May 2011

Dayton, Cleveland, and Niagara Falls

Niagara Falls

Week 17 of 52

Here it is the end of May and we can’t find any sun! But gray skies, a little rain and one evening of being chased back to our hotel because of a scary, windy rainstorm didn’t keep us from having a good time in Ohio, upstate New York, and a quick trip into Canada to see Niagara Falls.

Wright Brothers BookFirst stop this week was Dayton, Ohio, home of the Wright Brothers and the birthplace of aviation, where every self-respecting pilot has to visit the Aviation Trail. Harrison toured the Wright Cycle Company, where Wilbur and Orville invented the airplane, Carillon Historical Park with the original 1905 Wright Flyer III, and Huffman Prairie Flying Field, a quiet, peaceful, and still open field over 100 years later where the brothers developed and tested their early airplanes. Harrison was almost alone on those visits and found them very moving, which made the next stop quite a shock: the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force, the largest and oldest military aviation museum, with one million square feet of exhibits and throngs of visitors. That museum is focused on aircraft used in wars, which is understandable since it’s an Air Force museum and a lot of aviation development occurred during wartime, but it was a little disappointing to see so much interest in wartime air power when there was relatively little interest in the fascinating story of how flight occurred in the first place.

Cleveland is not exactly tourist destination numero uno. Perhaps best known until recently as the place where the Cuyahoga River was so polluted it caught fire (immortalized in the Randy Newman song Burn On), it shed that image by becoming home to the incredible Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Museum.

We both loved the museum although we have vastly different experience with music. Sharene has three musical favorites: the Beatles, Janis Joplin, and everything else! Harrison’s musical interests and knowledge run much deeper. But this is one first-class museum with lots of stuff at every level for both of us. Their current tribute to Women Who Rock showcases about 70 women from Bessie Smith and Ma Rainey, the first artists to record the blues, all the way up to the present with Queen Latifah and Lady Gaga. We loved how they featured so many early black musicians and gave them the attention and credit they deserve for being the catalysts of rock and roll. (Blues legend Robert Johnson was one of the museum’s first inductees.) Lots of videos, costumes (including Michael Jackson’s sequined glove), listening booths, and a wonderful tribute to Alan Freed, the Cleveland DJ and promoter who coined the term “Rock and Roll.”

High-Energy HK

High-energy HK celebrating his birthday on the drive from Ohio to Buffalo!

After Cleveland we headed to another tourist mecca — Buffalo, New York — to see Alan. Alan was one of Harrison’s closest friends at the MIT radio station and Harrison later worked with Alan to build his first recording studio. Alan (the ultimate Buffalo Booster!) gave us a grand tour of Buffalo and took us across the border to see Niagara Falls. It was gray and misty and could have been a perfect setting for a murder mystery with the fog and steam rolling across the roads. As you can see from the top photo, that is one huge waterfall and impressive no matter the weather.

With Kim and Alan

Kim, Harrison, and Alan at the Chameleon studios.

The following day Harrison toured Alan’s current studio, Chameleon Communications, and said hello to Kim. Alan and Kim have been business partners since Harrison worked with them in 1973. That’s one impressive partnership!

More fun than Niagara was ComedySportz the next night, a fast-paced improvisational comedy show played with two teams. Alan is a long-time performer in this high energy show. (Coincidentally, our friend Margie is a performer in the Portland, Oregon, ComedySportz, but we didn’t have a chance to see her perform when we visited Portland.) The show requires quick feet and an even quicker mind. We laughed the entire show. ComedySportz plays in many cities nationwide and in the UK and Germany, so if you have one in your area… go! Thanks, Alan, for a great time in Buffalo!

To see everything and everybody on our drive across the US, we have driven fast between destinations, stuck to major highways, and booked cookie-cutter hotels between our stays with friends and relatives. We saw lots of beautiful scenery, but Interstates bypass most towns, particularly the small ones, so you miss a lot of detail. We decided to do it differently on our drive across upstate New York from Buffalo toward Montreal this weekend. We headed to the south shore of Lake Ontario and followed the scenic Seaway Trail all the way to the Thousand Islands. Along the way we crossed the famous Erie Canal, saw the house where Sharene’s grandparents lived in Rochester, and passed through town after charming town.

For the first time on the trip we had not made advance hotel reservations, but we found a vacancy at The Willows on the Lake, a cute little lakeside resort in Henderson Harbor owned and operated by a couple who used to live in Mukilteo, Washington, where attentive readers will recall we visited James and Judy just after we left Seattle. We had an unexpectedly great meal (including perfectly prepared walleye, the favorite fish of Harrison and every other Minnesota native) at nearby Ryan’s Lookout. We watched the hazy sunset from the lakefront gazebo in front of our cabin. After all the spectacular territory we’ve seen on this trip, we didn’t expect much from upstate New York — perhaps that’s why the day turned out to be such a sublime pleasure.

At Henderson HarborWe’ve landed in Montreal today, still gray with a chance of thunderstorms… but hey, if we wanted guaranteed sunshine we would have stayed in Hawaii. So with raincoats and umbrellas in hand, we’ll go forth and explore this world-class city.

Until next week, a hui hou!
Sharene and Harrison

Family in the Midwest

Cy and Paul Marshall

Week 16 of 52

Aloha all:

We didn’t plan this, but we found ourselves at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway during race week, and by some interesting coincidences, we discovered the details of some family history. A few trivia questions first:

  • Did you know this is the 100th anniversary of the first Indy 500 race?
  • Did you know the drivers now go almost 230 miles an hour?
  • Did you know this is the largest single-day spectator sporting event in the world?
  • Did you know the two handsome guys above are Sharene’s great uncles who raced in the 1930 Indy 500?

If you didn’t know all that (particularly the last item), welcome to the club! This was one of those serendipitous situations… We came to Indianapolis for one reason only: to visit Harrison’s cousin Jean. Her son, Greg, invited us to his Tower Suite at the Speedway to watch the qualifying trials on May 21st (the Indy 500 is next weekend). Thousands of people attended this event and because Jean’s family has had a suite for many years (it’s similar to a luxury box at a baseball field) we received lots of special treatment and of course had a great view.

When we arrived in Indianapolis, Sharene recalled a vague memory of some family member who was killed during the Indy 500. Thanks to Google we found the sad story of her great uncles, brothers who crashed during the 1930 race. Uncle Cy Marshall was the driver and lived, but his brother, Paul, died. Cy returned to Indy 17 years later to race one more time. We visited the archives at the Indy 500 museum right on the track and found the above photo.

Had we not come to Indianapolis on this particular weekend, had Jean’s son not had extra tickets and invited us along, and had Sharene not remembered this story told by her mother long, long ago, we would have missed this interesting connection.

With Jean at Indy

Harrison, Jean, Greg, and Greg’s sweet little girls overlook the track at Indy.

We also had a wonderful visit with Jean and her family on and off the track. Jean is a fascinating woman whom we have always admired. When she turned 50, she made a life-changing decision to solo-hike the Appalachian Trail. Her letters from the Trail became an inspirational book, There Are Mountains To Climb, and she began a second career as a speaker and hiking guide. She still hikes regularly and had just returned from a hiking trip when we arrived.

Junior and John

Junior and John

Any trip across the US would not be complete without a stop in Granite City, Illinois! A bustling metropolis across the Mississippi from St. Louis with at least one good restaurant. Sharene’s nephew John and his partner Junior pose in front of the new front doors of their home, part of a big renovation. We were so happy to see them doing well after a rough few years.
Scott Joplin HouseHere’s another trivia question for you: who wrote the music for the movie, The Sting, including its most famous tune, The Entertainer? If you thought it was Marvin Hamlisch (who won an Academy Award for that music), you’re in good company but you’re wrong! For The Sting, Marvin Hamlisch adapted music written by the King of Ragtime, composer Scott Joplin, arguably the greatest composer of the first truly American popular music.

As a great lover and sometime player of ragtime, Harrison couldn’t get this close to St. Louis without making an emotional pilgrimage to the Scott Joplin House, where Joplin lived for several years and composed several of his most famous rags, including The Entertainer. Besides the music, this home is one of the few physical artifacts remaining from Joplin’s life.

Our recent destinations have all been about family. We left Harrison’s cousin Phil in Des Moines last Monday for Kansas City, home of Sharene’s brother David and his family. David’s house is a cacophony of energy. Their huge, wiggly basset hound Lady greets you first, followed by Nathan, an energetic and chatty 8-year-old. Then appears Jocalyn, a lovely, poised 13-year-old who is very charming (as long as it’s not morning). David directs traffic for all that needs doing, including getting kids off to school and keeping track of who is going where with whom, while answering phones and emails since he works at home and is always juggling lots of balls. Luckily, Betty, his girlfriend, is calm and unflappable through it all and brings a bit of saneness to the house!

We really want to thank them for a lively few days, the great tour of Kansas City — a beautiful city of fountains, jazz, and charming outdoor shops — and a wonderful meal at The Majestic, an old downtown Kansas City restaurant with rich woods, good food, a talented early jazz piano player, and a very cool mural on the wall.

The Majestic
After four family stops we say goodbye to family for a while as we leave the Midwest. This week we head to Dayton and Cleveland, Ohio, and Buffalo and Niagara Falls, New York. We’ve gone from winter to summer in two weeks and we love finally seeing green rolling hills and fabulous green trees. And we’ve made it to the Eastern time zone, where we’ll remain until we leave for Europe.

A hui hou,
Sharene and Harrison

South Dakota and Iowa

Mount Rushmore

Week 15 of 52

Aloha all!

Cowboys and Indians, Custer’s Last Stand, Lewis and Clark, Crazy Horse, the Badlands, four Presidents and John Wayne. Throw in a few famous covered bridges, an English castle in Iowa, a renowned drug store, and visits with friends and family, and that’s our Week 15!

Mt. Rushmore was dramatic and imposing, one of those monuments that makes you proud to be an American. You walk down a long promenade displaying the flags of the states and look up at these amazing leaders of long ago, representing the birth (Washington), expansion (Jefferson), preservation (Lincoln), and development (Roosevelt) of the United States. We pondered which modern-day presidents might be considered for immortalization on this mountain with the divided country we have now. We decided it’s best to just admire these four and pass on the debate…

Then there was Crazy Horse. Sculptor Korczak Ziolkowski began this towering monument-in-the-making over 60 years ago and, as of today, they have his face completed. (Makes Hawaiian time look like the speed-of-light!) You can see the model below and the progress so far, but get this: it’s so massive, you can fit the four heads of Mt. Rushmore in the section where his hair will be flowing back. This is one big art project. Privately funded, it won’t be done in our lifetime, but it sure is a noble tribute to Native Americans and, in our opinion, they deserve such a grand display.

We loved Badlands, the only National Park left with no restrictions on where you can wander. Our off-season visit once again let us enjoy a popular park with only a handful of other visitors. The luscious green prairies (normally brown during the dry summer tourist season) provided one edge of a beautiful frame for the fascinating rock formations in the park, with the gorgeous blue sky on this picture perfect day forming the other edge. All the better to see the prairie dogs and the HUMONGOUS bison. (Lesson of the day: the correct name for the American animal commonly known as buffalo is bison). Lots of baby bison were running around their mammoth 2000-pound mamas so, needless to say, the photos of these behemoths were taken from the car window!

Sharene and JerryGood thing we had great weather in the Badlands, because it turned gray, wet, rainy and unpleasant for our 12-hour drive from South Dakota to Iowa. On the way we toured another Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center in Sioux City, Iowa (those guys had a major impact throughout the West), but the drive had one big highlight: dinner in Missouri Valley, Iowa, with Jerry and his wife. Jerry was a high school friend of Sharene’s brother and she hadn’t seen Jerry for (gulp) 40 years (it really hurts to say that). But it was great to reconnect — thank you Facebook!

John Wayne House

Another piece of trivia everyone should know: The Duke and Harrison share the same birthday! (Harrison’s a little younger.) John Wayne was born May 26, 1904, in this house in Winterset, Iowa.


Joan and Phil

Hard to believe this young-looking couple has been married 46 years!

It wasn’t John Wayne’s house that brought us to Iowa, or the covered bridges, or the English mansions. It wasn’t even that Harrison’s favorite musical, The Music Man, was conceived here. It was the chance to be treated like royalty by Harrison’s cousin, Phil, and his lovely bride of 46 years, Joan, who live in Des Moines. Phil and Joan visited us at Hale Kakahi twice in our 10 years on the Big Island and we have wanted to visit them for years. We thank them so much for their amazing hospitality in their own mini manor house (pictured right). Joan is the most incredible cook and hostess and Phil could not have been more gracious and always has a great story to share. They didn’t just send us to the sights of Iowa, they played tour guides to the city, the covered bridges, the Salisbury House, the Des Moines Symphony and more, and we thank them so much for making our Iowa experience unforgettable!

Although we know you would be fascinated (!), we’ll skip the details of our visits to the Little Bighorn, site of Custer’s Last Stand, and to famous Wall Drug in South Dakota. We say goodbye to Iowa on Monday, and as Wilbert Harrison says, we’re Goin’ to Kansas City, Kansas City here we come!

Badlands Sunglasses

This week we’re hoping to find spring and maybe even a little sunshine!

A hui hou!
Sharene and Harrison

Canadian Rockies and Montana

On Lake Louise

Week 14 of 52

Kate, one of Sharene’s best friends, says the outdoors is her religion. Well, after this week, we’re ready to join her church! We have been the lucky guests of the majestic mountains of the Canadian Rockies and Glacier National Park this past week and have loved every (snowy) minute of it.

The photo above shows us actually walking on frozen Lake Louise in front of the elegant Fairmont Hotel in Banff National Park, Alberta (one of many first snow experiences for Sharene). The locals kept apologizing for all the snow — it is May, after all — but we just tell them we’re from Hawaii and if we wanted warm weather, we would have stayed home! It is pretty amazing to think that in just a few short weeks, that frozen tundra we were walking on will be open water. Frozen or melted, the beauty of lake, mountains, and hotel is incredible.

While others bemoaned the extra long winter, we felt lucky to explore these places without the crowds, enjoying the wonder of the snow without having to drive in it, and being able to get out and hike, explore, and have some very new experiences.

Thin IceOur first stop was Jasper National Park west of Edmonton, Alberta, with a sweet little town that surprised us with several unexpected Greek restaurants. We rode a Swiss-style gondola to the peak of one of the mountains and got a bird’s-eye view of the area. We also hiked to some of the picturesque lakes. This one got the memo that spring is here and summer is on its way, because it’s starting to thaw out! But it still has a ways to go, and thinking how long a single frozen chicken needs to defrost makes us wonder if it will really will be ready for summer….

Icefields ParkwayThe drive from Jasper south to Banff took us along the Icefields Parkway and numerous spectacular glaciers. Look closely and you may see the vehicles that actually drive visitors onto the ice. As massive as these glaciers still are, they are getting smaller every year as the Earth warms, and a number of them may disappear entirely within our lifetimes. Uh, yes, this photo was taken by us, on May 4th.

One of our favorite hikes was a snow hike along Johnston Canyon in Banff. The temperature was cool, but the sun was out and we had a great walk. Lots of snow and ice on the ground so Sharene took baby steps and held on to the rail as Minnesota-born Harrison walked on confidently (see first photo with HK on the left) and then waited patiently for Sharene to catch up.

Next stop was the village of Banff — a true young blood’s heaven — full of cute 20 and 30-somethings, mostly from Australia, who come to ski during summertime down under. (Gee, that could have been our excuse for coming here from Hawaii!) The town has a posh, European feel and most hotels are within walking distance of the charming downtown. We can only imagine what it would look like in a flower-filled summer.

And there is wildlife everywhere! Elk, deer, moose, caribou, antelope; we didn’t recognize all of them but they were all over the place, even on the as-yet-snow-covered golf course. Many of the street signs are critter-based, so for all you Rocky and Bullwinkle fans out there, where else can you tell someone to meet you at the corner of MOOSE and SQUIRREL?

Remington Carriage MuseumWe left Banff Thursday morning and headed south for the States and Glacier National Park. We skirted Calgary, Alberta, and while we’re usually impressed by most things Canadian, Calgary looked like LA in 1970 before the Clean Air Act with a thick layer of yellow smog. Ugh!!

We passed through Cardston, Alberta, a small town in the middle of nowhere just before the border, and were astonished to find the Remington Carriage Museum, housing the largest collection of horse-drawn vehicles in North America — over 250 carriages, buggies, wagons and sleighs shown in a series of informative displays. An amazing find in a very unexpected place!

How many people get to have a national park all to themselves? We did! After spending the night in East Glacier, Montana, where most businesses are still closed as they dig themselves out after a killer winter, we got up early Friday morning and drove to the Two Medicine entrance of Glacier National Park. The road was closed to vehicles at the parking area just inside the entrance, but it was open to hikers all the way to Two Medicine Lake. We walked the four-miles round-trip to the frozen lake and back, and we were THE ONLY visitors during our entire time in the park. What an experience!

Photo 1 Shows how high the snow is (or how short Sharene is).

Photo 2 Can you find the white rabbit in the snow?

Photo 3 We think there is a lake out there somewhere.

Friday night we arrived in Great Falls, Montana, and they don’t call Montana Big Sky Country for nothing! We had a nice couple of days here visiting the C.M. Russell Museum and the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center (thanks to Gig Harbor Rick for those great recommendations). We even hit the First Friday Art Walk downtown and a big band concert!

So, we’re down from the mountains, the sun is shining, and this week we head to Rapid City, South Dakota… a world away from Hawaii.


Until next week, a hui hou,
Sharene and Harrison

North to Vancouver

Washington Tulips

Week 13 of 52

With Judy and JamesThe Road Trip begins!! We left Seattle on Tuesday and headed north. Judy and James, new friends who feel like old ones (as in long time…) invited us to their beautiful home in Mukilteo overlooking Puget Sound with more of those killer ocean views. It’s what we learned in the vacation rental business: people love water; they love to look at it, get in it and go on it. Oceans, lakes, pools, spas and bathtubs, water is king. Anyway, back to J & J, we felt like we have known each other for years, but in fact we just met! We have mutual friends and one of them, Larry Klimen who is THE original social network guru, hooked us up. Thanks Larry, you were right, they are a wonderful couple and hanging out on their sun-filled lanai (oh, we mean patio) and talking story with them was just great. We know we will stay in touch.

BevWe had a relaxing ferry ride over to Whidbey Island, met our dear friend Bev for dinner, and helped her kick off her 74th year at a restaurant owned by a former tour guide from Honolulu. So with that reference, we say hau‘oli la hanau to our dear friend Bev whom we adore. Where there is Bev there is laughter and light.

Back in the 1970s Harrison met Mel and Mark, real estate agents who lived a few doors away from his West Seattle home. They sold his house when he left Seattle and he’s kept in touch with them ever since. When he told them we were driving through northern Washington on our way to Vancouver (the tulip photo at the top was taken near their house), they invited us for lunch. We were in for a first-class surprise when Mark served us a 5-STAR lunch on a perfectly set table (these ARE Sharene’s people!!!) complete with fresh tulips! Lunch was to die for, but we had such a great time catching up with them that the afternoon flew by. Mel and Mark try to get to Hawaii each year so we had lots of island talk going on; they even had some Hawaiian music playing for us! Such a lovely couple… they’ve been together over 41 years. Here’s a snapshot of them when they first met and one now. Mahalo, guys, for a wonderful and long-overdue visit. If you want to come to Amsterdam instead of Hawaii this fall, just let us know; you can help us set a table there anytime!

With Debbie and AlanContinuing on the Realtor theme: when we arrived in Vancouver we made sure to meet up with Alan and his beautiful wife Debbie; they used to own and manage some short-term rentals that we used numerous times on our previous trips to Vancouver. They took us to an amazing Chinese restaurant (we were almost the only non-Chinese there, which is usually a good sign). We thought they were crazy to order so many dishes, but somehow we managed to eat almost everything! Thanks, you two, and so nice to see you both again. We forgot to ask you… where is that fountain of youth you must be drinking from? It’s hard to believe, but these youngsters have been married going on 25 years!

Richard and LynThe theme of Week 13 must indeed be Realtors, because our amazing, welcoming, gracious, and lovely BC hosts this past week were none other than the Realtor (and her husband) who helped us buy and then sell our condo in Vancouver years ago. (Without Lyn, the most fun real estate transaction we ever had would never have happened.) Lyn and Richard made us feel like family the moment we stepped inside their home and our time with them went by way too fast. Richard is about to retire from his law practice, but Lyn loves real estate too much to quit right now. But she does take holidays now and then so we hope we’ll see them more in the future.

Biking in Vancouver

We had a wonderful bike ride along the Sea Wall on our last day in Vancouver.

We left British Columbia yesterday and had a long but scenic drive to Alberta. This coming week will be filled not with friends, but with visits to Canadian and American national parks, so we’ll be on the lookout for bears, cougars (the four-legged kind), and other varmints.

Hoping you all have a good week. It’s May!

A hui hou,
Sharene and Harrison