Friday, October 31, 2014

The Pearl of the Pacific

Hawaii is a beautiful place, the pearl of the Pacific.

Unless you are a college student in the middle of the semester---then Hawaii turns out to look an awful lot like a text book.

Ah, we are on the way at last...

First sunset in Hawaii, on the scenic Ala Moana Beach...

At the Dole plantation. You'll note there are no pictures of me eating pineapple whip while studying. My devotion to duty only goes so far, after all....

Snorkeling at Shark's Cove---so hard to see the pages underwater. And my book is looking a little worse for wear...

On our energizing 5+ mile hike to Kaena Point...

Enjoying the sunset off the point...

What to do if it's raining because of an unfortunately timed hurricane? Get in a little culture, of course! The historic Bishop Museum...

In the Hall of Kings at the museum...

Shell hunting. I didn't find that many for some reason...

Doing what we did most of all in Hawaii---getting lost. This is the tunnel during our impromptu  trip to Kaneohe (when all we were trying to do was get back to the restaurant and pick my mom up)...

Hiking to the top of Diamond Head the last morning. Note to self---do not go on a hot, sweaty hike right before entering an enclosed airplane filled with noses....

(Disclaimer: Contrary to the claims of this blogger, very little actual studying was harmed in the process of her Hawaiian vacation. Perhaps she would have done better on her test if she had used her book for reading instead of as a photo prop!)

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

My Hot Date

I've been promising my boys a car trip all week. Eternal optimists that they are, every day they hope that it has magically turned into "Take Your Doggy to Work" day.

And every day, their hopes are dashed yet again.

So I try to make it up to them on the weekends by going on a doggy date with my three hairy hunks---this may be why I have no social life.Or it's the 50,000 cats. One or the other.

This week we took a drive to Dagmar to---of course---pick up more kittens. But don't worry, they won't be staying long. I am only fostering them for a little while (I know, that's what all the crazy cat ladies say!). And on the way we stopped by my favorite abandoned farmstead for some exploring fun.

This is the main house. It seems to have two rooms, plus a mudroom. And there seems to be some kind of basement. I haven't been brave enough to go out on the highly rotten floor to find out for sure.

This roof bravely kept its family sheltered from many wintery blasts, but splinter by board the elements are winning out in the end.

Ok, so I went on the floor for a little. But just a few feet. And just on the very edge of the room, which is theoretically better supported. Finley did not approve.

 There's also a large barn that has mostly collapsed, and a smaller building that I always think of as the horse barn. 


 Finley did some very martyred modeling in the horse barn. He's just simply too handsome to resist. It's a cross he'll just have to bear.

Speaking of shmexy boys, I managed to get a few pictures of all the dogs---after they'd run themselves ragged and were covered in burrs and pond slime, of course.

On our way out, we passed the warning sign for North Dakota's only curve. 

It was a lovely walk in some gorgeous fall weather. The air was crisp, the sun was setting, and we could listen to the cranes calling to each other as they headed south for the winter. I might even consider doing it again sometime---after I pick all the burrs out of my upholstery. Which will take approximately forever.

Don't hold your breath, hairy fiends.

Almost Home!

One of these days I am going to go to Jackson Hole, WY and just soak in the gorgeous scenery. I am tired of always seeing the butt-side of the Grand Tetons as I drive through Idaho either late at night or early in the morning.

At least I got to see some pretty stuff driving up over the pass and into Montana. I slept a few hours the night before in Idaho just so I could make that part of the trip in the daylight and enjoy the scenery.

That, and the fact that I was becoming totally loopy from lack of sleep. I decided it was time to pull over about the time I drove for half a block down a dark street before I realized I'd never turned my headlights on. "Boy, these street lights are DARK! They should really do something about that before someone gets hurt!"

These pictures were taken while I was singing my "Please Don't Eat Me, Grizzly Bears" song. It must have worked, because I didn't get chewed on. Photographers make the best bear food because we are always poking our noses into odd places and getting totally distracted by the picture-taking moment. A troupe of dancing grizzlies could do the can-can on our head and we wouldn't notice until after we'd gotten our shot.

If only we didn't come with all those hard, crunchy camera pieces that have to be spit out.

Yes, the Highway 191 corridor into Montana is one of the prettiest drives around, and always a treat to see after the dreary deserts of Nevada and Southern Idaho.

And just because I know how to do it now, some egregious editing of my mountain river picture.....

Eastward, Ho-hum!

I think of the Donner Party every time I cross over the Sierras, snug and comfortable in my climate-controlled vehicle. I make a trip in 2.5 hours, nutritionally-enriched smoothie in my hand and a bucket of snacks at my side, that took weeks of life-and-death struggle to accomplish.

It never fails to fill me with a sense of awe and gratitude....

Which lasts until I hit Nevada and start complaining about how long it's taking and how hot I am, and willthisdesertneverendI'vebeeninitforever.

Personal epiphanies never last long with me. At least not in the desert.

This year I got to realize an ambition I've nourished through many, MANY trips across Nevada---I 
finally got to stop at the California Trail Interpretive Center. Every other time, I've hit that area either too late in the day, or on too hurried of a trip and didn't have time to stop.

Not this time.

The center itself is very nice and has high quality displays and exhibits. It takes you along the experiences of the pioneers, from first "seeing the elephant" and deciding to make the trek to the California gold fields through the struggles they encountered on their way.

It is truly amazing that there were thousands upon thousands brave (or foolish) enough to willingly put themselves through such an experience. And to do that knowing they would almost certainly never see their friends or family again, losing forever those connections most dear to them.

Quite a difference from these days of Skype and Facebook!

The museum had this cheerful display to illustrate one of the great tragedies of the journey. To lose your spouse, your child, was bad enough, but then to have to leave them behind forever to be forgotten in a trackless wasteland was truly devastating.

And to do that with the almost-certainty that they were going to get dug up and eaten the minute you left must have broken many a heart.

Yes, full of flaws though they may have been, those nation-building emigrants did not lack for bravery.

For those of you who are history buffs and know the story of the Donner Party, this is a view looking south to the Humbolt River where the Donner Party rejoined the traditional route to California after their disastrous jaunt on the Hastings Cutoff. The extra time they spent taking that much-longer "short cut" is what caused them to reach the Sierras dangerously late in the season and become trapped by early winter storms.

Now there's an interstate freeway, where wagon trains loaded with exhausted travelers once plodded their determined way.

How much has changed in only 168 years!