Monday, February 8, 2010

It has been a very busy week.  I flew to California on Sunday to visit my family and friends, and to attend a birthday party for my precious grand niece, Chloe, who is now two years old.  She is definitely adored by her parents, Keith and Katie, as well as by all of her relatives(and, yes, I am charmed by her, too).  She is the total focal point of my sister and her husband's lives.  I can't imagine being this gaga over a grandchild, but everyone I know who is a grandparent says "just you wait".  I guess we will see.

I spent a day with my dear friend, Gail.  We have been friends for 35 years, and I think we are still like kids (okay, young women) when we are together.  Then I spent a wonderful day with my sister visiting some favorite places from our youth along the California coast.  We had late tea at the Ritz Carlton in Dana Point, watching the sun get low in the sky, and the surfers enjoying the wind and waves.  A perfect way to end my stay.

I had a couple of days at home then left for a working trip to Honolulu.  Back to the old grind.  Ha!  What a job I have.  In February, I am ready to have a few trips to somewhere warm.   I love working these trips because the people are all in a good mood.  Some of them go to Hawaii often, others have saved their whole lives to make this trip.  They are all excited and in a party mood.  It is always interesting to hear their stories.

I love the hotel where we stay on Waikiki Beach, right across the street from a hotel that has great meaning to me.  My mother first visited and fell in love with Hawaii in the late 1950's.  She always stayed at the Moana Surfrider, built in 1901, the first hotel on Waikiki Beach.   She would come home from her trips to Oahu planning her next trip there.  She told me stories about the hotel, and, especially about the Banyan Court and the huge Banyan Tree at it's center.   Over thirty years would pass, and Mama would be long gone before I would visit Hawaii and fall in love with this hotel myself.

My balcony this trip  overlooked the front of the Moana Surfrider and I snapped this photo while watching the comings and goings there. You can read about the history of this grand hotel at this link

The first time I walked into the hotel was in 1993,  and I immediately felt my mother's presence and her joy that I was there.  I sat on the veranda each morning, facing the Banyan Tree, and had coffee with Mama.  Five years later my daughter moved to Hawaii and, when I visited her there,  we both joined Mama for coffee.   When cell phones became a part of our lives, we included my brother and sister in the reunion.  It is a joyous way for us to celebrate Mama's life and her memory in a place that she always wanted to share with us.

I had dinner on the veranda, now called The Beach House, and watched the sunset.  A live trio played lovely hawaiian music at the Beach Bar in the Banyan Court.  My meal was a very tender pork shank with a dark pineapple  sauce, and mushrooms sauteed with maui onions.  In the distance you can see diehard surfers catching the last waves of the day.

The next morning I got coffee in the lobby of our hotel. There is a waterfall in the center, and flowers and trees fill the area.

It was a beautiful morning to walk along the beach and enjoy the sunshine.  I usually swim when I am here, but today I decided against it, respecting the jelly fish warning.  As you can see, the water was full of swimmers and surfers without such fear.

I walked past the Royal Hawaiian , another legendary hotel, also called the Pink Palace of the Pacific.  Built in 1927, you can read all about it right here
It has a connection to the Moana Surfrider, and was the first facility to ever be dubbed the 'Western White House" during the presidency of Franklin D. Roosevelt.

After leaving the beach I headed over to the Intenational Marketplace where I wandered among the stalls and bought a beautiful abalone necklace that I was not looking for.  Sentiment led me to the purchase, as it reminded me of abalone diving off the coast of California and Catalina Island.  That was back in the day when  abalone were plentiful and legal to dive for and eat.  I still remember the wonderful, buttery flavor that I haven't experienced since the late 70's.  I haven't seen them on a menu here in Honolulu, but I may be looking in the wrong places.  I will have to investigate this.

I stopped by the Koi pond on the way out of the Market Place, then headed back toward my hotel.
I stopped at the ABC store to pick up a few snacks to have in my room. If you have ever been to Honolulu, you know that there is one of these stores on every corner.  This magnificent store has everything from fresh food, to popular tourist favorites (including Kona coffee and every imaginable flavor of Macadamia nuts), to clothing and souvenirs.  My latest favorite there is individually wrapped lilikoi (passion fruit) shortbread cookies, partially dipped in chocolate.  None of them made it home.  Yummm.

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