Its never easy…Then again, nothing worthwhile ever is…One year ago, a precious photo from a friend…

Last night’s waning moon with clouds.

Every morning as I prepare for my day, I begin the process of thinking of the post I’ll soon sit down to write. I have no angst around these thoughts. They’re just thoughts.

Clouds obscuring a pie slice of last night’s moon.

I check the camera for the previous day’s photos looking for inspiration often finding an answer on the viewfinder. After downloading the photos, inspiration comes, however small, however simple and I’m at peace that the words will come.

Now, the opposite side is blocked by clouds.

Honestly, it’s particularly challenging as we near the end of a stay in each location after writing many posts, day after day. I never tire of sitting down with my cup of coffee or tea (either will do), placing a pillow under my right elbow to support the bad shoulder, as the words flow from the tips of my fingers as they type, more in a physical than mental manner. 

Every morning this view takes our breath away.

Sure, we have stats to indicate how many readers, we have which we’ll share here in the next several days as we reach a milestone. But even so, I often wonder if some of our readers simply check out the photos as opposed to the words.

If they do, it still makes me happy. Knowing that even one person finds a moment of pleasure in our posts, makes it all worthwhile. Besides, with our six grandchildren here over the holidays, it reminded us of the legacy we leave for our grandchildren, their grandchildren, and generations to come when they can look back at years of posts of their kooky ancestors who traveled the world in their old age. 

After looking through hundreds of photos, I’ve yet to find the name of this tree in our neighborhood. Its leaves appear to be velvet.  Any ideas?

Oh, would that we’d have loved to be able to reference the travels, the thoughts, the photos, and the experiences of our ancestors on such a medium as the worldwide web. My grandmother Ethel, lived an amazing life. What I’d give to read her story, page by page, photo by photo, over a period of years of her life.

As the numbers of our readership grow day by day, year by year, we find great comfort in the driving force writing here provides.

The name of this street in our neighborhood makes us chuckle. Many Hawaiian names and words are difficult to pronounce, but this one seems relatedly easy.

More than anything, it makes us take notice of our surroundings more than either of us had ever done in the past; a sunrise, a sunset, a rising moon, a breaching whale, a blooming flower, or the simplicity of water running gently along a creek. We notice it all. For this, we are grateful. 

And…for our readers, we are grateful. Without your readership, comments, questions, and support, it would be hard to continue writing each day.

The Tsunami and hurricane warning horns, and various signs at the local park.

Some time ago we heard from Jody, a reader in Minnesota, explaining how she rides the metro to work in downtown Minneapolis each day. On the way, she reads our story of the day on her tablet, lessening the boring long ride.

The local park without signs hindering the view.

If on a rare occasion, I feel like “taking a day off” for lack of adequate fodder, I think of her and her disappointment to find the same post from the prior day with nary an inkling of any new material. With that thought, my laptop lid flies open and I begin again, determined to nudge my fingers into action once more.

                                            Photo from one year ago today, January 7, 2013:

I wasn’t the only person in Marloth Park that was in love with warthogs. Ken (wife, Linda) shared this photo with us to post one year ago today. Thanks, Ken! For details from that day’s post, please click here.

Mesmerized by the sea from the patio…The sounds, the spray, the waves….Family is loving it! We’re loving them being here!

This greenery is prevalent in the yard rather than grass. Apparently, these plants withstand the saltwater, flourishing in their constant moisture.

Living this close to the ocean is an event in itself. Although the house is small and is as well-stocked as many of our past vacation homes, we’re managing to make it work for all of us.

Here’s our visiting family of four from left to right, Jayden 9, Nik 14, TJ, and Sarah.  We couldn’t stop laughing when we took this shot at a local stop in Pahoa. 

When the others arrive on the 21st, we’re confident it will work out well for all of us especially when a few of us will be at the house next door.

It’s easy to just sit outside watching the waves hit the lava rock shoreline. Yesterday, I took this photo from a sitting position in a chaise lounge.

Yesterday afternoon we visited the village of Pahoa to take the kids shopping only to discover the shops in the downtown area were closed on Sunday. Pahoa is not necessarily a huge tourist area although there may more lookiloos (sic) here now due to the lava flow.

A more distant view of the above.

As a result, this sleepy, often referred to as “hippie” town rolls up the sidewalks at night except for a few restaurants and pubs. We never mind that aspect of living away from the typical tourist spots after all.

Last night’s full moon as it ascended into the sky with only a few clouds in its wake.

That’s not to say prices are less here in Pahoa than in the heavy tourist areas. Unlike Maui, the prices on groceries on the Big Island are very high, higher than we’ve seen in any of our travels throughout the world.  Literally, outrageous! A family of four eating three meals a day and snacks will easily spend $600 per week.

A few dark clouds impeded the lower view of the moon last night.

Tom and I eat only one meal a day with no processed snacks, we can manage for about $250 a week, buying only fresh meat, produce, and a small amount of dairy and nuts. Since our only beverage of choice is iced tea we avoid the high cost of soda and other beverages, chips, and crackers

After a break in the clouds.

After our short trip to town, we returned for our second taco night in a row and some amazing photo-taking time when the moon made its appearance around 7:15 pm. 

Here’s our moon in its full glory.

We hope our readers don’t tire of our moon photos. Learning to take good shots at night has been a huge learning curve for me. Seldom reading directions, I have chosen to learn by trial and error. Finally, I’m beginning to utilize the proper camera settings to lessen the difficulty of this process.

TJ was wearing a hat with dreadlocks attached. We couldn’t stop laughing!

Last night was one of the first moonlit nights I felt more at ease taking photos. Of course, the moon over the Pacific Ocean on a relatively clear night certainly added to the experience.

Guess who?

Today, we’re off sightseeing today with hopefully some amazing new photos tomorrow. Tonight, out to dinner to a local Chinese Barbecue restaurant with reports on our first foray into dining out in Pahoa.

Whether the tide is high or low the waves spraying on the rocks is awe-inspiring.

Have a fabulous Monday. We love that the days of the week each offer the same blissful opportunities to enjoy life to the fullest.

                                            Photo from one year ago today, December 8, 2013:

This was the first time we saw “Clive” a local wild ostrich when we went for a walk in the neighborhood in Marloth Park. He was busy checking himself out in the glass of this vehicle but later turned to look at us. At a later date, he came to visit us at our house for which photos will follow soon. For more photos, please click here.

Happy Thanksgiving to our family and friends in the US…Happy day to our friends all over the world…More new photos…

In Maui its not unusual for clouds to suddenly roll in along the mountains.

Every Thanksgiving Day of my adult life except for the past three years of living in the “world” I’d dash out of bed early in the morning, hurriedly shower and dress to begin the day and the process of making the big Thanksgiving Day dinner, having made the eight to ten pumpkin pies the previous day.

Entrance to the beautiful beach in Kaanapali.

The time would quickly pass, as I multi-tasked making one familiar dish after another, enjoying every moment as I jammed our multiple refrigerators with one pan of yet-to-be-cooked dishes in preparation of later in the days’ appearance of family members, or not.

In later years, three of four of our grown kids and their families (living in the area) often spent the holidays at the “other side” or had begun to develop their own traditions, and Tom and I were alone, a not uncommon scenario for families of divorce and multiple and varying family lifestyles.

A view of the sea and cloud as we walked the boardwalk in Kaanapali Beach.

Those last years in Minnesota, whether we were alone on holidays or together with family and friends, Tom and I made the day festive about the varied dishes, fabulous smells wafting through the air and, thankful for our lives filled with abundance in many ways.

Today, not unlike this third Thanksgiving in a row, I awoke this morning, hurriedly showered and dressed, and turned on the hot water for my tea. There’s no food to cook when yesterday I roasted two chickens and vegetables that we’ll happily reheat tonight, adding a salad and fresh cooked green beans, prepared in a matter of minutes, not hours.

Along the boardwalk at Kaanapali Beach.

Do I miss the preparations of years past? Not, at all. I often ask myself how I seemingly happily spent so much of my time cooking, cleaning, and preparing meals in my old life when now, the simplicity of the way we eat takes little time mostly spent in washing, chopping, and dicing vegetables for side dishes and salad.

Kiosks appeared every few hundred feet offering various ocean activities.

Of course, we miss the playful and meaningful interactions with family during get-togethers That fact will never change, soon to be revived in a matter of weeks on the Big Island. But the work, we don’t miss at all. 

Restaurants line the boardwalk at Kaanapali beach.

As time has marched on, we’ve come more to the realization that it never was about the food, the beautifully decorated house and the endless gifts under the tree, the 18 decorated Easter baskets carefully arranged on the massive dining room table or, the bunny rabbit cake, although each of these aspects and many more added to the traditions and festivities.

Whether it’s the ocean or the mountains, Maui is breathtaking in every direction.

In time, those traditions will be but a distant memory for all of us, as new traditions are born, each bespeaking this time in life, for us, for them, and for generations to come.

Skeleton of a humpback whale at the Whalers Village.

Soon, as we anticipate their arrival, we wrap our brains around simple time spent together, sharing stories, playing games, gazing out at the sea all the while embracing these special moments, that in themselves, become the new traditions of another place and time.

The boardwalk is cluttered with accouterment appealing to the tourist population.

So, today, we’ll happily enjoy our “leftovers” put together in a matter of minutes for another fine meal, on yet another fine day, knowing that what we have today is all we want and what the future soon brings when we’re all together again, is all we’ll need.

Happy Thanksgiving to those who celebrate today. And, happy day to all.

                                              Photo from one year ago today, November 27, 2013:
In error, yesterday I accidentally posted a photo from this date one year ago. As a result, there will be no year ago photo for today. 

Another cloudy, rainy day in Vancouver…About Vancouver…Tasks of daily life continue wherever we may be…

The Vancouver Island Ranges are in the far background of this photo I took through the windows in our condo late in the day. 

We’ve had our fill of sightseeing in pouring rain. Drizzle, we can handle. Over the past few months while on the move, most days have been rainy, windy, cold and cloudy. Right now, we have no desire to get soaked through our jackets as we’ve done on several recent tours. We’re hoping for a sunny day when daylight soon breaks.

The fountain in the Sheraton Wall Centre courtyard.

The fact that we happen to find ourselves in some amazing places, certainly triggers the urge to see what each location has to offer. However, sometimes life gets in the way via rainy days and other items on the agenda, as one has when they have a fixed home and responsibilities.

Today, if it’s even partially clear, we have one thought on our minds: Tom’s computer data transfer. The screen on the old laptop is severely damaged, preventing us from manipulating the transfer of his files to our external hard drive, a zip drive, and then on to the new laptop. We need another screen from which we can operate in order to do so. We don’t have a proper cable on hand to use the TV as a monitor in our condo or to use my laptop as a monitor for the transfer. 

Club Intrawest, a members-only condo hotel is located on the upper floors of the Sheraton Vancouver Wall Centre. We’re on the top floor, the penthouse level, on the 30th floor.

We’ve decided to take a walk to a nearby computer repair store which is 500 meters from our hotel to have them do the transfer for US $54 rather than spend valuable time trying to find our own solutions. Plus, we’ll have them wipe out the old hard drive and dispose of the laptop.

A flower we spotted on our rainy walk to the grocery store.

With that behind us in the next few days, perhaps we’ll be able to focus on seeing some sights in Vancouver until we board the cruise on Tuesday morning. There just hasn’t been enough time with pouring rain impeding the prospect of going out and enjoying ourselves. 

Last night, we dined in, after a trip to a local grocery store. It was surprising to go on an escalator for the second half of the store’s products. I suppose the locals are used to using the hand baskets, starting upstairs before they load the regular wheeling carts.

Escalator in the grocery store in downtown Vancouver. 

We purchased roasted chicken and salad ingredients. With nuts for dessert, it felt good to stay in to watch a few shows on a rainy night, which we haven’t done in almost two months since leaving Madeira on July 31st. 

Vancouver is a beautiful destination, especially in the warmer summer months with many activities befitting tourists of any age and families with children. Our combined (for two) one-way airfare from Boston was only US $346, much less than we’ve paid for many other flights, making it affordable for travel.

As we’ve seen thus far, it is expensive in Vancouver, especially in the downtown area, where we’re staying.  We’ve heard on that staying in hotels outside the city is much less expensive. 

Beautiful flowers lined the boulevard in Vancouver.

However, we’re definitely enjoying the views from downtown and have no regrets that we’re staying here.  Besides, we can see the cruise terminal from our condo which is a short cab ride away. Many cruisers at have mentioned taking a bus to the cruise terminal on Tuesday. With our heavy luggage, we prefer to take a taxi. 

On departure day at the cruise terminal, our checked baggage is immediately whisked away from our taxi to our cabin, leaving us with only a few carry on items to handle until the cabin is prepared for us to move in, usually by 1:00 or 1:30 pm.

Here is an excellent link to information about Vancouver. Most likely, we’ll return here someday when we take a spring cruise to Alaska, hopefully staying for a few months. Alaska is on our “must-do” list but, doing so is far down the line. We have more countries and continents to visit after leaving Hawaii before we travel the US. 

Here are some Vancouver facts from the above website:

Based on 2006 Canadian Census reports, the population of the City of Vancouver in 2010 is estimated at 601,203.
Greater Vancouver’s estimated total population for 2010 is 2.4 million, 52.3% of BC’s population of 4.6 million.

Federal government departments provide service in English and French, but most of the population speaks English as either a first or second language.

The City of Vancouver is quite cosmopolitan and is a mix of many multicultural groups. Because the city is multicultural, it’s also multilingual on an unofficial level. Its people speak many different languages and many follow the traditions of their native lands, sometimes moderating them with Canadian culture.
After English and Chinese, the most common mother tongue languages spoken are Punjabi, German, Italian, French, Tagalog (Filipino), and Spanish. More than half of Vancouver’s school-age children have been raised speaking a language other than English.

We recommend all visitors use Canadian currency when traveling within Canada. Visitors can exchange currency at Canadian chartered banks, trust companies, credit unions, or at offices of foreign exchange brokers, but it is advised to have local currency on hand prior to arriving. Some hotels, merchants, restaurants, and suppliers accept US or other foreign currency at a pre-determined rate, which may differ from the daily rate posted by financial institutions.

    • Canadian one dollar coin (“loonie”) ($) = 100 cents
    • Canadian two dollar coin (“toonie”) ($) = 200 cents
    • Notes are in denominations of $1000, $100, $50, $20, $10, $5
    • Coins are in denominations of $2, $1, $0.50, $0.25, $0.10, $0.05, $0.01 

Effective April 1, 2013, most purchases in British Columbia will be subject to a 7% Provincial Sales Tax (PST) and a 5% Goods and Services Tax (GST), with the exception of liquor (10% GST). For more information, visit Changes to the Sales Tax in British Columbia.

Time Zone
Vancouver is in the Pacific Time Zone. Daylight savings time is in effect from the second Sunday in March until the first Sunday in November. You can see Vancouver’s time in relation to most cities on the globe by visiting, which also can provide a Canadian calendar.
Greater Vancouver, like all major cities, runs 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The main workdays are Monday to Friday, from roughly 8:00 am to 6:00 pm – but hours vary for each organization or business. Retailers are usually open seven days a week, and most stores are open from 9:30 am to 6:00 pm each
day-except Thursday and Friday, when they are open until 9:00 pm. A number of large retail stores, nearly every hotel and motel, and several restaurants remain open around the clock.”

As we sit in the Member’s Lounge each day, preparing the next post which we’ve now scheduled to arrive for our readers by 5:00 am mountain time, we feel comfortable and at ease with no pressure to be anywhere or do anything, other than get the computer repaired, do laundry on Monday and pack once again.

Hopefully soon, we’ll pack up Tom’s two laptops into the waterproof duffel bag, grab an umbrella from the front desk and make our way to the computer repair store, hoping to achieve his objectives. Tomorrow’s forecast is for a sunny day. We’ll see if that works out.

Back tomorrow with more photos of Vancouver! Stay tuned!

                                          Photo from one year ago today, September 19, 2013:

Tom drank two bottles of this local Tusker beer. You’d have to carry me out if I drank two of these. I’m often tempted to have a drink but having anything with alcohol, as seldom as I do, results in outrageous hangovers from two of anything. Plus, one is no fun! Click here for more photos.