Maine County Teachers of the Year

June 6, 2023


I had the pleasure of attending the introduction supper and Hall of Flags ceremony announcing the 2023 Maine County Teachers of the Year. It was a chance for me to listen and learn and to congratulate many colleagues who were selected this year to representative teachers in their county. All of them are amazing and have so much to offer their communities. There are several this year who have minors in one of the arts or teach a creative class as part of their teaching assignments.

Edith Berger, Lincoln County and Donna Munro, Knox County at the introduction banquet
Matt Bernstein, Casco Bay High School, 2023 Maine Teacher of the Year, emcee at the Hall of Flags ceremony
  • Androscoggin: Tanya Perreault, Spruce Mountain Primary School, Livermore
  • Aroostook: Emily Rosser, Caribou Community School
  • Cumberland: Joshua Chard, East End Community School, Portland
  • Franklin: Maryam Emami, Rangelet Lakes Regional School
  • Hancock: Miranda Engstrom, Lamoine Consolidated School
  • Kennebec: Sharon Gallant, Gardiner Area High School
  • Knox: Donna Munro, Union Elementary School
  • Lincoln: Edith Berger, Miller School, Waldoboro
  • Oxford: Lacey Todd, Mountain Valley Middle School, Mexico
  • Penobscot: Jessica Archer, Orono Middle School
  • Piscataquis: Dawn McLaughlin, Milo Elementary School
  • Sagadahoc: Rob Messler, Mt. Ararat High School, Topsham
  • Somerset: Katie Flannery, Bloomfield Elementary School, Skowhegan
  • Waldo: Catie Ray, Gladys Weymouth Elementary School, Morrill
  • Washington: Colleen Maker, Washington Academy, East Machias
  • York: Lisa Tripp, Bonny Eagle Middle Schoo, Buxton

Good luck to all of them as they are being considered to serve as the 2024 Maine Teacher of the Year.

Maryam Emami, Rangeley Lakes Regional School, Franklin County

Sharon Gallant, Gardiner Area High School, Kennebec County Teacher of the Year

The Maine Teacher of the Year program is managed and administered as a collaboration between Educate Maine and the Maine Department of Education. There are several organizations and businesses that offer financial support for the program. To learn more please CLICK HERE.


Changes in History

May 30, 2023

What is lost along the way

I’ve been working with a committee from my town of Union to plan the Sestercentennial – 250 years since it’s founding in 1774. We’re going to kick off the celebration this July and throughout the year we’ll have events that will culminate during a three day weekend, July 19-21. I’ve never been a big history buff but I love hearing stories from the past. Those of you who know me know that I love to get people together and celebrate so this is a chance for me to give back to the town that’s been so good to me since my husband and I moved here in 1980.

One of the highlights of the Sestercentennial will be digging up a time capsule that was buried 50 years ago during Union’s Bicentennial celebration. We have a list of items contained in the time capsule (blueberry cake included) that reflect life during the 1970’s. I’m guessing that about half of my blog readers weren’t born yet. We know approximately the location of the time capsule but there are lots of unknowns. Our instructions include “dig it up and rebury it” and it is buried “deep in the ground”. As you can imagine some of what we’re reading is left up to interpretation. With a crowd surrounding the location to watch the digging this could be problematic.

We’re fortunate that the members of our town’s historical society is a great collaborator and that there are many answers to questions well documented in 3 books that are available. We’re partnering with Union Elementary School knowing that this is a great opportunity to bring history alive in a hands-on and engaging manner. More on that in a later blog post.

Because of my work on the Sestercentennial (since September 2022), I’ve wondered about what I’m learning from the past and the accuracy of the information. It’s only as good as the documentation and the stories left behind. This has led me to writing this blog post about the bigger picture and accuracy of history. We know that visual art, music, and plays have documented part of our American history. With so much more attention recently on the white washing of history how do I know if what I’m reading, hearing and/or experiencing is accurate? School text books don’t always contain the truth or the whole story. Checking the sources of what’s on the internet is necessary. I read a piece yesterday about the history of Memorial Day.

Clubhouse, where Confederates held Union soldiers, held prisoner 1865 | Library of Congress. From Blight’s book: “at least 257 prisoners died, many of disease, and were buried in unmarked graves.”  

This is what I learned:

  • Most Americans will say that May 30th is Memorial Day and they understand we take a day to honor servicemen and women, many of who gave their lives while serving our country. 
  • The first Memorial Day was actually on May 1, 1865 when 10,000 people gathered in Charleston, South Carolina, most of them black and formerly enslaved citizens, to honor slain soldiers from the Civil War. They gathered at an old race track that had been used as a prison to rebury and make a proper cemetery for the U.S. Army soldiers who died. This is according to Pulitzer-Price winning historian David Blight.
  • The Civil War was April 12, 1861 – April 9, 1865. General Robert E. Lee of the Confederacy surrendered his army to Union General Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox, Virginia. It was the deadliest war in American history.

I know it can be difficult to find accurate information for students and how necessary it is for students to get the full picture. For this blog post I found information and educational resources at the National Archives, from this story on Medium, a video with Blight speaking about the Civil War and his book Race and Reunion, The Civil War in American Memory at Harvard University Press, and ABC News 7, Charleston. We’re fortunate in Maine to have Americans Who Tell the Truth to use as a resource that has unveiled truths and shared stories about some of our country’s history.


Summer MAEA Opportunity

May 23, 2023

Going to summer camp



Monson Arts

May 16, 2023

Wicked visual art summer opportunity

Monson Arts is offering Maine art educators a 25% discount on its 2023 summer workshops.  Monson Arts, established by the Libra Foundation in 2018, offers residencies for artists and writers, community based programs, and summer workshops.  This year’s workshops include offerings in audio, mixed-media, painting, weaving, and writing.  There is also 24 hour studio access. For more information: https://monsonarts.org/workshops/.

Besides ample studio spaces and newly renovated accommodations, participants eat all their meals at The Quarry Restaurant.  It’s the only restaurant in Maine to be a finalist for a James Beard Foundation award this year.

Monson is the last town before the 100 Mile Wilderness of the Appalachian Trail.  A beautiful natural setting, great workshop leaders, studios, and food!  Questions?  Email information@monsonarts.org or call 207 997 2070.


Maine Art Education Awards

May 9, 2023

Congratulations art teachers!

Each Spring the Maine Art Education Association (MAEA) presents awards to individuals who are committed to quality visual art education. Some of these educators have been in the ‘trenches’ with ‘kids’, of all ages, for many years. Others are just beginning their careers, and yet others support quality art education from a distance impacting the lives of learners. Each individual is to be commended for their contributions to the profession.

At a recent ceremony each individual was honored for their service. Below are the recipients with their ceramic awards made by Carolyn Brown.


The awardees

Iva Damon, Leavitt Area High School, Turner
Kaleigh Jones, Carl J. Lamb Elementary School, Sanford
Jessica Nadeau, Boothbay Region Elementary School
Kari McCarthy, Brunswick Junior High School
Elise Pelletier, Scarborough High School, Scarborough
RSU 40, Assistant Superintendent
Pamela Moulton, North Bridgton
Abigail Newkirk, Colby College Museum of Art, Waterville
Kate Furbish Elementary School, Brunswick

AI – Save Humanity?

May 2, 2023

Beginning conversations

Recently I joined a book group. I’ve never been part of a formal ‘book group’ (secret is out). I’ve never been interested and truth be told its only recently that I’ve been reading books at a very fast rate, now that my schedule allows. I like this book group for several reasons. It’s pretty non-traditional, no one book is read and discussed like in traditional book groups. Actually, its one of the reasons I decided to join the group. We gather over lunch monthly and each participant shares books, films, podcasts and other forms of stories and ideas. The participants are retired educators who have a keen interest in education and other interesting and sometimes challenging topics. At our April gathering we each shared a poem in recognition of National Poetry Month.

At more than one gathering the conversation has included AI – Artificial Intelligence. I’m certain as we learn more that the conversation will continue. I’m reading and learning about what AI is, where it is, and the potential impact on the world. A 60 Minutes episode from a couple of weeks ago provides foundational information that I suggest you take the time to VIEW. It’s very informative and important as educators that we inform ourselves.

You can google AI and come up with the definition but until you begin to ‘see’ and experiment with the online tools I’m not sure it will provide you with the understanding to consider the impact on education. For example, think about this: The sum of all human knowledge is online. AI is replicating the brain. What are the implications on education? What is the impact on art making? AI can solve problems in very little time compared to the brain. Is humanity diminished because of the enormous capability of AI?

Visual artist Jonas Peterson is creating art work using AI. His collection of art called Youth is wasted on the young is an amazing collection that is his way of celebrating the ‘old’ and a comment on ageism. He used fashion to highlight the personalities of older people. Jonas is a photographer but in this collection he uses AI to create scenes, the people and what they’re wearing. In his own words:

I give specific direction using words only to a program, lenses, angles, camera choice, color theme, colors, styling, backgrounds, attitude and overall look and the AI goes to work, it sends back suggestions and more often than not it’s completely wrong, so I try other ways to describe what I’m after, change wording, move phrases around and try to get the AI to understand the mood. It’s frustrating mostly, the AI is still learning, but getting any collaborator to understand you can be difficult no matter if it’s a human or a machine. After a long stretch of trial and error I get closer to a style and look I want and after that it comes down to curation, picking the renders I believe go well together, I start making it a series. To me the process is similar to that of a film director’s, I direct the AI the same way they would talk to an actor or set designer, it’s a process, we try over and over again until we get it right. Should I get all the credit? God, no, the AI creates with my help and direction, it’s a collaboration between a real brain and an artificial one.

You might be thinking or asking, is this really art? Do I want my students to use this in their art making? Here are some of my thoughts and questions. AI exists in the world. Microsoft introduced ChatGPT, an artificial intelligence chatbot, in November 2022. Bard is a conversational generative artificial intelligence and was released in March 2023. How should educators learn about AI? Should we leave it up to students to teach us? I’m sure that this will be the next wave of education professional development offerings, in person and online.

Jonas Peterson said:

I’m not here to debate the process, I’m a professional photographer, writer and artist myself, I understand the implications, how this will affect many creative fields in the future. I’m simply using a tool available to me to tell stories, the same way I’ve always told stories – to move people. To me that is the point of this, not how I did it. Dissecting something will almost always kill it.

You can learn more about Jonas’s work by googling him and also at this LINK.

I’m sure I’ll circle back to this topic in future blog posts. If you have questions or comments that we can all learn from please don’t hesitate to comment at the bottom of this blog post. Thanks!


Truths and Lies

April 25, 2023

Union of Maine Visual Artists Journal

Four times a year the Union of Maine Visual Artists (UMVA) publishes a journal. The UMVA is a non-profit organization that promotes and advocates for the visual arts, artists, and all arts supporters. Included in each publication is a column that focuses on education called Insight/Incite. The recently released spring issue theme is Truths and Lies. The Insight/Incite column includes a piece authored by Lynda Leonas. Congratulations to Lynda who teaches K-6 visual art in Auburn Public Schools. She presently serves as the president of the Maine Art Education Association (MAEA). The title of Lynda’s piece is Re-envisioning Art Enrichment Assessments: The Policy of Gifted and Talented Programs.

You can read the piece at THIS LINK. Access the entire journal at THIS LINK. Information about becoming a member is at THIS LINK. If you’re interested in writing for the journal please email Argy Nestor at meartsed@gmail.com.


Americans Who Tell the Truth

April 18, 2023

Resources, resources, resources

In the fall of 2022 over 100 Maine educators attended the conference Teaching Truth, Hope, and Creativity: How the Arts Can Deepen Any Curriculum, held at Thomas College. Americans Who Tell the Truth (AWTT) took the lead with many organizations and individuals supporting the conference. It was one of those days that was ‘over the top’ filled with learning, collaboration, and inspiration.

The conference day was very meaningful and continues to plant ideas. As a follow up the AWTT Education Director Connie Carter along with artist Rob Shetterly have gathered resources for the conference participants and the entire education community. I invite you to check out the resources below for use this spring in your classrooms/schools or perhaps in the future. The AWTT website is amazing and if nothing else, I do hope that you’ll visit the website. I am certain you will be inspired!!

If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to email Connie Carter at connie@americanswhotellthetruth.org.

Americans Who Tell the Truth Lessons

  • What are the characteristics of a Truth Teller?

Americans Who Tell The Truth Truth Teller Lesson Plan

  • What is a Turning Point?

What is a turning point? – Americans Who Tell The Truth

Latest Speaking Truth To Youth Video

Most recent AWTT Portraits and their Biographies

Celebrate National Poetry Month

Celebrate Earth Day

Readings for Thought

  • Blog from Artist and AWTT Founder Robert Shetterly

To Stand Up a Stone

  • Blog from AWTT Education Director Connie Carter

Thoughts After the Symphony

Music to Inspire You and Your Students

  • From Truth Teller Reggie Harris

It’s Who We Are v1 5 

  • New AWTT portrait subject John Alston conducts his Chester Children’s Chorus

The Chester Children’s Chorus-I Still Can’t Breathe 2016  

Checkout this newsletter from a new organization Starts With US (Starts With Us)

Start With US Newsletter Link

Coming in Fall 2023

An AWTT professional development event sponsored by UMaine’s College of Education and Human Development

Robert Shetterly


April 11, 2023

Poem by manuel arturo abreu

As I said in my first blog post in April every morning I receive an email from Poem-a-Day put out by the Academy of American Poets. It’s a way to stretch my thinking in a different direction, reading poetry written by artists from varying backgrounds. I can read them or listen to them. I prefer listening since they’re often recited by the poet. On some days listening helps me center myself for the day ahead. Some poems are calming, others sad and some challenge my thinking.

I found this one fascinating and I learned what Klangfarbenmelodie means.


clock that measures the opposite of time
ancient pixel built from half a breath
the seed of a perfect moon

numbers don’t lie because they can’t tell the truth
the kindling space between a choice
& its airless shadow

a polite noumenon guides my dismay
with the grace of email for doves
originating in silence like all eternal things

joystruck demon of rain
the welas at the bus stop look like potatoes
in cellophane       the milk of their laughter

Anaisa’s mirror is her palm
a plangent yellow, bones of song
tracing lines of flight

Almost always at the end of the poem is About this Poem. Some days it takes me listening to this section to get a sense of what the poem is about and/or what the poet is conveying. This is one of those times but I’m sure music educators reading this are familiar with Klangfarbenmelodie.

“Klangfarbenmelodie (German for ‘sound-color melody’) is a musical technique that involves splitting a musical line or melody between several instruments, rather than assigning it to just one instrument (or set of instruments), thereby adding color (timbre) and texture to the melodic line. Serialists such as [Arnold] Schoenberg and [Anton] Webern are known for this approach to tone color. The technique is sometimes compared to ‘pointillism,’ a Neo-Impressionist painting technique. In this poem, I explore linguistic applications of this concept with reference to non-linear time, placemaking, and what Wilson Harris calls the ‘predatory coherence’ of quantized or Cartesian time (as opposed to Bergsonian ‘pure time’ or ‘duration’).”
manuel arturo abreu

To learn more about the poem and are curious about a person who would write a poem about Klangfarbenmelodie go to THIS LINK. Enjoy and consider subscribing to Poem-a-Day.


And Away I Went – Traveling and Learning

April 4, 2023

Hawaii – Aloha!

My word for this Spring is flexibility. I am fortunate to have the flexibility to make a schedule that is all but perfect for me. (And, I am reminded periodically, nothing is ‘perfect’). The trip I recently returned from was amazing and part of it is due to the flexibility I presently have in my life. This blog post contains my ‘story’ accompanied by photos which is about my learning adventure in Hawaii on the islands of Kauai and the Big Island – Hawaii. It’s quite lengthy but I’ve learned no sense in telling only part of a story. I learned something every day on our adventure and realized how much I didn’t know. WOW! I figure when I’m really old that someone can read my travel journals to me and I can relive the sweet moments. I LOVE TO TRAVEL!!! Fortunately, I had wonderful travel partners; my husband Don and during part of our trip one of our sons, Nicholas joined us.

My recent travel story starts with this Walt Disney saying:

Around here, we don’t look backwards for very long. We keep moving forward, opening up new doors and doing new things, because we’re curious — and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.

Day 1 travel to Hawaii…

We traveled on the 4:45 am bus from Portland to Boston, Logan airport. Our flight was direct to Honolulu on Hawaiian Air, just over 10 hours, 5,109 miles. We took a second plane to the island of Kaua’i in time to check in to the Kaua’i Inn, have supper and crawl into bed. Five hours behind Maine time, it was a 21 hour day.

First sightings, surprises, wowzer moments:

*hot (80 degrees) and humid but not so bad because the wind is very very strong. (quite different than the near 0 degrees we left at home), (my hair has gone from curly to tightly curly)

*color of water is indescribable

*first sighting stepping out of the airport: Suburban w surfboards on the roof rack

*there really is a wiki-wiki bus here

*the economy is based totally on tourism (people in service jobs are sooo friendly)

*sky is always changing, very dramatic

*can’t tell where people are from, by their cars, because everyone who is visiting that’s driving, has a rental car (it’s an island)

*many travelers, mostly older people

*there are chickens EVERYWHERE!! (more on that later)

Kaua’i Inn

Day 2, the adventure really begins…

I can’t stop smiling w bugged out eyes. Soooo many different sights to take in. The biggies for today:

*moved into our Airbnb in Kapa’a on the island of Kauai, where we’ll be for 6 days. Rows of small attached homes.

*visited Alekoko Fish Pond at Menehune Pond Lookout. The river below was fast moving water, thanks to the tide and wind. Six double kayaks spotted. Restoration area run by volunteers and a non-profit. Site is listed on US National Historic Register. They’re working to remove 26 acres of mangrove which is an invasive species. This will help restore the native vegetation, wildlife habits and traditional forms of food production. Next to the river we could see children with shovels and wheelbarrows hard at work. The funniest thing was looking down at a post at the edge of the pullout and seeing a sticker: North Haven Oyster. So far from home, yet so close!

*headed west along the coast to Shipwreck Beach to see BIG waves, surfers, sun, beautiful sand, amazing color water, some beach goers and wind (30 knots). We took a trail that meandered up and along the waters edge. What a gift to my eyes-stopping to breathe deeply and exchange greetings w others out for a hike.

*amazing lunch at a tiki looking spot, waitress was delightful. Kale salad w beets, fruit, goat cheese, macadamia nuts and the most delicious figs!

*Spouting Hole was similar to Acadia’s Thunder Hole. The lava rock along the coast is so different.

Grateful for another day in this US state, the farthest from our home!

Alekoko Fish Pond
Shipwreck Beach
Spouting Hole

Day 3, based in Kapa’a on the island of Kauai

The weather is unusually windy, the water temperature always between 70ish and 85ish, and at any time of the day suddenly it rains for 3-10 minutes.

Today we each did something we love.

*Don went fly fishing for Bone fish w a guide. They wear these water shoes that look like light weight plastic hiking boots. They’re pretty rugged to protect feet from being cut on the rough surface covered w various sizes of coral. They waded about 75 yards out in the water close to the coral reefs. Water is fairly shallow, up to his waist. When Don looked over his shoulder there were 20 foot waves not far off. The work of the reef. He had three fish but didn’t catch any. He saw about 20 giant turtles swim close by.

*Nicholas went for a hike on the northern part of the island. Part of the trail was through lush green grasses and it went down to a beach.

*I spent time at the beach, breathing deeply, walking, soaking up the sun, reading and taking in the amazing beauty of the water colors changing, and watching the waves breaking at the reef.

*We stopped at a juice stand where I drank coconut milk direct from the coconut and fresh coconut.

*Our evening was spent at the Smith family Luau. A unique experience! The business has been in the family going on 5 generations. Our experience started w a tour of the gardens, on to the Imu Ceremony – digging up the pig that had been cooking for 5 hours. On to a delicious supper including Mahi Mahi, tomato salmon salad, mashed potatoes, cucumber salad, Chinese fried rice, Adobo chicken, purple sweet potatoes, teriyaki beef, poi (root of taro), green salad w traditional Hawaiian dressings, and of course pork. Drinks: mai tai, pina colada, Longboard beer (local).

Desserts: coconut cake, variety of jello’s and delicious Hawaiian rice pudding

Afterwards we had instructions on how to do a traditional hula dance. From there on to the Lagoon Theater for the Luau show which included history and traditional culture explaining the contributions that blend together in Hawaii. About 12 different performances from Philippines, New Zealand, Tahiti, and Japan. Fire and drumming included. Overall it was a good introduction to Hawaiian culture. Part of the US, yet so different.

pathway to the beach
Coral reefs not far from the beach
The meal at Smith Family Luau
Hula dancer at the Luau

Day 4, based in Kapa’a, island of Kauai

We’re a 3 minute walk to the beach so we headed out the door for the 6:50 sunrise. Even w clouds the sunrise was a beautiful sight and only got more amazing as the sun ascended from the horizon.

We spent the morning at the Hole in the Mountain Farm where they grow Sugarloaf pineapples. They’re white and it will be impossible to ever eat a pineapple bought locally again. Sugarloaf pineapples don’t, in any way, resemble the taste of any pineapple I’ve ever eaten!!! The farm, owned by Jude and Paul Huber, is 38 acres of well drained soil, ideal for growing Sugarloafs, where they’ve work extremely hard to get to the point of harvesting 250,000 pineapples a year.

We learned:

*there are 4 ways to grow pineapples-from seed, planting the crowns, slips and suckers

*takes 18-24 months to grow a pineapple

*Jude and Paul are science nerds and instead of watching TV at night they read research papers

*reading and learning and experimenting has led them to being able to get 39 plants from 1

*each plant grows only 1 pineapple at a time, planted 3 across in each row/bed

*plant a field every 2 weeks in order to have ripe pineapples year-round

*sell them at 2 farmers markets on the island and ship them anywhere

*we saw the pineapples in all the stages, my favorite was the red heart stage

*learned how to plant a crown, harvest a pineapple, cut it for eating

*machines do not plant or harvest pineapples, both are done by hand

*pineapples don’t ripen on the kitchen counter. Pineapples should be harvested when ripe. On the counter they only get softer, more colorful, more aromatic.

*4lb pineapple is ideal for Jude and Paul to grow which they sell for $4 lb

*they’re grateful for their 2 full-time, 2 part-time employees who they pay $33 an hour

*left the farm w 5 small pineapples that we picked, and w the taste of pineapple ice cream that was soooooo yummy!!

Paul and Jude are 70 and 68 years old. For fun (and for years) they go to Alaska, jump out of helicopters on snowboards.

During our adventure at the farm we were rained on twice. These rain showers come on quickly and last 2-10 minutes. The wind continues to blow throughout the day and night keeping it cool and comfortable.

In the afternoon we walked part of the 4 mile path to the lot w a bunch of food trucks and had Mahi Mahi fish and chips. Yum!

Sunrise in Kapa’a
Beginning stages of pineapple
3 pineapple plants across each row
1 pineapple plant grows on each plant
We planted and picked pineapples and took 5 to our home away from home – delicious!

Day 5, based in Kapa’a, Island of Kaua’i

Our Airbnb comes w toys, one of which is bikes. We’re a 1 minute ride to the 4 mile bike/walk path that goes along the ocean. We started our day w a ride stopping along the way to read the signs and learn some of the history of the area. Like the first railroad in Hawaii was built on Kauai which moved some of the harvested sugar to the wharf for shipping.

Today’s highlights:

*we drove 20 minutes up the mountain to where Don met his local guide Jordan for some small mouth bass fishing in the river. He had so much fun and caught a few fish. As Don says “it’s always fun to fish somewhere different than Maine to compare. And fun to see how a different outfitter does business.” The Eucalyptus trees were AMAZING!! They looked like someone had a giant paint brush and a variety of colors and painted long stripes. Sooooo tall-maybe 100-200ft. It was wet at this higher elevation and our shoes were covered w the reddish-brown dirt. There were murals on the bridge that were painted by the local high school students.

*while Don fished Nicholas and I meandered down the mountain stopping at Opaekaa Waterfalls and a view of the highest part of the island, 5,243ft where 400-600 inches of rain falls each year. The wettest spot in the world. The Hindu Monastery was immaculate. The bamboo walkway was serene and the statue of Lord Hanuman was brilliant.

*we explored around downtown Kapa’a. Local thrift store, fabric store, potter’s studio and shop, trinket shops and food truck stop for Thai food for lunch.

*our day ended w delightful Hawaiian music and hula dancing. The most interesting dance called Poi is done w balls suspended on a flexible cord. They are swung around in different patterns. Children use them to increase their flexibility, concentration, and eye hand coordination. I wonder if anyone has researched the Poi dance to learning?!

*today is Girls Day in Hawaii. We were delighted to see Girl Scouts selling cookies outside the grocery store!

*todays highlight for me was visiting the potter. Dean K McRaine of LightWave Pottery. He uses a process similar to jewelry made out of Sculpey. He uses color clays to create intricate designs in 12”x12”x16” blocks. He takes slices off of the block and makes mugs, cups, plates, and other items. He started doing this a few years ago after being a production potter for 30 years.

Don fishing in the river
Mural painted by local high school students
Eucalyptus tree
Pottery of Dean K McRaine of Lightwave Pottery

Day 6, in Kapa’a on the island of Kauai

Today was the first day without crazy winds, it was definitely warmer and the sun felt stronger.

We headed north to Hanalei (yes, the Puff the Magic Dragon Hanalei) for a farmers market.

Stopped at a lookout with a view of Hanalei National Wildlife Refuge. Sectioned plots of land where we could see different stages of Taro (or Kalo) growing. They are having success working to reverse the decline of wetlands and taro to support water birds. The view was beautiful!

We walked down to the Hanalei Beach passing by a surfboard exchange. Just like our ski and snowboard exchanges in Maine!

Next stop was the Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge. (If you go be sure to make a reservation). We were in awe-the sounds, the colors, birds in flight, the stunning view in every direction and the lighthouse. Some facts:

*US government realized in 1909 that a lighthouse was needed in this location when shipping increased between Asia and the west coast. They purchased 31 acres from the Kilauea Sugar Company for $1. There were no roads or motorized vehicles at the time so they had to bring supplies by boat to the leeward side. Everything was loaded onto smaller boats and brought around to the 568ft bluff, taken by derrick crane to a narrow gauge inclined railway and moved up the cliff. Even w all this effort needed they completed building the lighthouse in less than a year.

*Light keepers lit the lamps everyday at sunset and kept them burning all night (just like Abbie in Maine). In 1976 the original light was replaced by an automated one. In 2014 LED solar power replaced the rotating beacon which is visible 11 miles out to sea. The lighthouse has 4 floors plus an 11 foot basement, unique to this lighthouse. 10 years ago a full restoration of the lighthouse was completed. The lighthouse is located on the northern most tip of Kauai.

*the point protects and supports native bird populations including: the nene (Hawaiian goose) which is a new bird for Don’s bird list, Red and White-tailed Tropicbird (they are the coolest w 2 long skinny tail feathers), Layson Albatross (huge w 6.5 foot wingspan), Great Frigatebird (the name comes from their quick maneuverability w a 7ft wingspan), and my favorite, the Red-footed Booby (amazing beak, face and feet colors). It was so fun to see and hear and watch these birds swoop, feed, collect for nest building. It was a thrill to see a Humpback Whale-surface about 8 times!

Soooo grateful for the opportunity to visit the refuge. What an amazing and beautiful day!

Hanalei National Wildlife Refuge
Surf board sale
Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge
Looking from the refuge to the thousands of birds

Day 7, based in Kapa’a, Kauai

We had a magical day in Waimea Canyon State Park. Some call it the Grand Canyon of Hawai’i. We left Kapa’a early to make the over hour drive to the western side of Kauai. Up we went to over 4,000 feet. The terra cotta color soil was hard and muddy in some places. The sky was blue in spots and the clouds moved in as the day progressed. Soooo many trails to pick from. The views were spectacular! The history and environment explained in many ways along our day. The pictures tell the story best although they don’t capture the enormousness of the canyon. It was a long and exhilarating day in the park that ended back in the town of Waimea for the famous JoJo’s Shaved Ice.

Waimea Canyon State Park – every sight was spectacular
Waimea State Park just before the fog moved in
Jo Jo’s Shaved Ice is very popular in Hawaii – we found it similar to snow cones

Kaua’i, some of the highlights not included above:

*Our Airbnb called Kapa’a Garden Apartments had art everywhere inside and out.

*Some of the foods we enjoyed on Kauai’i: Mahi Mahi, Poke Bowls, sushi

*the local signage

*flowers and plants everywhere – so beautiful

relief made of plaster on the outside of our airbnb
a door on the inside of our airbnb
on the porch of our airbnb
one of several signs
this is an understatement
One of the many yummy meals we got at food trucks
ferns not open yet but looked like giant fiddleheads – about the size of a hubcap

*CHICKENS CHICKENS CHICKENS everywhere on Kauai. What’s up w all the chickens here? Wellllll… one of the story goes like this…

There were two major hurricanes that damaged the island of Kauai and scattered the chickens. One in 1982, Hurricane Iwa and 10 years later, Hurricane Iniki. No one could identify which ones belonged to whom. It was declared that they would be left to roam freely. They estimate that there are 450,000 chickens running amok on Kauai. The population of Kauai is 73,000. Yup, for every local resident there are 6 chickens. No hunting season on them (unlike wild goats and pigs), the only predator – people (cars). the locals are used to their constant clucking and cock-a-doodling. Most of the day and night! In fact, we’re used to the sounds now as well, sleeping through the clucking!

chickens everywhere
all colors
chickens in Waimea Canyon

Day 8 travel from Kauai to the Big Island

We flew from Lihue Airport to Honolulu. Picked up the rental car and drove across the middle of the island on Route 2000. If you look at a map of the island there are mostly only roads along the perimeter where most of the residents live.

Our eyes feasted on a very different environment than what we had experienced on Kauai. Black lava rock, flat w high jagged mountains in the distance, big big sky (reminded us of Wyoming). We heard that the high peaks had unusual snowfall and sure enough, there it was! Both mountains Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa.

We landed in Kea’au for the few days, not far from Hilo.

Day 9, island of Hawai’i, Kea’au

We left our Airbnb at 5:30am for Volcanoes National Park, a 40 minute drive. We walked about 1/2 mile following the signs saying ‘eruption viewing’. We viewed no eruption however the site of the crater of Kilauea and everything we set our eyes upon in the park, was magical! The photos don’t match what we observed. Hopefully you can get a sense of this unique place!

Here’s some of what we experienced and learned:

*Hawaiians believe that the Goddess Pelehonuamea-Pele of the Red Earth, home is the caldera of the volcano Kilauea. They’ve observed and learned from the deity Pelehonuamea.

Ika nana no aike – By observing one learns

For centuries Hawaiians have come to the caldera to pay homage to the ever-present life force that embodies all things volcanic. They believe in ‘mana’ – a supernatural or divine power.

*Today’s scientists are able to use what they learn from the frequency of the eruptions. This info sheds light on how our planet works and lead to better predictions for the future eruptions, ultimately saving human lives.

*The first volcano observatory in the US was established at Volcanoes National Park in 1912.

*We could see the steam rising from the caldera as we watched the moon set over Mauna Kea. And we were surprised to be watching w only two other visitors.

*We traveled along the rim and the view of Mauna Loa covered w snow was along our trail. The Hawaiian’s have been very surprised about the snowfall.

*We walked on trails among the steam vents that are formed due to cracks in the earth. Rainwater soaks into the ground, finds hot rock and vaporizes to form steam.

*The visitor center opened at 10 and many cars started arriving. Again we only see Hawai’i license plates (on an island) so we don’t know where people are visiting from like we do in Maine.

*Next stop-the 500 hundred year old lava tubes where 2000 degree lava once flowed. They were discovered in 1913. It was like walking down into a cave. Luckily they are lit w torches during the day. On a side trail I saw a wild pig. There are tall fences to keep wild animals in certain areas so they don’t destroy the habitat.

*I was blown away by the Petroglyphs. They know of 23,000 in the park. Their purpose was to record travel around the island, express consideration for human longevity and well being, communicate current and past events, and mark boundaries and trails. Not to mention many are beautiful creations. We saw a large mound with shallow holes of various sizes. The umbilical cord of newborns were placed in a hole w a rock on top. In the morning the cord is gone which insures long life for the child.

*The Sea Arch is an example of the force of water. Over time the arch has shifted and eventually will no longer be recognizable as an arch.

*Driving through the park is almost indescribable. The hills covered w hardened lava are like large fields, some grey, some black. The newer lava appears blacker and almost looks like a map showing rivers. Close up the lava rock looks like cow pattys or brownies just spread in a pan or black mulch. So very different than what I’m used to seeing in farm type fields in Maine!

Daybreak at Volcanoes National Park
Watched the moonset at day break at the edge of the caldera
steam vents
lava tube
petroglyphs, one of 23,000
walkway around the petroglyphs to help protect them
hardened lava resembled cow patties
Sea Arch will eventually collapse with the fierce wind and tides

Day 10, based in Kea’au, Hawai’i

Visited waterfalls not far from downtown Hilo on the western side of Hawaii.

First stop was at the 80ft Rainbow Waterfalls and the Boiling Pots above the falls. We were impressed by the sound of the water.

The story of Rainbow Falls…

Hina was the mother of Maui.

She lived in the cave under the waterfall with her ‘women’ making kapa, a cloth created by beating the bark from the mulberry bush.

A mo’o or giant lizard named Kuna lived along the Wailuku River and frequently tormented Hina by sending volumes of water, logs and other debris over the falls. One night there was a huge storm and rain filled the gorge. Kuna decided to put a large rock over the opening of the cave and trap Hina inside.

She called out to Maui who woke from his dream of his mother calling:

O Maui, fisher of islands,

O Maui, slower of sun,

Listen! It is Hina who calls.

Come quickly, oh Maui my son.

Come in your swift canoe.

Come with your mightly war club.

Save us from Kuna Mo’o.

Maui came quickly and saw no water in the river and knew something was wrong. He went above the falls and struck on the bank to make a waterway around the rock.

Then he went after Kuna who was hiding in the ‘boiling pots’ (located above the waterfall). He started throwing giant rocks at the boiling pots but Kuna stayed in hiding. Maui asked Pele, Goddess of volcanoes, to help by making the rocks hot which in turn he threw them into the river to make it boiling hot. Kuna was forced to leave the water and was struck by Maui’s club. Over the falls he went and still lies as a giant rock at the bottom of the falls as a reminder.

From there we traveled north to Akaka Falls State Park. A 1/2 mile loop trail winds down into a rain forest w some leaves as large as a small car. Along the way there are 4 waterfalls, all different from each other, the largest one, 442ft.

We also visited the Tsunami Museum in Hilo. It was a fascinating place w stories, history, facts and warnings. People here are very aware of the Tsunami since most live close to the coast. They have a warning system in place in the event.

Besides the beauty of the waterfalls we saw our first mongoose and very rare cloud formation-linticular clouds. They hung, barely moving all day long, resembling UFOs. They continued through the sunset. The locals were surprised about them as well.

Rainbow Falls
Boiling pots just above Rainbow Falls
Akaka State Falls State Park – one of 4 waterfalls and the largest at 442 feet
Akaka State Park – one of 4 waterfalls
Very rare cloud formation-linticular clouds – resembled UFO’s

Very rare cloud formation-linticular clouds – resembled UFO’s

Day 11, left Kea’au and headed to the eastern side of the Big Iskand, Hawai’i

Another sunny and 80 degree day. We stopped at Black Sand Beach Park. Yes, the sand was black and I was glad it was early morning because it hadn’t reached a point that would be too hot to walk on. The life guard was out surfing, one woman was snorkeling, a few people were laying on the beach and others like us wandering around enjoying the colors of the water, watching turtles popping up heads. We took off our shoes and waded in to see how warm the water felt at 82 degrees. Very different from our salt water in Maine.

I was reminded about the importance of wondering as we meandered down a road. I’m so grateful to Nicholas for finding this spot.

It turned out that we were not far from the most southern spot of the US called South Point. The 11 mile long road was in good shape at the beginning. The road condition failed some, got narrower the closer we got to South Point. The farms seemed huge. We saw cattle in some and horses in others. Fewer houses the further we went. Up from the horizon rose 12 wind turbines. It reminded us a little of Ireland. The sky felt huge like Wyoming big.

We got to the end of the road and the point and the wind was wild which of course made the seas more wild. A bit surreal like we were at the end of the earth. Felt really special being there, a gift. especially being from Maine, the farthest state from Hawai’i.

We traveled on towards our next Airbnb and stumbled onto The Coffee Shack, another gem w the most amazing view of the coastline. It felt like we were in a tree house. We had lime pie to go w Don’s afternoon coffee.

On to the best of our 4 overnight accommodations. If you’re coming to Captain Cook area of Hawaii, it’s the perfect place to stay.

Supper on the water in Kona and a short drive to the airport where we said so long to Nicholas. Sad to see him go but very grateful to be traveling w him during the last 11 days. Nicholas has traveled to over 50 countries to date. He is knowledgeable and clever and swift in his traveling habits. Not to mention, sooooo fun!

Black Sand Beach
Black Sand Beach – we could see turtles from these rocks
Driving down to South Point these wind turbines loomed up
Driving to South Point – more than one field of horses
South Point – the most southern point of the US

Day 12, Captain Cook, Hawaii

We felt like we were sitting in a treehouse while eating a delicious breakfast at The Coffee Shack. Our long view was the Pacific Ocean. Not 20 yards away from where we sat was an avocado tree. According to our waiter the tree is 100 years old and 100 feet tall. If you look closely at photo you can see the avocados.

We toured Greenwell Farms where they grow and process coffee. Our Airbnb is right in the middle of Kona coffee country. Here’s what we learned from the knowledgeable guide who grew up new by, native Hawaiian, and oh by the way, some of the info goes way beyond coffee facts…

*Greenwell family has been running the coffee business for five generations

*Henry Greenwell came from Australia in 1820 and started acquiring land. 500 acres and he started growing coffee. He also was a rancher, the postmaster, superintendent of schools.

*coffee trees bloom for months and months. The key is to pick them when they’re ready. They produce year round but more than half the crop produce in September, October and November.

*coffee beans are commonly called cherries

*Greenwell’s original trees are in a field they lovingly call Great Grandma, root stock is over 200 years old. They graft from these trees and plant within a year. It takes about 20 years from graft to production. They are planting them in straight rows and on level ground which impacts the production by growing a healthier tree. They’re grafting 25,000-35,000 trees a year w a 99% success rate.

*self pollinating

*16.8 inches of rain falls in this particular area

*youngest trees are 2 ft tall, in a year they will be 7 ft tall.

*there are 900 growers in the Kona coffee belt

*several farms deliver their crop to Greenwell Farms where they are processed by sorting out the good ones, taking out the seed, soaking and drying them. They pick them when they’re red. They remove 80% of the water. Takes 4 days to dry, then they’re roasted.

*Greenwell Farm also has avocado trees, pineapple plants, pepper vines, coconut trees, banana trees, and vanilla vines

*200 varieties of avocados grow in Hawaii. The lace mites have impacted the production this year.

*don’t spend time under a coconut tree because not only do the coconuts fall out at odd times but so do the fronds and they might hurt a lot more

*banana trees are actually a grass

*picked pepper, green and tried it. Very hot!

*saw a chameleon in a cherry tree

*takes 3000-4000 beans for 1lb of coffee

Yes, Don bought a lb of coffee after the opportunity to try their many flavors.

Food is expensive here, we saw eggs for $7 a dozen BUT the avocados are not so, $1, bananas 4 for $1.

We bought some Huli Huli (means ‘turn turn’ in Polynesian) chicken on the side of the road. BEST chicken ever!!

The Coffee Shack – giant avocado tree
Breakfast at The Coffee Shack
Coffee beans are picked when they are red and called cherries. In this photo are the red beans and the beans removed from the fruit.
Pepper growing at Greenwell Farms
Grafted coffee plants ready to be planted
Chameleon in a cherry tree
Went to the beach after the coffee farm tour
All the Huli Huli chicken workers were so happy!
Huli Huli chicken was best chicken I’ve ever tasted

Day 13, Captain Cook on Big Island, Hawai’i

We explored along the western side of the Big Island. We headed up the coast early before the day got very hot.

Pu’ukohola Heiau is a large structure which took almost a year to complete in 1791 ordered by the ruler Kamehameha I. It’s completion enabled him to be ruler of all the Hawaiian islands and it turned out to be the last major sacred structure built before outside influences changed traditional life permanently. It has been undergoing restoration and is now a National Historic Site. Thousands of men were assembled to build the original war temple. Because the temple had to be created using water-worn lava rocks they lined up for 20 miles forming a human chain to pass the stones one by one. Once completed the Heiau was used for many reasons ranging from state and war to ensuring rainfall, successful harvests, and abundant fisheries. Heiau’s were often associated w human sacrifices. This one includes a large platform for displaying wooden carvings. Pu’ukohola was only accessed by priests and chiefs. Today the Hawaiians honor the past by continuing to hold ceremonies in this Heiau, allowing only natives to attend. We couldn’t enter the Heiau but looking at the massive structure it was easy to imagine the seriousness of the ceremony’s that take place on the hill that looks down and out at the sea. This plaque is at the site:

Eon wale no ‘oukou i ku’u pono ‘a’ ole e pau – Endless is the good I have given you to enjoy

We traveled up the coast to a State Historical Park called Lapakahi. The restoration of the village provided the sense of a complete community from the late 1700’s right up to the early 1900’s. The trail winds through the area where the people planted and used the sea to access food.

This site included:

*a house built w a bamboo frame and grass thatching for the roof

*hollowed out stones which they filled w salt water. The sun evaporated the water and the remaining salt was used for cooking and used to preserve the fish they caught.

*stone game board similar to checkers called Konane w black and white pebbles

*protected cove where they stored their canoes and fished from, we watched dozens of beautiful Yellow Tang fish and a sea turtle

Ready for lunch after a morning in the sun we headed up the coast again and rounded the northern tip to the small town of Hawi and found the delightful restaurant called Bamboo Restaurant.

Don had a Cuban and I had grilled tuna served on a homemade bun – both Mr. Delish! The menu cover was sewn, almost looked like a quilt square. I had been considering a Pina Colada since I haven’t had one for about 35 years. The owner of Bamboo was a delightful woman who visited our table several times during the meal. When asked about the drink she said: “we use dark rum and a secret.” I thought no better time then the present, Pina Kohala. Yummy! I highly recommend Bamboo Restaurant – go for the food, art, ambience, signage, and the Pina Kohala!

We headed back to Captain Cook and our Airbnb after a delightful day.

Spot were the native Hawaiians launched their fishing boats.
They would fill these rocks with salt water. Once the water evaporated they’d scoop out the salt and use it for preserving fish and in cooking.
Fun and interesting place for lunch.
Tuna on home made bun – delicious!

Day 14, our last in Hawaii

We arrived at our favorite breakfast place on the Big Island, The Coffee Shack, when they opened at 7. They filled up fast. Nice to know that others rise early, even on Sunday. We had another yummy meal as we gazed out at the 100 ft tall avocado tree.

Back to our delightful Airbnb to pack for our long day of traveling.

We had one big last visit to an organic farm called Kuaiwi Farm to learn about growing chocolate. The name kuaiwi means ‘backbone’ and refers to the long low stone walls/mounds that stretch from the mountains to the sea.

In addition to cacao (chocolate beans) we learned about growing macadamia nuts, tea, cinnamon, allspice, mango, Surinam cherries. They also grow tangerines, navel oranges, big lemons, Meyer lemons, bananas, coconuts, coffee, avocados, pineapple, and their vegetable garden was filled w much of what we grow in our gardens in Maine.

We tasted oranges, sugar cane, tomarillo tomatoes (don’t eat skin), coffee bean, the outside of the chocolate bean (slimy fruit), Suriname cherry, stem of cinnamon leaf (tasted like tea berry), and chocolate.

To get to the Kuaiwi Farm we drove on a winding one lane rutted dirt road that rose in elevation for about 5 miles. Fun to be off the main roads.

After the drive it was fascinating to learn that Una’s nephew teaches in the Hatchery program at Camden Hills Regional High School and he designed and helped finish their two geodesic domes in their home on the Kuaiwi Farm. Small world indeed!

We headed down to the waterfront for our last afternoon meandering along watching people enjoy themselves swimming, parasailing, playing cornhole, windsurfing, fishing and gazing out at the blue green water of Hawai’i one last time. We were feeling so grateful and appreciative for this adventure.

We headed to the Kona International Airport to begin our 25 hour trip home. The sun was setting as we boarded the plane at 6:45. We flew to Denver, to Boston, bus to Portland, drove home to Union. We went from 85 degrees to 40 degrees.

Coffee beans drying out – takes about 4 days.
Suriname cherries
Banana trees were very tall.
Chocolate growing
Meyer lemon tree

One fact that we found fascinating was that when the Polynesians (the first people on the Hawaiian Islands) traveled to Hawaii there were no native things to eat. They brought bananas, coconuts, pigs, and taro root in their boats. Just imagining them traveling with these items is interesting.

Our last sunset in Kona just before we boarded the plane to start our trek home.

Traveling can be costly but there are ways to make it less expensive. As I said at the beginning of this post I love to travel so I save to be able to do so. We had conversations beforehand to consider what each of us wanted out of the trip. I did research beforehand to find places that met our interests as well as stretch our thinking. It’s important to me to have a list of possibilities and at the same time meander to find ‘stuff’ to do. Many things and places were unplanned and probably the most fun to visit. I’m really grateful to have had the opportunity! I took about 100 photos and have included some of my favorites in this blog post. Feel free to contact me at meartsed@gmail.com or leave a message below if you have questions or wonderings. Read about my trip to Ireland from last spring at THIS LINK.

Last week the final story on the nightly news was about two 81 year old woman who just completed a trip around the world, visiting all 7 continents, 18 countries, in 80 days. Their message was: “step out of your comfort zone, makes some plans, and live. Don’t be afraid to dream.” I agree!

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