Italy 2012

History, Wine and Pasta!

We did a lot of stuff. The kids were with us for the first week. We traveled on Friday, September 14, the kids returned on Sunday, September 22 and we returned on October 6. The first two weeks were in Tavarnelle val di Pesa (Poggio al Frontoio, Strada Commenda 2, 50028 Tavarnelle Val di Pesa) and the last week was at Portovenere (La Casetta, Via Olivo, 124, Portovenere, SP). Poggio al Frontoio is also known as Casale Lucia 1. La Casetta is also known as Lunetta. Both places were clean and functional. We used to book these places.

Two weeks may have been too much in the farmhouse. We ended up doing side trips from Tavernelle to Asissi and from Portovenere to Verona/Pescantina. Using TripAdvisor, we were able to make hotel reservations easily in the off season. Something to think about, maybe 3 days in an area and then moving on.

We traveled on Alitalia, Sandy and I in Premium Economy. It was worth the upgrade, separated check-in and security avenues and larger seats. There are 24 Premium Economy seats on the Boeing 777. The flight is 12 hours long direct from LAX to Rome. Flight 621 LAX-Rome, Flight 620 Rome-LAX.

We rented a car with Hertz, a Lancia Dart 6-speed manual 4 door. With our reduced luggage (one large suitcase, 3 medium suitcases and 1 carry on suitcase and purses and backpacks), we made it all work.

We decided to stay in Rome one night, driving from Portovenere (4.5 hours), then one night at the Rome Airport Hilton because the flight home left at 9:15 am and we weren’t sure of the traffic from Rome to the airport. It worked out well, but maybe next time, we stay at the Hilton and just take to shuttle from there to the city center. It runs every hour or so, maybe a little more convenient.

Wineries visited:






Visits to:

  • Florence, 9/17
  • San Gimignano, 9/18
  • Pisa, 9/21
  • Siena, 9/26
  • Assisi, 9/27-28
  • Verona, 10/3
  • Pescantina, 10/4
  • Rome, 10/5-6


The co-ops in Italy are the grocery stores. They have everything you need, but its all in Italian. Kleenix was hard to find, peanut butter was non-existent and bacon remained elusive to us. There are lots of prosciuttos to choose from though. We never did find pepperoni, like here in the U.S, same for hotdogs (German versions a little strange). The coops are open every day, slow time during the afternoon and Sundays are limited hours to 1:30 pm or so. Eggs are not refrigerated and the milk (latte) comes in:

  • Whole or homogenised (Latte intero), 3.5% fat
  • Partially skimmed (Latte parzialmente scremato)1.8% fat
  • Skimmed (Latte scremato), 0.5% fat.

The Coop in Tavernelle is in the center of town and the one in Portovenere is really small, we just went to the one in La Spezia, integrated into the mall, La Terrazze (see below, Cinque Terrre writeup).

Italy uses the 2 small prong European plugs. The rest of Europe users the larger plugs. There is an adapter for the larger to smaller plugs.

Cell phones/iPads: I used TIM for the iPad on the 3rd week. Bought a 10 GB, 42.2k data plan (3 x the 14.4k plan offered) for €29/ month and €10 for microsSIM card. I think WIND could have worked just as well, Vodaphone too, but not as prevalent. The package was called TIM TOP, I think. Make sure it is rechargeable (ricaricabile) so that as the data is used, you can recharge it. To recharge, just go to a tobacco shop or a MediaWorld or a TIM store to refill. There is NO credit card required to maintain the plan.

I bought 2 120MB data plans from ATT for both iPads for $30/month. These use reciprocal service providers in Europe for ATT. This was too much work to monitor, just moving to a local plan was easier.

I bought International ATT $6/month dialing phone plan and $5/50 text message and $30/month for 120 MB data Phone 4 plans too. Again, a waste.

TomTom GPS is invaluable. I bought the Italy map and downloaded it to the 4 GB flash memory card. Kate, our onboard-voice guided assistant was amazing. Best $60 spent for the trip!

Possible Future Stays:

Antica Pieve B&B, Tavarnelle – the restaurant Borgo Antico is attached.

Hotel Borgo di Cortefreda, Tavarnelle – the restaurant Cortefreda is attached.


Tipping is included in meals already. Exceptional service can be rewarded of course. When using a credit card, you can’t add a tip to it, the tip must be in cash.

Cinque Terre

The website for Cinque Terre is here, it is in Italian and English. We had hoped to hike from some villages to others, but there had been an accident with Australian tourists on the EASIEST trail, so they (the blue trails, number 2) were closed. The other, more difficult trails remained open however. Here is the link, it is just a 30 minute walk from Riomaggiore to Manaroloa, 1km in length and is called the Via dell’Amore. This is the stroll with the locks that you put on the gate professing your love for your significant other. We’ll do it NEXT TIME.

We took the boat and also drove from Portovenere to Riomaggiore. The drive was about 30 minutes from La Spezia and the views are amazing. The parking is non-existent, so don’t even try.

You can also take the train from La Spezia. The train station is pretty close to the Co-Op and shopping mall (La Terrazze) in town. Next time, maybe the train. The boat website is here and you pay for a ticket (€24) and it lets you get on/off at the 5 towns per the boat schedule. We took the boat from Portovenere to Riomaggiore, explored a bit, got back on and for some reason, our boat went directly to Monterosso. We had a beautiful lunch at Ristorante Il Casello and explored the area.

We are ready to go back to Italy!


Summer 2012

September 3 – Lunch down at A-Bay, Subway and Wailua Wheat and the ocean.

September 1 – drove over to the Pololu overlook at the north shore of the island. Beautiful views of the west side start of Waipio Valley. Had lunch at Mi Ranchita in Hawi, it was finally open. Good soft tacos!

Stopped at Mahukona to check out the snorkeling and views. Nice place, easy in-out of the water with a ladder in the harbor. Gotta try this place out in calm winds.

August 31 – Friday sunset sail cruise with Ocean Sports boat Alala out of Kawaihae harbor. Nice cruise, dinner ok, great company for all walks of life.
August 26 – Alii Drive walk in the afternoon. Lots of things to see, mostly tourist stuff.

August 25 – We went to the top of Mauna Kea today. It was a clear day and I wanted to go up there all summer. It is about a 1:15 minute drive to the 9200′ visitor’s center, 6 miles from the Saddle Road turnoff.
From there it is 4.8 miles of dirt, washboard road and about 5 miles of paved road after that. It is not to difficult, but 4×4 going up/down made life easier with less brakes. It is a beautiful place but we both noticed that walking around at almost 14,000 feet makes you feel light-headed. We did hang around the visitor’s center for about 45 minutes before going to the top.

August 24 – We decided to paddle board at Kawaihae harbor. The water was great and calm and there were few people. You drive to the harbor, and pull into the first gate (Fridays only). The security guard checks your license and lets you through. Really simple stuff. On days other than Friday, use the 2nd gate. Fridays are unloading days and the beach road turns into a one-way road.

August 17-18 – Ventured over to Oahu for the “Made in Hawaii” craft fair at the Blaisdell Center. Over 400 vendors and lots to see. We don’t need to do this again, however. We stayed at the Park Shore Waikiki on the end, closest to the Zoo. Another clean place right across from the water with a great view. The place is a little tired and is going renovation. Price for Kamaaini were pretty fair.

Dinner was at TikiGrill just down the boulevard from the Park Shore. Food was actually pretty good. I had the prime rib and Sandy had the coconut shrimp. Kamaaina rates for the dinner were 1/2 off. Gotta go back, nice!

August 16Merriman’s in Waimea for anniversary #32 dinner. Sandy had the bone-in New York and I had the Merriman’s Duo of Kurobuta Pork and their Original Wok Charred Ahi. Both meals were amazing, the pork was just ok. Sandy ordered the Seghesio Zinfandel, it was great.

August 3 – Took a paddle board lesson at the Mauna Lani resort. Calm area to practice, $55.00 Kamaaina rate. Good fundamentals, we just need practice!

July 26-27 – We went to Maui to hang out with Anna and Katie. We stayed at the Aston Maui Kaanapali Villas, next to the Westin where she was staying. Nice, clean place, a little tired but clean and functional.

Dinner was at the Plantation House up in Kapalua. We mentioned that it was our anniversary and they really dropped the ball. Beautiful place for sunset, food is just so-so with crazy prices. Skip this one and follow Anna’s suggestion to the Lahaina Grill!

The Gazebo in Napili is killer for breakfast, must do it again.

July 24 – Sold the Subaru Legacy today for $2,750. We bought it for $3,500, so we did OK in the deal. The people who bought it was Michael Scott and his girl friend. They too live in Waikoloa Village.

July 23 – Picked up the Toyota Tacoma from Pasha in Hilo today. We dropped off the truck in Covina on July 2 to be transported on Friday, July 6 to San Diego to sail on Wednesday, July 10 for delivery on July 17. Things slipped, and it arrived on the 23rd. Pasha put a total of 1 mile on the truck in total. Cost was $1,072 and I would use them again.

Had lunch at the Casa de Luna in Hilo, right next to the farmer’s market. It was actually pretty good!

We took the Hele-On bus to get to Hilo so that we wouldn’t have to drive 2 cars back. Cost is $1.00/person! It picks up in front of the Waikola Marriot.

July 5 – No electricity in the condo we have been told. We had a mixup in the re-switch of the electricity from the long-term renters back to us. While in Honolulu awaiting our plane to Kona, we got it worked out. The HELCO man was here at the condo when we arrived! HELCO is pretty much frustrating!

Traveling first class was pretty nice, it was a last-minute option when we checked in on Hawaiian. We were on the Hawaiian 001 flight.

Spring Break, March 30 – April 6

Spring Break began, finally. This may be my last Spring Break with retirement coming up if the district approves it! Gulp!!

Friday, April 6

Time to go home. We decided last night to go to Sea House instead of the Gazebo for breakfast. There was no waiting, and we got right in. Breakfast was a bit of a mixup, a delayed meal order, but it all came together.

We packed up, and were out of the condo by 9:00 and on the road. We stopped by Alex Air and my 2nd Canon battery was waiting for me. Got to the airport, turned the car in and had time for Burger King before boarding.

UA584 left right on time. Yesterday, we managed to upgrade to Economy Plus for  $59.00/person. Economy Plus promised more legroom and it turned out to be about 4″ according to

Made it home to LA and were in the car by 9:30 and home, home by 11:00 p.m.! End of a great trip!

Thursday, April 5

Whale watching with the Pacific Whale Foundation. We booked an early 6:30 departure hoping for flat water and good whales. The 4:45 wakeup was a bit much but we made it on time. The captain was a little tired, the naturalists were too and the boat was tired too. Lots of room for the 40 or so us us. Whales were all over the place and I even got a shot of one breeching, when I wasn’t paying attention. It was out of focus for sure. We were done by the advertised 8:30 time frame. It is the luck of the draw as far as photos goes. I think my best were on the helo ride over the channel. Using a zodiac would be fun, but ANY height you can get, is better for the pictures. The weather was overcast and the lighting was poor.

Breakfast at Longhi’s was excellent, mac nut pancakes and Grand Marnier french toast.

More shopping in the lower Lahaina village for last minute gifts.

Returned with MORE stuff to mail, so off to the post office we we with 2 more large pack-and-ship boxes. We have spent a fortune in postage. The kids got their boxes today, they were mailed on Saturday.

We went exploring north of our condo to the Kaanapali Shores and ended up with 2 more mai-tais before happy hour.

Dinner we decided would be at the Plantation House in Kapalua for Sandy’s birthday. Anna made the reservations for us at 6:00 p.m. We arrived about 5:30 and the overcast day weather continued. Sunset wasn’t, obscured by clouds. Dinner was great, the view would be even better, I bet. The end of the dinner was some Cuvée du Centenaire, Grand Marnier. I reminisced about the last time I had it, with Grandma at Lawry’s. That’s when I told her that I was changing careers.

Wednesday, April 4

A relaxing day … so for breakfast we wandered over Duke’s place in the Honua Kai Resort complex next door. The  breakfast burrito was huge and not too bad. A coupon from the Aston Mahana fixed the breakfast price at 9.95 each, a good deal.

Talked with Jerry Lees. Judy and Jerry were in Honolulu with the Rim Band. The band left yesterday and they are staying a few extra days. We tried to make a connection, but with Judy in her ankle cast, it made arrangements difficult. it looks like he too, will be retiring this year!

We headed down to Kihei and Wailea to shop at the Shops of Wailea. Upscale stuff and Sandy found what she was looking for.

Dinner was in the condo, just relaxing with some wine and cheese.

Tuesday, April 3

Gazebo restaurant in Napili for breakfast! We heard about this place from someone else and had to try it. We got there about 8:00 and waited in line for about about an hour in a light rain. The banana-macadamia nut pancakes were amazing, they have a butterscotch in the whipped cream, you don’t need butter! The coconut syrup just adds to them. Next time, we have to try the fried rice breakfast plate.

We had to shop today, so off we went to Lahaina, with a split Cheeseburger in Paradise at the namesake. After breakfast, we strolled over to the Napili Shores complex to check out the Sea House. The folks we met in the morning raved about it  … so we made a reservation for 5:30, sunset dining. The sunset did not disappoint and the food did not disappoint, we both did the 30.00 fixed price 3 course dinner. The mahi-mahi was amazing, best dinner meal so far. Sandy had the mixed plate, scampi, mahi and steak. Definitely a place to go back to.

Monday, April 2

Today was the helicopter ride with Alex Air out of the airport. We had a 10:00 flight and had to be there by 9:15. We left about 8:15 and arrived right on time. Since we were flying the doors-off Hughes 500, we had to wear a flight suit to keep stuff from flying outside the helicopter. We left right on time and spent a 58 minute flight, according to the GPSHD tracker app on the iPhone. Our pilot was a young guy, with not a lot of personality. It was an ok flight, we missed the 2nd group of whales in the channel because of his timeline. Oh well, no tip for him! Here is the GPS track on Google Maps.

After the flight, we headed to Paia for lunch at the Tortillas restaurant. We had fish tacos, which were quite good! We went looking for the Rainbow Eucalyptus forest, I got lost and ended up in Makawao with directions. But before that, we ended up at the Makawao Garden Cafe with a delicious “Nirvana” smoothie.

Finally, we took County Road 365 to State Highway 360. Right after mile marker 6, on the left side headed to Hilo, we found the forest. It was amazing!

Dinner took us to Kimo’s in Lahaina instead of David Paul’s, another mistake by me. Tomorrow, maybe we stay at home and BBQ! Don’t bother with Kimo’s again!

Sunday, April 1

First day of April, oh my.

Morning snorkel and whale watching cruise on the Ali’i Nui from Maalea harbor. We booked this yesterday with Lyn and she said this is the one to do. She was right, breakfast, eggs, ham, custards, fruits, salads, coffee, tea … everything!

It is interesting how things work. We went out of the harbor and turned right headed back to Lahaina to turtle point. It is actually Olawalu point, a nice beachy area right past the tunnels on Highway 30.

Water was a little cool, but once you were in, it was ok. We did see lots of turtles but the GoPro camera turned out to be a bust underwater. Above, it’s fantastic, below, it just doesn’t focus. This is a nice trip, even the towels and wetsuits are provided. A super lunch spread as well on the return back. Just right out of the harbor, we stopped to see some humpbacks. Not great viewing from afar but better than none!

The GoPro does not focus well underwater I came to find out, there is a mod for that, a new flat lens instead of te fisheye, oh well.

Lunch was great too, cool towels at the end of the trip too.

On our way to Kmart, we ended up with a flat tire. I ended up changing the tire, while we were waiting for the service from Avis. Avis contracts with a tow service, who showed up as I was finishing up, nice guy, checked my work and off we went to Avis to swap cars. No more Ford Fusions so, we ended up with a Nissan Altima. Sad to say, Ford was a nicer vehicle.

We went exploring Whaler’s Village and ended up at Hula Grill for dinner. It was ok, nothing to write home about. I was supposed to get the ahi tuna dinner, but somehow ordered the fish sandwich.

Saturday, March 31

We went to the morning “sales pitch” in the lobby area. This complex is NOT a timeshare and they promised us just an informational session about the island activities. We went, and found out that most of the island is taken over by “Expedia” as travel agents/concierge.

NIce pitch, pleasant enough and we went off to Lahaina to explore and grab some breakfast. We found Mala, a place that Anna had mentioned when we were here last summer for Bart’s service. Great breakfast stop, Sandy had the Huevos Rancheros and I had the chilaquales, yummy! I’m not sure, but this is really a dinner place, just open for breakfast on the weekends.

While at Mala’s, a couple next to us mentioned another breakfast place up in Napili, Gazebo – a place for killer mac nut pancakes, we put it on our list of places to go.

We shopped in Lahaina, maiiled the kids Easter packages via USPS flat rate boxes and drove up to Kapalua, past the Sands of Kahana, remembering mom and the basket weaver man. Nice area up north, much windier and wetter.

On the way back, we stopped by the huli-huli chicken man on the side of the road – and now chicken!

We decided to go to Palm Sunday Mass and talked to the concierge lady, Lyn booking an AlexAir west Maui and Molokai 45 minute flight on Monday and a sailing snorkel cruise to Turtle Town on the Ali’i Nui out of Maalea. She mentioned the 2 Catholic Churches, Maria Lanakila in Lahaina and its sister “mission” in Kapalua.

Palm Sunday service was LONG, but worth it, 5:30 to 7:00 p.m..They do have an outstanding choir.

Dinner was nice and relaxing, there are lots of whales to be seen, hopefully tomorrow we’ll see some!

Friday, March 30

Took the day off and lat night drove into LA staying at the LAX Hilton with a park-and-fly package that they offer. Nice accomodations, a little hectic in the morning with everyone taking the free shuttle to the airport. We took a quicky cab and were there by 6:15 for our 8:25 UA 565 flight to OGG. Stephanie Ito and her husband Guy, are headed to their place on Oahu for the week. it was nice to see her!

Last night, we stopped by Jack’s Surf Shop in Hermosa Beach and picked up a GoPole “bobber” floating handle for the GoPro Hero2 camera that Auntie Anna got for us for Christmas. We are anxious to try it out, looks like a winner.

Arrived in OGG at about 10:45 local time, about 45 minutes ahead of scheduled because of pretty strong tail trade winds. Stopped at Costco to waste a little time, checkin is at 3:00 p.m. We picked up some coffee and nuts for us and the kids. We will ship them an “Easter” basket with mac nuts variety packs and some Kona coffee.

Nice little Ford Focus for a rental car and we arrived at the Aston Mahana Ka’anapali about 1:30. Again we checked in and went down the boardwalk to Duke’s Bar and Restaurant for a quick relaxing MaiTai and pupus.

Checked in at 3:00 and headed up to Room Lanai 817. This a one of the few hotel/condo complexes that are RIGHT on the beach, before building codes had setbacks. It was built in 1975.

Nice 1 bedroom place, gorgeous view of the ocean and whales to be seen from the windows! We headed to the Times Market for supplies and ended up with a pizza from Paradiso Pizzas in the center. Yummy.

Even though we are 3 hours behind LA, we were both tired and made it an early evening.

Thursday, March 29

Looking in my junk email on, I found a United checkin email telling me it was time to check-in. I did, and … Sandy DID upgrade us to 1st class, the seats were 5A and 5B. It took me a minute to realize the seat changes … but it was a very nice surprise and I promptly told her. She wanted to surprise me, United has offered us that option when the trip was in the planning stage, but I thought that it was a little too extravagant!

Weather Reports

Saturday – Monday, March 17-19 – 3 day storm started warm, but quickly cooling by Saturday afternoon. Snow off/on all day Sunday and NO SCHOOL on Monday! SNOW DAY #4! I’m guessing about 2.5 feet of snow all total. Nice way to end the last day of Winter.

Tuesday, March 6 – cold, night quick storm. Just covered the driveway, an inch at most. Slick, icy roads in the morning.

Monday, February, 27 – snow during the day. Called SNOW DAY #3 tomorrow in the early evening. We received about a foot of snow again!

Wednesday, February 15 – about a foot of snow during the day! Finally and … Thursday is a SNOW DAY #2. This is a cold storm.

Monday, February 13 – 3″ snow during the day and evening, hoping for Tuesday snow day, didn’t happen!

Saturday, February 11 – 1″ snow, started in the afternoon.

Monday, January 23 – 1″ snow, bummer!

Saturday, January 21 – 0.55″ rain

Monday, December 12 – 4″ snow and Tuesday, December 13 was SNOW DAY #1!

Sunday, November 21 – 4″ snow.

Friday, November 4 – 4″ snow.

October 5, 2011 – 2.25″ rain, most of the day. Trace of snow Wednesday evening. First use of the fireplace.

Thanksgiving Week – 2011, Waikoloa

Friday, November 25

Day to pack and get ready for the trip back home to the mountains. A relaxing and low stress week!

Thursday, November 24

Nice leisurely day with breakfast at the Marriott. Waitress staff was very nice and had a small mousse for the birthday boy!

Dinner at home with all the trimmings. Turkey, ham, yams, potatoes, jello salad and cranberries! Yummy! Watched a movie, “The Change Up”, it was light and ok.

Nice to have a Thanksgiving dinner with the kids all together as a four-some.

Wednesday, November 23

Spa day for the girls and beach day for the guys. The girls went to the Mauna Lani spas and across from their parking lot is a beach access to a nice beach on the Mauna Lani property. We played “War with Words” while they were in the spa, it took that long.

Tuesday, November 22

Kona Boat Rental cruise up the coast toward Waikoloa to check out the whales. Nice ride but no whales. Dolphins and manta rays we got to see but … alas no whales. 1/2 day boat fee is 325.00 plus about 58.00 for gas.

Dinner at KPC, Sandy had pasta and shrimp, Rosie had the lobster bisque, Doug had the mahi-mahi and I had the ahi.  We have concluded that KPC has great atmosphere and good pu-pus but the dinner meals are just OK. Stay away from the steak and stick with the fish. The mahi was dry and over cooked. My ahi was actually pretty good.

Dessert was a nice flambe type of thing, nice to share for the birthday boy.

Monday, November 21

Supposed to go out on the Kona Boat Rentals but Doug wasn’t feeling well so we moved it to tomorrow.

Decided to have breakfast at home, waffles.

Lunch was at Eddie Aikau in the King’s Village. It was OK, not great but there are GREAT reviews on this place. Went strolling in both villages, not much to them really. Doug wants to come back on Thursday for a sale.

Dinner was wine and cheese due to the late lunch.

Sunday, November 20
Church at Annunciation in Waimea, breakfast at the Paniolo Country Inn, chicken fried steak special. We were luck and Fr. Bob and Deacon Larry were at the 8:00 Mass. Fr. Bob delivered the homily, it was uplifting – all about Mercy.

Lilikoi pie in the making. Dinner was ahi tuna from the Foodland. It was good, but not as good as from the Village Market.

Saturday, November 19
No hot water and a dead battery in the Subaru! Hot water was a switch in the fuse panel being off and AAA brought a new battery after a jump start got it started but not accepting the charge. Oh well, $100 and a 3-year warranty installed. I forgot that the water heater is ELECTRIC and someone flipped the switch to OFF overnight. The refrigerator was also OFF.

Off to Kona to see the latest Twilight movie and dinner at KBC. Groceries at Safeway and home!

Friday, November 18
The kids came in last night from Oakland and Sacramento, pretty much on time. Brought them home and relaxed and celebrated their successes at school and now at work (for Douglas – at Ahart Aviation.)

Packed up early Friday morning, left about 10:00 a.m. and got to LAX for our 2:00 Delta flight 1299 to Kona. Little traffic to the airport and we were at Wally Park by 11:30 or so. Curbside baggage check and time for McDonald’s and relaxing in the Delta Sky lounge for a while. Flight landed about 5:30 p.m., again on time and our shuttle driver Tim Terzy, from Adventurous Limousine was waiting for us.

Our food from Honey Baked was in the refrigerator and we wander overt Banjy’s for a Friday night dinner. Prime rib special for $24.99 wasn’t too bad and Sandy and I split it. Doug had the fish and chips and Rosie had the prime rib sandwich.

Time for bed!

Hawaii Summer, July 4 – August 17

Hawaii, July 4 – August 17

Wednesday, August 17

Packing up day. We were going to golf this morning, but I cancelled it. I just wanted to relax and pack stuff up with no stress. We’ve done this before, so things went pretty smoothly and we had an early ahi tuna dinner one last time. Everything fit.

Our neighbor Pat was gracious enough to take us to the airport and we left about 6:00 pm to allow her time to come home not quite in the dark.

A long and sad day … school starts on Friday, ugh!

Tuesday, August 16

One last trip to 69 Beach on our Anniversary, #31 to be exact. Instead of walking straight down the path, veer to the left, around the restroom area and it takes you to the left side of the beach quicker.

Didn’t take lunch with us, so we left about 1:30 and ate at home. We tried to get into KPC one last time, but ended  at the Manta Ray at the Mauna Kea. My strip steak was actually pretty good. No manta rays last night for viewing. KPC said that is was full until the 8:00 pm seating, strange …

Monday, August 15

Organizing stuff to shut things down here. Sandy and Darrell came over for dinner, Sandy served the 2nd batch of her lasagna. Nice conversation.

Maitai recipe:

  • 18 oz POG juice
  • 18 oz coconut-pineappple juice (RW Knudsen)
  • 3 oz light rum
  • 3 oz dark rum
  • 3 oz Malibu caribbean rum coconut liqueur

Pour over ice and enjoy! Makes about 6 8-ounce drinks when over ice.

Sunday, August 14

Relaxing day, went to Puako for 10:00 am Mass. A visting priest from Mater Dei in Palm Springs, go figure. A beautiful day, clear and windy. Sandy suggested we go up to Hawi and explore around. We found a couple of beaches to explore, Kapa’a and Mahukona beaches on highway 270. Mahukona is expecially enticing, it is an old sugar can train station and wharf. There is a ladder right down to the water from the wharf, easy entrance and exit.

Lunch at the Lighthouse Delicatessen in Hawi, great sandwiches. We went there to try La Casita, but it was closed on a Sunday. Their hours are variable, but Monday-Saturday for sure. They sometimes combine a Sunday brunch with the Lighthouse. We need to come back. Lighthouse has a nice selection of beers on tap and wines for picking. Very cool place, highly recommended. Sandy had the meatball bowl with fresh bread, highly recommended!

Dinner was the Kirin Restaurant at the Hilton. Nice outside dining on the lanai, but the service was rushed and the food was just OK. We had a price-fixed meal for $48/person.

Saturday, August 13

Nothing on the books to do, a lazy day. Went down to Kona to Bite-Me, Costco and returned vis the Belt Road. Explored the beaches down by Hualali and the National Park above the airport. Lots of cool places and bays to try. Wawaloli Beach  and A’opio Beach in Honokohau Bay and Manini’owali/Kua Bay to try next time!

Took Hina Lani road uphill to its intersection with Belt Road. Belt Road is a LONG way back! Dinner was wine and cheese!

Friday, August 12

Cleaned up around the place, my cousin Mark, Mary-Ellen, Matt, Morgan and Mackensie were coming for a BBQ. They stopped in the morning to refrigerate the dessert and returned later in the afternoon after a day of snorkeling at A-Bay. Dinner was flank steak, ahi tuna, corn-on-the-cob, mashed potatoes and flan for dessert. It;s a lot of work getting ready for Friday pupus at the pool AND getting ready to feed 7 people! Sandy made some Costco stuffed wontons for the pupu platter and combined with the Panda orange teriyaki type sauce, were delicious.

Thursday, August 11

We journeyed to Kona to let the installers finish the vertical blinds and ended up at Kona Brewery, maybe for the last time this summer. The spinach salad is really refreshing and the verticals came out very nice, Sandy is happy!

Wednesday, August 10

T-time at the golf couse about 11:00 am. 18 holes is a little tiring. We had new window treatments added to the condo, ordered from Costco, but only the mini-blinds came in. The installers had no clue where the vertical blinds were. We left them to finish, while we played golf and re-arranged tomorrow afternoon to finish the install provided they could FIND them.They did. Sandy made pizza for dinner, it was just like home!

Tuesday, August 9

Light breakfast, finished up the transition to Lion with Office 2011, Acrobat X and PhotoShop Elements 9.

Test fit the car cover on the Subaru and made sure everything fit and ties down. We are going to leave the car in our condo spot and I am going to leave the solar trickle charger on the dashboard. We’ll see.

Dinner was chicken enchiladas again, yummy!

We are running out of time here, I’m feeling sad …

Monday, August 8

Worked on updating my MacBook Pro to OS X Lion. Took my time and went slow. So far, no issues to report. Hit the range while it was installing and had Buzz’s Sandtrap salad bar for dinner. The market tanked today, based on the AA+ rating granted to the US by Standard and Poor’s. Sandy had a rough day due to the 600+ point Dow Jones drop.

Sunday, August 7

Church at 12:45, a nice slow morning. Sandy make lasagna for dinner and we had our neighbors Pat and Gene (from down below) over for dinner. They are fun to talk to!

Saturday, August 6

Eddie Vasquez needed another ham radio operator as support staff for the MS  bike race from A-Bay to Kawi. 6:00 am came early and off we went. The event was a little disorganized with everyone learning on the job, including me! The Yaesu VXGR handheld worked really well. Eddie lent me a mag roof mount and I used the external speaker/microphone to transmit. All 3 frequencies were programmed into the radio and with the 2 band receive monitoring, it was really easy to stay in contact with Net Control and the other SAG vehicles, we were SAG4. Eddie was SAG 3. SAG 2 and SAG 1 never materialized.

Sandy made chicken enchiladas for dinner.

Friday, August 5

Quickie breakfast from Waikoloa Village Market, an egg/ham crossiant. Early lunch at the Royal Kona hotel, burgers and mai-tais at Don’s. We dropped off Anna about 12:15 for her 1:45 flight. She boarded on time at 1:15 and made it home successfully and on time. We saw Cowboys and Aliens and finished the day with dinner at Romano’s Macaroni Grill in the Queen’s Marketplace. The chicken parmesan salad was refreshing.

We missed the Friday happy hour at the pool, oh well.

Thursday, August 4

Breakfast waffles, lunch with Subway at Hapuna Beach. Wind was churning up the water. Final dinner at Canoe Club at the Mauna Lani was good, just a little salty. Great ocean view! I prefer KPC for the atmosphere.

Wednesday, August 3

Egg and bean burritos for breakfast and morning black sand beach trip on the Sea Smoke. They do a nice program, I still highly recommend them. The affternoon was spent relaxing at Hawaii Calls and dinner BBQ at home was Ahi tuna. Consistently, the Waikoloa Village Market has better, fresher fish that the Aloha Market in the Queen’s Marketplace!

Tuesday, August 2

Quick breakfast before surf lessons with Kona Mike. Make sure you pass this guy up, he’s more interested in making money than providing a quality lesson, according to Anna. Dinner was flank steak from Costco!

Monday, August 1

Mauna Kea for snorkeling and beach relaxing. Lunch at the Hau Tree and dinner was bean and chicken burritos.

Sunday, July 31

Lesiure breakfast of waffles and  12:45 p.m. Mass at the Waikoloa Elementary school. 47 people attended and the church is deciding numbers of people attending vs building a church satellite somewhere in the village.

Anna arrived about 7:00 p.m. from LA. Dinner was wine and cheese and stuff.

Saturday, July 30

Brekfast with Eddie Vasquez and his wife Dorothy at the King’s Grille on the golf course. Eddie is a ham operator, active in the local CERT and they both are just nice folks to be around. They are in C-120. A relaxing day, cleaning up the lanai and getting ready for Anna’s visit tomorrow. Dinner was Cashew Chicken on Sandy’s wok on the electric stove. Came out just as yummy as at home!

Friday, July 29

Leisure day with T-time at 11:30 a.m. We played 17 holes, skipping 10 to get in front of a 3 some. It is tiring to play 18 holes. Unwinding at Banjy’s Paradise Bar and Grill with a couple of beers. They now have 12 beers on taps and we ended up with a pizza snack and leftovers to go for dinner. We were tired!

Thursday, July 28

Ernie and Carol left today, a short trip but fun, Hawaiian Air flight to Honolulu and then onto the mainland. Two hours late leaving Honolulu, but they made it home safely. Dinner was at Eddie Aikau Restaurant in the King’s Waikoloa center. We had happy hour, anxious to try the full dinner menu, pricey. Interesting to see how they will do against Roy’s.

Wednesday, July 27

Circle Island tour today! Got up early and headed out on the northern route for the Circle Island tour. Breakfast at Tex for malasadas, the best! We drove down to Hilo for the Farmer’s Market and more shopping, they do have lots of cool stuff there for tourists! Not sure of the rest of the trip, but Ernie and Carol decided to do the circle island tour and so we headed for Volcano and Kilauea.

As usual, Kilauea was spouting off and the show was wonderful, it’s amazing how many weather areas you travel through around the island.

It is a LONG trip around the island and as we drove around Naalehu, a tiny mac nut farm had some coffee and tips for a great burget place for dinner. You really do forget how big the island is on this side. The weather is perfectly suited for coffee growing. Annie’s Burgers was a great stop and the burgers were pretty good too. Pabst Blue Ribbon (PBR) is served on tap, retro!

Tuesday, July 26

Girl spa day and day for guys to cook. Girls off to the Mauna Lani for their shopping and spa day and the guys headed down to Kona to the Harley shop to check out the new toys. Lunch at BiteMe for the 2.50US fish tacos, can’t beat the price!

Lots of cool Harley bikes to choose from and dinner was flank steak from Costco, it too is a good deal. Nice day to relax!!

Monday, July 25

Beach day to A-Bay via the Marriott hotel. Lunch at the Hawaii Calls and then snorkeling on the beach after that. A little sunburned but everyone survived. Dinner was spaghetti and movie night!

Sunday, July 24

Church in Waimea for 8:00 Mass and breakfast at the Paniolo Inn. A day to relax before the luau at the Marriott Resort!

Saturday, July 23

A run down to Kona, ultimately at the Walmart for Ernie’s blood pressure medications. He left them at home, so we had the prescription moved to the Safeway in Kona, he uses Von’s back home. But, it was out of the meds, so they were nice enough to transfer the prescription to the Walmart next door.

Lunch time had us at the Royal Kona Inn and Don’s MaiTai bar. Yummy as always, good burgers to split. Afternoon shopping on Alii Drive for family stuff back home and dinner was spaghetti at home.

Sunset watching off the 4th tee was fantastic but cool due to the wind!

Friday, July 22

Ernie and Carol arrived safe and sound on the Hawaiin 001 flight to Honolulu and the connecting flight here to Kona. They arrived at 1:30, did a few errands before they arrived. Lunch was crackers and cheese before a fabulous dinner at the Kamuela Provishioning Company (KPC) on the Hilton Hawaiian Village property. They do have a gorgeous view for dinner!


Thursday, July 21

A day getting ready for Ernie and Carol’s arrival tomorrow. Clean the place up, sheets on bed, new towels and all that kind of stuff. Dinner was ahi tuna on the BBQ, it is good stuff.

Wednesday, July 20

Traveling back to Kona today. Breakfast at the Tropics restaurant for  one last view. Mokulule flight 1026 was on time and we arrived back at 1:30 p.m. A few errands in Kona getting ready for Ernie and Carol. We tried El Maguey down in Kona for a late lunch/dinner. The tacos were OK, we’ll have to try something else before passing judgement. We did buy a lot of crap in Honolulu. The Hilton Hawaiian Village and Lagoon Tower were just too crowded and did not leave either of us with a great impression.

Tuesday, July 19

We went down to Ko Olina to visit with Linda and Bruce Bott. They are staying at their timeshare at the Marriott Ko Olina, a nice place. Lunch at the LongBoard Beach Restaurant was mahi-mahi burgers and tacos. They were nothing to write home about, we’ve had a lot better.

It was nice to relax in the afternoon and take in the nice scenery. We left about 3:00 pm and headed down with the car one last time to Waikiki and dinner at the Cheesecake Factory. BIG line, but we headed to the bar and got right in. I had a lightly, lemony breaded chicken dish that was really quite good, the smashed potatoes were great too. Sandy had the “chopped” salad, I think my choice was much better!

Dessert at the Lappertt’s ice cream place on the Village property was Kauai Pie, delicious!

Monday, July 18

IHOP just around the corner from the Hilton, down on Kalia road. We saw Harry Potter at the Ward 16 Consolidated Theaters, just west of the Ala Moana shopping center. Relaxed a bit today, tried a mai tai down at the Moana Surfrider and came back to a Jack-in-the-Box private dinner activity down on the lawn below us. It ended with a Samoan fire dancer demonstration/dance about 8:45 p.m. Those guys are crazy!

Sunday, July 17

Shopping at Ala Moana after watching the women’s FIFA world cup final game, USA vs. Japan. Fantastic play, USA dominated but Japan pulled it out and deserved to win. Enough shopping, I’m done! For the guys, the MaiTai Bar on the 4th floor is a nice break from the grind, it is next to the Bubba Gump Shrimp restaurant.

Lunch was leftovers before we left and dinner was at the local Outback Restaurant, right around the corner.

We hopped on the Aloha Bus and took it to downtown Waikiki, a nice little tour.

Saturday, July 16

Today we are heading to the north shore to the Hale’iwa Art Festival to check out some cool stuff. We tried the Tropics for breakfast. It is on the premises of the hotel and was OK.

The festival was fun and lots of cool art work was displayed. We found 2 pieces to display from artist Paul Forney, it is being shipped to us in Waikoloa. After the festival, we headed back to Waikiki but stopped in to the Dole Plantation for a quick break. It is a fun place and the Dole pineapple whip is amazing, I don’t know what it is made of but fabulous.

A quick stop at the local Safeway and we decided on a Round Table since they are on the complex. It wasn’t too bad, and dessert was a Lappert’s Kaui Pie.

Friday, July 15

Shopping day today, ugh. Breakfast walk was eastward toward Diamond Head. We ended up at the Royal Hawaiian (the Pink Palace) for breakfast. Good stuff, oatmeal and eggs benedict, good choice.

Part of the plan coming here was this was part of our VIP Hilton Grand Vacation Club and we needed to hear a pitch. Our timeshare presentation was at 11:15, and surprisingly, we were done by 12:30 pm. We were upfront and said we weren’t interested in anything. Our sales rep was Marc Gosselin.

Off we went to the Aiea shopping center, focusing on the Bed, Bath and Beyond. Mom scored with good stuff at the Macy’s and BBB. We bought a Samsonite rolling carryon duffel bag to store everything and ship it back via checkin. Lunch at the Monterey Bay Cannery in Aiea was just OK.

Dinner was at the Aloha Tower Marketplace, Gordon Biersch. The blackened ahi tuna tacos were probably one of the best that I have had. Sandy had the lobster and shrimp mac and cheese and that too was quite good. This place is a keeper to return to.

Thursday, July 14

Flight day today to Oahu via Mokulele. Our flight was on time at 12:45 and we arrived in Oahu at 1:30. After getting the car, we got lost, ended up at the zoo and finally arrived at the Hilton Grand Vacation Club. We are/were staying at the Lagoon Towers, rooms 622 and 623. We are next to the Rainbow Tower. We were supposed to stay in the Grand Waikikian Tower, but got mixed up. We are in crowding shock, too many folks. The room wasn’t ready until 4:00 pm, so we just hung out.

Dinner was just down the street by the marina at the Chart House. I thought it was part of the chain, but it isn’t. I had the Ahi Tuna lite dinner, and mine wan’t too bad. It was a teriyaki flavored piece of fish, just right. Sandy had the opa (moonfish) and it was just OK, not fantastic. We’ll pass on this place next time.

Wednesday, July 13

Paperwork day. I realized that I better get started with schedules for Algebra 1a and Algebra for the next school year. After thinking about different approaches, I decided to stick with last year’s approach and use Schooolfusion to maintain my websites. I had to un-archive the Algebra 1 page and build the new calendars for 2011-2012. Apple’s iCal application really sucks at moving items from one calendar to another in another year. You can’t display 2 copies of iCal to click and drag, it has to be done in the one iCal window. But, it got done!

Dinner was taco salad. Not too many of these work days hopefully!

Tuesday, July 12

Car day in Kona. The green hornet has its 2nd appointment at Automotive Engineering Kona for spark plug wires, valve cover gaskets, and brake pads and oil change. All got done, except for the oil change and the car is working as it should. I had to wait for the car, since Sandy was working today. I spent the time wondering around downtown Kona and Alii drive. Lots of things to do and shop. Island Lava Java down in Alii drive (free Wi-Fi) is a nice place for beakfast. The car was done by noon, as promised, and the brakes NO LONGER squeak. You could hear us a mile away coming with those noisy brake pads. AEK turned the rotors as well so all is good.

Kona Kwik Lube (74-5590 Alapa Street # E, Kailua Kona, HI 96740) took care of the oil change quickly and efficiently, they are on Alapa street in the industrial area too.

The afternoon was spent doing errands at K-Mark, Walmart, Costco. Got back home about 4:15 pm. A long shopping day for me!

The condo was nice and toasty by the afternoon and Sandy didn’t put the air conditioner on. Too hot to cook, so we went to the Marriott for dinner at Hawaii Calls. It was 2-for-1 pricing and the Mai-tais were great. Sunset was fantastic down on A-Bay but it was interesting to see the effect of the tsunami on the bay, there is no longer one continuous beach, the sea wall was wiped out just about in the middle.

Monday, July 11
Golf day, Sandy had stuff to do workwise so I putted around cleaning things, like windows, around the place.

Golf time at 2:00, 18 holes, except one, to space ourselves out. Done by 5:15 or so. Both of us were tired, I forgot how much effort this stuff can be.

Dinner was tacos from a kit. Again, fresh ingredients really make a difference.

Sunday, July 10
Today is church day. We went to 8:00 mass in Waimea. It was good to be back with Fr. Bob. After church, we went toSolimene’s for breakfast.they have expanded next door and on Sundays they have an informal brunch. Prices were reasonable and the food was great.

Came back to the condo and went out to the range. A little rusty, but not too bad. Made a t-time for tomorrow at 2:00, a little anxious.

Dinner was albacore tuna from the village market $9.99 per pound and it was delicious. Just cook at 2 minutes per side, not 3!

Saturday, July 9

A nice day exploring Waimea’s 2 farmer’s markets. Both have fresh produce and good eats. The one behind the Parker school, Waimea Town Market is from 8:00 am to 1:00 pm and the other on the eastern outskirts of town, Waimea Hawaiian Homestead Farmer’s Market is from 7:00 – 12:00 noon. Fresh, handmade tamales at the Waimea Town Market! El Maguey (Kona) and Mi Ranchita (Hawi) are 2 restaurants run by sisters with a husband from Mexico, must tries!

Cleaning day, putting things away as well. Dinner was spaghetti and lemon meringue pie (from Pat, our neighbor below) was delicious!

Friday, July 8

Leisurely morning, Sandy did some work and I went out for my first walk. It was the 3.5 mile loop down to the bridge. Today it was windy! Talked to the Universal Radio folks and the Beeman’s Pharmacy folks about billing screwups, supposed to be all fixed now.

Headed to Kona to do some errands, pick up the Subaru and return the rental car. Car needs a tuneup, instead of tranny work but needs to go back on Tuesday for wiring harness, argh… parts coming from Honolulu.

Did our first Friday happy hour by the pool and brought Pat 2 cherry tomato plants from Costco, picked up another orchid too to see if we can actually make them work! Dinner was flank steak from Costco, yummy!

We find things that are missing are really missing from the condo. Pens, highlighters, wine opener, “Hawaii, The Big Island Revealed book”, WTF!

Thursday, July 7

Sandy had her first meetings today, so we did a quick run to the market for breakfast and a few supplies. She worked in the morning while I puttted around getting the car and condo ready. About 1:30, after a quick Subway sandwich lunch, we headed to Kona and the car places.

Problem 1: Safety check place was out of stickers, so … she suggested another place by the Target store. It charged less, but the Subaru didn’t pass the safety check because the windshield washer fluid isn’t working! Argh … Back to the tranny place. Next door to Transmission Technology is Automotive Engineering Kona, where they re-charged the freon for me and replaced the windshield waster pump. Between the 2 outfits, we will find out what is wrong with the stumbling of the Subaru, hopefully for tomorrow’s rental car return period is up.

Transmission Technology – 75-5546 Kaiwi St., Unit E, Kailua-Kona, HI 96740, phone 808 331-8310

Automotive Engineering Kona – 75-5546 Kaiwi St., 808 327-9878

By this time it was past the 3:00 show for Transformers 3 so we did a few errands at Target. Early dinner was at the KBC, pizza and salad combo. The movie was at 6:30 and was just OK, not great. Home by 10:30 or so …

Wednesday, July 6
Time to travel back to Kona! After a great breakfast with Anna at Longhi’s in Lahaina, again, fantastic food, banana and mac-nut pancakes and eggs benedict, we had our return flight to Kona leaving at 1:00 p.m. After some quick shopping on the main drag, we drove back to the airport and our 1:00 p.m. Mokulele flight left at 12:45 because all 9 passengers were checked in and ready. That was kind of nice!

Back in Kona, we stopped by Transmission Technology to get the Subaru tranny looked at, something is wrong and needs to be fixed. These guys have good reviews. They are on Kaiwi street in the industrial section of town. Across the lot is also a safety check outfit that can do a safety check. So, … we keep the rental car until Friday, come down tomorrow and drop off the Subaru, pick it up Friday and return the rental after that.

Returning to the condo, I unwrapped the Subaru and started it up, so far so good! We took it for a spin to charge it up and ended up at Buzz’s Sand Trap down by the Hilton for a salad bar dinner, still a great deal!

Rearranged and uploaded pictures so far of this summer and Bart’s service.

Tuesday, July 5
Today is Bart’s ocean scattering on Maui. We had a Mokulele flight, from the commuter terminal to Maui. It left at 10:53, really 11:25, and we arrived to pick up Curtis and our rental car.

Lunch at Panda Express and we arrived at the Maui Ocean Club, room 2308. Bart’s service on the America II was at 4:00 from Lahaina Harbor. It was a very nice service and Anna did a great job. I did a GPX track of the sail. Dinner was at the Lahaina Grill, a fantastic meal.

Monday, July 4
We are packed up and ready for Kona. Our bags are both right at about 48 pounds, wow. Delta flight 1299 is on time for a 1:55 departure from LAX. We left about 9:00, stopped at Long’s drugs and passed on visiting dad, I was worried about time and traffic and security.

It was the 4th, and there was no traffic and we arrived at Avis by 11:00, took the shuttle and sky capped the luggage. Security was a breeze. By noon we were at the Delta sky lounge relaxing!

The flight was boarded early and we left on TIME.

By 4:00 pm we were in Kona, car and luggage with us. We headed to Outback, and the Safeway for a few things. We got to the condo by 7:30 pm and were home.

We unpacked a bit, got the wireless up, changed the bed sheets and hit the sack. Tomorrow is a big day.


Tahiti Travels: June 17 – July 2

Friday, June 17

Today we packed up leisurely after the last day of school. We met Douglas, Rosie and Tommy driving down from Oakland at the Proud Bird for dinner before taking off on Air France. Dinner was OK, nothing to write home about, steaks were just OK and for a Friday night, there was no crowd. That should have been a signal.

At the airport in plenty of time, everything was checked in very smoothly and we were past security, sitting in the ramp area by 8:00 p.m. or so. Our flight on Air France 647 was scheduled for a 10:30 p.m. flight. AT 10:30 as we were beginning early boarding, a mass horde of people started away from the boarding area. The flight had just been cancelled due mechanical difficulties. argh … We joined the hoard to the ticketing counter to find out that a new flight tomorrow, Sunday, would be put on, time TBD and AF would put us up for the night in LA somewhere. We finally reached the front of the line and they gave us the same story. We would get out tomorrow, not exactly sure what time. I told them that we would drive home and return tomorrow evening, that seemed to open the magic door and the gate agent offered us 5 immediate seats on Air Tahiti Nut Flight TN101 if we wanted. We all agreed BUT we had to go to the Bradley terminal and walk like crazy. The Air Tahiti Nui folks directed us, gave us new boarding passes and after another 1/2 mile walk, we arrived at gate 46. We boarded a shuttle bus, that drove around the airport to the waiting Air Tahiti Nui jetway. The name of our airplane, an Airbus 340-200 was Rangiroa.

The plane was being held due to other delays with Delta and New York bound passengers. Long story short, we were boarded and seated by about midnight and on our way! The luggage would not be with us, but would show up eventually at the Club Bali Hai they assured us.

Saturday, June 19

After an 8.5 hour flight, we arrived at Faa airport about 6:00 a.m. Tahiti is 3 hours behind Los Angeles time zone-wise. No luggage, a long line for customs and immigration, but we had the first Aremiti V ferry leaving at 7:00 a.m. We worked our way through the luggage claim area and they assured us that our luggage would arrive tomorrow, Sunday at the hotel, I was dubious.

We took a taxi, about 1500CF to the marketplace and shopped around a bit. No luggage, toothbrushes, underwear … so we found what we could. It was sort of a blessing to walk around without the luggage.

The marketplace and Vaimea shopping center had what we needed and we boarded the ferry for the 12:20 trip. The fare is 1320CF per person. A quick 1/2 hour ride and we arrived at the dock. We found a taxi for 2700CF and found ourselves at the Club Bali Hai by 1:00 p.m. or so.

We were assured that our luggage would follow us by Temea, the front clerk.

We hung out, a little warm, but found a few things at the local markets, Hinano being most important. A 0.5 liter bottle is about 240-220CF. Lunch was at the Blue Pineapple, a delicious tuna burger for Douglas and I. We are running a tab at the BP for meals, separate from the Bali Hai, this is convenient.

Dinner was at Alo Pizza, down the road to the left, it was delicious. Douglas made the trek down.

We were all tired, so comfortably in #36 and #37 we were soon asleep after a few games of Farkle.

Sunday, June 19

We all woke up a little early and stumbled down to the BP for breakfast. Food is a little expensive here, but the short stack was only 650CF. Ham here is our SPAM, something Rosie (acutally all of us)  is NOT too crazy about.

During breakfast, we found (actually her found us) Jay, one of the officers of the timeshare. With his knowledge, we are booked for:

  • Tuesday – motu picnic
  • Wednesday – dinner BBQ
  • Thursday – deep sea fishing with Chris, the same guy Douglas and I used in 2004, this time, we will have 3 of us. For 3 people, we have 55,000CF or 650 American.

We forgot that on Sunday, the grocery stores close early, like open from 7:00 – 9:00 a.m. and that’s it! We were too late and missed the french baguettes for 53CF. Oh well … it is nice to relax on Father’s Day!

Today, we relaxed at the pool and just hung out. Dinner was at Rudy’s, a steakhouse down at Maharepa. Free shuttle service at 6:15 for a 6:30 p.m. dinner reservation. For being a steakhouse, the Rib-eye was just OK. Douglas had a parrotfish stuffed with crab, it was excellent. The desserts were better than the meals, but the hype was just that. It is an OK place, remember, steaks are NOT the focus on a pacific island in the middle of the ocean.

Monday, June 20

Today we rented a car from Albert, across from the Bali Hai. For the same rate as Avis here on the premises, we were able to keep it for 24 hours for the rate of 8,000CF.

The Albert lady said to refill the car, a Hundai Gris would require 1,000 CF. We figured out at the Bank Socredo that 1 dollar is 80CF. We started continuing down the road and ended up at the Hotel InterContinental for a potty stop. Friday, we are taking the Tea Nui  for a 1/2 boat trip out. The InterContinental is a nice place, it was very quiet and looked empty.

Further up the road, we ended up at  Les Tipaniers beach restaurant for lunch. The swordfish fish burgers were amazing! We should check this place out for dinner. Not the restaurant on the street, but the one on the beach. The motu picnic takes place right across the bay from this restaurant!

Continuing around the island, we ended up at the Champion supermarket at the Vaire dock and city. This market DOES NOT close from 12:00 – 3:00 p.m. like the other markets do. It is the LARGEST on the island and has everything you need. Hinano is 205CF per 50cL, in the markets around Bali Hai, the cheapest is 220 at the Chinese one and 240 at most others.

We doubled back to the Rotui fruit and distillery for sampling of local juices and liquors. The Tahiti Drink is made with distilled pineapple juice and is quite tasty.

For dinner, we snagged a rotisserie chicken at the Champion market, together with our beans and tortillas that Mom brought on the trip! The chicken roach coach up in Marapeha had chickens that weren’t quite done yet, we’ll get one next time.

Tuesday, June 21

The crack in the bathroom, right where your feet plant below the sink got worse yesterday. This morning I mentioned it again to the front staff. Nothing was done, even after us being gone all day at the picnic, and tomorrow, there will be holy hell.

Today was the motu picnic and shark and ray tour. It picked us up at the dock at 9:30 and off we went on our 6 hour adventure tour. We learned about the history of the bay on the way to the motu by the Les Tipaniers. We stopped at the sand bar where the rays were fed first. Rosie had no desire to enter with the rays. Next, we did the sharks, black tipped reef sharks. The deck hand and tour guide Siki, fed the sharks and the whole thing was videotaped for posterity. This shark feeding was much better than the last time, where we had to hang behind a rope spread out between 2 boats. The sharks were literally swimming in and around us as the feeding continued, these are amazing creatures. Rosie did enter the water, on TOP of Tommy’s shoulders, that’s as far as she got!

The motu picnic was amazing as we had fresh ceviche from tuna and marlin prepared in front of us. Marlin, tuna, coconut juice, water, line and fresh cucumbers, onions and tomatoes were all the ingredients, it was amazing.

Snorkeling was not fantastic here, too many people. But the trip was great. People from the InterContinental, Hilton and Pearl Hotels are dropped off before were return to the Club Bali Hai.  A highly recommended trip!

I now know the conversion to dollars: 80 CF to 1 dollar. Divide the CF by 80 to approximate the dollar cost.

One of the deck hands runs his own boat. He saw us talking this morning to Chris, the guy we went out with in 2004 and offered us a deal for 3 people at 450,000CF, 100,000CF less than Chris, a quandary.

Dinner was spaghetti!

Things to bring on future trips:

  • Reef walkers
  • snorkel gear
  • Jack cheese
  • Jalapeno
  • Italian herbs
  • BBQ
  • taco seasonings
  • Cooler to ship stuff in and smaller cooler to carry cold/frozen stuff from the markets

Wednesday, June 22

Today was kickback day with nothing scheduled except for the Tahtian Show and Dinner at the Bali Hai. We just hung around the pool and just chill-axed.

The dinner show started at 6:00 p.m. and I was surprised at the number of people that attended. There were probably as many performers as their observers. The troupe was great, entertaining and bringing in the kids to dance. The after show meal was terrible. The cook really does do a great job in doing both breakfast and lunch. I think the advertised “mahi-mahi” was NOT, probably the dorado/wahoo that was brought in during the day. It was not a good cut of fish, oh well. It is evident that the economy is really taking a bite out of Tahiti as well.

Thursday, June 23
Fishing day with Capt. Chris and the Tea Nui, tied up at the Hotel Intercontinental. We were picked up at 7:15 for a 1/2 day fishing charter for 55,000CF or 650US. We chose the 55,000CF. The trip started off quick with 3 quick hits on the small rods as we were leaving the harbor, one skipjack tuna and 2 mackerel. After that, though, we put the small stuff away and continued with the heavy duty trolling gear out to the southwest side of the island. From where we were, you could see the island of Tahiti off in the distance. After riding out to the buoy where the local fisherman were fishing for mahi-mahi, we returned back with no luck. Getting close to the entrance to the reef, we struck another 2 fish for a total of 5. Great weather but bummer luck. Oh well, that’s why it’s called fishing and not catching!

The cook at Annana’s Blue prepared our filet fish for lunch for the 3 fishermen. It was a little hard to tell which was the mackerel and which was the skipjack. Neither did anything for me. They were prepared with a little herb-garlic-butter sauce, a very nice presentation.

The girls in the morning got the massage/spa work in across the street at Dorina’s. It was reported to be wonderful!

The afternoon was a nice lazy time.

For dinner, Tommy took us to the Keveka restaurant down the road  as a ‘thank you’. They have an interesting and somewhat economical dinner with Chinese, pizza, steaks, Italian varieties. I had pizza, Rosie and Mom had Chinese (lemon chicken, chow-mein and fried rice), Tommy had a steak and Douglas had fish. The food was plentiful and prices were reasonable.

Friday, June 24

The kids were hooked up with Albert Jet Ski rentals to do the 2 hour shark, ray, motu and bay tours. Tommy and Rosie were on one and Doug on the other. The price was 220,000CF per ski. The trip was great and Rosie even got in the water with the rays.

The afternoon was a lazy day laying by the pool and and snorkeling in the bay. We adopted our sting ray “Ray” and our octopus “Ocho”.

We found taco seasoning at the supermarket marche in Pao Pao and had bean and meat burritos, lettuce and edam cheese. Yummy!

Saturday, June 25

The kids were headed in the afternoon, on the ferry back to Papeete for a Sunday morning Air France flight (673) back to Los Angeles. We spent the morning packing them up and left about 11:00 a.m. for a 2:40 p.m. ferry, which was really a 3:25 p.m. ferry because Sandy mis-read the schedule. We went back to the Rotui fruit factory where Douglas picked up some liquid gifts for friends and we stopped at a coupe of shops that Sandy and Rosie had seen some trinkets. Well, on Saturday, the shops in Maharapea must close early because shortly before noon, everything was close for the rest of the day.

We went to the Pearl Resort for lunch to celebrate their last day and meals. Interesting, the fish burgers were marlin, they were saving the tuna for the poisson cru, so … we had burgers! Nice photo ops on the property.

Our boat captain and Siki, the motu picnic guide, told us that marlin makes great ceviche, but when cooked, it is a little tough.

We drove around and ended up at the Sofitel for a late lunch dessert break. At the beach bar, they have an ice cream dessert menu that has some killer ice cream dishes. Tommy had a coffee creation and Doug and Rosie split a mango sorbet dish. I had a margarita, which they don’t know how to make in Tahiti.

Back to the Champion market in Viare for some new flip-flops and french champagne and other things.

We went exploring after the kids left to the Hilton Hotel for dinner, but Saturday night is their buffet and Tahitian dance show, so the restaurant was closed. It is a beautiful place too. We backtracked and ended up at the Aito Restaurant on Cook’s Bay. It is a small parking lot place that opens to the bay with great views.

The mahi-mahi polynesian style (in coconut milk, with bananas and pineapples) was THE BEST meal Sandy and I have had here so far. We made plans to come back on Thursday for our last meal on Moorea.

Sunday, June 26

We have not heard from the kids, they were staying at the Tahiti Airport Hotel, next to the airport. The AF673 flight left at 7:30 (actually 7:48) a.m. so we are assuming that they are on the flight and should call us tonight about 6:00 p.m. (9:00 p.m.) our time while they are on the road to the Hilton hotel in Valencia. Rather than making them drive after their 6:45 p.m. arrival in LAX, we gave them a head start for about a 5 hour Monday drive back to Oakland and Petaluma.

After tracking the kids on, we found out that the flight left about 18 minutes late, at 7:48 a.m. but made up the late start by arriving at 6:36 pm. They made it to the hotel with about 2300CF, had a wake up call and made it to the airport, by walking downhill with plenty of time. After getting the car from WallyPark, they made a bee-line for an El Torito to fill up on Mexican food that they were deprived of for a WHOLE week.

After the kids left, we played some games of Farkle, but it wasn’t the same.

Monday, June 27

A nice lazy day, passing time on the water and just relaxing. The Paul Gauguin cruise ship came in today and will be here from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. tomorrow. The ship dispatches its life boats as shuttles to the dock by the Kevaka hotel. The street vendors set up their booths there, so its a good concentration of shopping. Sandy found a beautiful 2 black-pearl pendant, champagne and purple for 32,500CF (about 406.25US). She also found black pearl anklets for Rosie and Carol.

Lunch was fish burgers at Annas Blue, this time mahi-mahi instead of tuna. The tuna burgers are better. Dinner was at Alo Pizza, we ordered the Hawaiian Pizza with Pepperoni. They have NO beer and wine served and the one-size pizza is 1700CF.

Tuesday, June 28

Another lazy day. Breakfast was ham and egg burritos, we are running out of tortillas, oh no! Just for costing purposes:

(Item in Pacific Francs, CF)/80 = U.S. Dollars

Milk (1 liter): 320CF (4.00US per liter, 16.00US gallon, ouch)
Gasoline (sans plom, unleaded, per liter): 160CF (2.00US liter or 8.00US gallon)
Diesel: 147CF (1.84US liter or 7.35US)
Bread (baguette): 53CF (0.66US)
Beer (Hinano): 205-240CF per 0.5 liter (2.56 – 3.00US per 0.5 liter, 5.12 – 6.00US per liter)
Butter: 303CF (3.79US)
Salad dressing, Wishbone: 270CF (3.35US)
Condensed milk, carnation: 193CF (2.41US)

We had a car rental this afternoon, leaving about 3:00 p.m. and went shopping around the island, mainly in Maharepa. Mom found some gifts to take back for folks. We timed the car to keep it overnight and head to the Snack Mahana for lunch up by the InterContinental tomorrow.

Dinner today was at Les Tipaniers, both were excellent. Mom had the shrimp and magi in coconut milk and I had the parrotfish prepared in coconut milk as well. They were both amazing, best meal yet! Without a car, they said free pickup would be no problem, but you have to wait for all pickup patrons to be done, before you return to your hotel.

Wednesday, June 29

Nice lazy morning driving to the “Le Chat (the cat)” jewelry store to see what else Nathalie had in her shop. Les Chat is just west of the InterContinental hotel, on the upside, with a big tiiki statue out front. It is hard to miss it. She unfortunately, was closed but her work is displayed in the InterContinental.

Lunch was fantastic at Snack Mahana. This little restaurant is only open for lunch, the cook cooks from her home and you eat in the backyard. On recommendation from the waitress, we both had the mahi-mahi, lightly breaded in coconut juice. I had it with rice and Sandy with fries. The price, per meal was about 1800CFP.  A nice leisure meal that was THE best I had so far on the island.

Dinner was spaghetti, the last of it Tonight was the dinner show and we just  hung out listening to the music. Sandy said the show was the same as the week before.

Thursday, June 30

Breakfast was our remaining yogurt and local chocolate croissant and coffee. We are using up most of our staples now. We settled up our bill at Anna’s Bleu, it for 2 weeks was 53,000CF or about 550US. That included the dinner show last weekend.

Laundry day in the morning. Lunch was a sandwich with the cold-cuts we still had left over. We had to finish the remaining beers too, so .. we worked hard and DID.

Last dinner on Moorea was at Aito Restaurant. I had the red tuna in ginger sauce and Sandy had the Lobster au gratin. Both were excellent and we, for dessert, spilt the coconut-banana pie with vanilla-rum ice cream. It too was delicious. Aito is getting a little old for still running a restaurant. The trip back to the hotel was an interesting one.

Friday, July 1

Time to pack up and head to Papeete. We settled up our bills, yesterday for Ananas Blue and today for the club. The weekly rate for taxes and fees for 3 weeks and the motu picnic (7,000CF per person) fee of 35,000 CF was 51,087CF or about 638.58US.

35, 000 motu
3,000 laundry (3 times 1,000)
140 per local call (2 calls)
1,819CF per week resort fee (4% of yearly maintenance fee)
150CF per person per day city tax

General info:
Hinano (0.5L) beer deposit = 60CF per bottle
bacon is a little weird
Use Skype to call US
Club Bali Hai WiFi password = cbhmoorea2011
HOTSPOT-WDG is the other paid wireless network on Moorea. You pay for it as you need it. They have pay as you go plans too and are located throughout Moorea and Tahiti.
1 hour = 500CF
5 hours = 2,000CF
10 hours (1 extra free, 11 hours total) = 4,000CF

Arrived via Aremeti V ferry on the 1:45 p.m. slot. The Albert shuttle price was 700CF per person, 4 of us headed to the airport. We went directly to the Tahiti Airport Motel to find a pleasant surprise and the shuttle fee was only 1700CF. We scoped out the airport walk, literally only 5 minutes, all do-able in the morning. From the airport, we took a taxi downtown for some last minute shopping, this fare was 1500CF.

To top it off, we then took a trip to the InterContinental for a view of Moorea and sunset, it was spectacular! Lots of people and lots of noise but an amazing sunset.

Tomorrow, Saturday comes early.

Saturday, July 2

The Air France flight from LAX to Tahiti is late, instead of a 10:30 p.m. departure, it left at 12:15 a.m. this morning. It arrived at 5:40 a.m. and I am wondering if it can turned around in time for its 7:30 a.m. departure.

We were lucky and a taxi was awaiting us at the lobby, actually for another couple so we took it saving us the 5 minute walk. Checked in baggage and were ready for the flight. It was only delayed from 7:30 for 15 minutes so we were fine. Just for future reference, there IS a coffee/snack shop INSIDE past the security checkpoint.

Air France flight 673 arrived in LAX on time, 6:30 local time, went through immigration and customs with no problems. Air France is THE WAY TO GO. Free booze on the plane, champagne, wine and even digestives after lunch! Food not too bad either and service was fantastic!

Stopped by the El Torito in Marina del Ray and were home by about 11:15 p.m.

Sunday, July 3

Packing and unpacking for tomorrow’s flight to Hawaii!