Star Date:  December 2014
Hawaii and Laos


Hello Dear Family & Friends!



(Hello, Good-bye, Love in Hawaiian language)





"You'll encounter many obstacles along the road to living your dreams. Some obstacles may be real, some imagined, some may be tangible, and some may be intangible. Some of those obstacles will be created by others, and some will be self-imposed. However they manifest, you will always be given the choice as to whether you give them power."
(~Francine Ward)


Dreams.  Never lose sight of our dreams.  Dreams are a bridge between reality and the illusion which we seem to get caught in.  The human storyline trudges on and we get swept along, not connecting with our true self or remembering our dreams. "I'll do that later but later often doesn't come.  Do it Now!  Seems we must continuously remember all we have to be thankful for and move in the direction of our dreams.  Know that "Whatever is needed is already in process." Bumps in your road or obstacles are inevitable along the way, that's what life is about.  Relax into life, giving power only to those things we deem important.  Enjoy the journey towards your dreams!

One of my dreams is realized whenever I visit our dear family and friends in Hawaii.  The warm tropical breezes and slow pace envelops me in a wave of love.  Pele, the Hawaiian Volcano goddess of creation, welcomes me home and gives me time to sort out and discover my true feelings and emotions.  The Big Island, called the island of Hawaii, is an island being created as we speak.  Molten orange lava is flowing from bubbling calderas towards the ocean, creating a larger land mass. The poor little town of Pahoa, in Puna, is directly in the current path of this lava flow.  Slowly it creeps closer and no one knows what Pele will once again claim as her own.  Mauna Kea is already the planet's largest mountain, 57,000 feet from the base below the ocean to the 14,000 ft summit.  Containing 21 of a possible 22 global climate zones on our island of Hawaii, it is always fun to laze on a warm tropical beach in the morning, enjoy the expansive ranchland of Waimea in the afternoon and venture up to the top of Maunea Kea at sunset; amid snow, cool winds and the impressive interstellar observatories perched on top.  Above the clouds, looking down on the powerful creation of this large island; amid the expansive Pacific Ocean, gives a sense of peace and connection with all that is.

Taking over 12 hours to drive around the Big Island it is possible to experience all the climate zones; each with unique vegetation and geomorphology.  From temperate fruit and koa trees on the higher slopes of these massive mountains, down to coffee plantations, vegetable gardens and finally ending with lower tropical coconut trees, mangoes, papayas and pineapples; this is an island of contrast.  The oceans are a playground for fishermen, swimmers, paddlers, surfers and sailors alike.  We always spend time hiking in different mountain and valley areas, covering ocean to forest.  From snow to rain to mist to spring like weather to hot sunshine it is all there.  Just choose a climate zone, dress accordingly, and enjoy what unfolds.  When the kids were growing up we always carried a bag in the trunk full of everything from bathing suits to a 'hoody' for cooler weather- just in case.  Flexibility here and in life in general always pays off.

Highlights this year were hiking back to the 1000 ft waterfalls in the back of Waipio Valley, scrambling over rocks, along slippery cliff sides and swimming through the deep cold river six times to reach our goal and back.  Exhilarating.  The family hiked the extensive trails of Kaloko Park many times and lazed and picnicked on stunning beaches from the Harbor to Honaunau to Pine Trees, to Beach 69 to Hapuna to the Northern beaches of Hawi.

Heading over to visit my Mom in her Hale on the NE corner of the island we explored verdant "Mud Lane", Waipio Valley and the environs of our favorite miniature horse and the four llamas in pajamas.  Time with family and friends to bond and catch up is always a real gift.  We have all been through many chapters together and are thankful that we can share time once again.  Besides there is always time for dessert, chocolate and sharing.  If not we need to rethink our priorities.  I was able to spend time with Mariah and her classes at her forward thinking Kona Pacific Waldorf School, chaperoning on a field trip to Hawi and later telling stories of animal adventures in Africa; while her classes drew pictures.  Kevin also has excelled in his career as a realtor and though busy, took time off to hang with his Mom and go on a couple of fun adventures together.

Ho Ho Ho!  Kayla and I baked a pink Princess Elsa Castle cake (from Frozen fame) for her 5th birthday party at the beach, complete with pizza, games, swimming and oodles of little bopping birthday friends.  Christmas Day was her real birthday and we hosted a fun family gathering at Shane and Mariah's lovely home, overlooking the ocean.  Guests of honor were our British Columbia in-laws or outlaws: Roger, Angela, Brynn and Aaron.  So fun to catch up after 18 years!!  At the last minute I even opened my little Grandma's cedar chest to set the table with her hand crocheted table cloth, blue depression glass cups and silverware.  From another lifetime long ago, it added a special, warm touch to this grand celebration.  My little Grandma's home was always the center for our family Christmas gathering while I was growing up in the snows of northern Wisconsin.  Then it was my home in B.C. and Hawaii.  Now Mariah and Shane have invited us into their home to carry on with old traditions and make new traditions together.

Christmas morning was a flurry of activities as extremely excited Kaimana and Kayla spotted gifts from Santa, unloaded bulging stockings hung by the window and tore through brightly colored packages from under the now traditional little tree.  If we could have harnessed that energy it would solve the world's energy crisis for generations to come!

Spending time with my Mom at her place in Honokaa is always fun and visiting at Christmas time has the added bonus of Christmas carols, hula and bell ringing, parties and bingo.  My brother, Paul, was able to visit for a week.  We had a great time catching up, visiting my Mom, and enjoying his niece Mariah and nephew Kevin and great niece and nephew.  Time flies!   Seems like only yesterday that we were brother and sister fishing, catching frogs or playing at the 'shack' on the County Line Road.  My Mom's advice this year on what's important in life was: "Do what you have to do and Damn it - Just Do It!"  She has never liked whining and has always quietly, without complaining, helped those around her.  She walked her talk.

We took my Mom out for a family Christmas/birthday celebration at Mauna Lani Resort on Christmas Eve, Mariah's 37th birthday. What an enjoyable day singing Christmas carols en route and gathering for fun, food and smiles.  My Mom was in fine form and enjoyed being surrounded by family, friends and great grandchildren.  90 years old and still teaching us to "Smile and lighten up - Life really is funny!"  An inspiration.

Watching the grandchildren, Kayla, 5, and Kaimana, 2, grow into beautiful, creative, lively beings is such a treat.  It is hard to only see them once a year but our time together is valuable, loving, fun and full of heart warming memories.  Wisdom on both sides of the spectrum. The circle of life, my Mom at 90 reminds us to lighten up and smile and the young grandkids remind us to enjoy the Now.  Who knows what will happen in their storyline from age 2 until 90?  Hopefully they can follow their dreams along the way.

While visiting this Holiday season Joseph headed north to Laos from Bangkok while I flew through Korea to Hawaii.  Together 24/7 while traveling it is good to take divergent paths occasionally.  Laos is a landlocked country in Southeast Asia, sharing its borders with Burma, Cambodia, China, Vietnam, and Thailand. Despite the fact that it remains among the poorest nations in the world; Laos has managed to conjure up its individuality on a global scale.  Laos is lesser known to people than Thailand, its sister country, but Laos has its own simple but unique culture which has attracted tourists and travelers alike.  All but destroyed during the Vietnam war this country still harbors thousands of unexploded bombs and land mines keeping remote travel to well trodden paths and roads.  A sad chapter of history indeed. 

With stunning landscapes and a natural simplicity of the people this is a destination in SE Asia to check out.  Interesting temples dot the landscape and elephants, the national animal, still roam the country side.  The Mekong River is also known as Mae Nam Khong, which translates to ‘mother of all rivers’.  The Mekong River forms a vital transportation route for people here and helps in generating electricity, irrigating crops and fishing.  The country has been influenced by a number of cultures and countries. In the year 1945, the Japanese took over the country for a brief time but the French regained the control till they announced Laos to be a free country in the year 1949. 

The climate of the country primarily depends upon the two major winds which blow through Laos twice a year. From May till October, winds from the Indian Ocean bring heavy rainfall to this place, but later when it changes direction, winds originating from China are hot and dry, which blow from November till April.  Though Laos is among the poorest countries of the world, the people here have found the way to happiness by accepting Buddhism as their major religion. Buddhism helps them in finding joy in simple living.


And so it goes.........................................Next month Bangkok, the vibrant capitol of Thailand, and a train trip through the length of the country to the southern provinces.  Until then Keep Smiling and remember to never lose sight of our dreams.  Do it Now as Later may not come!  Take care and Keep in Touch!


Love, Light & Laughter, 

xoxoox  Nancy & Joseph



Travel notes:

1 US Dollar equals
8119.95 Laotian Kip

$1.00US = a little less each year!

Ventienne #56-21 213 679
Mixay Guesthouse - by the river and around the corner from Fatimas Indian Restaurant


Under the Bodhi Tree in the Mauna Lani Shopping Center
Great Veggie drinks and light meals

Big Island of Hawaii:

Interested in real estate in Hawaii?  Let hardworking, professional, top salesman,  Kevin find the right place for you!

Kevin Walmsley - Realtor®,(S)

Connect on Facebook / Connect on LinkedIn


For a fascinating and inexpensive look "Under" Hawaii email
Ric or Rose at: for directions.

The Big Island of Hawaii is exactly that - BIG.  We have tried to highlight a few more of the spectacular beaches, hikes and drives to keep you busy while visiting.  Where else can you go swimming in the warm water and rest on a hot beach in the morning , drive up to 14,000 ft and throw a snowball in the afternoon and watch the sunset over a river of orange lava flowing into the ocean?  An island of diversity and true beauty.  (for more see Feb 2012).

Perfect Drives......................


Photos by Stephen and Donna O’ Meara; © Tanguy de Saint


One of the most popular drives on Hawaii Island is the stretch of Highway 11 from the old sugar plantation town of Keaau to lovely Volcano Village on the outskirts of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. How many places on Earth can you drive right to the edge of a live, fiery, erupting volcano? Not many. But here on the Big Island of Hawaii, there are several spots where you can drive up and experience nature at its fieriest.

Perhaps as a reflection of its popularity, more and more bed-and-breakfast operations have opened in the area, along the scenic drive known as the Volcano Heritage Corridor. Look for the brown and white signs along the highway, which indicate areas of historical interest.

Along the way, sights and points of interest include historic Keaau (with the modern conveniences of Keaau Village Market), an old coffee mill, a winery, nature preserves and several art venues featuring the marvelous creations of resident artists. For years, the mana (miraculous power) and legends of the Volcano region have been a source of inspiration for some of the Islands’ finest artists, including painters, woodblock printers, photographers and sculptors. You, too, may be inspired by the Heritage Corridor, one of several on this big, Big Island.

The entrance to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is just off of Highway 11, located 26 miles from Hilo, a 45-minute to one-hour drive. The admission fee is $10 for each private vehicle, which is good for seven days (not transferrable). Just beyond the park’s entrance, spend time at the Kilauea Visitor Center, where an introductory film and displays provide an excellent introduction to region. Current eruption news is also available here.

Visitors with limited time head straight for the Crater Rim Drive around the impressive Kilauea Caldera, which has been erupting almost continuously since 1983. Currently, the caldera is spewing giant clouds of sulfur dioxide, so the southern flank has been closed indefinitely. Still, several hours can be devoted to exploring all the sights along the northern portion of the road, including short hikes to Thurston Lava Tube, Devastation Trail and the Halemaumau Crater Lookout.  Also save time to visit the fascinating Thomas A. Jaggar Museum, featuring excellent information about volcanology. The museum is also a good spot from which to view Halemaumau’s fuming vent, especially after sunset when the massive pit glows red with fire.

For those with no time constraints, continue toward the coastline on the scenic Chain of Craters Road, which follows past lava flows from the heights of Kilauea down to the sea. At the point where the Chain of Craters Road begins to descend, there is a magnificent view of the coastline, and you can see plumes of steam whenever molten lava spills into the ocean. The road descends 3,700 feet in 20 miles, ending near the coastline where a lava flow cut off all access nearly 10 years ago. Except for restrooms and a shaded pavilion with picnic benches at the lookout on Chain of Craters Road, there are no other public facilities, so be sure you have adequate water, snacks and a full tank of gas.

Kilauea’s East Rift Zone eruption, which began in 1983, is the longest continuous rift-zone eruption in written history. Kilauea, which means “much sprewing,” is the world’s most active volcano. Volcanic activity, including oozing streams of magma spilling into the ocean, is always changing. Daily reports are posted at the visitor center for those who hope to view the dramatic nighttime sight of fiery lava meeting the sea, and the towering steam plumes it creates. Certain precautions must be taken for any hike into this area. The National Park Service has a four-minute video entitled, “Plan for Safe Viewing of Lava Flows.”

On your return to the park’s entrance, save time to visit the charming Volcano Art Center Gallery, which makes its home in the original Volcano House Hotel, built in 1877.  Just outside the park, Kipuka Puaulu Bird Park is a lovely side trip, and it’s free. Take Mauna Loa Road to the park entrance, which is located a short drive off Highway 11. In this vast area of volcanic activity, the park features a forest of koa trees that have escaped centuries of eruptions, with a wealth of bird life that make this oasis its home.

For the latest updates on eruption news, call the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park at 985-6000.




The Hamakua district is famous for its elevated coastline, once covered with vast fields of sugar cane, which are today being replaced by a variety of new diversified crops, including world-class coffee and colorful tropical plants. The fascinating heritage of the early plantation days is still evident in towns like Honokaa and Laupahoehoe, where a tiny museum transports you back in time. Rugged gulches spanned by old railroad bridges dot this wetter windward side of the island, a vibrant green jungle fed by streams and waterfalls flowing down the sides of 13,796-foot Mauna Kea, the highest point in the Hawaiian Islands.

Heading north from Hilo, keep an eye on the right for signs that lead to the lovely 4-mile scenic drive through Onomea, along a curving coastline draped in tropical jungle. Along the way, make time for a visit to Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden. The garden of delights was created by Dan Lutkenhouse, who dreamed of making his Onomea rain forest accessible to folks who have never experienced the beauty of a flower-filled wonderland. A wooden walkway leads to coral footpaths down by the sea, where waves crash into the jagged lava coast of the pristine little bay. Admission is charged.

At the tiny town of Honomu, turn inland to Akaka Falls State Park, one of the most popular natural wonders along this coastline. A short, self-guided walk (less than half a mile) through the jungle of bamboo and towering tropical trees leads to two overlooks, one offering a view of the 442-foot Akaka Falls and the other to the 400-foot Kahuna Falls. Akaka Falls gets the more prominent billing because Kahuna Falls is off in the distance from a lookout along the pathway, whereas it seems you can almost reach out and touch Akaka Falls from its lookout. Parking is $5 for nonresidents. Restrooms and picnic benches are located at the trail’s headway, on the edge of the paved parking lot.

Other favorites in this area include World Botanical Gardens and Umauma Falls. Like Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden, World Botanical Gardens was the dream of a man in love with nature and crazy about plants. Walt Wagner, a former Oahu high school teacher and botany major, got together a hui (partnership) to finance his dream, a phylogenetically (by family relationship) arranged series of gardens. “This is the northernmost continuously flowing river on the Big Island,” Wagner explains, “and this is what Akaka Falls would have looked like a million years ago,” before it evolved from a series of falls into a single falls.

Another side trip off Highway 19, in the direction of the sea, leads to the tiny peninsula of Laupahoehoe. This is one of the most scenic places along the vast Hamakua coastline, an outcropping of flat land surrounded by cliffs on one side and jagged black lava on the seaside. Years ago, the area was populated by a community of fishermen and farmers, who grew taro on the terraces below the cliffs. Tragically, an April Fools Day tsunami, which devastated both Hilo and Laupahoehoe, killing 20 students and four teachers who were at the peninsula on April 1, 1946. Miraculously, two children and one teacher survived.

Today, the community has moved to higher ground, but the peninsula is still a popular site from which fishermen launch their boats, and where residents come to the shoreline for picnics and to pay their respects at the memorial that commemorates the tragic loss of life here more than half a century ago.

In recent years, even more devastating tsunami have taken their toll on communities in Asia, Indonesia and Sri Lanka, commanding an international call for more technically advanced warning systems. To learn more about Laupahoehoe and the phenomenon of destructive tsunami, stop into Hilo’s world-famous Pacific Tsunami Museum, located at 130 Kamehameha Ave., or visit

Near the town of Laupahoehoe, at the 25-mile marker, take time to visit the fascinating Laupahoehoe Train Museum, dedicated to preserving the area’s plantation heritage and the history of the Hilo Railroad, which operated from 1899 until the 1946 tsunami, when giant waves caused irreparable damage to the tracks.

There’s more to explore: the three seaside gulches, including Kaawalii and Maulua. Serious explorers can reserve a cabin at Kalopa Native Forest State Park and Recreation Area, or just stop by for an open-air picnic within the arboretum of native plants. This is one of the most scenic drives in the world, filled with magnificent views, spectacular waterfalls and a jungle of tropical flowers.

Take time to explore quaint Honokaa, a sleepy plantation town with some amazing little stores and restaurants that will take you back to the 1950s. For many years, Honokaa was famous for its macadamia nut orchards, an industry that flourished into the 1990s.

At Honokaa, follow Highway 240 to Kukuihaele and beyond to the spectacular Waipio Valley Lookout, the highlight of any drive along the Hamakua Coast. At the 800-foot-high grassy lookout, you can enjoy a picnic or snacks, while gazing down on the lush valley, its scenic black sand beach and the taro farms that dot the landscape. The hazardous, narrow road into the valley is navigable only by four-wheel-drive vehicles.

Compliments of













Another stunning Kona sunset.


Snow on 14,000 ft Mauna Kea.


Llamas in pajamas.


The high road to Waimea.  Wide open spaces surrounding
Parker Ranch.


Overlooking Waipio Valley.


The beach below.


Kevin led the way to the back of the valley.


We scrambled over rocks, along slippery cliff sides and swam
through the deep cold river six times to reach
our goal and back.


Magnificent 1,000 ft waterfall at the back of Waipio


Orchids are everywhere in Hawaii.


Every color of the rainbow.


If the surf is up - surfers are riding the waves.




Dolphins playing at the Hilton Waikoloa.


Uncle Paul and Kevin relaxing in the 5 star lobby.


Hidden Green Lake in Puna.


Our beautiful little Kayla, 5.


Orchids add color to life in Hawaii.


Graceful and delicate.


Four generations.  Gami, 90, Nancy, 59, Mariah, 37, Kayla, 5, with
Angela and Kaimana to round out the photo.  We were celebrating
Christmas Eve (Mariah's Birthday) at the Mauna Lani.


The Rogues Gallery 2014.  Angela, Roger, Mariah, Kaimana,
Kevin, Nancy, Brynn, Kayla.  Shane and Aaron were


Stealth.  Never know when a moustache for disguise will come
in handy.  Humor on the other hand is ALWAYS in order!


Proud Uncle Kevin playing with Kayla and Kaimana.


Excitement ran high as Santa's gifts were discovered.


At 6 am Kayla whispered in my ear, "Time to bake my cake
Tutu!"  This was her pink Elsa castle cake.  Though it may
not win a prize we had fun making it - and all the little
princesses at the party wanted a piece.


Pizza munching princesses at Kayla's 5th birthday party
at Pine Trees Beach.


The Three Musketeers strike again!


Baking organic, gluten free Christmas cookies; double chocolate chip
then ginger cookies.  They were yummy and many disappeared while
 warm!  I was wearing Little Grandma's 60 year old apron and
 Kayla sporting an apron carried all the way from Africa.


A bouquet of Hawaiian flowers for Gami's room.
We send her fresh flowers every 2 weeks.


Chinese temple in Ventienne, Laos.  Indians, Chinese,
Laotians all live peacefully together.


Santa seems like a stranger in a strange land.


The Parliament Building.


Joseph met new friends from all over the world.


The vertical runway.  The story is that money was
 provided for a new runway but they used the cement to
build this arch instead.




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