Beautiful flowers brighten our day from Kauai, Hawaii, five years ago…Building a comfortable routine…

The birth of an Alpaca “cria” while we had a fantastic opportunity to oversee the births while the farm owners were away. Please click here for the story with many photos, including the main image, one of our favorites.
Note: To all of our readers visiting our site via a smartphone, please click the “View web version” tab under the word “Home” at the bottom of the page to access the web version enabling you to access all of our archives on the right side of the page. We’ll be updating our site in a few months, making these extra steps unnecessary. Thank you.

Please click here for those who may have missed the post with SW News Media’s article on our story.

As we look back at posts from five years ago, our current source of photos since we, like you, are stuck indoors, we can’t help but smile over the beautiful experiences we’ve had in our travels over the past 7½ years.

It’s those very photos that we’re enjoying now, while in lockdown, more than ever before. They are a reminder of not only what we’ve cherished in the past but what we can anticipate for the future with enthusiasm and hope.

 I squealed when I spotted this gorgeous Rhododendron at the Princeville Botanical Gardens from this post five years ago. 

Thanks to our readers and Facebook friends for the many loving and encouraging messages we received yesterday on Easter and each day. Many have continued to suggest solutions to our situation, but we are pretty fine, both physically and emotionally.

With the number of cases rapidly rising in India, at 9240 cases with 331 deaths, we anticipate we could be here a long time. Even if the airport reopens, with more points here, we may be forced into quarantine anywhere we’ll go in the future unless we wait it out long enough.
In a shady area, we encountered these tiny mushrooms growing on the rocks.

No one knows for sure what the future holds and if we’ll be able to continue traveling for some time to come. Our hope and plan will continue to focus on leaving India at some point soon, whether it be in a month or four months. 

In the interim, we have no option but to patiently wait it out while doing everything we can to stay engaged, educated, and informed about what transpires throughout the world, not only inside our tiny world.

With many bees in this area, I chose not to move the green leaves for a better view of this exquisite bloom, a soccer ball’s size. All of us on tour was in awe of this exquisite flower.

One thing we know for sure, our lives and yours, will never be the same as it was before the virus hit. Not a single country has avoided the virus entirely, although a few have had under 10 cases. But, at this point, their peak may be on the horizon. Only time will tell.

For us, staying busy while cooped up in a hotel room has been vital to maintaining a good state of mind and good health. We don’t overeat. We don’t drink alcohol (only because it’s not available!). We keep moving. We watch funny YouTube videos, including our own.
Jackfruit is known for its health benefits.  See this link for nutritional details. This photo was posted at this link on April 13, 2015.

We’ve developed a routine we find comforting. When we may become hungry in the afternoon, we drink the instant coffee in the room, no more than two cups each (mine is decaf), as somewhat of a ritual. 

We go to breakfast each day whenever we feel like it, sometimes as early as 8:00 am and others as late as 10:00 am. Each evening at 7:00 pm sharp, we head to the dining room for dinner. We’re often the only guests since most eat lunch and don’t have dinner until as late as 10:00 pm.

The Noni Fruit, known as one of the world’s most nutrient-rich fruits.  See here for details.

But, one of the most fun and enjoyable times of the day is after dinner when we get comfy on the bed with six fluffy pillows, and we set up my laptop on a tray to stream two episodes of our favorite shows. 

Usually, the two shows end by 10:15 pm, after which we play with our phones and then drift off to sleep. Most days, my Fitbit displays that I’ve slept seven to eight hours, which is better sleep than I’ve had in years, if ever. Tom sleeps less than I do, but on occasion will nap for 20 minutes during the day.
An Anthurium, gone wild.

This type of routine has brought us a sense of comfort and security as day after day, we awaken and repeat it. As of tomorrow, we’ll have been in this hotel room for three weeks. It feels like more. 

We’ll get through it. We’ll all get through it if we stay safe… If we social distance… If we avoid going out… If we wash our hands… If we wear face masks… If we take care of ourselves and our loved ones… If… If… If…

Photo from one year ago today, April 13, 2019:

Four baby warthogs were taking a rest together. For more photos, please click here.

Part 3…A tour into a garden of paradise…Princeville Botanical Gardens…The chocolate making and tasting class and more

The Jackfruit is known for its health benefits. See this link for nutritional details.

The next stop along the way during the final hour of the three-hour tour of the Princeville Botanical Gardens was to the sheltered chocolate tasting presentation.

An Anthurium, gone wild.

We all sighed with relief to finally be able to sit down away from the heat of the sun, sip the lemon-flavored water Mary Lou offered, and ogle over the several containers of chocolate she had placed on the table in front of her.

The Cacao Tree.

She told us the story of how the cacao pods are harvested, the seeds are removed, processed, fermented, and dried for a final product that owner Lucy uses to place into her chocolate-making machine, an at-home use sized melangeur

The huge cacao tree pods are fascinating.
These pods provide a perspective as to the size of the pods.

These final beans are called “nibs” which I use in making my Low Carb High Fat Protein Bars, a recipe I recently posted here. Nibs are chocolate in its purest form without any added sugar or ingredients. Nibs may contain as much as 53% cocoa butter, depending on the species.

This Banana Tree flower is in the beginning stages as we’d seen in Madeira almost a year ago. Please click here for our post about the morphology of the banana plant. The small bananas produced on this particular tree are decorative only.

After drying, the beans are then placed into the melangeur. Lucy, the owner, makes only a small amount of chocolate, enough for the garden tour guests to try and for her and husband Bill’s personal use.

Touring the Princeville Botanical Gardens was a fabulous experience for which we wrote a positive review on TripAdvisor. Click here to read our review.

For details of the chocolate-making process, please click here for an article comparable to the description Mary Lou provided us during the demonstration of the various types of chocolates available throughout the world, allowing each guest to try the different flavors. The final taste was Lucy’s which everyone seemed to enjoy.

Pink Grapesplant with interesting flowers.

Unfortunately, all of the chocolates offered for tasting contained sugar so I gracefully declined as I’d also declined the earlier fruit tasting. 

This is the Tree of Sorrow.  Click here for information.

Knowing that after dinner I could enjoy chunks of nibs in my Low Carb High Fat Protein Bar, (recipe is on this post) I didn’t mind a bit and thoroughly enjoyed the smells and the smiles on the faces of the others as they tasted each morsel. Tom would have enjoyed this part of the tour.

It appeared that birds had feasted on the sweet juicy seeds of this pomegranate.

I never knew much about chocolate although on occasion I’d savor a taste or more in the days before I had to forgo sugar in my life, almost four years ago. Tom, with his picky taste buds never cared for dark chocolate, preferring milk chocolate instead. 

The Noni Fruit, known as one of the world’s most nutrient-rich fruit. See here for details.
This is a tiny avocado, no larger than the size of a chestnut.

I had no idea, as Mary Lou explained that milk chocolate has powdered milk in its ingredient list to make it lighter and also more sugar than the dark chocolates to make it more enjoyable for those more particular taste buds.

Mary Lou held this flower from a Lychee Tree.

If chocolate is stated as 80% cacao it merely means that 20% of its labeled ingredients are those other than chocolate such as fillers, sugar, flavorings, etc. The nibs alone are 100% cacao. 

Mary Lou was busy setting up the chocolate presentation while we rested in the chairs.
For the tasting, she presented six different chocolate, the one closest to her, made by owner Lucy utilizing the cacao plants growing in the gardens.

Over the past several years, I’d paid little attention to all the news in the media of the health benefits of chocolate when every bar had sugar listed in its ingredients. Now, I better understand the significance of the percentages.

Many varieties of orchids are grown throughout the gardens.

The chocolate class lasted 30 minutes and once again we were on our way to another fabulous part of the tour, near the river, across the footbridge over the creek, and up and down some steep but beautiful areas.

Hong Kong Orchid Tree.

After stopping to take more photos, suddenly I heard a familiar voice and turned to find Tom. When he arrived early to pick me up, Harold took him on the quick tour via a golf cart, dropping him off the complete the final leg of the tour with me. 

A Breadfruit Tree.

I couldn’t have been more thrilled to see him. I introduced him to our small group, grabbed his hand and we were on our way. It was especially enjoyable to be able to share this final area with him, as he too was in awe of the beauty of the Princeville Botanical Gardens

We all loved the name of this tree, the Teddy Bear Redneck Palm.

Chatting on endlessly as to what we’d already seen and done, I looked forward to showing him the photos when we returned homes as we walked and continued to take more photos during the remaining 20 minutes of the tour.

When we reached the end, we wandered to the shop and check-in area to thank Harold and Mary Lou (leaving her a tip) and say our final goodbyes. It couldn’t have been a better day.

As we neared the end of the tour, we crossed this easy-to-navigate footbridge.
The creek below the footbridge.
At this point, Tom had met up with me and we crossed this footbridge together.

Although I didn’t have an opportunity to meet Lucy and spent only a minute with Bill, I want to thank them and their staff as well for the love and care they’ve given to this magical place, the Princeville Botanical Gardens.

Another Anthurium, gone wild.

If you’re ever on the island of Kauai, make sure not to miss this five-star event. I have no doubt it will prove to be as memorable for you as it’s been for me and hopefully, for our worldwide readers as we share our photos over these past three days.

As we walked over these stones it reminded me of “Alice in Wonderland.”
The varying shades of green and lush plants, flowers, and trees added to the exquisite beauty of the Princeville Botanical Gardens.

Today, we’re staying in to watch the final of the Master’s Golf Tournament, a usual pastime for us in this life we live. From time to time, it’s good to try something new.

At the end of the tour, we took a photo of another couple and they took this photo of us. It was a wonderful day, I’ll always remember.

                                             Photo from one year ago today, April 12, 2014:

Although we were back home in Marrakech, we continued sharing photos of our short-lived mini vacation. For details on why we ended it early, please click here.

Part 1, A tour into a garden of paradise…Princeville Botanical Gardens…

The road on the way to the Princeville Botanical Gardens is in itself a breathtaking experience.

Finally, the skies cleared and it was time to tour the Princeville Botanical Gardens on a gorgeous sunny day. I couldn’t have been more excited to be able to attend after postponing Tuesday’s planned tour due to rain.

Upon entering the waiting area for the tour, I was impressed by the quality of the merchandise offered for sale.

Wearing my BugsAway clothing imbedded with insect repellent I was definitely overdressed in the warm weather in a long sleeve shirt, long pants, a hat, and carrying the requisite EpiPen in the event of a bee sting. I was ready to go with the camera draped over my shoulder, my pockets filled with extra camera batteries and a water bottle in my waistband, leaving me with no bag to carry and my hands-free for taking photos. 

Much to my surprise, this was an excellent location for purchasing locally made tee shirts and merchandise to bring home, all of which were reasonably priced.

Tom had decided to stay behind to complete some final work with our Nevada accountant for the upcoming tax day (on April 15th in the US), so for the first time that I can recall, I was off on a tour on my own. At 1:30 pm, he dropped me off at the entrance to the gardens where the shop and check-in area were located to prepare for the 2:00 pm three-hour tour.  

I had no idea that orchids grow on trees as shown in the first tree discussed along the tour. See this link on how to grow orchids on trees, if one is living in an orchid growing climate.

With a plan for Tom to return around 4:45 pm to pick me up, I waved goodbye, giggling over the ridiculousness of us rarely being apart these past 30 months as we’ve traveled the world. I felt confident and at ease being on my own on the tour but, I knew I’d miss his eagle eye for photo ops.

Everywhere we walked, the scenery was breathtaking. Unlike many botanical gardens, the owners chose to leave some areas open with expansive green lawns, adding to its beauty.

Harold, our kindly, knowledgeable, and enthusiastic host acquainted me and the other seven guests as to general information about the exquisite gardens and by 1:50 the tour was on its way with all registered guests in attendance with our tour guide Mary Lou.

Lucy’s vegetable and herb garden was protected by a fence to keep the pigs and chickens out.

On previous tours there have been as many as 20 guests, but, with the recent pouring rain and slippery conditions as of yesterday, this small group was ideal for my soon to be obsessive photo-taking and diligent observations on the tour. Reservations for the tour are available online at this link.

There were numerous Papaya Trees on the property. Mary Lou presented a container filled with luscious sections of the tender papaya flesh for the group to taste. 

Here’s a quote from Princeville Botanical Gardens well-done website, which I couldn’t have described better:

“Princeville Botanical Gardens began as a personal hobby of Bill and Lucinda Robertson in 2001, only to expand in scope and surpass all expectations when they moved to Kauai full time in 2004.

Hidden away in the jungle valleys of Princeville on Kauai’s North Shore, dramatic topography, natural landscaping, and tender cultivation have culminated into a sacred garden paradise.

Previously cattle land, centuries of introduced plants had strangled out the native flora throughout the Anini Stream valley. After fighting back the jungle, the Robertsons continue to protect the land from constantly encroaching invasive species. Supplementing the tired soil with organic fertilizers and homemade compost, organic and sustainable practices are a priority in the gardens. With the help of passionate gardeners, enthusiastic friends and neighbors, and painstaking physical labor, the land has slowly been transformed.”

The views continue in each of the seven areas of the gardens.

Rather than retell the information about the development and growth of the Princeville Botanical Gardens as so well described on their website, I prefer to share my experience from the perspective of an enthusiastic tourist over the next few days.

The terraced areas of the gardens required a massive number of boulders to be brought in by semi-trucks, which occurred over a period of years to complete the terracing. The Princeville Botanical Gardens although appearing to be complete, based on the tour, is a work in progress requiring tremendous care and future development which Bill and Lucy continue with a passion.

For those, such as me, who happen to find tremendous joy in perusing unique and often astounding vegetation I was in awe over that which Bill and Lucy have so exquisitely incorporated into their gardens. This intimate and informative tour exceeded all of my expectations. 

This red fruit caught my eye although I was unsure as to its identity.

Not only was the sequence of the tour presented in an ideal flow as the grounds continually changed and progressed, but each area also became more exciting than the next. There was never once during the three-hour tour of the seven unique gardens that my attention or interest waned for even a moment.

Although Hawaii may not be the perfect climate for cactus to proliferate, many varieties of cactus seem to thrive as this has that I spotted on the tour.

I should mention that although the tour is generally easy to navigate, it wouldn’t work for those with wheelchairs, walkers, or who had difficultly walking or managing steep terrain. 

The Miracle Tree possessing leaves that have multiple medicinal and health-improving benefits.

Although a few spots we maneuvered were fairly steep and a few others required careful stepping on uneven stones and steps, it was considerably less of a trek than many other venues in Kauai. This tour wouldn’t be suitable for strollers or young children.

Poinsettias are an emotion-provoking flower reminiscent of Christmas’s past for those who observe.

As we wandered through the seven areas, there were only a few occasions where mosquitoes were biting (Mary Lou had repellent to share) and only a short distance where bees were prevalent. 

Kava plant, a known mood-altering plant used by enthusiasts all over the world for its sedative and anesthetic properties.

I had previously sprayed my ankles and arms but was otherwise protected by my long sleeves and pants.  I wasn’t bitten once. I wore comfortable walking shoes but noticed several others wearing flip flops, a common occurrence we’ve observed on many tours in the islands. We’re always surprised by the lack of surefootedness in such flimsy footwear. 

Baobab tree.  We’d seen many of these in Kenya.

When one of the other guests mentioned they were heading to Queen’s Bath in a few days, I suggested they wear sport or walking shoes with some traction as opposed to flip flops. Safety should always be the first consideration when touring any of the often steep and uneven terrains in Kauai.

Many trees and plants produce beautiful flowers such as this Justicia Aube.

Mary Lou’s warm and friendly demeanor made the tour feel as if it was being presented by a passionate and enthusiastic friend proudly sharing the stories and history of the growth and development of the gardens I couldn’t have felt more at ease. She had a magical way of knowing exactly when to continue on, allowing me and the others to take our photos and gawk at the wonder before our eyes.

These Angel Trumpets are known to be hallucinogenic and abused by some who partake in its effects. We’d seen these flowers in Madeira, Portugal, and had no idea as to their drug-like properties.

Bear with me today and over the next few days as I share many photos some of which I may not be able to identify. Having seen hundreds if not thousands of various plants, flowers, and trees growing in the gardens, it was impossible to recall the names and details of each one. Early on in the tour, Mary Lou explained she wouldn’t have time in the three-hour tour to describe each and every botanical.

Lipstick bamboo.  Look at these colors!

If any of our readers are curious as to more details of a specific plant please contact me and I’ll contact Harold for a further description and update the post accordingly.  

Shrimp plant also known as Yellow Candles.

Tomorrow, we’ll be back with more photos, the chocolate tasting event including chocolate made by Lucy utilizing the cacao beans grown on the property, the walk across the footbridge over the river, and the progression of the tour as it continued through the enjoyable three hour period.

Happy a fabulous weekend! We have social activities planned for both tonight and tomorrow night, details of which we’ll share once we complete the Princeville Botanical Gardens series.

                                              Photo from one year ago today, April 10, 2014:

It was a year ago today, that we began and long and arduous drive through the Atlas Mountains in Morocco. This scene is of a soccer team playing in the desert as we made our way up the mountains, at points as much as 14,000 feet above sea level. For more details, please click here.