Swimming With Dolphins

Copyright: balinature

Even though I consider Hawaii my second home, I have always been most familiar with Oahu, since my grandparents had settled there from Japan and raised a large family. Some of my relatives migrated to the Big Island, Kauai, and Molokai, so I ended up visiting those islands as well. The one island which I was extremely curious about was Maui, but since none of my relatives had moved to that island, I never had a reason to visit.

Then in June of 2007, the guy I had been seeing for close to a year and I vacationed on Maui for a little over a week, and in that small period of time, I fell in love with the island. The ocean was clean and warm, the local restaurants served incredible food, the scenery was beautiful, and we enjoyed daily rainbows over the rental property we booked. Every day on Maui was magical and held new discoveries, such as the afternoon when we decided to buy some pineapple from a roadside vendor and were rewarded with the sweetest, most delicious pineapple I had ever tasted.

On one particular day we jumped into our rental car and decided to explore the south border of the island. We found ourselves in Kihei, a casual, laid-back beachfront town with many turnoff points which gave us access to the beach. We settled on a small cove and set up our towels and snack foods for a nice afternoon, and because it was a small, hidden area, there was no one else on that stretch of beach with us. After we had been there for a couple of hours, my boyfriend remarked, “Hey! I saw a dorsal fin out there! I wonder if that’s a shark or a dolphin?” I told him I wasn’t about to swim out to the spot where he spotted the fin, and the next moment, he was rushing into the water so that he could determine what sea creature he had seen,

As soon as Dameon swam out to the area where he saw the fin, he dove underwater and I didn’t see him for close to a minute. He then popped his head up and yelled, “Get your ass in here, and bring the underwater camera! There’s a bunch of dolphins out here!” I grabbed the underwater camera, making sure the strap was secure around my wrist, and jumped into the water. Once I reached Dameon, he told me to go underwater and check out our new buddies. We were in the midst of a pod of dolphins, about 14 or 15 of them, including a couple of youngsters. Two of the large adult males kept bumping up against me and pushing me around in the water.

We ended up swimming with the dolphins for close to 10 minutes, alternately bobbing on the surface and diving down so that we could swim along these playful creatures. Dameon made sure to take numerous shots of the dolphins, which we developed that same day. We began to get tired of swimming, since we were relatively far out and in deep water, so we swam back to shore. Within a few minutes, the dolphins headed southeast, but not before jumping out of the water numerous times as if to say, thanks guys, we had fun!

Finally Going to Japan

source: 123rf
Image ID : 75553096
copyright : Sasin Tipchai

 

Next week I will be in Japan for two weeks, and though it hasn’t quite sunken in yet, I will finally see the country which is responsible for 50% of my DNA makeup and many of the  sensibilities and habits which were instilled in me when I was little.

For over 50 years, my desire to visit Japan was coupled with remorse over even wanting to visit without my mother, since she has never once visited the country from which her parents came.  Even more guilt-inducing was thinking about how in the world I could believe that my diluted, half-Japanese self had any right to visit Japan if my mother never got a chance.   For those of you who are wondering why I am not taking my mother on this trip, she is 87 years old, wheelchair-bound, incontinent, and actually refuses to take any trips anywhere due to her weary, broken state.  I know that she will live vicariously through me, as I retell the stories and experiences which I am about to create on this journey to the motherland.

Over the course of 14 days, I will visit Sapporo, Sendai, Kyoto/Osaka, Nara, Nagoya, Hiroshima, Fukuoka (the prefecture which my grandfather was from), Kumamoto (the prefecture my grandmother was from), Okayama, and Tokyo.  Most of my destinations within the land of the rising sun will be reached via Shinkansen, also known as the bullet train.

Because samurai blood runs deep on my grandfather’s side (we are also ultimately descended from the Imperial Family of Japan), I look forward to seeing the older architecture in some areas, and also plan to visit the cemetery in Fukuoka where some of my ancestors are buried.  But what I look forward to more than anything else while I am in Japan is the FOOD.

Many Japanese foods, like chawanmushi, mochi, takuan, sukiyaki, agedashi, ramen, sashimi, anpan, and manju, are my comfort foods, and since I will have all types of Japanese cuisine available to me to sample for two weeks, I have a feeling my taste buds will be very happy.  I also absolutely adore seafood (perhaps I was a cat in a past life), and will probably be eating it every single day while out there, which is why I will also continue to take chlorella daily to control the mercury levels in my body.

Once I return home, I look forward to creating a blog post in which I discuss my adventures in Japan.  It will truly be a blessing to visit the exquisitely beautiful country within which my family’s roots sit.

Traveling By Air Has Gotten Ugly

You might want to think twice about booking a dream vacation ANYWHERE these days after all the recent mishaps with air travel.

Below are several links to news stories pertaining to airline passengers who in some fashion were mistreated or misinformed.

One woman was bumped from an overbooked Air Canada flight and missed a $10,000 Galapagos cruise which she had booked well in advance. Another passenger, traveling on United Airlines, flew to San Francisco International Airport when she believed she was flying to Paris. A third incident involved a family who deplaned after the parents were bullied into giving up the seat which they purchased for their two-year old.

Then there’s the woman who was denied restroom access while mid-flight, and the United employee who cancelled a traveler’s ticket after an argument ensued regarding fees on his checked bag. I have also included a link to the now famous story of the Vietnamese physician who was dragged off an overbooked United flight.

Even our furry friends aren’t safe while traveling these days, as evidenced by the story of the giant rabbit who sadly met his demise while on a United flight. He was then cremated by the airline without permission from the rabbit’s owner.

What in the world is happening with air travel?

http://www.msn.com/en-us/travel/news/appalling-woman-bumped-from-air-canada-flight-misses-dollar10000-galapagos-cruise/ar-BBA8pwh?li=BBmkt5R&ocid=spartanntp

http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/us/united-airlines-passenger-who-thought-she-was-traveling-to-paris-lands-in-sfo/ar-BBAL8fc?li=BBmkt5R&ocid=spartandhp

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/brian-schear-delta-child-seat_us_590b1e49e4b05c397686c339?utr

http://www.businessinsider.com/united-passenger-dragged-off-police-2017-4

https://www.yahoo.com/beauty/mom-humiliated-united-airlines-denied-bathroom-access-215237924.html

http://www.nbcbayarea.com/news/local/United-Agent-Cancels-Mans-Ticket-For-Taping-Her-421705223.html

United Reaches Resolution with Simon the Rabbit’s Breeder as Owners Seek Answers, Compensation in Animal’s Mysterious Death

Wine Tasting In Paso Robles

Paso Robles wine country

I have always enjoyed wine tasting and make a point of visiting nearby wine regions a few times each year. Usually I go to Temecula since it is less than a hundred miles away from where I live, but since I know that area so well, I have been itching to visit other places. While I love Napa and Sonoma, I avoid those destinations for two reasons: 1) both treks are a bit too far for me to make an easy drive, and 2) the wine tasting fees, wines, and lodging out there are outrageously expensive. Yes, the wines up there are phenomenal, but I am not about to go into the poorhouse for the sake of wine tasting up there.

Last week we visited Paso Robles for a three day getaway, and were determined to explore the central portion of the wine tasting region there. I hadn’t been to Paso Robles for close to ten years, so the experience felt relatively new to me. On Friday we visited one winery (Falcon Nest) which we knew stayed open later than the others, and ended up having a lovely conversation with the winemaker there. After our evening wine tasting, we drove into town and had a quick bite to eat, then headed back to the very comfortable and charming bed and breakfast inn where we were staying (Union Road Guesthouse).

We had planned to visit as many wineries as we possibly could the following day, but since the wineries we wanted to visit were only open from 11-5, we didn’t have much time to do wine tastings. We started our wine tour at Glunz Family Winery without any expectations, so we certainly didn’t expect their Bernese Mountain Dog Jenga to literally run towards our car as we pulled up to the winery! With such a great beginning to our visit to Glunz, we knew we were in for a great experience. I was so impressed with Glunz wines that I not only bought a bottle of Grenache Blanc and a bottle of Zin, I also became a member of their wine club, which is something I typically avoid.
wine-tasting
We spent about an hour at Glunz, then continued our wine tasting by heading to Hug Cellars/Bodega De Edgar, not realizing that there were two other wine tasting rooms right next door (Paydirt and Brochelle). We met the second dog of the day at Paydirt, a funny little dog named Max. We also tasted a nice zin there which we ended up purchasing. By the time we left the three winery cluster, we were starving so we got something to eat, then resumed our wine tasting tour, visiting Barr, Clautierre, Pear Valley, Steinbeck (and our third dog of the day, Lola), and PasoPort. We paid another visit to Falcon Nest before heading back to the inn, then had dinner at a steakhouse in town.

By Sunday, we had pretty much had our fill of wine, but I just couldn’t resist going for one more tasting at Glunz, since the wines were so fantastic there. Our second visit there resulted in the purchase of their Mission Angelica Port, which is rich with butterscotch and caramel flavors. Seriously WOW.

Overall, I would HIGHLY recommend visiting the Paso Robles area for wine tasting. The quality of the wines there is exceptional, the area is filled with charm, and there are plenty of great restaurants and bed and breakfast inns there (though we highly recommend Union Road Guesthouse).