Family has arrived…Absolutely wonderful!…Whale watching at home!…

Our first whale in Hawaii, spotted by our grandson Jayden, 9. Good eye, Jayden. And Nik, 14 spotted the first sea turtles. Guess “safari luck” is hereditary.

At 6:00 am this morning we heard the animated sound of Jayden’s voice outside. Looking out the window, we saw our four family members outside on the patio staring out the sea, squealing with delight.

Last night’s moon rising over the sea.

Tom bolted out of bed to join them, only moments later hollering upstairs to me as I brushed my teeth, to hurry and get outside. In a matter of seconds, he handed me the camera as I stood on the lanai anxious to grab a good shot of a whale they spotted breaching the surface, the steamy blow hole presenting an awe-inspiring spray.

Last night’s moon high in the sky.

My heart leaped with excitement. Unfortunately, by the time I got outside, I’d missed a good shot but Sarah had the photo we’ve included today using her smartphone.

This morning’s sunrise.

I guess from now on, we’ll be up at 6:00 am looking for the spray of the whales, hoping to get more photos. We lined up six chairs on the patio facing the sea where we’ll all sit throughout the day looking for whales, turtles (which we spotted), and later basking in the sun.

A coastline view from our drive along the Red Road.

In 17 hours since they’ve arrived, they’ve seen the moonrise, sea turtles, a whale, and oddly, a hitchhiker which none of us had seen in quite a while. 

The moon early this morning.

After a great taco dinner, last night with a fresh batch made again tonight for dinner, we spent hours laughing and enjoying many of our photos of wildlife taken over the past 26 months since we left Minnesota.

Angel Trumpet flowers, the first we’ve seen in Hawaii.  We’d seen these on the island of Madeira, many months ago. Cheryl, one of our readers, wrote to inform us that these flowers are toxic. Stay clear…for looking only!

Honestly, it’s like never a day had passed since we’ve seen each other. Instantly, we fell in step, all talking at the same time, laughing and smiling as wide as the face will allow.

Bougainvillea on the Big Island.

This morning, they’ll watch the Minnesota Vikings game on the computer or if we can get it going, using our portable projector. In any case, it will be a great day, as it will be every day as this exciting month has begun. 

Chicken that wanders our neighborhood.

Enjoy our photos of the moon from last night and our solitary whale photo. But, without a doubt, more of each will follow. By the way, people photos will be posted tomorrow. 

Happy Sunday. It surely will be here.

                                            Photo from one year ago today, December 7, 2013:
No photos were posted one year ago today, as we wrote about the death of Nelson Mandela which transpired while we were living in South Africa. For details of that post, please click here.

Whale watching day…Only hours away…Excitement is palpable…Two days until departure…Classic car hanging from a ceiling…

Tall coconut palms often depict the tropical nature of islands throughout the world.

Last night I dreamed of whales breaching the water and being able to take perfect photos of the experience.  Today may prove to have been “in my dreams only” or, if we’re lucky, an exquisite reality. We shall see.

A fine view from our lanai of another perfect day in paradise.

In only a few hours, three as I write here now, we’ll make our way around the corner to the Maui Ocean Center, a mall with a handful of shops, none of which we ever visited in our six weeks here in Maalaea Beach.

Another magnificent view of the shoreline in Maui.

Having walked to the mall a few times, I’m familiar with the location where we’ll go to prepare to board the boat from the Pacific Whale Foundation for the excursion. We attempted to arrange an outing on a smaller boat, with the holiday weekend, it wasn’t possible, although we were willing to pay a premium to do so. 

We stopped in a local shop that used local essential oils in making soaps, balms, and bath products. With no room in our luggage, I walked out empty handed.

After all, we’re under budget for the stay in Maui by no less than $1500, mainly due to the estimated costs for dining out and grocery shopping. After a few feeble attempts at getting satisfactory meals in restaurants befitting my way of eating, we gave up, deciding cooking our own meals would be our best option during this short period in Maui.

Now, as we’ve used most of our food supplies and, after we mailed the big box to the Big Island yesterday for a meager cost of $18.55, arriving today to be left at the door for us, we’re down to bare bones in the way of food.

With lots of eggs, bacon, cheese, onion, and ingredients to make omelets, bacon, and coconut flour pancakes, we’ll happily have “breakfast” for dinner these next two nights until we depart on Monday morning for the short flight to Hawai’i, aka the Big Island.

A couple of times each week I walked across the lawn of the neighboring condo building to the local grocer, Tradewinds.

It’s confusing to call the Big Island, “Hawai’i” when all of the islands collectively are referred to as Hawaii. In the Hawaiian language with the excessive use of vowels and apostrophes, Hawai’i is spelled as indicated and is pronounced as “ha, vie, ee” as we often hear when speaking to residents and locals.

The owners of this small grocery store we friendly and helpful, ordering special items for me on several occasions. Their prices were comparable to most of the prices at the supermarket in Kihei.

This morning after posting here, we’ll go to the pool for our usual one-hour dose of Vitamin D to return indoors to get our shirts, shoes, two cameras, hats, sunglasses, and binoculars and, my phone with a copy of the tickets. 

The printer here in the condo wouldn’t work leaving us unable to print boarding passes, car rental confirmation, etc. instead, using digital copies as an alternative. 

Each day, the owners visited a local farm to pick up fresh produce.

Finally, many business entities are accepting digital copies of documents as opposed to the wasteful and cumbersome nature of using paper, especially for travelers with no access to a printer, such as us, since our printer died months ago.

Their shelves were lined with many popular food items. The store is always busy.

Today, we’re sharing an array of Maui photos we’d yet to share and tomorrow, we’ll be back with photos from our whale watching experience.

Recently, on Facebook, we’d seen photos of this car, a 1959 Cadillac convertible (woody) hanging from the ceiling at Hard Rock Café in Lahaina. On our return drive from Kaanapali Beach, we stopped to take a few photos of our own as shown.
Alternate view of the above photo at Hard Rock Café in Lahaina, Maui.

We hope all of our readers enjoy the remainder of their weekend doing exactly what they find most rewarding and meaningful. Isn’t that what “it’s” all about after all?

                                                Photo from one year ago, November 29, 2013:

As we prepared to leave Kenya, we posted a few of our favorite photos in the last few days. This lion was rested under this tree while mating. The female was across from him resting under another tree. We had the glorious opportunity to witness the mating process from less than 30 feet away. For details of this date, please click here.

More marine life photos from Tuesday’s boat outing…A year ago…a video of a wild ride in Tuscany…

Ah!  Now we’re talking! Safari luck! A Tropical Whale commonly seen in these waters, photo by Claudio, really got all the passengers “oohing” and “aahing.”

Today, we’re sharing more of our photos from our catamaran marine life tour. We’ll continue to identify which photos were taken by our kindly onboard photographer, Claudio Martin, and which we took. Tomorrow, we’ll share the final batch.

Two weeks from today we’ll be on our way to Paris. I know. Visiting Paris is far removed from the more laid back lifestyle we prefer in serene locals with the ocean, wildlife, and nature surrounding us.

Claudio got this excellent shot of this 16-ton Tropical Whale while I struggled as shown below.

I remember the day Tom asked how I’d feel about visiting Normandy, France to see the historical sites from World War II, one of his favorite topics. We were living in Kenya at the time sitting in our outdoor living room, batting off the bugs.

Another view of the Tropical Whale by Claudio.

He explained that our ship, Royal Caribbean’s Brilliance of the Seas, will be spending a day docked at the pier in Le Havre, France on September 1, 2014. 

A couple on the Cruise Critic website was looking for participants for a small tour group who had asked if we wanted to join them on a private tour of Normandy. Tom knows I’m not a World War II history enthusiast as he is and this could be a long day for me. 

Tom on the pier after the boat trip.

As soon as he mentioned it, I knew I’d say “yes.” How could I not? I could be the tag-along photographer, preoccupied with taking photos for an easy distraction.

Me, on the pier after the boat trip.

In order to give him a hard time, I paused before answering hoping to make him squirm a little, knowing how much this meant to him. Before I had a chance to answer, he blurted out, “How about this idea? We  spend one day in Normandy and then we’ll spend two weeks in Paris for you!”

Good thing I didn’t answer so quickly. I literally jumped out of my chair in excitement. “Really?” I retorted.

“Yes, really!” he replied.

Beautiful scenery we shot along the coast.

Immediately, we went to work planning on how we could end up in Paris from our previously arranged plans.  Luckily, we had a four week opening before our cruise from the UK on August 31, 2014. 

We decided after careful consideration and planning to spend two weeks in Paris and the next two weeks in London taking the Eurostar (tickets purchased already), formerly the Chunnel, under the English Channel from Paris to London.

My pilot whale photo.

I certainly lucked out on that deal. Having studied French for four years in high school learning about many of the points of interest, I’ve always longed to see Paris. Who hasn’t dreamed of romantic days and nights in Paris? Perhaps, not Tom Lyman. Paris, here we come.

My not-so-good shot of the Tropical Whale.

As much as Tom and I have in common our interests in the arts are diametrically opposed. Although we both love the theatre, having seen many productions together over the years. Art for him? Not so much.

Another one of my less than perfect tropical whale shots. It was hard to maneuver between the other passengers when this Whale appeared on the opposite side of where we were sitting.

However, history buff that he is, I have no doubt he’ll be fascinated in Paris. In any case, he’ll support my interest in every aspect of Paris and I have no doubt that we’ll both love it.

My spotted dolphin shot.

As for London, how could we not spend time in London when our ship sails from the port of Harwich, England (a two-hour drive from London for which we’ve already arranged transportation).

We shot this pirate ship as it cruised past us.  We’d seen this boat when we were here in April 2013.

Two weeks from today when our travel day is behind us, we can relax and begin to enjoy our time in Paris staying at the Eiffel Seine Hotel, rated 4.5 stars on Trip Advisor and Expedia, from which we’ll be able to see the Eiffel Tower and have easy access to many of the sights.  

These are pilot whales, as shown in Claudio’s photo.

Of course, we’ll spend each morning as we have since the beginning of our travels almost two years ago. We’ll write here, posting photos from the prior day’s exploration, sharing our experiences in detail that we hope all of our readers will find interesting.

Happy day to all.

Photo from one year ago today, July 17, 2013:

Rather than post photos a year ago, we posted a video we’d found on Youtube of a motorcyclist driving the narrow winding road in our neighborhood in Boveglio, Tuscany, Italy. To see that video from that day, please click this link

For the story from that day, please click here.

Boating today…Hoping to see wildlife at sea!…

Bananas are grown everywhere on the island, many farmed for resale while others for personal use.

This morning at 9 am, we’re taking off to go on a sightseeing tour out to sea on a giant catamaran through Madeira Seekers. We booked this tour a while ago with our only apprehension in finding the location of the pier where we’ll board the boat.

When I contacted the company asking for directions when none were available online, they sent this photo:

Usually, a photo doesn’t help find a location. But, in this case, we managed to figure out where we’re we’ll board the boat, a giant catamaran. It was this pier where the cruise ships are shown in this photo on which we met Gina on April 28, 2013, when our ship, the Norwegian Epic (big storm at sea), docked for the day. We recall how much we looked forward to finally staying here when Gina took us to see the house, at that time over a year later. Now, here we are, preparing to leave.  Here’s the link from the date when Gina met us at the pier.

The cost for the three-hour outing was US $40.87, EU $30 per person which we thought was reasonable. What to wear during this outing is challenging. Having lost our tan base when it’s been too cool outside for our former hour-a-day-tan session, we don’t want to get sunburned. Luckily, the boat has a canopy top. We didn’t bother to wear swimsuits when it has been so cool.

Some flowers are continuing to bloom through the summer season as is the case in this Alstroemeria.

We’re hoping to see wildlife, our primary motivation for this outing. With two cameras with us we’ll be set for any possible sightings. Hopefully, tomorrow we’ll be back with a few exciting photos.

Sunday, my worrywart husband, decided we should drive to the location of the pier and get our bearings. As far as I was concerned we could wing it. Once again, Tom was right as we did the “old people” thing, check it out in advance.

What are these red things growing on a tree in our yard?  We’ll keep an eye out to see how they mature.

Good thing we’d done the trial run or we may have missed the 10:30 am departure time. Parking near the marina is impossible requiring we park in a ramp in downtown Funchal and walk the 15 minutes to the pier.  Now, we can head out with peace of mind, feeling stress-free. 

As I’ve mentioned many times over these past few months, finding one’s way around Madeira is not for the faint of heart. Navigation doesn’t work and online maps are of little help when many streets aren’t clearly marked.

These berries are growing off of a palm type tree in our yard.

Off we go for our boat trip, after which we’ll head to the Funchal airport to swap out rental cars (and agencies) and then back home in time for leftovers, locally grown free-range whole roasted chicken, salad, and veggies.  He eats the white. I eat dark. A match made in heaven.

Photo from one year ago today, July 15, 2013:
No photos were posted on this date a year ago. For the story we posted that day, as to how we’re all “creatures of habit,” please click here.