Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Good Intentions

Nearly a month ago, my sister sent me a facebook message:

 Well, I do have excuses. I won't share those here. But I also have intentions to bring the blog up to date, one of these days....

Thursday, June 15, 2017


The purpose of our Hawaiian vacation was to celebrate 15 happy years of marriage! What better place than Disney's Aulani resort???

We were welcomed with flower leis and citrus-infused water.

Our room overlooked the garden, where set-up for the night's luau was in process. We liked our room, for the fact that it did NOT view the water park. We felt it was quieter. It also offered a more direct ocean view.

Mickey towels, and the quilt pattern contains Mickeys too!

A morning view from the balcony. The arches atop simulate the traditional Hawaiian houses, or hale.

We saw several bridal parties, but this couple will share OUR anniversary.

A romantic sunset dinner to celebrate!

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

The Big Island

This season we are taking quite a big break from cruising.

Our first stop is The Big Island. That's right -- HAWAII!

'Pumpkin' was a nice perk of our Airbnb, along with a covered patio. Two big drawbacks -- there was no AC, and there WERE coqui frogs, whose mating call can reach 90 decibels. Yeah. VERY difficult to sleep.

We stayed 'on the Kona side'. Driving south, one of our first stops was the Pu'uhonua O Honaunau National Historical Park. It's a very sacred spot known as 'the place of refuge'. This is a royal fish pond. Out in the bay, tour boats brought people to swim with the dolphins.

Our place was in Holualoa, so we visited the Holualoa Kona Coffee Co, complete with tastings. Here is a branch, which shows the stages of coffee growth. From R to L you go from buds to blooms to cherries. The flowers are known as Kona Snow, and have a light fragrance similar to honeysuckle.

Back home on our patio, I was amused by many geckos.

One day we drove north to the Kohala district.
We visited the original statue cast of King Kamehameha, near where he was born.

We drove to the end of the road, at the Pololu Valley overlook.

We stopped at the Keokea Beach Park to watch the waves, and these birds disproved the 'birds of a feather flock together' saying. Five different birds! A red-crested cardinal, a Northern cardinal, saffron sparrows, a common myna, and a dove.

Our drove over to the Hilo side was expected to be rainy -- if you can call 8 inches 'rainy'.  The worst of it held off until just as we were finishing our visit to the black sand beach at Punalu'u.

Large grit, but VERY black, and a bit difficult to walk on, especially in bare feet.

I rolled up my pant legs, but the ocean jumped me!

We stopped at the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, but the rain was POURING! We didn't see much, but watched their movie and visited the gift shop. This is a 3-D map of the island, in the correct orientation, north at top.

We did walk a little ways through the Thurston Lava Tube. I was amazed how well this photo turned out with no flash!

Our second Airbnb was a room in a house. Jack made fabulous breakfasts, which included fruit grown on the property! Harrison had nice tourist tips. This sign is at the Ahalanui County Beach Park, which is where the 'King's Pool' is --
a geo-thermal pool.

This road ends near Kalapana, a village overrun by lava. We drive to the end, but don't want to attempt the 4-mile hike to the lava overlook. But even with rain clouds, the steam cloud where the lava meets the ocean is very evident -- 4 miles away!

This Airbnb had cats too! This is Diego, who liked to spend time near us. He was LARGE, and affectionate and talkative, but not cuddly. His brother Boots came to check us out, once, but we would see him in the field on occasion.

Papayas at sunset

The next day we spend an hour or so at the Mauna Loa Macadamia Nut Factory.
Yes, there were free samples.
We were surprised to find that we preferred the milk chocolate ones to dark chocolate!

 THEN, we were on our way to the BEST highlight of the Big Island! We took a tour from Blue Hawaiian Helicopters! Expensive, but it was worth every penny. Especially since it was raining the day we drove over the volcano. NOW we get the view -- viewS.

Approach. There are tour boats that go too. But heck, we LIVE on a boat. And Al has never been on a helicopter.

Way at the top of the photo, where the lava field ends and the green begins, is Kanapali. That is where they allow tourists to park, and begin the 4-mile hike to the lava overlook.  Across the lava, in the sun, with only water you have brought - hopefully, and no potties. No thanks. Well, they do rent bicycles too. But that doesn't appeal to us as much either. We DO like the air-conditioned view from the helicopter.
Oh, look how much you can see underwater!

I love my zoom!!! See the hot spot?!  And that shelf? Overnight it fell into the ocean. We were told that it changes everyday. And we were among the last to see it this way. We were the first of about 5 or 6 helicopters on the 4:00 flights -- last of the day.
 This is a great webpage:  https://www.volcanodiscovery.com/kilauea.html

The pilot takes us up the slope to a steam vent, where a lava tube has collapsed and made a crater. The next photo is a zoom of the small crater above the big one.

Hot lava!

The finale is several passes over a remote area that the locals call Narnia. This side of the island gets plenty of rain, and it has filled the calderas. These falls are on private property, and permission must be granted to hike in. Our host Harrison says he has gone swimming here.

This is a wonderful culmination of our Big Island visit. 

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Miramontes Family Visit

It's hard to believe it's been almost a month, but the Miramontes family (minus Dad) came to visit during their Spring Break. We met in Bremerton, where it was only a one-block walk to such fine establishments as Starbucks, Subway, and Coldstone. We walked a bit farther, in the wind and rain, to the Navy museum, but it was Tuesday -- the only day of the week they are closed!

Well, let's try to do that when we come back to Bremerton to drop you off. Maybe Uncle Mikey will be around to visit then too.  Off to Blake Island State Park!

Blake Island is one of our favorite places. But this is not the view you like to see when you have 6 people cooped up on a boat, three of them kids aged 6, 8, and 10.

Blessedly, the sun came out on Wednesday afternoon! And what do boys love to do?
Throw rocks, of course.

And make faces at Grammie! But he's got such a CUTE face...

It's nesting season for killdeer -- is there a nest nearby?

The kids are not stopped by the HUGE puddle under the play structure.
Madalyn loves the zip-line-like feature.

Sailing Vessel Carlyn is in the area. At dinnertime, the crew adds a lot of color to the view.

One of my favorite subjects.

Oh no! Where is Evergreen State going??? She is our 'favorite' ferry, and we are at first distressed to see her being pushed south. We knew she had been up for auction. Al googles to find the answer:  she is going to the Caribbean!  We are happy she will continue to be a ferry. 

The kids are delighted to watch the raccoons.  Casey even got a photo of one climbing onto Viking Star. (This is old hat for us, but it's a thrill for the kids)

The next day there is still sun in the morning, so Casey and I and the kids head for the west point.
It's fun to explore at low tide.

The kids try to look as bored as possible while they take a rest.

We brought snacks, but that didn't keep Madalyn down for long!

Milo and Casey

Evan and Madalyn

Dig dig dig!
The rain held off ALMOST until we got back to the boat. I don't remember what we did all afternoon (probably watched a movie), but after supper we had a campfire in the shelter that the Carlyn had vacated that day.

The next morning Papa and I begin to ready the boat to go back to Bremerton while everyone else is till in bed. It doesn't take long for heads to pop up, though. Micah DOES meet us, and we DO go to the Navy Museum, and we all have lunch together before we all go different directions -- Miramontes back to Hillsboro OR, Micah to his place, and Al and I take Viking Star to Poulsbo for a gathering with the Cascadia Sailing Association.

A passer-by takes a group shot for us!

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Cruising Again!

We departed Friday Harbor and as we usually do, went directly to Blind Bay. It is our 'happy place' in the San Juan Islands. We like to drop an anchor and just relax for a few days -- or weeks. But this year we were on our way to Bellingham to meet up with friends, so we caught a mooring buoy and only stayed one night.

From there we went to Inati Bay on Lummi Island -- we'd never been there before. It is a tiny bay, and seemed crowded by a log tow, and a big hunk of steel.

A new experience for us this year is using yacht club reciprocals! We joined the West Sound Corinthians and have already earned back the cost of the initiation and first year's dues. We've enjoyed time in Bellingham, LaConner and Everett.

We'd never been into the marina at Everett either, so we are having new experiences, even after 6 years of cruising in the area. It is a wonderful facility, and we hear it is the largest on the West Coast! Here are two different perspectives from the two sunsets we observed in Everett:

We were the only boat at the guest dock the first night. And the sun broke through dark foreboding clouds near sunset.

Sunset the second night was a bit brighter. Here the windows appear to be glowing with light from inside, but it is the reflection of the sun. Notice the white submarine. We saw a TV news story about it the next day. Read more here:  http://www.xconomy.com/seattle/2017/03/14/visit-the-titanic-in-oceangates-carbon-fiber-sub-only-105129/