September 29, 2012 – Kona, Day 6

Once again we do the usual – get up early, take ibuprofen, play tennis, go in the pool. In the afternoon we decide to visit a coffee plantation. It is only about 20 minutes away and the drive is pretty through the uplands. We go to Hula Daddy Kona Coffee.

Hula Daddy logo

We are met by a very friendly and knowledgeable young lady who works there as a roaster. Since another tour has just gotten back, she invites us to have some special Kona Sweet coffee with them. They have a very nice set up in the kitchen where another barista makes the coffee. It is very good.

Barista making Kona sweet

Our guide takes us outside to the coffee plants. I had always thought that coffee grew on bushes but no, it grows on trees. Although their trees are only about 6 feet high they can grow up to 30 feet she tells us.

Coffee tree

There are coffee fruits on the tree in various stages of ripeness. The crop must be harvested by hand and is picked over a period of about 6 months as the fruit ripens. She picks a red one off the tree. They are called cherries. It is ready. She squeezes the shell and out pops a bean. The mucilage around the berry has a sweet taste. The Kona Sweet coffee that we had was made with coffee beans that have been dried in their shell.

Coffee bean and husk

She then shows us how they are sorted and roasted. It is her job to make sure that the coffee is roasted to the proper temperature for the different flavors. They make the coffee in 10 lb. lots so in case there is a problem with the beans or the roasting, it doesn’t spoil a whole enormous batch.

Coffee roaster

After our tour is over she gives us a roasted coffee bean inside a semi-sweet chocolate shell. Wow, is that good. We decide to bring a bag of coffee chocolates back to Eileen and Jim. Unfortunately since the harvest has not yet started there is no coffee to buy.

John in front of Hula Daddy with his bag of coffee chocolates

Later we get dressed nicely and have our big dinner out. We go to Keei Cafe which has been recommended by someone Eileen and Jim know. The dinner is really good and a fitting celebration as our time here in Hawaii draws to a close.

Mahi mahi with curry sauce, rice and vegetables at Keei Cafe

September 28, 2012 – Kona, Day 5

Today starts off as it has almost every day, with John and me playing tennis. After a rocky start the first session, we are playing better. Even early in the morning, it is quite warm and very humid and usually after about an hour the rackets start slipping out of our sweaty hands. We finish each session with a dip in the nearby pool which is quite refreshing. John swims about while I paddle around for a few minutes and then sit in the shade.

John and Mary at the tennis court

The rest of the day is filled with shopping for dinner, writing blogs and watching the surf.

Waves crash against the lava rock

At last it is cocktail time and we all assemble on the deck. Since it is important that we use up what we have in the condo, we have another round of margaritas. This is accompanied by chips, guacamole, hummus etc.

Cocktail time on the deck

The sun goes down in a blaze of orange and red.

Sunset

We troop into the kitchen for dinner preparations. We are having sesame crusted tuna, sliced tomatoes and broccoli tonight. Everybody lends a hand.

Seared tuna with tomatoes and broccoli

After dinner we consider working on our song for the week, the Kinks “I AM AN APEMAN” but as usual one of us falls asleep and we put it off for another night.

September 27, 2012 – Kona, Day 4

Today is a busy day. We have two places we want to visit and a long ride.

Our first stop is at Punalu’u black sand beach. We leave very early so that we can catch a view of endangered green sea turtles basking on the beach at low tide.

Punalu’u black sand beach

The black sand on this beach is finer grained than many other black sand beaches. The finer grained black sand is created when a chunky a’a lava flow meets the ocean and shatters into small chunks. The ocean action grinds it down to fine sand.

Fine-grained black sand beach

We see two turtles, one on a rock and one on the sand. The sign says that we need to stay at least 15 feet away. The one on the sand keeps eyeing us suspiciously. The one on the rock seems to have a gouge out of its shell. We also see turtle tracks on the beach. They look like a small tank has passed by.

Turtle with a gouge in its shell


Turtle on the beach


Turtle tracks

Leaving the turtles behind, we make our way to Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park, home to Kilauea, an active volcano. We all get out to take the requisite picture with sign.

Mary and John next to the park sign


Eileen and Jim by the park sign

After going to the visitor’s center our first stop is for a walk through the rain forest and a giant lava tube.

Rain forest


Mary in front of the lava tube


Very dark lava tube

We drive down the Chain of Craters Road and stop now and then to look at a crater. The road ends at the ocean where an arch has been formed by the lava flowing into the sea and the erosive action of the ocean.

Mary and John by the Holei Sea Arch

Our last stop is at the Kilauea caldera. It belches out a lot of sulphur each day. It is important to stay upwind of the steam as it forms noxious smog.

Kilauea caldera

After that we need to eat some lunch. We’ve been up since 5 AM and have brought along some peanut butter and jelly to make sandwiches. We are unable to find an unoccupied picnic table. We go to the Volcano House, the park restaurant. It is closed for renovations. We try a cafe in the town of Volcano. It is also closed. Finally we stop at a cafe whose food is served on styrofoam. There is a very sketchy bathroom. We make the best of the situation.

There is a long drive back to the condo. We are tired out. It’s been a good, long day. Some munchies and a salad round out our culinary day. I fall asleep almost immediately after dinner. So embarrassing.

September 26, 2012 – Kona, Day 3

Our goal for today is to visit the Onizuka Center for International Astronomy. Ellison Onizuka was an astronaut from Hawaii who was killed in the Challenger crash. It is at about 12,000 feet elevation on Mauna Kea.

For Jim’s musical take on the universe listen to his Cosmic Perspective.

Today’s narrative continues as captions for the pictures –

John with Clark and Lewis at the Onazuka Center for International Astronomy


John and pals watch the informative film at the visitor’s center


Outside there is a telescope that we all try looking through. Mostly we just see an orange dot.


We decide to take a hike up a nearby hill for a better look. Here are John and Eileen at the beginning of the hike with the hill behind them.


Eileen and especially Jim hike up the hill much faster than we do.


As we hike up the hill we can see the clouds below us.


Finally we reach the top! It was quite steep. However, it is always more difficult going down than up.


Eileen and Jim along with Clark and Lewis have also reached the top.


From our vantage point we can also look over to Mauna Loa.


Soon it is time for lunch. We travel over to Waimea and find Merriman’s, a restaurant that Sophie and Al have recommended.


John has the poke. He says it is delicious.


I order the mahi mahi with rice, vegetables and salad.


After a stop at Costco to pick up ingredients for tonight’s dinner, we relax on the deck with popcorn and wine while we wait for the sunset.


Once again there is no green flash but after the sun sinks below the horizon we are treated to a beautiful sunlit cloud.

September 25, 2012 – Kona, day 2

This morning John and I go over to the tennis courts here and play for about an hour. We are not used to playing in such high humidity and the sun is pretty blazing even at 8 AM. But we carry on as best as we can and then jump in the pool that is adjacent to the courts.

John by the pool with tennis courts in the background

Today seems a wild and wooly day in the Pacific Ocean. As we sit on the deck eating lunch the waves are really crashing into the rocks below. We settle on a plan to visit the Pu’uhonua o Honaunau National Historical Park in the afternoon.

Crashing waves

The Pu’uhonua o Honaunau Historical Park preserves different aspects of traditional Hawaiian life. It is on Honaunau Bay which is sheltered and has available water nearby. Along with it being the setting for a royal residence it was considered a place of refuge for defeated warriors, non-combatants in time of war and those who had violated the sacred laws. We do the walking tour.

Clark and Lewis check out the brochure

We see traditional Hawaiian buildings.

John, Eileen and Jim in a traditional Hawaiian building


We take pictures of each other.

John looking out towards the ocean (not a traditional building in the background)


Mary and Lewis next to a palm tree

We see some of their totem called ki’i.

John by a ki’i


Mary and wooden friends

There is an area where sea turtles come up to rest or sleep. We are lucky enough to see one.

Sleeping sea turtle

Before you know it, cocktail time arrives and we settle down to crackers, cheese, chips, salsa and hummus. What better to wash this down than Earl Gilmore Memorial Margaritas.

Snacks!

Dinner tonight is fish tacos! We set up a buffet line and eat outside watching the sun go down.

Eileen and Jim fixing fish tacos

September 24, 2012 – The trip to Kona, Hawaii

Today starts a little frantically. Although we are on the road early to get to the airport, there is a massive traffic jam on the freeways due to a fatality earlier in the morning. Our trip to Oakland is much longer than anticipated. I suggest we park in the premier parking because it is closer to the terminal. It’s extra money but after lugging the luggage just a short way (ah, perhaps that is why it is called luggage!), I think it is a good choice.

We are not at the gate long before the flight is called. Once we are settled, we have a celebratory glass of champagne and we are off. Hawaiian Airlines first class is okay but not great. Breakfast of a salmon omelet and, oddly, rice with chicken are for breakfast. The rice reminds me of the chicken bogg we had in South Carolina except way less greasy.

It takes just under 5 hours to get to Maui where we meet Eileen and Jim. Then we all take the same flight to Kona. The Kona airport is mostly outdoors and looks reminiscent of a tiki bar. After collecting our luggage and getting the rental car we are off for our next adventure.

Kona Airport


Eileen at Kona Airport

The first thing we do is go to Costco for supplies. Amazingly here we are out in the middle of the Pacific Ocean and Costco is just like the one at home. In a bid to waste some time due to a 3 PM check-in at our condo, we have lunch at Costco. John has a hot dog and I have a salad. Eileen has a hot dog and Jim eats a piece of pizza. Real island food.

Eileen and Jim having lunch at Costco

We make our way to the condo. It is right on the ocean. On the shore is a massive amount of black lava rock. The waves crash on the lava rocks. When they are big enough, we can feel the spray on the deck. The view is great.

View from the deck

We are so happy to take off our traveling clothes. It is really, really humid here – much more so than I was anticipating. This is a place for shorts and short sleeve shirts. Eileen calls the property owners to find out about using the air conditioning. I guess we are all low humidity wimps.

John goes native

It’s almost 5 PM (which is actually 8 PM at home) so it must be cocktail hour. We have thoughtfully provisioned ourselves with chips, salsa and wine. Clark and Lewis join us on the deck.

John, Jim, Clark, Lewis and chips

Our dinner consists of an expertly cooked piece of opah (by John) in a tomato salsa sauce. We also have green beans, seasoned tomatoes and some yummy bread. We all exclaim over how good it is – probably better than going out. And we have entertainment! Jim has brought his traveling guitar and while he plays we sing Tiki Torches at Twilight and I am an Ape Man. Everyone is pretty silly.

Jim with his traveling guitar

We head out on the deck to catch the sunset. We are hoping to see a green flash. No luck tonight but maybe tomorrow. John and I are tired out from getting up early and the time change. We head off to bed after a very full day.

John on the deck watching for the green flash


No green flash but a beautiful sunset

September 16, 2012 John’s birthday celebration and Rosh Hashanah

On Saturday, September 15, Jonathan brings Nathan and Sam to our house for a sleepover. Whether we’ve been home or in St. George the boys have always been comfortable about sleeping over. Before supper we play Nathan’s version of tennis and read many chapters of Ozma of Oz. After dinner there is more reading and also some watching of the Muppet’s Show DVD.

After a good night’s sleep we are awakened by little boys telling us to “Get up! Get up!” Since morning is usually a pretty quiet affair at our house we interest the boys in some quiet play. I print up some sudokus for kids and show Nathan how to do them. He does a good job.

Nathan and Beeba work on a sudoku

Nathan and Sam also enjoy playing games on my iPad – sometimes to the point of contention. But today they are happy to coexist peacefully.

Sam watches Nathan play a game on my iPad

Later Sarah and Ryan come over for the birthday dinner and Rosh Hashanah celebration. John opens his cards.

John opens his cards while everyone watches on

Then it is time for dinner. I have made Autumn Soup inspired by the recipe from the Inn at Little Washington. I have also made two round challahs. We have a big salad and apples and honey. Sarah’s contribution is a delicious honey cake. It is a fine birthday celebration and we all look forward to a sweet New Year!

Nathan hungrily eyes the apples and honey

September 13, 2012 John’s Mystery Fun Day with Sarah

Sarah has started a new tradition. She plans a Mystery Fun Day for our birthdays. I had a super one last December. I take John over to Sarah’s and they head out. I will spend the day shopping and lolling about until they return for dinner.

John and Sarah ready to head out on their Mystery Fun Day

Their first stop is at Magnolia Gastropub and Brewery for lunch. Sarah has an appetizer called devils on horseback which are dates stuffed with goat cheese wrapped in bacon. John has lamb sausage.

John in front of Magnolia Gastropub and Brewery


Both John and Sarah enjoy a good beer


Not sure why these are called devils on horseback


John’s lamb sausage

Okay, I just looked up devils on horseback and here’s the origin of the term according to Factopedia whose tagline is “Because you can’t vandalize Wickipedia.” So obviously this is a bogus explanation but humorous nonetheless.

The derivation of devils on horseback – “It stems from Cornwall in the south of England at the turn of the last millenium, where Norman raiders would disguise themselves in suits of armour made by layering rashers of bacon.

This armour had many advantages; Primarily it’s grotesque appearance was used to frighten villagers. Then, when the job was done, the armour could be cooked and eaten. Protection was roughly in the same class as leather armour depending on the thickness of the bacon.

“Devils on horseback” was the nickname of these bacon-clad warriors.”

Just to follow up, angels on horseback from which the devils derived are oysters wrapped in bacon. They are angels because the edges curl up like angel wings when you cook them. The addition of hot sauce turns the angels into devils. Where the oyster turned into a date or prune is unknown. Serving them on toast accounts for the horseback part.

Getting back to the Mystery Fun Day…..

Sarah’s next event is a lecture before the matinee performance of the S.F. Symphony. Today they are playing Schubert’s Unfinished Symphony and Shostakovich’s 11th.

John before the S.F. Symphony performance

Sarah has booked unusual seats. They are behind the players. John loves this. He gets to hear interesting parts of the music more clearly. For instance, the bells of the French horns are pointed in their direction and they have a bird’s eye view of the busy percussion section.

A different vantage point

After their long day in the city, they return to Sarah’s apartment where we have some hors d’oeuvres (not anything on horseback) and wine. Then we head off to Zeni’s. Zeni’s is an Ethiopian restaurant that we love in San Jose. We order the veggie combo, misir kitvo (lentils) and ye-beg tibs (lamb). It’s all served on a big piece of injera and extra pieces of injera are supplied to use as utensils.

Sarah and John at Zeni’s


M-m-m-m-m, Zeni’s

John raves about his wonderful Mystery Fun Day and the fabulous daughter who thought it up.

September 1-9, 2012 Jonathan visits in St. George

Jonathan has come to St. George many times. It makes us so happy that he loves it as much as we do. But all the other times it just didn’t work out that we could take the route through Yosemite National Park. The road closes early for winter and doesn’t open again until late spring. This time, though, it was just the right conditions for a trip through Yosemite.

Jon arrives before 7 AM and we are on the road quickly. I entertain the guys with fun road facts. At Olmstead Point we get out for some picture taking. You can see the famous Half-Dome from the point.

Look at how tall I am in this picture! John was standing very downhill of me. Half-dome is in the background.


Jonathan and Mom with Half-Dome in the background


Half-Dome!

It’s a long trip to St. George going this way because you cannot drive freeway speeds. We stop now and then to stretch our legs and change drivers. We pass Mono Lake and take a ride down roller coaster road which is a very dippy section CA 120. After a stop in Tonopah for lunch we continue on. We have another change of drivers at Rachel, NV.

Jon at the Little A le inn in Rachel, NV


Mighty Jon lifts the spacecraft

We arrive in St. George around 7 PM MDT. Everyone agrees it was a fine roadtrip.

Jon, John and I spend the week playing a lot of tennis and Jonathan also manages to squeeze in three rounds of golf. We make a trip over to Springdale for lunch at Oscar’s and shopping at Worthington Gallery.

Jon and Mom at Oscar’s


Oscar’s has a pretty fine view

We also eat at the Club where the food continues to be “not bad.” The view from the porch is pretty nice there too.

John and Jon on the porch at Entrada


A view of the Paradise Cliffs

Too soon our week is over. An exciting part of our trip home is a stop in Las Vegas for dinner and an overnight. We take Jonathan to MOzen Bistro which turns out to be not as great as last time. We do enjoy snacks and drinks at the Mandarin Oriental Bar though.

Jonathan at the Mandarin Oriental bar


Jon and John in Las Vegas

August 26, 2012 Lunch with Eileen and Jim

Eileen and Jim are in town for the birth of their first grandchild. The baby is due but apparently has slipped the schedule. We decide to meet for lunch at Blue Line Pizza in Burlingame. Jon and family and Sarah want to attend as well. They have very fond memories of all the parents from Maria Lane. We are sorry that the Kendall women cannot be there but certainly understand the circumstances.

Jonathan comments to me that Dad and Jim are such a pair. He foresees many strange conversations when we meet the Kendalls in Hawaii at the end of September.

John and Jim converse.

I think Eileen and I will be having some partytime in Hawaii.

Mary and Eileen ready for some fun

It is really nice that Jon, Ryan, Nathan and Sam have come. Nathan and I do some collaborative drawing and everyone enjoys the pizza.

Jonathan at Blue Line Pizza


Ryan with Nathan and Sam

It is, of course, always a pleasure to have Sarah as company.

Sarah and Dad look-alikes

Ali and Van’s baby arrived aproposly on Labor Day. He is named Eli and is quite beautiful.

Welcome, Eli!

July 18 – August 19, 2012 How I spent my summer vacation

After our anniversary celebration in Las Vegas, we make our way to St. George. We will spend the next many weeks babysitting the remodel of our entertainment center. As you can see from the pictures, the house was built with a cabinet for a 20th century television. We plan on making this wall accept 21st century media. And there are other changes afoot as well.

The flat screen TV will go into a recess over the fireplace so first the workers cut a hole to see what was behind the wall. We had to have room for the recess and the flue.


After finding enough space for the recess, they enlarged the hole.


Next the framers and drywall guys created the recess.


We also decided to get rid of the carpet in the great room. Matching slate will look so much better.


The carpet is gone and we are awaiting the slate.


Although the new slate is a little more textured, the color match is great. The floor took up a lot of time.


We also had a decorative element made from the slate put in over the fireplace.


The wall is ready for plastering but the plaster people want to wait until the floor is done.


The floor needs to be grouted and sealed.


Hurrah! The floor is done and life is getting back to normal. I think the floor looks beautiful.


The plastering is pretty time-consuming too.


Once the plastering is done a new bookcase with glass shelves is installed where the old TV cabinet was.


The cabinet is in and now all that is left is for the media guy to put in the new TV.

At this point we go back to California. John has to spend some time in the office and we have really been in Utah a long time. It is very hot. We are getting up very early so we can play tennis at 6:30 AM when it is only 80 degrees.

On September 1st we make a return trip to see our project complete.

Done!