Monday, February 26, 2024

Winter Beach Time

 Being at home for a few days, we take advantage of the sunshine and ride out to check on the beach.

You can see how crowded out there it is at this time of the year!  We were the only ones there as far as we could see.

One advantage of going when no one else is there is that you have a much better chance of finding good shells. After all, the first one there is the one who gets them.

People ask us, “What’s it like to live on Ocracoke in the winter?”  Every time of the year is different and wonderful.  We love these quiet times, but, we will soon be ready for the island to start waking up for the spring and summer seasons.

Tuesday, February 20, 2024

St. Simon’s Island

 This past weekend Trish and I were at the Ninth St. Simon’s Island Storytelling Festival on St. Simon’s Island, Georgia.

Held at the beautiful Epworth By The Sea Methodist Center, the place itself makes this lovely festival worth attending. You can both stay and dine at the Center for the entire festival.

Andy Offutt Irwin has been the creative impetus and sustainer of this festival from the beginning.  After the COVID hiatus, the audience has returned in growing numbers.  This is one of those audiences for whom it is a joy to tell.  They are supportive and responsive in every way.

This year I got to work with Megan Hicks, Paul Strickland, and Kim Whitecamp with Andy as the emcee.  It was a great lineup of tellers, all of whom did excellent work.  We all had a great time working together.

Always held on Presidents’ Day Weekend, this is a festival to put on your “must go” list.

Wednesday, February 14, 2024

Punchbowl Cemetery

 This afternoon we fly from Honolulu back to Atlanta.  Since the flight leaves in the afternoon and arrives tomorrow morning, we were in no hurry getting to the airport.  This gave us time to visit the National Veterans Memorial of the Pacific, commonly called the Punchbowl Cemetery.

The Cemetery was established by act of congress in 1949 and, since then, more than 53,000 veterans of WW II, Korea, and Vietnam are buried there. Close family members as well as veterans themselves can also be buried in the multi-level gravesites.

White the grave plots are almost all filled with at least one set of remains, later dying family members are still being buried here frequently. There are also new structures for cremains in multiple columbaria.

In addition to graves and cremains, there are numerous memorials for missing and deceased veterans.  There are memorial listings of more than 18,000 missing veterans from the WW II Pacific action and over 8,000 missing from Korea and 2,500 from Vietnam.

Down in the Punchbowl you see only the cemetery, but, from the top edge you can look down on all of Honolulu.  Trish and I were very moved by our visit here, our last stop on our Hawaiian vacation.

Monday, February 12, 2024

Around Kauai

 This is our last full day on the island of Kauai. We have had a wonderful time seeing things so warm and green in the midst of our winter at home.  

The staple starch in the traditional diet here is poi, made from the roots of the taro plant.  The taro is related to the elephant ear plant and is farmed, like rice, with its feet in the water.  The great green fields are very beautiful in themselves. Hanalea Valley, nearby, is a great farmland for taro.

Yesterday we went in a ride to the other side of the island.  While not as green as the very wet North Coast (we are told that the mountains above here easily get 500 inches of rain in a year), the rivers born in the mountains still send them waterfalls.  We stopped at two of them.

Back at our little house today for sun on the beach and rest on the lanai.  This has been a perfect vacation time for winter.

Sunday, February 11, 2024

Luau Plus!

 Yesterday we went to the Smith Family Boat Ride and Luau for the afternoon and evening.

In 1946, the grandfather of the current adult generation started the Fern Grotto boat ride with an outboard that held four people.  Today the family continues this tradition with the large tour boats and the addition of beautiful gardens and an evening luau.

After our boat ride up the river, we walked to the Fern Grotto.  We were told that 2,500 weddings have been held here since 1946. 

We returned to the beautiful gardens where we had time until the pig was brought out of the underground cooking pit before the dinner started.

In the meantime we got bird food and enjoyed playing with the variety of friendly begging birds in the garden.

After the huge luau dinner, there was a show to end the evening.  It ranged from dancers to fire show and ended with rain starting just at the conclusion!  A soft end to a relaxing day.

Saturday, February 10, 2024

Kilauea Lighthouse

 Our Ocracoke lighthouse is this year 200 years old.  We are proud that it is the oldest functioning lighthouse in the US.  In 1854 it was fitted with a very early Fresnel lens, developed by French physicist Augustine Fresnel about the time our lighthouse was built.  Ours is a Fourth Order Fresnel Lens that pushes the light out until it is visible fourteen miles at sea.  Our Fourth Order Lens is about two feet tall.

Yesterday Trish and I got to visit the remarkable Kilauea Lighthouse on the eastern shore of Kauai. 

This lighthouse is not very tall. It does not need to be as it sits on a high rocky outcrop that is already perched far above the ocean.

The most remarkable thing about this lighthouse, built in 1913, is that it has a very rare Second Order Fresnel Lens.  The lens itself stands just over six feet tall and weighs 8,000 pounds.  This Second Order Lens pushes what was historically an oil flame into visibility for twenty-four miles out at sea. It is a beautiful piece of work.

Now electrified, the light, which has a mechanism making it appear to rotate or flash, originally had to be manually crank-wound every three and a half hours.  

Being a lighthouse keeper was a very full time job. Carrying lamp oil, adjusting flues for wind and weather, keeping the burner clean and non-stop functional, cleaning the lens, maintaining the structure itself, winding and maintaining the rotation mechanism, this was not a passive job.  

The lives saved by the world’s lighthouses is a number impossible to estimate and much of that success is due to Augustine Fresnel.  He died of tuberculosis at age thirty-nine in 1827.

Thursday, February 8, 2024

To Kauai

 Yesterday we flew from Moloka’i up to Kauai for the rest of our vacation.  We rented a little house right on the ocean on the north shore at Princeville.

It is a quirky little old house with one bedroom and a front lawn that runs right out to the beach.  Trish and I think it is the perfect place to disappear from the world for a few days.  

We sleep late, have coffee and hot chocolate and cereal in bed, then read for a while on the lanai, then walk on the beach, then go out for early supper so we can go to bed and read until we are asleep and start it all over again.  As soon as we get back, we are in a nonstop spring schedule, so, we treasure this time.

We have internet here but no phone service, so, we get to be in charge of the outside world.  You should give it a try!

Winter Beach Time

 Being at home for a few days, we take advantage of the sunshine and ride out to check on the beach. You can see how crowded out there it is...