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Big Island of Hawaii

by Kathy 20. January 2011 16:09

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Kaloko-Honokohau National Hist. Park

The big island of Hawaii not only has incredible snorkeling and the largest active volcano in the world, but it also preserves important pieces of Hawaiian culture through three national historical parks.

All three parks are on the western side of the island. The first one that we visited was Kaloko-Honokohau National Historical Park, along the Kona coast.

At the park entrance:

We had seen the visitor’s center when driving from the airport yesterday. The small, recently built structure had looked a bit lonely—and even a bit odd—sitting by itself in a wide expanse of black lava.

To the non-discerning eye, the park may not have appeared very enticing. However, our travels through the U.S. have been enriched immensely by the fascinating things that we have experienced and learned at numerous national parks, monuments, and historical sites managed by our National Park Service. We knew that Kaloko-Honokohau would have some special treats in store for us--and we were right!

Genevieve, on the path to the visitor’s center:

The visitor’s center was called the “House of Welcome” (Hale Ho’okipa):

It consisted of some restrooms (on the right) and a small open area on the left, with an information desk, books, and display items.

There were several rangers to answer questions and to help Genevieve and Sebastian get started on earning Jr. Ranger badges.   (Many national parks have Jr. Ranger programs where children can earn a badge by completing various activities within the park—answering questions, solving puzzles, picking up trash, attending ranger talks, and other tasks.)

Genevieve and Sebastian received their booklets and set to work. Here they are with Ranger Lily Souza, whose warmth, openness, and wealth of information made our time here extra-special:

Through Ranger Souza, we learned that the Hawaiian chiefs divided the land into long strips that ran from the sea to the ocean. Each strip (called an ahupua’a) would then belong to one community, and the land would provide everything that the community needed—trees from the mountain area, crops and plants from the lower lands, and fish and many other things from the sea. Since every community had similar lands and resources, there was no squabbling about one group having more than another.

This national park was established to preserve the coastal portions of two ahupua’a—named Kaloko and Honokohau—where hundreds of Hawaiians once lived. However, the land was not just a place to live; it was believed to have spiritual power (mana). The Hawaiian culture follows the deeply rooted practice of "caring for the land."

The community that once lived here used stacked stones to build planters containing small gardens of taro, gourds, and sweet potatoes. Some of those planters had been restored near the visitor's center, and traditional crops were growing inside.


We decided to follow the ½ mile trail to the ocean, to see a traditional fishpond as well as a fishtrap. We were delighted to find that Ranger Souza was also heading that way!

The lava around us consisted of chunky clumps that looked brittle.

It is amazing what can start growing in seemingly barren ground. Check out these ferns!

Ranger Souza explained that these lava fields contain many bodies that have been buried in crevices or under rock mounds. She pointed out a specific rocky area that was a gravesite:

Because of the high number of burial places, the path to the sea curved away to the left instead of proceeding in a straight line. Visitors are also not permitted to leave the trail and climb on the rocks.

This walled area with green trees growing in the center contained a deep well that was dug when this land had been considered for development, prior to the creation of the park.

Continuing on our walk, Genevieve and Sebastian were very engaged by Ranger Souza’s descriptions and stories.

As we got closer to the ocean, we saw more and more plant life. Ranger Souza spent time identifying the plants and explaining how they were traditionally used.

Here she is pointing out the yellow flowers of the ilima plant.


These blooms were (and still are) strung together to make lei.

The bulbous green fruit on the noni tree turns light yellow when ripe.


The fruit was medicine for a number of illnesses, while the bark of the tree made a brown-red dye, and the large leaves were used for wrapping food and also providing relief for sprained muscles.

Ranger Souza allowed us to touch and smell the yellow fruit (it has a foul scent when very ripe):


Walking onward, she showed us a slope of stacked rocks rising above some treetops to our right:

This was not a wall. It was a long slide (holua) that Hawaiians would cover with slick grass for the purpose of racing sleds down the ramp, sometimes laying on their chests and sometimes standing. Here is a view of the face of the holua from the fish pond area:

Before reaching the sea, we crossed through a small forest.

A tangle of trunks and roots:

Looking into the mass of branches next to our path, Ranger Souza showed us the bright green leaves of the coastal sandalwood, growing as a parasite on a mesquite tree:

The coastal sandalwood is native to Hawaii and was thought to be extinct until this batch was found by workers who were clearing the area. The underlying mesquite tree, however, is an invasive plant, not native to Hawaii.

Mixed among the trees and shrubbery were quite a few rock walls, remnants of property boundaries or animal pens built more recently by Hawaiians who lived here before the park was established in 1978.


Although the designation of this area as a national park served to protect and preserve Hawaiian lands and cultural elements, the reality was that the people who were still living here--enjoying the resources of the land and practicing the traditional ways of life—were forced to move from their homes.  This removal caused some controversy within the Hawaiian community.

On our lava-rock path, we would occasionally find an uneven surface that was really a series of carved dots.

These carvings are thought to have been used for a game of strategy, similar to checkers. Ranger Souza showed us how stones would be placed on top of the indentations.

Near the edge of the forest was an expanse of lava rock that contained a large number of petroglyphs. The park had constructed an elevated boardwalk through the petroglyph site so that visitors wouldn’t disturb the pictorial carvings.

The boardwalk entrance:

Here are several carvings that have eroded over time:

One set was very clear and contained a carving of a rifle, which was obviously made some time after the Europeans arrived and introduced guns in the late 1700’s.



Finally, we reached Honokohau Bay:

Green sea turtles liked to hang out here, soaking up the sun and eating the green algae that grows on the rocks:

Here is Sebastian, along with two turtles—one resting on the far rocks above his head, and the other nearly submerged under water on the right (with its algae-covered shell looking like a light rock):



We headed to our right, walking along the beach toward Aimakapa fishpond.

The pond was separated from the ocean by a long sand dune. Here are Ranger Souza, Geneveive and I climbing up and over the dune:

Sebastian loved the smooth sand where the dune met the water’s edge:

Aimakapa fishpond once held fish that were raised specifically for the Hawaiian chiefs. Still rich in fish, its marshlands now host a variety of native and migratory wetland birds.


We stopped to rest in the shade of a milo tree. Ranger Souza picked one of the green nuts, and with the flick of her fingernail, revealed the interior liquid that looked just like yellow paint:

We weren’t surprised to learn that it was traditionally used as a dye.

Sebastian took advantage of this rest stop to answer some questions in his Jr. Ranger booklet about what he had seen and discovered so far.

We then started walking back along the beach, in the direction we had come:

Surfers and paddle-boarders were enjoying the waves out in the bay:

More turtles:



At the far end of the beach, we waded across to a sandy area that was part of the Ai’opio fishtrap.

Here is an aerial view of the fishtrap from the National Park Service website:

(Photo credit here.) 

The fishtrap had lava rock walls that allowed fish to swim inside a large area during high tide, and then trapped the fish inside when the water level receded.

Over time, with lack of maintenance, the walls had deteriorated and tumbled into the waves, although we could still see the general structure quite clearly.



The park is in the process of restoring the fishtrap and is waiting for funding to proceed with rebuilding the walls.

A traditional longhouse stood near the fishtrap. The smell of the recently thatched roof was divine, and we spent a few moments admiring how the fronds had been woven together.

From here, we retraced our steps back to the visitor’s center.

Upon entering the tree grove area, we passed the naupaka plant, with its unique half-flowers:

A related half-flower plant grows in the mountains. The intriguing flowers from these two plants stirred the imaginations of ancient Hawaiians, who created a story of two lovers who were forbidden to be together, with one being banished to the mountains and the other to the sea.

A movement caught our eye. There, blending in beautifully with the lava rock and dry ground was the golden plover (kolea), which migrates to Hawaii every winter from Alaska.

We made a note to keep an eye out for this bird during our extended travels through Alaska this coming summer!

A swarm of parrots swooped through the trees, chattering loudly. The ones that were solid green were a bit hard to find among all the green leaves:


However, the ones with the red heads stood out:

They seemed to be looking right at us, checking us out!

Here are four together:

These parrots are not native to Hawaii, and the park rangers are watching to ensure that the parrots don’t negatively impact native plants or animals—such as aggressively competing for the food and habitat of Hawaiian birds.

Ranger Souza paused by a kuawa tree to pick some of the long beans so that Genevieve and Sebastian could taste them. Genevieve thought they were quite good!

Back at the Visitor’s Center parking lot, we said “good-bye” to Ranger Souza.

Our journey through the park was greatly enhanced by all of the things that she shared with us, especially her friendship. Mahalo!

One last area of the park that we visited separately was a second fishpond--Kaloko fishpond—reachable by a narrow dirt road from the main highway.

Instead of a large sand dune separating the pond from the sea, Kaloko fishpond had an 800 foot rock wall. Here is an aerial photo from the U.S. Geological Survey:

(Photo credit here.) 

The wall is believed to be about 600 years old. It had crumbled over the years from the pounding waves and lack of maintenance.

An exhibit showed what the wall looked like in 1998--a mass of unstacked rocks:

For the past 12 years, skilled masons have worked together to rebuild the wall in the traditional Hawaiian method, without mortar or reshaping the stones. Some have described the building process as “listening to where the stone wants to go.”

Another photo showed what the wall looked like in 2002, with half of the wall reconstructed:

Today, the complete wall stretched all of the way across, and we could walk on a portion. It was blocked off before the opening that allows fish to enter; a sign indicated that the rocks were unstable beyond that point.

The wall is 6 ½ feet high and 40 feet wide, and it felt solid under our feet.

Stretching out into the pond was the restored fish chute:

The fishpond:

As we were standing there looking, we saw a flash of silver rise from the pond and quickly disappear again. It was a jumping fish! In fact, there were lots of jumping fish—leaping out and back very quickly. Finally, I captured a leap in action!

On the sea side of the wall, there was a lone surfer trying to catch a good wave:

(This was not a solitary endeavor, however, as his girlfriend was sitting on the rock wall watching and waiting for him.)

Sebastian played along the edge of the beach next to the fishpond area:

We left Kaloko-Honokohau National Historic Park with a greater understanding of the Hawaiian culture and how the community worked (and still works) together. We will always remember our time with Ranger Souza, as well as the Spirit of Kaloko: "A'ohe hana nui ka alu'ia" (No task is too big when done together by all).


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Comments (2) -

8/23/2012 4:31:05 AM #

Franziska

Thank you for sharing your photos, storries and experiance of your visit to the Kaloko Honukohau National Park.
What a beautiful presentation on your part! I feel like I joined the journey. Mahalo nui and Aloha

Franziska United States | Reply

8/24/2012 8:53:53 AM #

Kathy Hensley

Franziska, thank you for your kind words. I'm so glad that you enjoyed the story of our day at Kaloko Honukohau National Park. Aloha, Kathy

Kathy Hensley United States | Reply

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Around the World: One Journey at a Time | North to Alaska - Live! Around the World... One Journey at a Time. Around the World... One Journey at a Time.






North to Alaska - Live!

by Kathy 11. June 2011 21:52

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Bicycling Around Vancouver

 

Today we bicycled for miles along Vancouver’s excellent waterfront trails.

First, we had to travel from the city outskirts on the “Sky Train”—not really designed for bikes, but thank goodness the rail cars weren’t crowded.

Genevieve:

On the train with us was a man wearing a cardboard box head:

We would see him again.

Sebastian, Ben and Genevieve, starting off along the waterway called False Creek:

The bike trails were wide and well marked, and most of the time there was a separate path for pedestrians.

We passed by the city’s sports stadium, with tall construction cranes rising above its spikey walls:

A large sign announced that the Dragon Boat Festival was happening today.

We watched as the long skinny boats set up to begin their race:

Each boat had a dragon head (and tail) and a person who counted out the stroke with the help of a big drum:

We couldn’t see who won in the distance, but that didn’t stop us from rooting for our favorites:

Pedaling onward, we came upon a tall mobile sculpture called “Khenko” (Great Blue Heron) by artist Douglas Taylor:

The artwork was created in 2006 to celebrate the return of the herons to False Creek after an environmental rejuvenation of the area.

Across the way, little water taxis chugged along in front of a row of floating homes:

Further down the shore was a grey granite monument called “Inukshuk,” in the shape of an ancient symbol of the Inuit culture that was used as a landmark and navigational aid, and also represents northern hospitality and friendship:

While admiring the Inukshuk, we saw the man with the blue cardboard box head walking by:

That’s when we noticed the sign on the back of his head, reading, “How did you change the world today?”

Hmmmmm . . . .

Continuing on, we reached Stanley Park, a sprawling oasis of greenery covering the entire tip of the peninsula where Vancouver sits. Here is a map:

We bicycled the perimeter of the park, which had one-way bike trails flowing counter-clockwise. 

Near the entrance to the park, Genevieve and Sebastian spied a playground with a large fire truck, climbing structures, and saucer swings. Of course, we seized the moment:



We stopped again to study the artistry in an exhibit of carved totem poles representing the different First Nations communities (called “Native Americans” in the U.S.) that have lived in this area for hundreds of years.

Totem poles are unique to the First Nations along the western coast of Canada and lower Alaska. Traditionally, carved poles would hold up the huge roof beams of their houses, and sometimes poles would be placed outside of a home or on a gravesite. The carvings on the pole were symbolic, like a family’s “coat of arms," representing a family’s lineage.

Each detailed figure or shape, and the order presented, was part of a family’s story:



From the totem pole area, we could see across Burrard Inlet to the skyscrapers of downtown Vancouver:

We rounded the corner at Brookton Point and rode under a small lighthouse:

Here are Ben and the kids crossing under Lion’s Gate Bridge, which leads to North Vancouver:

Along the northwestern shore of Stanley Park, we paused before reaching a tall finger of land known as “Siwash Rock”:

At Third Beach, we renewed our energy at the Teahouse Restaurant. I was a bit wary, expecting a “touristy” place with mediocre, overpriced food. However, the restaurant was a complete surprise, providing excellent food and service in a relaxing (and classy) atmosphere. Our sunny table had a fabulous view:

Back among the high-rise apartments and small parks that lined False Creek, we discovered an incredible figurative sculpture made of letters from different alphabets.  Here is Genevieve with the artwork:

The sculpture was created in 2008 by Spanish artist Jaume Plensa to celebrate Vancouver’s linguistic and cultural diversity.

A detail of the letters:

And so our bicycle ride ended on a high note, exhilarating from beginning to end.

While on the Sky Train back, Sebastian couldn't stop smiling.  He said, “On a scale of 1 to 10, I would rate today a 25.”  Wow, that’s a crazy-good score, Sebastian! And, you know what? I would rate today exactly the same.

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Bhutan
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   Gom Kora
   Kanglung
   Mongar
   Paro Valley
   Punakha Dzong
   Sangdrup Jongkhar
   Thimphu
   Tongsa
   Wangdi Phrodrang

Bolivia
   Caranavi
   Guanay
   Janko Marca
   La Paz
   Laguna Colorada
   Laguna Verde
   Llica
   Potosí
   Queteña
   Rurrenabaque
   Sajama
   Salar de Coipasa
   Salar de Uyuni
   San Pablo
   Santa Rosa
   Sorata
   Sud Lipez
   Tupiza
   World’s Most Dangerous Road

Canada
   Banff National Park
   Battle Hill Nat'l Hist. Site
   Boya Lake Prov. Park, BC
   Burns Lake Bike Park
   Canyon Sainte-Anne
   Chetwynd
   Dawson Creek
   Eastern Townships
   Fort Nelson
   Isle-aux-Coudres
   Jasper National Park
   Kluane Lake, YK
   'Ksan Historical Village
   Lake Louise
   Liard Hot Springs
   Montreal
   Niagara Falls
   Ottawa
   Quebec City
   Quesnel
   Thousand Islands
   Toronto
   Vancouver
   Vancouver Island
   Victoria
   Watson Lake
   Whistler
   Whitehorse

China
   Beijing
   Datong
   Forbidden City
   Great Wall at Mutianyu
   Hong Kong
   HuaShan
   Lijiang
   Summer Palace
   Terracotta Warriors
   Tiananmen Square
   Xi’an
   Yangshuo
   Yungang Caves

Costa Rica
   Arenal Volcano
   Finca Corsicana
   Hanging Bridges
   Manuel Antonio
   Poas Volcano
   Proyecto Asis
   Quepos
   Sarchi
   Sky Trek Zip Lining
   Venado Caves
   Zarcero

France
   Paris

Ecuador
   Amazon Rainforest
   Chaquiñan Bicycle Trail
   La Mitad del Mundo
   Napo Wildlife Center
   Papallacta Hot Springs
   Proyecto DCR
   Quito
   Yasuní National Park

India
   Bagdogra
   Darjeeling
   Delhi
   Gawahati
   Jaigaon
   Kalimpong

Mexico
   Baja California
   Crucecita
   Frida Kahlo Museum
   Hierve el Agua
   Huatulco
   Marietas Islands
   Mazunte
   Mexico City
   Monte Alban
   Oaxaca City
   Patzcuaro
   Puerto Angel
   Puerto Escondido
   Puerto Vallarta
   San Agustin
   San Martin Tilcajete
   Santa Fe de la Laguna
   Santa María el Tule
   Sayulita
   Studio of Jacobo Angeles
   Teotihuacán
   Teotitlán del Valle
   TzinTzunTzan
   Yagul
   Yelapa

Namibia
   Caprivi
   Dead Vlei
   Elondo Village
   Etosha Nat'l Park
   Hippo Pools Camp
   Hoba Meteorite
   Katutura
   Khowarib Camp
   Moose McGregor's Bakery
   Mowani Camp
   Ngepi Camp
   Nkasa Lupala
   n'Kwzi Camp
   River Dance Lodge
   Seisfontein
   Seisriem Camp
   Sossusvlie
   Swakopmund
   Treesleeper Camp
   Twyfeltein
   Windhoek

Peru
   Balsas
   Barranca
   Cajabamba
   Cajamarca
   Caraz
   Cañón del Pato
   Celendín
   Cerro de Pasco
   Chachapoyas
   Cusco
   Huamachuco
   Huánico
   Huaraz
   La Oroya
   Leymebamba
   Llanganuco
   Lima
   Machu Picchu
   Moyobamba
   Nuevo Jaén
   Pallasca
   Pampas
   Tápuc
   Tarapoto
   Tarma
   Tingo Maria
   Tocache
   Yungay Memorial

Portugal
   Burgau
   Coimbra
   Evora
   Lisbon
   Marvao
   Nazare
   Obidos
   Portimao
   Sintra
   Sitio

South Africa
   Johannesburg

Spain
   Barcelona
   Bilbao
   Hondarribia
   Madrid
   Montserrat
   Nerja
   Rock of Gibraltar
   Ronda
   Santillana del Mar
   Tolosa
   Zaragoza

United States National Parks
   Arches National Park, UT
   Badlands National Park, SD
   Bandelier National Monument, NM
   Bryce Canyon National Park, UT
   Cahokia Mounds (UNESCO site), IL
   Carlsbad Caverns National Park, NM
   Canyon de Chelly Nat'l Monument, AZ
   Cape Hatteras National Shoreline, NC
   Capitol Reef National Park, UT
   Civil Rights Memorial, AL
   Death Valley National Park, CA
   Denali National Park, AK
   Devil’s Tower National Monument, WY
   El Morro National Monument, NM
   Ford’s Theater in Washington, D.C.
   Glacier National Park, MT
   Grand Canyon National Park, AZ
   Grand Tetons National Park, WY
   Great Basin National Park, NV
   Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, HI
   Joshua Tree National Park, CA
   Kaloko-Honokohau Nat'l Hist. Park, HI
   Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks, NM
   King's Canyon National Park, CA
   Martin Luther King Jr. Nat'l Hist. Site, GA
   Mesa Verde National Park, CO
   Montezuma's Castle Nat'l Monument, AZ
   Monticello, VA
   Mount Rushmore National Memorial, SD
   Mt. Rainier National Park, WA
   Olympic National Park, WA
   Petrified Wood National Park, AZ
   Pinnacles National Monument, CA
   Pu'uhonua o Honaunau Nat'l Hist Pk, HI
   Pu'ukohola Heiau Nat'l Historic Site, HI
   San Antonio Missions Nat'l Hist. Park, TX
   Tuzigoot National Monument, AZ
   Walnut Canyon National Monument, AZ
   Washington Monument
   White Sands National Monument, NM
   Wrangell-St. Elias National Park, AK
   Wright Brothers National Memorial in NC
   Yellowstone National Park, WY
   Yosemite National Park, CA

United States, Cities and Places
   The Alamo, TX
   Alaska Wildlife Conservation Cntr.
   Alpine Loop in CO
   Anchorage, AK
   Antares Junction, AZ
   Arctic Circle, AK
   Barrel Oak Winery in VA
   Biloxi, MS
   Bottle Tree Farm in CA
   Calico Ghost Town, CA
   Canfield Mountain Trail System, ID
   Cape St. Vincent, NY
   Carson City, NV
   Carter Caves State Park in KY
   Chappie-Shasta OHV Area, CA
   Child's Glacier, AK
   Circle B Chuckwagon Show in SD
   City Museum in MO
   Cody, WY
   Corn Palace in SD
   Crazy Horse Memorial in SD
   Custer State Park, SD
   Dalton Highway, AK
   Dinosaur Tracks in AZ
   Discovery Place in Charlotte, NC
   Dry Falls (Sun Lakes-Dry Falls), WA
   Fairbanks, AK
   Front Royal, VA
   Gallup, NM
   Goffs, CA
   Grand Canyon Caves, AZ
   Grand Canyon Skywalk, AZ
   Grave Digger Monster Truck in NC
   Great Salt Lake, UT
   Hackberry General Store in AZ
   Hannibal, MO
   Hatteras Island, NC
   Hawaii (Big Island)
   Hickison Petroglyphs, NV
   Holbrook, AZ
   Hole in the Rock, UT
   Homer, AK
   Honey Island Swamp Tour in LA
   Hoover Dam, NV
   Hyder, AK
   Jim Gray’s Petrified Wood Co. in AZ
   John’s Peak OHV Area, OR
   Kailua-Kona, HI
   Keepers of the Wild Nature Park in AZ
   Kennecott, AK
   Kennecott Copper Mine in UT
   Kingman, AZ
   Lake Havasu, AZ
   Lake Tahoe, NV
   Las Vegas, NV (winter 2010)
   Little Brown Church in IA
   London Bridge in AZ
   Loneliest Road in America, Hwy. 50, NV
   Los Angeles, CA
   Lost Colony Show on Roanoke Isl., NC
   Lowe’s Speedway in NC
   Mardi Gras World in LA
   Mark Twain Museum in MO
   Meteor Crater, AZ
   Million Dollar Highway, CO
   Minnesota Zoo
   Mitchell, SD
   Moab, UT
   Moab, UT (dirt biking)
   Montgomery, AL
   Montpelier, ID
   Navajo Nation, AZ
   Needles, CA
   Nevada Beach, NV
   Newberry Springs, CA
   New River Gorge, WV
   New Orleans, LA
   Niagara Falls 
   North Pole, AK
   Oatman, AZ
   Old Faithful Geyser in WY
   Omak Stampede, WA
   Painted Desert, AZ
   Park City, UT (summer)
   Plymouth, NC
   Portage Valley, AK
   Portland, OR
   Prospect OHV Trail System, OR
   Resaca, GA
   Riverside State Park, WA
   Rock City in TN
   Rosa Parks Library and Museum in AL
   Roswell, NM
   Russian River, AK
   Salt Lake City, UT
   San Antonio, TX
   San Diego, CA
   San Juan Islands, WA
   San Francisco, CA
   Santa Catalina Island, CA
   Seattle, WA
   Sedona, AZ
   Shoe Tree in CA
   Shoe Tree in NV
   Silverton, CO
   Sonora, TX
   St. Louis, MO
   St. Paul, MN
   Talkeetna, AK
   Telluride, CO
   Route 66
   Twin Knobs Recreation Area in KY
   Virginia Beach, VA
   Washington D.C.
   Wayne Fitzgerrell State Park in IL
   Williamsburg, VA
   Winom Frazier OHV Area, OR
   Winslow, AZ
   Zion National Park, UT

Planning Our Adventures

For us, each journey begins with the initial heart pangs to venture to a certain part of the world. Then the ideas start coming together . . . ahh, the possibilities . . . and the dream evolves gradually into an actual plan. But, oh, the joy of the dream!  Click here to learn more about how we plan and prepare for our journeys.

Where Are We Now?

Click here to discover where we are now, as well as our uncoming travel plans.


Words for the Heart

“. . . and then the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.”

Anais Nin