Monday, June 26, 2017

They are Finally Ripe!

 See the beautiful red berries in the container? Those are freshly picked ripe wild strawberries. They ripen about the same time as rhubarb which is why people love strawberry rhubarb jams and pies.  After a long winter, these strawberries are greatly appreciated and loved.  The lady who was offering free copies of Edible Alaska had them and offered them around to people.  They are so sweet and wonderful but it took a lot to fill the small container.
Edible Alaska is a magazine which focuses on plants and wild life eaten by people around the state.  It was great finding a magazine that looks at everything people eat in the state from baked goods, distilled liqueurs, fish, greens, and everything in between.                                      The nice thing about the summer 2017 issue is that there is an article on a farm operating up the road from me.  Aside from the fact they are a CSA, they are a place people can go and learn more about the business of farming.                When Thursday's roll around, they offer produce at the local Farmer's Market in the park next door to my house.  Right now, they've mostly got greens such as lettuce, spinach, or kale.  Potatoes and tomatoes won't be in for a while.
I grabbed a picture of this jewelry shop because I loved the name.  She had a large selection of nice jewelry and was right across the way from the lady selling magazine subscriptions.  Alaska is known for its odd names.  I plan to grab a picture of Buns on the Run and Hot Licks as both are perfectly harmless but I have to wait till I stop by there on Wednesday night after the concert.

Every week is a bit different at the Farmer's Market.  There are the regulars and then there are the ones who come and go such as the lady representing Edible Alaska.  Yes I ended up purchasing a subscription because I got five back issues in addition to the next four.  It is fun to learn more about the state and what it has to offer because not everyone knows Alaska has more than oil and snow.

Have a good day.



Friday, June 23, 2017

Real Chai

Chai, Tea, Spices, Cloves, Cardamom Wednesday, after stopping at the hardware store, I popped by the only food truck in town which offers Mediterranean and Indian cooking on days other than at the Farmer's market.

There are other places which offer Mediterranean but his is the only place offering Indian.

While waiting for my Channa Masala (chickpeas in a spiced tomato sauce served over fresh rice), I had a nice chat with the owner.  He assures me, it won't be long till he has a building and one of the things he wants to offer is real chai.  Not the instant stuff and not the concentrate from boxes but the fresh made with loose black tea and spices.

It is recommended one should begin with a cheap, strong, tea like Liptons if you do not have an Indian market near by,  otherwise check with someone at the store to get the proper tea. Create a mix of spices to use to flavor the chai such as cloves, ginger, cinnamon,  cardamon, black pepper, and nutmeg.  You can play around with the ratios of ingredients to find one that works for you.  The good news is that you can use either powder or you can use broken bits to spice it.

Mix 1/2 cup whole milk, 1/2 cup water, 2 tsp sweetener, 1 tsp black tea, and 1/8 to 1/4 tsp of the spices and pour into a small pan.  Place the pan on medium heat and stir so it does not burn.  When it comes to a boil, turn off the heat and stir well.  Turn the heat on again and bring to a boil again.  Turn off and stir well again.  Leave it to steep for a few minutes before straining the spices out, and serving in a cup.

The owner of the food truck stated they make it by making a good strong black tea by throwing the loose tea into the boiling water, throw in the spices and steep for a bit.  Strain into a cup and then add the milk.  He said they had that every single morning.

I usually enjoy my Chai at night after dinner as a way of relaxing.  I admit, I stop by Starbucks to get one when I'm near Barnes and Nobel but they make it out of the boxed concentrate.  I actually prefer mine made from scratch.

Let me know what you think.  Do you have a favorite spice mix you'd like to share?  Let me know.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Cute Products

 The local Farmers Market is open three days a week, Saturday, Sunday, and Wednesday.  I do not go on Sundays, only Saturdays and Sundays. 

So I found a few more places to share with you from my latest trip through. There are more than one of each type of product. 

I highlighted a pickle place earlier but this one has a fun title.  Alaskan Twisted Pickles.  No, I haven't tried it yet but I grin every time I walk by.  If you read the picture carefully, you'll see the folks who own this business are from North Pole,   Its a town about 15 miles south of Fairbanks on the road to Tok.

I had to take a photo of this stand.  This is the Fresh Alaskan Lemonade.  This woman operates the stand but not in her bikini over red long johns. This picture was taken from the parking lot, just in front of my truck.

Her son and daughter were working in the stand when I stopped by to get a picture inside of her husband.  The son covered his eyes during the whole conversation.  It seems he was embarrassed his parent made stand ups of themselves in their crazy outfits.
Here is a cutout of dad in his Alaskan gear with the thermometer showing a wonderful chilly temperature of -40.  It actually does get that cold in Fairbanks in the middle winter when the lemonade would freeze solid.

I'm told their coconut lemonade is quite good.  It has a base of coconut milk with lemonade added to it.j  I haven't tried it because I don't like most lemonades as they are too strong. I much prefer a light lemon flavored water.

The good news is that tomatoes are starting to make their appearance.  These are grown in green houses.  Its only been in the past few weeks we could plant outdoors. 

Unfortunately, we've had a couple cold snaps and snow or hail depending on where you lived so outdoor tomatoes are a bit behind.  Mine haven't grown that much since I planted them. It also has been rather cool so they've not gotten a lot of warmth.

Side Note:  Every year a bike race is held from Haines Junction in Canada to Haines Alaska.  As a bit of background, you can take a ferry to Haines, Alaska, get off, drive up the road to Haines Junction, turn left and drive to Alaska in a day.  You do have to go through customs twice but its really a beautiful drive.

Back to the race, its a relay race between the two cities 148 miles apart.  Winners take 7 hours or so, just to win the race and it can be done by teams or by individuals.  What makes this a rather unique race is they allow unicycles but this year, it had to be cancelled due to snow.  We do get snow into June but its the first time it happened.

Have a great day.  Enjoy your up coming weekend.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Mammograms

Pink, Ribbon, Awareness, Cancer, Breast  Sorry guys, I realize this is considered a female topic but its extremely important, especially if there is any breast cancer in the family.

My sister was diagnosed with breast cancer several years ago.  As far as we know, she is the first one to be diagnosed with it.  After a course of treatment, a double mastectomy, and a lot of hanging in there.  She beat it.

I found out later that she'd been having mammograms regularly but it grew rapidly after one and when she found it, it was fairly large.

She went several years before she went to the doctor about her spine hurting.  Unfortunately, it turned out she'd developed bone cancer in the spine.  From what she said, it may never be cured but with regular treatment, they can control it and she could live to be 80 or 90. 

Believe it or not, she is very upbeat.  She says if one treatment does not work, there are more out there to try.  She is positive she'll do fine and out live her husband.  Every time I see her, she is positive everything is going well.  The last time I spoke with her, she said the cancer is shrinking and she's on a medication to rebuild her bone density.  She said her bones are so strong, she'll never get osteoporosis.

Because of her, I make sure I go in once a year, just after school ends, to have mine done.  I realize it does not always find cancer but the chances are better than if I don't go in.  Better safe than sorry.  I found out earlier in the week that my niece, my sisters daughter, found a lump and is going to get it checked.

Apparently, the women in her fathers' family have had breast cancer so her odds are greater than most others.  I heard she was scared and that is only natural.  My mother will let me know the results and if everything is well.  My niece is in her early 30's with 3 children so we are praying the results turn out to be nothing more than a cyst.

Today, I finally found out why they tell women not to use deodorant when going in for a mammogram.  The aluminum in the deodorant when viewed on the xray, often looks like calcification in the breasts and can lead the radiologist to a wrong conclusion.

I know breast cancer month is in October but I'm usually working then and thought I'd give a shout towards reminding women to think about having a regular mammogram, especially if there is a case of breast cancer in the family already. 

Tomorrow, I'll be back to normal topics.  Have a good day.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Summer Solstice

Sunset, Sun, Abendstimmung, Setting Sun  It is the summer solstice time of year again.  In Fairbanks, Alaska, that means lots of different activities designed to celebrate the longest day of the year.

The sun sets at 12:45 AM and rises about two hours later at 2:58 AM.  This means it does not have time to get dark.  I have blinds on my windows so it sort of gets dim but it never really gets dark in the house.

Its hard for visitors who come on tours during the summer.  They discover its 3 AM and they've been out enjoying a nice long walk around town.  It is easy to lose track of time since the sun does not set as you know it.  When it sets, you do not see the red/yellows/oranges traditionally associated with sunset.  The sun goes down and in a couple of hours its back up.  Sunrise doesn't have the color variations either.

We are used to it but visitors shake their heads in disbelief because it is foreign to them.  They have a difficult time when they discover the Goldpanners, the local baseball team, has one game that begins at 10 PM and goes till after midnight.  The game is played outdoors on a naturally lit field because it does not get dark enough to require lights. This event has been never been cancelled in its 90 plus year history.

The second major event is the street fair held in downtown Fairbanks from noon to midnight with
food, drinks, entertainment, a parade, and rides.  Someone said this is expected to be the largest street fair ever held.   Due to the number of people expected, parking will be nasty and people will probably have to park across the river.  I'll get pictures of the area in another week or so when I have to be down there playing a concert in the park, next to the river.

The third major event is the Midnight Fun Run, where people run 10K beginning at the University and finishing at Pioneer Park.  The only thing serious is the costuming.  The parking lot by the hockey rink is closed off to traffic and cars so people have a place to check in and get ready for the race.  The routing is cordoned off so runners do not have to fight with traffic.

After a long, cold winter with very little day light and tons of grey skies, it is great to have so much sunlight but it doesn't stop the mosquitoes from emerging and attacking anything with blood. 

Let me know what you think.  I'd love to hear from you .  Have a good solstice.



Monday, June 19, 2017

Replacing the Toilet.

Bathroom, Bad, Toilet, Bathroom Sink  This past winter, the fuel truck did not make a delivery when scheduled, nor did they call to notify us.  Here in Alaska, we rely on heating oil to run our heaters so we stay warm.

Unfortunately, this caused a few pipes to burst when things warmed up.  My house sitter was off for a few weeks at the same time.  

So when I got home for the summer, there was no running water.  Got the plumber in to fix a few things so I have cold water at least.  In the process of checking out what still worked, I discovered the floater in the toilet tank had cracked. 

In addition, the pipe in the kitchen is leaking so it is one step at a time.  Back to the toilet.  I headed in to town to buy a replacement floater for the tank and a toilet seal for under the toilet.  When I got home, I was ready to attack the toilet.

I'm lucky in that a family member moved into the unfinished basement to help out, save money, and watch the house over the winter while I'm gone.  He gave me a hand.  The first thing we did was drain the water from the toilet.  In the process, I discovered the section where the water drains out was chipped and slugging off splinters.  Once everything was try , it was time to attack the bolts on the floor.  Unfortunately, they were rusted and broke off, leaving the heads under the wax ring.

At this point, I looked at the young man, he looked at me and we both knew, we needed a new toilet.   It wasn't worth trying to fix the old one.  There is a vast array of possible toilets with single flush, duel flush, 1.1 gallons per flush (GPF), 1.6 gpf, 1.28 gpf, ADA complient, circular, elongated.  I just stared at the choices.

I gave up, grabbed a clerk who looked like he knew what he was doing and asked for help.  After some discussion, I settled on a duel flush toilet for $107.00 and got it home.  It was harder shopping for it than installing it.

For future reference, you unbolt the old toilet from the floor, take it out.  Be sure to clean under and around the area so you don't have any left over crud in the area.  Dig the old wax ring out and make sure you've cleaned all the wax off the flange or the whole of the pipe.

Instead of using the wax ring, I used a polyurethane ring because it is supposed to be more forgiving than the wax ring.  So we put new bolts in the slots, I slid the new ring down over the open hole of the flange.  Next, the new toilet base was slid over the bolts so it sat on top of the ring and we bolted it down.  He placed the reservoir on the back end of the base, squared it before fastening it down.

The third step required him to place the plunger in the lid so the two sides lined up properly with the appropriate switch.  Last was attaching the seat to the toilet.  Voila and it worked beautifully.

As I typed this, I realized I should have taken pictures but I never thought about it because I was heavily involved in the process.  This is the second time I've replaced a toilet ring and the first time I've helped replace the whole toilet.

Next project is to help hang walls in the basement so the plumber can install the toilet and shower downstairs.  After that, it is getting the hot water up and running while fixing the leak in the kitchen sink.

Let me know what you think.  Have a good day.

Friday, June 16, 2017

4 stages.

 This year, one of the stages was at the new International Market stage and was used for the first time ever as part of this event.

What made this different is the workshops provided by each group.  The first group were drummers who performed in the synchronized form common to Kyoto style.

They performed a beautiful drum song before inviting seven members from the audience to  learn some basic rhythms.  At the end of the lesson, two people came up to play a short tune on flutes while the students played along.  They repeated this before everyone came back on stage and played the whole tune.  It was beautiful and rocked.
 This group looked like this as they came on but as soon as the music started, it became obvious they danced to a pop style music.

The dancer rocked and rolled across the stage with their booms.  It was obvious they practiced to get the group togetherness. Once done, they did a wonderful dance with small clappers.  It was awesome.  This group invited people from the audience to come up and learn the chorus to the dance.


 This group performed the more traditional dances you picture when you think of it.  The movements are delicate and fluid.  The steps are small but each movement is understated yet powerful.

They danced two dances before inviting the audience up to learn a dance done at local gatherings called the "Bone Dance."

I got up to try it.  I discovered I did not need to know Japanese because it was taught using hand gestures and pointing.  Fortunately, the phrases were not that long so it was fairly easy to learn.
I did not get a picture of me because I was dancing but a friend did so maybe I'll get a copy from him.

This group of women dance with double sided fans.  One side was red, the other blue. They dance to a drum type music complete with choreography as they moved across the stage in beautiful patterns.  At the same time, they moved the fans around various patterns.

As soon as the groups invited audience members up on stage, children ran up to learn.  To them, it was a chance to play.

All four groups were in the parade later in the day.

This is one of the Japanese groups from one school.  They performed on the Kuhio Hula mound at the edge of the beach.  There was a "judge"? who commented on their presentation, outfits, and interpretation.

What you don't see is the audience sitting in a small grassy area between the stage and the commentator.  All introductions were done in both Japanese and English.
This school only had 5 members including the teacher. I love the way the outfits go from a deep night to dark blue to the lighter blues.  The color gradation reminded me of sunrise in Alaska.

This was taken in the early afternoon.  If you look carefully you can see the open ocean of Waikiki beach with some of its swimmers.  Yes the street is that tree lined.
This is a third group who danced during the 5 hour time for performances.  When the sun sets, there are tiki type lights which burst into flame, making it look like it mysterious.  There are footlights in front to light the dancers.

 You see a few of the hotels and the big tree in the upper left corner is part of the giant Banyon tree.  It's been there forever as far as I know.

This group when they got to their third dance, placed two rows on the stage and a third row in front on the walkway you see. 

Next week, I'll be back to normal as I'm home in Alaska again.  My next trip is in a couple weeks when I head off to attend two conferences and will have a bit of time to get general pictures of places.  Have a good weekend.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

2 Parades.

 The weekend had 2  different parades, one on Saturday and the other on Sunday.  The parade on Saturday celebrated Kamehameha day while the one on Sunday honored the relationships between Asia and Hawaii.

The picture to the left is of the Royal Guards, a group who guarded the Kings originally.  Now they are strictly ceremonial and they come out to perform at various functions. 

They have a long and wonderful history.
 Since the parade celebrates Kamehameha, there has to be a court similar to those of the times when Kamehameha united all the islands.  At the back of the float is the man who is representing the king.

You will find many Hawaiians are still bitter about the way the United States took position of the islands.  I'll go into the history another day.  I grew up in Hawaii and it was something we all knew about.

This parade follows a route which includes Kalakaua street named after King David Kalakaua who encouraged dance and music.


 This particular parade is not complete without older Hawaiians who are part of the culture. This group is the equivalent to the pioneers of Alaska.

I stood next to a gentleman who moved to Hawaii from Germany.  He knew several people on the float who are his neighbors.  He'd wave at them, yell a hello. 

If you've ever been to Waikiki, on Kalakaua street, I stood across the street from the big Banyon tree by the Kahio hula mound.  The hula mound is regularly used by various hula schools around the island.  During the Pan Pacific festival, it is one of the stages for the performances of hula.
 No parade is complete without several marching bands.  The band at the front of the parade is always going to be the Royal Hawaiian band, and institution since the 1850's.  They marched in both parades. 

This band is one of the local navy bands who added music to the joyful celebration.  I believe they play the Washington Post March by Sousa was they passed by me.  Side note: they keep all the coconut trees trimmed of fruit so no one gets hurt other wise they might sue the government. 

There was at least one local high school marching band and at least one visiting high school marching band.
 The Hokulea is a group who built a traditional boat using traditional methods, they sail around the pacific.  They use the same materials as the polynesians who came to Hawaii originally.

The current boat is due in sometime this week after traveling for 3 years around the Pacific.  They are expecting over 50,000 people to meet it when it finally arrives back in Hawaii.  If I had known about this before I booked my trip, I'm not sure I would have changed my plans.

I am going to try to find it online where I should get a better view but I know people who plan to be there.  It is quite a accomplishment to sail the Pacific using ancient methods.
 Each and every island is represented by a prince or princess and court.  All ride beautifully decorated horses while the riders wear typical Hawaii wear. 

The women wear a fitted top with an extremely long skirt designed to cover their saddles, legs while looking quite feminine.

The men wear jeans, boots, and checkered shirts, typical of ranch hands.  The hats are not the typical cowboy hats instead they are woven out of a local leaf.
This is a picture of one of the female riders in her outfit.  Note the horse is wearing a beautifully decorated with flowers, cloth, so as to be uniquely Hawaiian.  What is hard to see is the beautifully done hair complete with more flowers, shells, cloth, so she matches the horse.

I don't know how long it takes the women to get ready but I'm betting their hair is professionally done because its so beautifully done and so precise, they cannot do it themselves.

You can see how well the long skirt covers the rider and the actual saddle.  I love looking at all the decorations.
 Since horses are live, they poop and every group has its own personal pooper scooper group to clean up the mess left by any horses.

I love this particular group because they dressed up as bakers complete with oven and add for brownies.  This group had a bit more humor than others.

Most groups wear tshirts announcing which island they represent.  I saw a couple families with children as part of the cleanup crews.  This is a traditional part of the parade.  At the very end of the parade several street sweepers roll down the street cleaning anything these groups miss.
Television had the Sons of Anarchy but here they have  tyhe Sons of Hawaii, a motorcycle club who regularly participates in this parade.  The last motorcycle has a passenger who is too old to ride a cycle on his own but is still part of the club.

It wasn't too much longer after this group, the parade ended.  I did did not get a good shot of the Indianapolis Police who performed wonderful things on their motorcycles.  The most impressive trick was the two men who stood on their vehicles as they rode towards each other.

The very next day the Pan Pacific Parade happened.  It showcased so many different groups from various Japanese tourist agencies, to the Hawaii Okinawan society, to the Hawaiian Koren Farmers Musical Club to the visiting music groups.  It was awesome.

This is one of the Chinese dragons who play a key part in Hawaiian life.  I remember Chinese New Year celebrations with lots of dragons.  There is always a drum corp accompanying the dragons.

You'll see a few more dragons a bit later on.  Every dragon in the parade had one person holding the head while another moves the back end.  Men change out on a regular basis.
 Again, what parade is complete without marching bands.  This one had several visiting bands from the contiguous United States.  Two of the bands played "On Wisconsin" which is something you might play at a football game.

It was almost jarring after hearing oriental music but it was still a nice touch.  For most of the bands, parents ran through with bottles of water every time they stopped.  I think it was a but warmer and more humid than they were used to.
More Chinese dragons.  This group had two dragons on my side of the parade.  They pranced and even stopped for pictures.

I hate to use the word but these guys are cute.  I adore seeing them prance down the road.  The children had a blast when they came bye.
 Every group came with a sign letting people know what group they represented.  Some groups just marched while others danced their way down the road.

The parade included teenage and twenties dance groups who perform a nontraditional dance.  It was fun watching a young man who used his body to control the sliding of a ball.  It was spectacular.

One group combined two sticks with a hip hop type dance.  It reminded me of an updated version of a dance I learned as a teenager.
 These two men are part of a huge group from Japan.  This is towards the end of the group showing even the elderly participate.  This was just the first of several wheelchairs in the group.

I believe this had the largest number of participants in their group.  As far as I know, they participate every year.  The U-haul truck in the background is tearing there to pick up the equipment from the festival.  The parade is the last event in the festival.
 This studio appears to prepare girls to perform in public,  The young ladies would sort of dance while singing their way down the parade route.

They burst into the song from Annie about not being fully dressed without a smile.  Based on the name of the group, I suspect they are based in Japan.  Certain types of entertainment are more popular over there.

The younger ones stole the show especially the first one behind the banner carrier.  She has one of those personalities where she did just a bit more than the rest, kicked a bit higher.
 I had to include this group.  What made them stand out was their Caribbean style music.  Their music has people on the street bouncing in time with them. 

Their music took you away from Hawaii to the Caribbean.  The musicians definitely enjoyed themselves as they bounced along the parade route.
This final picture is of the Hawaii Korean Farmers Music Association.  There were two small children in front of the banner, both dressed in traditional Korean outfits.

I checked the internet.  This group began back in 1996.  The band uses only 4 traditional instruments, each representing a sound of nature.

I hope you enjoyed the descriptions and pictures of both parades.  I actually took like 200 for each parade because I enjoy looking at each one and remembering, especially during winter when its cold and snowy outside.

I hope you enjoyed this.  Please let me know what you think.  Tomorrow, the last installment.  I'll be home by the time you read this.  Next trip is the beginning of July with photos from Phoenix and Puerto Rico.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

1....2.....3......4!

 1......2......3......4......! refers to 1 block party, 2 parades, 3 days and 4 stages filled with entertainment running over the weekend.

Every year, the Pan Pacific festival is held the weekend closest to Kamehameha day.  The Pan Pacific Festival is a celebration of music and dance with both Japanese and American performers.

Today, I have pictures of the block party.  The city closed off four blocks on  Kalakaua Street and venders pitched tents and parked mobile food trucks along the distance.
By 6:00, the blocks were filled with people anxious to try all the tasty foods offered, check out the music and dance, or purchase some locally produced goods.   The truck you see in these pictures is from Leonard's Malasadas also known as Portuguese Doughnuts.  They differ in they have no hole.

Leonard's is so popular, the line started forming as soon as they parked the wagon.  Yes, I was the first one in line because these tasty treats are better than any other doughnut you have tasted.

Next to Leonard's was a southern style food place with BBQ, fried Catfish and other delicacies.  Along the way, I found a wonderful Yakisoba place willing to make a vegetarian version.  It was great. 

It was so full of people, I walked from one end to the other and then headed back to my hotel.  You can see how crowded the party is by 6:30.  There were 4 stages spaced down the street, with entertainment beginning around 7PM.

The people who are most dangerous are the ones who are walking backwards with selfie sticks.  They are trying to record themselves at the event but they do not pay attention to where they are going.
I didn't stop at this ice cream place because I prefer flavors such as Mango, Guava, Lychee, Ube(a purple yam) or other local flavors.  They had mostly standard flavors with chocolate. 

Most booths, including this one, had long lines of waiting patrons, anxious to try the offerings.  I think I saw people tasting their way down the street.   One group sold flavored lemonades in quart jars.  Notice the two ladies who are enjoying their lemonade.
 Groups strolled down the street either heading to or from a stage.  Most stages started with the Kyoto type drumming, a synchronized form of drumming from Japan.

There were also Hula dancers and other dancers who performed.  The group you see in the picture are most likely Japanese who flew in from Japan to perform.  Yes, Japan has Hula schools whose students come over to perform.

This group of hula dancers are getting ready to perform.  It looks like they are in front of one of the original hotels in Waikiki.

I kept watching the leader try to let the sound guys know to cut the music so she and her group could start.  In the meantime, she instructed her students on entering the stage for the performance.

It went on till 9 or 10 PM.  Don't doubt this is a block party, Honolulu style but still a block party.  Waikiki has officers who monitored both ends and some who patrolled on bicycles.  I try to visit Honolulu around this weekend so I can enjoy everything offered.

Have a good day, enjoy the photos and let me know what you think!


Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Christmas in Waikiki

The other day, I decided to wander around Waikiki, checking out stores.  I decided to wander along the side of the street towards the Apple store because I had a technical question and I seldom bother with that side.   Being from Alaska, I knew about the Santa Claus House in North Pole Alaska.  Its not THE North Pole but a town near Fairbanks which celebrates Christmas year round.  Apparently, there is a place in Waikiki known as the Waikiki Christmas Store.  It celebrates Christmas year round. 
Its not a large store, just one in a row of shops but it does stand out with its festivity. The sales people at the store state this is where Santa comes to take a holiday.  You'll see the Santa dolls dressed in their Aloha shirts with surfboards.  These guys are found in the back corner near the cash register.  They'd never heard of the Santa Claus House but one of the other people in the store had been there so it was cool.  If you look carefully, you'll see a pink pineapple.  True story here, there is a tree in Hawaii whose fruit looks similar to pineapple plants so many tourists think they grown on trees.  They don't, they actually grow on a plant rising from the ground.
 Of course what Christmas shop is complete without the tree we associate with the holiday.  This tree is decorated more in the Hawaiian style with see shells, star fish and other local decorations.

I'll be honest, our trees bore the standard decorations when I grew up in Hawaii.  Most of the families I knew also used the standard decorations.  However, when we saw Santa in a Parade, he was in a car and wore the Hawaiian version of so we knew Santa was in Hawaii.

The Hawaiians have their own version of the 12 days of Christmas which starts "On number one day of Christmas, my Tutu give to me."  Each item was local such as on the 5th day, you got 5 big fat pigs instead of gold rings.  No one saw the gold rings.
This is a shot of the outside so you can see what it looks like.  The trees in the window are definitely quite festive.  I am honest, in that I did not purchase anything because I had limited space and I've already purchased the coffee for my parents, the macadamia nuts for assorted friends, hair clips for others, hair sticks for me, and I still have to get the Malasadas but I have to get those on the day I leave so they are relatively fresh.

I think the next time I come over, if my parents are with me, I'm going to take my mother with me since she loves this type of thing.  When she visited me in Alaska, she had a blast visiting the Santa Clause House.  She even sat on Santa's lap there.  I know she's going to have to see this shop.  She'll love it.  I hope everyone is having a good week. 

Let me know what you think.  I love exploring.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Quick Trip Around Oahu.

I'm sharing a few pictures from my all day tour around the island.  I haven't lived on Oahu for many years so I thought it would be nice to take a guided tour around the island to see what has changed.

I got picked up in Waikiki by a huge Roberts of Hawaii bus.  The location of my pickup is on a small side street that can get extremely congested.  

The bus drove us by Diamond Head, past Kahala with some of the most expensive land before heading out to Hawaii Kai.  One of our first stops was at Hanama Bay.

When I grew up there, we'd pop over to swim in the beautifully calm waters but in the last 20 years, the state has taken over, started charging a fee, and monitors the number of people who are there. They are known to close down the parking lot when they feel there are enough people.  For most tours, you are told the stop is space available.    We got to go in.  As you can see it is absolutely beaurtiful.
 After wards, we headed towards the Blowhole.  Unfortunately, the surf wasn't strong enough to send water through the hole.  Occasionally, we'd see a mist flow out but no stream of water. 

This picture was taken off to the side. According to the tour guide, this is where the beach seen in "From here to eternity" was filmed.  Its a beautiful little cove.  Its also a steep climb down but that does not stop people. 

After the driver managed to get everyone on the bus, we hit the road again.  The next stop was at the top of the Pali where the last battle was fought in which Kamehameha united all the islands under one government.   The wind seems to always blow every time I go up there.

The story from when I was young, went this way:  Some days the wind is so strong that it will blow a person who jumps off the cliff, back up.  I don't know how true it is.  I do know you can see the original road from before the current road.  It comes in to the right of where I took the picture.

The original road hugged the side of the mountain, twisting and turning all the way up.  I heard the original cars did not have a gas pump so they had to go up the hill backwards or they wouldn't get enough gas.  In addition, there is a small seat where people waited for the bus long time ago.

 This is a beautiful picture of one of the buildings on the grounds of the Valley of the Temples, a cemetary where  Christians or Buddhists are buried. It is a beautiful site filled with green, trees, and chapels.  The guide explained how family members often put the deceased person's favorite food or drink on the graves.

People used to put bottles of alcohol but the cemetery changed its policy when young people would come onto the property to steel the bottles.

In recent years they've added a pet cemetery just outside of the regular one.

This is China Man's Hat, named for its look.  According to the tour guide, the small piece of land to the left is where the Minnow from Giligans Island crash in the opening.  Again, I don't know how true that is but it is quite possible.

The day was great so we were able to see Maui across the water.  The North Shore has the best waves for surfing during the winter, while the other side is better in the summer.
 We stopped through Koaloa Ranch for a quick tour and lunch.  Koaloa Ranch is where many of the Jurrasic movies have been filmed and they say another one is in the works there. 

The ranch has been around since the mid 1850's a lot smaller but over time has acquired additional land.  At one point, they tried running a sugar mill but it only lasted 8 years.  Otherwise, they've been raising cattle or being used for filming. 

To the left is one of the original bunkers form World War II. The government took over the ranch for a runway, complete with bunkers guarding it.  This only lasted a couple of years before it was returned to its owners.

The bunker to the right was built as a movie set for one of the World War II movies. It might have been Pearl Harbor with Ben Affleck.  The ranch turned the set into a museum.  The guide said it does not go back very far.

From there, we backtracked about a mile to take advantage of the macadamia nut store.  They had the usual flavors in addition to some unique flavors.  I love the cinnamon sugar ones.  The other ones are the salted caramel but I didn't even try the Kona coffee ones because I do not like coffee flavor.

They gave out free coffee for those who drank it.  I grabbed the flavors I wanted, checked out and was outside before most of the others finished.  As you can tell it is a regular stop.


The final stop was at the Dole Pineapple plantation.  It has a small train for people to ride, a maze where one can get lost and a small miniature  golf course.

I had to get a pineapple whip topped with fresh pineapple bits. I loved the tangy smooth taste of this concoction.  It is so good.  I didn't have time to get any fresh squeezed juice but I know where I can get some.  There is a small Dole outlet near the hotel.....LOL.

It was getting late, so we headed back to town.  I arrived back at my starting point in time to visit the farmers market held at the Hyatt.  I found the small apple bananas I prefer and mango sticky rice.  I'll share a picture of that later.

Hope you enjoy this peak of Oahu.  I'd love to hear from you.  Have a good day.