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One of the Top Places to Visit in Maui, HI

Iao Valley State Park

I met a wonderful woman while battling the Hawaiian surf old-lady style.  On our last day there she told me about Iao Valley State Park where we had not visited.  So before we went to the airport we spent an hour or more hiking around this park wondering how in the world the ancient warriors ever hid behind this needle.

Watch your step; 133 steps to the lookout point!

So up we go to see this big needle that was a famous hiding ground for ancient warriors.  It’s so steep that we wondered what they did before these steps were here?

The climb was easy because we both stopped frequently to take pictures.  I got sidetracked by a spider web sparkling in the sun that wouldn’t cooperate.  Needle-like FOCUS Marsha.  (Self-talk is good.)

The vista was splendid and we are not even close to the viewing area!

Viewpoint Headquarters

This lookout point is as far as the paved public trail takes you. Still, we were not very close to the Needle.  So how DID those warriors get there?  It’s still quite a climb.

What goes up, must come down.

And what a journey down was.  It wasn’t raining while we were there, but the lush vegetation suggested that it rained often.

They don’t bother to post “Watch your step” signs here! (where it’s much more needed than on the safe stairs!)

Kids frolicked in the water.  I don’t advise walking on boulders with cool river waters gurgling over them especially over the falls!

There was something for everybody at this park.

Is he looking for the Needle? He’s not even close to the Haystack!!
It’s an easy walk down to the floor of the valley.


The day was hot, about 86 degrees and muggy, so a splash of cool water from the stream felt good. There were plenty of cool rocks to sit and rest before starting back up to the parking lot.

One traveler from California enjoys the cool Hawaiian weather. It was probably over 110 in Bakersfield California that day.

At the end of the trail, we sat in the shade and watched the vog roll in.  Vog results from the smoldering volcanic ash from a nearby island. Natives say that it’s no healthier for you than smog, but it’s a lot prettier. We sat and breathed it in for a while just to get a feel for the place.

The Needle

With a needle this big, who needs a haystack?  I have to say, this needle is a little disturbing.  Cross my heart and hope not to die, I wouldn’t want IT in MY eye.

Google Map Iao Valley State Park

Related Hawaii Stories

Beat the Summer Heat – Vacation in Hawaii Aug. 18-25, 2019

My husband Vince and I own a timeshare with Diamond Resorts. I’ve already booked this luxury Hawaiian resort, Ka’anapali Beach Club, my favorite place in Maui for seven nights. At $150 per night, it’s less than Expedia – $199 per night. August 18-25, 2019. This offer at this price is good until May 19th.

Luxury Hawaiian Vacation Resort

No longer available! Stay seven nights at the Ka'anapali Beach Club in Maui for seven nights. At $150 per night Seniors 55 and over are 10% off.

$1,050.00

Winter Garden in Central California

Evening comes early now in Elderwood, CA. Mornings are chilly, yet the sun is still hot in the afternoon. It seems to be the perfect time of year to enjoy the fruits of winter gardening.

Many varieties of lettuce planted from nursery sets grow across the isle from broccoli planted from seeds.

I am not a gardener, but as a kid, I loved playing in the dirt. Nothing changed as I aged except now I have the time and space to play again. Each year I learn something new.

Vince read an article the other day that talked about growing enough food on an acre to make $20,000 a year. It told me to plant my plants much closer that they are supposed to be and to intersperse varieties. You can see in my broccoli bed above, I planted spinach and Swiss chard. Right now it looks pretty and sparse. That will probably change.

You can see at the end of my box some very healthy, happy onion sets in neat rows, those that the cats didn’t rearrange. Last year I learned that gophers love onions. For breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Every day I would find a new fatality. This year I planted the sets in a raised bed with wire netting on the bottom to keep out those silly pests.

The rest of the box has not yet fully transitioned to a winter garden. I can’t bear to remove the marigolds. Last year I pulled off thousands of marigold flowers and kept ALL their seeds. I stored them in a clear plastic bag and only a few of the seeds escaped the solar cleansing of their sprouting power. This was one of the hardy few seeds that bore children.

Basil seeds, on the other hand, survived the Ziploc bags and are ubiquitous. The basil will wilt at the first frost, but they are all volunteers and I have more seeds than you can imagine. I cut them and keep them inside for Caprese salads, a favorite in an Italian household. The lemongrass seems indestructible. Along with cilantro, these spindly hairs of flavor spice up an Asian salad. Spinach and dill are reluctant to sprout. I’ve planted them both from seed packets I bought.

Vince wanted only flowers this year in this garden.

The pictures aren’t close up enough to show you that I do have a few flowers sprinkled in with the new strawbabies that I just planted yesterday from all the runners. I still have about 100 runners to plant somewhere if you’d like some strawberries for next spring.

I lined peas along the fence. The green starfish looking plant with light purple flowers at the end of the strawberries is a gift from my friend Sally.

I am also propagating more Mexican pansies that Manuel Jimenez cut from plants in the Woodlake Botanical Garden. The new ones sticking up against the fence behind the cauliflower look wilted now, but by spring I’m hoping that some of them make it. They have beautiful purple flowers and are very invasive, so if you have them, they are like mint – hard to remove.

Kale, hollyhocks may be in danger from either the ant, grasshopper or the truck, but I’m rooting for the plants to win.

I like to experiment, but not in an organized, scientific-write-everything-down way. A friend gave me some mint plants years ago. They took over my blueberries, so I tore them all out.

They still grew into a forest on the other side of the fence in my neighbor’s yard. I love the smell and the taste of them so I cut a few of them that started to invade my blueberry bushes again and stuck them into leftover pots. Guess what? You can’t kill them! They’re back. On the plus side, I hear that mint makes you lose weight. I guess it would if that’s all you ate.

In the picture below, you can see that I did plant some snapdragons for Vince. I planted two rows of spinach seeds to be a nice green contrast. Interestingly, cosmos, which had been planted this summer sprang up when I started watering, not spinach. And they didn’t stick to the nice straight rows I thought I had planted. Who knows what happened to all those spinach seeds.

Even the seeds love to frolic in the dirt. The flats of flowers I buy from the nursery are much better behaved.

Today I raked leaves to make a light blanket for the seedlings. I’ve heard that leaf mold is an excellent soil builder.

The cauliflower plants are big enough to see over the mounds of mulberry leaves, but I had to scratch a hole in them to find the strawberry plants.

Even though my garden is more walkway than garden, it’s amazing how many plants we can fit into this small space. My tiny garden produces much to keep me munching for the next few months. Imagine planting an entire yard as a garden!

So, are you gardening this winter? Or if you’re in Australia, this summer?

New Lease on Life

Lovely bouquet from our kids. Thanks, Jason and Carrie. They are my favorite colors. 🙂

In my last post three months ago I shared that I had a successful lumpectomy to remove a stage one cancer in my left breast. Before the words had left the doctor saying that they got it all, she called back to say that the margins were not clear.

Not to worry, I was still stage two minus the lymph involvement and all I needed was a total mastectomy, but no chemo and radiation. I felt calm. Besides, I didn’t have much to lose.

I did not want to have the second surgery right away since it seemed like such a low risk and I had so much going on this fall. Friends advised me otherwise, and I’m glad they did. The cancer had riddled the breast, so waiting probably wouldn’t have been too wise.

Today I report that I have survived for over 48 hours of that procedure. My husband told the staff at the hospital that the main thing they could do for me in the hospital was to “feed me.” I want to thank the wonderful nurses at St. Agnes Hospital in Fresno. I remember Elsa and Melba, Caesar and Jen. Vince is trying to do the work of about 4 people! Pray for him.

An accidental shot of my lovely hospital gown.

I think my husband has survived but maybe not as well as I have. I want to thank the many friends who have brought food and sent well wishes. They mean more than you know unless you’ve been in this position. Or as Carol would say, “posi.”

I can do limited things. Eat, sleep, walk, play on the computer, watch tv, take the pain and antibiotic meds, repeat.

My main worries are: falling on my owie, (I did that the first time!) eating too much great food, and wearing out the welcome of my generous friends and hubby.

I still don’t know whether the stage or grade has changed, but either way, I have clear margins this time. At least so far.

Everyone asks me if I’m nervous. Honestly, I have not really worried about the surgery or outcomes thanks to my faith in God and the many, many prayers that have gone out for me. I trust that the outcome will be what He wants for me.

It has been a blessing to be in His care.

Wishing you all the best in your lives, and don’t panic if something like this or worse happens to you. God is able to comfort and care for you, too.

The Next Stage of the Journey into the Unknown

https://www.touro.com/blogs/2017/july/hidden-scar-breast-cancer-surgery-at-touro/

Stage One Diagnosis

You find out you have cancer, do all the research, schedule treatment and wait. I love my doctor in Fresno, CA, Dr. Hadcock. She moved me up so that between diagnosis and surgery there were only seventeen days!

Stage Two Treatment

For me, the beginning treatment was surgery, a lumpectomy, biopsy of two lymph nodes, nuclear medicine, a gamma probe and placement of a Biozorb.

“Intraoperative gamma detection uses gamma particles emitted by radioactive isotopes from within the body to pinpoint tissue during surgery. By targeting specific tissue, treatments and procedures can be minimally invasive, are associated with lower complication rates, and can lead to better patient outcomes. ” https://www.mammotome.com/procedures/gamma-detection/

Less is better as far as I am concerned!

Biozorb https://www.thehealthjournals.com/biozorb-leaves-mark-breast-cancer/

A Biozorb looks like a spring with metallic markers that is placed where the cancer was, a little marker. It allows the doctor to keep an eye on things, so to speak. Eventually, it deteriorates leaving only the markers behind. They promised me I won’t set off any detectors at the airport.

During the first step of surgery, a doctor and technician marked Dr. Hadcock did surgical area by inserting two wires on either side of the tumor. Then they took four mammograms. The numbing agents weren’t entirely successful, but it was liveable – as evidenced by the fact I am writing about it twenty-four hours after surgery.

By nine-thirty a.m. Hector was wheeling me into a bright, operating room crowded with equipment. The surgeon and anesthesiologist awaited me as Hector helped me scoot from his cart to the operating table. Since I have old twisty veins, the anesthesia entered me painfully, but within seconds I didn’t care.

The next time I saw a clock it looked like two in the afternoon, but it was actually only ten after twelve. Vince told me that I had asked to come home. (Who knows, I thought they were nuts letting me leave so soon after I woke up.)

By twelve-thirty the nurse and my husband had dressed me, bundled me in a blanket, and loaded me like a sack of potatoes into the car. Anesthesia can make you do strange things and it still had a hold on me for quite a few hours. I cried all the way home and had a panic attack when my dog came out to greet me.

Stage Three – Recovery

My advice is not to text anyone while under the influence of the anesthetic. I felt like I was in the Twilight Zone. I moved my finger some random way and when I listened to my voicemail messages. Every message was from my brother. Then I finally got one without his voice from my surgeon. After that, every message I pressed was her voice.

When I tried to show Vince, the voicemails on my phone belonged to the correct people.

One message I received was a call from a reporter at the Visalia Times-Delta asking about the Kiwanis July Third Blast. Wisely I did not to return his phone call. Instead, I texted Linda about it, got the phone number mixed up and couldn’t figure out his name because his voicemail the second time was my brother’s voicemail. So don’t text while under the influence!

It has now been exactly twenty-four hours since surgery. I’m able to think again. I can eat and drink normally. My dog is no longer traumatized by my lack of attention and is sleeping on her chair next to the window. Vince is out running errands, and I am blogging.

Some people have to wear a drain. I was lucky. https://mastheadpink.com/product/elizabeth-surgical-bra/

Other than being totally inactive except for walking around a bit, life is back to normal. I’m wearing a cute pink velcro infested bra that holds me in rather than making me look voluptuous. I have a cute heart-shaped pillow printed with kittens under my arm at all time which I carry like a handbag filled with a million dollars in cash.

Best of all, I thought I was cancer-free for the moment.

Then the surgeon called back today and informed me of the biopsy results. The lymph nodes are clear of cancer, but the tumor was three centimeters instead of one and that the margins were not all clear.

That means that the cancer is now categorized as stage two, grade one, but slow-growing. It also means that I will have to go back into surgery and have a mastectomy.

Stage Four – Helping Others

Those of you who have had breast cancer have helped me go through this last seventeen days with calm assurance. Thank you especially to Jean Butler, Linda Hengst, and Donna Davis who have been through this before.

Thanks to Vince, for hanging in there with me and caring for me. And thanks to all my friends who have come by, called me and wished me well.

I can only hope that I will offer as much support to others when the time comes, as my many friends both with and without cancer have done for me.

A Journey into the Unknown

Only about 12 percent of women in their lifetime will take this journey. I’m one of the chosen ones.

Time for a Trip to the Beach

I’ve never gone to a nude beach or even a topless one. I’ve never even been tempted. In fact, it would be so embarrassing, I don’t think’ I’d ever recover.

For the last two years, my mammogram reports told me that I have dense breasts. I took that as a compliment. A big improvement, I thought and bragged about them to my friends. Wahoo! Time for a trip to the beach! Finally, something to show off.

A busty friend of mine laughed, “Me too!”

That was a good sign. Maybe they were finally growing after 65 years, but I wasn’t ready for the big reveal yet. They still seemed about the same to me.

A year later she was diagnosed with breast cancer. She went in for Brachytherapy, had a little insert and five days of intensive radiation directly on the spot and poof, all good again.

That was her, this is me. No worries.

Sometime between this year and last year’s mammogram, I noticed a dimple in my left breast. Should I have rushed back and had another mammogram??? It was just a little dimple. I love dimples, and I’ve put on a few pounds so I didn’t think a thing about it. Apparently, my decision was wrong.

Don’t Assume

On June 11 the W.I.S.H. clinic in Fresno called me with the news that I have breast cancer.

https://www.breastcancercare.org.uk/information-support/facing-breast-cancer/diagnosed-breast-cancer/primary-breast-cancer

Not that it will mean anything to you and it’s TMI but I’m going to bore you anyway. Clinically I have a Stage IT1cN0M0 Grade 1ER+ (estrogen) PR+ (progesterone) and her2-

What does all that mean? The surgeon explained it as she scribbled it on my report for me but I still had to google it.

Tumor size (T)

  • T1—Smaller than 2 cm (about 1 inch) Of course, I only have about five inches by two inches of breast tissue altogether on a good day. So that’s about 10-20% for me. The surgeon said, “You might be a bit asymmetrical after surgery. Vince kindly said, “I love asymmetrical!”

Nodes (N): Lymph nodes under the arm and neck

  • N0—No lymph node involvement

Metastases (M): means whether cancer has spread outside the breast and underarm, or “metastasized”

Seriously, I thought, “No biggie. Just get it done, recuperate for a couple of weeks and get on with life. Why does everyone get so worked up about a simple lumpectomy?

A simple lumpectomy followed by six weeks of radiation five days a week, then an anti-hormone drug for five to seven years. Then, if I’m still alive, I’m done, unless it comes back.

Unexpected Obstacle on the Journey

Moji says, “I’m clean. I wash myself every day.”

Okay, even that’s not bad, very doable. But then I found out that I have to stay completely away from my kitties. Now that hurt! They can’t get on my lap or anywhere close to my face.

They have nasty dander.

I can’t clean litter boxes. Now that’s a shame, don’t you think?

I can’t do anything for a week after surgery. No dishes, no making the bed, no vacuuming, no watering the garden, not even walking the dog. I can work in the garden, though if I don’t lift anything. That’s easy, right?

“And you’re going to feel good,” Cindy, the adorable PA said.

“I do everything anyway,” Vince quipped. “A whole week? Really?”

“You can watch tv and read, but only spend an hour on the computer. You need to walk around every hour or so. You can’t exercise until the surgeon tells you it’s okay. Gosh, it’s like a vaca.

I can’t eat at a smorgasbord restaurant. That limits things in rural Woodlake. Vince won’t go near one anyway. Too many hands in the food for my sweet germaphobe.

One in Eight Women Will Go on this Journey

https://utswmed.org/medblog/why-breast-cancer/

My surgeon told me to tell my friends not to ignore the signs like I did. As an obedient patient, I’m telling you my story so you will be careful. Most women don’t die from breast cancer because it’s treatable. But look at how involved it is to have the lowest grade and stage of a slow-growing type of cancer.

So as I start this journey, feel free to share your experiences with me, and through me, with others that might one day have to go on the journey themselves. See you along the path.

Welcome to Sequoia Country, Travelers

Summer is here and it’s time to take off for parts known or unknown – cooler, warmer, more remote, more culture something new and different, or familiar. Where are you going this summer?

Kings Canyon National Park in 2018

Central California may be hot, but there are plenty of cool places to hang out to escape the heat. The Sequoia, Yosemite and Kings Canyon National Parks are all within a few hours driving distances from Visalia, Fresno and each other. Everyone knows Yosemite, but have you been to Kings Canyon and Sequoia?

That’s not all. Kaweah Lake in the heart of the Sierra Nevada Foothills is a sporting destination on the way to the Sequoia National Park. If you get to Three Rivers, CA, you passed it. You can’t miss over one hundred acre-feet of water, though.

Have You Tried Kayaking?

Kayaking on Kaweah Lake

Last year my adorable neighbors, Diane and Selena, treated me to a fabulous day at Lake Kaweah, less than thirty minutes from where I live. Lake Kaweah serves as a reservoir for irrigation, flood control, electric power source, and fishing and boating destination

If you are like me and used to seeing the land only, you might try a different perspective this year and hop into a kayak. Getting into and out of the kayak is a bit tricky, but once you get in, time melts away as the water laps up against the side of the boat.

See my paddle keeping me from going in circles?

The temperature on July sixth was a cool 9o degrees by late morning, so we wore plenty of sunscreen, but didn’t feel the heat. It’s a large body of water, so we had room to roam. Selena took off leaving us in her wake, circling back to check on her mother and me every so often to make sure that I didn’t spend all my time going in circles.

We Could Have Been Explorers

We could have been explorers.

There were so few people on the water when we arrived that we could have been explorers from another era seeing the mountains and foothills for the first time. If you know the history of the area, though, you would know that this lake never existed until Terminus Dam was completed in 1961. Before the Corps of Engineers built the dam, floods devastated the downstream communities. The most one-hundred-year flood in recent history occurred in 1955.

Kaweah Lake Water Levels Fluctuate

Water levels in the lake fluctuate.

You can see the water levels marked clearly on this foothill. There are many levels below what you see here. What you don’t see are the whole trees and parking lots buried under the water.

Last year the water level was high because of the enormous amount of rain we had during the 2017-18 rainy season. In wet years, even though the lake is full in July, the Corps of Engineers makes sure that the dam doesn’t break by releasing water all summer. By September the water levels decrease significantly, although boats still dot the surface. You can see that the water level was near record level last year.

Near record level water in the summer of 2018

During the 2018-19 season, Central California had about eight inches of participation. That’s below the average of ten inches, but not a bad number. I haven’t been up to the lake for a while to take pictures this year, but when the lake is full they let out a lot of water for most of the summer to control for melting snow coming from the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Our canals, which farmers rely on for irrigation, are full this year.

Relaxing Before Disaster Strikes

Watch out! I can’t steer this thing!

Don’t overlook the simple outdoor pleasures near you this summer. Learning and trying new things broadens and enriches your life and keeps you young. However, I’m glad you didn’t see me Selena trying to get me out of the kayak. 🙂

You’re right, I didn’t help much. Thanks to Diane and Selena who made this trip possible.

Tell me what you have planned for this summer.