Category Archives: Travel

Garden Preparations

This weekend Husband and I plan to order our seeds for the garden. Husband has picked out three varieties of zinnia seeds. We will have our usual San Marzano 2 and Brandy Boy tomatoes which we will start in March. I found a source for the Doux D’Espana red sweet peppers. They are unavailable from our usual suppliers, so I hope the new source is reliable. I have no idea why they are in such short supply. We will also grow New Mexico Joe Parker Anaheim peppers.

Husband wants to plant turnips this year instead of kohlrabi. He will have them all to himself, as I don’t like turnips. I don’t like kohlrabi, either. He also wants to grow 12 heads of Alcosa savoy cabbage. We agreed on growing more Hamburg turnip-rooted parsley, as it is so good in soup and stock. We will grow our regular peas, Italian giant winter spinach, chard, Hidatsa pole beans and green beans, Italian parsley, and butternut squash. I am feeling tired already!

What are your summer garden plans? Any travel plans? What flowers do you like to grow? Any opinions about turnips?

Zoo Buddies

YA and I can’t go anywhere without seeking out the closest zoo or animal park (or both).  We were both actually surprised that there is a zoo in Honolulu.  When we were deciding on a hotel, we had several places marked on a map and while we didn’t choose Waikiki due to its proximity to the zoo, it certainly didn’t hurt that it was walking distance from our hotel.

It was bigger than I was expecting considering its prime location right off the beach and had a bigger variety of animals that I was expecting as well.  It was a quiet day when we were there so no jostling and every docent was all ours. 

There were three giraffes and one zebra together in a large savannah-like enclosure.  I asked the docent whey the two breeds were together; zebras have a reputation for not getting along with anybody else, including members of their own species and troop.  The docent told me that the larger/older giraffe was named Squirt and the zebra was named Mr. Z.  Apparently they had been housed together for many years until just recently when the two younger giraffes were introduced.  Mr. Z has access to his own space and sleeping area at all time but he prefers to hang out with Squirt and even sleeps with him.  The docent also told me that although Squirt seems to enjoy having the two younger giraffes arounds, he still prefers the company of his zebra pal.  The zoo considers them a bonded pair.

I love hearing stories like this so it was great to have the docent all to myself for a bit.  Of course, I got a rare YA photo that morning as well so it turned out to be a fabulous morning.

Do you have any “must dos” when you travel or when you have out of town visitors?

Fat Bombs

I’m not hugely adventuresome when it comes to food.  Once I find something I like, I tend to stick to it.  Almond Butter Granola Waffle at Black Coffee & Waffle.  Vegetarian Reuben at Pub 42.  Blueberry Pancake at Lowbrow.  Quattro Formaggio at Punch.  It’s not that I’m afraid to try something new, it’s just that I can’t imagine not having my favorite in that moment.  There are a few things I’ll always try: tiramisu, sticky toffee pudding, anything made with macadamia nuts.

Although Hawaii is not the actual birthplace of the macadamia nut (and isn’t even the world’s largest producer of the nut), the 50th state has certainly taken the macadamia to heart.  I will say that every time I’ve traveled to Hawaii – I work hard to make it worth their while.  And the restaurants on Oahu and Maui did not disappoint this trip.

I learned to love macadamia nuts for breakfast years ago.  I was breakfasting with clients and the hotel sales person when I discovered coconut syrup on the waffle bar, along with chopped macadamia nuts.  Can we say “heavenly”?  I know in this global economy I can easily get nuts and syrup but I never get around to it so I was really looking forward to loading up on fat bombs (what a friend dubbed macadamia nuts long ago).

Our very first morning in Oahu, we hiked about 15 blocks to Eggs `n Things:

We had a great table out on the balcony, looking over a pretty park and they served me the Fresh Fruit Rainbow Pancake.  With macadamia nuts.  The photo is in the header above.  It was delicious and outrageous – how can anybody eat that much in one sitting?  Well, I showed them how it was done.  It was a good things we had a lot of walking to do that day.

We went to a different breakfast spot every day of our trip and I found pancakes with macadamia nuts every time – but only found coconut syrup once.  Aaaah well, the vicissitudes of travel!

Anything you can eat meal after meal?

The Rental

When we were planning our trip to Hawaii, we were using “award credits” from our company.  YA had quite a few and I had a small fortune, all of which had to be used within a certain amount of time after my retirement before I would lose them.  This made it easy to plan things that would have seemed atrociously expensive if it were coming out of my checking account (and have I mentioned how expensive everything is in Hawaii).  

Adding a rental car on Maui was a no-brainer.  It’s a 45-minute drive from the airport area to the two major resorts areas (Lahaina/Ka’anapali in one direction, Wailea in the other).  Even getting around once you are in the resort areas isn’t all that easy.  No sidewalks, no buses, a few rare shuttles and extremely expensive Ubers. As YA was scrolling through rental cars on the award credit site, she was looking for small, inexpensive models.  When I said “get a convertible” she just about fell off the bed.  When did her mother EVER advocate for something more expensive?  But there is backstory.

I’ve been is the islands many times over the past 30 years for work.  Yes, work.  And my job, even in paradisical places like Maui, was work.  Early on, I decided that one of the ways I would take care of myself was a convertible.  Usually it turned out to be cheaper than private transfers but while I used that as my “excuse”, the main reason was that for the day or so that I had on my own before clients showed up, I had the sun on my face and the wind in my hair.  In addition, Maui (and the Big Island) are fabulous for someone who is directionally challenged… so few roads!

When we got to the rental car center at the Maui airport, they sent us down to the big parking lot, saying “turn right and pick your convertible”.  There were three to choose from, all three white Ford Mustangs.  Easy peasy, right?  The two gals who had met us, helped get the luggage into the first car and said their goodbyes.  YA was hanging back as I got into the driver’s seat and then suggested that we “look at the other cars”.  I’m not at my best on travel days and I certainly didn’t see what there was to look at; they all looked identical to me.  She was adamant however and after poking through all three models, she announced that the farthest one was bigger inside and had leather seats.  Despite some whining on my part, I let her move the luggage to the bigger/leather interior.  I figured if the rental car company didn’t care which one we took, I shouldn’t care either.

I can’t tell you if this was a better car but it made YA happy and as we rounded the first hill on the West Maui Mountain Highway, coming upon the sun shining on the water, it made me happy as well.  This is why you want a convertible on Maui:

How do you keep your hair from getting mussed with the windows open or the top down?

Any Port In A Storm

I was delighted to read the story of the New York dentist and his wife who welcomed ten Korean tourists into their home after their van was stuck in the snow. They found beds for them, and they spent the storm cooking Korean dishes and watching football. What generous hospitality!

https://news.yahoo.com/10-south-korean-tourists-were-030651951.html

I figure with the Twin size air mattress and we have in the basement we could sleep nine extra people pretty comfortably. We have fourteen bed pillows and lots of sheets and blankets (Don’t ask. It is German thing) so there would be sufficient bedding. Our freezers are full, and we could certainly feed ten people for days. Being prepared for such an occurrence certainly speaks to keeping a well stocked stocked wine rack!

How many people could you accommodate in a pinch? What would you feed them? Tell of some weather bound experiences you may have had.

Christmas Cheer

Yesterday was possibly the worst Christmas Day we have ever had, as all the things that could have gone wrong with Daughter’s flights home went wrong. Our weather in ND was awful, with snow, sleet, a Winter Weather Advisory, and then an Alberta Clipper with a High Wind Warning. Her flight from Denver was cancelled. To make matters worse, her flight from SeaTac to Denver was four hours late due to technical problems, and they allowed anyone at SeaTac who missed a connecting flight to depart the plane with their luggage. The cost and uncertainty and anxiety in rescheduling was too much for all of us, so she had a friend drive her back to her apartment in Tacoma. We will try to have her fly here for Easter. It is in early April. I know we have April blizzards, but this gives us some hope.

Daughter was as brave as could be, waiting on the plane for four hours. She would have had a couple of days waiting around in the Denver airport for a flight here, but that would have been too sentimental a decision. It was a tearful decision, but I am glad she is at her home in Tacoma. I will send her cookies and lefse and her presents.

When was your first Christmas alone? What are some good Christmas jokes? I need some humor!

The Best Laid Plans

Plan A: This plan originated in September, when Daughter purchased her tickets for a flight home for Christmas. She would leave Seattle/Tacoma on December 22, fly to MPLS, have a nice long layover, and fly into Bismarck at 11:00 PM. We would pick her up that night and take her home.

Plan B: This plan originated late last week when I saw that we were to have patchy blowing snow the night of the 22nd, and the wind chill was predicted to be -51. Daughter decided that she would spend the night of the 22nd in Mandan with the mother of her childhood best friend, and we would pick her up on Friday, when the snow was predicted to stop blowing.

Plan C: This plan emerged after Daughter saw that the weather was going to be a little snowy in MPLS, and that, if her flight to Bismarck was cancelled, she would stay with a friend in the Cities. Alternatively, if the friend couldn’t get to the airport to pick her up, she would stay in a hotel close to the airport. With either option, she would hope to get to Bismarck on the 23rd.

Plan D: By Sunday, Daughter started to panic, and thought that she wouldn’t get out of Seattle/Tacoma because there was a snow storm predicted on the 22nd, and there had already been many cancelled flights after only 1/2 inch of snow. She planned to prepare herself for being stuck in Tacoma.

Plan E: This plan emerged in the wee hours of Tuesday after Daughter saw the terrible storm predictions for MPLS. After convincing herself that she wasn’t being impulsive, she cancelled her reservations for the 22nd, and rebooked herself on another airline for the 25th that would take her to Denver, and thence directly to Dickinson by 9:00 PM. The weather and winds in Denver and Dickinson are predicted to be manageable on the 25th. She didn’t book this sort of flight in the first place because she really dislikes the Denver Airport.

What is your plan B? Have your thoughts about winter travel changed at all over the years? What is your opinion of John Steinbeck?

Who Knew?

People ask me a lot about my opinion of Hawaii. I suppose I do know more about our 50th state that the average person.   By luck of the draw I had almost 25 programs to Hawaii during my years in the travel industry.  I didn’t travel on all these programs but I have been to the islands a whooping 17 times, most of those times to Maui. 

What I tell people about Hawaii is that every island has a different topography and a different personality.  I usually talk about the difference between Hawai’I (the Big Island) and Kauai.  The Big Island is the largest, the youngest and the most volcanic.  If you haven’t been to Hawaii, then the picture you probably have in your mind is Kauai.  It is much older and encompasses the lush green image we all carry around.

But I don’t talk about Oahu very much; Unbelievably with all my Hawaii programs, I never had a program on Oahu.  No particular reason, just luck of the draw.  This means that almost every time I have been on Oahu, it’s because I’m in the Honolulu Airport, transferring to an interisland flight.  While my brain knows what Honolulu and Oahu are about, it was still a surprise to be there for three days.

We stayed in the Waikiki area because we didn’t have a car so needed to be in a walkable part of the city.  This is part of Oahu that has earned the name “concrete jungle”.  It is block after block of tall buildings, very high end shops and restaurants and traffic.  It could almost be any big city IF you can ignore the beautiful blue sky and warm weather as well as the folks on the streets.  It’s an amazing amalgam of business folks, obvious tourist (YA and I) and the huge number of surfers and counter-culture types.  Waikiki is right on the water so you can walk along the main thoroughfare and look right onto sandy beach and blue waters.  There is even a zoo (who knew)… we were actually able to walk there as well. 

One fun thing we saw in Honolulu that I’ve never seen on other islands – people putting leis on statues.  Most of the statues along Kalakaua Avenue and Beach each have at least 10-12 leis placed around their necks; all the leis are in various stages of decay, so it’s clear that people are adding them, not some program of prettification by the city.

So now I have good experience to describe Oahu and Honolulu the next time someone asked me about the islands.

Tell me about a place that surprised you.

Your Order, Please

Our daughter is flying home next Thursday for a week of rest and relaxation. It has been a big year for her, getting her independent clinical social work license and starting a private practice. She is very excited to be home and her phone calls are becoming more frequent.

One of her joys visiting home is choosing the menus for our meals. She wants Turkey Chipotle Chowder and homemade cinnamon rolls. We have settled on Horseradish Encrusted Beef Tenderloin garlic mashed potatoes, cheesy baked asparagus, and apple hand pies for Christmas Day. Sometime during her week here she wants Croque Madame Casserole.

We love to cook for her, and it will be good to have her home. She will lie on the sofa and knit an afghan for us as our Christmas present. She also wants to play cribbage with her father. She doesn’t want anything from us this Christmas except a quiet and good food.

How are you planning to spend the holidays? What would you like to eat ? How were your visits home when you were in your 20’s?

Double the Fun

Renee’s question a few days ago about things piling up made me think about YA and I heading off on our trip two weeks ago.

We got to the airport a little early; we were expecting the traffic to be much worse as it had started to snow.  Check-in and security went pretty quickly.  TSA has some new equipment so you don’t to take your laptop out any longer, but thanks to the shoe bomber (anybody remember that – I do as I was out of the country when it happened and security had seriously ramped up on my way home), I think we’ll always have to take our shoes off.

We loaded on time then sat for a bit on the tarmac waiting for our turn.  Then the captain said we had to get de-iced and so we waited some more for that.  Then we waited our turn again.  Then the captain said we had sat around too long and needed gas.  As we turned back to the gate we heard the news that the airport was closing down.  Since we were now just one of many planes returning to their gates, the airport was short on snowplows, so we sat some more.  By the time we actually got to the gate, it had been 3 hours since our initial departure.  I had a sinking feeling but it was a direct flight and when they de-planed us, they said we could leave our stuff on the plane.  I wasn’t too worried and now we had time for a decent lunch.

After another hour, the gate agent made an announcement that the airport was re-opening and they were going to board us soon and quickly so we could get ahead of the line.  Another hour goes by (no rush boarding) and then the announcement is about how long the pilots are allowed to be on schedule; they have to either new pilots or perhaps get a new flight plane that shaves off some time.  Another hour goes by and then suddenly an entirely new flight crew shows up at the gate and gets on the plane, followed by a quick departure of the original flight crew.  Just the crews, no pilots.

Finally they put us back on the plane, but surprise surprise… by the time we pushed back from the gate, they said we had to be de-iced again.  It seems as if just about everything but mechanical problems had happened and the cynic in me was expected an announcement about that as well.  But we did eventually get de-iced (I’ve never been de-iced on the same plane twice in one day) and 7+ hours after our scheduled departure, we were wheels in the air.  My inner cynic hadn’t quieted down yet so I was kind of expecting a turbulent fight, but it was very calm and uneventful, with no further surprise announcements from the cockpit.   Instead of a 4:30 p.m. arrival in Honolulu, we were off the plane at 11:45 p.m.

Window or aisle?  Pretzels or cookies?