(Continued from Day 6)

This was our final day in Hawaii, and we checked out of the lovely Hilton Waikoloa Village after enjoying its amenities a bit more.  I don’t think I mentioned that they have quite an impressive collection of artwork.

Our plane did not leave until nearly 9 o’clock at night, however, so we once again ventured south, to catch some sights we passed by on our return from Volcanoes National Park.

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At Kailua Kona (where the Walmart is) we diverted from Route 11 to take in the sights along Ali’I Drive, which hugs the coast (between the pink pins on the map).  From there we found our way to Kealakekua Bay State Historical Park (green pin).  There we explored another heiau, not that we were seeking out places of human sacrifice, you understand.  Both heiaus had this puzzling warning sign:

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I mean, I get the part about not damaging the structure, or stealing rocks for souvenirs.  But don’t wrap the rocks?  What’s with that? (More)

Posted by sursumcorda on Wednesday, June 29, 2011 at 12:10 pm | Edit
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(Continued from Day 5)

This morning we arose early, broke out our snorkeling gear, and headed for the resort’s lagoon.  The lagoon is manmade, but open to the sea, so if you get there before there’s a lot of splashing around you can see some interesting fish and sea turtles.

That done, we were on the road again, this time going to the Kohala area, the northwestern tip of the island.

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Polulu Beach (green marker on the map) is reached by foot, via a steep trail that begins with these warning signs.

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Posted by sursumcorda on Tuesday, June 28, 2011 at 5:38 am | Edit
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(Continued from Day 4, Part 2)

At 8:00 this morning we had the mandatory timeshare presentation that made the whole trip possible.  Despite having many, many opportunities in Florida to earn stuff by wasting time in this way, we had never taken advantage of them, and this was our first.

Based on the experiences of others, we expected a boring group presentation and a high-pressure sales pitch.  I even brought a book to read, as I was told that is the best way of getting through the presentation.

Not here.  First, the presentation was personal, just the agent and us.  Surprisingly, that was not boring at all.  I survived very well the insistent personal questions—designed to help her tailor her presentation to our personalities—by reminding myself that there was a person behind that sales front, and countering every question with one back at her.  “How many children do you have?” she’d ask; “Two; how about you?” I’d respond.  We actually had an interesting conversation, instead of me just resenting being asked questions I didn’t want to answer. (More)

Posted by sursumcorda on Monday, June 27, 2011 at 11:24 am | Edit
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(Continued from Day 4, Part 1)

After climbing up out of the Kilauea Iki crater, our next adventure was at the Thurston Lava Tube.

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Walking inside a cave made by flowing lava was impressive enough, but the real fun began after this sign:

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Posted by sursumcorda on Sunday, June 26, 2011 at 8:20 pm | Edit
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(Continued from Day 3 - Part 2)

There was nothing about its beginning to presage a day spent amidst reminders of nature’s primordial (and very present) violence.

We awakened early.  I grabbed my Bible and a cup of tea, and slipped out to breathe in the morning from our porch.  Rarely have I experience such uplifting peace.  I bathed in the natural beauty before me—okay, technically it was a golf course, but there were birds, and wind stirring the trees, and no sign of golfers.  Best of all was the delight for my ears:  I could hear the trilling of unknown Hawaiian birds, the crow of a rooster, and the lowing of a cow.  I could hear the breeze, and the soft sounds of Porter puttering in the cottage behind me.  More remarkable was what I could not hear:  no lawn mowers, no chain saws, no air conditioning compressors, no pool pumps, no airplanes, no construction work, and no road noise—not even a single car.  I was awed at how much more conducive to meditation is such a setting.

Somewhat reluctantly, we packed up and headed for breakfast (included with the room) at the Kilauea Lodge restaurant.  The feature was French toast:  three pieces of Portuguese sweet bread (note:  not sweetbreads), each different—plain, taro, and guava—all delicious.  It was served with two syrups, maple and coconut.  This being Hawaii, not Vermont, the “maple” syrup was not the genuine article, but Porter liked the coconut, and I found the French toast sweet, flavorful, and delicious just as it was.

If forced to name the high point of our trip, I would have to say the helicopter ride on Day 2.  No pun intended.  Really.  But Volcanoes National Park was a close second.  Florida has resorts.  Florida has botanical gardens.  Florida has beaches.  Very nice beaches, with surfing, and snorkeling.  Florida even has cattle ranches.  But Florida has no volcanoes.  Not one.  Walking across a crater is one amazing experience.  Not at all like walking across a Florida parking lot in August.  Well, only a little like that. (More)

Posted by sursumcorda on Thursday, June 16, 2011 at 12:45 pm | Edit
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(Continued from Day 3 - Part 1, which was continued from Day 2, which was continued from Day 1.)

Leaving behind the Waipi`o Valley, we retraced our path and rejoined the Hawaii Belt Road (Route 19), continuing westward before turning south.

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Laupahoehoe Point was a seaside village, but in 1946, twenty-one children and three adults died in a tsunami, and the town was moved to higher ground.

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It is now a beautiful park, with a memorial and you-won’t-see-this-on-the-mainland warning signs.

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Posted by sursumcorda on Monday, June 6, 2011 at 7:22 am | Edit
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I know you're all—one or two of you, anyway—waiting with bated breath for the next installment of the Hawaiian Adventure.  I'm working on it.  But it's not going to happen tonight, so instead you get a quick story of today's enjoyable shopping trip.

Yes.  I did just use "enjoyable" and "shopping" in the same sentence.

Thirty-plus years ago we visited Brazil.  One of the delights of foreign travel is the opportunity to expand one's taste in food, and that trip introduced us to, among other treasures, jabuticaba jelly, Antarctica Guaraná, and suco de maracujá sem açúcar.  The last is passion fruit juice, without sugar, and was my staple breakfast drink every day I could get it.

It is hard to find passion fruit juice here, and when I do, it's always sweetened.  Our local Albertsons did start stocking plain, frozen passion fruit purée a few years ago, so when, in my new-found enthusiasm for smoothies, I decided that passion fruit flavor was just what I needed, I turned to them.

Alas, they no longer carry it.  But the willing-to-be-helpful clerk suggested we try a Bravo Supermarket.  We have several nearby food stores, but Bravo is not one of them.  Research, however, revealed one not far from our church, so this morning we ventured in.

Success!  We came home with not one but three different brands of passion fruit purée:  one from Colombia, one from Ecuador, and one from the Dominican Republic. Mmmm—smoothies tomorrow!

Finding a long-lost love is enough in itself to take the sting out of shopping, but Bravo did us one better by being such an interesting store.  Even if it were closer, it wouldn't do for everyday use, because it's a small store with not much general selection.  But it abounds in what I'd call, for lack of better information. Hispanic foods.  The produce section was amazing, with half a dozen different kinds of bananas, and dozens of fruits and vegetables I know not of.

I look forward to other after-church excursions in the future.

Posted by sursumcorda on Sunday, June 5, 2011 at 7:58 pm | Edit
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Our concierge had informed us of Waikoloa Village Market, where the locals buy groceries, so yesterday we picked up a few supplies, such as SPF50 sunscreen, a pineapple, a knife with which to cut the pineapple, and breakfast materials.  It was nice not to pay resort prices, but overall it must be admitted that Hawaii makes Swiss price tags seem reasonable.  Lower-48 Americans can stop complaining about the cost of a fill-up now: gasoline is about a dollar more per gallon in Hawaii.  We even paid more for the pineapple than we do at home in Florida.

We began our day with breakfast on the balcony:  Raspberry Ginger Clusters & Flakes.  It was good stuff, although the ginger overwhelmed the raspberry.  Obliterated, really.  Think of it as Blenheim-in-a-box.

The Hilton Waikoloa Village is a super resort.  You could have a bank-breaking fabulous vacation without ever leaving the property.  So, having spent but one night there, we left.  We kept the room, for we intended to return the next day.  (And we did.)  But what care we for super resorts?  We can have those for a lot less money without leaving Florida.  Beaches, swimming, and snorkeling?   Ditto.  But volcanoes?  Florida is remarkably short of that particular natural beauty.  So we hopped in our rental car, and hit the road. (More)

Posted by sursumcorda on Saturday, June 4, 2011 at 10:40 pm | Edit
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We slept well until 4:30 a.m.  That sounds early, but it’s not unusual for us to start the day ony an hour later.  Not bad at all, considering Hawaiian clocks—in the summertime—are six hours skewed from Florida’s.

(My current approach to combatting jet lag is to sleep as much as possible on the plane, but not to make an effort to sleep.  Once upon a time I acted as if I could get a full night’s sleep on an overnight flight:  brushing my teeth, wearing eye covers, and settling down as much as is possible in a coach-class set, with a pillow and a blanket.  After several flights with marginal success at best, I decided to ignore my watch altogether.  After boarding, I settle down to enjoy myself, usually with a book or my World of Puzzles magazine.  I’m at the stage of life where it’s easy to doze—actually, I’ve been at that stage for at least 40 years—so when I feel sleepy, I set the book down and allow myself to snooze.  I rarely even bother to take off my glasses; I just lean back and sleep.  When I wake, I pick up where I left off and begin the cycle again.  I find this much more satisfactory, because I’m no longer annoyed by announcements, food  carts, or neighbors who must get out of their seats.  If they wake me up, they’ve only disturbed a short nap, not my “night’s rest.”  I no longer worry that I’m “supposed” to be sleeping.   I enjoy the flight more, and adjustment to the new time schedule comes more easily.)

We would have liked to make a faster start to the day, but had a morning appointment with our “personal concierge,” who would help us plan our week, including the mandatory timeshare presentation.  She was actually very helpful, with useful suggestions for places to stop on our around-the-island tour.  She was also able to reschedule our presentation, which had originally been placed in the middle of the day, a most annoying and wasteful time.

The first meeting accomplished, we headed out of the Hilton property to the shopping/restaurant area at the entrance to the resort.  (The resort is more than the Hilton sites, although they constitute a large part of it.)  There we made a breakfast of “Japanese Tempura Style Fish and Chips” (and shrimp).  Delicious!

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Unless you consider fish & chips for breakfast a bit odd, there was nothing about its onset to indicate how incredible this day would be. (More)

Posted by sursumcorda on Tuesday, May 10, 2011 at 9:24 am | Edit
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I'm still working on Hawaii, Day 2, so today you get to see the souvenir we brought home—for the worms.

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It's billed as a compostable cup, and was of excellent quailty for drinking.  According the the manufacturer,

Please note that composting is required for biodegradation. These cups will biodegrade within 180 days in a commercial composting facility but can take up to a year or more to biodegrade in a home composting system.

We will see what the worms make of it.  I suspect it will take quite a while for them to have an impact on the cup:  they prefer their food in small pieces, preferably soft.  They will eat the mushier parts first, leaving harder pieces until bugs and microbes have degraded them somewhat—see the piece of corn cob to the right of the cup.

Posted by sursumcorda on Monday, May 9, 2011 at 9:01 pm | Edit
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If a good neighbor is one who watches out for your home while you are gone, and a great neighbor takes care of your mail and pets (even if there are 10,000 of them), what can you say about a neighbor who will take you to the airport at 4:30 in the morning?  That was the first leg of our trip to Hawaii.  (Technically, “Hawai‘i,” with the left single quote, but I’m going with the simplified spelling.)

Hawaii?  What were we doing there?  That’s what I asked myself. (More)

Posted by sursumcorda on Sunday, May 8, 2011 at 12:30 pm | Edit
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altStephan's thoughtful parents gave Porter a jar of Speculoos à Tartiner for Christmas, and I can't wait to try it.  It's made by Lotus, the same folks who make the incredibly delicious Biscoff cookies Porter occasionally brings home from a plane flight.

I don't have as much quarrel with the TSA as many people do, but I am tired of having my luggage singled out for hand inspection nearly every time I fly.  On my most recent trip to Switzerland, I wasn't particularly surprised to find the tell-tale TSA notice in my checked bag when it and I were finally reunited (that's another story), because I was carrying a large, metal cylinder filled with dangerous ... candy canes.  The can did a great job of protecting the fragile candy, but must have looked intimidating on the x-ray.  There is no packing job so good that the TSA can't make a hash of it, but the only victim of their efforts was one crushed chocolate truffle.  We promptly destroyed the evidence.

On the way home I thought I had a chance of escaping.  I had a few bizarre encounters with airport security—none of which involved pat-downs, I'm glad to say—but it wasn't until I landed in Charlotte that my checked bag became a problem.

First, I was singled out for special treatment at Customs, because I'd answered honestly the question, "Are you bringing any food into the country?"  That always gets me into trouble, although normally as soon as I explain that the food is chocolate, cookies, and similar items, they lose interest.

Not this time.  Everything, including my purse, went through a scanner.  "What's in the jar?" I was asked.  "It's kind of like peanut butter," was the best I could do, but it was sufficient.  The pleasant Customs officials released me, and I thought I was home free. (More)

Posted by sursumcorda on Thursday, January 13, 2011 at 6:52 am | Edit
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It is fitting to end my November Thanksgivings with gratitude for a wonderful visit with family and a safe journey home.  Despite Heather’s prediction that I would post more about our activities than she would, you’re not likely to hear much about them.  I was too busy living the adventure to write about it.1  Of yesterday’s voyage from Pittsburgh to Orlando I have much to say, and the illusion of time to say it.

It was a long day—nearly 16 hours door-to-door—but I can’t complain as Porter still had some 13 more hours to travel after I was safe in our own house.  If it weren’t for the final blow from JetBlue, I wouldn’t have minded at all. (More)

Posted by sursumcorda on Thursday, December 2, 2010 at 5:13 pm | Edit
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This is a short post, because I don't have a lot to say about electricity in Switzerland, but I like their home outlets.  I'd rather the world adopt our 110 volt system, for safety reasons, but if I could I'd change our plugs to the Swiss type.  See how sturdy the prongs are?  No worries about accidentally bending them when you stretch the cord too much, straining to get the vacuum cleaner to reach to the far corner.  Some outlets are combined with light switches, and many are recessed—a neat safety device that makes it impossible for the prongs to be connected to the electricity and touching your fingers at the same time.

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Posted by sursumcorda on Tuesday, September 7, 2010 at 6:37 am | Edit
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Maybe this post should be "readjustments," since I'm now home and experiencing reverse culture shock, but it's still worth talking about transportation.

Basel is a city, albeit one of the nicest cities I know.  It's the third largest in Switzerland, a little smaller in population than Providence, Rhode Island or Tallahassee, Florida, but a lot more dense.  I'm not fond of cities, in general, but if you wanted to design a situation that is perfect for public transit, walking, and biking, you could hardly do better—and Basel made a conscious choice, back in the 1970's, to encourage those modes of transport. (More)

Posted by sursumcorda on Monday, September 6, 2010 at 6:25 am | Edit
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