Monday, February 29, 2016

CLASSIC TRIP - Maui 1995

Note - This is now the oldest  (Puerto Vallarta is the oldest from 1992 - Ed) trip on the site, dating back to1995. Remember that when dealing with prices and such.  I have no updated information at this time.

Our son, Tim, had always wanted to see Hawaii. This year he got his wish as we found a good deal for a week's stay in Maui. For $569 we got a week's stay at an oceanfront room in Kahana, a rental car, and airfare on ATA. This was all booked through Pleasant Hawaiian Holidays.

The flight over was fine. Nothing special but nothing really bad about it either. The only complaints is that it is on a very crowded L-1011 and ATA's idea of what a bulkhead seat is is very different from mine. On the plus side, the flight over was direct to Maui, without having to stop in Honolulu, and the flight attendants were courteous.

On arrival in Maui I headed over to pick up our rental car at Alamo. The line was about 15 people long when I got there and grew quite a bit after me. 30 minutes later, I picked up my wife and son from the terminal.

Our hotel room was in Kahana on the other side of the island past Lahaina and Kaanapaali. It is listed as a condo, but that would be too generous of a description. Basically, our room at the Kahana sands was just that...a room with a king size bed, a murphy bed, and a tiny kitchenette crammed into the corner.

The room was a bit of a disappointment. It was kind of dingy with cigarette burns in the drapes. The building itself has very limited access for chairs. 2 parking spots, a ramp, and an elevator (with one step to negotiate). The room itself had no special accomodations. On the plus side it was on the beach but overall, we were disappointed that a company as well known as Pleasant Hawaiian would book such a dingy place in its packages...even if it was very low priced.

Being optimistic, we try to spend as little time as we can in the room...we are in Hawaii afterall...and get out to do things. Nearby is a dive shop, Snorkel Bob's I believe...that rented snorkeling equipment. The equipment was top notch, the price a bargain, and they throw in a map of local dive spots.

I had been to Maui when I was a teenager and remembered a superb dive spot near the Bhuddist temple on the outskirts of Lahaina. When I asked at the dive shop about this spot, they said it had been ruined by pollution. But more on this later...

Saddened, we went to the nearest spot on the map, Kapalua Bay. The last time I'd been here, Kapalua Bay was out in the boonies. Only a small wooden church marked the spot. I remembered a supremely delightful day spent bodysurfing here as a teen.

Now the entire area is a plush resort with many condos and a championship golf course winding around. The small wooden church is still here, but the rest of the area is completely unrecognizable to me. Coming from Los Angeles, I know how this can happen.

There is a very small dirt parking lot where the public slobs like us can park...public access is still guaranteed to the beach if grudgingly...and we luck out with a spot before it's full. Negotiating the wheelchair from here down to the beach is very tricky and just barely doable. We finally make it to Kapalua's crescent shaped stretch of sand.

Tim and Darryl Snorkeling

Tim and I don our masks and fins and head out into the water. It is pretty. There are loads of fish and we see a basketball-sized octopus having lunch on some small, unfortunate fish. I think maybe time is blurring it, but the beautiful as it is...isn't quite as clear as it was years ago.

Still, we have fun and continue this pattern all week as we head up and down the coast to the dive spots highlighted on our map.

Mid-week, we take in a luau at the Royal Lahaina resort in Kaanapaali. This was a lot of fun. Although I suppose it was not as "authentic" as the luau advertised in Lahaina, it was still a blast. Not cheap (nothing here is, see Random Notes below for more), the price still included dinner and unlimited drinks...always a plus on vacation! Since we went on a Wednesday, Tim got in for free.

The food was good, the drinks cool and refreshing...and when the bartender saw me drop a dollar bill in his tip jar, he made sure I didn't go back to my table before fortifying our drinks heavily with extra rum.

Tim and the Luau Crew

The show was amazing with all the different kinds of Polynesian dances (the Tongan fire dance is pretty spectacular) and the audience participation was very inclusive including wheelchairs (see picture, there's a ramp at stage left). This was probably the best night time fun we had here.

Dining here can be problamatic. It's not that there aren't any good restaurants...there are plenty...but that they're all so expensive, even the bad ones, and without knowing where to go you can blow a lot of money on a bad experience easily.

Cooking in is also not a pleasant option. Groceries here are ungodly expensive.

We did find some places that we can pass on to you.

Our top pick for good food and value is BJ's (now called Lahaina Pizza Company - Ed)on Front Street in Lahaina. Good food, coupled with great live music and reasonable prices. The catch? It's upstairs with no elevator. A couple of beefy looking Hawaiian waiters are more that happy to get anybody upstairs though.

Kimo's is also good and last but not least, check out Lahaina Coolers for a very different menu at somewhat decent prices..

We found Cheeseburger in Paradise way overpriced and overrated.

We took the drive to Hana...wasn't quite as fun as we thought it would be...and took in an Omnimax movie in Lahaina that could have also been better.

Our last day on the island, we decide to take a submersible tour. After 45 minutes of breathtaking underwater scenery, our ship stops and everyone is invited up on deck to jump in for some snorkeling.
The snorkeling is beautiful, in fact the best on the trip. Just as good as that day many moons ago when my dad took us off of the WWII wharf next to the Bhuddist temple that the dive shop said was now gone due to pollution.

And why shouldn't it be beautiful? When we get on up on deck from the underwater area, we see where we are...just off of that WWII wharf next to the Bhuddist temple that we had dived on that day long ago...

Copyright 1995 - Darryl Musick
All Rights Reserved

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

A Comment on Comments

Just a quick note that your comments are always welcome here. Click on the "COMMENTS" link at the bottom of each post.

Note that here on the blog, comments are moderated, meaning they will not show up under the post until I read it and OK it. That's mainly just to keep out the spammers, hackers, inappropriate, and obscene comments. I don't mind criticism but do ask that you keep it civil and family friendly.

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Sunday, February 21, 2016

THE COCKTAIL HOUR: Wine Tasting for Lent

It's the Lenten season where many forego hard liquor for forty days.  In the meantime, we’re tasting wines and beers for this week's Cocktail Hour.
This week, we taste a white and a red…just like you’d get from your wine club shipment!

The white is the Thornton 2008 Gew├╝rztraminer.  Thornton is a winery in Temecula, California that is best known for their sparkling wines.  Temecula is a popular place to visit due to its proximity to Los Angeles, Orange County, and San Diego which are roughly all equidistant from it.  It’s a hot, dry area sitting south of Lake Elsinore and north of Escondido off of Interstate 15 inland and over the mountains from Camp Pendleton on the coast.
My gripe with the area is that they’ve succumbed to the Napa Valley disease…charging a lot for tasting, and charging a lot more for their wines even though  you can buy them at various retailers for less…because swarms of tourist descend upon the area each weekend.
That grievance aside, they do make some good wines here.
This Gew├╝rztraminer is an example.  From grapes grown in the area, which is known more for reds than whites, this pale, greenishly yellow wine pours like syrup into the cup.  A sniff reveals a citrusy tart, sweet nose with a strong pear scent along with hints of honeysuckle and peach.  It smells like it’s going to be another tarty, immature white.
Drinking is another matter.  Like the pour, there’s a syrupy taste and mouth feel.  It’s not nearly as fruity or tart as the nose would suggest.  The taste is a nice, mature balanced flavor with hints of honey and apple.
Easily the best white wine I’ve had in at least eight months. 
At the winery, this will set you back $22.  The Wine of the Month Club has it for $14.99, while Tom’s Farms…alongside the 15 in Corona…has a 2004 for $9.99.  I’d bet a buck that they’d also have this vintage for less than the winery price too.

For the red, we’re going with a wine we’ve tasted many, many times and picked up while filming our California’s Hidden Wine Country video a couple of weeks ago.  It’s the Centro Basco Red from Galleano Winery in Mira Loma, California.
Here in the Cucamonga Valley it’s hot, dry and dusty…which makes it perfect for bold, red wines like zinfandel.  Centro Basco is a very good Basque restaurant not too far away in Chino.  Galleano produces their house wine, a red table wine blended with their zinfandel grapes.
The nose is peppery with hints of plum and currant.  It’s a dark, inky pour into the glass.
That pepper nose carries over into the taste.  It’s spicy with tastes of cherry and a tannic, oak smoothness.  Slightly pucker.  A perfect complement to the big, bold dinners served at Centro Basco.

There are only two places on this earth to get it.  As the house red at Centro Basco (where they call it a Claret) at $8 a bottle or here at the winery for $5 a bottle.  Yes, those prices are not typos.
You can also get a coupon for a free glass with your dinner when you have a free tasting at the winery.

It’s a much better wine than the price suggests and one of the true bargains in wine but you’ll have to travel to the Inland Empire to get it.  Definitely worth the trip, especially if that includes dinner at Centro Basco.


Wednesday, February 17, 2016

CEREBRAL PALSY STORIES: The Most Interesting Sleep Machine

We all know that eating a well-balanced along with regular exercise are some of the keys to living a healthy, happy life for anybody.  Most of us also know that maintaining a healthy diet and getting regular exercise is not always easy for any number of reasons we come up with.. That is not breaking news.  As the title of this post mentions however, I'm not going to write a in-depth guide about diet and exercise  Instead, I'll touch on a third element of overall health and wellness. That is a good night's sleep.

First off, I have to say that it wasn't until about a year ago this time when I learned just how important sleep is to someone's overall health firsthand.  As I've mentioned before, I can't really speak for anybody who doesn't have a disability in terms of what effects a lack of sleep can have on their health, but for other members of the disabled community, I'm here to tell you that there are different treatment options for a good well-rested night of sleep. It is also important for the disabled community to consider that not having a good night's sleep over an extended period of time can have an impact on not only your physical health but your mental health as well.

For the mental health aspect, it is important for those individuals with disabilities to not be afraid to speak up to a family member or caregiver if something is bothering you.  That is one skill I've gotten better at particularly over the last year when I started having my own mental health issues that stemmed from a lack of sleep.

Over the last year, I went to a psychologist when my sleep deprivation issues started roughly around April of 2015, which included hallucinations and emotional outbursts that didn't make sense.  At the end of those sessions, I had been diagnosed with Insomnia.  For those that may not know, Insomnia is defined by Web MD as a sleeping disorder that is characterized by difficulty falling and or staying asleep  

During this time, I also started having issues with my breathing or lack thereof while sleeping.  To address this issue, my primary doctor referred me to a sleep specialist where I spent the night at said doctor's office to see if I had Sleep Apnea, where you stop breathing while sleeping, in addition to Insomnia.

Turns out I did and it is easily treatable with the use of what is known as a CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) machine that helps open up your airway to breathe easier so you can have a good night's sleep on a more consistent basis.  One thing that does take some getting used to is the mask a sleep apnea patient has to wear.

You should also consider that a CPAP machine doesn't solve all the issues from not getting enough sleep, but once your used to it, it doesn't hurt.  Another thing the machine does is it keeps track of how many times you stop breathing throughout the night.  The lower the number in the EPH (Events Per Hour) section of the Sleep Report the better.

For those who might be considering the use of one, just remember to breathe and green faces are good.  The machine does give out red faces from time to time based on certain factors that I can't fully explain since I'm not a certified sleep doctor who specializes in this particular field of medicine. The only advice I can offer is don't get discouraged by red faces and it helps to have a positive attitude each and every day.  

Tim Musick
Copyright 2016
All Rights Reserved.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

The Cocktail Hour - Cosmopolitan

I was never a fan, but for those of you who liked "Sex and the City," here's your drink. It's very easy to make and very refreshing on a sunny day on the deck.

Watch the Video!

INGREDIENTS - for two drinks
2 oz. - Vodka
1 oz. - Triple Sec
4 -5 oz. - Cranberry Cocktail
1/2 lime

Squeeze juice out of lime into a 500 ml cocktail shaker, 1/3 full of ice. Pour in vodka and triple sec. Fill to top with cranberry juice. Shake and strain into cocktail glass. Garnish with lime wedge and cranberries or pomegranate seeds.

I'm OK with it but some guys think this is a feminine drink. Probably because of the dark pink color and the association with Carrie Bradshaw and friends. For them, fill a glass with ice, pour it in and call it a vodka and cran.



Wednesday, February 3, 2016

CEREBRAL PALSY STORIES: Going On The Record With My Disability

As many of you who follow this blog may or may not know I was born with a disability known as Cerebral Palsy.  As the mission statement of this blog points out I have had Cerebral Palsy from the the time I was born 29 years ago.  

The effects of Cerebral Palsy are wide-ranging for those who have it.  Some Cerebral Palsy individuals require the use of a wheelchair like myself. Others can walk with the assistance of a walker or crutches. There are also others who require the use of assisted speaking devices to communicate with family and friends.

I can't speak for others individuals who live a normal life, but what I can tell you is that I try to make the most out of my life each and every day regardless of the challenges that come from living with Cerebral Palsy.

I don't want to bore you with a laundry list of personal challenges I've faced over the the years because it would take a long time and I don't want to write a novel.  Not to mention that they are personal.  Instead I'll share some stories from time to time under this new series of posts entitled Cerebral Palsy Stories.  I'll do my best to come up with some good and interesting ones.  Hopefully these stories can shed some light on what it's like to live life with your own set of wheels.

Tim Musick
Copyright 2016
All Rights Reserved