Sunday, July 20, 2014

What's up on top of Waipoli Road?

Last weekend, I took myself on a little solo road trip to the other side.   Yes, all the way to the other side of Maui.    I stopped in Paia to browse the shops and then in Makawao for a stick donut at Komoda Store.   And then it was time to see what was at the top of Waipoli road.  

What's at the bottom of Waipoli Road?   The beautiful Ali'i Kula Lavender Farm.  

Restful, lovely, lavender farm

Shiny happy plants

No idea what this is called but isn't it great?

What's up on top of Waipoli Road?

Scenery that the majority of residents and visitors to Maui never see unless you're a hunter or a hiker. 

So please, enjoy...

Lake Tahoe sized pine cones!

Misty cool weather - 66 degrees at the time

Smokey the Bear

Big Trees
Alpine Forest

Have you taken a spontaneous road trip recently?   What did you see?

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Rollin' with Hairy Coo Tours - Scotland

Oh look, a coo!

What's it like rollin' with Hairy Coo tours in Scotland?

Take a look and see!

But first - know that their Scottish Highlands tour is free.  Yes.   Free.   
As in zero pounds.  
And it's good fun all day long.   

First, a bus of fun.   Complete with your "drover" guide

Wee Hamish - perfect for photo ops at bridges
And mailboxes

A stop at the Wallace Monument where you can climb the hill, climb the tower,
or just get some coffee and a pastry.

And we learned the true story  about who the real
"Brave Heart" of Scotland is!

Hairy Coo Hats! Critical for successful photos.

Learning proper flag protocol - when CAN you fly the
royal flag over your home?

Random owl at our lunch stop in Aberfoyle

Coo feeding!
Precious baby coo
Loch Katrine

Doune Castle - of Monty Python  Fame

A great day all around!     If you're in Edinburgh and have a free day for fun and adventure in the Highlands, this is the way to go.

What's your  favorite thing about Scotland?

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Lahaina Obon Festival

I've had a lot of wonderful experiences in the eight months that I've lived in Maui.  

The Lahaina Obon Festival, on July 5, 2014, was definitely one of the best of my Maui experiences to date.    The last time I had been to a Buddhist Temple was in Thailand.    I've never seen a floating lantern ceremony (in fact, the animated movie Tangled, might be my only frame of reference, as silly as that sounds).   I've never been to a Bon Dance.   

My manager was the one who said, "Jenni, you've got to go.    And if you go, you have to jump in and dance."    Well....she's been a witness to our spontaneous HR dance parties.   She even supported the purchase of a small disco ball.    So yes, I did jump in and dance.  *and you can too - just follow what everyone else is doing!

What is Obon?
Obon is a Japanese Buddhist custom to honor the spirits of one's ancestors.

What is a Bon Dance?
Technically, it's the dance performed during the season of Obon.    The story goes that a disciple of Buddha was using his powers to look at his mother, who had passed away.   He discovered that she had fallen into the "realm of hungry ghosts" and was suffering.    He went to the Buddha who gave him instruction to give an offering.   As a part of this process, his mother's spirit was released.   He also saw her true nature, giving and selfless.   The disciple, happy because of his mother's release and grateful for what she had done, danced with joy.   

What will you find at a Bon Dance?
I wish I had seen this Bon Dance 101 article before I went.   It shows the different components of the dance.   The centerpiece?  The Yagura - the tower in the center that you dance around.  

What is Toro Nagashi?
This is the floating of lanterns.    The festival this past weekend is the only one on Maui that does this - and it was so peaceful and beautiful.    It's symbolic of the ancestors spirits returning to the world of the dead.   

If you have an opportunity to go to an Obon festival, go.   You'll be glad you did.

Click here for the 2014 Obon Festival schedule for all of the Hawaiian islands. 

4th of July in Lahaina, Maui

Although I was lacking a star-spangled tank top and patriotic head bling (harder to find on an island, I'm telling ya), it was a very festive 4th here in Maui.    The day started with brunch.   A two pitchers of mimosas brunch.     In the afternoon, we headed into Lahaina Town for hula dolls, mai tais, Elvis and fireworks.

Elvis was NOT a part of your 4th?  
I'm sorry to hear that. 

A unique gift for the democrat in your life

Happy hour mai tais 

Of course

(I need to go see Burnin' Love at the Maui Theater!)

Waving flags

Nature puts on a real big sunset show


Whatever you did over the holiday - I hope you had a great time!

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Passport Party Project Photo a Day Challenge - July 2014

What's the next best thing to actually taking a trip?    Enjoying the photos, stories and memories when you get back.    So I'm searching through my digital travel archives so that I can participate in the Passport Party Project photo-a-day challenge for July.   

  • I think that passports are important.   Without one, you are limited as to your destination. 
  • Exploring America is wonderful and I love to do it.    I also want to visit other countries.
  • I'm sharing pictures of some of my favorite places and experiences during the photo challenge on the Traveler For Good Facebook Page.
  • The day you get your passport is exciting.   You start imagining all the places you'll go in the life of that little blue book.   Share that excitement with others!

Do you want to share your favorite travel photos?   Use the prompts below and post your pictures via social media using #passportpartyproject.    That's it.   

What is the passport party project?    A grass roots initiative that helps provide girls ages 11-15 with their first passport - and for some, the opportunity to get their first stamp.     I feel fortunate that my parents made sure I had a passport at that age and encouraged me to use it in high school, college and beyond.   Celebrate your travel independence in July by keeping up with the Passport Party Project blog or on Facebook.  

Sunday, June 29, 2014

King Kamehameha Day Parade - Lahaina, Maui

I love parades, and whenever there is a chance to enjoy one here in Maui, I'm in (remember the Whale Parade?).      June 11 is King Kamehameha Day in Hawai'i, and it is a paid holiday at my job.    If I'm getting the day off work, I need to know why.    King Kamehameha the Great was the monarch who established the unified Kingdom of Hawai'i.    Local friends told me that I shouldn't miss my first King K parade - especially the horses.   

Horses?   Yes horses.   
Wearing leis.  

The highlight of the parade, for me, were the pa'u riders.    Riders and their horses are decorated in beautiful homemade leis.   Each island was represented with different flowers and colors.   Horses first arrived in Hawai'i in the early 1800s and a paniolo (cowboy) culture developed as well.   

The parade came down Front Street in Lahaina, and was not on the holiday itself, but on the following Saturday, along with crafts, music, and food under the Banyan tree.    

If you are in Hawai'i next year over King K Day, be sure to check for activities and parades.  

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

How To Catch Your Haggis - Two Tales of Scotland

Tale 1:   The Haggis And I

On our first night in Scotland, after a wee nap to escape the jet lag, we ventured out for dinner at a pub called The Cannon's Gait.   I did not order haggis.    I ordered this delicious goat cheese tart.   

See?   Tart
There I was, happy with the prospect of my coffee and tart on a cool rainy eve, when my sister says "Jenni, go ahead, try this!".      Now anyone who has a sibling knows that this should be a red flag.  A big red flag.  As Taylor Swift would say I should have said no 

It starts early in childhood "this tastes gross, you try it" or "that looks disgusting, you've got to look at it."   Ever bite into a piece of candy that is really sour or has a crazy flavor?   Your instinct is I've got to find someone else to agree that this thing is __________ (pick your adjective).    She passes over a small piece of a filo wrapped haggis ball that she ordered in celebration of our first day in Scotland.    I put it in my mouth.    That was my first mistake.    And then my brain stopped functioning.    I couldn't swallow it.    And I didn't have the presence of mind to spit it out.  Fortunately there are no pictures to capture this esteemed moment, but it sounds like my facial expressions were something to behold.   Finally, with my sister's encouragement, the piece of haggis went into the napkin and I sucked in a haggis-free sigh of relief.

Everywhere we went, haggis was available.     You want to get a side order to go with your breakfast buffet?   Canned haggis for your pantry?  Vegetarian haggis for your friend who doesn't eat meat?   Haggis flavored potato chips?  (I opted for the Aberdeen beef flavor myself) Duty free haggis in cans, jars, or fresh to pop into your carry on luggage for your friends or family back home?    

Haggis.   It's there.    Waiting for you.

My non-haggis flavored chips

Tale 2:  How to Catch Your Haggis

At the end of our trip, we were visiting family friends on the beautiful island of Islay.    Where is Islay?    It's in the Hebrides.   An island on the west coast of Scotland where there is nothing but ocean between them and Newfoundland.   Nine whisky distilleries on an island of 3000 or so people.   

What happens on a small island with 9 distilleries

Our hosts used to do Scottish dancing and traveled throughout Europe.    And one time, when they were explaining  their cultural dress, specifically the accessories, they told this story.    When men wear their kilt, they wear a sgian-dubh (black knife), a small knife, tucked into their sock.     You would think that this was for something innocuous, like slicing an apple, or perhaps throwing into a target during clan games.     But no.    It's for catching the haggis.

Now, the haggis live in the highlands and spend their days running around the mountains, so they have two long legs on one side and two short legs on the other side.   Perfect for mountain life.    When you go hunting for the haggis, you have to be very stealthy.    Come up on them from behind and yell "BOO!"   When they turn around to see what's happening they lose their balance and start rolling down the hill.   And that's when you use your sgian-dubh to kill them!

What about you?   Are you pro-haggis?  
Do you have a story about trying a special cultural dish?


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