Miami Thursday Part 2

In the afternoon I decided to go on an airboat ride. Getting there was difficult, without much payout. The double decker bus was stuck in traffic most of the way and our driver was road raging, laying on his horn. He also drove in a really jerky way that made you hang on for dear life. There were handwritten signs saying: DON’T FORGET TO TIP THE DRIVER. MANDATORY $5. I thought, “Not bloody likely.” I was sitting up top in the back, which I discovered was the party section. People were openly drinking mojitos and White Claw.

The woman next to me had been speaking exclusively in Spanish for the entire ride, then suddenly she announced, “Employees must wash their hands before returning to work,” and she laughed hysterically for almost 5 minutes. The bus passed a building with this huge sign on the side. I was unable to get a pic, but it was so awesome I looked up the ad for you.

The Sawgrass Recreation Park in Weston was a small area next to a freeway with power lines running over top. When you’re in the Louisiana swamp, you KNOW you are in the swamp, but this was different. Maybe it was just that particular park.

Everyone was hyped up to see alligators. The guide would turn off the engine and everyone would sit perfectly still with bated breath until it became clear no alligator or heron or other denizen of the everglades was going to pop up to model for a photo. It was nice to be out on an open air boat and would have been enjoyable to just buzz through the tall grasses. But due to the search, we were in a constant state of being disappointed. It’s like the saying, “Golf is a good walk ruined.” I did see a heron fly off in the distance, and we saw these ducks.

The guide groused that the water is now too deep for most animal’s liking. He complained that “they” had mismanaged Florida’s water. I wondered if “they” were the Bureau of Global Warming or some imaginary enemy, but it seems in addition to the sea levels rising, there is a history of diverting fresh water away from the Everglades for human use. Read more about it here if you’re interested.

The park had a small alligator attraction. I am not a fan of roadside animal attractions. The holding pens are always too small. They called it a “sanctuary” but I have to wonder what requirements need to be met to be called a sanctuary. Is it just to alleviate our guilt? I felt bad for this caiman, but considering they are an invasive species in Florida, and still hunted for their skins in many countries, I guess it could be worse.

The park had a pair of mating alligators in what seemed to be too small of an enclosure. The male, named Cannibal, had eaten all of its previous mates at another park before moving to Sawgrass Park and meeting his match. There was a photo op available holding one of their babies, but when I saw the jaws were Duct taped shut and a lot of people were waiting to hold him, I got skeeved out and left.

When the bus arrived back in Miami, the driver was amenable to dropping people off at red lights near their hotel, instead of having to wait an hour or more to get back to the tour office and the take another of their buses back. When I recognized my neighborhood, I hopped out, and you can bet I tipped him 5 bucks for that pleasure. I was so tired I just stopped at Taquiza a block away from my hotel, which had an intriguing menu and hand pressed blue masa tortillas.

I ordered a Mahi Mahi taco and a huitlacoche taco. The fried fish taco was crunchy and flaky and awesome. I thought I loved huitlacoche, also known as “corn smut,” a fungus that grows on corn. But I had only had it as a kind of seasoning in corn tacos, not big, generous mouthfuls. I found it kind of off-putting.

I also had squash blossom quesedillas, which are one of my favorite things, and a corn on the cob with mayo and Cotija cheese, known as “elote,” which just means corn in Spanish. It was a nice dinner and relatively inexpensive for SOBE.

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Miami Thursday: Part 1

I woke up at 4am this morning and lazed around researching restaurants and activities online until it got close to sunrise. Having grown up at the beach, beaches don’t impress me as much as most people. But watching the sunrise over water, when I usually see the sunset, was still exciting.

On the beach I met a man from Turkey and another from Bejing and we took turns taking pictures of each other. It was nice to hang out with people.

So I am noy an influencer and I don’t force my boyfriend to spend hours taking pictures of me from nehind doing yoga poses in beautiful locations. So here is one to make it up to you.

I stopped at a little stand called La Sandwicherie and got the most amazing ham and brie sandwich on crisp baguette plus an egg, tomato and mozzarella sandwich for later. It is apparently a chain, but I was told they were all owned by French people. And French people take their baguettes very seriously.

So, when I arrive at a new place I have two questions:

Can you jaywalk? YES! Traffic lights here are only a vague suggestion. You can recognize tourists by their willingness to wait for a light. Locals are practically suicidal, playing frogger with traffic.

Do you smile at strangers? Yes! You say hello, how are you doing…I made best friends with my cab driver and the guy at the sandwich shop.

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Welcome to Miami!!!

“Is Miami America? Is it a state? Is it the South? … I love Miami for the same reason I love the places I love most around the world… it’s the mix here, this big, messy, dysfunctional hell-broth of people from all over the world that make it so awesome and make it a place I want to keep coming back to. Also the food’s good.” – Anthony Bourdain

I had a bit of a cough the night before flying out to Miami, so I took a Covid test (negative) and tossed my cough syrup into my carry-on. I realized that it was a little more than the three ounces allowed onboard, and I didn’t want to scare seatmates by coughing, so I took a big swig before going through security. It’s pretty gnarly stuff, so I was super wasted on my flight. I shamelessly ate a whole submarine sandwich like Dawn Davenport in Female Troubles and tried to watch Three Thousand Years of Longing, which honestly felt like it was three thousand years long. Can I just say, Beats headphones are awesome??? Bob lent me a light pair for the plane, and I am never giving them back.

I arrived at the Marlin Hotel around 5pm and immediately went to sleep. I woke up around 8pm and ordered takeout from the hotel restaurant, Osteria del Teatro. I had the most amazing porcini pappardelle. I didn’t take pictures because it was just pasta in a takeout container, and I was sleepy, and whatever.

The Marlin Hotel is a cool, art deco boutique hotel with a really comfortable bed. It was quiet in spite of being just off of a major thoroughfare. When people talk outside of your room it sounds like they are right there in your room with you, but it has only happened twice. The other visitors here are international. In fact. SOBE, (or South Beach, for you clueless mortals), is a pretty international place. South-South Beach is the douche-y red rope neighborhood, and North Beach is super rich. Around 13th street you will find the sweet spot, the West Hollywood of Miami. In other words, the gay neighborhood, which is always my favorite place to stay. The streets are cleaner and safer, the restaurants are better, people are friendlier, and if you are looking for a sex shop or dungeon, you can often find one…not that I am. Or EVER have. EVER…

The room is really nice and has a very comfortable bed.

The towels were even Art Deco.

There was never anyone on the tiny elevator, and there was one time I really needed to get to my room to use the facilities. Like now. The elevator door closed right in my face. I slapped the elevator door with the palm of my hand and cried out, “Why are you leaving me???? Don’t leave me!!!!” The door opened up and there was a gentleman standing there. On the ride up, I said, “I’m so sorry. I thought I was having an overly dramatic moment with an inanimate object, not a human person.” After a beat, I softly sang a line from Dreamgirls to the elevator, “And I am telling you, there ain’t NOOO way, please do-o-o-n’t go…” He totally got the joke and laughed. Which is another reason to stay in the gay neighborhood—jokes about musical theater land.

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By the Baltic Sea: Wandering around Liepaja

After the Northern Forts, we went to a nice little lake.

There was a cafe and we had a snack before heading out.

I liked the old buildings and took photos as we drove through town.

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By the Baltic Sea: Liepaj’s Northern Fortress

Liepāja has always been strategic for battles. It was once home to a navy base, and is the place that the first Latvian government retreated to when pushed out by foreign powers. At the end of the 19th century several cement fortresses were built by Tsarist Russia. At one time, the forts encircled the entire city of Liepaja. In 1919, as Latvia tried to establish an independent republic, the Germans tried to take Latvia by sea. Using the forts, the Latvian army held them off in spite of being heavily outnumbered.

Most of the Liepāja Forts were destroyed in the beginning of the 20th century. The Northern fortifications were blown up twice in attempts to demolish them, but the crumbling facades remain to this day.

The Northern Fort, Fortification battery No. 1., is built on the edge of the Baltic sea. It is open to the public. You can climb around on it, but it is forbidden to enter a structure because it could collapse at any time. It kind of reminds you of being a wayward teen exploring forbidden places, climbing on roofs and things, so it was fun and awesome for photography. Even young children were climbing on top of the forts with their parents.


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By the Baltic Sea: Our first day in Liepaja

One of the best things about European hotels is that breakfast is included. It is so nice to just wander down and have a relaxed meal, it saves money, and some people put on a lovely spread. The Art Hotel has its own bakery, so the bread was crusty and the croissants were light as air. They had the European breakfast sausages that remind me of hot dogs, English bacon, and a variety of egg dishes. Like most places they had cold cuts, meusli and yogurt. I wasn’t ready for smoked fish, but I loved the Swedish pancakes!

I explored the area. In the United States, you could tell a dangerous neighborhood by abandoned buildings and graffiti. here they had those things, but it was very safe.

There was also a mall across the square, which was very convenient for stocking the fridge, and a few restaurants behind the hotel and a really cool destination place across the street. The mall even had gelato!

And a very dour busker. (Yes, I did give him money to take his picture).

Since it was Saturday, there was a street market right in front of the hotel! I had a lot of fun wandering around with Bob’s mom.

I was quite taken with this leather hat with cute little horns. The salesman, whose dad makes them, said that local bikers wear them.

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By the Baltic Sea: Art Hotel Roma

The Art Hotel Roma was built in 1881 and has been a hotel since 1882. During WWI it was occupied by the Kaiser’s army. The entire structure is built around a large central square with a much-photographed fountain, and also consists of the hotel’s restaurant, Rosemary, plus a renowned bakery, breakfast room, retail shops and businesses.

This sculpture reminded me of medieval cats

I reserved the “Studio” for 90 Euros because it had a kitchenette with a refrigerator. It was HUGE! But you can get a room for as little as 60 E. Latvia is a very reasonable place to vacation.

The carpeting had a bit of a “Shining” vibe.

And was that a face in the chest of drawers?


and faces on the knobs

and faces on the edging. So many little people.

There was art all over the place, in the room, in the halls…

Everyone thought the woman in this painting looked familiar. I finally decided she reminded me of the Mona Lisa.

We sat down for dinner at Rosemary, but the jet lag was hitting me hard and I just went upstairs and crashed. Reports were that the food was excellent.

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by the Baltic Sea: On the Road to Liepaj

It was a four hour drive to Liepaja, and I slept in the back seat for most of the trip. There is one main rest stop, and we took a break there on the way and on the way back. I tried a candyfloss ice cream, which no one over the age of nine could probably eat.

Of course, there were more unusual offerings…like the dreaded herring in a fur coat!

and aspic…

On the way back we ate in the restaurant. I tried the schnitzel, which had an unusual eggy coating.

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By the Baltic Sea: Lido and the Latvian National Gallery in Riga

Friday we went to Lido, a very reasonably-priced cafeteria frequented by locals. The helpings were ridiculous, I had thought America had a lock on giant portions. There were around six fish dishes, even more meat dishes, a giant wok filled with French fries that had stuck together like a fry king, and stuffed pancakes, which are basically blintzes.

Bob’s mom had an interesting catfish dish that was like a crab cake. Bob was very prudent with just a chicken shish, rice and veggies.

I once again proved that I am not responsible enough to navigate a buffet unmonitored. Luckily we all shared. My chanterelles and potatoes were more infused with rich mushroom flavor than anything I have ever eaten. 10/10 would recommend.

Then we meandered over to the National Museum. It was a beautiful building.

The featured display was on Auseklis Bauskenieks, an internationally recognized artist who pioneered Latvian landscape painting in the first part of the 20th century. The entire basement was filled with his haunting landscapes.

As we were walking back to the elevator, a painting in the storage area caught my eye. A provost stopped me as I paused for a snap, and I thought I was in trouble for taking pictures.

But she wanted to guide us to the third floor where more of that artists’ works were on display. Gederts Alias used intense yellows and oranges, which made his paintings instantly recognizable.

I also fell in love with Janis Tidemanis and the vibrant use of color contrasted with black that gave his works a spooky edginess.

Bob’s mom had described Latvian paintings as “kind of European, but not,” and it was very true. They seemed to combine the darkness of Munch with the delicate brushstrokes of Cezanne.

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By the Sea by the Sea by the Baltic Sea: Riga

Thursday evening we landed in Riga. Bob’s mom picked us up at the airport and we checked into our hotel, The Radisson Blu. The Radisson is a good mid-range hotel. They are clean and reliable, and more upscale than a motel. Our room was on the small side, but it was exactly the cozy little space I needed to crash.

We walked around old town looking for a place to eat.

We landed at Ezitis Migla, Although it’s a chain, it’s kind of a hipster place. It took around 45 minutes to get our order. We had a nice little patio to wait in and enjoyed talking, but even for Europe it was a crazy long wait. I had some lovely potato pancakes, Bob had a crispy chicken sandwich that seemed like it sat too long waiting for the other dishes to be ready, and his mom had a pasta with onions and bacon, which she told us was a very Latvian combo.

Bob’s mom ordered a Kvass, a low-alcohol fermented drink made with rye bread. References to kvass go back as far as 996. Bob had a Diet Coke. References to Diet Coke go back as far as 1982.

We passed a trippy shop window that caught my eye.

When we got back to the room, I was out as soon as my head hit the pillow.

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Back to Desert Hot Springs – I Need a Miracle

I have been obsessing over wanting a jacuzzi, so I booked a weekend at Miracle Springs Resort and Spa in Palm Desert. The place itself is like a no-frills motel, but the grounds are gorgeous, with a swimming pool, two wading pools, three big Jacuzzis and two small 2 or 3-person Jacuzzis that are fed with natural mineral water. The best part is that they don’t close the pools at 10 pm like most places. They are open 24-hours, which is awesome if you are going to Coachella or barhopping. You can come back at 2 am and still have a nice soak. Plus, they have a spa with really good massage therapists.

Friday, on our way out of LA, we stopped at Agnes in Pasadena for lunch, my new favorite place. I figured, we were on vacation, so why rush? We had a leisurely lunch starting with their beet salad with oranges nestled in a flavorful hummus, and an interesting if not mind-blowing BLT made with fried green tomatoes,

We also split an awesome pasta. Beef cheeks with homemade pappardelle, which they called a “stroganoff.” It came with shaved Gouda, but that was just too weird for me, so I went without the cheese.

I had made a big mistake leaving at around 2 pm for Desert Hot Springs on a Friday. It took us over three hours to get there! We had wanted to go to Cuistot’s “happy hour” between 5 and 6 with less expensive dishes and appealing-sounding bento boxes, but we didn’t get into town until 5: 45! We decided we were tired and ate at Miracle Springs’ Italian/Steak restaurant called “Capri,” which was another big mistake. It was like the worst rubber-chicken-style wedding food ever. Bob was fine with his pasta. I looked around the room and everyone else seemed perfectly happy. I wished I could be as easily satisfied as other people are. It’s a burden being so damned picky. We had a nice soak and turned in early.

I was pleased with the upgrades to the rooms since our last visit. They had painted, but not replaced the ugly carpeting. It’s super clean, but a little run down, like some caulking was cracked, and there were bleach stains on the carpet. I was worried about our room being between the parking lot and the stairs, but it was really quiet and HUGE. The beds had white comforters instead of creepy brown flowery prints, so I was super happy.

They have cool copper elevators. But they need to take out the carpeting. The elevator smells worse and worse as the weekend progresses.

Saturday, we headed into Palm Springs and had a fantastic breakfast at Wilma and Frieda’s. It’s upstairs in a courtyard where Sonny Bono’s statue holds court and is comfortable and hip. There is a big bakery with tempting treats like house made pop tarts.

The shrimp and grits was no great shakes–the grits were too thick, but the short rib benedict—oh my God! It was heaven! They baked their own rusk, probably out of biscuit dough, the eggs were perfect and the hollandaise…wow…I could eat a bowl of it with a spoon! Their biscuits, which you could order as your bread option were HUGE,,,like kitten heads! I could only eat half of the breakfast, and we were too full to even have lunch.

We had lovely massages. My massage therapist and I spent the whole time talking about Snoop Dog and South Park. When I knew the old Twilight Zone episodes he mentioned, he said, “Wow, you’re cultured!”

I laughed, “Because I watch way too much TV?”

He said, “No, I mean…you’re…cool.” So yeah, I over tipped him.

We had a nice soak, then got dressed up for our fancy anniversary dinner at Cuistot. Unfortunately, they no longer have crab gratin or foie gras, but we have to change with the times. We started out with a lovely asparagus dish.

It seemed so expensive for a vegetable dish, but it was loaded with morels and served in a rich truffle-morel sauce. I was trying to have good table manners, but the waiter suggested I sop up the sauce with my bread. That’s called permission, and I went with it.

For mains, I ordered steak frites, a 6-ounce flat-iron steak, that was the least flat flat-iron I’ve ever seen. It was so ridiculously tender. Bob went with Medallions of pork that were also ridiculously tender, in an ingenious mustard and viognier tarragon sauce. Viognier is a full-bodied white wine from the south of France (yes, I looked it up).

For dessert we tried the peach cobbler and creme brulee. The cobbler was a bit sweet for me, which is saying something when the other dessert has a sugar crust on it. It is still my favorite restaurant and “our place” in the desert. They gave us a card for a free appetizer when we return. The food is always amazing, the service is unparalleled. Cuistot may be the best restaurant in all of Coachella Valley.

Our room had a DVD player in it, so we stopped at Red Box to rent a couple movies. But we were so full and relaxed we didn’t even make it through a single one before we crashed.

We woke up early Sunday and had a final soak, then went around the corner to The Cottage Too for breakfast. We had planned on hitting the much-recommended Delicias, but they weren’t open yet. The decor reflected a very classic local roadside spot, and the food was OK. My biscuits and gravy would have been fantastic if it wasn’t room temperature, and their potatoes were above average.

After checking out, we hit a couple of shops in downtown Palm Springs on the main drag. The Little Shop of Treasures had some cool chairs and china that I liked, but I already have too much of both. There was a cute 2-person glider for $50 that would have been awesome for the backyard, but we couldn’t fit it in the car. Bob isn’t big on shopping, so I didn’t spend hours in all the little antique shops near there, but I did want to shop at The Frippery. Such a cool name! They had clothes separated by decade and color, from the 1930s through the 90s in a variety of sizes. It’s weird to think of the 90s as being “vintage,” but it was 30 years ago! It would be weird to take pictures in a little boutique, but I did take this close-up of the fabric of a 60s mod dress I bought.

We knew it would be hard to eat lunch anywhere brunch-y since it was Mother’s day. I wanted to go to Taylor’s Burgers, but as has happened before, I forgot that they aren’t open on Sundays. So we headed over to the Roadfood-recommended Sherman’s Deli. Waiting near the bakery counter for our table was like exploring the Land of the Giants. The cream puffs were as big as layer cakes, and look at the size of this Black and White cookie!!!

When I ordered corned beef on rye, the waitress stated, “Our most popular corned beef sandwich is the Reuben.”

I demurred, “That’s OK.”

“But the sandwich you’re ordering is just meat and bread.”

“Well, I don’t like sauerkraut or Russian dressing…or really, even the cheese.”

She snapped, “Well, you could order it WITHOUT.

I decided it was in my best interest not to point out that getting it without would just make it the exact same sandwich that I was already ordering. But she was sweet as pie for the rest of the meal. As expected, the sandwich was exceptional. The rye bread is fresh, soft and mild, and the corned beef is flavorful and tender. We wisely split the sandwich between us. We impulsively ordered fries, and they were the hottest, crispest french fries I can remember eating. Ever.

I had seen the “San Jacinto” cake in the display case and I just HAD to have it! It was like a tuxedo cake, with chocolate cake and cheesecake, but added a layer of chocolate ganache. It was awesome! It was so big we had to pack up half of it, so we also ordered sugar-free carrot cake and strawberry cake slices to-go, you know, for when we got back home and started being good. It was an awesome weekend and an awesome meal and we did not have to stop to eat on the drive back.

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Oahu Sunday Photo Gallery: Bishop Museum Tikis

I had taken so many pictures of the amazing exhibits at the Bishop Museum, I decided to break it up into two posts.

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Oahu Sunday: Rainbow Inn, Diamond Head Market and Bishop Museum

Sunday was our last day on Oahu. We finally hit the Rainbow Drive In for breakfast. I ordered the Loco Moco and Oliver got pork chops and eggs. I ordered the macadamia nut pancakes that they are known for, but they were out of the topping and just gave me plain ole pancakes. It was good, but I have to say, Gardena Bowl is better. There was a huge line of locals, many of whom were in hotel uniforms, so I suspect a large part of its popularity lies in the fact that it opens so damn early.

We stopped in at Diamond Head Market and Grill to grab snacks for the plane. I wish I had gone there the very first day and loaded up. Everything would have been much easier and cheaper. They had fresh salads and meals to go, plus so many delicious-looking cakes and baked goods. Next time, I guess.

OT dropped me off at the Bishop Museum, as his friend had a bunch of stuff to do before taking us to the airport. Total bonus day, and one of my favorite places I visited in Honolulu.

“Bishop Museum was founded in 1889 by Charles Reed Bishop in honor of his late wife, Princess Bernice Pauahi Bishop, the last descendant of the royal Kamehameha family. The Museum was established to house the extensive collection of Hawaiian objects and royal family heirlooms of the Princess, and has expanded to include millions of objects, documents and photographs about Hawai‘i and other Pacific island cultures.”

There was a temporary photo exhibit of traditional tattoos. The tattoos and the photography were both gorgeous.

The Bishop Museum Café by Highway Inn offers a limited menu of Hawaiian plates, poke bowls, sandwiches, and snacks from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., so I had a nice stew for lunch before continuing on,,,

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Oahu Saturday: Island Tour

Saturday morning I went and checked out the local farmer’s market at the community college. The most interesting thing was the machine splitting the sugar cane.

Then OT and his friend Mike, who OT came to visit, picked me up and we got a local’s tour of the island. Mike’s girlfriend recommended that we start at Kona’s Brewing Co. It was right on the Koko marina, and exactly the kind of place I would have taken one of my aunts. OT got a lovely ahi tuna salad (which one of my aunts totally would have ordered), Mike got a burger and I got some forgettable shrimp tacos. For some reason OT kept ordering beers for Mike and pressuring him to drink even though OT and I weren’t really drinking.

A bird wandered into the restaurant to hang out.

Next stop was the Halona Blowhole, where the ocean has worn away an area beneath the lava and drilled a hole right through to the top, so water crashes in and comes up out of the blowhole. (photo from

It wasn’t blowing when we were there, due to low tide or global warming. Some daring (aka stupid) people were posing for pics next to the blowhole. It was kind of foolhardy, because you just never know with the Pacific. The Hawaiians say, “Don’t turn your back on the sea.

There was a gorgeous inlet where people were swimming. This is the beach made famous by the iconic love scene between Burt Lancaster and Deborah Kerr, who shared their epic kiss and rolled around in the surf and sand in 1953’s ”From Here to Eternity.” Recent moviegoers may be more familiar with the site as “Whitecap Bay,” from the fourth installment of the “Pirates of the Caribbean.”

This sign gave me pause.

As we started down the rocks, my legs were wobbly from two straight says of snorkeling. OT said, “Nope. We aren’t going down there.” I tried to insist. I didn’t want to be a wet blanket. But he said, “I’m not taking you to the hospital today.” So, if I insisted on hopping down the rocks and fell, I’d really spoil the fun and he would be telling me, “I told you so,” all the way to the ER. So we drove along the coast looking for a good swimming beach. Almost all of them were full of surfers.

We ended up at a cool little locals’ beach called Waimanolo.

We stopped at a strip mall and I hit the flagship location for Dave’s ice cream, which was opened by David Leong in 1982. There were so many flavors, it was hard to choose. A few of the more interesting ones were Azuki Bean, Caramel Macadamia, Haupia, Lychee sherbert, Poha Berry (Gooseberry), Kona Coffee, and Kulolo–a Hawaiian taro, coconut and brown sugar pudding. My go-to is and always will be mango.

The boys went into a bar, and when I joined them, I discovered that the only other patrons were a large party wearing leis, celebrating while a very old man sang karaoke. He was the only one who sang, song after song after song. In Hawaiian. We stayed there longer than we expected.

Our next stop was a famous lookout known as Pali. So much for the view…it started pouring down rain.

Pali is also the site of one of the most horrible battles fought on the islands. We have always heard Kamehameha was a hero who united the islands against foreign colonizing powers. What they don’t tell you is that those islands didn’t necessarily want to be unified. There was a lot of bloodshed involved. In 1795, Kamehameha assembled an army of 12,000 men. Then he invaded Oʻahu. It is known in the Hawaiian language as Kalelekaʻanae, which means “the leaping mullet,” and refers to a number of Oʻahu warriors driven off the cliff in the final phase of the battle.  The local forces were slowly driven towards to the cliffs at Nuʻuanu Pali. “Caught between the Hawaiian Army and a 1000-foot drop, over 700 Oʻahu warriors either jumped or were pushed over the edge of the Pali (cliff). In 1898 construction workers working on the Pali road discovered 800 skulls which were believed to be the remains of the warriors that fell to their deaths from the cliff above.”

We got lost for a long time on the way back, which I might not have known if we hadn’t driven past Pali 40 minutes after leaving it. The boys dropped me off and I wandered into the bar next to the hotel and drank a Lava Flow, which my friend had insisted upon before I left for this trip.

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Oahu Friday: Eating our Way across the North Shore

After swimming with sharks, we wanted to wander into town and grab a bite. We didn’t get an Uber because it was so close. The historic town of Hale’iwa wasn’t actually that close, and my legs were rubber from two days in a row of snorkeling. But we walked to a little square, where I found one of the places on my must-do list — Matsumoto Shave Ice! The little shop opened in 1951 as M. Matsumoto Grocery Store, and the original couple’s kids still run it today. They brought shave ice from Japan, where it is called kakigōri. In Japan the dessert is often topped with adzuki beans, red beans boiled in sugar. Like New Orleans snowballs, you can also get them topped with sweetened condensed milk.

They had soooo many flavors! You can only order a max of three. I ordered blue pineapple, mango and lychee. Topped with sweetened condensed milk, of course. I was only going to try a little taste, as I often do with desserts, but it was so good I could not stop. I also wanted to try the Lilikoi (Passionfruit), guava, papaya and yuzu. Next time. There are also sone specific, local flavors like li hing mui (pickled plum), Ume (Japanese plum), Mizore, a plain sugar syrup, Ramune, a lemon-lime Japanese soda flavor, and Green River, a local lime soda that actually comes from the midwest.

The classic Matsumoto flavor combination is lemon-pineapple-coconut. Another favorite is the rainbow combination, which tastes like strawberry, lemon, and pineapple. If you want to try Obama’s favorite, try cherry and lemon lime with guava or lilikoi. A competitor makes a guava-passion flavor and along with the cherry and lemon lime calls it the “Snobama.” (Photo from Fanpop)

We wandered down to No. 7, a poke truck that the shark guides had recommended. OT got an assortment that included tuna and salmon. Poke (pronounced poke-eh by Canadians), is a roughly cut raw fish dish. It doesn’t use citrus to “cook” the fish like most other raw fish dishes like ceviche do. I like my fish cut thinly, like sashimi, so I just had some boring old gyoza. There are nice, shaded benches in the sand, and you really feel like a mellow surfer just chilling out instead of the manic tourists we had become.

We crossed the street (to see why all these guys were doing it).

And we found a cool shack selling seashells (by the seashore). Luckily, the guy was too busy to wait on us, as I was prepared to buy a curtain made of shells and some other regrettable purchase. Just down the road I happened upon a cemetery. I always seem to find one. I’m not even looking for them anymore.

We headed further down Kamehameha Highway to Kono’s but it was way too crowded, and we were too burned out to wait. So we walked next door to Breakers. OT got a cold beer and I got some killer Pork Fries with cheddar cheese, green onions and sour cream.

I wandered around and found a little gift shop. Now, I had been seeing these little furry coconut-helmeted tiki-type things and couldn’t figure them out.

 Finally, this shop had a picture that helped me to put it together.

Speaking of being a tourist, after checking out we took an Uber in search of the famous Giovanni’s Shrimp Truck. It is supposed to be THE SHIT. You must eat at Giovanni’s if you are on Oahu. The driver took us to the clearing full of food trucks, and I thought I heard him Mumble, “It’s closed.” But it was so quiet, and I was so excited it didn’t fully register until I spotted the sad, graffitti-ed truck. That was as closed as it gets. There was another shrimp truck there, and the line was sooo long.

I ended up getting a crepe at North Shore Creperie, the friendly guy in the first picture up top. It didn’t come with whipped cream, but when he saw me taking a picture of it he stopped me and added a nice swirl.

Here are a few pictures of other people’s food.

I was tempted to head over to the other Giovanni’s, you know how I am when I’m on a mission. But I couldn’t do that to OT, and we had had to get up really early in the morning to catch the boat so we were totally burnt out and we headed home. Here is a lovely Hawaiian flower for you.

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