Monday, January 23, 2006

Arrival at Stowe

January 14, 2006
6:20 PM

Here we are at Stowe. After two days of driving, we’re sitting here in our condo, watching the Seattle-Washington game, our bellies full of home-baked pizza and German beer. I’m going to try really hard to stay up until 8:30 to watch the Broncos/Patriot game. All I know is the Broncos better play a good game or I’ll have to forsake them for bed. (I didn’t sleep well in the motel in Connecticut last night.)

Okay, so we arrived here in Vermont, and it’s like spring outside. Temperatures in the 40s with fog and rain. All the rivers look swollen from snowmelt; the conditions on the slopes say “spring conditions.” Not good. But…the forecast is calling for snow tonight, six to eight inches, so our fingers are crossed. Anyway, we won’t be skiing until Tuesday, so hopefully, things will get better.

Tomorrow I’m planning to check out the consignment shop—that’s Kathy & my annual “must do” whenever we come to Stowe. She wants to watch the Colts-Steeler game tomorrow at 1:00, so I don’t know if she’ll go with me. I’m betting, though, I’ll be able to talk her into it. Sunday is really the only day we can go because Monday, we have appointments for a day at the Topnotch Spa, compliments of my wonderful husband, Frank.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Next Trip: Stowe, Vermont

I hope all of you have enjoyed accompanying me on my trip to Hawaii. Stay tuned for my next travel blog when we go for a week of skiing to Stowe, Vermont in January.

Happy New Year!

One Last Day

12/14/05 –5:23 PM

Randy was waiting for us when we walked up in front of the Army Museum. It was so great to see him again. He’s barely changed at all in 15 years! He took us to this French bistro in Chinatown, and I had chicken fettuccine which was delicious! It was great talking over old times with him. Oh, and he gave me the most gorgeous tuberose lei I’ve ever seen. It smells heavenly!

When we got back to the hotel, I went to the beach one last time, and now here I am, writing this, and waiting for my hair to dry a bit before I style it. I think we’re going to the Hale Koa Barefoot Bar for drinks before dinner and then to the Oceanariam where they have a giant aquarium.

Tomorrow our taxi arrives at 11:00, and we’ll be off to the airport. It’s been an awesome ten-day vacation!

But the highlight? Without a doubt, it was when Frank & I privately renewed our vows at the Valley of the Temples. It was so impulsive and romantic, and I’ll never forget it.

Monday, December 26, 2005

Snorkeling in Haunama Bay

12/14/05 – 11:00 AM

It’s our last full day in paradise. We’re going to be leaving in a few minutes to go meet Randy for lunch. He is picking us up in front of the Army Museum near Fort DeRussy. I’m really looking forward to seeing my former boss again—the best boss I’ve ever had, I might add. I loved working for him in the financial district of downtown Honolulu. That—and working for Congressman Jack Fields in the Rayburn Building—were two of the most exciting jobs I’ve ever had…well, at least until I became an author and got to go on two Levy book tours.

So…yesterday we went to Haunama Bay for snorkeling. It was just as wonderful as it used to be. I saw some really gorgeous fish; one was a beautiful electric blue with hot pink around its fins. I tried to follow it for awhile, but eventually lost it. Personally, I could’ve stayed there all day, but Frank was hungry and wanted to get back to the hotel. (Sorry, no pictures of snorkeling. We bought an underwater camera, and I haven't been able to scan them yet.)

After showering, I went to the International Marketplace to do the last of my shopping, and when I got back, Diana & Jim were here. They had just enough time for an early dinner before heading for the airport. We had a drink then went to the Cheesecake Factory for club sandwiches, and of course, cheesecake. We each ordered a different kind so we could sample each others—Godiva chocolate, lemon raspberry, dulce de leche caramel, and banana cream. I thought the caramel and the lemon raspberry were the best, with the caramel just edging the other out.

We walked Diana & Jim back to the Hale Kola where they’d left their car, and they went off to the airport. It was still early so Frank & I walked around for a while. We ended up at the oldest hotel in Waikiki, the Sheraton Moana Surfrider, and had tropical drinks in the Banyan Courtyard where there was live Hawaiian entertainment. An absolutely lovely way to end the evening.

Unfortunately, Frank seems to be coming down with a cold, so we stopped at the ABC Store and bought him some Nyquil. I sure hope it’s a false alarm because it’s not going to be a fun flight home if he’s sick.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Another Day at Ko Olina

12/12/05 – 8:16 PM

Another awesome day. Before we met Diana & Jim for brunch, I went walking through the International Marketplace, but didn’t buy anything. Got some ideas, though.

Champagne brunch at the Hale Koa was amazing, as well it should be at $20/person. What a spread! Everything from sushi to lamb to luscious desserts. I didn’t think I ate much, but I guess I did because I was stuffed when we left.

After brunch, we went our separate ways, Frank & I back to Ko Olina, and Diana & Jim went for a drive around the island. But they joined us at the lagoon about 3:00, and we stayed there to almost sundown. We dropped the car off at Enterprise and came back to Waikiki to shower. We’re waiting for Diana & Jim to come here so we can go out to the Cheesecake Factory for dessert. Yes, I know I vowed I wasn’t going to eat anything more today, but I guess I lied. How can I resist cheesecake?

Saturday, December 24, 2005

12/12/05 – 6:39 AM

Time is just speeding by; I didn’t even get a chance to write yesterday.

After lunch with Lynne, I went back to the hotel and spent a couple of hours on Waikiki Beach. It was nice, but after that afternoon at Ko Olina…well, it just pales in comparison. On Friday night, we played golf at Hickam under the lights. I did pretty well—no pars like the other day we played, but I had a couple of good drives. After golf, we went to Anna Millers—the very first restaurant I ever ate at in Hawaii in 1987—and had dinner. It was after 9:00 but there was still a wait for a table. I had a great turkey club sandwich and Kona coffee, and for dessert—coconut custard pie. (Wish I’d gone for the coconut cream, though.) We were exhausted by the time we got back to Waikiki so the four of us said our goodnights and went to our separate hotels.

Yesterday Frank and I went on a road trip to the North Shore, stopping at the Dole Plantation on the way. I decided to live life on the edge (since I’m allergic to fresh pineapple) and tried the pineapple sherbet. No reaction. I put the palm of my hand on a pineapple and waited for the itch. Nothing. I leaned in close and inhaled the fragrance, expecting that familiar itching in my throat. Nothing. I wanted so badly to actually eat a piece of pineapple, but I admit it, I was scared. The last reaction I’d had in Waikiki 17 years ago had been really terrifying. It had felt like my throat was closing up. So I decided not to try it. (But last night I did order a chi chi with fresh pineapple juice—I’m assuming—and I didn’t have a problem.)

We went on to the North Shore, stopping at Weimea Bay, Punaluu Beach and Sunset Beach. The waves were huge, and we saw a bunch of surfers way out. Got some pictures, but I don’t know if they’re any good. We took the long way home, stopping at McDonalds near the Polynesian Cultural Center for lunch, then took the Likelike Highway back to Honolulu. It was only about three when we got back to the hotel, so we went to the beach for a couple of hours. Last night before we met Diana & Jim for dinner, we walked to the International Marketplace and…can you believe it? Didn’t buy a thing.

On the way to the Hale Koa at dusk, we saw a figure walking toward us in a super-skimpy bikini bottom. With a snort of disgust, Frank mutters, "Here comes Mr. Tarzan." But as the person got closer, we realized that it wasn't a "mister." HolyCow!!!! It was a woman walking down a busy avenue in Waikiki wearing only a skimpy bikini bottom. Okay, she wasn't big breasted, but she definitely had breasts. And she was happily displaying them for the world to see. For a minute, I thought I was back in Italy or Greece. We could barely believe our eyes. So...I know there is a story there...(someone swiped her top as she was sunning on the beach?)...but we'll never know what it was. (Topless woman, if you're out there somewhere, please e-mail me and tell me your story.) Oh, and sorry, guys...I didn't get a picture.

The four of us went to Fisherman’s Wharf for dinner, and it was good, but not as good as I remembered. The mahi mahi was mediocre. The restaurant itself wasn’t as elegant as it used to be—almost a little rundown, and I felt a little cheated. Hope we have better luck tonight.

Our plans today are to meet Diana & Jim at the Hale Koa for brunch, then go turn in our rental car, stop at the Navy Exchange to return one of my dresses, then go to Ko Olina for the afternoon.

Our time is winding down here. Diana & Jim leave on Monday night, and we leave on Wednesday. Only three more days. :(

Friday, December 23, 2005

Lunch with Lynne

12/10/05 – 8:45 AM

I recognized Lynne right away. I walked from Waikiki to Ala Moana, and got a little turned around, but managed to find my way without any trouble. The mall was just how I remembered it—busy and confusing. But I found Starbucks outside Macy’s, ordered myself a peppermint mocha latte and waited for Lynne. I saw her coming toward me, and knew immediately it was her—especially when I saw her smile. We went to Macaroni Grille and got caught up on each other’s lives. After 15 years, that’s a lot of catching up to do. It was really fun seeing her again. She gave me the cutest Hawaiian swizzle sticks and some darling ornaments shaped like sandals. After lunch (penne pasta with pesto sauce—yum!), we had the hostess take our picture together, and then we went to See’s Chocolates and I bought…what else? Butterscotch Squares, my favorite. Lynne and I commented on how our tastes were so similar in most everything, with one major difference. She prefers dark chocolate and I like milk chocolate. It was so good getting together with her again. Back when we worked together, I probably bored her non-stop with all my whining about trying to get a book published. <>

Thursday, December 22, 2005

12/9/05 – 7:25 AM

Another day in paradise. Funny, how it feels more like paradise now that I’m here on vacation than it ever did when we lived here. It’s that old nasty four letter word that starts with a “W” that makes the difference, I guess. When you have to go to work, it’s doesn’t feel much like paradise.

As I mentioned earlier, I’d never gone to a luau in the four years we lived here. Don’t know why, exactly, except that it was always pretty expensive, and money was tight. In fact, I can think of only two ways we splurged on tourist things while we were here—the whale watching tour on the Navatek and the time we went to the Polynesian Cultural Center on the North Shore.

We arrived at the luau about 5:00 and received our tropical drinks and a shell lei. Then we all sat on this grassy lawn on beach mats and watched the entertainment. When they asked for volunteers to come up and learn how to hula, I’d had just enough of my Blue Hawaii to answer the call. So this hula dancer taught us a simple dance, and as uncoordinated as I am, I’m sure I looked like an idiot, but it was fun.

We watched the guys dig up the kalua pig from its pit; the aroma was wonderful. We then went to our tables, right up close to the stage but off to the side, and began eating our appetizers—a salmon-tomato relish, marinated seaweed and a salad of pickled cucumber and mango. I didn’t try the salmon-tomato relish because of the chopped onion in it, but the seaweed was interesting, and I loved the salad. And then…the poi arrived at the table. Now, I’ve always heard just how nasty poi was, and I didn’t think I’d have the nerve to try it. I have to admit it didn’t look promising. But I tried it—the traditional way, with two fingers, and it was…bland. Not bad, not good, not anything, really. Then I dipped a banana in it, and that was pretty good. The main meal arrived—a plate of kalua pig, teriyaki chicken, mahi mahi, rice, potato, glazed beef tips, all of it delicious. My favorite, though, was definitely the kalua pig. Dessert was coconut cake and some kind of bland gelatin. The show was great with lots of hula dancing and singing, but my favorite, as always, were the Tahitian dancers. Not only do I love to watch the girls twitch in their full grass skirts, I love the beat of the drums and the native music. Frank was expecting to get pulled up on stage by a Tahitian dancer as had happened almost every single time we went to a Polynesian show in the past, but this time, much to his relief (he claims) he was passed on by.

Today I’m meeting Lynne for lunch at Ala Moana. We used to work together at the base library 17 years ago. Wonder if we’ll recognize each other?