Posted in Travel

Hawaii Sea Spirits

I love vodka, as does my Husband Don, so when we found out the Hawaii Sea Spirits Organic Farm and distillery home of Ocean Organic Vodka and Deep Island Hawaiian Rum was on Maui, I knew this had to be one of our stops while on the island. We arrived at the beautiful property just in time for the final tour of the day.
Our tour guide was Earl, he was very knowledgeable about the process of making the vodka and rum they make on the farm. He informed us about everything from the self sustaining well water supply and solar power to the different kinds of sugar cane on the farm even the best daiquiri recipe, using their rum. He commented if ever was a zombie apocalypse, this was the place to be, with ample supplies of power, water and spirits you would be set.
Part of the tour is a tasting. Even this part of the tour is an education. First we enjoyed a sample of the water used in their bottling process, then three small sips of vodka so we can get the true taste of the delicious velvety clean tasting vodka. Then came the rum. Again, Earl was brilliant as he explained the process and challenged us to savor the flavors we would experience as we tasted.
The tour is $25.00 per person plus your ID, (be sure to have it with you they take this very seriously. The cost includes a fabulous tour, a small tasting of both their vodka and rum, as well as a commemorative shot glass.
If you want to purchase anything they are very helpful with assisting you in packing things up to make them travel safe. The distillery is a 20 minute drive from OGG airport, so a good stop when you arrive or depart.

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Posted in Travel

Sailing into The Hawaiian Sunset

84b4d681-d45f-495e-95aa-43359b980147Don and I wanted to find a special place to have dinner our last night in Honolulu this trip. So when we found out about the Star of Honolulu and its sunset dinner cruise, we decided that would be perfect.
When we arrived at Pier 8 we were greeted by hula dancers and musicians, making us feel as if we were royalty. We were lead to the top deck where we met the ships captain and more musicians and dancers who entertained. We were served champagne and canapés before being brought to our seats to begin our 7 course meal.
The food was delicious, and there was never a rush to finish. The menu was pre-determined so no need to make any decisions (though they do offer a special menu for those with diet restrictions or allergies, you need to inform them ahead at booking). All we had to to was enjoy each other’s company and the beautiful view, then a new course was brought out.
So often when you take a touristy type cruise like this you wind up eating rubbery chicken or over cooked meat. But that was not at all the case, each course was more delicious then the last. We started a fabulous asparagus soup followed by a golden beet salad. During the salad, the waiter, Jan, poured us a glass of champagne for the Captains toast prior to the main course.
The toast was brief but elegant and well received by all of the guests. Then on to the flown in Maine Lobster chased with a palate cleansing sorbet and then beef tenderloin, finally a delicious chocolate cake with chocolate gelato for dessert.
Our on board package included three alcoholic beverages. To start I chose a delicious perfectly poured rainbow martini. Don had margarita “rocks, no salt”. With dinner we chose a lovely red wine and a Remy Martin VSOP to compliment our dessert.
The wait staff was friendly and very attentive. If we were out on deck watching the sunset or the view of Diamond Head they would wait for us to return before bringing out the next course, so our food never got cold. There was even someone nearby to help take photos of you and your guest(s).
During our meal, we were entertained with beautiful music and hula dancing. And after dinner, we danced along with a jazz trio who performed for us. The experience was like something from a classic 1940’s move.
When outside, we could hear the music and sounds from the lower decks, each package you could purchase had its own unique charm. We wished for more time so we could have wandered down to the other areas to take in the fun dancing and singing that was going on around us. But this night was perfectly romantic and dreamy.
On our deck there were nine or ten honeymooning couples and a small group of friends together for a reunion and us. The MC introduced and applauded the honeymooners, then introduced us as the couple who had been married thirty years. A chorus of oohs and ahas erupted into a raucous applause from the honeymooners. We were embarrassed by the attention, they may have been impressed with our thirty years, but we were envious of their bright futures, remembering how excited we had been thirty years ago to be starting our journey in life together.
At the end of the night we were honored when they asked to be able to take a photo with us.
The night was like a perfect dream, and I will look forward to coming back to Honolulu for another evening on the Star of Honolulu, maybe we will try the party atmosphere and book a lower deck. The 5 Star deck was amazing but variety is the spice of life. Now you know one of the secrets to thirty great years with my best friend.

Posted in Travel, Travel

San Francisco Cable Cars

Cable Cars
Every time I have visited San Francisco I watch the Trolleys pass me on the streets with passengers waving and hanging on as they go up and down the steep hills of the city. I always wanted to jump on one, but time never cooperated.
This year, riding one of those cars was my goal. I booked our stay at the Omni San Francisco, a beautiful hotel right on the route and purchased the cable car package through the hotel.
Soon after check in we were standing at the cable car stop waiting to board. I could almost hear Judy Garland singing as the car made its approach. When it stopped we climbed on, making our way to the middle of the crowded car, the focused conductor aligning us to make sure he could squeeze in as many people as possible. This first ride was not what I envisioned, I could barely see the city and it was so crowded. We chatted with other riders around us and the first thing I was told, is this is not a trolley, trolleys are what Judy Garland sang on in Meet Me in St.Louis, or the little train on Mr. Rogers Neighborhood, these were cable cars, so named because of the steel cable under the streets that pull the cars, good thing I learned that before embarrassing myself by belting out “Clang Clang Clang went the trolley.”
After a few short stops, the conductor announced it was the end of the line, and at the end of the line everyone gets off. I guess I verbalized my disappointment a little too loudly because out of nowhere, appeared Lance, a grip man who seemed determined to make sure I got the cable car experience I had come to San Francisco for. Catch the Cable Car at the start of the line, you may have to wait a little longer but you will get one of those coveted outside spots, I did not realize those were premium spots, I thought cable cars were a primary form of transportation and the outside polls were for the poor unfortunates who were last on, I was banking on being one of those poor unfortunates. When I watched Streets of San Francisco or Ricearoni commercials the guys outside always had briefcases and wore business suits.

From Lance we learned that the front of the car is controlled by a grip-man, a person with superhuman strength and dexterity, who controls the car using a foot brake and a complicated series of handles and levers. We asked if he would take a picture of us on the car, and before we knew it he had us posing hanging out of the car, on the side of the car, he loved these Cable Cars and he wanted to be sure everyone who rode them loved them as well, after saying goodbye to our new friend we were on our way for a day of adventure. Soon after we were standing on the outside of the Car, clinging to the poll, along with a group of other riders, I was so glad I had chosen not to wear slip on shoes, I was certain that anything not attached to me would have wound up on the streets of San Francisco. Even though the maximum speed is only 9 miles per hour when they start heading downhill towards fisherman’s wharf I felt as if I was on the fastest roller coaster on earth. With the wind in my hair, and the city in view, we would get off at the end of each line, then go back to the end of the line watching the dance the cars do when they make their turn around. I was like a kid who had discovered a new ride. We got our money’s worth and then some with our 20.00 all day pass
Cable Cars are not an efficient way to travel in the city, lines to board can be very long, and they do not cover the entire city. The price is a bit steep, 7.00 each time you board (unless you purchase an all day passport as we did). I am certain they can be extremely unsafe, I was told that people do fall off them from time to time. But none of those things matter to me, when I stood on the steps of that cable car, clinging to the poll I felt as if I was flying through San Francisco. I will check that off my list of things I want to do, but I won’t be erasing it. I am sure I will be dragging Don back on those beautiful cable cars every time I am in San Francisco for years to come.