Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Freeway to LA!!! YIKES!!!

By 7:00 am I was packed and ready to hit the road on my next great adventure, beginning with a Golden Spikes Rally in Fullerton California, just down the street from Disneyland.  I have friends that want to hitch a ride to Mickey's house, making this the perfect opportunity for me to check out the roads with the RV.  I'm sorry friends, but that's NOT going to happen.  After traveling over 8,000 miles on an Alaskan trip, I thought this would be a piece of cake.  It tasted like one I had buried in my back yard!!!

Hwy 99 South had more construction than Hwy 99 North.  Seems we are so rich that we can replace hundreds of miles of freeway!!  Of course I forgot to get my small camera out, so these not-so-good pictures are from my phone.
I made arrangements with the Westerfields to catch them from just outside of Fresno.  Amazingly, we were minutes apart.  The Rest Stop meet up area was closed, so we went on to Hoddels in Bakersfield for a quick salad lunch.  Back on the road with very little traffic, we headed up the Grapevine over Tejon Pass.  Easy peasy ... my rig just purred along!!!
Once at the top, MORE construction.  The two lanes designated for trucks soon became a parking lot only one lane wide.  I thought this was a traffic jam ... but we weren't in it yet!!!
Castaic Lake was beautiful as always.  About here is where the wind started.  Apparently the Santa Anas decided to welcome us to the LA Basin ... and we fought with them all the way down the hill.  Even going slow from all the road construction, the winds pushed me from side to side since I'm pretty light weight.  I white-knuckled it for the next couple hours, not only from the wind, but the VERY narrow lanes.
Then we hit the second parking lot!!!  This one lasted almost to Anaheim, where the freeway finally opens up into a REAL freeway.  The good thing about this is the slow speed ... the wind, trucks and narrow lanes aren't a problem any more!!
It was a breeze from Fullerton to our destination, Orangeland RV Park in Anaheim ... all of 4 miles.  This is a nice park, wide spaces with lots of trees, a pool, laundry and over 200 spaces, most of which appear to be permanent residence sites.  NOT "inexpensive", my 5 night stay is $325.  They are actually located a few miles from Disneyland, it's easily drivable without hitting the freeway, but I seriously doubt I'll ever drive my RV here again.  I'm adventuresome, but not crazy!!!
Several of the Golden Spike Group have already arrived, so we carpooled over to Knotts Berry Farm to the Chicken Dinner Restaurant.  I haven't been here in ages ... and it's changed dramatically!!!  The old wooden Roller Coaster still stands however, and was going strong when we arrived at the parking lot.  Thanks to Kurt and Betty Simon for giving me a ride!!
Things really have changed ... you can go to the Chicken Dinner Restaurant up front, or you can head to the back to a large room for the SENIOR Chicken Dinner Buffet.  I guess we all qualified, because 25 of us had the $10.75 all-you-can-eat buffet plus a big piece of berry pie.  
Stuffed to the gills we slowly waddled back to the car and headed for the RV park.  It was a pretty quiet night ... I can say that because I was awake for all but two hours!!  The winds started to come up flapping my slide-out covers, along with a small screeching from a branch rubbing.  Today the ladder comes out for a little trim job ... that is if I can get it to stand up long enough in the wind.  It's back to Hawaii weather here ... HOT, windy and dry!!!  Today is a "nothing to do" day, so I'm hitting the store to pick up all the things I forgot to bring!!

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

UH OH !!!!!

Two small words in the English language that I HATE to hear myself utter.  I moved the rig out this morning in order to back the Jeep in for hookup.  I'm all ready to head out ... except my rig sure is dirty!!  All my RV'ing friends keep their rigs immaculate ... washed and waxed ... making me feel guilty.  It's a long hard job that is on the bottom of ONE of my many lists ... which means I'm usually too busy to go there.  However ... with this rally coming up in two short days, I better at least wipe it down.  The last time I was on top of this ladder was when I returned from Quartzsite.
When I got around to the biggest driver's side slide, I heard myself say UH OH.    OH NO!!!!!  The slide cover is pulling away from the side of the rig.  This is definitely NOT good.   The pink color is just the reflection of my phone cover.  The screw holding this up is kind of crooked, maybe it just wasn't screwed in straight and tight.  Right here and now, I have to say it I did NOT ... NOT ... hit anything, including tree branches.  Trust me, if you pay THIS much for one of these things, you make DARN sure you don't hit anything.  And there is nothing around at this height for me to hit anyway.  That's funny ... maybe it's just pulling loose.  I'll have it checked out.
Then I went to the OTHER end of that slide cover.  OMG!!!  OMG!!!  Maybe something really DID hit this end because it's not only pulling away, the metal is actually twisted.  I just can't imagine them installing a track bent like this.  It wasn't like this the last time I washed it upon return from Quartzsite.  Funny thing is, I see no other damage.  How could you hit this and not mess up the paint??  I'm furious.  The only thing I can think is when I took it to Fresno to have those guys fix my dryer.  They are the ONLY ones who have driven it besides me (since Quartzsite) and they moved the slides out to have room to fix the dryer.  

This is going to be a major repair ... which may or may NOT be covered by my extended warranty.  I grabbed the keys and went outside to check out the slide, moving it out and in ... it worked.  The worst part is there really isn't anyone I TRUST to repair it.  Maybe Barbara and Tom's repairman that fixed their rig after a tire blowout.  Except I leave this morning at 8:00 on the next adventure.  BIG SIGH!!!!!   Here's hoping it lasts through this long trip.
My blood pressure is up about 50 points ... and now I'm worried it will rip off as I cruise down the highway.   Take a chill pill Nancy ... just RELAX!!!!  I'll have Dan and Tom check it for me.

On a good note, I finished quilting this pillow cover, not that I feel like making the pillow now ... but maybe when I return!!
So I'm off on the next big adventure ... heading to a Golden Spike Rally in Fullerton, California ... from there it's on to Kansas City and the East Coast!!   If you are in the area, stop on by and say hello!!!

Monday, April 28, 2014

Guess I Didn't Need That Part Anyway!!

Apparently I'm allergic to Hawaiian spiders or whatever it was.  Funny, I never even SAW any, nor did I see much in the way of bugs, but all those lizards and geckos must be eating something!!  Two years ago I got bit by something out in the jungle while hiking through the bamboo forest.  A month later, I was at the Doctor's Office because I still had a big lump on my neck.  THIS time was much worse.  I woke up with an earlobe the size of a large marble ...VERY sore.  Cyndae said to put toothpaste on it, for lack of anything else, because of it's drying benefits.  I would have tried Windex (My Big Fat Greek Wedding ... windex fixes everything) but couldn't find any in the condo.

I didn't think much about it again until coming back from snorkeling when I ripped my dive shirt off over my head.  OOOWWWWWW!!!  And a big chunk of my ear fell off.  Sorry, no pictures here!!!   What the heck?????   Sure enough, I'm apparently allergic to these little buggers ... not that I needed that piece of ear anyway, but I wasn't too happy about body parts falling off!!!

As I scrounged through all my junk ... I mean makeup, aspirin, advil ... I actually found the little tube of medicine the doctor gave me last time.  I guess in a moment of clarity, I threw it in just in case.  Several days of doctoring and my ear felt much better ... just smaller!!!  I guess I really don't need that part anyway.  I'm hoping it chooses to grow back at some point!!  In the meantime, I'm getting another tube of this magic elixir!!

Today is the last day of packing.  I'm going to hook up the Jeep this afternoon so I don't have any disasters like last time ... when I pulled all the wires out of the plug.  At least I'll have time to fix it!!  Some last minute chores like spraying the house for bugs and the yard for weeds should do it.  The house sitter should have no problems to take care of.  Tomorrow morning is BLAST OFF!!!

Sunday, April 27, 2014

How to Cook 100 Pounds of Pasta!!!

I'm still packing ... and packing!  But it's time for a break.

In the late afternoon, I was conscripted into servitude ... volunteered actually ... to go cook 100 pounds of penne pasta to feed the huge crowd at the Relay For Life event.  The Merced College stadium and track field was transformed into a walking/running marathon for two days to raise money for cancer research.  The City Fire Department donates their huge barbecue pancake grill wagon so the Elks can cook lunch, dinner and Sunday breakfast for those thousands who show up.  Luckily I missed lunch!!

The Bingo crew seem to be the ones who volunteer for all these special events, so I was asked to come help with dinner.  No problem I said ... but I'm not a great cook and I don't think you can dig a hole big enough to bury that much burned pasta!!!  I thought they probably cooked everything in the huge Elks kitchen and I would just serve it up, but I was wrong.  It's cooked fresh on the spot with the biggest pots and propane heating elements I've ever seen.  These same pots are also used for the crab and shrimp feed, so they have perfect baskets that fit inside, making pasta draining a breeze ... that is if you can lift a pot of boiling water weighing a hundred pounds over to the mixing table!!!   This is my buddy Mark, waiting for the pot to boil!!
I jumped right in and became the pasta timer, taste tester and basically the cook.  Ten pound bags (ten of them) were cooked one at a time and mixed with huge pots of sauce that had been previously prepared at the lodge.  Colleen and Len did the sauce mixing ... which I have to say, came out perfectly in the end.  How did they do that????
Once cooked and mixed, they were kept warm on the flat-top barbecue until called for in the serving department ... the building in the first picture ... where it was served up to thousands of hungry walkers coming off the track, along with salad, bread and butter and I think dessert ... but I never had time to go check it out!!  Cleanup was calling and those huge pots needed to be washed and loaded up for their return to the Elks lodge.  They tried to talk me into breakfast this morning at 5:00 am, but I'm really not a good early riser ... and I still have packing and chores to do!!

I have to say I have been feeling guilty about my soapbox stand on screaming children. ALL kids aren't "bad"!!  In fact, there were TONS of kids here at the track who were playing and having a GREAT time ... and I didn't hear screaming at all.  They weren't chasing the birds around, whacking each other on the head or throwing things.  Maybe it has to do with WHERE you are raised ... or maybe WHO raised you ... but I have to say I was delightfully surprised.  Not only that, but many kids who walked by thanked us for cooking dinner.  So my faith in humanity has been restored!!!  Most kids are great ... it was just the four who were camped out next to my condo!!!

Two days and counting .....

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Spring Cleaning and Packing!!

I'm running a little late I think ... isn't spring cleaning supposed to be done around daylight savings time??  Actually, I guess I'm not too far off.  It used to be the time changed at the end of April ... before they decided to save even MORE time and move it to the end of March.  At any rate, I'm changing the batteries in the smoke detectors and cleaning the AC filters, all accomplished perched on top of a very tall ladder!!!  Eeeeeek!!!

All my ceilings are 12 footers, which means I have to be at the last step of my 8 foot ladder reaching up with both hands, using some of my climbing moves to hang on to the wall while removing the smoke detector 9 volt batteries.  I guess when they built this house, they wanted to be extra sure you knew if there was a fire.  Not a bad thing for sure, but with only 4 actual rooms, including a large family room / living room / dining room area, I have 8 smoke detectors!!!  That's a LOT of detecting ... and a LOT of 9 volt batteries, except for that one I can't seem to get remove.  These aren't your cheapo depo ones either.  At some point I need to get this one replaced, but for now, 7 battery replacements will have to do.

I checked out the AC filter size and made a Home Depot trip where I purchased 6 extra filters.  You know, 2 small and 4 large .... the exact opposite of what I really needed.  Darn I hate it when I do that!!!   At any rate, I did have enough to make one full exchange.
My my my ... didn't I change these last October???  These are REALLY bad!!!  No wonder I can't breathe!!  It is rather dusty in my house since I have a 20 acre empty field behind me that gets plowed every couple of months, but THIS is awful!!!
With batteries replaced and clean air, it's back to packing and arranging for a house sitter who will live here while I'm gone.  It's been raining for a couple of days now so I've left the slides in ... but today the rig needs to be opened up so I can access the closet and get all this "stuff" out of my kitchen where I've been stacking it for the last week.

Every day I think about that drive through LA traffic.  I'm pretty sure I can do it, but that doesn't mean I won't be a nervous wreck before I even get on the road.  It's got to be easier with a co-pilot who can give you directions ... but alas my co-pilots can't read ... or talk for that matter ... so I'm printing out maps and programming my GPS.  Today is Relay For Life Day in town and I've volunteered to help the Elks cook lunch and dinner for the participants.  Hopefully that will get my mind off the freeway for a few hours.  Three days and counting down to the next Adventure!!!

Thursday, April 24, 2014

ZZZzzzzzzz !!

Finally ... a full night's sleep!!!  Between the shiny silver drapes and an Advil PM,  I "think" I slept through the night.  First time in about 3 months!!!  I'm hoping it will help my "patience" factor!!

Yesterday was another one of those days.  I spent 2-1/2 hours on the phone with United Health Care, trying to find SOMEONE ... just ONE ... who knew what I was talking about ... my benefit reimbursement.    The first four calls resulted in being passed on down the line, with not one single person having any idea AT ALL, what I was calling about.  The last one gave me another phone number, which I carefully repeated back to her.  You're not going to believe this ... I got Doug .............. wait for it .............................. from Rug Doctor!!!  Seriously???  Heck, I asked him if he knew what I was talking about, you never know, but alas, he had no idea either.

Needless to say, I'm pretty angry now.  I'm sure they could feel my hands around their neck during the next couple of calls.  Finally I got someone who knew about Group Benefits, but still no idea about reimbursement.  They suggested I call my County office.  No thanks, I already did that and they provided me with loads of incorrect information.  By the 7th call, I get a gal who says that is handled by another company and transfers me.  FINALLY!!!  Call number 8 provided me with a reasonably intelligent sounding individual who had the answer to my question ... how do I get my $100 reimbursement (paid for me by Merced County)???

Here's how this convoluted stuff works.  I pay UHC $130.72 on the first of the month.  Merced County pays UHC $100 about a week later, at which time they will process a refund to me via direct deposit. What an accounting nightmare.  Why don't I just pay $30.72 and they keep the $100?   I guess they just want to make everything difficult.  Out of curiosity, I asked the name of his company (since the nice lady told me they were separate from UHC) ... "why I work for United Health Care".  I just started laughing ... and suggested his office contact the rest of his company and advise them of who he is and how the process works ... PLEASE ... for the sanity of us having to work with you!!!

Once my blood pressure subsided, I spent the afternoon baking, getting ready for the next adventure.  First on the list is a Golden Spike Rally in Fullerton California ... eeeeeeeeek ... LA driving for the first time, a nail-biter at best!!!  This banana bread (with mini chocolate chips) will go in the freezer to be consumed as dessert along the way.
Recently, instead of Lean Cuisines full of preservatives, I'm trying to clean up my act by eating more food I prepare myself.  Three mini meatloaves (also for the freezer) will keep me in sandwiches for a couple weeks!!
I've made umpteen trips to the RV, packing clothes, food, water, dog food and everything else I can think of.  Then I made three trips back out to retrieve the oil, chocolate chips and Advil PM I shouldn't have packed yet!!!  Today will be a running-around-go-to-the-bank-so-I'm-prepared kind of day.  Blast off will occur in the next week!!!

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Where Has All The Night Gone??

It's summertime, I can tell.  It's still light when I go to bed and light WAY too early in the morning.  I'm still trying to catch up on some sleep, and it's not working for me at all.

I worked ELKS Bingo last night and finally hit the hay around 11:30.  At 5:00 am, light comes streaming through four big windows above my bed.  Who designed this crazy setup??  Today they will be draped with the ever popular silver "aluminum" drapes in an attempt to at least make it to 6:30.

Miss Jessie is doing MUCH better.  Once I got the stitches out, you could hardly tell she was in a wreck.  Me thinks she is just accident prone ... I've never had a dog that needed so much repair work done ... including her broken foot!!
In between making list after list, trying not to forget anything, I've been working on this Hawaiian quilted pillow.  I think I've stuck myself with the needle at least 500 times.  It's amazing how resilient skin is.  I even sewed my finger to the back twice, requiring delicate surgery to cut me loose!!  When done, the entire square will be quilted.  Believe me, this was something that was NEVER on my radar to learn ... but it's addictive to be sure ...
I'm still working on this next Rally ... we need a White Elephant gift, lots of appetizers, a potluck item, a roll of nickels, several AMTRAK reservations as well as RV park reservations (whew), which I lost in the great email migration to Outlook.  I didn't like Outlook 8 years ago when the County migrated there ... and I don't like it now.  In all that time, it has made no improvements, including the loss of saved emails!!!

I need a nap ....... yawn!!!

Monday, April 21, 2014

Changing Time Zones!!!

Most RV'ers seem to deal very well with the time changes.  I don't ... it's as simple as that.  I'm a wreck!!!

The weather finally cooperated and provided a beautiful sunset for me on the last night.  Yes, there were about 30 people in this image ... who magically disappeared!!
But alas ... I miss my puppies ... and it's time to head home!!
I was up at 5:00 am, packed and ready to hit the road by 7:00.  The Maui Airport can be a madhouse later in the morning, with everyone trying to get on the last plane to Honolulu in order to catch the ONLY planes to the mainland.  I returned the worst rental car I've ever had to Dollar/Thrifty Rental ... a Ford Edge, at a cost of $1,038 for two weeks (not very thrifty).  The inside was absolutely filthy and the outside wasn't any better.  The brakes were horrible and chattered at every stop.  The only good thing about it was the radio.

Somehow I got on the TSA Precheck list ... which is VERY nice.  No taking your shoes off or even removing my computer from the camera bag.  HOWEVER ... and I AM glad they are thorough ... the very nice x-ray guy thought I had a knife in the case.  First, they couldn't figure out how to unhook the side in order to lay it flat ... then couldn't find the "knife".  As with most photographers, I take everything but the kitchen sink, and there is not an inch of space that isn't taken up by some gizmo, all carefully packed.  He said his Aunt is a photographer and she always carries some special knife.  MY special knife turned out to be a pen-like flashlight.  Forty minutes later, camera bag repacked, I was on my way ... it's okay, I'm glad they are doing their job!!

No worries about getting my luggage on ... as a first class passenger my bags fly free (they should for what it cost!!) and I'll have plenty of overhead space.  It does amaze me however, even though you are only allowed two small carry-ons ... how BIG most carry-ons are ... and how many bags people get away with!!!  Being early, I got very well acquainted with the drug sniffing black lab dog as he checked out Jessie's dog hair on the leg of my levis!!

Dinner was extra special, a chicken teriyaki salad ... chicken with wild rice and vegetables you could recognize ... and this beauty!!!  White chocolate covered vanilla ice cream around raspberry sorbet!!  And I could have had TWO!!!
Once the guy to my left turned off his iPad with volume levels of TEN (no ear buds) after being asked THREE times by the Flight Attendant (really people, why are you so rude!!!) it was an uneventful flight.  When we landed, it was another story.  Our luggage at carousel 2 finally arrived at carousel 3 after 45 minutes of broken down trolley.  Not that it mattered, because there were no buses to the economy parking, where all 50 of us were parked!!  Another 45 minutes of freezing at the curb,  I was able to squeeze on a bus, and after explaining my predicament of not knowing where I was parked, got lots of expert advice and walked right to it!!!

At 1:00 am California time, there was the most beautiful harvest moon I've ever seen.  At 2:30 I arrived home to my waiting puppies!!!  Up at 6:00 to let them out, I was a time-zone wreck!!!  That time change just kills me every time.  I spent Easter Sunday on the couch!!!  At least until both dogs got sick all over the house from 4-5:00 before I could get them outside, from what I have no idea.  It was a disaster!!  Two hours later I crashed on the couch, just long enough to not sleep last night.

It's Monday now and I feel like a Monday!!  It will take another day or two for me to get back to normal ... but in the meantime, I have to get busy packing for the next adventure!!!  Where's the aspirin!!!

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Another Day At The Beach!!

Okay, I take back what I said about the stupid tourists.  Maybe they just don't know they shouldn't pet the turtles ... but really parents ... I'm sure you DO know that if you chase something, it will run away, probably scared that you chased it.  So WHY do you let your kids chase??  From the birds that landed on the lawn to the chicken to the turtles.  And not the screaming as in having fun in the pool, but the blood curdling high pitched screams that are disturbing everyone because they all came outside to see what the problem was!!!  Okay ... off the soapbox!!

Happy Good Friday yesterday!!  Between Good Friday, spring break and Easter, it was this crowded by 8:30 am, so you can imagine what it was like by noon.  There wasn't a spot left open on the beach!!  It took me 45 minutes to get gas and the ABC store was packed to the brim.  Definitely time to go home for me!!!  I'm not one used to big crowds!!
I know, I'm supposed to be on a diet.  However, SOME splurges are allowed!  If you ever come to Maui, go the Whalers General Store in Wailea.  They have a great sandwich/salad bar, including these lovely $3.00 cups of delicious chocolate pudding parfait with cake and pastry cream.
Can you tell I loved it???  
This is one of the local taco trucks ... only here they serve gourmet meals for fairly reasonable prices. This one specializes in lunch and dinner plates for $12-$14.  You will find them all over the island ... stop in, have a great lunch and support the self-employed locals!!
Here's the coconut shrimp minus one.  I couldn't even wait for the picture.  The big thing here in Hawaii is macaroni salad, which usually has potatoes in it, along with sticky rice.  Served with Thai sweet chili sauce, it was enough for two meals for me.
Koi are also big here ... not to eat, just to look at!!  There are many ponds around the island, chock full of the biggest fish I've ever seen.  You can find these at the Kihei Marketplace.
And of course there are beautiful flowers everywhere!!  These birds of paradise are blooming like crazy, and I understand can be grown in Central California.
With beautiful sunny days and warm weather, flowers are abundant here.  There are many varieties of hibiscus still intact, even after the big winds we have had ...
But this one is my favorite!!!  
Okie dokie ... it's 6:49 am and the kids have just hit the pool.  Time for me to pack up and hit the road!!!

Friday, April 18, 2014

Gotta LOVE Those Babies!!!

With the arrival of another beautiful sunny day, I just had to hit the water again!!  You can tell how the environment loses it's color, the deeper you go due to loss of light.  At the surface with lots of light, everything has beautiful color.  Blue is the first to go, leaving everything pretty much greenish ... eventually everything turns green/brown/black.  Yellow tends to hold it's color longer, which is why my fins and mask are bright yellow ... so your dive students can tell who to follow.  You'd be surprised how many students you lose because someone followed the wrong "leader"!!  

THIS is the smallest baby I saw.  He's only about 18 inches long.  The babies are pretty skittish, so it's best to stay a little further away.  They ARE in fact, protected animals ... and it is ILLEGAL to swim too close, touch or otherwise harass them!!  PLEASE if you ever get the chance to swim with these beautiful turtles, DO NOT TOUCH THEM!!  The smallest amount of bacteria on your hands can eventually kill these guys, especially the babies.
Look at this beauty!!!!   He's so young that he exhaled a little before his head got above water ... you can see a big air bubble on his chin.  
He will hang at the surface for a second or two, then grab another breath.  By the third or fourth time, he's heading back down.  Here at the surface, the water is blue and the colors gorgeous.
I'm not that close in most of the pictures, in case you were wondering.  I have an adjustable telephoto lens on my camera!!
Turtle reflections.  Although this one was much lighter in color, it's also lighter because the backscatter was pretty bad this morning and I'm on the wrong side of the sun.  Backscatter is the bane of underwater photography!!  Algae and sand floating in the water makes the camera want to focus on it rather than on your subject.  The further away you are, the worse the backscatter.  Taking it out on the computer, resulted in a lighter image.

It was about here that I had to deal with five stupid tourists.  They came swimming up coughing and choking, splashing and generally making so much noise that they scared the baby away.  When they tried to pet the second baby, I read them the riot act!!  OMG just be quiet and observe them ... no, they had to chase and be general idiots!!  I was hoping Big Momma would lure them out to sea permanently, as she often does, but this time she only took them down the beach away from the babies.  
By now, more and more people are swimming out this direction.  I figure if I'm not hovering in one spot, they will never find them tucked up under the rocks, so I swam further out and just pretended I was taking pictures. Sure enough, I was soon surrounded by about ten snorkelers .... so I quietly headed back to shore.
Here's a juvenile resting on the bottom, which is where they spend most of their time. They move around and eat more at different times of the season.  The cool thing about this image is the small black fish on it's back ... eating the algae growing on the shell.
Back at the condo two hours later, when the wind and clouds came up, these baby sparrows hunkered down in the grass out front.  Not quite ready to take on the world, they stayed close to the bushes while waiting for mom to return.  
Today is my last day in paradise ... I would hit the water again, but I don't have enough plastic bags to keep wet soggy diving gear away from my clothes.  Today will be a "lay in the sun and rest up day" because tomorrow will be 20 hours long getting back home.  I can't wait ... much as I LOVE it here, I've missed my puppies terribly!!!

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Another Day In Paradise With Friends!!

Every morning my friends come by for a visit and we discuss the plans for the day.  This beautiful Northern Cardinal stopped in for some breakfast yesterday, as did his sparrow and mynah bird friends.  Miss Chicky must have had other plans because she didn't show up today.
Early morning is the time to get a little sun around the pool.  No screaming children!!  I've never seen the likes of my neighbors two kids who scream at the top of their lungs constantly, even while having dinner!!!  
I visited Germaine again and picked up another Hawaiian quilt pillow to sew, along with many more tips and photos to get started with the actual quilting.
The hole in my finger from the tiny needle is now large enough to require a bandaid.  I tried the thimble thing, but it doesn't work for me.  By the way, yes these stitchers do get a few drops of blood on their work.  The old Hawaiian trick is to spit on it and wipe clean with a cloth ... it will come out.  Hmmmmmm I think I'll pass on that table runner I was looking at.  But really, Germaine swears by it!!  So next time you get a drop on your shirt ....
There are no yarn shops here (lucky for my checkbook) but while checking out the local quilt shop, I did find a few skeins of Maui Yarns, hand dyed here on the island.
By now, I have WAY too much stuff to fit in my luggage for the return trip.  Actually I probably could stuff everything in, but it would be so heavy I'd have to pay someone to carry it to the airport.  Instead, you can pick up these boxes at the Post Office, stuff  them as full as you possibly can, and send them off for $12.00 each.
Time to check out some of my old dive sites on the southern end of the island.  If you don't want to pay the dive shops $125 to go out on a boat, you can shore dive in a couple of really nice places.  The only requirement is that you pull a float around with you so boats know you are underwater.  More feathered friends were racing around the golf course, chasing after a huge riding lawnmower, scarfing up all the bugs they could hold.
This is looking back at the Makena Resort and beach area.  Pretty swanky, never crowded and a beautiful place to stay, it's right next to Clint Eastwood's house ... or at least he used to own it.  No, I never saw him while staying there one year, but his house was spectacular!!! 
Here's one of the diving entry points.  Of course it's all lava rock ... this island is a volcano ... so be careful walking and DON'T wear sandals or flip flops when hiking.  Tennis shoes are a must here!!
I'm off to swim with the turtles again ... if I can find them that is!!  The sun's out and it's another gorgeous day!!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Rainbows Mean Rain!!!

I said goodbye to my new roommate who has breakfast with me every morning and headed out to Lahaina, the old whaling/fishing port on the Northwest side of the Island.
I didn't realize as I drove the only highway to Lahaina, admiring the beautiful rainbow that stretched from Maui to Lanai, that rainbows mean rain.  Neither did the guy who was following me in the Mustang convertible as huge drops began to fall, totally soaking him and his lady, who was frantically trying to crawl under the dash to stay dry.  Although still green here, a good portion of this island doesn't get much rain, resulting in lots of cactus and scrub brush.
This little town never seems to change ... all the old buildings still stand, although some were empty.  Apparently last summer was a bad one and many businesses closed their doors.  If you are in to jewelry, this is the place to visit, but bring your BIG checkbook.  I found my necklace (which I purchased in Kihei) for $40 more than I paid ... and it was on SALE!!!
But FIRST!!!  Gelato ... at the Ono Gelato and Coffee store.  The only thing better than coffee for breakfast is a big Sandy Beach  ... peanut butter gelato with macadamia nuts and graham cracker crumbs!!!  YUM YUM!!!  I know, it's 9:00 am, but since I turned 18, I can have ice cream for breakfast!!
All over town are these beautiful trees ... perfect locations for photo shoots ... except I don't have models.
Patty Chance will remember this beach ... next to Bubba Gumps, this perfect small beach is where you can find nice pieces of sea glass.  I wasn't there ten minutes and three more people showed up.  Those in the know, know that butts up in the air mean glass on the beach.
With the recent storms, I was able to pick up quite a few pieces before the crowds took over.  The early bird here, gets the nice glass.  The largest white piece at the bottom is almost two inches across ... perfect for that wire wrapped necklace I want to make.
Looking back at the area of the old fort, made from blocks of coral cut from the reef, is another shallow beach area perfect for morning glass collecting.  .

Front Street in Lahaina ambles along the beach for almost a mile, complete with original buildings from the 1800's.  One of the old cookhouses remains to this day.  The kitchens were always built separate from the main house ... if there was a fire, which happened often ... the kitchen would burn down, hopefully leaving the main house intact.  
This is not quite half of the huge over-100-year-old banyan tree that takes up an entire city block in Lahaina.  It's so big there is no way you can get a picture of the entire thing.  I would have tried, but on this day, 50 tourists had just disembarked from a bus, creating a less than desirable image.
Next to the sidewalk I spied this beautiful lei hanging from a stand advertising them for $5.00.  I couldn't believe my eyes (they usually run $20-30) ... so I headed to the small group of ladies in the back to see what was up.
They immediately invited me to join their seniors group ... really, I look that old???  Actually, I was honored as they explained that they are native Hawaiian ladies, making leis to raise money for their high school senior scholarship program.  They couldn't make the leis fast enough, since they sold as soon as they were hung on the frame.  I made a donation in exchange for a couple pictures.
These plumeria blossoms smelled amazing, but the ladies said they were immune to the smell.  They have all been around them for too many years.  
As soon as I took this image, they gathered these flowers and added them to the collection.  Their next meeting is Thursday, and I just might attend!!!
All along the highway between Kihei and Lahaina are beaches like this ... just be careful if you pull over.  If you get stuck in the sand, you will wait a VERY long time for a tow truck and it will probably cost you as much as the car you are driving!!!
Having completed my assigned quilting task, my second lesson is today, and maybe I'll have time for a few more images.