Sunday, March 29, 2009

Hello from Princeville on the island of Kauai, HI

Hello from Princeville on the island of Kauai, HI

Sunday morning March 29, 2009 (first travelogue of this trip)

In the past we have noted that Pat has earned several great trips through her association with Stampin' Up! ( This was our eighth trip. The first trip was a cruise to Bermuda in 2002. That was followed by Hawaiian cruise in 2003. All of the trips have been cruises with the exception of this trip. I should add that all expenses are paid by Stampin' Up!

This trip was to the fabulous Hilton Waikoloa Village Resort (map). This resort is located on the north western coast of the “Big Island” (Hawaii). The resort is huge and has several buildings spread over a vast area. While you can walk to the various locations, it is much more convenient (and fun) to take either a boat, or a train.

The resort is located right on the beach. Several folks saw whales from their rooms. Our room did not have a direct view of the ocean. Our view was of the beautiful golf course. The landscaping is beyond description.

Stampin' Up! paid for five nights plus air fare. To give you a feeling for the quality of this facility, we went in a day early and paid for one night ($290). They also provided a very generous daily food allowance. As if that were not enough, they provide great gifts each night in the room.

We rented a car since it is very hard to do any sightseeing without one.

One of our self-guided tours took us on the northern part of the island loop over to the east coast and close to Hilo. One of our stops was at the great Akaka falls. There are two huge falls and you walk through what we would think of as a rain forest. The next day we went down the western coast to the Kona Coffee area. This is a designated area 1 mile wide and 50 miles long that produces the very special Kona coffee. We toured a great little coffee plantation (Holualoa Coffee Company) that grows and processes the coffee beans. Most of the plantations are rather small farms passed down from generation to generation.

On Tuesday we took a 10-hour bus tour that made the full circle trip around the island (260 miles). Our driver talked non-stop the whole trip. I found his presentation fascinating. The three highlights of the trip were the tour of the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park where we observed the Kilauea Caldera, the hike to the Thurston Lava Tube, and the rainbow falls.

All of the Hawaiian island are formed from volcano eruptions. There are still active volcanoes and Kilauea is one of them. Recently, the Kilauea crater blew open and we were able to observe the steam coming from the opening. We ate lunch at the hotel overlooking the crater. The Thurston Lava tube is fascinating. You hike through a very dense tropical forest and then enter what is essentially a long tunnel. The tunnel is formed by cooled lava surrounding the lava flow. When the flow stops, the hot lava flows out, leaving the tube. This tube is perhaps 100 yards long and the bore is about 10 feet in diameter. Lava is very porous and we had water dripping on us as we walked through the tube.

The Big Island has landscape extremes. On the north west part of the island it is basically a desert. The land is mostly covered in lava. As you head south along the west coast, about half way down there is increasing amounts of vegetation, especially in the Kona Coffee area. Further south, there are stretches where there is almost no vegetation. On the east coast, the type of lava has produced abundant vegetation. Indeed, this is where the vast sugarcane fields produced great corps (sugarcane is no longer grown in Hawaii because of economic issues). In addition to the vast farm areas, there are several rain forests.

I will continue our discussion about our adventures on this island in the next installment.

Pat on the trail to Akaka Falls

Kilauea Caldera

Trail to Thurston Lava Tube

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Lets finish the details of the CA/AZ trip

Lets finish the details of the CA/AZ trip

Saturday afternoon March 28, 2009 (ninth travelogue of this trip)

Well, it seems a little strange to be finishing up this extended travelogue so belatedly. It further seems strange to be posting this information from Hawaii. That will be the subject of the next travelogue. Since we got home, I have been going at full speed on several projects. One was getting our taxes ready for our tax person. That takes a full 4 days of work to sort out all of the business records and expenses. You would think that I would use some sort of good business accounting system, but so far that has not happened. Given my tendency towards procrastination, I would probably not keep the records up to date anyway.

Now to our trip home. After our wonderful, extended stay in Yuma, we headed home on March 2. The journey home was about 1200 miles, and we decided to break the trip down into smaller legs than we normally do. We have a goal to schedule shorter travel days, but somehow that does not always work out.

Our first stop was the Cliff Castle Casino in Camp Verde, AZ (map). This is a casino between Phoenix and Flagstaff on I-17. We have stopped there before and Pat rates it as one of the better casinos. Our next stop was the Sky Casino (exit 102 on I 40 in NM) (map). We had not stopped there before. Again, Pat enjoyed the casino and came out ahead at these casinos. From there we made our traditional stop at the Wal Mart in Trinidad, CO (map). We tend to stop there, as it allows us to arrive home in the middle of the next day. We arrived home home March 5 about noon.

On the last two legs of the trip we fought gusting cross winds most of the way. Some were very strong and at least one semi was blown over after we went through the area. Fortunately, the bus does pretty well when subjected to these terrible conditions, but it is still not a lot of fun. We did hit a good weather window for our trip home. A day or two after we got home we had a small snow storm. Given the road to our house, we would not want to be driving the bus in the snow.

Periodically we update the statistics of our travels in the bus. We started our maiden voyage on March 6, 2006. In the three years since, we have spent 517 nights in the bus, and traveled over 50,000 miles. We have had almost no problems during that time – quite a feat give the age of the bus (over 24 years old) and the fact that it was modified/maintained by a crazy engineer {grin}. We feel very fortunate that we are able to travel in our very comfortable, fully equipped bus.

I have attached a photo of the Shepherds and Hackenbruchs.

That is all for this trip

The Shepherds and Hackenbruchs

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Hello one last time from Yuma, AZ

Hello one last time from Yuma, AZ

Sunday afternoon March 1, 2009 (eight travelogue of this trip)

I guess we have been having too much fun to do much posting on the blog.

Ed and Stevi got back from house sitting on Friday. They has been in Prescott and it was much cooler there. Indeed, the last of the snow melted the day they left to return home.

We had planned to take in a couple of movies on Valentines day, but we did not get around to it. Instead we went the next day. We saw two movies and got several discounts to where the four tickets only cost $20. The first movie we saw was “He is Not Really All That in to You”. It was, at best, a so-so movie. The next one was: “New in Town” and it was absolutely a great movie. The setting was New Ulm, MN and they hit it dead on. Minnesota people are really super folks, but their accent and life style are different from what we are used to. We called the kids and told them they had to go see it.

We did a bit of grocery shopping and running around the past couple of weeks. I finished up the two articles I was working on and have started a third. Actually, it is the fourth since I have a third article that is nearly finished, but we are not sure where it will be published. I did a few other business related items, some small projects on the truck and bus, a bit of reading and some relaxing. Pat also did a bit of work, but mostly read and relaxed. We walked most days.

Pat had a gift credit card that was going to expire at the end of February. She had been wanting a Wii and Wii Fit. We were able to get those and she has been getting started on working out and doing baseline measurements. It looks like it will be a great way for her to work out in the bus (and home) and the games are fun.

I mentioned shopping. When we go the the local grocery store (Fry's) it is quite an experience. Pat described it as going to a store in Denver that is crowded to the max (with small isles), but the difference here is that everyone here is over 70 and are in absolutely no rush. Indeed, they read every label in great detail.

A week ago Friday, some good friends drove into Yuma and we all went out to dinner. Sean and Louise have a fabulous blog about their full-time travels in a beautiful,unique Bus ( Our paths seem to cross once or twice a year and we always have a great time talking about our travels and lots of other things.

Last weekend I dropped Pat off at one of the local casino and then I went to a hamfest (folks who are interested in Ham Radio technology) and then to a neat car show. The hamfest was not a good one. I have given quite a bit of thought about getting my Ham license for many years, but just can't justify the cost or time resource required. I still like to follow the technology. The car show was rather small, but had great cars. There are a huge number of street rods, classics, and customs down here. The average age of most “snow birds” is at least 60 and many are financially set and can afford the “toys”.

I mentioned that we had gone to see the flowers in the desert. I have attached two pictures of the flowers and one of Pat standing in front of an Ocotillo (sometimes called “Vine Cactus”). This is a curious, and unique desert plant of the southwestern United States. As you see, they can grow quite tall and have flowers on the tips of the spines during a small period in the spring. The purple flowers carpet the desert this time of year if the weather is conducive.

Today we went shopping with Ed and Stevi and tonight we are going to splurge and go to Red Lobster for dinner.

Tomorrow we start our journey home. It will be a struggle to leave these great folks, wonderful surroundings and outstanding weather. Today it is close to 90 degrees.

That is all for now.

Carpet of flowers in the desert

Close-up picture of flowers

Pat in front of an Ocotillo