Saturday, September 17, 2022

Back to the Islands...Maui and Kona

If you know us or followed my blog at all, you know that one of our favorite places to visit and "vacation" is in Hawaii.  Obviously, we can't take the RV there and it's truly our fantasy getaway place to completely relax.  I, for one, love all the islands, and don't really have a favorite.  Jack, on the other hand, favors Maui, so we tend to return to that one more than any of the others.  This year was no exception.

We usually go towards the end of October, around Jack's Birthday, but decided to celebrate our anniversary there this year instead, which is around Labor Day.  It made it tougher to find places, etc. but, oh well...

We ended up booking our time share for one week in Maui then another on Kona, the Big Island.  Another change for us this time was that we didn't bring any friends along.  I can't remember the last time we've done that, as we almost always do.  Because of the holiday period, places were harder to find and we ended up getting "hotel style rooms", something we've never had before.  We also decided not to rent cars at either island as we have toured both of them extensively and didn't feel the need to do that again.  This was going to just be a full, sit and relax kind of vacation.

Maui was our first destination.  Our room was okay, nothing special, but it had a great view of the resort overlooking the ocean.  There were two pools, that I quickly learned two things about:  neither one was designated for "adults only" so both were FULL of kids, and two, both were ICE COLD!  Now, the heater at our place here in Arizona has been out in our Olympic size pool all summer and it's not that cold, these pools were half that size, in the full sun, and freezing cold.  I got in, and got out!  Yikes.  The beach was beautiful, gentle sand, and the water was bathtub warm...that's where we went everyday!  It was only steps outside of the resort...so who needed the pool?

O
Watching the sunset from our balcony at The Royal Lahina Hotel
Red-crested cardinal enjoying breakfast with us
Along our beach walk

The resort offered free shuttle service to the nearby mall that had plenty of shopping and restaurants as well as another shuttle service that was all of $2 to Lahaina.  We enjoyed both, going into Lahaina for our anniversary dinner.  Fancy drinks and sunset included. It was lovely. 

Fancy drinks and a walk along the boardwalk in Lahaina

 

We were not thrilled with the "on site" restaurant.  We tried, but the menu nor the prices just didn't impress us, so I turned to Google for help and discovered The Castaway Cafe right next door!  A 2 minute walk and we not only found good food and great prices but wonderful staff that we soon became friends with!  We almost hated to leave them at the end of the week.

 

Watching the sun set from the Castaway Cafe

The following week we were off to Kona!  We've only been here once before, about six years ago.  Our friends own a home here and had invited us to stay with them, and kindly showed us just about everything one can see on the island....thank goodness!  Renting a car here (which you need to have if you are going to see anything, as this is a BIG island) is expensive, at least it was the week we were staying.  I figured out that between the car rental, the hotel parking charge and gas, it would have cost us about $1000. for the week.  Not worth it, so we didn't.  

The pictures of the hotel before we booked really didn't do it justice, so when we got there, our jaws dropped.  We soon realized we had actually been here before to "see it" when our friends took us here as a "you've got to see this place, it's unbelievable".  We had taken the boat tour around their little canal and ooh and ahh then.  Now, we were staying here.  How cool was that?


The room was twice the size of the one in Maui with a view of the beautiful Asian gardens.  This resort was huge - 64 acres huge.  An adult pool (nearest us, warm and peaceful) along with various other pools of different sizes and shapes, a man-made lagoon and beach, waterfalls, a dolphin pond, and acres and acres of Asian gardens filled with sculptures and art all surrounded by a water canal and monorail system to get around it all.  Beautiful. They had a variety of restaurants to choose from along with different shops and markets, plus a shuttle service ($) to the local mall for more choices.  All fun, and delicious. 


One amusing thing we discovered were the myna birds.  Seems that right outside our room were these trees that they liked to roost on, so every evening around 4pm or so, they would start flying in.  They would line up along the rooftop...hundreds and hundreds of them, and slowly fly into these trees.  Then as the sun set, they would start chirping.  This goes on for a bit... then quiet down until about 4 AM and the chirping begins again!  Now, you have to understand, there are hundreds and hundreds of these birds, all chirping at the same time - it's LOUD!  When I first heard it, I couldn't quite figure out what it was.  I followed the sound and ended up going outside to look for it, and that's when I discovered it was the birds! Wow.  After that, I realized their pattern and was blown away at how many there were as I watched them come and go.  I used to tell Jack, "here comes our evening and morning choir!" Once you knew about them, you got used to it.  It really was kind of amusing.

We enjoyed a luau while we were there as well.  Now we have seen one on each island except Oahu.  It was quite nice.  We had front row seats, met nice people, the food was good, weather was wonderful and the entertainment was delightful.  I would have to say that the fire dancers were some of the best we've seen.  But as for the luau itself, the best we've experienced, I feel was on Kauai, hands down. 


No matter how many times we go to the islands, we discover new things, enjoy new wonders and always have a wonderful time.  It truly is a paradise for us.  The only downside is the long trip back home.  I hate that plane trip.  The older I get the worse it seems, too.  We ended up taking the "red eye" this time, and I promised myself, I will never do that again...ugh.  We couldn't sleep, to uncomfortable, so we were up for 24 hours, and just wiped out when we got home.  Took us days to get back into shape.  We're to old for this anymore...guess we've been spoiled with all the years of RV travel!  ;-)  

Well, this is probably it for awhile now.  Only two more trips scheduled for the remainder of the year...until then...Aloha...


kicking back in Arizona,  Marie

 

Monday, August 22, 2022

Cooling off in Flagstaff...

Phew!  It's been HOT here this summer...and the monsoon's are going strong!  Of all the summer's to decide to stay home...makes me wonder why we chose this one??  Guess we needed to learn what Arizona's summers were really like, first hand, ha ha  

In truth, it's not been all that bad...You get used to it, and adapt to it.  Most days I go to the pool first thing in the morning and exercise with a small group of ladies for about an hour then come back and change and get what ever "outdoor" chores need to be done, done.  Then head inside to for most of the day for the rest of the chores, or in and out of a/c from one place to another.  You get into a routine.  But, after a few months of it...you need a break, or at least I do.  So, off we went to the (local) mountains!

One of our favorite stomping grounds is Greer's Pine Shadows Campground (now called Flagstaff RV Park) in Flagstaff.  We've camped there a number of times, usually coming and/or going from our trips.  We especially like it because it has TREES, and you really feel like you are in the mountains.  To many places are just large parking lots now with small planted trees here and there that don't even afford you any shade, let alone give you any since of nature.  This place is more like a state park with it's lots surrounded by nature, big old pine trees everywhere.  I love it.  So peaceful, you don't even hear the road traffic that's right outside of the campground or the trains that's not far away either...just nature.  Nice.  


Most the folks here that go to the "local mountains" go a little further higher to a town called Show Low.  I thought I would try it, and gave several campgrounds a call.  Our rig "was to old", so they wouldn't accept it.  Well, after a couple of calls, I thought "if that's their attitude, I'll go back to Flagstaff, who needs that attitude?"  So, we've never made it there...guess it's nice, but we'll never know...

Monsoons don't care if you are down in the valley or up in the mountains...they are going to find you!  We had lovely sunshine every morning, but by mid-afternoon, the rains came, almost everyday.  I got my morning reading and sunbathing in, but it sure put a damper on any grilling and campfires!  Oh well...

The cooler weather (in the high 70s, low 80s) was such a wonderful break, and just what we needed.  We browsed our favorite book stores, ate out a couple of times and just relaxed.  Pure R&R, nothing more. 

Soon our two weeks were up, and it was time to head on back down to the valley...no problem though, we were refreshed and smiling again!  Ahhhh

...kicking back in Arizona,  Marie


Thursday, May 26, 2022

Springtime visit with family!

I haven't been to see my family in Washington in a couple of years, and with my only remaining sister getting on in age (88), it was high time I get up there for a visit!  Jack wasn't up to taking the RV up there, so that left me with flying.  

We usually visit in the fall when it's cold, so I thought it would be nice to see it in springtime when the flowers were in bloom.  I thought May would be nice a break from here and just maybe not to rainy there.  People here leave in April to "go back home", which about 70% seem to live in Washington, so May seemed like a good time to go!  I knew I would miss the tulips in bloom (something I've always wanted to see), but hoped I would catch the daffodils (no such luck).

Being retired, I forget when holidays are, so completely forgot about Mother's Day, and booked the Tuesday after, (thinking that flying on a Tuesday would be less busy).  It wasn't until long after I had booked that someone asked me if I was going to celebrate Mother's Day with my sister?  Ugh.  I ended up calling her and telling her we would have to "do it late"! Sheesh! 

My sister now lives with her youngest son and his wife, and they gracefully made up their spare bedroom for me.  What a lovely room, I even had a mint on my pillow to greet me!

I have to say, Washington was lovely...all the flowers were in bloom, the grasses were green the trees were all in leaf, spring had absolutely come!  I even got lovely sunshine most of the days I was there, and was able to sit outside and have iced tea while enjoying the birds and butterflies fluttering by!  

Of course my sister and nieces had lots of activities planned for me.  The first being a whole family gathering at one of my niece's homes.  A wonderful casual dinner so that I could catch up with everyone and get all my missed hugs and news.  


We went to the movies, out to lunch, and to visit her friend's to see their "project".  They have been covering a tree with crochet pieces!  My sister crochets the pieces (all in different patterns and colors) and her friend Mickey puts them together and attaches them to her front yard tree trunk!  It's called "yarn bombing" and it's very popular in Tacoma.  It's really quite pretty and fun!  

We caught up on the "special occasions" of my birthday and Mother's Day by going to a really nice dinner at The Melting Pot, a fondue restaurant that I have wanted to try for eons.  What a delight it was!  The service, the food, the place, everything was fantastic!  What a treat!  Way more food than we could eat...but we sure tried...the valet even gave us warm cookies as we departed, now that's service!


 We also made a trip further up north for the day to see my sister's oldest son and family.  It was a lovely drive, full of sunshine and a nice visit.  We even made time to stop and see some funky art and antique shop in Mt. Vernon on our way home! 

As with all visits, this one ended all to soon, and it was time to go home.  With promises to come again and hugs all around, I headed back on the plane (not my favorite way to travel anymore).  It may be spring in most parts of the country, but in Arizona, it's "summer" as the heat has arrived in full force...the "triple digits" as we call them, are arriving and we are in for a hot one!  Oh joy!

...kicking back in Arizona,  Marie


Sunday, March 13, 2022

Camping in Cottonwood AZ

 We decided not to make the "big trip" this year, and instead, just stay close to home and maybe do a few short trips - with the RV Club and on our own during the summer.  Last year's long trip was quite a strain and Jack, the RV and even I needed a little break.  So, we shall see how it goes...this "staying put" thing!

Our first trip out was with our RV Club, to a campground called Dead Horse State Ranch in Cottonwood AZ.  It's only about a couple of hours from our resort, which was a nice drive, and a change of scenery.  There were about a dozen coaches, so a nice size group of us - not to small or big.  

 Being in a "group" is still kind of new for us, as for the last seven plus years, we've pretty much traveled and camped alone.  There a pluses and minus to that kind of camping.  I enjoy both.  

The coordinator was "on top" of everything for this trip.  She had each evening planned with campfires scheduled and hosted at different sites, people signed up to go to local entertainment (an Escape Room and a BBQ with entertainment) along with various hikes during the day if you wanted.  Two potlucks were also scheduled.  

 

 I, personally love potlucks, it makes cooking and eating so much more easy and fun.  You get to try new foods along with the opportunity to chat with so many people.  We are still getting to know most of the people in the club, so this gave us the chance to mingle and learn about some of the members.


 

 

We pretty much stayed around the park, only going into town one day.  Decided not to do the two evening outings, but joined the other few couples around our campfire and enjoy the glorious sunsets we were greeted with instead.  

All in all, it was a lovely four days.  The weather was cool in the mornings and evenings and warm, sunshine during the daylight.  The group was super friendly and fun and the trip was short and sweet!  It would be fun to do this more often, but as the season is drawing to a close...people are getting ready to "head back home" for the summer, so this will be it for the group until fall I'm afraid.  So, we will be on our own to come up with camp outings!  


Kicking back in Arizona,  Marie


 

 


Thursday, December 30, 2021

Finishing up year with Friends, Food and Photos...

As we close out 2021 and the travels for the year, we did our last trip to the town of Palm Springs California.  We have a Time Share, and needed to "close it out" for the year as well, so a week over Christmas seemed like a fitting way to do that.  


We have friends who have a second home in Palm Desert that invited us up early for a couple of days so that we could visit before we checked into our Time Share Condo.  It had been a year since we had seen them, so it was really nice to be able to visit and just catch up.  Other friends live just down the ways from them in their RV Resort, so all of us got together for breakfast the next day.  They had moved into a new resort, so we all went over to their place afterward and "oohed and aahed" at how beautiful it was!  

We quickly learned the challenges of eating out while here...seems Palm Springs has adopted the rule that one must show their COVID Vaccination ID to sit inside their restaurants, while all the other outlying towns only mandate that you wear a mask.  Of course, we were staying in Palm Springs, which means we had to drive a half hour each time we wanted to eat (and it limited which restaurants).  Annoying to say the least.  On the plus side, we found new places we wouldn't have tried!  ;-)  

A couple of days after we checked in, my niece and nephew-in-law drove in from San Diego to visit with us for the day.  He had some work to do during the day, so my niece and us just wandered around town and then that evening we all went to a nice dinner.  Once again, wonderful to be able to see and catch up with them!

Some friends of ours from Happy Trails where we live, moved from here to a condo in Palm Desert, so we went to visit them in their new home.  Very nice, and of course very different from living here.  They had it completely remodeled, and had been living in dust and construction for months.  We got to see the finished job, lucky us!  

The following day we did a "sit in"...a lazy day of doing nothing!  Jack read, I watched TV all day!  Wow, can't remember the last time I've done that!  It was a cloudy, cold day and we just didn't feel like going anywhere...so we didn't!  Felt good!  ;-) We did have lovely views from our window though...

Christmas, we were joined by our dear friends Kay and Everett, as we had in years past.  We had found a lovely restaurant in El Mirage called Acqua California Bistro.  What a wonderful meal!  Four courses, with several choices each...all lovely...and no dishes to wash!

 

The last day there, we drove out to Borrego Springs Desert to see the metal sculptures at Galleta Meadows.  We had been told about them from our friends and it sounded just the sort of place we like to venture out to.  I found a map online that took us right up to them..wow, what a treat!  We lucked out with the weather, and even though it was the holiday week, it wasn't to crowded.  We stopped at almost every one of them (130).  I ended up taking almost 60 pictures!  What a wonderful find!  An interesting back-story too.  Seems that the owner of Avery Stationary hired an out of work welder (Ricardo Breceda) to promote Galleta Meadows Estate (land lots).  I don't think the lots really took off, but the sculpture's fame did!  Funny how things work out. 

In spite of the ups and downs of the crazy weather and what seems to be the on-going COVID on-again-off-again restrictions, we managed to enjoy traveling this year.  I was bound and determined to finally get to see the Gold Coast of Georgia and the Carolina's and we did, plus some.  We not only got to see family but friends that we hadn't seen in many, many years.  Even after having camped in all the lower 48 states, we still managed to find new places to discover, to camp and to enjoy, along with revisiting "old favorites.  With all that said though, both us and our sweet RV are getting older and these cross-country trips have taken a toll on us.  We did inform everyone this year that this is our last "long-haul" trip, that future ones are now on them.  Time for them to come out west for a visit!  We will continue to travel, but it will be closer to home, and shorter trips.  Us, the RV and the truck all deserve it now...

We stayed at 41 campgrounds this year and drove over 9000 miles in the RV!  

If you would like to see the rest of my photos, you can on my Flickr at https:/https://flickr.com/photos/74905158@N04/albums


Wednesday, October 13, 2021

Time to say goodbye to our Summer Trip...

We did have one last lovely camp-out with friends just before heading home.  Four days at Catalina State Park in Tucson.  Nice sunny days with cool breezes and lovely sunsets.  Another couple friends of theirs joined us, so we made new friends as well, which is always fun.  We even got in a couple of games.  Tried to play cards in spite of the wind, which was a challenge.  I think we laughed more about that than the game!  

It was pretty there with the Datura plants in bloom and mesquite trees everywhere...but the biting bugs...ugh!  I'm not sure what they were, gnats, or mosquitos, or flies (lots of those too) or ?  But I am still itching from those bites!  They had had quite a bit of rains prior to our visit because you could see the residual dried mud runoff, so maybe they were from that...or from the plants?  Don't know, but they sure liked us and made sitting outside a challenge.  ;-( 

All good things come to an end (so the saying goes)...and so does our "Summer Trip".  We rolled back into Surprise earlier this week and was greeted with lovely mild sunshine!  So nice to come home to low 80's instead of "triple digit" weather here in Arizona!  Wow, such a nice arrival and a great way to have to unload and do all the trudging of bringing everything back in plus cleaning up the 6 months of dirt on the outside of our little home!  


We did have wonderful neighbors who watched our little home while we were gone, watering our few potted plants (they even added some for us!) and ridding the weeds.  But our ground plants have grown out of control...so we have our work cut out for us...might even need an ax to get to them!  lol

Well, I think it's going to be awhile before we go out again, but you never know, so we keep our baby "ready" just in case an offer to good to pass up comes along....so I won't close up the year...just yet!  ;-)

Until then, we are home in Arizona,  Marie

Wednesday, September 29, 2021

Utah isn't just about Red Rocks!

 After days of cold, windy weather with nothing to look at but flat sagebrush, we finally left the southern area of Casper Wyoming and headed to Utah.  We no sooner crossed the state line and within a half hour began to see beautiful fall foliage color all along the hillsides.  What a wonderful site!  One of my friends had posted some pictures on Facebook of it, but she lives higher up in the mountains of Utah, so I hadn't expected to see any on our trip into the state.  I am so used to just seeing the state's wonderful red rock forms, that coming in from Wyoming, I guess I've never caught the mountains and canyons filled with trees...and at this time of year, now filled with color.

Once we settled in, we decided that since the weather was so glorious, we would look into where we could go see the trees even better.  After doing some research I found that there was an Alpine Loop Scenic Drive through the American Fork Canyon that took you up into the mountains and canyons that was supposed to be a great place for "fall color viewing" as well as various picnicking and hiking.  We decided that Sunday was the perfect day to do it, the weather was ideal at about 85 degrees, slight breeze and a clear blue sky, so off we went!  

Wow, New England doesn't have anything over Utah, and for us "westerners", it's a whole lot closer!  The road was an easy drive, not to many curves, traffic not to bad, lots of places to pull over so I could pull out my camera and snap away at leisure, as well as a number of picnic areas and even some campgrounds.  A number of hikers and climbers were out having a great time too.  You could tell that this was "early fall" and in another week or three, it will be even more spectacular, but it was mighty great for me.  I love the swath of Aspen groves in amongst the hills, that bright yellow is so eye catching against the reds, oranges and greens.  I will admit, Aspens have always been my favorites, and to see them outside of Colorado is an extra treat.  Of course I took way to many pictures, but here's a small sample (the rest are in my flickr account if you have an interest).  


Another fun "eye candy" was across the street from our campground.  We always stay at the Lakeside RV Campground in Provo (one of our favorite campgrounds) and just across the street and down about a half a block is the Lakeside Storage (once owned by the same family).  The owner is a "collector" of gas station signs, pumps, some old cars, a couple of small planes, kids rides, and a few various other things he may have found "interesting".  Hundreds of them...enough to make you go "wow!"  We first noticed it (you can't miss them) when we started coming to the campground back in 2012, and each time we came, we noticed the amount seem to get larger.  This time (it's been a few years since our last visit), it seems much larger, so we decided to venture over and see if we could actually visit inside and meet" and learn about this strange collection.  

We had a delightful chat with the on-site manager who shared with us that the owner now lives in Hawaii while she and her husband live on site.  He owns this while his daughter owned the campground down the street, but she sold the campground a while back.  He still comes into the storage company and is planning on turning the property across the street (his place is on both sides of the street - one for garages and across the street is open space for RV/Boat storage) into an special event area.  He just keeps adding pieces all the time, she said.  He certainly has the space!  What an incredible collection, we'd never seen anything like it.  It was really fun strolling all through his collection.  


For such a short visit, we sure had a lot of fun there, and actually hated to leave!  We are off to Kanab for another quick stay before heading on to Arizona.  Hopefully the sunshine will continue to follow us!

...on the road in Utah,  Marie

If you would like to see the rest of my photos, you can on my Flickr at https:/https://flickr.com/photos/74905158@N04/albums