Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Lana’i: Paradise Found

Had we stayed the course, we’d be home now. Instead, we set out for a tropical – Hawaiian -- paradise. . .

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We’d really planned to go home when our time on Maui came to an end last week. Once home, we’d have figured out something to do for The Scout’s special birthday this week. . .

. . .but The Scout being The Scout found a screamin’ deal at the Four Seasons Resort on the island of Lana’i. And what better place to celebrate a milestone birthday? (An added plus: by changing our return date we got a better airfare that resulted in a credit to our airline account – even after paying the change fee.) 

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So, I write this post from The Four Seasons Resort,The Lodge at Ko’ele, in the upcountry of Lana’i. We left Maui with a population of 144,000 residents and 10 bizillion tourists for this island of 3,200 residents and three hotels – far more to our liking!  We are 8.8 miles and light years away from Maui.

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Those rainstorms I told you had hit Hawaii a few weeks ago, greened up the countryside around the resort which is tucked away in one of the most lush, luxurious settings in which we’ve ever found ourselves.

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“But why be on an island, in a 5-star resort and have no beach?” you might be wondering. Well, Four Seasons operates two of the three hotels on the island; its sister property at Manele Bay is just a short shuttle ride away, giving us the best of both worlds – as guests here can use the beach there. And we do have distant ocean views from here.

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We spent a morning exploring Manele Bay, and while it was quite lovely at the seaside, we’ve wrapped ourselves in history in this 102-room Lodge, set on what once was Ko’ele Ranch, a sprawling cattle ranch, set amid the pineapple fields that carpeted the island for most of the 20th Century.

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When gazing out over the park-like setting in which we find ourselves, it is hard to think of the cattle ranch days.

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Thanks to the Lanai Culture and Heritage Center I can show you how the ranch looked – long before it became a resort. The pond above and below is the same body of water.

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According to the website, “Some 45,000 - 50,000 sheep and lambs, 600 horses, 500 horned cattle, goats and hogs and numerous wild turkeys inhabited the island in 1893. Ko’ele evolved from a small village to a 250-people ranch complex, which had 30 residences, a local store, a one-room school house, offices and outlying buildings. Everything was focused on ranching. “

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In Lana’i they keep the Hawaiian tradition of ‘talk story’ alive. People love to talk story about the past and present. We’ve enjoyed getting to know the locals and listen as they speculate on the small island’s future with its billionaire owner, Larry Ellison, co-founder of Oracle . We’ve heard some good ‘story’ and in keeping with the local tradition we plan to  ‘talk story’ in the coming weeks with you about our “Paradise Found”.

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We’ll take you on a tour of our room, (the deck pictured here), and through the Lodge. . . and tell you about  the ono grindz we’ve eaten in charming restaurants – places whose owners send you to the grocery store to buy wine to have with your dinner. . .and the woman from Issaquah, WA who runs a killer clothing store here . . .and all the things to do here. . . oh, so much ‘talk story’ ahead. . .

A big aloha and welcome to our new followers and readers! So good to meet you. To all of you out there, thanks for the time you spend with us!

Linking up:
 Budget Travelers Sandbox Travel Photo Thursday.
Travel Photo Discovery on Monday.
Sweet Shot Tuesday

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Hawaii: When Travel Writer Meets Travel Reader

The note, sent in response to the post I’d written about Ko Olina, O’ahu, was short:

“We are also at KO.
I would like to meet you.
(signed) Louise”

honu2014 003One thing I’ve learned about blogging is that we don’t really know who – if anyone -- reads the posts we’ve written - unless they make a comment or send an email.

At times it is kind of like feeling as if you might be talking to yourself.

Some bloggers live by ‘stats’ but even those numbers don’t tell us if what we write is really being read.

We also know the numbers of ‘subscribers’ - those who sign up to receive the posts as emails  – and if we dig deep enough,we also know their email addresses. (Rest assured, I seldom do that.)

In the case of TravelnWrite subscribers, the majority are people we don’t know. People like Louise. So to say I was thrilled that 1) someone was reading the blog and 2) wanted to meet me, sent me ‘over the moon’.

KO2014 010In this case – the weird part is --Louise and I had already been together earlier in the week at a Ko Olina owners’ “Meet and Greet” that she had organized.

In fact, I’d  taken photos and written about the event on the owners’ Facebook page.

But ‘that Louise’ and I didn’t have an opportunity to chat . . . so I was guessing, when I wrote her back asking if she might be the same person. She was one and the same!

KOowners14 004A few hours after exchanging emails, we met at poolside; chatting as if we had known each other for a long time.  We talked travel, and Hawaii and timeshares. . .and about the blog, of course.

She isn’t quite sure who recommended it to her, but she’s been a TravelnWrite reader since last September and had ‘come along ’via the blog on our South Pacific adventure.

Louise (pictured left) and her husband left Ko Olina for their California home a couple weeks before us, as they have another trip coming up.  But Louise and I have stayed in touch and will continue to do so until our paths again cross ‘same time next year’ at Ko Olina.  

KOBFuji2014 025Mahalo Louise, for sending that note!  And a big  mahalo to who ever recommended our blog to her!

We love meeting members of the TravelnWrite community, so let us know if we turn up somewhere near you.  Just drop us a note:

If you've not subscribed and want to do so, just fill in your email address in the box to the right of this post, then reply when Feedburner sends a confirmation email to your email address. It is free and as simple as that!

And recommend us to a friend of yours. . .just look at what might happen if you do!  Thanks for the time you spent here today – we’ll be back soon with more Tales from Somewhere in the Pacific.

(In case you are wondering, I have Louise’s permission to use her photo and tell you the tale of how we met.)

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Maui: On the Road Less Taken

“The road around this north side of Maui is desolate, but ruggedly picturesque. 
It also has a very narrow section of road with a sheer cliff 
and no guard rail before you reach Kahakuloa when driving from Kapalua. 
Not for the faint-hearted. 
Drive at your own risk.”

Had we taken the driving map, we would likely have noticed that warning.

Instead, I’d grabbed the tourist magazine with a general map of the island as we set our for a Saturday drive, heading north from Ka’anapali Beach on the west shore of Maui.

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We followed the two-lane paved road along lush hillsides, past surfer beaches and places with lyrical names that rolled off our tongues: Honokowai, Kahana, Napili and Kapalua

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So beautiful was this Saturday morning that we decided to continue on to the place called Kahakuloa, through an area on the map showing Waihee Coastal Dunes and Wetland Preserve.

Not long after stopping to admire the view (above)–near Nakalele Point and Blow Hole, we approached a curve and found a convertible stopped on the roadway, the driver waved us around him. . .

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As we went around the car, it didn’t take long to see why he’d stopped. The road had become a narrow little thing - far too narrow to change our minds at that point. There was no place to turn around so we just kept going..

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While we hadn’t noticed a 'narrow road'  before entering this section of road, but we had to laugh along the way because they were posted at regular intervals – obviously for those who hadn’t noticed the size of the roadway on which they were traveling.

It was comforting to find other tourists, like us, creeping along at the posted speed limit of 5 miles per hour, sometimes as fast as 15 miles per hour. Believe it or not, we did pass vehicles coming from the other direction. . . it was a squeeze as each car  pulled as far to the side as one could. . .

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Oh yes, and that one really narrow section without the guardrail (as if the other sections had had a guardrail).  It was just that. . .

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It was not a road for the faint-hearted. (And those who’ve ‘Survived the Road to Hana’ – the looping road at the south end of the island while biting their nails, might want to avoid this all together).  TIP: If you drive this road, drive in a clockwise direction, starting  from the north end and then at least you will be on the inside when it comes to easing past approaching vehicles.

The reality is that this has been one of the best things we've experienced on this tourist-congested island. We saw a bit of real Hawaii on this road trip, for instance. . .

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This delightful and enterprising refreshment stand parked on the one and only wide spot curve along the way.

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And a close up look at Kahakuloa Head. . .

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This delightful hamlet with this picture-perfect little church. . .

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And some of the most marvelous countryside we’ve ever seen. . .

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Have you been to Maui? Did you take this drive? How about other roads less taken? Are you one to take the road or would you have stopped and waved other motorists past?

That’s it for this installment of the Travels of  Hula Babe and Beach Boy. We appreciate the time you spend reading of our adventures and hope you are having some great ones of your own! Please come back often!

Linking up:
Budget Travelers Sandbox Travel Photo Thursday
Sweet Shot Tuesday

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

A Taste of “Pineapple Island”

If you have been following our stay in Hawaii on Facebook, you’ve undoubtedly seen a number of versions of this photo:

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KO2014 008If not, let me introduce you to the rum-based drink called the Mai Tai.

On FB I’ve done my best to show you how this tropical temptation calls out from tall and short glass- and plastic-ware; some versions served as a frozen concoction and others ‘on the rocks’.

And yes, in order to show you so many versions, we’ve ‘had’ to consume that many versions as well.

While each has been slightly different, their common trait is that pineapple wedge clinging to the side of the glass.

Really, those pineapples are everywhere. Wedges adorn drinks and the fruit and juice are integral to ever so many tasty dishes served here ~ it really does  symbolize the place.

The pineapple actually holds a significant place in Hawaiian history and economic development as well. James Drummond Dole, arrived in Hawaii in 1899 and believing he could turn pineapple into a viable agricultural product. The following year he planted the first 61 acres of the crop on O’ahu to prove his point.

Soon thereafter he built Dole cannery and. . .

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. . . as they say, the rest is history. In 1922 he bought an island to have enough land for the additional 20,000 acres of pineapples he was to plant.  He purchased the island of Lana’i, near Molokai and Maui. It was commonly known as Pineapple Island, during the nearly 70 years it produced 75% of the world’s supply of pineapple.

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By the late 20th Century pineapple production in Hawaii had slowed and the island of Lana’i  began a slow transition from pineapple production to low-keyed tourism.

Two Four Seasons Resort properties have opened there, joining the 11-room Lanai Inn in offering overnight accommodations. Oracle founder billionaire Larry Ellison bought the entire island two years ago and has announced some interesting plans for it.

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While we’ve sampled plenty of pineapple during our travels in Hawaii, we’ve never yet had a taste of “Pineapple Island.” This year we’ve decided  it was time to change that!

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We’ll be heading to that small island, (seen at sunset from Maui in the photo above) just 18 miles and a ferry ride from Lahaina, Maui on Sunday.

(Pssst. . ..It is also where The Scout will be celebrating his . . .ahem. . .well, rather big, significant birthday.)

Maui2014SF 056Come along as Hula Babe and Beach Boy explore Lana’i next week!

And as always, mahalo for the time you spent with us today!

Linking up:
Foodie Tuesday at Inside Journeys
Travel Photo Discovery on Monday
Sweet Shot Tuesday

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Maui: Sun’s (Finally!) Out ~ Surf’s Up!!

Those postcard images of Hawaii came to life Saturday morning as we began our final week of timeshare life in our new digs on the island of Maui.

(As I have noted periodically on Facebook, this has been a wetter, more windy winter in these tropical islands than we’ve experienced in previous stays. That’s not a complaint, just a weather fact around here.)

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I’d been wanting to test out my new Fuji camera – the first one broke during our cruise to Australia last fall and was replaced by the company from where it had been purchased. 

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On Saturday I finally got the chance to check it out and these are some of my test shots.

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The break in the clouds prompted everyone, it seemed, to hop in the car and head out to the beaches. Even the smallest of pullouts were full of parked cars along the roadway at Maui’s north end, as people lined up to photograph and watch amateur surfers out ‘hanging ten’.

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It was picture-perfect Hawaii.

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And at the moment I took the photo above I knew I was in love with my new camera!

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Our explorations continued as we rounded the north end of the island and found ourselves traveling a narrow one-lane (speed limit 5 m.p.h. in places) road that might make the infamous Road to Hana seem like child’s play. It was probably one of the top five most beautiful drives we’ve ever taken and a delightful change from tourist-clogged Ka'anapali Beach where we are staying – I’ll post photos and tell you about it later this week.

Thanks for your time spent traveling the roads of Maui with us today. Hope to see you back again soon!

Linking up:
Noel Morata’s Travel Photo Discovery
Kent Weakley's Sweet Shot Tuesday

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

South Pacific: Mo’orea ~ Island of Love

Since Mo’orea is one of those spectacular places in the South Pacific and sometimes called ‘The Island of Love’ we thought we’d offer it as a bit of a romantic getaway  today in honor of Valentine’s Day.

So whether you are ready for the romance of exploration or the romance of love – hop aboard. We are sailing south. . .

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Can’t you just smell the sweet scent of the blossoms that explode from trees and bushes alike?

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Can you feel the sun’s rays warming your soul as well as your skin? 

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Decisions to be made. . .stretch out on the white sand beach or sun on the private deck of your thatched-roof bure, or bungalow, out over the water?

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Or do the kayaks and paddle boats lure you into that turquoise water that laps gently against the shore?

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Or you could spend a few hours just sittin’ on the dock in the bay. . .

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That’s as far as we will go with suggestions in the PG-rated post.  But let your imaginations soar. . .what would you do if you found yourself on a South Pacific island today?

Note: We took the photos used in this post during a lunch stop we made while driving around the island in our rental car during the one day we had here during on our South Pacific cruise last October.  
This is the Hilton Moorea Lagoon Resort and Spa.  There are 54 bungalows built over the water – each has glass panels in the floor and steps that lead to the waist-deep lagoon.  Another 49 bungalows are clustered together on the resort grounds.

Just in case we’ve tempted you with this post – the resort has no rooms available this Valentine’s weekend.  However, I checked dates for this coming October (the month in which these photos were taken) and you can book one of those garden bungalows at their Best Available Rate of $548 a night or an over-water for $742.  Oh yes, WI-FI is extra!

Rather pricey in our book, but then again, what price romance, right? 

Happy Valentines Day!
We are linking this week with:
Budget Travelers Sandbox Travel Photo Thursday.
Travel Photo Discovery on Monday

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Hawaii: SPAM and Other ‘Ono Grindz’

Ono grindz:  means good food in Hawaiian.

One of the ways Hula Babe and Beach Boy ‘go local’ is by the way we eat!  But that can be said of us no matter where in the world we travel. Half the fun of travel is trying the local cuisine.

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And there’s no bettah way, as they say here,  to get a taste of Hawaii than by eating some of the killah ono grindz and that includes, my friends, none other than. . .SPAM!

SPAM, its name derived from ‘spiced ham’ was the creation of Minnesota-based Hormel foods back in 1937. They came up with a recipe to use left over pork shoulder and an employee is credited with giving it the immortal name of “SPAM” as result of a contest.

spamhawaii2014 006Despite what some of you may believe is in those ubiquitous cans, it is a mixture of ground pork and ham, with salt, sugar and other special ingredients.  It is cooked then canned and cooked again, then cooled in the can. 

Of course, in Hawaii they have versions of SPAM we never see back home, like the little SPAM singles to the left. 

In Honolulu they have an annual SPAM JAM event that spans several days in honor of this tasty treat. (Even at KoOlina, where we are, weekly SPAM carving/cooking/creating contests always draw contestants.)

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We were blown away by the varieties now offered – think Starbucks and its variations on a cup of coffee - compared to the original flavor,which many of us at this age recall eating in our childhoods.

Hawaiians consume more SPAM than anywhere else in the world, with Guam a close second, and South Korea in third place. (SPAM is sold in exquisite gift boxes and considered a luxury gift given for special occasions like Lunar New Year in South Korea, according to numerous mainstream media articles.)

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But man cannot live by SPAM alone, so another of our favorite Hawaiian treats is poke.  Pronounced, POH-kay, it is a Hawaiian verb, meaning ‘to section or slice’.  It is made of fresh fish -- okay you squeamish ones out there -- that is, raw fish that has been ‘marinated’ in a sauce or doused with spices.

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Fresh ahi (tuna), shrimp, mussels in spicy flavors, soy or oyster sauce draw us to the massive poke bars at the local island supermarket, Foodland and even Costco offers a poke bar in the town of Kapolei.  Poke is traditionally served as a side course or appetizer, but we’ve often made entire meals out of two or three of these tasty treats.

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And then there is Kim Chee. also known as Kimchi and gimchi; some of our favorite Korean vegetable delights! These are fermented and/or pickled vegetables – spicy hot and usually served on a bowl of rice. Since we are cutting the carbs, we eat them as sides.  (Remember, finicky ones, sauerkraut is fermented vegetables as well).

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I almost worship this bar each time we enter our local store and never leave without a carton of the cucumbers in spicy hot sauce.

Hawaii is an international melting pot of culinary delights and we must give a nod to the Portuguese for bringing their hot spicy sausage to the islands so many decades ago.

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If you can’t bring yourself to try some SPAM and eggs for breakfast, you must try Portuguese sausage and eggs!

KirkHono2014 051And then there is Lau Lau, a local favorite made of pieces of pork and butter fish wrapped in taro leaves and steamed.  (If you’ve ever been to an authentic luau you will have had this dish along with poi (made of taro) as your buffet selections.)

So do they really eat this stuff, you are probably asking yourself. Yes, we do. We buy the lau-lau ready made and steam it in its leaf wrappings as shown on the left, below. While it steams we put Kim Chee and poke on the plates. . .unwrap and add the lau-lau. 

And there we have it, one of many of our dinners. . .

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. . .a feast that would have even made Hawaii’s King Kamehameha proud!

That’s it for today.  Hope you have a great week and see you back here soon! We appreciate the time you spend with us and always look forward to your comments.

Linking up:
Inside Journey’s Foodie Tuesday


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