Fifty shades of grey

The gratuitous headline actually fits the photo below perfectly. This is February in the Midwest—cold, often cloudy, always monochromatic.

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Compare and contrast to the vibrant colors one experiences on the islands of Hawaii—reds, oranges, yellows, greens, blues, indigoes and violets. Yes, a rainbow of colors wherever one turns. Even in the rain, there is usually a rainbow to be discovered.

The minute you step off the plane it’s apparent. It doesn’t matter if you land in Honolulu on Oahu, Kona or Hilo on the Big Island, Lihue on Kauai, Kahului on Maui, or if your final destination is via a smaller aircraft to the Lanai or Molokai airports.

Kua Beach

This photo above, from March 2014, was taken at Kua Beach on the Big Island—officially known as Manini’owali Beach. It’s a gem of a beach with crystal clear waters, white sand, sea turtles, reefs for snorkeling. This photo, taken on a whim from my cell phone, shows the entrance area to a walkway to the beach. I love how a coconut near the rustic, weathered picnic table looks as if it was positioned there on purpose. When we returned from this trip, I sent this one off to Canvas on Demand, so that I could hang in on my wall for days like this when it’s 3 degrees outside.

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This quintessential beach above is in front of Mama’s Fish House on Maui. The palm trees provide just enough shade from the sun. If you stop for lunch or dinner, this is the view.

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On Kauai, home to one of the rainiest spots on earth at the summit of Mount Waialeale, beautiful color is everywhere—even in the rain. This photo is from a lookout near Princeville. I love the serene colors and landscape. So peaceful.

On Lanai, the landscape has its own beauty and is completely different on the shore as it is in upcountry Lanai. This view below is of the lush gardens at the Four Seasons Lodge at Koele. The air is crisp here. The manicured Japanese gardens are stunning. Icing on the cake is the orchid house they have onsite. Rain or shine, gorgeous.

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Pick an island, any island. Really, you can’t go wrong. Need. To. Go. Back. Soon.

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Iselle and Julio

The weather reports and warnings about Hurricane Iselle and Tropical Storm Julio approaching the Hawaiian Islands are worrisome. It’s a rare double threat for the Hawaiian Islands. These two tropical cyclones present a back-to-back risk within as few as 10 days apart.

Meteorologists say that they have to go back to 1949 to find a case when tropical cyclones with direct impact to the Hawaiian Islands were 10 days apart. These two storms are predicted to hit Hawaii within two to three days. “Unprecedented in the satellite era,” is how Kevin Roth, lead meteorologist at The Weather Channel, described it.

In travels to the Islands of Hawaii, the one word that always comes to mind is peaceful. So, this forecast warning residents and visitors to prepare for a state of emergency makes my heart break.

The Big Island will be affected first. The National Weather Service has issued a Flash Flood Watch for the entire state of Hawaii from 4 a.m. on Thursday until 6 a.m. on Friday. This means that conditions on all islands may develop and lead to dangerous flash flooding.

One would have to go back more than six decades to find a case of two tropical cyclones with direct impact reaching the Hawaiian Islands—and they were 10 days apart.

In 1994, there were three storms that passed the Hawaiian Islands—Daniel, Emilia and Fabio. Two out of the three, however, had fizzled out quite a bit before they hit land.

The current models predict that there is a 50 percent chance of tropical storm force winds affecting Hilo on the Big Island, a 44 percent chance of tropical storm force winds in Kailua-Kona and a 42 percent change for South Point between Thursday and Friday.

My thoughts are with the residents of the Hawaiian Islands—and the visitors.

Below is a photo of a sacred place on the Big Island—Waipio Valley. This photo was taken from the Waipio Valley Lookout in March of this year. Waipio means “curved water” in the Hawaiian language. Wishing all in beautiful Hawaii safety from the storm.

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Time flies

It’s been six weeks since my last post. During that time, we had two kids graduate—one from high school and one from college. We also said good riddance to one of the nastiest winters on record. It was painful. Snow and cold and then more snow and cold, plus sleet and freezing rain to add to the misery index. Today, it’s a lovely 75 degrees and mostly sunny, which reminds me of my favorite place on earth.

We were able to escape the cold, gray and ice for a week in late March to this favorite place of ours. This time we visited the Big Island. Heavenly. Here’s the view of what we gladly left behind in the Midwest. It was snow and ice as far as the eye could see. Okay, it sort of looks pretty from this angle, but it really wasn’t pretty to live with day in and day out.

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The biggest obstacle for us spending more time in Hawaii is the flight. There is no doubt about it: It’s long. The Hawaiian Islands are the most isolated place on earth in terms of distance from land. Los Angeles is more than 2,500 miles away and Tokyo is even further at more than 3,500 miles away. I try not to think about the fact that there is nothing in between, but for some reason we always seem to get the pilot who wants to remind us of this fact on takeoff.

Most return flights to the mainland leave at night. A blessing since this seems to be the only time I’m able to sleep during a flight. On the flight over, I do my best to focus on the destination, but I am not a big fan of long flights.

For most of the flight, you look out the window and see something like this.

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And then, magically the southernmost island of Hawaii is in sight. What a sight it is. Even from 10,000 feet its beauty and majesty always get me.

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The Kona International Airport feels familiar and welcoming to us with its charming outdoor baggage carousels and lack of jet bridges. Down the stairs to the tarmac you go. This time, we were greeted with an afternoon shower. It was warm, smelled like paradise and we could have cared less that we were soaked by the time we picked up our luggage.

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For the first time in months, the landscape is filled with color, flowers, a familiar tropical perfume that once experienced you do not forget.

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We made it just in time to watch the sunset near Kona.

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Aloha indeed.

 

 

 

Cabin fever

This just in from meteorologists in the Midwest: After this week, this winter will be one of the 10 coldest on record in the past 140 years. This bitter cold forecast adds insult to injury after a foot of snow and ice fell over the past week. All weekend, officials have been warning drivers to stay off the roads. “We continue to advise no driving,” is the headline this morning. “The roads are still awful.”

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This was the view above the Mississippi yesterday morning. A frozen sea of white, but at least we have a brilliant blue sky to help us get through the predicted low of -2 on this Sunday.

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The snow, heavy and relentless, made for harrowing commutes and window-high drifts. We are running out of places to put our shoveled snow. Here, we have tools like roof rakes to deal with ice dams and roof leaks from the melting and freezing.

Perhaps the most difficult part of our winter is that it’s only February. Last year we had snow in May.

IMG_0225Meanwhile, it’s comforting to know that elsewhere in the world, brilliant blue means something else. For example, on Hapuna Beach on the Big Island.

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Or, the stunning Kohala Coast of the Big Island.

Cabin fever has officially set it. This is when we find ourselves on vrbo.com, searching for a warm getaway. If someone has been lucky enough to escape the cold, this is not the welcome back you hoped for. Somewhere, under all of that, daffodils and tulips are waiting for spring.

On a Sunday morning, dreams of Hawaii get me through winter. We have Hawaiian music playing in the house. I may find some mac nuts and Hawaiian spices in the cupboard for creative cooking. Oh, and if anyone living on one of the Hawaiian Islands needs a gardener next winter, drop me a line.

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Liliʻuokalani Park and Gardens in Hilo on the Big Island

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On Baynan Drive in Hilo on the Big Island, you will find a 30-acre garden of serenity in the Liliʻuokalani Park and Gardens. The park, which was originally built in the early 1900s, is reportedly the largest such gardens outside of Japan. You will find koi ponds, pagodas, bridges and other Japanese garden fixtures.

It’s a perfect place for a picnic lunch or a nice stroll, no matter what the weather. Hilo is often known as the rainy side of the Big Island, and this rain makes for some of the most gorgeous, lush scenery you will find on the Big Island. Lush, serene, tropical and beautiful.

Princeville on the North Shore of Kauai

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Located on the North Shore on the island of Kauai, Princevile is lush, green and gorgeous. It is home to the St. Regis Princeville Resort, which overlooks the beautiful beach of Hanalei Bay. This is also a paradise for golfers.

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The cliffs on some parts of this side of the island are 200 feet above the Pacific, offering panoramic views of the ocean. It’s often rainy in Princeville, but you don’t seem to mind when you look in the distance and see the lush valley of Hanalei.  With an average rainfall of 85 inches a year, the rain is welcome as it usually tends to fall during the evenings and the showers are typically brief.

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Green everywhere you look. Lush plants and trees surround you. Enjoy the views of mountains with waterfalls in the distance.  Here, you’ll find temperate weather with highs in the 80s during the summer months and 70s in the winter months. The rain doesn’t distract from the beauty of Kauai, it adds to it. And, quite often, you will be greeted with a rainbow in the distance.

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After the rain

The average precipitation in Princeville, Kauai is a little more than 71 inches each year with the most rain falling in the month of December. Yes, it is rainy, which also means that it is lush and green. And gorgeous. This much rain also means that there are plenty of rainbows to be found. They seem to be everywhere. In waterfalls, in the sky. If lucky, you will see a double rainbow. Spectacular. It’s difficult to capture the beauty of a rainbow in Kauai. Someday, perhaps, that will be a goal. This is a rainbow seen from the Princeville Golf Course. Five minutes after this photo was taken, it was sunny and the rain stopped for the afternoon. IMG_2788

Hawaiian weather

Just another picture perfect day at Wailea Beach in Maui

Just another picture perfect day at Wailea Beach in Maui

In the past week in the Midwest, we went from snow, sleet and freezing temperatures on Saturday to 100 degrees on Tuesday. Welcome to spring! At least the piles of snow and ice have finally melted.

This brutal winter made me constantly think about the lovely weather of Hawaii. Along with southern California, my opinion is that you can’t beat the weather of the Hawaiian Islands. Sure, many islands are extremely rainy, but the reward is a lush, green paradise. The vast majority of our visits to Hawaii have been escapes from our long, cold, snowy winters, but we have also visited in the summer. We learned, anecdotally, that this is the time when Californians and others from the west coast tend to vacation in Hawaii. There was a bit more humidity, but the temperatures are so surprisingly consistent it is amazing to us when we have a nearly 70-degree fluctuation in a matter of three days.
Every day I check out the forecast for Hawaiian locations on my weather app, which almost always calls for sunny or partly sunny and a fluctuation of mid-70s to low-80s. When it’s below zero, this is an obsession. Sure, there are cloudy days depending on the island and some locations are some of the rainiest on earth. However, when it’s warm and there is a rainbow lurking somewhere in that rain, you don’t mind one bit. How does that Crowded House song go? Everywhere you go, always take the weather with you? It may not be the intended meaning of the song, but everywhere I go, I’d like to take Hawaii’s weather with me.