Home again, home again…

I’ve been back from Hawaii for nearly a week. Jet lag is over, the piles on my desk are mostly gone. The laundry is done and summer is here.

I do miss Hawaii. I miss having a MaiTai under the Banyon tree at the Beach Bar, watching the sun go down.

I miss watching Jack be a kid, doing brand new things in a place so unlike home.

We did a fair bit of waiting for things… like food from food trucks. We didn’t let the wait bother us, we were patient. That is something I am doing my best to hold onto… patience while waiting.

I kind of miss the sound of roosters. I wouldn’t mind free range chickens in our neighborhood but I don’t think they’d last long. Coyotes, birds of prey, and cats would probably love the idea :-).

I don’t miss the roads on Kauai. The main road runs around the island in a U-shape. There isn’t a road where the cliffs on the north side of the island are. If you are in Princeville and want to go to Waimea Canyon, you have to take the long way around to get there. It’s not that far by mainland standards, but speed limits are low, there are usually only 2-3 lanes, and being in a hurry is a bad idea.

The road on the north side of Kauai hugs the slopes in many places. This is an island that gets a lot of rain and sometimes roads and bridges wash out. This is a spot on the 2 mile stretch of road between Princeville (where we stayed) and Hanalei (where we went pretty often). One of the lanes is mostly gone, washed way down the slope. It’s a long drop. Traffic is cut to one lane.

Driving is never risk free. We drove this road in the same way that the locals do. However, every time we were on this bit I said a little prayer.

I miss the colors of the ocean, sky, and sand…

Sadly, not every beach is pristine.

We’ve all heard about plastic in the ocean but finding it on beaches where I’ve not seen it before got my attention in a big way. The amount of plastic on some beaches was shocking. I gathered those big pieces inside a 3′ square space on the beach near Lydgate Park.

I looked for shells on every beach. Instead of colorful beach glass, I kept finding colorful bits of plastic. And, in case you are wondering, the shell gathering was not particularly good. It could be that pretty, whole shells are hard to find, but I couldn’t help but wonder if there isn’t a correlation between that and the pollution.

It’s depressing, right? But this is a real thing and it’s better to see it because ignoring reality changes nothing.

We all do our best to reduce our use of plastic but if you live a ‘regular’ life like we do, it’s impossible to live without plastic. However, I’m trying to do better. I am going to stop being so quick to replace something that is not recyclable just because I want it in a slightly different color or shape. I’m going to pay more attention to packaging. Feel free to give me other ideas.

Back to happier things… we all miss Wailua Shave Ice! FYI: we really aren’t that red in real life. The umbrella and tables are red and we are basking in their glow :-).

I found a shave ice machine on Amazon and it’s not expensive. I could make my own flavoring from coconut milk and fresh fruit. But I have a feeling that after a couple of weeks the machine (made from plastic I’m sure) would be sitting in the cabinet gathering dust. Dang… we’ll just have to go back to Hawaii!

Hawaii adventuring…

We decided to go to a beach that’s off the beaten path, Pu’u Poa beach. If you are staying at the Princeville Resort, there is an elevator that takes you down the cliff. Public access requires climbing down a steep path.

The first part is not bad. But then it turns downhill.

There are ropes to hold onto as you back your way down steep, often slippery ‘stairs’. This is Jack when he declared he couldn’t do it. I went on down to see what came next. The path got worse but the beach was lovely!

I was about to go back up when Jack and Steve appeared! Jack decided he could do it, and he did. (Steve thinks the teenaged girls who passed them and told Jack it was worth it had something to do with the decision making :-).)

The beach had just enough people. The water was clear and clean. Tomorrow we’re going back with snorkel gear!

Hiking up and out is easier than it looks :-).

From Princeville, HI…

We flew to Kauai on Wednesday. We’ll be here for 9 days, 5 on the north shore (staying in Princeville) and 4 days farther south (outside of Lihue).

On our way north to Princeville, we stopped for supplies at Walmart in Lihue and then went on to find the BEST shave ice we’ve ever had, at Wailua Shave Ice.

The story behind Wailua Shave Ice is a good one. I watched the video (below) and thought more about the importance of finding balance in your life. We all want balance and it’s different for each of us.

Next we stopped to pick up dinner (for later) at Chicken In A Barrel in Kapa’a, where there is BBQ that even Texans can love. The sauces are superb!

We got to Princeville and checked into a fantastic condo called the Nihilani, #22C. Click here to look at the slideshow. It is bigger than our house and the views are (dare I say better?) than the views in Sherman. This is a photo taken nearby.

We went to Hanalei Bay on Thursday. The crowds were light, the water was cooler than it was in Waikiki. Jack made sandcastles and we walked the beach looking for shells.

We set up two umbrella structures! The one on the left is ours, from Walmart in Lihue. The condo came stocked with the chairs and smaller umbrella…

After a few hours on the beach, we found lunch at a lovely food truck that specializes in local, organic food, followed by more shave ice. (FYI: Wailua Shave Ice is better.)

We are enjoying the freely ranging chickens and roosters. I’m not sure I’d love them if they were all over Sherman, but maybe I would. Who can say?

There are lots of nene (Hawaiian goose) on the golf course. And there are small lizards in great abundance.

Unfortunately Jack tore up his toe nail Thursday evening. He did learn a valuable life lesson about always watching where you put your feet when walking down stairs. It’s a lesson I’ve had to learn myself, the hard way. I’d share a picture but, no. He’ll be fine but we are taking it easy today (Friday). Tomorrow he should be better and we’ll be out and about.

Oh! I almost forgot to say that I went to a hot yoga class this morning. One woman said it was actually just warm yoga but, dang, I would not want it any hotter than it was. In fact, if I could have heard the instructor, I’d have followed along from the porch outside. I disliked it enough that I might just have to do it again :-).

Aloha!

The party’s over…

I spent my last day in Venice with Karen today. We went to the Peggy Guggenheim museum. She chose to live in Venice for the last many years of her life in a lovely place on the Grand Canal. This statue, that I love, is on the terrace that faces the Grand Canal. What an amazing view she had!

She was collector of modern art and there was much of it that I love…

I continue to be fascinated by the way the shadows from the art or the frame become an integral part of the art.

We ran into a small Women’s March, followed by unsmiling policemen.

We found out that garbage is collected in wheeled bins and hoisted onto boats. The collectors are dressedin bright green. It is a system that makes sense here.

I took pretty pictures that included water…

I also took photos of a seagull happily devouring a rat. We all have to eat something, right?

We shopped, but not for crazy expensive clothes or shoes (darn it).

I took a few more pretty photos of Venice…

Here I am with this homely fellow. You might notice the red gloves and very nice black bag from Florence.

I never did ride in a gondola. It was just too cold for me, no one I saw riding looked like they were loving it. Maybe I will do that when I come again.

It has been a lovely trip. I enjoyed spending time with Karen! I’m looking forward to being home, if only for a few days. I’ll be off again soon for New Orleans! The off season is a good time to go places.

And that’s it. We had a nice dinner. I think everything is going to fit into my bag to go home. Karen is helping by taking a few small things back in her bigger bag that will be checked.

Venice…

We headed to St. Mark’s this morning, via a vaporetto (water taxi) which is much cheaper than a gondola. The gondola is 80euro for 30 minutes. That would be about $45 each for me and Karen and we’d both rather buy Murano glass.

It’s nice to see the city from the Grand Canal. One thing that you really notice is how much the water affects the buildings. It is wet, wood gets rotten, there is mold and moss. That is part of what makes Venice look the way it does, but maintaining these structures must be nearly impossible.

We are here in the off season. It is cold and damp, but I like the light crowds. Shops are open, as are restaurants, and there are some deals to be had. I keep forgetting to take pictures of my purchases (maybe I’m trying to not think about that too much?) but here’s a thing I didn’t buy:

I collect Santas but not clowns so he’s not coming home with me. Although now that I look again, I kind of like him.

We went to St. Mark’s. The square was not crowded at all.

Photos are not allowed inside, but I climbed up to the dome and was able to take some photos there:

I kind of hate to be a selfie taking tourist, but everyone up there was doing it so I thought I’d join in.

We walked and shopped and ate our way back to the hotel. It was a nice day.

PS: Last night after I wrote my blog post I got to feeling queasy. And then it got worse. I suspect food poisoning from some bagged salad I ate to go with soup we had picked up. It was a rough hour or so but I am so lucky that the nausea medicine I travel with worked. I woke up feeling OK.

It’s going to be a while before salad looks good to me.

Venice, my last stop in Italy…

We rode the train and it was easy, clean, on time, and very civilized. This view greeted us as we left the station in Venice:

Of course we stopped to take pictures, and then it was a short walk to our hotel. Our rooms were not quite ready so we headed out to explore. We mostly explored the shops :-).

Venice is the place to buy Murano glass… and we did. And I know we’ll shop more tomorrow.

We did not buy a clown. They are everywhere. Maybe they’ve never read any Steven King?

There are also many shops with masks. Carnival is coming but perhaps masks are sold all year round here. I’ve not been before so don’t know the answer to that question.

We bought a meringue and ate a little of it. It was hard and very sugary.

The pastry looks fantastic, sad I can’t eat it.

I love these olive oil bottles.

I like the looks of this vegetable but have not eaten any yet.

We are finally getting the hang of selfies!

More tomorrow!

Florence, last day…

We spent all day outside, exploring. It’s 8:14 in the evening and I’m happy but a little tired. We leave each arly in the morning to catch a train to Venice so I’m mostly going to post photos of the day. First stop was the Academia to see Michelangelo’s David. What can I say other than he looks better in person than in a photo.

He’s naked. He just is, nothing I can do about that. If you don’t want to look, scroll past quickly, or squint.

You may not have seen his backside. What was new to me was the strap across his back that is part of the sling. And the rocks that he is holding in his hand.

His toes are a little gnarly but that might be because of the years spent outside in the weather.

The Academia houses many, many statues…

There was a room full of plaster models that sculptors worked from. I watched a video that explained the how the plaster casts were made and how small models were used to make the larger sculptures. I suspect you can find that information if you google it.

Then there was the madonna with glass eyes. Unusual, and better in a photo than it was in person.

I have decided that I like paintings and sculptures of reclining women, nude or clothed. I don’t actually recline much… it must be the idea of reclining that sounds nice.

We walked a lot.

I liked some of the graffiti with faces…

We went to Santa Croce. If you come to Florence, be sure to go around to the back of this church to the School of leather. Students learn to make leather goods, and there are wonderful pieces for sale. I bought a lovely, large black leather purse. As I explained to Steve, it may have cost of lot but it would have been a whole lot more in elsewhere. I’ll ask Karen to take a photo of me carrying it tomorrow.

This is the back of the church, the School of Leather is nearby.

The inside of this church is prettier than many other churches. Our Segway tour guide, Andrea, told us to be sure to visit it and he was right. There are many famous people buried here… Machiavelli, Fermi, Galileo, maybe da Vinci…

Some of the floor tomb covers (there’s bound to be a better name for that but I can’t think of it now) were deeply carved and had obviously been walked on in the past.

This is where Michelangelo is buried.

We went to a street market…

I climbed the dome of the Duomo. Lots of stairs, narrow in some places…

The view of the inside of the dome is nice. There’s not a whole lot to see in the church below.

The view of the city from the top of the outside of the dome is amazing!

And then you walk back down with is easier on the lungs but harder on the knees.

We did a little more shopping… I regret not buying the Fabriano colored pencils but maybe I’ll find them in Venice. We had hot chocolate at a famous place, dinner, and now we are chillin’ and getting ready for tomorrow!

I hope there’s a tower to climb in Venice :-).