Two more days, first four family members arrive…Interior photos of the house…

This sign is in our driveway. One must park carefully to avoid coconut hitting the roof of the rental cars and, more importantly, one’s head which could be dangerous.

As soon as we’re done posting for today, we’ll be on our way to Hilo to grocery shop for the arrival of the first four family members arriving on Saturday, son TJ,  significant other Sarah, and two grandsons, Jayden, 9 and Nik, 14.

The living room looking down from the loft level. There are two sofas and plenty of chairs.

To ease the dining situation with the remainder of the family coming on the 20th and 21st, we decided to ask each family to make a list of frequently used food items for all meals. They all complied and each family’s preferences are considerably different.

The large kitchen table can seat eight by adding two more chairs.  Most meals will be buffet style.

In two weeks before the others arrive, we’ll make the two-hour drive to Kona to the Costco store to purchase another round for TJ’s family and for the remaining two families.

The sliding door and window in the master bedroom overlooking the roaring surf.

Since we no longer have a printer and with my illegible handwriting the only way I could figure out how to take this long lists with me to the grocery store was to use the grocery app on my phone, Grocery Tracker, which you can download here for free on your smartphone.

The house is a tri-level with this master bedroom on the upper level.

With every item we usually purchase for ourselves already in the app, I named each of TJ’s family’s items like this;  TJ Grated Cheddar, TJ Cheese Puffs. This way the list for TJ’s family would be together under all the TJs in alphabetical order. 

The king-sized bed in the loft bedroom.

Soon, I’ll add the other items under the names of our other grown kids; Tammy, Greg, Richard each specific to their own requests. Then, by carrying my phone, I have access to each family’s grocery list at any given time when we’re out and about. Easy. Otherwise, this could get very confusing.  

Making meals will also be easy. Each family will make their own breakfasts and lunches with all their preferred foods on hand and will have the option of joining Tom and me in dinner each night. Or, if they prefer, they can make their own dinner as well. They only need to tell us in the morning if they’ll be joining us.

Another view of the living room.
With many activities planned, some further away, some will join us and others will not. We aren’t concerned at all with this plan. It will all work out as it always did when they came to visit in our old lives.
It’s been cloudy these past few days, raining off and on, so we’ve stayed busy organizing things in the house, handling financial matters and accounting, taking videos of the huge surf, walking in the neighborhood taking more photos we’ll share tomorrow and enjoying our surroundings.

Yesterday, we had an unexpected surprise when daughter Tammy, significant other Tracy, and grandson Vincent, 8, had a beautiful Hawaiian Christmas bouquet delivered to the house. See the photo below. These should last through the holidays since many flowers native to Hawaii if properly care for, can last for days.

Although we’d told our kids, no gifts since we have no room for anything, Tammy, Tracy, and Vincent didn’t listen. As usual. These Hawaiian flowers are much more beautiful in person. On this rainy and cloudy day, they don’t appear as lovely as they actually are.

Our lovely property owner Liv also left us a beautiful bouquet. We are definitely well equipped with flowers for the holidays especially with only a little shelf and table space in this house.

With our first load of laundry going in the washer in the garage, the bed made, the kitchen cleaned, I’m chomping at the bit to get out after the wash is done. Tom, of course, is always content to lounge and listen to his radio shows and play with his computer, neither of which he’ll do much once the kids arrive.

There’s a walk-in closet in the master bedroom. As you can see, we don’t have much in the way of hanging clothes.

I will continue to post each day while our family is here including on Tom’s birthday on the 23rd, Christmas Eve, and Christmas Day with many new photos of our daily lives, our meals, the lava flow which we’ll visit as soon as the viewing area opens in a few days, and our visits to many of the other local point of interest on the Big Island of Hawai’i.

For online security reasons, I prefer to keep photos of the young ones to a minimum. Plus, it’s easy to tire of seeing photos of other people’s grandkids. Right?

May your day be filled with pleasant surprises.

                                           Photo from one year ago today, December 4, 2013:

On our second full day in the bush, two moms and seven babies (one mom and baby not shown in this photo) became regular visitors to our house in Marloth Park. The moms would stare me down asking for pellets, for which I couldn’t ever resist providing. The moms would let the babies eat first. They were so sweet, I fell in love with the warthogs as those of our reader know from our three months in Marloth Park, beginning one year ago. Please click here for details as I wrote, “Morning doesn’t come soon enough.”  So true.

Aloha, Maui!…Maui expense totals…Six weeks in paradise…Now off for additional weeks paradise…Lava flow still holding…New photos…

The bright sun creates a sparkling sea which we’ve cherished everyday that we’ve been in Maui. There’s only been one totally overcast and rainy day in the past six weeks, although its rained for short periods on many days to later become sunny.

It’s hard to believe that our six weeks in Maui has come to a close. We’ve loved every moment of this laid back, stress free, easy lifestyle so typical of retirees in Hawaii.

All these photos shown today were taken on Sunday early afternoon.

Would we return to Maui? Definitely, someday. As we always say, “We have a lot of world left to see.” And, for the next many months we’ll continue to live reveling in the exquisite Hawaiian Islands until we’re off for our next foray outside the US to Australia and the South Pacific.

Hibiscus appear to bloom year-round in the islands.

Some have asked why we decided to spend four upcoming months on the island of Kauai beginning on January 15th after leaving the Big Island and the family gathering for the holidays. The answer for us was simple.

And yet a few new blooms magically appear in the tropical climate.

The cost of paying for airfare, two oceanfront neighboring houses, meals, and more, was seriously above and beyond our usual monthly budget. By staying put in one location for this extended period, we’ll have the opportunity to save money to recover a portion of these over-the-usual-budgetary costs. 

The shoreline from our condo’s beachfront.

With the rent for the four months in Kauai paid in full long ago, our only expenses will be car rental, groceries, and occasionally dining out and an occasional tour. We anticipate these monthly expenses will be under $2000 a month, considerably less than the budgeted $6000 a month. 

In four months, we’ll expect to recover $16,000, a drop in the bucket of the cost of the family gathering.  However, this difference will pay almost half for the upcoming cruises to Australia and the balances due on our rentals for the next upcoming two years! That’s the way to recover!

The blooming season in Hawaii has long since passed for many flowering plants and trees.

When we’re in Kauai beginning on January 15th, we’ll nickel and dime ourselves while still having a great time on the beautiful garden island. No complaining here.

Now, back to the Maui expenses (rounded off to the nearest dollar). 

Car rental /fuel                  $1,368
Condo rental                       5,789
Groceries                            1,581
Dining Out                             111
Tours & Misc.                         140

Total for 45 days                $8989
Cost per day                       $ 200

Within our average monthly budget although we’d budgeted an additional $1700 for food (dining out and preparing our own meals) which we never used.

We’re pleased to have magically ended up with our preferred monthly of $6000 (an amount we’re willing to pay for our travels) as we brace for the added expenses we’ll experience when our family members arrive, mainly for groceries. 

The bananas in the yard grow bigger each day, soon ready for picking.

With airfare paid for all but one of our kids, yet to decide on a date due to work, and the rents paid in full for both houses, our only additional expenses are for the car rental, groceries, and supplies for all and our personal expenses for tours we may choose to attend with our family members.

Tiki torches on the lawn by the shore.

As agreed with our kids they will pay for their own dining out, recreation, and tours. We decided that taking everyone out for dinner would be too costly at an average of $100 per person. Even McDonalds averages at a minimum of $15 per person based on costs in Hawaii. It’s just not worth it.

Mike, the condo manager, decorated this tree for the mailroom.

Thrilled with the end result in Maui, we’re ready to move on. Later today, we’ll be unpacked and have grocery shopped at the closest grocery store, a 15-minute drive to the village of Pahoa, the village where the lava stalled but took a house before doing so. Hopefully, it will stay “stalled” during our six upcoming weeks on the Big Island. As always, we shall see.

                                         Photo from one year ago today, December 2, 2013:

One year ago today, we were on our way to South Africa.  We wrote about the frustrating delays we experienced in those multiple flights. For details, here.

Remembrances of the ocean awhile ago…The seafarers life awhile ago…One year ago today…We gave away 40% of our clothing and shoes…

Whale ship masthead rings that held the sailors to the mast.

Its funny how as time marches on, many memories flooding our minds have become some of the most treasured experiences in our travels.  Now, into our third year on the move, Belize, our first vacation home outside the US lingers in our minds for our close proximity to the ocean.


Whale blubber pot.

Early this morning I stared out the glass door to the sea feeling that same warm sense of comfort familiar from so long ago with the ocean at our door beaconing thought provoking gazes at the sea at every opportunity.


Blubber hook. 

The sea has held a mysterious attraction for sailors and land lovers alike since the beginning of time.  On Monday, as we wanders through the Whalers Village Museum the passion for the sea was evident in every artifact, painting and representation of sea life. 


Tools used in whaling.

Whaling was big business in centuries passed.  In today’s world and particularly in Hawaii, the love and the preservation of the life of whales is a profound aspect for oceanic devotees and the scientific community.


Replica of small whaling boat.

Although the museum depicted the long ago whaling business, it was evident that today’s profound sense and love of the whale and other marine life is in the forefront of the hearts and minds of the people of Hawaii.


Pilot whale blubber.

While at the museum we watched an amazing movie learning about the humpback whale, much of which neither of us had any awareness.  Many of these facts are depicted in the following site.


Scrimshaw, which is the use of bones and teeth of whales and other marine mammals, was commonly made into a variety of items the sailors later sold at port for additional income.  Also, there were many boring hours at sea and making scrimshow kept them busy.



Scrimshaw picture frame.

Please click this link to find an audio file of the actual sounds of the humpback whale.


Equipment used in making various artifacts.

The humpback whales come to the Hawaiian Islands and also to Maui in December on their long journey from Alaska.  We’re are only weeks away from their arrival, although we’ve heard a few have been sighted.  We’ve spent many hours gazing at the sea hoping to spot them.


Sleeping quarters of whaling boat from early 1900’s.



In getting close to these bunks, we could see how small they actually were, as short as five feet long and two feet wide, certainly inadequate sleeping space in today’s world.

The prevalence of the humpback whale is much greater in Maui than on the Big Island so we’re hoping to see them before we leave in five days. At the moment we’re awaiting a confirmation on what may prove to be a pointless expedition out to sea in hopes of spotting whales.  We’ll certainly post updates here in the next few days.  If “safari luck” prevails, we may have whale photos to share on Sunday.


Ship octant and charting tool.

Today, we share our photos of some of the memorabilia from the much maligned days of whaling in an era when extinction wasn’t given a thought.  Sadly, whaling continues in many parts of the world with little regard for the likelihood of extinction of the whale, perhaps in the lifetime of this generation.


Sailors would make this decorative canes from whale bones selling them in port to supplement their income.



A fiddle kept on the ships for entertainment for the sailors

We’ll be back tomorrow with more new photos and an update on our possible whale watching outing.


Rigger tools.

Have a lovely pre-Thanksgiving day.  In my old life, today was the day I’d make eight to ten pumpkin pies rolling the made-from-scratch dough for the crust of each pie. 


Actual photo of seamen on a whaling boat.



This interesting chart depicts the income earned for various positions aboard ship after a four year period at sea. 

Each of our families or friends that came for Thanksgiving dinner was given a pie to take home along with containers of leftovers.  I don’t miss making the pies but, perhaps, the eating them was worthy of mention.
__________________________________________

Photo from one year ago today, November 26, 2013:

One year ago today, we completed boxing up 40% of our clothing and shoes to give away when we’d accepted the fact that further lightening our load was imperative to avoid continuing excess baggage fees.  More photos of the clothing we gave away are shown in this link.  Please click here.

WiFi issues resolves…Here’s today’s post from Monday’s visit to Kaanapali Beach…Many new photos…

The entrance to the popular Whalers Village shops an attraction for many travelers to the area.
As the holiday tourists arrive in Maui we thought we’d better get to Kaanapali Beach before it became unbearably crowded over the upcoming Thanksgiving weekend. Yesterday morning, we took off for what proved to be an enriching day.
The mountains in Maui on the way to Kaanapali Beach almost don’t look real.

Kaanapali Beach is one of the most popular tourist areas in Maui with hotels lining the gorgeous beach, one after another, from the poshest and expensive hotels and condos to the more moderately priced vacation rentals in some of the older condo/hotel complexes. 

There are many more hotels along the coast in Kaanapali Beach than are shown in this photo.

Hotels, restaurants, shops, and sports adventure huts and kiosks line the boardwalk attempting to lure takers and shoppers of their variety of offerings. In all, it was a feast for the eyes, not unlike the boardwalks of many major oceanfront vacation locations.

With a straight shot on Highway 30, we had no doubt we’d easily find Kaanapali Beach and Whalers Village.

As we perused the row of hotels and shops, we weren’t surprised by the cost of dining at the numerous restaurants nor the cost of products and services. Although prices were high, they certainly weren’t any higher than that which we’ve observed in other popular holiday destinations throughout the world thus far in our travels.

The Kaanapali Golf Course is close to Whalers Village.

Upon arrival in the popular Whaler’s Village shopping and dining complex, we parked in the ramp noting the parking fees at $6 an hour. Knowing we’d most likely stay for several hours, we flinched at the thought of paying $18 to $24 for parking.

One of the first shops we spotted was “Jessica’s Gems.”

Upon entering the Whalers Village Museum we were surprised to discover that by paying the $3 each for entrance in the famous humpback whale museum, we’d receive a free parking pass to present upon exiting the lot. For a total of $6, we wandered through the interesting museum watched a movie about humpback whales, and received the parking pass.

This old whaling boat was on display in Whalers Village.

Also, we conversed with the lovely managers from Minnesota, Marie, and Terry (small world). Terry had lived in Minneapolis as had Tom when growing up. Oddly, they knew some of the same people. It was delightful sharing stories with them about their passion for Hawaii. I drooled over Terry’s profoundly beautiful photography on display and for sale in the museum’s gift shop.

Koa wood is commonly used in creating interesting decorative items in Hawaii.  Click this link for more information on various woods used in Hawaii.

Marie, his wife, and I chatted about letting go of “stuff” in order to change one’s life to a less stress-inducing lifestyle. They arrange tours, events, and condo rentals in Maui. To reach them, click here.

This large Koa wood bowl was particularly interested as we wandered about this expensive shop.

After touring the gorgeous mall, boardwalk, and various sites in the area we were back on our way to Maalaea Beach, thrilled we’d made the effort to get out as our time in Maui rapidly withers away.

These handcrafted lacquered lamps caught my eye for their quality design.

With only six days until we depart Maui next Monday, we’re beginning to make preparations for our arrival on the Big Island which includes:

1.  Pack all of our clothing and belongings scattered about the condo.
2.  Ship a box of leftover supplies to the new house.
3.  Make the comprehensive grocery lists for each family from their list of preferred foods they provided (upon my request) to have on hand when they begin to arrive beginning on December 6th.
4.  Organize and arrange all of our receipts and expenses from our time in Maui which we’ll report in the next few days.

A decorative Hawaiian cape.

This departure list is considerably easier than many we’ve had in the past. Throwing in time to clean the condo, cook our remaining meals, and finish any last-minute laundry, we’ll be good to go on Monday morning. 

These Koa wood hats and caps were priced from $36 for visors to $48 for the full hats.

We both laugh at how much better we’re getting at this part which now is relatively stress-free when we no longer have to suck the air out of the no-longer-needed space Bags. 

Standing at the third-floor railing before entering the museum, we spotted a display at a distance, of a humpback whale skeleton, an attraction many check out when visiting Whalers Village. Tomorrow, we’ll share close up photos of the skeleton.

We further lightened our load when we left the small vacuum in Honolulu at the condo for future use for other renters, tossing the remaining Space Bags.

By turning around from the second-floor railing, the ocean views were breathtaking from Whalers Village.

Thanksgiving will be simple for us with two large chickens, vegetables to roast, and salad to make, leaving us with a few days of leftovers. As always, we’ve carefully monitored our remaining perishable food to ensure we use it before departing Maui.

There were numerous “chain stores” in the mall and also many locally-owned unique boutique type shops. We actually entered several shops to revel in the local merchandise, most of which was very expensive.

We’ll continue to post photos from Whalers Village, the museum, and Kaanapali Beach over the next few days as we wind down the treasured time we’ve spent on the tropical island of Maui, a new favorite on our list of places to visit.

                                          Photo from one year ago today, November 25, 2013:

One year ago, as we continued to wind down the three months we spent in Kenya, we shared some of our photos. For details from that date, please click here.

High in the trees…Observing an unusual task…Life among the palms…

 Video #1, coconut tree trimming.
Video #2, coconut tree trimming.
Each of the three workers climbed the trees at different speeds. At this point they were on the ocean side of the property.

Living in a tropical climate not only offers amazing weather, ocean views, unusual and exquisite vegetation and a smattering of wildlife, it has processes that are less familiar to those of us from more seasonal locations.

Nearing the top of a tree in the parking lot.

If its bananas or coconuts are growing in the yard, enormous sea turtles are swimming at the shore at high tides or whales are breaching out to sea, it’s the scenery that we travelers find interesting and somewhat unusual.

A few days ago, three muscular looking men appeared on the property after we’d received a notice attached to the door asking we move our car far from our assigned parking spot, away from the coconut trees to allow for coconut tree trimming.

Another view in the parking lot.

Apparently, some neighbors had complained that the coconut palms had grown full and were blocking the views of the ocean. With whale watching season fast approaching (some have been sighted) it wasn’t hard to understand the frustration of those neighbors on the upper floors who’s view may have been impeded to a degree.

As much as citizens and tourists from Hawaii appreciate the vegetation, their passion for dolphin and whale watching far exceeds their interest in large palm fronds.

They had a special apparatus on their feet that were instrumental in climbing the trees.

Since our condo is on the first floor, we’ve had no such issue. Also, of late, we’ve spent considerable time outdoors with camera and binoculars in hand ready for any sightings. The three guys immediately got to work shimmying up the 100-foot coconut trees in the parking area, later moving to the ocean side of the property.

If unsuccessful in our quest to see whales in Maui, we’ll certainly take it up again on the Big Island when we arrive in a mere 10 days. There are perfect spots on the lanai of each of the two houses to peer out at the sea for hours.

Let me add something here. We are not condo dwellers by nature. We love quiet and privacy. In Hawaii, housing costs are so high, we had no alternative but to spend 11 nights in Honolulu, 45 nights in Maui, and 120 nights in Kauai, living in condos, as opposed to single-family homes. 

At the top of a very tall tree, this worker’s equipment is more easily visible. They each carried a collapsible bucket for collecting the smaller pieces, letting the big branches fall to the ground.

Upcoming on the Big Island, we’ve rented two single-family houses to accommodate the space requirements for our family at a considerably higher cost than any of these other condos. To rent single-family homes in Hawaii is upwards of $400 a night and much more. (We’ll share our actual costs for the Big Island in later posts).

Anyway, back to the three guys shimmying up the 100-foot coconut tree. Running outside with the camera as they worked in the parking lot, I was amazed at the equipment and ease with which they maneuvered their way up the trees as well as the ease they exhibited when using their machetes to hack the heavy palm fronds to the ground.

The larger palms fell to the ground as they whacked at them with machetes. In the lower portion of this photo, you can see the tops of the windmills atop a hill at a distance. I was standing perpendicular to the ocean when taking this photo.

Their caution and skill were evidenced in their quick and fluid movements and the confidence in which they made their way from tree to tree throughout the property.

In less than four hours, their task was completed, the pristine carpet-like grass was cleared of all debris and off they went to their next job, safe and unharmed, confident, and proud of their good work.

Another closeup view or a trimmer atop a coconut tree.

Of course, we couldn’t resist taking photos and a few videos which we’ve included here today. I apologize for the jittery nature on the longer video when a cluster of biting flies attacked me and the camera. I had to swat them away making the camera move.

I’ve finally finished all of the revisions leaving a few that I was unable to edit due to the excess number of photos which always has an effect on editing. In addition, posting during poor WiFi connections in various countries affected the quality of many of the posts. 

Apparently, removing the bulk of the branches didn’t prevent the tree from continuing to grow coconuts and more fronds.

Someday, if I feel ambitious, I may go back and entirely rewrite those posts. But, for those new readers, we wanted to leave them in place until such a time may arise. 

My latest project is cleaning up my thousands of emails still sitting in my inbox. I always attend to new email messages as they arrive, deleting those I no longer need. 

It was fun to watch them palms falling to the ground, although we stood far enough away.

There are literally hundreds of email messages relative to future travel that need to be placed into appropriate folders, many of which I’ve yet to create. This is a task I don’t enjoy, as compared to redoing the old posts which made me smile during the five hours I spent each day for many weeks. 

Once this final task is completed, hopefully by the time we leave Maui, I’ll feel organized enough to begin planning the grocery lists and meals for our upcoming family get together, in itself a daunting task.

These bananas are growing in the yard at waist level.

See, I’m not as organized as one may think. My underwear drawer is messy. My clothing suitcase is not packed in a tidy manner. My single handbag, used only on travel days, is a convoluted mess of this and that. Then again, I set a lovely table, keep the refrigerator clean and pick up after myself regularly. 

Let’s face it, we all have our “weirdnesses” (sic) and I’m certainly no exception. Ask Tom.

                                          Photo from one year ago today, November 21, 2013:

Gucci and Jessie (with the tongue sticking out) were Hans and Jeri’s dogs in Kenya. They visited us almost every day. For a period of time, we happily looked after them when Hans and Jeri went away for several days. We had one laugh after another and became quite attached. As the time neared, again to depart on December 1st, we said our goodbyes to these sweet two dogs. For details, please click here.

Contentment prevails in a simple life in Hawaii…Many more new photos…A glass bottle wall…

The beauty of the Maui we know and love.
Vine covered building at the Maui Tropical Plantation.
A colorful variety of Hibiscus.

We’d hoped to do more sightseeing while we’re in Maui. What can we say? We haven’t felt like it. Plain and simple. After being on the go non-stop from July 31st to October 5th, 77 days on the go, we’ve had our fill for a while, spending blissfully relaxing time over this past month in Maalaea Beach.

We picked up this star-shaped pod from the Autograph Tree ground. 
More star-shaped pods from the Autograph Tree, clusia Rosea seed pods.
Clusia rosea - Autograph Tree, Scotch Attorney, Copey, Pitch Apple, Florida Clusia, Signature Tree (brown flower)
The above seed pods from the Autograph Tree result in these flowers.  (Not our photo).

No more long lines, traffic, pushing past anxious tourists walking tight along the sidewalk refusing to let this couple in tow pass by, we’ve had our fill. For now, we’re in heaven, grasping at every morsel in time that too quickly wafts through our days and nights, leaving us wanting more of this blissful quiet existence in this peaceful spot on the island of Maui.

Cordyline Indivisa leaf.
Hawaiian made items for sale in a shop on the grounds of the plantation.
Yet to bloom, Spathoglottis Flower Plicata.

We have no desire to jump into the rental car, begging to be used at $25 per day, that sits beaconing us to explore, for which we’ve yet to use a full tank of gas. Contentment. Enjoy it when it’s present. That’s how we feel.

Plumeria, often used in making leis.
We walked under this mass of vines creating a gorgeous arbor.

In but a few weeks, the family will begin to arrive and surely we’ll be on the go, exploring the Big Island with them, interacting with them, loving every precious moment with them. And again, the time will quickly pass, too quickly.

Colorful plants lined the walkways.
Anthurium, also known as bleeding hearts. This variety may be the Watermelon Obake Anthurium.
Jade plant, one of many varieties.

For now, we welcome the snail’s pace when presently it consists of peaceful days and lazy nights in gentle contemplation, of what is yet to come, in the coming month during which they will come and then, they will go.

A palm frond along the walkway.
Another pretty scene in the gardens.

What can I say? Contentment prevails. Contentment wraps its eloquent arms around our currently subdued state of mind, offering a respite from the otherwise complex nature of our unusual lives. 

The stone wall in this photo was actually made with glass bottles. See photos below.
Glass bottles protruding from the wall created an interesting scene.  Talk about recycling!
Photo of the opposite side of the bottle wall.

Bear with us, as we spend these next 11 days, leaving Maui on December 1st, while we continue to embrace this simple life.  In the interim, we’ve gathered and continue to gather, many more photos and stories of this uncomplicated existence, not unlike the life of those who actually live full time in Hawaii, who seldom, if ever sightsee, finding themselves at peace and content, at home in these islands, as we are now…

                                          Photo from one year ago today, November 20, 2013:

It was a windy night in Kenya when we dined out as the only guests in this quaint beachside restaurant. Tom relaxed with a beer, his hair blowing in the wind as I wandered about taking a photo of an upcoming moon, as soon as the cloud would pass. For details from the date, please click here.

“Another boring day in Paradise,” he says…Maui never stops giving…More photos…

“Another boring day in Paradise.” Ha! No boredom here!

Then again, Hawaii never stops giving. Every morning, as soon as we awaken, we open the doors at either end of the condo, the sliding door in the living room, and the main entry door, for the trade winds to waft through for what feels like the most stupendous breeze on the planet.

Greenery at the Maui Tropical Plantation.

Who needs AC in Hawaii if this breeze is available? Surely, when we were in that tiny studio in Honolulu, we had the AC constantly running when we were perpendicular to the ocean with no chance of a cross breeze.

Cotyledon Flower.

The weather in Hawaii, although rainy at times, is the most perfect we’ve experienced thus far. In Belize, although wonderful while we were located on the ocean, it was hotter and more humid. In Madeira, on the sea, it was too cool, even in the summer often requiring that we kept the screen-less windows and doors closed. 

Tom was on the move searching for points of interest.

We’ve lived in many varying climates, these past two years, many of which were unbearably hot, without AC, and most without screens. Without a doubt, Maui has been our first perfect weather location, easily explaining why so many travelers throughout the world dream of living here.

Humor me! I can’t ever resist admiring any living being.

Is it doable to live here? The answer lies mostly in the cost of housing and utilities. Fuel, food, and sales tax are tolerable even though literally everything is taxed at a rate of:

The Hawaii sales tax rate is 4%, and the maximum HI sales tax after local surtaxes is 4.35%.
  • Counties and cities are not allowed to collect local sales taxes
  • Hawaii has 69 special sales tax jurisdictions with local sales taxes in addition to the state sales tax
  • Hawaii has a higher state sales tax than 86.5% of states
Haapala, an Orange Trumpet Vine.

Utility costs are high although from what we’ve been able to determine it isn’t more costly than what we paid in Minnesota two years ago. Few residents of Hawaii use AC frequently to keep costs at bay.  So far, we’ve only seen window AC units and no central AC.

Zebra Dove Geopelia Striata.

Once we were settled in, we decided eating out in Maui wasn’t important to us. So far, after a little over a month, we’ve dined out twice at a total cost of $110 without drinks, appetizers, or desserts. It just wasn’t worth it to us to dine out when we could finally cook our own meals after a 77-day hiatus due to past travels and cruises.

Various ducks, so comfortable around humans at the plantation, that they didn’t mind our intrusion.
This guy was particularly friendly.
Our grocery bill will be approximately $1600 in total for the 6 weeks including all the excess products we purchased at Costco in preparation for Hurricane Ana, much of which we’re mailing ahead of us to the Big Island.
Another cooperative duck.
The actual cost for our food for this period, including some household goods, is closer to $200 per week, a similar amount to that which we’d spent in our old lives in Minnesota.
Another body of water on the grounds of the plantation.
Keeping in mind, that we purchase organic and free-range, grass-fed meat, eggs, and produce when available, we’re thrilled with how much we’ve spent on food here. We’ll end up at no less than $1600 under budget on food alone.
This restaurant on the right was in the process of being remodeled.
Housing in Hawaii is by far the most costly aspect. However, as we perused booklets with houses for sale, we’ve been surprised how a buyer can easily purchase a one or two-bedroom condo with ocean views in the $235,000 to $250,000 range in many lovely areas.
The roof on this building near the footbridge was covered in greenery.
Rentals (non-vacation rentals) are expensive from what we’ve perused online. Buying appears to be the most practical means of affording housing. 
I can’t resist admiring chickens and roosters.
This guy was checking us out, not happy we were walking across his road.
He wandered over to the dirt and greenery for some pecking.
Would we consider living here? If we were interested in buying and staying put, possibly. However, buying a home is not on the horizon for us. Neither is staying in one place. Sure, down the road, old age and bad health may require a less mobile lifestyle. 
The zip line store on the premises.  No thanks.
At this point, we prefer not to speculate that eventuality, although we’ve discussed emergency back-up plans at length. As far as we’re both concerned, this life, for now, is the life we choose.
Another view of the main pond with sugar cane gears.
And, as the days in Maui wind down to a mere 12, we look forward to our next adventure; Big Island, our family, the excitement of the lava flow, and seeing the whales that according to a news story daughter Tammy sent us today, have arrived in the islands. We were already watching for them and will continue to do so with considerable enthusiasm.
An old fashioned windmill that was pumping water on the premises.
The mechanics of the water pumping windmill.
Perhaps in 12 days, we’ll be sitting on the lanai at the first house in Big Island overlooking the ocean to see the whales breaching the water. That, dear readers, is why we live this crazy life!
The koi pond.
                                         Photo from one year ago today, November 19, 2013:
Colorful sky at night at sunset as we wound down our time in Kenya, one year ago today.  For details, please click here.

Vegetation in Hawaii…The interesting Milo tree…

The trimmed Milo tree that we held with little regard until manager Mike told me its story.

Yesterday morning, as I wandered the area looking for interesting vegetation, I was particularly curious as to the trees that often appear in our photos when we take shots of the ocean from our lanai.

Originally, their recently trimmed appearance was somewhat of an eyesore in our photos. More than once, I maneuvered the camera in such a way to ensure they weren’t included in the photo.

Another trimmed Milo tree on the grounds.

Now, I feel a little foolish after meeting Mike, the property manager here at Milowai, our condo complex, explained this building was named after these interesting trees,  “Milo,” after the Milo tree, with the “wai” meaning “water,” tree by the water.

Mike explained they are a hearty tree with a major significance to the Hawaiian people as indicated in this quote below from this website.

“There are those who say that the beautifully grained milo wood utensils, furnishings, and jewelry were only for the chiefs of ancient Hawai`i. It is told that the Waikiki home of Kamehameha I was surrounded by milo trees.

Although rare today, in old Hawai`i milo was a commonly found tree, cultivated as a shade plant around homes near sunny coastal areas with loose soil. It does not grow in the high inland forests.
Brought to these islands by early Polynesian settlers who carried the seeds, this fast-growing evergreen tree was planted around the temples in Tahiti, as it was said to be spiritually connected to the chant and to prayer. It is a widespread species throughout Polynesia and Micronesia, as well as in tropical Africa.
Milo’s scientific name is Thespesia populnea, and it is also known as a portia tree. A member of the Hibiscus family, the malvacceae, it is a close relative of hau, `ilima, and ma`o, Hawai`i cotton.
The bark of milo was used for cordage fiber, similarly to hau, but it is inferior in quality to hau and to olona. The tree also yields tannin, dye, oil, medicine and gum, from various parts of the plant. The milo wood was skillfully crafted into poi bowls called `umeke `ai, and into plates, too. Calabashes/bowls of kou wood were more highly prized than those of milo, and were more often used.
`Umeke `ai is an honored implement in a Hawai`i home, for, through the ceremony of eating poi one at a time from the bowl at the center, the traditions and protocol of Kanaka Maoli is maintained. The `umeke `ai filled with kalo (taro) is considered the means of survival of the people of Hawai`i Nei.
`Umeke la`au is the Hawai`i name for these containers or calabashes of wood, which were used for the storage, transport and serving of food in various stages of preparation. Milo wood is flavorless since it is lacking in any unpleasant-tasting sap that could contaminate stored food.
The milo tree is a small to medium-sized one, growing to less than 40 feet high. The trunk can be 2 feet in diameter at full maturity. The bark is corrugated, with scaly twigs. The branches are widely spread and usually horizontal, making for an ideal shade tree. The glossy heart-shaped leaves are 3-5 inches across.
Young leaves are edible. Bell-shaped pale yellow flowers with maroon or purple centers turn purplish-pink as they within their short one-day hibiscus life. Following the flowering stage, the one-inch diameter seeds grow in globular 5-celled woody cases that have downy hairs on their surface. These remain on the plant for some time and ripen only in areas of dry climate.
Milo wood has an attractive grain that takes to a high polish and, in addition to food utensils and containers, was fashioned into paddles and other carved objects, as well as for an occasional canoe, although koa was considered to be the most popular material for canoes.”
Mike further explained that the Milo tree produces flowers as shown in this borrowed photo below (flowers aren’t blooming at this time) that are messy on the pristine lawn. As a result, they are trimmed once a year which occurred shortly before our arrival a month ago.
Beautiful flowers that bloom on the Milo tree. (Not our photo).
For more scientific information on this exquisite tree, please click here.
The flowers only last for one day, closing into and becoming a seed pod of sorts as shown in this photo below, none of which we’ve seen on the trimmed trees.
The flowers as shown above bloom only for one day, later becoming these seed pods from which eight seeds are eventually released. (Not our photo).

Mike also explained that the Milo tree does well growing near the sea and is unaffected by the salt from the sea which is very close to the Milo trees on the grounds here at Milowai.

I was also curious as to the type of grass on the lawn here. It is so perfect, it almost appears as if it isn’t real.  But, it is real. It’s called South Coast from which a fake turf is actually named. It too, like the Milo tree, suffers no ill effects from its close proximity to the salt from the ocean.

The carpet-like lawn at Milowai.

It’s ironic how we’ve dismissed this odd-looking trimmed tree to discover that in fact, it has its own story to tell, profound in the history of the Hawaiian Islands and its people. Now, we look at it with new eyes and interest.  Going forward, we’ll make no effort to exclude it from our photos.

Sorry, Milo.

                                         Photo from one year ago today, November 15, 2013:

This was the tiny freezer in Kenya. On this date a year ago, when we were leaving on December 1st, we assessed our food on hand to use in the remaining 16 days until we left for South Africa. And here we are now, assessing the food we have left for our departure date once again on December 1st before we leave for the Big Island. For details from that date, please click here.

High surf in Hawaii due to storm in Russia…New photos…Why, this life?…

Although the hills block the sun setting, these beautiful skies give us a peek of what lurks behind the hills.

Forecasters say a powerful storm a few days ago off the Kamchatka Peninsula in Russia has generated a very large northwest swell. This swell reached the Hawaiian islands Monday evening and persists through Wednesday morning, bringing warning level surf to the area.

A new Coast Guard boat in the marina.

We can’t see the resulting high surf from here. The usual break of medium-sized waves along the shores of Maalaea Beach continues as a steady wake. But, the storm in Russia certainly illustrates how the world around us has an effect on others all over the world. 

As a matter of fact, we can “run, but we can’t hide” from the effects that reverberate all over the world from one country to another; political unrest, infectious disease, financial downfall, and as we see here today, weather systems from very far away.

Not our photo. Several times each day we check the surf in hopes of spotting photo opportunities such as this.

Hawaii, not unlike other parts of the world has a variety of newsworthy events occurring due to weather, volcanos, and their lava flow, hurricanes, high surf, and shark attacks. There even a website devoted to reporting on recent shark attacks. Click here for details.

And here we are, Tom and I, safely ensconced in a comfy condo by the sea, perfectly content with the simplicity of this life in the islands, never having to get up and go to work, never having to mow the lawn or shovel snow (especially after recent storms in Minnesota and other parts of the US).

Beautiful colors at dusk at the lava rock breakwaters.

Some may say, “Gee, how did they get so lucky?” In reality, it had nothing to do with “luck” and everything to do with a combined 90 years of hard work and finally throwing in the towel to retire and choose a life “outside the box.”

As glamorous as it may sound, it has required a huge amount of planning and sacrifice which many may hesitate to consider in search of that which may be fulfilled in times of retirement. 

Notice how the colors of these flowers progress to a brighter pink at the top. This is a variety of Aloe Vera.

What was it about our lives that made us take such drastic measures to create a new life? The answer isn’t that easy. For us, it was a combination of many life events that made it a possibility.

In part, it was the self-sufficiency of our grown children in creating responsible and fulfilling lives for themselves allowing us to let go. In another way, it was our own “lurking below the surface” desire for adventure. 

It’s the same challenge with these which we’re unable to find after searching through hundreds of photos.

In another significant manner, it was a result of Tom’s excellent retirement benefits that enable us to continue with this life as long as we can, as long as we want, providing we maintain a strict budget that we adhere to without failure. 

In another way, it is our interest and passion for detail, using the internet as a valuable resource that moved us along allowing us access to the world, never to have been available in years past.

The crisp white and yellow of Plumeria.

Would our health allow us to be away from routine doctor appointments, prescriptions, and usual health insurance? For me, it was only through my restrictive diet that I attained renewed health or I’d never been able to tackle this life on the move when a mere four years ago, maneuvering through daily life was excruciating and barely manageable? 

Also, it was a combined willingness to let go of routines and familiar aspects of life we’d found fulfilling in many ways. Were two people, rigid in some ways, able to change and find new ways to move through life with happiness and fulfillment?

Sunset over the United States Coast Guard Auxiliary Building.

It was a matter of these many factors falling into place that motivated us to choose to enter into this life. And, it was the availability of this amazing world around us, however tumultuous at times; sharks, hurricanes, lava flow, snakes, biting insects, treacherous roads, potential hazards, and risks, that brought us to this place, this date, this time in our lives. 

For this, we are humbled.

                                          Photo from one year ago today, November 12, 2013:

We never quite figured out these pods growing in the yard of the house in Kenya. For details of that date, as we wound down our final of three months in Diani Beach, please click here.

More countryside photos…Lava update…

Full moon over Maalaea Beach. Check out the shadows of that crazy trimmed tree in the condo’s yard.

Last night, we paid the balances on the two houses on the Big Island. The lava flow has stalled as indicated in this article and video from the local news, although it could begin again at any time.

The shoreline is a photographer’s dream.

We’ve decided to take our chances. Worse case scenario? While we’re all in the houses, the lava flow heads our way and we have to evacuate. However, there are numerous less disturbing scenarios that could occur as an alternate.  We’ll take our chances.

The Hawaiian Islands, like many other tropical islands, is an ever changing weather phenomenon.

Talking back and forth with our grown kids, everyone seems OK about forging ahead. In a mere 28 days, on December 6th, the first four of our family members will arrive. The remainder are coming around December 21st, most leaving by January 3rd with two staying until January 9th. 

Its hard to believe the time is almost here. It was two years in the making. It was last March that we began purchasing airline tickets as I was reminded yesterday when I found myself doing revisions for March while we lived in Morocco, mentioning the challenges of booking the many airline tickets.

The subtle colors in this hills is breathtaking.

Maybe now, for the next few weeks until Tom and I fly to Big Island on December 1st, we can relax in the knowledge that we’re moving ahead with our plans without a worry in the world. 

If the lava flow rears its ugly head again, we’ll deal with it at the time.  In the interim our goals are simple, spend quality time with our loved ones, maintaining our theme of low stress, easing our way through each day.

It’s odd at times to find lush vegetation in what appears to be arid and desolate areas.

Today, the revisions continue as I’m now midway through April 2014 with only seven more months to go. Doing this task has been painstaking in some ways but enlightening in others. I have had the opportunity to read back through every post since beginning mid March, 2012. 

The swirling ocean below the ravine where we stood and watched.

I’d assumed when I began this daunting task that I’d giggle over how naïve we were in the beginning. In some ways, we were. In other ways, we prepared ourselves well with the tremendous amount of research we’d done before ever leaving Minnesota, let alone leaving the US. 

The views of these hills is appealing to our desire for more remote locations.
It’s been rewarding to be reminded of where we’ve been, what we’ve seen and that which we’ll see and do in the future.
It’s raining now, an oddity for early morning in Maui and the sky remains totally overcast, another oddity. Usually, we can see the billowy clouds moving through the sky with the promise of sunshine on the horizon.
This orange buoy is a marker for a nearby scuba diver.
Rain or shine, we’re content with each day for the simple treasures we’ve been blessed to behold.

Have a happy weekend!


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

The humidity in Kenya was so high that mold began growing on our deck of playing cards. For details on that date, please click here.