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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

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

Gourdeous Works of Art

I have long admired the work of Toni Best, a retired teacher. A couple of years ago my husband and I toured her house and studio where she does all her work. She teaches classes at home and around the country.

South Valley Artists' Studio Tour
Toni Best weaves a backdrop for one of her wood sculptures.

Active nationally Toni belongs to several national basketweaving organizations two of which include the National Basketry Organization (NBO) and the Handweavers Guild of America. She will be traveling to attend the NBO conference in July to display two pieces.

Free Form by Toni Best.

Toni Best, a Visalian, was one of the three featured gourd artists at the Exeter Art show that runs from April 14th to May 26th.

Diana Pearcy a Woodlake Artist

It’s so much fun to go to an art or an arts and crafts show and discover that people you knew in other settings are actually artists in disguise. That’s what happened this month at the Exeter Art Gallery and Museum.

gourd bowl woven with pine needles on the top.
Diana Pearcy from the Woodlake Foundation Gourd Artist next to her favorite piece.

What Do You Do with an Old Gourd?

You can poke and prod them, paint on them, oil them, coil rows of pine needles around the edges, and use your imagination to create almost anything.

Animal Totem made from gourds
Animal Totem by Diana Pearcy shows personality

Diana Pearcy grows her own gourds, her garden yielding over 3,000 gourds per season. She says they have different personalities, and we saw some of them on April 14th.

Gourd with maple leaf carved out
Maple Leaf

It’s hard to believe the same artist created these two very different pieces from gourds. This one might have been my personal favorite, although several others were close.

Female  gourd statue
Gourdeous! Spirit Shawl

Sam McKinney from Lindsay

Sam McKinney with her favorite piece
Sam McKinney with her favorite piece

Sam surprised me when we shook hands and she was not a man but a woman with amazing talent. Her time-consuming projects were vases rather than statues like Diana’s. This vase took front and center at the show. Sam’s work is almost like exotic clothing. I love the neckline and jewelry on this vase.

Free flow’s woven accessories and perfect eyelashes caught my eye.

Since I can’t even hold a pencil still for even a second, the thought of making all those little triangular marks in a perfect pattern made me swoon with envy.

This multi-sided vase is drilled and stippled, painted and carved. It would be beautiful with a digital flame inside. Sam, like Diana, also grows her own gourds.

gourd vase with beads
Cupid’s Arrow Beaded Gourd vase

At an art show at the Woodlake Airport on April 20th, my friend Jaime Beck drooled over the picture of Sam McKinney’s beadwork on this gourd. The perfect v or w pattern must have taken an enormous amount of patience to create.

When you come to the South Valley on your way to the Sequoia National Park, spend a few minutes of your weekend touring the Exeter Art Gallery and Museum. It’s open Saturday 10-4 and Sunday 12-4. They change art regularly so there is always something new to see. To enjoy more from this show check out their Facebook Group.

  • Animal Totem made from gourds
  • gourd vase with beads
  • carved gourd vase
  • gourd bowl woven with pine needles on the top.
  • Sam McKinney with her favorite piece
  • Female gourd statue
  • Gourd with maple leaf carved out

If you loved these, please press like, share the post, leave a comment or do all three. I love hearing from you. 🙂 Marsha 🙂

What to Do in April – Best of the Valley Quilt Show

Beyond the Average Tourist Stop

Furrnando approves this post.

To enjoy the Best of the Valley, set aside one weekend in April to come to the Central Valley. There’s a lot to do and experience beyond the average tourist stops. Mark your calendars for early April of each year. The 2019 show took place at McDermott Field House, or McDermott X, an amusement center in Lindsay, CA.

The regional show of quilts and cloth dolls featured 163 competition quilts, 83 dolls, 8 challenge quilts, 8 quilters by quilters 80 years old or older, and 9 quilts by quilters under the age of 18 for a grand total of 271 pieces of stitchery.

Introducing Carmen Friesen, Featured Artist for 2019

Sylvia, Connie, Carmen, and me, Marsha pose at the Best of the Valley Quilt Show.

This year my good friend Carmen Friesen from Strathmore, CA was the featured artist with over 30 quilts on display. She started seriously quilting about the time I met her in 2002.

One of my favorite quilts, The Story Teller, she made during that time. The simple style appeals to the old kindergarten teacher in me. Carmen told many stories to students during her teaching and consulting career.

table display of quilts

What makes Carmen an interesting artist is that she stretches herself and moves from style to style. She studies her art and takes classes from master quilters all over the country. In the picture alone, you see dolls, pieced quilts and applique. She also raises iris, which you can see peeping up at the back of the table.

quilted boot latitce square quilt
Lattice quilt with boot applique

After she retired, Carmen also took up horseback riding, bought a horse and even took a dude ranch vacation or two. For this quilt she couldn’t find the pattern that she wanted, so she used her own boot as a pattern.

Most of her quilts, Carmen quilts on a long arm machine. These garden kitties got special attention while Carmen hand quilted this piece. Several people at the show asked her if she could quilt something for them. She snickered to herself.

“They have no idea,” she told us. She told them, “You can’t afford me.”

There are few people who hand quilt anymore since it is so time-consuming. Even at pennies-an-hour a bed-sized quilt, quilted as intricately as most quilts are today, would cost hundreds, maybe thousands of dollars. Quilters today enjoy the modern conveniences of precise cutting, marking and sewing equipment. They turn out amazing works of art that their ancestors would have marveled to see.

My phone ran out of power before I could take all the pictures of Carmen’s quilts, but you can see more of her work in related articles.

Speaking of Ancestors

One of the quilts that caught my friends’ eyes was a Civil War-type quilt. I had to slow down and see what made them gawk. Trust me, those stitches were tiny, as were the triangles. Each tiny blue triangle that formed the larger triangle in the block had a different navy blue print.

Award Winning Quilts

This quilt, Heart of America, captured our attention for several minutes. The artist’s attention to detail made us go back for second and third looks. My friend Sylvia marveled at the flying birds. Connie loved the expression on the dog shivering in the snow not warm and cozy in the barn. Each square had too much to take in for a drive-by look. Artist, Sharon Engle won the Viewer’s Choice

Dolls

Girls love dolls, and there were some fabulous dolls at this show you would have loved to take home. My personal favorite did not win, but I kept going back to try to cheer him up. He had the same look as Furrnando, and my Puppy Girl. He looked little rough around the edges and needed a lot of love.

There were some wild women (dolls) at this showing and a few freaks! The third one over, Looking for the Isle of Guinea Pig, captured the Viewers Choice award for dolls.

Conclusion

The quilt show draws hundreds of viewers who love quilted art. If you are one of them, plan to come to the Central Valley in our most beautiful month of the year – April. Bring an empty suitcase because the vendors have some amazing gifts so you can stock up for Christmas and birthdays.

Find the Best of the Valley Regional Show of Quilts and Cloth Dolls on Facebook. You can learn more about the show on their website,
http://botvquilts.com/.

To make my day, leave me a like and share this post with other quilt lovers. 🙂

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2019: Where Are the Unknown Super Blooms in California?

The desert super blooms in California attracted thousands of tourists this year to the desert for the second time in three years. Some blooms get lots of publicity, “like the explosive color along the Fresno County Blossom Trail—and there’s more to come. From late winter through May, the blossoms will span across the coast and foothills, and by June and July, flowers will festoon the state’s highest mountains.

Here’s how to plan your prime flower-viewing this spring, listed in order of appearance. To track the latest on blooms, check updates from the Theodore Payne Foundation Wildflower website or the California State Parks wildflowers page.” from Visit California

Boyd’s Grade Super Bloom

On the back way to the Sequoia National Park, through a small community named Elderwood, up the hill to Badger, just past the Rodeo Grounds is a little known road called Boyd’s Grade. It winds down the foothills to the small Valley town of Cutler-Orosi. My husband and I chose this as our destination last week to check out the local super blooms.

One large patch of poppies waved from the side of the hill.

The afternoon skies sparkled with wispy clouds and the cool breezes keep the flowers from wilting in the warm spring sun. In the foothills around Woodlake and towards Three Rivers, you will happen on many delights as you round the corners of the lonely country roads.

Boyd’s Grade view

Bellavista Super Blooms


In spite of the pleasant drive, Boyd’s Grade disappointed me. We only found one strong display of wildflowers. Maybe we were too late to enjoy the poppies.

When we moved to Elderwood twenty years ago, Vince named our home Bellavista, Italian for a beautiful view. I’m obviously prejudiced but our display of larger blossoms at home spoiled me. Many private homes in the Central Valley foothill communities have stunning poppy displays in their yards. March blooms were still thin but in the cool spring temperatures they continued to reseed and grow.

Our kitty Porsche loves to hunt for bugs in the flower garden.

April found the poppies at home out in full bloom. The snapdragons wintered over from last spring and must have reseeded. That has never happened to us. Our cat Scardy enjoyed a cool place to sleep. He’s been guarding the garden for seventeen years, and it’s worn him out.

Dry Creek Road Super Blooms

Several friends recommended a drive up Dry Creek Road on the east side of Woodlake. I’ve been excited to drive up there before the hot weather sets in and wilts all the wildflowers. For those of you who don’t live near Woodlake, it is a town of about 7,000 people situated in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains about thirty minutes from Sequoia National Park.

Wicky-Up view from the parking lot.

My friend Monica grew up here, then did what most people do – she left and then returned to her ancestral home, Wicky-Up Ranch. She and her husband turned it into Woodlake’s only Bed and Breakfast. It is between Woodlake and Highway 198, the main road to Sequoia National Park.

Wicky-Up Ranch Bed and Breakfast – her 100+-year-old ancestral home. Enjoy this picture as a free puzzle.

Monica and I started at Wicky-Up and ventured on a photography shoot of Dry Creek Road. The last road before you turn left on Highway 198 to go to Sequoia National Park is Dry Creek Road. Turn left off Naranjo and prepare to be transported to a fairyland of beauty.

“The Valley of Dry Creek in Tulare County is better known and protected due to rare biotope – sycamore alluvial woodland community. In total there are only 17 such woodlands known in California and the one in Dry Creek is third largest and considered to be healthy. The area contains many species of rare plants.” Dry Creek Wildflower Meadows. Some of these flowers we could identify and some we couldn’t. I got help from two Facebook Groups, Plant Ident 101, and California Wildflower Tipline. They caused a flurry of debate. If you know what they are, please let me know.

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Travel Opportunities

If you are interested in travel, here in our Central Valley, or have someplace else on your bucket list, for a limited time I may be able to help you. We have a timeshare with more points than we can use. Contact me if you are interested in using our points to travel at a discount with no high-pressure sales pitch.

Ten Things to Do During Rose Season in Woodlake, California

Welcome to Woodlake Rose Garden

Manuel and Olga Jimenez transformed an abandoned railroad right-of-way and a weedy dam levee into a beautiful and unique garden more than twenty years ago. Now Kiwanis of Woodlake, Homegrown, Master Gardeners, and other non-profit organizations partner to help the City of Woodlake to maintain western section up to the gate to the Botanical Gardens now dubbed the Woodlake Rose Garden.

There is nothing quite like this collection of around 2,000 roses in all of the Central Valley and indeed, all of California. The question is how can you delight in and preserve such a treasure?

purple rose
Breathe deeply

#1 Smell the Roses

The first most obvious thing to do is to stop and smell the roses. Even though it is only a one-mile walk from the beginning of the rose garden all the way through to the back of the Woodlake Botanical Gardens, it will take a while to sniff over 2,000 roses. Take your time.

pink tinged yellow centered rose
Can you name this rose?

#2 Bring Friends

Bring your friends, dog on a leash, kids, or grandparents with you to walk or sit and enjoy a pleasant visit as you smell the roses. It’s romantic. It makes you think pleasant thoughts. Unwind, relax, and spend and make some “scents” out of life. 🙂

visitors enjoy the Woodlake Rose Garden
People of all ages find something to adore at the Woodlake Rose Garden.

#3 Take Photos and Videos

Bring your camera, phone, video recorder and take pictures. With over 2,000 roses and 134 varieties to savor, you don’t want to miss a shot. The gardens will look different the next time you come. Some of the roses change colors as they age.

Post your pictures in our new Facebook Group, Woodlake Rose Garden.

mixed color roses on the same bush
Yellow roses on a mixed rose bush

#4 Picnic at the Garden

Enjoy a picnic. Find a cool spot. Watch out for insects. Don’t forget to pick up your trash. There are trash cans at the gardens, but they fill up fast, so bring a trash bag and take it home with you to toss.

spider enjoying a yellow rose
Watch out for insects.

#5 Enjoy Bravo Lake

Walk, ride a bike or a horse, or run around the Bravo Lake, the secret lake behind the levees. Used mostly for irrigation purposes, it’s about three miles around the perimeter of Bravo Lake. If you feel ambitious, do it twice. Smile and say hi to everyone you see. Woodlake is the town with true western hospitality.

walkers at Bravo Lake
Path at Bravo Lake

#6 Pick Up Trash

Speaking of trash, it happens. If you see someone littering, point out that they dropped something. If you didn’t see it happen, take a trash bag and beautify the garden yourself. Bending is an effective exercise for flattening your tummy and burning off your picnic lunch. (Unless you use trash pinchers.)

kids pick up trash
Here is the Kiwanis/Builders Club de-trashers standing in the Botanical Gardens.

#7 Help Weed

Bring a spade and stop and dig weeds for a while. While the City of Woodlake owns and is responsible for Garden maintenance, it’s much too much work for their small staff. Each area of the garden is maintained by different non-profit groups. Weeds grow faster than all of the groups can get rid of them. So don’t be afraid to pull crabgrass, johnsongrass, and morning glory. If you get close to the rose bushes it helps to have long leather gloves or sleeves to protect your arms.

tea rose with weeds
Pull those weeds.

#8 Identify Roses

Help identify the roses. We don’t know what all of the 130 varieties are. Send your identification ideas to woodlakekiwanis@gmail.com or Message Kiwanis of Woodlake on Facebook. or post a picture in our Woodlake Rose Garden Group.

pink roses
Cluster of pink roses Enjoy an online puzzle of this picture. April Rose Garden 110 puzzle on TheJigsawPuzzles.com

#9 Donate

Remember the Woodlake Rose Garden. Make a donation to Kiwanis of Woodlake or Woodlake Pride to maintain or build up the gardens.

blooming cactus
Don’t be like these prickly turkeys. Stick your neck you and donate.

#10 Remember Your Visit

Turn your pictures into gifts, or purchase a Traveling and Blogging gift to remember the garden. Puzzles, Playing Cards, or other gifts made from photos.

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One Last Thing Before You Go!

Didn’t you love the roses? You might not get to visit Woodlake Rose Garden but the ten ideas work almost anywhere you go, so I hope you try at least one of them.

Before you go, drop me a line, and let me know you’re still alive. Leave me a like and/or a comment, Like my Facebook Page, Always Write. It’s always fantastic to hear from you. 🙂

Are Your Vacations Chill?

Three Ways to Ensure that Your Vacations Are Stress-Free

Go Constantly or Smell the Flowers?

Smell the frangipanis.

One thing my husband hates when we travel is someone who wants to go-go-go the entire time we are on the road because there are so many things we MUST see. Driving in strange places can be stressful. If he plans one or two excursions per day, he stays calm. Other people like to plan excursions, fortunately, I’m not one of them. I can adapt pretty well to what makes others happy. No one has asked me to climb Yosemite with no ropes, so I’m good.

If you have the opposite kind of personality, then it’s nice to be in a group so that the take-it-easy folks have company while they relax, and you and the kids (of any age) have someone to have a great time with until everyone winds down.

Plan for Down Time

We love to travel with friends who play cards at night. We can take our entertainment somewhere there is music and lots of people, or enjoy a game in our spacious room. Some people pack books, others watch television, others love to walk. It’s great to be close to what you enjoy doing. Some of our friends golf, our son hikes, and bikes. Our resort in Sedona, AZ is perfect for both of them. Do you love to cook with friends? That’s why we love our timeshare. All the units have kitchens and usually a place to barbeque. You can enjoy the ambiance of the location and the comfort of home at the same time.

Don’t take selfies at the Grand Canyon. It will give the people in your party heart attacks. Two people died that way the week we visited Sedona. I couldn’t sleep that night and I didn’t know them.

Research and Discuss Your Ideas of Fun with Your Companions Ahead of Time

Have some ideas about what you want to do and see in the area even if you don’t get to do it. My husband had to wait for a couple of trips before we finally took a helicopter ride over Maui because the people with us did not want to go. When we finally took the plunge, the woman in the backseat of the helicopter was like I was on horseback – in tears the entire ride. We didn’t know her, but it’s stressful for everyone when someone doesn’t speak up about their fears.

Escape the Heat
Pier at Newport, OR

My brother and I took a very calm boat excursion. He never mentioned that he would get as deathly seasick as he did. He could not walk! He wanted me to have a good time and I was excited about going. I wasn’t prepared, but someone else on the boat gave him a Dramamine, and he calmed down somewhat.

A Traveling and Blogging Near and Far Puzzle

Want to Make the Most of Your Vacation Memories?

Turn your images into playing cards or puzzles. Here is a link to set of playing cards I made of a trip to Kings Canyon National Park.
As a gift, they are no more expensive than buying a trinket that doesn’t have much meaning to you and your companions, but if you have a photograph that you love, turn it into something fun rather than just a book. Check out Traveling & Blogging puzzles. Make one of your own, or buy one of ours.

Book a Discounted Vacation Through Traveling & Blogging Near & Far

We have some extra points with Diamond Resorts that we are not going to use this year. I have one vacation to Hawaii already booked, which I can’t use. Check it out! But I still have points that I have to use this year. I can’t bank them all, so YOU can use them! Where would you love to go? I may be able to book you a beautiful suite for much less than the cost of a hotel room.