TRAVEL 


BIRDS of the TRIP

February 2012:  We flew to San Diego, drove to Half Moon Bay , flew to Kauai, and then flew home to Ash.

JOURNAL

California-Hawaii Trip, February 5-22, 2012


February 5- North Carolina to San Diego
We were up early and off by 9, after checking off lots of things on our to-do list. We stopped to eat (and over indulge) at a Golden Corral on the way and arrived at the Raleigh Durham Airport with lots of time to spare. Flights were uneventful. Southwest at least provides soft drinks and snacks on their flights. The first one, to Phoenix, was about 4 hours long, but the trip to San Diego was only about an hour. In the terminal at Phoenix, we were able to see a little of the Super Bowl and half time show with Madonna in all her glory.

When we boarded, the Patriots were ahead by a point, but by the time we landed there and got the shuttle to the rental car office we heard the sad ending of the game on the shuttle radio. We got our little car and were only about five minutes from the Super 8 Motel we had booked for the next three nights. We checked email and Dick called his cousin Nancy to firm up plans for meeting them tomorrow morning at the San Diego Safari Park (in Escondido). Dick showered and we fiddled around on the computers a little more, even though it was after eleven Eastern Time. Then we called it a night in our comfy king sized bed, ready for the adventures of tomorrow.

Feb. 6, 2012-San Diego Zoo Safari Park

We woke up early after a pretty good night’s sleep. After a breakfast of muffins (me) and cereal (Dick) we set off for the Safari Park by 8. Dick’s cousin Nancy and her husband Fran were waiting for us. Dick got a membership for us at a fairly high price, but it will cover admission for three days and tram rides at the Safari Park and Zoo. The day was lovely and we first visited the three aviaries- the World, The Hidden Jungle and Lorikeet Landing. I had Dick’s older camera so we both took many, many bird photos in each of them. We saw the gorilla area, lions, and many different antelope-type animals, then we took a break for lunch at the Okavongo Outpost and had wraps and fruit salads at an outdoor table.

We got on the tram for a 25 minute ride around the Africa exhibits. We saw zebras, giraffes, wildebeests, rhinos and many other animals found in Africa. The driver told us about each exhibit and the work the park does in saving animals from extinction and preserving the environment.

We walked up to the Condor Ridge area and saw mountain sheep and eagles, but the condors were hidden high in tree branches. Down in Elephant Valley we saw a goodly number of baby elephants with their families. I walked around the merry-go-round and snapped photos of the carousel animals which included everything from hummingbirds to manatees, many endangered species. Then it was time to say goodbye to Nancy and Fran. Dick and I spent about another hour revisiting the aviaries. The birds seemed more active and we poked around trying to find species we hadn’t seen earlier.

Leaving at just about closing time, we drove the half hour plus back to the motel. We had seen a sign for the Yummy Buffet on our way out in the morning and we walked through the shopping center to it. And it was yummy with Chinese food, but also salmon, crab legs, and roast beef. Back at the motel we went through photos getting rid of all the unfocused ones and ones where birds had flown the coop before the shutter snapped. Then we made the real effort to stay up until ten to finish getting adjusted to the Pacific Time Zone. It was a very good day with very pleasant people and we looked forward to the Zoo tomorrow.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012- San Diego Zoo

The motel is only about ten minutes from the San Diego Zoo (as differentiated from the Safari Park), so we had a leisurely morning, with our breakfast of cereal and muffins in the motel reception area. It was cloudy and a bit windy at times at the zoo, but tolerable until almost three when the rain helped us to decide to head back to the motel. That was about as late as we had planned to stay anyway. The bulk of our time was spent in the two large aviaries, the Scripp’s Aviary which specialized in African birds and the Owens Aviary which had Southeast Asian birds and those from the Malaysian Archipelago.

The aviaries were spacious and beautiful with flowers and waterfalls feeding streams that flowed through the netted-in areas. It was fun trying to get good photos of the many birds that lived there- and much easier than trying to shoot through the fencing that surrounded the outdoor aviaries that were scattered around.

We covered quite a large part of the zoo, including the gorilla and monkey area and the hippo stream where the hippos were right up against the glass wall of their ‘river,’ The Urban Jungle where giraffes, rhinos, bears and big cats were, The Outback- home to kangaroos and koalas, and Panda Canyon where several pandas lived side by side with gazelles and zebras.

We ate at the Canyon Café which also had a Chinese name and served Asian food. We finished up the day back in the aviaries to see which birds preferred coming out in the afternoon. A good few new birds did make an appearance and kept us busy until we began to feel drops of rain falling through the netting ceiling and thought it would be wise to head for the car. We did make a stop at the flamingo pond (donated by Dr. Seuss) and got a few pictures of the flamingos and other water birds that were there, including a good few drop-in Mallard ducks.

We were home by 4 and downloaded photos and recharged camera batteries for tomorrow’s photographing. Dick went out to get food at the nearby health food supermarket while I Skyped with Christy, Liam, and Gracie as well as John and Duncan.  We researched what we wanted to see tomorrow on another half day at the zoo. The Polar Rim area is a must-see as well as tigers and the Africa Rocks section. We also plan to see a bit of San Diego and walk a beach. The weather promises to be better and we expect to fully enjoy our last day in San Diego before heading north.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012- San Diego to Sylmar (Just north of Los Angeles)

We packed up our things and I had breakfast at the reception area while Dick did cereal back in the room. He worked on birds that needed identifying and we left for the Zoo in time to be there at 9 when it opened. We went to the first aviary and took photos of birds we thought we hadn’t seen before. Dick talked to a zoo employee and got information about unidentified birds. He also showed us a construction by a male bower bird, made of sticks set up in a circle to impress females.

After photographing all we wanted there, we set out for the second aviary. But along the way a zoo guide encouraged us to see the bonobos- the apes closest to humans genetically. Dick continued on to the aviary but I took the detour, saw the monkeys and a case full of small brightly colored finch-like birds. I photographed everything including tigers and then tried to find my way to the aviary where Dick was. He came and met me by the gorillas and we made our way to the hummingbird aviary.

That aviary had three species of hummingbirds but lots of other birds as well. The food dishes were hummingbird hanging bottles and a feeder full of beetles for other birds. It was challenging, but fun trying to take photos of all the birds as they zoomed by.

We left the zoo around noon and headed back to the Yummy Buffet, enjoying everything from salmon to fried bananas. Well fed, we headed for San Diego’s Old Town and found it after a bit of trouble around the Naval Base which our GPS, Emily, thought we would like to try to drive through. The Old Town was very commercial with artsy shops in many of the old buildings. But we went in the Wells Fargo Office and strolled past a lot of neat old buildings, hotels, mission, and a schoolhouse.

From there we headed a bit further north to Del Mar, which had the best beachcombing beaches according to people on the web. The first beach we stopped at was high on cliffs, with no easy way to get down, so we traveled through the town and found the beaches easily there. Lots of rounded rocks were strewn on the beach with a few shells, unspectacular but different from North Carolina shells. A high surf advisory was in effect and, suddenly, strong waves would roll in soaking your feet as you tried in vain to outrun them. I took off my shoes and soggy socks and went back, getting the bottoms of my rolled jeans wet a good few more time as a wave would unexpectedly just keep on rolling in and in. But I did find a few fairly nice sand dollars given to me by the waves as an apology for the soaking, I expect.

After an hour or so we headed back to the car and continued north on Highway 5. It was a tedious trip, with long periods of very slow traffic around Los Angeles, then nice fast stretches. I called Christy at 6:04 (9:04 Eastern time) to congratulate her on being born at exactly that time a good few years ago. I talked to Rob after that. At 7 we found a motel in the town of Sylmar and were happy to be off the road and north of Los Angeles so we wouldn’t have to contend with a morning rush hour. Dick called Cindy to arrange our arrival tomorrow. We downloaded the day’s bird photos and Dick worked on identifying his. We did our best to stay up for a decent time, then gave into our tiredness and called it a night.

Thursday, February 9, 2012- Sylmar to Half Moon Bay

We were up and out of the motel by a little after 8. Dick had cereal in the room, but I had nothing to eat so we stopped at a little liquor/convenience store (with the accent on the liquor) and I got a couple of oatmeal chocolate chip bars and a bottle of OJ. We set the GPS for Monterrey and headed out. We passed through very fertile farmland with vineyards and fruit and nut (almonds and pistachios) orchards, fields of unknown plants that might have been artichokes, and large cutout signs of people advertising cabbage and lettuce. I saw a coyote traveling along a roadside fence. Many small oil rigs pumped alongside the road. Lunch was at a Subway. We got to Monterrey around 2 and walked the beach there and down the commercial fishing pier. It was a beautiful sunny day. Dick got quite a few bird photos, but shells were very sparse.

After about an hour there, we headed out again with the goal of finding a few more interesting beaches. We stopped at Sunset Beach State Park and the shells were mostly broken but a bit more interesting, as were the rocks, many of which had strange shapes and holes bored through them by the action of water. Unfortunately there were quite a few dead birds and even what looked like a dead seal on the beach. I tried successfully to avoid waves, trying to find a whole sand dollar, but only found pieces. It was interesting to see that the Pacific sand dollars have their ‘flower pattern’ off center, unlike the ones in North Carolina that have them in the middle.

We stopped to watch the sunset over the ocean and marveled at how long the colors remained as we drove along Route 1 toward Half Moon Bay. Dinner was at a restaurant called Joe’s- just a chicken burger for Dick and a Ham and Cheese for me since we had done our share of snacking on the trip.  Around 7:30 we arrived at Cindy and Chris’s. They gave us each an Apple jacket and we had a little wine and pistachios while they ate their dinner. After talking for a couple of hours, we went to our respective beds, they to get ready for the gym and work, us to rest up after another busy day.

Friday, February 10, 2012- Half Moon Bay

Cindy went to the gym and Chris to work. Dick got up at 5 and I didn’t sleep after that. I got up around 6:30 and did laundry. It’s great to have clean clothes again.  When Cindy got back from the gym, we went down to the salt marsh and beach beyond that. It was misty and rainy so Dick didn’t take photos. I found a few shells, but the rain eventually drove us back home.

I did some rating on Helium and checked mail and facebook. We left at 11:30 to meet Charlie Westerinen and his wife, Linda. Dick found Charlie at the appointed meeting place and we drove to Sam’s on the seacoast, a restaurant recommended by Cindy. The view wasn’t much with all the rain, but the food was good. Afterwards we went back to Cindy’s and talked, changing floors to accommodate the cleaning people.

It got brighter again so we went back to the saltmarsh. Dick and Charlie took photos there while Linda and I wandered the beaches and found quite a few nice shells. There were cormorants and other birds on rocks at the end of the beach, so Dick and Charlie joined us there and took photos. After a leisurely time there we went back to the cars and said our goodbyes.

Cindy was home so we sat at the dining room table and talked until Chris got home. Dick worked on his photos. When Chris got home we had a lovely meal of salmon, rice pasta and peas, a salad, and nice crusty seeded bread. After dinner we caught up on two episodes of American Idol, then headed for bed.

Saturday, February 12, 2012- Half Moon Bay

We got up to gray skies so spent a good bit of time working on computer stuff. After a while we went out and walked on Venice Beach but the weather unfortunately drove us home again. Cindy made up a ground turkey dish for lunch.

In the afternoon we headed out again, seeing a bit of brighter sky. We walked a beach and I talked to a woman with a plastic baggie of beach glass. But weather again drove us off the beach. We went into Half Moon Bay and walked around. The cute plaza with mosaics was deserted as was the area with the parrot sculpture and Halloween pumpkins on all the walls. We went into several nice artsy stores and I got a Valentine card for Liam and Gracie and a glass heart for Chris and Cindy. They bought us a cute kitchen towel from Half Moon Bay. We stopped for frozen yogurt and Cindy and Chris got coffee at a coffee bar.

When we got home everyone went back to bed for a little rest to prepare for the night.  Around 5:45 we headed out for the evening. We went to Pasta Moon restaurant where Mollie Malone and Ron Adams performed while we ate a very thin crust pizza with greens on top and lemon chicken with grilled yellow squash and artichokes. Ron called two of his brothers up to sing and play guitar with him and Stevan performed on guitar for two of the songs. Cindy and Chris’s friends- Katherine who is married to the manager of the restaurant, Digeann who is married to Stevan Pasero, and Digeann’s brother’s girlfriend and a friend of hers were at our table and Chris kept us well supplied with champagne and wine from his private stock. Cindy easily convinced me to have an excellent butterscotch pudding for desert. We left around 10 and headed directly for bed.

Sunday, February 12, 2012- Half Moon Bay (El Granada)

We left early for Cindy’s spin class. Dick participated for more than half of it. I watched the first song’s worth, then headed to the beach where I found a little beach glass and some interesting shells. Dick came down after birds to photograph and Cindy and Chris joined us after the class was over.

We drove to the tide pool area, which looked very promising at a lower tide time. But there was a whole family of seals in a cordoned off section down the beach. We did see a couple of anemones in a shoreside tide pool and picked up beach glass, barnacles and shells.

We ate at a Mezza Luna Café where Cindy and Chris got coffee, salads and egg white omelets. I had a hot chocolate and asparagus soup and Dick had pancakes.

Then we went on to a shopping center in El Grenada and walked through the stores. We bought salt water taffy at a place which had around fifty different flavors. Cindy got a gumball from a Rube Goldberg type machine which put the gumball through loop-the-loops and all kinds of different tracks before sending it out the chute. Cindy and Chris bought leather jackets at a store which has the mission of stopping slavery around the world. I got a journal to give as a gift.

We drove along the coast and Dick spotted some birds, so we stopped and did another walk along the beach, where large waves were crashing and splashing over the breakwater and lots of surfers were waiting for big ones beyond it.  Then it was back home to clean up and get ready for the night ahead.

We met Digeann at Gibralter Restaurant for dinner.around 6. Stevan came to play soon after we arrived and it was lovely to hear both new and familiar songs. Digeann gave us his newest CD and one by Mollie Malone. I had artichoke soup and we all had fish for dinner. Stevan came and sat with us at breaks and talked about his guitars and playing. I had most of a piece of flourless chocolate cake which was very good. We were back home by 8:30, finished up with our computers and packed most everything up. All of us went to bed fairly early.

Monday, February 13, 2012- Half Moon Bay to Kapa’a, Hawaii

We were up just after 6 and off by 7. Cindy and Chris went off to the gym and we said our good-byes before they went. Leaving the rental car off was easy and we had plenty of time before our flight was called. Dick worked on birds on the computer and I did puzzles. We got to board early because of our “Premier” status and had the two seats on the outside of the plane, not the large central section. It was an uneventful flight, with only drinks served.

We got to Honolulu with a couple of hours to wait for our continuing flight and had food from Burger King to tide us over. The hardest part was finding Gate 77 which was higher in number than one entry way to the gates and lower than another. But after the agricultural inspectors had cleared everyone going on a flight to Portland (aka the mainland), the gateway ramp was open and we were able to sit near the gate until we were called to get on the plane. The flight was very short, around 45 minutes, just enough time for the attendants to pass out cups of mango orange juice.

Chris met us, leis in hand, just as we passed out of the baggage area. Bill came in soon thereafter and we were on our way. After finding the Wailua Rice Bowl restaurant closed, we went to the Olympic Café and ate in the open air atmosphere. The weather was balmy and the meal was very good. Back at the house in Kapa’a we talked for several hours, then the relatively small time change of two hours caught up with us and we called it a night.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012- Kapa’a

We got up around 7. Bill went off to play golf and we had a leisurely morning. Chris and I toured her garden with all its lovely blooming hibiscus and other tropical plants. She put out bird feed and Dick had fun photographing the cute little Java finches and other birds that came. The two outdoor cats- Smudge and Inky- were completely comfortable with us. Whisper was very friendly and PC (Prince Charming) was warming up. We did laundry and I cleaned my shells.

I hit the pistachios too much and enjoyed just hanging out, then took a nap in the afternoon. We checked out snorkel gear and found masks and fins that fit. I showed Chris my camera and we checked it out on the web but Chris wasn’t sure if it would stand up to all the snorkeling she did. Chris’s new neighbor brought strawberry cupcakes with chocolate frosting. Then later Clarice, a long time neighbor-friend, brought Chris and I each a long-stemmed red rose. Dick gave me a book on Sand Dollars for Valentine’s Day.

In the evening we went to the beach and walked, finding a few shells, watching the surfers, and even seeing whales off in the distance. Then we ate at the Waipouli Rice Bowl Restaurant. I had a beef broccoli bowl and Dick had fish. We walked over to a river to see the tilapia, but it was rather dark. Back at home Chris and I had a cupcake and we watched pre-recorded Jon Stewart and Steven Colbert programs.

.Wednesday, February 15, 2012- Kapa’a

We had a leisurely morning, eating breakfast, showering and getting ready to go off. Bill’s dentist appointment got canceled, so we packed up and drove to the South Shore, past the Menehune Fishing Pond and down through the Tunnel of Trees. We stopped at Lawa’i Beach and snorkeled. Chris and I went in first but Dick managed in later. The water was cold at first, but as soon as you began swimming you forgot it. There were more lovely colorful fish in one place than I had even seen- butterfly fish, Moorish Idols, parrotfish, pufferfish and humus among others. A woman began feeding the fish and the fish crowded around her. I took a lot of photos and some came out very well. You could get closer to the fish than I had had in other snorkels, but the swells plus the fish’s movement still made getting good photos challenging. I stayed in for about a half hour then tiredness and coldness drove me in. Chris stayed in for about another half hour.

Dick walked around the hotel to look for birds. I changed in the bathroom which had only a wall (no doors) separating the sink area from the toilet area. We had drinks from a cooler and sat on the rocks and relaxed. A group of people went out for snuba lessons and the beach area was quite busy. I took photos of a koi pond with waterlilies at the neighboring hotel. We stopped at Costco and got food from their outdoor Food Court- turkey wraps for Chris and Bill and Chicken Caesar Salads for Dick and I. Then Dick saw the fat free frozen yogurt and he, Bill and I had very big cups of it for a very good price. Dick enjoyed his so much, he went back for seconds.

We drove back to Kapa’a to go to the weekly Farmers’ Market. It was just opening at 3 and we walked through the very busy market area. Chris and Bill both bought apple bananas and they got us new, very lovely and intricate leis from an old woman who does beautiful work. Chris and I got three new flowers to freshen up the tropical flower bouquets she got for Valentine’s Day.

Back home we ate our dinner out on the lanai. Then we all went to our separate computers to work on photos. I had a Moorish Idol and butterfly fish that were good enough to post on Facebook uncropped. We watched the first Survivor show then Jon Stewart. Stephen Colbert was unexpectedly a repeat show. Bill made popcorn which we all enjoyed. Around 10 we headed off to bed. Dick got a second foam pad to put on the bed and slept well.

Thursday, February 16, 2012- Kauai- North Shore

We had a leisurely morning then left for the Kilauea Lighthouse. There were two pods of whales in the distance, spouting and waving flukes. Dick got photos of red footed boobies, frigate birds, and brown boobies. He got some photos of Nene gesse as we left. Then we drove to Anini Beach where Chris and I found lots of tiny Ni’ihau shells- pink, white, brown and with small stripes. These are the shells use for intricate necklaces that are sold for big bucks here on the island. There must be at least a thousand in each necklace. Chris and I filled a small film container about half full before rain drove us off the beach.

We drove through Princeville and found the street where albatrosses had taken over peoples’ front yards for nesting. We saw about ten of the large birds, some sitting on nests under bushes and others walking around. It was neat to see these big birds everywhere. At Hanelei village we ordered fish and chips and browsed stores until the food was ready. We ate at Middle Beach, watching surfers in the cresting waves. A rainbow appeared and grew as we ate. When the rain came in Dick and I went below trees at the edge of the beach but Chris and Bill waited it out. We walked along the beach while they finished eating, then we drove home. Bill watched a MSU basketball game and Chris and Dick worked on the day’s bird photos. We watched a little of American Idol, then headed to bed.

Friday, February 18, 2012- Sand Pond Beach and Glass Beach

We had a leisurely morning then headed off just after noon. First stop was the post office to mail off Liam’s postcard complete with a Hawaiian shirt stamp. Then we went to Salt Pond Beach. I changed into my swimsuit and Chris and I headed off to snorkel. After about four photos my camera needed a new battery so I trudged down the soft sand beach to replace it. The area was strange with shallow water amongst a lot of the reefs, but using a combination of flippers and pulling with your hands got us through the heavy tidal areas. But there were Moorish Idols, Raccoon Butterfly fish, a lizardfish, and a trumpetfish, as well as others Chris will have to help me identify.

Next we went to Glass Beach and scrounged for blue and green glass amongst the more numerous white and brown glaas “sand” particles. A few neat shell fragments were added to the film cartridge case and we filled it up about half full.

We ate at Hamura’s Saiman restaurant that serves noodle bowls with pork or shrimp or others add-ins. I had a skewer of teryaki chicken and Dick and I shared a lilikoi pie which tastes a bit like key lime- me eating the lion’s share. We drove to an ice cream place in the Safeway Shopping Center and had fat free, dairy free soft serves. We ate outside at a table, then drove home. I started laundry and had a glass of the Beaujolais wine they don’t drink. Then we watched Intolerable Cruelty, a Coen Brothers movie starring George Clooney- very funny!

Saturday, February 18, 2012- Lydgate Park

We started the morning accompanying Chris on beach clean-up at Lydgate Park. There wasn’t much big stuff, but loads of plastic particles washed up on the beach. We walked around with buckets collecting plastic. I had never known there was so much blue plastic in the world but it certainly shows up on beaches. We moved on to the keikei (children’s) pond and worked a while there. Coffee break with the clean-up gang included banana bread someone brought. After collecting up buckets and rakes, the crew left and we walked along the coast to the play bridge and took photos of the ceramic decorations and mosaics there and on the shelter.

Then we walked the other way toward the river’s mouth looking for Sheep’s Eyes, very smooth seeds from a Hawaiian vine. Chris found an old Walmart fabric shopping bag and filled it with mostly plastic trash as we walked. We both found a few Sheep’s Eyes and the smaller patterned Sea Beans.

It was quite windy so we had waited a while, but now it was time to snorkel. The water felt pretty cold at first, but rapture of the deep and colorful fish took our minds off that. Chris broke out the bread bag and fed the Yellow-fin Surgeon Fish and Mullets that, by now, know her by her pink mask. They thronged around her. Dick went out after a while, but I stayed in with Chris, swimming around the perimeter rocks in search of fish. I got photos of a Stripey and some flounders as well as other fish I’d seen already. We showered off, feeling chilled a bit by the wind.

We went home to wash up a bit then headed to the Coconut Marketplace where we got fat free ice cream and yogurt and I got shave ice that was more like a snowcone. At the Kauai Open Market I got some gifts and enjoyed looking at the crafts and clothes.

At five we were at the Children of the Land Center in Kapa’a for the Slack Key Guitar Concert by Doug ad Sandy McMaster. When the Hawaiians first had imported cows they wandered free and ruined people’s crops. So Mexican cowmen were brought in to teach the Hawaiian how to manage their cattle. They brought guitars which the Hawaiians admired, so when they left, the Mexicans left their guitars as a token of their friendship. But the Hawaiians knew nothing about tuning or playing their new guitars, so they readied them and played as they saw fit. Hence the name slack key for the loose tuning practices that developed, with over 75 different types of tunings that were used.

Sandy told the story of the development of the music and accompanied Doug on ukelele. At intermission they served Oreo Cookies and water. Then they gave away prizes in a lottery,which none of us won. I bought Dick a CD. In the second set they played Amazing Grace and Puff the Magic Dragon, but most of the songs were traditional old time slack guitar compositions and tunes that Doug had composed, often while sitting by the ocean.

We were home around 7:30 and had dinner- a chicken from Costco, baked potato and squash courtesy of Bill. He watched Michigan basketball and we worked on our computers.

Sunday, February 20, 2012

We had another leisurely morning. Then we left and went to a native Kauai crafts fair where a woman was singing Hawaiian songs while young girls danced with rhythm sticks and pompoms. Chris bought some kitchen towels with a rooster on one and a hen on the other. We watched the dancing for a good while. Then I picked up the gift I had engraved yesterday at the Crafts Market. We looked for a cooler bag for Christy and family, but didn’t find the right size anywhere.

We once again had frozen yogurt at Costco, then headed for the golf course at Kauai Lagoons in Lihue. On the way we drove by the port to see the smaller cruise ship, Ocean Princess, in port. Later that night, while eating dinner, we saw her sail out of port. At the golf course, Dick got photos of Nenes, coots, and plovers. The golf course was lovely, perched on cliffs with the ocean breakers casting spray way up on the rocks. Two body boarders went out but both lost their boards in a big wave and had to paddle back out again. The waves were so strong that we didn’t attempt to go near the water’s edge. We watched some golfers often hitting into the traps that kept the balls from going into the ocean.

We headed for Duke’s where we had a five o’clock reservation. Two musicians were playing and singing. After we were seated, Chris went down and asked them to play Hotel California- which they did very well! I had teriyaki beef and chicken after a great salad and muffin bar. Then Chris and I shared a piece of Hula Pie. We were home by around 7:30 and relaxed in front of computers and the TV for the evening.

Monday, President’s Day, February 21, 2012- Waimea Canyon

We got off early in Chris’s car headed for the Waimea Canyon. Dick drove and Chris insisted I have the front seat for the views. We had dual goals- to see the canyon and whatever birds we could find. Lunch was at SubWay and McDonalds who offered Taro Pies which I had to try. The filling was sweet, purple and a otherwise a little nondescript tasting.

We got to the top overlook at the canyon and I immediately saw a large bird on the other side of the fence. Dick tried to get photos but had more luck later when we got back to the car. When Chris saw a beautiful rainbow hanging over the valley, she called me to hurry. I saw it for plenty of time before it dispersed, but then another formed slowly in its place. Whales breached in the distance with the rainbow above. We headed down the uneven trail along the canyon for a while but decided the busyness of the trail made it unlikely we’d see birds, so we began our trip down, after a time to photograph the large bird again- which turned out to be a Erckel’s Francolin, a new species. We stopped at several places on the downward road, taking a trail that was quiet by comparison, but saw no birds. Rainbows sprung up at every stop.

Even when we stopped at Lucy Wright Beach, a rainbow was waiting for us- as well as lots of green olivine crystals that turned the otherwise black beach green and shiny. People stopped to ask what we were finding and we told them. Some of the crystals are round but other smaller ones have more indistinct shapes, but they’re all bright green and stand out amongst the black sand. Once, after leaving Chris to walk in search of shells, I came back to find her in a circle of six women sitting on the sand and searching for the crystals, Chris telling them about good things to do on Kauai. I suggested Glass Beach and Chris gave them directions.

I got a good shave ice with cherry and raspberry syrup and Dick got a Costco’s chocolate yogurt as well as filling the car with gas. We came home to Bill’s excellent chicken pot pie and wine, which we found was improved by the addition of mango juice.

Dick worked on improving his frankolin photo as well as coots that he found were different from other coots he had taken photos of previously. I packed my suircase sufficiently to keep me from dwelling on it that night when I was trying to sleep. Another great day in Paradise!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012- Kapa’a to home

We spent a leisurely morning showering and packing the incidentals up again. Then we headed for the tidepool beach. Unfortunately the surf was so rough we couldn’t wade out by the tidepools, formed by parallel limestone walls that extended quite far along the beach. But the area collected a lot of beach detritus, so Chris collected trash in a bucket she had brought from home and I began shell, sea glass, and coral collecting. The pickings were quite good, although whole shells were at a premium as usual. Chris added a few Portugese Man-of-Wars to her bucket and I found her a few segments of brightly colored sea urchin tests and some larger corals that I couldn’t take home. She gave me some nice findings including a purple shell like the one she found a few days earlier. But unfortunately it was still inhabited, so we tossed it reluctantly back in the sea, hopefully to live long and prosper.

We stopped for lunch at Eggberts at the Coconut Marketplace. I had very good macadamia pancakes with coconut syrup. Back to the house we did a final search for stray possessions and loaded our suitcases into the car. Dick scattered some change around the driveway for Chris to find, as our Grandma Thomson always did for us on walks. Chris found it and said that meant Grandma was insuring a good trip home for us, even though she knew it was Dick playing Grandma. I showered off the salt for the long trip ahead. We took the scenic route to the airport and were there in plenty of time. Saying goodbye was sad, but we should be back reasonably soon.

The time at the airport went quickly, as did the flight. We took the WikkiWikki bus to the main terminal and ate at a Chinese fast food place at the Food Court. Unfortunately we both got the Spicy Peanut Chicken as one of our choices and it was, indeed, very spicy. I had some good Orange Chicken but Dick got tofu he wasn’t very enthused about either. We walked down to Gate 8 with two hours still until our 10PM flight to San Francisco. Dick worked on birds and I caught this up, then did puzzles.

The flight to San Francisco was five hours long (Dick slept, I tried), followed by a 3 ½ hour flight to Chicago after a very short layover. I watched some of The Big Year on the flight while Dick worked on birds or slept. We found our flight to Raleigh had been changed to a much earlier one, so after two hours we were there. Our suitcases had been too large for the very small cargo bins in the plane, but they arrived at planeside quickly and we took the shuttle to our car and were on our way!

The GPS got us to the Apple Store in Raleigh where we picked up the new computer Cindy had bought for Dick. The store was a beehive of activity- the busiest store I’d ever been in, with clients all the way from an elderly man with oxygen tank attached to his walker to the three year old son of a soldier. My black Apple jacket turned out to be an item unique to the Cupertino Apple employees store. so got many envious glances from store employees who joked I’d be getting questions from customers for wearing it. Within an hour we had the computer all set up and were off for Ash.

We fueled up at a Subway in the mall’s food court and headed out. The drive was uneventful and we got home around 9:30 PM. Dick got the woodstove and water going and we headed for bed after ten to try to make up for the overnight flight's sleep deprivation and to dream of a great vacation.