Category Archives: Hawaii

Waimanalo Beach

Waimanalo Beach, on the Windward side of Oahu, stretches for miles.  It has a range of moods along the way, and different populations who frequent different areas.  Access ranges from large parking lots with facilities — restrooms, showers, picnic tables, lifeguard — to narrow beach  lanes which access portions with no facilities at all, to a military base (Bellows) which doesn’t seem to be very active but shares a particularly sweet stretch with the public on weekends, to beach parks along the road where extended families of locals camp.  In some cases the people camping at the beach are homeless.  The part I visited this day has no facilities, very little parking and very few people with whom one must share the beach and beauty.
Entry path to Waimanalo Beach.

Entry path to Waimanalo Beach.

The narrow road next to McDonald’s leads directly to this beach entrance. There’s parking on the side of the road.  Stroll through nau’paka growing low in the sand on the right, and through the ironwood trees.  That’s Rabbit Island offshore.Rabbit Island off Waimanalo Beach.Rabbit Island off Waimanalo Beach.

How Tropical-Pacific-Island-Getaway is this!  Somebody who didn’t want to sit farther from the water in the shade of the ironwood trees built this little shelter with palm fronds.

A bit of shade on a a vast stretch of beach.A bit of shade on a a vast stretch of beach.

There weren’t many people on Waimanalo Beach this weekday.  Among the more interesting sights was a digging dog.  He may have been attempting to dig his proverbial way to China,  but what he reached was a long, stout piece of driftwood.  The photographer with the tripod was very serious about taking photos of his lady.  Then he moved into the picture and clicked it remotely.  When I strolled back this way 15 minutes later, they were still posed in front of the camera, smiling their heads off and occasionally kissing.  Honeymooners?

Working on the perfect photo.Working on the perfect photo.

Down a little ways, are lots of ironwood trees backing up the beach.  You can see how the prevailing on-shore Tradewinds, which have swept unimpeded over thousands of miles of ocean, relentlessly nudge the trees to bend inland. This particular section of Waimanalo Beach is known as “Sherwoods”, as in Sherwood Forest.  They say that the thieves who frequent beach parking lots like Sherwood Forest to break into cars and steal stuff laugh that, like Robin Hood, they are taking from the rich and giving to the poor (themselves).  It’s the family business in some cases, the skills handed down from father to son, uncle to nephew.Sherwood Forest.Sherwood Forest.

Most of Hawaii’s beaches don’t have lifeguards, but this one at Sherwoods does.  It looks like quite a comfortable station.  There’s no mistaking the rescue board, and at one point I caught sight of a muscular fellow heading up the steps to his lookout shack.
Lifeguard station at "Sherwood Forest".

Lifeguard station at Sherwood Forest.

The telephoto lens brings the Mokulua Islands right in; in reality, they are quite a ways from this part of Waimanalo beach.  They are off the Lanikai section of Windward Oahu’s best beach-town: Kailua.  There will be some lovely photos of the Mokuluas in a future post dedicated to Lanikai Beach.Mokulua islands off Lanikai.Mokulua islands off Lanikai.

Much further up the Windward coast, on the far side of Kailua town, distinctive Mokapu Point separates Kailua Bay from the further-north Kaneohe Bay.  Mokapu Point looks from a distance like a turtle, its neck extended, heading out to sea.  Not so much here, though.  🙂Mokapu Point in the distance.Mokapu Point in the distance.

Way back the other direction on Waimanalo Beach, Makapu’u Point is silhouetted in the distance.  Once again, the telephoto makes it appear misleadingly close.Makapu'u Point.Makapu’u Point.

Here’s a shot of Makapu’u taken from quite close.  The lighthouse is a speck on its seaward flank.  It’s a great hike to the lighthouse, with stunning sea views, at one point all the way from Diamond Head on the South Shore to the gorgeous view up the Windward coast.Makapu'u Point with jagged black rock.Makapu’u Point with its distinctive black lava rock.  I invite you to relax and enjoy.  Gaze on the sand and the sea, and imagine the sound of the waves rhythmically surging in and then being pulled back out.  🙂

Here are a few more ocean scenes to lull you; watch the waves rushing in to kiss the sand.

Faraway Mokapu Point on the left, Mokulua Islands on the right horizon.


Walking along the beach being mesmerized by the gentle incoming and outgoing waves, you forget your To Do list and just relax.

Closure at Punchbowl

Dear Bob & Sue, Patrick, Michael & Marcia, Terry & Susan, Barbara & Tom, Brian & Natalie, Dirk & Leah, Bill, David & MIchelle, Dan & Kerri,

On Friday, September 13, 2013, the ashes of our dear Mother (Mother-in-Law, Nana) were laid to final rest in the grave of our Father (Father-in-Law, Grandpa) at Punchbowl Cemetery, Honolulu.

Punchbowl is a beautiful and impressive cemetery.  This is the view when you enter.  Because of the telephoto lens, the huge field between the entry flagpole and the monument appears foreshortened.  It’s quite a long ways away when you are there looking at it in person.
View at entry of Punchbowl National Cemetery

View at entry of Punchbowl: aka  National Cemetery of the Pacific

See what I mean?

See what I mean?

The granite marker of Dad’s grave had been cleaned and polished for the occasion.  A new one has been ordered, which will add “Myra R, Barthelow” and the dates of her life.
They told us that it should be installed in a couple of months.  David said to tell all the family that if they visit Hawaii, he will be happy to take them to Punchbowl to see the grave.
Dad's grave with Mom's ashes in wood "casket".

Dad’s grave with Mom’s ashes in wood “casket”.

An opening had been dug to receive Mom’s ashes.  After the box was placed in it, the groundskeeper filled the remaining space with dirt and sand, and then replaced the sod and tamped it down, adding more sand around the edges.


This is how it looked afterwards.  They will come back soon and water the gray sand into the grass.  The flowers will be left for awhile.
It felt good to know that Mom’s and Dad’s wishes have been fulfilled.  We were lucky to have them as our parents, and now their remains are together in this beautiful place.
Grave of A.J. and Myra Barthelow

Grave of A.J. and Myra Barthelow

Dad used to say that he could afford to vacation in Hawaii, but not live there.  So he planned to be buried at Punchbowl.  His Hawai’i residence came all too soon, at age 57.  I always thought he did well with this plot in Paradise — a favored location in the heights, with excellent views.


This is the closest tree to the grave, on an access road.  Our longtime friend Suzanne is standing there.  She remembers Mom fondly.  David and I were there to represent the family, and I like to think that Suzanne stood in for all the others who knew Mom and what a very special person she was.


After we said goodbye to Mom and Dad, we went to pay our respects to Uncle Boyd.  He also has a good location, just up the hill from Dad.

Uncle Boyd’s grave.

We left a plumeria lei on his grave.  Back in the 1960s and ’70s, Auntie Fern used to live on Punchbowl street.  Whenever they needed to make a lei for someone, she and Boyd would go up to the cemetery and sneak some plumeria blossoms.  There are lots of plumeria trees at the cemetery, along with magnificent monkeypod, banyan, jacaranda and many other varieties of trees.  The Hawaiians call the fragrant plumerias “graveyard flowers”, probably because they were planted in profusion in the cemetery surrounding the old coral-block Kawaiahao Church, where Christian missionaries in the 1800s introduced a new religion and culture to the indigenous people of the Hawaiian islands.
You can see some plumerias in the photo below.  A stately jacaranda has carpeted the ground with a lavender haze.  Beyond it are the much smaller plumeria trees with deep pink blossoms.  i wonder if the lady in red is there to sneak some blossoms to make a lei?


Aloha, Iz


Fruit Trees of Palaka Moon Farm

David and Michelle’s five-acre farm in Waimanalo was an established orchid business when they bought it in 1999. The orchids were raised for the blossoms, which were sold to lei-makers.  They continued with the orchids for about five years, fighting destructive birds and disease.  Farming is not an easy life.  The final blow was the beginning of an endless supply of cheaper, pesticide-laden blossoms from Thailand.  They converted the use to horse boarding stables.  David built an arena for that.  Now the focus is back to agriculture, with a large variety of tropical plants being raised for sale to landscapers and nurseries.

Raising landscaping plants under shade cloth.

Raising landscaping plants under shade cloth.

Many years ago, the previous owners planted fruit trees to feed their family.  These trees are scattered haphazardly over the entire property.  The trees include: mango, lychee, papaya, banana, guava, breadfruit, avocado, macadamia nut, coconut, starfruit, soursop, and mountain apple.  I never knew about the macadamia until this week.  Michelle says the dogs will get fat, scarfing up the mac nuts and avocados, now that they’re in season.

Without further ado, I present:

The Fruit Trees

Bananas are technically not trees, but plants. In Hawaii, we talk about “banana patches”.  You seldom see just one banana plant.  That’s because each banana, before it produces its fruit and dies, sprouts a crop of babies around its base, the next generation.Banana plants.Banana plants.A bunch of bananas.

These are two mature lychee trees which provide shade in the front yard.  I love lychees, but these old-timers only produce every other year, and are so humongous that the fruit is hard to reach even with a picker. The adjacent tree with brighter-green leaves is a starfruit, which is laden with fruit in season, but never when I am here. Sadly, no one in the Hawai’i family likes starfruit.  I do, but then I know that you have to let the yellow fruit turn brown around the edges; that means it has evolved from tart to sweet, with a refreshing perfumey flavor.Two huge lychee trees in the front yard.Two huge lychee trees in the front yard.

Here’s the mango on the right overhanging the guest quarters and deck, with the lychee trees behind it.   The mango is so old it seldom produces much fruit, which is alright because they bounce off the metal roof below, creating a thunderous noise, and can damage the roof if they don’t roll off.  In front of the mango is a macadamia nut tree (closest to the fence).  If you look carefully, you can see the top of the starfruit tree sandwiched between the macadamia and lychee.  The bright heart-shaped leaves spilling down the hillside by the guest room and deck are taro, a carbohydrate staple of old Hawai’i.  It’s commonly served baked, boiled or cooked and then pounded into poi. Poi is non-allergenic, a good food for babies with delicate digestive tracts.  Slightly aged poi has more flavor than fresh, which some say tastes like library paste.Huge mature lychee and mango trees in the front yard.Lychee, mango, starfruit and macadamia nut trees.

This year, the avocado tree has a bumper crop, and they are delicious!  We’re making guacamole for a party on Friday, eating buttery slices on toast, using them for huevos rancheros and of course in salads.  Avocado season is a happy one.Avocado tree.Avocado tree.

Breadfruit, ulu in Hawaiian, was an important staple in the diet of the ancient Hawaiians.    It remains popular with Polynesians today and some native Hawaiians getting back to their roots.  The Tongan guy who trims the coconut trees charges half what others demand, plus all the breadfruit he can pick.  Quilters will recognize the leaves and fruit as one of the most common  Hawaiian quilt patterns.Breadfruit tree.Breadfruit tree.

Breadfruit and papaya trees  are neighbors.

Breadfruit and papaya trees are neighbors.

Papayas ripen from the bottom ones upwards.

Papayas ripen from the bottom ones upwards.

Coconut palms are everywhere in Hawai’i landscapes.  When they get very tall, they become a hazard, as falling bunches of coconuts are dangerous.  The nuts get too high to reach, and they need to be trimmed off.  Years ago, we used to make a delicious coconut-caramel syrup using the low-hanging coconuts from the shorter Samoan-variety trees in our yard.  Back then, you couldn’t find canned coconut milk in markets; you had to make it from scratch.  That syrup would be easier to make now.Coconut palmCoconut Palm.

Next comes a noni tree.  The curious knobby fruit with white flesh is said to have almost miraculous healing properties.  Or so say those who sell noni juice online.  Here, the fallen fruit are favorites of the wild chickens and peacocks.  There is one friend who comes over to pick them.  She ages them into a stinky, allegedly healthful concoction.  Who knows about its medicinal properties, but the  tree is pretty and the poultry like the fruit.Noni tree.Noni tree.Noni fruit.Noni fruit.

Gourd tree

Gourd tree.

Stay tuned for photos of the soursop and mountain apple trees.  My camera battery is recharging.

Aloha, Iz

Palaka Moon Farm

Dear friends

I’ve had a devil of a time formatting this post, and finally gave up until I can find some help.  I’ll leave it this way, in the interests of just getting it out there.

I am in Hawai’i, visiting my son David and his family at their home, Palaka Moon Farm.  It’s located on the Windward side of the island of O’ahu.  Most of the population of Hawai’i lives on O’ahu, which is also the State Capital.

When they purchased the five-acre property in 1999, it was an orchid farm, supplying blossoms to the lei-makers of Maunakea Street in Honolulu’s Chinatown.  Disease and marauding birds took a toll–farming is not an easy life.  Ultimately, it was cheap pesticide-drenched orchids from Thailand that put an end to the orchid business. The farm then became a horse boarding facility.  Most of the boarded horses are gone, as the farm is moving back to agriculture —  raising  tropical plants for sale to landscapers.Raising landscaping plants under shadecloth.Raising landscaping plants under shadecloth.

The farm sits at the foot of the dramatic Ko’olau mountain range.  The photo below in no way captures their dramatic grace and beauty, but is the best I have been able to do so far.  The large two-story house belongs to neighbors.  In the left foreground is the remains of a water flume system, which carried irrigation water to the former Waimanalo Sugar Plantation (in existence 1881-1947).  The farm snuggles up against the base of the Ko'olau mountain range.The farm snuggles up against the Ko’olau mountain range.

The house is in the simple old single-wall style, which was most common in pre-Statehood Hawai’i. The green color harkens back to company-housing for sugar plantation workers. It looks a bit ramshackle from the exterior, but that’s misleading.  The interior is pretty and inviting, with clean lines and a spacious Great Room flowing onto a huge deck, geared for casual Hawai’i-style living.  A spanking new kitchen was recently completed.  This home has an inviting old-Hawaii feel, open to the surrounding natural beauty.


Out back: deck and guest quarters.

Out back: deck and guest quarters.

Here’s the rear corner of the main house, including the separate bedroom-bath guest quarters that opens to the deck. They quadrupled the size of the deck last year, and it’s a favorite place to relax and enjoy the views.  The dining portion of the deck is walled on three sides and roofed.  Just steps from the new kitchen, a big barbecue and and outdoor fridge come in handy for  entertaining.Out back: deck and guest quarters.Out back: deck and guest quarters.

Another view of the deck.

Another view of the deck.

There is tropical foliage everywhere you look.  Here, it’s a riot of monstera, ferns and orchids next to the back entrance to the main house.  It’s a hybrid lifestyle: the setting is rural, but daily life takes them over the mountains to Honolulu for work and school.  Taylor has just begun courses at the University of Hawaii in Manoa Valley, on “town side”.  Lexi is a sophomore at a private school here on the Windward side. David has worked as the Brewmaster for Big Aloha Brewery the past 16 years.  It’s also over the mountains, on Nimitz Hwy which is the main road between the Honolulu Airport and Waikiki.  Michelle works in the Downtown business district, with a stunning view of Aloha Tower and Honolulu Harbor.Kitchen entry.Kitchen entry.

This modest cottage has sheltered many–first David and Michelle and the girls, age two and six when they first moved to the farm in 1999.  Later, Michelle’s cousin and her son and then Michelle’s mother called it home.  That’s the avocado tree looming behind the cottage.CottageCottage.

Under the cottage: surfboards.  David grew up in Hawa’i and has a passion for ocean sports: surfing, ocean kayaking and competitive paddling.  His job as a Brewmaster, renovating my North Shore rental house and his own, farm maintenance and being the Papa part of the family support-system keep him terribly busy. We’d like to see him get out on the water more.  MIchelle works full-time in downtown Honolulu, manages my vacation rental on the North Shore, does the cooking and paperwork of daily living and is a super Mama to two teenage girls. Wish she could get out riding her horse more often.Under the cottage.Under the cottage.

Miscellaneous Views around the Farm, sans commentary

Neighboring house with Hawaiian flag and view of Mount Olomana,

Neighboring house with Hawaiian flag and view of Mount Olomana.Royal Palms.Coconut Palm on the left, and avenue of Royal Palms.

Outdoor living space.

Outdoor living space.

Dump truck with peacocks.

Dump truck with peacocks.

Happy horses.

Happy horses.

Papaya trees.

Papaya trees.

Breakfast on the deck.

Breakfast on the deck.

This is an overview of Palaka Moon Farm. Stay tuned for particulars of the farm in later posts.

Aloha, Iz