Archive for December, 2012

Kauai – One More Time

Gingerbread Churches

Gingerbread Renditions of the Churches near Hanalei

Each winter I leave behind the rains of Northern California and head to the island of Kauai for warmth and sunshine.  It is not always sunny as rain is prevalent in Hawaii this time of year but no matter how wet it is, the temperature is in the perfect range of 68 to 80 degrees.  The days are filled with reading, lounging, visiting favorite spots and generally recooperating from the busy life that I love in Sonoma County.

Mai taisThe new experience this year has been to not have a rental car for the first week.  We stayed at the Marriott Beach Club which is adjacent to the airport so a shuttle is available to get back and forth.  The Marriott  is located near a number of fine places to eat and imbibe so we did not find ourselves lacking.  We actually did a lower cost week than if we had the wheels to visit restaurants outside of walking distance.  We went to Duke’s Barefoot Bar three times.  Not our favorite Mai Tais but the fish tacos and shrimp salad are really good.  Our two formal meals were at Duke’s upstairs – fabulous salad bar and great fresh fish. The only other venue we enjoyed for dinner was Kukui’s bar which allows guests to order from either Kukui’s restuarant or the sushi bar.  A great time was had by all.  We sunbathed – We read books – We played cards – We shopped – I played golf.  We discovered that a car was unnecessary in this location and that we probably relaxed more without the option of driving to various locations.

GaylordsA second week to enjoy the island with the benefit of transportation allows any pent up desires to visit specific places be satisfied.  Our first trip was to Kilohana Plantation – home of Gaylords and Koloa Rum Company.  Gaylords has been a long time favorite of mine and two years ago I was very disappointed to learn that the restaurant had been renamed Latitude 29 and the menu was completely different.  We made no plans to eat at Kilohana because of this change that I learned was suggested by a consulting company.  Clearly, other patrons in addition to myself had expressed their opinion and the name Gaylords in back.  We did not eat there this trip having just had wonderful saimin at Hamura’s in Lihue but I will put it on my list for my next excursion to Kauai.   One new addition is a beautiful bar in the living room of the Kilohana house.  The bar was not open when we were there at lunchtime but the woodwork is beautiful and the view out to the back lawn is pure Kauai.

Koloa Rum Company

Koloa Rum Company

The Koloa Rum Company has been in existence since 2009.  I visited it the month the tasting room was opened in 2010 and it is a favorite stop each trip to Kauai.  The tasting is informative and fun.  All of the ingredients are grown on Kauai and the spice rum has got to be the best in the world.  Each year there are more shops that are carrying the local product and it is showing up in local establishment Mai Tais.  The gift shop is excellent for remorabilia and the building is vintage plantation.

We are now up north at Hanalei Bay Resort in Princeville.  It would be difficult to be here without a car.  We can walk to the St. Regis to enjoy the view with a latte.  The gingerbread structures are a yearly display in the lobby, as well as beautiful Christmas trees throughout.  Everyday we drive to the local market and purchase the fresh catch of the day.  So far we have had opah, ahi and ono.  We have coated the fish with Organic Aloha Seafood Seasoning and Rub from Aloha Spice Company of Hanapepe, yet another place we are not visiting this year. Yum.  Fish, sauteed vegetables and salad greens with a local papaya dressing – nothing could be better.  Tonight will be our first night to eat in a restaurant since our move.  Today is a big day as we are going to a botanical garden for chocolate tasting.  I am looking forward to lots of pictures of flowers and having chocolate for the first time in 10 days.

Hula Girls in the Marriott Lobby

Hula Girls in the Marriott Lobby

Preparing for the Holidays

ImageEvery time of the year I marvel at the beauty of Sonoma County.  The scenery is diverse and always stunning.  The picture above is taken on Occidental Road just east of High School Road outside of Sebastopol.  The lighting was so perfect that every driver with a camera was pulled to the side of road to take a snapshot.  Cold, foggy and flooding all disappeared with the serene beauty of the Laguna de Santa Rosa.

With the love of my local area at front of mind, I decided that my shopping for holiday gifts would be focused at home.  I shunned the Internet and headed to Bodega Bay for some shopping.  I hit the jackpot at East Shore Outfitters and Gourmet au Bay.  Sissy does a great job of selecting wonderful merchandise without the “tourist trap” prices.  I then headed to Occidental to the annual craft sale.  I must admit that I bought two sweaters for me – one from Wild n’ Wooley out of Mt. Shasta to keep me warm on those cold and windy mornings and a light weight one from another vendor that will be perfect in Hawaii.

Dec12 044The next day I ventured all the way to Sebastopol.  It was a Sunday and the Farmer’s Market was in full swing.  Today (Sunday) the rain is coming down and a thick fog has enveloped the garden.  I have built a fire to conserve on propane and I will be home long enough today to enjoy the ambiance.   But last Sunday the temperature was 70 degrees and I was thinking I might never wear the heavy knit hoodie that I had purchased the day before.  The Sebastopol Farmer’s Market is a year round event.  The number of stalls is less in the winter but the atmosphere is always Sebastopol.  I wandered Main Street and found a few more gifts and bopped into Whole Foods to see what the latest in food goodies they had to offer.  An absolutely spectacular day.


My Christmas shopping was almost complete but yesterday I stopped by Forestville to visit Frame of Mind – the best framing shop in my overall experience of framing.   Leslie is not just a framer of great talent but a creative artist in her own right.  She doesn’t let a piece leave the shop that does not look spectacular. Then I dropped into Moshin Winery for  the best pinot noir along the Russian River.    I was blessed to have a lovely dinner at Cork’s outside of Forestville with dear friends on my way home.

P1020815The magical barn down the way on Joy Road is open for local artists the weekend after Thanksgiving weekend (does that make sense? 9 days after Thanksgiving.)  It is the closest shopping available with clever surprises for young and old.  If you live near or are visiting that time of year, you should put it on your calendar now for 2013 so that it isn’t missed.

It looks like I will have my shopping complete before I leave for the holidays and will not have purchased anything further than 12 miles from my secluded home.  The evening sunset through the redwoods on Joy Road is a frequent reminder of the magnificence and peace my world holds.  Wonderful community, great friends and local products abound in my life.  In case I do not have the opportunity to say it to you in this upcoming week, may your holidays and the coming year be your brightest.  Peace on earth to all.



December 2012


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