Fall 2022 Episode 1: Onward After A Long Hiatus

After a long spring and summer, fall had arrived. A week later, we examined our calendars to find no more doctor visits, no more physical therapy sessions, and no more reasons to stay at home until the week before Thanksgiving. Whoopee! Time to get out and explore.

We picked the de Young Museum in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park for our first adventure when the Ramses the Great and the Gold of the Pharaohs exhibit beckoned us from across the bay. It seemed appropriate to start out locally before packing up the trailer and hitting the road. On October 4, 2022, Laura, our daughter, and the two grandkids joined us for the field trip.

Laura, Jackson, and Maya Silvey at de Young Museum

The de Young Museum

After signing in at the ticket counter, we walked toward Wilsey Court. There have been many interesting exhibits displayed here, but the Resident Alien II, by Hung Liu is one that’s hard to miss. The 28-foot-tall version of Liu’s 1988 painting of her original green card doesn’t just compete for attention, it commands visitors to look and pay attention. This is something important.

Resident Alien II, by Hung Liu

Note the name change from Hung Liu to Cookie, Fortune, a pejorative term. Liu also changed her date of birth from 1948 to 1984, the year she immigrated from China to the U.S. to study at UC San Diego. The change in year commemorates the year she started her new life in America.

We had a few minutes to spare before our scheduled exhibit time, so Laura and the grandkids took a spin at the virtual reality experience, Ramses & Nefertari: Journey to Osiris, while Jon and I watched through the door. After seeing the pods where they sat wearing VR headsets move back and forth, up and down, and all around, I was glad I didn’t take a ride. No sense getting motion sickness before we saw the Ramses exhibit.

Ramses the Great and the Gold of the Pharaohs

The pictorial in the photo below features Ramses with an axe in hand. The three shorter figures represent his enemies of Egypt: a Syrian, a Nubian, and a Libyan. Note how Ramses towers over his prisoners, reflecting Ramses’s power over the men he’s about to smite.

Painted Limestone Blocks

Waiting a few minutes to watch the multi-media production was worth the time. The production features Ramses’s triumph during his largest chariot battle fought at Kedesh. The narrative, sights, and sounds bring the battle to life in a way that a 2D format could not match.

Multi-media presentation of Ramses II battle at Kadesh

The replica below shows how the dawn light animates the facade of the Great Temple. The sun first illuminates the four colossal statues of Ramses, then the small sculptures of Nefertari (first wife), Isitnofret (second wife), and their children, then floods the interior with light.

Replica of the Great Temple façades

Artists used Ostraca (flakes of limestone) as their “notepads”. Below is a practice sketch of a king giving an offering. The one on the right is a depiction of the board game Senet, which was popular during Ramses’s time and symbolized the deceased’s passage through the Underworld.

Egyptian notepads consisted of flakes of limestone

Outer coffin of the ancient Egyptian artisan Sennedjem, who lived in Deir el-Medina (ancient name, Set Maat, translates to Place of Truth) during the reigns of Ramses II and his father, Seti I. Sennedjem, a skilled craftsman, worked in the tombs in the Valley of the Kings. His tomb was discovered in 1886 on a hill overlooking the worker’s settlement where he

Sennedjem’s outer coffin

Below is a falcon-headed collar and counterweight that belonged to Princess Neferuptah and a girdle with leopard heads that belonged to Princess Merit. wearing the double-headed leopard girdle hanging from the hips functioned as a protective amulet.

Imagine the weight of this collar

Painted and gilded cedar outer coffin lid of Pinudjem II’s wife, Princess Nesikhonsu, and inner coffin lid or Mummy Board of Pinudjem II

Coffin lids

We took a break for lunch at the museum’s cafe where they always have good things to eat and drink, and then we wandered around the other museum rooms.

Faith Ringgold: American People

Jon and I both enjoyed artist and activist Faith Ringgold’s exhibit, which included paintings, quilts, and other artistic forms. A few words came to mind while viewing the work; Strong and emotional and sometimes playful. Unfortunately, the exhibit’s last day was November 27, 2022.

Feminist Series #12: We Meet the Monster
American People Series #13: The Flag is Bleeding
Listen to the Trees: The American Collection #11
Mother’s Quilt
Detail of Mother’s Quilt

Hamon Observation Tower

The Hamon Tower was our last stop within the museum. It offers fantastic views from its observation deck at 144 feet above ground.

SkyStar Wheel and view of San Francisco neighborhood
California Academy of Sciences building with 2.2-acre living roof and UCSF Health buildings in the background

SkyStar Wheel

The SkyStar Wheel is a temporary installation that celebrates the 150th anniversary of Golden Gate Park and I found it interesting that the wheel stands at 150 feet tall. It weighs 465,000 pounds, and its circumference is 500 feet. The 36 enclosed gondolas hold 6 guests, except for the VIP gondola which holds 5 guests. At night, colored LED lights illuminate the wheel. Jon and I passed on riding the SkyStar during our visit, but now I want to be one of the 500,000 people that are expected to take the 12-minute ride. I still have time. The Wheel will be around until March 2025.

And, here’s a bit of trivia: Another Ferris wheel once graced the grounds of Golden Gate Park in 1894 during the Midwinter International Exposition. It stood 120 feet tall.

SkyStar Wheel next to the plinth where the arches once protected a statue of Francis Scott Key

On Juneteenth 2020 (Friday, June 19, 2020), protestors vandalized the Francis Scott Key statue and it was removed. Monumental Reckoning, composed of black steel structures referred to as the Ancestors and sculpted by Dana King, surrounds the foot of the plinth. The sculptures represent the first 350 Africans kidnapped in 1619 and brought to America. According to a sign on the plinth, the protestors targeted Francis Scott Key because of his views and actions against Africans in America. they also call for Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing to replace the Star-Spangled Banner as America’s National Hymn. Monumental Reckoning is scheduled to remain in place until June 19, 2023.

We always enjoy our visits to the de Young and the many exhibits on display. We feel fortunate to have seen the Ramses the Great and the Gold of the Pharaohs exhibit, since it is unlikely we will ever travel to Egypt to see such historic artifacts. Visitors have until February 12, 2023, to see the statues, jewelry, and other objects on display. After that date, it travels to Europe and will be in Paris from April through September 2023.

Four days later, we had our fifth wheel trailer packed and drove off for a five-week trip to the mountains, to the desert, and to the ocean. Watch for new episodes soon.

Safe Travels

Hawaii June 2022 Trip: Episode 6

Poipu Athletic Club

We had two days left of our vacation. After all the hustle and bustle and wandering here and there the past week, it was time to take a break. With a pool, a gym, pickleball and tennis courts, and the Cabana Bar & Grill onsite, the Poipu Athletic Club seemed like the perfect place to relax.

Poipu Athletic Club Pool and Slide

The beach chairs next to the shallow lagoon suited us fine, and the shade sails kept the sun at bay. I settled in with a Mai Tai and watched as most of our group slid down the slide and splashed in the pool. I wished I could have joined them. Instead, I walked in the water on the steps to cool off. My dip didn’t last long. A group of roughhousing teen boys came too close for comfort, so I got out. No sense risking them bumping into my still healing broken wrist.

The club was a great place to ‘people watch,’ especially when the little camp kids came to play in the water. The young ones learning to swim were especially cute.

We wished we had taken advantage of this amenity, included with the rental house, earlier during our stay. But then we would have missed out on the other cool things we did.

Cue shark music

Kayak, Hike, Boat Ride

On our last full day in Kauai, Outfitters Kauai guided our group in tandem kayaks up the Hulē‘ia River. This trip took us through a National Wildlife Refuge where mangroves and other vegetation lined the shores. After the two-mile trip, we disembarked for a hike through a lush jungle and fern-covered valley. Think jungle images from Raiders of the Lost Ark and Jurassic Park. Both movies were filmed in the area.

It’s slippery in spots, so watch your step
Short for waterfalls yet refreshing
Kevin and Bailey. The daredevils of our group.

Secluded pools and waterfalls, complete with a rope swing, were our reward after the kayak/hike workout. And while we rested, and the bravest took advantage of the rope swing, our guide selected juicy mangoes for us to eat and pointed out verbena flowers that tasted like mushrooms.

Our fellow kayakers and hikers
Still together after all these years

Back on the trail, we continued our hike to the pickup area where a double-hull, motorized canoe waited to take us back to our cars.

Smile time again
Glad we didn’t have to kayak back


A quick stop back at the house and we were off again. Our destination? Kalapaki Joe’s in Poipu for an early dinner. Jon and I had spent many happy hours at Joe’s during our last visit to Poipu and we wanted to see if the Mai Tais were still delicious.

Let’s celebrate

Alas, it was not to be. A crowd had already lined up outside the sports bar where the TVs inside blasted the last game of the NBA playoffs. While we prepared ourselves for another one-hour or more wait for a table, Bailey called other restaurants nearby. Lucky us, RumFire called back to say they had a perfect table for a party of eight.

Sun-kissed cheeks on smiling faces

Although much fancier than Kalapaki Joe’s, it was the perfect restaurant to celebrate our last night on the island along with our wedding anniversary of 47-1/2 years. (Yes, I know that’s an odd anniversary to celebrate, but there is a reason. We originally scheduled to celebrate our December 28th, 45th wedding anniversary at the end of March and the first part of April 2020, but Mr. Pandemic had other plans for us.)

Good times for all

No matter what birthday, anniversary, or other celebration guests are honoring at RumFire, they can expect excellent service, great food and drinks, and live music in the background. The fantastic view of the ocean and beach, should Lady Luck seat them near the windows, will make their visit all the more special.

Last chance for a hang ten pose

The day of kayaking, hiking, and boating, along with the upscale dinner at RumFire, is one I’ll cherish in the years to come. As the sun set on another fine day in Kauai, I pushed back bittersweet tears, not wanting to think about the family parting ways and boarding planes for our respective homes. Our Kauai adventure was one I will relive over and over. And this, our last day, turned out the best.

Miscellaneous and Wrap Up

With this post, we bring to a close our 2022 trip to Hawaii on the island of Kauai. But before we leave, a few more photos and honorable mentions to share.

Best Kauai souvenir ever? A rooster of course.
Bailey needs a few more lime slices in her drink

Grand Hyatt Hotel Spa

The women in our group recommend the Anara Spa at the Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort and Spa. Two of us had manicures and two of us had pedicures. Be sure to ask about day-use access to the spa facility when making reservations. We didn’t know until we arrived and missed out on sipping fruit-infused ice water by the pool and the use of the sauna, hot tub, and outdoor shower.

Toes and fingers polished

Nearby Shopping

At The Shops at Kukuiula, restaurants, shops, and other businesses are standing by to serve visitors. Its tropical setting provides plenty of shade and a few benches. Enjoy a farmer’s market on Wednesdays and live music on Fridays while browsing the stores or dining in a restaurant.

Watch out for tall green men

Shaved Ice

Shaved ice was a hit with our group. They had a contest to determine which place had the best treat. And the winner was?

The Fresh Shave.

First prize winner

Personal Update

Since we returned from Hawaii, we’ve stayed close to home. With physical therapy twice a week and doctor appointments once a month, there hasn’t been time to pack up the fifth wheel and head out. It looks like nothing will change much through September. Will October see us on the road? We’re waiting to see how the next round of physical therapy goes before we make any plans.

For now, we’re taking another hiatus and will be back with more adventures when we can.

Safe Travels

Note: A big thank you to Bailey Bishop for sharing some of her photos.

Hawaii June 2022 Trip: Episode 5

Smith’s Fern Grotto Tour Wailua River

What could be finer than cruising on the Wailua River in Kauai? I can think of a few things, and the Wailua River Cruise to the Fern Grotto, known by the ancient Hawaiians as Ma`ama`akualono, is definitely on that list. The grotto is part of the Wailua Heritage Trail.

Wailua Heritage Trail lists nine sites to visit with historical significance

We hopped on the Smith’s Family cruiser—the Johnny-Mac, aptly named after the captain—for a ride upriver. As we motored along, our guide regaled us with stories of the Smith family and ancient Hawaiian history and myths as we passed kayakers.

Frog face rock formation?

I was glad we were riding in a motorboat. The last time Jon and I were in Kauai, we oared our way up the river in a tandem kayak. Although we had difficulty getting in sync with our rowing, it was an easy ride up. Going back against the tide coming in was much more difficult. To our embarrassment, our guide had to maneuver behind us and push us down the river.

On my count, paddle, paddle, paddle

The flat-topped trees towering in the background of the photo above are Moluccan albizia or Paraserianthes falcataria in Latin. The trees, native to New Guinea, were brought to Hawai’i as part of reforestation efforts in the late 19th century. And, although they are beautiful to look at, the trees grew better than expected and have crowded out plants native to Kauai.

We disembarked at the Fern Grotto landing and took a short walk through the rainforest. The guide told more stories and the ‘cousins’ sang songs and danced the hula. The fringed lava cave is not as lush as it once was. Hurricane Iwa damaged them in 1982 and ten years later, Hurricane Iniki nearly destroyed the rest. After 30 years, many of the ferns have grown back, but our guide said they aren’t as thick as they once were.

The gang’s all here: Kevin, Laura, Jon, Maya, Jackson, Chris, and Bailey. I’m behind the camera.
Entertainment at the grotto
Boston Sword ferns grow upside down from the cave’s overhang
Etingera elatior or Red Torch Ginger
Loading up for the trip back

And on our way back, this lady serenaded us with Hawaiian songs and gave us a hula lesson. “Okay everybody, lift those hips and with your arms and hands make like a tree swaying in the breeze. Like this. Now like a wave on the ocean. You’ve got this.”

Serenading down a lazy river

The leisurely boat ride and short hike was a wonderful way to get into the Aloha Spirit, commune with nature, and let our troubles flow out to sea with the river.

Hanalei Bay

Not ready to head back to the house, we drove to Hanalei Bay. On the way, we stopped at the Hanalei Valley Overlook. Spread out before us was a valley of taro fields and the 4,363 ft. (1,330 m) Namaolokama mountain rising in the background.

Hanalei Valley Overlook

The 2-mile-wide Hanalei Bay is great for surfing, body boarding, fishing, picnicking, and watching the sunset. It would have been nice to walk the shoreline to the Hanalei pier, but the grumbling of our stomachs told us we needed food. “It’s only two miles, let’s walk,” sounded like a good idea.

Only half of Hanalei Bay fit in the photo

Again, our poor planning had us scrambling for a table to seat eight. Had we driven instead of walked from the beach, we might have beat the large party eating on the porch when we arrived. As it was, we had to watch them sit and talk for another half hour after they finished eating.

Telephone pole decoration seen on our walk from beach to town

A shaded picnic table and browsing through stores kept us busy during our one-hour wait for a table. Due to staffing shortages, other restaurants either were not open at all or didn’t open until 4:00 pm or after. The Arnold Palmer’s were refreshing after our walk and wait and our food tasty, so we couldn’t complain too much.

Tropical drinks, burgers, sandwiches and more await visitors at Hanalei Gourmet, in the Old Hanalei School
Stop in at Sand People and Yellowfish Trading Company for gifts and such, or relax with a massage at Hanalei Massage
Another view of Namaolokama from the town of Hanalei

It was a good thing we drove two cars that day. The heat had gotten to some of us and we were ready to head to the house, while the rest stayed to spend time at the beach. Next time we’re on Kauai, we’ll leave earlier in the day so we can spend more time in Hanalei Bay.

It looks like one or two more posts will wrap up our 2022 trip to Kauai.

Until then, safe travels.

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.