Notes from Puzzle Palace

Thursday, January 20, 2022


Over the past two days we have visited 2 different islands.  The same will happen over the next 2 days as well. 

Our first stop was Maui.  Here we had booked an adventure hike for the day. We set our alarms for early and woke around 7 to start the day.  We went to the Insignia lounge to get our bus assignment and then headed out to a green van.  The group was small today. Only 8 hikers and one ship guide.  

This tour took us to a 50 acre 'farm'.  It was purchased in 1996 by 5 families in the hopes of turning it into a commune.  As it turned out, the age of communes had passed and the families had a bunch of rainforest. Our guide told us that years later when they lost their livelihood, they began charging the public to go hiking through the forest.  

It was a beautiful simple hike.  Not at all the strenuous experience I expected given the description from the cruise ship.  I enjoyed it all the same.  On this hike, we saw 4 waterfalls.

At the first one, George and I decided to go for a 'refreshing dip'.  The water was at 50 degrees Fahrenheit. Not cold, but not warm either.  Certainly not what I expected to have in Hawaii.  This one was called Caveman waterfall. The reason I’m assuming is because of the cave behind the waterfall?  At this waterfall, we had a lunch of a turkey sandwich, a cookie, and some potato chips. It was a bit early in the day for me at 10:30 so I gave most of mine to George.

The next waterfall we came to had no name that I can remember and we were only able to access it from the top and look down on it.  

At this point, our guide opened a gate labeled, keep out farm, and we went on our way.  After a short hike we ended up at Ohia Lei-liua.  A 35 foot waterfall.  This one we were not able to swim at as there really was no pool to speak of. 

We carried on up a trail and arrived at running man waterfall. This was fantastic.  People were able to jump off the edge down into the pool below.  Only one man from our group tried this. George and I thought about it, but since we had changed out of our swimming gear at the pool we thought better of it. I’m sure people did not want to see 2 naked folks jumping off a cliff.  

On the walk back, we sampled a strawberry guava and learned a lot about teak trees and other plants in the rain forest.  Overall, it was a nice way to spend the morning.  

When we returned to the dock area, I opted to stop at a local mall and wander around.  I purchased some guava juice for George, and a few puzzles for me.  Nothing spectacular, just a different take on a 1x3x3 spinner cube and some floating spinner rings.  

When I returned to the ship George was still napping so I just sat quietly and played a silly game on my iPad.  Dinner that night was with people we had dined with before and as usual was quite enjoyable.  

On Tuesday we were in Kauai.  Our mud buggy tour was cancelled because of lack of interest so we took our handy scooters and off we went. 

The day before I found a pier that looked interesting and was close enough to scoot to.  We went for it and thought only to take a few photos and see a bit of scenery.  The pier itself was interesting in that it used to be the end of the line for a railroad. It has since been let fall into disrepair with no building standing other than the concrete pier that held it up.  The water below was so clear, we could see the fish swimming there.  

After a bit of time there, we then went over to the break wall and took a walk down to the end.  Here we took a few more photos.  It was wonderful to watch the waves crash against the wall, but when they got a bit higher, I decided it was time to go.  This area is littered with rocks, and I can’t imagine it is a safe place to do water sports.  Having said that, we saw quite a few paddle boarders and even some scuba divers.  

From here we decided to scoot back to our ship.  The day was young so George stopped and followed a path he had seen earlier.  I refused to go, and he went on his own.  It looked dodgy to me.  Shortly after he came back, told me to tuck the scooters behind a tree and walk with him.  I trust him completely so off we went.  

We came to an opening at the end of the trail which overlooked the water.  Here we sat for a while just enjoying the views.  We looked off to the right and saw a beach so we decided to scramble our way over the larger rocks to go to it.  

When we finally arrived, we stripped off and went for a swim.  We had found our own secluded beach in a Hawaiian paradise.  Ok.  Maybe not.   It was a rocky beach, not a sandy one and the ocean floor was a bit slimy from the algae that was there.  But it was heaven all the same.  

We were enjoying the swim-more of a float because it wasn’t that deep-and had planned to stay quite a bit longer when out of the corner of my eye I saw a snake!  No way!  I’m out of here!  I don’t believe I have ever moved that fast in my life. I DO NOT like snakes.  

Later when we were drying off on the large rocks George mentioned that Hawaii doesn’t have snakes.  He thought it must have been an eel.  It sure looked like a snake to me.  Swam like all the snakes I’ve ever seen too.  I was much more comfortable on land watching the crabs and drying in the warm sun.  

Back to the ship we went for a shower, a cold beer, and a nap.  We didn’t do anything else of note the rest of the day. Dinner I suppose, but I really don’t remember much of it.  

Wednesday morning found us back in Maui.  We had opted for another hike on this day. Only to get in the van and realize it was exactly the same hike we had gone on two days before.  We decided to switch our excursion and ended up going to a pineapple plantation. It was very nice of Oceania to switch the excursion for us at the last minute.  Although, in my defense, it did not say this was the same hike in the brochure.  

We now had 2 hours to kill so we went for a walk along the main drag-tourist trap.  Then went to a bar/restaurant named Cool Cat for a few sandwiches and a drink.  The food was acceptable and the drinks were cold.  

The pineapple farm was run by Maui pineapples, and was one more pineapple farm.  We’ve been to a couple of them over the years.  The difference here is that the pineapples are said to have 85% or more sugar content.  While these were nice, and they were definitely sweeter than what I get back home in Florida, I have had much much sweeter pineapples in Asia.  Or should I say I've had pineapples that do not have that bit of sour tang that hits the back of your tongue when bitten into. 

When the tour was finished, we had a pineapple smoothy that was nice and cold.  Again, it wasn’t super sweet to me.  It was full of flavor and that is what one looks for isn’t it?

After our return to the pier, George jumped on a Tender to return to the ship. I went into town to get some cookies from the Honolulu Cookie Company for our room stewards.  You see, I burned my hand with some scalding water and they ran quickly to get me some ice to cool it with.  I’m right as rain now thanks to their quick thinking.  These cookies are very good so I thought what a great way to thank them.  

I also bought a bit of sugared ginger, and a few pieces of jewelry today.

And now on to the real news of the day.  Our around the world trip has shifted focus.  We are no longer going around the world, we are now going around the Caribbean and to Europe and the middle east.  If we decided to stay on, Oceania would give us a 15% refund on our cruise cost. Well, this was added incentive.  We had no plans of cancelling the trip even without the refund.  But BONUS!  Now we will just slap that money down on a 2024 world cruise deposit.  

When we originally signed up for the cruise, it was because of Australia, New Zealand, and Madagascar.  Sadly, the first two were scrapped before the cruise even began. The last was just scrapped because of the change in itinerary.  No big deal.  While we have been to a few of the Caribbean islands, we haven’t been to all of them.  Same goes for cities in Mexico and quite a few places in the revised 'Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cruise'.  It will be interesting to see what the excursions will be.  

While the letter the ship sent to us blamed the lack of open ports at this time, I can’t help but wonder if perhaps it wasn’t diverted because of the eruption near Tonga.  Perhaps this is more of a safety issue than we realize.  Either way, it really doesn’t bother us. We will enjoy our time together and at sea.  

Our final day in Hawaii was in Kona.  Here we had a snorkeling excursion booked but due to lack of interest, it was cancelled.  We will as usual jump on our scooters and scoot around the area trying to find something to do. Before we left the ship, George found a local brewery for us to take a tour of and another beach.  

Off we went.  We got to the brewery after a small detour to a medical marijuana shop.  Totally by accident. We were embarrassed when the young lad came out and asked us for our medical cards.  Eventually we found the brewery, paid for a 12 noon tour, and set off for that beach he had found.

This beach was off to the left of an abandoned airfield landing strip. After scooting along that road, I can see now why plane landings are so bumpy.  That road was rough to say the least.  We found a place to lock the scooters and headed down to the beach to find a place to swim. Sadly, this beach was so rocky that it would have been dangerous to swim in.  That didn’t stop us.  We found a tide pool, took off our shoes and went wading.  

This was fascinating! We saw a number of small fish and I thought that would be the end of it. As I went to step on a higher rock, George showed me a sea urchin.  The more we looked, the more we saw.  There was even a sponge there.  This is a truly interesting world we live in.  All one needs to do is look around.  

We returned to the Brewery for the tour.  This place was impressive. They have solar panels on the roof and produce 25% of their energy.  They have a water processing plant on the property and clean 50% of the water they use to be reused for cleaning and watering plants.  They also allow local farmers to use the spent barley for cattle and pig feed.  This is amazing to me.  It's a real treat to see a company doing something to help protect the planet.  

Later we tasted a total of 4 different beers.  I liked the one with lemon grass and the one with coconut. We did something unheard of.  We left beer on the table and went back to pick up our scooters and head back to the ship.  Have no fear though, before we left we purchased a few growlers of the coconut beer and 4 cans of the mango beer.  

Upon scooting back to the ship we dropped our things and headed for lunch.  George had a banana milk shake and I had a glass of red wine.  Did I mention that I really only tasted the beer?  I much prefer wine.  Oh how times have changed.  As little as 5 years ago I’d have never left a beer on the table.  Now, I find it easy to walk away.  My head will thank me tomorrow morning I’m sure.

I leave Kona with the same thoughts I've had all 6 days we have been in Hawaii. It's a nice enough place to visit, but I am glad I don't live here.  I would go stir crazy for sure. The hikes are nice, the water is pretty, but it's just not for me.

On to 4 more sea days.  Expect a puzzle update in a day or two.  We have purchased a few more along the way. Until then, I wish you all happy puzzling and gentle winds.

1 comment:

  1. Really enjoying your blog. Could you post a pic of your scooters? Did you bring them or are they provided by the ship?