….And She Keeps Moving Onward

Life moves onward at lightning fast pace. She keeps moving onward with many new adventures and many new discoveries along the way. My Nana this month turned eighty and to be honest, she doesn’t even look eighty! Also this month had me moving to a whole new apartment in the Edmonds area instead of Seattle.

Mom and I started our little road trip at 6:15am to beat the Seattle weekday traffic. It ended up being for nothing since there was a lot of traffic by that time. Even when we hit Portland, we were stuck in Portland’s traffic trying to get into to the city and getting out. I think Portland has just as crazy traffic as Seattle, but a very confusing road system with bridges, exits and splits in the middle of freeway. It took a whole lot of contraction to get into the correct lane for south bound I5. After Portland it was nothing but farms, fields, little towns, and a whole lot of mountain driving with trees.

Before going to Nana’s house, Mom and I took a detour to Eagle Point to get some pancake mix at the old Butte Creek Mill. I have grown up on their stone ground pancake mix and have compared all pancake mix to it. I decided to pick up some mix since Michael has heard me rave about this mix and wanted to try for himself why I love it so much (keep you posted on this).  The mill is one of five working water powered grist mills still operating in the US. I remember as a kid going to the general store they have in the mill and buying candy and other treats from the nice old ladies who run the shop. To this day I still make a pilgrim to this place for the all the goodies. After the mill stop, Mom and I drove up to the VA Cemetery to visit Grandad and Grandpa. Oh boy, what a disappointment. As the one of the grounds keepers said, the contractor who was doing major construction work on the grounds walked off the job and left half of the cemetery in a shamble. Poor Grandad’s resting place was a complete mess with all of the grass gone and chips in the stone marker. The grounds keeper did say they hired a new contractor to finish up the work and should have all of it done by the end of July. I just hope so.

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Butte Creek Mill

Next day was Nana’s eightieth birthday.

For Nana’s birthday dinner we all went up to Mount Ashland to Callahan’s Mountain Lodge. The view and the place was gorgeous as can be. These places hold dear memories for the family because this is where my parents got engaged. The sad part is, the Callahan’s my parents knew sadly burned to the ground in 1996 and was rebuilt to what it looks like today. We had our dinner of the outdoor deck in the cool mountain breeze and the wonderful sunshine with a view of Cascade Mountain range in the background. I ended up going with the Prime Rib Stroganoff for dinner. A very rich dish with having all the extra butter dollop on the top of the mount of noodles. I don’t think I made a real dent into the mount of noodles and rib, as I would have liked (guilty with the bread basket!). This is the only place I have ever been that I can see me affording duck or veal menu item. In Seattle just an ounce of meat would start you at $50.00. Going back to Ashland later that night, we took the old route 99 road. This road goes from Northern California to BC Canada. There was lots of hairpin turns with straight drops over sides of the road without any guard rails. Just imagine driving this road before the interstate was built.

Then the big day came and it was full of surprises. First the cake that was ordered was huge, bigger than the Costco cakes you can order. The whole cake took up the backseat of Nana’s car and the icing was starting to slide off the cake in some areas from how heavy the cake was. The look on both my Aunts’ faces were priceless when they realized that the cake was the size of four sheet cakes put together and two sheet cakes thick! By the time we served all the guests at the party there was still sixty percent of the cake left, and after cleaning up the room we rented at the Holiday Inn, we gave a whole bunch of cake slices to the hotel staff to enjoy. Later Mom and I saved a piece of cake each for Dad and Michael. Fifty near and dear to Nana showed up to celebrate her special day, and I captured every one of them with Nana. Overall the day turned out to be a great day, and we all sigh of relief when it was all done. Next day it was back into the car for another eight hours of driving back to Seattle.

Few weeks later I moved into a new apartment in Edmonds. For a while now I have been very unhappy with the place I was at. When I first moved in it seem a decent place to live, but by the end of October of last year, things started going down hill in a way that would make the most sane person feel like they are going insane. I know apartment life can be stressful at times, but there was a constant stress about living there that was not normal situation. By the time I moved out of the apartment complex there as a whole new management company starting to set things right. Too bad, I already gave my notice. The move when smoother then I expected with getting all my stuff packed into U- Haul and unpacked into the new placed with in three hours. I will chalk it up to packing all my stuff in boxes long before the day of the move. The new place is a little bit older than the apartment I came from. The appliances in the kitchen are older (the stove does not even have a timer!), and the place is smaller but more cozy and well laid out. Also it is much more quiet then the other place in Seattle. I am hoping to stay more than just a year if possible. I’m done moving for now.

 

 

Oahu’s Windward Coast Vacation | Days 12-15 (Last Days)

Updated: 12/2017

Day 12: Zip lining & Beach

Zipping through the palm tree tops! Three rides 1,200 ft! At first when I saw how far off the ground I was going to be, I started freaking out. I’m not afraid of heights, but it looked to be very scary. Now that I tried it, I will be doing it again. The morning started off with a down pour for five minutes, then cleared up long enough to take three rides down. The first two rides were with Mom , and then the last one was just me by myself. Once I got through the first one, I was fine to take the last two rides down. It was very short ride, and so I recommend getting at least more than one ride to really experience the zip line. I now can add this to my life experience list and hope to try out the one near home called Wild Life Trex near Seattle. The rest of the day was spent at the beach again just relaxing.

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zipping along

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me zipping along

Day 13: Marine Base Crazy & Last minute stuff

Another relaxing day getting last-minute stuff done before we leave for home. Took on last trip to the Marine base to do some last-minute shopping at the Exchange. When I stepped outside the store I saw a new sign that appeared in front of the doors. Apparently the new base commander is trying to keep the unmentionable people from “polluting” the base and disrespecting the military environment. So just imagine the pictures you see on People of Wal-Mart website and you have a good picture of what was posted on this sign. These were the things that are not allowed to be worn when on base. I really could see why the commander is doing this and why he doesn’t like half-naked people walking around base when not in uniform. The whole time I was on base (even Bellows had a dress code in their commons areas) I never say anyone out of uniform looking like a bum.  I just go some Hawaiian theme stuff to take back to Seattle at the Exchange.

Relaxed on base for a bit and started to see Man of Wars washed up on the beach. Remembering there was a full moon when we got to Hawaii and five days later the jelly fishes started to appear, every time we walked the beach we had to make sure to watch where we stepped or else get stung by the blue tentacles. Later that evening we all went out with my cousin one last time to a small local pizza place in Kilua.  The place was busy with locals stopping in to grab a slice of pizza or a whole pizza for dinner. The pizzas are huge at Bob’s Pizzeria, and so a whole pizza can easy be shared with five people. I had two big slices which amounted to four small slices.

Now here is a funny story in a way to share….When we went to drop off my cousin at the Marine base, we did not go through the main gate as we have in the past, but he back gate where the housing is. A huge mistake because when we pulled up and my cousin showed his ID, the guard at the gate wanted everyone’s ID. Apparently there is a huge crack down at night due to a Marine sneaking a prostitute on base a few weeks back and getting caught. Also the guard in a moment of putting his boot in his mouth made it almost clear that he thought Nana, Mom and I were prostitutes! Nana and Mom felt offended, but for me I just though “oh thanks for letting me know I look like one.” As I was stating in above paragraph, the commander of the base is really on a crack down. We did drop my cousin off at his barrack without anymore trouble from the Marine Security Force.

Day 14: Sea Turtles

Our last full day in Hawaii. We did some last-minute shopping again and packed up our bags for our afternoon flight back to Seattle. Walked the beach one last time (ok a few times). While on one of our walks we saw a group of sea turtles swimming along the beach. A half a mile down there is a little cove where the waves are strong and the turtles get stuck in. All three turtles tried their hardest to swim back out to sea, but kept getting swept back into the rocks. At one point one came very close to some kids in the water and freaked them out along with the poor turtle. I believe the three turtles did get out when the waves calmed down a bit.

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While packing for the trip home, I realized I had bought a lot of Hawaiian food. Hmm…I think I will need it when friends come over for tea and a Hawaiian short bread macadamia nut cookies.

Day 15: Going Home

Going to the airport was crazy stressful adventure. Why? Because 1) my suitcase all of sudden put on weight, 2) security check point was a mad house and I thought for sure I was going to throw my shoe at TSA (Sea-Tac has it down to a science), 3) USDA inspection line was crazy! Poor Nana had to be patted down because she set off the metal detector and her sleep machine had residue of liquid in it. Really just wanted to get on the plane and get to Seattle without anymore stuff happening. The flight was six hours as usual. The only crazy part was landing in Seattle after a huge windstorm came through. Overall, the six-hour flight went off without much stuff happening. When I left Seattle for Hawaii the temperature was 70 degrees F, when I came back it was 50 degrees F and a storm blowing through. Just shows how much the weather changes within two weeks of being gone. I still look at my phone’s weather app for Bellows to see what the weather is at the moment. I miss the warmth, but Seattle did have a wonderful summer with all the sunny hot weather we had. I can’t complain.

I really enjoyed my two-week adventure on Oahu Hawaii. I will of course return to the islands again in the near future. I think the next island to visit is Kauai or Big Island. I am glad I had the chance to see my cousin while he is stationed at K-Bay, and hope he has a great time while there.  I loved not having to do all the touristy things this time. I really got to see the island from a different perspective. I know now all the main freeways, and know which major highways lead to where. Great to stay somewhere other than Waikiki for a change. I really got to see the beauty of the island without the sky scrapers in the way. I still would love to hike up Diamond Head since I did not get the chance this time. I guess I will be making a return visit again.

Mahalo for reading about my adventure in Hawaii! Hope you enjoy Hawaii really soon.

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Ohau’s Windward Coast Vacation| Day# 11 (Punch Bowel & Hawaiian Plantation Village)

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Updated: 12/2017

Now at this point you may have figured out I have some connection to the military. I grew up with its presence in my life, and it has shaped a part of me. I have great respect for the military and those who sacrificed for this country. A few years ago I had the chance to visit the USS Arizona Memorial and USS Missouri with a choir group I was in high school with. This time I wanted to visit one last dedication to the Pacific Fleet.

Eight years ago I visited the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, “Punch Bowl” with the choir group I was with. I never had the chance to step off the bus and take a closer look at the memorial part, but looked out a tour bus window as it hurried through the cemetery. Now on a stormy gray day in Hawaii, I had the chance to see it without the tinted glass. When we were there, it had a very quiet peaceful stillness that made the whole experience worth while.

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Tiled battle Map
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Lookout over the Cemetery
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Angle of Freedom
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Chapel Dedication Wall
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Memorial Wall

From one end to the other, the tile maps detailed all the important campaigns from WWII to Desert Storm. Each representing all branches of the military involved in these key battles. Chapel was filled with flowers dedicated to all those whose grave is only known to God, and a dedication to took place a few hours before we arrived. On the outside walls are the names of those who’s remains were never found, buried overseas, and those who remain missing in action or prisoners of war. Each name represents the cost of freedom and cost of sacrifice one makes for country.

Later that day we headed to the Hawaiian Plantation Village Museum. I will admit this, I like anything historical since every car trip with my Granddad resulted in stopping at least one historical marker or attraction along the way. But for some reason I found this place a little boring. I don’t know if it was just the tour guide or I was getting tired of the slow pace of things. This don’t mean I would not recommend it to anyone because I believe it is still a place to visit. To fill you in Hawaii is multicultural identification has its roots in sugar plantations of the early 1800s. Up until the 1960s the sugar plantations of Hawaii thrived (think back to Dole Pineapple Plantations). In the 1800s to the 1960s plantation owners recruited Chinese, Filipinos, Europeans, Puerto Ricans , Native Hawaiians, Japanese, and Koreans into working for the plantations. The museum tour showed the many different distinctive houses each generation of plantation workers and their heritage had. Also showed how each plantation was run depending on what its main crop was. Most of the volunteer tour guides has some background in the sugar plantations. Ours had parents who worked in the fields, and he too had worked for the same sugar plantation as his parents did. He said many generations of plantation workers worked until the closing of sugar plantations in the 1960s. Some had six generations all worked for the same plantation.

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Disclaimer: All links are for reference and are in no way affiliate links. I do not receive or am paid for promotion on products mentioned in this post.

 

Oahu’s Windward Coast Vacation | Day #10 (North Shore)

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Update: 12/2017

Day ten was all about our adventure along the north part of Windward Coast and the North Shore. Last time in Hawaii I only got as far as Laie (Polynesian Cultural Center) so naturally I wanted to see the other small surfing towns along the Kamehameha highway.

Our first stop was at the Tropical Farms where they grow some of the famous macadamia nuts. Inside their store, there are tons of macadamia nut products. Any possible flavor roasted with the macadamia nuts can be sampled. The ones I liked were the garlic (theses are very garlicky and if you want to kiss someone, make sure they to had some too.), cinnamon sugar (very sugary), plain roasted, coffee roasted, and jalapeno spiced nuts. Also for the first time I tried the macadamia flavored Kona coffee which is the bomb with macadamia milk! Starbucks cannot compete! I wonder where I can find this coffee in Seattle? I will have to check this out. Tropical Farms is also one of those touristy stops, so I still recommend coming early to have the chance of seeing the farm without the crowds. To bad we did not have the chance to go on the farm tour since we did get there an hour after they opened. But I still had the chance to cracks some nuts! Apparently to crack a macadamia nut the native Hawaiian way you pry open the hard woody nut casing to reveal a lighter colored nut shell. Then using an old tree stump and a good size heavy rock you whack the nut with the rock until the casing splits open to reveal a white fleshy inside-the macadamia nut. The process is close to un-shelling peanuts. I did open my nut with only one whack of the rock, but I did mash the inside a bit.

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Nut + rock = macadamia nut!
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Hard outer shell
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Macedonian nut
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Cracking my nut

A mile down the road we stopped at the Kualoa Beach Park in Kualoa to see the small island off the island called Chinaman’s Hat (Mokolii Island). This park affords a great view of the Pacific ocean, Kaneoha Bay, Chinaman’s Hat and the Ko’olau Mountain Range ( setting for lots of movies and TV show back drops). Across the road from the park is the famous Kualoa Ranch where Jurassic Park was filmed.

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We stopped for lunch in Kahuka for the famous garlic shrimp plates that are famous in this part of the island. Two years ago while driving up to the North Shore, there was a little shrimp stand that sold plated lunches called Titia’s Grill (CORRECTION: This place is permanently closed.). Outside this town there are huge shrimp farms where they harvest shrimp for the whole Oahu Island. And really there is no difference between farm grown or wild grown shrimp. I recommend  this place for lunch or dinner and try any of their shrimp plates especially their garlic shrimp!

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As we continued along Kamehameha highway towards Haleiwa we stopped at Sunset Beach. This beach has a little secret. This beach is said to have Sea Turtles coming up on the shore and lay to the beach. To bad this time when we went there were no sea turtles lying on the beach. I would love to say the turtles knew when the tour buses came and so scurried back to the water, but the life guard said most of the time the turtles were either on the beach at sunrise or sunset.  When we pulled into this beach’s parking lot there was not a bus insight. Come out of the bathroom two minutes later, the parking lot looked like chaos! Goes to show how anything in Hawaii can change in a blink of an eye 🙂 .

An hour later we pulled into the town of Haleiwa, the surf capital of the world. The beaches were packed with surfers, snorkelers and paddlers enjoying the surf. The waves were not as much monsters yet because it was still summer, and winter is when the huge waves usually came into play for surfers. Since I was in the North Shore area, I had to try the famous local shaved ice treat. So where did I go? To the famous Matsumoto Grocery Store for the rainbow shaved ice. The picture looks like the shaved ice must be a large, but this is the smallest they had. At this point I figured all things in Hawaii are done big, and never small. This motto suited me just fine. At $2.50 a pop, I thoroughly enjoyed it! Having it run down my legs trying to eat it, and having the stick sweet mess all over my hands brought the child out of me again. Matsumoto is not the only place in town that sells shaved ice, but this place is the most famous and popular spot to try one. As you see from the picture below, there are many different flavors you can order. All those flavor combinations, and do I want ice cream or azuki beans on top of the ice? I will have to come back to find out next time I’m there.

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Rainbow Cone
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What’s your Flavor?

At this point I still was not done with ice anything. Just up the road from Matsumoto is a little ice cream parlor called Scoop of Paradise. Oh man, sorry Dave’s Ice cream, this place has the best ice cream so far on the island. Ice cream here is made from real cream like the Italian ice cream which makes this ice cream creamy and rich. Chocolate Macadamia nut and Pineapple Cheese cake were the flavors I tried together.

A few hours later we all head out-of-town towards Bellows AFS. On our way back I wanted to stop at the Fine Ass Chocolates and Coffee place right off the highway (CORRECTION: the shop is now permanently closed as of 2017 at all locations). The famous “Donkey” balls chocolates are sold. Just the name of the place sounded bad ass! I bought some chocolates called “Dirty” balls and “Flaky” balls in dark chocolate. I did try the “Fire” balls which has pepper flakes it the middle. The major hit for the family is the Flaky balls with coconut in the middle.

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Disclaimer: All links mentioned in this post are for further reference and are in no way affiliate links. I do not receive nor am paid for promotion of any products mentioned in this post.