Columbus – December 2018 – Franklin Park Conservatory Holiday Lights Revisit

Keeping with the annual repeat visits this weekend, we stopped by the Franklin Park Conservatory for their Holiday Lights exhibit.

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The professional division gingerbread house winner.

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They have a mix of traditional holiday floral with the the permanent displays.

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Chihuly glass.

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More floral close ups.

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The center hall was all decked out for the season.

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The other halls had interesting lighting on the plants.

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Outside near the glass blowing studio were additional glass ‘trees’.

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The Children’s Garden had the largest display of lights.

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The glass block steps in the Palm House were lit.

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Additional glass pieces outside on a courtyard.

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Afterwards we made a brief stop at a park downtown for additional lights.

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Columbus – December 2018 – Zoo Wildlights

It’s December which means the annual Columbus Zoo ‘Wildlights’ is back.

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We arrived early enough to check out the aquarium.

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The penguin habitat was still open (it closed at 5).

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They apparently were ready to go in for the night as they were honking very loud and often.

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The Reptile Building was open. Most of them were very active.

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The ‘Farm’ was open as well, as it was inside of a barn.

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Finally we passed a sleeping bear.

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A quick stop by the historic carousel…

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And it was sunset.

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Time for the lights.

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The lights are nice, but the animals are always the best part.

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Columbus – December 2018 – Krampus Returns

It is that season again – Krampus! For those who have forgotten, Krampus is a horned figure used to scare little German kids into behaving during Christmas so they get presents.

Columbus has a small, but colorful, Krampus parade.

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Hawaii – November 2018 – Day 21 All Good Things Must Come to an End – But Not Without Chocolate First

Day 21 – our last day in Hawaii. What better way to end it than going on a tour of a cacao farm and a chocolate tasting event!

We arrived at Garden Island Chocolate just as the rain had ended (for the moment). After signing a waiver we headed over to the first tent where Brittany, our hostess for the morning, had a display of their locally grown tropical fruits.

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Gracing the side of the tent was a great spiderweb.

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Koa, the owner, explained how the cacao husks grow and contain the beans.

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He then demonstrated how they open the husk with a machete and extract the beans. We however were given hammers to whack them to crack them open.

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We sampled the beans – they did not taste like chocolate, that comes later.

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We left for a tour of the farm where we examined some various different cacao’s growing.

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They come in all colors.

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Cross pollination is a big deal – ‘pure’ beans are much harder to come by and therefore more expensive.

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That waiver we signed – mostly for the risk of getting bonked in the head with falling coconuts.

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Not sure what this is – but who cares – chocolate is coming soon.

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There was also a nursery on the grounds with some great flowers.

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What does a Coke bottle have to do with this? Urban legend says it is shaped after the cacao, but many dispute this.

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After we tasted about 20 different chocolates (and had a great chocolate high going) Brittany made us some hot chocolate for that cold Hawaii morning (it was about 78 and humid).

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The entire event was great fun, with many others in the group feisty and sarcastic. We learned something, had some great chocolate and stayed mostly dry.

Thanks to Brittany for being such a great hostess.

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After a long traffic jam we made it to the Lihue Airport to be greeted by Santa.

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After our short flight to Honolulu where, thanks to American Airlines being totally without any sort of customer service as they moved us from our original flights for no apparent reason (despite the fact I booked the flights and secured seats 8 months earlier).

When I protested their continued response was always ‘no idea why, too bad, nothing we will do for you’. Way to go American Airlines, you suck.

Now with 6 hours to kill we hung out in the Honolulu Airport, where they at least have some nice art.

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And amazingly, inside of security, a Chinese and Japanese Gardens.

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Eventually our flight left and after 2500 miles of open water – the California coast!

After another 4 hour layover in Phoenix, we finally made it to Ohio in the late afternoon. While the travel home was a bit of a let down, the trip itself was an amazing success.

We had numerous other flights, hotels, rental cars, restaurants, parks, cruise ship and many many more things that all went off without a hitch (even with a bump in the rental car).

The people of Hawaii were pleasant to us at all times, anxious to share their culture and ways, and generally understanding of the thousands of tourists who clog their islands on a regular basis.

If you haven’t been to Hawaii – I highly recommend it, but get off the main tourist spots – there is so much more.

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Hawaii – November 2018 – Day 20 Rainbow Trees and An Abrupt Stop

Our second morning at the Kauai Inn started after sunrise, which gave us a chance to see how beautiful the grounds and background was.

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As we left to go out for the day we found a new city have moved in down the street.

To quote a line from the movie ‘Groundhog Day’ – “I’m bettin’ he’s gonna swerve first”

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Our day had us headed to some waterfalls – first was Wailua Falls. I was expecting to drive into a park and go for a hike to the falls, but we ended up driving up and getting a glimpse of them from the overlook in the fog.

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Still the double falls was impressive.

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We then headed to the nearby Opaeka’a Falls. While more distance, you did get a better view – but still no hiking.

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The Wailua River Valley is historically a Native Hawaiian settlement area.

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We continued up the road as far as it could go until we got to the Keahua Arboretum.

Not a traditional arboretum, but more of a ‘woods’, it nonetheless has some amazing trees. These are known as Rainbow Eucalyptus trees.

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As Wikipedia states: “The unique multi-hued bark is the most distinctive feature of the tree. Patches of outer bark are shed annually at different times, showing a bright green inner bark. This then darkens and matures to give blue, purple, orange and then maroon tones. The previous season’s bark peels off in strips to reveal a brightly colored new bark below. The peeling process results in vertical streaks of red, orange, green, blue, and gray.”

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Easily some of the coolest trees I have ever seen.

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With that we headed back down the mountain, passing some houses with great views.

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We stopped by Poliahu Park.

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Where the remains of a Heiau (temple) remains from ancient Hawaiian times. People have left lei’s as an offering.

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Our plans were to continue north to a wildlife preserve and lighthouse when we ran into a bit of a problem – literally. An elderly man missed seeing us coming down the road and pulled directly in front of us – BAM.

Airbags are an exciting event – scared the #$%^ out of me.

Fortunately nobody was seriously hurt, and after getting a replacement car from Avis (who get’s a shout out about how well they handled this situation), we got checked out and were on our way.

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We decided to skip the lighthouse and instead went to the Spouting Horn Park, where we met some of the local sea birds.

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Spouting Horn was nice, but with the much smaller waves it wasn’t nearly as impressive as the ones in Maui.

With that our eventful day came to an end.

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Hawaii – November 2018 – Day 19 Kauai and the Grand Canyon of Hawaii

We flew from Maui through Honolulu to Kauai on a Tuesday evening. Using google maps we made our way to our hotel, which took us past the shipping docks to who knows where.

The following morning we were up and on our way before sunrise. After about an hour and a half, and a quick breakfast in Waimea, we made our way up to Waimea Canyon.

We were greeted by the official bird of Hawaii – the rooster.

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We made our way through the park until we reached the famed Kalalau Overlook. If it looks familiar, it should, it was used in Jurassic Park.

We are about 4000′ above the ocean at this point.

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Look closely you will see the helicopter well below in the valley.

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The other highlight of the area is Waimea Canyon.

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Waipo’o Falls cascades into the canyon.

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From a distance you can see why it has the nickname Grand Canyon of Hawaii.

It is immense, especially given how small the island is overall. This area of Kauai is one of the most beautiful I have ever seen, and well worth the trip.

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We made our way back down to the coast, and found this dirt road that continued in the direction of the bluffs we had just been on.

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Eventually we reached the end of the road and found this amazing secluded beach with a view of Ni’Hau.

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The waves, while not as impressive as what was in Maui, still made a great ‘Hawaii Five O’ look.

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But it was the view of the cliffs that made the dusty ride worthwhile.

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On our return trip to Lihue we stopped by the site of a Russian Fort, which was near the town of Waimea. Just down the hill from this fort a river ran into the ocean making some great sand dunes.

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Further along the coast we found Salt Pond Park and Beach. Nearby pools produce the famed Hawaiian sea salt, but the beach was more picturesque.

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Our final stop of the day was at Kauai Coffee. Very touristy, but amusing.

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They claim to have 4 million coffee trees, and near the visitor center you can take a walk amongst them.

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They also had some displays on how the beans are dried. These are for show, as this is a large commercial processing facility (that does not offer real tours of the plant).

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Remember that drive in the dark – it was much better in the sun!

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An amazing view at the Menehune Fishpond, literally a mile from our little hotel. The moral of this view is don’t always trust first impressions, the hotel and the views were spectacular – you just have to go through the cargo shipping area when you come from the airport.

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Hawaii – November 2018 – Day 18 Art and History of Maui

Day 18 of the Hawaii trip is a travel day, so we stayed fairly close to the airport for our late afternoon flight. We found a number of interesting artistic and historic sites to visit.

 

First up was the Sacred Gardens. This location seemed to be part gardens, part religious, part cosmic and more.

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They did have a ‘Buddha Garden’, with some nice sculptures.

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Their claim to fame though is their labyrinths.

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Just down the road is the Hui No’eau Visual Arts Center. Situated on the grounds of a former sugar plantation owner, there are a number of buildings for various uses including a tiny high school.

The grounds are immaculate.

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Makai Glassworks is located in another former sugar plantation. We were able to observe the artist at work.

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In the same area, but off the tourist path, is the Dingking surfboard shop.

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A true find, they make custom surfboards.

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In addition to the surfboards, they do other custom woodwork including this great canoe.

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But their specialty is surfboards.

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Our next stop was the Surfing Goat Dairy, and as our directions had us turn into the road we were amazed that a dairy would have such a fancy entrance – until we realized the entrance was for a neighborhood of multi million dollar houses, and the dairy was off to to the side.

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But they did have goats, and surfboards.

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While most of the employment in Maui now is tourism, they once had thriving businesses in agriculture, primarily the sugar plantations and pineapples. They even once had railroads to bring the goods to the port, as evidenced by this former railroad office.

In my 3 weeks in Hawaii I did not see 1 railroad track (although there are apparently a couple of historic railroads around).

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Sugar cane processing was once a big business, but it is all now gone. This was the last processing plant, and it closed a few years ago.

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The history is celebrated by a museum housed in the former superintendents home.

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The interior has a nice display of the people and lifestyles of the plantation life. Outside they have some of the equipment used in the processing.

This truck and trailer was used to bring in massive amounts of the sugar cane into the factory.

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While these large claws picked up the cane in the fields.

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A quick stop at Target – where they are ready for Christmas Hawaiian style.

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And a great Hawaiian pizza – and it was off for our flights to Kauai.

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