Tag Archives: travel

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.

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.

A Touch of Jewish Philanthropy In Lincoln, Massachusetts 

30 Oct

The entrance to the museum. The house is on the hill.

I always enjoy going to Boston, as I can immerse myself in our nation’s history. And I love history.  I also enjoy going because I get to visit with my college roommate. She is my official Boston tour guide.  With this visit she decided it was time to get out of Boston and see some of the surrounding sites. It was a beautiful fall day. I am always ready for a new Museum.

Her choice was the de Cordova art museum and sculpture garden in Lincoln. With my interest in Jewish genealogy, I was very familiar with the name De Cordova or Cordova as a Sephardic Jewish name.  But searching for the name of Julian De Cordova online, there was no mention of any Jewish roots.   Just that he was a the son of a Jamaican merchant with Spanish roots.  So to me it was obvious that this was a family which left Spain due to the expulsion of the Jews and ended up in Jamaica.  I love the white wash of history.

In any case I was excited to see this museum, walk through the sculpture garden and visit with my friend.  We decided to go inside first and see the exhibits.  The main topic was screens and  the different interpretations of a screen:  television screens, screens that separate rooms,  screens that keep people out. It was interesting.   But as we wandered the through the museum, we passed a little display on a wall that discussed the history of Julian de Cordova.

Part of the house.

Julian was the son of a Jewish family of merchants in Jamaica who was able on his own merit to become a successful business man in Lincoln,   He and his wife, who was from the local Dana family,  I assume not Jewish,  traveled the world and purchased art wherever they went.  He loved going to Spain because of his family’s Spanish roots. While there,  He also fell in love with castles and so remodeled his summer home in Lincoln to look like a castle.

He also set up that when he died, this summer home, its land and his art would be donated to the city of Lincoln as a museum.  When he died in 1945, the de Cordova Museum was established.

One of my favorite pieces.

So although most do not know that this lovely estate and museum was once the abode of a Jamaican, Sephardic Jewish man, to me it added a bit of joy as I walked the grounds, enjoyed the art and the lovely setting.  It made me appreciate how immigrant Jewish families have added to our country and the arts.

My friend and I spent two hours walking through the museum,  most of our time was spent walking around the sculptures, along the paths that led to the pond and lovely gardens.   Afterwards we spent time in Concord and the Minute Man National Park.  But this little jewel of a museum is well worth the visit.

In This Time of Asking Forgiveness, I Am Donating to Help Hurricane Survivors

28 Sep


We were in San Juan, Puerto Rico in June.  A lovely island for a day of sight seeing as we cruised the Caribbean.  We took a bus to the Fort in San Juan, and then a walking tour from the Fort back to the ship.   We passed beautiful flowering trees and plants, lush gardens, We toured the Fort that overlooks the ocean and once protected the island from invaders.  We looked down the coast to see the lovely beaches.


But Hurricane Maria has devasted the island.   So many millions without food, water, housing.  Searching for a way off the island, tourists who live elsewhere are stuck, stranded away from their home.  While those whose home is Puerto Rica are afraid of the future.  When where the power grid be repaired, when will the water and the food be available again. When will the roads be fixed.  When will medical care and schools be able to return to normal.


Puerto Rico is one of many islands that faced destruction in the way of Hurricane Irma and Maria, while Florida and Texas also suffered horrors during to hurricane season, Hurricane Harvey and Irma impacted these areas.  Connected to other states and cities,  Florida and Texas are fortunate in that help can come more quickly for these impacted areas, where as the islands of the Caribbean are isolated.

Cruise ships are cancelling vacation cruises in order to help evacuate the islands and bring supplies.  But in reality, there is no tourism or vacation in some sections of the Caribbean now as the destruction of the islands’ infrastructures make tourism impossible.

I cannot go there to help.  But I can donate. I can provide tzedakah to those in need. I chose the “oneamericanappeal.org” that was endorsed by and set up by our five former presidents: Bush, Bush, Carter, Clinton and Obama: Republicans and Democrats coming together to help our citizens in need.

I know that not everyone can help financially.  But those of us who can, must.   The island of Puerto Rico will never be the same.  But perhaps it can even be better as the power grid is rebuilt and the water supply fixed…as it will be updated and modernized. The Virgin Island of St. Thomas was also devastated.  These islands are our responsibility.  The citizens of these islands are citizens of the United States.

It has been a difficult time for many.  Fires in the west and northwest are causing destruction and health issues.  The many hurricanes have devasted areas with their high winds and flooding rains. I also sent sent a donation to help with these disasters as well through the Jewish Federation.

With this season of asking for forgiveness, the time between Rosh Hashannah and Yom Kippur, I think that doing good for others ,  tzedakah and gemilut Chasadim, shows my commitment to tikkun olam.  As I ask forgiveness for all that I might have done to hurt others during the year, I send donations to help those in need. 

Memories of My Grandparents Or Why I Always Read Street Signs

8 May

I can be annoying when driving or sitting in the passenger seat of a car. Why? Because I read all the road signs…out loud…always: street signs, billboards, ads. If it is on the street or the highway, I read it.   And I read quickly. When you learn to read by reading street signs, you learn to recognize letters and words and read before the car passes the sign.

I did, in fact, learn to read, or at least enhance my reading through verbalizing what was written on signs.  Although we had plenty of books in our house, it was street signs that were important. My maternal grandmother started this habit. She read every street sign as my grandfather drove. When I was a child I did not know why, I just knew we had to read all the signs. As a teen, I realized the importance of reading signs when Grandpa was driving.

My maternal grandparents came to the US from Europe in the early 1920s. Although my grandmother went to night school and learned to read and write English, my grandfather never did. He was great in Yiddish, Hebrew and Polish. But English, he never really learned. So it was Grandma who read the papers, kept the books and read the street signs for him.

Grandpa did drive the car. I guess driver’s licenses were easier to get back then. No written tests I assume, because Grandpa could not read or write English well. He could read slowly and write his name. But overall not well enough to read the street signs. To make finding their destination easier, in the times of no GPS telling you what to do, my grandmother would always read the street signs to let him know exactly where we were: Stop, Yield, Merge were easy. I know he learned to recognize those signs over time.

But my Grandma did not stop there, she read all those street signs as to where you were and special billboards as we drove along. If there was a sign, she read it. Eventually, we just read along starting at a unusually early age. I think at times there was a race to see who could read the signs first, as my sister and my brother and my Mother also read the street signs.

My Grandpa needed it. My Dad never said anything about it. Perhaps he thought it was cute when we were children. In reality, it is a habit I cannot stop. I still do it. I read when I am driving, or when someone else is driving.   Lately the ones that really get my reading mind in gear are in Missouri. They have all these electronic billboards that say things like, “Buckle up, MODOT cares.” I read all of them out loud. I cannot read them silently. Part of reading a street sign is to read for everyone to hear. At one point while we were driving to St. Louis, my husband piped up and said, “Don’t get into an accident reading all those MODOT signs.”

My husband probably had no idea why I always read the signs. But he puts up with it and has not said anything about it in years. At one point early in our relationship, he did say something about being able to read for himself. But that stopped when our children were little. I think he thought I was reading for them. But I was not.   I was just continuing a childhood habit.

To be honest, I usually do not read the signs around our home and neighborhood. Those are not necessary to read. However, as soon as I get on a highway and, especially, if I am in a new place, I start reading those signs.  Last year we had a road trip to Minneapolis. It was a road sign Bonanza, especially after my GPS stopped working. (We accidentally popped out the little disk.)

I have a few friends who I know find it annoying when they are driving with me. I think they think I do it when I have nothing else to say, just to hear my own voice. But that is not the reason. Reading signs is second nature. I remember long car rides to the Catskills with my grandparents. I hear my Grandma’s voice as we drive along. And I know we will be safe. We know where we are going.

Oh Canada: My love of Canada Was Nurtured in High School

23 Jan

I have been fascinated with Canada ever since I read my first “Anne of Green Gables” book. The books made me want to see Prince Edward Island and the people of the island, and I loved the character of Anne Shirley. But it wasn’t till I was in my junior or senior year at North Bergen High School that I was able to really learn something about modern Canada.

At school, the administration decided to have these little one-quarter classes. You had a choice to take one or two each semester. Among the classes offered was one about Canada by Ann-Ruth Enowitz, a history/social studies teacher. For me she brought Canada to life. And my desire to see Canada and learn more about it intensified.

I loved her class. I liked her as well. We learned about the provinces, the history with England, France and the United States. We even learned to sing the Canadian national anthem, “O Canada!”. There were just a few of us in the class. I think we met in a conference room in the library.

Although I had not been to Canada, I knew that many Canadians came down to New York. It was so close to travel and visit. Many had families in both countries. But for me, the closest I came to Canada was the Canadian exhibit at Disney World’s Epcot Center. But I wanted the real thing!

The class only piqued my interest!

My first trip was to Montreal for a family wedding. My plane was late, of course, and I could not remember the name of the hotel. But luckily I had the address of the party I was supposed to go to that night. By the time the taxi got me there, the party was over. But my mom and dad were sitting on the stoop waiting for me. In the time before cell phones, they were worried and could only hope and wait for me.

Once that emergency passed, I had a great time. We went on tours around Montreal. I loved the old town by the river and visiting all the French sites. We enjoyed the wedding, and my love of Canada continued.

My next trip to a Canadian city occurred when my husband and I were living in Ann Arbor, Michigan. It was a hop and a skip to get to Windsor, Canada. Many people went shopping there because the dollar bought more. My friend Ginny and took a trip there to shop. I will admit I almost caused a big problem at the border, but we finally got through.

My husband and I went back for a week’s vacation, driving through Canada; negotiating the weird signs. The signs don’t say, ‘merge’; they say ‘squeeze.’ Or they did. We went to Stafford and saw a Shakespearean play.   We drove to Toronto…just missing the traffic for the Pope. We got there the day after he left, but all the barricades were still around. It was September 1984.

We made our way all the way to Niagara Falls and spent a day and night there: taking the boat ride to the falls, walking along the Canadian side. We drove back along a southern route, but stayed in Canada. We stopped at Alexander Graham Bell’s’ home and the Royal Botanical Gardens. I loved that trip.

Ms. Enowitz’ class so many years before helped me on all these trips. She had spent much time on Toronto, Montreal and Niagara Falls, discussing border issues, and the wars between the French and English, as well as the US and Canada. Who knew that we once went to war with Canada!!! But her history lessons came to life as we visited forts and cities along the way.

Houseboats Vancouver

Some of the houseboats we saw as we walked to Stanley Park.

Many years later I went to Vancouver.  My husband was there for a meeting, and I was there to see the sites. But he had some time off and we took long walks and visited Stanley Park together and looked at all the houseboats along the way. I went to museums and Granville Island with a friend.

It was just two years after 9/11 and security was very tight. There were talks of terrorist trying to get over the border from Canada to the USA. So perhaps it was not the smartest move on our part to fly home on September 11. But it was my Dad’s birthday. And my parents were staying with our children. I promised my Dad he would be off duty for his birthday.

For some reason, security focused on my husband. They checked him at least three times. And even when I went down the walkway to the plane, I noticed he was gone. I walked back and there at the entrance they made take off his shoes and were checking him again.

But we still loved Vancouver. I always thought we would take our children there, but never did; just a pass through on the way to Alaska.

Another trip to Canada with my husband took us to Montreal as we started a cruise up the St. Lawrence Seaway. We spent several days first just walking around Montreal. The first stop on the cruise was a day in Quebec City. I loved it there so much, a few years later we travel to Quebec City and spent a week there. This French and English town is so interesting. Like being in Europe, but staying in North America.

We also went to Halifax, where several important battles were fought, and the survivors and victims of the Titanic were taken to after their recovery.

However, most important part of the cruise was finally making my way to Prince Edward Island and visiting all the sites made famous by Lucy Maud Montgomery (LMM) and her Ann of Green Gables books. I told my husband in advance that we had to do the Ultimate Green Gables tour. He agreed. And my favorite part of the cruise occurred on this tour.

Green Gables

Green Gables, the Anne Shirley home!

My husband was not an Anne Shirley fan. He knew nothing about her, nor about Lucy Maud Montgomery. Needless to say he was not as excited as the other 50 or so mainly women on the bus. So when we got to Green Gables, the house owned by LMM’s aunt and uncle that the house in the stories was based on, my husband was not that impressed.

Anne Shirley's room

Anne Shirley’s “room,” at the top of the stairs.

And when we went up the tiny staircase to the second floor, the tour guide said as you get up the stairs look to you left and you will see Anne Shirley’s room. I was so excited; I exited the staircase, with my camera ready and started taking photos. My husband said, “You know, Anne Shirley was just a fictional character and that is not her room.”

I turned to say something back to him so he would understand my joy and not undercut it! But I did not need to say anything; the woman behind him said, “You know you could just go back to the bus.”

From that point on my husband was silent. He just enjoyed the rest of the tour realizing he was with a bunch of Anne Shirley fanatics. And I had pure joy.

I thought that was it. I had satisfied my Canadian obsession. But then my daughter became engaged to a Canadian. I now learned that you can put maple syrup on everything you eat and there are such things as maple syrup lollipops.

To this day I think of Ms. Enowitz whenever I travel to Canada. It was a very brief class, but one I always remember.

 

 

Museums Help Me Honor Our Relatives Who Served on Veterans’ Day

10 Nov

On November 11, every year I go over to the Korean War Memorial that was established just about a mile from my home. Years ago I put a stone in the memorial for my Dad who served in Korea as a forward observer.

A portion of the Korean War Memorial in Kansas.

A portion of the Korean War Memorial in Kansas.

The truth is my Dad loved military history. He loved reading about the Civil War, World War 1 and World War 2. I have visited many museums just to see them and to think about my Dad. In Kansas City we are fortunate to have the National World War One Museum and Liberty Memorial. It was remodeled over five years ago. My husband and I went to check it out to see if my Dad would be able to navigate its halls and exhibits. We thought he would love it. Unfortunately my Dad passed away before we could take him there.

We are also fortunate to have two presidential libraries nearby that also speak about our country’s efforts in war. We have been to the President Truman Library in Independence, Missouri, and the Eisenhower Library in Salina, Kansas.  Both have significant information about the Second World War and dedicate a portion of the libraries to the presidents involvement and service.

About 14 years ago I went to the National World War Two Museum in New Orleans. I took my children with me; they were then 15 and 11. We walked through the entire exhibit. That day there was a special ceremony in the lobby as veterans were being presented awards. The entire time we were there, we spoke about how much Grandpa would love this museum! I bought my Dad a book and some other memorabilia from the museum. I know he wanted to see it one day.

We also visited a small Civil War museum in New Orleans, called the Confederate Memorial Hall Museum. It has been a part of New Orleans since 1891. This small museum supposedly houses the second largest collection of Civil War items. Dad would have loved it as well.

I have been to Hawaii and visited the USS Arizona Memorial and seen the droplets of oil floating to the surface of Pearl Harbor, like droplets of tears still escaping. I have walked through the USS Missouri and saw the spot where the treaty that ended the Pacific War was signed.

I have visited military cemeteries: Arlington National Cemetery, The National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, and the Ft. Leavenworth National Cemetery. I have seen my father buried with full military honors including a flag-draped coffin, the folding and presentation of the flag and a serviceman on the bugle playing Taps.

The Museum of the Pacific War in Fredericksburg, Texas.

The Museum of the Pacific War in Fredericksburg, Texas.

This weekend in my continued efforts to honor veterans and their service, I spent a day in Fredericksburg, Texas. I was in San Antonio for a meeting with my husband. A good friend picked me up from the hotel for this field trip to the National Museum of the Pacific War. Who knew it even existed! We wandered through the halls and learned about what was happening in China and Japan that led to their entrance into the war. We saw planes and submarines.   A replica of the atomic bomb hangs from one of the ceilings.

I saw information about Manila and the infamous Bataan Death March. That stands out in my memory as my husband’s Aunt Grace was one of the nurses in Bataan. She was one of the few who were evacuated from the island on a submarine and so did not have to suffer through the march and the horrible internment. I was able to show my friend the book, We Band of Angels, which features two pictures of Aunt Grace in group photos.

The walkway memorial to presidents.

The walkway memorial to presidents.

We then walked through a memorial to our country’s presidents to the Nimitz Hotel founded by the family of Admiral Chester Nimitz. It is now a museum honoring his memory and his work as the Admiral of the Pacific Fleet. I believe I honored those who serve by visiting these museums.

And always on Veterans’ Day I think of my Dad, who served in Korea. My Uncles Bernie and Stanley who served in World War Two; My husband’s Uncles Ben and Fred who were military physicians in World War Two; His Uncle Richard who served in Korea; and his Aunt Grace and Aunt Florence who were nurses in World War Two. My husband’s grandfather served in World War 1. And not to leave anyone out, I also think of my husband’s and my cousins who served in all of these wars including Vietnam.

Museums do not tell the full story. They cannot transmit the heartache that follows a person throughout their life because of the things they saw, the odors they smelt, the lives that were lost and the changes it caused in their psyche. But for me to visit these museums, I feel I am showing respect for the sacrifices these veterans made for all of us. I am proud there are so many veterans in our family!