Posts Tagged 'Kauai'

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

2011 Has Been A Wonderful Year

Happy American Canyon Buyers and Los Altos Sellers!

The last day of 2011 and what a year it has been.  When January 2011 came around, I had no idea where I was going or what the year was going to bring.  My first post was about the increased and difficult business of real estate.  Thankfully the volume continued and I am pleased to report that I closed more transactions than I have in any other year of my real estate career.  The year finished as it had begun with a flurry of activity.  Alas, the difficultly continues as sales are plagued with late appraisals, slow loan approvals and the hurry-up-and-wait process of short sales and bank-owned properties.  Home values have continued to decline except in those few areas where the prices fell so precipitously that there is nowhere to go but up – specifically Rohnert Park has seen some price increases in single family homes.  This December was a very busy month.  Not only was I working on Sonoma County real estate but I closed transactions in American Canyon (Napa County), Los Altos (Santa Clara County) and Lakehead (Shasta County).  These put a few miles on my car but I love working with great folks and these buyers and sellers were top-notch in my book.  I would go anywhere in the State of California for people like them.  And speaking of going – I only attended 8 parties in 14 days during this frenzy of work.  I needed a rest week after Christmas.

View from a Bedroom Window - No difference which one - they are all fantastic!

I am starting 2012 with a listing that I expect to be of great interest to anyone looking for a luxury weekend getaway.  Privacy, space and up-to-the-minute elegance is the best description.  This modern tree house is in a wonderfully sunny spot on Green Valley Road.  It will hit the market late January and you can be certain that you will see it on this blog.  There are many people looking for bargains in real estate and I am working to serve them.  But enough about 2012.  This post is about 2011!

The statistics for this blog were sent to me today.  Around 5,300 hits in 2011 with 35 posts.  I have made a New Year’s resolution that you will get a weekly update on Sonoma real estate.  This is something I follow and I should be sharing the information.  I was surprised to learn that my most read post in 2011 was the one I wrote in May of 2009 on our Redwood Empire Rose Show.  I guess that tells me that I should be more diligent about reporting on the Rose Society.   And, of course, I will continue sharing events around Sonoma County and my travels.  I don’t expect much traveling this year but then, one never knows.

Just a quick report on the Sonoma County real estate numbers.  Here are some numbers comparing November 2010 to November 2011.  The months of inventory (meaning – at the rate houses are selling, how many months would it take to sell all the houses on the market if no new ones were added for sale) has dropped significantly from 5.9 months to 3.3 months.  This is an indicator that buyers are taking advantage of these great prices and low interest rates.  Another interesting fact is that while the average list price has increased from $616,000 to $773,000 (about a 25% increase), the averages sales price has only increased from $374,000 to $386,000 (only a 3% increase).  This tells us that more expensive houses are coming onto the market as owners realize that holding out for better prices may not be a good idea.  The lower priced homes are not getting any lower and the higher priced homes are seeing a price compression.

Maike in Kauai

This last week I have spent on Kauai with my granddaughter – oh, and her parents and my friend, Katy.  What a great way to spend Christmas – no hassle, no clean up, no expectations.  We have had a wonderful time and I may get to reporting on our activities here.  But now it is New Year’s Eve and I wish the very best of 2012 to all my readers, colleagues and friends.

View of Bali Hai from the St. Regis Beach

What does one do while waiting out a tsunami alert?

Happy Train Tourists - Keith and Ken

 

About 4:15 AM I received a phone call from my son, Chris, telling me that there was a tsunami alert for the Hawaiian Islands.  And – yes – that is where I am!  I would like to say that he woke me up but, alas, I still seem to wake each morning at 3 wondering what has happened to my life.  Well, hearing that a huge underwater wave was heading towards my vacation paradise, I jumped into action.  I turned on the TV and called the front desk.  “Vacate the property by 9” was the message.  Drats – I had a 9 o’clock massage scheduled since my massage on Wednesday did not happen as planned due to a mixup by the concierge.  This day was not going as planned.  I unceremoniously roused Ken and Keith and started packing up a week of vacation sprawl.  We took all of our possessions, a few pillows, towels and our Koloa rum that we purchased on our first day on the island.   By 6:30 AM, we were pulling out of the parking lot with only the advice to get to ground higher than Koloa Town.  

We first stopped in Puhi – a town that makes Forestville look like a metropolis.  Puhi boasts a gas station, a new bakery and an oriental diner plus a wine shop.  No, the wine shop was not open but we took advantage of all the other vendors.  The next challenge was to find shade to hunker down for a nap.  

It was then that we decided that the Kilohana Plantation, home to Gaylord’s Restaurant, had everything we needed.  We pulled into an empty employee parking lot with a wonderful tree canopy.  

Welcoming Sign on Kilohana Plantation

 

In only a short time there were a dozen additional cars in the parking lot and none of the folks looked like employees.  There was a nice public bathroom and plenty of benches on which to relax.  The shops were to open at 9:30 and entertainment was offered in the form of a vintage plantation train excursion.  

Vintage Narrow Gauge Railroad

 

The train wove amongst exotic fruits and grazing animals.  Horses, goats, pigs and chickens – all happy to live in a garden paradise.  I was not as impressed with the domesticated wild pigs as the other people on the ride but I did like the goats with their kids.  The children on the train had a grand time and no one was thinking about an oncoming tsunami.  

4 wild pigs were captured and now there are 50!

 

The train ride was over about the time the tsunami was to hit Hilo.  There was nothing specific on the internet and the radios scattered throughout the plantation seemed to be running the same old news over and over.  Why should we just sit in suspense?  It was lunchtime.  What better way to pass the time than to enjoy a couple of Mai Tais and a tasty lunch.  Believing that we would still have the opportunity to eat dinner at the Beach House, I settled for a small Ceasar Salad and a macadamia nut torte.  No need to pass on dessert when there is a question about dinner being available!   

After our wonderful lunch we utilized the pillows that were thrown into the car in the darkness of early morning, we took a nap in the car until word came that we could return to the evacuation area – our suite at the Marriott Waiohai Beach Club.  

The Welcoming Living Room at Kilohana

 

We are very thankful that this was just an exercise.  Our hearts go out  people of Chile who are dealing with destruction and loss.   Now it is time to get ready for the fabulous Beach House sunset.

Taking a Break from Life

With the need to move and all of the packing and hauling and stress that goes along with it, a break from life is really appreciated.  I could not give up my February time in Hawaii and last Friday headed to Honolulu.  I arrived midday and was wisked away from the airport by Fran and Joseph Patoskie, my Beachbody coach and great friends.  While there was a bit of rain throughout the day, it is nothing like the cold rain of February in Northern California.  The skies quickly cleared and we had a wonderful day of visiting a nursery, eating fresh fish by the water and visiting the construction zone known as their house.  I wish I had taken a picture of the retaining wall built to provide a backyard oasis.  I have always had retaining wall envy when I see a great wall and this one is exceptional! 

I settled into the Ala Moana Hotel for a luxurious stay.   It always helps to know someone in the hotel business to get a fabulous view.  Later in the day, the scene was full of sailboats with sails opened fully.

View from the Ala Moana Hotel

On Saturday, Fran and I spent the day sightseeing, eating and just catching up.  We went to the Polynesian Cultural Center.  If you have gone to a luau show, you will have seen most of the performances.  But the grounds were beautiful and the drive to the other side of the island was spectacular. 

Fran and I at the Cultural Center

The stop in Honolulu was just a short respite before heading on to Kauai.  I will be on the Garden Isle for only a short week but I am still finding it relaxing.  My friends, Ken and Keith, have joined me here and we are having a great time eating our way around the island.  In addition to eating at all my favorite places, we have done some sightseeing that is new to me even after all of these years of visiting Kauai.  

Hula Dancer on the Boat to Fern Grotto

I had never visited the Fern Grotto and off we went to see this very famous landmark.  The Grotto itself was a bit disappointing.  According to the guide, the ferns are only a small fraction of what they were before the 1992 Hurricane Iniki.  There are many fallen trees along the trail to the Grotto that show the devastation that Iniki left in her wake.  But the flowers are spectacular.  The trip was worth seeing the ginger in resplendent bloom.

Relaxing after a Wonderful Dinner at Gaylord's

 

Tomorrow I will post about our visit to one of the newest tours on the island, the Chocolate Farm Tour.  And then there is golf at Kauai Lagoons.  Check back throughout the week for more updates.

Zak Zaikine – December’s Artist Profile

Zak Zaikine

Press kits are not an everyday occurrence in my mailbox and often unsolicited materials are immediately relegated to the circular file in an attempt to eliminate clutter in my life.  So when I received a large envelope a couple of months ago, I immediately looked with skepticism at the elaborate addressing and sighed.  The return address was Zak Zaikine, artist of considerable talent and a name on my list of artists that I must meet.  The book that emerged from the plain manila encasing was a colorfully crafted tribute to one of my favorite places in the world, the Hawaiian Island of Kauai. The Magic of Hanalei Bay is the story of Kauai rain and wind, the chickens that survive in this environment and the mercreatures of the sea.  Inside was a personally inscribed message offering rainbows and blessings to me and my family.  A coy little chicken graces the middle of the inscription and holds a heart with the words “for you.”  The package was a hard sell that immediately grabbed my attention and warmed my heart.  Such was my second introduction to Zak Zaikine. 

I had first heard of Zak from Janet Charnofsky in 2006. (She was featured in this column in May, 2006.)  Janet gave me a greeting card with one of Zak’s whimsical images and suggested that I contact him.  “He is going through some health issues right now but please keep him in mind,” was Janet’s advice.  The card has been amongst my desktop collection for these three and a half years – reminding me that someday I will meet this young man with a flair for bright colors, fanciful images and apparently poor health.  Little did I know that this “young” man has produced art for over 60 years!  The vibrancy and joy in his paintings and children’s books reflect youth and optimism that is not anticipated.  But meeting Zak takes away all preconceived notions of age or health. 

The first thing that comes to mind when entering the lair of Zak Zaikine is that he loves to make art.  His art is everywhere and comes in all varieties.  The kitchen walls and surfaces are covered with ceramics (he has two kilns), sketches and metal figurines of Zak’s making.  As he leads the tour of his house, each room has a theme – although not necessarily adhered to – of a genre or era in his lifetime of creating.  He talks of making sculptures out of hangers in the 50’s and the famous patrons he has known over the years.  He reminisces about the house he built on Long Island and sold to Paul Taylor, the choreographer, because their numerology was compatible.  He beams as he speaks of his two daughters, Lynda and Anastasia.  He insists that the people who have cared for him during his struggle and recovery from MRSA and the loss of his leg be mentioned because without them, he would not be having this discussion today.

Zak was born in Queens, New York to immigrant Russian parents with the name Victor Eugene Zaikine.  His New York heritage is woven through his conversation as easily as his life in California.  He has resided in many places but Sonoma County is the final refuge that supports his desires to be in consort with the universe and partake of the fruits that abound.  While no part of his artist endeavors take a back seat to others, Zak’s current emphasis is on his children’s books.  In addition to The Magic of Hanalei Bay, two other books are currently available – A Mother’s Love, a story of kittens based on his experiences while living on a ranch outside of Healdsburg, and Eugene and the Magical Carrot Tree.  Any child would be delighted to have one or all of these books under the Christmas tree.  They are beautifully produced on recycled paper with soy inks.  You can purchase the books on Zak’s website www.zakzaikine.com or you can locate one of the many local galleries where Zak’s work is displayed.  I know that you will find signed books at Quicksilver Mining Company in downtown Forestville.

Zak’s large collection of art works is truly as magical as his stories.  I sincerely hope that you will take time in this busy holiday season to find a little magic.

In honoring Zak’s wishes to give praise to the many who have helped in his recovery, I am including this thanks from him.

My Healing could not have happened without the help of my Darling Daughter Anastasia, My Dear Friend Karin O’Keefe, My Friend and Acupuncturist David Walker, My Dear Friend and Neighbor Ron, Dr. Thomas Yatteau, Cheryl Caletti, N.P., Vicchi Oleski, Claude Smith, Rick Hobbs, Natalie Slanina, Adrianne Sinclair, Lorenzo De Santis, Shayne Cook, Bud D’Orazio, Elizabeth Draper, Joshua Muscat and Steve of Buffalo Direct.  Let these few represent the countless other folks in my extended community.


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