tidy up the inside and pack it for the road again.
And in reference to the title of this post, we also weighed ourselves.  I was certain with all the eating we did that we each would have packed on ten pounds, easily.  Surprisingly, I'm actually a half-pound lighter (don't even ask how that happened) and Ed stayed the same.  It's not like we came back skinny or anything, so Ed said we're going back on his salad wagon immediately.  It's probably best.

I have to say, I am looking forward to going back to work.  I just hope I remember how to shift gears.

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2014: Dinner And A Show

2013: Everything You Need To Live A Bountiful Life Is Inside Of You
2012: From A Bodyguard, To Men Of Honor, To Good Deeds
2011: Just What I Need
2010: Waterfront Dining
2009: The Best Is Yet To Come
2008: It’s Not Just A Medicinal Oil After All
2007: Tracy Hilltop
2006: Calming The Flatulent Tiger
2005: Sorry, no post on this day. The blog didn’t start until May 2005!

Monday, February 23, 2015

Ed Travels Light

The steepest escalator I've ever been on in my life.
Last night Ed received a few perplexed looks as he strolled through the Hartsfield-Jackson airport in Atlanta in his Hawaiian-print shirt, cargo shorts, flip-flops and Columbian-made fedora while the majority of people rushing by were in winter clothes; heavy coats, hoodies and hats, a scarf or two.

I'm happy to say he made it home.

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2014: La Ventanita

2013: Big Fat Proof Of Your Weight
2012: This Could Be Very Confusing For Men
2011: The King Of Thrift
2010: Dances With Sheepskin
2009: The Seat You Offer Your Arch Enemy
2008: The Man With The Silver Handbag
2007: Silver Snowscape
2006: Let Go Let Flow
2005: Sorry, no post on this day. The blog didn’t start until May 2005!

Sunday, February 22, 2015


Puntarenas, Costa Rica
Well, we're done with our 32-day-cruise vacation.  We visited Hawaii, Central America and South America.  We're back in the states now and will be on our way back home soon.

Since I didn't have adequate internet on the ship to post photos - the wait time for uploading was painful - I've caught up on the last ten days or so by posting a few teaser photos of some of the places we visited.  I'll post more photos and details when I get settled back in to my normal groove.

Thanks for sticking around and I hope you come back for more!

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2014: Shades Of SOBE

2013: Set In Stone
2012: How To Make A Mustache Famous
2011: Homemade Dessert Is The Bombe
2010: Olga And Eddie Travel The Country Viking Style
2009: They Say
2008: Eddie Lounges In Cozumel Friday
2007: I Think I’m Dating A Narcoleptic
2006: Groundhog Surprise
2005: Sorry, no post on this day. The blog didn’t start until May 2005!

Saturday, February 21, 2015

The Lido Line

Our last day on the ship.  As we finished lunch and headed to the gangway, I took one last shot of the service side of the buffet line in the restaurant on the Lido Deck.

The staff was getting ready for a whole new group of passengers to arrive.

It was time for us to go.

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2014: Puttin' On The Fritz
2013: Proof That A Snowball Does Have A Chance In Hell
2012: I Just Want Tiny Little Elephants To Massage My Earlobes
2011: App-solutely Crazy
2010: NCIS Investigates The Kitchen Aftermath
2009: Sometimes There Are FOUR Sides To A Story
2008: Made With Pride
2007: Coke Crushes The Competition
2006: Tired And Mute
2005: Sorry, no post on this day. The blog didn’t start until May 2005!

Friday, February 20, 2015

Sea Day

Another day at sea.  There isn't much that stands between the water and the deck chairs.

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2014: Art Deco Color

2013: Formed Around A Grain Of Sand
2012: Pinwheels, Cartwheels, What’s The Difference?
2011: Maybe You Left It On Mars
2010: The Art Of A French Cooking Friend
2009: Eddie Supervises Friday
2008: Squeaky Clean
2007: Rushing No More
2006: My Constant Gardner
2005: Sorry, no post on this day. The blog didn’t start until May 2005!

Monday, February 16, 2015

Pre-Columbian Toothlace

A toothy artifact  (toothlace - tooth necklace) at the Chorotega Museum in Chinandega, Nicaragua.

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2014: Who Needs Sochi? We've Got Watertown.
2013: Pit Stop At Home
2012: Adding A Few More Wheels To The Big Rig
2011: Again And Again And Again
2010: Hood Ornament
2009: Eddie Out Of Control Friday
2008: My Boyfriend Simon Is Back In Town
2007: A Little Taste Of Miami Beach
2006: Ooooohhhhhh, Jabra!
2005: Sorry, no post on this day. The blog didn’t start until May 2005!

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Grand And Important

León Cathedral, another UNESCO World Heritage Site, this one located in León, Nicaragua.  It is the largest cathedral in Central America.

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2014: Winter Is A Table Set With Ice And Starlight

2013: The Romance Of The Road
2012: Celebrate With A Wild Desire
2011: Powerful Stuff
2010: Falling In Love With Ugly
2009: A Love Like This Can Know No Death
2008: Peace To This House
2007: The Sultan Of Love
2006: It’s Even Better Than Arbor Day
2005: Sorry, no post on this day. The blog didn’t start until May 2005!