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2012 Picture report from Hawaii number 5 · 14.01.12 by colin newell

Proving several things.
God has a sense of humor – watching this fella (or lady) struggle to get up to the dry lava rock, tells me that we all have our struggles but there is always a reward.

And that we are not the only important creatures on this planet (having seen a dozen whales and hundreds of dolphins the last few weeks…)

Sometimes the best part of getting away, is getting in touch with reality.

Photo taken from at least 25-35 feet away with a long zoom – Turtles are protected and should not be approached, harassed or played with.

Making my way toward dry land - Kona Hawaii

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2012 Picture report from Hawaii number 4 · 14.01.12 by colin newell

A subtle reminder that there are great places on the planet – peaceful, surrounded by a vast ocean, seemingly insulated from the rigors of daily life… at least for a few weeks of the year.

Photo below: The balcony at the Hale Kona Kai – Kona, Hawaii.

View from the balcony at the Hale Kona Kai

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2012 Picture report from Hawaii number 1 · 8.01.12 by colin newell

Sitting by the pool today noticed a glint in the ocean… which was around 15 feet away.

I know – begs the question: Why build a small heated pool a few feet away from a gargantuan sized salty heated pool. Who am I to argue.
While we sunned by the pool we could hear the shouts of folks in their shuttered condos watching Sunday football – I know… that does not make sense either.

Hawaii – truly a land of mystery.

The real mystery awaits you below – it caught our eye. An iridescent glow above and below the water – like purple laser beams that flashed brighter as waves of water passed over the outcropping – I am assuming a fluorescent algae bloom – honestly, I have never seen anything like it. For once, a photo does no justice.

Will try and do a photo a day to encapsulate my experience.

Electro fluorescent algae bloom

Below our balcony – again, inches from the Pacific Ocean. This fellow flirted with the ocean life for an hour and came up empty handed… or did he?

Serenity with a fishing pool

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Hawaii get-away a deal for you before Christmas · 31.10.11 by colin newell

Our favourite Hawaii get away is the Hale Kona Kai off of Alii Drive in Kona.

We are coming up on a 4th visit in a row – what we consider a long-stay (1 month). They are usually pretty busy but they have a window available before Christmas and if you are thinking of a last minute get away to the Big Island and are looking for an awesome place to stay – look no further!

This unit at the Hale Kona Kai is available Dec 12 – 22 ‘starting’ at $100/night.
Meaning, the bigger the piece you take out of this booking, the cheaper it’s going to get.

Andrea and I enjoy the power of a tropical sunset. And if you are thinking Big Island last minute you might want to consider this property.

We write about it Hawaii Travel Chapter OneHawaii Travel Chapter TwoHawaii Travel Chapter Three Hawaii Travel Chapter FourHawaii Travel Chapter Five

Search my blog using keywords Hawaii or Big Island and you will find lots.

The link for the Big Island Kona condo is here

Hale Kona Kai Condo 201

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Leaving your heart in San Francisco - part 4 - just doing it · 10.09.11 by colin newell

A week in San Francisco - so much to do - you run out of time.

Quick summary – Thinking of visiting a great American city? San Francisco is a great choice for couples and families – and even individuals. In the previous 3 installments we covered aspects of planning and organizing your visit.

photo above – the city that loves its water. No visit to San Francisco is complete without spending some time on the water or over the water… Click on any photo to zoom in for a better view!

We got a City Pass to get all access to the MUNI, the street cars and the cable cars. Best dollars spent.
We reserved a spot on a 3 hour Grayline tour. They pick you up at your hotel.

Food culture - sample the classic sour dough at Bouchon Bakery

We did not need to make a dinner reservation ahead of time because there are so many options. Now if you are doing a Wine country tour and want to dine at the French Laundry – you may need to reserve a few months ahead of time.

Photo above – Sourdough is part of San Francisco culture – check it out at Boudin Bakery

Andrea and I had some real goals and some special food and coffee targets and virtually all of those were achieved.
All of the coffee shops are either within walking distance of downtown or walking distance from the Market Street F Train. That is the street car line you will get familiar with if you visit San Francisco.

Napa valley wine and Yountville - great bakeries and french eats.

Getting to know the overall food scene of San Francisco when visiting for a week? It’s utterly impossible. Talk to friends who have been there or read some literate San Francisco food blogs and take your chances. We were staying on Nob hill in San Francisco and found some gems in the neighborhood – most or all of those based on tips we had received prior to arrival.

Photo above – Food and Wine culture in Yountville, Napa Valley. A quick moving lineup into the Bouchon Bakery

We found San Francisco to be a great family (and pet) friendly city with a bewildering menu of activities to please everyone – and it’s all very well organized. The only line ups you will encounter will be at the popular cable car stops – and since everyone must ride the cable cars, ride before 9:30AM or after 5:30PM.

Let me repeat: San Francisco is a child friendly place and so are ALL the attractions including the cable cars. The San Francisco cable cars are also stroller friendly so do not be shy. San Francisco cable car pilots (or driver engineers) are very well trained and appear to be excellent tour guides. In an average ride, there were upwards of 40 riders and the drivers always seemed to know who wanted to get off where and when.

Visiting Wine country - plan ahead, reserve if necessary and avoid full parking lots!

For Andrea and I there were no hiccups – at any stage of the process. I do talk on this subject a lot and I do get the sense from lots of Canadians that would like to travel BUT… the overarching issue for them is, surprise surprise, airport security. I have not done a lot of air travel over the last ten years but it is usually a twice or thrice annual event for me. I just roll with it and never have any complaints about overly zealous TSA or border folks – they are just doing their jobs.

Wine touring? Plan ahead – reserve tastings if necessary – avoid parking lots full of limos and tour buses!

San Francisco is the kind of place you can spend a little or a lot – is up to you. And this axiom applies in all facets of the visit. The sky is the limit for hotels but you can find many boutique hotels for around $120/night (or less) on special via one of the many online booking agencies. San Francisco is getting hit by the recession like any other American (or global for that matter) city and deals abound.

The weather in San Francisco was unflinchingly cooperative but also pretty typical. Layering is the golden rule – and you won’t be shivering.

San Francisco for crazy good coffee culture - explore and be rewarded!

Will probably add some more to this last chapter on our first (in hopefully a series) of San Francisco visits. By all means, if you need any additional info or some clarification on any aspect of what I have written about San Francisco, please send me an email – I respond enthusiastically to all e-mail generally within 24 hours or less.

I hope this little series of articles have helped out those folks that are heading off to San Francisco. Andrea and I loved our week there – we were utterly amazed at how wonderful this city is and cannot wait to return. If you go, let us know how it works out for you!


Colin Newell is a Victoria area resident, food writer, pop culture and cafe culture maven – in the business of writing about trends in food and drink world since 1995 – His work has appeared on The Women’s Network, CBC, CTV and on CBS Television, CSI Las Vegas.

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