Extreme Doors Off Helicopter Ride On Maui

You probably cannot get a better-unobstructed view from a helicopter ride than flying with the doors off.  Why choose this kind of experience?  You decide that once and for all, you are going to take a chance, get your adrenalin rushing, and give yourself a memory for a lifetime. After all, one comes to realize that you do fold into yourself as you age and become a bag of memories. Unless you continue to add to your bag, you will become a limited memory bank.  When considering a helicopter ride, you make the decision to do it and then you decide; doors on or off.  So it is your first helicopter ride, you don’t know if doors off or on will be your bet?  But, I considered something extreme for me, why not if it is offered? There is very little you have to do except sit there and let it all happen. The two-way talking headsets serve talking back and forth, but they also protect you a bit from the wind and noise.

The flight begins and you are holding your camera, where the handles are also draped on your neck, but still you are too afraid to move. Will the wind grab the camera, sweep you off of your seat; will it blow you to bits? No, actually you make friends with the wind and the elements that come your way.  Still, you feel a type of pain; maybe I’d better call it discomfort at being exposed.

Soon you are working the camera, talking photos because you know you will not remember each of the individual sights and you come to realize weeks later that all you do remember of the sights are in your photos.  What you do remember are sensations of wind, your calculated breathing, the pilot saying something every once in awhile, other passengers asking questions, and when you realize you are doing this doors off thing, it is time to return to the air field and land.

Folks, there are NO spirits up there. There is nothing up there but air and your entering into it causing the wind.  All that we are, all that we want to be, all that we have, all that we need, all that we dream, all that we understand, all that we hope, all that we believe is down there. Down on the ground called earth is our life, unless you are a NASA scientist or an astronaut and then this would be another realm for discussion.  Maybe I sound a little negative, but I am not. I am just saying it was over in a flash of wind, memory, discomfort and the marveled fact that I learned why early fliers wore caps.  You cannot, and I mean cannot comb your hair after a flight in the brutal air. Wind tangled hair is the single most challenge of the encounter and the most lingered memory.

So that you can experience a bit of the doors off flight, with a view from above, here are a few photos, which only hope to capture the beauty of the land below. It was more than a bird’s eye view, it was more than you get on your own physical means, it was more than fun, it was more than a theme park ride, it was unlike what you expected, but not what you thought it would be…soaring, idyllic, tranquil, relaxing, otherworldly, perhaps mystical. Sometimes expectations and inexperience get onto our path of reasoning.

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HAWAIIAN MAGIC

Sometimes there are magic moments in time where everything works like a charm, works simultaneously with the spirits, works so to speak seamlessly in your favor. When you are counting on other people to make this happen, it is what I call the ultimate leap of faith. And so it was…

With the help of Glenda at Frosch, Will at Ohana Fun, NCL where the staff is the ultimate with kind attention, and our own great wits, we sailed off literally into the sunset.  The Hawaiian vacation planned for 15 members of our family included a stay on Waikiki and a cruise circling many of the Hawaiian Islands in July 2012.  When I tell you that everyone was on time for all of the excursions, all of the sit down dinners and meetings, and all had an enchanted and magical time, believe me.

Our special moments included a Pacific Cove Luau filled with food, activities pertaining to Hawaiian life and dancing. We had a moving experience in Pearl Harbor visiting the War Memorials and museums, remembering the attack of December 7, 1941. When you are there, if you close your eyes and breathe deeply, you can still hear and smell the horror and you receive an understanding of the valor of our brave hero’s, many who gave and many who saved lives.

Our next top was Maui where we experienced The Road To Hana, an extensive day trip where you drive around Maui seeing and stopping at all the sights. Maui is green and lush, right?  Soon you realize that it is not green all the way around and that during the latter part of the day, on the other side of the island we were driving on unpaved, bumpy roads in a desert wasteland where no rain comes to help match the other side’s verdant terrain.

As we explored the Volcanoes of Hawaii we visited Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, the rim of Kilauea, watched the earth spew steam, walked on lava, crawled through a lava tube, ran through the rain and spent a beautiful day in and on Hawaiian soil. We will remember Macadamia nuts and Kona Coffee, remember Kui Kui Nuts, hand painted Long Boo Necklaces and bracelets, and remember the beautiful harbor of Kona where you had to be tendered into the town.  I met a local lady in Kona with two little children. We were sitting under the town tree. She seemed to want to talk about worldly things and I told her to start thinking out of the box. She told me she and her entire family had never been off that island. I wonder what she thinks I meant by thinking out of the box. I wonder myself.

On Kauai, we visited the Waimea Canyon and grabbed a float on the Waialua River on our way to see the Fern Grotto. On the way to and from, we learned a few Hula dancing steps, which turned into dances. The day was perfectly serene.

Our lovely specialty sit down dinners are now legendary. A very distinct level of communication happened over those tables we inhabited. Huge decisions, ideas, thoughts, philosophies and deals were made and I do believe no amount of money or urging could have pulled off this positive and productive interaction between our family members.

We will remember the majestic waterfalls and the rainbows where the pots of gold landed right at your feet. We will remember the huge valleys, canyons, volcanoes, mini geysers,  lava, flowers, and fresh fruit.

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A special treat we will remember is sailing the Na Pali coastline of Kauai, which is a true wonder of the world full of exquisite sights of beauty as well sporting a multitude of rainbows with perfect gradations of colors and their pots of gold just out of reach.

We will remember that Hawaii does not grow sugar cane and pineapples for export anymore. The worldwide competition became too great, but the history, scenic beauty and the people of these islands are well worth the visit.  Yes, Virginia, you can still find sugar cane and pineapples grown in Hawaii for local consumption on the islands. Here is a photo for proof of pineapples in Hawaii and two photos of the closed sugar cane production site.

We will long remember the fresh island air and the energy we extracted from it. We will remember the tranquil, refreshing atmosphere and the exploring of the natural beauty to gain its restorative powers. We will remember working and being together.

Please stay tuned for our Extreme Doors Off Helicopter ride and photos; an astounding experience.

Spit N Whittle Bench In Fayetteville, Tennessee

Many towns have a Spit and Whittle bench where old timers meet and reminisce, tell stories about what they remember from times long ago.  The bench is a place that means much to some and so little to others.  You have noticed that the bench is empty this early afternoon because the regulars are having lunch at O”Houllians. The building housing O”Houllians used to be a family owned grocery called Moore’s Grocery where all you had to do was call Mr. Sprat Moore…tell him what you needed and he would have it delivered to your house by a wonderful man called Tom. Tom would even put your order on the kitchen counter for you.  Those were the days!

The Spit and Whittle Bench is a good place to catch up on world affairs, and share different perspectives on the same events. It made a big impression on me. The Spit part comes from the fact that chewing tobacco became popular in the 1800’s and early 1900’s. Many of the old timers chewed, therefore spit. Chewing tobacco was a way to get nicotine, a drug in tobacco when processed and used makes some people feel mildly euphoric, another words, a feel good drug. So, chewing and spitting was practiced on the bench.  Now whittling is something to occupy your hands while your mind is working at great speeds or slowed down according to each whittler. The process of whittling is actually carving little by little a piece of wood into a shape you have created in your mind. So spitting and whittling are a great body and mind process men used while they occupied the Spit N Whittle Bench.

When I first saw the Spit N Whittle bench, I got the meaning right away, but kept calling it a Piss N Whittle Bench.  Why I wondered could I not get the name right during months of pondering?  I probably liked the P word best and kept it rolling around in my head as the P word and then, the S world was too far back to readily retrieve it.  Now I have it back.  The Spit and Whittle bench is the best idea ever, and if used properly could be responsible for everything from Government affairs to household and domestic affairs being solved right there on the bench.  My feeling is, if you sit with the folks on a bench, chew, spit, whittle and while away the hours you can come up with some mighty healing solutions or solve minuscule grievances, as well as adding the most complicated conclusions to age old concepts.  So, I am purporting that all households, blocks, cities, businesses, schools, and international affairs from here on be conducted on a Spit N Whittle Bench. You’ll get an appreciation of others in a non-judgmental way and perhaps proceed purposefully towards a happy ending and progress at a much more rapid pace and in a more worthwhile manner.

I have included a photograph of the Spit N Whittle Bench on the corner of the Court House Lawn in Fayetteville, Tennessee where I first made my acquaintance with this form of communication concept while visiting the lovely Higgins family.

Thank you Liz for the photo!!!

Our Journey of Thirty-two Sleeps: #14 and #15; New York City, U.S.A.

Sleep #14

There she was in her yellow dress and I was the lucky photographer.

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What do you think is on his mind? Another lucky photograph.

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Due to some special genealogy work done by L, Skips long lost cousin, he found out that his grandfather was not orphaned, but indeed, he was one of eight siblings. L passed away, but left a legacy of her work and cousins that now know of and about each other. L, L’s sister and husband S picked us up at our hotel and whisked us away to the south through the Flatiron District, through Greenwich Village, straight through the Bowery to Chinatown where we rounded Canal Street and low and behold we scored a free all day parking spot right in front of Columbus Park. When we started our big walk we noticed Tai Chi being done in the park, but the most amazing sights in the park were taking place in the park on our way back.

Tai Chi in the park.

Playing in the park

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Singing in the park

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From my recollections, Chinatown in New York used to be in a much smaller area some years back, but now it seems to have spread out to a much wider area encroaching on and actually taking over wider bands of territory. We walked in a giant circle and could not seem to get to the old haunts we remembered in the past. The walk and the talk went so well. L got a statue that will bring her health and a little wealth, God Willing. To make sure of the financial gain, she bought a money tree. We have one, do you?  Everyone should have a money tree. Go to your local Chinatown and get one today!

We had lunch in Little Italy.  Those boys have a special way of dragging you off the street for a meal in their establishment, but we left the decision up to L and she is no one’s fool. She chose well. The food was delicious and the catching up on family and our lives was splendiferous. L brought pictures of her dad and of she, her sister, and her brother growing up.

It came about that there are so many, many family similarities that it boggles your mind and you keep gasping and asking, “Really?” It was a magical day.

Thank you L & S!

This evening’s walk in NYC brought many new and interesting sights. First, I saw some of the most beautiful cupcakes I have ever seen. This is the city of beautiful cupcakes.

Next the signs here are not saying I am hungry, need food or will work for food, they say NEED WEED. Okay.

There is so much trash on the sidewalks that all put together would make a mountain. Of course, you must be advised that it is Sunday night and we are walking in the densest part of the city. I do believe that the trash collectors rule this city because you have to give them what they want just to get and keep the mountains of trash off the streets. Left any length of time will cause a stench and just more mountains.  Trash collectors do rule.  Do they not??

Now how convenient that they have made a sitting and walking area right down the middle of Broadway where the homeless can sit and relax, yak away to themselves, even sleep.  I don’t know if they are rousted during the night by the authorities.

Talking about the authorities, there is a huge police presence in Times Square area. They have police cars, trucks, wagons and they walk the beat so to speak. They are visible and they are there. I know NYC authorities work hard to keep things safe for everyone.

SLEEP: # 15

All of the museums are closed on Monday’s except the MOMA. So we, along with every tourist and school class, lined up and crowded into the only gig in town.

This photo does not do the crowding situation justice.

Art speaks to you individually. It communicates something to everyone on different levels, different planes.  Museums make me tired because of the intensity of the conversations going on in my head.  I saw others sitting and tired, too. It is quite important to be spoken to by art, with its intensity, passion and power. That is why you go, isn’t it?

We walked for over six hours.  We are thankful to be able to do it. We walked to St. Patrick’s Cathedral and were pleased to be in time for the 12:30 mass. My friend A. told me that when they ask you to turn and greet each other, it is not the end of the service as we once thought. So we greeted others and stayed through communion and then went along to continue our “see as much as you can” walk. Next, we stopped at Rockefeller Center to watch the skating, visit the Lego store, and shop at the Metropolitan Museum Gift shop.  We saw where the Good Morning America show is produced and saw the window where people stand and wave. Now when I see the folks waving, I will know exactly where they are standing.

Some photos of the day:

Rockefeller Center and the ice skaters

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This skater was doing a photo shoot, so I shot her.

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Boy looking at the Lego display

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Radio City Music Hall

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St. Patrick's Cathedral

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Entering Bryant's Park for a coffee and a rest.

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Viewing inside Bryant's Park

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Eating in the park

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Playing in the park.

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Sleeping in the park.

.Today we will visit the Frick Museum, have lunch at  “Markt” where a very special former student is working and then, we will head off to the airport.

Sleep # 16 will, God Willing, take place on Delta Flight #86 to Venice, Italy for Sleep # 17 and # 18. Then, we will board a ship cruising the coast of Croatia on the Adriatic Sea.

Our Journey of Thirty-two Sleeps # 13: An addition

The Rose Main Reading Room, in the New York Pubic Library’s main building has more than 600 seats and mine was 418.  I asked one of the librarians the meaning of the numbered seating and she thinks it was how, once you requested books, the delivery came to your numbered seat. The main reading room is the quietest place in New York City and many seriously quiet endeavors were going on here unseen and unheard. It was a pleasure to sit and take part in this dramatic experience.

The room is surrounded by 14 giant gothic looking windows which let in the light as well as the views of the skyscraper backdrop.

We walked the floors of the library and then settled into the exhibit celebrating 100 years of the New York Public Library and its philosophy that all knowledge is worth preserving.  What I thought so appealing and interesting was that you were introduced slowly into the four categories, Observation, Contemplation, Society and Creativity. You have time to observe, and contemplate your own creative process and your own personal expressions. There was a moment of contemplation on how time has incorporated past information and transformed it into what we know today and how we plan to use it in the future. Society is so multifaceted as it relates through time and to each other and how the mix transforms in time. Relationships of human societies are characterized by patterns and through man’s material and spiritual evolution one can see the evidences of patterns. What is yet to come in this, our highly material world, I pondered; it so different from other societies past and or present.  If you plan a visit to New York, the Public Library and a tour around Bryant Park is well worth your time.

View from the entrance window that faces out onto 5th street.

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THE ALGONQUIN HOTEL

The Algonquin Hotel , which opened their doors in 1902, was a gathering place for literary and artistic personalities. They met at this hotel at “The Round Table and had many lengthy and illuminating discussions over the years of luncheons. I made this a major stop because I have always been fixated by some of the discussions and when I first realized the many fascinating stories and the quoted quips from the “Round Table, I wished I could have become one of this distinguished members just for a day. I would have enjoyed a little conversation with Dorothy Parker, but she was before my intellectual time and since learning about her, I have spoken to and been with many women equal to Dorothy as well as Jane Grant and Edna Ferber. I have met men equal to roundtable members like Robert Benchley, in fact I sat next to a man like him the other night, for George S. Kaufman and imagine sitting next to or across the table from Harpo Marx.

While visiting this gorgeously preserved hotel, I asked about the “Round Table” and was shown to it very matter-of-factly. My jaw dropped to be in such presence.  I quickly came down from my loft and snapped a photo, which is presented here.

In the early evening, 8 of us gathered for a dinner to remember! The 8 of us included people Skip and I have met on our travels to Australia, New Zealand, Spain and Portugal. It was lovely seeing one another again in the Big Apple. We ordered family style and I have to give G and M the prize for excellence. They ordered everything to perfection and there was nothing left over. They are very New York and very astute. New Yorkers like to eat, know where to eat, and know what to eat. God Bless Them. You know NYC restaurants are so very turned up and the sound is deafening. They like it that way so who am I to complain. I will tell you that during the dinner it was so much fun that if I had a tape recorder and put the dialogue into a play, you would all have had as much fun as we did.

After dinner we walked over to Theater # @ 311 W. 43rd St. to preview A SPLINTERED SOUL by Alan Lester Brooks, my childhood and family friend. Alan hopes that this play will contribute to and keep our world aware of the Holocaust story for ages to come. He shows some of the evils of mankind and the right we may or may not have to avenge them. It is truly a soul searching and beautifully written story presented through the characters and their involvement in telling their stories.  Thank you Alan.  Your play provided essential moments for all of us to ponder our participation in the processes of right and wrong, and like you I hope your play keeps the messages of the Holocaust ever present.

Our Journey of Thirty-two sleeps: #12 and #13: Wegman’s and the Washington D.C. Train Station

Sleep 12 and 13!

The train is pulling out of the Washington D.C. train station, heading for New York and memories of our wonderful visit with P & S come flooding back in abundance. We all enjoyed our day trips and you have read about some them, but I have not mentioned the ease, grace and elegance with which our hosts gathered us up after a plentiful, breakfast and out the door each day.

I neglected to mention a market called Wegmans and before leaving Prince William Co. I made a mental note to tell you that you must make the journey to visit this phenomenon called Wegmans.  When the visit to this establishment was proposed, I went along for the ride because after all we have Whole Foods, Gelson’s, Pavilions , Trader Joe’s and a few other beautiful markets in our area. I am fairly well versed on markets after so many years marketing, but I was not prepared for Wegmans. Not prepared at all. Okay, where to begin here.  First, close your eyes and imagine when you first walk into the store you see twenty-seven check out stands fully loaded with lines especially on the weekends. Tell me you have been in a supermarket with twenty-seven checkout stations. Sure you have…not.  The reason they need those check out stations is because everyone for a 50-mile radius is in this Wegmans. I have included a few photos, but they do not do the varieties and volume of this store justice at all. Skip wants me to tell you that Wegmans carries the largest variety of food you have ever seen.  The selection of cheese is not to be matched.  The selection beer has beer from every known country that makes it in the world.  They have chips made of onions, carrots, okra, green beans, of course potatoes and they are healthy, I think. The selection of mushrooms must be legendary because there are shelves of them. plain and ruffled. The meat counters are full of meat ranging from $55.99 a pound to ground  everything. One more brag, the ice cream selections can keep you selecting for a long time.  Anything you have experienced in any other supermarket, double it, triple it and or quadruple it according to your marketing experiences.

Sorry it is a little blurry.

    I wish you all an opportunity to experience a Wegmans in your future and hopefully we will get to go again, soon.

I have to dispel the fantasy so many people have, myself included that riding the rails is a wonderful and slow way to see the world from your window as the train slips across the country. Let us dispel this notion here and now. What do you really see?  From my vantage point and for the most part on this last train trip, I saw the backs of everything, and the most rundown, worst parts of town. I have included my best shots of what I saw from the train and have decided that I need not and you need not fantasize about this wonderful train trip that you will someday make across the world. Forget about it. Or, if you do go, send me a postcard.

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We are in our lovely 28th floor room looking at the Empire State Building. It is nice to see a N.Y. trademark building from your hotel room window. We immediately dropped our bags and ran to the streets. The city is rumbling and a cacophony of sights and sounds surround you.  It is New York and it is living up to all it is meant to be for the local as well as the hoards of visitors in the tourist areas. It is noisy, with calming sounds. They are not harsh and brittle. They are sounds that just move you along in some sort of a dance.  When you notice the people walking along, you see them looking up, looking around, pointing, kicking up their heals and or dragging them, flipping their garments and their necks swiveling, hands in rapid motion which I have coined the NYC Dance. Everyone does it.  Some dance to the tune locals hear, some to the tune workers on their way to and fro hear; there are sounds of shoes clicking and clacking, material rubbing, sounds inside buildings, and around the corners, sounds from the throats of all ages, sounds from dragging luggage, squeaks and squawks from everything imaginable, motors running, fans, the clinking and clanking of work being done, and occasional honk, tourists make most questioning sounds; and there is a special energy, positive for the most part that runs in this city  which is a loud noise and the most pleasant exchange I have enjoyed anywhere. We have been to other big cities in the USA and abroad but NYC’s  energy is different, diverse, charged, exciting, electric, stimulating and thrilling.

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Our Journey of Thirty-two Sleeps: #10 and # 11: Virginia

Please accept my apologies for sending names and emails. It was an error and I will not do that again.

Sleep # 10 and #11

Each morning we are greeted with The Washington Post; today is Wednesday, October 19, 2011 and we are kept busy reading the front page, Metro, Style, Sports, Health and Science, and the Classified.  This newspaper feels good, nice and thick; it is the regular size, not chopped and shrunk like ours at home.  The artwork is lovely, photographs plentiful and it is laid out attractively and in a very pleasing, eye-catching style.  Thank you to The Washington Post for interesting news of Washington, the goings and comings of Washingtonians, and the world at large.

Today’s journey:

The morning began with Scotch Eggs along with a Washington Post read. Scotch eggs are a specialty of the area and very delicious.

If you want the recipe for Fiona Hughes’s Scotch Eggs, let me know, I have it ready to share.  You know I fully intend to make them someday!

We drove into the countryside to visit the site of the Children’s Home and compound  where P and S worked and lived; mending lives, clearing minds, changing attitudes, mending broken hearts, sharing love, soothing souls, giving hope and receiving the heartfelt gratitude only a thankful child will give.

I have not included the photos of the actual homes because they are private, but the sights along the way will allow you to see the wonderful environment in which the work of God was allowed.

The creek where the children swam

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Sleep # 11  COUNTRY ROADS IN NORTHERN VIRGINIA

Look what we enjoyed all day long followed by a long nap!!!

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