March 20, 2014 — Welcome to The First Day of Spring!

Dearest Readers:

Today I awaken to the first day of spring. Living in the South, my absolute favorite time of the year is springtime — when the earth is awakening to new life. Pollen. The blooming of fresh spring flowers. The scents and aromas of freshness. Jasmine. Mimosa. Daisies. Honey Suckle. Azaleas. And how can I possibly leave out the beauty and aromatic scents of roses.

The USA has endured a bitterly cold winter. Some areas still have snow. Many of the schools in North Carolina have nine school days to makeup after the freezing temperatures and snow days. Little did those children realize that when they have a snow day and are able to romp and play in the snow, when the weather warms, they must make up those days. Their reply is a simple one, “Well…that’s so not fair!”

How true! Isn’t life all about change and growth? In the eyes of little children they learn at an early age that life just isn’t fair.

Nevertheless, today is the first day of spring. I awoke a bit late. Exhausted from lack of sleep, I took a sleeping pill last night, in hopes I would sleep. My silly big guy, my giant schnauzer, Prince Midnight Shadow must have a sleeping problem too. He awakens every hour or so demanding to go outside, and so, I stumble around the house to let him outside. When he rushes back to his bed, I scold him a bit telling him “Mommy needs sleep. Please let me sleep little buddy!”

He does not grant me that wish. If ONLY he would sleep longer!

Today is a gloriously beautiful day in Charleston. A day where I would love to walk on the Arthur Ravenel, Jr. Bridge, but I’m much too tired. Maybe the exhaustion is related to such a long and cold winter in the tourist mecca of Charleston. I have worn my collection of sweaters, fur coats and mittens too much. Did I actually say I wore mittens? In Charleston? Yes. I wore them so much I actually placed an additional pair in my glove compartment so my freezing hands would get warm quickly.

I don’t adjust well to cold weather. My sinuses ache, along with my fingers and my right knee. My demeanor on days filled with gray clouds and bitterly cold temperatures decrease my mood. I have threatened to run away from the cold. A friend asked me — “Where would you go?”

Without thinking twice I replied, “Hawaii. I would sell everything and move to Hawaii.”

Now, that’s a delightful thought. Maybe I’ll click on to my photographs of Hawaii and dream about those radiant sunrises and sunsets. The hula dancing and cuisine. The people. If ever there is a place to vacation — to get away from it all — Hawaii is the place!

And so, I awaken to the first day of spring — to face reality once again. Looking outside, I do not see robins in my yard, nor do I see butterflies. I so look forward to seeing them again. Springtime. I confess, Charleston, SC is a BEAUTIFUL city in the spring when the flowers are blooming, the Azalea Festival arrives, along with all of the college graduations and I must mention the destination weddings in the chapels and along the beaches. How I love springtime. Achoo…now –just where are my tissues? Yes, I have allergies and cannot open my windows to enjoy the fresh warmth of the breezes in spring time, nor can my allergies appreciate the thick layer of pollen flying into the house. Regardless, I will tolerate all of the pollen and sinus headaches because — TODAY IS THE FIRST DAY OF SPRING. After my lawn dries out I can FINALLY rake my yard, plant flowers and enjoy this beautiful city….and soon…..SO SOON…I will not only walk on the bridge, I will slip my toes on the sand and walk along Sullivan’s Island, and I will look for the coyotes too! After all, it is springtime. The earth is fresh with new growth and change, and I embrace it all!

Hello, Mother Springtime. It’s about time you arrived!

Another Gray Day — In My Dreams I Live in Hawaii!

Dearest Readers:

Today is Monday…another day of rain and gray clouds. I am so sick of this rain and the grayness. It is so depressing. Winter is a time where the sun appears to choose to stay within the clouds, instead of beaming with rich colors and warmth. On days like today, I simply want to run away. I spoke to a dear friend earlier. She resides in North Carolina and they are getting ice again. Will this weather EVER improve?

Yes, we have had a few days of sunshine, but not many. Last week I noticed a robin in my back yard. The first sign of spring. My dad and I played a game every year to see who would see the first robin. Usually, he was the winner. He was retired at the time and took his ‘daily strolls’ so he managed to see the robins. I, on the other hand, was practically married to Corporate America, so my days were spent recruiting students, writing speeches and other unpredictable demands of my life in Corporate America. Let’s don’t even discuss weekends. Corporate America demanded ALL of my TIME!

Now, as a writer, I have the time to look for robins and I must say, seeing that beautiful robin in my back yard, directing his look at me sitting by my window, I felt the presence of my dad and I knew, springtime is just around the corner and I want to embrace it tightly! Last week, I planned to work in my yard. To rake the leaves and place them in my compost pile. When I went outside to do that, the lawn was still too wet, so I chose to do some spring cleaning instead. The weekend, it rained. Today, rain again — it is STILL RAINING while I write this. Will it EVER stop? Normally by now in Charleston, SC the azaleas are blooming along with other flowers. This year? Every thing is still soaked, or just beginning to bud. Saturday, when I stripped the beds, I removed my electric blanket. Today, it is 44 degrees at the moment. How I wish I’d left that warm and toasty blanket on my bed. Oh well. I’ll simply have to snuggle up close just to get warm. It has been such a cold winter for us here in Charleston. I’m ready to sell everything and move to a warmer climate — maybe Hawaii!!!

At least a girl can dream, and in my dreams I live in Hawaii and I stroll along on Waikiki Beach daily. Never did I feel threatened or unsafe in Hawaii.

I suppose this gray, wet day is getting the best of me because all I am doing today is rambling. Oops…make that is freewriting instead! Heaven forbid if I rambled! How I wish I was back in Hawaii again! Yes, walking along the streets to International Market Place, dressed in shorts, a T-shirt, my camera and phone nearby.

Oh, how I’d love to get a trip to Hawaii again! The climate is magnificent, and even when it rains, it is only for a short while. Later, the sun comes out, and the day is beautiful! Incidentally, I have photographs to prove it!


Flying the Friendly Skies, Next to a Stranger

Dearest Readers:

Today, while allowing my silly right knee to rest, I’ve decided to write on my blog again. The subject today is about traveling. Flying the friendly skies, next to a stranger.

As a travel writer, I have journeyed to many exciting, beautiful destinations within the Southern and Southeast region with a stranger sitting next to me. Once, I sat next to a flight assistant traveling to a close friend’s wedding. We discussed our lives, sharing information from our professions. She inquired as to what destinations I would recommend for a girlfriend’s getaway vacation.

“Gosh, there are so many,” I said. “Gatlinburg, Tennessee has so many great cabins where girlfriends can play together. The cabins are amazing, filled with so many luxuries we are accustomed to in our lives. Another location is Rosemary Beach, Florida.”

She interrupted me, grabbing her handbag to get a pen and paper.

Jotting notes quickly, I mentioned additional destinations. Memphis, Tennessee, not just Elvis or Graceland country. Hot Springs, Arkansas. Beaumont, and Port Arthur, Texas. Daytona Beach. Of course, Charleston, South Carolina, but since I live there, I don’t consider it a destination, but I do write about Charleston a lot. Myrtle Beach, SC is another fun destination with much to do. My mind rushed with ideas and she continued writing, excited that I was sharing so much. Sitting next to her, our trip was nice. I do believe this young, vibrant and beautiful woman was one of the most pleasant people I’ve sat next to while flying.

On one occasion, flying to a destination I will keep to myself, a rather large, older gentleman sat next to me. At first, I thought he was a gentleman. Later, I decided, he did not even comprehend the definition of a gentleman. Removing his jacket, he placed it by his knees. He was such a large man that a lap did not exist! My nose sniffed a disgusting aroma. Body odor. I turned my head away. Squashing his large body into the aisle seat, he nodded hello, struggled to buckle his seat belt, sucking and pushing deep into his belly, and when he accomplished that ordeal, he chose to get comfy. A little too comfy. His right shoulder pushed me — almost into the window!

Moments later, his head rested on my shoulder. I tapped him. He ignored me. I moved my shoulder, hoping his head would fall to the other side. It did not. He moved closer.

“Please,” I said. “Do you mind?”

He ignored me. I was thankful our flight time was a short distance. I continued to push him away, but his body insisted on getting closer. I stretched my head to see if any seats were vacant. They were not. Our plane was one of those puddle jumper types, so moving to another seat was not an option. The flight attendant walked by. She stopped when she noticed I was hovering by the window.

“You shouldn’t sit so close to the window,” she said.

“What choice do I have?” I asked, nodding my head in his direction.

She struggled to awaken him, but he ignored her. She motioned, ‘I’m sorry,’ and I nodded, while my mind ticked the minutes of this flight away.

Undoubtedly, that flight was one of the worst flights of my life. After that ordeal, I was hesitant to acknowledge those who sat next to me. If they spoke first, I nodded, and if they wanted to chat, I opened a book.

Last year, I sat next to a College of Charleston student. He was young, blonde, tall, handsome and friendly, wearing jeans and a College of Charleston T-shirt. When he sat down, he introduced himself as Richard, telling me he was a college student and this was his first flight. He was headed to San Diego. My destination — Hawaii. Our flight together ended at Dallas. During our time together, never did we stop talking. I truly hated to see our flight end. He would graduate this year. His major was Political Science. My mind drifted for a minute, picturing him running for office in the future — taking a step forward to lead our nation into changes that are so needed. He mentioned that he was gay and wanted to help educate the public about gay leadership and how narrow-minded some people can be about someone ‘coming out.’

I shared a story with him about a friend I had in high school. Charles and I dated for about six months. He bought a beautiful Camaro convertible and together, we rode along the back roads of Georgia, talking about future dreams and adventures we wanted to share. We were young. Free. Innocent. The future was ours! On one Saturday night, dreams ended for Charles, when he drove his car into a tree. He was killed instantly. At the funeral, his ‘partner’ — commonly referred to as ‘his Uncle Don’ revealed that Charles was ‘dealing with demons inside his head. He had a secret that he never wanted to share. Charles was gay, and that is why he drove his car into a tree. He did not want to ‘come out of the closet and admit he was gay.’ Uncle Don choked up a bit while speaking about Charles. “We were partners,” he said. “Charles was afraid no one would understand.”

I was sixteen at the time. Young. Innocent. Not able to understand, but my eyes opened wide after the funeral. I missed Charles so much. He was a great friend. Funny. Trusting. Kind. One of my best friends. His death was such a tragedy, but during those years, gay freedom was unacceptable, at least, in the Deep South. I made a vow to myself that I would never ridicule the gay community, and I would embrace them with my respect and love. The loss of Charles left me with a new respect for what it is like to be gay. Some of my dearest friends have been gay and I love them as a close member of my family.

When our flight landed, I tapped Richard on the shoulder. “Be proud of yourself, and what and who you are…Never be afraid to make change. America needs you! Think of Charles and the tragedy of his loss, and teach America about how wonderful the gay community is…Be proud. I slipped him my business card and hugged him.

He smiled. “You remind me of my mom. At first, she was hesitant to accept that I’m gay, but now, she accepts me and loves me.”

“And she should. You have the future in your hands. Make the most of it for America.”

I’ve thought about Richard and Charles a lot since that day. Remembering Charles and how reserved he could be at times. During my high school days, the gay community was a hushed, ‘closet’ community. People were afraid to admit what was inside their hearts. Now, America is changing. I cannot help being curious as to what Charles might have accomplished if he had lived. And I cannot help but think about his future. Such a loss. Such a tragedy.

After meeting Richard on a jet, headed to Dallas, I am hopeful that my next flight I will be blessed to sit next to someone who is so excited about his future, and I pray that I never sit next to another ‘gentleman’ again! His coziness was a bit too close for me, and I did not appreciate him sleeping and snoring on my shoulder. Let’s don’t even discuss his ‘body odor!’

Some things are just left better unsaid, but I hope I never sit next to another ‘stranger’ again!

May your journeys and flights be enjoyable. As for myself, my ‘adventures’ always give me something to write about. The ‘pros’ and the ‘cons,’ and I do get to meet some ‘interesting’ characters, along with some amazing people, such as Richard!

While the Sun Sets On My Fantastic Trip to Hawaii

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Waikiki Beach

Wednesday, September 12, 2012 – I am happy to report I still have most of my Hawaiian tropical tan. People keep complimenting me and I am so pleased! I do apologize for not completing this saga of my trip to Hawaii until now. Life has really kept me busy lately. Two press trips, three assignments and so much more! The demands of my life appear to intensify with every day.

My last day in Hawaii was July 12. Phil had to work that morning so I caught a ride with him to the airport, arriving at 9:30am. My flight did not leave until 12:30. I stood in the line awaiting check-in for over 45 minutes. Not a soul was at the desk. I told myself not to get frustrated because I fully believe if the airline personnel pick up on any arrogance, then, they will retaliate. Who can blame them? They must deal with difficult, rude passengers, deadlines and much more. I try my best to always be pleasant to them and I smile. When I checked in, I greeted the assistant with kindness and a smile even though I was just a bit tired of standing. She wished me a good flight. Easy enough!

I was so sad to leave. Reflecting on my seven days in Honolulu, I must say, this trip has given me a new lease on life. Losing my sweet, precious Prince Marmaduke Shamus in the late spring, so unexpectedly left me empty. For weeks, I could not do anything with the exception of crying. Phil had to practically force me to go to karaoke on Wednesday nights. Gone was the normal smile on my face. Several people asked me what was going on and when I replied that I had lost a close family member, my special beautiful giant schnauzer, I would get strange looks from them. I suppose they have never adopted a rescue animal. Never have I felt so unconditionally loved, but I knew I had to move on, and that was so difficult.

Sunset at Waikiki Beach

The trip to Honolulu refreshed me and on this, the morning I had to leave, I wanted to run away. Maybe I could hide in one of the caves, or on Diamond Head. Maybe I could just climb to the top of a mountain and claim my stakes on the territory. Of course, that was not a realistic thought. If I ran away, just how would I shower, do my hair and makeup and how I would be able to be the real person I am. I suppose I could learn to become a hermit – on top of the mountains of Hawaii, with the beautiful turquoise waters, the refreshing morning rains, and who could resist the smell of plumeria? Humph. Maybe I should stay!

Paradise Cove

Like all things in life, all good things must come to an end. I was thankful I had packed everything the night before. While waiting for my flight, I jotted notes, recalling the culture, the delicious, aromatic scent of plumeria, the gusting fresh air, and wind, the beautiful view of the oceans, and I missed seeing the whales I failed to see, so while scribbling my thoughts I have decided that I simply must come back to Hawaii. I am hopeful Phil will be sent back to Hawaii for work, and I suppose I will just have to buy a ticket, just to keep him company!


My last full day in Hawaii I enjoyed the pool again while chatting with strangers nearby. The early morning rain felt delicious on my skin and by 10:00, the sun beamed from the heavens. I relaxed at the pool for a while, then dressed and walked to International Market Place. Much to my surprise, the merchants remembered me and what I was interested in buying. I bartered with one merchant, a tiny Vietnamese woman. She had a gorgeous silver necklace with pearls and matching earrings. When I asked the price she replied, “$250.” I gently placed the necklace aside and walked away. She followed me. “How much you willing to pay,” she said in broken English. “Necklace was only one; a lady from Hawaii made it. I let you have it for better price, if you like.” I’m certain she could see that ‘I liked the necklace.’ In fact, I loved it, but $250 was more than I was willing to pay, even if the gorgeous necklace was one-of-a-kind.

“I let you have for $140.”

“No can do.”

“What you willing to pay?”

“$125.00, including the earrings.”

The woman rolled her eyes as I walked away. “OK. You drive hard bargain but I let you have and I give you earrings. I can see you like and will wear.”

“For $125.”

I suppose you know, I simply could not resist and I have the gorgeous necklace in my jewelry box. Maybe I’ll wear it tonight!

After making my purchase, I walked around the shops, looking around and admiring all the unique items. Gorgeous Hawaiian dresses, with Made in Hawaii tags. Beautiful jewelry that isn’t found anywhere else. I suppose I could continue describing all that I admired, but when you go to Hawaii, you simply must go to International Market Place!

Stopping for a cup of coffee, I watched the people, finding them unique. Only once did I notice a young guy with clothing much too big for him, revealing the classic underwear of this style. I wanted to tell him to pull his pants up since they were dragging the ground, but since I was alone, I decided it was in my best interest not to say a word. There are lots of elderly couples walking around, without walkers, canes, or anything to indicate disabilities. I’ve seen one man (yes, according to his body, he was an older guy) wearing a speedo. The garment really did not flatter him at all, even though he had a six-pack abdomen and a nice golden tan. Although he’s athletic, his slow walk, and balding head gives his age away. There is another lady walking around, dressed in a bikini. Let’s just say, she was in her 70’s and did not have the body to wear a bikini. She pushed a cart. Her chest was drooping, almost to her knees and the bikini bottom was just a bit too small for her. I laughed, remembering how I’ve seen some of these people on the beaches of Sullivan’s Island, but this was Hawaii – Paradise! I kept looking at this woman as she carefully sifted through trash receptacles. When she found something interesting, she carefully looked around, as if to see if someone was watching her. When she thought no eyes were upon her, she quickly stashed the garbage items in a Wal-Mart bag. Each time, she nodded, bowed her head, and mumbled thank you. This interesting character still had the grace to be appreciative of the treasures she was finding. I was curious as to what she found, but I didn’t dare inquire. Nor did I take a photograph of her. I suppose it is true, what is junk or trash to someone is a treasure to someone else. Yes, you meet and see all kinds in Hawaii and every place, when you have the time to sit and relax and people watch. I made a note to remember this woman and to use her character in a story. She fascinated me. I was curious as to what had made her this way. Was she homeless? Did no one else care about her?

A few moments later, a maintenance worker opened the trash receptacle, to empty it. Only a few pieces of trash did he find. He scratched his head and moved on. I suppose he was curious as to why the container had so little. People are so interesting!

Finishing the last sip of coffee, I decide it is time to journey back to the hotel room. Before exiting International Market Place, I throw a kiss to say “Aloha.” Just how long will it be before I shop here again? That’s truly a great question. I truly hate to leave Hawaii.

The Tradition of the Blowing of the  Conch Shell – Waikiki Beach

Before going back to the Hyatt Regency Waikiki, I use the cross walk and walk over to Waikiki Beach, to say goodbye, until we meet again. There are several benches along the sidewalk, so I sit down, open my journal, and jot notes. The wind is gusting now as a beach hat flies by me and flops down on my bench. I anticipate someone will claim it, but so far, no one appears to want it. Suppose this could be a great toy for my new giant schnauzer, Prince Midnight Shadow. According to my dog sitter, he really needs to calm down a bit. Silly guy, in July he was so new to our household he didn’t know the rules. When I return home, I’ll start the discipline and training schedule. This hat could be something fun for him to play with since he loves to destroy all the toys!

Hula Dancing – Waikiki Beach

At 5 o’clock, I rush back to Waikiki Beach. The concierge said there was a hula show today. At sunset, the torches are lit, a conch shell is blown, and the hula show begins. Phil arrives and we stand, admiring the great atmosphere and show. I take an abundance of photographs, only to stop when my digital camera smart card is full. Rats. I wanted to take some more. Wouldn’t you know it…my last chance to capture sunset shots of Waikiki Beach and my smart card is full. I have several in my camera bag – in the hotel room. Duh!

Today is truly my last day in Honolulu. Tomorrow I’ll board the plane and return home. I truly have enjoyed the culture, music, conch shell chimes, the food and fish, fruit; especially the pineapple slices on iced tea, and the people. Such a fascinating place to fall in love again. Maybe that is what is happening to me here in Hawaii. I am falling in love again – with myself.

I’ve noticed that many of the residential homes in Honolulu have solar panels and it is such a beautiful, almost heavenly place. People appear not to rush around on the sidewalks and the lack of cell phones attached to ears truly intrigues me. I do know cell phones work here because I’ve phoned several friends back in the states, just to say, “Aloha!” I must say, some of the most interesting people I’ve met are Hawaiian natives.

The native women are small, with dark, exotic looks nice bodies and small chests. The men are well-built – even in middle age they still have the bodies of surfers and their graying hair simply adds to their demeanor. I suppose I could describe many of these men as “good eye candy” as the cliché describes. Don’t think I took any photographs of this eye candy. I saw one stunning ‘older woman’ and I hate that expression. She was one of the performers at the Hula show. Her hair was snow-white. Cheek bones high and her body was still all in the right places. She walked, danced, and moved with graceful beauty.

Hawaii has so many tropical trees they appear to touch the skyline. Some of these tropical trees appear to grow sideways, making them interesting tree sculptures. Walking around, I smell the aromatic scent of plumeria. I simply must find a cologne containing plumeria. I will never forget that delicious aroma!

Honolulu and Waikiki Beach is truly a walker’s paradise. I will miss these pleasant walks. Never did I break a sweat. The humidity level is low and with the trade winds blowing, it is so refreshing just to walk around, watch people, shop, and enjoy the view. On many occasions when walking, I’ve glanced down at the crosswalks to see definitions of “Aloha” or other Hawaiian words on the sidewalks. What a great idea.

Our last night in Hawaii we decided to make it a special night by walking in the downtown area. We had dinner at Seafood Village. I ordered Manchurian Mahi Mahi. It was so delicious. There is something special about the fish in Honolulu – it is so fresh and tender, combined with the fruit salsa and you truly have a delicious, mouth-watering meal. After dinner, we continue walking towards the street vendors and characters. Gosh, there are so many. We passed by a group of people standing around listening to two young boys singing. They were truly drawing a crowd and were most talented. I can’t recall the song they sang, but I do believe it was a Michael Jackson tune. The character I’ve mentioned before, the street vendor dressed and wrapped in newspaper was out. Placed by his foot was a tip jar. Elvis was out again – that is – a Japanese, or Polynesian Elvis. I waited a few minutes to listen to him, but he did not sing. He was more interested in watching the bikini chicks strolling by. I suppose you could say, He was a typical “Girl watcher” Elvis. Not far from him was a mime. I think I could easily love living in Hawaii!


On the flight home, tears dripped from my face as I realized my dream week was ending. In less than 24 hours, I would be home, back to reality. The flight home was long, a night flight from Los Angeles. Tip to all frequent flyers – when you are flying and change planes, you will need to reenter the terminal and go through all of the security devices once again. While I understand it is to protect the safety of all passengers, it really does take away from the fun of flying. Trust me, flying isn’t fun anymore! Reluctantly, at LAX I inquire about how I might find United Airlines terminal. A young girl with punk rock hair, nose rings, and an attitude glares at me when I ask her. “Do you think it’s my job to know everything here?” She screams.

“Obviously someone has burst your bubble today. Have a great day.” I rush away from her. I continue a journey I’m not certain is taking me anywhere I need to be but I glance up to see an Information Booth. There I am told to exit the building. Take a bus and go to another gate. I follow the suggestions and about fifteen minutes later, I stand at United Airlines. By now, I am so tired I simply want to curl up somewhere and sleep, but I never sleep while traveling. I have to be in control and know what’s going on.

The next flight is to Charlotte, NC, scheduled to arrive at 9:15am. On the plane, people settle in to their seats, tucking themselves in for the night flight. Two hours in to the flight and I listen to many people snoring and mumbling in their sleep, but sleep does not come to me. I have a window seat and watch the night display of falling stars, in the distance, I see a stunning show of lightning, but it is so far away I am not frightened. The lady sitting two seats from me is sound asleep now. Behind me, the two soldiers headed home after wars are snoring. I don’t dare ask them to stop. Besides, I cannot sleep. I watch the dark, midnight skyline fade into shades of gray, as the morning sun rises. I reach to get my sunshades. I will arrive home in Charleston at 10:45. I plan to play with the pups and take a nap. I’m exhausted yet so energized while thinking of my dream vacation to Hawaii. I will miss the morning sunrises and misting showers of delicate rain drops, along with the stunning sunsets of Paradise Cove and Waikiki Beach. I will miss the pleasant people of all lifestyles that I met. The couples celebrating their 50th anniversary. The military. The culture. Hula dancers and music. I will miss admiring the gorgeous surfers and men, and believe me, there are many exquisite men in Honolulu. The blowing of the conch shell. Blowing Rock. Diamond Head. The coastal highway and the spectacular views. The sweet-smelling scent of plumeria. Walking along Waikiki Beach. Hula dancing. The culture and language, and so much more. I think I left a piece of my heart and soul in Hawaii, as the trade winds blew, my scent followed, but like all things in life, I must get back to reality. I miss you, Hawaii! For now, “ALOHA” until we meet again!

 Paradise Cove Luau

 Photography Credit: Barbie Perkins-Cooper

Welcome to Hawaii – Day Five and Beyond – Hawaii Is Like A Dream Come True!

Monday, August 20, 2012 – Sorry for the delay in sharing my astonishing dreams about Hawaii. I’ve been just a bit busy lately with several assignments to do, rehearsals for a show at the Charleston Elks Lodge, more assignments – unexpected, but so welcome, and of course, getting all the photographs I took of Hawaii printed. I had over 503++ photographs to print and I must say, my new camera certainly performed well. When Phil looked at some of the photographs, he actually complimented my photography skills. How nice!

Additional events that have kept me busy lately:

A few weeks ago I was selected as a ‘qualifier’ for the Lowcountry Karaoke Idol Contest in Charleston. For this part of the competition I sang, “At Last.” The club finals for Manhattan’s Bar & Grill were Friday, August 17, 2012. I’ve practiced my song [“I Who Have Nothing”] to make certain I knew it and could hit the notes. Piece of cake! Tom Jones is one of my favorites and I sing his songs all the time! At the competition, I was as calm as a cucumber, but I did check out the competition! Four guys, three girls will compete, and I knew one of them! I was a bit concerned because she and I are great friends and I will do nothing to jeopardize our friendship! After all, great friends (especially women!) are so hard to find. The clock was ticking…10pm and the competition begins! I listened and watched the singers, paying attention to see if they were getting into the performance. Many of them looked at the monitor – silly, don’t you know you are SUPPOSED to lose points IF you look at the monitor! Several singers were not too bad! Finally, my name was called. I grabbed the microphone, and turned away from the monitor! I confess, when I’m singing, it is a performance and I am totally focused on what I am doing. I did not notice if I had the attention of the crowd or not. I just belted out my tune, moving and grooving with the audience. Much to my surprise, I was selected for second place. The score was 66-64 and if the first place finalist is unable to represent Manhattan’s for the City Finals, then I will perform. C’est la vie! Story of my life! I suppose second place isn’t too bad – after all, it’s karaoke – except I love performing!!!

An additional surprise occurred while jet lag was refusing to leave me. Early one morning, I checked e-mail, receiving an invitation to attend a press trip to Aruba. I read the itinerary and invitation well, letting it rest on my desk while I debated about it. The press trip was less than two weeks away. Not enough time for me to query publications about story ideas. Since I’ve never been to Aruba, I declined the invitation, requesting a rain check. My rule is to at least have query letters out to publications before attending a trip. Gosh, how I wanted to go!


Waikiki Beach

Today, our discussions will include additional events on Phil’s birthday – July 8, 2012 — evening events, walking to International Market Place, along with the characters we met, the street performers, and other interesting characters.

We had a nice day traveling around Honolulu, admiring the breathtaking beauty and views, the coastal highway, searching for whales, which we never found, and the amazement of Blow Hole. How I wanted to sneak a rock, shell, or something unique that I could stash in my suitcase, but I was fearful that I would get caught, so when I found something, I simply let it slip through my hands. No lava rocks to take home. No sea shells. Nothing from within the lava foundations, the sea, or within the depth of the ocean. After all, I remember that silly form I signed before departing the American Airlines plane to enter beautiful Hawaii. I suppose I am just a bit too honest for my own good. If someone asked me if I am carrying something I shouldn’t, my eyes would give me away. I suppose I will never be a good liar! Besides, according to some of the legends of Hawaii, if you remove a lava rock, you are destined for bad luck – and I’ve had more than my share of bad life in my lifetime!

Breathtaking View along the Coastal Highways

Lava rocks and the mountains are truly amazing to look at while riding along the coast. To the left, your eyes admire the unique shape of the mountains. To the right, your eyes stare at the glittering iridescent blue ocean, the white caps slapping gently on the beaches and coastline. While I’ve always had an incredible passion for oceans, nothing compares or equals the turquoise waters I admire as we travel along the coast. I pinch myself. Please God, if I’m dreaming, never let this dream end.

A few hours later we head back to the hotel. We are tired now, ready to relax and walk along Kalakaua Avenue.  The sun is setting now as we walk. I am amazed at the wide sidewalks on Waikiki Beach. There are hundreds of people walking, but no one bumps into Phil or me and no one has a cell phone glued to their ears. In Charleston, people appear not to be able to walk unless a cell phone dangles from their ears, and they shout their supposedly private conversations into their phones, so the entire world can hear the latest one-sided gossip. Who cares!


International Market Place is only a three block walk from our hotel. Dressed in shorts and a Hawaiian print shirt, with my Shape-Ups on my feet, I am ready for the business of shopping. I admit it. I hate shopping. Rarely do I find anything I want and I am a bargain hunter. Working in retail establishments for many years, I know how much items are marked up for profit, so I tell myself to look for bargains, or appear not to love an item too much. I want to barter!

While walking I notice the designer shops. Many of them I’ve never heard of. I live on a budget so these shops look wonderful and oh so tempting, but I would probably be flabbergasted by the price tags. I choose not to go inside.

We approach the entrance of International Market Place. Merchants are everywhere. Pleasant to the shoppers, the culture of Hawaii has taught the merchants how to charm and approach them. They nod their heads to everyone, speaking to a few, probably in hopes of making a big sale. I stop at several jewelry booths. OK, I admit it…I am a jewelry fanatic! I admire the coral, shells, the beautiful lei’s. All the jewelry is so beautiful. I honestly do not know where to start!

International Market Place has changed dramatically since I visited it during our R&R. There are many specialty shops now. No matter what you are looking for in Hawaii, you will find it along Kalakaua Avenue. One thing to remember is to ask for a better price at the Market Place. Almost every merchant I approached was willing to negotiate with me. There was one shop where the shopkeeper said, “If you don’t like that price on the sticker, you will not find a better price around Kalakaua Avenue.” I left her shop without purchasing anything.

I can truly say, International Market Place is one of my favorite places to shop, because I can negotiate. After all, my trip to Hawaii was planned in less than twenty-four hours and I had no time to get to the bank for additional funds. Thank goodness. I could’ve spent a small fortune.

A wood carving artist at International Market Place

Headed back to Hyatt Regency Waikiki, the street vendors and entertainers are out. I snap a few shots of an Elvis wanna be, a man dressed in newspaper, another guy dressed in gold lame, and an interesting floral archway where a woman was inside with only her beautiful face exposed.

Only one of the many interesting street performers in Honolulu

By now the streets are filled with pedestrians. Much to my surprise, everyone moves without pushing or shoving, and everyone uses crosswalks. While we walked across the street onto an area filled with additional hotels, we stop at a park, pet a dog and decide we will cross the street in the middle of the roadway. A police officer sees us standing along the middle of the sidewalk. I reach for Phil’s hand as cars rush by. I have a phobia of crossing busy streets, reminding Phil he must hold my hand tightly if we cross here. [I was hit by a drunk driver when I was nine-years-old, suffering a severe concussion.] I’ve never been able to cross busy streets without shaking since then.

The police officer has stopped, watching us. “That’s not a cross walk,” he shouts in our direction. I jerk my hand from Phil. “We can’t cross here. There must be a cross walk somewhere.”

We thank the police officer and move towards the traffic light. After we cross, the police officer nods to us. No doubt he was ready and waiting to give us a jaywalking ticket, but we followed his advice. After all, I really did not want to spend a night in the jail! Can you imagine – Phil and I arrested for jaywalking and spending the night in a jail? How dreadful!

After we get back to the hotel, we hop in the car headed to Ala Moana Shopping Center.


Years ago, we spent lots of money at Ala Moana Shopping Center. We were so young and carefree and our time in Hawaii was ticking away quickly. In two days, he would catch a flight back to Vietnam. When a lovely lady at the hotel we stayed at suggested shopping at Ala Moana, we spent a day there, looking at shops, admiring all the merchandise. Phil found a double-breasted jacket [yes, they were the style back then]. I took him inside, and we bought it. I didn’t care if he didn’t get to wear it very much. He wanted it. Money wasn’t an object. I wanted his memories of our first trip to Hawaii – our honeymoon – to be something to remember!

Now, Ala Moana Shopping Center is filled with all sorts of specialty shops and restaurants. Many of these shops are designer shops. If you are looking for something unique and special, Ala Moana is the place to find it! I found three pairs of shoes. Just how I would get them home was a concern, but I could not pass them up! Shoes are my weakness!

Exhausted from a full day, we decided to dine at Blazin Steaks After dinner, we rush back to our room to watch a movie. My time in Hawaii is slowly ticking away and I am so sad to see it ending. Please, if I am dreaming, Never let me awaken from this dream!


Welcome to Hawaii – Day Four — Off to Diamond Head, Blow Hole

Sunday, July 8, 2012 — Phil’s birthday. Today, he is taking the day off so we can play tourist in Hawaii. We have plans to drive to Diamond Head, and travel on the coastal highways to find Nakalele Point Blowhole, not only in search of Blow Hole, but whales!

The morning started like all the mornings have since I arrived on Thursday afternoon. Overcast, gray clouds, bursting into circles of radiant sun peeping through the circles, teasing the skyline with morning. Every morning I rush to the balcony while Phil snores. I open the balcony door with my camera ready to capture the breaking morning sunshine and clouds. I didn’t buy Phil a birthday card after I arrived, thinking his birthday card that I mailed on Monday would make it for his birthday. It is Sunday and still it hasn’t arrived. I suppose mail is just a bit slow here. Maybe I should’ve sent him an electronic birthday card via e-mail. Oh well. All that matters is the fact that we are together on his birthday.

Last night at Paradise Cove his birthday was mentioned – not personally, but a group “Happy Birthday” to all in attendance celebrating birthdays.

The evening sunset at Paradise Cove

I rush around, getting dressed for our first full day together since I arrived. After I am dressed, hair styled, makeup on, I awaken Phil. He moans. Silly guy. The older he gets, the more (and later) he sleeps. At home, he will sleep until noon. If he does that here, he’ll find himself all alone. I simply am not spending the entire morning in a hotel room! There’s too much to do, and if I have to walk, no problem. I am accustomed to walking!

Finally, I persuade Phil to get up. He appears to be in a grumpy mood. No surprise…he can certainly be a ‘grumpy ole man’ when he wants to be!

After he is dressed he inquires as to what we are doing today. I mention Diamond Head and I remind him that we need to set the GPS for BlowHole and other coastal locations. To be honest, my GPS (TomTom version 2.8) does not work well here in Hawaii! When I typed in Wal-Mart, it could not find it. Other locations I searched for, Mr. TomTom simply did not locate. This created a bit of stress with Phil and I so now, I will go down to the concierge’s desk to get directions. I do not wish to fight on my Paradise vacation! If Phil gets on my nerves, I’ll simply escape and go on my own!

After getting directions, off we go. Phil has a rental car – a SMALL Volkswagen that is uncomfortable! Nevertheless, we must use the car today. I struggle to buckle the passenger seatbelt. I have an extremely weak left wrist that does not flex easily so it is a battle to buckle and I have to use my right hand. Finally buckled, we are off. Perhaps I should write an automobile review about this car. On second thought, perhaps not! It is not comfortable! Yes, it has lots of get up and go, but comfort I don’t think the engineers considered, at least not for the passenger. The parking garages in this hotel, Hyatt Regency Waikiki, are a tight squeeze. Mirrors are placed in the corners so we can see approaching cars. I hold my breath in anticipation, fearful that some fruitcake in a hurry might hit us as we approach the exit. One thing I have noticed in the bit of time I’ve been in Hawaii – people do not appear to be in such a hurry, like they are in Charleston!

Phil and I have lived in Charleston since the early 1970’s. We’ve watched the growth in the areas, especially in Mt. Pleasant. A population of 10,000 when we moved to Mt. Pleasant, now the city has over 60,000+ residents. To say we are overcrowded is an understatement. I’ve seen many people lose their tempers in traffic. Road rage! Now, as I think about drivers in Charleston, I remind myself that I am in Honolulu, where people appear to be much nicer! Just maybe we will not have an accident inside a garage!

Right on cue, a car approaches. He stops. Waves to us. This would not happen in Charleston! Drivers would show the index finger, instead! I spoke with my pet sitter earlier, recognizing when it is 8am here, it is 2pm in Charleston. Sandy has reassured me the pups are fine and Shadow, my newest and youngest is rebelling by shredding the puppy papers on the floor! He’s also attempted to shred a rug on the breakfast room floor. Suppose I’ll need to trash it when I get home. Shadow is less than a year old so he is full of energy. He leaps like a deer, or a leap frog, jumping high into the air. He’s bumped my nose many times, and when he does, my entire head feels like it will burst. I must remember to block him and use the water bottle more often, just to make him realize he must behave. Puppies are a barrel of fun, along with a barrel of trouble!

We exit the garage. Mister TomTom directs our way, along with the print out from the concierge’s office. I do not trust TomTom. He’s disappointed me many times previously! When I get back to Charleston, I will upgrade it to get the latest roads and highways. Such a pain! Normally when I travel, I have a printed Google map with me, to compare the directions, but after attempting without success to locate Wal-Mart in Honolulu, I realize my GPS is almost an antique!

I watch the highways while Phil drives, reading the signs, attempting to pronounce the roads, without much success! We make a turn, finding the Honolulu Elks Lodge. “We need to come back and drop by the Elks Lodge before we leave,” I tell Phil. He grumbles. I’m certain we’ll never drop by. Phil doesn’t like going to places where he doesn’t know anyone. Just how we connected so many years ago is beyond me. I am gregarious and love making a statement when I enter a room. Phil loves to blend in. We are such opposites! Maybe I was a bit desperate at the time.

Admiring the View Before Diamond HeadWe are headed to Diamond Head. Now I really regret how I forgot to pack my “Things to Do in Honolulu” print out that is still resting on my printer – at home! I struggled to login to my computer at the hotel, but it would not allow me. I reminded Phil to do a print out from the list and he of course will “do it later.” Funny! Later never arrives. He is the king of procrastination, not to mention a pain___! So off we go, without a plan, with exception of the printed directions we have from the concierge’s desk. Oh well. My prayers are that we do not snap at each other while struggling to find our way. I’ve concluded Mr. Tom Tom does not like me, and neither does the other GPS I had but tossed away!

Now, we’re following a path where gorgeous homes within beautiful gates are on the roadway. I do believe you must be rich to live in Hawaii! These homes make me so envious, but when I go back to reality, I’ll be thankful for what I have. At least, I hope!

We continue our route, I am the navigator. Phil is the driver. Thank goodness he is not using that stupid I-phone GPS again. I think I’d grab it from his hand and toss it out the window if he pulled that stunt again. Before long, we hit the highway. I see mountains in the distance with lava rock. Diamond Head is just ahead. We pull over at an observation area and I step out to photograph the view. Words cannot describe all that I see, but it is truly a blessing just to inhale the fresh air, the gusty winds and to be thankful that I am having the opportunity to make another dream come true – another dream back to Hawaii and I am enjoying every moment. The mountains, and there are many! Take Diamond Head for instance. Considered one of the younger mountains of Honolulu, history states that it erupted quickly. The view from Diamond Head is gorgeous, although we turned back due to traffic. Regretting it now, I have made a promise to myself that the next time we go to Honolulu, one of the mountains we will visit is Diamond Head. I simply cannot wait to take pictures on Diamond Head. Silly me. Just why did I suggest that we turn around and head to Blow Hole? Sometimes I can be such a dummy!

Blow Hole has a special meaning to Phil and I. We saw it on our first tour of Honolulu, when we were newlyweds. Much to my surprise, I do not remember the beautiful scenic highway leading to Blow Hole that we are traveling on now. There are several observation points to stop and take photographs and we are hopping in and out of the car. On one observation point, I decided to get a bit gutsy and hike a bit. Phil discouraged me, but he knows me well. I simply would not listen to him. So off I go, clicking photographs, looking for whales, hoping that we will see one. Stopping to admire the view, I squeal – probably like a teenager. In the distance I see a lighthouse. Of course I had to get closer.

“Be careful,” Phil shouts. “You know how clumsy you are.”

“Ah-hush. Today I wore the proper shoes – my shapeups!”

I continued my hike until I came to an area that was forbidden. There I stood, taking several shots of the lighthouse. How I wanted to cross the path and get closer, but Phil would come after me. Fussing and grumbling!

Back in the car, we continue looking for Blow Hole. The view along the coastal drive to Blow Hole is truly amazing. It’s like I am traveling along the route to Heaven, and I’ve never been to Heaven. Not yet! Lava rocks are on the mountains. The pictures I am taking truly speak for themselves, so I suppose I’ll have to stop blogging and let my readers admire the beauty. Now, if only I could see a whale.

My next blog will discuss our evening events, walking to International Market Place, along with the characters we met, the street vendors and singers. How I wanted to join them in a tune!

Enjoy the photographs!

There She Blows!


Welcome to Hawaii – Paradise Cove and the Lu’au

ImageSaturday, July 7, 2012 – Phil is working again until noon. I spent the morning at the pool at Hyatt Regency Waikiki, enjoying quiet time without anyone around. I suppose I enjoy being alone so much because I am a writer, and writers truly need the isolation to nourish the creative muse. The morning is gray and overcast; however, the pool attendant has assured me that the clouds will clear. Based on my few days here in Honolulu, I believe him. The weather is extraordinary in paradise. Humidity – almost none. You must realize, I am accustomed to humidity of 90% and higher in Charleston, SC. Summer time in the deep South leaves one to feel as if he or she has stepped into a sauna. There are times we do not have these welcoming, refreshing tropical breezes, even on the Atlantic Ocean. Mornings of gray overcast clouds in the South usually describes a gray, depressing day. In the summer, we are so hot that a simple excursion to the mail box, or to set out the trash leaves one dripping with perspiration. My friends tease me about this, telling me I do not perspire, with exception of glitter! Yes, I suppose it is true, I do enjoy glamour, make up and so much more!

Remembering the weather in Charleston, I am so encouraged to appreciate this amazing weather in Honolulu! Along the coast of Charleston, don’t even think about walking barefoot outside, by the pool or along the sand. Feet will blister – almost immediately! So far, I haven’t felt any humidity or stifling heat in Hawaii. Yes, the temperatures are in the 80’s, but the weather is so pleasant, especially when the tropical breezes kiss a forehead or an arm. Although I awaken early to overcast, dark clouds, they will disintegrate as the beautiful morning sun awakens the city to another splendid, tropical day. It is easy for me to breathe in Honolulu, and I have forgotten to use my inhaler, prescribed for asthma. Oh well. Not to worry. I breathe easily in Honolulu, without wheezing, nor do I need to stop, just to catch my breath. After all, I am in Paradise, the beautiful tropical setting of my dreams. Sometimes I must pinch myself, just to make certain I am not dreaming!

Our night is planned. We will leave the Hyatt Regency Waikiki onboard a bus headed to Paradise Cove. We must be at the green awning at 3:40pm today. I polish myself with tropical sunscreen while enjoying the morning. Relaxing by the pool, it is still overcast, but I do see the sun striving to break through. Not to worry. This too shall pass. I feel a slight dampness, touching my face, raindrops drip on my skin. Other guests at the pool rush away, grabbing all of their personal items. “Don’t leave,” I say. “The rain will stop in a few minutes.”

One lady looks at me. “When it rains in Seattle, it usually stays for a while.”

“Not here,” I say, introducing myself. “Every morning I’ve been here, morning rain occurs for only a few minutes, then it leaves. It might rain again later, but only for a bit.”

She places her things back on her chair. “Maybe I’ll stay.”

I smile at her. “See…it’s stopping. Today will be a beautiful day.”

“You’re pretty confident,” she says, rubbing her skin with sunscreen.

“It’s to be a beautiful day…it will not rain on my parade.”


I check the time on my BlackBerry, anticipating the evening festivities at Paradise Cove. The lu’au was a bit more expensive than we anticipated paying, especially since we are on a budget, but Phil and I decided to indulge with this event while budgeting on meals. So far, we’ve done well with not overspending a bunch of money and we haven’t used credit cards at all. I’m a bit proud of us and how careful we’ve been.

For the Paradise Cove Lu’au, we chose the Orchid Lu’au Buffet Package. Included are: Transportation from the hotel to Paradise Cove and back. We will receive a fresh flower lei and Mai Tai greeting upon arrival. We have two premium drink tickets, orchid lu’au seating, and an authentic Hawaiian lu’au buffet. When we bought the tickets at the concierge’s desk, the video of Paradise Cove looked so inviting we could not resist.

At 3:30, we arrive at the green awning, dressed appropriately in Hawaiian attire. Phil wears a red Hawaiian shirt and dark pants. I wear a black Hawaiian print dress, with a red flower in my hair and comfortable sandals. We join the crowd waiting for the bus. Introducing ourselves to a couple celebrating their 50th anniversary in Hawaii, I tell them they are the second couple I’ve met celebrating a 50th anniversary. It must be the romance of Hawaii, the climate, the beauty and the aromas of such a tropical setting. This will be a fun night! Aloha!

Finally, the bus arrives. A bit late, but nothing to worry about. We’re headed to Paradise Cove and a great night of festivities. Our bus guide is named Bev. She looks like she is a genuine native of Hawaii. Richly thick beautiful brunette hair, wide, dark eyes and a beautiful face. She is very pleasant to meet and perfect for this job. She shares the details about Paradise Cove, mentioning a bit about what there is to do, and there is plenty! The culture of Hawaiian games, the fishing, the making of lei’s, temporary tattoos, outrigger canoe rides, meeting the Royal Court, the Imu Ceremony (unearthing the pig from the traditional ovens) underground. I am ecstatic, so excited to learn more about Hawaiian culture and to experience it firsthand.

On the drive, I admire all of the tall palm trees, mimosa, red coral, banyan trees, and beautiful landscapes along the highways. Some of the trees appear to be taller versions of palm trees along the East Coast, with exception of how gorgeous, tall and colorful they are. For a moment, I am curious as to the condition of my landscape and I’m hopeful Charleston is getting some much needed rain. Just maybe my ferns, mimosa trees, and flowers will survive a week without water. I make a mental note to ask my pet sitter if it has rained at all in Charleston. I’m hopeful she says yes.

Arriving at Paradise Cove, I realize we are on an extended field trip. Buses are everywhere.

“Wow. There must really be a crowd here tonight,” I say to our guide.

“We have over 1,000 people here tonight.”

Suddenly my excitement disappears. Just how will 1,000 people get to do everything mentioned in the brochure given to us when we purchased our tickets. I share this thought with Phil.

A beautiful Polynesian woman places an orchid lei on us, sharing a slight kiss. Aloha! We are directed to an area to get our photograph taken, then we follow along to find our seats. The lines are already long at every activity. The drink line is too long to get into at this time. I saunter over to another line – I wanted to do the outrigger, but the lines are long and not moving. Another line to join to make a lei, and so on. I’m really disappointed. My suggestion to Paradise Cove is not to overbook, and if 1,000 paid tickets are sold, be certain to have additional settings and lines for the events so all the paying guests can enjoy.


We decide to join the drink line. There we wait…and wait…and wait while listening to the sounds announcing additional events – where the lines are much too long to participate. I make another mental note to myself to mention these lines and the overcrowding on my blog…Enough said?

After we finally get our tropical drinks, I go back to the table to grab my camera bag. “Since the lines are so long and the events appear to only last a few minutes, I think I’ll capture some things with my camera.” Phil nods. He knows how disappointed I am.

“They really should not overbook,” he grumbles and I agree with him.

“I know…I wanted to get a plumeria tattoo, and to experience the outrigger, but I think they’ve already quit. This really is a disappointment to me. We paid too much money not to be able to join in the festivities, but the lines are so long we almost have to fight our way…”

I rush over to the beach area where the sun is beginning to set. For once, there isn’t a line, so I look for a good place to start taking photographs. Before I realize it, I’ve taken over 100 shots, beautiful images of the coast of Hawaii, the landscape of palm trees and sunsets. The photographer in me has kicked in and I click away…almost too excited to find Phil. In the distance I see dolphins, but my camera lens does not capture them.


One final note about Paradise Cove My suggestion to Paradise Cove is to add additional lines to all events. One line for each event, when there are over 1,000 people in attendance was not effective or considerate! When we booked our tickets, the one thing that sold us to book with Paradise Cove was the video playing advertising Paradise Cove on the monitor at the concierge’s desk. While watching it, I noticed tents for events, china on linen draped tables. Our spread consisted of a Southern barbecue, complete with plastic plates and utensils. Yes, I admit it – a travel writer is accustomed to receiving some of the finer things in life, such as china and linens. C’est la vie or should I say “Aloha!” The food presentation at Paradise Cove is a disappointment to say the least!


While the lines were long and overbooked, the entertainment exceeded my expectations. The Polynesian dancers were beautiful, dressed in colorful, authentic costumes. Although a bit overpriced and definitely overbooked, Paradise Cove introduced the magnificent culture, music, dance, and traditions of Hawaii, to the 1,000 people in attendance. Next time, we will probably go to the Polynesian Culture Center. How I wish I had the time to discover the Polynesian Culture Center prior to my visit, but – truly my bad!

Now, if only I had seen a whale at Paradise Cove. Wouldn’t that be a great image to capture! Perhaps tomorrow along the coast headed to Blow Hole! Aloha until Day Four!


Photography credits: Barbie Perkins-Cooper