Archive for the ‘parent’ Category

Maui: Piliholo Ranch Zipline

June 24th, 2016
By



My daughter is studying macaws and the rainforest in school, and knows about the layers of the forest, including the canopy and the understory. When we were planning our Maui trip, she really wanted to go ziplining.

"I want to feel like a bird flying through the trees!" she said excitedly. I've zip lined before and I knew I liked it.

Olivia on her first zip.

Olivia on her first zip.

There are other operations on Maui, but Piliholo offers tours through trees (rather than a flat field); it's right in Makawao, where we were staying; and my local friends give it high marks for safety and reputation. Perfect.

IMG_5504

We booked the Six Line Treetop Zip Tour, which takes two hours, ascends high up into the trees, crosses aerial bridges, and even includes a bungee-like plunge off a 42-foot high deck. The longest treetop zipline is 930 feet!

42' QUICKjump deck

42' QUICKjump deck

The area is gorgeous. It's currently owned by the Baldwin brothers, Jeff, Duke, and Chris, whose forefather, the Reverend Dwight Baldwin, came to Maui in the 1830’s as a missionary.

IMG_5489

While the main portion of the ranch is a premier cattle business and horseback riding venture, they started the zipline course in a corner of the ranch as a nod to the growing field of eco-tourism and a desire to share the beauty of the ranch lands. After two years of construction, it opened in December 2008.

IMG_5519

Alatasi & Whitney

Olivia, though a little scared at first, quickly found her comfort zone and enjoyed her experience. The guides, Whitney and Alatasi, made her feel at ease with their warmth and friendliness. There was another family in our group with a boy her age, which added a sense of camaraderie. At the end, she asked if we could do this again!

I have to admit, when I stepped off the QUICKjump deck, I let out a little scream as my heart went up into my throat! Talk about my adrenaline rush for the morning!

With The Becketts

With The Becketts

And here's our funny of the day: just as I was about to leap off for another zipline, the other mom said to me, "Oh, uh. Your tie is coming loose." I was confused.

Our guide Whitney had just adjusted my carabiners and ties, and it was very clear they have a keen eye for your safety at all times. I jerked short and said, "What?!"

The mom, Mei, pointed at my head. "Your tie. Your ponytail holder?" and she pulled it off the end of my hair.

Whew. Right. Just that.

IMG_5528

Then off I was for another zip through the tree tops, soaring like a bird in one of the prettiest places in the state.

More at https://piiholozipline.com.

 

 

Maui: the community of Keokea

June 20th, 2016
By



This spring, I learned my great-grandmother, a full-Hawaiian woman named Helen Maliu, was born in Keokea. I don't know when, but when she married my full-Chinese great-grandfather, they moved to Papakolea on Oahu.

I've driven through Keokea before, but this time I wanted to revisit it with this new knowledge that I have ancestral ties to the area. It's a very small town; the 2010 US Census Bureau report puts the population at just over 1,600.

Sleepy Keokea

Sleepy Keokea

According to genealogy documents, one or two of Great-grandmother Maliu's five children (original last name Ako, but would have changed through marriage for the women) settled in Kula themselves.

Ironically, it's a full Hawaiian woman who is my link, though this community was originally settled by Chinese immigrants. I learned China's hero and first president, Sun Yat-Sen, briefly lived in Keokea in 1911.

IMG_5740

There's a small park built in his honor. Also, Sun Yat-Sen's brother, Sun Mei, made his home in Keokea in the early 20th century.

IMG_5754

It's well-maintained, with a few pretty paths and a couple of picnic benches. Most of the time, it's the feral chickens who seem to be enjoying the park the most.

IMG_5752 IMG_5756

Another well-known Chinese landmark is the Kwock Hing Temple on Middle Road. I happened to see it as we were driving by, and spun around to check it out.

IMG_5720

Olivia and I walked up the stairs and peeked around the locked building. I was about to be satisfied with that, but a man peered around from the back and asked if we needed help.

With Nelson S. N. Chung

With Nelson S. N. Chung

How fortunate we were able to meet Nelson S. N. Chung, one of the members who helps care for the building. It's usually locked, but he let us peek inside.

He said it was built in 1907 and was the first two story structure in Kula. Over time, it's been renovated and moved about 200 feet south to its present site. The Hawaii State Register of Historic Places and the National Register of Historic Places added it to their lists in 1982.

The building's original purpose was to provide services to immigrant Chinese workers, who the sugarcane plantations started hiring in 1852. In fact, there were so many Chinese immigrants, at one time there were six such halls - all helping the men with religious, political, and moral support- even funeral benefits. Now there are only two halls left.

First floor,

First floor, Kwock Hing Society Hall

IMG_5721

Photos on the first floor

The bottom floor has old photos of Chinese immigrants. The top floor is an incredibly tiny worship hall for Buddhists. Probably like, three Buddhists at a time.

Second floor, Kwock Hing Society Hall

Second floor, Kwock Hing Society Hall

Side note: It's interesting to be inside a building built before codes standardized measurements. The steps were so small - about six inches wide!

Lastly, we wanted to end our little tour with lunch. Chung gave us directions and told us to pay attention because if you blink, you miss it.

The main strip in Keokea

The main strip in Keokea

The "town" consists of four businesses: Henry S. Fong Store (which Chung says used to have a companion movie theater from the 1930s to the mid-1950s), Keokea Gallery featuring local artists' work, Chevron K.S. Ching Store, and Grandma's Coffee House. Henry S. Fong and Mrs. K. S. Ching, by the way, were brother and sister.

Fong Store

Fong Store

Fong Store

Fong Store

Grandma's Coffee House is the only place to sit down and eat, and it was pretty busy. It has fresh baked goods and roasts its own coffee.

Grandma's Coffee House

Grandma's Coffee House

According to its website, "Grandma began roasting and blending Maui organic coffee in 1918. It wasn't long before Grandma's house became the place to go for a cup of coffee and to 'talk story.' It is now four generations later and coffee is still in our family."

Can I haz a cheeseburger?

Can I haz a cheeseburger?

The web story explains how it went from cafe to restaurant: "Years ago, we decided to incorporate Grandma's original homemade recipes and our exclusive organic coffee into Grandma's Coffee House."

IMG_5753

It was a nice way to pass a couple hours in Keokea. Now I try to imagine my own great-grandmother living in this town, and feel I know her just a little bit better. What a beautiful community to have called home.

Father's Day reflections: Dad's best lesson to you?

June 17th, 2016
By



The best lessons my father taught me were how to be fearless and independent. Through our interaction, I learned almost nothing is insurmountable, and if you stare fear in the face, it's not as scary as you imagined it. You are stronger than you know, and when you call upon that inner reserve, it'll be there for you.

Living in Rocky Hill, CT

Living in Rocky Hill, CT

On a less philosophical note, Dad instilled in me an enjoyment of classical music (particularly piano, since he's an incredibly skilled pianist), and a predisposition to be an aquatic hobbyist and a home gardener.

Road trip to Vermont

Road trip to Vermont

I grew up with a dozen fishtanks in the house (some, 200 gallons), and my version of an aquatic hobby is breeding shrimp. I'm pretty into my decapods.

He, like his mother, loves to putter in the yard. I like that, too. I'm a pretty good gardener and I find spending a couple hours in the yard meditative and grounding.

My husband, Claus, is a great father - the best, I think. Our kid's lucky to have him. He's totally there for her every step of the way, and incredibly involved in her daily life.

Back Camera

I asked our nine year old daughter what is the best lesson her dad taught her. Without hesitation, Olivia replied, "Swimming, because I love to be in the water and I won't drown."

Here's how some friends answered that question:

 

IMG_5434

Mahealani Richardson- Shriners Hospitals for Children spokesperson

"My dad taught me how to have fun. He used to just play with us at birthday parties and that sort of thing, you know, where you do the three-legged race and the donut eating contest. That's important today. Often, parents are disengaged from their kids. He was really engaged! That's the greatest lesson from my dad."

 

IMG_5433

Sean Olanui Robbins- musician

"Just to have fun and do what you love to do. When I was growing up, he always worked for himself, so he chose his own hours. He made it work. He was successful and still got to do what he wanted to do, and he loved life. Now I'm doing that; I love to play music!"

 

Maui: Thompson Ranch & Riding Stables

June 15th, 2016
By



Henry David Thoreau wrote, "Heaven is under our feet as well as over our heads." That could not feel more true than during a lovely late morning horseback ride up the lush Kula mountainside with Thompson Ranch & Riding Stables.

IMG_5706

My horse for the day, Wrangler, followed trail he knew by heart, in a small queue behind my daughter's filly, Akamai. Ranch owner Jerry Thompson led us, and his friend Pete Feliciano brought up the rear. Thompson's three dogs dash after us joyfully, and stay with us the whole time.

IMG_5696

The four of us (or seven, if you count doggies) trudged up the slopes, horses meandering through green pastures dotted with silver eucalyptus tree groves and pretty little wild raspberry-looking bushes. Thompson calls them a strawberry-raspberry hybrid.

IMG_5638

Because Olivia and I are curious, he stops, gets off his horse, and picks us some to try. They are delicious.

IMG_5639

After an hour, we finally reach our destination: a cabin he and Feliciano constructed by hand, high up on the mountain at about 5,000 feet. It's a guy's retreat, that's for sure. Painted green with a white trim, it's sparse on the inside - just four bunks for some cowboys to hunker down for the night.

Pete the paniolo

Paniolo Pete

The horses rest, and Thompson brings out some snacks and juice for us to rejuvenate. Riding, apparently, is hard work for the uninitiated.

Mommy and Olivia

Mommy and Olivia

We are not equestrians by any stretch, and Olivia and I noticed our legs were a little sore by the midpoint of the ride. I feel like a wuss saying this, because imagine what the horses are feeling.

IMG_5665

We sit outside the cabin at his fire pit. It's a nice chance to breath in the crisp air and take in the breathtaking view of the island below- Keokea in the foreground, Makena in the distance, and the sparkling blue Pacific beyond. I don't know why more tourists don't visit Upcountry, but it's a good thing because it's unspoiled and relatively quiet.

IMG_5703

After this little break, it's time to get back in the saddle and head back down. Thompson leads us back a different way, so this time we pass his cattle, who look blankly at us. Our presence also scares off a deer, an owl, and a pheasant.

It's hypnotic, riding through this countryside, high up on this powerful beast. I'm not the one doing the walking, but I still feel a soul-cleansing and a connectedness with nature.

Jerry Thompson

Jerry Thompson

This is what Thompson does maybe once a day. This is primarily a real ranch, with real cowboys that do real work with their hands. When the horses aren't lugging tourists around, they're helping him so he can herd his animals, fix fences, cut firewood (yes! This exists in Hawaii!), and do other cowboy stuff.

It's been a family owned and operated business since 1902, though it hasn't always been in this location. Thompson moved to this current space after Oprah bought his property in 2003. So there is a Thompson Ranch Road in Maui, but it's now the address for Ms. Winfrey.

IMG_5625

IMG_5628

He's happy, though. He's got his 13 horses, 80 goats, and 50 cows. Further down, he and his family live with their personal barnyard animals that provide food for them: turkeys, chickens, goats, and a wild boar named Pig.

IMG_5636

Why does Thompson offer horseback rides? "It's a nice way to share the culture and the lifestyle," he says.

He smiles at me, skin tanned, hands weathered, and blue eyes vibrant from a lifetime of ranch work. "I love it. There's nothing else I'd rather do," he declares. Join him for a couple hours and you'll understand why.

More at http://www.thompsonranchmaui.com/index.html.

 

Maui: Surfing Goat Dairy

June 13th, 2016
By



Goats have those weird rectangular pupils because it allows them to see 320 degrees from front to back, so they can beware of predators. They love routine and feel upset without it. And it takes one buck 24 hours to impregnate 80 females.

IMG_5890

Those are some of the interesting facts Olivia and I learned at Surfing Goat Dairy's "Evening Chores and Milking Tour," offered six days a week at the Kula farm.

Ten days old!

Ten days old!

Near the front entrance, there's a pen with all the newborn goats - so your kids can pet their kids while you wait for the tour to start. There were some that were only ten days old. The CUTEST!

IMG_5953

All the goats are bottle fed from birth, so they're very friendly. Some are sold to people (they make good pets since they're so social), and some are kept to be milked. When they're too old to produce milk for commercial purposes, they're humanely allowed to roam the rest of their lives on the Golden Girls pasture.

The tour takes us to see goats just a month or two old. We learn about disbudding, castration, and get to feed them alfalfa. It happens to be raining so we also learn goats don't like to get wet.

IMG_5886

It meanders along the dusty path to the pen with all the pregnant females. We learn their pregnancy lasts five months, the first birth is usually one kid, and the subsequent litters can be up to six kids. They only have two udders, so... I feel sorry for the does. I've been a nursing mom.

IMG_5899

Then, we see the milking station, where the does are cramming their head through the fence to be next in line to get milked. They're fed while they're being milked, so they like both the food and the relief from the pressure of a full udder.

IMG_5902

They actually love routine, and they have a pecking order, so they line themselves up and fall into place rather robotically, without any chaos. It's pretty amazing to see. They're so orderly.

IMG_5925

Our tour guide offers our group the chance to milk the goats, so those of us who wanted to sanitized our hands first and then gave it a go. I thought I'd be better at it than I was, and to my surprise, Olivia was kind of a natural!

This was the second time in my life I've milked a farm animal (the first was a cow during elementary school) and it sure is interesting. Olivia liked it more than she expected.

IMG_5926

A goat produces 3.5 - 4.5 quarts of milk a day, and there are 120 milk-producing goats on the 42 acre farm at any given time. The staff stagger the pregnancies so that there will be milking goats year round.

IMG_5927

We passed the production room where all the cheese is processed into chèvre, quark, or aged cheese. There was another primer on how that stuff is made but my head was full by then. It was interesting to know, but I didn't retain any of that information.

Lastly, we sat in the gazebo for a tasting of all that yummy stuff we've just learned about. Our guide brought us samples of the cheeses for sale, which were all very tasty. Goat cheese is so versatile!

IMG_5929

It's good for lactose-intolerant people (like me) because it has a small protein chain. That small protein chain is also why it's fine to freeze and unfreeze goat cheese as much as you like and it won't change the flavor (as long as you keep it cold.)

IMG_5938

The dairy is proud to tell its visitors that its product is served in many fine hotels and restaurants, including at President Obama's inaugural dinner. No kidding! (Get it? Kid? LOL)

You can get reasonably priced cheese, or you can opt for the extremely fancy variety. The "Shark Bite" line of gourmet cheeses include Oyster (smoked oyster with chèvre), Perigord (black truffles and chèvre), and Midas Touch (23k gold in the chèvre).

Goat eating my hair!

Goat eating my hair!

As for us? We went for the goat cheese gelato, which is made with quark and flavored with strawberry. There's a lilikoi version as well but that's offered somewhere else in town.

IMG_5933

It was flavorful - not 100% ice cream or gelato tasting, but very good in its own rich way. We ate it while sitting by the baby goat pen. It was our last tour of the day. Not a baaad way to spend part of an afternoon in Maui.

More at http://www.surfinggoatdairy.com.