Thursday, December 17, 2009

December Travels

Dear Family and Friends: We had a couple of mid-December weeks of travel -- all family-related, mostly flying, not in Tuzigoot. Nevertheless, for the record, here's our report:

Week of Dec. 7:

Our travels this week had one motivating objective, but, as is our wont, we tied on a couple of others. Grandson Andrew Hinkle is on a traveling soccer team, the Rio Rancho (NM) Elite FC Gladiators, and they were playing a weekend tournament in the Raleigh, NC area. He would be arriving on Wednesday, but Dad Matt could not get there until late Thursday. So, we agreed to play the role of surrogate parents and go to NC to meet Andrew at the airport, drive him to the team motel in Wilson (about 60 miles east of the Raleigh-Durham airport - RDU), and be there for his first game on Thursday. (We couldn't fly with him because he had a ticket on ANOTHER AIRLINE, not SW.)

Hadn't been to see my Mom for a while, so, en route to RDU, we flew to OK on Tuesday. Had a brief visit with Mom, then enjoyed an evening at sister Connie's house. All six of her boys came to dinner (three are married; three are still at home), along with spouses and children. Also, sister Verla came over, too. Husband Tom was on an overnight business trip. We had a very nice, serene time. (Susie always says, "Connie's so serene.")

On Wed. we beat Andrew to RDU by about three hours, so used some of our waiting time to visit the used-book store in the airport. I think this is a great idea for an airport and wish more airports had them. Whenever possible, I help them stay in business. So if you're ever passing through RDU, ...
Andrew arrived on time and we picked up our rental car and found our way to Wilson -- ably assisted by the GPS in Susie's Verizon phone.

It was cold in NC, bone-chilling, in mid-30s. Andrew's first game was Thursday at 5pm, as the sun went down. As you can see, the stands were not packed. The lady in the red hat was there, though.

Fortuitously, we had parked at a spot overlooking the field where Andrew was playing. We went to the car at half time to warm up and didn't leave until the game was over. Matt had arrived just before halftime, coincidentally coming from business meetings in OKC, from whence we had just come 24 hours earlier, and he joined us in the car -- engine and heater running.

After the game we all had dinner at Cracker Barrel, then Matt took our place in the Holiday Inn Express (clean sheets?) and Susie and I drove back to Cary, in the Raleigh area, to stay with son Mike, Karen, and Jason for the rest of the weekend.

Friday Mike went with us back to Wilson for a 1:00 game -- a tense, hard-fought 1-0 victory for the Gladiators. Still cold, but enough sunshine peeking through that we watched from the sideline.

This was a huge soccer weekend in the Raleigh area. Something like 400 teams and 7,000 players were in action. Adding to this was the fact that the NCAA Division I Final Four in men's college soccer was also happening in Cary. Andrew's team went to the Friday night semifinals and Matt came to Mike's house to visit, stay warm, and watch the games on TV. The games were sold out when Mike checked Thursday, but, cold as it was, we couldn't say we were disappointed not to attend.

Saturday we switched our soccer allegiance to Jason, who is playing in an indoor soccer league. He scored a nice goal on a high, hard kick to the upper right corner of the goal.

Andrew, in his first year on the Gladiators, is the back-up goalie. On Sunday, we heard from Matt, he played 25 minutes or so in goal in their last game and did quite well. We were long gone by this time, catching a very early flight out -- not many seats available on outbound flights, due in no small part, we suppose, to all the soccer teams in town. Several of our recent flights have required getting up between four and five a.m. But, when you're flying free, how can you complain? Thank you, Mandi.

Week of Dec. 14.

Monday we washed clothes and re-loaded our suitcases, the objective this time being Las Vegas and the grand opening of the new hotel/casino, Aria, located in the new and still building City Center. City Center is the nation's largest privately funded building project: 5 years in construction to this point, $8.4 billion, 18 million square feet in the total complex (the Aria casino and hotel, other hotels, a convention center, and high-end apartment towers) on 61 acres. Here's a link to a newspaper story about the opening of Aria. Click here for an interactive guide.
Daughter Heidi is Director of Beverages at Aria, a mind-boggling big job. I may not have this quite right, but I believe there are 11 restaurants and 40 bars in Aria. Hundreds of waitresses, bar tenders, and other staff report to her. (Aria has 12,000 employees.) The last several months she's been responsible for interviewing, hiring, and scheduling all these people -- and a few other things, too, like dealing with vendors, choosing the uniforms all these folks wear on the job, and responding to every crisis, large and small, that goes along with all of this. But, hey, she's helping make history.
We, along with grandson Tony, who has joined the Army and will be leaving for basic training after Christmas, flew to Las Vegas on Tuesday. Also, daughter Mandi and her husband, Paul, flew out from Denver and Nashville, respectively. The Grand Opening to the public would be Wednesday at midnight. Tuesday was a 'practice' day in Aria and employees' family and friends had been provided passes to sample the amenities and the machines and to ogle the ... facilities.

Heidi's boyfriend, Joey, met us and gave us our admission badges and passes and gave us a guided tour around the lobby (Joey has just started work at the Center's art gallery). We would just catch a couple of glimpses of Heidi the next couple of days as she riccocheted from place to place. We used our passes and Heidi's pull for a meal at a nice Chinese restaurant in Aria. Here's a nighttime picture of the exterior of Aria. Surreal!

Wednesday afternoon we met Paul and Mandi at Planet Hollywood where they were staying, right across The Strip from City Center. We gorged ourselves at a PH buffet, shopped at the Million Dollar Mile shopping center in PH -- can you believe it? Susie found a purse she needed -- then went outside at 11:00 to watch the fireworks show on top of Aria.

Some Las Vegas Crazy got in this next picture. Wait! That's Paul.

Aria opened to the public at midnight and Susie, Tony, and I went over to take another look and to see Heidi briefly for congratulatory hugs and tears.
One more view of the fascinating exterior.

Some more Aria info: The rooms feature "smart-home" technology. E.g., the rooms are programmed to turn on selected lights, adjust the temperature and drapes, and do everything but shake your hand as you enter the room. A single remote controls TV, video, music, drapes, wake-up calls, and room service. Computers will remember your settings and be ready for your next visit.

In a city known for excess, things have been designed to be environmentally friendly. They will run their own fleet of limousines powered by compressed natural gas. Heat from their power plant is captured to heat the Center's water. The hotel has a new generation of low-flow plumbing fixtures. Materials from the Boardwalk casino/hotel, which was torn down to make room for City Center, were used in constructing parking garages.

Of course, all this was designed and construction started before the current recession, which has hit Vegas hard. Financial problems the last two years almost halted construction. So, there's a lot of nervousness about how the City Center will do and how it will affect the whole Las Vegas economy. Stay tuned.

We flew home Thursday evening, met Matt and family for dinner, reloaded suitcases again, and on Friday drove to the Denver suburb of Highlands Ranch for granddaughter Malia's fourth birthday weekend. (Hard to believe it's been three years since we celebrated her first birthday in China, just four days after her "Gotcha Day.")

We decided to drive for a change of pace and because we were a little tired of flying. Set our own schedule, see the scenery, haul birthday and Christmas presents, not have to sit in a middle seat between two large persons, ... . Also, door to door, the total travel time driving is only 2-3 hours more than flying.

Got an early start that enabled us to stop at the other Las Vegas (some would say the real Las Vegas; Susie's late husband, Manny, when he was recruited to play football in Las Vegas, expected to see bright lights and showgirls. Oops. However, there was this good-looking drum major ... . ) on the way for the traditional breakfast at the Spic and Span restaurant. Good food, including tortillas freshly prepared on the premises.

Later in the day Susie was driving and I was dozing in the back seat. Crossed a small bridge that caused a bit of a jolt and a thump. I woke up with a start and looked out the window thinking our plane had just touched down on the runway. You know when you've spent too much time on an airplane when you ... .

Malia's favorite movie is the Disney movie, Cars. We brought her a toy Lightning McQueen car and a (non-endangered) polar bear.

Malia's birthday was Thursday, the 17th. The big event, other than Nei-Nei and Grandpa's Friday arrival, was a Saturday party for about a dozen of her friends. The Cars theme was continued with a Lightning McQueen birthday cake. The party was held at a "Rompin' Room" facility that featured things to climb and jump on.

The Birthday Princess holds court.

We left early Sunday morning and drove to the Denver airport to surprise Mandi on her birthday. We had just been with her in Las Vegas and she is coming here for a pre-Christmas dinner on Wednesday, so she wasn't expecting us. Susie said it seems a shame to be this close and not see Mandi, so we did. (Background. Mandi just transferred to Denver where she is an operations manager. Paul will be transferring from Nashville to Denver as soon as an opening occurs in provisioning.) Very long lines at the SW area early this morning - around 8:00am. Business is good, but we were glad we weren't flying. We took Mandi flowers and a balloon. Later in the morning, we heard, the ticketing agents got the waiting passengers to sing Happy Birthday to her -- that SW family spirit.

Many times, driving to and from Denver, I've noticed a sign just north of Trinidad for the Ludlow Massacre Memorial. Another historical summary here. Finally decided this time to stop and see. I had wrongly thought this was a massacre of an Indian camp, but it wasn't. (Some googling later turned up the Sand Creek Massacre, also in southern CO, but near the KS border, which is probably what I had in mind.)

Ludlow was the scene of a strike by coal mine workers against mining companies owned by the Rockefeller family (the strike affected mining throughout southern Colorado, not just Ludlow). The striking miners lived the winter of 1913-14 in a tent city built by the United Mine Workers and there was sporadic violence during this time. On April 20, 1914, an all-day firefight broke out and culminated in the state militia, staffed by company security personnel, burning the Ludlow camp. Numerical claims vary, but something like 20 people died that day. Many of the miners had dug pits beneath their tents so they and their families could be out of the line of sniper fire. Two women and 11 children all perished when a burning tent collapsed into the pit they were in and they suffocated.

The Ludlow Massacre spawned a wider Colorado Coalfield War, "the most violent labor conflict in history," according to Wikipedia, with mines being attacked all across the region. Death toll estimates ranged from 69 to 199. The war ended in about 10 days when President Woodrow Wilson sent in Federal troops to disarm both sides. The Rockefellers never settled with the Mine Workers, but in subsequent years John D Rockefeller II initiated many of the reforms the UMWA had been seeking.

The Memorial features this statue commemorating the miners and their family members. Wish I had a good bottom line for this story.

I always enjoy driving across NE NM on I-25 between Las Vegas and Raton. Some might call it barren, but I call it beautiful. Miles and miles of rolling grasslands, golden this time of year, set off by mountains, volcanic outcroppings, mesas, and ranches scattered here and there. It's too grand to capture in a picture, particularly while driving along at 70 mph, but here's my goodtobebackhome picture for these two weeks of travel. (Incidentally, the January issue of the New Mexico Magazine featured photo-contest winners and one was taken out the window of a moving car on I-25 between Albuquerque and Santa Fe. Maybe they should create a special category for such photos.)

So, in two December weeks we saw five of our six kids and their families. What a Christmas present! (Sorry, Jeff and Valerie Hinkle; we'll come to Sioux City, IA as soon as you get settled in your new home. Their move from Aberdeen, SD, to Sioux City puts them much closer to a SW airport, which will help.) We're going to enjoy Christmas week at home.

Cheers and Happy New Year,

Susie and Rob

Monday, November 30, 2009

Christmas Greetings

A Blessed and Merry Christmas to Family and Friends.

It’s been a year of mobility for the Easterling/Hinkle clan. We had a couple of long Tuzigoot-trips, many clan-related Southwest flights, and went to Hawaii for our 10th anniversary (just page down through this never-ending blog for pictures and stories).

Jeff and Valerie Hinkle just sold their small farm near Aberdeen, SD, and are moving down south, for the weather, to Sioux City, IA. Jeff got a promotion from Shopko and is managing the store in Sioux City. They’re veteran movers and Valerie will soon find a Sioux City job preferably in her criminal justice field.

Mandi Venable, our favorite Southwest Airlines employee, has transferred from Nashville to Denver. Paul will join her there as soon as a SW job in his area opens up.

Jeff, Valerie, and Malia Easterling recently moved a short distance to a new house in Highlands Ranch, CO. Valerie changed jobs at about the same time: from helping to manage a day care center to doing database work. Malia turns four this month; it has already been three years since the memorable trip to China for her adoption.

Heidi Hinkle has moved from being Director of Beverages at the Bellagio resort in Las Vegas to the same position at the “breath-taking” new Aria resort located in City Center, Las Vegas. Her life is even more exciting because she has recently reconnected with HS friend, now sweetheart, Joey Vargas.

Matt and Suzy Hinkle are into their second years in new jobs in Albuquerque and new home in Rio Rancho. Tony has enlisted in the Army and will be going to Fort Knox for basic training right after Christmas. Kaci (a junior) continues working on her degree in music theatre at Baldwin-Wallace College. One of our year’s highlights was seeing her in summer theatre in Illinois. Andrew, a junior in HS, was on the varsity soccer team and is now on a traveling club team so we will tag along on some of his trips.

Mike, Karen, and Jason Easterling didn’t move or change jobs, but an active fourth-grader in the family makes for mobility. Jason spent a week with us in Tuzigoot on a trip to Creede, CO. We four Easterling guys enjoyed a baseball weekend in New York City.

Happy New Year 2010

Christmas Cheers,

Susie and Rob

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Hawaii - 5 Oh, More Honolulu

Susie came to Hawaii with the goal of buying a muumuu. When we were at the Polynesian Cultural Center she saw a Center guide wearing a nice one and asked where she got it. The Hula Bowl Swap Meet (flea market) was the answer. Great bargains compared to the tourist traps. Where the locals shop. So that's where we went Saturday mid-morning. Lots and lots of booths, selling lots of stuff. We got a muumuu for Susie andI found a $3 t-shirt for myself saying I climbed Diamond Head. Can't beat that if it survives at least a couple of washings.

For lunch, we followed a Fodor's recommendation: The Little Village Noodle Shop in Chinatown. Their recommendation was summarized in two words: Go There, so we did. And were glad we did. I had some tasty fried shrimp. Susie had moo shu in the little tortillas.

I had one more scenic objective in the Honolulu area: Manoa Falls, located up one of the ravines behind Honolulu. . From the parking lot it's a .8 mile hike through a rain forest to get to the falls. Here are a couple of shots. The waterfall, most of which I got in this first shot, is 150 ft. high

As we left Manoa, we happened to turn back toward the mountains and saw another Hawaii rainbow.

We were scheduled to fly home late Sunday night. We would need to check out of our hotel by noon Sunday, leaving us homeless in Hawaii for 10 hours. And that's a problem, you say? Not really, but we felt like had pretty well done Oahu. Another day might be anti-climactic. All I could think of was to make a big loop drive to the North Shore and back. The one culinary opportunity we had missed was the roadside panel trucks selling fish and shrimp all along the north and northeast shores, but that didn't seem particularly important, especially after our Chinese shrimp. We checked on flights and found that the Sat. night flight actually had a few more seats available than the Sunday night, which would probably tighten up by Sunday night, so we opted to switch to the Sat flight. This gave us time to hang out in the room, pack up, and leisurely head for the airport. Which we did.

One last shot: our view of Diamond Head from our balcony.

Had an uneventful trip home.

That's all, folks.


Susie and Rob

Hawaii-4 Honolulu

Thursday morning I got up early to hike up Diamond Head -- actually hike from the bottom of the crater in the middle of DH to the top of the west rim. DH got its name from British sailors in the 1800s who thought the sparkly rocks on its slopes might be diamonds. They weren't.

Got to the parking lot, which is at the site of a former fort in the crater, not long after sunrise, but lots of folks had been out there for sunrise. It's a hike of .8 miles, one way, including about 250 stairs and a tunnel near the top. At the top is a four-level pillbox of (long-abandoned) gun emplacements, built about 100 years ago. Never used in anger. Fodor's said this is the way to get a great aerial view of Waikiki without having to hire a helicopter. See. (My camera was shaking in the wind, but at least didn't blow off the shelf I sat it on.)

We had a lovely anniversary brunch in our hotel's restaurant (rated as one of the best Hawaiian places for breakfast) and then did some semi-random touring of Honolulu today.

Inland from the hotel you can see several residential areas marching up the side of the steep hills that encircle the city. We wound our way up to the top of one area, with this view of the city below.

New England missionaries arrived in Hawaii in 1820 and the place has never been the same since. Better or worse? is the issue. This source on state history says: "It is difficult to find an objective Hawaiian history that is accurate and unemotional." The Hawaiian Roots website summarizes it thus: "When the missionaries arrived in Hawaii in 1820, the Hawaiian people had already dismantled their heiaus and had rejected their religious beliefs. From 1837 to 1840, nearly 20,000 Hawaiians finally chose to accept Christianity as their new religion.

"The missionaries who came to Hawaii in the earliest years were a majority from puritan New England, which explains much about their character. The missionaries reduced the Hawaiian language to written form, enabling the Hawaiian people to read and write in their own language. Schools were established throughout the islands as rapidly as possible. By 1831, only 11 years after the missionaries' arrival, some 52000 pupils had been enrolled. The missionaries introduced western medicine and undertook the Kingdom's first modern census. And the missionaries are credited to helping Hawaii become and remain an independent nation at a time when Hawaii was ripe for colonization."

Just wanting to get a little feeling for this history, we next found our way downtown to the Missionary Houses Museum. We found that the only way to see the inside of the houses was to take a guided 1.75 hr. tour and the next one was not scheduled for another hour. Decided not to wait, so we just got a photo of the houses (some of which were pre-fabbed in New England and shipped to Hawaii) and also one of the nearby statue of King Kamehameha I (the Great).

King K the Great, helped by arms he got from the European discoverer of Hawaii, Captain Cook, united the Hawaiian islands in 1810. He died in 1819.

Next stop on our historical tour was the Queen Emma Summer Palace.

Turned out that this was another pre-fabbed New England house that subsequently became the property of King Kamehameha IV and his wife, Emma. And here we lucked out. Got a guided tour by a very enthusiastic and informative guide.

Emma, picture below, was Hawaiian royalty (lineage connected back to K the Great), 3/4 native Hawaiian, 1/4 British. She and the King had one son who died at four years old and the King himself (Kamehameha, not Elvis, also big here) died just a year later. (The King was an advocate of better health care for the islanders, proof, our guide said, that Hawaiians were way ahead of the US. ) In spite of her short tenure as queen, as the above link says, she became "one of the most influential figures in Hawaiian history. Once a candidate for the royal throne, Emma became known and loved for her humanitarian efforts throughout the Islands." She traveled to the US and England, became a friend of Queen Victoria, and raised money for an Anglican cathedral and girls school in Honolulu. She did run unsuccessfully to succeed King K V, the brother or cousin who had succeeded her husband. She died in 1885 at the age of 49.

In the early 1900s the summer palace (which was used for social occasions, not as a residence) was about to be demolished, but was saved for preservation by the Daughters of Hawaii. This group was founded by seven daughters of missionaries "to perpetuate the memory and spirit of old Hawaiʻi and of historic facts, and to preserve the nomenclature and correct pronunciation of the Hawaiian language." The interior of the summer palace is decorated with a lot of period art and furniture.

One sidebar from our guide. There were attempts to increase trade with the US, primarily in sugar, in the mid-1800s, but these were resisted by Hawaiian leadership because they feared it would bring slavery to Hawaii. It was some time later, after the end of the monarchy -- they ran out of heirs, our guide said, contrary to the standards and practices of British counterparts -- that trade with the US took off and, of course, Hawaii became a US territory and eventually a state.

Frances Sumner, mother of Valerie Easterling, said she once lived somewhere up Booth Street in Honolulu, so we decided to find the street. (We've found it fun in our travels to look up the roots of friends and family.) Booth Street was in the same general area as Emma's palace, so with a very helpful hand from Verizon's GPS we found it. Here's what the street looks like today. Finally dead-ends just beyond this.

We have no idea where Frances lived, but these looked like they could be WWII era bungalows.

After all this historical stuff, we headed downtown looking for Starbucks and a book store. Pulled into the parking lot of a downtown mall that looked promising, but it wasn't. Nevertheless, the mall happened to be the home of the legendary Don Ho's Island Grill, so we had a lovely anniversary late lunch there. Finished the day later with another sunset watch outside our hotel.


Susie and Rob

Friday, November 20, 2009

Hawaii-3. Windward Shore

Greetings, I mean, Aloha, Family and Friends:

Left the North Shore mid-morning Wednesday and headed around to and down the eastern shoreline -- the Windward Coast. And, indeed the wind was strongly blowing onshore. We stopped at the Polynesian Cultural Center -- a Mormon-developed cultural theme park, staffed largely by students at the BYU branch located nearby. Different Polynesian island groups have areas in which they demonstrate native customs, crafts, music, and dancing. We heard Tongan drummers, New Zealand (Maori) songs and chants (including the fearsome Haka war chant that NZ sports teams do before contests), and Fiji songs and dances (which we as anniversary celebrants, got to participate in) … . We missed the Hawaii, Samoa, and Tahiti demos. Here's a Tongan teaching an Australian how to drum.

The shows were capped by a parade of long canoes. Here are some pix.

This next canoe is the NZ Maori group. We thought they had a particularly good show, brought back fond memories from our time in NZ, way back in 2003.

Incidentally, at a buffet lunch before all the cultural shows we heard people at our table mention Albuquerque. We chatted a bit and found they were attending Jehovah’s Witness convention in Honolulu. Newspaper said today that there would be 30,000 attending in total, half this week, half next.
We had one night to ‘kill’ between three-night reservation blocks on the North Shore and on Waikiki. I had read good things about Kailua, just east of Honolulu, and its attendant Bay and Beach, so I picked a vacation apartment from the internet with a minimum of research. Well, it wasn’t quite as close to the beach as the website suggested, but it was quite adequate for our needs. It was nearly dark when we got there. We found a nearby pizza joint for dinner and took a long morning drive in search of both sights and breakfast, then worked our way around the SE corner of Oahu and on to Waikiki.

Pictures en route: Bay, SE Oahu. Beautiful day, but windy.
Halona Blowhole. When the waves are just so, water spews up like a geyser through a hole in the lava rocks.

Our Waikiki hotel was part of the package deal we got. I hadn’t even looked it up on the internet, so we didn’t know whether it would be high-end, low-end, or somewhere in between. We were pleasantly surprised. We’re in the New Kamaiani Hotel which is on the east end of Waikiki, away from the traffic and congestion and bright lights, across from a park and situated on the Sans Souci Beach. They call it a boutique hotel and it’s very nice.
We had lunch on the lanai adjacent to the beach, spent some time on the beach and in the sea, and just hung around the hotel in the evening. Got to see OSU narrowly beat Colorado on TV in late afternoon. We'll be here three nights, leaving near midnight on Sunday for home.
Susie and Rob

Monday, November 16, 2009

Hawaii-2. North Shore

After the church potluck, we got to Sunset Beach on the North Shore in mid-afternoon Sunday and found our bungalow. Enjoyed the sights and sounds for a while -- very relaxing -- and then drove to nearby grocery to stock up on supplies. We'll be here three nights.

This coast is a mecca for macho-surfers. Winter storms in the North Pacific send monstrous waves against this shore. In January, 1988, waves up to 40 ft. high were reported. I remember back in the early days of Wide World of Sports watching surfing contests at the Bonzai Pipeline, which is just a mile or so down the coast from here. Waves so tall a surfer can ride the face of the wave as the top curls over him. The big waves can hit as early as now, but so far, not this week.

Nevertheless, we've been repeatedly warned: stay out of the water. The bungalow manager said the waves aren't large right now, but they're still dangerous. The lady in the adjacent bungalow, when she saw me heading for beach, said: Be careful. Go in north of here so the current will bring you ashore near here rather than bashing you on the lava outcropping just below us. And to make it official, lifeguards have posted signs: Rip Current. No Swimming. (A rip current is a strongly outflowing current.) I went in to my ankles, alertly watching for the sneak rogue wave.

The folks next door are repeat visitors. Our bungalows are probably 20 feet above the water line and 75 yards back. The lady there said she's seen waves pounding in to the top of the beach, just out of reach of the ledge the bungalows are sitting on. The bungalows can vibrate, she said. I'm not sure I would hang around for the thrill.

Here's the view from the front window of our bungalow.

Here's a view from the beach. Our unit is the right half of the one-story building just to the left of the two-story building.

Those metal bands around the palm trees are to keep rats, yes, rats, from climbing up in the crown and making nests. We didn't see any rats and manager said he rarely had. Also, on Monday there was a crew trimming fronds and removing coconuts from these trees lest one fall on a guest. One chap climbed the trees and three or four others watched and cleaned up the trimmings.

Our Monday outing was an afternoon trip to the Dole Plantation. One of our gastronomic highlights so far was the fresh pineapple we were served at the airport hotel. We both said, Wow! Made for quite a scene in the restaurant. Made it imperative that we visit the source.

Here are some pineapple facts: Pineapples are planted by hand -- the top of the fruit is the seed for the new plant -- about 28,000 plants per acre. It takes about 20 months to produce the first fruit, another 14-15 months for the second. They harvest two crops in four years, or three in five years, then the plants are plowed under and a new crop planted. In Hawaii, of course, pineapples can be planted any time of year, so the crops are staggered. Plants are protected by black plastic and they are irrigated and fertilized as they grow. In its heyday over 90% of the world's pineapple crop came from Hawaii. Mr. James Dole bought a small island named Lanai and it was dedicated to pineapple growing.

On the way back fromDole we sidetripped through a couple of beach villages, Waialua and Haleiwa, the latter said to have many interesting shops and restaurants. Well, we missed them. We just saw a couple of surfer shops and a couple of eating establishments, if you include panel trucks serving shrimp and steak sandwiches. (Next day, Tuesday, though, I found businesses and we later went back in search of books.) We went on up the coast from Sunset Beach and did find Ted's Bakery, which I'd read about. It's a restaurant as well as a bakery -- a North Shore tradition. We brought dinner home and dined on our lanai.

Here's Monday's sunset, though I must say that Canon seems to have intensified the colors vs. what I saw with my eyeballs.

Tuesday morning I hiked to Kaena Point. That's the pointy thing on the NW shoulder of the island and it's the point of land seen in the sunset photo.

The writer of our Fodor’s Guide said that if she (I think) had only one day to spend in rural Oahu, she would "spend it walking the back road along the rocky shore at the island's northern tip." Good enough recommendation for me, even though I don't think she got the geography quite right. I read somewhere that Hawaiians don't use conventional direction indicators. More Fodor's: Kaena Point is where it is said that "the souls of the ancient dead leapt into the eternal darkness. ... It's a trek that will change your mind about Oahu being 'too crowded."

From the parking lot it is about a three-mile hike along a 4WD road to reach the point. The way is barren, no trees, but crashing surf on your right, steep hills on the left. Got the pictures of the point: Looking out. Looking back.

The timer on my camera caught me by surprise, which is why I’m in a semi-crouch -- not in pain.

Signs at the point cautioned me about wildlife. One was the Monk Seal. I didn’t see any. I started to walk down to a little beach on the south side of the point and heard a snort. Looked to my right and a few feet away spotted a seal. He seemed to be in distress, unable to move, and I thought I saw blood in his tail area.

I had seen a couple of people working in the area and I sought one out and told her what I‘d seen. She said there’s a seal that hangs out in the area, he’s probably just sleeping, but I’ll report to another park person.

So, I headed back, conscience clear. At the gate into the Point Preserve area, a mountain bike rider caught up with me, also exiting. We talked a little bit about the wind -- strong tailwind coming out, headwind returning. I told him about the seal. Oh, he said, that’s probably number 040, called Tom. He sleeps 12 hours a day in that area. Laziest animal in the world. He went on to say that there are only about 1200 monk seals in the world, so I had had the fortune of seeing a very rare animal.

I asked about the albatross. The biker was wearing an Audubon Society t-shirt and was obviously a frequent visitor to K Pt. Signs said not to disturb albatross nesting areas and cables were strung along the paths to keep you away. The lady I had talked to about the seal said a few had arrived -- they were hanging out near the hill.

Mr. Aububon told me a lot more. He said he’d seen seven pairs -- young ones -- that morning. (I didn’t see any.) Albatrosses are big birds: they can have a wing span greater than 13 ft. -- largest of all birds. They live for 40-60 years and are monogamous. A chick born here, when mature enough, will migrate 1200 miles away and return to within 12 ft. of its nesting area.

Here's an article from a local website, , about the albatross species found here.

Laysan albatross are very large birds. Their wingspan can reach to 13 feet (three meters) and they may weigh as much as 25 pounds (11 kilograms). Its range extends to most of the north Pacific Ocean.

Albatross live from forty to sixty years. They can stay out at sea for as long as five years before returning to the same island on which they were born. They have elaborate courtship dances, and once mated they tend to remain faithful to their mate. In adulthood they rendezvous each year with their partner at the same nest site. Nesting time is the only time they spend on land, and each year the pair stays just long enough to hatch and raise a single chick.
On land, albatross are very awkward and often have difficulty taking off and landing. This has gained them the nickname of "Goony Bird". Although albatross are so awkward on land, they are graceful and impressive in flight. An albatross in flight can be so perfectly attuned to wind conditions that it may not flap its wings for hours, or even for days, as it can sleep while flying. It takes advantage of the air currents just above the ocean's waves to soar in perpetual graceful motion.

Albatross are so beautiful in the air that superstitious sailors believed they were the reincarnated spirits of dead sailors who were searching the oceans for their lost friends.

On the hike back to the car, I stopped at this mini-beach to cool my feet and contemplate the meaning of life. I later encountered a large group of hikers, many wearing a t-shirt proclaiming: Walk the Talk. There's the answer.

When I got back to Sunset Beach, I found Susie engaged in vigorous beach activities.

We left the next morning, made a stop at the Polynesian Culture Center, and found our abode for the night in Kailua.

More to come.


Susie and Rob

Pearl Harbor Feedback

Got some feedback from our Pearl Harbor posting:

Frances Sumner, Valerie Easterling’s mother, grew up in Hawaii. She wrote:
I was eleven months old when PH was attacked. My dad worked there as a machinist. He was called in during the attack and he and his brother dodged strafing by Japanese planes while going into the Navy Yard. Frances

I responded: Wow, that's interesting. Did your Dad talk to you much about that day and the aftermath?

Frances replied: Yes, my dad talked to me about it. I also have memories of scary things happening although I didn't understand what it was. Also, we have a veteran friend in Honolulu who was there as a welder. My dad was a machinist. Dad's good friend lives in Calif. They met when dad grabbed his brother and jumped over a barrier to escape the Japanese bullets. Dad landed right on top of him. My uncle wrote a history of the whole period that is kept at the University of Hawaii, I think it is. My cousin got copies somehow. I remember growing up in Honolulu during the war. We went back to Kauai afterwards.

If you're still in Honolulu, you can find Booth Road where I lived exiting off the Pali Road. We lived almost at the end of the road on the top of the mountain. My mother sat on the stairs crying while she watched the Japanese planes. Before she died I asked her about a memory I had of kissing her and trying to get her to stop crying. She was surprised that I remembered that. There's more but those were scary times. Frances

My brother, Lael, corrects and expands on (my version of) family history:
Enjoyed reading about Pearl Harbor where my first 2 ships were homeported and Sheila lived for 2 years. I was deployed to the South China Sea or the Mainland most of the time. Heather was born at the Tripler Army Hospital; the big pink hospital on the hill.

To add to and correct your reference to your personal connection to Pearl Harbor; Dad was principal of Montezuma Kansas schools on 7 December 1941. [I said NW Oklahoma.] Believe he had 5 teachers under his command. … Dad wrote a letter to his father stating his intention to enter the military despite his deferment status as a teacher. It was March 1942 that he went to Kansas City for a military physical. There he wrote a post card to Mom back in Oklahoma stating something like "..WE HAVE JOINED THE NAVY." I recall a conversation with Mom that led me to believe from her body language that she never liked the postcard. Anyway, you were gestating by March. … Seems like Dad and Mom made the decision to create you before Dad got himself killed in the war. I seemed to be the result of the postwar celebration [Lael was born in March, 1946.].

… You were born in Waukegan Illinois because the Navy makes good decisions sometimes. The program Dad signed up for was the Gene Tunney physical training course to make chief petty officers out of school teachers and coaches to train recruits. … One of the few personal details Dad shared with me was that the 90 day Gene Tunney training program was the toughest thing he had ever done. Gene Tunney was a champion boxer and was given the rank of Commander and tasked with the development and implementation of the program. A program that assigns people already trained in educating young people to continue what they did best in the Navy was a brilliant solution to the problem of building a navy rapidly.

Here are some Pearl Harbor pictures I found on the internet:

This one is of the Arizona engulfed in flames, going down.

And here's the USS Arizona Memorial with the ship's hull visible below.

Here's a story on the USS Oklahoma and a picture:

"On 3 March, 1943, the capsized USS Oklahoma (BB-37) was slowly but inexorably torqued to an angle of 30 degrees. Old streetcar motors were mounted to a dock on Ford Island, then connected to the special towers on the ship by a series of steel cables and pulleys. "Old Okie" as she was known to her crew, was raised, then stabilized, then raised again, in measured steps, until she was finally vertical, then pumped out and made seaworthy. She had rolled more than 90 degrees and was being raised primarily to get her out of the way. Built in 1912, she was too old to bother restoring, and worse, she had been on the bottom of the harbor so long that everything was corroded beyond repair, so she never saw action again. She was made watertight and soon after the War, the battle wagon went on her last voyage - being towed across the Pacific for salvage. She sank during the trip.

The USS Oklahoma Memorial was dedicated on Dec. 7, 2007, and commemorates the 429 sailors and Marines who died in the Peal Harbor attack.