Archive for January, 2009

Skype, Calling

I recently started using Skype, an online Voice-over-Internet-Protocol (VoIP) software provider that offers users free Skype-to-Skype calls and low-cost calls to landlines and cell phones worldwide.  With Skype, you can:

*  initiate calls from your computer to any land line or cell phone worldwide;
*  place FREE calls from your computer to another Skype user anywhere;
*  send text messages from Skype;
*  use Voicemail to retrieve incoming missed Skype calls;
*  obtain your own, unique Skype phone number in your desired country;
*  forward incoming Skype calls to your cell phone when you’re unavailable;
*  do more…

Skype is particularly useful when traveling in other countries and you want to initiate or receive calls from your home country using your laptop and a high-speed Internet connection.  Skype allows you to eliminate costly overseas roaming charges on your cell phone.  In order to use Skype on your PC, you need to download and install software from the Skype website.

Here are the key Skype features, as listed on the Skype website…

 

Skype was founded in 2003 by Niklas Zennstrom and Janus Friis, in Estonia, and was purchased by eBay in October 2005 for $2.6 billion.  As of year-end 2008, Skype had over 405 million user accounts worldwide.

To learn more about Skype and to sign-up, go to the official Skype website by clicking here.

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Aloha, Hawaii

After spending two relaxing, sun-filled weeks on Kauai and Oahu, it’s time to say Aloha and farewell to Hawaii.  Among the highlights of this trip were an aerial helicopter tour of the lush Garden Island of Kauai, a visit to the Battleship Missouri Memorial in Pearl Harbor, rejoicing in the historic inauguration of President Barack Obama, Hawaiian-style, and celebrating the Lunar New Year (Year of the Ox) with friends at a Chinese banquet in Honolulu’s historic, colorful Chinatown.

Above:  A view of the much-photographed old airport tower at the Honolulu International Airport, which has since been replaced with a taller control tower located close to the large reef runway.  Below: United Airlines’ Flight 74, bound for San Francisco, gets ready for boarding at Gate 8.

Below:  Before departure, there’s just enough time for a “farewell” Bloody Mary at United Airlines’ Red Carpet Club, located above Gate 10, and a quick new post on this blog, using the Acer Aspire One.

To learn more about Hawaii and to begin planning your trip, go to the official travel website for the Hawaii Visitors and Convention Bureau by clicking here.

To go to previous posts in the “Travel” category, click here.

Photos taken: 1/28/09

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Where are the Feet?

Where are the feet today?

The feet are pausing along the outdoor pool at The Contemporary Museum Honolulu (TCM) , in Makiki Heights, Honolulu.  The Contemporary Museum is the only museum in the State of Hawaii devoted exclusively to contemporary art.  TCM presents its innovative exhibition and education programs at two venues in Hionolulu– at the historic Cooke-Spalding house in Makiki Heights and the First Hawaiian Center in downtown Honolulu.

In addition to the galleries, TCM in Makiki Heights, which opened its doors in 1988, includes the Museum Shop, The Contemporary Cafe, and administrative offices.  Museum hours are 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM, Tuesday through Saturday, and 12:00 MP to 4:00 PM on Sundays.   

Above:  An exterior view of the historic Cooke-Spalding House, located in a residential area of Makiki Heights, which was extensively remodeled in 1988 to serve as home for The Contemporary Museum.  Below: One of the magnificent, large trees in the outdoor gardens of the museum.

Below:  A view of Diamond Head from the grounds surrounding The Contemporary Museum in Makiki Heights.

To visit the official website of The Contemporary Museum and to learn more about its exhibits and other services, click here.

To go to previous entries in the “Where are the Feet?” category, click here.  

Photos taken: 1/23/09

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The Mighty Mo

A highlight of the visit to Honolulu was an afternoon tour of the Battleship Missouri, affectionately called “Mighty Mo” or “Big Mo,” a USA Navy, Iowa-class battleship which is now permanently docked at Pearl Harbor as the Battleship Missouri Memorial Museum.  The Missouri was the last battleship built by the United States, and was the site of the surrender of the Empire of Japan, which offcially ended World War II. 

The USS Missouri was commissioned in June 1944 and fought during World War II in the battles of Iwo Jima and Okinawa, and during the Korean War.  In 1955, she was decommissioned into the USA Navy reserve fleet (aka “mothball fleet”), but was reactivated and modernized in 1984 as part of the 600-ship Navy Plan and subsequently fought in 1991 in the Gulf War. 

Missouri received a total of 11 battle stars for service in World War II, Korea and the Persian Gulf and was finally de-commissioned in March 1992, but remained on the Naval Vessel Register until January 1995.  In 1998, she was donated to the USS Missouri Memorial Association for use as a permanent museum.

Following nearly seven months of work, the Mighty Mo was opened in January 1999 as the Battleship Missouri Memorial, a museum designed to educate visitors about the USS Missouri and to commemorate the armed services members who served on the ship.  The USS Missouri Memorial Association is a private, Hawaii-based 501(c)(3) non-profit organization who is responsible for the maintaining the memorial.  The Battleship Missouri is supported solely by public contributions and receives no funding from the federal government.

The Battleship Missouri is open daily from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM, except Thanksgiving, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day.  Audio tours and guided tours are also available during regular hours.  Tickets may be purchased on-site without advance reservations.

Above and Below: View of the entrance to the Battleship Missouri Museum in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.

Above and Below:  Museum visitors are able to view the Battleship Missouri on a self-guided basis, or with an optional audio tour or guide.

Above and Below:  The ship has been outfitted with artifacts from the period in order to depict life on board the battleship.

Below:  The feet are taking a well-deserved break at the conclusion of the visit to the Battleship Missouri Museum.

To visit the official Battleship Missouri Memorial website, click here.  To visit the USS Arizona Memorial official website, operated by the National Park Service, click here.

Photos taken: 1/22/09

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Above Waikiki Beach

Waikiki Beach, located on Oahu’s southern shore fronting Waikiki (which means “spouting fresh water” in Hawaiian) is one of the most famous and photographed beaches in the world.  Waikiki extends from the Ala Wai Canal (a channel dug to drain former wetlands) on the west and north, to Diamond Head on the east.  Waikiki has long been a place of relaxation and was a retreat for Hawaiian royalty in the 1800’s, when the area was comprised primarily of wetlands fed by springs and streams.

Waikiki is still considered the heart of Hawaii’s visitor industry and boasts the largest number of guest rooms of any area in the State, including such landmarks as the Royal Hawaiian Hotel and Moana Surfrider, both built in the early 1900’s. 

Above:  A magnificent view of Waikiki Beach, showing (left to right) the Sheraton Waikiki, Royal Hawaiian Hotel, Westin Moana Surfrider, and the twin towers of the Hyatt Regency Waikiki, taken from a private residence on the 22nd floor of Foster Towers, located on famous Kalakaua Avenue in Waikiki.  Below:  A view of the sunset off Waikiki Beach from Foster Towers.

Photos taken: 1/23/09

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At Pavilion Cafe

We stopped for a tasty casual lunch at the popular and well-known Pavilion Cafe, located in the Luce Pavilion complex of the Honolulu Academy of Arts, in Honolulu.  The Honolulu Academy of Arts, founded in 1927, is Hawaii’s premier art museum, with a collection of more than 50,000 works displayed in state-of-the-art galleries.  The original building (shown in photo at bottom) was named “Hawaii’s Best Building” by the Hawaii chapter of the American Insitute of Architecture (AIA) and is registered as a National and State Historical Site. 

The Pavilion Cafe specializes in casual, contemporary food with Asian and Mediterranean influences, as well as fresh, locally-grown produce.  The cafe’s beautiful setting– amid a large open-air courtyard with fountains, sculpture from the Academy’s collection, and a large 70-year old monkeypod tree– makes it an excellent choice for a casual lunch, snack or beverage before or after visiting the galleries.

During this visit, I enjoyed their popular Oriental Chicken Salad, which is served with Chinese won bok, green onions, Waimanalo greens, shredded roast chicken, and plum vinaigrette.  Delicious!– and one of the freshest and tastiest Oriental Chicken Salads ever!

The Pavilion Cafe is open for lunch Tuesdays through Saturdays.  Reservations are strongly recommended. 

To learn more about the Honolulu Academy of Arts, visit their official website by clicking here.  To view the seasonal menu from the Pavilion Cafe, click here.

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Where are the Feet?

Where are the feet today?

 

The feet are pausing to admire the view of the beautiful and much beloved Na Mokulua, which means “the two islands” in Hawaiian, situated off Lanikai, a neighborhood of Kailua, Oahu, Hawaii.  The larger island is Moku Nui and the smaller, Moku Iki.  These much-photographed islets are State bird sanctuaries and access is regulated by law. 

My childhood home was located in a residential development called Country Club Knoll, near Lanikai Elementary School, which a short distance from the section of Lanikai Beach where these photos were taken.  I spent many sunny days at Lanikai Beach enjoying the spectacular white, powdered sand and the amazing view of the Mokulua Islands.  Lanikai Beach, and its neighboring Kailua Beach, have been cited as among the best beaches in the world for their calm, clean water, fine sand, and exceptional views.

Above:  View of Moku Nui, the larger of the two Mokulua islets, located off Lanikai Beach in Kailua, Hawaii.  Below:  A view of the two Mokulua islets and the small beachside community of Lanikai from Kaiwa Ridge. 

To view the location on Mapquest where the photos at top were taken, click here.

To go to previous entries in the “Where are the Feet?” category, click here.  

Photos taken: 1/26/09

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Where are the Feet?

Where are the feet today?

The feet are relaxing on the beach at Kualoa Regional Park in Kaneohe Bay on the Island of Oahu, Hawaii.  In the distance is Mokoli’i, a 12-acre, 206-foot tall basalt island, situated one-third of a mile offshore of Kualoa Point.  It is also known as “Chinaman’s Hat” for its likeness to the straw hats previously worn in Hawaii by Chinese immigrants.  As a child living in Hawaii, this was one of my favorite island landmarks and a symbol of mystery and Hawaiian folklore. 

Kualoa Park features excellent beaches for swimming, as well as campgrounds, picnic tables, and outdoor grills.  The park is framed by Kaneohe Bay and the dramatic cliffs of the Kualoa mountains, part of the Koolau Range.

Above:  Entrance sign to the Kualoa Regional Park in Kanehe, Oahu, Hawaii.  Below:  A close-up view of Moloki’i Island (also called “Chinaman’s Hat”), situated offshore at Kualoa Park.

Below:  A view of the Kualoa Mountains on the Koolau Range, which flank the Kualoa Regional Park and provide a dramatic backdrop of the beautiful beach.

To learn more about Kualoa Regional Park, visit the City and County of Honolulu’s official website by clicking here.

To view previous entries in the “Where are the Feet?” category, click here.  

Photos taken: 1/25/09.
Kualoa Park Sign Credit: TraveltoHawaiiReviewed.com

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Embassy Suites Waikiki

The adventure in Hawaii continues with an eight-night stay at the Embassy Suites Waikiki Beachwalk, located on historic Lewers Street, one block from the world-famous Waikiki Beach.  The Embassy Suites is part of the all-new Waikiki Beachwalk redevelopment project– a mixed-use hotel, vacation ownership, restaurant, and retail complex– that stretches along famous Lewers Street from Kuhio Avenue to Kalia Avenue.  The redevelopment effort, originally conceived in 1998 and completed in May 2007 at a cost of nearly $600-million, transformed the fading and increasingly tacky area into a more attractive and vibrant destination.  Waikiki Beachwalk is now home to five resorts– Outrigger Reef on the Beach, Embassy Suites Waikiki, Trump International Waikiki Hotel & Tower (nearing completion), Wyndham Vacation Ownership, and Ohana Islander Waikiki

The Embassy Suites property consists of 421 one- and two-bedroom guest suites in two separate 21-story buildings– the Aloha Tower and Hula Tower.  Amenities include a large outdoor swimming pool on the 4th floor deck (called the “Grand Lanai”), gym, complimentary breakfast with signature ‘prepared to order’ omelets, hosted afternoon cocktails and appetizers, spacious guest rooms with separate living areas and mini-kitchens, self-service laundry, complimentary high-speed in-room Internet access and free wi-fi in public spaces, in-room safes, and ocean views in some rooms.  Our guest room– Room 429 in the Hula Tower– is a corner one-bedroom unit with wrap-around windows and two large lanais, together with a tree-top view of the grounds of the adjacent Halekulani luxury resort.

The room is attractively furnished with contemporary tropical-style furniture in neutral colors, as well as reproductions of artwork by local artist Al Furtado.

Service has been consistently warm and friendly throughout the property– from the front desk, to the bell desk to the housekeeping staff.  And the all-valet parking (i.e. no self parking) in the complex is fast and convenient, too.

Above:  The Hula Tower, one of two towers of the completely renovated Embassy Suites Waikiki, part of the ambitious Waikiki Beachwalk redevelopment effort bounded by Lewers Street, Kalia Road, Beachwalk Avenue, and Kalakaua Avenue.  Below:  A view of the vibrant retail and restaurant scene in the Waikiki Beachwalk complex, with the two towers of the Embassy Suites perched above. 

Above:  A view of the pool and lounge area on the “Grand Lanai” on the 4th floor of the Embassy Suites Waikiki.  Below:  A view of the corner Room 429 in the Hula Tower which overlooks Lewers Street and Kalia Road. 

Above:  The separate bedroom in the one-bedroom suite at Embassy Suites Waikiki.  The bedroom featured its own private lanai overlooking Lewers Avenue.  Below: The nicely-appointed bathroom in Room 429 of the Hula Tower.

Below: A view of the open-air dining area on the Grand Lanai of the Embassy Suites Waikiki.  Complimentary breakfasts and hosted afternoon cocktails and appetizers are served in this spacious area, which also includes large terrace overlooking Waikiki Beachwalk.

Mahalo nui loa to the Embassy Suites Waikiki Beachwalk for a comfortable and pleasant stay!

To read more about the Waikiki Beachwalk, visit their official website by clicking here.  To visit the Embassy Suites Waikiki Beachwalk website and to make a reservation, click here.

Photos taken: 1/20-1/28/09

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Farewell, Coco Palms

While staying on the Island of Kauai, I had an opportunity to visit the grounds of the once famous and now abandoned and decaying Coco Palms Resort, located on the eastern shore of the island, near the mouth of the Wailua River.  Originally opened in January, 1953, with 24 guest rooms and four employees, the Coco Palms grew into a large 416-room resort by the mid-1970’s and became the most famous resort on Kauai, hosting dozens of world-famous guests, including Duke Kahanamoku, The Von Trapp Family Singers, Bing Crosby and other Hollywood stars.   

The beautiful beachside property was the home of Kauai’s royalty since the 13th century, including Kauai’s last reigning queen, Queen Deborah Kapule, in the mid-1800’s.  In 1896, the famous 2,000-tree coconut grove, which is the largest of only three similar groves in the state, was planted by William Lindeman, using coconut tree nuts imported from Samoa. 

The Coco Palms Resort achieved fame in the 1961 Elvis Presley movie, “Blue Hawaii,” where many scenes, including the final 20-minutes of the movie, were filmed.  The wedding scene in the movie, where Elvis sings the “Hawaiian Wedding Song” to Joan Blackman, is credited with creating high demand for weddings at the Coco Palms Resort.  During its heyday, the resort was hosting more than 500 weddings annually.

In 1992, the hotel was permanently shuttered following the devastation caused by Hurricane Iniki, a Category 4 storm that ravaged the Island of Kauai.  Today, the 18-acre site sits in sad disrepair and many of the low buildings are badly weathered and partially collapsed.  The once beautifully-manicured grounds are littered with debris and overgrown vegetation. 

In spite of various efforts over the past 16 years to redevelop the property as a mixed-use condominium, hotel and spa, the Coco Palms remains gated and closed.  It’s a sad end to a lovely resort with a colorful and rich history.  Farewell, Coco Palms.

Above:  Although closed and in partial collapse, the sign for the Coco Palms Resort remains in place at the entranceway.  Below:  A view of one of the guest room buildings, with broken windows and a sagging roof, from the main parking area. 

Below:  A partial view of the famous coconut grove on the grounds of the Coco Palms Resort.

Above: The original movie poster for the 1961 film, Blue Hawaii, which contained several scenes shot on the grounds of the beautiful Coco Palms Resort.  Below:  A publicity still from the film Blue Hawaii, featuring Elvis Presley.

To order a copy of the film Blue Hawaii on DVD from Amazon.com, click here.

 Photos taken: 1/17/09

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Hello, Hanapepe

The charming small town of Hanapepe, which means “Crushed Bay” in Hawaiian (population 2,153), is located along the southern coast of the Island of Kauai.  Hanapepe was started by Chinese rice farmers in the late 1800’s and was known as “The Biggest Little Town” on the south shore and the only Kauai town not directly associated with a plantation. 

Hanapepe was used as a location in the filming of the popular, award-winning 1983 television mini-series, The Thorn Birds.

In September 1992, Hurricane Iniki, a Category 4 storm, and the most powerful hurricane in Hawaii’s recorded history, struck Kauai and caused severe damage to the town of Hanapepe.  Since that time, Hanapepe has struggled to rebuild and reinvent itself.  Today, the town is reshaping its image as an artist’s community, wth galleries and shops that promote local artwork and handicrafts.  Additionally, the town is renovating and showcasing the remaining surviving historic buildings of old Hanapepe.   It’s a quaint, quiet town that is definitely worth a visit.

Above:  The entrance to Hanapepe, from Kamualii Highway (Highway 50), with a sign promoting their weekly “Art Night” on Fridays, where galleries stay open late and offer complimentary wine and pupus to their guests.   Below:  A view of the main, historic Hanapepe Street, with a few of the repaired and renovated buildings that now house galleries, shops and restaurants.

Above:  A view of the entrance sign on Hanapepe Road to the popular pedestrian “Swinging Bridge,” which was destroyed by Hurricane Iniki and rebuilt in 1992.   Below:  The Swinging Bridge is used for pedestrians only and crosses the lovely Hanapepe River.  An earthen levee along the banks of the Hanapepe River helps protect the historic town from seasonal floods caused by heavy rains.

Above:  The Hanapepe Swinging Bridge literally “swings” back-and-forth as you cross the wooden span.  Below:  A view of the slow-moving Hanapepe River, as seen from the Swinging Bridge.

Be sure to include a stop in Hanapepe during your next visit to the Island of Kauai.  To view the location of Hanapepe on the map of Kauai, go to Google Maps by clicking here.

Photos taken: 1/17/09

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Waimea Canyon

No visit to the Garden Island of Kauai would be complete without a stop at the awe-inspiring Waimea Canyon, which is frequently referred to as the “Grand Canyon of the Pacific.”  The canyon is roughly ten miles long and 300-feet deep and was formed by an incision of the Waimea River, which is continuously fed by the heavy rainfall on the island’s central peak, Mt. Waialeale, one of the wettest places on earth. 

The Waimea Canyon is part of the 1,866-acrea Waimea Canyon State Park, and is one of the island’s most popular visitor attractions.

Above:  The lookout at Waimea Canyon State Park provides an excellent setting to enjoy the spectacular views of Waimea Canyon.  Photos Below:  The canyon was formed by the combined action of the Waimea River and a catastrophic collapse of one of Kauai’s active volcanoes roughly 4 million years ago.

Photos taken: 1/18/09

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Where are the Feet?

Where are the feet today?

The feet are relaxing on a grassy patch opposite Opaeka’a Falls, a 150-foot waterfall in Kapa’a, Kauai that helps supply water to the beautiful Wailua River.

Above:  Entrance sign to the Wailua River State Park, in Kapa’a, Kauai, which offers picnic areas and a boat ramp for access to the lovely Wailua River, the State’s only navigable river.  Passengers board commercial boats for the ride to the famous Fern Grotto, located along the Wailua River.  Below: A view of the Wailua River, taken opposite the Opaeka’a Falls.

Above:  A view of the Wailua River, taken near the mouth of the river, in Kapa’a, Kauai.  Below:  A view of the nearby Wailua Falls, an 80-foot waterfall which also feeds the Wailua River.

To view previous entries in the “Where are the Feet?” category, click here.  

Photos Taken: 1/19/09

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Where are the Feet?

Where are the feet today?

The feet are resting after taking a long stroll along the sandy beach at Hanalei Bay, the largest bay on the North Shore of Kauai, Hawaii.  The beatutiful and dramatic cliffs surrounding Hanalei Bay were used as a backdrop for the mythical Bali Hai in the movie version of South Pacific. 

Princeville is the primary commercial development in the area around Hanalei Bay and is home to several condominium, shopping center and resort developments, including the 252-room Princevill Resort, A Luxury Collection Resort, which was shuttered in September 2008 in order to undergo a $60-million “top to bottom” transformation.  When the hotel re-opens in July 2009, it will be rebranded as the St. Regis Princeville Resort, the first St. Regis property in the State.  St. Regis is the flagship brand of Starwood Hotels and Resorts.

Above:  The entrance to the Princeville at Hanalei development along the North Shore of the Island of Kauai.  Below:  A view of the new St. Regis Princeville Resort, which is scheduled to open in July 2009 following a nine-month, $60-million renovation.

  

Below:  A view of the stunning cliffs of “Bali Hai,” taken from the grounds of the Hanalei Bay Resort at Princeville.

To view previous entries in the “Where are the Feet?” category, click here.

Photos taken: 1/17/09 and 1/19/09

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Year of the Ox

 

Xin Nien Kuai Le! and Sun Nin Fy Lok!  — which means Happy New Year in Mandarin and Cantonese, respectively.  The Year of the Ox (or the year 4707 in the Chinese calendar) begins January 26, 2009.

 

If you were born in 1997, 1985, 1973, 1961, 1949, 1937, 1925 or 1913, you are an Ox and this is your year!

 

According to one published description of the 12 lunar signs, “those born under the influence of the Ox are fortunate to be stable and persevering.  The typical Ox is a tolerant person with strong character.  Not many people could equal the resolution and fearlessness the Ox exhibits when deciding to accomplish a task or an objective.  As we used this great creature long ago to plow the soil day after day, so do Ox people labor through their daily responsibilities either at work or at home without complaint or gripe. Oxen know they will succeed through hard work and sustained effort and find no truth or benefit in concocting get-rich-quick schemes.”

 

Happy Year of the Ox to all!

 

 

Credit: Animated graphic by GraphicsArcade.com

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Today’s Quote

 ”Starting today, we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and begin again the work of remaking America.”

   –President Barack Obama, in his Inauguration Speech, 1/20/09

To go to previous entries in the “Today’s Quote” series, click here.

Photo Credit: Christopher Morris, Time Magazine

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Kauai from Above

One of the highlights of the visit to the Garden Island of Kauai was a helicopter tour of the island via Blue Hawaiian Helicopters, one of the state’s largest independent helicopter tour companies.  Founded in 1985, Blue Hawaiian operates regularly-scheduled and chartered flights from five stations–Waikoloa, Hilo, Kahului, Lihue, and Honolulu– and has served over 1 million passengers.

Blue Hawaiian collaborated with American Eurocopter in France to design and introduce the innovative Eco-Star helicopter, which is considered the finest touring helicopter in the industry.  Launched by Blue Hawaiian in 2001, the Eco Star features extra large floor-to-ceiling viewing windows, bucket seats for six passengers using a raised, stadium-style configuration, Bose headphones, and built-in cameras and DVD recording equipment for on-board filming.  The Eco-Star is the flagship of the Blue Hawaiian fleet, which also includes the A-Star helicopter (see diagram below). 

 

The one-hour tour, which begins at the commercial heliport at Lihue Airport, takes passengers across most of the Garden Island, affording views of areas that can only be witnessed by air or water, since roadways do not cover the entire coastline of the jagged island.  The key sights included:

*  Hanapepe Valley;
*  Mana Waiapuna, commonly referred to as “Jurassic Park Falls,” where the dramatic scene of the helicopter landing was filmed;
*  Olokele Canyon;
*  Waimea Canyon, the famed “Grand Canyon of the Pacific”;
*  Na Pali Coast gives and the legendary Bali Hai Cliffs and pristine blue waters of Hanalei Bay;
*  Princeville Resort;
*  Wailua Falls;
*  Mt Waialeale, the wettest spot on earth, with an average rainfall of 450-500 inches annually

 

Above:  We’re preparing to board the Blue Hawaiian’s Eco-Star helicopter at the Lihue Airport heliport for our aerial tour of Kauai.  Below: Pilot Cliff Cates, our very knowledgeable 26-year old pilot, provided excellent narration of the many fascinating sights during flight. 

Above:  My feet are comfortably relaxing in the front row of the helicopter (next to our pilot), while I’m busy admiring the stunning view below.  Below:  The magnificent Waimea Canyon, which is called the “Grand Canyon of the Pacific.”

Above:  One of the many beautiful waterfalls within the interior valleys of Kauai.  Below:  The dramatic cliffs of the Napali coast, along the northern side of the island, which can be viewed only by air or water. 

Above:  A view of the Princeville resort area, near Hanalei Bay.  Below: A view of Mt. Waialeale (elevation 5,148 ft.), which is reportedly the wettest spot on earth.

Below: A view of the beautiful 173-foot Wailua Falls, one of the many suppliers of water for the Wailua River, which was featured in the memorable opening sequence of the TV series “Fantasy Island” (1978-1984).

Mahalo and thank you to the professional, knowledgeable and friendly crew at Blue Hawaiian Helicopters for the wonderful aerial tour of Kauai and for granting me a seat in the front row of the helicopter.  This was my second ride with Blue Hawaiian Helicopters (following a great aerial tour of the Big Island and the volcanic eruption at Kilauea), and I highly recommend them to anyone who wants to enjoy the unique beauty of Hawaii by air. 

To visit the official website of Blue Hawaiian Helicopters or to book tours, click here.  Read more about the Eco-Star helicopter in Blue Hawaiian’s fleet by clicking here.

Photos taken: 1/18/09

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Where is that Drink?

Where is that drink?

This tall, cool drink– a Tropical Itch– was served at one of the many outdoor tables at the Barefoot Bar at Duke’s Canoe Club, located on the grounds of the Kauai Marriott Resort and Beach Club in Lihue, Kauai, overlooking Kalapaki Beach.  The bar and restaurant occupy a large two-story building, situated a few steps away from the sandy shores of Kalapaki Beach, offering unbostructed views of the beach and bay.  Duke’s is named after the legendary Hawaiian swimmer and surfer Duke Kahanamoku (1890-1968), an Olympic medalist who is widely credited with introducing the sport of surfing to the world.

The Tropical Itch is a tasty, fruity concoction made with vodka, rum, curacao, and passion-fruit juice, served over ice in a tall glass and garnished with pineapple and a bamboo back scratcher.  It’s a cool refreshing drink and a perfect accompaniment while watching the sun set behind Nawiliwili Bay.

 

To get recipes for tropical and tiki drinks, including the Tropical Itch, visit TikiDrinkRecipes.com by clicking here.

To view previous posts in the “Where is that Drink” series, click here.

Photos taken: 1/18/09

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Where is that Drink?

Where is that drink?

This great-looking “Dirty Onion” vodka martini, which is mixed with onion juice and garnished with a pepperoncini, stuffed olive and marinated onions, was served at The Beach House, the award-winning and very popular landmark restaurant located on the beach at Koloa, on Kauai’s southern shore.  In addition to its stunning location and commanding ocean views, The Beach House has been recognized as one of the top restaurants on Kauai.  Honolulu Magazine has awarded its Hale Aina Gold Award as “Best Kauai Restaurant” to The Beach House every year since 2002.

The creative menu features a large selection of fresh fish and seafood, as well as meat and poultry.  Our dinner entrees were pan-seared sea scallops, served with baby bok choy, and grilled lamb with asparagus.   

To visit the official website of The Beach House, click here.  The Beach House is open for dinner seven days a week and reservations are strongly recommended, particularly if you want to experience dinner at sunset.  Valet parking available.

To view previous posts in the “Where is that Drink” series, click here.

Photo taken: 1/17/09

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Kauai Marriott Resort

While staying on the Garden Island of Kauai, we’re guests at the Kauai Marriott Resort and Beach Club, a beautifully-landscaped, 51-acre property situated along picturesque Kalapaki Beach, about one mile from Lihue Airport near Nawiliwili Harbor.   The hotel and vacation ownership property consists of 356 guest rooms, five restaurants, a 26,000-square foot outdoor pool (one of the largest in Hawaii), and spa. 

The hotel was originally built in the early 1960’s as the Kauai Surf Hotel and was expanded and dramatically remodeled in 1987 by real-estate developer Chris Hemmeter, who reopened the hotel as The Westin Kauai, a fantasy resort and new centerpiece of an 800-acre master-planned development called Kauai Lagoons.  In 1992, the property was heavily damaged by Hurricane Iniki, a Category 4 hurricane that wreaked havoc across the Island of Kauai, resulting in over $1.8 billion in damages and six deaths.  After remaining shuttered for a while, the property was reopened as the Kauai Marriott Resort and Beach Club.  Although most of the grand, artistic flourishes of the Westin Kauai, such as the gondolas and canals, horse-drawn carriages, elaborate European-style and Asian sculptures and dramatic reflecting lake, were removed by Marriott as part of the transformation in 1992,  the property is still large and impressive.

Above:  Entrance sign to the Kauai Marriot Resort and Beach Club, along Rice Road.  Below:  We were guests in Room 969 in the Kahili Wing, one of five different wings in the complex. 

Above: Interior view of Room 969 which features a spacious lanai overlooking the large swimming pool and Kalapaki Beach.  Below:  A view the swimming pool, Kalapaki Beach and Nawiliwili Harbor from the lanai of Room 969.

Above:  A view of the signature swimming pool– one of the largest in Hawaii.  Below:  A view of the entrance to Nawiliwili Bay and Harbor, taken from the lanai of Room 969

Above:  A view of the lushly landscaped courtyard and koi ponds adjacent to the Main Lobby, which replaced the dramatic and spectacular reflecting lake at the former The Westin Kauai.  Below:  Guests gather around the ponds near the Main Lobby to watch the daily morning feeding of the koi. 

Above:  A view of the colorful, large koi clustered around the perimeter of the pond for their daily feeding.  Below: A view of a portion of the Kauai Marriott Resort and Beach Club, taken from the sea wall around Nawiwili Harbor, the island’s primary commercial harbor.

To visit the official website for the Kauai Marriott Resort and Beach Club, click here.  To visit the Marriott website and explore other properties, click here.

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Top 10 Movies 2008

UPDATED: 3/8/09

Here are my 2008 TOP 10 FAVORITE MOVIES, which are not necessarily the “best” movies.  With the exception of #1, the entries are shown in alphabetical order.

#1 (Tie) Slumdog Millionaire and WALL-E
*  Chris & Don: A Love Story
*  The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
*  The Dark Knight
*  I Loved You So Long
*  Milk
*  The Reader
*  Revolutionary Road
*  The Visitor

The runners-up were (in alphabetical order):

*  Doubt
*  Frost/Nixon
*  Gran Torino
*  Mongol
*  Roman de Gare
*  Tell No One
*  Vicky Christina Barcelona
*  The Wrestler 

To view my list of TOP 10 FAVORITE MOVIES OF ALL TIME, click here.

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Bound for Kauai

This week, I’m heading to beautiful Lihue, Kauai, HI, via United Airlines from San Francisco to Honolulu, and a connecting flight on Hawaiian Airlines from Honolulu to Lihue for a relaxing stay at the Kauai Marriott Resort and Beach Club

 

 

Come back to Jankenpon shortly for details on my adventure on Kauai.

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Acer Aspire One

 

I recently started using the new netbook, Aspire One, from Acer.  It’s a tiny, extremely-lightweight “netbook” designed for web browsing and email– and it’s quickly become my new favorite gadget.  I’m using the ZG5 model, which comes equipped with an 8.2-inch (1024X600) screen, 160GB hard drive, 1 GB RAM, and a Intel 1.6 GHz Atom processor– all packed in a easy-to-carry 2.2 pound package.  There is no DVD or CD drive; however, there are three USB ports and two memory card slots.  It also includes a built-in webcam, microphone, and wi-fi (802.11 b/g).  It’s available in several variations of hard-drive capacity, operating system (Windows XP or Linus), battery-capacity, as well as colors (sapphire blue, seashell white, black and coral pink).

Here’s a brief description of the product from the official Acer website:

In spite of its dimunitive overall size, the Acer Aspire One is remarkably easy to use and the smaller keyboard has not been cumbersome or difficult to navigate.  It’s a great solution for light traveling or day trips when your computing needs are light and your focus is on web browsing and email.  You can easily stash it in your existing backpack, briefcase, or shoulder tote.  Plus, the Aspire One is available at a remarkably low price– ranging from $300 to $400, depending on selected options.

Industry experts are predicting a boom in the netbook market in 2009, and it’s easy to understand why–   they’re functional, compact, super lightweight and inexpensive.

To download the official Acer Aspire One brochure (in PDF) from the Acer website, click here.  To read more about the Acer Aspite One from the Acer website, click here.

If you want to read a product review of the Acer Aspire One from NotebookReview.com, click here.  To order your own Acer Aspire One from Amazon.com, click here.

If you wish to read previous posts in the “Gadgets, Gizmos, Gear” category, click here.

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Today’s Quote

“The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have little.”

   –President Franklin Delano Roosevelt

To go to previous entries in the “Today’s Quote” series, click here.

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At Morro Rock

One of the highlights of the recent trip to Cambria and the San Luis Obispo coastline was a morning stop at the Morro Rock State Historic Preserve.  Morro Rock is one of “The Nine Sisters of San Luis Obispo County,” also known as the Morros–a unique set of land formations between the city of Morro Bay and the City of San Luis Obispo.  

The Nine Sisters are a series of ancient volcanic peaks which form a backdrop for the Cities of San Luis Obispo and Morro Bay on the Central Coast of California.  Forming a divider between the Los Osos Valley and Chorro Valley, these peaks extend from Islay Hill within the City of San Luis Obispo to Morro Rock, often called the sentinel of the Pacific Ocean, covering approximately 40 square miles. The peaks are aptly named the Nine Sisters because they are all in a row, and in close proximity.

Tucked away on the side of Morro Rock is a small, man-made white-sand beach that is sheltered from the Bay by large boulders and rocks.  The small beach is an excellent spot for wading or relaxing and to view Morro Rock up-close.  On the day of Peggy and Lucy’s visit, the beach was largely deserted, which allowed them to experience the beach off-leash and without disturbance.  The high winds occasionally whipped up clouds of sand, but it did not deter Peggy or Lucy from enjoying the beauty and solitude of the beach. 

Above:  The plaque identifying Morro Rock as a California Registered Historic Landmark.  Below:  The imposing profile of Morro Rock provides a dramatic and stunning landmark for Morro Bay. 

Above:  Lucy (left) and Peggy wander along the quiet, small sandy beach at the base of Morro Rock. 

Above:  The high winds lift Peggy’s ears as she gazes across the beach at Morro Rock.  She’s likely wondering if she will be able to take flight like Dumbo (pictured below) and get an even more spectacular aerial view of beautiful Morro Rock. 

To view a previous post where Lucy tries to take flight in Mendocino, click here.

To learn more about the Morro Rock State Preserve, visit the official California State Parks website by clicking here.  To visit the official website of the City of Morro Bay, click here.

 

Photos taken: 1/30/09

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Back to Cambria

Last week, I made a return visit to beautiful Moonstone Beach in Cambria, CA for a brief mid-week getaway with Peggy and Lucy in tow.  During our stay, we were return guests at the charming and pet-friendly Fog Catcher Inn, which is ideally situated along picturesque Moonstone Beach.  The weather was perfect– mid-60’s, sunny and clear during the day, and mid-40’s during the evenings.  The Fog Catcher Inn is an excellent beachside option in Cambria– comfortable and stylish room accommodations with fireplaces, reasonable prices, friendly service, complimentary breakfast, pet-welcome policy, and direct access to beautiful Moonstone Beach.

Above:  A nice welcome to beautiful Cambria.  Below:  Upon arrival, Peggy surveys the nicely-landscaped grounds of the beachside Fog Catcher Inn along Moonstone Beach in Cambria. 

Above:  Entrance to pet-friendly Room 103 at the Fog Catcher Inn.  Below:  Peggy and Lucy get their first glimpse of beautiful Moonstone Beach.

Above:  Peggy takes in the glory of Moonstone Beach perched on a fallen tree.  Nice.  Below:  Meanwhile, Lucy gazes into the blue waters along Moonstone Beach.

Above:  As sunset approaches, Peggy grabs another great view of Moonstone beach along the boardwalk.  Below:  Peggy and Lucy are quietly surveying the vast expanse of Moonstone Beach.

Above: Peggy and Lucy are taking in the glory of a beautiful sunset at Moonstone Beach.  Below:  The sun finally sets on another wonderful day in Cambria, CA.

To learn more about Cambria, visit the official website of the City of Cambria by clicking here.  To visit the Cambria Chamber of Commerce website, click here.

Photos taken: 1/29/09 to 1/30/09

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Today in History

jan-05

On January 5, 1933– 77 years ago today– constructed started on the Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco’s beloved and world-recognized bridge that connects the City of San Francsisco to Marin County.  After four years of construction, the span officially opened on May 27, 1937, the longest bridge span in the world at the time.   Today, the iconic red-painted bridge is one of the symbols of San Francisco.

golden-gate-bridge

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Today’s Quote

“The earth was made round so that one cannot see too far down the road.”

   –Karen Blixen (played by Meryl Streep) in “Out of Africa” (1985), Screenplay by Kurt Luedtke, based on and inspired by the writings and life of Karen Blixen (Isak Dinesen)

To go to previous entries in the “Today’s Quote” series, click here.

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Today’s Quote

“What we call the beginning is often the end.  And to make an end is to make a beginning.  The end is where we start from.”

   –T.S. Eliot

To go to previous entries in the “Today’s Quote” series, click here.

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Welcoming 2009

Revelers around the world celebrated the arrival of the New Year with public displays of fireworks and lights.  Here are some of my favorite images from different cities as they welcome 2009.

FROM VIENNA, AUSTRIA…

FROM KUALA LUMPUR, MALAYSIA…

FROM JAKARTA, INDONESIA…

FROM HONG KONG…

FROM RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL…

Photo Credits: The Los Angeles Times, except Rio de Janeiro, Credit: The New York Times

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