Archive for September 2012

Vin Scully is the Best!   1 comment

Top of the 5th: “Big chopper to Cruz, and Luis …  HIGH throw, over the glove of Gonzales, backed up by Ellis.  And safely aboard is Rutledge.  … So what a comeuppance.  I mean, you just hit a home run with a man aboard.  You’re feeling great, you go back out, BOOM, you throw it away.  But isn’t that baseball.”

Announcing in the middle of the 5th that the Dodgers have drawn over 3,000,000 in attendance for the 26th season:  “So with all of that, a bow from the waist, a roll of drums and a blare of bugles to the fans.  And let’s go back to this one.”

Top of the 9th:  “Rockies have left 11 men on.  In fact, pretty hard to find an inning where they were retired in order, and it was only in the 6th.  And yet, with all the flailing away, one run.  ‘Course, these are not the mighty Rockies, these are small hills.”

Wrapping up after Dodger victory # 84, staying alive in the wild card race:  “Well, we will go one game at a time, as the Dodgers win handily over a Rockies team that has now lost 97 times.  That’ll do it, until tomorrow.  We’ll talk to you then.  We wish you all a very pleasant ‘Good Afternoon.’”

Good Afternoon, Vin, until tomorrow!

Posted September 30, 2012 by henrymowry in Sports

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Fixing a Green Problem   2 comments

My fault, really.  I had planted a “California Pepper” tree on the north slope, right by the boundary wall with our neighbor’s yard.  This Peruvian native grows well in Southern California, but it has surface roots that broke the block wall.

So we had to take out the tree and replace the wall.  The slope had a cotoneaster as well, which had overgrown the space.  It was all a green mess.  We needed to start over.

Back to bare dirt in the front, and then I hacked and hacked on the cotoneaster and another unidentified bush that we left in front of it.  The slope is about 6′ wide and 35′ long.  We’re doing the landscape from the front sidewalk to back beyond the front gates.

We took the slope all the way to bare dirt. Well, dirt, a “rock” covering the cable service for the neighborhood, and a light pole.  There’s a cable service panel that is currently covered with dirt; it needs to be uncovered as well.

I thought the most important thing was to make sure we were putting the right plants in the right places … so we didn’t have to do this whole process again in 5 years.  Like we were now doing after failing with the last planting.  And the one before that.

My favorite nursery, come to find out, had taken to not labeling the plants that it sold, so I found myself adrift in a sea of green, without a clue about what was what.  This really bothered me … what kind of retailer doesn’t tell you about their products?

We shopped four nurseries (see what happens when you frustrate a customer?), taking note to read what the tags said on each plant.  Basic stuff, right?  Home Depot’s nursery shows QR codes on their plant tags.  We took pictures of plants and tags.

That all came home, and then the online searches began.  Each plant was researched to make sure we knew where to plant it.  We’re climate zone 10, come to find out, and so we had to buy the right plants for this area.  That should be obvious, right?  Not so much; nurseries always push the envelopes for the “pretty plants” that people want to try.  I wanted to make sure we were planting sure bets.

The online research all went into a Word document that Velda and I reviewed as we purchased plants.  We wanted a widely varied, wild-looking planting with plenty of flowers for butterflies and hummingbirds.  Here’s what we bought:

  • Cordyline Electric Pink

    A Hula Girl Hibiscus went into a prominent position. Had to show our love of Hawaii somewhere, yes?

  • Lavender
  • Sweet Broom
  • Festuca
  • Callistemon Little John AKA Baby Bottle Brush
  • Pink Breath of Heaven
  • Artemisia AKA Sagebrush, Mugwort or Tarragon
  • Armeria
  • Hibiscus
  • Chinese Fringe Tree
  • Petite Butterflies, AKA Sweet Pea Shrub
  • Stipa Grass
  • Plumbago
  • Society Garlic
  • Lavender Swirl® Trailing Lantana
  • Wiri Blush Hebe

We did a planting plan, showing the position of each plant.  Holes were dug, with each pot resting in that plant’s hole.  All good?  Ready to go.

While planting, we added Velda’s compost with the bagged dirt we were adding so that each plant had really great soil to grow in.  We then added mulch on top of the soil … bags and bags of it.  Crank up the sprinkler system (this is California, remember), and we were ready for spring and summer.

Same view, 5 months later.

Posted September 30, 2012 by henrymowry in California, Living Life

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Kauai’s Best Restaurants   5 comments

These are the best places we have found to eat on Kauai.  Three of the four are extremely affordable — you can easily eat for less than $15 each.

In Hawaii, that’s no small thing.  Enjoy!

Love the color of the ocean seen from Kilauea Lighthouse!

Buy some fish to grill for dinner while you enjoy lunch.

Kilauea Fish Market

Best ahi wrap we’ve found.  The reviews are great, too.  Very difficult to find this little place; its entrance is in the back of the building, facing away from the road.  Keep looking; this will be worth your time.

Have lunch there on the way to or from the Kilauea Lighthouse.  The Lighthouse is described as picture postcard perfect (and that’s about all it is, in my opinion).  Take that picture, and then have fun looking at the coastline laid out below you.  The inlet that it overlooks is gorgeous, and the many albatross nesting on the cliffs and riding the wind currents are more than worth the trip.

Mermaids Cafe

This hole in the wall delight is in Kapaa.  Don’t let the outer trappings dissuade you, however.  This has clearly outgrown this old kitchen; check out the menu on the website!  You’ll find that this little restaurant serves some of the best fresh food around.

The Ahi Nori wrap is a delight and recommended.  Seating is limited; there are counters running down the alley towards the ocean with stools when they’re available.  Call it rustic.  Call it charming.  And enjoy the food!

TCs is the best part of the Coconut MarketPlace.

Wander around the shops of Kapaa while you’re there.

Coconut MarketPlace, TC’s Island Grill

We wandered into the MarketPlace on our first visit to Kauai, and we’ve returned on every visit.  The location is between Lihue and Princeville, so you’ll find it’s convenient no matter where you are and where you are going when you’re on the east shore.

The shopping center has a very typical range of shops for Hawaii, from t-shirts to luggage, from jewelry to souvenirs.  After you’ve done a quick lap to see the sights, then settle in for a very informal lunch or dinner at TCs.   Whether you have fish and chips or a catch of the day grilled platter, you’ll enjoy this shack that would be a diner if it was located on the mainland.  Here, it’s an Island Grill!

Luau Kalamaku at the Kilohana Plantation

This is the best luau we have found.  It’s currently showing on Tuesdays and Fridays, so plan accordingly.

Arrive early to tour the grounds and see the wares offered by the craftsmen. Velda needed this nose flute, though her playing hasn’t advanced much since she stopped drinking the rum punch.

The cost is currently $65 for the all-you-can-eat buffet and show.  In my opinion, you don’t go to a luau for the food, you go for the show.  For the ohana.  You’ll eat, of course, and the food here is fine for a buffet.  Try the poi (it’s required) and expect a macaroni salad.  But this show was worth the price of admission.

I’ve read reviews that prefer other luaus, which is always understandable.  Opinions will vary.

This luau has:

Comfortable seating in and around the performance area.  The principal stage is in the middle; the main performance is in the round.  A few ancillary stages bring the action even closer to the audience.

The show tells a story (loosely!) and takes the audience on a journey.  It’s more than just a variety show, as some luaus tend to be.  This gets big points in my book.

Nice performances from dancing to fire juggling.  Very visual, very colorful, very theatrical.  For me, that’s a win, win, win.

Other Options

We had our 30th Anniversary dinner at Gaylord’s at Kilohana, which is also located on the Kilohana Plantation. Nice event meal.  Pricey, and nice.  Our problem, unfortunately, was that we ate at the restaurant on our anniversary, and that was a Tuesday evening … when the luau was happening 100 yards away.  We enjoyed the meal but the drums were a bit annoying.  Wish we would have known to avoid the restaurant on luau nights!

We’ve explored many other restaurants OF COURSE but none have risen to the level that I would recommend them.  One of the nicest restaurants on the island is Roy’s on south shore, and we’ve yet to try it, honestly.  We haven’t tried the one in LA, either.  Or the one in Honolulu.  Or the one in Las Vegas.  Maybe someday.

Luaus are about family. Ohana.

30: Kauai   1 comment

Opaeka’a Falls is a short drive from Lihue … we saw a flock of Nene grazing nearby.

Wailua Falls is also near Lihue. Make a day of it; see them both!

We had this vision of Kauai as a rustic tropical paradise — the least developed of the major islands.  It sounded like the perfect place to celebrate our 30th Anniversary.

In previous posts, you learned about our 30th Anniversary plan, which started in Honolulu and then continued onto Kauai.  We spent 5 days there … again, not nearly enough time, but it was enough for us to find what we were looking for.

We’d never been there, of course, so we were relying on the recommendations of friends and guide books.   We made a few mistakes:  we didn’t go to any of the paid gardens (who knew that they were really, really pretty?).  We didn’t go to the best luau on the island.  And we didn’t find 3 of our 4 favorite restaurants (more on that later).

What did we do?  We celebrated our 30 years of marriage in grand style, and found our new favorite getaway.  We have since returned 3 times in 4 years.  Get the picture … for people that didn’t go on vacations, we discovered a reason to do so!

So what’s on Kauai?

Waimea Canyon is gorgeous. Maybe someday I’ll shoot a picture as nice as this one! There are plenty of hiking trails and lookouts around the Canyon; explore to your heart’s content.

Waimea Canyon:  The Grand Canyon of the Pacific.  That’s what Mark Twain called it … and it is without question one of the best sights in the islands.  On the other hand, I’ve never been able to take spectacular photos of it … so the photos shown here are from a Hawaii tourist website.  The view is spectacular, but we didn’t hit the weather right to get spectacular photographs.

This sea urchin hotel is one of my favorite pictures from the south shore, on Maha’ulepu Beach.

Beaches, of course!  There are all manner of beaches, but we most enjoyed visiting Poi’pu Beach on the south shore.  We found a secluded spot, with no other humans visible … anywhere.  We found beaches for sunsets, beaches for surfing (well, for watching surfing), and beaches for relaxing.

Good news: they will ship your purchases home, so you can freeze and then savor Kauai Coffee for many months following your visit.

Exotic foods are grown … in exotic places, naturally.  We enjoyed all manner of tropical delicacies, and especially enjoyed touring the Kauai Coffee plantation.  It’s a great couple of hours for a coffee connoisseur like Velda.  And I tolerated it, too.

If you haven’t tried Shave Ice, then you don’t know what you’re missing. Try it with some sweet cream and tropical flavors, just sayin’.

Unique foods were also tried.   After days of searching, we finally did find some malasadas to taste.  And we ate shave ice for the first time in a place called Hanalei.

Love this bush growing in red dirt near a creek on the way to Waimea Canyon. I take a picture of it every visit!

You need an icy beverage and a flower in your hair while on Kauai. Check! 

A rare photograph shot by Velda, at Maha’ulepu Beach. We lost our car in the 20′ tall bushes separating the beach from the sugar cane field. We still made our flight, though!

I still haven’t taken the perfect sunset photo, but I am not going to stop until I do.

To paraphrase my good friend Dennis, “Married 30 years, and those have been 25 of the best years of my life.” You can see me winking, right? Right???

Posted September 28, 2012 by henrymowry in Hawaii, Photography

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Our University-Obsessed Society   2 comments

According to CBS News, in the year 2010, 39.9% of persons between the ages of 25 and 34 have a college degree, and that number is slowly rising. Each year, a new graduating class is thrown into the ring to find work in a terrible job market. So what is this trend doing for society today?

A “4-year degree” at a Cal State University can cost $100,000 or more, and actually take 5 years or more to complete. The California unemployment rate was 11.2% in August 2012.

With more and more people attaining secondary degrees, the value of having higher education is declining. The market has become saturated with over-educated 20-somethings with inflated egos and useless degrees. I understand that this is quite a generalization, but is it wrong? Growing up, my parents had a set of rules regarding our education. Maintain a B average or get grounded. Go to college after high school and live at home, rent-free. But NOT going to college was not an option. In my case, I wanted to go to college the moment I started school. I had lofty goals of becoming the most educated person in my family, so my parents’ system was fine in my book! But would it work for every family?

My answer? NO.

Charter College, with 10 campuses and online options, offers short-term certificate and degree programs leading to careers as an LVN, legal assistant, accounting specialist or many others.  Programs are often designed for students with fulltime jobs.

Not every person is designed to go to a 4-year university. For some reason, we’ve all been led to believe that we MUST have a university degree in order to be valuable to society, which is WRONG. I am a teacher. I understand and stress the importance of education, believe me, but too many people are focused on the wrong type of education. When we send our kids (or in my case, my students) off to school, we are neglecting a HUGE factor in their education…what they’re actually good at!  Instead of brainwashing 18-year-olds about universities, we should step back and admire their skill set and their options.

California is one of few states in the US that has a very large network of community colleges. These schools are two-year institutions that serve as stepping stones to four-year universities. But they’re also so much more than that. At the local community college, you can get an Associate’s Degree, or complete a transfer studies program, or complete a certificate program in nearly every job field. These schools are PERFECT for students who don’t know what they want to do with their careers, or know they have a very specific skill set. Instead of spending thousands of dollars on a university degree, a student can complete a certificate program and start working sooner. The amount of classes is much smaller, and the cost is incredibly affordable.

I happen to know, first hand, how helpful community college can be. I knew my parents couldn’t afford to pay for my college degree, so I had to do it myself. I went to our local community college, College of the Canyons (Go Cougars!) and completed their transfer studies program. The two years I spent at CoC cost me less than $2,500. I now have a bachelor’s and a teaching credential and my student loans weren’t more than the price of a new car. If you are a parent, encourage your kids to attend community college! I happened to have wanted to go to a university, but not every person is like me. A very close friend of mine went to a two-year trade school. He got a certificate and now runs his family’s business, quite successfully!

I understand that we all want the best for our children (or students), but try and put your personal opinions aside for just a moment, and listen to your kids. Not every person is meant to be an academic. Not every person loves going to school. We don’t need a million graduates with basket-weaving degrees. Today, every job is a great job to have. I know for a fact that I can’t fix my own plumbing. I’m thankful for every plumber on the internet. I’m thankful that someone knows how my car works and can fix it when it’s broken. I’m thankful for people who aren’t afraid of blood, and can draw mine successfully. Our society needs people who can do the jobs we can’t do. We need to change our frame of mind and stop looking down on people because they’re ‘less educated’ or have ‘thankless jobs.’ We NEED these people. Our children or our students will work these jobs one day, and we should celebrate them. Most of the people that hold these jobs were trained and certified at a trade school or community college. Just because it’s not a university degree, doesn’t mean it’s not a BRILLIANT education. So please don’t write off a community college. We should celebrate every form of education, and as a teacher, I do.

After 2 years in community college, I spent another 2-1/2 years getting my Bachelor’s degree in Music Education from California State University Northridge. I then spent another year getting my California teaching certificate. My two years at community college cost less than tuition alone for one semester at CSUN.

Keeping Kids Safe   1 comment

I am really bothered by the Penn State scandal.

Paterno was fired by the Penn State Board of Trustees in 2011, and died soon thereafter

Joe Paterno had won more football games than any coach in history.  His football players loved him.  He was revered by students and alumni alike:  everyone loved “Joe Pa.”  As a bonus, he was a key fundraiser for the University.

And, in 20-20 hindsight, he made one of the worst hiring decisions ever when he hired an assistant coach named Jerry Sandusky.

The protection of our children is of paramount importance to all parents, of course.  How a predator got loose on the Penn State campus is something of a mystery – and it is that mystery that leaves me very conflicted about the whole affair.

Let’s start with established fact:

  • Sandusky was a coach at Penn State, 1969 – 1999.
  • He founded a charity, Second Mile, in 1977.  His work for that charity won many awards and recognitions.  Celebrities that served on the charity’s honorary board include Ex-Philadelphia Eagles head coach Dick Vermeil, current Eagles coach Andy Reid, actor Mark Wahlberg, Arnold Palmer and Franco Harris, among others.
  • Sandusky wrote books about how to coach linebackers.  He won awards as Assistant Coach of the Year for 1986 and 1999 while at Penn State.
  • He was investigated in 1998 by local police after being accused by a mother that he molested her son.  No charges were filed after the DA declined the case, and Sandusky retired from Penn State the next year … apparently, with a sweetheart of a retirement package.  (Does this smell?  You bet.  But when a DA declines a case, that indicates they don’t think they can convict the alleged perpetrator in court.  Innocent until proven guilty – even when it smells.)
  • In 2011 however, a grand jury indicted Sandusky for multiple acts that happened both during and after the time he was an employee of Penn State.  The grand jury initially identified eight boys that had been singled out for sexual advances or sexual assaults by Sandusky, taking place from 1994 through 2009.

    Jerry Sandusky is expected to receive a life sentence without the possibility of parole

  • Sandusky was found guilty by a jury of his peers, and was convicted of 45 counts of sexual crimes against children.
  • He was convicted of molesting 10 victims, all of whom he met through the charity.  Some of the molestations happened at Penn State.
  • He will be sentenced for those crimes on October 9, 2012.

Understand I’m accepting as fact the finding of the jury.  That finding can be appealed and reversed, of course … but a jury of his peers unanimously found Sandusky guilty.  That’s good enough for the judge that will sentence him, and it’s absolutely good enough for me.  It is now established, legal fact.

Louis Freeh served as the 5th Director of the FBI, 1993 – 2001

However, very little else of this case is established as fact.  Freeh Report?  Not fact.  It’s a trained prosecutor’s opinion.  It MAY be true … or parts of it may be true.  Today, I’m not willing to say it is fact – even though the current Board of Regents of Pennsylvania State University hired Freeh, paid for the report, and then committed the university to pay $60,000,000 as a settlement with the NCAA.  The NCAA, you know, that is not a judicial body, and also did not prove these allegations to a moral certainty to a jury of citizens.  Not.  Fact.

And the University settlement just seems outrageous to me.

This whole affair is a tragedy, a very human tragedy.  Sandusky abused many young men, and should be punished severely for what he did.

Any of the members of the Penn State staff that knowingly enabled Sandusky to continue his abuse should also be punished when their actions or inactions rose to the level of criminal behavior.  They should have their day in court.

What I’m not willing to do is to say that everyone should be punished simply because they were there.  If they didn’t know, then they didn’t know.  That’s not necessarily a crime.

A 6′-11″ statue of Paterno located near the football stadium was ordered removed by the Board of Regents in 2012.

Perhaps Joe Pa should have known; he was in charge of the football program.  That means he’s responsible for his employees – including Sandusky up until 1999.  After that, Paterno was still responsible for the program, and when Sandusky used the Penn State facilities and his special access as an emeritus assistant coach, then I would hope that someone, somewhere would notice and stop inappropriate activities taking place.  That noticing did happen in 2002, apparently, but nothing was done to end the ongoing tragedy.

Mike McQueary, a Penn State Assistant Coach, witnessed a Sandusky molestation in 2002, but did nothing to stop the act in progress. He reported it to Paterno and others, but nothing was done to punish or even end Sandusky’s use of Penn State facilities after the incident.

The Freeh Report did talk about that incident, and placed blame for it.  The Report may have had it right, but I’ll still insist the Freeh Report is not established fact.  It’s a prosecutor’s re-creation of what they think happened, based on available evidence.  Tragic, yes.  Is Sandusky a criminal?  Yes.  Who else is convicted of an illegal act?  As of today, no one.

So many people were in such a hurry to “convict” everyone associated with this mess.  Many people were fooled by Sandusky.  Every parent that let their children go out alone with Sandusky will have to live with that very bad decision.

Anything that happens to a sports program pales next to that real human suffering.  However, life must go on, and there’s no reason the football games shouldn’t go on as well. Remember, the football program itself was not at fault here.  The mystique of the program was mis-appropriated by Sandusky, and he acted illegally while an employee of Penn State.  The football team, however, did nothing wrong — but punishment was given there as well.  Thanks to the NCAA sanctions, every Penn State player on this and the next 3 years’ football teams have less opportunity and will have less success because of these events.

I struggle to find the necessity of punishing 18- and 19-year old young men that just want to play football for Penn State.  These new high school graduates had nothing to do with Penn State when these events occurred.  But, the NCAA decreed punishment to be necessary, and it will be done.

My bottom line:  this entire tragedy was preventable.  I have been trained by two youth organizations to train their adult volunteers on methods to identify and prevent child abuse.

Both Penn State and Second Mile made a key mistake:  they let Sandusky use their good names and their award-winning organizations to get alone with his victims.  If anyone – anyone – would have insisted that Sandusky not be allowed to be alone with these young boys, then the abuses would not have happened.

Parents, it is simple.  Don’t let your children be alone with adult males that you do not trust with your life.  Adult males, do not let children that are not in your immediate family be alone with you under any circumstances.  That way, children are protected from being singled out for abuse, and men are protected from false accusations.

That simple precaution of two adults always being with minor children that are placed in their charge was not followed.  Many, many people must be ashamed of that.

30: Waikiki   6 comments

We just didn’t do it.  Most people do vacations.  They go to exotic places.  Tropical places.  Far away places.  Disney places.  Velda and I … not so much.

Stanley Kubrick got it right in Stephen King’s “The Shining” … you need to get away or you’ll go crazy (or, in this case, be dead!).

No honeymoon.  One SoCal theme park tour when I was in that business.  One long weekend to Santa Barbara on our 10th anniversary.  Family camping trips.  One long weekend to the Grand Canyon.  And rather infrequent trips to the midwest to see family, when we could.  And that was it.

People work for a living; that’s nothing special.  But I do think its essential that you GET AWAY once in a while.  Vacations are good for the soul.

They grow unusual trees in Hawaii.

We talked about going to Hawaii for our 25th Anniversary … didn’t happen.  Kids were still at home and in school; there was just too much going on.  I think we went out to dinner somewhere.  So, by the time we were nearing our 30th Anniversary, it was clear that we had to make something happen.  I’m the guy that likes Big Hairy Audacious Goals, right?  Time to go big.

Neither of us had ever visited Hawaii, so we decided to visit 3 of the islands:  Oahu, Kauai, and the big island of Hawaii.  We only had a dozen days, so we had to make a lot of tough choices.

Which part of paradise to see?  Right, tough choices.

The Memorial building — that you reach after a short cross-harbor ride on a US Navy launch — is over the sunken Arizona. You see oil drops rising to the surface, and you see wreckage extending above the water.

We ended up only staying two nights on Oahu; long enough to only get a taste.

Waikiki was very photogenic, and I regret not having more time there.

We visited the USS Arizona Memorial, which to me was most like visiting the cemetery at the Gettysburg National Military Park.  At Pearl Harbor, you are literally visiting the final resting place of many sailors lost in battle … and even more sailors that survived the battle chose to return there for their final resting place.  The whole experience is sobering and humbling.  This kind of emotional catharsis isn’t a common goal for vacations, I believe, but you will plumb the depths of emotions at this Memorial.

The USS Missouri, now basically a floating museum, faces the memorial for the USS Arizona. The peace treaty ending World War II was signed with the Empire of Japan on the deck of the Missouri.

Should you go there?  Absolutely, just be prepared for the experience.

Next to the Arizona is where “Mighty Mo,” the USS Missouri, is on display.  Nice to see those big guns that helped us win WWII.  And, those are the same guns that Cher used in her video.  Pretty amazing, when you think about it!

A much more “vacation-like” experience was wandering through the International Market Place in the heart of Waikiki Beach.  I’m not a shopper … but Velda did get some new jewelry.

I’m pretty sure that’s when I was forgiven for not getting to Hawaii until our 30th anniversary.

We used our 2 days in Honolulu to get into vacation mode for our “real” vacation on Kauai.  We definitely accomplished that, but I do regret that we have not yet taken the time to explore Oahu.  There is much more to see there … and I’m now pretty sure that I need to buy some koa there.

Maybe next time!

I’m a woodworker, but I never considered holding my workpiece with my bare feet. And this craftsman is even using a sharp chisel!

The statue of “the Duke” is very visible on Waikiki. You see it in every episode of Hawaii Five-0! There’s a webcam pointed at the statue; we had fun texting the link to family & friends, and then posing for the poor people stuck back home.

Who hasn’t dreamed of lounging on Waikiki?

Odd Desert Beauty   Leave a comment

Antelope Valley purple flower

It’s not a caterpillar, it’s a beautiful wildflower!  Lace Leaf Phacelia, with a fragrance that is delightful.

Antelope Valley purple flower

Here you see a grouping of the Lace Leaf Phacelia, with some Fiddleneck (the tiny gold flowers) in the background.

Posted September 25, 2012 by henrymowry in California, Photography

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The Banana Bread Adventure   Leave a comment

As I’ve previously stated, you should plan on doing five things when you visit Maui.  Read about that idea as I describe the Haleakala Adventure.

This is one of a series of guidebooks that I highly recommend to anyone planning a trip to Hawaii. Andrew Doughty has a book about each of the islands, and he’s an entertaining read as well as an informative one. You need these books. About $15 on Amazon.

Another grand adventure was the search for the World’s Best Banana Bread.  It’s promoted as such in the Maui Revealed guidebook, and the baker has created a small local business (which her niece has put on the internet!) based on that recommendation.  Read about it on Yelp.  World’s Best Banana Bread?  Best I’ve ever had (and Velda even agrees!).

You can debate about why it’s so good on the drive back.  Personally, I think it’s the bananas; I had not had “apple bananas” before this trip to Maui.  Is that what Julia uses?  No clue.  Good news:  you can debate this all the way home.

And then you can talk about the wonderful scenery you see on the journey!

Olivine Pools is a great place to bath when the tide is right. Hope you brought your suit on the drive!

We were staying at the Westin resort on the Ka’anapali Beach, near Lahaina on the west shore.  The drive to Kahakuloa is not as long, nor as difficult, as the Road to Hana, but it is a somewhat challenging drive, nonetheless.  We chose to have a leisurely lunch in Kahana, and then proceed on the drive to Julia’s.

On the way was the location that’s christened the “Olivine Pools” by Andrew Doughty; that is pictured at left.  Double click the picture (and any of the pictures in my blog) to expand it to full size.

Back on the road, you’ll eventually see signs directing you to Julia’s that freely promote her status as the maker of the World’s Best Banana Bread.  The signs even show the Doughty book cover and cites the reference as page 62!

When you arrive in Kahakuloa, you’ll see a lovely, rustic valley with a bright green shack on the opposite hill.  That’s Julia’s.  Drive through town (avoiding or supporting the other vendors as you choose).

The drive itself is largely a two-lane road.  However, the last few miles do have a number of one lane bridges and narrow one lane passages around the bluffs that face the sea.  Well worth an afternoon’s leisurely drive!  Sit back, relax, and see the beauty around you.

Best Banana Bread!

Here’s a shot of Kahakuloa, with Julia’s green shack in the background.  When you get there, you can also buy coconut candy and taro chips, which are great. The banana bread, with the homemade butter, is simply heavenly. Buy one loaf to eat and one for tomorrow, and …

These lovely flowers were growing on a tree not far from Julia’s shack. Don’t know what kind of tree this is … please tell me if you do!

Mushroom Rock is another of the sights you’ll see if you — or better yet, your passengers! — keep your eyes peeled.

The road is not too narrow, and shouldn’t cause you any serious concerns. Take it slow and enjoy your day … and you’ll have wonderful banana bread to celebrate!

Spring in the Desert   1 comment

The beauty of the Antelope Valley in the spring. The snow-capped San Gabriel mountains are in the background; Mount Baden Powell is the tallest peak. A flower called, appropriately enough, goldfield, gives the golden color which is broken up by red stemmed filaree.  Creosote bushes are in the foreground; small joshua trees are in the distance.  April 5, 2011.

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