Hike to the secret beach


Hawaii guidebook writers seem to have a penchant for enticing the reader to a spot so pristine, so secluded, that no one else could possibly know about it. “Imagine yourself slipping into your own private, secluded swimming hole,” or “here’s a beach so secret, so hard to find, that even native Hawaiians don’t know about it.” Or, at least they didn’t, until they read this book along with thousands of others. Best Husband and I are not so naïve that we’d fall for this hyperbole, yet, wanting a little adventure, we allowed ourselves to be seduced down the path to the so-called Secret Beach.

The first rule in following the path to anything labeled “secret” is that the journey must be somewhat difficult. If any ordinary traveler could just fall out of their car and stroll to said secret location, there would be nothing special about it, and said location would remain unworthy of the title “secret.” The guidebook’s directions to the secret beach almost seemed too simple for something so obscure, so special. “…turn right off the first Kalihiwai Road, then right on the first dirt road you encounter.” We had already had enough experience with Hawaii’s carefree signage to have just a bit of trouble with this part. Then, we had to interpret the Hawaiian definition of “road.” We’d already discovered that what we might call a path or two-track at home, might actually be considered a road here. Finally after managing this part, we had to tackle the issue of parking. Seems that everyone else who read our guidebook had also showed up that day, and parking was limited on the dirt track.

Next, the directions said: “…take the 10 minute path to the bottom. It’s slippery when wet.” It had rained a bit earlier that day, so we were forewarned.

And so we began. We spent the next 20 minutes or so on a steep vertical wall of red mud, slipping and grabbing on to branches and each other to stop our untimely slide all the way to the bottom. Fortunately, there were plenty of roots and large rocks embedded into the mud to stop us from sliding to our deaths.

At the end of Mudslide Trail, which we later dubbed it, the view was worth it. A long beautiful, sandy beach and surf surging up onto huge black rocks along the shore. Unfortunately, with the surf so rough we were unable to take the second trail along the rocks to the Secret Lava Pools – a trip we’ll save for next time.

© Huffygirl 2014

Things I learned this winter


  • If you double the amount of sugar in your bread recipe, you end up with a gooey hunk of unleavened dough in your garbage can.
  • Online shopping helps you memorize your credit card number.
  • Sensa makes your wallet lighter, but not you.
  • They really CAN get along without you at work.
  • Watching tragic events on TV makes you feel more a part of them than listening to them on the radio.
  • Buying trip insurance is a good idea for clumsy people.
  • Everything that happens to you is not A SIGN, although it sure seems like it at the time.
  • Appreciating the little things in life is a good idea.
  • Turns out you can make lemonade from lemons.
  • Sometimes winter seems really long, but it probably isn’t.
  • No matter how much time you have on your hands, you still won’t get the projects done that you don’t really want to do.
  • Spray-painting a bird bath is easy.
  • Using Google Music makes you wish you’d bought an iPod.
  • If you fall on your elbow, and you can’t raise your arm afterwards, chances are it’s broken.

double rainbow, https://huffygirl.wordpress.com, © Huffygirl 2012© Huffygirl 2013

To Gabriele


Ken  Caryl Canyon

Gabriele died last week after a long illness. I have never met her, but thanks to her daughter, Suzanne at Walking Papers Blog, I feel like I have. For months, Suzanne has shared Gabriele’s journey, her prose interspersed with photos, poems and stories about her mom’s life, and finally, death. Stories about family. Photos of Gabriele and her daughters and grandchildren. In an unflinchingly frank journal, Suzanne shared the gritty details of a beloved family member’s gradual separation from this life and her step into the next.

As I read I sometimes laughed, sometimes cried, but always felt empathy for Suzanne and her family thousands of miles away, yet so close. And through it all, I relived my  own mom’s brief illness and death, recalling the good, the bad, and the journey of her life. Others felt the same way, as Suzanne’s journal brought friends and strangers together in a community of followers of the story of Gabriele.

The internet can be a monster  – it can sap us of our free time and energy, with cat videos, FB and endless news cycles. But it can be a blessing too, making us part of a community across a nation or across an ocean, bringing us together as we share our stories and making our world a smaller place.

I wish peace to Gabriele who is now at rest, and peace to all who trek through their own journey across this world that is not so big after all.

© Huffygirl 2013

Ice Adventure


Ice floe, 2974,  https://huffygirl.wordpress.com, © Huffygirl

On a day so sunny that I felt like I needed sunglasses for my sunglasses, Best Husband and I ventured to Saugatuck, Michigan, for a winter’s day adventure. We ate lunch at  The Butler, a restaurant located in one of the original town buildings from 1892. We poked around in interesting little shops, ogling expensive kitchen knives in The Butler Pantry  kitchen shop, and admiring original artwork in the many art studios. We tasted exotic olive oils at The Olive Mill, and peered into windows of restaurants we had not seen before, hoping to savor them on another visit.

Then, the real adventure began. We left the downtown area and drove to the shore of Lake Michigan at Oval Beach. One never knows what they’ll find on the Lake Michigan shores in the winter. Often the water’s edge are encased in thick ice floes that may change daily with the weather. Other winters we’ve been to the Lake Michigan shores to find no ice at all. This day, we were not disappointed. The shore was blanketed with a massive ice floe, spreading out 50 to 100 yards from the shore. Not wanting to become an icy death statistic or an unexpected guest of the Coast Guard, we wisely kept to the water’s edge as we walked and photographed this amazing gift of nature.

© Huffygirl 2013

Droning on


http://carpetbaggery.files.wordpress.com/2011/12/star-wars-1.jpg Remember that fatal scene early in the movie The Empire Strikes Back? The rebels are hiding on the icy slopes of Hoth, a safe-haven they’ve found for regrouping for their next move against the Empire. All is well. Then, that surveillance drone snaps a photo of their power generators, and they next thing they know Darth Vader is knocking on the door. Darn pesky drone.

Well, now we’ve got our own worries about drones. Maybe it won’t be Darth Vader at the door, but it might not be good. Sure, drones that scan burning buildings for victims, or search remote areas for lost hikers are great, and keep rescue personnel safe. But what about drones that give us traffic tickets, follow our whereabouts and peer through our walls without search warrants? Or drones loaded with bombs or used to transport illegal materials over borders? Drones can be so tiny, or so far away, that we won’t know where they are, or that we are being watched. Even though I don’t plan on doing anything illegal, I’m not sure I want my whereabouts watched by anyone who wants, without my knowledge or permission. And I’d like to think that I’m somewhat safe when out in public and not have to worry that a terrorist is about to land a destructive drone in the town square.

What do you think? Are drones welcomed 21st century technology, or the freedom-robbing big brother of 1984 come to life?

© Huffygirl 2013

Darth Vader

Darth Vader (Photo credit: Sam Howzit)

Run Camp


 It’s that time of year when nearly 1,000 people converge on my gym, filling the hallways, classrooms and restrooms, to spend the next few weeks honing their running skills, or for most, starting a brand new running career. They are young, old, fat, thin, male, female. Most are sporting a brand new kit of running gear from head to toe: bright neon jackets with Icebreaker wool shirts and gators sticking out at the neck; Lycra tights that still have their out of the box sheen, and pristine running shoes, with laces still lily-white and toes unstained by mud or rain. They’re loud, laughing, excited; their nervousness is palpable. They cling to their friends and offer disclaimers to the run leaders signing them in. They clutch up in the hallways and block the entrance to the gym, where I must pass through their gauntlet to get to Saturday morning spin class. They sit in the walkways, feet splayed out in fresh new SmartWool socks, begging to trip me, as I make my way past to spend the first part of my Saturday in a dark room on a bike that goes nowhere.

Last year, I hated them. I endured Saturday after Saturday wrestling my way through the rabid run campers to get to spin class. I resented them more each week. Not only were they clogging up the gym, blocking the way and taking our parking spaces, their fresh-faced enthusiasm at fever pitch, but they were running and I was not. Between years of arthritis, a bad ankle and an old hamstring tear, I didn’t think I could ever run again. Biking was going to have to be enough for me. But I watched them week after week: overweight, out of shape people caught up in the flurry with their running peers. I watched them struggle through the snow as they left the building for group runs, their spanking new shoes getting wet and dirty while they straggled along at the back of their group, some not even making it to the street before they tuckered out and walked. And, they inspired me.

So, as everyone knows who’s been reading this blog for a while, I had my own run camp. It lacked the benefit of group camaraderie, lectures from trainers and inspirational talks. But I started training and ended up a runner. Not a fast runner, not a long distance runner, but enough of a runner to satisfy that longing.

So this year, I empathize with them. They are new runners, entering into the unknown, exposing their novice skills to hundreds of others, in the quest to run a 5K, a half, or maybe even a marathon. They’re trying something new where they might fail, might get hurt, or worse, quit before they find out what they could become. Now, when I put up with the inconvenience of hundreds of runners clogging up my gym for a few weeks, it’s okay, because, now I’m one of them.

© Huffygirl 2013

Photos courtesy of http://www.mlive.com

Related posts:

Missing syrup has Canadian Federation in sticky situation


There are some days when the news gods smile on satire writers like me, and today is one of those days. I heard a news story so good that I wish I could say I had made it up. But I can’t because, sadly, it’s all true.

Small maple syrup jug with non-functional loop...

There’s a sticky situation going on for the Quebec Maple Syrup Federation. Yup, Even saying there’s a syrup federation sounds delightfully made up, as if this were OPEC or the Rebel Alliance. But, with syrup going for $1,800 per barrel, or about 13 times the price of a barrel of oil, the maple syrup heist is nothing to laugh at.

You can read the entire story of syrupy intrigue here, but in the meantime here’s the sticky details. Earlier this year an audit of the Global Strategic Maple Syrup Reserve (Yes! There really is a strategic maple syrup reserve!) revealed 6 million pounds of the sweet liquid were missing, replaced by empty barrels or barrels containing water. The investigation eventually led to a tale of skullduggery involving  a leading syrup producer in New Brunswick, Etienne St. Pierre, Jacques Leblond, and a host of others that sound like the extras from Les Misérables.

Fortunately, in the latest development, the thieves have been pancaked, with several arrested and some of the missing syrup recovered. But the drama continues as syrup officials are unsure how sales of the stolen syrup will affect the global syrup market, and concerns from Quebec over continuing control of the syrup cartel.

And we thought nothing interesting was happening in the news this week!

© Huffygirl 2013

Bucket List


Earlier in life, I never had a bucket list. In fact, I didn’t even know what a bucket list was until that movie came out. I thought I had all the time in world to do whatever I wanted, and that I’d just take life as it comes. Until lately.

No, don’t worry, I’m not dying. But lately I’ve ventured into some things that I never thought I’d be doing, such as running a 5K race, and biking more than 4,000 miles. So when people ask what possessed me to do such crazy things “at my age” I came up with the pat answer of “it’s on my bucket list.” So naturally,  I had to come up with a few more things, or the bucket list would just be a bucket.

Here’s the list so far. And just to make me look more accomplished, I’ve  added some things I had already done, so I’d  have something to check off.

  • Run a 5 K race √
  • Travel to a European country √
  • Get resting heart rate below 60
  • Start a blog √
  • Visit Hawaii
  • Acquire wonderful grandchildren √
  • Finish my three unfinished novels
  • Read and understand “A Tale of Two Cities”, and not just the Disney version
  • See my name in print on something besides a  jury summons
  • Watch the Cubs win the World Series

Looks like I better get busy since I’ve only got four check marks*  so far, but now thanks to blogger buddy Lisa Winkler of Cyclingrandma.wordpress.com, I can check off one more. Lisa, in a fit of ambition, gumption and doggone determination, corralled and cajoled (actually it didn’t take much cajoling) a gaggle of women bloggers to submit works for a collection of essays on the smatterings of life. Although most of us do not know each other in real life, we’re forever bonded as sister authors in our now published collection of writings, “Tangerine Tango: Women Writers Share Slices of Life.”** So besides checking off “see name in print” I can also check off “use blog for shameless self-promotion” as you can glean all the publication details here or here, and connect with the other authors and their blogs here. All profits from this handy little pocket-sized book will be donated to a charity to fight the neurodegenerative disorder, Huntington’s disease, a cause dear to the heart of one of the authors.

Besides having the glowing feeling of accomplishment to be included with the likes of such distinguished women writers, I can also bask in the knowledge that although I’m now searchable on Amazon, I still do not appear on a Google, search, although about 500 other women with my name do, including one who lives, of all places, in  Hortonville.

(Thanks Lisa, for all your hard work!)

**No tangerines were harmed in the making of this book.

* Yes, I know this is a square root sign and not a check mark, but it’s the closest thing to a  check mark that WordPress has, and I’m not going to post a bucket list without being able to check things off, dammit.

© Huffygirl 2012