A Little Geography Lesson

I don’t know about you, but when I think of the location of the Hawaiian Islands I tend to think of it as smack dab in the middle of the Pacific Ocean due west of California.

However, it is actually a little bit further south than “due west of California.”  Okay, quite a bit south of “due west of California.”

The Hawaiian Islands lie just below of the Tropic of Cancer–so if you want a “due west of” think Southern Mexico. To put it in USA geography terms, Key West (the Southernmost point in the continental United States) lies north of the Tropic of Cancer.  In fact, Hawaii is so remote that it is not even considered part of the North American continent (see the map from World Atlas below)!

USA map

The reason I’m mentioning this is because we decided to split our trip to the Big Island by spending a couple of nights in Kona and then a night in Hilo.  April & I were in charge of selecting the route and finding fun things to do along the way to Hilo.  We opted for the Southern Route, which afforded us options to drive through the mountainous terrain of Kona, the overlook of Kealakekua Bay (where the fate of Captain Cook was decided), the volcano lava fields, the Mauna Loa macadamia nut company, a green sand beach, and the actual southernmost point in the United States.

After we left Greenwell Farms, we headed south down the main “highway.”  Actually, highway was a bit of a stretch–much like our “yacht” in Greece.  Winding, narrow two lane road is a bit more accurate, but it was scenic, so we didn’t care!  Or perhaps Tracy did, since he was the one driving….but we girls didn’t mind one bit!  😉

Our first stop came only a few minutes down the road when we drove by the South Kona Fruit Stand.  We decided that smoothies were the perfect thing for our trip south, along with some very interesting fruit we had never heard of…or heard of but never tried, like lilikoi, star fruit, and dragon fruit!

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With smoothies in hand and fruit in the trunk, we continued south along the Mamalahoa Highway taking in the picturesque coastline views on one side and the lush mountain on the other side.  Our next destination was Nā‘ālehu, home to both a green sand beach (more about that later) and Ka Lae, the southernmost point on the Big Island, which is the southernmost island, thus is the southernmost point in the United States.

Why, yes, I do like saying southernmost–thankyouverymuch!

So we turned off the “highway” onto an even smaller road and wound our way here and there whilst following signs to the green sand beach and Ka Lae.  We actually went to the beach first but it is deserving of its own post.  After our trek to the beach, we stopped at Ka Lae for a glimpse of what seemed to be the edge of the world.

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For those of you who would love the chance to jump off the edge of the world, there was even a platform–and a group of people willing.

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And just in case you didn’t feel like scaling the steep wall back up or drifting out to sea (although I don’t see why not, after all the Kiribati Atolls are only 1200 miles away!), there was even a ladder to help you.

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I peeked over and decided I was perfectly happy not jumping and drifting off to sea and/or climbing the ladder of death back up.

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A few more quick shots and then we were on our way–having crossed off another item on our Hawaiian to-do list!

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The Price of Freedom

Today we give thanks and celebrate all the men and women who have fought to protect our freedoms and our values–and it has been a very tough week for that.

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If you don’t mind, I’m going to do something I rarely do publicly and share my thoughts.  If you do mind, you should stop reading now because I can guarantee you that you’re probably not going to like what I have to say.  If you’re not sure, read on–I can assure you that while you may not agree with me, I’ve done my best to keep my thoughts respectful and if you’re going to weigh in, I ask you to do the same.

For the last year, I have watched people that I know and love spout some truly hateful things on social media and I let them because while the 2nd Amendment of our Constitution tends to get a lot of air time, it is the FIRST Amendment, which allows us freedom of speech.  We get to debate and argue and disagree openly.  We get to love, we get to hate and it is all okay because we are extremely lucky enough to be born in a place were we are allowed that privilege.

Yesterday someone I love said the following words: you lost, get over it.  And it made me so angry because he did not get it.  He did not understand why people are upset and protesting–and even more frustrating is that he did not make any attempt to understand.  All I wanted to do was reach through the phone and smack the shit out of him.  But I refrained, mostly because I couldn’t actually reach through the phone…

I didn’t lose.  I voted.  My voice was heard.  I can’t say that I’m shocked that the Republican Party won: political history usually shows that when a President serves for 8 years the next election usually goes to the other party.  It is what keeps our country moving forward.  It is how the other voices are heard and that is a good thing.  I truly believe that.

The Republicans pulled off a political upset that will be talked about for as long as America is a country, and maybe even longer than that.  What I am upset about is that it came at a very high price.  It came with whom they chose to be their leader, to be our next President.   I am not upset that the conservatives won, I am upset because they chose someone who openly makes fun of people who are different and promises to ban them from this country and/or punish them for being different.

I absolutely get that they did not want to vote for Hillary.  I absolutely get that they are extremely dissatisfied and distrustful with politicians and all the political bullshit that comes out of Washington.  I get that it would have been so hard to vote against their party, which they supported and believed in the majority of their lives.

I share these sentiments with them and I will happily discuss, debate, and brainstorm ideas to overcome the distrust and disenchantment with our current political system.

But I truly do not understand how anyone could support someone so hateful, so racist, and so misogynistic.  There were other options, but it was the person with the most amount of hate who won.  I do not understand that and I don’t know that I ever will.  I have always chosen to see the good in people and what this week has shown me is that a lot people in this country are not capable of doing the same.

You are entitled to your beliefs and your vote, as I am to mine.  But like you, I am also allowed to speak my mind and in the spirit of fairness, if you want me to listen to your side, you will listen to mine.  I am allowed to be upset; I am allowed to be angry; I am allowed to be worried for the direction where our country may be heading.

You cannot tell me that if your daughter, sister, mother, aunt, cousin, best friend came to you and said that a man grabbed her inappropriately (pussy is the word President-Elect Trump used), you would just let it go. And yet whether you meant for it to do so, if you voted for Trump that is what your vote has said.

America is a nation of immigrants.  If you are not 100% Native American or Native Hawaiian, then you are from a family of immigrants.  And ever since the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock, these shores have welcomed people seeking freedom from persecution, usually religious persecution because again our FIRST Amendment allows us the freedom to practice the religion that we want.  But if you voted for Trump, whether you meant for it to do so or not, your vote said that this no longer matters.

The second paragraph of The Declaration of Independence begins with:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

We have spent the last 200 hundred years moving in the direction that all men and women could and would be treated equally, regardless of whom they believe their Creator to be.

People are angry and protesting because as a country, we elected a new President who has openly stated that “all men” equals white, rich, straight, Christian men.  Not even white, rich, straight, Christian women get to be equal because our new President has said that it is okay to treat women like they are property and he will punish any woman who wants to control what happens to her body.

On Election Night–or rather at 1am the following morning–I was on the phone with my BFF and she asked in earnest “What are we going to do?”  I couldn’t give her a good answer because I was too saddened by the history that I was watching and the backsliding of our country 50, perhaps 60, years.

We have seen a lot of hate and we have seen a lot of violence and never once has it solved anything.  So, BFF and anyone else wondering, what we’re going to do is this:

We are going to continue to fight to protect our freedoms and our values that so many have fought and died protecting.

We are going to continue to standup for those being persecuted for their beliefs, their religion, whom they love, how they look, or any other reason that makes them a target.

We are going to respect the office of the Presidency and our new President, BUT we are also going to push Congress and remind the Supreme Court of their duties to moderate the Office of the President.

We are not going to abandon hope.

We are going to hold our new President accountable for the promises of unity that he made in his victory speech by consistently reminding him that we are a nation of immigrants and every last man, woman, and child matter–despite the color of their skin, whom they love, where they were born, and what their beliefs are.

That is how we all win.  That is how we all move forward.  That is how we all can truly make America great again.

Have Wine? Will Travel!

This month’s wine writing challenge is TRAVEL, as selected by last month’s winner: the hilarious and enlightening Loie of Cheap Wine Curious.

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Of course, my first thought was to write about Napa, the first place I traveled for wine–but then I remembered I’ve already written about my trip and since I haven’t had the chance to go back, there’s nothing new to report.

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Then I thought about allllllll the places in France and Italy I passed through many, many moons (aka decades) ago that I’d love to go back and visit now that I have a true appreciation for the beauty and intricacies of champagnes and burgundies and amarones (ohmy!)–but then I realized that this post may never end.

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So then I thought about all the amazing Texas Hill Country wineries around where I grew up, which seemed apropos since I’m traveling (see what I did there?) down there at the end of the week–but then I realized that I should wait and do a bit of exploring of all the new wineries that have popped up since the last time I visited.

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Then I thought about cleverly describing how going to the wine store is like traveling around the world–but about the same moment that idea popped into my head, so did another:

Hawaiian Mead.

I know, I know you’re probably thinking “no, no…go back to writing about the wine store/traveling the world idea!”  But nope!  Hang on to your hats, we’re traveling to Hawaii!

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If you know me in real life or follow me on InstagramTwitter, or Facebook (shameless plug!), you will know that last September I went to Hawaii with some amazing friends.  While on the stunningly picturesque island of Kauai, we stumbled across the Koloa Rum Company.  By stumble, I mean April quickly learned she was traveling with lushes people who enjoyed sampling local adult beverages and she was trying to keep us appeased.

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But of course, this writing challenge is about wine, not rum (although THAT would be awesome!).  Having had a great time at Koloa, we (aka April, who was quicker with her google-searching fingers since she was giving away her rum samples) looked for other local places that made adult beverages.

While on the Big Island we visited the Kona Brewing Company, and so despite having not seen a grape growing anywhere in Hawaii’s lush and volcanic landscape, we were hopeful that we could find a winery.

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Alas, no grape winery…but BINGO! we found Nani Moon Meadery!  Now I will confess that I’ve never been a huge fan of mead, however, when in Rome…

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Nani Moon is in the back of a shopping center in Kapa’a.  We pull up, walk in, and, well, started tasting!  It seemed pointless not to try the full line-up, so we did.

For those of you out there who are unaware, mead is wine (although it can also be beer) made from honey instead of grapes.  It’s been around since…forever (and I’m pretty sure that’s an accurate timeframe!).  Much more sustainable, when you’re smack dab in the middle of the Pacific ocean and you have access to local apiaries.

As Stephanie (the owner) took us through each wine, she paired it with an appropriate snack and talked about where she sourced the honey (they weren’t all the same!).  I think my favorite was the Laka’s Nectar, which was the driest and most crisp of the wines.  While a little too sweet for me, the Cacao Moon was a big hit–understandable, given its chocolate undertones and velvety chocolate finish.  Stephanie definitely got bonus points for her Deviant Beehavior, which packs a kick as it is not only made from honey, but also chili!

We finished the tasting with some of the local honeys that she used, which was great–not only because they were delicious, but because you could really taste how much the nuances in the honey affected the taste of the wine.

If you’re interested in learning more, visiting, or throwing caution to the wind and just buying a bottle, contact Stephanie and tell her what you like.  I’m quite confident she will find you something you’ll truly enjoy and give you suggestions on pairings to help you enjoy it more!  She even has a cocktail section that encourages you to “bee inspired and mix it up!”

It was a great way to spend a couple of hours–and I think that if you find yourself smack dab in the middle of the Pacific on a tiny island named Kauai, you should go visit Stephanie and try her meads.  I’m not going to say that meads are now my favorite type of wine, but I did walk away with a better appreciation for just how versatile a wine made from honey can be.  And after all, isn’t that what it’s all about?

Aloha!

Happy President’s Day!

In honor of today’s celebration of the 44 men who have bravely led our nation, I found a fun article from Mashable highlighting an obscure fact about each of our Commander-In-Chiefs, which you can read in full by clicking on the–no-doubt authentic–picture of George Washington below.

Now you can enthrall, amaze, and annoy your friends, family, and coworkers this holiday by regaling them with the number of pants Chester Arthur owned, the ambidextrous/multi-lingual James Garfield, how Franklin Pierce got arrested, and whose face graces the $10,000 note (yes, it really does exist!).

Thank you for your service, Mr. Presidents!

george-washington

 

 

Chinese Non-Delivery

Remember in my earlier posts about it being the start of low season and everything closing up early?  Turns out, that affected the food industry as well.  Since our deck had not one, but two grills, we decided it might be fun to grill something for dinner.  We found a grocery store, strolled around for awhile, but nothing struck our fancy.  So we decided Chinese delivery sounded great, bought some candy and left.

Get back to B&B, find the menu, and notice that they don’t offer delivery service between October and April.  Great! Fantastic!  We peruse through the rest of the menus that would deliver–at least in October–but nothing sounded as good, so we opted to go back into town to pick up dinner.  Besides, I needed coffee supplies anyway–because thankfully while April was reading the menu, I was exploring kitchen supplies and noticed the only coffee on hand was decaf.  DECAF!  DEEEEEECAAAAAAFFFFFFFF.  Who does that?!?!? Plus it also allowed us to pick up blizzards at Dairy Queen–so in the end, it was quite a successful jaunt into town.

But I’m getting ahead of myself.  Chinese delivery take-out:  it’s 7:40pm when we call.  It’ll take about 30 minutes, can we be there by 8pm?  Uh, what?  Okay [definitely not arguing with getting our food faster].  She gives me the price and the address and just happens to mention not to be late because they close at 8pm.  Okay.  BY 8PM [she just keeps repeating this].  Message received loud and clear.  We arrive at 7:53pm because, well, we definitely wanted our food–not just because we were hungry–rather we weren’t sure if any other food options would still be open other than the 24-hour gas mart.  At this point we were even panicking that DQ might be closed.

Fortunately it was still open.

With food, blizzards, and coffee supplies in our hot little hands, we returned back to the B&B for a quiet night in, playing Lord of the Rings Trivial Pursuit.  And for those of you in my life who think I’m a LotR’s fanatic, I just want you to know that April kicked my ass!

Happy Birthday Texas!

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We interrupt our regularly scheduled posts about my Fabulous Not Forty Birthday trips to wish Texans everywhere a Happy Independence Day!  On this day in 1836, Texas declared its independence from Mexico. The Texas Declaration was written in less than a day during (although not at) the battle of The Alamo, drew a lot of influence from the U.S. Declaration of Independence, and was signed by 59 Texans.

It has some powerful, yet eloquent verbiage, so I thought that in honor of my beloved Texas on its birthday, I’d share it with you.  On a side note: something tells me that General Santa Anna might have liked being called an evil, oppressive ruler.  But maybe not, who knows? I certainly didn’t know the guy!  Also, I’m not sure why (perhaps a typo or a different author?) wording suddenly switches from “it has” to “it hath” at the end…but it does-eth.

Finally, here’s the website where I got the information (along with a general reminder that if I pull pictures from the interwebs, in theory you can click on them to be taken to the website where they were found–in reality, I’m exceptionally technologically challenged so if you notice it not working, please let me know!).

Happy Birthday Texas!

texas declaration

The Unanimous
Declaration of Independence
made by the
Delegates of the People of Texas
in General Convention
at the town of Washington
on the 2nd day of March 1836.

When a government has ceased to protect the lives, liberty and property of the people, from whom its legitimate powers are derived, and for the advancement of whose happiness it was instituted, and so far from being a guarantee for the enjoyment of those inestimable and inalienable rights, becomes an instrument in the hands of evil rulers for their oppression.

When the Federal Republican Constitution of their country, which they have sworn to support, no longer has a substantial existence, and the whole nature of their government has been forcibly changed, without their consent, from a restricted federative republic, composed of sovereign states, to a consolidated central military despotism, in which every interest is disregarded but that of the army and the priesthood, both the eternal enemies of civil liberty, the everready minions of power, and the usual instruments of tyrants.

When, long after the spirit of the constitution has departed, moderation is at length so far lost by those in power, that even the semblance of freedom is removed, and the forms themselves of the constitution discontinued, and so far from their petitions and remonstrances being regarded, the agents who bear them are thrown into dungeons, and mercenary armies sent forth to force a new government upon them at the point of the bayonet.

When, in consequence of such acts of malfeasance and abdication on the part of the government, anarchy prevails, and civil society is dissolved into its original elements. In such a crisis, the first law of nature, the right of self-preservation, the inherent and inalienable rights of the people to appeal to first principles, and take their political affairs into their own hands in extreme cases, enjoins it as a right towards themselves, and a sacred obligation to their posterity, to abolish such government, and create another in its stead, calculated to rescue them from impending dangers, and to secure their future welfare and happiness.

Nations, as well as individuals, are amenable for their acts to the public opinion of mankind. A statement of a part of our grievances is therefore submitted to an impartial world, in justification of the hazardous but unavoidable step now taken, of severing our political connection with the Mexican people, and assuming an independent attitude among the nations of the earth. 

The Mexican government, by its colonization laws, invited and induced the Anglo-American population of Texas to colonize its wilderness under the pledged faith of a written constitution, that they should continue to enjoy that constitutional liberty and republican government to which they had been habituated in the land of their birth, the United States of America. 

In this expectation they have been cruelly disappointed, inasmuch as the Mexican nation has acquiesced in the late changes made in the government by General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna, who having overturned the constitution of his country, now offers us the cruel alternative, either to abandon our homes, acquired by so many privations, or submit to the most intolerable of all tyranny, the combined despotism of the sword and the priesthood.

It has sacrificed our welfare to the state of Coahuila, by which our interests have been continually depressed through a jealous and partial course of legislation, carried on at a far distant seat of government, by a hostile majority, in an unknown tongue, and this too, notwithstanding we have petitioned in the humblest terms for the establishment of a separate state government, and have, in accordance with the provisions of the national constitution, presented to the general Congress a republican constitution, which was, without just cause, contemptuously rejected.

It incarcerated in a dungeon, for a long time, one of our citizens, for no other cause but a zealous endeavor to procure the acceptance of our constitution, and the establishment of a state government.

It has failed and refused to secure, on a firm basis, the right of trial by jury, that palladium of civil liberty, and only safe guarantee for the life, liberty, and property of the citizen.

It has failed to establish any public system of education, although possessed of almost boundless resources, (the public domain,) and although it is an axiom in political science, that unless a people are educated and enlightened, it is idle to expect the continuance of civil liberty, or the capacity for self government.

It has suffered the military commandants, stationed among us, to exercise arbitrary acts of oppression and tyrrany, thus trampling upon the most sacred rights of the citizens, and rendering the military superior to the civil power.

It has dissolved, by force of arms, the state Congress of Coahuila and Texas, and obliged our representatives to fly for their lives from the seat of government, thus depriving us of the fundamental political right of representation.

It has demanded the surrender of a number of our citizens, and ordered military detachments to seize and carry them into the Interior for trial, in contempt of the civil authorities, and in defiance of the laws and the constitution.

It has made piratical attacks upon our commerce, by commissioning foreign desperadoes, and authorizing them to seize our vessels, and convey the property of our citizens to far distant ports for confiscation.

It denies us the right of worshipping the Almighty according to the dictates of our own conscience, by the support of a national religion, calculated to promote the temporal interest of its human functionaries, rather than the glory of the true and living God.

It has demanded us to deliver up our arms, which are essential to our defence, the rightful property of freemen, and formidable only to tyrannical governments.

It has invaded our country both by sea and by land, with intent to lay waste our territory, and drive us from our homes; and has now a large mercenary army advancing, to carry on against us a war of extermination.

It has, through its emissaries, incited the merciless savage, with the tomahawk and scalping knife, to massacre the inhabitants of our defenseless frontiers.

It hath been, during the whole time of our connection with it, the contemptible sport and victim of successive military revolutions, and hath continually exhibited every characteristic of a weak, corrupt, and tyrranical government.

These, and other grievances, were patiently borne by the people of Texas, untill they reached that point at which forbearance ceases to be a virtue. We then took up arms in defence of the national constitution. We appealed to our Mexican brethren for assistance. Our appeal has been made in vain. Though months have elapsed, no sympathetic response has yet been heard from the Interior. We are, therefore, forced to the melancholy conclusion, that the Mexican people have acquiesced in the destruction of their liberty, and the substitution therfor of a military government; that they are unfit to be free, and incapable of self government.

The necessity of self-preservation, therefore, now decrees our eternal political separation.

We, therefore, the delegates with plenary powers of the people of Texas, in solemn convention assembled, appealing to a candid world for the necessities of our condition, do hereby resolve and declare, that our political connection with the Mexican nation has forever ended, and that the people of Texas do now constitute a free, Sovereign, and independent republic, and are fully invested with all the rights and attributes which properly belong to independent nations; and, conscious of the rectitude of our intentions, we fearlessly and confidently commit the issue to the decision of the Supreme arbiter of the destinies of nations.

Richard Ellis, President
of the Convention and Delegate
from Red River.

  • Charles B. Stewart
  • Tho. Barnett
  • John S.D. Byrom
  • Francis Ruis
  • J. Antonio Navarro
  • Jesse B. Badgett
  • Wm. D. Lacy
  • William Menifee
  • Jn. Fisher
  • Matthew Caldwell
  • William Motley
  • Lorenzo de Zavala
  • Stephen H. Everett
  • George W. Smyth
  • Elijah Stapp
  • Claiborne West
  • Wm. B. Scates
  • A.B. Hardin
  • J.W. Burton
  • Thos. J. Gazley
  • R.M. Coleman
  • Sterling C. Robertson
  • Benj. Briggs Goodrich
  • G.W. Barnett
  • James G. Swisher
  • Jesse Grimes
  • Sam P. Carson
  • A. Briscoe
  • J.B. Woods
  • James Collinsworth
  • Edwin Waller
  • Asa Brigham
  • Geo. C. Childress
  • Rob. Potter
  • Thomas Jefferson Rusk
  • Chas. S. Taylor
  • John S. Roberts
  • Robert Hamilton
  • Collin McKinney
  • Albert H. Latimer
  • James Power
  • Sam Houston
  • David Thomas
  • Edwd. Conrad
  • Martin Parmer
  • Edwin O. Legrand
  • Stephen W. Blount
  • Jms. Gaines
  • Wm. Clark, Jr.
  • Sydney O. Pennington
  • Wm. Carrol Crawford
  • Jno. Turner
  • S. Rhoads Fisher
  • John W. Moore
  • John W. Bower
  • Saml. A. Maverick (from Bejar)
  • H.S. Kimble, Secretary
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