"Crotty News" Postings for: March 2008 !

Hiya & Aloha!

    It's saturday, the first of March already. The Northeast USA is smothered in snowstorms (again!) and, although we had temperatures in the 20s at night the last two days, it looks like it's warming up significantly today. Dale and I are packing for our trip. The airlines are changing the number of suitcases you are allowed. It's always been two checked bags and one carry-on, but soon you will be limited to only one checked bag. We bought our tickets in time to avoid having to pay $25 for the second bag. So, we are each bringing two bags (to stuff our loot in, on the return trip) and a carry-on. It's going to be a bit difficult getting them to and from the check-in desks but it'll be worth it :-)

    The mailman came with my check from Northrop Grumman! That was fast! I rolled over all my 401(k) pre-tax funds into an IRA with Tower Federal Credit Union (NSA), and Northrop Grumman sent me a check for all the after-tax contributions I had made (I've already paid the taxes on that money). Looks like Dale might be able to get her new kitchen when we get back from Hawaii. As much as I lost in the stock market with this 401(k), I am glad that I got out when I did. It looks like the stock market is taking another huge nose dive and I certainly would have lost even more money. What a ripoff.

    I'm closing down for now. We'll be in Los Angeles tomorrow, visiting with Susan and Dany. Also plan to see my Aunt Helen and cousin Warren Voss, as well as cousins Marie Wright and her husband Tim in La Mirada. Perhaps we might also get to see cousins Linda and Julie (Marie's sisters). I send them e-mails, and they receive them, but they rarely respond so I don't know what their plans are. Bye for now!

    Sunday - 02 March - Karen & Chuck came over this morning with her car and Chuck's truck (good thing - we had LOTS of luggage)! Getting through Mytle Beach airport was a snap. It's a relatively small airport, which I like. Reminds me of the airports on the hawaiian islands where you can get personal, quick service. We were very pleasantly surprised to find our friend Ray (Joe King's former brother-in-law) manning the check-in counter at United Express. Ray owns a very successful tailor shop that we frequent here in Myrtle Beach, but he has also been working at the airport for many years. Ray zipped us through, got our bags loaded and tickets in hand in no time. We pretty much have the TSA security check figured out after all these years of flying, so off came our shoes, all metal (keys, belts, money, etc.), computer and cameras out of their bags/covers, and everything into the bins for the X-ray machines. The part that takes the most time is dressing yourself again with one hand while you're trying to gather up all of your belongings, as you hop on one foot trying to stuff the other one into a sneaker, and the long laces get wrapped around your toes! Not to worry! The flight to Dulles, Washington, D.C. took exactly one hour and the flight attendant made sure that everyone knew which gate they had for their connecting flights. We took a shuttle across to our terminal and then had a short wait for the United flight to Los Angeles. Our seats were window and isle on both planes, with no one between us. Very comfortable. Picked up our Enterprise rental car, hooked up the Garmin GPS that Dale bought me for Christmas, and it brought us directly to Susan and Dan's house via streets we never heard of. Now that we've experienced using the GPS I don't think I'll ever go anywhere without it. You can't get lost. It's wonderful. Went to the Mexico City restaurant for dinner. There are a number of really good restaurants within a short stroll from Susan's and Dan's and this one was yet another good one for food, as well as being "really alive" with people talking, laughing, etc.

    Tuesday - 04 March - We just hung around the house yesterday but today we drove up the hill to the Griffith Observatory, a place I last visited when my parents brought me and my brother Paul here in the summer of 1958. Ma was pregnant with Michael (he was born Dec 11, 1958). The place looks much the same, although they just finished a $93 million project which refurbished the original buildings and dug out an underground addition. You can clearly see the Hollywood sign from here, and there are hiking trails from the parking lot that take you close to the sign. I want to do that next time we visit. If you come back at night you can peer through their telescope and view whatever object in the universe they are focused on. This evening we walked to "Little Dom's" restaurant on Hillhurst for dinner. Apparently this is one of the current "in places" in Los Angeles, with people driving miles and miles to get here. The prices weren't bad except for the wine which was way-overpriced by-the-glass. The food and service were excellent.

    Wednesday - 05 March - This morning we drove to Beautiful Downtown Burbank (At least that's what Johnny Carson used to say on his Late Show) and visited Susan's work. ImagicLA is situated one block from the entrance to the Bob Hope airport. Among other things, they produce beautiful artwork which they print on heavy, wide adhesive-backed rolls, similar to the much lighter "contact paper" that I remember my mother using to cover books, kitchen shelves and a hundred other uses. ImagicLA's product is mostly used to "wrap" buses, autos and buildings. So, if you see a bus in your city that looks like a crew of artists hand-painted it with cute advertisements (etc), it may be ImagicLA's work.

    Since we had the Garmin GPS we were fearless! Off we went in search of Los Angeles' Chinatown, the old part of which we found easily. Barry liked watching the old guys play chinese board games, especially those who were behind the open doors of the local Tong, which we assume is the chinese version of benevolent societies. We then followed our Garmin as it directed us along back streets of L.A. to Olvera Street. The path took us through a more modern area of chinese stores, so we'll check them out the next time we visit. Olvera Street is the oldest street in Los Angeles, and we often come here with our L.A. friend Steve Fields, who introduced us to taquitos in spicy guacamole sauce. They are sold from a seedy-looking building at one end of Olvera Street, and are delicious! We usually buy a dozen or so, to start, and go back for more until we have had our "taquito fix" :-) Olvera Street is a mexican marketplace and they sell lots of trinkets in kiosks, and beautifully made items such as guayabera shirts. This is where I buy most of my guayaberas (my favorite fancy shirts)!

    Thursday - 06 March - Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills was nowhere near as crowded as all the other times we've been there. The Rodeo Collection, the most expensive Shopping Mall in the world (and very small) was virtually deserted. We did see a new yellow Ferrari and Rolls Royce parked on the street. In fact one young guy was going "ga-ga" over Zsa Zsa Gabor, who passed by in a brand new Rolls. Rodeo Drive is definitely better seen at night! Oh - the public parking garages give you two hours free parking, so don't bother looking for parking spaces on the street.

    Since our time on Rodeo Drive was much shorter than we planned, we headed to Venice. Now here is the place to go to "people watch". They have everything: musclemen showing off at the public weight-lifting stations; hippies selling drugs (sign up here for legal marijuana for "medical" purposes); shapely, underdressed roller-bladers; charcoal portrait artists; trinkets, music and beggars everywhere. When I used to come to L.A. on government business I would arrive a few days before work started so that I could enjoy the L.A. sights, including Venice. Dale and I ate at The Sidewalk Cafe, right on the beach's concrete "boardwalk", where years before I would listen to the other diners yak about their efforts to get roles in the latest movies. Lots of back-stabbing conversations going on all around me; made you understand just how phoney the movie industry really is. This time Dale and I were enjoying our meal when the sun disappeared and it became downright chilly! I ran back to the car, got my jacket and bought a Venice Beach zippered pullover for her. The people at the next table turned out to be russians. He served on the russian spy ships (we called them "AGIs") as the Executive Officer, and was a former GRU (Military Intelligence) officer. Small world :-)

    Friday - 07 March - Today we made arrangements to visit Steve Fields and Francine Frank, his fiance. Francine and Steve have been together for over ten years now and it's great to see them starting a new life together: they are moving to a new house in Henderson, Nevada. When we had arrived in L.A. earlier this week I called Steve on his cell phone and was surprised to hear Francine answer. She had just that moment brought him back from the hospital! He had had his quadruple-bypass heart surgery. We knew that he needed the surgery but didn't know when it would occur. He is fine. Medical science is just so advanced in such surgeries these days. Astounding. Anyway, Dale and I drove to Santa Monica in the early afternoon (that Garmin GPS is GREAT :-) and walked around the pier. Lots of people. We parked right on the wooden pier. It has heavy wood pilings, joists and timbers but we were still surprised that it would hold all the cars up without us falling through the boards into the surf. We walked from the pier into Santa Monica, looking for their famous 3rd Avenue shopping district. This is, again, one of the places that should be visited at nighttime rather than the day. It is a pedestrian mall or promenade, with nice landscaping and walkways, but the nighttime lighting makes it look so much better (we've been here before). So, we drove down to Marina Del Rey where Steve and Fran live and killed a bit of time by visiting the opposite side of the Marina, a place called Fisherman's Village. Over the years, whenever we flew out of Los Angeles Airport (LAX) to Hawaii, I would see a large canal off to our right. I always thought the beach was Playa Del Rey and now I know that the canal is the inlet to Marina Del Rey. Very pretty. They must have rowing teams because I saw many sculls zipping by with the coxswain in the back shouting orders. Steve says that the land in Marina Del Rey is totally owned by the county and they want to bulldoze most of the buildings, including Fisherman's Village, in order to build high rise buildings and other tax-producing ventures. The entire complex where they currently live on Via Marina is to be flattened by the end of the year. That's why they built their new home in Henderson, Nevada, and are already in the process of moving there. Steve looked great, considering what he's been through. Francine's daughter and her husband and baby girl came over for dinner too. They live in Shanghai, China.

    Saturday - 08 March - Susan, Dale and I drove to La Mirada, CA to visit my cousin Marie (Amirault) and Tim Wright. They've lived in their house for a number of years and every time we visit they have done some new, fabulous thing to their house. This time they had extended the front, making a larger front room and a porch. The place is gorgeous inside and out, with the best of materials, and they've done most of the work themselves. The back yard centerpiece is a beautiful pool, with lovely greenery in pots, a ten foot high (or more) glossy-green hedge, planters, various tables, grill & bar area (Tim made it himself), brick raised gardens, etc. etc. Perfect. They took us to Lucille's Smokehouse Grill in Brea, CA - a nearby town. Good food. Great company. Hope we can return the hospitality.

    Sunday - 09 March - Steve & Fran invited us back for a champagne brunch. Oooh! Break my arm again! On the way over I finally found a gas station (they're not as ubiquitous as on the East Coast -- you really have to search to find one in L.A.). As I was filling up, a beautiful 1956 Chevy drove in. Looked brand new. Chuck will enjoy seeing the pictures I took (see PHOTOS menu). Steve isn't well enough to go out yet, so it was a perfect time to just sit and talk. We saw pictures of their new home as it was being built in Henderson. Very pretty; corner lot.

    Drove home and found Dan practicing with his Guitar Hero III system. I had heard about them but never saw/heard one in action. Great sound! Lots of fun! You do have to practice to make the music come out right, and you can download many songs from the rock-n-roll eras (ZZ Top too)! Dan sounded so good I got all hepped up and decided to practice my guitar again when I got home. Susan, Dale and some of Susan's friends were congregating on the patio so I went out and took a couple of pictures. Ambrose Gardens, where they live, used to be a rich man's estate, with stables (now the garages). One of the residents has been there for 50 years, when the now-75 foot high royal palms were actually planted. Lots of flowering bushes and greenery everywhere; a really nice place to live. We all went to the Farfalla Trattoria this evening. Nice italian restaurant on Hillhurst, a short walk from their house. Dawn Frederick, who we've all know since our days in Cape St Claire, MD., also arrived. We last saw her at Susan and Dan's wedding in Maui.

    Monday - 10 March - The Garmin GPS worked like a charm once again, getting us to the car rental agency near LAX via regular L.A. streets instead of the congested highways/parking lots they call Freeways! The United Airlines check-in was painless, quick and efficent, as was the TSA security checks, so we had plenty of time to relax, get something to eat and saunter over to our departing gate. Once again we had the window and isle seats side-by-side. I was off by only six seconds when computing when the plane would pass over the mid-point from LAX to Honolulu Airport, so they gave first prize awards to me and the guy who guessed it exactly. The flight attendant said that I had scribbled so many equations that I deserved to win, and besides, I "wasn't a pain in the ass" either. Apparently the other guy (who won) was! Mike picked us up at the airport in their recently-acquired Ford F250 truck so, once again, we had no problems transporting our luggage. Being in Waikiki is just like being home again. Tracey had to work overtime tonight. Mike and she work for a company that has the contract to maintain the executive jets that fly the flag-rank (general/admiral) commanders and other distinguished executives around the Pacific. Her plane had just been "re-engined" and they were doing lots of tests on it. She got home long after we zonked out -- somewhere after 1:00AM.

    Wednesday - 12 March - Yesterday, we just stayed in the condo enjoying the Diamond Head and Ala Wai Canal views, playing with Roscoe the "grand-doggie" and updating the web site. Today we walked down to the beach, just two blocks away. We had a nice lunch at Duke's at the Outrigger Waikiki and then walked across Kalakaua to the International Market Place. A few years ago there were plans to tear it down and build some more high-rises or something, but it's still there! Lots of litle kiosks selling pearls, candles, T-shirts and hundreds of other items to the tourists. Very colorful place. In its center is a huge banyan tree, very impressive, with some buildings and restaurants/bars nestled in its branches. Kalakaua and Kuhio Beach look just the same. Impressive Moana Surfrider hotel still as elegant as ever. ABC stores on every corner, filled with tourists.

    Around 5PM we returned to the Outrigger Waikiki and surprised Ellsworth as he provided the entertainment at Duke's. We got a great table next to him, with spectacular Waikiki and Diamond Head views. Ellsworth told us that his regular gigs at the Royal Hawaiian are now cut to one day a week. The hotel will be undergoing renovations in the coming months and they've already cut back on things: Dwight, his musician partner at the Mai Tar bar, is no longer playing because of the cutbacks. A boisterous couple seated next to us at Duke's were from Seoul, Korea; he retired from the Army on Oahu and took a civilian job in Korea. His wife is Korean and she enjoyed my story about me being in Seoul when Korea was hosting the World Cup a few years ago (football; we call it soccer). I was in front of city hall with two million koreans chanting in unison "I am Korean" (in Korean, of course). The hotel manager had taught me how to say this, so when I joined in, all the koreans wanted to get a picture with this crazy american. We left the Outrigger and walked along the beach. It was now getting dark and we came upon one of those free concerts on the beach. Hawaiian emcee with a band and several groups of hula dancers. Great!

    Thursday - 13 March - All of a sudden I have a bad cold! My ribs hurt when I cough, which is often. Took a full dose of Nyquil last night and was a zombie most of today. After Alana got out of school today we drove her over to Kailua for her guitar lesson with Harry Koizumi! Harry is MY former teacher. We first met him in 1989 or 1990 at Moose MaGillicuddy's nightclub on Lewers St in Waikiki when he was playing in a Rock band. Once I found out that he was a teacher and had a studio in Kailua, I immediately signed up! Now he is teaching my granddaughter! After Alana's lesson we all drove around the corner to a small auto shop where Mike has his VW bus being repaired. Mike then drove us all to the Skate Hangar at Hickam AFB where Alana displayed her skill at skateboarding (see the PHOTOS menu)!

    Friday - 14 March - I am still hurting from this cold. Coughing causes sharp chest and stomach pains. Got some Dayquill; hopefully it will work. I caught up editing photos and the "news" for the web site. Dale went down to Kuhio Beach to lie in the sunshine for a while. I followed her later, carrying the laptop computer. The free "SHAKA" Wi-Fi network hooked me right up to the internet. Here I was sitting on Kuhio Beach and uploading files to my web site. Ain't technology wonderful?

    Saturday - 15 March - Cough. Wheeze. Well, the Swap Meet is open today at the Aloha Stadium and we also had the use of Tracey's car today. I really wanted to get there and buy some new Hawaiian T-Shirts so I dragged myself out of my sick bed (violins playing here :-) I was surprised to find that it had shrunk since our last visit. Only one complete circle of vendors this time. Last time there were three full circles and two partial inner circles where the "garage sales" were going on. This time -- nothing but the outer circle. The T-shirt vendors were everywhere, and all had the same prices. 5 T-shirts for $20. Some of the shirts made from thinner material were going for 4 for $11 or 8 for $20. One of the vendors was selling "niche" T-shirts; I bought a Tongan shirt. It's something different, such as the Samoan Pride T-shirt I've had for years (and am wearing as I type this). We left the Swap Meet and drove to Haleiwa for lunch at our favorite North Shore restaurant, Jameson's. Then a leisurely ride around the island, past the Banzai Pipeline and Sunset Beach, where we stopped and took pictures of the surfers. Stopped again at the Blowhole since the wind was whipping up the waves pretty strongly, but the blowhole wasn't doing anything. I did get some pictures of Eternity Beach on the other side of the Blowhole Parking Lot. Back to the house and stayed in, trying to stop coughing.

    Sunday - 16 March - Well, I've given up hoping that Nyquil and Dayquil will rid me of this cold or whatever it is. Tomorrow I'll go to the doctor. In the meantime, today is the annual Honolulu Festival Parade. Countries from all over the Pacific will be participating. We decided to walk the parade route from just a few blocks from Tracey's condo and continue to the starting location near Fort DeRussy Park. It started to get chilly and windy (and rainy!), so of course it was warm when we started out and I had only a T-shirt on. I'm gonna be coughing for the rest of my life! We walked to the Chart House at the Ilikai. There is now a huge skyscraper being built where the old Tahitian Lanai used to be. Inside the Chart House we surprised old friends Dean & Dean as they played in the bar area. There was a table for two right there near them, so we enjoyed the rest of the evening with them and new friends seated nearby.

    Monday - 17 March - St Patty's Day and I'm sitting in the doctors office in the Princess Kaiulani Hotel. Two hours but well worth it. Turns out I have bronchitis. Doc gave me a shot, antibiotics and a prescription cough syrup. I walked back to the condo and stayed in for the rest of the day. Missed St Patty's Day Waikiki celebrations but I wore my green shirt inside anyway.

    Tuesday - 18 March - Didn't get any sleep at all last night but managed to "rest" anyway. I'm feeling much better. Still a bit of a cough but the antibiotics must be killing whatever got into my bronchial tubes. Today is Alana's birthday. Twelve years old going on twenty one. Spent the day inside. Dale took a walk into Waikiki for a few hours. Ells is playing at the Tiki Bar tonight but there's no way we're going out (my chest cold) so we'll just have to catch up with him at Duke's later this week. The weather has actually been overcast and chilly, with breaks of sunshine, so I haven't had any burning desire to go to Kuhio Beach. Hopefully it'll get hotter so that I can do just that!

    Wednesday - 19 March - The medicine is working slowly, if at all. I still have severe congestion and don't feel so hot. Hardly sleeping. What a way to spend time in Hawaii! We did take a ride with Tracey to see the house she and Mike are buying in Kailua. It's on Mokapu Blvd, three houses down from Kalaheo High School, close to Kaneohe Marine Base (where Tracey works) and Aikahi Park, where all the homes are now in the one million range. The house needs lots of work but they've rounded up their friends, several of whom are in the businesss, and everything that needs fixing they can do. I wish they had purchased it before I arrived so that I could help (I'd love to refurbish a placelike this). Went to Buzz's restaurant on Kailua Beach after we saw the house. Our friend Joan Pacheco used to be the comptroller for them before she retired. Nice location but I'm not impressed with their menu. I took some pictures of the beautiful Kaelepulu Stream and what I could see of Kailua Beach from Buzz's. Hope to get back here and do justice to the gorgeous views that are on Kailua Beach.

    Friday - 21 March - I'm still sick. On my last antibiotic pill today. Hope I feel better soon. Spent yesterday and today in the condo. Getting tired of sitting around with a "hole in my chest" (congestion). Both Mike and Tracey had to work today and the person scheduled to work at their Skate Hangar couldn't make it, so Dale is filling in. The weather outside is sunny but it is still very breezy and cool. If it wasn't, I'd be lying on the beach sunning myself. Ratz!

    Saturday - 22 March - I'm tired of sitting around in the condo so we're off today to walk the beach! Went to the Royal Hawaiian for lunch at the Mai Tai Bar, right on the beach with a gorgeous view of Waikiki Beach and Diamond Head. Ells told us that the hotel would be closing for renovations, and the waitress said that it would happen on 01 June: closed for 7 months thereafter! Wow. We then walked through the elegant public areas of the hotel and took some pictures. Lovely place. Then over to the Sheraton next door. They've made a few upgrades since we last were there. Nice. The Royal Hawaiian Shopping Center is still under construction, although the majority of the work seems to be done. Lewers Street is totally new, or so it looks. We walked back to Tracey's via the Hyatt Regency Hotel, another beautifulo place. Twin towers with an open atrium in the middle, and lots of orchids and other flowers everywhere.

    Sunday - 23 March - Happy Easter! Lots of young, loud people at the Chevron Gas station early this morning (3-4AM etc). Boom boxes. Rap Crap music. LOUD! Good thing I don't have a gun or they'd be dead and I'd be in jail. Tracey gave us the car to use today so we drove over the Pali Highway to the Lookout, where I took more pictures of the spectacular view. Then I hiked down the Old Pali Road to get some more shots of the Lookout and the Ko'olau mountain range from the unique perspective offered by the old roadway. Dropped in to see Joan Pacheco, our former next-door neighbor in Kailua. Then off to Long's Drug Store in Kailua Town itself, followed by a drive through the Kailua and Lanikai beachfronts! Our friends Bev & Dan Heyberger had a house full of guests, including Linda Pope, another old friend from work (NSA). The beach by their house is fabulous. An empty lot right on the beach is still for sale by CHOI International. It has been vacant for many years. If it's not a tax dodge of some sort, it must be somebody's really long-term investment! Topped the day off by heading to the Ilikai Chart House again. The Canadian couple from British Columbia (that we met last week) was there and I gave them some pictures I took of them doing the hula. She is 86 years old (don't know how old he is). Apparently they have also been fans of Dean & dean for many years and have promised me two 90 minute cassette tapes they recorded of them singing years ago.

    Monday - 24 March - Joe & Sharon's anniversary today. Congrats! For no particular reason I spent the day inside. I was going to climb Diamond Head in the afternoon but I'll do it tomorrow. Dale walked around Waikiki. We'll probably go out and walk around Waikiki later tonight

    Tuesday - 25 March - Dale took the bus to Ala Moana Mall for the day. I walked up Kapahulu to the new Safeway complex where they have a Post Office inside the Safeway store. Mailed off a bunch of calendars as well as the Easter candy (etc) to all you girls. On the way back down Kapahulu I found a music store. Bought a DVD about playing slack key guitar, as well as two VHS tapes on Rock Guitar instruction on sale for 99 cents each (originally $19.95 and $14.95). Then it was off to the Diamond Head entrance, about a mile and a half (or more) away. I climbed to the top and called Michael and Paul to rub it in :-) Yep there I was on top of Diamond Head with beautiful 360 degree views of gorgeous mountains and ocean, the Waikiki hotels, and the homes of the Oahu neighborhoods that have gradually filled the valleys and crept up the slops of the Koolau mountainsides! My feet hurt by the time I got back to Tracey's.

    Wednesday - 26 March - Went to the Swap Meet (Aloha Stadium) this morning. Bought five Samoan T-shirts; not what you'd normally see around Myrtle Beach every day, which is why I bought them :-) The Swap Meet still only had one full circle of vendors' tents set up around the stadium. Perhaps during the summer they'll grow again to the five concentric circles. Called Michael since I couldn't get through to him from Diamond Head yesterday afternoon (actually 10:20PM his time). Turns out he goes to bed around 10PM and shuts off his phone but he got a laugh out of my phone message, which he heard at 6AM this morning. Of course at 6AM on the East Coast, it was midnight here and, in anticipation of some retaliation for my late call, I had shut off MY phone in case he decided to call in the middle-of-the-night (we're six hours behind the Eastern time zone). Nope. he was a nice guy :-) Drove back to Tracey's condo so that she could have the car and get to work, and then we took Alana to Duke's for lunch. Great view and "okay" food, but really slow service. Then again, I wasn't in any hurry since it was a bright, sunny day and I was looking at Diamond Head from our table, with Waikiki Beach in front of us. The outrigger canoes and surfers were gliding down the fronts of the waves and getting a couple hundred yards worth of momentum, which brought them near the beach. Then they turned around and paddled back out for another go. Ummmmmmm....Oh yes!!!

    Thursday - 27 March - I'm still coughing and hacking so I've been staying inside. This afternoon Tracey and Dale took Alana to her guitar lesson with Harry Koizumi in Kailua, and I decided that I needed to get out of the house, so I strolled from one end of Waikiki to the other. Took a bunch of pictures of the beach, the surfers and surfboards, and the public areas of the beautiful Waikiki hotels. Lewers Street has been under reconstruction for a couple of years and most of the work is finally done. Looks great! I wandered past the Hale Koa military hotels to the Hilton Hawaiian Village (HHV), where we had stayed our last month in 1994 before returning to work at Ft. Meade, MD. The HHV has also been doing a lot of renovating, including the lagoon which they drained and installed pipes for fresh sea water, so that you can now swim in it.

    Friday - 28 March - Dale and I walked to the Outrigger Reef hotel and had lunch at the ShoreBird Restaurant. The hamburger was terrible (mostly hamburger helper) but the view was spectacular as per usual. We walked back on the beach side, instead of the streets, so we got to see all the pretty hotel beachfront plots, pools and landscaping. Paradise. We lazed about on the seats at Kuhio Beach. In the evening we started to walk back to the Hilton Hawaiian Village to listen to Jerry Santos and Olomana. Along the beachside we ran into Waikikians who gather each week under the arbors and public seating areas, and play their guitars and ukuleles, often with a hula dancer or two. On the commercial side of the street (Kalakaua) you will always find itinerant musicians and buskers who entertain in the hope you'll toss some coins or dollars into their hat, bucket or guitar case which they place on the sidewalk. Getting tired of walking, we grabbed a cab on Kalakaua and headed to the Hilton. After 15 years, the new owners of the Hilton Hawaiian Village have closed the Paradise Lounge as a music venue, and moved Jerry Santos and Olomana to the Tapa Bar. Personally I prefer the Tapa Bar since it has more space and unobstructed views of the stage, unlike the Paradise Lounge. We stayed the entire evening listening to Jerry, and caught a cab back to Tracey's.

    Saturday - 29 March - Well, today is the day! The 21st Annual Great Hawaiian Rubber Duckie Race! I mean -- an event not to be missed :-) !! It's for charity. You pay $5 for a rubber duckie and it is dumped into the Ala Wai canal along with thousands of others, and if yours is one of the first 50 to cross the finish line, you win a prize! Actually, all the rubber duckies are already stashed in huge boxes and each one has a 6 digit number attached to it. When you pay your $5 you fill out a form with that number, and the bottom part of that form also becomes your duckie "adoption papers". If you buy two ($10) they give you a rubber duckie to keep. Ours is proudly displayed in my new office :-) Crowds line the Ala Wai canal at the Kalakaua Bridge and at the appointed time the duckies are dumped into the canal, and the wind and current take them towards the ocean. A few hundred yards down the canal they've stretched a barrier across the canal (finish line). "DuckGuards", dressed in Red Cross T-shirts, line the canal armed with long poles to ensure that the duckies don't get hung up on rocks.

    Today is also Prince Kuhio Day and that means another big parade down Kalakaua Avenue! So we left the Duckies behind and headed to Kalakaua to get some lunch. The Cheesecake Factory, in the newly renovated Royal Hawaiian Shopping Center along Kalakaua, is usually jam-packed with a long waiting line, but today we hit it just right at about 3PM, and got seated right away at one of their sidewalk tables. The menu was extensive and the food was outstanding! Plus, they let us sit there through the entire parade, so we had a front row seat. Wonderful, leisurely way to spend the afternoon -- but it wasn't over yet! The parade participants and the crowd moved on to Kapiolani Park, where there was a free concert. We stayed and listened to hawaiian music, finishing up well after dark with the famous "Willy K" (whose brother was the one who married Susan and Dan on Maui back in 2005)! From there it was only a 5-10 minute walk to Tracey's condo. We will sure miss the convenience of this place once she moves to Kailua!

    Sunday - 30 March - It's Dean & Dean tonight! Our last time we can visit with our good friends, so this time Tracey and Alana came too. Needless to say a great time had by all. The Canadian couple was also there. Turns out they are leaving next tuesday also - same day as us. Alana, after being off from school for two weeks, has a school day tomorrow so Tracey took her home early while we stayed to the very end of Dean & Dean's performance, and then walked back through Waikiki.

    Monday 31 March - As we mentioned before, Alana is now taking guitar lessons from my former teacher in Kailua, Harry Koizumi. He invited all of us to attend the taping of a local hawaiian television show tonight, "Nighttime With Andy Bumatai", where he is going to be one of the featured guests. Andy Bumatai has been a Waikiki comedian for years, but his nightly TV show seems to be more of a talk show with lots of local-interest guests. Anyway, Dale, Alana and I showed up at the appointed hour and found the small studio in a hidden nook on the second floor of the Outrigger Waikiki Hotel. Very interesting to see how they tape multiple shows in a single evening. Harry had worked with a hawaiian slack key master, Raymond Kane, while I was his student, and for the year that he "apprenticed himself" to Raymond Kane, Harry would then teach me a little bit of what he had learned from Ray. Ray Kane died recently, so Harry played one of Ray's songs on the show to honor him. Very nice music. We also saw Audrey, Harry's wife, for the first time in years (since their wedding)! She is originally from Rockville, Maryland and we met her back in 1989 at Moose McGillicuddy's Nightclub (where we met Harry playing in a Rock band). After the show, Alana and Dale hotfooted it back to the condo while I sauntered around taking pictures of Waikiki at night.

    Okay, this is it for our March News. We will be flying out of Honolulu tomorrow afternoon at 1:30PM (hopefully) and arrive back in Myrtle Beach on the 2nd of April. Aloha!

Love,     &nbs;       Regards,
Dad & Mom     &nbs;       Barry & Dale