2020 Hawaiian Adventure – Oahu

All good things must come to an end…..and so did my Hawaiian Cruise! Over the next four posts, you can relive my wonderful adventure with me…..since I posted them in order, they appear in reverse…..hhhmmm – I should think of something funny or philosophical about that, but it’s late, so my brain won’t allow it! hehehe

I am so blessed and happy to have been able to do this trip – it really was special! How can I sum it all up? Well, for one thing: I’m sure I’m not the first to say this and, for all I know, it may even be an official motto somewhere, but I am declaring Hawaii the “Land of Waterfalls and Rainbows”! In the seven days I spent in paradise, I saw more rainbows and waterfalls than I’ve ever seen in my life and it was heavenly! While each island is distinctly different, this was a common theme on all of them. When I think of Hawaii, I think surfing and beaches and big waves. Yes, there is definitely a lot of all of that. But, there are also beautiful drives through the country side with every shade of green imaginable, stunning canyons and cliffs, and a year round rotating growing season that ensures some kind of fruits and florals will be plentifully in season whenever you are there. It is truly paradise on earth!

On our last day, we pulled in to Honolulu on Oahu to end the cruise. I walked the gangway to leave the ship for the last time about 9:00 am, gathered my luggage from the security area, and got on a bus for one last tour. My return flight was scheduled for 9:30 PM, so I had all day on Oahu – I chose a full day tour that went all over the island and ended at the airport. The day ended up being long and mostly boring, but it served the purpose of killing time and giving me a final few hours to stretch out my enjoyment of the beauty of Hawaii! The tour was OK and the guide was good – his name was Tommy Chong, believe it or not!!! LOL He told us he got to meet the real Tommy Chong and Cheech once and showed us a photo of him with them. The tour was 8 hours of mostly driving with pointing out drive by points of interest and a few stops and a really crappy lunch. But – I did see some beautiful sights and got to enjoy some more Kona coffee and Macadamia nuts at a Macadamia nut farm!!! I was most looking forward to the Dole Pineapple Plantation – the main reason I chose this particular tour, but our stop wasn’t enough time to do the train tour, so we really only got to do the gift shop and have a treat of some kind – I had a cup of fresh pineapple that was amazing!!! So not a totally bad day, but really wish I wasn’t trapped on that bus so long! LOL Most of the photos on this post aren’t as good as the other posts because a lot of them were taken through the bus window as we drove by! Oh well…..better than no photos, right?

My last Daily Balcony Selfie before I left my cabin for the last time!

While I was on my balcony doing my selfie and having some breakfast, I saw this!

Never underestimate the little guy or think you can’t cause you’re too small or not strong enough……just look at this little tug boat working to pull this big freighter into the harbor safely……if it weren’t for tugs, the big guys would never get to the dock!!!! Think about that!!!!

We were told that this hotel has exclusive contract for the filming of hotel scenes on the current Magnum PI TV show!

A lot of the sites we saw on this last tour were related to either Magnum PI (current or the Tom Selleck version) or Hawaii 5-0 (again, current or original versions)!

This is the beach where the famous love scene in the movie From Here To Eternity was filmed — doesn’t look as romantic as it did in the movie, huh?

Yep – much more romantic in the movie!!! LOL

Here – this angle looks better! 🙂

This was at the entrance to a Macadamia Nut Farm where we got more free samples of those awesome nuts AND more free 100% Kona coffee…….I had a couple cups, knowing it will probably be the last time I ever have any…….back to tea for me, unless I either return to Hawaii or find the occasional opportunity to see if it tastes as good off island!

China Man’s Hat Island

I think this was a government building of some kind…….

The Dole Plantation…….sure wish I could have taken the train tour to see the pineapple fields!

Spam is very popular in Hawaii — they eat it with everything!!! There are many different varieties and flavors of Spam – who knew? AND…..that tray of bars on the left side is actually SPAM SUSHI – packed rice between two pieces of Spam…….I don’t get it, but to each his own, I guess!

I was intrigued by this banana flavored cotton candy display — not enough to buy any, but it still caught my eye!

I bought this huge cup of fresh pineapple at the plantation — it was soooooo good!!!

These are rainbow (something) trees —- so beautiful!!! I was told the bark starts out brown and peels to this rainbow color and then barks over, again, and peels, again…..and so on!

I finally got on the plane for home…….first leg was overnight to LA……then a long flight to Chicago……then on to Buffalo! I left Honolulu at 9:30 PM on Saturday and arrived in Buffalo at 6:30 PM on Sunday……of course that takes into account all the time changes, since Hawaii is 5 hours behind us here on the east coast.

I gave in to one silly character photo……gotta get at least one on every cruise, right?

Yep, I kicked off the new year and the new decade with a big bang……but, for now…….Aloha, Hawaii……till we meet, again!!!

2020 Hawaiian Adventure – Kauai

The highlight of the Hawaiian Cruise, for me, was Kauai! Several friends told me I’d love Maui best and I did absolutely love Maui, but my hands down favorite was Kauai…..with Maui a very, very close second…..of course, I wouldn’t turn down a chance to be on any of the islands, so picking a favorite was like picking a favorite flower – most are beautiful in their own way and have their distinct differences, but there’s usually that one or two that seem to touch in a way the others don’t. That’s how Kauai was for me…….very different than the other islands and it touched my heart in a way the others didn’t. I’m sure one reason was that I have family living in Kauai, so I got to spend one of our days with them, but that wasn’t the whole reason. It had views that took my breath away and caused me to cry at the sight!

We spent two full days on Kauai. The first day my nephew and his wife met me at the gate as soon as we were cleared to leave the ship and I spent the entire day with them – just Sean and Anna at first and then their children, Lily and Luke, joined us when they got out of school. It was wonderful to see them – Sean is stationed at Nawiliwili, Kauai with the Coast Guard and they have a beautiful home in Kapaa. I told them where the tour I booked was going to take me the next day and they said that would be perfect because they were taking me to totally different places! They picked me up about 8:30 am and dropped me back at the ship about 7:30 pm……it was an awesome day!!! The weather mostly cooperated – we had a little downpour and some drizzle in the morning, but that resulted in the most beautiful rainbow I’ve ever seen in my entire life and then it got sunny and pretty.

Kauai is quite a bit different than the other main islands. They really only use the coastal areas – the interior is mostly uninhabitable with a big volcano and jungle-like terrain.  As you look at the map, our ship was docked at Nawiliwili on the bottom right side. My nephew’s hone is about half way up the right side at Kapaa. The darken route is where the tour took me on the second day – more on that later. Sean and Anna took me in the opposite direction across the bottom to the left side and up to where you see Waimea Canyon just in from the left side about half way up. They also took me to their home and around town and some of their favorite beaches. Also, notice on the upper left hand side where it says Na Pali Coast – notice there are no roads going there on the map – well, they are steep cliffs that can only be seen by air or by boat and can not be accessed by land! That was supposed to be part of our cruise – we were to pull out of Nawiliwili and cruise up by the Na Pali Coast on our way back to Oahu, but the surf and winds were too rough and it was deemed to dangerous to take the ship by there. That made me sad – they say that is a remarkable sight!!! Maybe next time I go to Hawaii! 🙂

My Daily Balcony Selfie on the first day in Kauai……Kauai also had the most impressive first impression and views from the ship than any of the other islands.

This and the next several photos are of Waimea Canyon…….I was so overwhelmed with emotions at every lookout we stopped at — I can honestly say I have now seen the most beautiful place on earth!!!

It was a VERY windy day!!!

More wild roosters and chickens all over the place!!!

When the rain stopped, this amazing double rainbow came out to play! It was HUGE and we could see both ends!!! It was the brightest, most vivid color rainbow I’ve ever seen and it seemed so close that we could almost touch it!!!

My attempt at capturing the entire rainbow in a panoramic shot — it got it all, but made it look more tightly arched than it was……

The last lookout at the top of the canyon — we were right at the top of the rainbow almost looking down on it!!!

Then, we stopped at this beach to see the big waves!

Luke, Sean, and Anna

Me, in the strong wind……LOL

This is the Kong formation — see that second peak – it is a profile view of King Kong’s head…..not really, of course, cause it is a natural formation, but it sure looks like him!

We went for dinner at a local favorite – Saimin Dojo – the Hawaiian version of Ramon noodles – mine was Chicken Teriyaki and it was sooooooo good!!! I have no idea what those pinwheel looking things are, but they were delicious – an odd texture, but very good!

Then, we went to another local favorite called Kenji and had Litchi fruit flavored milk shakes — OMG — I am so sad that I may never get to have another one!!!

It was a long, amazing day…….the views were the highlight of the trip and the food was amazing and getting to spend time with my nephew and his family was the wonderful icing on the cake!!! When I called and told them I was coming, I hoped to maybe snatch an hour or two of their day for lunch or dinner…..but, they made time to spend the entire day with me and take me to their favorite places! I got back to the ship exhausted and slept like a baby!!! 🙂

After a good night’s sleep, I went on a bus tour called “Director’s Cut” – it took us to all the locations where well known movies were filmed.

My Daily Balcony Selfie on our second day in Kauai

Just a shot of some colorful buildings in a town from the bus window – I think this is Kapaa

Just before we got to each stop or drive by location, the tour guide would show a clip of the film or films that were shot there so we could see the background on the film and then in real life — it was really cool!!!

This is a young Bruno Mars as an tiny Elvis impersonator in the movie Honeymoon in Vegas

Scenes from Jurassic Park were filmed in this area…….most of where Jurassic Park was filmed was in the inaccessible areas in the interior of the island, so we couldn’t see it or go there, but there were a few places where she could point out scenes from the movie

The tour guide had a toy dinosaur that she had us do various poses with on our phones for us……this was mine – I’m supposed to be running, but I don’t run too good!!! hehehe

This is that same Kong formation that I showed you earlier in the post, but from the opposite side so he’s facing the other way!

Don’t ask me what movies most of these photos are from…..I don’t remember……but there were a LOT of stops and a huge list of movies!!! Kauai is a very popular location for production companies……it was used as the location for movies that were not even set in Hawaii, like Pirates of the Caribbean, Avatar, George of the Jungle, Raiders of the Lost Ark, and more……plus all the ones that were set in Hawaii – some were filmed on the other islands, but Kauai has the most movies shot there!

This is the spot that inspired the song “Puff the Magic Dragon” – the guy who wrote it lived here or vacationed here or something!

This is the photo on the TV showing us how to “see” the dragon in the shape of the island

I think this was where one of the scenes from South Pacific was shot

We stopped for lunch across the street from that pier in the last photo and as soon as we got inside, the clouds let loose and it POURED the entire time we were there…….and then stopped just as we finished and went out to get back on the bus!

this is the spot where the 1963 John Wayne and Lee Marvin movie Donovan’s Reef was filmed

More wild roosters and a stray cat!!!

This used to be the famous Coco Palms Resort — very exclusive resort for celebrities, including Elvis! It burned and was never restored — several people over the years have shown an interest in it, but never went through with it! Sad!

While I was on my balcony waiting for time to go to dinner, I watched this huge barge full of trailers getting guided into port by two little tugs……..

This is a replica of the vessels used by the Polynesians when they came to settle on the Hawaiian Islands

Like I said earlier, we were supposed to leave Kauai late afternoon so we could cruise by the Na Pali Coast, but the weather wouldn’t permit it, so we stayed docked a couple extra hours so that we wouldn’t arrive in Oahu too early the next morning. This was our last day of the cruise. The next day we arrived in Oahu and disembarked from the ship for the last time. I took a bus tour that last day that ended at the airport so I could catch my 9:00 pm flight back home! I’ll do one last post with photos from that day before I’m done with my photos and stories from Hawaii!

 

2020 Hawaiian Adventure – Hilo and Kona

We pulled out of Maui about 6:00 pm and traveled over night to our next island – the Big Island of Hawaii – and spent one day in Hilo and then cruised to the other side of the island to Kona for a day. That gave us two days on the Big Island and two different perspectives on opposite sides of the island. Each island is so different from the rest and there is a distinct difference from one side of each island to the other – the leeward and windward sides.

DAY THREE – HILO – we docked at Hilo and I took a Historic Hilo tour around the area. We made stops in a lovely park, a statue of King Kamehameha, a candy store, a Macadamia Nut farm/factory, and two beautiful waterfalls. It was a much more relaxed day, which made my knee happy. The weather was warm, but rained off and on most of the day – it didn’t really ruin the tour at all, but I still missed the sunshine. Luckily, the sun returned after we got back on the ship, so I was able to spend the late afternoon on the deck soaking up the sun and warmth.

My daily Balcony Selfie when we docked in Hilo

Our first tour stop was a lovely park that was located on an inlet and had a lot of beautiful gardens

Our guide passed around several different examples of local fruits – this is a lemon that is bigger than my hand!!!

The first of two waterfall stops

Shot of the town of Hilo from the window of the bus as we drove through

Second waterfall stop

This is a Mimosa tree – they are highly invasive and can be found all over the islands. I had one in my back yard when I lived in NC and loved it dearly – I know most people consider them a nuisance tree, but I was happy to see them and the memories of my lovely tree they brought back to me!

This plant is called Ti (pronounced Tea) and I saw it throughout our tour – usually like a hedge.

We went to the Mauna Loa Macadamia Nut factory / farm / store. I thought this was going to be really interesting, but as it turned out, it was just a gift shop, mostly. The factory behind it didn’t give tours, but you could go up the stairs to a walkway along the outside of the building and look in the windows to see the operations, but they were not doing anything that day, so I didn’t go look. I’m not sure where the farm part was – I think we saw parts of it driving in, but we didn’t get to see it up close. BUT — the gift shop had lots of samples of different macadamia nuts — I used to love them and haven’t really had any in years, so I was excited about getting to try some fresh ones…….and they were sooooooo good!!! I bought a sampler pack and they didn’t last till I got back to the ship – shoulda bought more! LOL

DAY FOUR  – KONA – Of the two ports on The Big Island, I liked Kona the best! The tour I took – Historic Kona – was more enjoyable (not that I didn’t enjoy the one in Hilo – I did, but this one was more interesting to me) and I just found it to be more of what I hoped to experience. Kona is the home of coffee…….100% Kona Coffee is treasured by many and is very expensive – a 12 oz package of 100% Kona is about $40!!! We went to a Kona Coffee center that had many, many samples to try — more on that later! 🙂 The weather in Kona started out beautiful but the clouds rolled in as the tour progressed! Luckily, the rain held off till just before we got on the bus at the last stop – but it really came down in a downpour – straight through to checking in at security and taking the tender back to the ship —- can you say drenched, boys and girls??? I had an umbrella, but couldn’t have it out at all times in the rain! The tour also took us to a stunning historic painted church and a national park! I had intended to wander around the port when we returned because Kona is the first port that actually had things to do and see right there at the port, but the rain changed that plan. I got back on board about 1:00 and had some lunch – then the sun came back out and allowed me to enjoy some deck and balcony time – if it wasn’t a “tender” port, I would have gotten back off the ship to wander around the port in the sun, but taking the tender to shore was a bit of a hassle, so I just stayed on deck till we pulled out about 6:00 pm.

My Daily Balcony Selfie in Kona……well, anchored out in the bay from shore, but somewhere in the fog over my shoulder, is Kona – really!

One of the tenders taking passengers to and from the ship to see Kona

From the dock in Kona looking past some exhibits to our ship out in the bay

Looking out over the country side to the shore from the Royal Kona Coffee Center – our first stop of the day

A worker running the coffee grinder

Another view to the ocean from the Royal Kona Coffee Center

They had a table under an awning out on a deck with every kind of Kona coffee they make — most were the 100% Kona, some were the exclusive Peaberry blend that is only sold in their store (in house or online), some were flavored blends, and some were special blends that had less of a percentage of actual Kona coffee.

I am a tea drinker — don’t like coffee at all – I’ve tried to like it, but just can’t do it! So, I thought this would be an interesting stop, but not one I would particularly get excited about. But, as I walked around, I decided that I really should try it……just to say I did and to avoid hearing all my friends saying “you were in a Kona coffee shop where you could get it as fresh as it comes and you didn’t even try it?” LOL So, I did — I looked for a light roast, figuring it would be the least harsh for me to try……they didn’t have any……so, I thought “I’m not going to like it, anyway, so it doesn’t matter what I try”!!! LOL So, I just poured myself a small gulp of medium-dark roast and swigged it down! Well, to say I was in shock is an understatement – it was so smooth – not bitter at all – and tasted really good!!! No cream, no sugar – straight black med-dark roast! WOW!!! I poured another sample – this time I filled the cup up about half way and really enjoyed it!!! I then poured myself a half cup of vanilla/macadamia nut flavored Kona and loved that, too! I ended up having about 4 or 5 half cups of coffee! I bought some bags to have shipped to my brother and sister-in-law. I considered having some sent to my house for myself, too, but I don’t have a coffee maker and I really didn’t want to get used to drinking it – too expensive to have on a regular basis! hehehe But, this tea drinker has seen the light……I still don’t have any interest in normal coffee, but I will never turn down a cup of 100% Kona!!! 🙂

Our next stop was a historic painted church and it was stunning – both the church and the surrounding gardens!!!

A volunteer, there, told us all about the history of the church and the paintings on the walls and ceilings – all done by the first priest to preside over the parish. It was erected in 1899. In those times, many Hawaiian natives could read, so the priest taught the gospel with pictures. Without any professional training and using only ordinary house paint of the time, he told the stories of the bible in the painting on the walls, ceilings, and altar. And, it has remained in very good condition all these years and is still used to hold services to this day.

Known as the “peek-a-boo Jesus”, this can only be seen from the pews on the left side of the church

This mural represents Hell and is the ONLY panel that shows some deterioration from the sun

Our next stop was at this national historic park — we were given about an hour and a half to explore this park on our own……this was when the rain was starting to be a bit of a nuisance, so I didn’t go too deep into the park and I was glad I didn’t cause about the time I gave up and went back to the covered area to wait for the bus, the downpour hit!!!

We were told to watch for turtles sunning themselves on the lava rock, but didn’t see any…….

A native lady making bowls from palm leaves — they were gorgeous!!!

Our ship anchored off shore in the bay……the fog and rain as we were boarding the tender made it look kinda eerie off in the distance!

But — as soon as we were back on ship, the rain stopped and the sun came out and I got up on the deck to get my does of Vitamin D for the day!

We pulled out of Kona about 6:00 pm to cruise on to our next port – Kauai!

Our two days on the Big Island were more laid back than our days on Maui, but still pretty darned awesome! Watch for my next post focused on Kauai!

2020 Hawaiian Adventure – Maui

The first port on my Hawaiian Cruise – the Norwegian Pride of America – was Maui! We docked in Kahului for two days and I took a shore excursion both days. I was told that I would love Maui and I definitely wasn’t disappointed!

Balcony Selfie the morning we docked in Maui

This is a map of Maui. At the top, slightly left of center, is a ship at Kahului, where we were docked. Follow the road along the coast to the right to where you see Hana at the far right edge – that is the route we took on our Day One Road to Hana tour. Then, follow the road from the ship to the left along the coast till you come to Lahaina on the far left edge – that is where I went on Day Two – Day in Lahaina!

DAY ONE – MAUI – I took the Road to Hana tour. This was an all day tour along a twisty, turny road climbing up the coast line. It used to be a very bumpy dirt road the whole way and people found it to be better to be in the riders seat than driving! But, it is now mostly paved with just a few side roads to popular stops still unpaved and “washboardy”. When it comes to traveling the Hana Highway it is said that it is “the journey, not the destination” that is the attraction. It is a beautiful drive with lots of curves, switchbacks, one lane bridges, stunning waterfalls and overlooks along the way. Our guide was awesome! She told us that the standard route is to make all the stops on the way up and then just drive back……she likes to mostly drive up with a few stops and then do the most popular stops on the way back because that gives us a better shot at seeing the sights with fewer people to interfere with our experience. It also allowed us to arrive at the perfect stop for our picnic lunch overlooking the ocean – there is only one picnic bench at that stop and the other buses usually stop at a spot that has a less desirable view from an enclosed picnic area……we totally appreciated her efforts as we ate with the stunning view outside on a gorgeous day! There were only eight of us on the tour and I was the only single, so I got to sit up front with her and got the best views of the drive!!!

This t-shirt I found at a gift shop says it best!

Morning snack stop…..

First of many waterfall stops!

One of the side roads to a stop that represents how the entire Hana Highway USED to be!!! This road takes us to Wai’ananapa Park.

This was our lunch stop — as you’ll see in the next few photos, this was a gorgeous cove with crashing waves, beautiful rock formations, and a BLACK sand beach!!!

Our guide took this panoramic shot of me with the cove behind me! Panoramic shots distort the perspective somewhat – while you can see the whole cove, it makes it look much narrower than it really is. But, it does make for a beautiful photo!

Since the Hawaiian islands are mostly made up of volcanoes and lava rock, it is common to see these beautiful black jagged rock formations.

This is the black sand beach — simply gorgeous!!! The pitch black sand glistens like diamonds and is considerably hotter than white sand. It was formed by the rough surf pounding on fresh, bubbling lava flow from Haleakela Crater. It took a millennia or more to be ground down into the beach it is, today.

The cove has blow holes that create amazing visions of water spraying up towards the sky as the surf comes crashing into the rocks.

Wai’ananapa Park is considered sacred to native Hawaiians with several burial grounds located throughout the park. Visitors are invited to pray quietly and respectfully for those buried there.

Off in the distance is the black sand beach in the previous photo……the trail we walked through the park was so amazing – I could have spent the entire day there, instead of the hour or so we were free to wander around before our lunch was ready!

While we explored, our guide secured and prepared the only picnic table that is available for use at our stopping point. We could see the cove while we ate. It was so lovely!

We had a choice of chicken or fish wraps, pasta salad, fresh pineapple, and a brownie with macadamia nuts in it!!! Delicious lunch sitting outside on a gorgeous day in the perfect spot!

Our next stop was at a tropical plant farm – they grow all kinds of orchids and tropical plants made into arrangements and shipped all over the world!

Banyan trees are all over the Hawaiian islands — what an interesting tree — they get these shoots created by their seeds germinating off their branches that stretch to the ground and take root, resulting in large rope-like trunks that continue to expand as the tree ages. We saw some HUGE banyan trees that encompassed large spaces!

I forget what this tree was called — it is a “spongy” tree – you can squeeze the bark and it gives like it is water-logged – like a sponge!

The islands are also known from their large wild chicken / rooster population! They can be seen wandering around almost everywhere you look!

One of many one-lane bridges!

Our tour included a stop at this waterfall popular for swimming up to and under it – the tour allowed time to do that, if conditions permitted! But, the current was very strong, so our guide advised against it – she said since there were others in the water, we could if we wanted, but told us that the strong current caused the risk of being pushed and held down under the waterfall – she gave instruction for how to be safe, but none of us took advantage of the opportunity! I was sad – I was looking forward to swimming under a waterfall, but the walk down to the water was tricky and I wasn’t sure my knee would have allowed it, even if the current was safer……and, then there were slippery rocks to navigate across to get to the swimming hole…….we all decided it was just so beautiful to look at that we didn’t need to get in it! LOL

A guy having a hard time getting across the slippery rocks in the current! Does look like fun, though!

So many different colors of green everywhere…….so lush and beautiful!!!

The swimming waterfall from a distance

See the rainbow swooped across the center of the photo? Looks like a swinging bridge, doesn’t it???

I’m not sure how many stunning waterfalls we saw…….there were even more that I didn’t get good photos of!!!

We stopped for a late afternoon snack at this stand that is famous for it’s banana bread!

The banana bread from fresh out of the oven – still warm – and it was soooooo good! I ate a couple slices and took the rest back to the ship for later! I also got a treat that is much like the coconut magic bars we made at holidays — but, it had macadamia nuts in it……I had that as my bedtime snack that evening – OMG – it was amazing!!!

This is Hana Town……it was mostly destroyed by a tsunami in the 1940’s and rebuilt

This little brown church is all that remained standing after the tsunami of the 1940’s destroyed Hana! And, it still stands, today!

My Road to Hana tour was spectacular!!! I loved every minute of it and was sad it had to end!

DAY TWO – MAUI – I took a bus tour to Lahaina – a small coastal shopping town. It was a perfect day to be out in the sun walking by the water! Our bus dropped us off at Lahaina at 9:30 am and picked us back up to go back to the ship at 3:00 pm. We had the time in between to do as we pleased. I walked along the main shopping area and sat on benches where I could look out over the water. I did some shopping and had some lunch. There was a huge outdoor outlet mall, too — I had to walk through it to get to where the bus picked us up, but I didn’t go in any of the stores — I can shop outlet malls anywhere – I wasn’t about to waste the gorgeous day in Maui inside stores I can find within an hour of my home! hehehe

My Day Two balcony selfie! It was predicted to be a windy day, so a pony tail was the hair-do choice of the day!

The main street through downtown Lahaina is right on the coast! I loved sitting with all those stunning blues!!!

I make it a general rule to not eat at chain restaurants when I travel, but I got excited when I saw they had a Mick Fleetwood restaurant — I decided to have lunch there! BUT……they had some kind of a problem and couldn’t COOK anything, so they had a very limited menu that didn’t interest me, so I didn’t have my lunch there, after all! boo hoo!!!

I looked at a few local restaurants for lunch, but most were either packed or didn’t have anything on the menu that interested me……so, I ended up at Bubba Gump Shrimp Co — I’ve never eaten at one of those restaurants before and always wanted to try one!  On the plus side, they were on the ocean side of the street and Fleetwood’s wasn’t, so I had an open air ocean view seat while I ate that was amazing……it was a cool experience to eat there, but the food was only so-so and very expensive! Glad I can say I’ve tried it, but know that I don’t ever need to do it again! 🙂

But – I did get a t-shirt that I LOVE!!!

This was outside the restaurant……..

You know I had to do it, didn’t you????

Myna birds – they call them the blue jays of Hawaii cause they walk with a strut like they are the boss and tend to be a bully to other birds! Cute! I loved to watch them strut around like they owned the place! hehehe

Lahaina was a lovely town and the day couldn’t have been more perfect to be outside! I ended my day sitting outside of Hilo Hattie’s with a Dole Whip waiting for the bus……was tempted to go back in for another, but I resisted!!! 🙂

 

My time in Maui was awesome…….I’m glad we had two days there and I got to experience two different sides of the island – and they really were totally different views and experiences!!!

Next up…….watch for my post on the two days spent on the Big Island of Hawaii – one day docked at Hilo and one day docked off the coast of Kona where we had to tender in to shore.

2020 Hawaiian Adventure – Cruising!

I started 2020 out with a BANG……in Hawaii!!! January 3rd, I got on a plane (see previous post for that drama story) and headed to Honolulu, where I spent the night in a lovely hotel in the middle of downtown. After a good night’s sleep, I boarded the Norwegian Pride of America cruise ship for a week of island hopping in paradise! It was a fabulous cruise – one I just might be inclined to do again, someday…..if I run out of other amazing places to visit! 🙂

this wasn’t my first time in Hawaii – I was there in 2009 for a four day visit and stayed just on Oahu. I loved it and wished I had more time and could see the other islands. So, I put a return visit with the intent to do an Island Hopping tour on my Bucket List. I recently discovered that Norwegian Cruise Line has a ship that starts in Honolulu and ends in Honolulu with no other side trips and no “at sea” days. It is a seven day cruise focused just on the Hawaiian Islands! Other cruise lines go to Hawaii, but they start or end in a foreign port, include other country stops, and have multiple full days at sea making the cruises longer and usually more costly. The Pride of America allows full days in each port and travels from island to island over night, so no wasted “at sea” time. Also – if hopping the islands outside of a cruise, you need to spend much of your time in airports and would need to book hotels on each island. This Norwegian option is a perfect way to see the islands with little to no wasted time and you stay on the ship, so no need for moving luggage from hotel to hotel or finding restaurants. Perfect……at least I think so!!!

But…..I also found that the main advantage of doing this particular cruise was also a small negative…….I found I actually missed having at least one sea day! I really enjoy doing the activities and spending time on the deck when not in port on cruises. With this cruise, I was doing shore excursions each day and by the time I got back on ship, I had dinner and was too tired to really get out and do any of the activities. I did see a couple shows and did spend time on deck, but missed that makes a cruise so relaxing over all! But……that small negative was FAR out shined by the ability to be on shore exploring each of the islands every single day of the cruise! It was truly amazing!

The cruise left Honolulu on the 4th and made stops at Maui (2 days), Hilo on the Big Island (1 day), Kona on the Big Island (1 day), Kauai (2 days), and returned to Honolulu where I had a full day to explore before my 9:00 pm flight.

Here are photos from the ship:

View from my Honolulu hotel balcony – Ohana Malia, Waikiki

It was a really nice hotel and comfortable room!

I would definitely consider staying there, again!

During the check in process, we were given lei’s and got to have our photos taken with a gorgeous Hawaiian…….I don’t remember seeing that girl there until I saw the photo – I think they photo shopped her in! LOL

When I got on the ship on the 4th, I went right for the upper deck – pool side – while we waited for our rooms to be ready!

While on deck, we were entertained by some beautiful Hawaiian music!

And dancers!

And were welcomed aboard by the Hawaiian Ambassador, who gave us a Hula lesson…..I failed miserably!

And we saw the first of many beautiful rainbows……

……and crew members! Yummy!

We got the announcement that the cabins were ready, so I went to my room to freshen up! It was a comfortable room with a balcony!

I enjoyed many sunsets sitting on my balcony after a long day of adventuring……

…..and sunrises on that same balcony every morning!

And, the daily towel animals were awesome……..a favorite part of any cruise!!!

The first night’s show was a celebration of all the Polynesian Islands and it was spectacular!!!

This was a smaller entertainment venue on the ship

The central services area was stunning…….everything on the ship was based on American decor – Federal style, Colonial style, Presidents, etc……

The Pink Lounge

One of the specialty restaurants was the Cadillac Diner……unlike most specialty restaurants, there was not an extra charge to eat there – it was actually one of the FREE restaurants, but it was very small and didn’t accept reservations, so it took me a few days to get in there!

I had these pulled pork sliders and a milkshake at Cadillac Diner – delicious!

One of the perks I got when I booked was to eat free at up to three specialty restaurants that charge extra…….I only took advantage of one: Cagney’s Steakhouse – OMG – it was AMAZING – the photo above is my wedge salad

My main course was filet mignon and lobster…….to die for!!!

And a raspberry creme brulee for dessert!

The main dining room was very nice, too – I ate there a few nights at share tables so I could have some interesting conversations and meet new people!

Seared Scallops appetizer with two different sauces

A cold lemon chicken and orzo salad

Chocolate Caramel Creme Brulee

roast beef and polenta

mint chocolate mousse

All the food was delicious…….even the buffet was one of the best I’ve ever seen on a cruise ship!

Wanna play a giant game of chess on deck???

Or maybe checkers on the other end???

And, I took a lot of balcony selfies……

And other selfies……

So much for my time on ship……..next posts will be about each of the ports……first up will be Maui…….I’m hoping to do that post in the morning! Keep an eye out for it! 🙂 Aloha!!!

Drama At The Airport

The first week in January I had the pleasure of going to Hawaii! But, the trip didn’t get off to the magical start I had hoped……in fact, the first few hours could be described as “nightmarish” or at least “very stressful”!

I had an early morning flight from Buffalo to a connecting flight in JFK and then a non-stop flight to Honolulu where I was to spend the night before starting my cruise the next day. Of course, I didn’t sleep a wink the night before – I never sleep the night before I travel – I lay there wide awake thinking of all the things I’m probably forgetting and all the wonderful things I’ll be doing on the trip! My mind overflows with thoughts that just won’t allow me to sleep. So, when the alarm went off, I got up, got in the shower, got dressed, and went downstairs to get ready to leave for the airport.

Here’s where the drama begins:

  1. I’m the person who always gets to the airport WAY early…….I end up sitting there reading and people watching while the flight before me boards! So, when I glanced at the clock when I got on the thruway and I saw I was only going to be getting there one hour early, I was in shock…..how did I misjudge my time so much??? But – that’s still not too bad, so I didn’t panic, yet!
  2. I usually park in the economy lot and take the shuttle to the gate…..so, I got to the lot and parked. I got out and got my luggage out of the trunk and waited at the shuttle stand…….no shuttles to be seen……15 minutes later, I was on the shuttle……OK, starting to get a little nervous, but told myself it would be OK!
  3. I had a little bit of a ticket glitch…….when I tried to check in on line the night before it would only let me check in for the JFK – Honolulu portion and the Buffalo – JFK portion wouldn’t come up as an option! I figured I’d just check in at the terminal – I went to the self check-in station and, again, the Buffalo – JFK portion wouldn’t show up! So, I went to the ticket counter and was # 3 in line……..I finally got up to the agent and she found my ticket, just fine – no problem – and checked me in!
  4. BUT…….it was too late to check my bags!!! WHAT??? I never had that happen — I just looked at her with a shocked look on my face and she must have noticed the color draining from my body, so she reassured me it was all OK – I could take my bag with me and they’ll check it at the gate – no problem……I have plenty of time……and even if I miss the flight, there is another one they can put me on that will still make my connection in JFK!
  5. I got to the security line……the L-O-N-G security line (even though I was able to use the Pre-Check line) and made my way to the scanners……I put my bag and my carry-ons on the belt and proceeded through the scanner……and I was randomly selected for a quick pat-down!
  6. I got through that and looked for my bags and one of the TSA guys said, “is this your bag?” and I said “yes” and he told me it had to be searched…….UGH —- since it was meant to be a checked bag, it had fluids in it that are OK for checked bags, but not for carry-on, which is what they check for in the security lanes…….the guy was very nice and acknowledged he realized it is a checked bag, but still had to search it…..he removed my mouthwash and closed my bag……then he asked what time my flight was and that he assumed I was running late cause I had my checked bag with me……I told him and he said to hurry cause the door was probably already closed, but there is a chance that they are still boarding!
  7. So, I walked as fast as I could and got to the gate TWO MINUTES after the doors closed!!!! GREAT!!!

So……I missed my flight!!! It was still there, but once they close the doors, they can’t open them back up! But……they were able to check my bags on the flight – so my luggage was going, but I was not! Sounds funny, now…….LOL! But, but agent said it was not a problem — they could book me on the next flight and I would still make my connection – no problem! So, I got all booked and went to sit down and do the reading and people watching I SHOULD have done a couple hours ago!!! If any ONE thing that went wrong didn’t happen, I would have made it…….All my fault – of course – I misjudged my time and that resulted in an avalanche of problems on top of problems…..so, I had no one to blame but myself!

I pulled up my new flight information on line and started to panic, again……..according to the information about the flight and my two boarding passes, it looked like I was going to be arriving just SEVEN MINUTES before the doors closed on my connecting flight!!! NO NO NO NO NO!!! So, I went up to the agent and asked about the gates and how far they were from each other (I’ve been to JFK – I know you could come in several miles from where you’re going out – yeah, slight exaggeration, but not by much)! She said they are in the same terminal – come in at gate 6 and leave on gate 30……she, said it won’t be a problem……but, skeptical me said “I’ll have seven minutes to get to the next gate before the doors close and I have a bad knee, so I don’t run and what if the first flight is delayed even a couple of minutes or the process of getting off the plane is slow with a lot of people ahead of me…..” she could see I was about to pass out, so she put her hand on my hand and tried to reassure me it was not going to be a problem……she, then changed my seat to the aisle seat in the first row so I could be the first person off and ordered me a wheel chair to get me to the next gate quickly! She, again said not to worry, it won’t be a problem (and I suddenly heard all the other “it’s not going to be a problems” I heard already before that point)!

A little more confident……just a little……I went to sit back down…..but my brain went into overdrive!!! I looked up my flight to Hawaii to see if there was another flight, just in case…….nope – that was the only flight out to Honolulu, so, if I miss that flight, I won’t be able to fly out till the next day……so, I looked up my cruise info and discovered that if I fly out the next day, that flight will arrive just 30 minutes before the gangway closes for the cruise…….and, I had no idea how far the docks are from the airport, but I did know that I would have to get off the plane, go to the luggage storage area to retrieve my luggage that will get in on time, but get stored overnight somewhere, and then get to a shuttle to the docks, and then get checked in for the cruise……I knew right then that if I didn’t make this connecting flight, that I would also miss my cruise………I’d be out the cost of the non-refundable hotel for that night, the non-refundable transfer from the airport to the hotel, and the non-refundable transfer from the hotel to the docks…….AND – I paid for a 1st class upgrade that is not transferable in a flight change situation and non-refundable!!! I would also have to arrange for transportation to the first port to join the cruise a day late and another hotel stay and miss out on the first shore excursion!!! The cha-ching sounds were echoing in my brain and I was working myself into a frenzy!!!

I was making myself SICK!!! I sat there sweating, chilled, nauseous, fighting back the tears, and with a mouth that was dryer than it has ever been in my life….but, I was too shaken to even think about getting out of my seat to go get something to drink!!! I just kept trying to tell myself that it was all going to be OK……I was not going to miss my connection…….it was all going to be OK!!! And, again – it was my own fault, so I stayed polite to all the airport personnel involved and, in turn, they were very nice and as helpful as possible to me……..

The flight boarded on time and I got settled in my seat…..still panicking because I still had that seven minute window to get to the next flight ahead of me! The captain came on to make his usual welcome announcement and I wasn’t really listening, but did hear him say “flight time will be about 55 minutes”!!! WHAT??? I stopped breathing for a minute and stopped the flight attendant as he walked by and said “did he say the flight was 55 minutes? Is that true? 55 minutes, not an hour and a half?” He said – yeah – 55 minutes – this flight always take 55 minutes!!! I looked at my itinerary and tickets, again, and it all said 1.5 hours…..and the agent at the gate confirmed the arrival time when I was worried about the connection……..but, it was all wrong —- I had 35 minutes to spare……that with the seven minutes I had gate to gate, I now had 42 minutes to make my connection……OMG!!! Everything WAS going to be OK!!!

I suddenly felt the tension melt off me and I thought I was going to slink into a puddle!!! I was able to slow my heart rate down and relax and smile…….and the tears I was fighting back came pouring out!!! I got control of that and fell asleep and slept like a rock till I felt the plane land…….right on time!!! I had time to get off the plane and walk to the next gate (good thing I had time, the wheel chair that was ordered for me wasn’t there) and even stop at the bathroom……I arrived at the next gate just before they started the boarding process!

I got in the first class line and was first to board the plane — that gave me a sense of satisfaction like I’ve never felt before…….I earned that spot!!! LOL I found my seat (the kind that lay flat for long flights – this one was going to take 11 hours) and gladly accepted the mai-tai the flight attendant brought to me and he also kindly snapped my photo!

There was one more little glitch, though…….we sat there quite a while after the scheduled take-off time when the captain came on and apologized for the delay – he said there was a piece of luggage that was on the manifest that could not be found, so they had to wait till it was found and secured on board! I didn’t ask and never confirmed, but I’ll bet my life’s savings that it was MY bag…..it had to be!!! LOL The flight was amazing — very comfortable……I got to watch three movies and had the best airplane food I’ve ever had!!! And, I got to my hotel, had a good night’s sleep, and made it to the ship the next day…….and the cruise was AWESOME!!!! (I’ll start my blog posts later today) Thanks to Buffalo airport agents……Jet Blue……and Hawaiian Airlines!!!

Yep — everything was OK, after all…….

 

February Daily Photos – Week One

February…….it’s been a fairly easy winter, so far, here in WNY! We had a nasty bout of heavy snow and ice early December, but aside from that, it’s been pretty dad gum good! Then, a bit of a winter storm came through the last couple of days and we’re predicted to have some more coming tomorrow night……not crippling and not really too bad, at all, but we’ve been spoiled, for the most part, so for us to get a significant amount of snow less than a week after the groundhog predicted an early spring has been a bit of a slap in the face for us…….but, we are western New Yorkers and we can handle it!!! LOL

Here’s this week’s Daily Photos:

IMPERFECT

(leave it to a super hero to find a chip in my favorite mug)

IN MY CUP

DOORWAY

IN MY HAND

TELL A STORY….

My grandparents had a summer home in the small Lake Ontario cottage community called Sunset Beach. I spent a lot of time there in the summers of my youth and have many wonderful memories! I often find myself thinking about warm summer evenings when I would walk to this spot overlooking the lake and sit on the bench listening to the waves crashing onto the shore below and just thinking for hours in the dark! It hasn’t changed much in 50+ years!

FLOWER

STARTS WITH “F”

Flakes on my Fur baby!!!

I HAVE TOO MANY…..

……choices for beautiful winter scene photos, so I chose this one!