Hawaii Circle Cruise, January 2009, Part Nine

The 2009 Circle Hawaii Cruise – Holland America Zaandam, January 5-21, 2009

Text by Snookums, Pictures by Filbert

Part Nine

January 15 (Thursday, Day 11, Hilo, Hawaii, continued)

Filbert spent most of the early evening on the verandah listening to his radio. He heard a Honolulu radio station telling of the University of Hawaii-Honolulu’s closure on Friday due to high winds.

On the verandah

More after the jump . . . We were originally supposed to sail by the lava flows AFTER leaving Hilo tonight rather than BEFORE docking at Hilo this morning but the Captain obviously wanted to get out to sea as soon as possible tonight rather than delaying it three hours with a lava flow sail-by. Universities aren’t often closed so a big storm must be coming. It’s a good thing Mom has her non-drowsy Dramamine!

The five of us ate dinner at Lido and then set our clocks ahead one hour and went to bed.

January 16 (Friday, Day 12, At sea)

No one really did anything today except for attending the nice Mariner Lunch. Filbert was awarded his 100-day copper medallion and had his picture taken with the Captain. Snookums got in the photo, too, since she skipped her award ceremony on board the 65-day Amsterdam cruise. Other than that, no Dam dollars were even tried to be won. Judy went to the 3:00 PM fitness class but Snookums didn’t since it was hips/buns/thighs and she can’t do a lot of the exercises due to her recent hip surgery. It was pretty much a lazy day for everyone.

The Captain and the Hotel Manager with Filbert and Snookums

Mom, Dad and Judy attended the “Southern Nights” show put on by the Zaandam singers and dancers and then went to formal night dinner in the dining room. Snookums and Filbert ate in Lido wearing casual clothes.

January 17 (Saturday, Day 13, At sea)

We woke up around 3:15 AM to pounding (like hammering). We knew it was the carpet being replaced in Lido right above us since Mom and Dad received a nice letter in their cabin the other day explaining that between 6 PM and 6 AM, carpet would be laid. However, we didn’t get a letter so we called the Front Desk. Someone came to our cabin to hear the noise and we didn’t hear the knock at the door due to the pounding. As soon as the steward entered our cabin, the hammering stopped – naturally! The steward went to “investigate” and then we received a call saying that our complaint had been noted and the work crew was told to stop. Earplugs were given to us and we went back to sleep.

Filbert woke up with a sinus headache and he felt kind of chilled and a little out of sorts. He was kind of “sick” all day and spent a lot of time on his computer in the Crow’s Nest and in Lido. Snookums felt fine and didn’t do much, either, but did manage to read her book on the verandah and get some sun on her arms. She also managed to take a 3-hour nap in bed. That’s what sea days are for!

Judy saw a couple peeking into one of the suites being cleaned and offered to show them her suite and then brought the couple to our cabin since they started talking about all of the cruises they had been on. Snookums talked with them for about an hour and then we planned on getting together for lunch tomorrow. They sail on Crystal and Seabourne a lot and this was their first Holland America cruise and they weren’t that impressed. Well, Holland America is a totally different class of cruise than what they are used to.

Filbert ordered room service for dinner and the rest of us attended the Master Chef’s Dinner in the dining room. It was advertised as an all singing, all dancing culinary experience and it was unique. Everyone was encouraged to wear chef hats. It was kind of corny, but fun. Interestingly enough, this dining experience never happened on our 65-day cruise.

At the Master Chef’s Dinner:

Dad and Judy
Dancing crew member
Dessert – white chocolate chef’s toque filled with chocolate mousse
Mom, Dad and the Sisters

A little while after dinner, Judy and Snookums went to the Chocolate Dessert Extravaganza and enjoyed several chocolate desserts. A huge plate of chocolate covered strawberries was acquired from one of the servers and brought back to Mom and Dad to enjoy.

Hawaii Circle Cruise, January 2009, Part Eight

The 2009 Circle Hawaii Cruise – Holland America Zaandam, January 5-21, 2009

Text by Snookums, Pictures by Filbert

Part Eight

January 15 (Thursday, Day 11, Hilo, Hawaii)

Everyone was up at 6 AM for a light breakfast in Mom and Dad’s big cabin in order to see the Kilauea’s lava flows. It was spectacular in the dark. With binoculars you could easily see the volcanic eruption and the lava being ejected into the air. The air smelled of sulfur and the smoke was easily seen. The ship was not in the path of the smoke or else it probably would have been ashy and very stinky. The lava flows were out of sight by around 6:30 AM and everyone went back to bed prior to the 10 AM docking.

Kilauea lava flow pictures:

More after the jump . . .

Sunrise off the Big Island
Hilo under the snow-capped Mauna Kea
Waning moon over Hilo

After we docked Snookums and Filbert got off the ship and took the rental car shuttle to get the minivan. While the rental agent was helping the person in front of us, the electricity went out due to a power surge in Hilo. That meant that the entire process had to be restarted. We got the minivan and bought Dad coffee and went back to the ship to pick everyone up. We were loaded and on the road by 11:15 to start our Hilo excursion. But first, we decided to stop at WalMart to buy picnic fixings. Naturally the Hilo Walmart was not a grocery store, but we managed to get hamburger buns, mustard and Oscar Mayer lunch meat. We acquired napkins from the McD’s in the WalMart. We also noted that the Walmart was absolutely packed and we noticed this at other stores during our drive. Hilo isn’t much of a tourist town so the shoppers were all local people. It really was packed and we still don’t know why other than it was the 15th of the month so maybe payday was the reason.

We drove to Volcanoes National Park (4,000 ft. elevation) and noticed almost immediately that the clouds were coming in. Soon it started to sprinkle and by the time we were done with our 30-mile journey, it was misting quite heavily. We went to the Visitor Center at the park and looked at the exhibit and watched the two videos. One of the videos was an update of the volcanic activity and we learned that in March, 2008 was when it really started to erupt and that’s when the viewing area was closed due to lava. So, Crater Rim Drive is no longer an 11-mile circle around the Kilauea Caldera but instead is a dead-end drive since part of the road is no longer there. We spent about an hour at the Visitor Center and since the rain/mist hadn’t let up, we decided to go no further and headed back down towards Hilo.

Rain at the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

We were planning on picnicking at the volcano, but due to the gloomy weather we decided to eat at the Akatsuka Orchid Gardens about 20 minutes from the volcano. It was still misting when we got there so we ate in the car. No one managed to get mustard on any clothing or upholstery so lunch was considered a success. We wandered around the orchid store for awhile before getting back in the minivan to continue our journey. We made a quick stop at a drug store to buy non-drowsy Dramamine for Mom (WalMart didn’t have any) since she decided she didn’t like the prescription patches she wore on the way to Hawaii (they affected her swallowing and her eyesight – both known side effects).

At the Akatsuka Orchid Gardens:

The next stop was the Mauna Loa macadamia nut orchard and factory consisting of 2,400 acres. The factory was on the second floor so we just visited the gift store. Mom bought a few cans of nuts and Dad bought some postcards depicting the destruction of the lava. Filbert was the big spender and bought several bags of sugar free chocolate covered macadamia nuts as well as a case of wasabi teriyaki flavored nuts. He got four free tote bags with his purchase, too!

We continued our drive back to the ship and took a short detour to Banyan Drive. This is a street lined with around 50 Banyan trees that were planted by celebrities, mostly in the 1930s. Amelia Earhart and FDR both planted trees here. Banyan Drive led to Liliuokalani Gardens which is a 30-acre Japanese park. Hilo Bay bordered this and was being used by eight different outrigger canoes and the 10 or so rowers in each. It was a very picturesque ending to our Hilo odyssey.

Snookums and Filbert hit a local liquor store to get some beer and wine for the cabins and then returned the car to the airport. All aboard was at 6:30 PM and they were back on the ship by 5 PM. Even with the rain and the extremely limited visibility at Volcanoes Park, it was a good day.

Hawaii Circle Cruise, January 2009, Part Seven

The 2009 Circle Hawaii Cruise – Holland America Zaandam, January 5-21, 2009

Text by Snookums, Pictures by Filbert

Part Seven

January 14 (Wednesday, Day 10, Honolulu, Oahu)

Filbert and Snookums woke at 7 AM and not to watch the docking process. Rather, we wanted to get off the ship as soon as it docked in order to use the free WiFi next door at Aloha Tower. We managed to do that and while we were sitting in the open air mall, a bird pooped on Filbert’s left shoulder. He said it’s supposed to be good luck and he was also happy it didn’t land on his keyboard. (So, I guess it was good luck!)

Aloha Tower

More after the jump . . .

The welcoming hula

At 11 AM we ALL got off the ship and walked (or wheeled in Dad’s case) from Pier 11 to Pier 6 (about 4 blocks) to get on the Navatek I for our whale watching tour. The ship was offering this shore excursion for $97 but by booking it directly with the company, we only paid $63 each. We got situated on the boat and Mom immediately opened up the drink list and saw “7 Deadly Zins” listed under red wines. 7 Deadly Zins is bottled in Lodi, California and the family of Bill, our Regent cruise buddies, provides some of the grapes for this wine. That meant that we had to order a bottle. Everyone enjoyed it a lot (except Snookums who enjoyed the free Diet Pepsi) and it provided the family with another reason to drink before noon.

7 Deadly Zins

After eating the good buffet lunch it was time to go outside and look for sea creatures. Dad was able to be wheeled outside and everyone (including Mom and Judy!) had a good time enjoying the scenery and fresh air. After a few minutes the captain spotted a whale so we followed it for a while. However, it just showed spouts and we never really saw much of the whale. Then the captain turned the boat towards the NOAA Whale Sanctuary off of Maunalua Bay. All of a sudden a pod of dolphins appeared and really enjoyed riding the bow waves. There were four on one bow and two on the bow right under where we were standing. They were there for at least five minutes. We also saw several whales breach and lots of tail flukes and tail slaps. There were probably more whales in Kauai and in Maui, but this boat was wheelchair accessible and it was a fun 2.5 hours for all of us.

Bow-riding dolphins
Just missed the breach
A tail slap
The other side of Diamond Head
Waikiki hotel row
Zaandam and Aloha Tower

We walked back to the ship and Snookums and Dad went up the 10-story Aloha Tower and enjoyed the views. With all of the hotels on Waikiki, Diamond Head almost can’t be seen from Aloha Tower anymore. We also looked down on the Zaandam since it was docked next door to Aloha Tower. Mom walked directly back to the ship and took a shower since she was getting her hair done since she couldn’t stand it anymore!

“Peer Review”

Via the fabius maximus[*1] blog, a quote from Roger Pielke, Jr.[*2] :

Peer review is simply a cursory check on the plausibility of a study. It is not a rigorous replication and it is certainly not a stamp of correctness of results. Many studies get far more rigorous peer review on blogs after publication than in journals. I use our ownblog for the purpose of getting good review before publication for some of my work now, because the review on blogs is often far better and more rigorous than from journals. This is not an indictment of peer review or journals, just an open-eyed recognition of the realities.

Emphasis mine. Remember this when somebody throws the buzz-word “peer-reviewed” in with the equally specious buzzword “consensus” when talking about questions of science.

I for one welcome . . .

Our Kremulakian Overlords. Another in a series of brilliant missives from the ever-impish Iowahawk[*1] :

When our scientist first discovered your planet 6.3 Kremulakian moon-orbits ago, I argued before the High Admiralty that it would be a suitable world for conquest and colonization. The Inner Council accused me of madness! They said we Kremulaks could never survive in your stupid planet’s hostile hot temperatures. They said our nostrils would mutate and explode under your intense atmospheric pressures. They said that Hu-mans would never vote us into their control councils.

Fools! I wagered Supreme Overlord Gromfnorg-0 himself that not only would I survive, but that I would win quick election to your Earth Commerce and Energy committee — without even using my visual cloaking device! Little did he know that I, Lord Waxulon-6, had been carefully monitoring your Earth-frequencies and Earth-internet and Earth-basic cable news, and had discovered the outpost which you Hu-Mans call “San Francisco.” Needless to say, my little bet has paid off handsomely — winning me over 6000 Kremulakian trading crystals.

Victory over you puny race was even easier than I anticipated. In fact, the only resistance I encountered was on the invasion-saucer voyage, when Pelosicon-8 and Obamulak-3 kept trying to recalibrate the music-frequencies. And the impudent weak-glanded Algor-11, who needed to make biowaste stops at every refueling station between here and the Antares subcluster.

I laugh, because otherwise I’d cry. Or rant.

The Chicago Tea Party

I’m in.

All this is due to CNBC reporter Rick Santelli (at least he was a CNBC reporter this morning . . .) who, as reported on Rush Limbaugh’s radio show as well as many points on the Internet, morphed from reporter to rabble-rouser, the rabble in this case being the traders on the floor of the Chicago Board of Trade. He says we need a Chicago Tea Party this July.

The video is here[*1] (about five minutes of reporter-ranty goodness).

I’m there. As Thomas Jefferson said, “A little revolution now and then is a good thing; the tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.”

And yeah, taxation IS tyranny. Always has been.

Who else is in? A partial list, courtesy the technosocialists at Google:

American Princess[*2]
The Market Ticker[*3]
The National Conversation (Raw)[*4]
Backyard Conservative[*6] , who says he’s hearing it will be Tax Day, April 15th. I say, why limit it to only one Tea Party?
The Hedgehog Report[*7]
Take a TECKnews[*8]
Batman’s Manifestoes[*9] (sic)
Roger L. Simon[*10] (a founder of Pajamas Media)
From the Foothills[*11]
The Rational Capitalist[*12]
Axis of Right[*13]
Temple of Mut[*15]
Southern Belle Politics[*16]
Ned Grace[*17]
980 At Night[*19] (Oh good lord, 980 KMBZ snuck a brand-new local program in on me . . . midnight to 2 am Saturday nights. Why doesn’t anyone tell me these things!
Liberally Conservative[*20]
Storm’n Norm’n[*21] (probably not General Schwartzkopf)

That’s just a few of the 100,000+ blog mentions currently on Google.

And, finally, credit where due, the image leading off this article is from The Market Ticker[*22] . It needs to be angrier, IMHO, with pitchforks and the like. But still . . .

See you in Chicago!

Hawaii Circle Cruise, January 2009, Part Six

The 2009 Circle Hawaii Cruise – Holland America Zaandam, January 5-21, 2009

Text by Snookums, Pictures by Filbert

Part Six

January 13 (Tuesday, Day 9, Lahaina, Maui)

Today started with a bang. Actually it started with six short blasts of the ship’s horn around 5 AM!! Filbert woke up a few seconds prior to the ship’s horn since his sleep apnea machine lost power. He realized that the ship had no power and that’s when the ship’s horn went off. The captain came on the PA a few minutes later (yes, a few minutes – someone should have come on the PA within seconds of the six short blasts!) and said that we were without power and that he would keep us informed. About 15 minutes later he came on again to say that there was no fire anywhere and that they were still looking into the cause of the power loss. Around 15 minutes later he came on the PA and announced that the engineers knew the problem and were fixing it. Finally the power came back around 7 AM and the captain said that we would get to Maui around one hour late.

Calm sea, dead ship

More after the jump . . .

Black smoke in morning, engines start running

We were scheduled to do a snorkel trip so assumed that it would be pushed back one hour. NOT! Since the snorkel trip was not a Holland America exclusive tour (other people would be on the tour), the snorkel boat wasn’t going to wait for our ship and so we were out of luck. Not only were we rudely awakened, but then our second snorkel trip was canceled. This meant that we would be 0 for 2 on snorkel trips on a Hawaiian cruise! Oh well, it’s a good thing that Filbert and I are returning to Kauai in February for a 7-night vacation (using Hyatt points) which means lots of snorkeling.

Now Snookums will have to talk to the front desk about getting some of our shipboard credit refunded. We got the shipboard credit since we own stock, we booked using American Express, we purchased this cruise while on another Holland America cruise and we were given some from our travel agent. It usually isn’t refundable but since both of our shore excursions were canceled, we’re going to have a large credit balance on both cabins and the normal policy is use it or lose it. Unfortunately, no one needs or wants ~$500 of Holland America t-shirts or $10 necklaces.

Snookums spent the morning in her swimming suit on the balcony soaking up the sun while Filbert stayed inside the air-conditioned cabin. Judy went to a golfing Dam dollars event and won one and then went to the greeting card crafts class and made two cards. Mom and Dad read books while sitting in various parts of the ship, including their large balcony.

We all met for lunch and enjoyed the do-it-yourself taco bar at the rear of Lido followed by coconut ice cream for Snookums. Then Judy and Snookums took the tender to Maui and wandered around until they found a grocery store where they bought Coke Zero ($6.49 for a 12-pack) and Miller Lite ($6.99 for a 6-pack).

A letter was delivered to each cabin explaining that since one of the five generators broke this morning and caused the total power loss, every person would get a free glass of wine or soda at tonight’s dinner. Filbert and Snookums enjoyed their free beverage at the Hawaiian Sunset BBQ on Lido. The beverages were the only good thing about the BBQ, but we didn’t starve. Mom and Dad decided to go to the sit-down dining room for dinner and had the Neptune Lounge concierge get them in at 6 PM (and not at their normal table which is at 8 PM).

It was an early night for everyone since the day started so early.

Hawaii Circle Cruise, January 2009, Part Five

The 2009 Circle Hawaii Cruise – Holland America Zaandam, January 5-21, 2009

Text by Snookums, Pictures by Filbert

Part Five

January 12 (Monday, Day 8, Nawiliwili, Kauai)

Today dawned bright and sunny and a perfect day for using the minivan we rented. Filbert and I took the rental car shuttle from the pier to the airport and got the car and then came back to the pier and picked up the other three. Everyone had their bottles of water bottles and Dad had his black coffee from McDonald’s so the adventure could start. It was 9:30 AM.

The plan was to drive north on 56 and then west on 560 until it dead-ended at pretty much due north Kauai. Yep, you can not drive around the island of Kauai because there are no roads on the Na Pali coast. Our first “detour” was Lydgate State Park. We didn’t get out but drove around its small parking area and two roads and saw a nice beach with people camping on it.

Our first real stop was at the Kealia Scenic Overlook. We stayed there for a good thirty minutes and not only enjoyed the great ocean view, but managed to see several pods of whales in the distance as well as a pod of 20 or 30 dolphins feeding on a huge school of fish. The dolphins were so busy eating that they didn’t bother performing any dolphin “tricks” for us, but it was still a neat thing to see. We also saw four Hawaiian monk seals swimming very close to the edge of the water. It was a beautiful place to spend some time in the sun and after this stop, everyone put sunscreen on for the rest of the day.

At the scenic overlook

More after the jump . . .

Pod of dolphins
Putting the “scenic” into scenic overlook

Snookums has been to Kauai several times before but never remembered seeing wild roosters roaming all over the place. It’s just like Key West, but the Kauaian roosters are much larger (and quite pretty). She tried not to kill any with the minivan (and succeeded).

Hawaiian monk seal

We got back in the minivan and kept driving north until Filbert said that he wanted to stop at the Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge and Lighthouse. We weren’t sure how accessible it was, but were pleasantly surprised to find that not only did they have a golf cart to take people up the hill, but that since it was a national wildlife refuge, Dad was entitled to a free disabled lifetime pass and Mom was entitled to buy a $10 senior citizen lifetime pass. Each pass allows four people entry and the regular charge was $5 per person. We had Mom buy the $10 pass rather than just having one of us buy a $5 entry since the woman said it would work at the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park that we plan on visiting in Hilo on January 15. Kilauea Point is the northern-most point of land on the inhabited Hawaiian Islands, the first landfall seen by ships arriving from the Orient. The inside of the lighthouse was off-limits, but the area around it was beautiful and we saw another seal and some humpback whale spouts and birds (Laysan albatross, red-footed boobies, great frigatebirds, nenes – a Hawaiian goose). Filbert bought two maps at the gift store and then we continued our journey.

At the lighthouse
Frigate bird
Crashing waves on the North Shore
Whale offshore

We decided we were hungry and stopped at a fish restaurant near the lighthouse but it was full so we continued driving to Hanalei. We finally found a restaurant that worked for us and ate things like mahi mahi tacos, mahi mahi burgers and ahi tacos. Filbert, Mom and Judy drank local beer (Keoki) and really enjoyed its unique flavor.We hit the road again and continued west. We drove over at least six one-lane bridges and after seeing breathtaking scenery and signs of falling rocks, finally came to the end of the road at Kee Beach. We turned around and headed back through all of the twists and turns. On the way back we stopped at the Hanalei Valley Overlook to see the patchwork of neat taro farms with the mountains in the background. We stopped at Opaekaa Falls before turning the car in at the airport and being shuttled back to the ship. We got back onboard at 4 PM and everyone was pooped from the long day, but everyone was happy with the great sightseeing (and awesome chauffeur!).No one went to our 8 PM dinner seating but instead did room service or Lido. We were pooped!