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Oahu Day 2: Go West!

sunny 76 °F

We slept in today as we were pretty tired from our previous day of travel. Dad got up first and went out to explore while I got ready. He had a nice walk along Waikiki Beach but got a bit lost on his way back to the hotel. Thankfully he asked a helpful stranger for directions and made his way back to our hotel.

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Our cousin/great nephew West Andrade is a freshman here in Honolulu at the University of Hawaii. We were thrilled to be able to meet up with him while on our trip. Our friend Fr. EJ had suggested a restaurant for lunch. We took him up on the suggestion and were so glad we did! We picked West up and drove to the pier and to a place called Nico's at Pier 38. It was a really cool spot. We had interesting views of the port and saw cargo ships being loaded and unloaded. The restaurant itself has both a fish market and dining area. The weather was very nice, not muggy and pleasantly sunny with a nice breeze. We chose a spot on the patio and ordered our lunch.

I had clam chowder in a sourdough bread bowl. There was delicious chunks of fresh fish in the chowder and the bread was yummy. My Dad had seafood pasta and West chose the chicken katsu.

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We had a leisurely lunch and greatly enjoyed hearing all about West's time here on Oahu so far. He told us all about student life and his classes as well as how it has been getting around the city. All of the freshmen are given bus passes when they arrive so he and his friends are now very familiar with public transportation. He said it is a good system and can easily get around the city. We were so happy to be able to catch up with West and to hear he is all settled in at the university. One of the best parts of being in a big family is being able to spend time with each other both near and far.

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We dropped West back at his dorm and decided to explore a spot that was recommended to us ahead of our trip.

Waiola Shave Ice is a well known spot. It started as a mom-and-pop grocery store in the 1940's and in the 1970's they opened up a window to sell shave ice out of. We shared a jumbo shave ice with three flavors: guava, lilikoi (passion fruit), and lime.

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Afterwards we decided to drive north for a bit to get out of the city. We drove for about half an hour enjoying the sunset and stopped at park for a view before full darkness.

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When we got back to our hotel we decided to go for a walk before dinner. We walked along a paved path around a lagoon and to Waikiki Beach. It was very beautiful to see the water even at night and all of the resorts lit up. The path was lined with tiki torches and we stopped at a bench to enjoy some Koloa rum punch we had purchased at the Foodland grocery store yesterday.

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After our drink we walked a bit more to a restaurant at the Hilton called Tropics Bar & Grill. We sat on the patio and shared a sampler of shrimp, spicy Korean glazed chicken wings, and bbq ribs. It was delicious!

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We had a very friendly waitress who surprised us with the house speciality dessert of Ube cheesecake. Ube is a purple yam. When she brought out the cheesecake she started singing Happy Birthday to us and an Australian couple at the next table joined in her serenade. They all clapped when done singing as we made a wish and blew out the candles. We were happy to see our birthday luck continuing!

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We had a nice visit with the Australian couple, it turns out they were on their honeymoon. We wished them well and walked back to our hotel.

We enjoyed our first full day on Oahu. We are having so many laughs and I feel so lucky to be able to be sharing this special time with my dad.

Posted by danielcatherine 03:03 Archived in USA Tagged west seafood rum cheesecake shave_ice birthday_freebies Comments (1)

Maui and Kaua’i Day 14: Parakeet Invasion

sunny 87 °F

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Hilary and Darryl took their kids out to Salt Pond Beach, and the rest of us went to Kalapaki Beach, where Daniel’s mom, his grandma, and Catherine had lunch at Duke’s and Daniel and his dad went kayaking. It was a beautiful day and the bay was very clear and perfect. There were people riding an outrigger canoe, a lot of surfers and paddle boarders, and people swimming by the beach.
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The Norwegian Cruise Lines Pride of America was pulling out of the harbor as we left. It was amazing to see such a large ship in the bay.
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Daniel and his dad joined the group for lunch at Dukes.
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Us at Kalapaki Beach.
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On our way back to the house we decided to do the Koloa Rum tasting. It was amazingly good. We learned that the Koloa Rum Company is actually still growing sugar cane to make their rum.
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The rest of Daniel’s family went to the Smith Family Luau, while we had a date night at The Beach House in Poipu. Daniel got Catherine this beautiful multi-colored plumeria.
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Our reservation was for 7:30, so we were able to watch the sunset from the lawn.
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Some views as we waited for sunset.
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Just as the sky was really turning pink we started to hear a lot of birds chirping and flying overhead. At first we didn’t think much of it. Then we noticed a lot of little green parakeets in the trees. Those were the birds coming in!
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The beautiful sky at sunset!
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The famous Monkeypod Mai Tai from the Beach House.
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Our delicious meal, including a strawberry cream pie for dessert.
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Another wonderful day in Kauai!

Posted by danielcatherine 02:49 Archived in USA Tagged kayak kauai rum luau poipu beach_house kalapaki parakeets Comments (0)

Hawaii Day 4: Pineapple Princess and the House of the Sun

sunny 86 °F

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This morning we got ready (with delicious banana bread from the luau for breakfast) and drove to Hali'imaile for the Maui Pineapple Tour. The Maui Gold Pineapple is grown on Maui, and the growers are the last pineapple plantation in Hawaii, and thus the United States (since pineapples aren't grown commercially in other states). While people often associate Dole with Hawaii, in fact Dole pineapples come from Dole's plantation in Costa Rica. The company that is currently growing Maui Gold mostly supplies the market in Hawaii (in fact, we've hardly seen any pineapples that aren't Maui Gold), but they do send twenty percent of their pineapples to the mainland, especially the West Coast.
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The tour guide (one of the two best pineapple plantation tour guides in America, as he pointed out...they have two guides...) drove us over from the distillery (more on that later) to the pineapple packing house. These two pineapples were the first harvested pineapples we saw, although many more were to come.
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Crates of pineapples. These are shipped by boat to the mainland or to other islands, or by truck around Maui.
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Putting on our hairnets to tour the packing house, which was made harder by the fiercly-blowing trade winds.
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Pineapples rolling down the line to be washed and inspected. It was amazing to see the process.
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Fashionable hairnets!
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They sort the pineapples by size and by color. Fully golden pineapples are too ripe for transportation, so they go to the distillery and the winery to make wine, vodka, and gin. Small ones are separated from the crowns and softened in the sun to feed to livestock. The crowns are used to plant new pineapples! The fully green ones that are large enough go to the mainland, and the half-green half-gold ones stay in Hawaii (they are the ripest and best tasting, but are too ripe to make it to the mainland). The company only wastes a tiny percentage of pineapples: they don't harvest unless they already have a buyer for the batch they are harvesting.
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The sorting chart that they use to determine where each pineapple ends up.
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Every person on the tour received a box of carryon luggage-approved pineapples. They last a week, so we will have to eat ours before we leave. We'll buy more to take home with us.
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The cold storage room where the pineapples are kept. The different labels show where they are bound. There is even some pineapple mash fermenting for use in the distillery across the street (the tour guide said a person with a straw could have "a good time" in the cold storage area.)
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Daniel in the cold storage area.
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The tour guide, Steve, drove us through the pineapple fields. The pineapple did not originate in Hawaii, but rather in Brazil. It's natural pollinator is the hummingbird, but there are no hummingbirds in Hawaii which allows the plants to develop seedless fruit. It takes eighteen months to two years for one pineapple to grow. They have fields at all levels of ripeness, to keep up supply for year-round demand. However, he did mention that there are upswings in demand around holidays, especially summer holidays like Fourth of July. Sometimes weather conditions result in the early or late ripening of some pineapples: it is typically not worth re-harvesting a field to look for these, although he said that they sometimes have volunteers glean for leftover pineapples for shelters and other care facilities. The fields are beautiful and unique-looking: they look like absolute chaos, but Steve insisted that they are in perfect rows when planted, and that it is the subsequent growth that leads to the chaos. He also said that the workers can plant thousands in a day and get paid a piece rate. Most of the workers are Filipino-American, and are rather elderly. However, he did say that with the piece rate they are some of the best-paid agricultural workers, so it is conceivable that they will be able to replace these workers when they retire.
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As we drove through the fields Steve taught us this song, and had us sing it along with the CD he had. Catherine loved it.
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Pineapple Princess (pineapple shirt, earrings, and necklace, and holding a pineapple.)
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Steve showed us how pineapples are picked and cut a few to show us what the different ripeness levels taste like. He described the riper ones that are sold in the Hawaii market as tasting a little bit like coconut, and having a "piña colada" flavor. He kept opening pineapples and letting us taste a wide variety. Eventually he started back to the bus. We still wanted to taste pineapples, and he handed us the one he was holding.
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Preparing pineapples...
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...and enjoying them!
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Among the pineapples.
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The tour guide suggested a restaurant...the restaurant affiliated with the company! It was actually delicious, and a beautiful setting across from our next tour. The restaurant is in what was once the general store for the area. It is still called the general store, but is a restaurant.
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We split a kalua pork enchilada pie with mole sauce. It was absolutely delicious.
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Next, we visited Hali'imaile Distilling Company. Their most famous product is Pau Vodka, which is made from Maui Gold pineapples but doesn't have any pineapple flavor (it is not a flavored vodka--although they do sell those--but a pure vodka made from fermented pineapples. These barrels are full of their Paniolo Whiskey (a paniolo is a cowboy, thus the elaborate cowboy-style mustaches on the barrels).
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The Quonset hut where the distilling takes place.
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Some of the operations inside of the distillery.
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The glass stills where they are distilling the fermented pineapple into pure alcohol to make the vodka. They water it down to 40% before bottling.
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More of the distillery. The second picture shows the fermenting pineapple juice.
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The tanks of Pau Vodka and Sammy's Beach Bar Rum (which is owned by Sammy Hagar and made from Maui sugarcane. The only problem is that the only company still making sugarcane on Maui just closed down their operations). After the tour we had a tasting. Because the distillery was not a bar they were only allowed to give us each three small taste. They had many options: oak-aged vodka, flavored vodka, vodka mixed with cognac, gin, whiskey, various rums, etc. We each tried a variety. After the tour, we drove up to the town of Makawao, which is famous for its cowboy history. Catherine's dad wondered how far we were from the road to the top of Haleakala. As it happened, we were quite near, and so we started up the mountain.
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Some views as we drove up the mountain.
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The drive up the mountain is somewhat nerve-wracking for the driver. The passengers can see how the mountain slopes down into the clouds, but from the driver's perspective it looks like a sheer drop from the side of the cliff. Also, as we got higher and higher the air became noticeably thinner. We stopped at this pull-out to look at the view and feel the cool air. It was almost cold, and extremely windy.
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Some pictures of us at the pullout.
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The top of Haleakala. This structure is at the summit and provides amazing views and shelter from the wind. It is a beautiful place to see the crater and over the water.
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There is an observatory near the summit that is operated by the military in conjunction with the University of Hawaii. The top of Haleakala is one of the best places for astronomical observation in the world.
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Can you believe we were all the way up there?
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From the summit you can see the Island of Hawaii, the Big Island. If you measure from the bottom of the ocean, Haleakala itself is larger than Mt. Everest, and Mauna Kea on the Big Island is the largest mountain in the world.
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The crater of the volcano. Haleakala means "house of the sun" and there are legends about the sun living or being imprisoned in this crater.
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More views from the summit.
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Anthony and Daniel on top of the mountain.
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We then drove down. The top of the mountain seemed so far away. We headed back to the hotel and had dinner by the poolside, played cards with Katie and Anthony. It was a wonderful day.

Posted by danielcatherine 02:14 Archived in USA Tagged sun pineapples vodka observatory rum princess distillery whiskey haleakala hali'imaile makawao Comments (1)

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