Monday, September 26, 2011

Doing the Mom Thing

I know - I said in an earlier blog that I would post more this year and I epically failed at that!  So no promises this time - I will blog when the spirit moves me to - and it moved me to tonight because if someone had been filming me this evening, I could have easily won $10,000.....sometimes I think I should have my own sitcom.....heavy go ahead and have a laugh at my expense - that's why I am writing it! :)

To set the scene - I should tell you that if you don't know me really well, you might think I am a good wrong!  People think this because in another life I sold Pampered Chef - but PC is for dingalings in the kitchen like myself.  Robbie is the real cook in our house - he even enjoys it, but to me, it is as bad as cleaning pottys!  Some of my hostesses will attest to my clutziness in the the time I made this beautiful crust on a PC stone and turned around to take it from the oven to the counter and it just slid off like it was on a ski slope! (yes that really happened)

So a couple of weeks ago, I was asked to accept the mission of making 3 dozen muffins for the Junior class to have for breakfast tomorrow morning - hopefully they are having something besides my muffins.  Mind you - I wasn't going to make fancy ones - I bought mixes - I can be a clutz but I am NOT stupid!  Two mixes were the kind that has a little can of blueberries in them - bought those at Aldi's because that was all they had - the other was the simple Martha White - add milk, pour them up - bake - done.  The Martha White mixes went off without a hitch.  First task on the other mixes was to open the blueberries and drain them - the instructions said to put them in a strainer - which I couldn't find one with small enough holes that would keep the blueberries from falling out.  So my idea was to open the can most of the way and then just drain off the juice, which worked okay until I pushed a little too hard and the top pushed inside the can.  I couldn't get it to come out - so I squeezed the can and was able to pry the end of a butter knife up under the lid to get it up.....however, it was stuck a little too much and POPPED open which proceeded to spray berries and juice all over the kitchen and my face. (If I look a little blue this week when you see me, you will know why) most of those berries were wasted - so I doubled the recipe with the other box so they could share berries.  This time I thought it would be a better idea (and therefore avoid the juice incident again) to pour the berries into my hand and let the juice run through my fingers.....bad idea....lost a few more that way but all in all there were enough berries in the muffins.

I had to clean up my mess, so I got another batch in the oven (if don't bake a lot, you only own one muffin pan) and proceeded to clean.  In another effort to be a better mother (since I have been traveling so much), I had bought groceries to cook all week - mind you this is a HUGE stretch for me - we eat out A LOT.  One of the recipes had called for sliced avocado (please don't tell Tyler).  The little California ones were brown at the grocery store - so I opted for the huge Florida ones.  (Another mistake on my part)  Somehow while cleaning up blueberry juice (which by the way will only come off the cabinet tops with bleach) I caught the avocado bag with the rag I was using and slung one of them right into the floor....they were REALLY ripe....that skin just burst and sent green goo everywhere again.....

Meanwhile, I didn't know that when the timer goes off and you turn off the timer, it also turns off the oven, so I am thinking that something is wrong with my oven because it won't stay hot....I kept turning it on and it kept losing heat...ok so maybe that part was more stupid than cluzty.

Did I tell you I didn't enjoy cooking?  The moral of this story is if you don't like to cook - offer to buy drinks.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Crazy Aunt Ruth

There are times in your life when you regret that you didn't know someone better before they passed on.  You find out things after their death that make you see them in a whole different light and make you regret some of the thoughts that you had and actions that you took while you were alive.

A few weeks ago my grandfather's sister passed away.  We all knew her as the crazy eccentric aunt that always wanted to do something to your feet - or make you try a nasty herb if you didn't feel well.  We never knew what she was going to say or do or wear that might embarrass us or make others think the rest of us might possibly be as loopy as she are some examples:
  1. My best crazy memory of Aunt Ruth was when we went to the Nashville airport (she lived in Texas at the time) and she disembarked holding a twig with a strange caterpillar on it - I can only imagine what the person who rode next to her was thinking....I can remember walking a few steps behind them hoping that no one thought I was with them (I was a teenager at the time)
  2. She was a reflexologist and believed that all nerve ending in your body came down to your foot, so you could rub a certain place on your foot and it would help your back pain (or whatever ailed you).  She also put all of her savings into a machine that pulled all the impurities of your body out through your feet.  She traveled around doing this for people and never charged them for it. 
  3. She wore the ugliest shoes and clothes and sometimes forgot to take baths.  I can remember her showing up for family events and someone asking - "What is she wearing?" - like what she had on depended on whether or not we would claim her.
  4. Once while in Texas, a thief broke into her house and held her at gun point.  He shot her and it grazed her head.  She began singing.  
  5. While living in Georgia, she took a total stranger with a drug addiction in to live with her while he could get on his feet - we all expected that it was a matter of time before he took everything she owned of value and possibly even did bodily harm to her to feed his addiction.
  6. She kept asking me for fertilized eggs even after I told her that my rooster had died.  She had a true love of animals and kept goats and drank their milk and made cheese from it.  She even had a deer whose mother had been killed by a car and fed it until it was grown.  It would still come to her and her only.
I hate funerals - I do not do well at them at all - especially ones on this side of the family.  You see, I was extremely close to my grandfather and seeing his brothers that look so much like him just kills me.  However, my cousin Kim talked me in to going after convincing me that no one else was going to be there and every one needs someone at their funeral.  So we went.  Much to our surprise, the place was packed.  There was standing room only in the chapel.  I heard so many people talk about how wonderful she was and all the good she had done.  I never knew these things....are you sure we were at the right place?

So now as Paul Harvey would say - "is the rest of the story":

  1. She stepped off that plane to visit my dying grandfather.  The caterpillar was a rare variety and she brought it just for him to see - hoping to cheer him up and take his mind off cancer for just a while. 
  2. Reflexology was her mission - it is how she served people and through it brought many to Christ.  She had a soft voice and talked while she massaged your feet and totally relaxed you.  She never charged for this service and was in fact on her way to do this for someone on the day she had her car wreck.  Some spas charge big amounts to "detoxify" you.
  3. Aunt Ruth was never worried about what others thought of her - her mind was always on how she could help others and her own needs took a back seat to the needs of others.  She never put herself first.
  4. The song she started singing was a hymn.  She also asked for God to forgive the man who shot her.  I suppose this is why he ran away instead of finishing her off.
  5. Again - she put the needs of others before herself.  That's why she took the guy in.  He never (that we know of) stole from her or hurt her.  She won an award earlier this year for work that she did with those who had substance addictions.
  6. This one I can't explain - maybe she was hard of hearing.....I do think that some of my love of animals came from her.  I wouldn't be able to leave a baby deer alone in the world without it's mama either.  But I am afraid that is the only way I am like Aunt Ruth.
Aunt Ruth had just gotten a brand new Cadillac - friends say that she loved that car.  She had also just gotten a brand new set of teeth.  I am sure she was buried with her new teeth - to bad she couldn't have been buried in the Cadillac.

Don't read the outer signs when people do strange things.  Always look inside.  There are many in this world that aren't like you and me and it's not our place to judge - the greatest commandment is LOVE.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Murder, Mayhem and Madness

I HATE haunted houses - when I was a teenager, I went to one of those haunted houses that pop up around Halloween, with my church youth group.  I have never been back to another.  I do not like people to touch me or jump out at me - that is, people that I do not know from Adam.  So I was a little hesitant to go on a ghost walk - until the advertisement promised that there would be no tricks and no one would jump out to scare me.  I figured they would surely rig something so you would feel like you got the most for your money.  However, curiosity won out and we went on a ghost walk in Gatlinburg last Thursday night while on vacation.

At the risk of sounding like I may need to be committed,   I am going to tell you all about what happened.  You can see the pictures on Facebook - they wouldn't look so great here because they come out too small - and even on FB, they are not as good as the originals on my computer.

We started out by walking up behind the restrooms in The Village.  There is a little paved road there - who knew that a graveyard was there?!  I never knew.  But first - it was a full moon - so we had to see something right?  I am open to the possibility that spirits or souls stay on this earth after death.  We know that the Bible talks of a "waiting area" for judgement day, but we also know that some came back to visit and we don't know exactly WHEN they go there.   We hear about "walking into the light" so maybe some souls don't go to the light for a while after death.

Our guide was waiting for us right in front of the cemetary.  He was a great story teller - we were all fascinated.  I had no idea that such a small town could have such horrible deaths.  I learned a couple of things as well.  Way back when - around the 1800's or so, there was a disease that made people LOOK dead, but they really weren't.  So there was a real danger of being buried alive.  To keep this from happening, they would put a pipe with a string in it that went down inside the coffin.  At the top was a bell.  If you happened not to be dead, you could pull on the string that rang the bell and hope that someone was close by to hear and then hope that you didn't suffocate while they dug you out.  That is where we get the term "Saved by the Bell".  Also, there had to be someone to hang around the graveyard at night - just in case one of those bells rang - hence "Graveyard Shift".  Of course then you had the problem if you were the ringer that the watchman might be too scared to get help and think that a ghost was ringing the bell.  I also learned that 3:00 AM is called the bewitching hour because it was the exact opposite of 3:00 PM - the time that Jesus died.  Supposedly if you hang out around graveyards and other ghostly places, you will always see something at 3:00 AM.  I didn't try that....

The most exciting thing to me was the fact that I got an EMF (electro magnetic field) detector.  Supposedly ghosts use energy from nature to move around.  When that energy is collected together it forms an EMF field.  Imagine my surprise when I found out that these are actually used and not just made to detect ghosts with.  Ours were very simple - no numbers - just Safe, Caution and Danger.  If yours went to caution or danger, you might be in the presence of a ghost.  HOWEVER, look around you first.  If you are standing under a street lamp or close to one of those electricity boxes, it will go off.  I tested mine a bit first - mine never turned yellow under the street lamps and I had to get right up next to a transformer box for it to change.  So this told me that you had to be in close proximity for it to work.

After talking in the cemetery a bit, we started walking.  He took us over close to "Fort Fun".  There is a parking lot and big wall there covered with ivy.  There used to be a pizza parlor there.  It went out of business because they couldn't keep employees - they would all quit after a few hours because of the strange things that happened.  He also said that only those who lived in town could park their cars there now - strange things happened to outsider's cars....

Moving on, we went through an alley - that I would have never stepped in had I not been led there - into the back parking lot of one of the older hotels where they were building something.  This particular hotel was the scene of a very brutal, bloody double murder.  Now this is where the EMF detector started lighting up - both mine and Daniel's.  Of course that makes the hair on the back of your neck stand up - added to the fact that it was DARK - no street lamps - just the lights from the hotel and they were not very close.  So I started snapping pictures - one time - and one time only - I pushed down on the button to the half way point (those of you who have digital cameras know what I am talking about) and in the screen, there was the shadow of a man with a sort of engineer's hat on.  I totally freaked out and snapped - but nothing was in the picture when I went back.  It gives me goose bumps now because I still see that image in my head.  When I went back to the picture - on close examination, there was an orb - and this orb had a face.   This was the only time that I felt funny - like I was close to a ghost - that goosebumpee feeling - you know?

We then moved on to the hotel beside the Haunted Mansion.  This was the scene of two children playing in an open window - one fell inside and hit his head and the other fell out the window - both died.  Many people have reported seeing a young girl playing in the water and others have recording the sounds of children playing in the stairwells there.  I had some orbs in the pictures of the hotel.

Next, we turned around and looked at the space needle.  Here was a horrible death of a worker who fell on top of the elevator, while it was full of people. (Beware this gets gross)  His body was caught in the gears and torn up.  The elevator gets stuck and his blood runs down the sides of the GLASS elevator.  I got some mist in that picture.  But the story alone makes you have nightmares and the guide of course embellished the story.

We headed back to the cemetery after this where our guide told us the sad story of Lydia.  Lydia was in love and engaged to get married.  She had already bought her beautiful wedding dress.  Her fiance (whose name I have forgotten) had to make a business trip to Knoxville.  The wedding day came and he had not returned.  Lydia was convinced she had been stood up at the alter.  She put on her wedding dress and hung herself.   She can be seen walking through the cemetery in her wedding dress, on the left side looking for her fiance.  The sad thing was that it was later found out that he had been attacked by a mountain lion on the road home and killed.

So on to my pictures - I snapped more than 100 pics that night.  Looking through them on my camera didn't show anything - EXCEPT the strange black blob at the haunted fountain.  I was very disappointed.  I didn't have my camera cord with me, so I was unable to download them until I got home.  Once home, I went into ghostbuster mode.  I looked at every single picture and did find some orbs - which by the way - orbs are seen most often because that is an easy shape to manifest into (don't know how someone figured that one out).  BUT they are also the easiest to explain away as dust or insects, so orb pictures are common.  I did see on one of my "ghost" shows that I enjoy watching, that insects usually appear as a "rod" shape instead of a circle and of course experts can tell the difference between a dust orb and a spirit orb.  Nevertheless,  I have orbs in some of my pictures and some are impressive - especially the one with a face. I also got a couple of pictures with a ghostly mist in them as well.  So all in all I was pleased.  They were taken with a very unimpressive camera, one that is just a point and click digital camera and only enhanced by using the "auto correct" function on my windows computer.  I don't own photoshop.  I didn't add or take away.  Everything above happened including the man.  I had a BLAST!  And I am ready to do it again.

I highly recommend the Ghost Walk in Gatlinburg.  It was worth the money!  The whole family - including Scooter - had a great time!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Warning - Contains Mild Insanity

Disclaimer - I was asked to post this blog - it really is a true story and one more little memory of my month in Guam - really - I promise it's true.  Things like this always happen to me....brace may laugh too much.

I don't know if any of you reading this have ever traveled internationally through the Atlanta airport - if so then you know what I am talking about...if not .....don't.  I hate the Atlanta airport - I believe I have mentioned this before.  It is too crowded and too big.

Last Sunday - I traveled for 23 hours to get home.  Fours hours from Guam to Tokyo - then waiting in Narita airport and then almost 14 hours from Tokyo to Guam.  I spent my time watching movies that I wouldn't pay to see.  Seriously, I had my own little TV set and I watched movies the entire time.....I only fell asleep during one movie and I fell asleep after it started and woke up before it ended.  I watched movies right up until they made me put away my TV...(this is important to know for later)  So needless to say, when I disembarked, I was running on adrenaline and just wanted to get home.  Robbie and Daniel were waiting for me already.  I needed to be out of airports.

When you deplane on an international flight in Atlanta, you must claim your luggage.  Let me remind you that I had two GIANT bags plus a carry on plus a backpack.  I will pack so much better next time.....ANYWAY - you walk out of the baggage claim area and around a corner only to find out that you have to GIVE THEM BACK YOUR LUGGAGE AND GO THROUGH SECURITY AGAIN - and yes that is even if you are leaving the airport and not changing flights.  By the way - just an FYI  - if you are getting back on a plane, you have to get your luggage and recheck it.  So this just infuriates me.  I just want to leave - I need to leave - I need to sleep and I need a bath.  Pulling one's own luggage off the carousel makes one sweat - especially when one has one WAY over the weight limit piece of luggage.

So I am standing in a really long line thinking of all the airports that I will use the next time I fly internationally,  when it occurs to me that I took out all of my liquids out of the little ziploc during the flight and they want them BACK in the little ziploc - so while I am trying to keep moving forward, I am going through everything trying to get things back in order.  I just need to go home  - I don't need to go through security........

It's my turn.  I take my shoes off - put all my stuff on the conveyor belt - including taking out my computer - empty my pockets....etc.  And once again, I am chosen for the full body scan.  Step into the tube - hold your arms up - get xrayed.  I am sure we are all going to get cancer from these full body scans at the airport - I have now officially had my fair share of full body scans.  Luckily I am not so young - it will take a while for the cancer to grow.  I should be good.

Next, step up to a rubber pad and put your feet on the little feet painted on the pad.  Wait for your scan results......and wait.....and wait.....and wait.  Then I see the man standing in front of me wave someone over.

An African-American woman who is TWICE my height gets right in front of me and says....(wait for it)......................."I am going to need to touch your breasts.  Are you in any pain?"  ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!?!?!?!?!?!?!  Yeah - she wasn't kidding.  It then occurs to me that since I watched movies until the very end....I had already put my stuff in the overhead bins.....and so I put my ipod head set.........................IN MY BRA.  Yep - I had a cute little wire with two little things on the end of it show up on my full body scan.  I hurriedly pull them out - smiling.....and say "Oops - totally forgot about these."  She then replies, "I have to do it anyway."  Did you read the part about there being a long line and that the Atlanta airport has tons of people in it?  Well they were all staring at the lady who was packing bombs in her boobs.

Thinking back, I wonder if I should have told her that I was in pain.......

I am pretty sure that you have a lovely picture in your head at this point - so I won't go into to any more detail - but it happened....I have a couple thousand witnesses.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Saying Goodbye

Tears came to my eyes when I pulled in to my hotel drive for the last time today.  There was no sun at all today and that fit my mood.  I spent the morning and early afternoon driving all the way around the island one more time and taking a few more pictures.

As you drive around the southern end of the island, open your car window -  someone is always at the beach barbecuing something.  You can smell the warm salt air mixed the the smell of plumeria - Bath and Body Works does NOT have this smell perfected :).  I can't even describe it - but it's even better than roses.

I saw many Caribou (Water Buffalo) and even one with two dogs on top of it - I would have stopped to take a picture but they wanted to wash the car - so I kept going.  Almost every beach in the south had a family get together.  They are so friendly that they probably would have asked me to eat with them had I stopped.

My memories:
The look on Alice's face when I told her there was no ocean in Tennessee - "You don't have an ocean?!!!"
Ray Ray - transferring a call then running from his office to mine to tell me it was for me.
The flowers
The food
Sunrise outside my hotel window every morning
The computer operators - who started my world journey of food
Learning about the war
The Chamorro Culture
The rainbows - almost daily
Tomorrow, I will click my heels together three times and 23 hours later I will be home.

So I say goodbye to the Land of Rainbows, Spam Island, Land of Butterflies,  Tano Y Chamorro, Guahan,  GUAM....I hope that I will be back someday.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Chocolate Houses and Latte Stones

My time is coming to an end here in Guam and I have mixed feelings.  I am ready to get home and see my family but know that I will most likely never be back and I have made good friends here that I will miss!

This past weekend, I did more sightseeing - I find that I think I have seen all there is to see and then I look on the internet and see that I still haven't seen it all!  My biggest regret is that since I am alone, there are some hikes that I haven't gone on  - or boonie stomps as they say here.  Yes I realize that my hike the first weekend was a bad idea - but I wanted to see those bomb holes!!!  I am very lucky that I didn't fall or turn my ankle....yada yada yada......Anywho - Saturday I went to the Chamorro Cultural village named Gef Pa'go.  There are advantages to being a lone tourist and not being with a group - I got my very own guide!  I learned how the ancient Chamorros extracted salt from sea water - they use a bamboo fire and the water evaporates and leaves the salt at the bottom.  Then the salt is put in the sun to bleach and turn nice and white.  It's amazing to see how they got what they needed - things that we   
take for granted - like salt!  I was also shown how to make coconut candy - and got the recipe!  It is fresh coconut, sugar, and corn starch - the sugar is caramelized then it's all mixed together and made into little balls and it is delicious!

A sweet man named Frank showed me how to make a rope from a hibiscus plant - all with the same tools that the Chamorros used.  Three twisted fibers were woven together by using a crank and a deer antler to keep them straight.  I have to stop and tell a funny about Frank.  While we were making our rope, I told him that I had been enjoying Chamorro food - when he heard that he asked me if I was a Miss or a Mrs.   I asked him why?  He said "Because I have a nephew in Tennessee that needs a Mrs.!!!   Sorry Frank....The lady below was weaving palm leaves to make baskets, hats and other things.  She made  three fish and two
little birds just for me - I am concerned about the birds making it home ok - they are "3D" while the fish are flat.  AND since I was getting the VIP treatment, we walked around the village of Inarahan and I got to see the historical house there.

After visiting with the people at Gef Pa'go, I went on down the road to find the Inharahan pool.    This is a "swimming hole" used by the locals.  It is really beautiful there.  It is an enclosed pool fed by fresh water and ocean water.  It is enclosed by reefs - the reefs act as a filter and the water stays clear and clean.  There are many little fish there and one local assured me that no sharks could get through....don't know if he was kidding or not!!!  However, there are warnings not to go beyond...and there have been shark attacks reported here - but I am not going to test the theory of where the sharks are.  The water is deep in the pool and it gives it a beautiful color. 
I am amazed at the beauty of Guam.  I seem to find treasures every time I go out.  The Inarahan Pool was definitely worth seeing.

It was lunchtime by now and the southern end of Guam does not boast any "chain" restaurants.  I stopped at little Vietnamese restaurant - what I would describe as a "hole in the wall" restaurant (they usually have the best food).  I had Kudu and Loompia - translated - soup and egg rolls.  The loompia here is wonderful!   You take a piece of romaine lettuce in your hand, add some rice noodles, then add bean sprouts and basil.  Then you lay the egg roll on top of that and roll it up in the lettuce....YUMMO!  After lunch I took a break and rested under a palm tree and read a while.
I can't even begin to tell you how wonderful that was - just to relax and read with a slight breeze....and the ocean....aaaaaaaahhhhhhhhh.

Break's over - still stuff to see!  I headed back to the capital city of Hagatna - right across from where I am working - I have seen it everyday, but have never gotten over to see what it was all about.  Now I was headed back in time again - long before the world wars - to a time of pirates and conquistadors - to the time when the Spaniards ruled Guam.  Hagatna or Agana (same place - Agana is the ancient name) has always been the capital.  Right across from the building where I have been working is the Plaza de Espanza.  It is the site where the Governor's Palace used to be and the ruins are still there.  Surprisingly (especially with all the Typhoons and earthquakes) there is a gate of three arches still standing.
The terrace of the palace is still there as well, but as you can see, it is falling apart.
What interested me the most was that there was a gazebo type structure that was called The Chocolate House.  The Spaniards LOVED hot chocolate and would retire to the chocolate house in the evenings to drink it.  It is hard to imagine in this heat that anyone would want HOT chocolate!!!

Right across the street is the Latte Stone city park.  The latte (pronounced lat' ee)stones are the symbol of Chamorro culture and are somewhat of a mystery.  They have been likened to the strange statues on Easter Island.  They believe that they were used as a base for their houses.  I spoke to my guide at Gef Pa'go about them.  She told me that they are all over the jungles in Guam.  The Chamorro are very respectful of their ancient relatives.  If they come across a latte stone or a rock where a latte stone was cut from, they leave immediately.  It is not good to disturb the ancient ones.  They know that when they find these, that an ancient was there and may still be there.  How did the ancient Chamorros make
these stones and how did they get one on top of the other?  Who knows?  Probably they used the same techniques as those that carved the statues on Easter Island or the ones that made the pyramids.

The latte stone park also boasted more dark Japanese caves!!  And you know me - I was too chicken to go in because of the gates.  (I am pretty sure that ghosts will lock me in), so again I stepped in and did the flash picture - you know, just to check for any ghosts of Japanese soldiers.......

I have one more Saturday here to explore.  Believe it or not, there are still a couple of things that I haven't seen.  I will drive back around the southern end of the island again.  I have to drink it all in just one more time.

I will leave you with my favorite picture of the day.  I think I may frame this one.  It is the path from the chocolate house to the garden house at the govenor's palace..

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

"The average tourist wants to go to places where there are no tourists." Sam Ewing

On Guam, I have noticed that there are not many tourists who venture out on their own - well that is somewhat of an understatement.  So far, I am the ONLY tourist that has chosen to be my own tour guide.  Everybody else rides the big tour buses.  I just don't like to crowd in with a bunch of people that I can't understand what they are saying.  Sunday, I decided to venture out to Talofofo falls.  It is inland away from the ocean.

They don't believe much in signs on Guam - not sure why, but that is just the way it is.  I have a map out of a magazine that was in my hotel room.  It only shows the major roads - which is mainly the one that goes around the island and the two that cut through the island.  When I decide what attraction I am going to, I just have to hope for the best.  The map does have little dots of where the attractions are and some landmarks.

Back to Telefofo Falls.  I use the cut across the island road (I say that because I have no idea what the name of it is) but on the map I know I am on the right road because it is beside the Pizza Hut and Taco Bell.  (Food is very important here - they have the restaurants marked on the map).  I travel across and arrive at the village of Talofofo - well one would think that the waterfall named Talofofo would be close to the village, but one would be wrong if they thought that - but one wasted a lot of time before they figured that out.  I have become intimate with the village of Talofofo because I drove up and down every street looking for something that looked like a waterfall.  By this time I am lost, so my best bet is to drive toward the ocean.  I get lucky and wind up back on the main go around the island road.  So I decided to drive up and down it a bit looking for a sign or something to the falls.  Finally I give up and decide to do something else.  So I head back around the tip of the island and MILES away from Talofofo is a sign.....Take a good look sister because it's the only sign you are going to get....

YAY - an actual sign with a arrow - it just doesn't get any better than this!  So I turned.....and drove and drove and there was construction lots of it - deep holes in the road.....dirt road and then ROAD CLOSED - yeah another sign.  There was a road to the left - so I turned and drove and drove and drove and drove - think I'm kidding? - see below:

LITERALLY - this the road to nowhere - I don't know how many miles I drove but it was a long way - I was determined to see this waterfall.  This is the only fresh water waterfall that is easily accessible without hiking.  But I finally gave up - turned around sad that I wouldn't see this waterfall.  I got back to where the turn off was....and lo and behold another car came and went AROUND the road closed sign.  Well if they could do it, so could I - VOILA - not far from the "Road Closed Sign" - Talofofo Falls Park.  I was the only person there - but while I was paying my $20 entrance fee, a tour bus full of Japanese drives up.  I hurriedly go to the gondola hoping to beat the lines.  They seat me in an entirely enclosed Gondola with NO AIR HOLES - oh, so THAT'S what the little hand fans tied to the window are for....the guys LEAVES me in the
gondola - Are you kidding me? - I am thinking about banging on the door and asking for oxygen when he opens it and puts a Japanese family in with me.  I just smile - I am sure they are wondering why I look like I just went swimming - and so we head down over the jungle to the falls.  It was well worth it though.  As you are going down you get the full picture of all the falls - there are four - stair stepped down the hillside.  Only two are accessible to you once you are at the bottom.  Below is one of them.  They really were beautiful.

You can also hike to Yokoi's cave from here - it's not far - on a paved walk through the jungle.  Here is a picture of the opening of the cave that he lived in for 28 years - I mentioned him in another blog, so won't go into much detail here and there are more pics on Facebook.
The funniest thing that happened though was on my way back to the waterfall on the cave trail, I met the family that had ridden in the gondola with me - The mother just started talking a blue streak to me in Japanese.  I have no idea what she was trying to say to me, so I just put my hand on her arm and nodded my head and said I don't speak Japanese - so she said "Have a nice day" - I said "Arigato"(I really wanted to say "Sank U".... but I walked away because I was just about to bust out laughing.  I will never know what she wanted to tell me.

I left Talofofo Falls and headed back around the southern end of the island and went to Fort Soledad.  This is an old Spanish fort that defended the village of Umatac from pirates.  Magellan also landed here in the 1500's.  Below are some pictures of the Fort.

And I have to say that below is my favorite picture of the fort- it was taken from the lookout building above - looking out the window over Umatac Bay:
 I suppose you have heard enough from me today - but I had to share the best picture - Sunday night, right at sunset - there was a rainbow right outside my hotel room - So enjoy the rainbow - it almost looks like a painting to me.  I will talk to you later!