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Enjoying Thanksgiving island-style

At Thanksgiving time, my two daughters, Gloria and Ellen-Maria, made me “Queen for the Week” by treating me to a trip to Hawaii.

We visited the islands of Oahu and Hawaii, the Big Island. My daughters rented two beautiful houses for our stay and rented cars to drive around the islands. Gloria cooked delicious meals. Our Thanksgiving dinner included tuna steaks, roasted sweet potatoes, green beans with sautéed onions and tomato, cucumber and avocado salad. We had some pleasant walks, including a three-quarter mile walk through botanical gardens to the beautiful Waimea Falls. Swimmers wearing life jackets swam in the 30-foot-deep pool below the falls.

In Honolulu, we visited the Bishop Museum, which dates from the 1880s. It houses artifacts of Hawaiian culture. Artisans used shells, leaves, gourds and feathers to create their items. Only royalty was permitted to wear the feather capes. The o’o bird had only two yellow feathers. These were plucked and woven into beautiful capes and other garments with various colored designs. One showpiece contains 1 million yellow feathers. Hanging in the center of the galleria-type building is the skeleton of a sperm whale.

On the way to the rented guest house, we drove around the mountains which are like flowing waterfalls of green ridges. They are a scenic beauty to behold.

What also impressed me about Hawaii were the majestic trees. The monkey pod tree is awe-inspiring. It spreads its branches horizontally to spans of up to 130 feet and grows to heights of up to 82 feet. The other tree of fascination is the banyan tree. It can have 12 or more trunks in addition to a huge core and rises to 60 feet. When the center rots out, it provides a home for wild animals.

On the Big Island, we visited Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. We stood in awe at the enormous Kilauea Caldera with steam escaping upward. We went back at night to observe this steam in a reddish color. We enjoyed walking through the lava tube tunnels and driving to where the lava flow poured into the ocean. We saw the landscape change from lush tropical forests to barren lava fields. Some small ferns growing in cracks were attempting to restore the vegetation. We were driving on a road with no shoulders which dropped off on both sides into jagged, rough black basalt fields in deep gullies.

On our travels around the islands we encountered three different colors of sandy beaches: white, tan and black. It was interesting to see the green sea turtles that had floated onto the black sand. Other wildlife included wild chickens with their roosters crowing at our house in Oahu. This was an indication that the residents either enjoyed a sense of well-being, or else their pallets tired of fried chicken. Then there was the serenade of frogs at our house in Hilo. Perhaps it was mating season, and there was a singing contest to win the most attractive froglein. We also saw wild egrets, a wandering peacock and a dozen or so feral cats at a beautiful park in Hilo. Tiny lizards would crawl into your bed if you would let them.

At the coffee plantation we visited there was a sign, “Drink coffee and do stupid things faster with more energy” and a sign in the park, “Beware of falling coconuts and fronds.”

Back in Honolulu, Gloria’s husband had arrived to spend a week with Gloria in Hawaii. Together we visited the Iolani Palace. This is a masterfully restored building with its history of the nobility of Hawaii. We were issued booties to go over our shoes. The gorgeous carpets, original furniture, etched glass windows, carved, wooden door frames and arches were outstanding to behold. Since the staircase is original, guests use the elevator to go the second floor. In one room, there was a large, handmade quilt. It was the room where Queen Lili’uokalani was held prisoner for eight years. During this time she was allowed no visitors and no reading material. She was given only blank paper. Writing lines for staff paper, she composed many songs, including “Aloha Oe.”

With that I will say “aloha” and “mahalo” for reading my story.

Rosalie Justen is a member of the Jottings Club of the Adult Community Center.

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