SHORE BIRDS

 Lying in the sun, he follows the unhurried paths of seagulls and sailboats, the azure breeze, the ebb and flow of foam on the water and in the air— Eduardo Galeano

I love the above quote for it explains my mood when I am on the beach.

I recently returned from a week’s stay at the beach. I seem to experience God’s creative power, and His awesomeness, and omnipotence, and my littleness when I am on the beach. For me there is no other place on earth that I have seen that gives me that feeling, other than being in the mountains, or looking at the lake, or being in the city, or riding my bike, or drinking coffee…well God can be near everywhere. But you get my point, I love the beach.

One reason for my love of the beach, that is where the seagulls and shore birds hang out. I love watching them and I am forever trying to capture interesting pictures of them. They mesmerize me and of all the bird, they seem the most human.

Here are a few I have taken over the years.

Forsythe Park Fountain, Savannah

Savannah is so beautiful that the dead never truly depart—James Caskey

Savannah, Georgia has quickly become one of my favorite cities to visit. It is a soft summer breeze in a world of urban storms.

This lovely southern US city has no tall skyscrapers, instead a few tall church steeples and a gold dome are the dominant pinnacles, much like many European cities. There are lots of Spanish moss, cobblestones, so much history, great food, many parks and respites and one really lovely fountain in Forsythe Park.

This fountain, perceptively called The Forsythe Park Fountain, has an interesting history. It was erected in 1858 after being ordered from a catalogue (thinking what a bad day that delivery guy endured). It is modeled after a French fountain in a central park to be gathered around. In fact there was a wedding going on the at the time we were there.

The Forsythe Park Fountain is definitely a destination in a destination city.

I guess you noticed the daisies were in bloom.

Maui…Wowie, Part 2 (A Whale of a Good Time)

The whale is the largest mammal, but as George says, “It doesn’t have to be”—Seinfeld

We spent a week on Maui…

Knowing what I know now about Maui, the above statement is all you need to know. Maui is a US destination that has it all, scenery, climate, beautiful beaches, mountains, hiking, adventure, great food, and for a few wonderful weeks out of the year in the winter…HUMPBACK WHALES!

I really didn’t expect much out of these large sea mammals. I equated seeing whales to watching dolphins on my many other trips to the beaches. Now that I have seen whales, it’s like watching a high school baseball game (dolphins) versus watching a major league baseball game (whales). I can’t imagine going back to Maui when the whales aren’t there, but rest assured there are many other things to keep you enthralled on this Hawaiian Island.

To say Mrs. Big Surf and I were mesmerized by these beautiful creatures would be an understatement. We watched them for hours on the patio of our condo, watched them on our beach walks, and went on a whale-watching tour.

When not watching whales, all we had to see was glorious sunsets, wonderful beaches, snorkeling among the reefs with sea turtles, an extinct volcano, and hidden waterfalls that are only known to millions of tourists (but still seemed untouched).

Before we delve any further into this blog, I realize this can be akin to watching someone else’s home movies from years past. At least if you get bored you can just click out.

The following are some of the photos of whales from afar with my telephoto lens. The title photo was from our whale-watching tour.

When whales jump out of the water it is called a “breach” and it is an impressive sight.

You also want to see a whale tail sighting.

This is an early morning shot of a mama and her baby.

Sometimes you just get a wave “hello”.

This whale came close to the shore in a bay on Sugar Beach one morning.

I would have liked to have traded places with this adventurous paddle-boarder. I was lazily on my patio drinking coffee when I took this photo.

We took a drive up to the top of the Haleakala crater to see the sunset because the Big Surfs are not morning folks. This gave us the day to go to Kahalui and get a carryout lunch from Tinroof and take it to Ka’a point and have a picnic.

The top of the mountain is over 10,000 feet. The drive up to the crater is impressive, however Mrs. Big Surf was a bit anxious due to her imagined, crippling thoughts of my ineptness behind the wheel and lack of guard rails.

You do have to enter the Haleakala National Park and pay a fee. If you get there early, which I recommend, you can hike in the crater.

The following photos are views of the summit of Haleakala…

The sunset above the clouds.

Coming back to sea level, we enjoyed the pristine beaches and sunshine of Maui. Beautiful beaches are everywhere on Maui because, you know, it is an island.

These are a few photos of the beaches on Maui…

Sugar Beach in Kihei with the island of Lanai in the background.

The rocks and reefs of Wakupu Beach in Wailea were great for snorkeling or just relaxing.

Sugar Beach

Sugar Beach

Beautiful and serene Ka’a Point outside of Kahalui on the north shore of Maui.

The beach at Ka’a Point.

Moss growing on the reefs on Sugar Beach.

We did not drive the road to Hana because we did not want to invest the time or car ride it takes to make the drive. Instead we went a short way, through the quaint town of Paia. This would be a great town to spend an afternoon exploring the shops.

A few miles outside of Paia on the Hana road is a trail to the Twin Falls. This is a short hike to a hidden pool with two waterfalls. I took a little swim here in the cold water under the falls, so cool…literally and experientially.

Twin Falls was a great destination for a short hike.

Bamboo trees seen on the hike to Twin Falls.

Old surfboard fence outside of Paia.

Mrs. Big Surf and I are not daredevilish by any means. Our big adventure at this point in our life is standing in line for food we have never tried. That being said, Maui gives the adventurer plenty of sea activities. The following photos are just an example of what awaits you if you so dare…

Everyone seemed to be sailors.

These lift foil boards would be fun. If you knew how to do it.

This could be fun if you were in the back and didn’t have to paddle.

Kayaks are very popular on Maui.

My favorite paddle-boarder.

Sunset walks are about as daring as I want to be now.

The island of Molokai is a short ferry ride from Lahaina.

Maui is a destination that should be considered for any vacation, if you don’t mind long plane trips. Adventure and relaxation awaits the travelers to this idyllic spot in the Pacific.

So one last sunset…

So, Aloha until Big Surf takes another trip or has a memorable meal or wants to show more home movies of the kids…

Not Mr. and Mrs. Big Surf but would have been a good ending.

Maui…Wowie! (part 1)Food !

I believe Hawaii is the most precious jewel in the world—Don Ho

With my apologies to Chuck Mangione, the title of this blog was how Mrs. Big Surf and I felt the whole week we were in Maui.

This blog is about the food we ate in Maui, other blogs to follow will entail the rest of our trip because with me the food is the most important part of the trip.

I’m sorry, but this blog is lengthy because I eat a lot. And since Hawaii was still in the throes of Covid protection, most of our food was take-out and styrofoam and plastic doesn’t photograph as well as fine china.

Now realize I researched many restaurants on all parts of the island and was ready to put my eating plan in action on the first day. So no matter where we were on Maui, I had multiple restaurants on my radar. Until we discovered….FOOD TRUCKS!!!!

We did sit down in a few restaurants, but due to Covid, if you needed reservations, some were hard to come by. Also I discovered the Maui sunset from our patio on the beach. So whenever a restaurant was marketing their sunset view, and somewhat elevated prices, and the wait for reservations, the option of a delicious meal from one of these food trucks looked a lot better. We just took the food back to our patio for our own private table to view a sunset like the one in the above photo, taken from our patio on Sugar Beach.

Day one started with an early breakfast pick up from Sugar Beach Bake Shop in Kihei. They have incredible malasadas, a Portuguese fried dough. Think of a solid cream-filled doughnut. We had these every morning. I also picked up some good coffee at the Java Cafe in the Azeka Mall in Kihei.

These malasadas were simple and delicious.

We had an early lunch from the OAO Sushi Go food truck. We had the Hawaiian Poke Bowl, the best thing we ate all week. We enjoyed this dish so much, we went back two more times for the poke bowl. We also got some wonderful sushi here during our last day, the Black Mamba roll…so good.

This Hawaiian Poke Bowl from OAO Sushi Go was the best thing we ate all week.

This Black Mamba sushi roll from OAO Sushi Go was really, really good.

We had a late lunch or an early dinner in Kahului. We stopped for carry out at Tin Roof, operated by Top Chef finalist, Sheldon Simeon. This was great food for a picnic at beautiful Ka’a Point on the north shore and a great starting point for our sunset viewing trip up to Hakalekulae Crater.

This pork belly was such a good dish, pork belly Kao Kao tin, from Tin Roof.

The Missus allowed me one of her pork belly spice wraps from Tin Roof. I was glad she did.

Day two in Maui started with another visit to a food truck, this time for coffee. Kraken Coffee served very good coffee for me and decaf for Mrs. Big Surf, this was a common stop for coffee.

After watching whales all morning and sitting on the beach, we worked up another appetite and decided to visit another food truck and eat in the setting provided for the food trucks behind the Azeka Shopping Center.

We had lunch at Vidad Local Kine Grindz food truck. We split an order of very tasty fried calamari and dry main noodles with braised short rib and had a ginger lemonade. Grindz is a local word for food.

The fried calamari and dry main noodles with braised short rib was a really nice lunch from Vidad’s.

Earlier in the morning, I stopped at Maui Farmer’s Market in Kihei and picked up some fruit, pineapple jam, and great homemade guacomole.

We couldn’t pull ourselves away from the beach and watching the whales and the sunset so we had an evening sunset meal of assorted goodies from the purchases of the day.

The Farmer’s Market Maui in Kihei had wonderful fresh fruit and very good homemade guacomole.

On day three, we went to Lahaina for a whale watching tour and had a great time. Afterward we stopped in Lahaina for lunch at Down the Hatch. Mrs. Big Surf enjoyed her fish tacos and I had a delicious local fish and fries. Very good lunch in a busy tourist town, but was really good.

On the way back to our condo in Kihei, we stopped for some fresh homemade pies at Leoda’s. This was a great idea. The pies were a delight, especially the key lime.

Fish tacos from Down the Hatch is a good choice.

If you are in the mood for some fried fish, I recommend the fresh fried fish and fries from Down the Hatch.

Satisfy your sweet tooth for some of Leoda’s homemade pies, these were coconut cream and key lime.

I highly recommend a stop at Leoda’s outside of Lahaina on the way to Kihei.

Lunch on day four was at a local favorite in Kihei, Nalu’s South Shore Grill in the Azeka shopping center. It was a good lunch menu, however Mrs. Big Surf called an audible and went for the late breakfast since she could not pass up the banana pancakes and I must say they were impressive. Big Surf on the other hand went for the raw salad to show his sensitive side.

These banana pancakes at Nalu’s were special.

The raw salad at Nalu’s is beautiful and great for a light lunch.

After snorkeling at beautiful Wakapu Beach in Wailea, we stopped for some take-out from highly recommended Paia Fish Market. We split an order of seafood pasta and clam chowder and headed back to the our patio for another Maui sunset.

This seafood pasta from Paia’s Fish Market is so good and was big enough to split for two people. The clam chowder was also delicious.

On day five of our week in Maui, we traveled north and hiked to Twin Falls. On the way back we found a roadside fruit stand and a huli huli chicken stand beside each other. The fruit and the fruit juices were so good and fresh.

Huli huli chicken is a Maui staple, often seen at roadside stands, if you are able to get some, by all means eat some of this. We love to sample local delicacies and traditional food when we travel and huli huli chicken is one of those traditions.

This lovely fruit stand outside of Paia was a great place to find fresh fruits and juices and the bonus was the huli huli chicken.

After consuming guava jelly most of my adult life, this was the first time I had ever seen fresh guavas in the wild. Now I understand my love of guava jelly.

Star fruit and passion fruit from our stop at the roadside fruit stand.

More fruit from our fruit stand purchases, mangoes and guavas. The pineapple and orange we got at the local grocery store. Don’t judge, the pineapples were local, fresh and cheap. We ate pineapple every day for breakfast.

We saved the huli huli chicken for a sunset dinner and stopped at the food trucks in Kahului for lunch. We settled on Aloha Thai Fusion. The missus ordered garlic shrimp and I ordered the Thai drunken noodles. We took back it back to our condo to consume. For some reason, I was given cashew chicken instead of the drunken noodles, but it was a very good mistake.

Though I was disappointed to not have the drunken noodles, the cashew chicken was delicious and also the garlic shrimp was scrumptious from Aloha Thai Fusion.

Day six was our last day in Maui and we finally got some Hawaiian shaved ice from Ululani’s.

Most of the blogs recommended Ululani’s for shaved ice and I have to agree. This is so refreshing and large enough that Mrs. Big Surf and I shared.

Our last meal was at Dinah’s sandwich shop at the Sugar Beach Resort. We didn’t feel like going anywhere, just wanted to stay on the beach and watch another sunset. We ordered a saimin, a traditional Hawaiian soup. I highly recommend this tasty Hawaiian staple for at least one meal while on Maui.

Dinah’s Sandwich Shop served a wonderful bowl of saimin.

Though most people don’t go to Maui for the food, you could. If you enjoy food as much as I, you can’t go wrong on Maui. This is a sample of a week’s worth of good food, not fine dining, but relatively inexpensive fare to enhance our week on Maui and I was not disappointed in any meal I was served. Part two of Maui…Wowie will be about all the other stuff we did on Maui.

Aloha and e hau’oli i kau mea’ai (bon appetit).

Turkish-Style Poached Eggs with Brown Butter Garlic Chips

Today’s egg is better than tomorrow’s hen—Turkish proverb

Sometimes I come across a dish that I just have to savor. And savor can be eating slowly, but that is never going to happen. So in this case savor is writing about it as soon as I can and keeping its memory alive amongst my hordes of readers.

This Turkish-Style egg dish is one of those meals I couldn’t get enough of. This isn’t your grandma’s or your ma’s Saturday breakfast meal to eat in a rush to begin your day. (Though it could be). My history of breakfast foods did not include these assorted tastes for my morning start-the-day. Yogurt, garlic, chili pepper, and smoked paprika give this dish a wonderful savory taste. But no worries for all you breakfast purists, there are still eggs and bites of toast and salt and butter.

This recipe came from Bon Appetite. I did not have any fresh herbs for garnish as there is a wind-chill of two degrees today and a run to the store was not an option, otherwise the recipe was followed to the letter and was so very good.

So for all of you who wonder what the Turks eat for breakfast, one more mystery solved. You’re welcome.

The Lake Park Diner in Naples, FL

People who love to eat are always the best people—Julia Child

Today is a great day. It’s 3:00 in the afternoon and I’m still in my pajamas.

Here’s why:

We now live on a small lake in southeastern Indiana. It’s cold and snowy and Mrs. Big Surf says I can’t go outside to play.

So when I see snow, I think of the sun, surf, and always…good food.

In October of last year (2021), Mrs. Big Surf and I traveled to the warmth and beauty of Naples, Florida to visit the cuz and his lovely bride. For some reason they seem to think we are enjoyable company.

Our first meal was very memorable, breakfast at The Lake Park Diner. It was memorable for two reasons. First of all the food was tremendous. Along with outdoor seating and a beautiful morning, this made for a great late morning eat-a-rama. A second memorable thing happened, the Mrs. Cuz threw down the gauntlet with her attempt to silence my powerful pen and not do a blog about this “diner with a conscience”. I was aghast to think someone would not want to see this wonderful diner praised in the world of mega-bites. (Wow how clever is that).

She admitted that she did not want this diner spoiled with all of the publicity this perspicacious (you will have to look this word up, took me three times to spell it) writing would bring to south Florida. So I will plead with all of you forty-six followers, please stay away. Now to the attorney for The Lake Park Diner, I hope this doesn’t make me culpable in some sort of smear campaign against this fine establishment.

This is a great place for a relaxing breakfast in Naples.

I went out of my comfort zone and ordered the Korean Short-rib Hash, which is pictured above. This was very good and very foreign to a good’ole boy from Appalachia. Also some very tasty deviled eggs had to be tried. Mrs. Big Surf ordered the Buttermilk Chicken Biscuit which was fabulous.

Wonderful deviled eggs with bacon jam and smoked paprika and topped with micro greens.

The Buttermilk Chicken Biscuit was served with a side of fruit. This was a good dish.

The menu board at The Lake Park Diner.

Very comfortable dining in the large outside area.

I normally don’t show men’s bathroom art, but this was pretty cool.

I really don’t know what the phrase “Diner with a conscience” means but I was self-conscious downing my breakfast so fast.

Now I am going to try to dance on the legal high wire here and tell you what a wonderful experience we had eating breakfast at The Lake Park Diner and keeping all of my viewers from showing up in droves here. So if you will, make sure Mr. and Mrs. Cuz are dining elsewhere when you show up at The Lake Park Diner and it will be our little secret.

Ode to West Liberty

The nice thing about living in a small town is that when you don’t know what you are doing, someone else does.—Immanuel Kant

I never knew Immanuel Kant grew up in West Liberty, KY.

The above photo is of West Liberty, KY, my hometown. I was born there. I lived there till college, graduate school, work, marriage, and parenthood…then moved back again for the next twenty-eight years…until last month.

I retired from my profession of thirty-eight years and moved to Indiana to be closer to my daughter’s family and of course, grandchildren. When I moved back to West Liberty twenty-eight years ago, I never thought I would leave again.

I had a professor in graduate school in Houston, TX that was from Sandy Hook, KY about twenty miles from West Liberty. He told me a man needs to live where his roots are. It took me a long time to figure out what he meant, but he was right.

I never understood the folks that left the Kentucky mountains for work and lived in Ohio, Indiana, Michigan, and Illinois for thirty or forty years and then moved back home, leaving their children and grandchildren. But I think I will understand a little better in a few years.

I loved being from West Liberty, KY. Yes, it’s small. Yes, there isn’t a lot of opportunities for young people. Yes, stores don’t stock many international foods. Yes, people always know your business (see above quote). Yes, it is physically isolated somewhat from larger cities. But it is and will always be home.

The residents of West Liberty, past and present, understand this.

Growing up in West Liberty was magical for me. I wanted my children to have the same experience and I had to convince my wife to move from her hometown to let our children grow up in West Liberty. I will always thank her deeply for allowing that to happen. I feel if you grow up in a small town, you learn to get along with people because you can’t hide from them. You will see them or their relatives at every turn. It is easier to make the transition from a small town to a city than from a city to a small town.

As mentioned earlier, I never thought I would leave again. But alas, after over two hundred years of someone in my family tree living in that community, I was the last remaining leaf to be a resident of West Liberty. But don’t get me wrong here, the people of West Liberty would have been enough to keep me there, for they are wonderful people. The beauty of the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains would have been enough to keep me there also. However, we missed our family and Indiana had what Kentucky didn’t have…my daughter and grandchildren.

So West Liberty, I am sorry to leave you. You will always be my home and my love…my roots.

Ahhh…Retirement

When a man retires, his wife gets twice as much husband with half as much money—Chi Chi Rogriquez

Last month, I retired from my profession of thirty-eight years.

My only regret is that I didn’t do it sooner. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed taking care of the patients and I enjoyed the people I worked with.

I even, in some way, enjoyed the responsibility of it all…up to a point. That point was crossed a few years ago. The responsibility started to wear on me and I realized my time of working was soon coming to an end. Also I was not born with the best work ethic, I never whistled while I worked…for I can’t whistle.

This last couple of weeks of not having to answer an alarm in the morning has been blissful, except for some reason, now I wake up an hour before the alarm was usually set. Boy, life is a real practical joker.

Mrs. Big Surf and I also moved up north, in the winter…who does that??

We decided to live close to some of our grandchildren while they still think we are wonderful and gullible enough to believe it.

We live on a small lake in southeast Indiana. The above photo is our view for each sunset. Life is really good now, for me anyway. Mrs. Big Surf seems to have a little different take on my retirement (see above quote).

I hope I can cook more, travel more, and write more blogs… unless it feels like work.

Big Surf’s Breakfast Bowl

Instead of thinking outside the box, get rid of the box–Deepak Chopra

Here in the Appalachians, when it comes to take out outside the box, most of us would rather eat in the box.

We eastern Kentuckians are very particular about what we eat for breakfast. If we get anything other than biscuits and gravy, eggs and bacon, or sausage, or pancakes, or waffles, or cereal…well that just puts us in a tizzy of epic proportions. In the historical context, we have just recently embraced bagels and yogurt to our start to the day.

So for me to eat a breakfast bowl that is not filled with the above mentioned ingredients was akin to dining al fresco outside the comfortable inside dining area of the box.

Saturdays are the days Big Surf goes aforagin’ through the fridge in search of ingredients to create a magical start to the day for the blue-eye darlin’. Now some of these mornings are more poof than PRESTO! However this one was quite a PRESTO! We loved it.

I sautéed some onions, Brussel sprouts (yes that’s right, so when the hairs on the back of your neck come back down hear me out), mushrooms, pork steak leftovers, and spinach. I added to the sautéed veggies salt, pepper, and Everything but the Bagel.

After the saute’, I topped with tomatoes, avocado and a fried egg. I’m sure you could add your favorite shredded cheese and I was going to add some cheddar, but honestly I forgot. I guess I was too focused on “OH MY GOSH! I’VE JUST DECIDED TO EAT BRUSSEL SPROUTS FOR BREAKFAST!”

In the end, it was tasty, healthy, and Mrs. Big Surf’s blue eyes were still sparkling.

Alone in Naples, Florida

If you’re lonely when youre alone, you’re in bad company—-JeanPaul Sartre

At the present time, I am on a week vacay in Naples, Florida. Mrs. Big Surf and I decided to use up a couple of frequent flyer tickets so we could burn a credit card and save $95.00 a year. So we came to pay a visit to our cousin and his lovely bride. It was a 1200-mile pop-in.

So it’s midweek and I am just now getting into a calm and serene state. I am retiring from work soon and today is hopefully a microcosm of what that will look like, minus the Florida surroundings. We will be considerably further north on Google Maps. Anywho, I awoke with a burst of energy akin to my grandchildren. I occasionally have these moments in the mornings of my off days when I feel I can do anything except what Mrs. Big Surf has on her honey-do thingy list.

Today is one of those days that I hope fills my retirement…relaxing in the morning with three cups of coffee, good conversation, breakfast, bike ride, swim, write a blog, nap, dinner. Repeat.

Currently I am sitting by the pool writing this blog. I just wanted to look busy and successful at one time in my life. I mean who would sit by a pool in Florida on their laptop, unless you were so important that you couldn’t take a break for a few minutes and sit by the pool or you are one of those novel writers that’s doing some research for a murder-mystery about the sudden disappearance of the head of the pickle ball organizational committee set in the confines of a pristine south Florida residential setting with a few pools for pretenders like me to look like a pretentious writer? I would be wearing a tweed jacket out here by the pool but I would hate to stand out. I am already a 60’s something white guy in a South Florida retirement area and already conspicuos. Well Hemingway lived in south Florida, right?

Ok so what does this have to do with the above photo and the quote about solitude.

I WAS LEFT ALONE FOR A WHILE!!

The cuz had to take his dog for a visit to his canine doctor (remember we are in south Florida where everyone has their doctor). The two missuses (or is it missi?) went to call on the shop proprietors . I was left alone at the important part of the day when it is time to eat lunch.

I realized no one was coming back soon to feed me, so I fantasized on surviving this lone period with my kitchen smarts and fine-cooking experience. Of course if I wrote a book about these two aspects of my life, you could read it between bladder eventualities after the aforementioned three cups of joe.

However I still had to survive.

So I thought of vegetarian street tacos. I was in a house so I guess we can drop the “street“.

I foraged through the fridge for ingredients then sautéed some small sweet peppers, carrots, onion, and jalapeños with salt and pepper and smoked paprika. I heated up left-over black beans and rice then assembled. I topped with some small cucumbers for crunch, added some scallions and cheese and guacamole, then drizzled some lime juice.

It was very good. Sometimes I am impressed by my survival skills.

I bet Hemingway never had to deal with that level of stress.

Just so you believe me, here is photo of my surroundings today.