Old Town Market, Kraków

I had first come to Kraków on business in 2000, the same year Kraków was named a European Capital of Culture. It was winter and bitter cold with a light dusting of snow softening the sounds of what was already a quiet medieval off-season town that hadn’t found its tourist stride yet. I didn’t think much about traveling to Poland when I left on the trip, but I left vowing to return someday. I distinctly remember my first serving of crimson borscht, the comfort of fresh pierogis, the sharp bite of kielbasa with mustard, the sour pucker of a sauerkraut salad, and the hot sweetness of a Grzane Piwo or two.

I loved my short time in Kraków and knew Tawny would love it too. As I had been here on business I didn’t have a chance to visit Auschwitz-Birkenau and I felt my trip was incomplete. I vowed to return someday. And that day started today.

We arrived in Kraków early in the morning thanks to the ungodly hour of a Ryanair flight from Berlin. Luckily our Airbnb (Newcastle – Luxury Old Town Apartment) was ready and waiting for us. It couldn’t have been more conveniently located just steps from St. Mary’s Basilica with a view of the Wawel Castle. It was our first stop. Unfortunately, we found that the famous St. Mary’s Alter by Veit Stoss was currently being restored and wasn’t viewable. But we could hear the hourly golden bugle playing from our room from early morning until late into the night.

After viewing St. Mary’s we split up to explore more of Kraków. Clara and West headed to one side of Market Square (the largest medieval square in Europe) and we the other. We entered the Sukiennice (once the global center of international trade, now more a touristy set of indoor booths selling trinkets to the tourists) to expore treasures like amber from the Baltic Sea, carved wooden boxes, pisanki, and a variety of other souvenirs. We bought a few keepsakes and then strolled the square exploring up and down side streets within what was once a well-fortified walled city.

As we relaxed into the day at a sidewalk cafe Clara and West contacted us. They suggseted a bar for us to meet at on the way to Kazimierz – The Jewish Quarter. We caught up with each other and decided to find nearby Record Dillaz!!! record store to see if we could find some items on our list before dinner. Tawny found a somewhat rare original pressing of Prince’s first album in great shape and added it to our collection.

We then found Alchemia, a vegan and vegetarian-friendly bar, and restaurant that looked good. Unfortunately, for all the health consciousness on the menu, the thick haze from the smokers left us choking as we tried to find a table. We couldn’t find one, and we couldn’t take the smoke. We headed next door to the restaurant only version where we could enjoy some interesting variations on hummus dishes before heading back to our apartment. We had a long day planned for tomorrow with an early tour out to Auschwitz-Birkenau followed by the Wieliczka Salt Mine, and we wanted to get our rest for would prove to be a somber and emotionally draining day.

Categories: Europe, Krakow | Leave a comment

Checkpoint Chuck: Berlin Day 3

Part of the impetus for our Eastern European itinerary (Berlin, Krakow, Vienna, Prague) was to visit places with strong sociopolitical significance. Politics have social conseqences people! Where better to understand that truism than learning of the extreme social consequences the political rise of Nazism, the resulting Holocaust, and subsequent Cold War? Given the uncanny and chilling parallels between Trump‘s rise to power and that of Hitler’s, it was a trip we felt we needed to make.

Our day began at the epicenter of the both the height and end of the Cold War: Checkpoint Charlie (now reduced to a photo opportunity where you can get a McFlurry off the Euro menu).

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Looking East

We knew Checkpoint Charlie would be disappointing but it would only have been more disappointing to have avoided it all together. Howver, the nearby Mauermuseum Museum Haus Am Checkpoint Charlie proved an interesting distraction from the rain. For all it’s eclectic, eccentric, and discombobulated curation is an important center and collection of artificts for preserving Berlin’s history, the Wall, the Cold War, and the pursuit of freedom, be it individuals and families escaping the DDR by slipping under the Iron Curtain, or by documenting organized politial struggles around the globe.

After the Mauermuseum we headed across the street to the Die Mauer Asisi Panorama. It was a pretty amazing work of art by Yadegar Asisi. Asisi created this massive 18-meter high perspective photo recreation of a ficticious day in the life of the Wall in 1989, looking East fromt the West. When you enter the room, and climb up to a 4-meter high viewing platform you get this curved perspective view that puts the panorammic photo into three dimentions. You truly feel you are there with the introduction of lights and sounds.

After Die Mauer Asisi Panorama we had a quick lunch at nearby Yarok Fine Syrian Foods from Damascus. Typically I wouldn’t mention this except this place had, hands down, the best and most fragrant falafal I have ever tasted. We all agreed. It was amazing. Go there.

The restaurant was right across the street from the Topography of Terror museum (which I’ll blog about later) located on the site where the State Secret Police (Gestapo), SS, and Reich Security had their offices. We spent a few hours there looking throught the meticulous documentation of the atrocities of the Nazi terror machine.

To lighten the mood we headed to Alexander Platz for a walk around the bustling area and then started walking towards Friedrichshain and found ourselves in Volkspark Friedrichshain Berlin’s oldest park. We walked around the park enjoying the nearby neighborhood, curious statues and found great cafe in the park were we enjoyed a sunset glass of wine.

We ended our evening at Feuer and Flamme, a fondue restaurant in Friedrichshain.

Categories: Berlin, Europe | 1 Comment

Flea Market & a Casting Scout: Berlin Day 2

Most German businesses are closed on Sundays. That left our cold and sunny Sunday with only the touristy options open most days of the weeks such as the Brandenburg Gate, Reichstag Building, Siegessäule (Victory Column), and Tiergarten, and the Holocaust Memorial. We had €5 unlimited über rides around the city all weekend thanks to our helpful über driver from the night before who had given us a “Heyber” promotional code! We called an über and headed out.

We didn’t plan far enough in advance to visit the Reichstag dome (which requires registering for tickets early in the day) so instead, we went to visit Brandenberg Gate and then walked to the nearby Holocaust Memorial (which I will blog about in another post). After that sobering experience, we needed some Frühlingsgefühle and Geborgenheit. We decided to spend the rest of our Sunday in the flea market at Maurerpark. To our surprise, the über dropped us right in front of the photobooth from the night before. The empty lot and park across the street had been transformed overnight into the largest flea market we’d ever seen. It was teaming with hoards of humanity and countless treasures waiting to be discovered.

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We spent our afternoon rummaging through bins of artifacts, tables of bric-a-brac, endless record collections and exploring local arts and crafts booths. This was punctuated by several trips to the Schönwetter* Biergarten to drink, eat pizza and fill up on currywurst before hitting more bins, sorting through more vinyl and hiking a short hill to explore an old section of the Berlin Wall and watch local graffiti artists applying their skills.

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From the hill, we could hear artists performing below and we walked amongst beatboxers, brass bands, street performers, and pick-up basketball games as we made our way back into the flea market for another round of shopping.

As we sat at the Biergarten a woman approached us and asked if West had ever modeled before. West had bought a new vintage jacket (one Clara had found and insisted he buy) and he was looking very cool. She introduced herself at Valeria, a casting scout working for photographer Mark Peckmezian (instagram) (webberrepresents). She insisted Mark would like his look and would probably like to photograph him for a new portrait series he was doing for n-o-o-n (a UK publication) with stylist Brian Molloy.  We told her we were heading out of town on Tuesday and would only be back to Berlin breifly in about a week. She told us the photo shoot would be on April 3 and 4th and as luck would have it, that is when we’ll be returning. She emailed us later that evening and put us in contact with the agency to make arrangements. We are planning on taking an earlier train back from Prague to make it in time for the shoot.

As Valeria left us and long shadows emerged from vendor booths of weary buyers and sellers and the air settled in a chill around us, we turned ourselves towards Prenzlauer Berg in search of dinner.

Tawny found a great restaurant nearby called Montraw listed as one of Berlin’s Top Ten where enjoyed a fantastically innovative meal.

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It was a perfect meal to end a perfect day in Berlin. One could see how easy it could be to become a Berliner.

Categories: Berlin, Europe | 1 Comment

A Sexy Hotel & Paul’s Boutique: Berlin Day 1

I had been to Prague and Vienna in the early 1990s, as well as Berlin and Krakow in 2000. I had always wanted return and to take my family there. And so, we decided to take Clara’s two-week spring break in Eastern Europe as a family (with West, Clara’s boyfriend joining us). Our itinerary included Berlin, Krakow, Vienna, Prague, and short stayover in Reykjavík on our return home.

Berlin received us before noon, courtesy of Icelandair‘s early arrival. It was a sunny Saturday morning and although we were exhausted from the long flight, we were excited to start exploring the city.

A taxi wound us through the streets of Berlin to the hotel Provocateur, where we found our rooms would not be ready until after three-o-clock. A shower and change of clothes from our trip would have to wait. The helpful hotel staff pointed us towards nearby Kurfürstendamm, the local shopping district. Shopping sounded fun so we headed off in that direction to find stores and something for lunch. Unfortunately, Kurfüerstendamm disappointed us for shopping since most stores were either large multi-national chains or luxury goods which held little interest for treasure hunters like us. We steered off  off the beaten path of polished boulevards and lavish window displays and wove ourselves up and down side streets in search of a more authentic Berliner experience.

We stumbled across a quaint little restaurant filled with local pensioners called Café Maitre Munch. It proved our first taste of Berliner food to be a win (although the green and overly sweet Berliner Weisse was far too much for our taste).

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After lunch, we headed back to our hotel to shower and change. Our rooms were ready and better yet we had been given an “upgrade”. We picked this hotel because it was part of the Marriott collection and had booked it through the Marriott website. Perhaps we should have looked more closely at the Provocateur’s website first. While the hotel was certainly small and intimate…that intimacy took on new meaning as we found it was listed as a “sensual” hotel. We entered our red velvet ensconced rooms and were greeted by ample mirrors, erotic art books, the latest German edition of Playboy (they still print full nudes in Playboy Germany BTW), unmentionables availabe in the mini-bar, and a switch on the wall for something called “Provocateur mode”. Of course when we discovered that we had to flip it on.  The lights automatically dimmed, some sexy music came from hidden speakers in the walls, and then artsy black and white risqué moving images were projected upon the wall from a hidden source in the wall. We laughed it off, but with two seventeen-year-olds traveling with parents, it was….awkward…

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As soon as we could differentiate our blushes from our velvet curtains, we caught an über to trendy Prenzlauer Berg to visit Paul’s Boutique (not Paul’s Boutique) – a major mission for our Berlin itinerary. It did not disappoint. Paul’s was an overwhelming assault of visual stimulation and vintage picking which helped fend off our mounting jet lag.

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After a few prized purchases at Paul’s we headed down the street of hipster bars, beergardens, cafes, and vintage boutiques in search of more treasures. We found OYE – a record store on our list of places to visit. It proved fruitful in producing a dozen or so 7″ 45 rpm vinyls for our new juke box back home. As we strolled the streets looking for somplace to eat we came across a seemingly abandoned photo booth sitting in front of a large empty lot on the edge of the neighborhood. Clara and West did a photo session.

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We topped off a rather long day (which started on Friday morning in Seattle and it was now 7pm in Berlin on Saturday) with a traditional German meal of beer, pretzels, schnitzel, and stuffed peppers at a beer garden called Georgbraeu Brauhaus we found near Alexandererplatz before nodding asleep in an über on our way back to the velvet couches and curtains of the Provacateur for a much needed sleep.

Categories: Berlin, Europe, Vienna | 2 Comments

Coast Guard Rescue and Nehalem​ Bay

Tuesday morning we found ourselves with several hours to explore Fort Stevens before driving to nearby Nehalem Bay State Park to meet Clara and her friend Lia later in the afternoon.

We drove to the South Jetty observation tower to spot ships crossing the Columbia River bar and arrived just in time to witness the United States Coast Guard rescue a teen stranded on a sandbar at flood tide. A gaggle of birders flocked with the Oregon Park Rangers, the Clatsop County Sheriff’s Office, the Warrenton Fire Department, and the Warrenton Police Department to watch the rescue unfold.

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MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter from Coast Guard Air Station Astoria

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Watching the rescue with Park’s Department and Sheriff’s Department

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USCG helicopter maneuvering over South Jetty

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Post-rescue prepping for landing

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Landing to let teen reunite with his family

After the excitement was over we turned our attention to the surfers catching late morning waves along the jetty.

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Looking south on Clatsop Spit

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Surfer heading out

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Catching a wave off Clatsop Spit

Oregon_Coast - 22We walked the trail out to the South Jetty for a better view of the Columbia River and to spot endangered migrating brown pelicans.

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The trail to bird nesting area

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Brown pelicans

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Brown pelicans over South Jetty

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We packed up our site and headed south on Highway 101 towards Seaside, Oregon as we waited for our check-in time at Nehalem Bay State Park. We hadn’t been to Seaside in well over 15 years. We enjoyed a leisurely afternoon wandering through town and grabbing a quick lunch before heading to Nehalem Bay.

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Beach at Seaside, Oregon

We arrived at Nehalem State Park with plenty of time to trick out our campsite with hammocks, chairs around the firepit, a canopy over our tableclothed picnic table, candles and fairy lights and a regulation cornhole game set. Clara and Lia arrived in their Volt from their first road trip just in time for dinner.

After dinner, we walked over to check out the horse campsites. Not being equestrians, we didn’t know camping with horses in a state park was a thing. But apparently, it is. And the sites looked really nice.

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Horse Camp? Who knew?!

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Campsite Corral

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Camping with horses

With wine glasses in hand and sand in our shoes, we navigated our way through trails of tall grasses across the dunes to the beach at Nehalem Spit for sunset.

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Clara and Lia through the dunes

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Dunes of Nehalem Spit

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Beach at Nehalem Spit

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Clara and Lia

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Tawny, Clara, and Marc

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Riding into the sunset

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Heading back to camp

As the sun set the temperature dropped and the marine layer quickly rolled onshore like a foggy quilt to tuck us in for the night. We kept it at bay with Lia’s pyro-maniacal campfire-making skills complete with toasty s’mores. It was a sweet ending to an already sweet day.

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Lia the “Fire Queen”!

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Clara roasts a perfect marshmallow



Categories: Camping, Great American Roadtrip, Oregon | Tags: , | 1 Comment

Smoke, Fires, and Coastal Detours

We were to travel to Eureka, Montana the last week of August for my friend Karl’s 50th surprise Virgo Barn Dance Party at his Frisky Chicken Ranch (aka Tobacco Valley Ranch). His better half Nikki had been planning it for over a year. Hoards of friends would be coming from around the country and the globe to celebrate a milestone birthday with live bands, brews from Homestead Ales, dips in Dickey Lake, and other sundried shenanigans.

But about a week ago, while we were in Maui dodging Hurricane Lane, Nikki contacted us with a heavy heart to call off the party. The smoke from the British Columbia fires as well as from the nearby Howe Ridge fire in Glacier National Park had left the air quality in Eureka “Hazardous” and “Very Unhealthy” as categorized by the Montana Department of Environmental Quality. We heard stories from home about the smoke from the BC fires in Seattle as well. We decided we were going to try and go anyway, even if the party was postponed until next year we love Karl’s ranch and we hadn’t been since August of 2014. We closely monitored the air quality authorities across Washington, Idaho, and Montana. It was bad. We made the decision at the end of the week that we’d abandon our plans for a road trip to Eureka with a side trip to Silverwood Theme Park and improvise a camping trip to the pristine salty air of the Oregon Coast.

We were lucky enough to reserve the last campsites available at Fort Stevens State Park and Nehalem Bay State Park during the busy last week of summer. Our r-pod was already packed and ready to go, so Tawny and I hooked it up and drove ourselves Fort Stevens arriving in the late afternoon. We quickly set up camp, had a surprisingly good dinner at the unassuming South Jetty Dining Room and Bar and then went to catch the sunset on the beach with the skeletal remains of a 112-year-old shipwreck of the Peter Iredale.

Oregon_Coast - 1Oregon_Coast - 3Oregon_Coast - 4Oregon_Coast - 5Oregon_Coast - 6We returned to camp, decorated our Pod with lights, built a fire, and watched the dusky shadows of bats chase emerging stars on a calm and warm summer night. Tomorrow Clara and her friend would be driving their first road trip to join us at Nehalem BayOregon_Coast - 8

Categories: Camping, Great American Roadtrip, Oregon | Tags: , | 1 Comment

Hurricane Up and Wait…

Thursday we expected to feel the full wrath and fury of Hurricane Lane by 2pm in the afternoon. We had gotten up several times Wednesday night to check on things. But oddly things were still and calm.

The morning news brought us reports of widespread rain, wind, landslides, road closures, school closures, business closures, government offices closures, etc. But Kihei was quiet. No wind and only a drizzle. The town was also quiet with only a few stores opened. The staff at our condo was locking down furniture and asked us to do the same by bringing all the furniture off the lanai and putting it into our condo with us. We had drinking water, pots and pans and wastepaper baskets filled with water for flushing toilets, flashlights, food cooked and stocked, electronics charged, dishes cleaned, extra bags ready to go if we had to evacuate to a shelter. The news reports looked bad and the condo posted this in the elevator.

We watched the news much of the morning and while there was definitely flooding, winds, and issues around the island, Kihei seemed to be protected in the shadow of Haleakala. The surf was up! We decided to go boogie boarding.

Later that morning we checked the news again and it appears Lane was stalling. The storm had slowed its advancement across the Pacific towards Hawaii and had weakened to a Cat 4 storm. It would appear that the storm may not come in until later that night.

We decided to go see a matinee, assuming we may have heavy weather when the movie was over. There weren’t many choices in town but Tawny caught (and loved) Crazy Rich Asians, while the rest of us (being in Hawaii) thought it would be more fun to see The Meg (Spoiler alert: Pippen lives).

Thursday night we had dinner reservations at Ko, a seafood restaurant within the Fairmont Kea Lani resort for my mother’s birthday. We had called the restaurant the day before and they weren’t sure they’d be open. We called them again to see if we should cancel our reservations as it coincided with the forecasted impact of Lane. The restaurant manager assured us that although they are an open-air restaurant they’d do their best to accommodate us, even suggesting they could move us to an interior hallway and serve us if necessary. We felt at the very least we’d have an adventurous meal. We decided to keep the reservations. We arrived and saw the Fairmont was locked down and ready for the hurricane with furniture stacked, display cases secured, and shelter in place notices posted for their guests.

But the weather was calm and our meal was delicious. The sunset in the outdoor venue was the most spectacular of our trip.

Checking the news before bed we expected the storm to hit us during the night. It didn’t. Again we woke several times to check the weather. Calm. No rain.

When morning came we learned that the storm had further weakened to a Category 3 but was still headed towards Maui. It had slowed its advance to only a few miles an hour but was still assumed to be coming our way. We received several flash flood alerts throughout the day for Maui, just none in Kihei where it remained calm and only a drizzle. We learned there had been a large fire near Lahaina overnight burning over 300 acres and destroying several homes. Flights were getting canceled into and out of Maui. It looked like the storm was imminent. We spent our morning inside watching the rain and the weather from our lanai as well as all the other guests at our condo.

But the weather in Kihei actually improved by late morning. The surf was up and while it was cloudy it brightened up. We continued to get flash flood warnings and see widespread damage to some parts of the island on TV, but Kihei remained well protected. The wind did pick up for a bit, and with it the surf got HUGE! The result was we had some of the best boogie-boarding of our lives until the surf got so big we felt it best to leave the water with our spines intact.

As the day progressed Hurricane Lane became Hurricane Lame. It was downgraded throughout the day to a category 2, then 1, and by the late afternoon became Tropical Storm Lane. It wasn’t until well after dinner that night we actually got our first serious rain, which continues as I write this, but with no wind to speak of.

While we are personally disappointed we didn’t get to experience a little more Hurricane we are grateful to be safe and sound and flying home tomorrow. We feel sorry for those who weren’t as lucky as us. There were many reports of washed out roads, landslides, flooding (with up to 40 inches of rain), wind damage, power outages, and fires. We just didn’t have any of that. We do now have some newfound disaster prep skills we didn’t know we had previously which should prove useful for our next inevitable naturals climate change disaster or zombie apocalypse, whichever comes first.

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Hurricane Prep with an Ethical Will and a Pineapple Upsidedown Cake

Today we awoke to emergency alerts on our phones. I flipped on the TV and immediately saw the emergency alert system broadcasting this about Hurricane Lane:


Yesterday’s hurricane watch had been upgraded to a hurricane warning. I scrambled to the coffee maker…and then across the Googles and Interwebs on my phone to find more news….


We had already done a lot of prepping for the hurricane yesterday before going zip-lining. As our Walking Dead skills started kicking in we decided perhaps we could do better. Tawny and I ran out to see if we could find a portable radio and more wine. No luck. We were met with long lines at Longs Drugs, Safeway, and other locations across Kihei. We decided to head back closer to our condo and top up our fuel at the nearby ABC Store. But it turns out they sell wine! We fueled up, grabbed another bag of ice, a few bottles of red, quarters for the laundry, and a few other miscellaneous food items to top up our already ample supply.

We spent mid-morning enjoying the last of the good weather. The snorkeling was surprisingly good and the water still clear, although choppy. The surf was up so we hit the waves and did some boogie boarding before lunch.

We grabbed lunch across the street at Coconut’s Fish Cafe. We weren’t expecting much but surprisingly this Zagat rated restaurant serves a formidable mixed fish: ono, ahi, and mahi-mahi fish taco.

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A single order of fish tacos includes 2 of these sea-beasts!

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Mmmm….fis,h tacos

After lunch, we went for more shave ice under the assumption we wouldn’t be able to enjoy any tomorrow.

Our afternoon was spent doing some laundry, and prepping for my mother’s birthday dinner. We had planned on going to dinner on Thursday (during the hurricane) to Ko at the Fairmont Kea Lani for dinner. However, we called the restaurant and they said they’d probably be closed as they are basically an open-air restaurant and it would be impossible to have the restaurant open during the hurricane.

We improvised. I prepared a kalbi-style beef short ribs and grilled Shishito peppers with Hawaiian sea salt as appetizers with chicken, bok choi, and broccoli stir-fry for dinner. Tawny made her famous (made every Hawaiian vacation) old-school time-traveling pineapple upsidedown cake as a birthday cake for my mom. My sister tried to find birthday cake candles but could only find a scented coconut candle. We made it work!

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Pineapple perfection!

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All the kids!

After dinner, my mother shared her ethical will with us with hopes of imparting her pioneer stock wisdom and values on to her grandkids. She handed each of them a value and had them read it aloud:

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Don’t feel entitled to anything you don’t sweat and struggle for.

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Never give up. You can make it no matter what comes. Nothing worth having is ever achieved without a struggle.

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The greatest pleasure in life is doing what people say you cannot do.

And finally my mother read her own:

“Always remember that you are never alone. You are loved unconditionally.  There is nothing you can ever do or say that can ever take away my love for you all.”

I told my mother that the Goddess Pele herself and the God Kanaloa had perhaps sent Hurricane Lane to either help her blow out all her birthday candles or as a guest worthy of such a momentous birthday party. Either way, she is a divine mother and grandmother to us all worthy of a party with the Gods!

We ate our dessert with the sunset as the rain began. It was perhaps our last sunset for a few days to come.

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Happy Birthday, Mom. I look forward to braving the hurricane with you tomorrow.



Categories: Hawaii | Tags: , , | 2 Comments

Ziplines and Hurricanes

Monday was another perfect day. Woke to a beautiful morning. Took my young niece and nephew snorkeling and spotted many green sea turtles, moray eels, and octopus amongst all the other fish of the Hawaiian reefs. Then spent the day sunning, swimming, and boogie boarding (as well as a fair amount of drinking and eating).

But all was not well as we started to hear a tale of Hurricane Lane. But it was like 500+ miles away, a weakening category 4, and projected to turn away from the Hawaiian Islands. Most of the locals were talking about the surf being up as a good thing. But it did mean rain later in the week.

We decided we’d plan a Tuesday adventure and go ziplining with Jungle Ziplines. We book the excursion for myself, my wife and daughter, her boyfriend, and my niece and nephew. We all had to run out and buy either closed toed shoes, or long pants, or both to ensure we met their clothing requirements. After a few trips to Ross, we were provisioned to zip.

But then we also realized our rental car was not large enough accommodate six. My mother, wanting us to have fun for her birthday and to live vicariously through us (not wanting to zip line herself) offered for us to get a larger rental car for the day. It would be her treat, so we could all go. We made a few phone calls, got a mini-van through Avis nearby and would pick it up in the morning

Morning came. I rose early and put on the local TV news to catch up on the hurricane. While they thought it would weaken overnight they were now reporting that it had actually strengthened and was still a solid Cat 4. And it was turning towards Hawaii. Hurricane watches were now issued for the Big Island and Maui. The first thing I heard the meteorologist say was “People, this is not a drill. There’s a hurricane coming”.

I woke the family for prepping. We quickly headed across the street to the small local store and bought supplies: Water, a flashlight, some additional food, cold coffee drinks (in case we can’t make coffee we’d still get our fix!), did we have enough booze? Yes!, cash from the ATM, etc. We then checked in with the office. They told us we had 36 or so hours. That they’d give us instructions on how to hunker down if necessary or evacuation instructions. EVACUATION INSTRUCTIONS?! Say what? Basically, it was to make our way to a nearby school as a shelter in the unlikely event it might come to that. We felt prepared. At least enough to go pick up the rental and head out to the ziplines.

The Chrysler Town and Country is a bulbous piece of shit of a van, IMO. It drove terribly and sounded even worse. We loaded up and headed on our way to Jungle Ziplines in the jungle at 50 Waipio Road, but with a quick stop in the hippie/surfer town of Pa’ia first. By the time we got to Pa’ia the transmission started slipping. I couldn’t get the car (an automatic) to shift to anything but first or reverse. I pulled over and call Avis. They were great. “So sorry to hear that. You are close to the airport, do you think you can get it to our main Avis location where you can swap it out? I’ll call ahead and arrange a new car for you”. I dropped my family in Pa’ia to explore and grab lunch and I made a harrowing trip, in first gear, on a highway, near redlining, back to the airport for a swap. They had a car waiting for me and the swap took only minutes. I was really impressed with their customer service. It was a far cry from the miserable experience I had with Hertz and the Fiat 500 I rented in Portugal.

Back on the road, I found my family waiting for me at Flatbread Company in Pa’ia with a fresh flatbed just delivered. It was delicious. We ate up and headed towards the ziplines for a fun-filled day of zipping in the rain.

After successfully zipping our way through 7 courses of jungle foliage in the rain, we set back out for Kihei, but first, we made a quick stop at the Ho’okipa Beach lookout to watch the surfers, boogie-boarders, kite-surfers, and windsurfers taking advantage of the rising swell preceding Hurricane Lane.

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When we got back to Kehei we took advantage of the increasing wind and surf ourselves with a little boogie boarding, body surfing, and skimboarding before dinner.

As we prepared dinner we learned that Hurrican Lane had grown to a Category 5. Tomorrow we’d spend more time preparing for a potential hit or a close call. Either way, we are going to see some storm.

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How to have a perfect day on Maui

We’ve returned to Hale Pau Hana, a favorite spot of ours on Maui, to celebrate my mother’s 75th birthday.

This is a special place for us. We’ve been coming here on and off for the past 40 years. Hale Pau Hana is uniquely placed in Kehei between Kamaole Beach I and Kamaole Beach II. It is one of the few condos in Kihei located on the beach side of busy South Kihei Road. It has everything you want and nothing you don’t. Small enough to feel exclusive, yet remaining unpretentious. Great snorkeling (with turtles and rays) and boogie boarding right out front on a beach of fine Maui sand. But offering enough shade for extended periods of book reading under a palm of your choice, with a nearby pool to cool off in if the drier side of Maui gets too hot (and it is HOT today – over 90º with 82% humidity). There are many stores (grocery and liquor), shops, restaurants and food trucks, and shave ice all across the street. Everything you want and nothing you don’t.

We have this Hale Pau Hana thing down pat and today we followed our typical agenda for a perfect day in Maui.  We started with breakfast on the lanai with Maui Lovebirds and a sunrise over Haleakala before heading to the beach for some morning snorkeling.

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Sunrise over Haleakala

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Sunrise and calm surf on Kamaole Beach II

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Papaya and Avocado

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Breakfast w/Lovebirds

We had a lazy mid-morning sunning ourselves, cooling ourselves in the ocean, reading books, trying out a skim board, and following a turtle that came close to shore.

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For lunch, we walked to Kinaole, a nearby food truck, for chicken katsu, pulled pork sliders, and some coconut shrimp before hitting Beach Street, a local shave ice shack, for dessert.

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Kinaole food truck near Kamaole I

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So much awesome!

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Waiting for our food order

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Chicken katsu and pulled pork sliders

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Tawny’s Shave Ice: Ice cream on the bottom, 1/2 tigers blood 1/2 lilikoi with “snow cap” (sweetened condensed milk)

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My shave ice: Pineapple, Li Hing Mui with Ice Cream, Azuki Beans, Haupia and Lihing Mui Powder

Our afternoon started with Tawny’s preparing her most excellent Mai Tais while I made mango gazpacho for dinner.

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Strong Mai Tais

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Mango gazpacho

My sister and her kids arrived in the late afternoon and we all swam until the Portuguese Man-o-War announcement drove us all from the water. We saw a few dead ones on the beach and thought better about returning to the waves until the winds shift in a day or two.

We had dinner on the lanai at sunset and tried to keep cool as the trade winds subsided with the sun.

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Our evening entertainment was a praying mantis that came to visit our lanai.

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