Today's article is a very quick recap of the highlights from the Hawaii Quilt Cruise that was originally scheduled for April 2020, was postponed several times, finally launched in mid-January, and returned last week.
Because travel can be unpredictable in the winter months, I arrived in San Diego one day early and took advantage of a tour of the USS Midway Museum just steps from my hotel. An amazing and fascinating collection of airplanes and stories. One of the trip highlights!
A trip to Old Town San Diego for some delicious Mexican food.
One more sleep, then onto the ship!
One of two conference rooms on board the Holland America Konigsdam.
Once the 40 quilters arrived to take their spots at the sewing machines, things never quite looked this tidy again!
Let the Quilt-Making Begin!
For five straight days at sea on the way to Hawaii, everyone snipped pre-cut quilt block pieces and began solving the mystery quilt project, one step at a time.
It became clear very early on that there are exactly three types of piecers: Tidy Piecers. Not-so-tidy Piecers, and . . . well, different piecers.
The quilt was a bit more challenging than I expected it would be--the pre-cut pieces (laser cut) required an accurate scant quarter inch seam.
Regardless, the quilters persevered (as quilters do) and days turned to nights, and days again.
Until. . .
The ship pulled into the port in Honolulu on the island of Oahu during the dark pre-dawn hours.
On all the other stops I rented an car and made my own plans.
On Oahu, I joined an excursion with several ladies from our quilt group for a drive-by tour.
- Pearl Harbor and the Arizona Memorial (a must-see) (immediately below right)
- A road-side food truck that looked like it had been parked in the same spot since the 1970s. Delicious saucy shrimp and chicken dishes cooked to order for lunch. (below left)
- A Macadamia Nut outlet. Side note. Free-range, wild chickens are everywhere! 'Krispy' has a special spot on a table at the nut shop! (below right)
Our second stop, the island of Kauai loomed ominous in the pre-dawn approach.
Rainy and late arrival in port was the theme for the day.
I made my way as quickly as I could to get my rental car so I could explore. The rain stopped, and I managed to visit the quaint town of Hanapepe (HAN-ah-PAY-PAY) for some shopping and lunch and then a stop at Poipu Beach where the sea turtles were napping. A little more shopping, then back to the ship. I did my best to fill the storm-shortened port stop to the max.
Another day, another island. Our third port was Maui. As the ship pulled into port, the 'greeting committee' of humpback whales could be seen everywhere you looked from the state room balconies. Binoculars came in handy.
This is perhaps one of my favorite pictures from the entire trip. Haleakala National Park is a drive straight up the side of a dormant volcano (the road is full of switchbacks, so 'straight' isn't perhaps the best description). The sky, the clouds, and the colors from the mountain crater were astonishingly breathtaking.
My favorite photo was followed by, perhaps, my favorite meal from the entire trip. Don't get me wrong, the meals were excellent on the ship. However, on Maui, I had a bit of extra time after returning the rental car. I wandered into Lahaina before getting back on the ship. At the Lahaina Fish Company, I had an outdoor, shoreline table and a wildly tasty Ahi Poke salad. Perfecto!
Fourth port: Hilo on the Big Island (Hawaii).
Got the rental car and headed to the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. I started with a hike in a rain forest to seek (and find) tropical birds for my life list.
The trail took me straight down from the treetops to the outer rim of the Kilauea (the non-active part) caldera (below left). From there I could see the gas from the active part of Kilauea. The landscape is what, I imagine, the surface of the moon looks like.
Traveling further into the park by car, from an overlook, erupting Kilauea is visible. (below right). The bubbling red spot (arrow) is about the size of a two-story house. At night, I was told the roughly circled area looks like a black surface covered by a bright red lava spider web.
Our final Hawaiian stop was on the opposite side of the Big Island at Kona. Even though it was quite a drive, I made my way to the Punalu'u Black Sand Beach. The black sand is lava rock that the water has crushed into fine sand over time--a LONG time!
As I traveled back to port, I made a few stops to take in the lovely scenery and to do a little shopping. It's hard to describe how unique this state really is. Some places are busy with hustle and bustle of daily life, and others are as quiet and remote as any place I've ever been. It's a spiritual place where human and natural history meet.
Back on board, leaving the beautiful islands of Hawaii behind us, the adventure continued with more sewing to do. Many of the 40 travelers finished the quilt center by the end of the trip and solved the mystery quilt pattern, Sea Lilies
And here they are now! 40 (give or take) happy quilters. Don't they all look very accomplished having worked so hard on their project, and also very rested after enjoying the sea breezes and lovely landscapes of Hawai'i?
Many thanks to everyone who came along for the ride and made the fabulous quilt project - I hope you all had fun! I certainly did (and no, you still can't have my Hawaiian shirt)!
And a huge shout-out to Michelle (our travel agent and fearless leader) and Scott (our sewing machine provider and vendor). Check out Michelle's future cruises and travel adventures at Travel Adventures by Michelle.
Until next time, Aloha, and . . .