Final full day in Maui…Disappointing whale watching…

The Maalaea Marina as we made our way out of the windy bay.

Boarding the boat that held 146 passengers was a lengthy process.  Not only were we asked to arrive by 12:15 for a 1:00 pm sailing but after we’d checked in, we had to wait with the crowd for another half hour for our guide to “walk us” to the awaiting tri-hulled boat.

The view in front of us while we were seated on the boat.  Our condo building was straight ahead.

VIP members of the Pacific Whale Foundation were allowed to board first which after making their donation, made sense to us.  Luckily, we were next in line after that group able to pick preferred seating on the boat which surprisingly ended up with less than 101 passengers on the long holiday weekend.

We’d read numerous reviews on on the Pacific Whale Foundation stating that passengers were disgruntled when they were “required” to have their photos taken.  Long ago in our travels, we learned that no one can “make us” have our photo taken unless one has signed a contract agreeing to do so.

As our boat was heading out to sea another similar boat was returning.

Shoo them away!  That’s what we’ve done in all of our travels and again yesterday when pressure was exercised for us to get in line for a photo before getting on the boat.  We passed right by, shaking our heads and saying, “No thank you,” as we’ve done many times in the past.

Its hard to determine the severity of the winds from our photos.  Our eyes were focused on spotting whale blowhole spouts as we were instructed by the marine biologist on board as the easiest way to spot a whale.

The wind was blowing so hard, it almost knocked me over.  We’d both worn our matching BugsAway bill hats, having to hold onto them during the entire period to keep them from flying away. 

We enjoyed sailing past the same road we’d taken to get to Lahaina and Kaanapali Beach.

The crisp white of the boat, the glaring sun and the huge waves made watching the ocean for whales a bit challenging.  Wearing the hat helped block some of the glare.  Holding onto it was annoying.  Even wearing my quality sunglasses, I needed the hat on to allow me to see anything at all.  We sat on the top deck of the boat, adding to the feel of the wind. 

As we took off, the captain explained that Maalaea Bay is the windiest harbor in the US and second windiest in the world and that yesterday was one of the windiest days they’d seen of late.  Had we spotted any whales it would have been challenging to take a photo or a video when it was nearly impossible to stand up and maintain one’s balance.

The scenery in Maui is always beautiful.

After the first 30 minutes, I left Tom in the seats we’d originally picked to find a better vantage point, hoping I wouldn’t miss a shot.  Although, one whale spouted from its blowhole, I never saw it nor did many others.  We waited in the area for it to reappear, only to move on 30 minutes later when it never surfaced again.

At the end of the event, all the passengers were offered another complimentary outing, good for one year, since we never really had a sighting, also due to the fact the two hour boat ride was so uncomfortable in the high winds. We’ll have no way to use it when neither of the upcoming two islands has locations for the Pacific Whale Foundation.

After I’d move to the bow of the boat, I stood for another 30 minutes, holding on with one hand while the other held the camera in ready mode.  On a few occasions, the boat lurched substantially.  Luckily, I held on for dear life, using my left not my bad right arm.

We’d have loved having photos of whale to share today but, the scenery is all we have to offer.

After that, I found a decent spot to sit with a good view of the bow, ready for action.  The only action I saw during the last hour was the lively conversation with a lovely tour guide I met who lives in the islands.  Exchanging business cards, we agreed to get in touch in the near future.

When the boat finally docked at the Maalaea Marina, I walked back to find Tom with a huge smile on his face, cheerful as ever, happy to see me.  He’d stayed in the same seat during the entire two hours, knowing I’d find him at the end.  Based on the fact the captain never announced that anyone had fallen overboard, he never had a worry in the world.

In Maui, one minute the sky is blue and moments later, the clouds roll in.

We weren’t as disappointed as we could have been had this been an actual “vacation” in the islands.  Whales will be surrounding us in many of our future locations and we’re certain that at sometime in the future our whale watching aspirations will be fulfilled.

Today is packing day.  Now that it takes less than a half hour to pack everything we own, it causes no concern or stress for either of us. 

The reality finally hit us that we’re leaving Maui.  Last night, as Tom peered out the open door to the lanai he said, “It’s hard to believe we’re actually in Hawaii.  Then again, its always hard to believe wherever we may be.”  So true, my love.  So true.

Tomorrow on travel day, we’ll post our total costs for the entire six weeks we spent in Maui, including a breakdown of rent and expenses.  Please check back for details which will be posted at our usual time.

At the moment, Tom is watching the Minnesota Vikings football game on his computer and is happy as a clam.  That’s not to say that they’re winning!

Have a happy Sunday!

Photo from one year ago today, November 30, 2013:
One year ago, it was travel day from Diani Beach, Kenya to Marloth Park, South Africa, a long and laborious journey.  As a result, no photos were posted on that date.  But, soon as we arrived in Marloth Park, the fun began when we had visitors every day during our three months of living in the bush, having the time of our lives.  For details of that travel day, please click here.

Tomorrow’s upcoming adventure…Three days until departure…

Out for a drive, we stopped to see this beach.

How excited we were to hear we had a confirmed reservation for a whale watching expedition for tomorrow (Saturday) at a 1:00 pm sailing.  

Maui has one beautiful beach after another.

We secured a reservation with help from our new friends, Marie and Terry at Maui Travel Partners, condo and event booking agents, whom we met last week at the Whalers Village Museum. With the busy holiday weekend, we were thrilled to secure a spot.

Many beaches are left in a natural state with vegetation growing along the shoreline.

If we don’t have the glorious opportunity to see whales, we’ll consider the fact that we had a pleasant boat ride in Maalaea Beach.  The outing is arranged through the Pacific Whale Foundation, which has a location in this area, an organization devoted to the preservation of marine life as indicated below:

“Pacific Whale Foundation is a non-profit organization founded in 1980 to save whales from extinction. Our mission is to protect our oceans through science and advocacy. We are an international organization, with ongoing research studies in Hawaii, Australia, and Ecuador, and are active participants in global efforts to address threats to whales and other marine life.”

The colors in these hills looks more like a painting than real life.

The foundation states there is a 97% likelihood that we’ll see whales.  But, a little skepticism is in play based on the fact that the whales usually arrive in the islands in December which explains why we waited so long to book this event. 

Perhaps, we’re a few days off or not.  We shall see if “safari luck” prevails once again tomorrow afternoon.

The top of a mountain peeked through the clouds.


In a matter of minutes the clouds began to disperse for a better view of the mountaintop.  Notice the buildings at the top of the mountain.

This morning I’m off to the post office in Kihei to mail the package to the first house in Pahoa containing the excess food and supplies as a result of our zealous purchases at Costco in preparation for Hurricane Ana when we first arrived.

On the road to Kihei, we stopped at this park to walk along this wood walkway.
The walk on the wood walkway.

We decided that even if the cost to mail the package is $50, it will be worth doing so.  In estimating the cost of its contents, I calculated a total of $125, certainly worth the effort. 

Breathtaking shoreline.

Now, I’m rushing to complete today’s post including more new photos, drive to the post office with the package and return for another fabulous day.

We stopped to investigate what appears to be a Chinese cemetery.

The weather is perfect, the doors (with screens) are wide open welcoming the cooling breeze, and we’re content as we can be knowing that every single day of life matters and is as fulfilling as we choose to make it.

A headstone with two stones left as a token of love, by a visitor.

We hope our family and friends in the US had a wonderful Thanksgiving.  Happy day to all.

Photo from one year ago today, November 28, 2013:

One year ago today, as we wound down the time in Kenya, we anticipated the ferry that was necessary to take in order to get to the airport located on the island of Mombasa.  For details from that day’s story, 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 most posh 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 though 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 the 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.

More amazing vegetation…What’s a Monkey Pod?.. A village visit in the rain…The magic of Life..

The massive short trunked Monkey Pod tree we found in the village of Wailuku on Saturday. 

Yesterday, we took off at 10:00 am for Costco to return the floor model laptop Tom purchased in Boston on September 15th.  Costco offers a 90 day no-questions-asked return on all digital equipment enabling him to purchase a new preferred Acer model online, transfer his files and finally be done with the problematic floor model. 

With the new laptop data transfer completed and assured he’d taken everything off the old one that he needed, we were ready to return the older one.  True to their commitment, Costco handed us the cash for the return in a matter of minute, indeed with no questions asked.

With our RFID wallets (security enabled) there isn’t a lot of room for that much cash.  For safekeeping, we purchased a gift card for $500 which we’ll use toward the purchase of food and supplies for our upcoming family gathering next month.  The gift card (now in a secure spot) won’t put a dent in it, but we decided its better than carrying cash.

Pretty scene from Wailuku in the rain.

After Costco, we headed the few short blocks to the airport to sign a new contract for the rental car.  The 30 days was up and renewing can’t be done over the phone for more than a few days, as we’ve learned from past experience. 

Luckily, we were able to get the same excellent online rate, prorated for the remaining 15 days.  At $725 for 30 days, we were content with the total $1100 for the six weeks in Maui.  We’d expected it would be considerably higher in Hawaii.  Booking cars online makes all the difference in the world on pricing (as opposed to booking from vendor’s website).

Another tree in Wailuku that had a variety of plants growing in the “Y” of these branches.

We’d hoped to explore Maui on the return drive but, as it seem to be the case each time we attempt to explore, it was raining in buckets.  Determined to get a few decent photos, we decided to follow another path and check out Wailuku, the city for the mailing address where we’re now living, although several miles from our condo.

I didn’t hesitate getting out of the car in the rain to take some shots. What’s a little rain water?  As it turned out, the most exciting find of the day was the huge Monkey Pod tree as shown in these photos with Tom getting the car in a perfect position enabling me to get out of the car with unobstructed views of the enormous tree.

Monkey Pod tree’s actual pods. (Not our photo).

Tom is great when I’m trying to take photos, maneuvering the car to the most advantageous spot, driving around blocks retracing our steps in order to avoid missing a possible subject we’d past and couldn’t stop to capture.  Its a perfect pairing to say the least.

As the rain escalated, it only made sense to find our way home.  Its hard to get lost in Maui.  Its merely a matter of finding the sea with major highways that follow the coastline to some degree or another.

Could this Bird of Paradise look more like a bird?

Once we were back home to find the sun shining we put on our swimsuits to head to the pool.  Sun in one area and not another is not unusual in the Hawaiian Islands – raining in one area  of an island and not the other; raining when the sun is shining, both frequent occurrences in Hawaii.

As we welcomed the warmth of the sun, we came to a mutual observation.  We are not only drawn to wildlife but, we are almost equally mesmerized by vegetation in any form; a tree, a flower, a plant. 

Ah, we still get our “animal fix”  in Hawaii including this free range chicken in Wailuku.

Vegetation in any form has a life cycle that is often mysterious and profound.  In our travels we’ve strived to gain a knowledge and admiration of vegetation with the same passion we glean from all forms of life. 

Sure, a tree may not have a brain with an endearing personality and behavior patterns us humans find appealing.  Instead, they have a unique life cycle that we are free to enjoy at varying stages, as they cross our path.

We discussed the Milo tree we’d shared in yesterday’s post and now the equally interesting Monkey Pod tree that we happened to encounter in the rain, a tree that also has its own unique story to tell as illustrated in today’s photos and links.

Link to documentation of the University of Hawaii’s report on the Monkey Pod tree.

Monkey Pod tree flower which only blooms for one day, later becoming the shown pods with a green bean-like structure. (Not our photo).

Based on this article, the Monkey Pod tree is now banned from new plantings in Honolulu due to its massive structure which can reach over 60 feet tall and 100 feet wide, obstructing and destroying everything in its path.  Luckily, many of these gorgeous trees still stand on the various islands of Hawaii. 

We expect, with the people of Hawaii’s reverence and regard for their surroundings, the Monkey Pod tree will remain as a legacy for its citizens.

We drove down a dirt road to get this rainy photo of the hills near Wailuku.

Ten minutes later, the sky clouded over and heavy rain began to fall.  We hurriedly headed back inside, by no means disappointed, especially when we consider that the rain provides much needed moisture for the exquisite vegetation surrounding us.

Hawaii is no Masai Mara or Marloth Park with wildlife all around us, although hopefully soon, the whales will arrive in the islands, a treasure for our viewing. Having seen the sea turtles now on several occasions, we’re hopeful to soon see the whales. 

In the interim, we continue to find joy and fulfillment in our love and appreciation of the “Life” surrounding us, in whatever form it may be, wherever we may be.

Photo from one year ago today, November 16, 2013:

A year ago we wrote about the size of Africa as compared to other continents and countries.  As shown, its huge comparatively.  For details of that story, 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 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 continue 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. (We wish it was!)  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 fulfilling in times of retirement. 

Notice how the color of these flowers progresses to 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. 

Its 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 enables 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 to a 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.

Stuff happens…Plans change…

A catamaran at the pier.

Today, we’d planned to go to Kaanapali Beach for the day, after we finished posting here.  In close touch with family, today I want to be nearby for a Skype call regarding a beloved family member’s serious medical issue. That call trumps all else.

As a result, we won’t have photos from Kaanapali Beach until I feel more at ease not being available by Skype for my family.  No matter where we may be, life goes on and the trials and tribulations of daily life continue, perhaps harder when we’re so far away.

An old boat awaiting restoration or the junk yard.

Then again, in our old lives, all of our family members didn’t live nearby.  Instead of a Skype call, it was a call on a scratchy cell phone, the signal often less clear than on Skype, but the significance of being there for one another was always as clear as day.

That hasn’t changed in our travels.  Love continues on.  We worry.  We wait. We anticipate.  Our hearts still ache with concern and sorrow for those we love wherever they may be, whatever they may need and however we may be there for them, as close as a computer click away.

The Maalaea Beach Marina on a cloudy day.

And moments later, there’s a familiar face on the computer screen and a familiar voice knowing that we are together once again and can be loving and supportive in good times and bad.

As we often write here, health and emotional well being is vital for happiness. Whatever one must do, however difficult, must be done to maintain and grow our own highest level of health and strength.

An invitation to s fishing expedition.

But, us human are imperfect.  We’re not like a flower, give it water and sunshine and it will flourish.  Many of life’s challenges stand in our way.  Many of our own inequities and lack of willingness to stay strong stands in our way.

And then, there are those situations that are beyond our control when we’re held captive to an illness, injury or circumstance at which point our only control is how we respond to the graveness of our situation and how much we’re able to fight back.

The expanse of the oceans the islands and sky never fail to inspire.

Who am I to know the answers?  I’m not more qualified than the next person.  But, I do know one thing…we can never give up.  In doing so, we release the power to cope, to grow, to change and ultimately, to heal.

So, this morning, I run out for a quick visit to the store in Kihei for a few grocery items, returning in plenty of time for the call with the time difference in mind and praying for a good outcome.

A waning moon lighting the sky and sea.

With that, I’ll close for today to be back tomorrow, hopefully, a little bit stronger, a little bit wiser and ready to tackle whatever Life throws our way.

Have a good day!

Photo from one year ago today, November 10, 2013:

Puffer fish is deadly if not cleaned properly.  Luckily, this puffer fish was fried with batter so I wasn’t tempted to try it.  Puffer is the second most poisonous vertebrate in the world after the Golden Poison Frog, the most venomous creature known to humans.  For details of that date, 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.

Its 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.


Wonders in the sea…Video….Delicious low carb fudge recipe after several requests…

Here’s our video of sea turtles swimming near the shore outside our condo in
Maalaea Beach, Maui.

On Tuesday, we spotted a number of people standing on the shore with cameras and cell phones in hand taking photos.  Curious, of course, and hoping they’d seen whales soon to arrive in the Hawaiian Islands, we dashed out the door with camera in hand.

Hard to see, we were still excited.

Slightly disappointed there were no whales, our enthusiasm was revived when we saw sea turtles, many sea turtles, swimming near the shore.  What a sight to behold. 

Looking carefully, one can see the outline of a sea turtle.  They are huge, much larger than we’d expected.

Wildlife fanatics that we are, I couldn’t wait to get a few decent shots. However, they move so quickly it wasn’t as simple as clicking away for a couple of good shots.  Tom spotted for me while I fervently attempted to get at least one decent video and a few good photos. 

We could only see their shells or an occasional flapper popping above the water.

We wish our photos could have been more clear.  One would have to have been on a boat or in the water to get good shots.  Please bear with us for our well intentioned but somewhat feeble attempts.

The water was shallow here when the turtles came close to the shore.  It was high tide.

We’ll hope you’ll stop by for more tomorrow.  Have a wonderful day!

Lava rock from lava flowing to the sea.  How familiar.


Yesterday, after mentioning our low carb fudge recipe, we’ve had several email requests for the recipe, including one request by a comment.  As a result, I’ve put together the recipe and have posted it at the bottom of today’s post.  Feel free to copy and paste it to any format you prefer. 

I realize many people are adamantly opposed to the use of Splenda (sucralose) or any other artificial sweeteners.  I understand your concern.  But, some people cannot have real sugar and don’t care for the taste of Stevia and other sweeteners, myself included.

Some have serious health concerns grossly effected by consuming real sugar, again myself included.  There are no valid studies confirming that sucralose is dangerous, including reports from the Mayo Clinic.  Although, there are 1000’s of internet pages devoted to the dangers of sucralose. 

There is a small faction of the population that is sensitive to artificial sweeteners in any form.  Obviously, I don’t suggest they try this recipe or any other recipes that anyone may post using artificial sweeteners.

However, there is a faction of us, that sacrifice many enjoyable foods and snacks for health reasons and an occasional treat such as this is definitely uplifting and pleasurable, especially when they suffer no ill effects from doing so.

Most of us enjoy the taste of sweetness, one of the many causes of rampant obesity and diabetes worldwide.  Please see your physician with questions as the appropriateness of artificial sweeteners in your diet.  If you have an aversion to sugar substitutes, please don’t try this recipe.  Thank you kindly for your understanding.

Jess’s Low Carb Fudge Recipe
(to be enjoyed in moderation – no more than four pieces per day)

(Using parchment paper is a must).
1 cup butter
8 oz. unsweetened chocolate (Bakers is fine), broken into 1” cubes
3 cups powdered Splenda for baking (or 80 drops of liquid sucralose which I use) or equivalent of other sugar substitutes
4 tsp. real vanilla extract
4 – 8 oz. packages full fat cream cheese (not light or low fat), cut into chunks, softened for one hour on counter
1 cup chopped nuts (may be omitted if desired) 

Butter cake pan (9×13) then place a piece of buttered parchment paper on top of the buttered pan for parchment paper to stick to the bottom of the pan. 

Melt butter on low heat in large saucepan.  (Don’t brown butter).  When completely melted, add chunks of cream cheese, stirring constantly until all are melted.  Don’t turn up heat, just keep stirring.  They will melt in about 10 minutes.  

Once the chocolate is melted remove pan from burner and add Splenda and vanilla, continuing to stir until smooth. Add nuts after smooth, if desired.

Pour mixture into the buttered, parchment lined pan.  Smooth with spatula for an even layer.  Place pan in freezer for three hours.

Remove from freezer and cut into 1” cubes.  This batch makes 80 cubes.  Place in plastic containers with lids, separating layers with parchment paper.  Keep frozen, taking out desired amount as needed.  Serve immediately.

Each piece has 80 calories and 1.4 carbs.


Photo from one year ago today, November 6, 2013:

The post a year ago was regarding health concerns for travelers of any age that we gleaned for considerable research and a modicum of experience.  For details on that post, please click here.

First package arrived yesterday…Second today with Tom’s laptop…Tonight’s superb dining experience!

This was the only grass fed ground beef I could find at the grocery store.  I purchased two one pound packages which I’ll use tonight to make taco salads.  See ingredient list below.

Its concerning that wherever we may live we may not receive a package of supplies we’ve ordered. Its happened a few times, once in Italy, another in South Africa. When packages have to go through customs shipping may be precarious.  This time in Hawaii, I’m less concerned.

Here’s a photo our friend Linda in South Africa posted in Facebook last week of the post office in Johannesburg, South Africa. with packages backed up to be delivered.  Is it any wonder one of our packages never arrived?

The first of two packages we were awaiting arrived yesterday with my two new pairs of shorts which I needed desperately in this warm weather and six tee shirts, a brand I love.

The unsweetened chocolate in this photo was for making low carb, sugar, grain and starch free chocolate fudge which I made on Monday.  Tom has a sweet tooth although I’ll also have a few pieces as an evening snack.   If you’re interested in the recipe please let me know and I’ll post it tomorrow. The blue and white packages of cream cheese are used in making the fudge. 

Yesterday, I threw away the six old worn tee shirts and one old pair of capri pants to offset the weight in my one large suitcase of clothing.  Now, I’m about a half pair of shorts overweight (the capris were longer than the shorts and weighed more).  I’ll find something else to toss to make up the difference before we pack again in a little over three weeks.

Zucchini is one of the most GMO, pesticide grown vegetables on the market.  As a result, I only purchase locally grown organic zucchini when available as shown here.  All prices for items are listed on receipt posted below.

Also, the box contained a few “girlie” items, cosmetics I just can’t find in any stores anywhere, a favorite “stay-put” lipstick that was discontinued long ago but I can still purchase from a remaining stock at and a few other items that would bore our male readers.

These two fillet mignon were priced at $23.36 at $18.99 a pound.  In Minnesota, over two years ago, these steaks were priced at $22 per pound.  We grilled last night and Tom had one of these steaks, freezing the other for a future meal. I had the mahi mahi listed below cooked perfectly on the grill on a piece of foil.

Another item we ordered was a ear bud splitter into which we can each plug  our own pair of ear buds since there’s only one port in my laptop in order to better hear downloaded shows which always seem to have low volume. We always watch shows together and often and the volume s just too low. 

Ear bud splitter we purchased online which arrived in the box of supplies.

With Tom’s 42-years-on-the-railroad hearing loss, we can both hear through our own set of ear buds.  Good idea, huh?  (Yes, we’ve done everything to increase the volume on the laptop to avoid this necessity).

Today’s arriving parcel will be Tom’s new laptop.  My job is to transfer all his data to the new laptop from the old, a job I don’t look forward to.  Never have.  Last time, we had it done professionally for around $50.  Here in Hawaii, it would be three times as much. 

This piece of mahi mahi was expensive at $15.49 per pound but would be no more expensive on the mainland.  My serving was a total of $10.07 and was delicious.  I could eat this every night for dinner! 

As I write here now at 8:00 am, Tom’s still sleeping, an oddity, and I have the AC off and both doors open to ensure we hear the UPS guy.  Yesterday, the first box was left outside the door when we were here and we didn’t hear a thing.  Surely, a laptop would require a signature.

Today, I mentioned posting these grocery items photos, prices and receipts for those who may be interested or curious as to the prices in Hawaii should they ever consider living here.  Honestly, food prices aren’t higher here than they were in Minnesota over two years ago.

The two 18 packs of eggs are free range, cage free, organic at $12.49 for both packs.  Not too bad, considering.  We use zero carb mayonnaise to make our salad dressing.  Although it has a few questionable ingredients, it doesn’t have an effect on how I feel.  Also shown are organic uncured hot dogs at $7.49 made without icky body parts and fillers.   Below are Kielbasa for Tom.  He won’t eat the “healthy” dogs.  The Italian sausages were on sale, one for $5.49, the other for $8.49.

As we’ve perused prices of commodities in Hawaii, we believe the cost of living is high due to high rental fees, utilities, fuel and transportation, not so much on groceries.  Plus, the way we eat, although we buy no processed or junk food, makes the cost of buying groceries higher in general.

Buying grass fed meat when possible and organic produce in the US is pricey. For many items I cannot choose grass fed and organic when neither are available or far surpass a price I’m willing to pay, such as $7.95 for one organic sweet red pepper.  Not worth the price.  Wash, wash and rewash, the non-organic peppers in the bag as shown, still knowing that evil may lurk therein.

These two packages of pork chops, unavailable in grass fed, were $6.53 and $6.79 enough for two meals for Tom.  On those nights I’ll have something else, most likely a huge dinner salad with chicken and avocado.

Tonight, with little prep time available for computer transfer-day, I’m making taco salads, minus the awful shell with a huge bed of lettuce for the base using the following ingredients:

1.  Grass fed ground meat, drained and cooked with sugar, wheat and starch free taco sauce I found at the store
2.  Organic romaine lettuce, shredded into bite sized pieces
3.  Organic tomatoes, diced
4.  Celery, diced
5.  Organic avocado, small chunks (me, only)
6.  Shredded cheese
7.  Sliced green olives

Notice the total for this week’s groceries at $271.08. Next week, I’ll get $22 back when I return to shop bringing this receipt using my Safeway shopper’s savings card which I’d forgotten to bring.  Next time I shop, I’ll be on my own and will bring my wallet. This receipt is wrapped around my Safeway card in my wallet ensuring I won’t forget to get the credit, especially when the cashier always asks for the savings card.  Essentially, the credit makes this total $249.08.

Does this ever make a great low carb, grain, starch and sugar free meal!  A dollop of sour cream on top for me and I’m in heaven.  Tom, plain food Tom, won’t do the sour cream. 

In all, we have enough meat from yesterday’s shopping for approximately 10 nights of dinners and we also had some steaks and lamb on hand from the last trip.  Eating fabulous homemade meals in Hawaii for under $25 per day is all we can expect.

I’d better hurry and wrap this up.  Before too long, according to the UPS tracking number, that laptop will be here soon and I need to go chop and dice for tonight’s dinner.

Tomorrow, we have a great wildlife video to share.  Please check back.

Photo from one year ago, November 5, 2013:

Jessica L. Grain Brain Success Story
A year ago today we posted this photo that appeared on Dr. David Perlmutter’s website, regarding his new book, Grain Brain.  To see the full story he had on his website, please click here.

Our two year anniversary of traveling the world…An interesting morsel from a reader…Happy Halloween to all!

As we drove down the highway, we spotted a dirt road leading to what we though was a lighthouse.  After a distance on the bumpy dirt road our hopes we dashed when we saw this was a microwave or cell tower of some type.  In any case, the scene was lovely.

Today, it is our two year anniversary since leaving Minnesota.  In one way, its hard to believe its been two years and yet in another, it seems like yesterday.

Time seems to fly in by in either segments of exquisite adventure or while involved in gentle contemplation, deep in thought, individually and together we consider how far we’ve come.

In the heat of the day, these grapefruit sure looked cool and refreshing. Believe it or not, one grapefruit without sugar added, has 16 grams of sugar, 40% as much as a can of Coke. Click here for details. Sure, the grapefruit is better but sugar is sugar.  See a Dr. Robert Lustig video on sugar here.

As I spend every afternoon deep into the revisions of past posts, now almost halfway through, I relive each experience, day by day, working my way through each photo, each entry, each challenge and each resolution.

Last evening before dark, Tom and I walked to a park at the end of the road.  As we walked we spoke of how wonderful it is to be able to go back and relive each day through words and photos. 

This appeared to be a variety of artichoke.

Currently, with almost 250,000 readers worldwide, growing each day (please forward our link to your friends to help us grow our site), that we so much appreciate. We’re in awe of their dedication in following us.  If it were just us, writing and posting for ourselves, we’d still treasure (although not as much) that which we’ve documented almost each and every day.

At any time, we can search the archives to jog our memory as to a date, an experience or a resolution to a problem.  Oddly, we seem to remember more than we’d ever expected by having documented it in the first place.  Being able to verify the past, makes it all the more meaningful and memorable.

As much as I love fresh coconut, its just too hard to open.  The cut halves in the grocery stores lose their moisture and flavor sitting out on display.

Add the fact that many of our readers reach out to us via comments at the end of a post or by email, we feel the joy of knowing that out there in the world, readers are traveling along with us in their hearts and minds, at times, finding comfort in knowing that the mundane aspects of our lives are not unlike our own.  Us humans, we’re kind of alike, aren’t we?

We cherish the fact that some of our readers find a little comfort and enjoyment reading our posts to discover that we aren’t so unique after all, although at first glance, we may seem so.

This Rooster was strutting around showing off his pretty plumage at the vegetable stand.

This morning, I lumbered out of bed and pulled the sheets and pillowcases with me in order to wash the week old bedding, a very “normal” activity.  A moment later, I was sitting at my laptop searching for safaris in Australia after seeing a History Channel documentary a few days ago on wildlife in the Outback perhaps a little less than a “normal” activity.  Our lives, barren of stuff, enables us to consider such possibilities for which we’re very grateful. 

We’ll be on our way to Australia and the South Pacific for over a year, in a little less than seven months.  A few days ago while I sat entranced by the prehistoric looking animals that wander the deserts in the Outback, I took out the bucket tossing in an Outback safari. I was hooked.  Its hot, arid, and dangerous.  But now, after our past experiences, we feel we can handle it in the hands of a competent and knowledgeable guide.

At the Maalaea Beach Marina. Our condo building is in the far right across the bay.

Recently, I started communicating with Staci, a reader who stumbled across our website through  As mentioned in a past post, we’ll be on the same cruise on April 12, 2016 from Sydney to Perth, Australia for a period of 16 days.  How funny we connected!  How small the world becomes through online communication!

She commented at the end of the post of October 29, 2014, which I quote here with her permission, in the event any of our readers may have missed her comment.

Staci writes:

“These are great pictures! I love the one of the tree on the beach.

I am still wrapping my head around the concept that you aren’t on “permanent vacation” but rather on a “planet-wide living arrangement” When you were writing about the blog post correction project I briefly thought “Wow, shame they couldn’t wait to tackle that after they got….wait, they ARE home!” Projects don’t disappear just because your address changes every few months, do they!

Thank you for your commitment to taking us along your journey. It is a treat to see the sights, even from a computer. “

Staci’s words made us giggle over her perfect description of our travels as a “planet-wide living arrangement.”  Well said, Staci!  We couldn’t have said it better ourselves, in fact we never did.  So, if I may, we’ll use this phrase from time to time to better explain that we aren’t on vacation.  We’re living. Thank you, Staci.  We love having you “with us” and can’t wait to meet you in person aboard the ship in 18 months.

Who would possibly want to tackle this nightmare?

Today on our two year anniversary, where last year we celebrated on a three day respite in Kenya to a resort on the Indian Ocean, we do a low key day.  Keeping tight reins on our funds in the event we all have to stay in hotels for weeks eating out each meal (on our dime, as promised) should the lava impede our plans, we play low key today. 

Do we go sightseeing today ending at a nice restaurant for dinner?  Or do we stay put watching the news on the volcano enabling me to correct another month of posts which takes me from three to five hours?  The dinner, we’ll do for sure.

A closer view of our condo building across the bay from the marina.

We’ll decide after our visit to the pool.  There’s a couple of what appear to be lovely restaurants we’d like to try tonight located in the nearby Maui Ocean Center which may be perfect for celebrating our special day; Year Two…the World. 

Thanks to Tom, my dear husband and travel companion, who’s courage, determination and pension makes our continuing travels possible.  Plus, he carries the heavy stuff!

May your Halloween be safe and filled with ghoolish laughter! 

Photo from one year ago today, October 31, 2013:

Ugh!  I don’t like posting photos of myself.  It seems so self serving.  I’m always complaining as to how the photo came out.  Tom, on the other hand, blind love, encourages me to be visible to our readers.  So, here is a revealing photo of me from one year ago today as we wandered on the beach on the Indian Ocean.  Gee…I wish I still had that suit (in new condition).  The elastic was all stretched out making it was easy to put on. But, it didn’t look so hot around the butt with no elastic. I tossed it to further lighten the load.  For more photos of our three day respite from the veranda in Kenya, please click here.