Hawaii June 2022 Trip: Episode 4

On some days, we didn’t have a specific activity or destination in mind, so we just poked around. Some of us attended church, then we all visited the Kauai Coffee Estate, the Fort Elizabeth State Historical Park, and we ended our day at the Spouting Horn Blowhole.

Old Koloa Church

The history of the Old Koloa Church dates back to when missionaries first arrived in Kauai in 1820 and when Reverend Peter Gulick established the first mission in Koloa in 1834. Native grass houses served as meeting spaces until the mission constructed its first meeting house in 1837. Destroyed during a storm in 1858, the church was reconstructed and opened its doors in 1860. The congregation was formally organized in October 1923 as the Koloa Union Church and occupied the building until it moved next door in 1953. Pastors Harold and Christy Kilborn have led the current congregation at The Church at Koloa since 1981. Inside, the architecture is cozy and welcoming, as are the congregants and the pastors.

Old Koloa Church

Kauai Coffee Estate

On a visit to Kauai Coffee Estate, we learned the estate operates the largest coffee farm in the US. Not just in the State of Hawaii, but the entire US. We took the self-guided tour around the visitor center where there were places to stop and read information signs that talk about growing and preparing the coffee for packaging. After our walk, we purchased a pound of roasted beans to take home and bowls of ice cream to eat on the patio at the back of the visitor center. It seemed only right to choose coffee ice cream at a coffee estate. My first bite stirred memories of sitting with my grandmother on her front porch after dinner, digging into a bowl of coffee ice cream, and watching the sun set behind the houses across the street. Ah memories. What would we do without them?

Kauai Coffee Company Visitor Center
Signs lead the way around the visitor center

The estate did not always grow coffee. For over 100 years, sugarcane stretched from Koloa in the south to Kalaheo in the west. Plantings of coffee trees began in 1987 and now total 4 million. One tree grows one pound of coffee a year. I wish we could have squeezed two pounds of roasted beans into our luggage.

This piece of equipment drives over the trees and “tickles” the cherries off.
This shed sorts the cherries by maturity: ripe, natural, and immature
Logo stamped in the concrete walkway around the visitor center
Rows upon rows of coffee trees. Note the Cook Pines at the end of the row.
Hibiscus plants are common in Kauai. Love their paper-like petals.
Ripe coffee cherries

Among the coffee trees, we found a noni (Morinda citrifolia) tree, a member of the coffee family. With an odor so strong, the noni fruit may make one gag. Despite its awful stench, it’s believed to have health benefits and is often made into a beverage, powders, lotions, or soaps. Oil is made from the seeds and the leaves are ground to a powder and encapsulated into pills. Not enough fresh food to eat? Substitute noni as emergency food during famines. I hope I never have to resort to such a substitute.

Noni fruit

Ranchers brought 105 Cattle Egrets to Kauai in 1959 to control insects pestering their cattle. Today, they are the pest raiding the nests of Hawaiian duck, stilt, and other birds. In 2017, the state issued a control order calling for the culling of the birds from a population of over 30,000. Unintended consequences have the egrets running amok on the island.

Cattle Egret

Pa’ula’ula/Fort Elizabeth State Historical Park

There’s not too much to see at this state park that we could find. There are information panels that tell the history of the site with a map of what the Russian fort looked like, a rock wall, and a statue. We walked around the wall searching for the opening to the center and instead found the coastline.

Waimea river meets the ocean
Looks like a nice uncrowded beach to spread out a towel

On our way back to the car, we guessed the wall outlined the fort, and I neglected to take a photo. Was the entry blocked or hidden? Had we missed the opening? Then I noticed the statue across the field from the parking lot. It looked new and well tended.

The Russian Fort Elizabeth State Historical Park was designated a National Historical Landmark in 1962 and the State of Hawaii acquired the property in 1972. On the Fort Elizabeth.org website, they list plans for the 17-acre site, including a visitor center. One of their plans was to honor King Kaumuali‘i, the last king in Kauai, with an 8’ bronze statue. This we found.

Statue Honoring King Kaumuali‘i

The king faces toward the setting sun on the day of the spring equinox, allowing him to enjoy the sunset of the winter solstice to his left and the summer solstice to his right. A small and large crescent in the floor pattern represents moon phases and the past and present.

I hope to come back once the center opens to welcome visitors and learn more about the fort, the king and all the historical figures that set foot on the site. For more information, visit the websites at National Park Service (https://www.nps.gov/places/russian-fort-fort-elizabeth.htm) and Fort Elizabeth (http://www.fortelizabeth.org).

Spouting Horn Blowhole

The Spouting Horn blowhole is a popular tourist stop. Whether they are walking, riding a bike, in a car, or on a bus, they come to take photos. Since this is one of the most photographed spots in Kauai, I joined in and set my camera on continuous shooting to capture the action. It was thrilling to watch the surf crash into the rocky shore and spout up through a hole in the rock like a geyser in Yellowstone. The gushers can reach up to 50 feet, depending on the tide level.

Spouting Horn view from left side of overlook

The hiss and roar that the water makes as it squeezes through a lava tube is the basis of the Hawaiian legend of Kaikapu, a giant moo, or lizard. There are multiple versions of the legend, as is common with legends. Was Liko a young boy who tricked Kaikapu, or was he a fisherman?

On the right side of the overlook, sea turtles played in between the rock formations. I couldn’t get close enough for a photo.

Whoever he was, he stabbed or speared Kaikapu in the mouth, swam under the lava shelf, and escaped through a lava tube. Kaikapu followed and got stuck in the tube. It is his moans and groans that create the hiss and roar. Or it could be her, depending on the legend. Who knows for sure?

Here a chick, there a chick, even at the blowhole

More to come in episode 5. See you then.

Safe Travels

Updated: August 20, 2022, to correct wording under the Old Koloa Church heading.

Where Have the Traveling Todds Gone? Or, A Bad Break on April 8

Our plan to visit more of the East Bay Regional Parks fizzled the day it began. On April 8, 2022, we selected the Black Diamond Mines Regional Preserve for our first visit. Since the green hills near us had already begun their fade to gold, we knew the wildflowers wouldn’t last much longer in the eastern part of Contra Costa County.

View of hills from Black Diamond Mines parking lot. The last clump of trees in the background surrounds the Rose Hill Cemetery.
Plaque commemorates the Mount Diablo Coal Field where twelve major mines supported five communities during 1860 to 1906.

We started out on the Atlas Mine trail until we encountered a closed sign, then transitioned to the Chaparral Trail. A few days earlier, I had watched a video about the wildflowers on the Chaparral Trail and anticipated all the wildflowers I’d be able to capture with the camera.

Up two short inclines and a walk through an overgrown area, until we hit a clearing where I stopped to take photos. Then Jon realized he had dropped the map. I offered to navigate the inclines again to retrieve said map. Sandstone isn’t my favorite medium to hike on, so I was proud I made it down and back up the steep inclines, not just once, but twice without sliding.

Hazel Atlas Portal trail ended at a closed sign.

With the map retrieved, we continued on a maintenance and fire road, also graded from sandstone. I found another patch of flowers to capture with the camera and squatted to get a closer view. With the picture taken and the camera turned off, I stood, then landed on my butt.

Pain gripped my right hand and wrist. My Lamaze breathing techniques kicked in. Between breaths, I prayed for a sprain and not a break. I didn’t want to look, I couldn’t look, I had to look.

Rough Cat’s-ear

A quick look revealed my right hand misaligned with the arm. Not a sprain. Dizziness and shaking left me sitting in place for several minutes until I could recover and stand. My camera and strap served as a handy sling and kept the pain at bay.

Luckily, we hadn’t gone more than a 1/3 mile from our car. Off we drove to urgent care where X-rays confirmed the damage and need for surgery. Our plans to visit the East Bay Parks or traveling in our RV ended that day, a disappointment we are only recently getting over.

Yellow Trumpet

I’m sure it’s easy to guess that having my dominant arm immobilized limited what I can do. Jon has been the perfect caregiver helping me whenever I couldn’t do something on my own, carting me to doctor appointments and other outings, and taking over all the household chores.

On Thursday, July 7, three months later and two months after surgery, the doctor released me from any splint, cast, or brace. Now I’m looking at several months, if not a year, of slow incremental progress until my mobility returns to what it was before.

Ithuriel’s Spear

So, there you have it. A bad break sidelined the Traveling Todds and kept us from enjoying our passion for poking around this great nation of ours. We are so looking forward to packing up and hitting the road in a few weeks, after a few PT appointments and assuming no other obstacles crop up.

Thank goodness I could trade my cast for a brace, and we didn’t have to cancel our trip to Kauai with the family. It was a trip we had originally booked for April 2020 and rescheduled for early June 2022.

Stay tuned for a post or two, or more, about our Hawaii trip.

Safe Travels

Updated July 14, 2022: corrected date from June 7 to July 7

Spring 2022: Family Campground at Anthony Chabot and Lake Chabot Regional Parks, Castro Valley, California

Anthony Chabot Family Campground was our destination on March 20, 2022, only 22 miles away, to explore another East Bay Regional Park District (EBRPD) property. We arrived early for our four-night stay, set up, and went for a walk.

The campground, set in a grove of eucalyptus trees, includes 12 full hookup sites, 53 drive-up sites that can accommodate tents and smaller RVs, and 10 walk-in sites. All the sites have plenty of space between them and are large enough for a party of eight. We found site 5 to be the best for us since it was one of only two pull-through sites in the RV section, and on the patio side, it looked out over the grassy grove of tall trees that sloped down into a valley.

Site 5 is a pull through with a view of the grove

Animals in the park include coyotes who howl late at night and early in the morning. Bevys of doves that hid in the grass and scared us when they took flight in mass, calling out warnings to their family and friends. Turkey gobbles echoed through the trees and hills. On one walk, we saw two toms, their tail feathers fanned out, arguing with each other, and doing breast bumps like football players do on the field. Not sure where their harem of hens was hiding. Usually, we see turkey flocks sticking together with one tom guarding his harem, jakes, and poults.

Wild turkeys everywhere in the Bay Area

Signs warn of mountain lions and rattlesnakes. They didn’t worry us because we stuck to the main roads and trails where more people were around making noise. I figured the mountain lions preferred the turkeys as easier prey. Of course, I sure wouldn’t want to tango with a tom in protective mode.

New poison oak shoots

On the flora side, warnings include poison oak. New green shoots poked through the ground and fall-colored leaves still clung to older shrubs.

Anthony Chabot Regional Park

The 3,304-acre Anthony Chabot Regional Park opened in 1952 as Grass Valley Regional Park. As noted in the park’s brochure, the park was renamed in 1965 to honor Anthony Chabot, who built the first public water system in San Francisco and Oakland. Lake Chabot, designed by Anthony Chabot and built in 1874, was added to the Regional Park system in 1966.

Shower and restroom building brought to you by the Land and Water Conservation Fund

The reservoir provides an emergency water source for east bay communities. Combined, the Anthony Chabot and Lake Chabot parks total 5,059 acres and sit within the ancestral home of Jalquin, an Ohlone- and Bay Miwok-speaking tribe.

Overlooking the east shore of Lake Chabot
Overlooking the Redwood Canyon Public Golf Course
On Huck’s Trail

Spanish settlers and Franciscans came to the San Francisco Bay Area in the 1700s. In the 1800s gold-seeking miners, loggers, and trains arrived. Before all of those people came, some estimates place a group of 10,000 to 20,000 indigenous people in the Bay Area, possibly dating back to 6,000 years ago. Scattered near the water, across the valleys, in the hills, and inland, the small tribes of hunters and gatherers lived off the land and sea.

California poppies in bloom
Boat rentals can be had at the marina
Edible miner’s lettuce
Bermuda buttercup

By the early 1900s, diseases had caused a severe drop in the population of Ohlone- and Miwok-speaking people. In addition, many of the tribes from the Contra Costa and Alameda counties lost out on Federal funding and land for their people.

Shedding bark drapes across limbs
Unable to find the name. Any guesses?
On the Towhee Trail
Braken fern perhaps?

Reinhardt Redwood Regional Park

The park district renamed the Redwood Regional Park to Reinhardt Redwood Regional Park in 2019 in honor of Dr. Aurelia Henry Reinhardt. Dr. Reinhardt was one of the first five directors on the District’s Board in 1934. Her contributions included the preservation of redwoods and public open space.

We parked near the Fishway Interpretive Site, which sounded interesting when I saw it on the map. A pair of information panels detail the life cycle of the native trout that spawn in the creek and live in the Upper San Leandro Reservoir.

California Registered Historical Landmark No. 970 plaque placed on April 29, 1987, marks the place where three fish taken from the creek in 1855 led to the naming of the rainbow trout species. The assigned scientific name is noted as salmo iridia rainbow trout.

Historic Landmark No. 970

After reading about the life cycle of the trout, we crossed a stone bridge to Bridle Trail and made a loop for about 2-1/2 miles. Parallel to the Bridle Trail is the Stream Trail that spans from one end of the park to the other. In addition, the Anza Historic Trail, Skyline National Trail, and Bay Area Ridge Trail pass through the 1,833-acre park, which opened in 1939.

A bit of water flows in the creek
On the Bridle Trail

Our hike meandered through a redwood forest of third-generation growth. Giant redwoods once stood there, probably for one or two thousand years or more. By the mid-1860s, loggers had felled most of the magnificent trees, often taking the stumps as well. The redwood groves destroyed became the wood used to build homes and businesses in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Ferns and plenty of shade
Trillium perhaps?

The trees that populate the forest today grew in clusters from any stumps left behind. It’s easy to spot where the giants once stood, just look for the circle of trees surrounding a hole.

Find a circle of trees you’ll find where a giant once grew
Yes, it’s okay to look up
Site of old church where a cross-shaped foundation is still intact
Barbecue pit at Old Church

Work is in progress to restore Redwood Creek the rainbow trout to migrate. The park district placed fence barriers along the creek to protect the ponds and banks from damage caused by people and dogs.

Wrap Up

Research on this post left me burdened with sadness as I read about the loss of the magnificent Redwood trees and the indigenous people. The devastation caused by selfishness, greed, and power in the name of progress is a common story that spans all the states we have visited. No matter how many times I read similar stories, I’ll always weep.

On the bright side, we also learn of the people who stepped up to say, “No more,” and worked tirelessly to preserve and restore what had previously come to disastrous results. So, we give thanks to the East Bay Regional Park District, their employees, and volunteers as they carry on the mission set forth in the 1934 ballot measure that created the district. May they continue to save more land for recreational purposes so we may immerse ourselves in nature, away from the noise and chaos of the cities and suburbs.

Long-term travel is out of the question for us for the next two months as we await our Hawaii trip in early June. In the meantime, we hope to visit more parks within the East Bay Regional Park District and other locations while we keep our adventures close to home. We’ll publish a post now and then as we do.

Safe Travels

2021 Fall Tour Episode 7: Barstow, California

Most people drive past the City of Barstow on I-15 to or from Las Vegas, or I-40 to or from the Colorado River, or points beyond. So intent on their destination, they don’t even think of what hides behind the sound walls. Like many towns along Route 66, it’s a place to stop and explore. To avoid a 9 or 10-hour drive from Lake Havasu to our home in Pleasanton, we chose Barstow as a waypoint stop, extending our stay to two nights instead of our normal one. Here are just a few of the places to visit in the area.

Calico Street Scene

Calico Ghost Town Regional Park

Although we had brought our kids to Calico years ago, we wanted to see what might have changed over the years. As usual when we visit a place we haven’t been to for a while, the only things we could remember were the western-style buildings.

Candles, baskets, and woven goods are sold at the Candle Shop

Calico got its start as a silver-mining district in 1881. With over 500 mines working in the area from 1881 to 1907, Calico produced $86 million in silver and $45 million in borax, or thereabout. Different sources quoted different amounts. The population grew to 1,200 with 22 saloons, a China Town, and a red-light district. When a drop in silver prices from $1.31 an ounce to $0.63 in the mid-1890s, the mining stopped, the population dwindled, and Calico entered its ghost town stage.

Recreated School House
A look through the window

Walter Knott—who founded Knott’s Berry Farm in the 1940s—purchased Calico in the 1950s and saved it from further destruction. He restored five of the original buildings to look as they did in the 1880s and made additional improvements, then donated the town in 1966 to San Bernardino County. Arnold Schwarzenegger later proclaimed Calico as California’s Silver Rush Ghost town.

Inside Maggie Mine Tour

Kids and adults have fun panning for gold, touring the Maggie Mine, taking a scenic ride on the Calico/Odessa Railroad, peaking through the windows of the 1880s replica schoolhouse, and posing for an old-time photo.

Miners built their homes next to boulders

Shoppers can wind their way up the hill and visit a variety of shops along the way, including shops selling western-style clothing, crafts, rocks and minerals, housewares, maps and books, and so much more.

Sign up for Ghost and Historical Tours at Calico Bottle House where you can also buy zombie and ghost souvenirs

Even Fido has his own store, the Dorsey’s Dog House. They cater to man’s furry friends, selling treats and accessories. And if you need a place to stay, there are full hookups and off-highway camping available, including restrooms and showers.

Pan for gold at Calico

There’s no need to pack a lunch for your visit. Calico House Restaurant serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner. For beverages—alcoholic and non—pizza, baked potatoes, hot dogs, and nachos check out Lil’s Saloon. If deli sandwiches are more to your taste, belly up at Old Miner’s Café.

View of scenic train ride on the Calico/Odessa Railroad. Camping sites are along the foot of the hill in the background.
Fire suppression equipment of old

Be sure to stop at the Lane House and Museum to learn about the First Lady of Calico. Lucy Bell arrived at the height of the silver boom in 1884 when she was 10 years old. She spent her high school years split between Calico and Pomona and later married John Robert Lane, the water superintendent at Calico, in 1893.

Lane House and Museum

They operated a general store and made their home in Calico, staying through the mid-1890s. As the miners left town, they left their claims as payment for what they owed the store. Occasionally, the Lanes left Calico to work in other mining camps, but once they made money from a quicksilver mine, they returned to Calico and fixed up their home and store. After John’s death in 1934, Lucy stayed on in Calico, spending her winters with family. She lived in the same house until her death in 1967 at the age of 93.

Room in the Lane House and Museum
Parlor at Lane House and Museum

Peggy Sue’s 50’s Diner

After our walk around Calico, we drove across Interstate 10 to Peggy Sue’s Diner for lunch. Built in 1954, the original portion of the diner was made from railroad ties and mortar from the Union Pacific Rail Yard. It included 9 stools and 3 booths.

Come on in!

The owners, Champ and Peggy Sue, reopened the diner in 1987 to restore and preserve it and to have a place to display their movie and TV memorabilia. Then came the expansions that added space to accommodate an increase in business, a 5 and dime store, soda fountain, ice cream parlor, and pizza parlor. Later, they created Diner-saur Park with trees, dinosaur sculptures, ponds, and walking paths. Drivers will appreciate taking a break from the hustle and bustle of the freeway traffic and kids will enjoy getting their wiggles out at Peggy Sue’s.

Diner-saur Park

Casa Del Desierto Historic Harvey House

Our next stop was Casa Del Desierto Historic Harvey House. Designed by Mary Colter in a Santa Fe style and originally built between 1910 to 1913, this restored building once housed the Harvey Hotel and Restaurant and the Santa Fe Railroad depot. It was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1975 and is owned and operated by the City of Barstow.

Historic Harvey House and Depot
Ballroom at the Harvey House

Housed in parts of the building are the Western America Railroad Museum and the Route 66 Mother Road Museum.

Western America Railroad Museum

Displayed next to the parking lot are several rail cars, engines, and various railroad equipment, artifacts, and memorabilia. The room containing the “date nails” fascinated me. There are so many of them. What were they? What did they mean? The nails were used to tag the railroad ties with the date of their installation. The railroads discontinued using the nails in the 1970s, and they are now collector items.

Rolling stock displayed in the parking lot of Western America Railroad Museum
Depiction of Harvey Girl
Paintings line the walls
Place settings are shown in display cases
One of the largest collections of “Date Nails” in the country
Safe and other office equipment

Route 66 Mother Road Museum

Previously known as the National Old Trails Road, a newly numbered highway system renamed the road Route 66. The Mother Road, Main Street of America, and Will Rogers Highway are other names for Route 66. The museum held its grand opening on July 4, 2000. Come for the displays and collections of historic photographs and artifacts; buy souvenirs, gifts, Route 66 clothing, and other items at the gift store; and leave with a bit of nostalgia in your heart.

View of museum from front of space
Lightning McQueen and Fillmore from the movie Cars
Cameras through the years
Cool fiber art of Route 66
A red Ford Mustang convertible is a perfect car to drive Route 66.
I wonder what price is showing on that pump

Other places to see in and around Barstow include:

  • Mojave River Valley Museum
  • The Calico Early Man Site—shown as permanently closed on Google, but who knows, perhaps it will reopen someday
  • Hike or four-wheel through Rainbow Basin Natural Area
  • Visit the NASA Goldstone Visitor Center (once it reopens)
  • See the second-largest meteorite weighing 6,070 pounds discovered in 1975 at the Desert Discovery Center
  • Or walk around Main Street and snap photos of the murals
  • And for people who have cash or a credit card burning a hole in their pocket or purse, there’s always the Outlets at Barstow

We may need another few days of exploring in Barstow the next time we’re driving that way.

This concludes our 2022 Fall Tour. We’ll be back next time with a few close-to-home visits near our home.

Safe Travels