Afternoon Fiesta

So, I’ve decided that Tuesdays will be Travel Tuesdays on the blog!  I think that will give me the chance to mix it up and share some of my recent travels on the blog which I have not been able to work in with all the knitting!  The first few Travel Tuesdays will focus on my recent trip to El Salvador.

Way back in 2007 I had the opportunity to visit El Salvador and that trip has stuck with me.  Our youth group was looking a mission trip and, through some connections, we became aware of COAR Children’s Village in Zaragoza, El Salvador.  This project appealed to us because it did not involve building anything and was more of an immersion trip.  We went and spent a week playing with the children who lived at the village and visiting various sites in El Salvador.  When we returned home the first thing I did was sign up to sponsor a child and I’ve continued to support COAR since that time.

In November of last year I was asked to join the board which I was happy to do.  I knew I needed to go back and visit the village.  I remember talking to people before my first trip about how it was down there and everyone I talked to had been there multiple times.  After having been there for a week I thought all those people were crazy.  It’s a scary place down there with none of the first world comforts we have up here.  And yet, on a cold and snowy Saturday I found myself headed back down there along with our executive director and program director.  There is something about the country and the people that pull you back despite all scary stuff.

The Village was started in response to the war that was going on in El Salvador back in 1980 and it took in war orphans. The end of war led to a change in the kids that were being taken in, now they were victims of the crime and gang culture that sprang up at the end of the war.  Families were unable to care for them and they come to us.  Today, the Village is still evolving as the child care laws in El Salvador have changed and we are mostly seeing children who have been victims of abuse and/or neglect at home.  In the States we would say it is more of a foster care system.

Some of those changes are allowing the kids to go home on the weekends.  Because of this we did not know how many children would be there when we arrived on Sunday.  Lucky for us it seemed like many had stayed the weekend.  As we arrived, they were planning for a group of visitors from a parish in Cleveland and had arranged a fiesta.

I should say now I don’t speak any Spanish and these kids only speak a little English so communication is tough but they were so excited to see us!  The kids all knew the staff members I was with and they were anxious to meet me.  While we waited for our visitors to arrive the kids decided to watch a Korean TV show which really confused me – I was watching a Korean show, dubbed in Spanish and could understand none of it!  They have one TV with a DVD player which is kept in the community center.  As I questioned the choice of TV show, I was informed that Korean TV is dubbed and distributed very cheaply – they all loved it!

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Those plastic chairs are everywhere down there!!!  One of the differences from my last visit is that most of our kids are pre-teens or teenagers now as opposed to 2007 when most of the kids were pre-school/elementary school age.  This is somewhat due to the child care law change down there.  And, many of the same girls were still there, I even recognized a few of them.  As with many countries around the world, boys are more highly desirable so we tend to have more girls as they are not “useful” to the family.

Our visitors finally arrived and the kids needed a little time to get their skits and songs together so we took them for a tour of the village before coming back to the community center.  The kids sang a few songs and did a skit and presented the visitors with small gifts they had made.

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And then it was time for a game!  The beauty of games is that the rules can be explained by demonstration and once the game starts no conversation is needed so they bridge the language gap.  I’m not sure I ever heard what they called this game but I’m pretty sure you could not get away with it in the States as the possibility of someone losing an eye is extremely high.  Basically, there were two people who had very long sticks on each side.  The goal was to get the ring around the stick and this involved a sort of basketball like guarding of the stick.  The ring could be passed between teammates and then tossed like a Frisbee towards the stick.  It’s great because it requires no special equipment and no special field – it can be played anywhere with materials you can find around.  Everyone who played had a great time!

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While some played, others gathered around one of our visitors who had brought her guitar and had a sing-a-long!

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After the game, our guests had to leave and we were able to have dinner with the kids.  We had pizza, Coke and tres leches cake which was pretty tasty!  The most interesting thing going on during our dinner was the book list that was circulating around.  Our program director had offered to donate Kindles for the kids to read books but instead the kids wanted actual books (be still my heart, I guess I belong in Central America…)  So, he told them to make a list and make a list they did!  All during dinner kids kept coming up to add books – most of which are popular here in the states, titles such as Harry Potter, Chronicles of Narnia, Hunger Games, Divergent and Percy Jackson to name a few.  All excellent choices!  Kids who want to read – it warms the heart!

One last picture for this post – this little girl is new this year and really stole my heart.  Down there the school year runs January – November so it’s still early in the year and she’s still getting used to her new surroundings and is quite shy!

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I’ll be posting more about my trip in upcoming Travel Tuesdays but if you wan to learn more about COAR you can visit our website by clicking here!

February’s Yarn (a.k.a my favorite one yet!)

The new month brought the next installment in my yarn of the month club.  I can’t believe this marks the halfway point!  I knew as soon as I peaked in the bag that this one was going to be my favorite because I saw purple!  It is has so many different beautiful purples in it and then hiding are just a few hints of blue.  This month’s base is 100% superwash merino.

I picked it up on my usual knit night this month and my friend, we’ll call her Gia, was eagerly awaiting the reveal.  Once the colorway is unveiled, the next question is always “what neighborhood does it represent?”  The answer on Thursday was: “University Circle” to which Gia responded “what?”.  That was my initial reaction as well.  One of the fun things with this club is trying to figure out where Rachel found the color inspiration for the featured neighborhood.  Some months I totally get it as soon as I see it and other months, not so much.  I think this was the case with December’s yarn.  Rachel does provide us with an info page which has the palette, the explanation of the palette and some info about the neighborhood. So I turned to the explanation and then it all made sense to me.

For readers not from Cleveland, University Circle is what I would call ground zero of any trip to Cleveland.  It’s the must see, do not miss spot.  In one small, area we have our world class art museum, world class orchestra, beautiful botanical garden, fun natural history museum and a cool historical society which just added an amazing carousel.   Other attractions in the area include Lakeview Cemetery where James A. Garfield is buried, MOCA (Museum of Contemporary Art) and the Cleveland Cinematheque which shows all those cool foreign films which are hard to find at the commercial theaters.  In the winter there is skating rink and in the summer they have Wade Oval Wednesdays where there is live music, food trucks and other entertainment.  The campus of Case Western Reserve University is also in and around the area and has some really interesting buildings.  And, depending on what route you take to get there you can drive through the cultural gardens which represent the many different nationalities you can find in the city.  Like I said, this is pretty much were all the tourist action is at so it should be at the top of every visitor’s list.

With all the art and culture purple does seem to be a logical color choice.  As Rachel tells us the art and culture bring to mind a time of renaissance and royalty and purple is the color of royalty.  With so many different attractions it is hard to find just one colorway that represents University Circle.  Most of the buildings are quite old and really do remind you of days gone by.  I get the purples and bonus it’s my favorite color!

Here’s the yarn:

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A Quick Trip – Football, Yarn and Art

This blog focuses on my love of knitting and travel and after those two things comes my love of Ohio State Buckeye football.  I’m a devout fan (despite not having attended the actual university) and rarely miss watching a game.  There is something about college kids, most of whom will never make it to the NFL, out there playing for the love of the game (and, maybe some scholarship money…).  So, when it was announced that the Buckeyes made the first ever college football playoffs I immediately booked an airline ticket to Dallas for the championship game because, lucky me, my brother lives in the area.  I told him to get his guest room ready and he pointed out we had to make it to that game, he of little faith.  Halfway through the semi-final I texted him again and told him to get ready and I turned out to be right.

Last Thursday when I was sharing my good news with my knitting group I mentioned I would be in Fort Worth and I was trying to decide to whether or not to stop in at MadTosh Crafts.  Needless to say a few of my knitting friends looked at me like I had lost my mind and were not sure why I was up in the air about it.  I had a lot of game related activities to attend and I had to sneak in some work too and I was only going to be in the area for about 72 hours.  Lucky for me, work was quiet on Tuesday so I headed out to get some lunch, and some yarn.

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The store is located in an older area of town and on a brick road.  The parking spots are right off the street and the store is in an older looking strip of stores.  They had a super cute winter themed window with snowflakes and large snow white colored pom poms.  Once you step inside it’s just like a little slice of yarn heaven.  It’s a really good sized space (I guess it’s Texas sized 🙂 ) with wood floors and shelves of yarn everywhere.  In addition to their own yarn they carry a number of other brands including Habu and some local dyers I had not seen before.  Before I headed out I figured I had better have a goal in mind otherwise things could get scary.  I’m planning on using my January yarn (see January yarn post) to do Ysolda’s Follow Your Own Arrow 2 which starts on Monday and calls for two colors so I decided to get a solid to use for that project.  They also had a nice variety of knitting tools, bags, lotions, cards and other novelties.  I found some cute knit kits and I picked up one of those for a Christmas present for this year so more on that later!  There was also a selection of fabrics and plenty of room to knit and sew.  In fact, a small group was gathering to knit as I was shopping.

As it turned out the store is just down the street from the Kimbell Art Museum and they were having a special exhibit – Faces of Impressionism, Portraits from the Musee D’Orsay.  I did not realize it was half price Tuesday and the place was packed.  I almost never see that many people in an art museum here in the States.  The exhibit contained portraits by many of the masters.  My eye kept being drawn towards one particular painting, of course, it was the only Monet in the collection.  This was it:

Woman With A Parasol Aka Study Of A Figure Outdoors (Facing Left) - Claude Oscar Monet - www.claudemonetgallery.org

The permanent collection at the museum is also very interesting and they have some works by well known artists.  It is a little small but makes for a lovely afternoon.  I capped off the afternoon with lunch at Gloria’s Latin American restaurant where they had delicious Salvadoran food.  I would definitely go back there next time I head down to visit my brother.

It was a quick 72 hours and included everything I loved!  It was made extra sweet by the home town Buckeyes bringing home the trophy!

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12 hours in DC

The past few months I have had to do quite a bit of travel for work.  When I can I like to take the opportunity to do a little exploring, especially when I get to go to one of my favorite places – Washington D.C.  Excluding sleep and work time I had about 12 hours and a whole list of things to check out.

I was staying at a Hilton in Rockville, MD which was directly across the street from a Metro station and was very convenient.  I got my Metro card and was off.  First stop was the Tidal Basin to see if any of the cherry blossoms had survived the rainy week but there was not a blossom to be found.  My next stop was the National Air & Space Museum.  I had not been there in many years and I wanted to check out the space shuttle (it was only later in the evening that I remembered the shuttle was at a separate location).  What I did see was a killer show at the planetarium!  After that I headed back to the hotel.

The next day I had my work to do and we got done nice and early which left me an entire afternoon to enjoy the city.  I had scoped out some yarn stores and definitely wanted to check those out but was having a hard time decided what else to do.  In the end when I looked at the map a plan surfaced.  First stop was Looped Yarn Works which is in the DuPont Circle area of DC.  I don’t think I’ve ever had the chance to check out that neighborhood and I loved it!  Very cute little stores and restaurants and lovely old homes.  Looped was on the second floor of a building with a restaurant on the first floor.  It was a small, cozy space.

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In the front room there were a few people sitting around knitting, including the rarest knitter – a male!  They had a great selections of yarn, including several different yarns from local spinners.  It was hard to decide what to buy but then I saw this kit which included some local yarn and a very cool pattern that would always remind me of DC!

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At some point someone had recommended I check out the Phillips Collection and when I looked at the map I saw it was a few blocks from Looped so that was my next stop.  While not one of the many free museums in DC this little gem is worth the price.  The museum is housed in the home of the original collector, Duncan Phillips.  So there is artwork to check out and architecture.  The original home is beautiful and amazing.  The collection of art is wonderful and contained one of my favorites, Monet.  They are quite strict with the security and bag policy so it’s not a place for inquisitive children.  I think there was less security in the Louvre…

I then headed down towards the White House, another place I had not visited on my last few trips.  But, I had my friend’s son’s Flat Stanley and it seemed like the perfect place for a picture and it was located across from another small museum I wanted to see, the Corcoran Gallery.  Again, this is another museum with a small admission charge but worth it.  It is located in a very old, very cool building and they have a little bit of everything.  It is connected with a design school so there were student exhibits which were very modern and mixed media and they also had classics, including some more Monet and the not to be missed Salon Dore which was brought over from an 18th century hotel in Paris.  I then did a quick walk-by the White House which is always provides some interesting people watching.

The next day I had a flight to catch but wanted to make a few stops on my way to the airport.  First stop was Georgetown Cupcakes (although I went to the Bethesda location).  I tried the flavor of the month – cherry blossom and I had to say but it was okay.  A little dense for me but tasty.  There was quite a line even though I got there when it opened.  My next stop was The Yarn Stop in Silver Spring, MD.  Everyone was very friendly and it was a huge store.  They also had some great local yarns and I, of course, had to pick up some more fabulous yarn.

I crammed a lot of fun into a few short hours but there is always to much to see and do in DC and it made a work trip so much better!

Guest Blogger

I have a guest blogger today!  Welcome Zack’s Flat Stanley, he’s here to tell you about his recent adventures with me.  I hope you will enjoy!

 

I could not wait to find out what Zack had planned for me when we were first paired up at school.  I was very excited when Zack’s friend Jenny came to visit and she said she was going to lots of fun places in the next couple of weeks and was happy to bring me along. Jenny lives in Cleveland, Ohio.  She took me to Ohio and we hung out at her house for a few days.  Cleveland is on the shores of Lake Erie.

Our first trip took us to Barton, Vermont.  Barton is in the area of Vermont known as the Northeast Kingdom.  It was way up on the mountains and there was still lots of piles of snow everywhere.  There were lots of farm and very few cities and houses.  We stayed at an old dairy farm.  One day we took a field trip.  Our first stop was at Log Cabin Alpaca Farm.  I got to meet a bunch of alpacas and one friendly llama.

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We learned that alpacas are a pack animal in South America.  Lots of them were brought up to the United States.  Now they are raised for their fleece which is super warm and super soft.  We got to see them shear one of the alpacas.  They shear in the spring so the alpacas have all summer to grow back their fur to stay warm for the winter.  Jenny bought some yarn made from one of the alpacas we met and I loved the yarn!

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Our next stop was the studio of Cherry Tree Hill Yarn.  The nice people who own the studio hand paint yarn and make so many pretty colors.  They let us look at some colors they were working on and we go to shop in the warehouse.

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It was time to go back to Cleveland but we did not stay there long.  Soon we were back on the plane and this time we went to Washington D.C.!  It was so much fun!  Our first stop was at the National Air & Space Museum.  It is part of the Smithsonian museums. They are all free and there are so many to chose from – history, art, science.  At the Air & Space Museum we got to see a show in the planetarium.  We also saw lots of planes, rockets and other flying objects.  I posed with some of the space rockets.

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The Air & Space Museum is located on the National Mall which is a big park that everyone can go to.  We walked along the mall and I got to take some selfies with some famous buildings.

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The first picture is me in front of the Washington Monument.  It is such a tall building.  I wish we could have gone to the top but it was damaged by an earthquake and they are still working to fix it.  I didn’t know they had earthquakes in Washington!

The second picture is me in front of the Capitol Building.  This building is where Congress works.  It reminded me of the Schoolhouse Rock video I’m Just a Bill!!

The next day Jenny had to do some work in the morning but then we were able to go out and see a few more sights.  The last place we saw was the White House where the President lives.  There were lots of people there and everyone was taking lots of pictures.  We did not get to see the President but here’s me in front of his house!

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I had a lot of fun with Jenny and I’m so glad she took me along!  I hope you like hearing about my travels and learned something fun!

 

Thanks Stanley – it was fun having you with me!!

 

 

Golden Ticket

I’ve been in Vermont since Thursday afternoon and have left this retreat house once, on Friday to make a Diet Coke run.  We have been quite busy learning about writing in and for the fiber world.  We’ve also been busy doing our own writing, and eating and eating some more.  If there is one thing I’ve learned from attending various knitting retreats it is that we are always well fed.  The baked goods on this trip have caused one participant who was not eating flour or sugar to cave and one gluten-free participant to chance eating the cheese part off the top of a piece of cheesecake.  I will be stopping at the caterer’s bakery in the morning and filling my suitcase, screw Vermont maple syrup I need more of these baked goods.  There’s no going cold turkey!

But today we got to escape!  I felt we had found the golden ticket.  Agenda for the day: general store in town, alpaca farm for alpaca shearing, pub for some local adult beverages and the studio of our instructor.  So much yarn, so little time!

First stop was Currier’s Quality Market.  This was an old fashioned general store.  We are the middle of nowhere Vermont so the general store is still alive and well.  The number of different items you could buy was remarkable.  Also in the store is Cold Spring Kitchen, the bakery owned by the woman catering the retreat.  But the most unique thing about the store is the amount of taxidermy adorning the walls.  There are animals everywhere!  There are also pictures of people with their various catches all over the walls. The collection included a full sized moose and every other animal you can find in the woods in Vermont.  As luck would have it you can also bring your catch in and have it butchered – yum!

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Our next stop was at Log Cabin Farm.  This weekend they were shearing their alpaca and we were able to watch one of the guys get sheared.  We were greeted by the farm owner who gave us a brief history of alpaca and we saw the guys who were waiting their turn to be sheared.

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Then it was time to go and see the shearing.  It was a very interesting process and the shearer was very talented.  The guy we watched was so calm and so naked afterwards.  They wait until spring has really arrived so they do not get too cold without their heavy thick coats.

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They sell the yarns from the fleece and they sell single animal skeins so you are buying one animal’s fleece.  We all ended up leaving with some delightfully soft yarn.

Next we stopped at a restaurant/lounge called Parker House.  They have several local microbrews and local hard ciders on tap and a little store area to buy syrup and such.  Bonus of being in New England – hockey on the tv in the bar!!  Now we’re talking my language!  I tried the Hill Farmstead Citra.  It was the brew recommended by the slightly gruffy but very cute bartender who had already played one game of hockey this morning.  A lovely afternoon break.

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Last stop was at Cherry Tree Hill Yarn.  The owner, Cheryl Potter is one of the leaders of the retreat.  Our other leader is Shannon Okey who is from my neck of the woods.  Cheryl sells hand dyed yarn and is an author of a number of knitting books.  As we toured her studio I felt like we had won the golden ticket to see Willie Wonka’s factory.  Because, let’s face it, for knitters going to the studio of an indie yarn dyer is essentially the same.  I bought some wonderful yarn and am excited to use some of it to do a pattern written by one of our wonderful participants.  I can’t wait to start!

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I’ve learned so much about writing this weekend.  Some of it good, some of it not so good but all very informative.  I came with a few ideas in mind and am leaving headed in a totally different direction.  I hope to share details soon but there are still some details to work out.  You just never know why you are put in a certain place at a certain time.  Finger crossed for some exciting things to come!  I also got to meet some amazing people from all over the country.  And as I find in knitting, while we all have knitting in common we have such varied interests within knitting.  Tomorrow I hope to hit some local sights as I head back to Burlington for my flight home.

 

 

Turtles and Volcanos

The forecast was Thursday looked to be one of the hottest days of the trip.  We decided to start the morning at the famous black sand beach, Punaluu.  The black sand is caused by the lava from the volcano and is really black and really rocky.  The big attraction here (besides the black sand) are the sea turtles.  The sea turtles nest on the beach and come up to rest and sun.  They have a large circle of the beach marked off to protect the turtles (in addition, there is a state law that you cannot get closer than 15 feet to the turtles).  There is a big area with signs and marked off with rocks for the turtles to hang out.  When I arrived there were a few curious turtle watchers and all were standing outstanding the circle.  Shortly after I arrived a tour bus came and dropped of its riders for short stop at the beach.  And, of course, the first couple off the bus went tramping right through the middle of the circle.  Lucky there were no turtles at the time.  It was interesting that all of the turtle watchers present started yelling at said rude tourist couple about getting out of the turtle circle.    Buses came and went while I hung out on the beach.  Since they are turtles (and not under the control of any sea park, etc.) you kind of have to hang out and wait for them to do their thing.  Tour buses came and went during the time I spent.  In the end, there were about 7 turtles trying to find space on the rocks and I was watching with two other couples who were also from various spots in Ohio.  

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I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the legends I heard before heading over.  I was talking about my upcoming trip with my knitting group and one of my friends had been to Hawaii, and particularly to the Big Island.  She implored me, a number of times that night, to not bring back any of the lava rocks back home with me because it was bad luck.  She was quite serious about this.  I was telling my Dad this story the next day and he said I had told him and I said no, I heard it last night and then he remembered his co-workers had told him the exact same thing.  I did read in Fodor’s that no one has been able to trace the legend but some believe it was started by park rangers to stop the loss of black sand since it can only be created by lava flow.  Either way, wasn’t willing to chance it!  Pictures only for me!

We then stopped at the Punalu’u Bake Shop.  It is the southernmost bake shop in the US!  They have free samples of sweet bread and also have full lunches available.  They have a beautiful gazebo where you can sit and eat the delicious malasadas and have a cool drink after a hot morning on the beach.

After lunch it was back to the volcano.  We made a stop at the steam vents and I hiked over to the sulphur rocks.

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After all the morning activity it was time for a drive.  We started down the Chain of Craters road.  With the park map and signs there are a number of stops as you head down the mountain and eventually end up at the ocean.  There was also about a 15 degree temperature change from top to bottom.  The funny thing about the drive is you get in a groove so the people you meet at the first stop will follow and lead you down the whole drive.  We were heading down with a German couple who spoke little English so we would just nod and wave from stop to stop.  We did not stop at every stop and did not keep track of how long the 19 mile (one way) drive took.  The payoff at the end is a rough parking lot with limited facilities.  There are some very primitive toilet facilities, a ranger’s station and a small shack that sells cold drinks (and could really charge much more for them) and some souvenirs from the end of the road.  There is also a small, but rocky, hike to the Holi Sea Arch which on a sunny afternoon is stunning.

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You can also take a longer hike (from what people told me about 20 minutes one way) to see the end of the road.  The road has been closed by lava flow that hardened across the road.  Given the heat I passed on that – the people coming back looked really, really hot and I’ve heard mixed reviews on how interesting it actually is to see.

We headed back up the road and stopped for dinner at the Lava Rock Cafe – cute name and good food, and one of the few places in Volcano to eat.  Then it was time to get packed up as it was our last night in Hawaii.

 

Don’t Go Chasing Waterfalls

I was singing this song all day today but before that a little bit of catch up.  On Tuesday we spent most of the day with my Dad’s cousin.  He took us on a tour of resort area his house is in and then we went to Waimea to eat lunch at Village Burger (it was delicious!!).  We finally made it back and I went to the Mauna Kea Beach for the remainder of the afternoon.  It was a little overcast and there was a high surf.  They have great beach chairs and towel service.  It also has a beach side bar (no alcoholic drinks on the beach but they do make a killer smoothie you can take back to your chair).

Wednesday came it was time to head to the other side of the island.  We took the scenic route (19) through Waimea where we caught our first look of Mauna Kea – the snow capped mountain on the island.  We had breakfast at the Waimea Coffee Company in the Parker Shops.  It was delicious!  Our first stop was at a little Catholic Church (Our Lady of Lourdes).  It was Ash Wednesday so we thought maybe they would be having a service.  There was a man walking across the parking lot and we asked if he worked there, which he did and he told us the service was at 7:00.  We decided to peek in the church and it was so interesting.  All the walls were painted white with royal blue trim, honoring Mary.  I really liked it.  It turned out the man we talked to was the parish priest and he offered us ashes when he learned we were traveling.  After that we stopped at all the scenic outlooks and our first official stop was at the Waipio Scenic Overlook, just past the church.  You can’t see the famous Waipio Falls from the overlook.  You can see the valley and steep cliffs that form the valley and the river running into the ocean.  There is plenty to be seen from the parking lot but the real view is located down a number of stairs (also the bathrooms are down the stairs) and they are a little steep for anyone with walking problems.

We hopped back in the car and headed to Akaka Falls.  The falls are located in a state park and there is a small fee to enter.  There is a beautiful view of the falls (and facilities) from the parking lot.  There is also a 1/4 mile loop walk that takes you past a second (Kahuna) falls and gets you much closer to Akaka Falls.  It is has a lot of up and down all on paved steps with railings.  I was surprised to read that Akaka Falls is twice the height of Niagara Falls, a place I have been a number of times.  Interesting fact!

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We left Akaka and turned off the main road for the “scenic route”.  Around one of the bends was a little place I think was called Shake it Up.  It served lunch and fresh made smoothies using fruit grown on their own farm.  It was a perfect lunch stop!  Just down the road was the Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden where we stopped briefly but continued on due to time constraints.  It should be noted that you might think the “scenic route” was to see the ocean but it was really to drive through this beautiful forest.  Back on the main road and we were almost in Hilo.

In Hilo our first stop was Rainbow Falls.  This is a great stop because the falls are totally  accessible from the parking lot so everyone can see them.   Just down the road are the Boiling Pot falls.  I would not go out of my way to catch them (unless there was a heavy rain and they could live up to their name)  Otherwise, they were kind of blah compared to the other waterfalls we had stopped at.

Finally it was time to head to our final destination – Volcano!  First we found our lodging – the Aloha Crater Lodge.  This is an old house that has been divided into a number of rooms.  It is on a tiny side road and the driveway is a little scary but it is well marked.  Our key was waiting in the door for us.  The room is a good size and has a small kitchen area with basic supplies such as a coffeemaker, microwave and mini fridge.  The owners have stocked the room with fresh fruit and pastries.  There are also a number of other staples.  It’s a bit rustic but a charming room.

After dropping our bags we went straight to the National Park.  A quick stop at the visitor’s center sent us in the right direction.  It was about 5:00 and the visitor center was about to close but they sent us down to the Jaggar Museum where you can view the active volcano.  We joined the ranger talk and got up to speed on the area volcanic activity.  My favorite part was when she was talking about seeing fresh lava flow, she called it the “lava lottery”  Currently there is no fresh lava flow so we did not win the lava lottery.  The ranger herself was very interesting and let us know that being a park ranger had been on her bucket list.  Wonder what else was on her list???  What is going is gases being released in one of the craters and when the sun goes down the gases reflect the hot rocks in the bottom of the crater and the  gases turn red as it get dark so it looks like a giant bubbling pot.  I  loved watching it as the sun set because you could watch the red start near  the bottom of the gas cloud and work its way up as it gets dark.  We learned later that this was the first night this week it was clear enough to see the gas plume so we got lucky with that.

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It was freezing so after the sun set we headed to dinner.  We stopped at Volcano House which is the only hotel (and restaurant) actually in the park.  The restaurant  is a little pricy but the view is totally worth it.  The windows  overlook the crater so  we were able to watch the red gas cloud  as we ate.  The food was good and the views were better!

Kona – Take 2

When traveling I have learned that some days you just need to reset and start over the next day.  That is what happened on Sunday – the pouring rain took it’s toll and as much as I hate to waste a day it was best to just pack it in.  On the upside, our hotel had an “art museum” which was basically an installation of one native’s paintings depicting the history of the area.

We woke up Monday morning and there was a slight glimmer of sun in the sky and we were ready to set out.  The plan was to head to the southern most place we wanted to see and work out way back north, ending up at our cousin’s house near Mauna Kea Beach.  Our first stop was Puuhonua O Honaunau National Park.  This was an area of refuge which was used by the Hawaiian people.  What remains is a giant wall that was built on the sea and many other ruins.  It is on the shores of lava rocks and is quite scenic.  We started with the ranger talk.  The ranger was very fun and had lots of good information.  We then headed out to explore the ruins.  I did some hiking on the lava rocks until I ran into some bugs and the rocks got slippery where they were getting wet.   It was a perfect day for this because it was still slightly overcast so we were not fried in the sun.

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Next stop was St. Benedict Church or the Painted Church.  Oddly this was one of the best marked stops we have made.  The inside church walls were painted with various Bible stories by the Belgian priest who was bringing Catholicism to the islands.  It was a little, old church and I was delighted to find a statute of St. Bernadette out front.  The paintings were very cool.  I had visited another painted church in Germany a number of years ago and I was very pleasantly surprised to find this one was nothing like the church in Germany which was definitely different.  The church had a table set up and was selling Christmas ornaments and other religious souvenirs on a honor system.  It also had some really nice gardens.

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Then we tried to the find the Captain Cook monument look out and were not at all successful.  From what I read it is an obelisk and I’ve seen one or two of those so I was not overly concerned.  By this time I was starving and we pulled into a McD’s for an iced tea and I had to try the taro pie.  Taro is a very popular crop here.  It had a kind of purple tint to it and I’m not exactly sure what it tasted it like but it was fun to try!

I then stopped at a yarn store (see separate post) and our last stop was at the King’s Shops.  My Dad had seen a watch made of koa wood in one of the tourist magazines and loved it.  Only one store sells them so we found that store and he got his watch.  We also grabbed a bite to eat at a fish and chips place.  And then we headed to our cousin’s house for the night.

Kona, take 2 was much better than day 1 and it is all much different than Oahu.  Heading to the other side of the island next!

We Have Yarn!

I had the names and addresses of two yarn stores in Honolulu but never had a chance to check them out.  Today we were driving around Kona checking out some of the tourist spots before heading north to the place we are staying.  I also had the names and addresses of two yarn stores here on the Big Island and one of them happened to be between us and the house we were headed to.  Bonus, it was raining again so it was the perfect time to check it out!

Island Yarn and Art Supplies is located in a rather industrial looking complex (in fact it is next to a auto body shop).

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The first floor is full of art supplies of all kind and then upstairs is the knitting area and what a pleasant surprise!  It was full of yarn, mostly organized by color and included 3 tables to knit at (or in my case study Ravelry to determine what I could make with the yarn I was finding!)

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There was an entire wall of Malabrigo and an adorable old bookshelf filled with more Habu than one could ask for!

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I loved the display on top which included a large mason jar filled with old spools of thread.

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Plus the colors of the Habu up there are amazing!!!

On one of the tables was a basket of hand dyed yarns, all of which were done in Hawaiian colors with Hawaiian names – they were gorgeous!

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This basket was all sock weight.  I later found a basket of bulky and bought a skein in “Lava Flow” which I thought was great for the area since were in the middle of nothing but lava fields.  She also had some hand made buttons from a crafter who uses local wood to make them.  They were very cool!

I was chatting with the owner while checking out and she is the one who dyes the yarns and all of her yarns have Hawaiian themed names.  She calls the yarn Pu’olo Yarn.  On the label it says the definition of pu’olo is a bundle of wonderful things – I couldn’t agree more!

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