Two First Luau’s

Mike is part of a large Hawaiian family headed by Kimokeo Kapahulehua, known to his family as “Uncle.” Google him, he is fascinating. Anyway, Mike, Kathy, Frances, Daniel and their daughters (my granddaughters) became hanai members of Kimokeo’s family when they were informally adopted by his family a couple of years ago during an extended stay in Kauai.

The luau was even better than we expected. We set up the tables and chairs starting at 7:30 AM, cleaned the pool and deck, carted in ice, food and drinks. We ran multiple errands all day and barely managed to squeeze in a good nap.

You probably know that a luau is a Hawaiian feast and celebration, usually held outdoors and includes live entertainment. The first known luau was thrown by King Kamehameha 200 years ago this year! There is another reason to celebrate. Let’s have another luau!!!

The food for the luau was prepared by Kimokeo’s family who live on various Hawaiian islands. In fact, several participants in the luau came from other islands to celebrate Vivian’s first birthday with us.

It is really understating what they did to say they “prepared” the food. Yes, they cut, cooked and wrappedb but they also caught the fish a couple of days before, shot the deer for venison three days before and created some amazing (to me delicacies) Hawaiian food. I spoke with Russell, one of Kimokeo sons and husband of “head chef” Sybil, to learn all about how the food was obtained. I also learned that “David” in Hawaiian is Kawika (the w is sounded like a v.) While Russell didn’t say it as I didn’t ask, I am willing to bet they raised the pork and grew the cucumbers.

Now, I am not a fussy eater, however, I am also not an adventuresome one. As I passed through the food line I explained as well as Vivians’, this was my first luau too, and needed an explanation of what each dish was. NO ONE batted an eye at my naïveté and were genuinely excited to be able to share this experience with me.

This is my plate of food prior to diving in. In full candor the plate was scraped clean when I finished and there is no sense in boring you with a photo of a cleaned, but dirty tray.

No recipes are available for any of the food, except macaroni salad, white rice and melon, but you can Google to find something close. If it tastes a little like heaven, you may have found one of Sybil’s recipes.

  • Cucumber Kimchi – cucumbers, salt, vinegar, garlic, ginger – fermented

  • Chicken Long Rice – bean thread noodles, chicken broth, soy sauce, garlic, ginger and sugar

  • Pulled Pork – shredded pork, teriyaki, ginger, sugar, soy, onions, chicken broth,

  • ‘O’oi – a bonefish purée served raw

  • Squid Luau – a traditional Native Hawaiian cuisine food. It is made with squid (or octopus), taro (lu’au) leaves, coconut milk, garlic, water, and Hawaiian salt.

  • Laulau – taro leaves, salted butterfish, and either pork, beef, or chicken and steamed on the stove.

Aside from the amazing food, amazing that it was soooo good, and I ate everything (even more amazing,) the entertainment was phenomenal. A trio sang Hawaiian music, one ukulele, one guitar and two of the young men sang. (Sorry guy with the microphone whom I cropped out unintentionally.)

There was also troop of hula dancers. I am sorry, there is probably a better, more appropriate, authentic name for them. They did both Hula (which tells a story or paints a picture) and Haka (warrior) dances. It takes years to master these intricate dances. This group was recently on tour throughout the world, but unfortunately had to skip Hong Kong due to the troubles there.

However, even though it was Vivian’s luau, Grace was able to corner the attention of the crowd, first, by trying to one-up the singers, her rousing amplified rendition of Happy Birthday for her little sister brought the house down.

And second, by mimicking the Hula dancers, who later said she will definitely be a dancer, as she picked up on even their most subtle dance moves, may have been the highlight of the entire luau.

As first luau’s go, I do not see how this one could possibly be bettered. Great people, great food, great entertainment, I would say a great time was had by all. Thank you, thank you Kimokeo and all your family!! And certainly, thank you Papa!!


The name “Hawai’i” is possibly based on the native Hawaiian word for homeland (Owhyhee). I don’t know that to be true, it’s just what Wikipedia told me.

We are in Hawai’i for granddaughter Vivian’s first birthday celebration. In several Polynesian cultures the first birthday is considered a major milestone and is celebrated by a lū’au. At this time the family also recognizes the Grandparents, family, and friends from other islands, states, or countries, and God-parents.

Fran and I arrived in Maui just after noon on Wednesday, spent Thursday acclimating with some assistance from Ululani’s Shave Ice.

Note this is “Shave Ice” not shave-D ice. The ice is not crushed as with a snow cone, but rather shaved into fine crystals giving a much smoother texture. (Full disclosure: daily visits to Ulalani’s are mandatory in our family.)

Three Flavor Shave Ice (moments after sitting down)

Ululani’s is the premier Hawai’ian shave ice and deservingly so. The flavors are spot on. Yesterday I had a root beer float shave ice. I would almost swear it was from A&W.

Of course no day in Maui is really complete without a nice visit to the beach.

We always go to the same beach which, for emotional, nostalgic and loving reasons, is known to us only as “Grandma’s Beach.” And what visit to the beach would be complete without a quick relaxing nap? I just wish something could have been done to dim the overhead light a little. Oh well, necessity…


It’s good I had the couple of days of rest. The lū’au is today. Can’t wait!

Quiet Time

Air travel is a wonderful thing. First of all, it shrinks the world. We can fly from our home of 3 years, north of Sacramento, to Maui, HI quicker than we can fly back to our home of nearly 30 years north of Ft. Lauderdale, FL.

Secondly, aside from the occasional interruptions of meal and drink and drink and drink service, this 5 hour, 4 minute flight is the perfect “Me Time” to write, or in this case edit what I have written. We dropped Rosie off at her sleep away camp to play with her friends “Tiny Bones” and “Mookie” at A Lucky Dog, which is the perfect place for one of the worlds luckiest dogs. She used to complain and whine when we dropped her off, now she tail-wag prances away without a second look back at us.

It’s interesting, during a discussion with Daniel, I commented these days I prefer writing stories to reading those written by others. There are some exceptions for a few fantasy/science fiction anthologies I still hold dear and re-read every couple of years. When either reading or writing I like to lose myself in another time or place, not that there is anything wrong with when and where I currently am.

This “Me Time” is devoted to editing “Backstreets,” a collection of short stories, back stories really, of a number of my favorite songs by a number of my favorite composers and artists. The intent of these stories is to create the backstory that “might” have resulted in the song. One of the challenges is to do so without infringing on the copy-writes of the artists. Apparently, song titles are not subject to copy-write but lyrics are. Part of today’s flight is to find and replace lyrics with other text that is of my own creation.

There was a short editing break an hour into the flight. My traveling music is often The Doors. Currently listening to Legacy 2003. The stereo separation is amazing. The volume is loud.

Soup and salad before entree

After lunch and just over 2 hours into the flight the Doors ended. I started David Bowie’s Space Oddity (2x) which carried me most of the rest of the way.

Easy time at baggage claim and car rental we were on our way to Mike’s when we received a call to divert to Ululani’s Hawaiian Shave Ice, which we did. Delicious. Then on the Mike’s to rest for a bit before dinner. Maybe a quick dip in the pool, if the granddaughters take their naps.

I made it more than half way through the current edit and am very pleased with how much I accomplished on our flight. Maybe there will be more “Me Time” early mornings this week, if no, there is always the return flight.

I Love Coffee, I Love…

Yesterday I flew to Seattle to attend the opening of Novus Coffee Importers new facility. Neil organized a coffee cupping (tasting) event during the afternoon with a party starting after work hours.

For those not in the know, think me, yesterday morning, coffee cupping is as much science as art. Specific quantities of coffee are ground to exacting specification, then added to small cups, which are about the size of a good coffee mug.

The aroma of the ground coffee is then assessed, after which, a specific amount of water at a specific temperature is added to each cup.

After 4 minutes participants use their cupping spoon to stir the coffee three times, with a gentle back and forth motion to break the crust on the top of the coffee. The back of the spoon is then sniffed, noting any characteristics aromas. In about 15 minutes, after the coffee has cooled, two spoons are used to skim the floating crust from each cup. The cups are now ready for the cupping.

Each participant uses their spoon to take a small sample from one of the cups. With a strong slurp both coffee and air are sucked into the mouth, noting flavors and aroma. An optional spit cup can be used to keep the participant from getting too wired.

For those in “the know,” which means those who know what they are doing, a cupping sheet is available to record the flavors and aromas found in each coffee. My level of expertise is to indicate “I like it” and “I don’t like it” and finally, “Yup, that tastes exactly like coffee.”

Cupping at Novus Coffee Importers was interesting, educational and entertaining. The staff are incredibly knowledgeable, with experts from every aspect of the coffee industry.

The Time Temple

We were visiting friends in South Florida for Passover and decided as we lived so close to Douglas High School for so long, and still had an affinity for the area, we would stop by The Time Temple, a place of quiet contemplation, reflection and memory for the 17 plus 2 lives lost in that horrible, senseless act February 14, 2018.

Walking through the temple, in silence, was reminiscent of visiting the Vietnam memorial in Washington, D.C. There is just something about the names, messages and reason for existence of these memorials that evoke such powerful emotions that words just fail.

The artist/creator, David Best, said that what he made is no more than a pretty shape. It’s the individual’s job to come and put in their personal thoughts, their faith, their hopes and their anger. When that burns down, the hope is that some of their grief and anguish go up in smoke too.

I added two phrases, neither my words, to two pillars of the temple:

“I leave the light on,” forever. (I added that word.) Beth Hart

“And love is love is love is love is love is love is love is love
cannot be killed or swept aside.” Lin-Manuel Miranda

Trains and Planes and Automobiles, less the trains and planes

Yesterday we joined a several friends for a visit to the California Automobile Museum, located on Front Street in Sacramento. This museum is a gem “hidden” a half mile south of Old Sac. I put quote around hidden because without our GPS map I doubt we could have found it. With all the one-way streets in Sacramento this is one time where three wrongs don’t make a right, but three rights make a left.

BD9DC351-9AF0-43C6-B9B3-73B4A0CC2293The museum showcases the old and new in well arranged displays. My personal favorite cars were the red 1985 Ferrari 308 GTS (Magnum’s car), 1931 Ford Model A Deluxe Roadster, and 1947 MG-TC (my neighbors car while growing up in Middlebury.) We took part in a scavenger hunt to identify cars with specific details, e.g. “non-skid tires,” “bird on the front,” “made by Walt.” We found them all, with a little help from the docent, who also told us once a month, weather permitting, they take people on rides up through Old Sac in one of their convertibles. What fun!

The California Automobile Museum is well worth the short drive.

The museum isn’t heated. If you go in the winter, take a coat. If you go in the summer go minimalist, it will be hot. Here is another hint, to find it without a GPS go to Old Sac and head south on Front Street. They have free onsite parking, with is a nice touch.

After the museum we stopped at the Delta King for a very nice lunch, it wasn’t their problem I ate too much. We were lucky and found a parking spot on Front Street across from the paddlewheeler hotel/bar/restaurant. There is a public parking garage a block further down the street for the unlucky ones in our group.

Old Sac was pretty busy, the results of a nice, not rainy, Sunday afternoon. Even with the crowds it is always fun to go walk the old west boardwalk and peek into the tourist trap stores. There are some good restaurants and bars along the boardwalk that always promise a good time.

Aloha – December 2018

Well, we find ourselves back in Hawai’i for the second time this  year, same resort and almost the same room. That’s fine with us, we have no where near exhausted the opportunities on the Big Island. With each trip we find more interesting, educational and just plain fun sights, trips and people.

We arrived Sunday morning, just after breakfast, so we went to lunch instead. We wanted to try Kona Brewing, a microbrew pub in Kona.  If I remember correctly, and I probably don’t, we couldn’t get in last trip. Dawdling slightly we had an early lunch and an excellent porter not too long before noon, but hey, its vacation.

Monday morning found us at the pool. We had lunch in our cabana and aside from winds gusting to 50 mph, it was an excellent day. Actually, the wind added to the entertainment as the lounge chairs kept blowing across the pool area keeping the attendants hopping.

Monday night we returned to Kona for dinner on a balcony overlooking the Pacific to enjoy a beautiful sunset. Foster’s Kitchen was mentioned in a NYT article we saw and definitely lived up to the hype.  Everyone, starting with the reservationist, and continuing  to the hostess and waitress was perfectly Hawaiian, welcoming and friendly.

Tuesday we were back at the pool and a short walk to and along the beach. The winds lessened overnight and the pool was perfect. We opted to not take a cabana as we were going on a tour that afternoon. The pool attendants greeted us as if we were old friends. Let me rephrase that, long time friends.

At 2:20 we met Jeff, our tour guide/driver/waiter/masseur, and headed out to Mauna Kea. Fran booked a small group tour with Hawaii Forest and Trail for their Mauna Kea Summit and Stars Small-Group Adventure Tour. Jeff stopped in Waikoloa to pick up our pre-ordered dinners at Island Lava Java and headed up, and I mean up. Our Waikoloa resort is only 0 feet above sea level. Jeff told us we would stop at an abandoned sheep shearing station where the tour company had an arrangement with the government to erect a dining tent for their exclusive use.

Jeff efficiently served dinner in the tent. The stop also gave us a chance to acclimate to the altitude. Dinner was served at about 6800 feet above sea level, or half way up Mauna Kea.

After our early dinner we headed out and up. Right after the Visitor Center the paved road ends and only 4 wheel drive vehicles are allowed to the summit. Luckily, our super Mercedes is so equipped. Actually it is 6 wheel drive as the rear wheels are double. The washboard dirt road provided Jeff’s promised massage. The dirt road is about 4.5 miles long, then turns back to pavement. Jeff explained this is due to either dust control, so the mirrors of the telescopes don’t get dirty, OR the dirt road reduces crowd control. Both explanations seemed very plausible, although Ginny, the woman seated next to me, Fran and I thought crowd control was most likely.

Very Large Baseline Array Radio Telescope

We were running ahead of schedule so Jeff took a 5 minute side trip to one of the VLBA telescopes. This is remote controlled telescope, from Socorra, NM., is etworked together to form the largest (Very Large Baseline Array) radio telescope.

Subaru and Keck Observatories

The observatories lie at 13,796 feet above sea level. The mountain of Mauna Kea actually starts 19,700 feel below sea level making this mountain the highest in the world at 33,500 feet, nearly a mile higher that Everest. Do you know how cold it is at 13,796 above sea level? I can tell you, it’s cold. The wind chill is -55 deg F. Wind chill is a measure of how fast your body loses heat.

Piko or sacred shrine on Mauna Kea

Jeff provided parkas for everyone and gloves for anyone who wanted them. I would have taken them but then I couldn’t use my iPhone to take pictures. Having never used my iPhone in cold weather I had no idea the battery would drop from 87% to 3% in a few minutes. The battery didn’t actually die, its just the lithium ion batter doesn’t operate at extremely low temperature, and it was extreme. My spare battery, which I luckily kept in my pants pocket, charged the phone back up to 20% to allow a few more pictures but then it too stopped functioning. We went from 85 deg at our resort to -55 deg at the summit. Amazing.

Sunset Mauna Kea

After sunset, Jeff drove us down to a parking area, out of the wind, on the leeward side of the mountain, thank you Jeff! He set up a Celestron telescope for us to view stars, planets, comets and the moon. I am not sure how big the telescope was, but I would guess somewhere between 8″ and 10″ diameter. For the first time I saw the Andromeda galaxy, the body (although hazy) of a comet, and the Orion Nebula. For the second time I saw the rings of Saturn, although a little fuzzy. It was near the western horizon and we had to look through a lot of atmosphere. The most amazing sight to me was the Milky Way. Of course, every time you look toward the stars you are seeing the Milky Way, unless you happen to see Andromeda. I have seen the Milky Way on dark cold nights in Vermont and it was beautiful, but at 13,796 feet with 6% humidity, the sky was absolutely pristine and the view was outstanding. If you have ever seen photographs of the sky showing the gaseous background of the Milky Way, THAT is what we saw.

On the ride back down the mountain, I mentioned to Fran this was one of the two best tours I have been on in our travels. (America’s Cup racing yacht sailing, in Cozumel, was the other.)

Wednesday, guess what? Pool time until 11, then off to Merriman’s in Waimea for lunch. Peter Merriman created the first of his award winning restaurants 25 years ago and emphasizes local sourcing to support local farmers and fishermen.

We had fish tacos and a fish sandwich. Both delicious. A different style from Coconuts Fish Cafe, which remain our favorite, but until they come to the Big Island, Merriman’s will do very nicely.

After lunch we drove north, through a light rain on Hwy 250, the Kohala Mountain Road.

This is a beautiful, rural, drive that leads towards Hali on the north shore of Hawai’i. To call any road on the Big Island “rural” is almost redundant, but when there is a house every mile or two, this was truly rural. It was also very well maintained and an easy drive.

In Kapaau we turned right, past the statue of King Kamekameha and then turned left towards a county park on the shore.

With only a truck or two in the parking lot, we had the place to ourselves and it was beautiful. The wind was blowing and surf was high.

Less than an hour’s drive later we were back “home” in Waikoloa for dinner at the Lava Lava Beach Club, located right next to our resort. We wish we had ventured over here before. Loud and lively, great food and very nice people. Maybe the best guitarist/vocalist we heard so far. I cannot imagine why this beautiful island attracts the best and most talented people. There must be a reason. Hmmmmm.

At 5:30 the wait for a table was more than an hour so we elected to sit at a “first come” two sided bar opposite a couple from Denver. We compared our activities over our two perfect hamburgers and their fries. They wanted the Volcano Fries but were there just after happy hour, the only time those fries are available.

Check out at 10 this morning. The resort offered us a complementary hour, until 11 am, then off to the airport for a 5:20 flight. The airport is only 30 minutes away so we decided to rent one of the pool cabanas for the day. The rental fee included two Mai Tais. “Breakfast” Mai Tais, well, it is the last day of vacation. It turned out we weren’t limited to Mai Tais. Margaritaville here we come. Maybe a cheeseburger in paradise for lunch.

We occupied our cabana from around 8:00 and kept it through checkout and left for the airport at 2:00. The Kona airport is interesting. The concourses and waiting areas are all outside. This if fine if it isn’t blistering hot, unusually cold or a pounding rain, and it wasn’t .

Home and Rosie tomorrow. Can’t wait!