Okanagan Woman Magazine

Saturday, January 3, 2015

A Christmas Runner

You may recall that last winter this editor did a runner -- to the island of Maui for 60 days of tropical sunshine and ocean bliss.

This winter I’m on the run again.  My husband/ driver and I plan to wander semi-aimlessly, via the Oregon Coast, Southern California, Northern Baja, Arizona, Nevada, and home again. 

I admire those who can stick out a Canadian winter without complaint, who look forward to opening day at the ski hill.  And, truthfully, I do love that first blanket of snow, the glistening of sunlight on snowflakes.  It is magical. 

But I have a yearning to revisit San Diego and kayak in La Jolla Bay. I want to snorkel in the Northern Baja. I want to see the Grand Canyon for myself.  When I visit Joshua Tree National Park in California, I will finally understand what U2 meant in their song of the same name. My husband wants to spend a day at the Barrett Jackson Collector Car auction in Scottsdale – just because he’s a guy and they like that kind of stuff.

Last year, I blogged about our winter adventure and this year, I will do the same; you can follow along on Okanagan Woman’s website, under TRAVEL BLOG on the top right of the page. 

In this issue, freelancer, Dona Sturmanis, brings us the story of some outstanding elite women athletes. We wanted to tell you about even more women athletes, so when we ran out of space in the print magazine, we thanked our lucky stars for modern technology and unlimited space online.  Check out our website to read about more of the Okanagan’s inspiring winter athletes. 

This Winter issue takes us right through the New Year and Valentine’s Day, which is why regular contributor, Shannon Linden, went on a search for stories about love reunited.  She found two couples who had rediscovered love after years apart!   

World traveller, Patti Shales Lefkos, submitted a story of her own incredible journey of caring and community spirit– to Kathmandu.  It’s a story written by an Okanagan woman about an Okanagan woman who had help from an Okanagan teacher and her students, who raised funds for a school in Nepal.  Whew, that was a long sentence – and it’s a great story!

We have included our Health and Wellness Guide to the back of this Winter issue. It begins on page 41 and there you will find listings of area services and other useful information.  I encourage you to keep this issue handy issue for future reference.

Well, my friends, I bid you adieu, as I am off to pack for our winter travels.  Ah, semi-retirement, that’s where it’s at for this Okanagan Woman! 

Did I mention that late next spring we are driving across Canada? It has occurred to us that succession planning may be in order.  How else can we find time for all our road trips?







Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Week One in Review - A Picture Paints a Thousand Words

I had good intentions when I came to Maui … intentions that I would blog regularly, but the fact is, this island, for me, has been about 'doing' and sitting at my computer to write has definitely taken a back seat.  Despite the relatively small size of the island, there is no shortage of things to be ‘doing’.  We’ve been on the ‘Valley Isle’ now for 34 days and in that time, we have been snorkeling (on several occasions), kayaking, whale watching, wine tasting, visiting volcanoes, art galleries, and funky towns.  We’ve driven crazy, curvy roads, hiked to waterfalls through bamboo forests, and I still have a long list of “want to do’s.”

Since a picture paints a thousand words, here is the first week – in photos:

November 13 - arrived late the night before, so on our first day, the priority was stocking up on supplies.
On November 14th, we visited Lahaina, home to one of the largest banyan trees in the United States. It was imported from India and planted in front of the Lahaina Courthouse and Lahaina Harbor on 1873, this sprawling tree along Front Street is the size of an entire city block and stands more than 60-feet high. (Source: GoHawaii.com)

November 15 - Adding to our grocery supply with local produce at the Kihei Farmer's Market

On November 16th, we took a trip upcountry to Surfing Goat Dairy. Then we carried on to the rustic Paniolo town of Makawao, and then on to Maui's Winery at Ulupalakua Ranch

Maui's Winery at Ulupalakua Ranch
A change of scenery. Upcountry Road to Winery
Coming from the Okanagan, one of Canada's premiere wine destinations, we had to check out Maui's only commercial winery. The drive up offers wonderful views, and a complete change of landscape. Wines here include sparkling, pineapple, grape and a unique raspberry dessert wine.  

On November 18th, we headed out to the resort community and beautiful beaches of Wailea. In front of the five star resorts, there is beautiful boardwalk (actually, it's a sidewalk) that meanders along the coast line. Start at Ulau Beach Park and walk 1.6 miles to the Fairmont Kea Lani.  On your right is the ocean, and on your left multi-million dollar view properties.  Along the way are beautiful sandy beaches, a beachfront view into some of the island's high end hotel/resorts, and a kiosk to treat yourself to an icecream or lemonade! It's an easy 3.2 mile round trip walk. You will be stopping lots to take photographs!

 The beaches in front of the hotels are accessible to the public, with lots of free parking.

Aloha! Tomorrow's post - Week Two in Pics!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Road to Hana

After four weeks in Maui, I have replenished my stores of Vitamin D and am still lucky enough to have another five weeks on this island paradise in front of me.  Yet yesterday I felt sad.
That’s because my BFF of almost forty years, Lorna, had to fly home. Lorna and I have supported each other through career changes, marriages, split ups, raising our children, the loss of loved ones and every major (and minor) life event.  And this past week, we shared the beauty of an outstanding week on Maui.  Yesterday morning, knowing her departure was imminent, we wandered down to the beach and stood knee deep in the ocean while waves crashed around us.  As it is with best friends, talking isn’t always necessary.  We just soaked up the moment and appreciated all the past week had to offer.  

Koki Beach
Dean and I had already been in Maui for 3 weeks by the time Lorna showed up and we’d been scoping out excursions and saving the best to share with her.  Of course, how can you know what is the best until you experience it? So, based on the advice of brochures and locals, we planned our road trip to Hana for her arrival.

 “It’s windy” all the brochures warn.  They also say, “Plan to spend the day. Stay over if you can.”  This is good advice.  The actual distance to Hana is only about 50 miles from Kahului, but its 59 bridges (46 are one lane) and 620 curves make it slow going.  We were on the road for a solid four hours (one direction), including stops for banana bread, fruit smoothies, roadside waterfalls, a closer look at a rainbow eucalyptus tree, a pee break, outstanding coastline views, a detour to stunning Koki Beach, eventually stopping at Haleakala National Park (Kipahulu trails area) home of the seven sacred pools and the Bamboo Forest. 

It is almost 2 o’clock by the time we arrive at the Park and our goal is to see the Bamboo Forest.  The seven sacred pools will have to wait for another day.  We parked the car ($10 a car load) and set out for the Pipiwai Trail, past  Makahiku waterfall (about 200 feet high) through the Bamboo Forest to the impressive 400 foot Waimoka Falls. Let me say this.  Every step along this two mile (one way) hike – often uphill, uneven, muddy ground – is worth it.  If you visit Maui, do not miss this opportunity.  It is an experience I will always cherish, made even more exceptional because it was shared with my two best friends.

Rainbow Eucalyptus Tree
 Close up 

Lorna says Good-bye!

But I am strong; I shall carry on the journey! :-)

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Diving in the Deep End - or Not.

I’m on vacation; I don’t want schedules, plans, timelines or deadlines. My husband and I have adopted a “we’ll get to it when we get to it” attitude.

Yesterday, we stopped in at Maui Dive Shop’s Wailea location, looking for a little excitement. Everett, the sales rep suggested ,maybe, we’d like to get dive certified. It only takes a few days and we would be certified for life. (That’s dive certified ;-))
My husband is ready to go with the flow, sign up, pay the man our money.   I, however, am only ‘interested’.  I want to dive; I just don’t want to commit to three consecutive days in which I would have to get up early and actually DO something and be somewhere at a specific time.  It goes against the grain of my vacation philosophy of ‘I’ll get to it when I get to it.’

So I thought it prudent to “test” the waters, so to speak.  I challenged myself – if I could get up, get mobile and go snorkeling three mornings in a row, then I could surely get up, get mobile and go diving three mornings in a row. Today, day one of my personal challenge, saw me get out of bed bright and early, and armed with a map indicating good snorkel spots, head off to Olowalu, south of Lahaina on Route 30. I’d packed a lunch the night before and even though the unusually loud crashing of waves on shore in front of our condo had kept me awake much of the night, I hoped my energy levels would pick up once I hit the water.
The map said cars often got stuck in the soft sand in the parking area, so I made sure to park on solid ground.   At Oowalu, waves crashed mercilessly on shore, just like at the beach at our condo.  Today is the first time since we arrived we’ve seen swells this big on the south west coast (see video below).  In any case, that wasn’t going to stop me. I was going snorkeling come hell or high water.
Or not.

It wasn’t the hell or high water that stopped me. It was the sign – the one that said “WARNING: Sharks May be Present”.
Of course, Dean was ready to ignore the sign’s message as if it were a highway speed sign.  To quell my obvious concerns, he sought the opinions of some local divers who were just coming in off the water.  No big deal,” says the diver, “Sharks are like Labrador puppies, curious and playful most of the time.”
Nope. Not gonna do it. Not putting a big toe in the water.

Reluctantly, Dean agreed to find a ‘safer’ snorkel beach. But with such big swells, we decided to call it a day.   When we arrived home, a neighbour told us there'd been a shark attack yesterday at the very Kihei beach where we’d spent most of the day.
I’m still undecided about the diving thing.  It all depends on whether I can get up, get mobile and go snorkeling tomorrow morning.

The beach in front of our condo has been a wonderful place for a morning dip ... but today conditions were less than ideal - unless you are into body surfing, like these fearless youngsters.

Friday, November 29, 2013

What IS that? Fruit, Tropical Fruit!

In an ideal world, I would have a personal chef prepare delicious healthy meals for me, but in the real world, alas, I must cook my own.
Our Maalaea Bay Condo is fully equipped with everything except the groceries. So we have braved the obligatory trip to Costco. We've been exploring the local grocer, farmer's markets and roadside fruit stands. I can't tell you how many times I have put my interview skills to work with the question, "What IS that?"

THAT is Cherimoya and it is exactly as the sign describes. Delicious!  Inside is creamy white and it tastes a bit like custard.
These Hawaiian sweet potatoes are purple inside! They are also called Okinawan potatoes or purple yams.  Okinawan sounds a lot like Okanagan, and I would like to know if anyone back home grows these! Because they are FAB!
Bring your own bag! What a brilliant plan. And there are those in the Okanagan who would love to see the same rules instituted - and that makes good sense. Saw this story on Castanet recently... Penticton man wants plastic bags banned.

When life hands you lemons, make fresh squeezed lemonade - because it is delicious! The powdered lemonade mix I have purchased occasionally has no resemblance to fresh squeezed Maui lemonade.   

Oh but for the kindness of strangers, my life would not be changed forever.  Seriously, I saw this couple with
this fabulous looking treat and I had to ask, “What IS that?” 
This, they told me, is the best Hawaiian Shave Ice in the land.  And so it was that I had my very first taste of Hawaiian Shave ice--  coconut, lilikoi and sweet cream - purchased from Maui Girlz Shave Ice concession at the Maui Swap Meet.  Turns out I was served by Jessica Griffiths, who is a local celebrity and the model for the first Hawaiian inspired American Girl doll.


 The Maui Swap Meet (not a swap meet at all) is like a HUGE farmer’s market (see pics at bottom of post) with an excellent selection of local art, food and clothing. It is held every Saturday in Kahului and well worth visiting.  We are returning next weekend – for more shave ice and for the incredible selection of fruits and vegetables.




Saturday, November 23, 2013

Jelly Fish Jitters

Day before yesterday, I picked up a magazine called NO KA 'OI Maui because it had a picture of a pretty fish on the cover and sported an eye catching headline that read, 5 Best Snorkel Spots.  We’ve snorkeled at the beach in front of our condo because it’s easy access, but we know the island offers far better spots. And we aim to find them. 
So, we chose Makena Landing, one of the spots listed in the magazine.  To get there, we drove through the palm lined streets of the luxury resort town, Wailea … which reminded me that I still hadn’t checked the lottery ticket purchased before leaving the Okanagan.

Big Beach, November 22, 2013
Makena Landing Beach, November 22, 2013

Makena Landing Beach is not one of long brown sugar sandy beaches like Big Beach, which is a gorgeous area further down the road at Makena State Park. Makena Landing is much smaller and rockier, but the offer of good snorkeling meant there were lots of people on the beach.  
Parking is handy and so are washrooms.
We wasted no time getting in the water….  and I wasted no time getting right back out.  Call me chicken! 

I’d only swum out a few feet when a young boy, around 10 years of age, was stung by a jelly fish. Oh, he was brave, I’ll give him that. There was none of that screaming that would have been heard around the island, had it been me who was stung.  I do not handle such things with any kind of decorum.

Some locals offered up first aid, applying the juice from a plant on the beach to the side of the boy’s face, where a nasty rash had appeared.  Others pulled beer cans out of their coolers to soothe the sting.  Apparently, this was the second incident this morning. 
I watched from the beach as Dean carried on his snorkeling adventure.  I wanted to go back in; I really did. But I simply couldn’t bring myself to risk it.

Up to this point,  I wasn’t concerned about jelly fish, but  now it was at the front of my mind so naturally I googled it.  According to http://www.to-hawaii.com/maui/beaches/ jelly fish typically arrive 9-12 days after a full moon.  Just a few days ago, I snapped some pics of the beautiful full moon from our lanai. Oh oh.  Strains of the tune from Little Red Riding Hood fill my mind, “If you go into the woods (I mean water) today, you’re in for a big surprise.”
So thank you, young man at the beach, for taking one for the team.  I will keep this jelly fish calendar on my person for the next 7 weeks!
Today, we head (safely) to the swap meet in Kahului, where the only jellyfish I expect to see is in the local art!
Jelly fish calendar from http://www.to-hawaii.com/maui/beaches/




Friday, November 22, 2013

Warning Signs on West Maui's Rugged North Shore

Of course we saw the signs.  They were right there, large amber coloured, diamond shaped warning signs, and we interpreted them as cautions, not outright prohibitions.  Traveling from Wailuku north on Route 340, the road became windier and we knew it was probably going to get interesting.  So, we thanked the signs for the ‘heads up’ and drove on, around the first narrow corner, then the second and then … well, in for a penny, in for a pound.

This was an unplanned excursion. After a morning walk along the three mile beach that fronts our condo and an early afternoon siesta, we decided to head out on a reconnaissance mission, scouting out cool places to suggest to our upcoming visitors from the Okanagan.    
We took Highway 30 to Wailuku, past the Iao Valley which we’d visited the day before, and onto Route 340, also called the Kahekili Highway.  (After driving this road, let me stress that this is not a Highway by any stretch of the imagination).

If we’d had a map in the car we’d have seen the dotted red line with the words Narrow road, drive at your own risk. Maybe we’d have turned back, but probably not.  Because we’re funny that way.
We didn’t realize that we were on West Maui’s rugged North Shore; perhaps it is the not knowing that made this road trip so outstanding.  The road is single lane for many miles, with constant curves, no guardrails and teeny weeny places to pull over to yield to oncoming traffic.

It is hair raising; I’m not gonna lie.  But the rewards  … outstanding rugged coastlines, picturesque farmland, a rustic village and so much more.
Shortly after passing Turnbull Gallery’s life-sized giraffe sculpture we came to amazing farmland overlooking the ocean. Egrets wade through the tall grass where cows are grazing, unlimited ocean views in the background. 
And straight ahead is a stunning, rocky island, which I later learn is Mokeehia Island, a seabird sanctuary.

We continue to climb the windy road, until we come to an unexpected treasure - the Kaukini Gallery and Gift Shop. Located on a cliffside overlooking the picturesque village of Kahakuloa, this shop has a superb variety of Maui inspired art and gifts. The views from here are shockingly beautiful. Artist in residence, Karen Lei Noland, suggested we stop at the Olivine Pools, a natural lava formation that creates large tidal in the rocks, so we did.  

But not before stopping at a viewpoint of Kahakuloa Head, a landmark hill at the end of a small bay, and purchasing a lemon smoothie from a colourful converted school bus that looks like it might be permanently parked there.

Soon, the road became “normal” and I unclenched my fingers from the dashboard.
Within minutes we saw several cars parked at the side of the road and we guessed this just might be the Olivine Pools, as it is not marked.  A couple returning to their vehicle confirmed that it was and the woman, noticing my fashion flip flops cautioned me against venturing down the rocky path.
So, we wandered just far enough to snap some photos and decided to come back another day.  Driving just a few minutes on, we discovered the Nakalele Blowhole and though my footwear prohibited us from making the trek down to the ocean, our reconnaissance mission has been a success!  We have discovered some wonderful places to which we will return in the coming weeks.