Thursday, November 22, 2007

Maui anecdotes

I wasn't sure I'd bother writing up any "adventures" from this trip, but it turns out we had a couple of them. First, there was the dirty-pants incident, which wasn't really my adventure at all. Nika started it. Nika is Alla's daughter, and she came with us to Hawaii. We're spending a week and a half at my cousins' beachfront condominium. Anyway, we all went for a drive down the road to Hana. This is a trip taken for its own value, as the road itself is at least as interesting as the destination.

Along the way we stopped at an arboretum with about a zillion varieties of tropical plants. This is one of our favorite things along this road and Alla always enjoys picking up some of the fruit that has fallen to the ground under the trees. Soon after we got out of the car, Nika discovered rather a lot of avocadoes on the ground under a tree and took a step down the hill to investigate. I should note at this point that it had rained overnight and the grass was still wet, and a bit muddy.

Well, that step was the only step required for her to get pretty far down the hill, as she slipped and slid on her bottom. She got very muddy.Undaunted, we continued our explorations until Nika's shorts got dry enough that Alla could dust off most of the dirt.

Moments after Alla finished cleaning Nika's backside, Alla took one fateful step down a modest incline and soiled her own shorts. Badly. I got a few photographs of these dirty women, now added to my original post.

Yesterday's other adventure was entirely my own. Just outside of the town of Hana, we visited Wai'anapanapapa Park, where we walked down to a spot with lava tubes forming little caverns and filled with fresh water. I waded into one of these fresh-water pools and explored the three adjoining caverns. As soon as I headed into the pool I realized that it's a lot deeper than it looked, and I was swimming before I reached the caverns' entrances. The first proved to be too dark for me to penetrate fully. I felt wary of swimming in the dark, but had I thought further after my later experiences, I might have ventured back. I got two or three meters inside the entrance, treaded water for a while, and decided it was too dark in there to go ahead even after adjusting a bit to the darkness. So, I swam out and over to the second cavern, which opened widely and admitted plenty of light. I enjoyed floating inside the cavern and looking at the daylight reflecting in from the entrance.

Then I undertook my favorite adventure, a trip into the third cavern. A few gaps in the rocks above my head allowed enough light that I felt comfortable feeling my way to the very back, where it seemed possible to climb out onto a rock shelf. (I didn't climb out because I was wary of bumping my head on something I couldn't see.)

Nika thought I was having too much fun to keep to myself, so she came to join me. She had a harder time about it all because she was bothered by the little creatures swimming in the water and very nervous about swimming into a dark tunnel. I, however, think this is about the best adventure I've had in a very long time.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Excellent weekend

Today’s post is dedicated to Nastya and Sasha, a couple of delightful young friends who introduced themselves to us in Minsk, Belarus. They heard us speaking English and wanted to practice on us. Since they’re still students, I’ll try to use simple language.

I promised to add to this blog if I ever did anything interesting. I imagined this would mean leaving the country, but Alla and I had a pretty interesting weekend right here near Boston. It all started with warm weather that we didn’t expect in October. We decided we’d better enjoy it, so we took Friday off from work and went for a long bike ride. Alla and I have a tandem (two-person) bicycle so we can take these long rides without getting separated.

I lost track of our intended route, and we ended up riding to Concord a new way. Alla is pretty excited about this, because the new route is almost entirely flat. The other pleasant surprise was passing a wild grape vine right near Concord Farms, where Welch’s got their start cultivating Concord grapes. Our vine had many clusters of sweet grapes and Alla, bless her heart, had two empty plastic bags in her backpack. We filled them with grapes, even while we filled our own mouths.

Carrying our grapes, we reached our destination in fine spirits. We bought sandwiches at a farm stand and took them to White Pond in Concord. We joined several families with pre-school children at the beach, and we all went swimming in the warm water. As the families left to meet their older children after school, we rode back home to Boston.

We had ideas of taking a different bike ride on Saturday, but Alla wanted to go back to the same pond. Remembering the first rule of tandem riding, “The person in the back is always right,” I quickly agreed to Alla’s idea. This time we brought lunch from home and allowed more time for swimming. Each day we rode a total of 48 miles (77 kilometers), and by Saturday evening Alla was riding a little slower but smiling just as broadly.

Along the way we enjoyed quiet roads, colorful forests, one or two apple trees, more grapes, and the pleasure of being together. It was a great way to start an excellent weekend.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

In case I ever do anything interesting

I created this blog because I think it's an easier way than a web page to tell travel stories and include pictures. If I do anything interesting, I promise to tell you about it.

I don't think I'll be having any more travel adventures until November, so you can subscribe to this without fear of being inundated with stuff. For now. Certain relatives feel that I can get a little verbose when I'm on the road.

Alla took this picture last month, at one of my favorite meals in Crimea. One day I'll post some of those stories here or on Let me just say that this dessert was as good as it looks, and the view out the window was pretty darn' good too.

Let me also add that it wasn't worth going to Crimea just to get this dessert.