Posts Tagged With: Hawaii

Zipline mania goes Hawaiian

When I go somewhere for an adventure I like to include a zip line tour.  Ever since my first experience in South Africa, hitting the zip line has been on the agenda.  We have also enjoyed zip lining in Ketchikan, Alaska, Chiang Mai, Thailand, Pennsylvania, and now I can add Hawaii to the list.  I have found zip lining offers a lot more than just sailing along on top of trees.  In South Africa the tour included a bumpy uphill ride on the back of a beat up pick up truck. In Chiang Mai we enjoyed a long bus ride through town and country and deep into a forest that was once a tea plantation. Alaska offered a switchback, up hill hike through the forest.  In Hawaii we had a tour through the Kualoa Farm seeing backdrops where movies and TV shows were filmed. The driver acted like a tour guide and gave us much history of the grounds.


The drive up is amazing.  I love these, what I call, velvet rippled mountains of the Windward Side.


This is the place. Four thousand acres of Hawaiian play land, from horse back riding to four wheeling and of course, the zip line.  There are many other adventures to enjoy on this farm, but we had one thing in mind.


So we jump on the bus and enjoy the scenery on the way up with ocean views nearby.


Right through the Jurassik Park movie set and TV’s Lost series.


We are finally there and now the adventure of suiting up begins.  Adding to the fun is going with someone who has never gone zip lining before.  The girls were nervous, but after the second out of seven lines, they were pros and enjoyed the day as much as I did.


You pack your own chute, but it is checked by three different experts.

Put me in coach, I’m ready to fly!





Not as high as some I have been on, but fun none the less.






The tedious bridge walk.  Thank goodness for the harness.  Thank goodness I didn’t fall.     Dee comes in for a smooth landing.





The guides entertain us with a hula dance, after all what’s a zip line in Hawaii without a hula. The guys were great fun and helpful.  We had another diversion about half way through the lines.  One of the men in our group, who was standing beside me, fainted on the deck.  He was clutching the railing and went out cold.  A near by guide unhooked himself from the line, came over and helped me get him down.  I grabbed the guide’s discarded helmet and started to fan him and he came around quickly.  Pretty scary as he was white as a sheet and sweating profusely. Thankfully no chest pain involved. They came and got him in a pick up truck. Turned out he was dehydrated and was fine when we saw him again at base. His wife said “By honey, I’ll see you when we’re finished,”  and away we went on the next line.


Some scenes on the way back down to base were the proverbial “Little grass shack,”  and the contented cows grazing in paradise.



This was definitely a doable zip line in a beautiful setting.  Not as scary as the “sky high” one in Alaska and not as exotic as the 32 line “Flight of the Gibbon” in Chiang Mai, but Kualoa has my vote for being user friendly for first timers.



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Hike to Manoa Falls

One of the goals of our trip to Hawaii was to see a water falls.  There are plenty around but not all are that easy to get to.  Some of them require “pay to view,”  others are illusive by way of their lofty locations, and there are those that are a nearly impossible hike to get there.  Manoa Falls, located in beautiful Manoa Valley where rainbows are manufactured on a daily basis, is not any of the above.  A hop on the bus with one transfer and a 45 minute ride out of the hustle and bustle of Waikiki and the easy to moderate hike begins.


This was taken in Waikiki, but I am pretty sure it originated in Manoa Valley.


The hike begins as soon as you are off the bus. We walk up the hill, and past the few houses at the bottom of the majestic mountains that lay before us.



Suddenly we have entered a tropical rain forest.  The beginning of the hike was definitely easy, but progressed to moderate as we steadily climbed on.




Picture stops were frequent as there was dense forest beauty on every hand.

The picture below reminded me of two other rain forests I’ve been in.  One in the Blue Mountains of Australia and the other on the climb to the first base camp of Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania.  I have similar shots of the two large trees framing the path.


The rain begins.




The mud is sure to follow.


Photo ops abound.  Look closely, we are now passing through a bamboo forest.


The “are we there yet” questions begin about here.


Our first glimpse of the falls, still an uphill walk in the distance.


Higher and higher we go. Later we learn that you can hike beyond the first falls to other ones farther up the path. Two falls in one day was not on our agenda.


And there it is, Manoa Falls.  Very high, very much worth the walk.  Not as much water coming over as usual, but we had talked to folks earlier in the week that told us the falls were dry several weeks prior.  So we were happy that there was indeed, to quote from the first page of A Wish Called Wanda,  “white water cascading over the cliffs high above the glistening pool.”  I can’t say much for the roar of water pounding in my ears, but who is to say whether this could have been the very water fall on the calendar picture that inspired my dream to come to Hawaii in the first place.

I was happy to be there, and I chose to dub Manoa those falls.  I had the joy of briefly sharing a small part of my story of going to Hawaii fifty years ago with a young gal, who joined me here at the base. We had but a few moments of telling each other our stories but, in that time we made a connection of two people who love to travel, meet people and share stories.


At that moment I really needed to share.  I was bursting with excitement of having returned to Hawaii with the memories of my own youth fresh in my mind.   And She was there, excited to listen and sweet gal named Hillary made my day!!!!


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An anniversary day blog

Forty-seven years ago on June first 1968 I married the man who captured my heart while living in Waikiki, Hawaii. In my book “A  Wish Called Wanda” I describe him as being “polite, thoughtful, nice-looking and attentive.  He wasn’t a big guy per se but he could just about swallow my five-foot three, 112-pound frame in an embrace.”  Although he was plenty tall enough for me, he was a bit shorter than his roommate whom he was standing beside when I nudged my roommate and said “I’ll take the short one” just so she knew not to get any ideas.  I had first and thankfully last dibs on him and am so thankful for our marriage, the Christian home we have established, our children and grandchildren who have made our lives complete.  This past April I made a return trip to Hawaii just to have another look at where it all began.


This is the building that replaced the apartment on Saratoga Rd where I lived when I met Dick.  The hotel right beside it was where my roommate and I spent our first couple nights in Hawaii in 1965.   Location, location, location was the deal here.  We were right across from Fort DeRussy Beach, an R&R resort for the military.  It was and is still a public beach where we spent many a happy hour among the palm trees and lawn areas.


Still as pretty as ever, a beautiful spot to “pop the question.”

We were married in the First Baptist Church of Honolulu.  My recent visit there brought back lovely memories and reminded me that my sister Pat was also married in this church. My brother Ken  and my cousin Alma met their spouses here in our very active youth group.


During this visit I was given opportunity to share these and other stories of my time here in the mid-sixties.





After we were married we moved up the street a little ways near Ala Moana Blvd.  We sat near this lagoon and watched the workers place the tiles on the Rainbow Hotel.


Another favorite pastime was to buy a banana Popsicle and walk through the yacht harbor dreaming of boats he would like to have and why.  None of those tall buildings you see on this picture were there then, except the one on the far right.  Back then it was a revolving restaurant with brilliant views, today it houses business offices.



Lizards or gecko’s were very common place back then.  They were in our houses and just about everywhere you looked.  This is the only one I saw on our trip in April.


The Crouching Lion Inn was a nice restaurant located near here that no longer exists, but you can see the mighty beast still commands the mountain.  IMG_1956

This beach is near Punaluu near where we spent our honeymoon.

After our three day get away, our wedding guests from home met us and we spent the day at the Polynesian Cultural Center. On the visit to the center in 2015 we learned that the center was celebrating its 50th anniversary which means they opened in 1965, my first year in Hawaii.



Seven years ago we celebrated our 40th anniversary with what I called an Hawaiian Luau and what Dick called a Pennsylvania Pig Roast.  After seeing this picture I may have to concede that ours was a PA Pig Roast. This years celebration is much quieter as Dick recovers from recent foot surgery.  Thanks for coming along with me as we looked back to where it all began. I have to add that reading the letters that made up most of the book made me fall in love with him, and life all over again. We look forward to many more years together.

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The Long Anticipated Diamond Head Climb

Before leaving on our trip to Oahu, Hawaii I had viewed the Diamond Head climb on You Tube, read the advice from the tour ads, and took the reviews with a grain of salt.  Most of the comments talked about the climb being very doable, while others complained about the heat, the height, the stairs and the tunnels. Frankly I loved them all.  We followed the good advice of going early, and on the day in April that we chose to climb, it wasn’t very hot. I had my frozen bottle of water tucked into the back of my jeans which serves very well as a body cooler, and as it thaws, provides a much-needed drink along the way. The views from the heights were spectacular, the stairs were a bit of a challenge, (who doesn’t need one on a hike) and the tunnels were cool and flat providing a stair climb recovery.

Let’s get started!  We took the bus to the stop near the entrance and this is the first tunnel we encountered.  It’s the one Bruce and I drove through in the book, “A Wish Called Wanda,” when he had to show his military ID to pass.  That was 50 years ago, before the summit climb was available.



This is basically what we saw then, the inside of the crater. Today we went to the booth, paid our one dollar entrance fee and started going up.


Switch backs and look outs were all part of the fun of being able to say “I did it!”




I thought I would just mention that the picture of me going up these steps, bears no resemblance to this one.

The views start to distract you from the walking and climbing.

IMG_1373                  IMG_1379

Did I mention the rusty spiral staircase?  Just keep climbing, Just keep climbing.


By this time you have been in Word War II bunkers, a smaller darker tunnel than the first one and one last climb up a three rung latter out of the bunker and this is your first view down over the summit.


You can go out on a small ledge to capture this view of Kapiolani Park and downtown Waikiki.  The blue water extraordinaire captures every heart that goes to Hawaii.


There are more stairs to get to the very top. So up we went, by this time it was, “who cares about a few more steps,” but when I reached the top, I looked down instead of up, got the biggest scare of the day, and headed right back down those steps. No pictures from the very top for me.


I looked down and saw several of these little guys running around as I was about to take the next few steps to the very top.  Dee happened to spot one under this ledge on the way down. She was kind enough to get a picture of it for me.  For fear of stepping on one of these creatures, I left the premises. My reaction to the first sighting set off a chain of events, starting with a young Japanese man who jumped off the step and fell into another woman.  She was quite beside herself when accosted by man running from a mouse.  I simply walked down the steps and waited for my companions.      Aloha Oi Diamond Head, thanks for the memories.

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Everything Changes

“Everything changes.” He was saying, “Even in your home town, things change over the years.”  I was speaking with a Hawaiian man who I caught up with on the street and asked him if he had lived here long.  “All my life.”  He replied.  I had asked him if he remembered one of my favorite restaurants from 50 years ago when I lived in Honolulu for over 3 years.  Oh yes He remembered Coco’s, one of his favorite restaurants as well.  “Long gone,” he said,”It changed to Hard Rock Cafe then Hard Rock moved to Waikiki and there is no trace of Coco’s.”    We agreed that every thing changes over time, but still some things remain the same and brings back the memories of times gone by.   Thus the reason for my most recent trip to Oahu, Hawaii.  While writing my youthful memoirs, I once again became familiar with the way things used to be, and I was curious to know what the changes were and if I would recognize anything.  I am pleased to tell you that the answer is yes.  Many things, not the least of which is the beauty of the land itself, remain the same.

When people find out that I have written a book, the first thing they want to know is what it is about.   The answer is really quite simple.  “A Wish Called Wanda”  is about the foundation of my life.   The part of my life I chose to write about ends at age 23, but what I experienced, and the choices I made in those first 23 years set the path for my life. Everyone could write that story.  I loved those days of my life, I wanted to savor the moments, and tell about those years as a legacy to all who would embrace joy for life.  After researching and reviewing the events of my youth, getting it in print and published, I had a great desire to revisit the places where the memories were made.  I took along my sweet friend, Lisa, who helped get the book in print and my dear friend, Deanna, who proved to be a great asset to us as we traveled.DSCF4083

The airplane movie screen teased us with scenes of the lush beauty of the land.  A picture like this one captured my heart at age 19 and made me want to experience the reality of it. A waterfall sets the opening scene in the book.

DSCF4087The airport drew out our cameras to capture first impressions.


Our taxi dropped us off on Saratoga Road to the place I came 50 years ago to spend my first three nights in Honolulu.  Later my apartment was located on this spot.  I have a picture of me taken in front of this tree, as a young girl.


Waikiki, so much has changed and still much the same.

Thank God they can’t change this.


There are things about the Island that cannot be changed and I like to think about those, rather than to dwell on the expensive shops and massive amounts of hotels that have invaded Waikiki in the past 50 years.


My beloved Ft DeRussy, where I spent many a happy hour, is changed but her beauty still lingers and proximity to that breath-taking blue water and our hotel is still the same.  In life as well as in places things change and sometimes we wish for things as they were.


Like the glass elevator in the Ilikai Hotel that let you see over the opposite end of Waikiki for miles, gone now because of the many hotels that obscure the view.  We did find a hotel up the road that offers at least some of that view from their glass elevator.  I was happy to find another glass elevator in the area.


Diamond Head is the Icon that hasn’t changed, but something about it has.  Fifty years ago only military personnel could go inside the crater.  Today anyone can climb to the summit and enjoy beautiful views of the ocean and city.  When I say anyone that includes me.  We had a goal to climb to the peak and we did it.  Stay tuned for the next blog climbing the number one icon of Waikiki.

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