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  • C Bracknell

Seattle and the Hawaii Islands June 9-25, 2017

Cihuly Glass Seatle

Our ship anchored at Kona

The day started early. We were awake before the set alarm of 5:30, got up at 5:15 and were on the way down the driveway after a quick breakfast heading to Charlotte about two and a half hours away. Miss Kitty got a can of food for breakfast and probably figured out we were off again on another extended absence since she normally only gets dry food in the morning.

There was an accident on I-77 at exit 2 just before the North Carolina state line, but it had been moved off the road and there was no slow up. The widening of I-77 project south of Mooresville did slow us up for about five miles.

I had stopped just before that and got a senior coffee for twenty-five cents and two apple pies for a dollar. Unfortunately, the person at the drive-thru did not put in the one sugar and two creams as I had requested. It was still pretty good black.

We parked the car in a lot across I-85 from the airport. It was a little less expensive than the airport satellite lot. As it turned out, I was able to park next to the covered parking (which was an extra charge). There was enough overhang that the car was just about completely covered and would be in the shade most of the day.

We had printed out our boarding passes at home, but our printer was not completely printing clearly so we had a suspicion that it might not scan. Sure enough, when we got to the check-in point just before the security screening area, the attendant said our boarding pass would not scan. We had to get out of line and go to a kiosk to get another one printed. Fortunately, there was an agent there that helped us by punching our reservation number and getting us both new printed passes for the flight to Chicago and one each to Seattle. After the security screening, we settled in for our hour and a half wait for boarding. There was a Bojangles not far from our gate, so Rhonda and I split a smoked sausage biscuit and a large ice tea.

The boarding began around eleven. They made an announcement that if anyone wanted to check their carry-on bag through to their final destination, they could courtesy of the airline because the flight was full and they needed overhead bin space. We chose to do so and didn't have to handle it again in Chicago. The flight was 2 hours and 10 minutes.

In Chicago, we had lunch at a food court while waiting for the connection to Seattle. That flight was delayed twenty minutes; changing our arrival time from 4:17 pdst to 4:50 pm. The flight time to Seattle was 5 hrs and 25 minutes. When we purchased the tickets, on the leg to Seattle we could not get seats next to each other (one was behind the other). When we got to our seats a man was sitting in mine with his family. He ask if it was ok that we switched. Since his assigned seat was next to Rhonda, it worked out perfectly.

There was cloud cover for about half the distance. I figured that we were somewhere over the Black Hills of South Dakota when I was finally able to see the ground. There was a trace of snow on some of the higher peaks in the Rockies and in the Bitterroot range in Idaho. The snowiest mountains were the Cascades in Washington a little before we began the descent into the SeaTac airport.

After claiming our baggage, we took the shuttle bus to the car rental complex, picked up the rental car and headed toward our hotel, the Sleep Inn. Before checking in, we stopped at a Saveway grocery and got chicken, mac and cheese and a salad from their deli.

The next morning we were up before 6 am and had a good complimentary breakfast of waffles, sausage, eggs, fried potatoes, fruit, coffee and a sweet roll. That is one of the nice amenities that Sleep Inn provides.

Afterward, we headed up I-5 through Seattle and up to Lake Forest Park north of town to meet someone for a bike rental delivery to be made at 9:30. The traffic was very thick and slow all the way through town. I can see why some might prefer the light rail. It is good we started as early as we did.

When we got to the rendezvous, I called the rental company (Bikes Anywhere) to tell them I had arrived at the designated location, but I got no answer and had to leave a message. A young woman called back a short time later and said that there had been a foul up about the delivery and she could not get there until 10:40 and had to deliver it by bus. Even though I had emailed the owner back and forth, he had not conveyed the information to his employee. He had even let someone borrow the vehicle that was supposed to be used to make the delivery.

After she arrived and I paid her, I was on the way to ride the twenty mile Burke-Gilman Trail. The rendezvous point was about four miles from the end so I had to go north four miles and then back track, making the entire trip twenty-four miles.

To make matters worse, I left my phone back in the room at the hotel, so Rhonda and I could not communicate once we were separated. The other end of the trail was at Golden Garden Park on Shilshole Bay of Puget Sound. I rode steady for about two hours, stopping only to take pictures, drink water and eat a snack. It was a great trail along Lake Washington, by the University of Washington campus, through Lake Forest Park and the neighborhoods of Kenmore, Fremont, and Ballard. The trail was heavily used by older folks like me. We have learned to take our GPS with us when we travel, even when using rental cars.

At Golden Gardens Park, I met up with Rhonda. She had bought a twin pack chicken salad croissant and saved one for me. I locked the rental bike to a bike rack off the beach near a concession stand as per instructions from the young woman I had talked to earlier.

We drove downtown to a McDonald's near the Space Needle and got a ice cream cone. It was where we were planning to return to the next day. Highway 99 was the main expressway along the bay and downtown, but again the traffic was slow until we got out beyond the downtown area and beyond the Seahawks and Mariner's stadiums. South of the airport, we turned east and then south again and were back at our hotel by 4:30. If we had not lost the hour and ten minutes waiting for the bike, we may have had time to make a stop down town, but of course there is always the issue of parking in big cities.

We ate supper at a Dennys up the street a mile or so. It was a very good meal and the quantity was abundant. We stopped at the Ramada and made reservations for the 24th and 25 when we returned. The Sleep Inn jacked up their rates – maybe for the Memorial Day weekend.

Thursday we had planned to drive over to Olympia National Park, but the forecast was for rain pretty much all day, so we drove a little over a mile to the Angle Lake transit station (end of the line south) for the light rail. Parking was free and we paid only two dollars each for a round trip tickets to downtown Seattle which as about a 14 mile trip. The downtown stop was called West Lake. After disembarking from the train, we went up a couple of levels to the street and walked to the monorail that took us to the old world's fair park (1962), We bought tickets for the Space Needle and the Chihully Glass Exhibit. We got a pretty good deal because we are geezers.

At the top of the Space Needle, we took pictures of the overcast views and I bought a cup of Starbucks coffee to commemorate the occasion. It don't get much more Seattle than that. Even though it was cloudy and later it rained, it provided spectacular 360 degree views of Seattle. I took a number of pictures before we went next door to the Chihuly Glass exhibit.

Chihuly began experimenting with glassblowing in 1965, and in 1966 he received a full scholarship to attend the University of Wisconsin–Madison. He studied under Harvey Littleton, who had established the first glass program in the United States at the university. In 1967, Chihuly received a Master of Science degree in sculpture. After graduating, he enrolled at the Rhode Island School of Design, where he met and became close friends with Italo Scanga. Chihuly earned a Master of Fine Arts degree in sculpture from the RISD in 1968. That same year, he was awarded a Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation grant for his work in glass, as well as a Fulbright Fellowship. He traveled to Venice to work at the Venini factory on the island of Murano, where he first saw the team approach to blowing glass. After returning to the United States, Chihuly spent the first of four consecutive summers teaching at the Haystack Mountain School of Crafts in Deer Isle, Maine. In 1969, he traveled to Europe, in part to meet Erwin Eisch in Germany and Stanislav Libenský and Jaroslava Brychtová in Czechoslovakia.

In 1971, with the support of John Hauberg and Anne Gould Hauberg, Chihuly cofounded the Pilchuck Glass School near Stanwood, Washington. Chihuly also founded the HillTop Artists program in Tacoma, Washington at Jason Lee Middle School and Wilson High School.

In 1976, while Chihuly was in England, he was involved in a head-on car accident during which he flew through the windshield. His face was severely cut by glass and he was blinded in his left eye. After recovering, he continued to blow glass until he dislocated his right shoulder in a 1979 bodysurfing accident. No longer able to hold the glass blowing pipe, he hired others to do the work. Chihuly explained the change in a 2006 interview, saying "Once I stepped back, I liked the view," and pointed out that it allowed him to see the work from more perspectives and enabled him to anticipate problems faster. Chihuly describes his role as "more choreographer than dancer, more supervisor than participant, more director than actor." San Diego Union-Tribune reporter Erin Glass wrote that she "wonders at the vision of not just the artist Chihuly, but the wildly successful entrepreneur Chihuly, whose estimated sales by 2004 was reported by The Seattle Times as $29 million." Chihuly and his team of artists were the subjects of the documentary Chihuly Over Venice. They were also featured in the documentary Chihuly in the Hotshop, syndicated to public television stations by American Public Television starting on November 1, 2008.

We spent a lot of time admiring the beautiful glass creations. We had seen our first exhibit in Columbus, Ohio at a conservatory in Franklin Park in 2012 and a smaller exhibit last year in Graham, NC of all places. His art is really something to behold.

It was raining most of the time that we were in the exhibit hall. There were some pieces outside in the gardens on the south side of the gallery. They were too beautiful not to photograph, rain or no rain. I went out long enough to capture some pictures and videos. There was a glass blowing exhibition scheduled outside, but was postponed due to the rain.

The rain had slacked off by the time we were ready to go to the food court for lunch. The food court was huge with close to a dozen food type choices. There were several that you normally don't see, such as meat pies, barbecue, and kabobs. We got the barbecue, but weren't impressed and wished we had tried the meat pies.

After eating, we got back on the monorail to West Lake Plaza to look for a place to buy a cheap waterproof watch. I had recently replaced the battery in the watch I had and opening up the back must have caused it to no longer to be water resistant. There had been moisture on the inside of the lens for a few weeks, but it finally quit.

The first place we went in was Bartell Drug on the corner of Olive Way and 5th Avenue. It appeared to have been there for some time because of the age of the sign. As soon as we entered, we discovered they were having a sample giveaway event. We first got a small bag of white cheddar popcorn and further along some chocolate covered nuts of various kinds, flavored water, caramel/chocolate fudge and a few other things we didn't try.

Our other planned destination was Pike's Market on the waterfront three blocks away, It is a major landmark of Seattle (a must see). We had been there before when we were in Seattle in 2008 on the way to an Alaskan cruise of the Inside Passage. It is always a most interesting exploit. The variety of seafood is amazing. The amount fruits, flowers, vegetables and crafts abound. There is always the fish throwing that they are famous for. To add to the experience, there are street musicians and entertainers also.

On our return trip to West Lake Center, we came upon a Target. Even though it was against my principles and the boycott of the establishment for their position on transgender perverts, I really needed a cheap watch. I had two working watches at home, but that didn't do me any good. With all we were going to have to do on a schedule, it was imperative that I know the time. I found a Casio for under $20 that fit the bill.

Back at the transit stop, we boarded the train back to Seatac. We found it odd that no one ever asked for our ticket. While we were riding, a young Vietnamese man (maybe 18) asked me for my cap. I was wearing my Vietnam Veteran cap and he wanted to see it, not to have it. His English was surprisingly good. He said he was from Saigon. I said don't you mean Ho Chi Minh City and he responded by saying he did not like Communism and the way they ran the country. He was going to a small college in Seattle and had an uncle that lived there.

We picked up some microwavable lasagna from the Saveway along with some rolls for supper and bagels and cream cheese for breakfast the next morning. We had to be on the shuttle for the airport before the hotel breakfast was ready. We had fruit and salad left over from our first nights meal.

After we ate, I left Rhonda at the hotel and went to return the rental car. Our flight was at 8 am and we did not want to have the extra hassel of turning in the rental car. Our flight to Hawaii was at 8 am and we had to be at the airport at 6;15. After turning in the car, the hotel shuttle picked me up at the airport.

The next morning we were up before five and at the airport at 6 am. Rhonda had printed the boarding passes at the hotel the night before and we had repacked then also, all except our night clothes and what we would wear the next day.

The flight left to Honolulu was five and a half hours long and over 2300 miles. I worked on a crossword puzzle and watched two movies (Gold and Hacksaw Ridge). There was an toddler in her mothers lap that cried and fussed for about half way there.

We were met at the airport by the YMT representative, a native Hawaiian in a Hawaiian shirt and a skirt-like wrap called a lava lava. He gave us fresh leis made of orchids and plumaria blooms. He called for their contracted bus service and we were picked up by a full sized tour bus to take us to the hotel. Just us two and no one else. I thought it was a little costly to have that size bus to pick up two people. YMT Vacations uses Roberts Bus Service for their transportation and while we were there I saw several smaller bus-like vehicles. Maybe it was the only thing available at the time.

We were booked at the Hilton Double Tree on Ala Moana just a few blocks from the beach. The whole area was called Waikiki, but the famed beach itself was about five blocks away. This area was loaded with hotels galore and the whole area was beautifully landscaped.

After changing into shorts and a tee shirt, Rhonda and I headed out to see what was in the neighborhood. We stopped and had lunch at a Subway around the corner (it was two o’clock Seattle time). The Hawaiian island are a 6 hour time difference from the east coast. They do not have daylight saving time. Since there are at a latitude of around 21 degrees, they naturally have longer days in the summer. Key West is 24.5 degrees north.

We walked to the beach to check it out. The water looked inviting, so we returned to the hotel, rested briefly and after putting on my swim trunks, sandals and getting a beach towel, we headed back. Rhonda didn't go in but waited in the shade with the towel, my sunglasses, shorts and hat. The beach was called Kahanamoka Beach and was adjacent to Fort DeRussy Beach Park The water was very refreshing. This was the second time I had been in the Pacific ocean. The first time was in 1970 in the South China Sea off Vietnam. Afterward, we walked up the beach a ways and then returned to the hotel.

After some fine dining at McDonalds about three blocks away, we headed to the Duke Kahananoku Lagoon behind the Hilton Hawaiian Village Resort for the Friday night fireworks show that we had been told about. It was a very pleasant evening with a slight breeze and no bugs. It was a great show and drew a sizable crowd.

Saturday was our day to board our ship, The Pride of America, and we were up early as usual. We walked a couple of blocks down the street to the Ihop and split a western omelet and three pancakes. It was all very good and a great price when we are able to split meals. Our travel company briefing was at 9:15 where we were told the process to get to and start the cruise. They also presented some excursions that were available when we returned from the cruise the next Saturday. The Honolulu and Pearl Harbor tour was included in the base price of the trip. We purchased the luau for Sunday night and a tour of the north shore for Tuesday. We were then bussed to the pier at eleven o'clock. At the pier, there was the security screening and the processing by the cruise line. There were about 90 people on the YMT group.

We were finally cleared to board around 1 pm and we headed straight for the buffet. My first words as we entered the buffet dining area was “let the eating begin”. I chose medium rare sliced roast beef and some baked fish, roasted corn and carrots, herb potatoes, and I made myself a fresh salad. I had cherry cobbler with ice cream for desert.

The cabins were not ready, so we lounged on the pool deck listening to a live band playing pop music. When the announcement was made that the cabins on our floor (deck) were ready, we went down, moved our luggage into the room and unpacked. The 24 pack of bottled water we had ordered was sitting on the shelf in the room. We immediately removed some of the stock (soft drinks, beer, and wine) from the fridge and put in some water. The stocked items were available for purchase and not at a reasonable price. The cabin was a little bigger than our camper (2' wider and 3' longer) so we were quite at home and knew we would be fine for the week, since we stay in our camper in Florida for a month.

Later, back up on the pool deck, I got in the hot tub while some of the ship's entertainers provided a hula and Polynesian show and then had some audience participation. Rhonda reclined in the shade reading.

I changed back into my shorts and put on my Hawaiian shirt before we went to eat at seven. One of the meal location choices was a cookout on deck with grilled chicken, ribs, hamburgers and sausages with an number of choices of side dishes. We had to go back into the inside dining room to find a table. All the outside deck tables were taken. The ship left the harbor around 7 o'clock and we enjoyed watching the lights of Honolulu and the Waikiki Beach coming on as we cruised out to sea.

We went back to the cabin briefly before attending the entertainment in the main theater from eight to nine. There was more entertainment in other places after that but we getting tired and went back to the room.

Breakfast at 6:30 was bountiful with a variety of fruits, cereals, breads, pastries, omelets, fried potatoes, plain eggs and eggs with ingredients, waffles, French toast, juices, milk, coffee, tea, hot chocolate. (this is not a comprehensive list). As I finished eating, I made peanut butter and jelly and ham and cheese sandwiches, bagged some raisins, dried cranberries, apricots, and nuts and a picked up a banana and an apple to take with us on our biking excursion.

Earlier the ship had docked at Kahului on the island of Maui. We met the excursion leader out in the parking lot of the dock and we were taken to his facility to pick up the bikes, helmets, and rain jackets. We then headed out and up the road to the dormant volcano Haleakala. We started at 6500 feet and rode about 16 miles down hill with little or no pedaling. The brakes were specially equipped with heavy duty rims and brakes. There was a light rain falling for the first few miles or so. Fortunately, we dried out pretty much by the end of the ride. I was a little disappointed that we didn't actually go into the park and see the actual old crater. It was something about the park stopping the tour companies from starting in the park because of a former liability suit.

We were dropped off back at the ship and we spent most of the afternoon being lazy. We took a short nap. It was apparent that we had not been getting all the sleep we would normally get with the schedule and the time changes.

I saw our stewardess in the hall and asked where I might get a pencil sharpened. I had checked at the library earlier and at the gift shop without any success. I had brought two pencils to work on crossword puzzles and to write in my journal each day, but the lead was getting blunt and near the end. She said that she did not know of any place on the ship where there was a pencil sharpener.

After supper, we went back to see the illusionist and the Polynesian show. The magician's act was all close slight of hand tricks with cards and everyday items. The Polynesian show displayed the various ceremonial dances of the various islands which included Hawaii, Samoa, Tahiti, New Zealand and Tonga. It was very colorful and high energy. Before the show, there was a comedic and informative presentation on the uses of the coconut tree and the coconut.

Monday morning, I was off to a snorkel excursion that went to Molokoni Crater and Turtle Reef from Maalaea Harbor. The twin hull boat had about 80 or 90 on board including the crew. We went eight miles from shore. The tour was operated by the Pacific Whale Foundation, a non-profit ecological organization. They provided a continental breakfast and a pretty good. Those of us from the cruise ship really didn't need the the breakfast.

The water was very blue when viewed from the surface, but crystal clear as drinking water when snorkeling. It was described as a top snorkeling spot, but the variety of fish and coral was nowhere near as good as it was in Little Lamshure Bay on St. Johns in the Virgin Islands. We moved to a second site out from Makena Beach where there were sea turtles. I was snorkeling for about 15 minutes before I finally saw a turtles come out of one of the lava caves about 20 feet down.

I had passed on their breakfast, but I was ready for lunch. They had grilled hamburgers, hot dogs and chicken and plenty of fixings and several side dishes. We got back in port at 2 pm and the bus stopped at the gift shop before arriving back at the ship at 3 pm.

While I was snorkeling, Rhonda decided to walk into town. "Usually, the area around the ship dock is a mix of souvenir shops and food, but here I walked from the chain-link fenced walkway directly out on a city street sidewalk. Across the street was a Fresh Market grocery store and a large Long's Drugs. Several blocks up was my kind of mall with a Ben Franklin Crafts store and a used book shop. The craft store was stocked for the graduation season with materials for making every sort of lei. After considering the available space in my suitcase, I settled on a booklet of lei patterns and two small skeins of lei yarn, wishing I had room for bolts of ribbon and kukui nuts too".

For dinner, we decided to dress up a bit and go to the nice complimentary restaurant on board. We were seated with a family from Veronia, Oregon. One of the daughters was a contract nurse and had taken a six month contract in Honolulu. Her mother, father and younger sister had come out to visit and they were crusing together. The parents thought it was interesting that we knew where Veronia was and had been there. We were there in 2008 when I rode the Banks-Veronia rail trail after we returned from our Alaskan cruise. We had a nice time making small talk while we waited to be served and while we ate.

I ordered a New York strip steak with fries, a Caesar salad and a seafood bouillon soup. Rhonda had ceveechi, a fish and crab cake and sweet potatoes. I had kiwi sherbet for dessert. The menu always had items on it that I had to ask Rhonda what it was. She reads enough cookbooks and watches cooking shows that she is quite knowledgeable of the unusual items listed on fancy menus. I believe she would do well on that category if they had it on Jeopardy.

We went to the piano bar afterward and listened to a musican\singer for a while before going to the cabin. I was a little tired from the snorkeling trip and walking around the ship. When we got back to the cabin we found it all tidy and on the desk there was a pencil sharperner in its packaging with a note for me to “stay sharp” and signed “Jilly” (our stewardess).

The next morning after breakfast, we went out on deck as the ship was docking in Hilo, Hawaii,.(the big island). Hilo situated on the east coast of the island. It is the most populated town of the island (pop. 38,000), the county seat, and the oldest port of entry. It gets more rainfall than any city in the US. (slightly more than Seattle). It was overcast with some small patches of blue sky and there was partial rainbow

We had an excursion booked for a bike ride around part of the rim of the Kilauea Volcano in Volcanos National Park, the home of three volcanos. It is one of the most active volcano in the world since it has putting out lava, smoke and steam since 1983. Mauna Kea is world's tallest volcano.

The van stopped first at the crater and the Jagger Museum and gift shop area. While there, a group of school children came up and before entering the museum, stopped and sang a chant in Hawaiian to the volcano. We then moved to an adjacent parking lot to unload the bikes. As we started out, it began to sprinkle and then rain lightly, We stopped at several places to look and learn interesting facts about the volcano. We had drinks and snacks along the way and at the end some fresh pineapple. Again, we were glad when had made our own lunch from the ship. It is a good thing I had brought a sandwich from the ship. Near the end, we left the bikes in the parking lot and took side trip to a lava tube, named Nahuku.

I had bought a flashlight at the gift shop to use on the lava tube walk-through. It normally was lit, but a heavy rain storm had flooded the floor of the tube and cause the electrical wiring to short and there was no lighting at that time. The tube, about 1600 feet long, is estimated to have formed about 500 years ago. It actually had been longer but a portion had collapsed. Rhonda chose not to go in.

We stopped at the Big Island Candy Company on the way back. You can watch the candy being made and packaged. They sell milk and dark chocolate candy, brownies, and Kona coffee. They gave us small samples as we came in the door.

That evening, we ate in the fancy dining room again. At our table were a mother and daughter from Tasmania, Australia, and two retired school teachers from Atlanta. I had broccoli cheese soup another great salad for a starter, followed by shrimp and red snapper and mashed potatoes. Service had been a little slow, so we decided to go to the buffet dining area to get dessert.

We left there and went to an oldies dance party. We didn't dance, but the band played some great tunes and some pretty old geezers were shaking a leg.

The magic show was after that downstairs in the big theater. I went down to check it out and Rhonda went back to the cabin. I did not stay for the whole show even though the performer was pretty good, the presentation lacked something. His credits said he had played Ceasar's Palace in Las Vegas and around the world, but I have seen better on America's Got Talent.

At 9:45, the ship passed the lava flow from Kilaewa. The ship stopped and turned off the deck lights on the three open decks for a better view. You could see the red and redish-orange glow flowing down the slope and where it ran into the sea. The lava flows from a crack in the volcano's side (Puu Oo vent on the east rift zone of the volcano) rather than out of the caldera or top. It has added 491 acres of new land to the island of Hawaii since 1994.

The next morning, Wednesday, we were in the bay out of Kona on the coast of Hawaii. The harbor was not deep enough for the large ships, so we had to be tendered to the dock. The tenders held over 100 people and they were using three tenders. The ship stored the tenders on board like the lifeboats and would be used as a life boat if the occasion should arise.

We walked around the main street along the shore and browsed the shops. Someone told about a farmer's/craft market. There were some local fruits and vegetables along with hand made souvenirs, but a lot was just manufactured tourist things. We stopped by a yarn and quilt shop and picked up some more cash from an ATM machine at a bank.

Under a large banyan tree down by the docks, we ate our lunch we had brought from the ship, then we took a two hour trolley ride all around town for only two dollars each. Before boarding the ship, we stopped for shaved ice. It is a very popular treat all around the islands. We had ours in two flavors; lemonade and papaya. It is somewhat like a snow cone, but the ice is finer.

Thursday was our kayak and waterfall hike excursion on the island of Kaua'i. We had docked at the port of Nawilliwilli with Lihau being the significant town adjacent to the port. Kania is the northern most island and is considered the oldest island of the Hawaiian chain. It is called the “garden island” because the vegetation is lush with many flowers, trees, vines and other plant life. A number of movie scenes were filmed here such as South Pacific, MASH, Jurassic Park, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Six days and Seven nights, King Kong, Donovan’s Reef, Tropic Thunder and Soul Surfer, two Elvis movies and several others.

The excursion began only a short distance from town on the Huleiu River. There were six couples in our group. We paddled up-river to a takeout where the river got too narrow and shallow to paddle. We walked through a wildlife refuge and then shuttled over to property leased to the outfitter company. On the hike the guide climbed up a coconut tree and cut a fresh coconut. Later, he cut the top off and allowed everyone to have a drink of the water. He also scraped out some meat for us to taste. It was fresh to say the least.

From the outfitter camp, we hiked down a trail to another stream and to two waterfalls through jungle-like surrounding. The tallest falls was about thirty to forty feet tall. I waded out up to my waist in the pool in front of the falls, but several folks stood under the falls for a cooling off and a photo opportunity. When we returned to the start, lunch was served consisting of sandwiches, fruit and canned fruit drinks or water.

After we returned to the dock, we freshened up and caught a trolley to the beach and shops not too far away. We also caught a trolley into town to pick up some less expensive souvenirs. The Walmart had a section specifically for tourist souvenirs. They also had an extensive selection of materials to make your own leis from ribbon or candy. They also had a refrigerated case with containers of fresh traditional leis of plumera and orchids. These were priced from $7.88 to $19.99 depending on how fancy they were.

There were ferel chickens strutting around the parking lots and streets of town looking for handouts. The guide on the kayak trip told us that along ago in the past, Polynesians brought chickens when they came and settled in the islands. During storms, the pens or cages would be damages and the chickens would get out and roam in the wild. They are so populated on the island that some of the souvenirs have a symbol of the chicken (also turtles, the plumaria, hibiscus and the lei).

That evening we ate in the dining room again. It was not as busy as the previous evening because a large number of people had gone to a luau on the island. I had broccoli cheese soup and baked chicken with mashed potatoes (more than I could eat) and Rhonda had prime rib with a crab/fish cake as an appetizer. We went down to the buffet restaurant again to have dessert. The main entree serving table had a full roasted suckling pig. It was quite impressive. It was surrounded by artfully carved fruits and vegetables strictly for decoration.

Friday was our day to head back to Honolulu. I woke up thinking it would be a good day to get some photos printed, so we could share them as soon as we got back. I did not want to go to Wytheville on Saturday because we would need unpacking and recovery time and I had to prepare to lead a Sunday School lesson on Sunday morning.

We left the ship and took the shuttle bus over to a shopping center that had a Longs (bought out by CVS). I printed about a dozen pictures; some from Seattle and some from Hawaii.

We got back in time for the cookout on the deck by the pool. There were hamburgers, hot dogs, grilled chicken, grilled sausages in a pasta and sauce concoction, roasted corn on the cob, and lots of other sides and accessories. We spent the afternoon lounging on the deck and digesting.

The ship left the dock around five o'clock and headed north up the Na Pali coast. There were spectacular views of the mountains that came right down to the water. The ship's Hawaiian ambasador narrated as we cruised along. When we reached the end of the island, the ship turned around and headed back south toward O'ahu.

The narrator pointed out the island of Ni'ihau in the distance and told us it was nicked named the “forbidden island”. Elizabeth Sinclair purchased Niʻihau in 1864 for $10,000 from the Kingdom of Hawaii and private ownership passed on to her descendants, the Robinson family. During World War II, the island was the site of the Niʻihau Incident: A Japanese navy fighter pilot crashed on the island and terrorized its residents for a week after the attack on Pearl Harbor.

The people of Niʻihau are known for their gemlike lei pūpū (shell lei) craftsmanship, and speak Hawaiian as a primary language. The island is generally off-limits to all but relatives of the island's owners, U.S. Navy personnel, government officials and invited guests, giving it the nickname "The Forbidden Isle." Beginning in 1987, a limited number of supervised activity tours and hunting safaris have opened to tourists. The island is currently managed by brothers Bruce Robinson and Keith Robinson.

The main entertainment for the evening was Toby Beau, a singer and guitarist that had a one hit wonder back in the sixties. He has toured with the Doobie Brothers Bob Seger, and the Steve Miller Band. He and his wife have been performing together for 40 years. He was a very good musician. He played a number of tunes done by well know guitar players. He finished with a tribute to the Eagles and did a historical and musical tribuite along with it.

Saturday morning we docked in Honolulu around 7 am and met our tour staff at the busses with our luggage around 9:30 am. We had an excellent bus driver/guide who gave us a guided tour of downtown Honolulu and Pearl Harbor. We began with a visit to Chinatown, then to the old palaces of King Kamehameha the V. One is a museum and the other is the State Court of Appeals and Supreme Court of Hawaii. Camera shots of both have been used by the old and new Hawaii 5-0 tv shows to indicate their headquarters. We then went by the state capitol building, city hall, several original churches and the offices of Dog the Bounty hunter.

Before going to Pearl Harbor, we drove through the National Punchbowl Cemetery of the Pacific which is actually in an extinct volcano. There are over 53,000 soldiers interred there. Most now are cremated for above ground placement. The school children of Honolulu make leis to be placed on the grave markers by boy scouts and girl scouts on Memorial Day along with the flags installed by the cemetery staff.

We were at Pearl Harbor for over two hours. The theater presentation and the trip to the Arizona lasted almost an hour. We ate an expensive hot dog for lunch and took our time in the museum reading the history of the attack. When we returned to the hotel, our luggage was already in our room. Our group took up about fifty rooms. We were on the 8th floor this time and on the 6th floor the first time.

Early Sunday morning, we walked three blocks to McDonald's to try their unique to Hawaii breakfast. It was a plate with Spam, Portugese sausage, rice, and eggs. You could also get it with just one of the meats, if so desired. After World War II, there was a large military presence in Hawaii. The government needed to feed a lot of soldiers everyday, but it was extremely difficult to get fresh meat out to Hawaii. So, the soldiers ended up being fed a lot of SPAM, which is cheap and non-perishable (SPAM is canned and has a shelf-life of approximately a bazillion years). So much SPAM was shipped to Hawaii that many cans ended up being sold in stores to locals. What made it so popular though? At the time, Hawaii had a huge population of Chinese, Japanese, and Filipino migrant workers, all of whom had various methods of incorporating SPAM meat into their own cultural dishes. The resulting SPAM dishes were so good that the popularity of SPAM exploded in Hawaii

We returned to the room and changed into our swim suits and put our shorts and tops back on. We walked about ten blocks to the main part of Waikiki Beach. It was rather crowded so after taking a few pictures of the beach and the surfers, we decided to go back down to the beach closer to our hotel.

We stopped about halfway because there were tables and benches to put our stuff. The water was just about right temperature-wise, but the bottom was rocky. We moved further along and found a better spot. After I stayed in a bit, Rhonda finally took a refreshing dip.

We came upon a beach church service and stopped for the music and the speaker. It was a ministry of the Waikiki Beach Chaplancy and was located adjacent to the Hilton Hawaiian Village. I gave a donation and picked up a dozen tokens that had John 3:16 in English on one side and Hawaiian on the other.

At 4 o'clock, we met the tour bus for our transportation to the luau. It was a scenic ride once we got outside the city. We were east of Honolulu out near Makapu'u Point skirting the Kaiwi Channel between O'ahu and Hawaii. The bus driver said it was a very treterous waterway for about 25 miles.

The show was called the Chief's Luau. There was more that 500 attending the luau. The food was good and plentiful. The Polynesian style entertainment was excellent. We left around eight o'clock and got back to the hotel by 9.

Monday, morning we were up and out before 7am headed for Diamond Head Crater, the iconic symbol of Honolulu. It wasn't originally on our iteneray, but I heard from someone that there was a state park there and a trail to the top. We stopped at the convenience store and got a ham and egg salad sandwich and a banana and ate it while waiting for the bus. We researched the bus schedule and discovered that we could ride for a dollar each when we showed our Medicare card. It was a fifteen minute ride on the #2 bus. It stopped at a community college across the street from the park entrance. We immediately began an uphill walk to the entrance tunnel that went through the rim to inside of the crater. It was a vehicle and pedestrian tunnel that was barely wide enough when pedestrians were going both ways. About a 100 yards after exiting the tunnel, we came to the park entrance booth where we paid a dollar entrance fee. From there we began an uphill climb to the eastern side of the interior rim (the park entrance booth, gift shop, and restrooms were located in the center of the volcano crater).

The trail goes to the highest point where the early 20th century bunkers were located. These bunkers were observation positions or fire control station for artillery batteries Harlow, Randolf and Dudley down along the beach at Fort Derussy. The US government bought Diamond Head which encompassed 740 acres in 1905, The trail started out as a sidewalk, but soon changed to roughly poured concrete and rock path. It switch-backed up to near the top of the rim where it changed to about 70 steps that led into a tunnel ascending through the rim wall and exiting on an inclined path to a metal staircase that made the final ascent to the bunkers and observation platform. The bunkers had a spiral staircase inside to provide access back down to where the trail went back into the tunnel. There were quite a few tourist at the top and coming up and going down. A good many of them appeared to be Japanese. The Hawaii Islands are a very popular vacation location for the Japanese.

On our return trip we got off the bus near the Waikiki post office and picked up a cardboard mailing container to mail some of our souvenirs home. Our suitcases were bulging on our way to Hawaii there was little room for much else.

After lunch, we carried the packed box back to the post office and made one last trip to the beach. On the way, we stopped by the Hawaiian military museum in the Fort Derussy Park but discovered it was closed on Monday.

Tuesday, our last day in Hawaii, started at 6 o'clock. We were scheduled to meet the tour bus at 6:45 and our bags had to be packed and ready to be picked up from the room while we were out touring more of the island.

The bus tour was listed as O'ahu North Shore. The driver gave an excellent narration all throughout the trip.Our first stop was the Hualoa Ranch where we had a breakfast sandwich and beverages. Kualoa Ranch is a beautifully scenic property on Oahu’s windward side. An impressive list of movies and TV shows have been filmed in this scenic area. The majestic cliffs and spires of the Kualoa Mountains, the lush greenery of the Ka’a'awa Valley, the ancient fishponds on the south side of the property, the quintessential view of Chinaman’s Hat (Mokolo’i Island) provide a scenic backdrop for a day of fun and adventure. Kualoa Ranch is not just a working cattle ranch; it is an “activity club” offering a fun-filled day during your vacation. As we continued on we went by three of the major championship surfing beaches (Sunset, Banzai Pipeline, and Waimea), the town of Wiamea, the site of the radar installation that detected the Japanese invasion but was told to ignore it, the Dole pineapple plantation, Scofield Barracks and Wheeler Field.

We had lunch at the plantation consisting of pineapple pork rib sandwich and a pineapple chili dog. The lady at the register saw my Vietnam Vet hat and gave me a twenty percent discount. Before we departed, we walked around the grounds behind the gift shop. They had a display garden of the different varieties of pineapple, a pineapple maze, and a small train ride that took you out back in the fields amoung a number of activities.

We lounged at the hotel lobby and the pool patio area after the bus tour since we had been checked out of our room. After a bit, we decided to walk several blocks to the Hawaii Army Museum at Fort DeRussy. It was very well done and informative. It was housed in the Randolph artillery battery building built prior to World War I. If we thought of it sooner, I would like to have spent more time reading the information with the exhibits.

We were scheduled to be the last ones to be shuttled to the airport. To save them a trip, we volunteered to go with the group ahead of us and wait longer at the airport. We had about 20 on the bus. We had a prescreen classification so we got through the process very quickly.

It took us a little while to find the Delta gate at which we were to fly out. Since we were well ahead of the check in time, we had to wait for the gate number to be posted. We ate a hamburger at the Burger King in the airport and then went to the waiting area. I worked crossword puzzles and wrote in my journal and Rhonda read and played games on her tablet.

The flight was over five and half hours long. We boarded just before ten. I tried to nap but due to the cramped space my hips, knees and one ankle was aching painfully and there was not much room to change position. I even took an Advil, but it did not help much. I may have gotten a nap here and there, but I way very uncomfortable the entire trip (not so going out). Maybe it was all the previous week's activity. In the future, I am going to be reluctant to take a flight over three hours without a break, an isle seat, or going first class.

We got to the hotel in Seatac (Seattle) at about 7:45 PDST and had breakfast while waiting for a room to be cleaned (actual check in time was posted to be 2 pm). Thank goodness they didn't abide by that.

We were finally given a room around 8:30. We both showered and laid down to be regenerated. We got about three hours of sleep, before venturing out. We didn't want to go all the way downtown with just a half a day left. We called a shuttle to go to a large mall not far away, but after two tries of it failing to show up we gave up. For supper, we walked several blocks to the Denny's we had eaten at before. We liked the menu selections and the quanity of food; even on the senior plates.

Thursday morning we were on the transit train by 9 am on the way downtown. The airport transit station was three blocks from our hotel. We waited for the morning work folks to mostly clear. Our disembark point was Pioneer Square. It was the original old Seattle rebuilt after the 1889 fire. It was the prominent point for the Klondike Gold rush of 1897.

We walked the streets of the area, visited a few shops and stopped at the National Park's Klondike Gold Rush exhibit. We visited a glassblowing shop with very beautiful and affordable glass related items. We had a very good lunch at sort of fast food style Mexican resturant called Del Mar.

From there we walked along the waterfront, stopping for pictures as we made our way to Pike's Market. Even though we had been there twice before, there was plenty to see. We didn't realize that there were three floors of shops. The number and variety of stores were amazing. I never get tired of seeing the vass amount and variety of seafood and vegetables. You never know what kind of street entertainer you will encounter. We even saw a living statute made up as a southern belle with all her visible skin and clothing covered in silver or gray paint. She was standing completely still, but would occasionally change poses. We had seen one (a black male) in New Orleans in 2012. He posed with me and also with Rhonda.

When we felt we had walked enough, we made our way back to the underground station for the “Link” train at West Lake Plaza where we had been back on the 11th of June. The transit fare enforcement officers were on the train and checking passes. We had made three trips previously and had not been checked or even seen the enforcement officers. Someone told us they just make random checks, but there is a big penalty if you do not have a pass. The transit line is such a bargain for seniors. It is only $2.00 for a daily pass.

We rested in the room until supper and decided to eat at the small hotel restaurant where we had breakfast. We shared a big bowl of three meat fried rice along with calimari as an appetizer.

Our flight to Charlotte was a non-stop flight that left Seattle at 11 and arrived in Charlotte a little after 7 pm. I wasn't as uncomfortable as I was from Honolulu to Seattle, but still it would been nice to have had more space and an isle seat. I did get up and walk back to the restroom one time. With an isle seat I would have made the trip at least a couple of times. There is also seats at the wing where the emergency exit doors are located that have lots of room. I believe they cost more that reqular business or economy class. Of course there is always “first class”.

After getting our luggage, taking a shuttle to the parking facility, picking up our car and stopping for something to eat, we made it home by 10:30. It goes without saying but I am still going to say it -”It was a wonderful trip”.

Miles Traveled:

By plane

Charlotte to Chicago to Seattle to Honolulu 5554 miles

Total 9971 miles

By Ship

Honolulu to Kahului to Hilo to Kona to Nawiliwili to Honolulu - 675 miles


Seatac to Seattle x 4 – 58 miles

Bus (tour, trolleys, excursion shuttles and city)

Airport to hotel, Hotel to downtown, National Cemetery & Pearl Harbor, Hotel to Luau, Hotel to Northshore tour 100+ miles?

Hotel to Airport

Bicycle 48 (24 Rhonda) miles

Walking (a lot)

Car 71+ 282= 353 miles

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