Favorite Photos

AZ Republic will print one of my Maui ocean photos in this Sunday’s Travel section and it’s already posted as #13 in the “Your Travels” area of travel.azcentral.com.

Take a look. Fun stuff!

Maui Reunion

Last night we got together with the group that went to Maui in December. It’s mostly co-workers and spouses and a great group of people.

We enjoyed a delicious dinner, then had the most fun looking at a slideshow of all the photos that everyone took and reminiscing about how much fun we had on the trip.

We also had a chance to present the Uhlmanns (our hosts for the Maui trip) with a photo book as a thank you from all of us. I had the privilege of putting it together for them. It took a long time, but was well worth it when we saw how much they seemed to enjoy looking at it. They were genuinely surprised that we had made a personalized book just for them. I think Steve enjoyed seeing some of his photos in the book since he enjoys photography as well.

And the surprise for me was that the rest of the group gave ME a thank you gift for putting the book together. It was so sweet of them, but TOTALLY unexpected.

I posted a link on the right side of my blog that takes you to the site where you can preview the first 10 pages or so of the book (which is 90+ pages in all). Once you get there, if you click on “full screen” view you’ll get a better look at it.

I will say that I enjoyed the process of creating the book and want to do more in the future. It may even replace my scrap booking to some degree. Blurb.com has very easy and intuitive software with dozens of templates available. I think I even read that you can create your own templates if you can’t find what you want in their selections. I ended up creating two different books because I thought the first one that I made was too small when it arrived. The second one was easier because I already knew which photos to use and just copied the text and templates generally from the first one.

I did have a little trouble with the file crashing at one point, but Blurb was very helpful and able to repair the file so that I didn’t have to start over again, which was a lifesaver. It took a little while to get it fixed, but they upgraded my shipping on the book order so that it still got to me in plenty of time for the presentation party.

Now I need to make a few revisions to the file to make the book specific for Terry and I. I’ll add pics from our anniversary and free time excursions and take out some of the “thank you” content from the other. That should be so much easier than starting from scratch though.

West Maui Drive & Dinner

Doesn’t my sweetie look cute in his convertible? Whenever we drive with the car top down, he just keeps saying…”This is so NOT us.” But I think he’s enjoying it anyway. The island breezes and the views are so wonderful. It’s fun.

Yesterday we took a drive up the West coast of Maui. It’s beautiful relatively unspoiled countryside. Here are a few of the sights that we saw.

This stack of rocks was at one of the pulloffs. I don’t know if it has any significance. I just thought it looked cool with the gorgeous blue water in the background.

Next is a natural blowhole near the shore. You can get an idea of scale if you look at the person in pink near it.

Sad news is that when we came up from seeing the blowhole, we discovered that 4 cars had been broken into right there by the road while they were down at the beach. There was shattered glass all over the place from the car windows that were broken and one family was still there on the phone reporting that her purse had been stolen. What a sad thing to happen on vacation and pathetic that people would prey on others when they’re trying to enjoy themselves out in nature.

Fortunately, we had our convertible top down and had removed everything valuable, so they didn’t do anything to our car.
Last night we went out to the Sansei Seafood Restaurant.
We’ve heard they have great sushi. I’m not a raw fish fan, but Terry and some of the others in our group like it. Besides they also have other seafood options too. It was an amazing meal. I only got a few food photo ops because everyone started eating right when the dishes came because they looked so delicious. We had several of their award winning appetizers.
This was Terry’s dinner. The crispy nest on top was filled with a tasty seafood cake that we also had as an appetizer. Underneath was a big serving of Ahi and rice. Mmmmm

Take a look at their site thru the link above and see how creative they get with their dishes.

And below are pictures of the moon in the morning (Terry took this one), then the moon last night behind the palm branches.

And God said, “Let there be rain.”
We were awakened very early this morning to the sounds of the wind whistling thru our windows. I’m not sure how strong they were, but it’s been blowing and raining pretty hard this morning. Our power even went out for a few seconds. It’s hard to tell from the photos, but it’s kind of a blustery day. We had a flash flood warning for our area today too.
You can see Terry on our balcony, enjoying the weather.

It’s actually a nice change of pace, although it prevented Rosanne & Marilyn from going parasailing today. We’re hoping for better weather tomorrow. I’ll be their photographer from the shore. What fun!

So, as mentioned before, there’s a lot to report. Let me try to pick just a few highlights to talk about. My current photo count is around 1400 plus the 50 or so on the two disposable underwater cameras that I bought. Of course, I took over 700 just on the first day, on the road to Hana. Several people in the group have taken pictures too, so we should have a great collection once the trip is complete. The photo of the beach chairs is from yesterday. We’ve had nearly ideal weather all week, so we can’t really complain about a rainy day.
Yesterday we spent some time relaxing at the beach. Alison asked me to take this picture of her husband, Michael sleeping. (click to enlarge) Doesn’t he look so innocent? Like a little boy.

We also had some great free entertainment on the beach.
Check out this “island boy” doing a headstand on his boogie board. We saw flips and tricks of all sorts.

I was enthralled with this kite surfer too. There were times that the wind lifted him up out of the water and carried him 10 feet or so in the air. Very cool! He was out there for what seemed like an hour or more. He had to be exhausted when he was done.

Here are some pics of the rest of our group. In order as shown:

Dan & Pam: Pam is Steve & Barb’s daughter and Dan runs Wide Open Films out of our offices. Sweet couple!
Gary & Richelle (Richelle is Steve & Barb’s trainer and has been doing classes for anyone interested while we’re here.) We haven’t taken advantage of it, though. I can’t speak for Terry, but for me, it’s because I am so out of shape that I was worried about being too sore to enjoy the rest of the vacation.
Gary is a Tennis Pro for his own, Donnelly Tennis Academy. Check him out if you’re in need of lessons in the Scottsdale area. They have 5 kids! It’s been so much fun getting to know them.
Mark & Marilyn (Can you tell it was a bit windy?) Marilyn does all the accounting for the office. Her office is right next to my desk and it’s been great getting to know her over the last few months. She’s a hoot! Once in a while she’ll just break into song, singing something from an old musical. She’s a girl after my own heart…reminds me of having the kids at home singing all the time.

Mark does something relating to connecting investors with businesses for sale. That’s all I know, except for the fact that he keeps track of thousands of contacts in a spreadsheet. It’s amazing that he can keep track of so many people that way. He’s a wonderful guy, from what I can tell…he’s pretty quiet, so it may take some time. Rosanne & Ken – Rosanne is Executive Director & Giving Officer for Steve & Barbara. She’s also the one who hired me and is my direct boss. She’s an awesome lady to work with and for and has become a friend as well. I love her spirit of adventure. She went to Africa earlier this year with her teenage grandson. How awesome for both of them! Ken is a chiropractor and a great guy as well. It’s fun getting to know him.
Last night we went to the Feast at Lele, in Lahaina. It’s a wonderful luau type event with food and dances from four different island regions. What a treat! It was a little windy at the start of the night, but calmed down later on. The performers were all so talented and the costumes were amazing. The food had excellent variety and with 4 different regional food courses, plus dessert there was plenty of it. The dances were gorgeous.

My favorite was the fire dance, as you can imagine. Here’s just a glimpse of what they looked like. By the time the fire dancer was finished he was glistening with perspiration. That must be a warm and dangerous job! I wonder if he gets hazardous duty pay?
So that’s just a glimpse of today and yesterday. I’ll go back to the previous days as time allows.
Sorry for the spacing issues. I just gave up on trying to get rid of all the gaps.

Maui – Happy Anniversary to us!

31 years as of yesterday! We’ve been having a blast! God was so good to allow us to come here to celebrate our anniverary and enjoy 10 days with some wonderful folks and new friends.

I still need to post about snorkeling, seeing whales and dolphins, Haleakala crater, the Tedeschi Winery where this picture was taken.
More pics to come.
Tonight we’re going to the Feast at LeLe.
Just an FYI, I’ve been trying to post some comments to a few other blogs, but I keep getting an error message, which is frustrating. I hope they get it fixed soon.
Maui – Saturday

Somehow this post turned into somewhat of a children’s theme…not sure how that evolved, but enjoy!

This first picture is a view of the mountains east of our hotel just before sunset.
It was a relatively quiet day today. I spent the morning editing photos from Friday and posting on my blog (below). In the afternoon, Terry and I did some grocery shopping to pick up a few things for the rest of the week. We’ve got a good stock of food and plan on grilling steaks down near the beach one night this week. We bought a fresh pineapple that smells delicious too!
By early evening we headed a few miles down the road to Lahaina to see the Christmas lighting of the Banyan Tree.

The link above takes you to a little more info about the tree itself. It’s really quite amazing how this huge tree sends out roots from it’s branches that eventually connect with the soil below, then become like additional trunks to help support the tree.
Photo # 2 is what the Banyan Tree looked like today bustling with people and an arts and crafts fair below it’s canopy. Remember, this is just ONE huge tree!

To give some perspective on the size, photo # 3 shows several children sitting on the branches. What an awesome climbing tree this is! Can you imagine the hours you could spend playing there? It’s definitely a Swiss Family Robinson Tree.

This photo shows more detail of the aerial prop roots that grow down from the branches. They are a bit creepy looking and could be pretty frightening for a youngster with a vivid imagination, especially in the dark.

The last photo of the tree is after the Christmas lights were lit. The ceremony was somewhat anti-climactic unless you’re 5 years old, but the tree itself is very impressive. I’m glad we saw it. It would be fun to go back when it’s not so crowded and take a few kids to enjoy it with you.

Oh and Santa and Mrs. Claus made an appearance as well. I guess they dress a little differently when they’re in Maui. I almost got a great pic of Santa holding a 6 month old baby in just a diaper who was terrified of him. It was so cute (and a little sad).

After the tree lighting, we decided to do some window shopping along Front Street to see if we could find some Christmas presents.

As in many resort towns, there were large amounts of tourist shops filled with T-shirts and paraphernalia, as well as galleries, restaurants, bars, ice cream shops. etc. My absolute favorite was “Rip Squeak & Friends Gallery“.

I don’t think I’ve seen these particular characters before, but the place was filled with children’s books, puzzles, original artwork illustrations of the most colorful and imaginative characters I’ve seen in a long time, created by Leonard Filgate and written by his wife, Susan Yost-Filgate. I just love great illustrations in children’s books and these are some of the best I’ve seen, as you can see from this example, called “Bedtime Stories”. If I had a grandchild I would have spent quite a bit of money in that store. His illustrations would make amazing artwork for a nursery.

And speaking of kids, here’s one of the big kids that I get to work with (just kidding, friend). Aren’t Michael and Ali such a gorgeous couple? And so much fun too! Michael reminds me of my older brother, Rusty who was constantly wreaking havoc, teasing and playing practical jokes. But he’s so sweet and fun, you just can’t get mad at him. Ali must have quite a job keeping him in line at home along with the other kids. I enjoy having him around the office. It tends to be quiet a lot of the time and he adds more life to the place.

News from Maui
So we’re in Maui now. As you can see I had time this morning to change my background. Today and tomorrow are free days for us to do whatever we want. There’s so much more to post about, even though we’ve only been here since Thursday night. I won’t be able to catch up on my sister in Kuwait until we get back because her last few emails are on my computer at home and once they’re downloaded there, I can’t get to them from here.

I have some pics of Christmas decorating at home and at my sister, Diane’s for her birthday celebration with her grandkids and others. There are a few cute ones of the kids…I’ll get to those at some point. I’ll try to post some of my home decorating on the 15th for the Christmas Tour of Homes (at right). I’m sure mine will be minimal compared to others there, but it will be fun anyway. Linda, you should do it too.
I was also trying to do “Journal your Christmas” posts along with Amy, but we’ll see if time allows for that. I have a few started, but it will just depend. It seems kinda crazy to be sitting in the room doing this when it is absolutely gorgeous outside and so far, I haven’t found a wireless connection at the beach or the resort. I am a little stuffed up since yesterday and and I haven’t figured out yet if it’s a cold or allergies. So far not too big a deal. Just pray that it doesn’t get worse and that it goes away VERY soon! Fortunately colds don’t usually last long with me, but I know there have been some mean ones going around.

In the interest of time, here’s a very brief summary of our group activities so far. As we go along this week, I’ll also introduce you to the couples that we’re traveling with.

When we got off the plane from Phoenix, our hosts, Steve & Barbara (pictured below) greeted us with welcome lei’s at the airport. The large flower pictured is actually not real, but looks like it. It’s attached to a hair clip, so I can wear it again and again.

Thursday night was just getting settled in.

Friday morning, we left for the heliport at 6:15 am (9:15 AZ time).

Left the heliport in 2 luxury vans for the Tempation Tours 5 hour drive (including stops) down the road to Hana. We drove along amazing coastline, thru rainforests, and beside gorgeous streams and waterfalls.

We saw hundreds of flowers, including 6 foot high poinsettia’s growing in someone’s yard. I’ve never seen that before!

Some brave folks from our party went swimming in this freshwater swimming hole at the base of a waterfall. It was pretty cold so we didn’t go in.

Our leisurely drive ended at a beach in Hana for a wonderful lunch of chicken, mahi, rice, fresh pineapple, caesar salad and macadamia nut cookies.

After lunch we were taken to another heliport in Hana to catch the helicopter for our 35 minute flight back with a few detours to see some amazing waterfalls, coastline, etc.

We came home, freshened up then joined the group for sushi and an amazing dinner at the Hyatt hotel next door overlooking the beach.

Steve & Barbara treated us to all of this on the first day! They are such a dear and generous couple. What a blessing to be working for them and not only because they are taking us on a trip like this! They are so kind, encouraging and giving of themselves in so many ways. I love that I get to help them and help the non-profit ministries in the office too.

The background on this picture is the view that we saw from our dining spot on the patio. The ocean is right there!
O.k., as I said, I need to get going. We need to go to the store to buy some food for the meals that we’ll have at home during the week.