Its officially Spring

Though the season changes are subtile, we do have spring.  The cacti are blooming as are mangos and limes.  Unfortunately, the monkeypod trees are dropping their sticky pods also, necessitating our picking them up from the lawn before mowing so as not to gum up the mower blades.

I’ve met the young goat kids on my morning run to Poipu Beach, requiring me to stop for a few minutes to enjoy their antics.fullsizeoutput_e0d

One of our regular seals, G22, was found by several snorkelers at Mahaulepu with a hook in his mouth and a fishing line trailing that was wrapped around some coral.  It was swimming frantically around trying to release himself.  Luckily the snorkelers had a knife, cut the line and released him.  He swam off with the hook in his mouth and 20 feet of fishing line trailing.  GOPR0031-1-2We discovered him the next day at a private beach, Palamas, and Mimi, Jamie, Charlie and I went down with crowding boards, netted him and cut the hook out of his mouth.  This was a large (about 2.5 inches in diameter) hook and was fortunately not swallowed or deep in his mouth.  IMG_0693G22 has grown quite large in the past couple of months, he is only 2 years old but probably weighs over 200 lbs.  Jamie had the head, Charlie the body, and I had the tail.  He was a strong bugger and it was all I could do to hold his back flippers.  Until I got him pinned, he tossed me around like I was on the end of a flyswatter……I had sand in my face and my hair after he lifted me up and then face-planted me in the sand.  We saw a video of this – it was pretty funny watching me get thrown around.  Mimi handled the bolt cutters and we successfully cut and removed the hook.  G22 left, without all the gear trailing…..another successful seal rescue.

Every morning when we go down to Poipu to check for seals, we see anywhere from 2 to 14 turtles basking on the shore.  One day, while following a seal around to the Keiki pool, I came upon a turtle that appeared to be sitting up on a rock in the water.  With closer inspection, the rock underneath was actually another turtle.  That is the first time that I’ve actually seen turtles mating.IMG_0700

Note the shiny seal back (K31) in the water directly behind the turtle.  Upon turning around, I saw another smaller turtle wedged between two rocks, unable to free itself.  So, being a good samaritan, I and a visitor picked it up and let it get back in the water.  That turtle swam off, leaving a wake, but not as much as a thank you.

The last culinary luncheon was held showcasing the aspiring chefs, as usual so creative.  They design everything from determining the menu to designing the printed menu that is always very creative.ENVOY 009

Poipu Beach has been extremely busy with as many as 4 seals up at a time.  And this is the time of year when many of our regular volunteers are leaving the island – some are seasonal volunteers, others are just going to the mainland for vacation.   Regardless, we’re swamped with activity, and short of people.  A new arrival started hanging out on Brennecke’s rocks, V76, a female probably from Ni’ihau.  I think that she is probably in estrus because males are appearing from all over.

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Above is a picture of three of the males that are pursuing her….the turtle isn’t.  V76 isn’t in this picture, but she’s in the area, and therefore the young studs are here.

Since our house was built 8 years ago, it was time to repaint.  So we invested in a electric spray painter and starting painting (after first pressure washing the house).  It was lots of work, but the house now looks really good, it only took us about 4 days….working between rain showers.  We did get some overspray on to the foundation plants, but they grow fast so should be fine.   We still have some trim work to touch up, and then we’ll need to redo the lanai floor, but it’s looking good!

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It’s April

We had a sad beginning to the end of Feb.   Barry Werthwine and I were lucky enough to accompany Jamie and Mimi, our leaders, to a more private beach to tag a young seal that appeared on Kauai.  We had thought she was about 3 yrs old, but after capturing her, determined that she was probably more like 4.  She gave us quite a fight.  It still didn’t take us more than about 3 minutes to tag, chip and take her blood sample.   Hopefully, with a good data base, we may be able to match DNA and determine relationships between different seals. After a productive day of finding the new seal and two more seals we got back to a place that we could get calls, only to find that one of our favorite seals, 4DP was found dead at a place called Glass Beach.  4DP was an adult female that would often appear at Lawai and Baby Beaches and would generally leave around noon, unlike most of our seals.  We had gotten to know her well, thus this was a shock.  She had seemed very healthy, fat and active and suddenly here she was.  Charlie was at softball practice and we had to call him to help lift the 450 lb carcass into a pickup truck to transport her to the base lot and then on to the airport.  After packing her in ice and into a body bag she was flown to Oahu for a necropsy.

Unfortunately, the necropsy determined cause of death was blunt force trauma; fluids were also sent to a histology lab for analysis.  With so few Monk Seals left, it especially hurts when we lose a healthy female .  A $50,000 reward has been offered for information leading to an arrest of anyone regarding the 2 most recent seal deaths.  This was like losing a family member, we knew 4DP so well, having watched her numerous times here on the south shore.

The culinary luncheons are in full swing again, and upon receiving email notification, we jump on them, since they’re in high demand.  It has been an enjoyable way to support the Kauai Community College Culinary students….the food presentations are always phenomenal, note the duck confit below.IMG_0653

EKK has also returned with a vengeance , every Monday evening from Jan to March has been taken up with that event.  Again, we had many awesome performances ranging from Hula to ukulele music.  We seem to be getting more and more involved, with; not only, EKK, but also other musical events on the island.  Handling ticket sales, box office sales, and putting up posters among our responsibilities.  We get to see, or at least hear, all kinds of music…..we are often in the back totaling receipts during the performances.  I also help with drawings for CD’s during each break.  IMG_0659

This was one of the more recent EKK evenings, Kupaoa.

Moani and Allie are getting along well, each had some illness necessitating several trips to the vet, but both seem to be back to normal.  Moani is growing by leaps and bounds.IMG_0101West Side Seniors softball team is doing well, we have several players that graduated into the 60 year old bracket (they had been alternating, since only one 55-59 year old can play at one time) so the team is much improved with the young blood (not to mention young knees!).  However, that also means that Charlie hasn’t been able to play as much, often being the designated player (only batting).  We are still enjoying the camaraderie ….and the pupu’s and beer after the games.  I also am still the team score keeper (I get to sit in the dugout) a job nobody wants to do….it’s pretty intense.

We still go down to check the beach in the morning and I still run the short and slow 3 miles (I don’t seem to be as fast as I was in my youth) to hitch a ride back with Charlie.  The seal volunteer population has been somewhat sparse lately, so there have been occasions that I’ve had to stay on the beach up to 5 hours in order to maintain full coverage.

We also were informed that, after 65 years of the monk seal population decreasing, the past 3 years have shown an increase of about 3% per year.  Lets hope this trend continues.  The estimated total Hawaiian Monk Seal population is now 1400.

Charlie and I have gone down to Kukuiula Harbor a few evenings to watch the sun set and sip on a glass of wine.  Most recently, we shared a picnic table with a local musician (almost everybody on the island is a musician).  We had our own little (EKK) community sing in the shelter.

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Life continues to be quite busy, last week Charlie was involved with a project to move a young seal, H92 from a canal in Kapaa to PMRF.  After much discussion, it was determined that, because she was being lured up the canal with fish entrails (illegal) like two previous young seals, she was in danger of getting trapped in nets that were put in the water.  Unfortunately, she was moved last week and by this week, she had swum around the island and returned to the canal.  The TV news and newspaper now have been filled with pleas to locals to stop throwing fish scraps in the canal.

Unfortunately, we were shocked by the devastating news that a dear friend of ours on the mainland shot himself.  This friend would communicate daily with Charlie and though he had serious health problems, this was unthinkable..  We’ve both been alternating between anger and sadness, trying to understand what would drive someone to do this.  Very sad for everyone.

 

 

 

The Canadians are back -its that time of the year

With EKK resuming and multiple seals visiting, we’ve been very busy.  We’ve had strong winds, more rain than usual and it’s been cool, upper 70’s in the day and mid 60’s at night.  We have been enjoying our comforter.  The beaches too, have an influx of Canadians as well as the “snow birds” from cooler parts of the mainland.

Our biggest news concerns a new acquisition.  Meet Moani, the newest member of the Fafard family.  She, like Allie, was born in Maui at the same breeder from which Allie was adopted.  Moani is a real sweetheart.  We kept the two separate for about 4 days but they have adjusted to each other swimmingly.img_0606

As you can see, Allie is enjoying the company .img_0619

Allie is suddenly getting way more exercise, that should keep both cats healthier.

Our friend, Shannon, and I planned to go to Maui to do some whale-watching while the humpbacked whales are visiting from Alaska, giving birth to their young and (hopefully) breeding.  We’ve gone the past two years, and usually go for a couple of days and pack in as many whale watching tours as we can fit in.  Luckily, KokuaKats had one kitten left from a litter and the timing was perfect to pick her up when I was there.  Because she was born on the islands, there is little problem transporting between islands, unlike from the mainland where (because we have no rabies in Hawaii) it is extremely complicated to “import” pets.  Consequently, I could carry her in the cabin.  She was a perfect lady and everything went quite smoothly, she charmed everyone she met.  She charmed Charlie immediately too, since we had bought her sight unseen, it was a relief that she was so personable.  We named her Moani, that means “gentle breeze” and it seems she is appropriately named.  I had insisted, since she was a Maui girl, that she have a Hawaiian name.  Our seal coordinator Jamie, stated that, hopefully, she won’t turn into a “hurricane”…..so far so good.

Charlie volunteered to help Carol Yosuta, the local arts dynamo, with hosting a Canadian group called the “Comic Strippers”.  So the first part of February immersed us in distributing posters, coordinating ticket sales, and staffing the Performing Arts Center at Kauai Community College where the event took place.

These fellows, based in Vancouver, British Columbia, perform an act that parodies male stripper programs.  We didn’t know exactly what to expect, however they turned out to be extremely funny.  It was actually an improvisation act in which they involved the audience  while they pretended to be not very good male strippers.  The audience, both male and female  and quite a bit younger than the usual EKK audience, loved it. It does seem that Charlie has become the go-to person for nuts and bolts on the Arts Council since he is so organized.  And that attribute resulted in Carol having him coordinate electronic ticket sales for another upcoming show in March.

A highlight of EKK recently was a performance by Kalani Pe’a.  It became a tense situation when his flight to Kauai got delayed due to high winds on the Hawaiian chain.  Flights were cancelled and the musicians got to the venue only about 15 minutes before the event was supposed to start.  Kalani, had to  leave after the performance to attend the Grammys where the next day he won, the first Hawaiian to win a Grammy, for Regional Roots Music Album “E Walea”.  It just goes to show what amazing talent Carol arranges to perform for the 10 weeks each Jan-Mar.  We’ve enjoyed being involved.

The following week featured a “Hawaiian” Swing band that encouraged swing dancing, and the next was Hula.  A local Hula dancer Aunty Bev, from Malie Foundation,  also offered hula lessons.

All this is besides the daily seal volunteering, that has been also hopping.  One Friday we had 4 seals up on the south shore in three different locations.  That always makes for complications in attempting to cover all locations with 2 hour shifts and a limited number of volunteers.  Our old friend K31 has been showing up along with G22, W06, 4 DP, F28 and 3 CX.  K31 and F28 look very clean since both recently molted (shedded all their outer layers of skin).  It can be challenging to identify them, since any bleached identifying letters comes off with the skin.

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This is F28, born in 2015, all clean and shiny.

Every Saturday again, we have softball and West Kauai is doing pretty well, with some “young” players able to play the whole game.  The rule in Senior Softball is that all team members must be 60 or older, with the exception that players between the age of 55 and 59 can play but only one in the game at a time.  Two of our better, younger players just turned 60 so the team is taking advantage of that.

EKK hosted a community Hula event on Presidents Day in the spirit of E Kanikapila Kakou (that means the community sings together) and it seemed that most of the audience participated in the lesson in the beginning of the event and then joined the Halau in their dances.  It was a colorful event and very well attended.  It is a highlight in our week though Charlie and I work pretty hard greeting, registering folks, compiling the donations and cleaning up afterwards.  By the end of the 10 weeks, we are usually ready for a break.img_0627

Its a New Year

The crowds haven’t left yet, we thought that things would settle down after the holidays, but so far it’s still pretty busy.  Unfortunately, the person that had been pulled out of the water in the last issue, did die, the first of the season.  Since that one we have had one more, a man swimming off Moaloa’a.  We had a week of Kona winds with the accompanying warm, muggy weather but then suddenly, the trades returned with a vengeance.  Sustained winds of 20-30 with gusts 40-50 that we haven’t seen since the windy hurricane season summer before last.  The days have been in the 70’s and nights in the 60’s…..we’re piling on the layers.  Funny how one become accustomed to warm weather and when it cools down a few degrees we are cold in temperatures that when we lived in Wisconsin would have seemed balmy.

Softball season is starting, we had a scrimmage already and we’ve received the new uniforms ……pretty gaudy, Charlie says they look like NASCAR shirts.  The new season starts on the 28th, I’m sharpening my scoring pencil.  Since writing that, we had our first game, which we won over a team that normally beats us, so we’re off to a good start!IMG_0570.JPG

So what do you think, is it garish?

We embarked on our SUP adventure that we had won at the Hawaiian Children’s theater event last month.  It consisted of a 2.5 mile standup paddle board trek up the Huleia Stream, past the Alakoko Menehune Fishpond (an ancient Hawaiian fishpond) to a haul out along the stream, where we hiked up along the stream to a couple of waterfalls.  This was Charlie’s first attempt at SUP and though it was tiring, he did quite well.  I had a bit more experience with them then he had.  At the two waterfalls, I had to use the rope swing to jump in.  The water temperature  was quite a shock!

The hike was through rainforest and beautiful.fullsizeoutput_df0img_0535The excursion ended on top of a hill in Kipu Kai, looking toward Lihue and Nawilliwilli Harbor, this was a view made famous by the movie The Descendants and was outstanding.img_0540The end of January starts our new season of EKK, E Kanakapila Kokau, the annual Hawaiian music venue that lasts for 10 weeks.

The most outstanding news this week was a press release from The Monk Seal Research Program about the Hawaiian Monk Seal population.  Statistics on the population of the seal is, that for the past 3 years, the population has increased by about 3% a year and that our new estimate is, unlike what we have been saying,  1400 seals.  For 6 decades, the numbers have been decreasing from a high of about 4000.  Charlie is kidding Jamie and Mimi noting that the increase has occurred since we came on board.  hmmm.  The release further says that 30% of the monk seals now alive are the result of our program’s work.

Joanie, a friend that we have made here invited us to a picnic for her birthday and she held it up on top a hill at Kukui’ula.  What a spectacular view, one can see for miles!  It was cool that evening so we needed jackets but it was quite fun.

img_0566Looking north

img_0569Looking Southeast

img_0564Looking south

Kukui’ula is a very upscale development on Poipu’s south shore, with a golf course, country club, houses and cottages.  Property with a cottage here starts at over $2.5 million but views are lovely and amenities over the top.

We had the second EKK concert, busy again for both of us.  This was a hula special and our friend Wes Kaui (shown below with his guitar) was the only male among the musicians and dancers.  Wes was in his glory.  The turnout was very good, with both locals and visitors represented, it is one of the highlights of the year. img_0573

Christmas came and went

It was pretty low key, we went to the Kiahuna Plantation to visit our friends from Canada, Jill and Brian, for Christmas Eve to enjoy steak, shrimp, cocktails, and sunset with a green flash.  A couple of whales also entertained us at sunset.  Christmas Day dawned cool, we checked the beaches and celebrated quietly.  We did get a real tree this year for the first time since we moved here, surprisingly, a tree doesn’t dry out quickly like it did in Madison.  It occurred to me that it was because of the humidity….I guess heating your house dries anything out but I didn’t expect that.

To commemorate a Madison tradition (ours) we made George Washington eggnog to toast the season….wow it packs a punch!  We took some to a friend’s, Carol Yoshuda’s house when we went to address envelopes for The Garden Island Arts Council (of which Charlie is a member of the board.)  We introduced the group to our “tradition”, hardly anybody has had homemade egg nog so we we did make a bit of a caloric impression.  Part of the time the crew shared a video of a Hawaiian trying to order a pizza, Heineken, and poke in pidgin English, using Seri (hysterical).  Seri translated his order and had us all giggling.

The seals have been pretty scarce with the exception of K31, a large male who picked the Grand Hyatt to start his annual molt.  He’s a bit grumpy (they don’t feel too good when they molt) and he looks scruffy.  This takes about a week.  Notice the scraggly skin sloughing off.img_0490

We had two friends from Madison visit, they came the day before New Years Eve.   John, Bob and we went over to Tree and Shannon’s to watch fireworks on the Eve.  As usual the display wasn’t on time, but started 1/2 hour late…typical Kauai.  But for such a small island, the display was pretty darned good.  The weather cleared just in time for the event and seal G22 left Poipu before the start.  A couple of years ago, the fireworks were on the edge of being cancelled because one of the endangered monk seals was on the beach.  This seemed to be the only fireworks on the island so there was a large crowd, that we luckily avoided, being up the hill a little.  Downtown Lihue had decorated the county building with lights for Christmas so we took an obligatory drive down Rice Street to see them.  Pretty fancy!fullsizeoutput_ddc

After several weeks of rain, the weather has cleared and is perfect!  We’ve even had to don sweatshirts in the evening…..great for sleeping.

We had a nice visit with John and Bob, they left only to return to Madison’s snow and cold. They treated us to a nice dinner before they left, what a treat!img_0513

The beaches have been extremely crowded over the holidays, a record, according to the newspaper, so our seal work has been tiring, some days I’ve been on the beach as much as 5 hours.  A pair of young males have been coming in regularly and entertaining us with their antics in the water.  It isn’t too uncommon for young males to play together, later on the older seals tend to chase other seals off.img_0504

Another big event in the past week on Kauai was the arrival of the Nippon Maru, a large 4 masted sailing ship from Japan.  She arrived with great fanfare since it was the ship that had escorted the sailing canoe Hokulea (a replica of the polynesian boats that reportedly brought Polynesians to Hawaii).  She was crewed by young, enthusiastic Japanese interns and was pretty impressive.  It happened to be in Nawiliwili Harbor at the same time as a sister canoe to Hokulea, Namahoe.  The juxtaposition of the two ships was quite striking.   Namahoe is a two hulled canoe, quite small in comparison to the Japanese ship.img_0511

The week culminated with an unfortunate situation at Poipu.  We’ve had strong winds and currents and when I came down to the beach for a shift with the seal that had hauled out, I arrived at the same time as  a firetruck and an ambulance.  Two older visitors had gotten in trouble out in the water and one was lying on the beach, the other up higher and people were doing CPR.  We still don’t know if she survived but the lifeguards were not encouraging.  Poipu Beach is deceptively lovely but has some of the most drownings in the state.  Today’s paper didn’t have any details, I’m sure we’ll hear more about this later this week.

 

 

Its almost Christmas

We’ve been busy preparing for the onslaught of visitors that occurs between Thanksgiving and New Years.  Luckily, the seals haven’t been hauling out quite as much as they were a month ago, we’ve yet to determine what causes their cycles.  We’ve had wind and high tides along with the full moon, removing much beach sand…again cyclic, the beach at the Kiahuna Resort has almost disappeared.  The naupaka hedge is slumping into the ocean and the tombolo at Poipu Beach connecting the island to the mainland has disappeared.iecc-004  The last full moon of the year was spectacular, being on the beach after sunset looking towards the West.december-019K31, our big male hauled out at Kiahuna and, to the delight of spectators, decided to “take a leak” december-015K30, the big, scarred female also showed up on the rocks last week after a several month absence.

Kalaheo elementary school put on a musical variation of A Christmas Story at Kukui Shopping Center, substituting Auntie Scrooge for Scrooge as the main character.  It was very well done, amazing for 4th and 5th graders…..I have come to believe that most everyone on this island can sing ….these kids surely didn’t disappoint.  I went with Tree, Shannon and Amy (a good friend of Shannon’s).  Amy’s two daughters were in the cast.

Left picture shows Auntie Scrooge with the ghost of Christmas past and the right shows the whole cast. A festival of lights also decorates Rice Street (the main drag of Lihue) so  cars parade up and down the street to check them out.

Winter has arrived in Kauai, the nights have gotten down to the upper 60s and days, upper  70s.   The human body certainly adjusts to different temperature ranges, we are dressing in long sleeved shirts, jackets and long pant while the visitors scurry around in shorts, tank tops and bikinis…..one can always pick out the locals by their layers.  Its hard to remember what below zero felt like, and neither of us is eager to re-experience it.

Winter is also when we become Wall nuts and catch the sunset on the wall as well as look for whales.  The Canadians and the Snow Birds are just beginning to appear along with the whales, we’ve sighted several whale breaches and repeat Wall nuts at our spot on the Wall.  The same visitors come every year and we look forward to their return.  Some even help with the seals.  The lure of the Wall is to observe the “Green Flash”.  Many think that its a myth however, it has to do with the scattering of light just as the sun drops below the horizon and it lasts only a second or so.  Shannon has provided the proof.  This view was from the Wall a few days ago, for you doubters.img_0093

The week has produced few seals at Poipu, finally, at the end of the week, 2 seals appeared at Poipu, one on the island and one next to the vegetation.

 

It’s Thanksgiving …..hooray

It is so hard to believe that it is already Thanksgiving, how the time flies.  The first week started with Melanie’s departure and our volunteering again, this time to help with the Hawaiian Children’s Theatre.  We had attended Spamalot, one of their productions a few months ago and this time they were preforming “School of Rock”.  These young folks (they must be 18 or younger) are extremely talented and we enjoyed the play immensely.  We helped with the raffle, where people could buy tickets costing anywhere from $1-$20 to be included in a drawing for about 95 items.  The drawing took place after the last performance….the show went on for three weeks.  Charlie and I were there before the play and at the intermission to explain how the drawing works, thus we could watch the play for free.  Working the raffle enabled us to “invest” in a few tickets ourselves, luckily it paid off with a $100 gift certificate to a jeweler and a stand up paddle excursion for two, worth over $260.

The week was very windy and rainy and cooler than usual.  Winds gusting up to 40 mph were recorded.  The seals have been scarce all week too.  W06 came up one day and K31 another, neither of which we have seen recently and our old reliable, G22 hasn’t been seen.  We wonder why it can be so busy and then slack, could it be the wind?  or the higher than usual tides? This it what makes seal watching so interesting.  A few whales are starting to reappear, plus the holidays bring more tourists.  I’ve seen one whale breach but no blows yet.  We’re at the beach early every day, consequently we get to watch the sunrise at Poipu, awesome.  Every day is different.

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The culinary students at the college produced a “luau” this week, Laulau, Lomi Lomi Salmon, Fish Poke, Kalua Pig, Squid luau, Teriyaki steak, Poi and Guava Chiffon Cake were among the items featured.  The second week theme was Japanese, I am continually amazed by the talent these young chefs display.

The second week we picked up our certificates and went to Kapaa to cash in the jewelers certificate, however we made the mistake of going in the afternoon.  Not only was the traffic slow, but there was a crash next to Coco Palms that slowed traffic to a standstill.  It took us 1/2 hour to go two miles, after we passed the crash site it loosened up and we sped along as far as Lihue where again, we came to a complete halt.  This time it was a 2 car crash on the highway between Lihue and home.  This is always a problem, since there is only one road between each town and no alternate routes.  We crept along at about 3 mph until, at the 5 mile bridge we came upon the crash (after the police and ambulances had left).  It had taken us 1hr and 45 min to get home, a distance of about 20 miles.

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We don’t think that anyone was killed but the wreck looked awful.

It has rained almost every day for the past 2 weeks, quite unusual for it to last that long.  Still the visitors crowd Poipu beach, where there is almost always sunshine for part of the day.  The rest of the island, especially the north shore has been very cloudy, in fact the Hanelei bridge was flooded out.  We’ve have flash flood warnings for several days, but the problem is usually the north shore.

Even though it is 80 during the day, the evenings are now cool…..in the upper 60s.  Obviously winter is here!   We are preparing for Christmas.  For the first time since we arrived in Kauai, we have a “real” tree. I love the scent when I walk into the living room.  Also for the first time we have a short needled Noble Fir….much easier to decorate than our traditional White Pine.  Digging out our sentimental ornaments makes me happy.img_0444

Allie has matured enough that I can decorate all the way to the lowest branches, last year she denuded the bottom two tiers.  She does like to hide behind the tree though her second favorite spot is on the table.img_0448

The big group of us that gets together often, went to the Kalaheo Steak and Rib house Saturday night.  The restaurant often has music but this night they had a private party, consequently we had our own party.img_0450

Some friends from the east shore in Kapaa took a picture of the Super Moon  a couple of weeks ago and I’m pleased to share it, it truly captures the ambiance of the tropics at night.img_0449