Sunset, Kailua-Kona, The Big Island, Hawaii, March 11, 2024

Sunset, Kailua-Kona, The Big Island, Hawaii, March 11, 2024
Sunset, Kailua-Kona, The Big Island, Hawaii, March 11, 2024

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Travel Planning - January 22

 Leadership Training
Saturday, my only day to sleep in. We were required to go to a class at 7:00 a.m. I am not a morning person. Grrrr. On the plus side, breakfast was provided. I am a breakfast person. Morning grumpiness got a little better.

The training was not boring so I didn't embarrass myself by falling asleep. In fact, I contributed quite a bit. Our boss was testing out a leadership training class he wants to present to managers at our company. We got about half-way through the training book in four hours (our allotted time). We will continue the training at our weekly staff meeting (so we don't have to keep getting up early on Saturday!).

One of the qualities of a leader is integrity. I made the comment that integrity is the marriage of the mind and spirit. Our boss asked what I meant by "spirit." "Spirit," I said, "is your belief system and philosophy." He mentioned that integrity also involves action. So I amended my statement to: "Integrity is the marriage of your mind and spirit as they walk down the aisle together." He thought that was a good metaphor. Most people just say, "Walk your talk," which is simpler but not as poetic.

Saturday afternoon I relaxed for a while. Bob made tuna sandwiches with slices from one of our last avocados off our tree for the year. Then he hosed off the front and back patios and vacuumed the house. So nice! I dusted the ceiling fans and mopped.

Travel Planning
Our "date" for Saturday night was to sit down and plan our trip to Tennessee and Kentucky. I always get so excited to look at maps and travel books. If the weather is nice when we go, many waterfalls and scenic hikes beckon us. 

Not to mention caves...I've always wanted to go to Mammoth Caves National Park in Kentucky and this is the trip! 

Lookout Mountain Caverns: From my book "Reader's Digest: See the USA the Easy Way: 136 Loop Tours to 1200 Great Places" comes this description: "Within Lookout Mountain Caverns [just outside Chattanooga, Tennessee] is Ruby Falls, a 145-foot natural waterfall flowing 1,120 feet below the surface of the mountain."

Also at Lookout Mountain is the "Lookout Mountain Incline Railway, the steepest passenger railway in the world with a 72.7 percent grade near the top. Signal Mountain overlooks the Tennessee River Gorge, often called the Grand Canyon of the Tennessee River.

"Rock City Gardens, on Lookout Mountain, offers 10 acres of unusual rock formations, gardens and overlooks--including a view of seven states from Lover's Leap..." All of those things in one place. We will have to spend some time there!

Other places on our travel itinerary are: 
  • Knoxville, TN
  • Gatlinburg, TN
  • Nashville, TN
  • Great Smoky Mountains National Park (did I mention hikes and waterfalls?)
  • Fall Creek Falls State Park (did I mention more hikes and waterfalls?)
  • Cumberland Caverns in McMinnville, TN
  • Blue Ridge Parkway
  • Mt. Mitchell, NC
  • Asheville, NC to see the Biltmore Estate
  • Bardstown, KY, (the capital of bourbon whiskey distilling)
  • Oak Ridge, TN (history of the government's top-secret Manhattan project, plutonium and the atomic bomb)
  • Cumberland Gap National Historic Park (Daniel Boone history)
  • Cumberland Falls Resort (another waterfall)
  • Museum of Appalachia
  • Sweetwater, TN (caverns and 4-1/2 acre underground lake known as the Lost Sea. Lake is stocked with rainbow trout which can be seen on a glass-bottom boat ride--in a cave!)
  • Smithville, TN to check out the Joe L. Evins Appalachian Center for Crafts, and Virgin Falls Pocket Wilderness
The last part of our trip will be in Louisville, KY. Bob's company is sending him to a convention. 

Relatives we will see on this trip are, on the Alton side: Aaron, Claudia and Emily Alton in Rineyville, KY. 

On my side of the family, we will see my cousins Cindy and Laurie. There are rumors that my cousin Karen might come down from Michigan as well. I have not seen them since a trip to Michigan when I was 10 years old! I am looking forward to reconnecting with them.

Now you can see why I call myself Travel is my passion. I'll keep you posted as plans progress, and then from the road. Not too far off...I'm getting that dreamy look in my eye.

Travel Bug out.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Gardening, "True Grit" - January 14-16, 2011

Friday evening, January 14, 2011: Pizza and movie night. We watched our Netflix selection, "Agora," about a noted female Greek scholar, mathematician and teacher of philosophy named Hypathia of Alexandria, Egypt. The film takes place around the end of fourth-century Roman Egypt which is rapidly becoming Christian. Agora is the meeting place or square where early conflicts between philosophers/pagans and Christians took place. We learned about ancient Egypt in a time of change, the looting of the library at Alexandria, the violence that accompanied the clash of beliefs, and subsequent burning of historic and philosophic documents. Intertwined with the history is a story of Hypathia's slave who was falling in love with her. He had to decide if he wanted freedom or to remain her slave so he could be near her. The movie was rather dark and violent, but we learned a lot. I give it two stars out of five.

Saturday, January 15, 2011: Spent the day hanging out around the house. Steve, my brother-in-law, installed our new air conditioner. Thank you very much. While he was doing the install, I made a loaf of banana nut bread for his family and a loaf of nut bread for us. (I ran out of over-ripe bananas.)

Saturday evening we went to Aloha Salads for dinner where we shared an Aloha Tuna sandwich and a Goddess Salad. Very good.

Sunday, January 16, 2011: Weekly local farmers' market at 7:25 am. A couple of the vendors are missing: one stopped coming, don't know what happened to the other. All my favorite vendors are still there. Stocked up on papayas, bananas, beets, green beans, cucumbers, celery and broccoli.

After returning home, I checked e-mail and Facebook, played online Scrabble, then gardened for 3-1/2 hours. I cut back one of our palms on the front corner of our lot, then pruned the hibiscus along our fence line. I filled three green recycling bins with yard debris. Weather was very pleasant and I was in shade for the two hours or so. There was a bird singing in the tree near me; it had the most beautiful song. I never did see it to figure out what kind of bird it was.

Sunday afternoon Bob and I went to see "True Grit" (the new Coen brothers version). I thoroughly enjoyed the story and thought the movie moved along at a good clip with action, humor and interesting characters. Caution, though, violence is pretty graphic in parts. (I had to turn my head away a few times.) Four stars out of five, for me. I think Bob might not have liked it as much as I did. 

Sunday evening, dinner was at Taco del Mar.

As an aside: We live on a cul-de-sac and people must be dropping off their unwanted cats. Numerous feral cats live in the two vacant lots and wash at the end of the street. I've seen cats coming out of the storm drains too. There are minimum 10-15 cats out there, probably more (but those are the ones I see). They come in our yard and drink and fish in our little fish pond. I'm always out there chasing them away. It's mating season here which means many raucous cat fights at night. Seems I'm always running out to the back yard and clapping my hands and making loud noises to scare them off. Reminder to self--call Humane Society to find out if they trap them. They're driving my indoor cats bonkers.

Time to watch my DVR'd shows.

'Til next time....

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Wind, rain, thunder - January 12, 2011

At 4:00 AM I woke up to a downpour. Waterfalls were running off our roof. Nothing like a rainstorm in the tropics.

Throughout the day, we had high winds, off-and-on rain and flash flood warnings. Did I mention it's been cold at night in Hawaii? In the upper 50s which, when you think of it, is a 30 degree temperature swing from our normal high 80s. To those of you on the mainland, it would be like 50 degree weather plummeting to 20 degrees. Believe it or not, we're putting extra blankets on the bed and wearing sweatshirts, hoodies, coats, sweaters and turning off our A/C.

This evening we have thunder, rain and high winds. Flash food warnings are in effect until Thursday afternoon. When Bob flies to Kauai tomorrow, he'll have another bumpy ride. (He seems to attract inclement weather on his flights of late.) Note: He flies to Kauai every Thursday because that is where his Accounting staff works.

Bob's last day of work is Friday at our current company (180 employees) where he is VP Finance. Monday, he starts his new job as General Manager at Underground Services, Inc., a much smaller company (about 15 employees). He has been so much more relaxed since he decided to change jobs.

Excitement abounds about our trip to Gatlinburg, TN and Louisville, KY. I've got the maps and travel books out to plan our itinerary. Smoky Mountains National Park and part of the Blue Ridge Parkway will be destinations, along with Oak Ridge, Tennessee; Mammoth Cave Natl Park, KY; Ruby Falls, TN; Chattanooga, TN; Knoxville, TN; Fall Creek Falls State Park, TN and museums. Still planning, however...stay tuned. In Louisville, KY Bob will be attending a convention to learn about his new line of work.

Travel Bug out.

Zumba and Hood to Coast movie - January 11, 2010

After work, I headed up to my health club for Zumba dance class. Just what the doctor ordered, a good workout to music.

Went home, showered, then Bob and I went for a quick dinner at Zippy's, followed by a movie.

The "Hood to Coast" movie is a documentary about the Hood to Coast relay race that is run every summer in northwest Oregon. The race starts at the 6,000' level on Mt. Hood and ends 197 miles later at the beach. Twelve runners on a team, each team member runs three legs of the relay. We enjoyed the movie. It made us homesick for Oregon's gorgeous scenery and eclectic attitude.

A few years ago, I walked in the Portland to Coast Relay (same day as the Hood to Coast, but for walkers). Walkers each walk two legs in the relay since it isn't as long as the Hood to Coast. Our team was called SMART's Ten Toe Express. (SMART is an acronym for South Metro Area Rapid Transit, which was our town's bus system.) It was quite an experience since you don't really get to sleep for 24 hours. Although, we did rent a campsite for our team and Bob went out in the middle of the night and set up a tent for us. We even had a hot shower in the morning! Not bad considering most people were in sleeping bags in the middle of a field, if not sleeping in the van while someone else drove. A nice trip down memory lane.

The cats are playful tonight. All three cats were chasing a shoelace I was pulling around the house. However, it's getting late, so good night.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Bob's "new" car and new job - Jan. 9 & 10, 2011

For those of you who don't know, Bob quit his old job (gave notice four months ago). This Friday, he has to turn in his company car so he will need a new one. The company he will work for is giving him a car allowance, so we will own the car and the company will help pay for it. Saturday afternoon, Bob stopped off at our favorite dealership to look at cars and decided on either a blue Ford Explorer or a 2006 silver Honda Ridgeline. After a test drive Saturday night, we both decided we liked the Honda Ridgeline.

On Sunday morning Bob and I went our separate ways, as usual--he ran with Mike, his running  partner, and I went to the local farmers' market. 

Every Sunday, rain or shine, year round, at 7 a.m., I am at our town's farmers' market to stock up on papayas, bananas, pineapple, beets, broccoli, cucumbers, green beans, tomatoes and maybe dragon fruit, if it's in season. 

When Bob came home Sunday we went to buy the Honda Ridgeline.  It's a good thing because another family was checking it out. 

After our car purchase, we headed into Waikiki for dinner with our friends, Iain & Tess, at Hula Grill. Our table overlooked the ocean from the second floor and live music was playing on the terrace below us with people dancing and enjoying the evening. 

Susan showing off necklace her mom made.
Susan & Bob - Hula Grill
Diamond Head view from our table - Hula Grill
Iain & Tess

Duke's Waikiki - Sunset concert

Sunset from our table

Saturday, January 8, 2011

January 8, 2011 - Ewa Beach, Hawaii

Today is the first day of my new blog. Finally. I've been wanting to write one for over a year. 

You can expect to hear about travel, birds, volksmarching, hiking, movies, books, Bob (hubby) and life in general. 

We live on the island of Oahu in Hawaii where this morning started out about 77 degrees. 

The Menehune Marchers, our local volksmarching group, hosted a walk along the loch in Ewa Beach. We opted for the 10K walk which went through a couple of neighborhoods, through two parks and along the shoreline of West Loch. Birds we saw included: common mynas, saffron finches, red-crested cardinals, zebra doves, cattle egrets, black-necked stilts, black-bellied plovers and least sandpipers...quite an interesting variety. 

I filled up my 125-event volksporting book today and will mail it off to Texas for processing. Soon my pin, award and patch will come back in the mail. 

For those of you not familiar with volksmarching, it started years ago in Germany and means, literally, the walk of the people. Volksmarching is characterized as non-competitive walking, usually 5K or 10K, that is done as a sponsored/hosted event or a year-round event. I love walking with this group because I get to: exercise, see new destinations when traveling that I would normally miss, birdwatch, check out gardens, see gorgeous scenery, visit small towns and enjoy the outdoors. Check out You can look up walks in your area or in an area you travel to.

Part of my plan in starting the Travel Bug-Susan blog is to hone my writing skills for "retirement" when we plan to travel the U.S. and Canada in a fifth wheel and work along the way.

All for today. Enjoy the rest of your weekend wherever you may be.