Sunday Afternoon 6/24/2018

We spent some of Father’s Day at the beach – it was a beautiful day!

After a few weeks of feeling like nothing much was happening around here, things are about to get busy, at least for the next few weeks. This coming Friday morning Royal Hawaiian will arrive to pack up the items we are shipping back to the mainland, then the following week our friends Alan and Cheryl arrive on the island and we’ll be moving the furniture and items they purchased from us over to their house, and the week after that will be our big garage sale. I’m going to try to keep to my regular writing schedule, but will not make any guarantees. If nothing else, I want to at least do the Sunday Afternoon post to catch up. I hope readers will hang in there with me until all these things get taken care of and we can sort of stand down again..

The glassy water on Tuesday should have been a warning about how still the air was.

This past Tuesday evening I had a scary run-in with heat exhaustion while Brett and I were on our walk. We are walking later in the day now in order to give the sun time to go down a bit more and the breeze to pick up a bit, but that evening there was absolutely NO breeze when we got to the beach path – I’ve never felt the air so still. It didn’t seem all that humid though, or overly hot, so we started off at our usual brisk pace. We always carry water, and always stop to drink at our turn-around point before starting back, which we did. The return trip to the car is mostly downhill and there’s usually a breeze in our face to cool us off, but if anything the air was even more dead this time on the way back, and about halfway to the car I started to feel strange. I stopped and drank some more water but by the time we got down to the bottom of the hill I knew something was wrong – I was sweating profusely, my legs were cramping, I was starting to get a headache, and felt like if I went further I was going to pass out. I stopped and sat down at one of the shaded picnic tables and Brett went off to get the car. I must have looked awful because a woman who was walking her dogs stopped and stayed with me until he came back. I took a long, cold shower and drank a lot of water after we got home, but it took several hours before I felt normal and not overheated. Anyway, lesson learned – we can still walk if it’s hot, humid and there’s no breeze, but not at our usual pace, and we need to turn around sooner.

We’ve decided our landlord is just plain nuts. He brought some potential renters over this past week, a lovely retired couple, but after showing them around he made himself at home in our living room and proceeded to rant about his expectations, what someone could and couldn’t do in the house, how much he charges for minor things, etc. pretty much effectively talking them out of ever wanting to have to deal with him. Plus, he slipped in a few racist remarks and gossiped about other potential renters including making up stuff about them. It was appalling. We’ve pretty much decided he’s setting us up to give us back very little if any of our security deposit – he was looking over everything while he was showing the house, and told us while he’ll do a walk-through with us the “real” inspection happens after we move out and that’s when “finds” things (which is illegal under Hawaii landlord-tenant law). We will be glad though to be finished with this guy – but it’s sad because up until the last few months he has been very easy to work with.

Some of the “river of debris” that currently runs the entire length of Kealia Beach, made up of small pieces of driftwood left over from April storms and flooding. Clean-up crews will eventually get to it, but it’s not a priority for now.

This afternoon I am:

  • Reading: I finished Grant – such a good biography and for a couple of days after it was done I felt a bit lost not having it to read. I had two more books come off of hold at the same time though which worked out well. I read The Year of Less: How I Stopped Shopping, Gave Away My Belongings, and Discovered Life Is Worth More Than Anything You Can Buy In a Store by Cait Flanders in three days and am now reading The Temptation of Forgiveness: A Commissario Guido Brunetti Mystery by Donna Leon.
  • Listening to: Another quiet day at Casa Aloha. YaYu is working the breakfast and lunch shift today, and Brett is reading. It was raining earlier this morning, and there’s a nice, cool-ish breeze now. No one for now is working on their lawn or power-washing anything, and the chickens are quiet, so it’s all very peaceful and I love it!
  • Watching: We finished up the second season of Goliath – great acting all around – but didn’t enjoy it as much as the first season. We’re currently watching Scott & Bailey, a British series about two female police detectives in Manchester. So far it’s been good, and we’re glad there are a few seasons of it as well. We continue to watch an episode or two of Parts Unknown a few evenings a week. The new season of the Great British Baking Show is back on PBS too – I love that show!
  • Cooking/baking: Not sure what we’re having for dinner tonight but we have several choices. Quiche maybe? The oven door is supposed to be repaired on Tuesday, so it will be nice to have that option available for cooking again. On the dinner menu this week will be pork and eggplant stir fry, macaroni and cheese, pepperoni pizza, and noodles with pork sauce. My KA mixer is going into our shipment on Friday, so I’m going to try to bake one more cake before it goes.

    My favorite view on Kaua’i shows the power of the ocean, and how far away we are from every other place out here in the ocean.

  • Happy I accomplished this past week: I got the last of the pictures down and nail holes filled, but the landlord not so subtly let us know the other day that in his opinion we were in violation of our lease by hanging any pictures at all (even though I dare him to find any of the holes), so I’m not sure at this point why I’m putting all this effort into it. I’m still working on the pantry shelves because the shelf liner we used stuck to the paint so I’m having to sand and then repaint the shelves. YaYu did a great job of cleaning out her room, closet and dressers the other day so things are moving along in there as well. We had hoped to walk five days this past week, but only got in four – we didn’t get to walk on Friday because it rained most of the day. On Saturday though it was cool and breezy enough for us to walk out to the Pineapple Dump to check out my favorite view on the island.
  • Looking forward to next week: I’m greatly looking forward to getting the first round of our upcoming move out of the way on Friday. We’ve got lots of work to do this week to get ready for that, but it will mean things are starting to move along again. Hopefully Brett and I can also fit in another trip to the beach.

    Duke came a relaxed with us for a while – such a good little pug!

  • Thinking of good things that happened: Brett and I went to the beach not once, but twice this week – so nice! Last Tuesday the sweet little pug in the picture above came and sat with us while his “mom” went swimming – he had come up to say hello and then made himself at home on my beach mat, and the young woman asked if we would keep an eye on him while she went out in the water. No problem – he must have known we were “pug people!” YaYu worked lots of hours (and got overtime) and made lots of tips this past week. She is getting ready to pay her first bill at Bryn Mawr in the next couple of weeks so this helped calm her down a bit. We found haupia (Hawaiian coconut custard) cakes at Costco and  bought one – Brett is in heaven as he hasn’t had any for over two years and it’s one of his favorites.
  • Thinking of frugal things we did: It was just a so-so frugal week for – we skipped the farmers’ market again but stopped at Safeway for a few things so it evened out, and we bought peaches and another watermelon (and a cake) at Costco when we went to get gas for the car. I also ordered a replacement screen from Amazon to hang in the doorway between the house and the garage – the one that was here when we moved in is on its last legs. We put $3.46 into the change/$1 bill jar, the change we got back at Safeway.
  • Reporting gains and losses: I didn’t gain or lose any weight this month, and we put $2775 toward the Big Adventure.
  • Grateful for: I’m feeling sort of thankful right now for all those times we had to clean our navy housing for white-glove inspections – we know how to deep clean and we’re going to hold the landlord’s feet to the fire to get as much of our deposit back as possible!
  • Bonus question: How did you learn to cook? I am for the most part a self-taught cook. My grandmother on my mom’s side was not a good cook – the only thing she made that was memorable were her stewed apples. They were divine, but she never passed on how to make them so they’re only a memory now. My dad’s mom was a wonderful cook, but she lived far away so I only got to observe her and eat her cooking during the times I visited Indiana (same for my dad’s sister and his sister-in-law – they were both amazing cooks). My dad didn’t cook, and mom was frankly mediocre. Cooking was more of a chore for her because she had never really learned from her mom, plus she worked full time and was heavily into convenience foods which were very salty and not very healthy. Growing up I paid attention when my friends’ moms cooked and picked up some of their techniques, ideas and flavors, and I also noticed things that tasted good whenever I went out and often tried to replicate them. I consider myself a “journeyman” cook though – I have solid basic skills, know how to follow a recipe and when and how to adapt or change it, and the things I make turn out well and taste good, but cooking is not a passion for me. I’m also at a stage in my life right now where I’m ready for a break from regular cooking and meal planning.

The grands – this cracks me up!

That’s all for this week! I’m not sure when or if I’ll get to post this week – we have a lot going on. How did your week go? What are you reading? What frugal things did you do? What good things happened for you?

Hiking Waimea Canyon with Friends

At long last, I got to hike in Waimea (reddish-brown water) Canyon, and with friends from the mainland, on the Canyon Trail no less! Two of my former coworkers came for a week’s visit to Kaua’i which happened to span our weekend getaway at Barking Sands, so a hike in the canyon was practically unavoidable. Our inclement weather plan was to enjoy wine on the lanai as we watched storms roll by, but as far as the weather we got lucky.

sharon, brett, christi

Former co-workers Sharon and Christi and me on a windy afternoon at the Waimea Canyon Overlook

We thought about taking the first trail we came to, the Kukui Trail, but after reading a few reviews online we thought better of it. The Illiau Nature Loop, between the eight and nine mile markers leads to the Kukui Trail which consists of 2.5 miles of switchbacks into the canyon—2,700 feet down. Because the trail is so steep and exposed, reviewers recommended continuing down through the canyon toward the ocean rather than hiking back up, and making arrangements for friends or family to pick you up in Waimea.

As we didn’t start out until after 2:00 PM, we proceeded to the Waimea Canyon Overlook (3,120 ft/951 m), just past the 10 mile marker for our first stop. At at the top of the walkway to the viewpoints, I looked to my left and saw two women who had climbed over a protective fence and descended beyond the WARNING sign along a steep slope strewn with loose soil to the edge of a precipice. I mentioned to my friends that I was reminded of Over the Edge, a book about foolish and unfortunate visitors to Grand Canyon National Park.

A little further on one of my friends spotted a beautiful small flower that she wanted a photo of (neither of my friends had remembered to bring their cameras or phones). I’ve searched but cannot determine what this little plant is, so I’ll just show it. Maybe one of you recognize it?

Rock hugging 8-petal white flower with yellow center, and sawtooth leaves on woody stem at Waimea Canyon

White blossoms bursting from rock

While we were at the Overlook, I also captured a panoramic view of the canyon. In the process I spotted what looked like Warner Brothers’ Roadrunner, just left of center, created from the pale green of the new understory as it grew out following April’s torrential flooding.

Panoramic View from Waimea Canyon Overlook

Panoramic view from the Waimea Canyon Overlook

We continued on up the road,  just passed the 11 mile marker and stopped at the Pu‘u Ka Pele overlook (3,662 ft/1,116 m). The Hawaiian name loosely means a large protuberance where lava flowed forth. One of the best views of Waipo‘o Falls (headlong waters, 800 ft/244 m to be precise), as well as another perspective of the canyon, is available from here.

Waipo'o Falls and Waimea Canyon

Waipo’o Falls and Waimea Canyon from Pu’u Ka Pele Overlook

Up the road another two miles, between the 13 and 14 mile markers, lies a more developed overlook, Pu’u Hinahina (3,606 ft/1,099 m), meaning gray or grayish outcrop. Beginning in the overlooks’s parking lot, a relatively new spur trail links up with the Canyon Trail. Halemanu Road, just beyond the 14 mile marker, is strictly for 4-wheel drive vehicles and leads to a dirt parking lot beside the original trailhead of Canyon Trail where the new spur ends.

Trailhead of New Spur to Canyon Trail

Trailhead of the new spur trail to the Canyon Trail

From the onset, the new Spur Trail was deceptively easy looking, until we met mud spattered hikers near the first dip. While many of the flowers with which I’m familiar were well past their prime, and a few were showing early fruit, there was still quite a lot to take in along this undulating path. I say undulating because it did not merely switch back and forth in a steadily toward the falls, but rather rose and fell steeply, crossing two major streambeds. Philippine ground orchids had gone to seed on the slopes while guava were just beginning to blush and yellow ginger along the streambeds still bore fresh blossoms and were heavenly fragrant.

A very short distance beyond the clearing at the intersection of the New Spur and Canyon Trails the Cliff Trail branched off to our right. Since we were already a little behind our turnaround time, we decided to go out that way rather than proceeding a further steep mile to the falls.

Cliff Trail Viewpoint

A Long Way Down from the Cliff Trail Viewpoint

We could barely make out the light feathery red blooms on the Lehua (red ashes), the sensitive trees said in literature to be Pele’s sister.

Friends at Cliff Trail Viewpoint

More proof that everyone enjoyed hiking in Waimea Canyon – Sharon and Christi at the Cliff Trail Viewpoint

Descending from Pu’u Hinahina Overlook we headed back to Barking Sands. Sharon and Christi had brought wine so we enjoyed that and talked story over a lovely Italian sausage dinner that Laura had prepared. I’m grateful I got to make the hike into the canyon, and also that I got to do it with two good friends – it was a memorable day.

A State of Inertia

Hot chocolate packages sit out on the counter so we remember to use them.

Inertia (n.): a tendency to do nothing or to remain unchanged.

It feels a little right now like we are holding a place in slow-moving line. It feels like nothing is happening, or at least the things that are happening are small and mundane, and aren’t moving things along much, if at all.

I’ve been taking down pictures and filling holes (and I defy our landlord to find them!), cleaning out the pantry, continuing to go through and sort things to go the thrift store or trash. Brett has cleaned out our papers and has shredded the items we’re not keeping. We’re working through what’s left in the pantry, using things up or at least trying to figure out how to use them up. No matter what we do though, for now it doesn’t seem as if we’re accomplishing much of anything.

I don’t remember feeling like this back in Portland, before we moved over here. There seemed to always be something to do, something big and important that made a noticeable difference. Maybe there wasn’t though – maybe there actually were long stretches of nothing like we’re experiencing now and I’ve forgotten it all.

I keep reminding myself that all the little stuff adds up, and I will be glad in a few weeks that I have been taking care of all these small things now. The movers are scheduled to pack us out on June 29, our friends arrive on the island on July 1 and will be taking most of our furniture, and we’ll hold a garage sale on July 6-8. After that it will pretty much be just us and our clothes, one bed and an inflatable mattress, our computers and Kindles, the vacuum cleaner, and maybe the slow cooker if it doesn’t get sold at the garage sale. The car will be listed for sale toward the end of July. We’ll step up our deep cleaning around here so we’re ready to do the walk-through and hand over the keys to the landlord on the afternoon of 28th of July so we can head over to the condo to begin our last three weeks on the island.

There are still a few reservations to be made for our trip before we leave Kaua’i, but in the meantime we’ll keep plugging along with the small stuff, and I’ll keep reminding myself that we’re just at a slow spot in the river right now, and that things will soon pick up and begin moving swiftly again. I know when it’s time to depart we’ll wonder how the time passed so quickly.

Sunday Afternoon 6/17/2018

We call this section of the beach path we’re walking now the “Pass of Doom” – each side of the cut is high enough that the breeze stops, the sound of the waves disappears, the temperature climbs by 10 – 15 degrees, and the humidity concentrates.

Happy Father’s Day to any and all dads who are reading today! YaYu is working, but here at Casa Aloha Brett is enjoying a Day of Doing Nothing (although he still got up and made the coffee this morning). We bought a beautiful fresh fruit tart at Costco the other day and will having that this evening as part of our celebration.

Pass of Doom II – thankfully not as long as the other one, but all the same oppressive features (this was in the early evening, when it was in the shade – still hot and muggy though).

Summer has arrived . . . and so has the humidity. We’re not to the stage yet where it’s a constant, miserable presence, but it’s getting there. The heat and humidity has been hardest to deal with when Brett and I go for our walk. There’s thankfully almost always a cool breeze down by the beach, but we still seem to always come back soaked in sweat. We recently changed where we walk on the beach path because we wanted more hills to help continue our “strength training,” and are enjoying all the different views and vistas.

This view is our reward at the turn-around point of our walk. Note how the waves arrive out past the rocks and their directions as they approach the shore!

One of the things I will miss the most about Kaua’i is our year-round local farmers’ market. The weekly Kapaa market is always been bursting with affordable, beautiful produce, and it’s made it possible for us to eat far more fruits and vegetables than we would be otherwise. I also will miss several of the farmers that we’ve gotten to know. Below is what we bought this last week, all for $24.50. We got the two big bags of lychee for just $5, less than we usually pay for half that amount. They’re also very sweet and juicy.

This week’s haul from the farmers’ market.

We were supposed to be heading to the Big Island next weekend to visit Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, but because the park and Camp Kilauea (where we were going to stay) are both closed due to volcanic activity we’ve decided to cancel the trip. We had thought about driving up from Hilo over the north side of the island and spending the night in the Kona area, but just are not feeling it and were not thrilled about incurring the extra expense for gas, meals, and a hotel room (our cabin at Camp Kilauea had a kitchen). Plus, our flight times conflict with YaYu’s work schedule which would have made things tricky, so we’ve decided to save our money and put it toward the Big Adventure. Our airline tickets were purchased with miles I had accumulated, and while I’m sad to give those up it’s not as painful as if I had paid cash (although realistically if I’d paid cash we’d still be going)

This afternoon I am:

  • Reading: I finished The Cooking Gene this week and am making good progress getting through Grant. Using food and Southern cooking as the central theme, The Cooking Gene gives an in-depth view of the lasting influence of slavery. It’s an interesting, but a tough read at times. I’m thoroughly enjoying Grant – it’s well-written and has added lots of detail and nuance to things I already knew about him. I had no idea though when I started that the book has 1104 pages! I’ve been reading three to four chapters a day, and hopefully I can finish it before it goes back. I’ve started Cave of Bones by Anne Hillerman. I loved every one of Tony Hillerman’s mysteries, but this is the first one by his daughter that I’ve read and so far it’s great.
  • Listening to: It’s very quiet around here today. YaYu is at work, Brett is reading and I guess all the dads are taking a day off from yard work and other chores because there’s not one weed trimmer or lawn mower being operated in our neighborhood (yeah!). There’s just the buzz of the ceiling fan right now and a few birds singing in the trees outside. The laundry awaits, but I’m not in any hurry to get it started – I prefer the quiet.
  • Watching: We’re still watching two or three episodes of Parts Unknown each evening – we’re now in Season Three. We’ve also started watching the new season of Goliath, with Billy Bob Thornton. Loved Season 1 and so far Season 2 is keeping up.
  • Cooking/baking: We’re having curry with chicken and vegetables for our dinner tonight, one of Brett’s favorites. We were hoping for the oven to be repaired last week, but parts are on order and it’s anyone’s guess when they will arrive from the mainland – they could arrive this week or it might take a while. This week’s dinner menu includes panzanella (bread salad) with chickpeas and feta cheese, mabo nasu with steamed rice, chicken noodle soup, and pizza (which can be cooked out on the grill).
  • Happy I accomplished this past week: I’ve got almost all the pictures down and nail holes repaired along with lots of other small tasks that keep moving us forward. Brett and YaYu got her passport/eye exam/college lab work all done last Tuesday – it was a very busy day. Brett and I did our not-so-Big Shop on Friday and went to our election training on Saturday but otherwise it’s been a fairly slow week.
  • Looking forward to next week: There’s really nothing on the calendar this week. YaYu will be working but otherwise Brett’s and my time will be our own. Maybe, just maybe, the stars will align and we can get down to the beach for a while.

    So proud of our son! (not sure what lap he’s on here)

  • Thinking of good things that happened: Our son completed his annual fundraising event in Japan yesterday, the “Imperial Challenge.” He collects pledges, and then walks around the Imperial Palace for as many laps as he can (one lap is just over three miles) – this year he walked over 27 miles in almost nine hours, and raised almost $4500 (¥498,900). He created this event three years ago, and has now raised a total of $11,500 for Nanbyo Network, an organization that assists children suffering from incurable conditions as well as their families. We are so proud of him! We also learned that we don’t have to strip and wax the floors when we move out! YEAH!! The landlord brought in a masonry specialist this past week and as we suspected the entire floor needs to be cleaned with a special solvent and then re-sealed, and it will be a major job. The landlord will take care of everything including the stripping, so we are completely off the hook. This is the best news ever for us because we have absolutely been dreading getting the floors done to the landlord’s satisfaction. We’re still planning to turn over the keys three days early though as the condo will be available and we’d rather be over there than staying in an empty house.
  • Thinking of frugal things we did: We had another fairly low-spend week, but we did take care of our monthly food shop, visited the farmers’ market, and we paid our electric and water bills (with cash).  Brett did bring home some tasty items from the Kilauea Bakery last Tuesday, including lilikoi cream puffs. We almost completely emptied our refrigerator and freezer this week, and were able to get everything cleaned out of the pantry and moved into the kitchen. I’m proud of the nutritious meals I was still able to pull together using the very little we had on hand. We put $8.95 into the change/$1 bill jar, $3.88 in change back from the bills, $3.07 from recycling and $2.00 change from the bakery.
  • Grateful for: I look at travel blogs, articles and forums that are available online almost every day in preparation for our travels. Any angle of travel I want to know about or figure out, I can find something about it online. While we’ve bought guidebooks (they still have their place and function) and and will take them with us, these days it’s easy to read others’ experiences and advice to figure out what we might want to do in any location, where and what are the best things to eat, what we maybe want to avoid, how we can save, etc. Every day I learn something new.
  • Bonus question: What do you like best about summer? Well, it’s definitely not the humidity here! When I was a child I loved summer: no school, swimming, barefoot days outside, our library’s summer reading challenge (yes, I was a nerd), barbecues, and summer fruit. Summer is no longer my favorite season except for the fruit. These days you can get summer fruits (melons, berries, etc.) year round, but there’s still something special about summer fruits picked in season. Ripe peaches, juicy melons, sweet plums – it’s hard for me to pick a favorite. We get tropical fruits here year round, and I will miss papayas, lilikoi, mangoes, lychee, etc. but I admit I’m already looking forward to Oregon berries, melons, plums and peaches next summer. One of my favorite summer desserts is Peach Melba: a perfectly ripe peach half topped with a scoop of good vanilla ice cream and fresh raspberry sauce poured over it. YUM!

Another pretty view along the stretch of the beach path we’re walking now.

That’s a wrap for this week! How was yours? What good things happened for you? What are you reading and eating? How’s the weather where you are? What’s your favorite thing about summer?

A West Side Getaway

Sunday evening’s beautiful sunset (the unihabited island of Lehua can be faintly seen on the horizon).

Sometimes you just need to get away from regular life, to decompress and forget about all the everyday things that you have to do. Here on Kaua’i, we discovered that going just 35 miles away from home put us in a completely different environment, both climatically and culturally.

The weekend before last Brett and I took care of an item on our Kaua’i bucket list: a little holoholo to the island’s west side, to stay in one of the beach cottages at the Navy’s Pacific Missile Range Facility at Barking Sands (PMRF). The getaway was supposed to be part of YaYu’s graduation celebration, but since she’s now a working girl and couldn’t take time off, and because reservations are currently hard to come by (summer season), Brett and I decided to head out on our own rather than cancel.

Our cottage

The view from our lanai

The beach cottages are run by the Navy’s Morale, Welfare and Recreation department, and are available to all active duty and retired military members, some reservists and other classes of military veterans and civilians. We were surprised to learn when we checked in that we had been “upgraded” which meant we were assigned one of the oceanfront cottages versus one in the second row back. Our two-bedroom cottage was clean, spacious and very well-equipped, including a in-house washer and dryer – the only thing missing was a dishwasher. We had a good Internet connection (a surprise), and cable TV was also available. Our bed was comfortable, and there was air-conditioning in the bedroom which made sleep heavenly. Best of all was the amazing location – besides the view of the pristine Barking Sands’ beach and the 24/7 background sound of the surf, we could also see Niihau and Lehua islands.

Barking Sands beach, looking east. We walked out to the far point and back in the mornings

Saw loads of these on our beach walks – can you guess what it is*?

After the past few months of craziness, our time at Barking Sands felt like indulgent laziness – it’s been a long time since I’ve felt so relaxed. We woke when we were ready to get up, and took a long walk on the beach each morning. Brett went hiking in Waimea Canyon one day with friends who were visiting from the mainland but I stayed back and pitched our umbrella out on the beach and relaxed there for a few hours. We enjoyed our coffee in the morning and a glass of wine each evening out on the lanai while listening to the sound of the surf, and we headed out the beach at dusk each day to catch the sunsets.

Mango-lilikoi pie (and yes, we brought whipped cream with us!)

We brought all our own food along from home, and with the low daily price we had a very affordable little vacation. We made a couple of stops on the way down to pick up fresh pies from two of our favorite places: a mango-lilikoi pie from The Right Slice in Kalaheo, and a lilikoi chiffon pie from Aunty Lilikoi in Waimea, to bring home for YaYu. We had planned to stop at the original JoJo’s in Waimea for a shave ice on the way back, but were sad to discover they had closed.

On Sunday I had the beach all to myself. Sadly, Barking Sands is not a swimming beach – there’s a dangerous shore break and lots of rocks hidden just under the water.

Brett and I have decided that when we come back to Kaua’i to visit this is where we want to stay. Besides being affordable, it’s also sublimely quiet and peaceful, and the drive back to the south or east sides of island is not too bad. The west side is more relaxed, and there are fewer tourists. Neither of us was ready to leave when our time was up, and we wished we could have stayed a few more days. We’re happy though our our experience, and excited about the prospect of coming back some time in the future.

*This little guy and his (or maybe her?) friends were responsible for all the holes and sand hills on the beach. He’s about as big as my fist, and didn’t like having his picture taken!

Oh, the Airlines They’ll Fly!

Other than our flight from Tokyo to Portland at the end of the Big Adventure, we have wrapped up all of our flight reservations, and counted up all the different airlines we’ll be flying – the current total is 14!

Here they are in alphabetical order:

  • Aerolineas Argentinas
  • Air Europa
  • Air New Zealand
  • Alaska Air
  • American Airlines (2)
  • Cathay Pacific
  • China Airlines
  • Hawaiian Airlines
  • Iberia Airlines
  • India Air
  • LATAM Airlines
  • Norwegian Air Shuttle
  • Ryanair (2)
  • Southwest Airlines

We won’t know the Tokyo to Portland flight information until late fall or December, but the airline we use will be the one with the best fare/best schedule!

All flights are non-stop except the flights from Portland to New Delhi and the flight to Boston from Madrid. We won’t change airlines on either trip, but will have a stopover along the way. We stayed with non-stops as much as possible as they will hopefully lessen the chance of our luggage being lost.

The longest is the 12-hour+ flight from Vancouver, B.C. to Taipei, the stopover on the way to New Delhi. That entire journey will take more than 24 hours from start to finish, including our drive from Portland up to Vancouver. The most expensive flight is the one to Buenos Aires followed closely behind by the flight to Paris from Montevideo. The least expensive (and shortest) flight is one from Lisbon to Madrid. All the flights cost at least what we expected, but most cost less, sometimes much, much less than what we had estimated. Other than first class seats from Lihue to Portland at the start of our trip, and premium economy on our flight from Boston to Portland in December, we’ll be flying economy.

I also figured out all our flights put together equal around 53,000 air miles – more than two trips around the earth’s circumference! It’s very exciting and satisfying though to see that all our flights are arranged.

We have not signed up for any mileage plans yet either (other than Hawaiian), but will do that as we go along and see what we can accumulate for future travel.

Sunday Afternoon 6/10/2018

Looking west from Barking Sands – next landfall is Japan!

Brett and I both felt that our getaway to the west side was too short. It was a very relaxing time for both of us, and we wanted to stay a few more days before coming home. Both of us also wished we had gone out there earlier, and that YaYu (and the other girls) had been able to come with us as well.

The almost-end of another pretty sunset. The island of Niihau can be seen on the left horizon.

But, we are back into the thick of things. If we thought YaYu’s school and volunteer schedule was nuts, her work schedule is almost crazier with her working day shift one day, evenings the next, or having it changed at the last minute. She is working her tail off, bless her heart, and making lots of money, but she’s also exhausted and having a hard time fitting in other tasks that need to be taken care of, such as applying for her new passport (she has to appear in person) and getting some more medical stuff taken care of for Bryn Mawr.

Brett and I are taking care of things around the house, trying to get something done every day so we’re not overloaded with a ton of work right before we move out. The people who were supposed to look at the place before we left last weekend never showed up, and there’s been no other interest. The landlord claims he still has the other two interested parties from a couple of months ago on the line, but Brett and I would be very surprised if they haven’t moved on to other opportunities. It’s kind of sad because the house is actually a very nice place in a great location.

This afternoon I am:

  • Reading: I’m still reading The Cooking Gene, and enjoying how the author links together history, race, genealogy and food. I’m learning a lot as I go along as well as having to think more deeply about some things (and rethink a few things I thought I knew). My copy of Ron Chernow’s Grant came off of hold from the library at the same time as another book, so I’m reading Grant during the day on my computer and The Cooking Gene at night. Hopefully I can get one or both finished in time to get to the third book before it has to go back. Two of Brett’s and my favorite mystery authors, Ian Rankin and Tana French, both have new books being released in October. I’ve already pre-purchased both of them from Amazon.
  • Listening to: It’s pretty quiet around here right now. Brett is reading, and YaYu is still sleeping – she doesn’t go into work until later this afternoon – and we haven’t started the laundry. A few birds are singing outside, a couple of roosters are crowing off in the distance, but there’s thankfully no noisy yard work going on (for now, anyway). Yesterday our next door neighbor ran his pressure washer for over three hours non-stop, even when he wasn’t doing anything, and I thought I was going lose my mind! In the meantime I’m mainly listening to the sound of the ceiling fan overhead – summer is here, the humidity is back and the fans are on almost all the time now.
  • Watching: Brett and I finally finished Indian Summers, and are now watching Anthony Bourdain’s Parts Unknown, which is proving to be a bittersweet experience. The series is supposed to leave Netflix on June 16, so we’re trying to squeeze in as many episodes as we can between now and then.
  • Cooking/baking: We’re having kalua pork tonight versus fried rice because we currently have to avoid using our range as much as possible – the outer oven door spontaneously shattered in the early morning hours on Thursday while we were asleep (it hadn’t been used in five days either). The glass thankfully has not fallen out of the door (yet), but there’s no guarantee that won’t happen at any moment. According to the landlord, repairs are “in the queue.” In the meantime, everything we cook has to be prepared in the slow cooker, the microwave or out on the grill, and baking is obviously out of the question. I’ve put grilled pork chops and grilled teriyaki chicken on the menu this week, and we’ll fill in with leftovers as necessary, but I am going to have to almost completely redo the Big Shop list.
  • Happy I accomplished this past week: I’ve been steadily working on getting items on our monthly goals list taken care of. I removed all the pictures from the hallway, and some from the girls’ room and filled the nail holes – the landlord will be hard pressed to find them because I can barely find where they were! I’ve also been working on getting things out of the pantry and have three shelves cleaned off so far, but I’m going to have to do a bit of touch-up painting because the shelf liner stuck to the paint and has had to be sanded off. It’s been a good week for walking and other exercise too. Instead of studying French online, I’ve gone back to studying my phrase book and practicing how to order, or buy something, etc. – things I will actually need to use.
  • Looking forward to next week: Brett and I will be working at the polls in August for the Hawaii primary and we have our training session this coming week. YaYu has worked the elections for the past two years, and was asked if she would do it once more, but she can’t because of her job so Brett and I stepped up. Otherwise, there’s nothing special on the calendar other than our Not-So-Big-Anymore Shop on Friday. We’re looking forward to a relaxing week – the weather is getting better so we may actually get to the beach.

    Sweet, juicy lychee are only in at the farmers’ market for a very short time.

  • Thinking of good things that happened: Lychee were back in the farmers’ market again this week – so happy for the chance to enjoy them once more before they disappear for another year. We also enjoyed a lilikoi chiffon pie from Aunty Lilikoi’s in Waimea that we bought on our way down to the PMRF last weekend and brought home to share with YaYu – so delicious! It had been too long since we last had one. We all had a lovely luncheon at the Nawliwili Yacht Club yesterday with the Zonta Club of Hanalei, where YaYu and others received their scholarships.

    Lilikoi chiffon pie – YUM!

  • Thinking of frugal things we did: 1) Brett got a very nice free haircut from a Supercuts trainee (although the guy next to Brett didn’t fare so well with his cut). 2) Other than a trip to the farmers’ market we had a no-spend week, and ate from the pantry, fridge and freezer, all of which are getting exceedingly empty. 3) Our water and electric bills were both once again lower than they were the month before. 4) I did some research, and was happily surprised to figure out that we won’t need to purchase travel insurance, a savings for us of over $900. Our credit card insures lost luggage, cancelled flights, etc. – everything but medical – and our medical and dental insurance cover us worldwide. 5) We put just $3.00 into the change/$1 bill jar, our change from the farmers’ market.
  • Grateful for: What a sorrowful week this past one was. Kate Spade, Anthony Bourdain, and others whose names most of us will never know, gave up their struggles with their demons. Once upon a time someone reached out to me when I was at my lowest, and let me know that I was valuable and that I was needed in the world. Because of that person’s intervention I was able to go on and eventually met Brett, had four amazing children and now two beautiful grandchildren, and I have had a wonderful life. My demon hasn’t been around for a long, long time, but I know it still exists – I can still hear it pacing just out of sight now and again. If you know someone who is suffering from depression, reach out to them because they might not be able to reach out to you to ask for help. You don’t have to be a therapist; just be available and let that person know you care and are there for them. Don’t wait for someone to ask – make the first move. It can make a difference.
  • Bonus question: What is your favorite song opening (because I need to think about something happy)? There are two song openings that always, always draw me in no matter what I’m doing: Monkey Man by the Rolling Stones (1969), and Kryptonite by 3 Doors Down (2000). Both are at the top of my list The Rolling Stones have had loads of great song openings, but I think what gets me with these two songs are that the openings are quirky enough for some reason to always make me stop whatever I’m doing to listen. I heard Monkey Man this past week, which got me thinking about other openings that have caught my attention in the same way, but after a lot of thought, besides Kryptonite I couldn’t come up with anything else. The opening to Norman Greenbaum’s Spirit in the Sky is high on my list of favorite openings but mainly because it triggers nostalgic feelings more than anything else, immediately taking me back to my senior year, driving around San Diego in my little red ’63 VW bug. Brett said his favorite song opening is the guitar riff at the beginning of Aretha Franklin’s Chain of Fools.

Anthony Bourdain’s death has affected me deeply, and it will take me a long while to come to terms with it. He was one of the most honest people around, seemed to lead a charmed life, and yet we now know carried demons along with him that eventually overtook him. He had such a pure interest in the world and a genuine affinity for the unpretentious, especially for the common man or woman, viewing their lives and contributions as an integral part of a good and just society. And, he embraced the unknown and was always curious, always wanting to know and learn more. Ian Sinclair said it best for me in a tweet I read on Friday, about how to mourn the loss of this man: I feel we should mourn Anthony Bourdain in the way he would have wanted. Eat something cooked with love. Drink a cold beer. Book a trip somewhere you’ve never been. Try a new food. Tell your friends and loved ones that they are loved. Pour a bottle of truffle oil on the ground.

#Kauai: Backcountry Adventure Tubing Tour

Our grandson coming down the waterfall – he loved the tour from start to finish!

The tubing tour here on Kaua’i was never all that high on my “must experience” list. I’d heard about it, but never thought about actually doing it until family came to visit this year and I was trying to find fun, local activities to do with my grandson. Floating in a giant inner tube through old irrigation channels looked like it might have just the right amount of excitement for a seven year-old.

I ended up having so much fun that I now can’t recommend the tour enough, and keep telling Brett and YaYu they should do it before we leave the island.

Lights on! Heading into one of the tunnels – there are five of them in all.

The tour takes place on what was the former Lihue Sugar Plantation, now privately owned by Steve Case who, like the owners of the Kipu Ranch, has agreed to keep the land undeveloped. The irrigation channels and tunnels were dug in the late 19th century by Chinese laborers to supply necessay water daily to the thirsty cane (over a million gallons a day). The tunnels were hand dug through rock with laborers digging from each side and meeting in the middle. They are still considered an engineering marvel for their size and length – some even curve in the middle. The first people to float the channels did it in a kayak, and flipped over while traversing one of the tunnels, losing their light and having no way to know how long the tunnel was. It gets very dark inside the tunnels so I can only imagine how unnerving that experience was.

Starting out everyone is bit crowded but the channels move everyone along at a different pace.

Participants on the tours are provided with a helmet, lamp and gloves at check-in, then driven over to the starting point, with a couple of stops along the way to check out some spectacular views that are otherwise hidden from the public, including Mt. Wai’ale’ale’s Blue Hole and its Weeping Wall of waterfalls. At the float starting point, after receiving a safety briefing and instructions, guests climb on to their tubes and once everyone has boarded the group is released to float. Helmet lights are needed for going through the tunnels, and the gloves prove their worth over and over when the tubes drift too close to the sides and riders have to push off from rocks or mud on the sides of the channels or tunnels.

Running the “rapids”

The current through the channel can move swiftly at times, but usually the pace is leisurely. The two biggest challenges are going over a three-foot “waterfall”  and keeping from getting wedged together with others’ tubes inside the tunnels. The entire ride though is fun and relaxing, and takes a little over an hour to complete (2.5 miles), with the entire tour from start to finish taking around three hours. The guides moved among us throughout the tour and even provided live ukulele music and Hawaiian songs as we floated along! At the end of the tour we were treated to  deli sandwiches, chips, and cookies and then driven back to the tour office.

Tubing tours can be booked through Kaua’i Backcountry Adventures. They offer several tours each day (which fill up fast, rain or shine); all are suitable for children aged five and above. Tour price is $110 per person; there is no price discount for children.

Privileged To Travel

I love to travel. I love to talk about travel, I love to read about travel, and I love to hear about the places people have been and their experiences. I have been having a blast planning and making reservations for our upcoming Big Adventure. Recently though I’ve been thinking about how very privileged we are to be able to do something like this.

Brett and I have been saving every penny possible for over a year now to make this trip happen. We’re selling most of our household goods, and giving up our life in Hawai’i in order to go around the world for almost a year. We have an income that will support us, and allow us to save a little as well (hopefully) while we’re on the road. If that isn’t privileged I don’t know what is.

It would be very easy for me to say, “We worked hard to be where we are today. We deserve this” and leave it at that. But the reality is LOTS of people, here in the U.S. and all over the world, have worked hard their whole lives, or are still working hard, and cannot afford even the simplest bit of travel. Brett and I are lucky – even with some ups and downs through the years things have worked out well for us. However, I’m reminded of an anthropology professor who once said that the concept of “hard work” never exists in isolation, that some people come from circumstances or are provided opportunities that don’t or will never happen for others, opportunities that at their least enhance or support effort, but often open doors to even better things. Over the years Brett and I have both been given opportunities and chances that, along with hard work, have made our current life possible.

If we can afford to travel, whether it’s one vacation a year to the next state over or by selling everything we own to travel around the world, we are coming from a place of privilege. I’ve written that it’s not impossible to save for travel, but I also know that might be a whole lot harder or not possible if one is poor, or receiving food or other social assistance, or is working two (or more) jobs and can’t afford to take time off, or is weighted down by crushing student debt, or is in poor health and facing (or trying to pay) high medical bills.

And, travel can also be far more difficult to undertake if one is a person of color, identifies as LGBTQ, or has a disability.

Travel is a consumer good (no one travels for free), but it seems sometimes as if it’s been put on a pedestal and is being offered as something else. However, whether one is traveling on a budget or whether money is no object, it’s worth remembering that travel is something that’s not available to everyone, at any price.

Brett and I are LUCKY that we can afford to even dream about, let alone prepare for and make our Big Adventure. In our case it has meant careful planning, months and months of saving, and following every penny closely, but our ability to travel is a privilege, and we don’t ever want to forget it.

Sunday Miscellany

My favorite view on the island.

There’s no regular Sunday post today – Brett and I are down on the west side for the weekend with no Internet connection. I do have a few odds and ends though:

  1. We’ve had a long, cool winter and spring, and I knew it was coming, but . . . the humidity is back. Ugh. It’s not as bad as it’s going to get, and the trade winds are currently still brisk, but the humidity is noticeable and has gotten uncomfortable at times. For a brief while though I had almost forgotten what it’s like to sweat so much! We’ve got less than two months to go in the house, and the condo we’re moving into at the end of July is air-conditioned – we’re all looking forward to it!
  2. I’ve been reminded that while there are a few big moments during the downsizing process, mainly it’s lots and lots of little tasks, ones you have to keep doing every day. Sometimes I look at all that’s left to do and feel discouraged, but then realize that our shipment at the end of this month will take care of a lot of what’s here; friends moving to the island are taking a big part of our furniture at the beginning of July; and right after that we’ll have a big garage sale and will hopefully get rid of most of the rest! It all will be happening sooner rather than later.
  3. I’ve also realized that because of the above scheduled events, for most of July we won’t have a TV, or any furniture other than our inflatable mattresses. We’ll still have our Internet connection to the end of the month though and will watch stuff on our laptops, and we’ll be working hard in the meantime on getting the house deep cleaned. It’s going to be an interesting month though, to say the least.
  4. This month will mark the fourth anniversary of our arrival on Kaua’i. It seems though like we’ve been here a lot longer than four years. I feel very sad when I think about leaving, and I find myself looking at things around the island more closely these days, or closing my eyes and picturing different places in my mind so that my memories stay strong.