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A Garden is A Great Place to Unwind

27 Aug

Being outside, enjoying plants and gardens, is to me a gift.  I love my gardens, but personally, I do not like to garden.  I have many friends who enjoy being outside and weeding, planting and keeping their gardens lovely.   I love to have my gardens planted and maintained by my husband and a gardener.  But I love my plants, my trees and my flowers.

For many years my father would garden for me whenever he came out to visit.  He loved it!  My husband and dad dug many of my flower beds and did all the original plantings.  But later in life, when he was not moving as much, he still helped put out the mulch.  And eventually we would put a chair in the shade and let him direct all the gardening.  Once he passed away, I really left the gardening to my husband and “John” the gardener, who we had hired when my dad stopped being able to do as much.

I make decisions as to what I like and where it should go. But then I step back and let others do the work.  I love nature, but my way.

My love of gardens extends to my joy in walking through public gardens.  When I can, on my journeys, I try to visit botanical gardens.  I have been to gardens in Canada, an especially lovely peony garden in Quebec City; and throughout the USA, including close to home, like the local Arboretum, a favorite place to walk.

In my recent travels to Hawaii and California, I spent much of my time enjoying gardens.  Let’s be honest, Hawaii is just one giant garden.  We were there two weeks before Hurricane Lane hit, so I am hoping that the lovely Flora on the Big Island of Hawaii survived.

On Maui we went to the Maui Tropical Plantation.   I call it a botanical garden of fruit bearing plants, besides just being lush and lovely.  We took a tram ride with a young woman who not only told us what was grown, she even showed us the correct way to open a coconut.  I am sure she shows everyone and does the same speech.  But it was fun.

We enjoyed walking the grounds and seeing the beautiful plants.

So when we were in California a week later for a wedding, we had some time to just relax with my siblings.  The one place I thought we would all like was the Alta Vista Botanical Gardens, which turn out to be just great.  Only problem, most of the paths are not paved: wear closed shoes!!

Among our favorite spots was the Children’s Discovery Trail with its beautiful flowers, giant dragon sculpture and musical garden. We liked the tropical garden with the dinosaurs hidden among the plants, Dino Digs.  In fact, I loved many of the art pieces hidden among the plantings. We walked through the Australian garden, the reception rose garden, and the ceremonial garden as well.  I will admit, we did not walk down to some of the lower gardens, but from our view they were fantastic.

I hope everyone has the chance to be outside and enjoy the garden of their choice.  It truly is a wonderful way to relax.

 

 

 

“LOST” in Hawaii on Ohau’s North Shore

21 Aug

(My fifth favorite part of Hawaii.)

My husband is a LOST fanatic.  Yes, he is one of those people who watches the series over and over again to revel in every single aspect of it.   I liked LOST, but it got a bit too much for me.  I just could not suspend my disbelief when it came to that Smoke Monster.

However, when he told me he wanted to go to the North Shore of Ohau and see some of the places where LOST was filmed, I had to agree to get lost in the memories of LOST.  I hired a private tour guide, Josh, who did just that.  Luckily, Josh was also a LOST fanatic who lives on the North Shore, so finding the spots was easy!

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Nu’uanu Pali Lookout has beautiful views of the islands windward coast.

After leaving Honolulu and seeing a few sites along the way, including the Nu’uanu Pali Lookout, with its magnificent views of the windward coast, we made it to the North Shore.  Although Nu’uanu Pali Road and the Lookout were not part of the filming of LOST, the overlook was a great place to see the areas where the show was filmed.

First stop on the North Shore was getting a to-go lunch at a great little restaurant.  Josh then took us to our first LOST spot, Mokule’a Beach, where the first season of LOST was filmed,including all the beach scenes and the plane crash.

We sat on a log and made believe we were Lost as we ate our lunch and watched the beach goers swim and enjoy the surf.  We also watched groups of tourists come to visit the site, just as we had.   We spent time walking the beach, while my husband tried to figure out where certain scenes were filmed.  I took photos and had a great time just enjoying the lovely scenery and the ocean breezes.

By the way, the scenes with the Smoke Monster were also filmed on the beach, but looking inland.  I took a few photos, but not sure if I got the exact location.

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The Waialua Sugar Mill. This building is now a soap factory. It was part of the Nigerian Village.

Then we took off for our next stop, an old sugar mill, Waialua Sugar Mill.  It now has a surf board shop and the North Shore Soap Factory.  While there I enjoyed watching soap being made and buying an assortment of locally made soaps as gifts.  We also visited the surf board shop where Josh explained the sport of surfing to us.  He used to be a professional surfer, and still goes every day.

Why is this spot so important?  Well it was the sited of Mr. Eko’s Nigerian Village.  That cone shaped building was also in LOST.   As my husband figure out each spot…not on his own, he actually was using a website to match the spot with its LOST identity… his excitement increased.   Did I tell you he was a LOST fanatic!

From there we went to a lovely lookout point next to a nature preserve where the Nene, the state bird of Hawaii, nest.  The road is closed, and you must walk in to the preserve.

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Close to the YMCA Camp. Looking toward the preserve for the Nene birds. The camp is to the left down the main road.

But the most important part of going to this preserve and lookout point, is that it is on the same road as the YMCA Camp Erdman.  In fact, we passed the camp on the way to the preserve.  Our guide actually went to this camp as a boy.  It is still a summer camp, and we could see campers from the road.  But for LOST fans it is something more.  It is the home of the Dharma Initiative.  It is the site of the Barracks, the village of the others, and the Dharma Processing Center, which is the camp’s Assembly Hall.  Since we only saw it as we drove past, camp was in session, I have no photos.

That ended our LOST location tour.  Unfortunately, we did not have time to see any more, as my request was to see sites of Hawaiian culture. (See blog about the birthing stones.).  And we had to get to the airport for our return flight to the mainland. We had planned to go to the Byodo-In Temple,  but did not have the time.

Hawaii is a wonderful place to visit.  Getting lost in the fanatic world of LOST fans was just fine, because even though I am not a LOST fanatic, the sites are so stunningly beautiful.  Aloha.

 

For those interested, this is the website we used to find LOST locations:   https://www.tripsavvy.com/filming-locations-for-abc-lost-1533555

 

Waterfalls Brighten My Days

19 Aug

(My fourth favorite experience in Hawaii .)

Something about waterfalls makes me happy. Watching the energy of the water as it rushes to the falls and then seeing it come over the edge is exhilarating.

So when I saw that among the tours offered on the Big Island was a Tropical Waterfall Tour, I knew I had to sign up.

Years ago, when we went to Hawaii, we visited Akaka Falls State Park. We loved the seeing this high, over 400 foot, fall. But this would be different, we would visit four different waterfalls.

So on this trip I was delighted to find this trip.

It was lovely. Our tour guide, Kurt from Hawaii Forest and Trails, was wonderful.

Among the falls we saw were Rainbow Falls, known for the rainbow that firms when you see it at certain times of day. We saw it from the private Oak Ranch.

My favorite falls was the duo Falls of WaiLuku and WaiAu. We also saw these from a private viewing site on OK Ranch.

Another favorite was the falls we saw from the grounds of a bed and breakfast. We were able with walk down to bottom of this waterfall and even swim in the pond.

It was an excellent trip and I recommend it.

My Third Grand Canyon: Waimea Canyon, Kauai

15 Aug

(As well as my third favorite spot in Hawaii.)

I guess I am on a roll to see every “Grand Canyon” there is!

I finally saw the true Grand Canyon two years ago.  And I loved it.  We went to the West Rim and were able to walk at above the Grand Canyon on the Skywalk, and also visited Eagle Point.  These are located on the grounds of the Hualapai Tribe’s Reseravation, and are not part of the Grand Canyon National Park.  But it is a wonderful experience.  The Grand Canyon is 277 miles long and as much as 18 miles wide.  The deepest part is 6,093 feet.  It is a very big canyon.

Last August I was in Yellowstone National Park, and visited the Yellowstone Canyon, where the Yellowstone River flows in to a valley forming a canyon. This is called the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone.   A beautiful site, we were able to view the magnificent waterfall that helps create the canyon.  This canyon is 24 miles long, as much as ¾ of a mile wide and up to 1200 feet deep. Yellowstone Canyon is in Yellowstone National Park.  It is where I finally got my senior park entrance card!

So, of course, when I knew we were going to go to Kauai, I knew we had to go to Waimea Canyon to see the Grand Canyon of the Pacific.  This canyon is 14 miles long, one mile wide and up to 3600 feet deep.  It is part of the Waimea Canyon State Park.

 

From the Waimea Canyon Lookout, you can see, off in the distance, some of the waterfalls that feed the river below and form the canyon.  But it is much easier to seem them with binoculars.

The biggest difference between this canyon and the other canyons, is that these mountains and canyon is all volcanic material.  So there is really no strata of stone like you see on the rocky canyons, like the Grand Canyon.

But it does not matter, all three of these canyons are magnificent in their own ways.   I am so glad that I have had the experience to see them all.  I will let the pictures explain.

Pu’uhonua o Honaunau National Historical Park

14 Aug

(My second favorite stop on my Hawaiian trip.See link to first one below.)

On the Big Island of Hawaii, we visited the Pu’uhonua o Honaunau National Historical Park.  This is the site of a Pu’uhonua, a Place of Refuge, as well as Royal Grounds for the rulers of the islands.

I love history and learning about other cultures.  So on this trip, I tried to learn as much as I could about the Hawaiian culture.  As with our visit to the birthing stones, the Pu’uhonua o Honaunau is also a scared site that should be treated with respect.  It also met another bucket list item of mine, I am trying to visit a National Park in every state!

In ancient times if a person broke a kapu, or a scared law, they often would be punished with a death sentence.  But there was a chance of survival.  If the person was able to escape and get to a place of refuge, a Pu’uhonua, a priest there could save him/her by absolving him/her of the kapu.  It was not easy to get to a place of refuge.

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Looking toward the place of refuge and the lava reef that surrounds it.

At Pu’uhonua O Honaunau the easiest access was from the sea.  However, you had to conquer the waves crashing ashore and a field of tough lava to reach the safety of the priest.  At the same time, you could not step over to the Royal Grounds, or you would be breaking another kapu.

Over the years, most of the refuge sites were destroyed by missionaries who wanted to dissuade these practices or neglect from disuse. Although other sites still exist, nothing remains of the refuge buildings.   In 1961, the National Park Service opened this National Park with a restored place of refuge, as well as the royal grounds that were next to it.

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The Royal Ground’s Keone’ele Cove

It is a lovely site with a small, natural cove, Keone’ele Cove, once used by the ali’I, the royal families.   Throughout the site, the lava rocks and flows create beautiful formation.  There are recreations of some of the buildings and wooden images, ki’i, representing the gods.

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Stone wall, ki’i and mausoleum

The Great Wall, a long, high wall built of rocks, without any mortar, separates the Royal Grounds from the Pu’uhonua.  The wall is over 400 years old!  My husband thinks that those who were rescued by the priests probably had to help build the walls.  He could be right.

Several times each day, visitors can hear a talk by a park ranger.  That was not available the time we were there. But you can download a guided tour on your smart phone, or just follow the guided tour in the park brochure.  We used the park brochure, following the trails and looking for the items that were numbered. It took about an hour to walk the site.

There is also a little gift shop run by the Park Service.  Children can receive a junior park ranger workbook and fill it out.   When we were there two sisters turned in their booklets and were made official junior park rangers!

The Pu’uhohua is well worth a visit. It takes you back in time and helps to understand the culture that was Hawaii before Western civilization changed it forever.

 

https://zicharonot.com/2018/08/13/a-burst-of-emotion-kukaniloko-birthing-stones-sacred-site/

 

A Burst of Emotion: Kukaniloko Birthing Stones Sacred Site

13 Aug

(We recently cruised around the Hawaiian Islands.  This is the first of five blogs about my favorite spots.)

Fertility, pregnancy, healthy births, all topics that are important even today.  Childbirth is, at times,  life threatening for the mother and for the infant.  In ancient Hawaiian times, women went to sacred spaces in an effort to safely give birth.   In Oahu, there is such a space dedicated to the women of the royal family.

Fertility for those who cannot conceive is also a painful topic.   At the Kukaniloko Birthing Stones Sacred Site, these two quests: a safe and pain free birth, and the request for a pregnancy come together.

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Before we arrived at this sacred site, our guide pointed out part of the Wai’anea Range on Oahu.  As you drive along the Kamehameha Highway, part of this mountain range looks like a giant sleeping pregnant woman,  the “Wahine Hapai.”  You can see her head, then breasts then pregnant belly rising to the sky.  She embodies fertility and health.

He told us that Wahine Hapai overlooks a sacred site that many tourists do not go to but thought we would like to see.  (Perhaps because my husband is a pediatrician.)  The  Kukaniloki Birthing Stones Site is unmarked and is not easy to find.  There is just a small indentation of an  entrance off the highway, with a gated road.

Before we walked down a bright red dirt road to reach the site, we read the warnings that this was a sacred site and we should respect it. “Do not sit on the stones. Do not move or wrap the rocks. Do not trample the plants.” These were the top three rules.  I thought I was ready to visit.  But in reality, it was much more emotional than I thought it would be.

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It is a quiet spot, an oasis of trees and stones in the middle of a field. The first indication that you are entering the sacred site, is two stones standing by the entrance.  These were two of the birthing stones: One to sit on and one to lean up against. They have been moved from their original place in the grove of trees.  Just past these stones are two parallel lines of smaller stones, leading to the tree-shaded main site, where the trees surround a group of large stones.  Behind the site, watching from above is the Wahine Hapai, the pregnant woman, helping those in labor.

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In my effort to know more, I looked up information on line when I returned to the ship.  I read that the two line of stones were for the chiefs to sit on, while a royal woman gave birth.  The chiefs came to help her through this time. It is also said that women who gave birth here felt no pain.

My husband and I were not alone in our visit.

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Walking along the two lines of stones, I noticed a woman squatting by each stone, touching her forehead to the stone and praying.  She went down each line, holding the stones between her two hands, resting her head, then moving on.   I was not close enough to hear what she said. I tried to give her space, but I knew in my heart what was happening.  I could almost hear her prayers for a pregnancy and for a child of her own. And my heart opened.  I began to pray silently with her.  Sending my positive energy to comingle with hers.  Hoping perhaps a stranger who knew her pain could add to her prayers.

Do Not tell me this is a ridiculous quest. 

I too suffered from infertility and prayed to become pregnant.  I spent days, weeks, months and years wondering why everyone else was able to get pregnant but me.  I hated family gatherings, where all the new babies would be the center of attention and people would ask me when I planned to start my family.  Little did they know of the emotional pain I was in just being there.  I lost my faith for a time.  At the high holidays when we read about Hannah, I left the service.  It was just too difficult to bear.

Although I am now way past the age of giving birth, and I do have two children, I carry that black hole of pain in my heart.  I keep it covered.  I try not to visit it.  I moved on, I believed.  But watching this woman in her prayers removed the cover I keep over this abyss of pain, and I felt tears rise to my eyes. No one could truly help her.  No words can ever make that pain go away.  Watching your friends and relatives get pregnant is a slap. Each month a new cycle is just a reminder that you failed once again.  It is an enormous, deep black hole of grief.  And I saw that grief on this woman’s face.

She was not alone.  A young man squatted close to the square enclosed area where the trees and many birthing stones were assembled.  You cannot enter this sacred area.  But he sat just outside the roped off area, watching.

I felt the spirit of their prayers around me.  It would be hard not to feel it.

We did not spend too much time at the site.  I took a few photos, and then told my husband it was time to go.  I wanted to give them the privacy they needed. (I learned later that although tourists might not visit it, the site was well visited by locals who celebrated the birth of their children or who were wanted to have children.)

As we walked away, my memories and my prayers rose up.  I hope that the Kukaniloko Birthing Stone Sacred Site, and the energy of life and birth within it, helped her move forward.

This was my most memorable spot in all of Hawaii.

No Lava For Us

8 Aug

A year ago we booked a cruise around the Hawaiian Islands, not knowing that two months before Kilauea would erupt. Thousands of people have been displaced. Homes destroyed. Land masses changed. Roads blocked. Luckily not many hurt or injured!

Eighteen years ago we spent a week on the Big Island. We spent hours on Kilauea walking around the rim of the caldera, going to the museum, walking through a lava tube. The park is closed now due to the eruption. We have heard that the museum has massive damage due to the many earthquakes that have assaulted the volcano area.

No one is allowed close to the volcano and the lava.

During our day in Hilo visiting a bevy of waterfalls, we were able to see steam rising from Kilauea from a distance. We were high above Hilo with a view to the volcano. Our guide told us then that the lava flow was decreasing and almost ceased.

But we thought we would still be able to get a glimpse of the glowing lava from the ocean and our ship.

That evening as the ship set sail, we rearranged dinner schedule to be able to stand in the starboard side of the ship as we sailed pass the lava flow. Hundreds joined us waiting to see the lava. It was a joyous atmosphere.

Then the announcement: the lava had stopped flowing the day before. They were hoping we could still see the glowing embers. But no, the crust has solidified and the red hot embers of flowing lava could not be seen. If it was daylight, we might have seen steam. But now nothing!

Everyone left the deck. Except a few including us. My husband lifting his binoculars and stared intently into the pitch black and stared across to the land, where there was no sign of life. No lava flow. The disappointment was keen. There was nothing to do but go inside to eat a late dinner and continue on.

I must admit two nights before I had a dream that the advent of Hurricane Hector put out the volcano. When I told my husband the dream, he laughed. He is not laughing anymore. But the good news is the hurricane went way south of Hawaii. And for the people of the Big Island, peace from Pele the Goddess of Fire and volcanoes has come.