Ciao Italy

Well, just like my trip to Africa, I was up by 3 AM to get to the airport in time to leave on an early morning flight.   This time, however, I paid
for the extra economy comfort seats for the extra 4 inches of leg room - well worth it!.   At the airport I met my fellow travelers on this trip
who turned out to be the best traveling companions in the world.  

Not boring you with the details of the flight (several movies) we all arrived in Rome, Italy at 7:00 A.M.  We met our tour guide Tony at the
Cardinal St. Peter’s  Hotel where we were staying for two nights.  Of course, our rooms were not ready so Tony suggested that we take
the subway down to Trevi Fountain and the Spanish Steps.  So off we trudged to see the sights.  We bought our subway tickets at a
local store and took the 10 minute walk to the subway  - well this turned out to be a half hour walk, up hill.     
Buying our Subway
Tickets         Walking to the Subway.   Arriving at the subway station we found out it wasn’t working!   Was this an omen of things to
come?   Tony suggested taking the bus instead but because the subway wasn’t working the buses were packed full.   My roommate,
Patti, and I decided it was time to taste the wines of Italy, after all “it’s 5 o’clock somewhere”.  We were not the only ones thinking the
same thought so we joined some other fellow travelers for the local brew.

After checking into our hotel, we had our first night out in Rome.  It turned out to be a pizza making event with each person making their
own pizza.  
My Very Own Pizza;     My Pizza Cook and I          Group Picture       My Table Group For The Pizza Night .    We were also
entertained by the locals performing various songs, all in Italian.  It was a hoot!  

The next day was a day filled with sight seeing.   First we saw St. Peter’s Basillica, Vatican museums and the Sistine Chapel.   There
are no words to adequately describe this visit.   I took pictures where I could but respected the “no camera” rule where stated.  The
lines to enter the facility were long, long, long - I would think you would have had at least a 2 hour wait to enter..  Lucky for us we had the
tour company get the tickets early and we got in before the crowds started.  This was well worth it because it gets really crowed during
the day.   We were told that only a week before, on a Friday, they had over 25,000 visitors in one day!.  
St. Peter's Square      St. Peter's
Basilica #1      St Peters Basilica #2     Ceiling on the way to the Sistine Chapel       Statute in the Museum       Another Statute       Swiss
Guard at the Vatican        After our visit to the Vatican, we  were on our way to the Colosseum.  The Colosseum, also called the Flavian
Amphitheater, is one of the great works of Roman engineering. In the 1st century AD, when it was built, it was the site of gladiator fights,
mock sea battles, and other enactments. It had three stories of tiered seats and could hold 50,000 spectators. Large awnings shielded
them from the sun. Underneath the floor were two levels of tunnels and cages, which were used to hold the gladiators and wild
animals before the spectacles began.  The Colosseum is also lit up at night for wonderful evening shots of the outside of the
structure.   
View of Colosseum - Outside      Colosseum - Inside        Colosseum at Night
Patti and I had some free time after the Colosseum so we chose to visit the site of the Four Rivers Fountain.  Bernini's Fountain of the
Four Rivers dominates the Piazza Navona and is an equal favorite  with the Trevi Fountain which is sadly closed at present.  We were
told that the four giant statues represent the principal rivers of the continents known at the time: the Nile represented Africa, with its
veiled head because the source of the river wasn't yet discovered, the Ganges Asia, the Danube Europe and Rio de la Plata, the
Americas. Surrounding Piazza Navona and the fountain are restaurants, gelato shops, street performers and artists,   Patti and I
enjoyed a nice lunch while we people watched.   
Lunch in Rome         Four River's Fountain        Street Entertainer

In our last night in Rome we were treated to “A taste of Rome” which included a meal with the performance of a small Italian opera.   It
was a fun night as many of our fellow travelers took part in the mini opera.    
Pre Drinks at the hotel      The three blondes     The
Barber       Patti dancing with the lead singer       Statute of David at Night

The next day we were off to Florence Italy.   What a beautiful city.   You cannot see this city in the 2 days we were there.   There are some
many attractions to see and we only saw a couple.  We stayed at The Grand Hotel Baglioni.  This hotel is directly across the street from
the main train station in the center of Firenze aka Florence. The large historic palazzo that houses the hotel is impressive and the
rooms are rather dramatic, with large windows and high ceilings.   The view from our room was a view of the cathedrals Duomo.. just
outstanding.  
Our hotel room        Patti and Rusty on the Rooftop of the Hotel             Night view of the Duomo          Wikipedia's Cathedral
Web Site

Our first visit was to the Piazza dell Duomo.   Piazza dell Duomo is where you find the stunningly beautiful Santa Maria del Fiore
(Duomo) and its accompanying Companile and Baptistry buildings, which collectively offer a visual feast, difficult to match.   The facade
of the Duomo and the matching Companile, both being elaborately decorated and ornate on the outside. The Duomo itself offers a nice
interior visit but it is the outside of this church that inspires lasting memories of Florence.  The Duomo facade has no true rival and its
bronze colored dome makes it one of the most recognizable churches in the world.  This is one of the many reasons why you come to
Florence!   
Duomo Interior Shot              Duomo

That evening, we had a lovely dinner at a local restaurant - it took us over 3 hours to eat the dinner and chat.   No rush to get out the door
to seat the next customer!   What a treat.        
Patti and Rusty at Dinner       .The next day we took a tour to the Leaning Tower of Pisa, and
a visit to a Tuscan winery that included a regional lunch.

While most of us have had a vision of the Leaning Tower since grade school, we were all amazed at the actual sight of this magnificent
structure. It was very amusing to see all of the tourists that were taking one of the most famous pictures among international travelers ...
holding up the Leaning Tower. By the time we left, most of us found ourselves drawn to that very same "photo-op".     
Leaning Tower of
Pisa           Baptistry Buildings at Pisa         Patti's Photo-op           Three Blondes at Pisa

The Leaning Tower of Pisa was supposed to stand straight but it gained its famous sideways slant thanks to the unstable soil on
which it was constructed and poor planning. It was built as a free-standing bell tower to accompany the cathedral and baptistry in the
town of Pisa, Italy. There are eight floors within the tower, including the top floor that houses the tower’s bells. There are around 284
steps in the Leaning Tower of Pisa.   The construction of the tower began in 1173 and was not completed until the mid-1300s, with
wars causing delays in its completion. The town of Pisa got its name from a Greek word, which supposedly means “marshy land.” Pisa
is the birthplace of noted early physicist and astronomer Galileo Galilei.   
Educational Information on the Tower of Pisa

From there we were treated to lunch at a Tuscan winery that included a history of the family farm as well as several samplings of the
excellent wine and olive oil that were produced by this family. Driving through the Tuscan hills was very scenic, and cameras were
working overtime not to miss a single memory of our day.     
Tuscan Winery        Winery

That night we toured an active monastery that housed 4 monks that have lived in isolation (no talking, just praying and writing) for as
many as 60 years. Obviously, it was impossible for virtually all of us to fathom the dedication to an advocation to this extent. Once the 4
monks pass (their ages range from 60 to 82), the monastery will be closed and turned into a museum.    
Monastery         Monastery
Courtyard

At the end of the night we attended a Tuscan feast and dinner show. It became readily apparent that our group was becoming very
comfortable with each other. Something happened when the host recognized the "large group from California". Well, it just seemed the
right time to bring a little American culture to our Italian hosts with rousing renditions of singing "our songs", which turned into a series
of "our dances" that brought out more fun and laughter than we could ever have anticipated. Even our Tour Manager Tony got into the
act. On the bus back to the hotel the Florentine Valley reverberated with chants of "Tony. Tony. Tony."     
Our group dancing


Today we journeyed through central Italy, crossing over the wooded Apennine Mountains toward the Po Rover Valley, eventually arriving
in Mogliano Veneto to relax in this quaint Venetian town.  Arriving in Venice, I  enjoyed an Islands of the Venetian Islands Lagoon boat
tour. The first island I visited was a  glass factory in Murano. The glass blowing demonstration was very impressive as the worker
created a stallion, raised on its' hind quarters, in a bout 5 minutes. It is to scale as he used several tools to create the legs, head, and
mane.  We, of course, shopped at the factory where I purchased a Murano glass cat for my friend Constance and earrings for
myself.        
Murano Glass Blowing

Next we visited the island of Burano. A quaint, artsy island neighborhood made up of mostly young adults. Each unit in a multi-building
structure was painted with different and contrasting colors which caused all of our pictures to jump off the page.  The locals were very
welcoming and the kids played in the interior courtyard from the local fountain.  As with most of Venice, there are canals everywhere and
there was no exception on this lovely island of Burano.     
Burano Canals           Burano Children Playing at Fountain

Venice, consisting of  118 tiny islands and its latticework of 150 canals and more than 100 bridges was stunning.   Maureen, my mother
in law, has a friend Kathy who said Venice was the most beautiful city in the world - I believe it.   We then boarded a boat to charming St.
Mark’s Square, the lively hub of the city’s activity and events. We embarked on a walking tour of the area featuring St. Mark’s Basilica and
the Clock Tower.      
St. Mark's Square

We had lunch on our own before most of us enjoyed what we had been looking forward too all week. A Venetian Gondola ride. This 25
minute ride strolled through several canals before heading out to the Grand Canal and then back through more canals. With our
troubadour singing boldly accompanied by a fellow Venetian with an accordion, as we made our way through the canals.  The gondola
ride is not to be missed if you ever get to Venice.     
Pictures from the Gondola ride              Venice Canals          Venice Canals #2

The rest of the day was spent as free-time to shop, and eat, and take in the splendor of this fascinating web of islands, bridges, shops,
great food, and photo-ops at every corner.   I was with a group of 5 people exploring the alley ways of Venice.   We were lost so we
stopped at a local restaurant and asked “where are we”?.   The very savoy waiter replied “You’re in Venice.”    So, we stopped, ate, drank
and eventually found our way back to St. Marks square where we met with other fellow travelers.        
Venice's Streets       Masks for Sale
in Venice That evening we took a tour of the canals by night - it was splendid.    Speaking from personal experience, I can't wait to come
back again.

On our final touring day for the group we traveled to the city of Milano to see the Duomo di Milano, tour the Sforzeca Castle, and take in
the fashion capital of Italy. We all had a hard time comprehending the amount of time and detail that it took to build the Duomo di Milano
as the entire exterior of the building is made of marble, and the detail is mind-boggling.    
Milan Church              It Really Rained for a
While                    A Picture of our group in front of the Church                   

The next day, most of the group headed back to the States but five of us did an extended trip to Cinque Terre.  From Milan, we took the
local trains to Cinque Terre - the train ride was lots of fun and we saw some beautiful sites along the way.             
Waiting for the Train
Cinque Terre is a marvelous tourist destination featuring five seaside villages at the foot of terraced hills that fall steeply toward the sea.
It is a wonderful place to enjoy the fabulous vistas by hiking amongst the vineyards and olive groves above the villages.  We stayed at a
local apartment we rented which consisted of two bedrooms with one of the bedrooms housing the kitchen.   The 5th member of our
little group had to sleep in the hallway.   
Our Apartment in Vernazza      

Upon arriving at the town of Vernazza where the apartment was located we took a hiking tour up to see Madonna di Reggio Drignana.    
Being out of shape, the hike did me in - it was uphill all the way.   Although the pictures I got from the top of the hike are stunning of the  
village below.  
Rusty Hiking    A look at Vernazza from my hike      The next day was another hiking day between the 5 cities which I
declined to participate in.   However, I understand from some of the pictures that the trail was very rugged, went between vineyard and
people’s back yards.  I have included a few of the pictures from the hike.  
At the end of the day, we stopped at Riomaggiore for a small pizza and wine.   Relaxing in this quaint town was an experience to remember.   Taking the
train back to our sleeping quarters, we had our last meal in Vernazza before packing to return to Milan the next day.   
Read about Cinque Terre
area         Pictures from the Hike between the town #1          More Pictures          More Pictures #2          More Pictures #3

Sadly, we had to leave Italy and head home.  I can truthfully say that Italy is among the top places that I have visited, right up there with
the Galapagos Islands and Africa.   I would definitely go back  - maybe as a pirate lady?     
Pirate Ladies of
Vernazza                                                                   
     Alaska by Land and Sea


We started our tour a few days early and stayed in Anchorage.  Had a great time at Cook's Hotel and at the Brew Pub down the
street.  So, it is Sunday and we will meet up with the rest of the tour group today.  After meeting several of the people, John and I
have to say that most of the land and sea portion of this tour group is from the deep south - you’all know what I mean?   Just talk
a little southern and you will fit right in.  Our first stop on the tour is the Princess McKinley Lodge.  By bus it took us 4 hours to
get there without a stop.   I did not use the bathroom on the bus!!!    Arriving around 2 PM, we check in and decided to take the
free bus down to a little town call Talkeetna.  Talkeetna is at the  at the confluence of three rivers, the Susitna, Chulitna and
Talkeetna and is the jumping off place to climb Mount Denali.  

This little town has a honorary mayor - a cat named Stubbs.   A popular rumor states Stubbs was elected following a successful
write-in campaign by voters who opposed the human candidates .  On August 31, 2013, Stubbs was attacked and mauled by a
dog while roaming the streets and after treatment at the local veterinarian returned home on September 9.   As of 2016, he is still
honorary mayor.  We walked into the Mayor’s office and asked to see him as we were representatives of California.  We were
informed he was indisposed and could not see us  - where is the open door policy the mayor is famous for?   All I got was a
picture of Mayor Stubbs.  
Stubbs, the Mayor

That evening we had dinner at the Mountain Lodge.  Reservations required - can you believe that.  We ordered a goat cheese with
Thai pepper chile sauce - boy it was yummy.   While sitting there enjoying dinner, the sun came out and we caught a  glimpse
Mount Denali in the distance.   
Mt. Denali      Mount Denali means the “great one” in Athabsacan.  The mountain stands 20,310
feet above sea level and the first ascent of the mountain was made in 1913.   Each year several people attempt to climb Mt.
Denali, some make it, some don’t.

Now that I have given you a history lesson on Mt. Denali, back to my blog.  The next day we got on the bus for our 4 hour drive to
the Mt. Denali lodge.   By the time we got to the lodge, we were so hungry - we stopped at the Salmon Lodge for a late lunch.   
This place is famous for its Salmon light fixture -  
Salmon Light Fixture    cool isn’t it?   That evening, after a long and tortuous
ride into the back country to see the wildlife of Denali, we saw the musical dinner show entitled “The music of Denali”.   My
advice, miss it!   $75 per person and the food is terrible.  

Tomorrow we will get on the Denali train for our 8 hour train ride down to Whittier to catch our ship the Island Princess for our
seven day cruise.   

Day 1 of the Cruise - Getting on board

We finally arrived at around 5-6 PM (after leaving at 8:15 in the morning) to get on the Ship.  Since the early sitting had already
started, we elected to eat at the Bayou Café.   - An early night for us as we want to be ready for he trivia games for tomorrow.  
Let me tell you there are a lot of smart older people on this cruise.   We never won a prize at trivia during the whole cruise!  Here
is a couple pictures of the ship.   
The Island Princess at Dock       
Explorer's Lounge         Pool Area           John at the Wheelhouse Bar


Day 2 of the Cruise - Yakutat Bay

During the morning, the ship sailed south across the Gulf of Alaska, entering Yakutat Bay by mid-afternoon.  Hubbard Glacier
was in view over the bow of the ship and the spectacular Wrangell St. Elias Mountain range surrounds the bay.   By mid-
afternoon we reversed our course and set sail for Cape Spencer and the approach to Glacier Bay.    Also, this was our First
formal night - For those of you who have been on cruises you know the drill.  You get dressed up, take tons of photo ops and
then go to bed.  However, prior to getting ready for the formal night I meet these lovely ladies from Georgia.   Remember I told you
most of the people on the tour were from the south - well so were these ladies.   We spent the afternoon drinking and talking and
participating in a crafts fair.   I made a whale from a piece of paper.   I also did not win a prize for my whale.     Here are my two
new friends Marie and Gail.   
Gail, Marie and Rusty  I hope they remember to come and visit me.   John and Rusty Dressed Up

Day 3 of the Cruise - Glacier Bay

During the early morning hours the ship pass by Cape Spencer and entered the waters of Alaska’s inside passage as it transits
the Icy Straits towards Glacier Bay.   By 1 PM we had reached the face of Margerie Glacier where chucks of ice were floating in
the water.   I was hoping for some glacier “calving” but it didn’t happen on this cruise.   Glacier calving is the breaking off of
chunks of ice at the edge of a glacier. It is a form of ice ablation or ice disruption and is normally caused by the glacier
expanding. Calving of glaciers is often accompanied by a loud cracking or booming sound before blocks of ice up to 200 ft high
break loose and crash into the water. The entry of the ice into the water causes large, and often hazardous waves. The waves
formed in locations like Johns Hopkins Glacier can be so large that boats cannot approach closer than 1.9 miles.   These events
have become major tourist attractions in locations such as Alaska.  It was a casual evening attire for that night and John and I
ate dinner in the main dining room.    
Iceberg           Glacier         Glacier Calving    Tomorrow is Skayway and gold panning for
John.

Day 4 - Skagway

Gold panning for John!    I hope he gets  a lot so I can have a big golden nugget ring to wear  - After all what is his is mine and
what mine is mine.   I decided to stay on the ship and take a relaxing day, maybe in the spa or even an afternoon nap.   
Estimates put the 2015 population of Skagway at 1,057 people. The population doubles in the summer tourist season in order to
deal with more than 900,000 visitors as the town is a popular stop for cruise ships. The White Pass and Yukon Route narrow
gauge railroad, part of the area's mining past, is now in operation purely for the tourist trade and runs throughout the summer
months.

John returned around 4 PM.  He did not enjoy this excursion at all and would not recommend it to other travelers.   John said it
was a 45 - 1 hour drive to the Canadian border, a turn around, and then a 15 minute gold panning at a make believe mine site.  
Not worth the money or the time.  Trivia time and, again, no win for the team of King Louie.   


Day 5 - Juneau - More gold panning

We have arrived in Juneau where John again has a gold panning day planned.   I am always hoping he strikes it rich!  I, on the
other hand, am heading to the Red Dog Saloon and I am going to try one of their Duck Farts.  I tell you a Duck Fart is good.   It
is made of 1/3 Kahlua,  1/3 Baileys Irish Creme and 1/3 Crown Royal, layered.  
Picture of the Duck Fart      Well, no gold but I
got my duck fart and John actually said the excursion was fun.   So today was a plus.   

Now for your history lesson on Juneau.  Juneau is rather unusual among U.S. capitals in that there are no roads connecting the
city to the rest of Alaska or to the rest of North America. The absence of a road network is due to the extremely rugged terrain
surrounding the city. This in turn makes Juneau a de-facto island city in terms of transportation, since all goods coming in and
out must go by plane or boat, in spite of the city being located on the Alaskan mainland.  Atop these mountains is the Juneau
Icefield, a large ice mass from which about 30 glaciers flow; two of these, the Mendenhall Glacier and the Lemon Creek Glacier,
are visible from the local road system.  I do recommend visiting either one of these glaciers if you are in Juneau.

Day 6 - Ketchikan

Our last city stop is the City of Ketchikan.   Here we tried the Duck tour which is a vehicle that does both the land and water
tour.  The modern, state-of-the-art, amphibian will take you on a 90 minute tour through the rustic streets of Ketchikan, Alaska
showing you new and historic sights. This is a fun-filled adventure showing you all the best that Ketchikan has to offer!   
Duck
Tour Website

Ketchikan is named after Ketchikan Creek, which flows through the town, emptying into the Tongass Narrows a short distance
southeast of its downtown.  During the Salmon mating season this creek is over-run with spawning salmon and a nature call for
the bears to come and eat.  Ketchikan has the world's largest collection of standing totem poles, found throughout the city and at
four major locations: Saxman Totem Park, Totem Bight State Park, Potlatch Park, and the Totem Heritage Center.  There are a
number of sites to visit in this lovely town and I would highly recommend trying to visit the tourist sites.

Day 7 - At Sea

This is our last day of the cruise so it is a late morning breakfast, packing for the trip home and the last Bingo session on the
cruise as well as the last trivia contests.  Team King Louie did not win at either one.    Dinner that evening was in the main dining
room with the big display by the staff was the “flaming” baked Alaska.  When I say flaming, I mean a candle that does not have
any fire.   After that big treat we thought it best to call it a night before disembarking in Vancouver.

Disembarking was fairly easy.  We got on the bus for the airport and the driver providing us with “facts” about Vancouver along the
way.   There is a very up and coming area of Vancouver and the properties are selling outrageously.   Here is a picture of a house
that sold for 4.5 million dollars.   
4.5 M house Location, Location, Location - it definitely was not the house.   

Our flight to San Francisco was delayed as was the flight getting out of San Francisco.  However, John got this picture of the
Golden Gate Bridge from the plane.  
Golden Gate Bridge So ended our North to Alaska trip.    I think my next adventure is
Tortola, one of the many islands of the BVI’s.

For those of you that would like to look at the daily events on the 7 day cruise on the Island Princess, I have copies the Princess
Capers for you to review.  
Day 1        Day 2       Day 3      Day 4      Day 5      Day 6      Day 7

                                                          
                            
Hawaii in October

  Yea, the day has arrived and we are off to Hawaii.  The drive down to San Diego was
uneventful  but we met this lovely lady on the transportation ride over to the airport.  She
was from Hawaii but now lives in Escondido.   Can you imagine as long as I have lived in
Escondido I never met this lady.  Anyway, she was off to Utah to visit family who are mostly
in the criminal justice field.   

  There is nothing interesting to tell you about the flight over - just 5 hours long and I was
forced to talk with John the entire time.  

  As most of my friends are aware I am one of those people that celebrate the whole
month of October as my birthday month.  It starts out on the  1st and ends on the 31st, so
this trip is part of my present to me for my birthday month.   I am going to try and do
something different on my actual birthday so read on and see what I chose to do.

  We checked into the Royal Kuhio and have a small one bedroom apartment on the 23rd
floor.  At least we get to see some of the ocean.
View from the Royal Kuhio  That evening
we had dinner at Duke's located in the Outrigger Waikiki Hotel.    Duke's Restuarant  is
named after Duke Paoa Kahanamoku who was born August 24, 1890 in Honolulu,
Hawaii, the first of six sons and three daughters of Duke and Julia Kahanamoku.  He
grew up in carefree Waikiki with the ocean as his playground, doing what he loved –
mostly swimming, surfing, canoeing and bodysurfing.  At the age of 21 he won his first
Olympic gold medal, then went on to represent the United States in the Olympics for 20
years, winning not only medals but the hearts of people all over the world. He is
remembered as a swimmer not just for remarkable speed, but for his grace in the water,
his good humor, and his sportsmanship.  Check out the website for more information on
Duke and the restaurant.
Duke's in Waikiki
Although I found it very disappointing!   The seafood/steakroom was a small enclosed
room with no view.   I could live with that but I can say the dinner was the worst I have ever
had.  The sirloin steak was grissly and tough.  The seafood dish was overcook as the
scallops were almost impossible to eat - extremely chewy.   I know that Duke's is
suppose to be a higher class restaurant but this is the second time I have eaten there
and both times were less than stellar ocassions.   To John's credit he ordered his Crown
Royal.   
John enjoying his Crown Royal
   

We of course had to make the mandatory stop at the Top of Wiakiki with the revoling
restaurant.  The food is very expensive as well as a glass of wine ($13 for a small glass).  
The site was beautiful but there are better places to spend your money.   

     We left the restaurant and were headed back to our room where we stumbled across the "Coconuts Tiki Bar".   "Cocoanuts" in
Waikiki   One of the things on our list to do in Oahu was hit a bunch of tiki bars and see how they compared.  Well, this place fits the bill.  
The floors had flowers, leaves and stuff on the floor with wooded tiki tables.  The bar was tiki themed and they even had the drinks that
came in a pineapple.  We were so original, we ordered beer.  The entertainer was great that night.   Played all the oldies as well as
some Hawaiian songs.  This was a nice way to end our first evening in Hawaii.  As we left, I thought I would look better in dark hair and a
bikini.  
Rusty going Hawaiian


    On this trip to Hawaii we planned on doing the swap meet at the Aloha Stadium, Pearl Harbor Bowfin Submarine exhibit, hit the tiki
bars and maybe do a tour around the island.   We thought we would try and explore the International Market Place in downtown Wiakiki.  
If any of you have been I Wiakiki before you know what the old market place looks like - it is old Hawaiian with run down bars, vendors
selling everything you could think of and food you might or might not like to try.   Well, the new International Market place is NEW - all the
major shopping stores, sleek advertising, no good dive bars.  What a disappointment.  So we went back to Coconuts Tiki that evening.


    We decided to hit the Pearl Harbor area next and take in the Bowfin exhibition.  Since we had already been on the Arizona Memorial
this was our next choice.  If you have never been to the Arizona Memorial I highly recommend it. It is very emotional to every American.   
The Bowfin submarine is a small ship!   It is only 23 feet wide and let me tell you I do not know how these sailors could move around in
this ship. The Bowfin is a fleet attack submarine that fought in the Pacific during WWII, and helped to make famous the term, Silent
Service.   Bowfin was launched on 7 December 1942, exactly one year after the attack on Pearl Harbor. She was nicknamed the Pearl
Harbor Avenger, so it is fitting that her permanent home is at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.  As I discovered when I went through the museum,
each submarine has it’s own insignia.  The bowfin is the insignia for this ship.  Here are a few pictures of the Bowfin.   
Sleeping Quarters
The Galley       Radio Room             Gunner Rusty             Gunner John
Also if you want to read more about the Bowfin Submarine check out www.bowfin.org

    We also took a tour around the island and saw some of the highlights of the island.  Diamond Head, The Blowhole and of course  the
beach where the love scene from “Here to Eternity was filmed.      
Beach from Here to Eternity    I could just imagine John and I on that
beach with the waves rolling up over our feet.  Take a close look at this picture and tell me how these people got down to that beach - it
was no small feat.    We also saw Pali’s lookout.   The Nuuanu Pali was the site of the site of the battle of Nuuanu, one of the bloodiest
battles in Hawaiian history, in which Kamehameha I conquered the island of Oahu, bringing it under his rule.  Here, Kamehameha threw
many of the opposing warriors over the cliff.    
Depiction of the warriors being thrown over the cliff     We also stopped at the Dole
Pineapple factory and our last stop was “Turtle Island”.  Laniakea, Oahu, Hawaii, is without question the best place in the world to see
marine turtles up close.  Hawaiian green turtles, known in Hawaii as Honu, crawl ashore almost daily to bask amid crowds of tourists
and surfers, providing a unique turtle experience and unmatched photo opportunities.   This beach is a must for nature lovers.  
"Turtle
Beach"   
Turtles

    We hit a few more tiki bars and then made the last stop at the La Mariana Sailing Club/Tiki Bar.   From the ground up La Mariana is
the last original tiki bar in Honolulu, Hawaii.  It is located off Sand Castle Access Road and it is not easy to find to someone who does
not live there.  But, we were on a mission, and no matter the cost, we were going to visit this bar.   The taxi ride was outrageous in it’s
price, but just to see this place is well worth it.  
Enterance to the La Mariana Sailing Club         Inside of the tiki bar

    We are heading off to the Island of Maui and lots of plans for the week.   This is my 3rd or 4th visit to Maui and each time I find
something new. We have this nice little condo/apartment about 2 blocks off of Front Street in downtown Lahania.  Very nice as we can
walk everywhere we want to go.   

    On our first day in Maui we drove over to Kehei and the surrounding area.  We found this weird shop called Endangered Pieces.  What
a cool and unusual place.  It is 8000 square feet of the most unusual stuff you could imagine.  We wanted to buy a lot but it would not fit
on the plane.   Here are some of the unusual items which were displayed outside.   
Alien Statute     Statute of Girl and a Flaminago        
Blue Elephant    Guard Dogs       Check out the website if you are interested in unusual stuff.    www.omsweetom.com The next day John
said I had to see the Valley of the Cats.  Apparently, when you go to this area and park hundreds of cats come out to be fed.  However,
we never made it because the park area was closed because there had been a huge rainfall earlier in the year and the road was
washed out.   We also stopped at a restaurant that Guy Fieri had on his Food Network Show, Miso Phat's Sushi.  Guy signed the wall.   
Guy's signed wall

Tonight we are going to see Warren and Annabelle’s magic and comedy show.  Check out their website as it is a must to see if you are
in Maui.   Check out the website at
www.warrenandannabelles.com.     It was wonderful.   When you first arrive you are shown into
Annabelle’s parlor where you can have a drink (or two) and have some pupus (appetizers) and chat with the other people.  Annabelle,
the ghost, plays your requests as you call them out on the piano.  Afterwards you are shown into the theater for the close up magic
show.   It is a must see in Maui.  
John and Rusty at Annabelle's.

     Well, you have patiently read this blog up to this point and now I will tell you what I did for my birthday.   Some of you already know but I
did a 1 hour helicopter ride over Maui and Molokai island.  It was spectacular.   We saw the Wall of Tears, which can only be seen by
helicopter as you cannot even hike to this area, magnificent waterfalls everywhere, colorful reefs, sprawling valleys along with a narrative
of the island and its history.   
Wall of Tears   John and Rusty on helicopter   Coastline   Elephant Rock    Waterfall   This was John’s first
time in a helicopter and I think it was the highlight of the trip for him.

     We, of course, did the Road to Hana.  We decided not to drive it ourselves but use a tour company.  This is the way to go.        We did
the entire road to Hana around the island through Mahalo Tours.  We saw black sand beaches, waterfalls, one way bridges, lava tubes,
underwater caves, Charles Lindberg’s grave, and the final stop was the only winery on Maui.  It was a very nice way to end our vacation in
Maui.  Here are a few pictures (I took so many beautiful pictures but I just can't post them all).   
John on the road to Hana   This is called
the "Painted Tree"   One of the many, many waterfalls  Entrance to a lava tube   Lava tube swimming hole    John looking into a lava cave
Lindberg's grave.
    Off to Christmas at Prescott, Arizona next.