January - March 2020
  • Day72

    Home....Day one of self-isolation

    March 19 in Canada ⋅ ☀️ -10 °C

    All flights were on schedule and the journey went smoothly. At the start of the Hawaii flight there was a very strong smell of Lysol and Purell throughout the cabin as passengers were busy cleaning their space. I started to cough.....NO!! I reassured the passengers seated next to me wearing N95 masks that I was not sick. I was thankful I had filled my water bottle at the airport and bought Ricola cough drops as the combo saved the day and I wasn’t yanked off the plane for presumptive COVID-19.

    It has been one heck of a ride with so many good memories that will stay with me until I am deep into a state of dementia! Now it’s time to hunker down for the 14 day mandatory self-isolation. With only 17 confirmed Coronavirus cases in Manitoba but 242,000+ world-wide (and counting), it’s a scary time for all.
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  • Day71

    My last nature walk

    March 18 in the United States ⋅ ☁️ 21 °C

    I was all prepared for my long journey home so there was time for one last breath of fresh air. I walked to the village of Princeville in 35 minutes but on my return it started to rain. When I heard and saw thunder and lightning I pushed harder and made it back in 25!Read more

  • Day71

    Peaceful despite COVID-19

    March 18 in the United States ⋅ 🌧 24 °C

    I’ve been to The Cliffs in Princeville three times and have come to realize that this is my happy place in Hawaii. Princeville has beautiful golf courses, cliffs, ocean vistas and lovely landscaped residential areas that provide a very pleasant experience when taking long walks. The condo is a spacious 950 sq ft with two patios and ocean view so it has been very comfortable. I have only killed one little worm the first day.

    The weather has been dismal the last two days with on and off rain, heavy at times with up to 2-3” per hour. The ground was already saturated so the flash flood warnings are ongoing. There has been a tornado watch and severe thunderstorm warnings. This is occurring throughout all the islands and is due to a “Kona low”. I have still been able to get out for a walk during dry periods. It is supposed to start clearing tomorrow.

    Coronavirus has been on the news 24/7 disrupting regular programming which is usually reruns. The US and Hawaii in particular has been very slow to react. Cruise ships, the ones that are still sailing, continue to come to Hawaiian ports. Just yesterday Hawaii started closing public facilities and events. Hawaii is not suggesting closure of businesses, such as restaurants and bars. The resort is still holding social gatherings with 30 or more people in attendance in a small room. They have been panic buying, especially toilet paper. I have been trying to buy hand sanitizer and Lysol wipes since I arrived in Hawaii and they are sold out everywhere with new shipments disappearing “within an hour”. Other than grocery shopping and daily walks I have been self-isolating and am fine with that.

    My flight to Vancouver is scheduled to depart this evening at 10:40. All flights this week are sold out. I feel healthy and don’t anticipate being denied boarding. I found Lysol cleaner with the housekeepers supplies and have saturated some normal wipes with the solution. I will be thoroughly cleaning my space on the plane. I have eye drops and bought nasal lubricant that is supposed to help resist viruses so now I just have to remember not to touch my face!
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  • Day66

    Hanalei Beach

    March 13 in the United States ⋅ ⛅ 24 °C

    This could be my only day of sunshine so I packed the cooler and grabbed the beach chair that are provided in each condo. I headed North 7 km to the cute beach town of Hanalei. The two-lane road is narrow and winding, with two single lane bridges. The town is almost at the point where the road ends on the North shore of the island. The beach is nearly 5 km long and has fine, light sand. After a long beach walk I settled down with my picnic lunch and for the first time....my book! There was a distracting birthday party nearby as I had forgotten how loud squealing five year old girls can be! Despite that it was a very nice leisurely afternoon.

    When I returned to the condo I walked over to the cliff edge where there are Adirondack chairs overlooking the ocean. The humpback whale watch was interesting as they were close enough to shore that you could clearly see the black of their bodies on the surface of the water and lots of spouts but none of them breached. I stayed until sunset although it was the wrong side of the island to see the actual sun setting.
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  • Day66

    Full circle to Kauai

    March 13 in the United States ⋅ ⛅ 22 °C

    Killed a cockroach on the kitchen counter this morning.....time to move! It was actually time to complete the circle and head back to Kauai where JS and I started our winter break 66 days ago. I was able to book a free flight using the HawaiianMiles I had earned going to AU/NZ. I was out of bed at 0615 in order to catch the only non-stop flight from Kona to Kauai as I wanted to avoid the crowds at Honolulu Airport.

    I had an issue with the credit card that I had used to book my car rental, my mistake, resulting in no insurance coverage. I had to take the car rental shuttle bus back to the airport so that I could make some frantic phone calls. I knew the airport had a pay phone and free wifi. About two hours later I had MPI rental car insurance and I was finally on my way. I made a stop at the grocery store and at Costco. Costco was pretty crazy as people are stocking up for the pandemic. There was a line-up of about 40 people waiting for toilet paper as a Costco employee handed out one package per customer.

    Poor timing as I got stuck in rush hour traffic, which is particularly bad through Kapaa. I finally arrived at my timeshare condo, the Cliffs at Princeville, at around 5 pm. I have been here twice before but the units have been updated since then and are very nice. Unfortunately, a cold front is heading toward the islands with heavy rain and flooding expected for the next few days.
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  • Day65

    Waikoloa Village

    March 12 in the United States ⋅ ☁️ 25 °C

    Yesterday I walked 2 km into Kailua town. It’s got a beachy vibe with touristy shops, Mai-tai bars and restaurants. The Pride of America cruise ship was in port but the streets were definitely not crowded so I am assuming that COVID-19 has frightened off the cruisers. Actually, the Hawaiian government is considering banning any ships from docking at their ports. To date there are only 2 cases on the islands. Hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes are sold out....believe me, I’ve looked everywhere!

    Today I did another short road trip north about 45 minutes to Waikoloa Village. It is a very upscale community with huge oceanfront resorts, high-end shopping malls and pricey restaurants. I stayed at the Hilton Resort one year with Diane and Linda but those were the days when I was able to get fantastic RCI deals (a thing of the past unfortunately). I spent some time walking the beach and through the village and was lucky to see some local critters.
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  • Day63

    Pololu Valley Lookout

    March 10 in the United States ⋅ ☀️ 24 °C

    I took a day off to just sleep in and relax after my long travel day. But today was a new day. The sun was shining and it was 28 degrees so I made use of my car rental and drove about an hour north to Pololu. Although Kauai is my favourite island, and Maui my least favourite, I had forgotten how beautiful the Big Island can be. The contrast of the black volcanic rock against the blue water is quite striking. Once I arrived at Polulu I decided to take the trail down to the ocean but I only made it half-way because it was a steep incline coming back and it was so hot and humid. This spot is one of my favourites on the islands.Read more

  • Day61

    A very long travel day

    March 8 in the United States ⋅ ⛅ 24 °C

    I was out the door by 0845 to catch the bus to the Wellington Airport as I started my long journey back to Hawaii. I flew Air New Zealand from Wellington to Auckland, where I had an 11 hour layover. This was the cheapest flight so I was prepared to just suck it up and make the best of it. I thought I might be able to take the bus into town but the luggage storage facility at the airport was at capacity so I abandoned that idea. When I first landed in Auckland I had purchased a return airport bus pass and now had no use for the one trip remaining on the pass. I lingered around the Skybus ticket booth and eventually picked a woman who I thought would appreciate a free ticket. She was speechless as it saved her $17.

    My next flight was to Honolulu on Hawaiian Airlines departing at midnight. The flight was smooth and it was a nice change to have two free meals served with wine. I watched a strange Academy Awards nominated movie, Jo Jo Rabbit, and then slept on and off for the remainder of the 8 hour flight. I am usually unable to sleep during these red-eye flights but I felt somewhat refreshed when we landed in Honolulu.

    It has been extremely difficult to find accommodation in Hawaii. Apparently the covid-19 virus isn’t affecting Hawaii travel as the flights are full as well. Just yesterday I was able to book a 5 night stay at a timeshare in Kona on the Big Island. US Customs requires you to declare where you will be staying so I was glad that this timeshare came available at the 11th hour! During my long layover in Auckland I was able to book a flight from Honolulu to Kona for $59. There were only 2 seats left and they had dropped the price. This last-minute travel planning isn’t my usual style so it is somewhat stressful!

    Honolulu Airport was congested and disorganized so I was glad that I allowed 2 hours to get through Customs. I was one of the last to get off the flight, stopped for a bathroom break, and then found myself in a sea of Japanese passengers all wearing face masks. A large flight from Japan had arrived at the same time as our flight so I was stuck amongst them. I was glad that I was not staying in Waikiki.

    I arrived in Kona at 1 pm, picked up a rental car, stopped at Costco, and checked in to my 2 bedroom condo by 4 pm! I was assigned a unit on the 3rd floor with no elevators. All those times I lugged my luggage uphill prepared me physically for the challenge of 3 flights of stairs! The good thing about my very long travel day is that, thanks to the International Date Line, it was a bonus day.....I left Wellington the morning of March 8th and arrived in Honolulu on the morning of March 8th!
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  • Day61

    Some thoughts

    March 8 in New Zealand ⋅ ⛅ 16 °C

    I can describe this whirlwind trip as spontaneous, plan-as-you-go, slightly stressful at times, but overwhelmingly a wonderful experience. I packed a lot into the daylight hours as I wasn’t comfortable exploring the night life. I flip-flopped from taking a cruise to then a land-based trip but wasn’t prepared for the high cost of organized tours. In Tasmania the state-wide tours are geared towards the 18-35 year olds and they sure don’t want their mother along! I was surprised that both AU and NZ cater to backpackers, unchanged from 39 years ago. There are backpacker hostels in every major town and city for about $25/night, as well as other businesses that cater to backpackers. I preferred the apartment hotels which are centrally located, had cooking facilities and laundry. I met a woman my age from Toronto whose agent had booked her into YHA hostels for less than $100/night so that might have been an option with advance planning. In the last two weeks I met 3 women my age travelling solo...this one from Toronto, another from the UK, and a third from the US. I was surprised how common this was and that I didn’t encounter any older male solo travellers.

    Some things I noted that were different than at home.....very poor selection of TV channels and programs so most subscribe to Netflix or similar; game show contestants are so much more reserved than those on US game shows of the same name; credit card fees are charged to the customer if you chose to pay by credit (I exchanged $50 USD for AUD but in NZ I had no cash and used Visa only); and in NZ the weather forecast includes “# of layers” and “degree of wind proof” so that you can dress appropriately. I never tired of the Aussie and Kiwi accents, especially with the cute children.

    In all of the places I stayed there was a wide variety of restaurants to chose from. I made all my breakfasts and lunches but occasionally had take-away from ethnic restaurants.....Malaysian, Turkish, Indian, and Tunisian....and all were excellent. Restaurant delivery is available but not common as most picked up their food for take-away as I did, sometimes at a reduced price.

    A big thank you to my Aunt Evelyn, Johnny’s Mom, for funding this adventure. She was a world traveller so I think she would have approved my use of the money she bequeathed to me.
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  • Day60

    More Te Papa Tongarewa Museum of NZ

    March 7 in New Zealand ⋅ ☁️ 19 °C