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Sometimes a little rain must fall on the journey

Another lazy start to the day as we only had abut 100 miles to travel. The day was overcast and sputtering rain. We took our waiter’s recommendation and headed to Presque Isle for our first stop. The fall colors were a little more vibrant, but still not quite their full display. Presque Isle is a Pennsylvania state park, and a beautiful stretch of land. We watched a large group of school students walking through the park, and many runners, walkers and cyclists. There were incredible views every way you looked, and hard to take pictures to capture it all.

Of course we found the lighthouse!

We set the GPS to “Avoid Highways” again today and had a beautiful drive through northeastern Ohio, catching the occasional glimpse of Lake Erie. We drove through the Cleveland suburb of Gates Mills and saw 2 does standing quietly on the side of the road. Unfortunately, we didn’t get a picture, and we didn’t see any others. We skirted downtown, and I realized why there were no downtown hotels available as we watched Clevelan Indians fans heading toward the stadium.

We reached our intended destination about 2:45, and were a bit nervous as we saw a large crowd of people out front, and a tour bus parked just down the street. We luckily were at the tail end of their tours, and there were only 6 of us for our tour. 

A little history for why this stop was meaningful.  For those followers who knew my Dad, you will understand and may have heard the story. In 1983 my parents relocated from New England to the Midwest. I was in college and home for Christmas break. Miraculously, it was Christmas Eve morning and everyone had their shopping done and gifts wrapped. Dad decided we should all go to the movies for the afternoon. It was -20 degrees (yes, minus 20) with windchill of -80 degrees. It was snowing sideways. but Dad still insisted we go to the movies. We were 4 of 6 people in the theater on campus. Now, my Dad had a belly laugh that was infectious and hearty. Imagine that laugh through an entire movie where the key line was “You’ll shoot your eye out.” He was reliving his childhood and loving every minute of it. So, there was no question we would stop at the A Christmas Story house when we were in Cleveland. (A special thank you to my cousins who visited here earlier this summer. Without you I would never have found this place!) I now have all sorts of movie trivia, and I can’t wait to watch it again armed with this new knowledge.

One of the best things about this museum is their 5K/10Krace on the first weekend of December. They use the money generated from this event and donations through the gift store to help restore homes in the neighborhood. If it were a virtual race I would participate from the comfort of my gym or home in the southeast. Cleveland in early December? Not so sure about that!

We hit the highway to tonight’s lodging, and opted to munch on the food that has traveled the country with us. (We have made a note to bring a small cutting board and plastic plates next trip.)

Tomorrow we plan to be on the road about sunrise, and no meandering “roads less traveled.” A kick back to reality, but necessary so I can return to work and build up the vacation days again!

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It’s not the destination, it’s the journey

A slow, relatively leisurely start today. I think mostly because neither of us wanted to leave “our” cabin on the lake. We could have stayed until 3PM, but that would have only prolonged the inevitable. When making our plans for this trip, I completely missed a day on the calendar, so we opted for a short drive today, and we will play tomorrow by ear – it may be even shorter than today with a long drive on Saturday, or we find another hotel for tomorrow that is a bit closer to our final destination. Either way, we are completely enjoying our journey.

We left the Finger Lakes and hit the NY Thruway to Buffalo. I had never seen the Erie Canal, and when you’re this close, it really is a must do. We stumbled onto the Buffalo Military Park and Museum right on the Buffalo River. The park has monuments to every war from WWII to present, and recognition of every branch of the military.  There were three former Navy boats which could be toured – the destroyer USS The Sullivans, cruiser USS Little Rock,  and a submarine, the USS Croaker.  Mom recognized the name of the submarine, and more than likely we knew or know someone who served on board. I did ask Mom if she wanted to tour the sub, but she declined. (We have both had a sufficient number of personal tours back in the day!) We had to imagine Dad was likely grinning from ear to ear that his “girls” were wandering around a Naval Museum – willingly and without him present! There is clearly a very active retired military population in the Buffalo region. (Why anyone would retire to an area that gets the winters Buffalo does is beyond me, but I’m grateful for their dedication to the park and preserving history.)

The park also had the conning tower of the USS Boston. 

 We saw only the commercial lock of the Erie Canal which has been restored. There was a beautiful reiverfront park with adirondack chairs scattered throughout. Lots of people taking advantage of a warm fall day during lunch hour. And lots of revitalization going on throughout the downtown area. 

As we were only an hour or so away from our final destination, and it was still early afternoon, we opted to set the GPS to “Avoid Highways.” We meandered along the shores of Lake Erie, through fields of concord grapes being harvested for Welch’s and through many small towns. In the town of Dunkirk we detoured and followed the signs for the lighthouse. It was closed for the day, but I was able to take a photo through the fence, and a shot of the lake.

The lake really is that blue! A few times along the drive the water near the shoreline looked very turquoise, and it was like being at the ocean. 

Tonight we are in Erie, PA, and our waiter at dinner gave us a few recommendations for places to see tomorrow as we head further south and west. We will still get quite a bit of coastline tomorrow (GPS will likely stay on its current setting to avoid highways until tomorrow afternoon), and Christmas may just come early tomorrow!

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Finger Lakes, Part 2

An incredible night’s sleep in peace and quiet, and the sun as our alarm clock. We had a liesurely morning getting ready for the day, and headed out for breakfast. The Penn Yan Diner was a fabulous choice, and it has won Best Diner in Northern NY several times – they are going to be included in the Henry Ford Museum display on American Diners this fall. (Hmmm….roadtrip back to Dearborn to explore what we missed may be in order?!) 

After breakfast we set off on a day of exploring all that the Finger Lakes have to offer – in terms of wine, anyway. The last time I was in this area I was very pregnant (8 months, or so) and was essentially the designated driver for the group of friends who made the annual trek with us. A lot has changed in the intervening years, but a lot has stayed the same.

Our first stop was Prejean Winery. Great wine, fabulous staff, and as good as I remember it being. A wonderful start to the day, and several additions to our respective wine collections loaded in the car.

From there we headed to one of the more well known wineries, a winery noted in the 1,000 Places to See Before you Die. A winery which I have very fond memories of, and whose wine I really enjoyed. We were escorted to a table in the tasting room and advised someone would be right with us. I am not going to go into details here, but suffice it to say I walked out of the second winery in my life without tasting a sip. I have left reviews on appropriate websites, and perhaps someday I will try again. It was a bit of a set back after Prejean, though.

We relied on GPS and my desire (need) for walks down memory lane for the remainder of the day. We headed west to Keuka Lake and MacGregor Vineyards and Dr. Konstantin Frank Vineyard. Both were fantastic, and the view from Dr. Frank’s is simply mezmerizing, especially on a fall day. 

Our next stop was the east side of Seneca Lake to Hazlitt 1852 which hasn’t changed much in 25 years, and then on to Ventosa Vineyards. Ventosa first planted their vines in 1999, so it was new to both of us. If you like Italian/Tuscan style wines, this is a must. The staff were friendly and knowledgeable. The view provided a perfect spot to watch Hobart College sailing team practice. A perfect end to the day!

Dinner was at Red Dove in downtown Geneva. Very small, but worth the wait for a table if needed. (We just beat the crowd and got one of two window seats.) We opted to share three small plates, but the entire menu sounded phenomenal. 

A quick drive  from Geneva to the cabin, an incredible sunset along the way, and several hours on the back porch watching the lake and listening to nature. We realized a little too late in the day I had miscalculated our itinerary, and we could have spent another night in the Finger Lakes. Instead, we are headed west tomorrow to explore new areas and add to our adventures. (We’ve decided to leave the Finger Lake brewery and distillery tastings for another time!)

Finger Lakes, Part 1

We slept in a bit today (8 AM), but we were up before the alarm clocks went off. We weren’t in a big hurry today as it was one of our shorter drive days. We were underway by 10:30 andplanned to stop for breakfast along the way. Neither of us was really hungry, and none of the reviews for places along the way really jumped out. We meandered south into Seneca Falls, the town which the movie It’s A Wonderful Life is said to be based upon, and home to the Women’s Rights National Historical Museum. I was really disappointed the museum was closed Mondays and Tuesdays. The visitor center had a great display. and the empty storefronts in town also had displays of the women’s rights movement through the years. I also stumbled into the best store and completed a good bit more of my Christmas shopping! 

 

Lunch was at Parker’s Grill and Tap House. A glass of local wine and a shared sandwich, and we were ready to hit our next adventure. Mom did not know I had purchased tickets for us to make our own glass at Corning Glass Museum. I made a flower, but didn’t get a picture of the final product because I had large, heat resistant gloves on, and others aren’t quite comfortable using the camera on their phone yet. It will just be a wonderful surprise to me when it arrives at home about the same time I do! Mom did a blown glass sculpture. Proof that even “non-creative” people can be very creative when forced to be!

Momma’s finished piece

We headed north to Cedar Lodge, our home for the next few days. Of course we happened upon a winery that was still open. We enjoyed a tasting at Magnus Ridge, and I got a bit more Christmas shopping completed. (I am on track to be done by November 1st. My goal is usually December 1st.) 

Overlooking Seneca Lake, even though you can’t see the lake.

We arrived as the sun had just about set, and the full moon had risen over Seneca Lake. Our cabin is about 50 feet from the edge of the lake, and we enjoyed an adult beverage sitting on the back porch listening to the ducks and lapping waves. If I am awake in time tomorrow, I may have a sunrise picture. 

We have set our destinations and map for tomorrow. Lots of exploring to do around Seneca Lake, and between Keuka Lake and Cayuga Lake. 25 years was too long to be away from this area!

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The Tragically Hip Way

The plan this morning was to head out to St. Lawrence Market for breakfast before doing a bit of Toronto sightseeing by foot. Unfortunately. we learned the Market is closed Sundays and Mondays. We opted for a quick bite in the hotel, then headed out. Just across the street from the hotel is St. James’ Park. I could see the steeple through the treetops, so we headed in that direction. Turned out St. James’ is the Anglican Episcopal Cathedral. As we wandered through the park, it became apparent they were setting up for a movie shoot. Wish we’d found someone we could have asked what was being filmed!

The cathedral was beautiful. inside and out. Not quite as ornate at the cathedrals in Europe, but full of history which made it feel very personal.

What I wouldn’t give to hear this organ being played!

The pews have doors and are numbered. No sitting in another parishoner’s seat here!

From here it was an easy walk to complete my Christmas shopping…the Hockey Hall of Fame. We didn’t have time to do the tour (and honestly, I want to do that with my husband. Mom would have been bored to tears. The gift store excursion was enough for her!)

 We wandered back past the St Lawrence Market (next trip I will get to go inside!) I managed to carry my earlier purchases and still take photos. I left a piece of my heart in Toronto.

We had the car loaded and were on the road about 11:15AM. Next stop, Kingston. The original capital of Canada, and the home to Queens University and the royal Military College. We had an unexpected, yet wonderful, drive through the campus of Queens University while meandering our way (mostly by gut instinct) to Fort Henry.  We stumbled into the historic district, and the old Kingston Station. For anyone who knows my Mom, it should not surprise you we found a train station!

On our way to Fort Henry we passed a wonderfully named street, The Tragically Hip Way. Wish I had been able to take a picture of the street sign, and the rather non-descript street which bore its name. 

We eventually made our way to Fort Henry and explored the area. Well, more like walked the entire perimeter, up and down hills! Stunning views, and we know Dad was smiling and wondering how we could visit military sites willingly when he wasn’t around, but not when he was!

Another wonderful city, and one I want to explore in more depth on another visit. We left Kingston and eventually crossed back over the border into the US. We are resting our heads tonight in Fort Drum. NY, home to an Army base. Not sure how Dad would feel about this, but we definitely feel safe as the hotel is full of active duty soldiers! 

Tomorrow we are off to the Finger Lakes and a surprise for Mom. 

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Lake Huron, Lake Ontario and The Falls

Today (now yesterday) started bright and early, and a crisp 57 degrees. It may have been colder, but it was pre-coffee and I was a little too chilly to remember!

We started the day in Port Huron and a visit to the Fort Gratiot (Grash-ut) Lighthouse. It is the second oldest lighthouse on the Great Lakes, and the oldest lighthouse in Michigan. It was a beautiful day, blue sky as far as the eye could see, and the water calm and blue. Port Huron is a quaint little town, and close to the water it feels like time stopped and the world grew around it. 

From there we crossed the Blue Water Bridge into Ontario, Canada. Border crossing was smooth, other than I couldn’t seem to say “Atlanta, Georgia” when asked where I lived! Atlanta, Alabama is what came out of my mouth, and when I asked again I said Smyrna, Georgia. Well, at least it’s a neighboring town if it isn’t the exact place I live? I was able to say where Mom lived without missing a beat. They let us in, thankfully. 

The drive through western Ontario is beautiful, and at times reminded me of Norway – green, lush and farm houses set off in the distance. Mom likened it to areas of the midwest. Canadian drivers were polite and mostly patient. They actually use the left lane only for passing! It was an interesting drive for me as I tried to convert KPH to MPH. (I did eventually figure out how to change the settings in Mom’s car to metric, but not until later in the day!) 

Our second stop was Niagara Falls. I have mixed feelings about it, to be honest. The Falls themself are stunning and awe-inspiring. I had hoped viewing them from the Canadian side would be less “touristy” and unspoiled. If the Canadian side is less than the US side, I don’t want to imagine what that is like. The walk down Cliff Hill was like being at the Jersey Shore boardwalk (sorry, New Jersey!) or a carnival. Every store front had speakers blaring constant midway noise. We did take some time to enjoy the gardens before we walked up the hill to the car. 

Even got to see a (fake) tight rope walker over Victoria Street! This was just the beginning of the carnival feel.

 

We drove through Niagara-on-the-Lake, St. Paul’s and St. Catharine’s on our way to Inneskilin Winery.  (Well, you can’t really be surprised that Mom and I would end up at a winery!)  A beautiful setting, and their white wines were wonderful. We didn’t try any reds (surprising, I know.) 

As we headed to Burlington, ON to meet family friends for dinner, we passed the Wayne Gretzky Estate Winery. If I’d known that would be on our route, I would have made time for a stop! But now I have a reason to return with my other half – the true hockey and wine lover!

A wonderful dinner on the Burlington waterfront catching up and getting great tips on things to see and do the next day, and we headed into Toronto for the night. It was dark when we arrived, but what we had seen peaked our interest, and we headed to bed so we could get up and explore!

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Road Trip 2017 – The Lake Tour

We didn’t give up traveling in the last year, we just haven’t done much more than sit on beaches. Just what I needed in terms of mental relaxation, but that also meant not a lot of exploration or adventures to write about. That changed today!

Mom and I hit the road today our biannual road trip. This year’s trip was dubbed the Lake Tour as we will be traveling around 3 of the Great Lakes (Huron, Ontario and Erie), and several of the NY Finger Lakes. We left Champaign just after 9:30AM, and we finally checked into our hotel in Dearborn. MI about 8:00 this evening. A long day of driving! We opted to get off I-65 after about 20 miles – the agressiveness of the drivers and construction zones was not a good combo for the driver (me) or passenger (Mom). So we headed to some of the smaller state highways for a slower drive with far fewer cars and much less stress. A good decision, and beautiful scenery, but it made for a longer drive. (We also had to scratch Lake Michigan off our list of lakes for the trip, but I’ve seen it several times before!)

One of the benefits of taking the “road less traveled” is the small towns you get to stumble across. Crown Point, IN is on my list of places to go back and wander through. We drove down Main Street, and saw a little of the town square area. It felt like I had stepped back into the mid 1900’s – stunning architecture, tree lined streets, small shops, and people walking around. Unfortunately, I was driving so I didn’t get any pictures.

Our first (and only) stop of the day was St. Julien Winery in Paw Paw, MI. A much needed break, and the wine was pretty good, too! Very different experience from west coast wine tastings. The tasting included 6 pours of your choice, and they had a rather large selection. Rather than going from whites to reds, they poured based on residual sugar of each wine. A little odd to be bouncing back and forth between whites and reds, but still enjoyable. (I did buy a bottle of chardonnay which was very nice. I almost bought a bottle of bubbly, but I know there will be plenty of opportunity as the trip proceeds.)

Tomorrow will be a slower day, and hopefully less traffic. We even get to use our passports for the first time on a road trip. Stay tuned to see what adventures the day brings – there will be plenty of photo opportunities, I promise!

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Fish and Whiskey

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We finally got a chance to explore a little bit more of Atlanta, thanks to my daughter coming for a quick visit from CA, on her way to LA and FL. (The apple didn’t fall far from the tree when it comes to a lot of things, travel being just one of them.)

First stop after picking her up at the airport was the Georgia Aquarium.  I had purchased tickets online earlier in the week, and didn’t notice they were for the wrong day until Friday. I have to say their customer service department was very helpful and quickly got us rescheduled for Saturday. It’s a nice aquarium, as aquariums go, but I was underwhelmed for most of it. (Although I do still squeal just a little bit when I see certain exhibits – the penguins, for instance.) The whale sharks were very cool, as were the penguins, sea otters and sea dragons.  Other than that, it is very much like every other aquarium I’ve been to –  Mystic, Boston, Camden, Baltimore, Monterey, and San Francisco come to mind. And some on that list are better in my opinion.

Georgia Aquarium is involved in a lot of conservation efforts, but I just wish more of it had been more visible to the casual visitor.  There are several “add ons” to the general admission which allow you behind the scenes and to special events where you can learn more about their conservation efforts. I’m not suggesting it’s not worth a visit, I just expected a bit more for the price. (It was almost $40/person for admission on a Saturday afternoon.) I did manage to get some pictures of my favorite exhibits, though, so not a bad start to the afternoon!

I had to giggle a bit when I saw the sea dragons.  My dad served on the USS Seadragon in the early 70’s.  I’m not sure I knew (or at least didn’t remember)  what an actual sea dragon looked like until yesterday. Not very formidable looking if you ask me.  The submarine was, though.

From the aquarium we decided to head to Sweetwater Brewery, a local  brewery, so my girl could have some local beer. We got caught in a bit of traffic as the GA Tech game had just let out, but it wasn’t too bad overall.  The brewery parking lot was blocked off, so we parked across the street and noticed a chalkboard advertising whiskey tasting.  Tough call – whiskey or beer? We were approached by a gentleman passing out coupons for the whiskey tasting, and that clinched the deal for us. (We also learned later the brewery was closed for a private event by the time we arrived.  We’ll try again on my girl’s next visit.)

ASW, or American Spirit Works, opened its distillery and tasting room in Atlanta in July.  They’ve been crafting whiskey for several years, but now we get to enjoy it in this wonderful space. There are currently three releases, American Spirit Whiskey, White Dog Whiskey, and The Fiddler Bourbon. All three good and unique in their own ways. And holy cow, if you like bourbon,  get your hands on a bottle of The Fiddler. In addition to the tasting room, they have a wonderful event facility next door, The Stave Room. If you are in Atlanta and enjoy whiskey, we can definitely recommend a visit to ASW.  (Check out their website here.)

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The rest of the evening was spent at home visiting and relaxing. We delivered our guest to the airport after a late brunch, and I am already looking for someplace to explore next weekend…fall is in the air, and I am sure the Blue Ridge Mountains are full of color!

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Hawaii History

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Today was Hawaii history day.  Our first stop (after coffee, of course!) was Iolani Palace. We had to drive around the block a few times to find the entrance to the parking lot we’d spotted, only to find it was 30 minute only parking. Knowing that wouldn’t be near enough time, we found a public parking lot a few blocks away.  We were able to get into the 10:30AM tour without a reservation, and had time to watch the video beforehand. I didn’t realize how much of Hawaiian history I had forgotten, or perhaps not been exposed to.  Either way, each stop today was a stark reminder.
Iolani Palace is beautiful, and the tour (self-guided audio) does a good job at explaining the history of the monarchy and the history of the palace. We put coverings over our shoes before entering the building, and toured the first and second floors.  The basement is a gallery of photos and the kitchen. King Kalakaua built the palace in 1882 and had electric lights, a telephone and indoor plumbing long before it was fashionable. His sister, Queen Liliuokalani was actually imprisoned in a room within the palace.

This was built for King Kalakua’s coronation

The latest in high-end fashion footwear!

Glass imported from England and etched in San Francisco

Hawaii was a very cultured and civilized society prior to the arrival of missionaries and US troops. Queen Liliuokalani and her sisters were guests at Queen Victoria’s jubliee celebration, and Hawaii appealed to Britain for sovereignty prior to annexation by the US. Despite attempts (by outside forces and monarchs) to stifle the Hawaiian heritage and traditions, they continue to this day thanks to the efforts of many.

On our way back to the car we stopped at the Kawaiaha’o Church. We’d passed by the cemetary on the back side on our way to Iolani Palace, but we took the time to look around the church grounds and inside on our way back.

I wasn’t aware of the Vermont connection with Hawaii until today.

I had to take a picture of the pipes for all my organist friends!

D. looked at me askance when I suggested we walk through the cemetery to the car. I avoided the temptation to wander the rows of headstones, however. (I love meandering old cemeteries – you can get such a feel for an area through the history told on old headstones. Another “pasttime” I learned from my parents!)

Our next visit was Queen Emma’s Summer Palace. As we got out of the car we both commented on the cool breeze that blew through the trees – I’d also have chosen to go inland and upward to escape the heat of Honolulu, too! This was the family retreat, and there were many items belonging to Queen Emma on display. 


I had a wonderful conversation with two members of the Daughters of Hawaii. This organization runs the Summer Palace. We talked at length about growing up here many years ago, and how at home I have felt these past two weeks. They both said the island was calling me home, and I shouldn’t fight it. No debate as to whether we can or should, or even how…just do it, and if it is meant to be, it will be. (I can just imagine the look on my other half’s face when he greets me at the airport at 7AM on Saturday…Honey, I’m moving back to Oah’u, are you coming with me?!) D. will confirm that I have talked about moving back and feeling the “pull” since our first day. She will also confirm I have hatched many a plan as to how I can make the move work!

From the Summer Palace we ventured to The Bishop’s Museum. It has areas that are interactive, and of course I channeled my inner child and played! If you want an intimate view of Hawaiian history over the centuries, spend a day here.  We had limited time, so we did just one building. Incredible facts, figures, photos, relics and more about Hawaii history.

We had hoped to return to Lucky Belly for lunch as we were very close to Chinatown. Alas, the clock was ticking, and we had just about an hour before we had to return the rental car. Last stop for the day, Punchbowl and the US National Cemetery of Hawaii. As with all national cemeteries (at least in my experience), it is a place of reverence, awe and beauty. May those laid to rest in these sacred places know eternal peace, and those who visit and tend to the sites find comfort.

View from the drive into the cemetery

We dropped the car off with 5 minutes to spare, and headed back to our room to start the packing process. We struck out for a final walk on the strip and decided to finally stop at Sky Waikiki, a rooftop bar and restaurant, just below Top of Waikiki, a revolving restaurant. I do recall vague stories of my parents and friends being at Top of Waikiki, so it seemed appropriate that I check it out. We shared a truly delicious appetizer of Big Island Smoked Pork Pizza. I had to sample it before taking a picture to ensure it was photo worthy and worth recommending – a big thumbs up to both!

View from the Sky Bar

This is also apparently where they had the premier party for Hawaii Five-O recently. This was the hallway from the street to the elevator up to the 18th floor.

A quick trip next door for last minute office gifts (we can’t go back completely empty handed to those who covered while we were gone for 2 weeks – they might not let us go again!) and a stop at the poke bar, and we headed back toward the room.

A visit to Hawaii wouldn’t be complete without a shave ice, and we finally indulged! 

It has been a wonderful visit. Hawaii, we leave you our aloha, and we take with us hearts full of aloha (and stomachs full of poke and suitcases full of gifts). Mahalo nui loa. Until we meet again!

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Kailua, Waiamea and Rainbows

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Our first stop this morning was the Diamond Head Grill and Market. This is a hidden gem just outside the Waikiki strip on Monsarrat Street. They make cream cheese scones that are sinful – moist, flavorful and with a dollop of cream cheese in the center that you don’t find until you bite into it. D. had banana, I chose pineapple. They rotate three flavors each day of the week. In addition to the bakery, they have a take out window for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and a little market with pre-made salads, sandwiches and fresh fruit. From there we wound through neighborhoods to get to the freeway.

Second stop was the Pali Lookout. The last time I was here was June 1973, a few days before we moved back to New England. My dad took me and my best friend to the Pali Lookout to see the sunrise. He probably just wanted an excuse to take more photos of a sunrise, and I likely wanted a special last day with my best friend. I remember drinking hot chocolate, and it being very cool (as in cold). Today was windy and a bit misty, but such stunning views!

We arrived in Kailua not too long after, and the only thing I remembered was the beach. Kailua town has grown and changed so much. We didn’t go by our old house as it is no longer there…at some point after we moved it was torn down and two houses were built on the lot. I will keep my memories of what it looked like from 1968 – 1973.

Kailua Beach has suffered extensive beach erosion, or they have dug up a significant amount of sand for the construction that was being done. The beach used to be so much larger than it is currently. But the sand remains powdery soft. I haven’t found a beach yet that can top this side of the island.

Feet back in the ocean at Kailua Beach after 43 years. It was good to be back!

It was misting and windy, so we opted to drive a few miles further south to Lanikai where we found a spot to park and walked to the beach.  We pulled out the tatami mat, and sat in the sand for about an hour. I did get my legs wet, and managed to avoid the temptation of going all the way in. The last thing I wanted to do was ride to Waiamea in wet bathing suit, and the rental car did not need a wet seat, either. We watched a dog play fetch in the water, and lots of little kids learning to swim and playing in the surf. 

It was getting a bit warm, and I could tell I had had enough sun for the day, so we loaded up and headed back to the car. As we neared the car, I noticed hikers on the top of the mountain ridge. Not sure I’d make that hike, but I know others who would love it.

An easy drive to Waiamea, and we recognized much of the area as we’ve spent a good deal of time on the north shore. We pulled into the park, and there were signs for “Base Camp parking” and what appeared to be movie set trailers. There were detours along the way to the falls, and at one point we heard “OK. Quiet on the set. We’re rolling. Action.” (Or something to that effect.) Not long after we heard some blood curdling screams. I’m glad we knew they were filming! We did find out on our way out they were filming Jumanji II at the park. Several movies have been filmed here over the years, including the Jurasic Park movies. 

The walk to the falls is through the Waiamea Botanical Garden. It was fun to recall the different plants we had in our yard, and a special treat to see two poinsettia bushes in bloom!


We had to take cover just before we reached the falls as we had a bit of a downpour. It is a rainforest, so not altogether unexpected, but neither of us wanted to be drenched for the walk back, let alone the drive back to Waikiki.

Those long “lines” are the raindrops falling.

The falls were spectacular. Despite having our bathing suits on, neither of us wanted to go in for a swim. May have been the whole wet suit home thing, or the warning sign of potential bacterial infection! We listened and watched the brave souls who did venture in to swim up the falls.

An easy walk back down, and we were treated to a peacock sighting.  There were signs posted that they are aggresive and should not be fed when we entered, so I cautiously followed him down a trail to get a photo.  

We decided to do a quick stop at the coffee factory we visited earlier in the trip for an afternoon pick-me-up before hitting traffic into Waikiki.  I had to take a picture of the tip jar sign. Clever way to get people to leave their change behind! And, no, I will not say which jar I chose.  As we were leaving we were blessed with a rainbow. A wonderful reminder that the sun always comes out, no matter how long or hard the rain.

As we arrived in Honolulu we spotted our second rainbow of the day. Doubly blessed!

We stopped at the Ward Warehouse Shopping Center, just on the edge of Honolulu and Waikiki, near the Ala Moana Shopping Center as I was on the hunt for a Christmas present.  I was successful in finding what I was after, and we grabbed a late lunch/early dinner at the Korean BBQ Express.  It was quite good, and the portion size was sufficient without being overwhelming.

A shower to de-sand from the day, a bit of a rest, and we were off to explore a few items we’d seen in shop windows earlier.  We wandered into Coco Cove, a store we’d not been in yet, probably because it looked a lot like the ABC Stores that are on every corner. Probably a good thing we’d not been in sooner, as we discovered a poke bar, and all sorts of goodies…including the Hawaiian reminder that it is fall and summer can’t last forever.

We stopped for Hawaiian shave ice, but they were out of ice cream.  We decided that would wait until tomorrow, and we will have poke from Coco Cove and shave ice on our last night in Hawaii.  

Tomorrow we plan to hit the historical sites – Iolani Palace, Queen Emma’s Summer Palace and The Bishop’s Museum. 

It is going to be hard to leave on Friday…I miss my other half terribly, but I am an island girl at heart, especially if that island is Oahu.