Showing posts with label road trip. Show all posts
Showing posts with label road trip. Show all posts

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

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Arizona: Where “PC” Means. . .

. . .Pure Christmas!

The High Plains Drifters (that’s us, you know) hail from a ‘PC’ state, but in Washington that means, “Politically Correct”.

And that means some stutter and stammer out watered down, lukewarm greetings this time of year for fear of: 1) hurting someone’s feelings, 2) dissing some other holiday, or 3) being sued by someone for not being that kind of “PC”.

I can tell you, that from what we've seen, we much prefer Arizona PC in December!!!

 Our introduction to the season came in Prescott, Arizona, a college town of some 40,000 that’s also  popular with retirees and serves as a weekend getaway destination for those living in the Scottsdale/Phoenix area. We spent our third night here on our Southwest Winter Road Trip.

AZroadtrip2012 116We’ve been taken with the town since our first visit  there a year ago, but now I am enchanted by it.  You see, it is Arizona’s Christmas City!

Banners hang on light posts throughout the downtown proclaiming it so. Advertisements fill tourism magazine pages. Residents announce it proudly. Even in Scottsdale they tell you about their neighboring Christmas City to the north.

“Are you in town for the Christmas Light parade?” the clerk asked when  we checked into our hotel in the heart of Prescott.  It was the first of many celebrations this month, he said, describing a series of PC events.

“We are heading to the parade,” we told a couple dining near us shortly thereafter.  “This is the small one,” they cautioned us, “The big one is next Friday. It lasts two and a half hours”

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This one, their Christmas Light Parade, about 45 minutes in duration, brought out hordes of people. They’d been gathering along the route as we strolled to dinner. Even the spectators were in a ‘light’ mood; decorating their own viewing stands with lights or waving lighted wands at the floats as they passed.

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By the time we arrived back to the parade route the sidewalks were filled, in some places, people were standing six-deep, often calling out  and waving to friends who paraded past.

Cheers and clapping erupted as each new display came into view.

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Among the Christmas celebrations scheduled for this month are the 30th Annual Christmas Parade and the 58th Annual Prescott Courthouse Christmas Lighting, (hugely popular events) and the Acker Musical Showcase which features live music throughout the downtown in stores, restaurants, bars and galleries.

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It was music to our PC-dulled ears, when we were told that during the Christmas celebration calendar, there’s also a night when children gather on the courthouse lawn to hear a reading of “The Christmas Story”.

It’s a pretty special time in Prescott, the Poster Child of Pure Christmas.  But Christmas – not “Holiday” -- celebrations are taking place all over Arizona; I’ll tell you about them  as our jolly, pre-holly-day travels through the state continue. And next year we may just be celebrating Christmas in Prescott!

If You Go:

For More Information about the city: Prescott Chamber of Commerce and Visitor Information Center, 117 W. Goodwin St., 86303, phone, 800-266-7534.

For Christmas events and travel information, click this link: Visit Prescott

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

On a Long, Lonesome Highway: To Stop or Not?

The High Plains Drifters left Jackpot, Nevada in the nippy early morning hours on Day 2 of our winter road trip through the Southwest. It was to be another day of traveling over long, lonesome highways as we crossed this state best known for the glitz and glamour of Las Vegas. 

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But away from Sin City there’s simply land; lots and lots of land.  One AAA Guidebook says of Nevada road trips, that you will either see miles of nothing or miles of everything – it’s all in your attitude. The first time we drove through the state, I’ll admit I thought it was the most God forsaken place I’d ever seen. . . it’s captured me now – this high desert landscape is lovely and lonesome.

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We reached Ely, Nevada (a place deserving of its own post soon) by noon; a short break for lunch and we were back in the car en route to Utah, where we’d spend the night in St. George.

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We passed a road sign that warned again picking up hitchhikers because there was a prison out there somewhere in the vast wilderness.  More miles and minutes ticked away and we were entertained by views of Wheeler Peak, 13,032 elevation, pictured above.  Our route looped around this stunning peak (there’s a 12-mile scenic drive that takes you to the 10,000 foot level on the flank of the Peak, which would have been spectacular, I’m sure) but once around the Peak our road again became. . .

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. . .the long ribbon of empty highway. A place so remote that neither  ‘dumb’ or ‘smart’ phones work. They whirl endlessly searching for service. 

Joel, after some time and many miles, asked if I could recall the last time we had passed a car. Hmmmm, one, two hours?

He’d no more than asked the question when in the distance we saw a car pulled off to the opposite side of the road.  A man started waving his arm to flag us down, a woman stood by the SUV with its engine hood raised. . .
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To stop or not to stop? 

Joel slowed, crossed the road to where the man was standing but kept our car in gear, foot on the brake.   Turns out this 40-something-year-old couple, who lived in a town a hundred miles away, were on a day’s outing to go ‘prospecting’ in the hills when their car broke down.  They couldn’t call for help – no cell phone service. It was too far to walk.  They’d tried flagging down the  few cars that had passed (obviously long before we arrived) but as the man said, “You know how it is. In this day and age, they don’t stop.”

I can’t tell you how profoundly grateful they were that we had pulled over.

We took all their information (their GPS, by the way, showed them on the wrong highway – luckily our old ‘paper map in the lap’ showed the road we were all on).  It was many miles down the road before we reached a place we could call 9-1-1. The dispatcher assured us he’d ‘get someone right out there’.  We suspect he did!

How sad, that we actually have to think twice about stopping to help someone these days. On this Travel Tip Tuesday, we ask the question:  To stop or not to stop?  What would you have done?

Thursday, September 6, 2012

TPThursday: A Journey to Joseph, Oregon

Our summer road trip through Eastern Washington took us into Northeastern Oregon on State Road 129S. Signs along the way told us we were following the  “Old Nez Perce Trail”.

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The paved twisting, turning roadway clings to the hillsides as it winds through the Grande Ronde Valley and over a river of the same name.  Our route climbed to the summit of Wallowa Mountain, (4,693 elevation) and led us past  the Joseph Canyon Overlook . (A stop here’s a must for spectacular views and a bit of Nez Perce Indian history as well.)

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Our destination was Wallowa Lake, a couple miles beyond the town of  Joseph, Oregon,  population 967, named for Chief Joseph, leader of the Wallowa band of Pacific Northwest Nez Perce Indian Tribe.

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Born in 1785 and died in 1871 (the marker is incorrect), Joseph the Elder is buried at the north end of Wallowa Lake. The burial site is next to the 62-acre day-use Iwetemlaykin State Heritage Site.

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Joseph is  an eclectic mix of Old West and Arts Haven, and the last town before the road dead-ends at this five-mile long, one mile wide, 283-feet deep Wallowa Lake.

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Joseph is home to numerous art galleries and Wallowa County’s first arts foundry.

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There are many Bed and Breakfasts in town and other lodging nearby, but the only motel within its city limits was built by Walter Brennan, (1894-1974) an Academy-Award winning actor who owned a ranch in the area.

And eateries galore; especially if you want a Western-style meal (think hearty chuck wagon stick-to-your-ribs style meal.) 

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But our two favorites don’t have Western menus. We munch tapas and sip wine on the front deck of Calderas enjoying the mountain views. And a trip isn’t complete without a piece of home-made pie or an old-fashioned milk-shake at Mad Mary and Co. Soda Shop.

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From any street in town there are spectacular views of the Wallowa Mountains.

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If You Go: 

Map picture

Getting there:
 There are several ways to reach Joseph and Wallowa Lake that are more mainstream than the route we took.  (Our route began in Asotin, Washington just south of Lewiston on the map above – a road to small to show on this Bing map).

From Portland: It’s just over a six hour drive of 322 miles, 519 km.  Oregon’s Highway 82 from Highway 395 winds through Joseph before dead-ending at Wallowa Lake. 

You can link up with the Hell’s Canyon Byway (Highway 350) just a few miles from Joseph – it’s a spectacular 218-mile stretch of highway.

Hiking: The Wallowa Mountains are considered by many to be Oregon’s best hiking venue.  For a sample of hikes, click here.

Accommodations/Eateries: The Chamber of Commerce website will get you here and settled in quite nicely!

It's Travel Photo Thursday, so head on over to Budget Travelers Sandbox for more travel photos and trip ideas.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

WAWednesday: Off the Beaten Path

WAOR2012 001With that paper map in my lap -- and being referred to quite often ---- we left the Interstate Highway at George, Washington (no joke, there is a town named George with a Martha's Inn in it, as a matter of fact!)

The first leg of our summer road trip took us east across the state of Washington. We crossed from our western side of the state into the east on Snoqualmie Pass and then over the Columbia River at Vantage.

Each time I see that magnificent river, the song we sang with gusto in elementary school comes to mind:

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“Roll on Columbia, roll on.
Roll on Columbia, roll on.
Your power is turning our darkness to dawn,
roll on Columbia roll on.”

From the river we began a journey through miles of cultivated lands, often driving the ribbon of roadway without passing any other vehicles. With the sun roof open we took in the smells as well as the sights: fresh cut grain, pungent mint, all the fresh, earthy smells that fill these miles of agricultural land.

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The  two-lane roadway held promise of new adventures just waiting to be discovered as we cast off the confines of the big city where we live.

WAOR2012 005 We drove through charming – non-tourist towns – among them, Creston, Wilber, Reardon. . .each with a wonderful sense of community communicated through highway signs advertising civic events and celebrating youth. 

And each with its own distinct grain elevator and storage facility prominently towering over the town.

WAOR2012 003 During our pre-trip research I’d found a motel in Davenport, the county seat of Lincoln County, just 33 miles west of Spokane that prompted at least a stop for lunch in its wonderful cafe.  We ate at the  Black Bear Cafe, a part of the Black Bear Motel.

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The restaurant was a trip back into history – our meals were served in aluminum pans – reminiscent of the tin pans of olden days.

I’ve got to tell you this town was charming. It's courthouse belongs in a Norman Rockwell painting.

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Our trusty maps hadn’t let us down – we were off the beaten track in the midst of Washington's agricultural heartland -- and we were having a blast..

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Summer Armchair Travels

A beach, a mountain cabin, or a back yard lawn chaise lounge – is the perfect spot from which you can  enjoy the ease of armchair travel. 

This summer's laid-back 'travels' have taken us on a road trip, introduced us to several interesting people and have taken us back to Greece, all we had to do was to read these three books:

J. Smith, (C) 2011
The Leisure Seeker, (by Michael Zadoorian; Harpercollins, 2009) is a touching love story/travel book that tells of two 80-year-olds, Ella, who has cancer, and her husband, John, an Alzheimer’s victim, who ‘kidnap themselves’ from well-meaning children and doctors and set out on one last road trip in their 1978 Leisure Seeker RV. 

I laughed and I cried as I 'rode along' on this final journey. It is one of the best reads we’ve had in months.  (Note: I said ‘we” which means that Joel also liked it and ‘love’ stories aren’t high, make that, on his list). We read it because I had won it in a contest on  A Traveler’s Library. BTW, if you love travel and books, and haven't checked out that blog, you should, just click the link.
During our stay in London last May, the travel section of the Sunday London Times  ran an excerpt from a book that, lucky for us, hit the bookshelves while we were there:

Ox Travels Meetings of Remarkable Travel Writers, with an introduction by Michael Palin and edited by Mark Ellingham, Peter Florence and Barnaby Rogerson (Profile Books, 2011), is a fund-raiser for Oxfam.  All the writers have donated their royalties from the book to that organization, which is a confederation of 15 organizations working to end poverty and social injustice.

The best travel writers in Britain and a bit further away were asked to write about a meeting they had had with someone somewhere. (No, in case you are wondering, they didn't ask me to contribute.) The only rules for those who did were that the story be true and the meeting real.  The editors envisioned perhaps 20 writers agreeing to the project and a book of about 250 pages. The response was overwhelming with 36 writers contributing stories that filled 432 pages!  And the price is only 9.99L or $15.95US.
J. Smith photo, (C) 2010
Another newspaper excerpt, this one from the Wall Street Journal, led us to  News from The Village, Aegean Friends, a Memoir by David Mason, (2010 Red Hen Press). The article in the paper was so beautifully written that it sent me straight to the computer to order a copy. But not before I spent 20 minutes – thanks to the wonders of YouTube listening to Mason read excerpts. His book tells a beautiful tale of pursuing his writing dreams while having the good fortune of developing a friendship with, Patrick Leigh Fermor, his neighbor in Greece, who is recognized as one of the world’s greatest writers.

If you have been to Greece or dream of going to Greece this book will transport you there.  Ten minutes into it, Joel announced he was ready to go back.

Of interest, to those of you in Washington State, David Mason, was raised in Bellingham, the small town near the Canadian border.

Note: The books are on the Amazon carousel on the blog's homepage and if you order one from it, we are paid a small commission.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Old Glory - A Red, White and Blue Road Trip

             Palazzo, Las Vegas
The "High Plains Drifters", as I named us for this journey, set out to see America's West on this 12-day road trip that took us 2,733.5 miles from start to finish. We twice crossed Washington State, traversed central Oregon and looped our way around Nevada, and nipped off a corner of northeastern California for good measure.  At one point we were next door to Arizona and a stone's throw away from southwestern Utah.

We returned to a cloudy, cold Kirkland with our skin a deeper shade of  tan, our souls refreshed and confident that the old west is alive and well. We are even more assured on this Fourth of July that despite the continuing media headlines of our county's economic woes and the on-going political finger-pointing, that at least in the West, America, too, is alive and well, as evidenced by those flag-waving patriotic people and places we found along the way.

                Burns, Oregon
Flags fluttered along our route from Hawthorne, Nevada with its enormous flag flying from a skyscraper-sized flag pole to the flag-lined highway at Pilot Rock, Oregon; from the Old Glory painted windmill blades on a farm outside John Day, Oregon to a campground on the Ukiah-Dale Scenic Biway where individual campsites displayed flags and red, white and blue banners.. .not to mention the dozens of towns, ranches and farms in between, decked out in red, white and blue.

We traveled roadways that at times followed or intersected the same routes as did those thousands of brave pioneers more than a century ago. Those who followed the Oregon Trail, the Noble Emigrant Trail and other routes across Nevada's Great Basins and on through Death Valley or the many mountain passes, like that  made famous by the Donner Party.

All those many folks who are credited with settling  the West were on a red, white and blue road trip of their own design ~in search of their American dreams; ultimately laying the cornerstones for the West that we were happy to find is still alive and well.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

High Plains Drifters

Columbia River at Maryhill
We are on the road again; this time en route to Las Vegas from our Kirkland home. We are ambling and rambling our way through Washington, Oregon and Nevada.  After securing the homefront and the usual flurry of 'final things' we were on the road heading for Oregon after crossing the Columbia River at Maryhill, WA and Biggs Junction, Ore.

Wind Machines
We are eating picnic lunches along the way (cost and time saver) and we had a great first meal along side an Oregon wheat field that had a view back at Washinton and the wind machines that grow out of the hillsides near Goldendale, just above the Columbia.  While I find Greek windmills enchanting, I find the slow creaking of these gigantic monsters almost unnerving; especially as we drove past them.

Heading to Lakeview, Oregon
While we didn't have a set destination for our first day, we'd been thinking that La Pines, south of the better-known Bend, Oregon sounded like a good stopping place.  Sometimes what you think about a place before you get there and what you find once there are two very different things.  We voted to keep going. . .only in these wide open spaces there are miles and miles between outposts (I feel for those pioneers who came west).  So two hours later we bedded down for the night in Lakeview, Oregon near the Nevada border.

We'd seen cowboys, cattle, critters and plenty of wide open spaces. Dramatic landscapes, towns so small they were but a service station, cafe and perhaps tavern at an intersection.

We traveled 537 miles in 10 hours - about the same amount of time it takes for us to fly from Seattle to London. We'd seen some beautiful scenery in Oregon and after resting up we'd be ready for day two: destination Tonopah, Nevada.


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