Monday, December 13, 2010


As I settle in for my 16th winter in Alaska, I notice the novelty of it all is starting to wear thin.  I can't decide, though, which is worse the cold or the dark.  Granted, 6 degrees isn't that cold, but 5 hours of daylight isn't that much either.  So, what do I when it gets cold and dark?  First, I grumble.  Then I go to Hawaii!

This year I decided to try getting out early. Usually, I wait until after the holidays.   Granted, November is full on winter here, but the gamble here is that when I return, the days will still be getting shorter.   And there will still be a good 4 months of winter left.  Hey, if we get 2 feet of snow at the end of April, I'm calling that winter.  Time will tell if this is a good move or not.  But mark my words, this will be my last winter in Anchorage.  (Please, someone mark my words.  And if I'm here in Anchorage this time next, someone  please hit me with a largest cast iron frying pan within arms reach).  Call me what you will,  a wimp, a snow bird, whatever. I don't care.  I need sunshine.

Speaking of sunshine, there is tons of it in Hawaii!  It was great!  I woke up at 6:30 every morning (OK, 7:00) and the sun was already up and the birds were chirping. With the fragrance of Plumerias hanging in the air,  I'd grab a cup of coffee and head down to the beach, I wondered down to check out the morning colors and the waves. I'd shoo the wild turkeys milling around out of the way as I made my way across the out of business golf course that is now, instead of green and lush, brown weeds and red dirt. On the bright side, no worries of a concussion before breakfast from a soaring golf ball.

 Days were spent on the beach snorkeling and soaking up as much vitamin D as possible. And if I got too much sun, I just marched over to the aloe plant and applied liberally. By the next day, I was good to go.

In the evening, we would all scramble to grab an adult beverage and bamboo mat to head back down to the beach to watch the sunset. This was the only time in our day that we actually had to rush.  Sunsets are quick in winter in  Hawaii.  Opposed to Alaska where they start at sunrise and last all day long. Though short, they are sweet.  Hues of orange and red melting into gold and peppered with shadows of palm trees, as we wait, hoping to witness the green flash that only occurs with sunsets on the ocean.  Shortly after, Venus would appear, followed my countless other stars, all visible with the lack of light pollution. It was magic.

And my oh my, the fruit.  We had fresh papayas, mangoes, bananas, oranges, limes, Tahitian  limes, lemons, star fruit, and passion fruit, to name a few. Everyday! Then we had fresh kale, arugula, cilantro, cilantro pesto, cucumbers, avocados, and mixed salad greens.  And  Poke, which is one of my favorites.  Poke (pronounced pou,k'ei) is a traditional Hawaiin dish that consists of cured  ahi sashimi (raw yellowfin tuna) marinated in sea salt, soy sauce, sesame oil, and chili pepper with some Maui sweet onion, seaweed, and garlic.  It's typically eaten with chop sticks and is dee-lish!  Other gems I tried were cilantro-pesto, made with cilantro, lime, garlic, olive oil, and pine nuts.  It was great on pizza or pasta salad with sun-dried tomatoes, feta cheese, and olives.  Massaged kale with tamarind and avocados washed down with Hibiscus, lemon grass and mint iced tea made the favorites list.  As well as Coconut Porter from Maui Brewery.  Yum.

Thanksgiving dinner was a real treat for me.  We had dinner outside on the porch over looking the ocean.  I think that was my only Turkey Day dinner eaten out of doors. I loved it. Until a felt a centipede scamper across my foot.  I still enjoyed it after that, but wouldn't put my feet down.  I may be a tuff fisherman, but I don't like creepy crawly things on my toes.

Molokai Sea Cliffs

After about 10 days on Molokai, we flew out on a Cessna Caravan, which held 7 passengers, on our 25 minute flight back to Maui.  Due do wind conditions, which were about 25 knots out of the North, we flew over the north shore of the island.  It was spectacular!  We went right over Kalaupapa, the Leper Colony ( and next to the tallest sea cliffs in the world, rising over 2000 feet from the ocean with some truly magnificent views of the 1, 750-foot Kahiwa Falls.

After that, just a few more short days in Maui were spent soaking up rays on the beach and snorkeling checking out the many varieties of coral and fishes.  Below is a photo of Ahiha-Kina'u Natural Area Reserve near Makena on the south shore of Maui.  Great clear water and old lave flow that goes right into the beach!

All in all, it was a spectacular trip, just what the doctor ordered, fun in the sun.  Now, I'm back in Anchorage, refreshed and busy writing.  Until next time......

Mele Kalikimaka

Happy Holidays