In honor of Chanukah, pictures of Israel

This week marks the holiday of Chanukah, and the victory of the Maccabees over the Greek desecrators of the Temple.  The ancient Jews, fighting for their homeland, were fierce warriors, who were not finally defeated until the Romans did so in 70AD with the destruction of the Second Temple in Jerusalem.  Here are some pictures that I took on our trip to Israel in 2007.

Walls, Masada
Walls and room, Masada, Israel

Evidence of another group of brave Jews, who committed suicide rather than surrender to the Romans.

View from Wall of Jerusalem Old City.
View from the Old City of Jerusalem, Israel. This is MY Country.

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This is the view from Masada, toward the Dead Sea.  Dry, but absolutely beautiful.

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The lower pool at Ein Gedi, oasis amid the parched wilderness.

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The ancient city of Caesarea, on the Mediterranean Sea.  The city of Herod the Great.

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Women at the Wailing Wall, remnant of the Second Temple in Jerusalem. These are MY People.

Happy Chanukah to all.

On The Jews

On The Jews

I am currently reading Walter Russell Mead’s book God and Gold, subtitled Britain, America, and the Making of the Modern World.  In this book, he discusses the role of religion as one of the forces in the making of the Western Enlightenment societies we have today.  He says this about the Jews in today’s world:

Apart from the significance of Jewish experience to Jews, the survival of the Jews into modern times serves for billions of non-Jews as a kind of historical proof that the God of Abraham is powerful and real.  God told Abraham that he would have descendants who would remember his name–and lo! there they are.  That this unique people, returning almost miraculously against all probability to the land God promised Abraham would support his descendants, is a kind of bone in the throat of the world–a people and a state that can neither be spat out nor swallowed, unable to find rest at “home” or in exile–only further shows billions of Abrahamic believers just how powerful the narrative (or the God) remains after all these millennia.  That world history remains convulsed by the struggles of the Jews to make a home, and that their ethical and military successes and failures reverberate to the ends of the earth, further reinforces the most powerful cultural force that human beings know.

I just love his phrase about the “bone in the throat of the world”, it just works.  And the paragraph above supports what I have come to think of as the role of the Jewish People in the world.

The Jews are the Conscience of Humanity.  You will know when the human race is well and truly doomed.  When the last Jew is gone.

May the Jewish People live, and thrive, Forever.  Amen.

A Not-so-modest Proposal to ameliorate some of the damage done to our National Forests by Smokey the Bear and his henchmen in the Environmental Movement

Ever since I can remember, Smokey the Bear has been telling us that only WE can prevent forest fires.

Smokey

So, who told Smokey that the Prime Directive was to Prevent Forest Fires?  Well, since the 1940s, the US Department of Agriculture used him to prevent Human-caused fires.  In later years, Environmental Wackos did their best to make sure that the National Forests remained in their pristine condition.  They did this by basically putting the forestry profession as much out of business as possible, to “preserve” the National Forests for whatever endangered species they could find.  Humans were considered destroyers of both forests and wildlife.  So national policy discouraged logging in national forests for many years.

The result of this enlightened policy was entire regions decimated by the logging companies put out of business.  On the Olympic Peninsula in Washington State, towns like Forks which had had thriving economies were deprived of their ability to support their people.  Unfortunately, when evergreen forests are not thinned, and fires are prevented, they build up heavy loads of underbrush, which in summer are fire hazards.  Another plague that has hit especially Western National Forests has been the pine bark beetle, which thrives on the wood of Ponderosa and other pine trees.  The dead trees killed by the beetle remain dried-out, and standing among the live trees, just waiting for that bolt of lightning.  Here is a picture of a forest in California.  The red trees were killed by the beetles.

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And here is the slope of Mount Rushmore.  See the dying trees?

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So I have come up with a proposal that should be a win-win-win situation.

First, the Federal Government should hold regional auctions, covering portions of the National Forests.  They would auction off, to the highest private-sector bidder, the rights to log their territory, ONLY removing dead or dying trees, and dry underbrush.

This type of auction would have many beneficial effects.  First, it would bring in money to the government, to help it manage the National Forests.  Second, it would improve the conditions in the forests, as dead and dying trees were removed and fire danger thus reduced, and the remaining trees would be healthier overall.  And Third, it would create jobs in the forestry industry, allowing professional logging companies to get back to their work, and reviving the economies of Western towns that used to depend on logging for their livelihoods.  Those loggers could sell their wood wherever they could find markets, and furniture-makers and others would have a large supply of wood with which to create products.  So everyone, except maybe the Environmental Wackos, would benefit.  Finally, society as a whole would benefit from the sight of forests that are greener and healthier.

Last Half of the Journey-Hawaii Cruise Travelog-Leaving Hawaii for Mexico…And Home

Last Half of the Journey-Hawaii Cruise Travelog-Leaving Hawaii for Mexico…And Home

Wednesday, July 25 through Monday, July 30, we were again at sea, and you know what that means…  Lectures!  The weather wasn’t conducive to much deck-walking, but I did get a few ocean and cloud pictures.  This was the last picture of Hawaiian waters.

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July 25 speakers were Roger Kimball on “Trump vs The Elites”; John Steele Gordon on “A Brief History of American Medical Insurance”; Dr. Arnn on the history of the Administrative State; and George Neumayr on the political papacy of Pope Francis.  The Pope has been the subject of lively discussions, both on the cruise and on Ricochet among the site’s many devoted Catholics, and Mr. Neumayr’s talk generated lots of questions.  In fact, the ship’s Irish-Catholic chaplain had some slightly-hostile remarks which Neumayr fended off masterfully.  We took home a signed copy of his book entitled The Political Pope, which is a must-read.

Thursday, July 26 saw a new roster of speakers.  Nick Lloyd discussed the part of World War I from 1915-17; Patrick Caddell discussed media and polls; and Walter Russell Mead spoke on “Britain, America, and the Making of the Modern World”.  I brought home Mead’s book God and Gold, and it is proving to be a very interesting treatment of the history of Western Civilization with an emphasis on the invaluable contributions of the English-speaking countries.

This is what the view was from the Promenade Deck that day.

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And this is what we saw from the Churrascaria restaurant that evening.

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Friday, July 27, brought more captivating lectures.  Michael Ramirez gave a history of the editorial cartoon, with ample examples of his own work.  Victor Davis Hanson discussed the Battle of Midway, and John Steele Gordon spoke on the history and future of money (which everyone was very attentive to, for obvious reasons).  After lunch, Michael Walsh spoke on the decline of music in Western culture, a subject that interests me greatly.  I have never been very fond of recently-composed music, since it seems to me to be aimed at the composer rather than the listener, and if you can’t please the audience, your music might not get played or sung very much.

Here’s the view from our balcony on Friday.

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On the trip home, the sea was pretty rough, and we got excellent balance practice every time we walked anywhere.  I was lucky, and never completely lost my balance, even in the pitching, rolling shower!  Saturday’s lectures were by Walter Russell Mead on US foreign policy, George Neumayr on the “never-ending investigation”, and Nick Lloyd on the end of World War I.

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On Sunday, July 29, we approached land again, toward Ensenada, Mexico.  I could tell that we were nearing land when the color of the water changed, the skies grew lighter, and the air was warmer.

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I couldn’t sleep well Saturday night, so I was up at dawn to capture this beautiful sunrise.

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The water was very calm, and almost seemed to melt into the sky, making the horizon almost disappear.

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My followers will know that I love watching the wake of a big ship, and I have pictures of the Washington State Ferries, as well as the cruise ships I have sailed on.  I just love the patterns the wake makes in the water.

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This is an island off the west coast near Ensenada, called Todos Santos Island.

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I had to zoom in to see it, but about 3/4 of the way down the slope to the right, there is a structure that I saw was a big cross, which is consistent with the name of the island.

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We could tell there was a big school of fish out there, due to the presence of seagulls and pelicans having a fine time fishing for breakfast.

Pelican-Mexico

This guy came out to meet us.  The name on the boat was PilotoII, indicating that he was a Harbor Pilot, assigned to guide us into the crowded harbor at Ensenada.  See how his wake is twice as wide as he is.

PilotoII

Then, I saw something that reminded me of home in the Puget Sound.  There were a few big buoys out in the harbor, and this one was occupied.  By a local sea lion, a kind of seal.

RestingOnTheBuoy

In Seattle, big sea lions rest on the buoys, and use them as a spot to fish for passing salmon.  I’m betting this guy was fishing too, and he has a gull to keep him company (and compete for fish).

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That’s our wake in the water of Ensenada.

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We also saw numerous Mexican tour boats which go out of Ensenada, all filled with enthusiastic tourists.  When we landed and walked around, we saw people lined up for the next tour.

I saw this structure in the harbor, just outside the working waterfront, and wondered what it might be.  Followers, can you enlighten me perhaps?

Floating-what?

As we approached our berth at the cruise-ship terminal, we got to watch this container ship, the COSCO Indonesia, being loaded with containers.  COSCO is a big Chinese state-owned shipping company.  It was fun watching the orange crane picking up and placing containers precisely where they should go.

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Here are some more highlights of the Ensenada harbor.

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Homes on the hillside above the harbor.

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I think this is one of the biggest flags I’ve ever seen.  Those Mexicans are proud of their country!

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Nice Marina they have there.  There’s another one on the other side of the harbor.

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Our berth-mate that day was the much-larger Carnival Inspiration.

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The cruise terminal at Ensenada is very colorful, and has a building with lots of shops where the locals sell their wares.

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The fountain is a very convenient bird-bath, and this gull was taking his daily shower.  Ensenada, in Baja California, has a very dry climate with little rain, so you can understand how the gull takes advantage of what humans have provided.

Upon disembarking, we walked around the bay to a crowded, lively marina shopping area, and took in the sights and sounds of Ensenada.

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Restaurant-Ensenada

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My husband, who plays accordion, got a kick out of this little band.

All too soon, it was time for us to board the Crystal Symphony, for the journey back to San Francisco.  Monday, July 29, was a sea day, and we had lectures by Michael Walsh and Pat Caddell.  The final lecture of the cruise was supposed to be Dr. Arnn discussing Hillsdale’s Mission.  But it turned out that Dr. Arnn left the cruise at Ensenada, to answer the call of Betsy DeVos, the Education Secretary, to go to Washington DC to discuss education.  Since he was not there, the Hillsdale crew cooked up a big panel discussion with all the remaining speakers, and the audience asked lots of interesting questions.  The Hillsdale cruisers are well-educated bunch, and we all thoroughly enjoyed all the lectures and all the speakers.

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Personnel, from left: Tim Caspar, Hillsdale Associate VP for External Affairs who moderated; John Steele Gordon, Michael Ramirez, Pat Caddell, Michael Walsh, Nick Lloyd, George Neumayr, Victor Davis Hanson, Roger Kimball, and Walter Russell Mead.

Monday, July 31, we arrived back in San Francisco.  We had packed the night before, and when it was time, we all filed into the Starlite Club ballroom to await our group being called.

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When we disembarked, we boarded a bus for the ride to the airport.  We got checked in, and awaited our flight back to Seattle.  Once in the air, I pointed my camera out the window, and got some spectacular cloud pictures.  And mountains, too.

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The cruise had been wonderful, but we were glad to be home.  And the kitty was glad to have us back, too.

Next year’s Hillsdale cruise will be to the British Isles, to celebrate the conclusion of the project involving the complete Churchill biography and documents.  We don’t know yet if we will go, but we will have this year’s cruise to remember for a long time.

 

 

 

Vacation Travelogue-Last Hawaii Stop-Kailua-Kona

Vacation Travelogue-Last Hawaii Stop-Kailua-Kona

After the thrilling volcano-viewing session, a nice dinner, and a good night’s sleep, we arrived at our last Hawaii stop, the town of Kailua-Kona.  Again, the Crystal Symphony had to “anchor out” in the harbor, and we were ferried in on the ship’s tenders.  It was only a 15-minute ride, and we got a good view of the other vessels.  On these trips, passengers and speakers rode together and got a glimpse of famous people dressed-down.

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Yep, that’s Victor Davis Hanson in shorts and lime-green t-shirt.

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Seen from the dock on shore, there’s the Symphony and one of the other tenders, which shuttled back and forth all during the day.  Here’s what we encountered after getting off the tender.

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Now that’s Hawaii!  Those outrigger canoes were available for rental right at the dock.  Also right at the dock were some very Hawaiian businesses.  I got the biggest kick out of this shop.  I wonder what distinguishes “gourmet” from “ordinary” Hawaiian Shave Ice?

ShaveIceSign

My husband just had to try real Kona Coffee, so we went into the shop next door.  Another sign that just caught my fancy.  We don’t have kids, but I wonder if parents would find this funny.  I sure did.

CoffeeSign

From the dock, we took a walk through town, just seeing the sights and peeking into the various shops.  We found a little outdoor mall, which had a very interesting fountain in the middle.  It featured some exotic plants, and some interesting animals too.

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Mosses

I thought those mosses were so beautiful, with the rivulets of water cascading down.

Greenery

Now, see that tree trunk?  I moved around to the left, and used the zoom setting on my camera, and what I saw was quite remarkable.

Animals

I spotted both the little green lizard on the left, and the big snail on the right very quickly.  Hubby had to be shown the snail!  I was fortunate to get them both in the picture before the lizard moved, and he was standing very still.

We headed down the street, and passed this landmark.

PalaceSignPalace

I don’t know, that doesn’t look like much of a palace to me, but it was in its day.

We (well, I anyway) did some shopping, and on our way back to the dock, we found a little beach, in back of a motel in town.  This beach had some beautiful volcanic rocks, and a nice view of the harbor and the incoming surf.  No surfers, however, since the beach was way too rocky!

Beach

BeachAndBoats

BlueWater-rocks

On a pretty gray day, that wave looked awfully blue!  And see the kite-surfer on the horizon?  We seemed to see them at every port we visited in Hawaii, though this one stayed pretty far from shore, for obvious reasons.  I did like the volcanic rocks, which showed the makeup of the terrain on this island.

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We walked as far as we could on the beach walk, then headed back toward the street.  I did enjoy viewing all the varieties of plant life in Hawaii, many of which were brightly-colored.  These flowers grew on the motel property.

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I thought this tree-trunk looked a bit like an elephant.  I wonder why?

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So we made our way back to the street to walk back to the dock.

PalmTrees

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I really liked the twisted branches of this tree.  I zoomed in on it to capture the smaller branches.  Can you see the bird in this photo?  Even I had to look more than once to see what I had captured!  And I don’t know what kind of bird it was.

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We took the tender back to the ship, and while en route saw this.

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That is a little half-submarine, which took tourists out to see what is beneath the waves.  We went back aboard the Symphony, and left harbor around 6:00PM.  From this shot from the ship’s deck, it looks like the trip home might be a bit choppy.

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Vacation Travelogue, Hillsdale Hawaii Cruise, Days 9 and 10-Hilo and beyond

Vacation Travelogue, Hillsdale Hawaii Cruise, Days 9 and 10-Hilo and beyond

We arrived in Hilo just before noon, and the skies were hazy with what had been described to us as “vog”, or “volcano fog”, caused by the still-erupting volcano on the other side of the island.  About which more later.

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Above is the view from the port side of the ship.  Below is the view from the starboard side.

Port side Hilo

We disembarked from the ship, and walked into a large concrete hall, where we found the welcome murals.

WelcomeHilo

WelcomeMural

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We boarded a bus for the short ride into town.  When we got off the bus, the downtown area was just across the street.  To be honest, we didn’t think much of the town of Hilo.  To us, it looked rundown and in need of a facelift.  At least where we were, the buildings looked old and tired, and rust was evident everywhere. [but that is probably not unusual in a town on an island in the ocean, where they are surrounded by salt water].  The first thing we saw across the street was this.

HiloFarmersMarketSign

Most people are familiar with farmers’ markets, where local farmers gather to sell their produce and other merchandise to the people in cities.  This, however, was a very unusual farmer’s market, where the items for sale were somewhat unfamiliar to those of us who live on the mainland.

MarketBuilding

Roots

You would expect Maui onions, which don’t have very far to travel.  See the big roots called taro?  Those make the island food called “poi”, which, from its description, is pretty awful.  But it was very popular in the islands through history, and seems to still be an island staple.

Fruits-veggies

I was just flabbergasted at the size of those green onions in the foreground.  They must have been two feet long from one end to the other!  There were flowers, and other island products in addition to the various fruits and vegetables.

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jewels

We left the farmers market to walk through town and see what we could find.  We knew that Hawaii is a very liberal state, almost entirely governed by Democrats.  So this combination of signs did not surprise us.

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Here are some of the sights from our trip around the central area of Hilo.

StreetArt

1925Building

PineappleBuilding

I got a kick out of the pineapples on the side of this building. How very Hawaii!  Actually, pineapple is my favorite fruit, and was a staple of the breakfast buffet on the Crystal Symphony.  It was also the end-of-meal palate-cleanser in the Churrascaria restaurant aboard ship.  I got my fill of pineapple on this cruise, and now that we are home, I miss my daily ration of pineapple!

We had a nice lunch at a little hole-in-the-wall restaurant called Ocean Sushi.  Then, it was back to the ship for our cruise around the island of Hawaii to our next stop at Kailua-Kona.  Leaving the harbor, some of the vog had cleared up.

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PaddlersHilo

BigIsland

HawaiiHomes

Nice views from those houses!  The sun was setting as we left.

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LeavingHiloSunset

As the sun was setting, we left the rail and went back inside for dinner.  But after dinner came the very best part of the cruise for us.  After sunset, we approached the other side of the big island of Hawaii.  Here is our first glimpse of the most important part of our cruise, the part that everyone had been waiting for.

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Yes, this was the first sight of the still-erupting Kilauea Volcano.  We were still fairly far away, but we could hear the sound of the lava hitting the salt water, and we could smell the sulfur in the air, too.  It’s hard to capture the entire experience on film, since it involved all your senses.  But this was something that we will never forget.  Here are some of what I think are my best volcano pictures, but they don’t really do it justice.

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You’ve heard the phrase “fire and brimstone”?  Well, this is real, live, fire and brimstone.

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Needless to say, anyone who could, found their way to the top decks of the ship, close to the bow.  This is the passengers crowded at the bow of Deck 12, the Sun Deck.  There was excellent commentary by the resident scientist on the ship, describing what we were seeing and hearing, and providing some background history of the geology of Hawaii.

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Finally, though, the Captain came on the loudspeaker and informed us that, due to the water around our ship becoming too warm (!), we would have to leave the area and proceed on to our next destination.  So we left, motoring around the Big Island to our next, and final port of call.  But you know what the topic of conversation was all the rest of that night!

 

 

 

Vacation Travelogue-Hillsdale College Cruise to Hawaii-Day 9-Maui

Vacation Travelogue-Hillsdale College Cruise to Hawaii-Day 9-Maui

We normally got up around 8:00AM, so we were able to stand at the rail and watch the island of Maui appear.  As usual, it was a beautiful, sunny day.

Mysterious Maui

KiteSurfer

We saw many of these kite-surfers all around the Hawaiian Islands.  Lahaina Harbor had a few, with their colorful kites.

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In to Lahaina on Tender

The Crystal Symphony had to anchor out at Lahaina, since there is no cruise-ship dock there.  Here’s a picture of the ship, taken from the window of the ship’s tender that ferried passengers back and forth all day, about every 30 minutes.

When we arrived at the dock in Lahaina, we were greeted by the cutest trio of ladies, doing their hula dance to the music of a small band.  They were just throughly delightful.

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Aren’t they just precious?  That was the best welcome we could have asked for.

We discovered, to our surprise and delight, that there was an amateur surfing competition going on close to the dock, so we stood with the rest of the spectators and watched the kids go out with their surfboards to compete.  We saw 10-year-old boys, and girls in their competition.  They were marvelous!

WatchingTheSurfers

SurferKids

BoySurfer

After we watched the kids surfing, we took off down the streets to explore the town of Lahaina.  There is a nice city park a short walk from the dock, where we saw a bunch of the big banyan trees that seem to populate most of the Hawaiian islands.  These were especially large, with multiple trunks. It’s too bad the locals can’t keep from carving their initials everywhere they can reach.

ThreeTrunks

BigBanyan

SnakeTree

Hubby took this one of me, for scale.

MeAndTree

Next, it was a walk down Front Street, to find a place to have lunch.  And, boy, did we find a place!  We came upon Mick Fleetwood’s on Front, owned by the rock-and-roll icon, and decided to have lunch there.  We were seated on the upper level, where we had a nice view of the ocean.

FleetwoodsLunch

Now, for all you environmentalists out there, we here in the Seattle area are in the thick of the “plastic-straw-ban” movement.  Well, Hawaii is ahead of us!  See what we drank our lunch libations with?

PaperStraw

How about those nice, colorful paper straws!  Very festive.  And the best was yet to come.  Fleetwood’s has live music, and there was a band playing for our lunch, and another hula dancer.  Very nice lunchtime entertainment.

LunchDancer

After lunch, we putzed around downtown Lahaina, and of course I took more pictures.

LahainaView

Fishing

FrontStreet

LanaiIsland

Across the bay from Lahaina is the island of Lanai, and multiple boats advertised day trips there.

Too soon, it was time to leave for our next stop, the Big Island of Hawaii.  But on the way, we were treated to more beautiful scenery.  In the picture below, that flat area is a big solar farm, situated on the other side of Maui.  I guess you’d expect a tropical island to take advantage of their natural benefits.

MauiSolarFarm

Leaving-ValleyIsle

Maui is described as the Valley Island, and you can really see that here.

So it was on to the next stop, Hawaii.  Most of the journey was done at night while we slept, and we regretted not being able to see the journey.  But Nature and the ship’s Captain had some interesting experiences in store for us.