The Beauty Around Us

Showcases Portraiture, Scenic & Nature Photography and Feaures a Photo Journal Blog

Posts from the ‘Family’ category

Black Friday

We spent several hours with our granddaughters Harper and June on Friday, November 23.

We picked up the girls at their house around 10:30 am. 

We drove to Friendly’s Restaurant in Jamestown NY, where we had an enjoyable lunch. 

Friendly’s Restaurant provides kid’s activity placemats to entertain children, while waiting for food.


Our granddaughters, Bob and I at Friendly’s Restaurant

The girls ordered their usual meal–hot dogs and macaroni and cheese with an ice cream sundae.  Both girls chose Rudy the Reindeer sundaes. 

Rudy the Reindeer Sundae (photo obtained from Friendly’s Restaurant website)

Bob had a fish dinner; I had a BBQ chicken sandwich with fries.  Both of our meals included a small sundae.  Harper didn’t eat her macaroni and cheese, but she ate most of my fries.  Juniper didn’t eat any of her hot dogs.  I asked for a box, and we took home the macaroni and cheese and hot dogs for the girls to share later.  By the way, when we returned home and I had a good look at our restaurant bill, I noticed that Bob and my entrees were reduced by 50%.  Happy Black Friday to us!

After lunch we drove to our house, where the girls played for several hours with toys and on their tablets.  We also watched TV.   I had to chuckle, when June asked me what was in the gray plastic tote.  The tote is the girls’ toy box.  For a while now I have brought out only a few select items for the girls to play with, when they visit.  On this visit, though, I brought out all their toys.  June asked if she could open the tote, when I told her their toys were inside.  I said sure.  When she opened the tote and saw the toys, June’s eyes got big and she said “Wow!”.  There was not one new toy in that tote!

The girls talked with Judy (my brother’s wife), too, via Facebook video chat.  That was a fun call for the girls, as they put on silly faces and hats and played some quick games with Aunt Judy.  

When I finished putting away the girls’ toys, after their Friday visit, I was missing one toy–the baby doll that Harper had been playing with.  I found Harper’s baby on Wednesday morning.

Lost baby found

I found Harper’s baby in one of my kitchen drawers.





First Grade

Our granddaughters entered first grade on August 29th. Picture day was on October 12th. Stacey ordered a digital download package for each girl. Yesterday I received a copy of the image files contained in each digital download package.

Each digital download package includes 3 files: an 8×10 image, a 5×7 image and a print release. The 8×10 image is 2400 pixels x 3000 pixels. This resolution-size image will produce quality prints at or above industry standards for 8×10, 11×14 and 16×20 size pictures. The 5×7 image is 1500 pixels x 2100 pixels. This file size is suitable for reproducing 5×7 and smaller size prints.

I placed a print order last evening through Nations Photo Lab.  The prints that I ordered were a fraction of last year’s cost. Last year I ordered prints from the school photography studio company.  A digital download package is the way to go!  You can make all the prints you want for much less than the cost of buying a print package from the photography studio.

Harper and Juniper’s first grade pictures
What beautiful granddaughters we have!

By the way Harper has one less tooth now than that showing in the picture.  As of earlier this week, Juniper still had all her top teeth.  She did tell me, though, that a couple teeth are wiggling.

Speaking of first grade …

01-Grade1-Image 0127
This is my first grade picture.
School Year 1962-1963


Our Hawaiian Vacation: Ukulele Shopping

Bob enjoys music — listening to music, as well as playing musical instruments.  He owns several musical instruments to include a 6 String Dobro, (2) 6 string acoustic guitars, a 6 string electric guitar, an Acoustic concert ukulele, a Mandolin, a 5 string banjo, a Didgeridoo, a Brazilian lap harp, a Bamboo Jaw harp, a Casio electronic keyboard, a Yamaha Organ and (2) harmonicas.

Bob’s newest musical instrument was the Acoustic concert ukulele, which he purchased in December 2016.  For the past year he has been considering the purchase of an Acoustic / electric tenor ukulele.  He wanted to have the  capability to record through a cable instead of an open microphone to avoid background noise.

What better place to shop for a ukulele than in Hawaii!

On Wednesday, when we visited downtown Kona, Bob saw an Acoustic / electric tenor ukulele that interested him.  That ukulele was on display at Just Ukes, located in the Kona Inn Shopping Village.  Bob didn’t purchase that ukulele, opting instead to look around.

We spent several hours ukulele shopping during the late morning / early afternoon on Friday, September 7th.

On our way back to Kona from Honaunau, we stopped at Kiernan Music in Kealakekua.  Bob picked up quality information from the salesman but did not purchase a ukulele.  He still favored the ukulele on display at Just Ukes.

We drove to downtown Kona. We stopped for cold beverages at Kona Inn, located in the Kona Inn Shopping Village.

_LG28227Our view from Kona Inn.

I had finished the glass of water that was my preferred beverage that day.  While Bob and Dorothy were still drinking their beverages I walked down to the seawall seen from where we sat in Kona Inn.

_LG28231I passed by a pretty yellow Hibiscus on my way to the seawall.

_LG28232At the seawall I watched for a few minutes, as wave after wave rolled in.

From Kona Inn we walked to Just Ukes. The ukulele that Bob had liked when he saw it earlier in the week had sold.

The Just Ukes salesman sent us to another ukulele shop a couple blocks away. We walked to that ukulele shop (Hawaiian Ukulele & Guitar) and found it under a tent, being fumigated.  Fumigated for what we didn’t know.

As we were passing by Just Ukes again, the salesman made another suggestion — Music Exchange, located in the King Kam Strip Mall off of Kuakini Highway. We drove there. After about 45 minutes Bob walked out with a new Acoustic / electric tenor ukulele. We had a most entertaining shopping experience at Music Exchange.  The salesman (Gavin Todd) and his friend (Royce DeSilva) joked around, while Gavin showed Bob various ukuleles. Gavin was very knowledgeable about ukuleles. He was a pleasant person to do business with.

Royce DeSilva, we learned, is the Hawaiian Idol XV Champion.

I found a live video of Royce’s performance that won him the championship.  Royce’s performance begins at time marker 2:32:42.  At time marker 3:44:19 Royce is selected as one of five contestants moving into the finals.

The five contestants performed a second time.  Click here for Royce’s second performance.  His performance starts at the beginning of the video and ends at time marker 4:15.  Royce is chosen as the Hawaiian Idol XV Champion at time marker 37:39 and follows up with one additional song.

Getting back to Bob and his new ukulele … Bob is happy to own a ukulele that he purchased in Hawaii.  I will close this blog post with a short video of Bob playing his new ukulele.


Our Hawaiian Vacation: Sightseeing in the Kohala Region

On Thursday (September 6th) we drove through the Kohala Region, which is located north of Kona. The Kohala Region is diverse in that it contains lush forests, dry lava desert, windswept grassy plains and extraordinary beaches.

Our first stop was in Kawaihae at the Pu’ukohola Heiau National Historic Site.

20180906_114731Pu’ukohola Heiau National Historic Site Visitor Center
Dorothy took this picture of Bob and me with the rangers,
after we had obtained stamps for our National Park Service passport.

_LG28079the Pu’ukohola Heiau

The Pu’Ukohola Heiau was built by King Kamehameha in 1790-1791. The king built the heiau (temple) at Kawaihae because a kahuna from the island of Kaua’i said that this was the way to conquer Hawaii.


Thousands of people worked on this temple, carrying one boulder at a time from miles away.  Some workers were sacrificed during construction of the temple to make sure that the gods would be happy.  When the temple was completed, the king dedicated the temple by inviting and then sacrificing one of his enemies.

Altar at Pu’ukohola Heiau

_LG28084The Mailekini Heiau sits just below the Pu’ukohola Heiau.

_LG28088This was the site of the Pelekane, or Royal Courtyard.

_LG28085One of the beautiful views from the Pelekane

There used to be three temples at this historic site.

_LG28091Hale o Kapuni Heiau would have been located here, just off shore.

Our second stop was in Kamuela at the Hamakua Macadamia Nut Company.

20180906_124417Bob and I

20180906_124516The four of us

We enjoyed free samples of coffee, various flavors of macadamia nuts, brittle and popcorn at Hamakua Macadamia Nut Company. We purchased a few different flavors of brittle and popcorn.

Our third stop was in Kapaau.

Kapaau’s main point of interest

It would be difficult to miss Kapaau’s main point of interest.

_LG28105The King Kamehameha Statue statue towers over Route 270.

Our fourth stop was at the Pololu Valley Lookout. Route 270 ends at the lookout.

_LG28111Pololu Valley Lookout

Pololu Valley Lookout provides a spectacular view of the coast and cliffs, lush with vegetation, rising out of the ocean.

I hope that you enjoyed coming along with us on our drive through Kohala Region.  Our activities of September 6th will be continued in my next Hawaiian vacation blog post.


Our Hawaiian Vacation: Downtown Kona Visit

We had not yet visited downtown Kona.  On Wednesday (September 5th) Dorothy had a few errands to run and wanted to get her hair cut.  Bob and I accompanied Dorothy to Kona late morning for a look around. Before reaching Kona, though, we stopped in Kahaluu at Saint Peter’s Catholic Church, also called the “Little Blue Church”.

_LG28038Saint Peter’s Catholic Church

_LG28040Can you see why the church is referred to as “Little Blue Church”?

Saint Peter’s Catholic Church was built in 1889 on the former site of an ancient Hawaiian heiau (or temple site).

In Kona Dorothy dropped us off along Hualalai Road, across from the Kona Inn Shopping Village.  Dorothy left to get a haircut. Bob and I walked from Hualalai Road to the Courtyard by Marriott King Kamehameha’s Kona Beach Hotel. Staying on Ali’i Drive our walk would have been 0.40 miles. We zigzagged our way to the hotel, so our walk was a bit longer than that.

_LG28044We checked out a few shops, while walking through the Kona Inn Shopping Village.

_LG28045This is Hulihe’e Palace.
The palace was built in 1838.
Vacationing Hawaiian royalty stayed here until 1914.
The palace is now a museum.

Across the street from Hulihe’e Palace is Mokuaikaua Church.

Mokuaikaua Church

Mokuaikaua Church was the first Christian church built in the islands, in 1820.  The present building dates from 1837.  The church is built of lava rock and crushed coral.  Admission to the church is free.  We walked inside and took notice of two things: the stained glass window at the front of the church and a scale model of the Brig “Thaddeus”.

_LG28053Stained Glass Window
Jesus at Gethsemane

_LG28049the Brig “Thaddeus”

The plaque reads:

“The Brig “Thaddeus” / Carrying the members of the Pioneer Company of the Sandwich Islands Mission, The Brig (85 feet long, 24 feet wide and 13 feet deep, 241 tons) left Long Wharf, Boston, October 23, 1819. / It sailed around Cape Horn, arriving at Kailua Bay on April 4, 1820, after a voyage of 164 days.”

_LG28057From Mokuaikaua Church we continued our walk down Ali’i Drive.

_LG28059The Pride of America cruise ship arrived in Kona earlier that morning from Hilo.

We were asked several times, if we were from the cruise ship. We talked for a few minutes with a lady from the cruise ship, who was from the Buffalo/Niagara Falls Area. She and two other ladies had a 3-room suite on the cruise ship. Each person paid $3,500 for the 7-day cruise.

_LG28061Downtown Kona at the seawall

_LG28064Green Sea Turtle in Kailua Bay at Kailua Pier
There were two turtles swimming here.  Only one poked its head up at me.

_LG28066I took a more expansive view of downtown Kona from the Kailua Pier.

From Kailua Pier I took a couple pictures of Kamakahonu National Historic Landmark.

_LG28072Kamakahonu National Historic Landmark

Kamakahonu was the final residence of King Kamehameha I.

_LG28070Kamakahona National Historic Landmark

Dorothy picked us up in front of King Kamehameha’s Hotel, when we texted her to let her know that we were ready.  The wait at two different beauty salons was too long, so the hair cut didn’t happen. Dorothy sat and drank an ice coffee, while waiting for Bob and me to finish our walk about.

On our way back home we stopped at Ola Brew, where Bob tried a sample of four beers and drank a pint of porter. Dorothy drank one pint of an IPA. She filled two growlers with beer too. Our final stop before returning home was at Walmart, where Dorothy picked up a few grocery “bits”. Bob and I bought hair clips, bracelets and necklaces for our granddaughters.

Juniper and Harper liked their new jewelry.

Our Hawaiian Vacation: Two Day Circle Tour (Day 2) – Hilo to Kailua-Kona

This blog post continues the activities of Tuesday, September 4th.

We were still talking about our surprise helicopter ride, as we left the Hilo Hawaiian Hotel and drove to Rainbow Falls.   Rainbow Falls is located at the northwest border of Hilo and quite easy to reach.  From the parking lot it is a very short walk to an overlook of the falls.

MVIMG_20180904_104617Rainbow Falls
(Photo by Bob)

_LG27998_LG27999_LG28000-HDRRainbow Falls

Rainbow Falls is 80 feet high.  The waterfall cascades over a lava cave that according to legend is home to the ancient Hawaiian goddess Hina, the goddess of the moon.

Depending on the amount of rainfall upstream in the preceding days the falls can be either roaring or they can be reduced to a trickle.

D5263853 4x6I took this photograph of Rainbow Falls in May 2010.
The amount of water falling was less in 2010 than it was this year.

Late August this year Hurricane Lane dumped many, many inches of rain on Hilo.  I believe Rainbow Falls was flowing well still from the amount of rain that fell then.  Watch this video, which was filmed on August 23, twelve days before we visited Rainbow Falls.

Rainbow Falls during Hurricane Lane
August 23, 2018

Bob and I at Rainbow Falls this year.

From Rainbow Falls we drove to Zippy’s Restaurant, which is located at the Prince Kuhio Plaza Shopping Mall.  After breakfast Dorothy and I went shopping at Skechers, Sears and TJ Maxx. I purchased a pair of Skechers sneakers, as the sneakers that I wore to Hawaii were falling apart.

We took Highway 19 out of Hilo and drove north up the Hamakua Coast.  We followed Highway 19 to about the 7.5 mile marker, at which point we make a right hand turn onto 4 Mile Scenic Drive.  We followed this scenic drive until it took us, in 4 miles, back to Highway 19.  This road twists and snakes around tight curves and over one-lane bridges, through a lush tropical rain forest lined with streams.  There are breathtaking views of the ocean, coast and the collapsed Onomea Arch in Onomea Bay.

_LG28002_LG28003_LG28004-HDROnomea Arch

According to Hawaiian legend King Kamehameha threw his sword and created a tunnel in solid rock. Onomea Arch stood for thousands of years until an earthquake in 1956 caused the top of the arch to collapse.

Further up the road we saw a large hole in the cliff side spilling water under a bridge and into the stream.

Small roadside waterfall

We stopped for a snack at What’s Shakin’.

What’s Shakin’

20180904_234712696_iOSWhat’s Shakin’ Menu

John and Bob ordered Peanut Braddah smoothies. I ordered a Farmers Favorite. I cannot remember the type of fruit smoothie that Dorothy ordered.  The smoothies were delicious!

We made our way back to Highway 19 and continued our drive north.

Our next stop was at Akaka Falls State Park. Akaka Falls is located in a tropical forest.

_LG28007Akaka Falls is visible from the parking lot.

We took the most direct trail to Akaka Falls, which reduced significantly the amount of stairs we had to climb. We enjoyed the tropical vegetation and saw a couple small falls along the way.

_LG28008I love the drops of rain on this plant.

_LG28009One of the small waterfalls that we saw on our way to Akaka Falls.
The young couple on the far right side of the bridge are Emily and Ben,
whom we shared our helicopter ride with earlier in the day.

I liked the red color of this plant, against the green background.

Another waterfall

The bulb at the bottom is the bunch of bananas is a banana flower.

This is Akaka Falls.

Akaka Falls is 442 feet tall.

20180904_145838Bob and I at Akaka Falls.

Our last stop along the Hamakua Coast was at the Waipio Valley Lookout.

_LG28020_LG28021_LG28022-HDRThe lookout provides a view of the Waipio Valley.

From Waipio Valley Lookout we drove to Waimea. We stopped at the Big Island Brew House.

20180904_165142Dorothy took this picture of Bob, John and I at the back of the car.
John and Bob are getting out the growlers to fill with beer.
I don’t know what I was looking at.

After getting some brew we stopped at the supermarket and got pizza and a few other groceries. We returned to Kailua-Kona via the high road (Highway 190). We returned home around 7:30 pm.

We ate dinner (pizza), and shortly afterward I went to bed.

Our Hawaiian Vacation: Two Day Circle Tour (Day 2) – The BIG Surprise

Tuesday morning (Sep. 4) we awakened at 6:00 am, with plans to meet Dorothy in the lobby at 7:15 am. Dorothy told us the previous day that she had something planned for us.  She wouldn’t tell us what “the something” was that she had planned.

Dorothy texted Bob around 7:00 am to ask if we were up. We were up and had been sitting on our balcony enjoying the view and watching the cruise ship come into Hilo.

_LG27907We spent the night at the Hilo Hawaiian Hotel.  Our room had a balcony that looked out on Hilo Bay.
The concrete foot bridge, seen in this photograph, leads to Coconut Island.

_LG27922We watched from our balcony, as the Pride of America cruise ship entered the Hilo Harbor.

Dorothy came to our room with a couple “biscuits” (cookies) to stave off any hunger pains. As we continued to watch the cruise ship, Dorothy mentioned that for “the something” she had planned that we would not be able to carry a cell phone unless it was secured by a lanyard.  Dorothy also said that I wouldn’t be able to change my camera lens, so I should bring the most versatile lens with me.

This is when I put two and two together, based upon the given evidence:
(1) no cell phones unless secured by a lanyard
(2) the inability to change a camera lens
(3) Dorothy asking if we had packed long sleeve shirts, as we were preparing for this two-day circle tour.  (My reply had been “no”.  Why would we need long sleeve shirts in Hawaii???)
(4) The need for our height and weight.  In an earlier post I mentioned a conversation that Dorothy and I had before we left for Hawaii.  Dorothy wrote that she needed both Bob and my height and weight.  After I provided Dorothy the requested information, she said “Thanks, now you will be better matched for calf wrestling”.  That sure was a strange conversation!

I asked Dorothy if we were going on a helicopter ride. Dorothy’s response was “Yes”.  Our surprise was a helicopter ride!

What a BIG surprise!

We drove to Hilo Airport from the hotel to the Paradise Helicopter Tour counter. Dorothy had booked us on a Doors-off Lava & Rainforests Adventure.  At the tour counter we had to step on a scale.  Maintaining proper weight and balance in a helicopter is important in order to provide guests with a safe, smooth and comfortable experience.  After being checked in, we were directed into a meeting room.  We watched a movie about how to stay safe before, during and after our ride.  The main thing that stayed with me from the video presentation was not to allow anything to fly out of the helicopter.  Doing so could cause the helicopter to crash!  Bob and I, along with 7 other couples (if I remember correctly), were escorted to a waiting area located in front of a fence just off the airfield.  I believe there were four helicopter flights that morning, two couples per helicopter.  We were on the last flight.

Our helicopter ride lasted approximately 45 minutes. We shared the ride with Emily and Ben, a young couple from Florida. Emily moved to Florida from Pennsylvania 6 years ago. Emily and Ben sat in the front, next to the pilot, whose name was Matt. Ben had a window seat. Bob and I sat in the back seats and each had a window … DOORS-OFF remember?  We were strapped in our seats, and for the first 15-20 minutes I didn’t move much. I was really nervous. Bob had a strap at the top of his window, which he held onto the entire flight.  When he left go, after we returned to Hilo Airport, his hand was numb!  My nervousness began to ease about halfway through the flight, when I realized if I sat upright that my communicator wouldn’t blow off my head!   We saw the rainforest, steam rising out of fissures, a little red dot where lava still burned hot, volcano crater that we could see to the bottom, and waterfalls.  Our pilot did an EXCELLENT job narrating our tour.  He was both humorous and informative.

I put together a slideshow of the photographs that I took, while in flight.  Be sure to click full screen for best viewing.  (Full screen is the rightmost icon on the bottom right of the YouTube screen.)

What a super awesome experience!  


LJG27994Bob and I, after our helicopter ride, with Matt the pilot

Thank you so much, Dorothy and John.  We cannot thank you enough!  We will NEVER ever forget our very first helicopter ride!


We returned to the Hilo Hawaiian Hotel, after our helicopter ride.  We checked out and continued Day 2 of our two day circle tour of the island.

-To Be Continued-



National Parks USA

A tour of Public Lands & National Parks with T

Forester (Farster) Ancestry

The Ancestry of My Grandpap Roy Wilson "Pete" Forester (1915-1989)

The World according to Dina

Notes on Seeing, Reading & Writing, Living & Loving in The North

Skid and Sandy On The Road

Showcases Portraiture, Scenic & Nature Photography and Feaures a Photo Journal Blog


Showcases Portraiture, Scenic & Nature Photography and Feaures a Photo Journal Blog

Brown About

The Motorhome Adventures of Joan and Stephen

My Mommy's Place

Showcases Portraiture, Scenic & Nature Photography and Feaures a Photo Journal Blog

A Tree Falling

Showcases Portraiture, Scenic & Nature Photography and Feaures a Photo Journal Blog

Stacey Gross Tells A Story

I'm not crying. You're crying.

Mr. Bill's Travel Blog

Amputee Travel... let the adventures begin!

Viewing nature with Eileen

Showcases Portraiture, Scenic & Nature Photography and Feaures a Photo Journal Blog

Through Open Lens

Home of Lukas Kondraciuk Photography

Deep Thoughts

Showcases Portraiture, Scenic & Nature Photography and Feaures a Photo Journal Blog

Rambling On

Showcases Portraiture, Scenic & Nature Photography and Feaures a Photo Journal Blog

This Abundant Life

A Space for Authentic Living

Talk and Chatter

Reviews, talk, and fun

Senior Moments

The random musings of a fairly active Tennessee retiree

Pics & Pieces

Showcases Portraiture, Scenic & Nature Photography and Feaures a Photo Journal Blog



Pennsylvania Wildlife Photographer

Showcases Portraiture, Scenic & Nature Photography and Feaures a Photo Journal Blog


Showcases Portraiture, Scenic & Nature Photography and Feaures a Photo Journal Blog

Linda's Peaceful Place

Showcases Portraiture, Scenic & Nature Photography and Feaures a Photo Journal Blog

Life's Funny Like That

Showcases Portraiture, Scenic & Nature Photography and Feaures a Photo Journal Blog


Showcases Portraiture, Scenic & Nature Photography and Feaures a Photo Journal Blog

I'll give you a piece of my mind

Showcases Portraiture, Scenic & Nature Photography and Feaures a Photo Journal Blog

Hospitality Lane

Showcases Portraiture, Scenic & Nature Photography and Feaures a Photo Journal Blog

Gretchen's Traveling

Showcases Portraiture, Scenic & Nature Photography and Feaures a Photo Journal Blog

An English Girl Rambles from 2016 to ....

Showcases Portraiture, Scenic & Nature Photography and Feaures a Photo Journal Blog