Hawaii again!

We had a great time in Hawaii the other week.  We’ve been back there a few times, but this was the first time we returned to the big island.  We first visited not all that long after we started going out 25 years ago (this month)!

The elements conspired against us in a couple of ways.  Our scheduled helicopter ride got rained out.  And the lava – which had been flowing freely to the ocean for more than a year – mostly dried up about 3 weeks before we arrived.

Other than that we had a fantastic time snorkeling, visiting volcano national park, checking out the jungles and waterfalls – all the things!  We spent a couple of days in Kona, a couple in Volcano (the town), and a few in Hilo.



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Practice trip

We went to Hawaii last week with a couple we know from college.  It was awesome.  One of the things we planned on doing was a helicopter ride.  It didn’t happen because of weather.

It had us worried because Ellyn gets motion sick – and we didn’t want to find out that helicopters were really bad when flying with friends (and strangers – which happens on these tours).  So we booked a short test flight in SLO a few weeks ago to make sure – the Nine Sisters Tour with Helipro.  They were totally cool and assured us if there was any problem for her they could just turn back immediately (since it was just us two).  Turns out they are totally fine for her!  I compared it to riding a swing.  Some folks say it’s like a bus.

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The return of Moonface

We’ve been in this house for about 9 years.  We adapted (took in) our cat, Gracie about 7 years ago.  Maybe 5 or 6 years ago we first saw Moonface.  He was always very shy and always ran away.


Then, 2 years ago, I caught him sneaking into the house to steal Gracie’s food.  Not long after, we started leaving dry food out for him to eat – but he never did.  We figured he wasn’t real serious.  Then we realized that he wasn’t eating because his mouth hurt.  He was in real bad shape – I don’t have a picture from then.  He was still very shy – we felt we had made real progress when he would stand his ground and only hiss when we pet him while he was eating.  After a few months he disappeared in the last big heat wave of 2015 – when it got back up near 110 – which it never does.  We were sure he’d gone off somewhere and died.


So we were very surprised when he showed up at our back door a couple of weeks ago – looking bad, but not quite as bad as when he disappeared.  So we’ve been feeding him and took him to the vet and got him an antibiotic shot and flea treatment.  And for some reason he is no longer shy.  We can pet him and he loves to be brushed.  Just purrs and purrs.  He actually crawled into Ellyn’s lap the other evening.


Gracie isn’t happy that he’s here.  And Ellyn is way more allergic to him than to Gracie.  So we’re not sure what’s going to happen.  For now we’re feeding two cats.

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Product placement

I recently bought a pair of windshield wipers for the prius.  The last pair were falling apart.  I’m pretty sure they were the ones that came with it.  As far as I’m concerned, Toyota cheaped out on them.  They were never all that great.

I got the same brand as I got for the pickup a couple of years ago: Valeo.  I’m not sure how I found them to start with, but they work great.  So if you’re looking for blades…

On the other side of the coin, I uninstalled my Nest thermostat.  In their defense, our use case is not their target.  We have a heater and an air filter and no cooling.  Their usual case is cooling and heating.  Heating was fine.  But controlling the fan was a ridiculous pain in the butt.  So back to the old thermostat.  Two clicks and the fan is on; two and it’s off.  That the Nest couldn’t match that ease of use was unforgivable.

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The last of the apples

Mostly ours with a couple of the neighbor’s granny smiths. This is our first apple pie.  How are you supposed to wait for it to cool off?  So yummy!  All that’s left in the ‘fridge are a few jars of apple sauce.  Also so yummy!


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Rise of the machines

When we think of machines we usually have something big and complicated in mind.  But that’s not always the case.  It’s finally time to get our ‘fridge back.  At least until the pomegranate harvest.


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Our Eclipse Excursion


This week I learned that the sun is really bright.  You’d think I’d already known that – but it really is amazing how bright it is.


Ellyn and I went to Casper, Wyoming, which is exactly on the line of totality.  Casper is a town of about 60K that has an airport and highways headed east and west exactly along the line.  It was also supposed to have the best odds at favorable weather.


We arrived Saturday with reservations for a minivan, sleeping bags, and air mattresses, and no place to stay.  We ended up with a giant SUV and found a very nice family renting out parking spaces at their drive-up diner (used to be an A&W) who let us use their restrooms – which was really all we needed.  So we car-camped there.  After the eclipse on Monday we were able to get a hotel room for reasonable (instead of $2k+/night) so we could have much needed showers.

The eclipse was amazing.  Various of our parking-lot-mates had set up different viewing tools/projects.  But mostly we just watched it through our glasses.  It takes about 90 minutes from first contact until totality, then a bit under 2 minutes 30 seconds of totality, and another 90 minutes until the moon leaves the sun.  So we peeked every few minutes until it got really close – then just left the glasses on and watched for the “last few minutes”.  When the total eclipse happens there is a moment of confusion – suddenly there isn’t even the crescent of the sun and you’re looking at nothing through your glasses.  Nothing.  Then you realize now is the time you can take your glasses off and look at the totality – and there it is – the sun’s corona and a few planets visible in the sky.  It is crazy and beautiful and amazing.

I highly recommend you get to a total eclipse if you ever have an opportunity to do so.  For those that wonder what the difference is between a partial and a total eclipse, the answer is everything.  Here’s my poor metaphor: you’re at home at night and there are 5 lights on in the house.  4 bedroom lights (closet, 2 reading, and the main light) and a light on in the bathroom down the hall.  33% eclipse is like turning off the closet light.  You can see a difference in the light in the bedroom, but not a lot.  66% you also turn off a reading light.  Different, but the room is still well lit.  99% you turn off another reading light.  Still lots of light.  When you turn the bedroom light off it’s like 100% eclipse – the last bit of sunlight is that bright – it’s the difference between having all the lights off and having the main bedroom light still on.  It’s not pitch black because the bathroom light down the hall is on – but the bedroom is “dark”.


We will certainly try to get to the 2024 eclipse.

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