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Hawaii Revealed Books Review

People often ask me how we find off the beaten path places the “Where Are You Today?” crew visits. Many of our travel ideas come from reading books, magazines, newspapers and blogs.

The books we use the most are the “Revealed” series of books by Andrew Doughty and Harriet Friedman. The candid reviews tell it like it is. If you are planning a trip to the Hawaiian islands, I highly recommend these books for your trip.

These books were our constant companions on our first trips and enhanced our experience. The activities and hotel information we not sugar coated. The margins of our books are filled with notes and additional facts we add each trip back. The publisher posts updates on a website so the content stays up to date.

Mars? No. Haleakala National Park Maui, Hawaii

Mars? No. Haleakala National Park Maui, Hawaii. Photo credit: Noel F. Williams

Oahu

Oahu was the first Hawaiian island we visited. We purchased for the in depth activity and sightseeing information. Detailed reviews and aerial photos of hotels combined with zoned maps gave us the tools we needed to choose lodging to meet our comfort levels.

We rented a car and planned day trips based on the recommended routes. This book was our user guide as we navigated around the island. When we visited Pearl Harbor, we were glad we followed the suggestions to arrive early to reserve our tickets to visit the Arizona Memorial.

The book includes tips like: “This Chinese restaurant does not serve tea unless you ask for it.”

The section on Hawaiian words and Pidgin or Hawaiian slang proved very helpful.

Maui

Maui was the next island we visited and we were glad to have the

Big Island of Hawaii

On our trip the the Big Island of Hawaii, we made sure to bring

Kauai

When visiting Kauai, check out the

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PRODUCT REVIEWS

We accept products for product reviews and services for services to review. Provide product samples and allow time for us to use items extensively before we write our review. We give our honest opinion based on personal experience.

Read our reviews.

We write reviews for all items received. Reviews will be posted on http://www.aprilmwilliams.com, http://aprilmwilliams.wordpress.com, www.cyberlifetutors.com, or 808talk.com within 4 weeks. We will post links to reviews on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. For information, contact April.

Items we are particularly interested in:

Travel products: Illinois, Hawaii, United States, Japan, International destinations, hotels, activities, restaurants, historic sites, museums, events, historic sites

Gadgets and technology: Travel related, Iphone, Macintosh, Apple Computer, wireless, bluetooth, internet service, telephone service, cellphone service, geocaching

Food and dining: Restaurants, vegetarian dining, food markets, specialty foods, chocolate, ethnic dining

Hobbies and Interests: Travel, yoga, geocaching, ham radio, amateur radio, history, meetups, hiking, sightseeing, architecture, movies, theater, and more

Cultural: Museums, gardens, libraries, historic buildings, events

MEDIA TOURS

Media tour and fam tour requests welcome. We are based in the Chicago area | Hawaii and travel extensively throughout the United States.

For information, contact April.

DISCLOSURE

We provide disclosure of material connection any time we receive one or more of the products or services for free in the hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Jim Green The Wandering Endorphin Plays Algonquin Library

Jim Green commonly known as The Wandering Endorphin delighted crowds recently at the Algonquin Library. His distinct style of playing includes strumming, plucking, picking and percussion which he calls percussive guitar. Jim hammers the guitar strings like piano wires and Jim uses the entire guitar neck and all sides of the body. Visit Jim’s website  to view free lessons and learn how to play his style.

I when I asked Jim what he loved about playing music, he said Michael Hedges summed it up best with “Because I can dream out loud.”

Growing up in Sauk Village, Jim quit his day job and moved to Chicago to launch his music career. Beginning with open mike nights he later became a Chicago street musician. He can also be found writing digital piano reviews in his free time. His travels led Jim to Israel for 10 months where he lived, played and wrote music in Tele Aviv. Jim is heading back to Israel for four more months.

Jim Green the Wandering Endorphin plays guitar and harmonica

Jim Green the Wandering Endorphin plays guitar and harmonica

At Jim’s performances delighted the audience, both children and adults, with his engaging style. This show included singing, guitar, harmonica and a Native American Love flute. Jim still plays his first guitar, an Aspen, at his gigs and a Martin guitar for studio recording.

The playlist included mostly original tunes inspired by the outdoors, wind, sunset, beaches and fireflies. Several songs included train sounds. Jim played a beautiful cover of Don McLean’sVincent” inspired by Vincent Van Gogh‘s famous painting “Starry, Starry Night“. The show ended with the lively Endorphin Jig.

Follow Jim Green’s Wandering Endorphin Facebook page for news about upcoming shows and music.

Jim Green the Wandering Endorphin plays percussive guitar

Jim Green the Wandering Endorphin plays percussive guitar

3 Easy Ways You can Change the World

How would you like to change the world–right now?

It’s actually quite easy.

You don’t need special credentials. Any ordinary person can do it.

Six ordinary families from Algonquin have changed the world, at least for one village in Kenya, and we invite you to change it with us.

Before we get to how you can change the world with us, here is a little information about what we’ve done so far. Over the past three years, through our partnership with Global Hope Network International, the village of Gambella, Kenya, has seen remarkable transformation. Here are just a few:

  • The village previously had no school, and would meet under a tree whenever a teacher would come to the village. Now they have eight classrooms, with eight teachers, and their school test scores were the best in their entire district!
  • Gambella was a pastoral community, making a living off of their goats and other animals. Climate change has had a severe impact on the area though, and it is difficult to find land for animals to graze. Gambella is now learning to farm, to supplement their income and food supply.
  • The nearest health facility was in the town of Isiolo, which is a 15 km (about 9 miles) walk–one way. They now have a wellness center in the village, where basic health education and needs are addressed.

    Gambella School Children. Photo credit “Mary Lossau”

What’s Next?

We have one last project that we want to help Gambella with, before we end our partnership (we believe strongly in sustainability, and not creating dependency). In order to help Gambella to increase the crops that they can grow, we need to find a way to help them irrigate more land. A bore hole was drilled for them, and when I was there last summer, the villagers kept asking me to help them get a pump to draw the water out. It is always windy in Gambella, so we are going to help them put up a windmill to draw the water out.

Get Involved

This is where you can help change the trajectory of an entire village! We have three opportunities for you to help:

  • We are having our 3rd Annual Garage Sale 4 Gambella, June 7-9, and we are in need of donated items to sell at the garage sale. If we can raise $1500 at the garage sale, we have a donor that will match our sales with an additional $1500. This is our greatest need, and the easiest place for you to get involved. Simply look around your house for items to donate. Learn more about the garage sale, and how to donate here.
  • We will be cleaning ambulances, and will be paid for each vehicle we clean, and would love to have you join us to help us clean more ambulances. This is tentatively scheduled for late-August. Currently, we are in the process of reading lots of handheld vacuum reviews, as we will be purchasing a few for the effort.
  • We will be having a 5K Run/1M Walk for Gambella. The entry fees will go toward the windmill. The run is tentatively scheduled for mid-September.

Learn more about us, and how you can get involved, at http://algonquin4gambella.org

Lalibela’s Ethiopian Restaurant Washington DC

While in Washington D.C. we dined at Lalibela’s Ethiopian Restaurant. We decided to try this restaurant due to the high ratings on Urban Spoon, 70 reviews, of which 80% were positive. When we arrived at 6PM, the small bar area was crowded though all 10 tables in the dining area were empty. Most of patrons were drinking imported beers with labels I was unfamiliar with. I nearly walked out when I spied the empty dining room. It turned out we were glad we stayed for dinner. When we left at 7PM, most of the tables were packed with an eclectic mix of people.

Do not let the dim lights and sparse decor scare you away from this gem. Pleasant servers confirmed our choices to be sure to get our order correct. I noticed at other tables the meals were combined and served family style on a single community platter. Our waiter asked if both our dinners could be served on the same tray. I declined, asking for my vegetarian meal to be served separately. They were happy to accommodate my request.

Our table had no silverware and we were not offered any utensils. We followed the custom of eating only with our right hand. Eating with the left hand is considered impolite and unclean as this hand is used for personal hygiene duties.

We started out with a couple of spinach sambusa appetizers. These golden, deep-fried dough packages were stuffed with seasoned spinach. They are similar to Greek spanakopita pockets.

We learned later that wot is a spicy stew. I ordered the Yeson wat, a vegetarian combo with six different items.

  • Kik alicha: yellow split peas with onions, garlic and tumeric.
  • Shiro wot: ground peas with onions, garlic, red pepper and vegetable oil
  • Dinch wot: potatoes and carrots, onion, garlic, oil and house condiments
  • Miser wot: lentils cooked with red peppers, onions, garlic, oil and house condiments
  • Teckl gomen: cabbage and carrots cooked with onions, garlic, turmeric and vegetable oil
  • Geomen wot: kale cooked with onions, garlic and vegetable oil
Vegetarian platter at Lalibela's Ethiopian Restaurant

Vegetarian platter at Lalibela's Ethiopian Restaurant

My husband had the keyena Alicha combo, including half Key wot and Alicha wot dinners.

  • Key wot: beef marinated in red wine, cooked with red pepper sauce, onions, ginger root, garlic and exotic Ethopian spices
    Alicha wot: beef prepared in Ethiopian herbed butter spice, onions, ginger root, garlic and turmeric

These beef and vegetable dinners were generously seasoned. Both of our dinners came with a side of colorful tomato salad. The dishes were flavorful though not overly spicy. The tastes were new to me.

Imported Beer

Imported Beer

Two platters of food arrived served on Injera bread with a second serving of bread on a separate plate. The bread is shaped like a large crepe and has a spongy texture perfect for soaking up gravy. Each serving was mounded in rounded heaps in a decorative display on the bread. Instead of silverware, we pulled off chunks of the bread and used this to scoop up our meal.

Lalibela’s Ethiopian restaurant serves a variety of foods to satisfy a wide audience. We found the service friendly and helpful. Both of us enjoyed our meals and recommend this restaurant.

Lalibela on Urbanspoon
Lalibela Restaurant on Foodio54

2010 Honolulu Toys For Tots Motorcycle Parade Hawaii

Street Bikers United Hawaii (SBU) and the United States Marine Corp Reserves sponsored the 36th annual Toys for Tots parade through Honolulu, Hawaii on December 5, 2010. The ride draws between four and five thousand bikers to Waikiki.

“These bikes are coming from all over Oahu but we get some from Maui. We have some from Kauai. We have some from the Big Island,” said Street Bikers United Oahu President Rick Davis. “They ship their bikes over in a container usually a week ahead of time. They come just to do that once a year.”

Santa on Bike 2010 Street Bikers United Toys for Tots Honolulu, Hawaii

Santa on Bike 2010 Street Bikers United Toys for Tots Honolulu, Hawaii

Santa on Bike 2010 Street Bikers United Toys for Tots Honolulu, Hawaii

Ray Pagan, Street Bikers United Hawaii State Treasure, said bikers come in from Japan and the mainland also. Ray and Rick Davis organize this annual event. Pre-event work includes gathering donations from businesses to offset expenses which are over $12,000 each year. Bikers are asked to donate $2 each to ride in the parade. Money raised pays for police, permits, insurance and other expenses.

Motorcycle Riders 2010 Street Bikers United Toys for Tots Honolulu, Hawaii

Motorcycle Riders 2010 Street Bikers United Toys for Tots Honolulu, Hawaii

There is much work involved and they organize the day because of the kids who benefit from the toys. Marines stationed at Kapiolani Community College collect over 10,000 toys at the end of the parade route, it’s no surprise that the most common toys given are the fastest RC trucks and cars. Yesterday, Christmas morning was brighter for 10,000 island children because of the generosity of SBU, riders and sponsors. We checked out the bikes and talked to the riders at Magic Island before the parade start. Emcee Michelle Shockley from KPOI 105.9 FM and music from Flux Capacitor entertained the crowds. Club members mingled and checked out the motorcycles decorated with holiday ornaments and loaded with toys. The Kaneohe Windward Harley Owners Group was well represented. Hawaii depends on tourism and this event contributes. Every year we watch tourists lining the parade route and cheering on the bikers. Off island riders stay at Hawaiian hotels, eat in restaurants and patronize bars. Some Waikiki residents are calling for an end to the parade due to noisy bikes.

“I would like to apologize, especially to the people in Waikiki that live there. We are going to try to hold the noise down, if possible.” Rick Davis continued, “If you can kokua us a little bit, we are only about an hour and half through Waikiki and it is a good cause for the kids. If you can try to have a little tolerance, we are trying to get the group to hold the noise down when we go though there. Thank you very much.”

SBU reached out to each club in advance asking for their cooperation. Before the parade start, Rick reminded riders to be respectful of Waikiki residents and not rev their engine on Kalakaua Avenue. Riders came out decked in holiday colors and we even saw a few Santa and Mrs. Clauses in the parade. Bikes of all shapes, sizes and styles were represented from Rick Davis’ orange trike to a pink Vespa Barbie and everything in between.

Rick Davis President Street Bikers United Oahu brings toys

Rick Davis President Street Bikers United Oahu brings toys

See video from the 2009 Honolulu Toys for Tots motorcycle parade. Click on the image below to see the “Where Are  You Today?” video of the 36th annual 2010 Honolulu Tots for Tots parade along Waikiki Beach in Honolulu, Hawaii.

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Pearl Harbor Survivor Stan Reynolds at Last Reunion

We met Pearl Harbor Survivors Association member Stan Reynolds at Duke’s Lagoon in Waikiki Beach, Honolulu, Hawaii. He returned to Hawaii with his daughter for the final Hawaii reunion of the Pearl Harbor Survivors Association (PHSA). I asked Stan about the plans to disband the PHSA group.

“We have to. We don’t want to but we have to. There are only 3,000 of us left and we are dropping dead. Two or three a day. It just can’t go on,” he said.

Pearl Harbor survivor Stan Reynolds first came to Hawaii in 1938. He worked in a mine forest, which he described as area infested with land mines. He spoke about his role in a calm manner, though this sounds to me like dangerous work.

For 10 years, Stan was a tug boat pilot for the Navy. He was in Pearl Harbor on that fateful morning of December 7, 1941 when bombs showered Pearl Harbor.

We met with Stan just after he returned from a preview visit to the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center, which officially opened December 7, 2010.

“One thing really bothered me though. I donated a small hand-made mini shell to the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center but I could not find it on display. Several other guys said the same thing.” Stan continued, “Some guys donate their entire collection to the center when they die.”

Stan said additional museums are scheduled to open later in the week and the item he donated may be on display in one of these areas.

Pearl Harbor Survivors Association Member Stan Reynolds visits Hawaii

Pearl Harbor Survivors Association Member Stan Reynolds visits Hawaii

Stan retired after 41 years in the merchant service. He said it was a “good life.”

To Stan, our veterans and those currently serving our country, thank you for your service.

I am very grateful to have met several Pearl Harbor survivors on my travels to Hawaii. Many of these soldiers toured the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center last year for the final Pearl Harbor Survivors reunion. As they reach their 90’s it is harder for them to travel, especially long distances. Here are the stories of four other Pearl Harbor survivors.

Richardson Corn Maze and Richardson Adventure Farm Spring Grove McHenry County Illinois

The Richardson Family invited us to be their guest and tour the Richardson Adventure Farm in Spring Grove, Illinois including the Richardson Farm World’s Largest Corn Maze. If you think the destination is “just” a corn maze, you will be surprised to find there is something for the whole family to enjoy on their visit and each year a new activity is added.

The 28 acre corn maze with 11 miles of trails is the star attraction. Four of the mazes are connected via bridges celebrate the 100th anniversary of scouting. A fifth maze celebrates the 500 anniversary of the first decorated Christmas tree in Latvia is located near the U Pick Christmas trees. Within the  corn maze are checkpoints and games you can play while you navigate the trails.

Richardson Adventure Farm, Spring Grove, McHenry County, Illinois

Photo Credit: Richardson Farm World's Largest Corn Maze in Spring Grove, McHenry County, Illinois

After the trails, you can gather your group around one of the picnic areas for a snack you purchase or bring with you. As the weather cools, up to 60 campfires will keep visitors toasty warm. Don’t forget your marshmallows.

When you are rested and ready for more adventure, take the kids for a ride down the giant tube slide or to climb the Mulch Mountain. Look “eye to eye” with the goats while feeding them handfuls of food. Then take a spin on the tyke track or play with the buckets and shovels in the corn crib. Teens can race each other on the pedal cart track or go for a wagon ride. Don’t miss the view from the top of the five story observation tower where you can overlook the entire corn maze and Richardson Christmas tree farm. Visitors could easily spend two to four hours with all the activities which are included in the entrance fee.

The Richardson family are fifth and sixth generation owners who plan to bring new attractions to the Richardson farm each year. If you are adventurous, check out two of the latest additions to the farm: zipline and zorbing.

New to the United States, zorbing is a sport where one or two participants are strapped inside a 10 foot diameter ball which is then rolled down a hill. The Richardson’s tell us there are just five zorbing locations in the United States. Click to watch our video as April rides the zorbing ball like a human hamster.

I rode the 700 foot zipline ride, new to the farm last year. I climbed to the top of the five story observation tower and stepped off the platform for a thirty second thrill glide over the corn maze, pumpkin patch and Christmas trees. The ride is exhilarating and you can watch as I take my ride in the video below.

The Richardson Farm corn maze is open until Halloween. The farm reopens after Thanksgiving for You-Cut Christmas tree, wreaths, garlands, wagon rides and hot cocoa.

Admission to Richardson farm includes all activities except zorbing, zipline, reserved picnic tables and concessions, also providing wheeled coolers.

You can find “Richardson “World’s Largest” Corn Maze” on Facebook and Twitter. Follow their updated for the latest weather reports from the farm, updates on special events and news. Learn more about the upcoming Midnight Storytelling event.

The Richardson Adventure Farm is located at 9407 Richardson Road near Spring Grove, IL. in northern McHenry County. It is about one hour northwest of Chicago, one hour southwest of Milwaukee or 15 minutes south of Lake Geneva. For more information call 815-675-9729.

Click on the image below to view this episode of “Where Are You Today?” and see me ride the 700′ zipline across the farm.

Our trip was sponsored by the McHenry County Visitors Bureau and Richardson Corn Maze and Richardson Adventure Farm.

Read more about Richardson’s World’s Largest Corn Maze and Adventure Farm

One Room Schoolhouse at Richardson Farm “World’s Largest” Corn Maze

Zorbing Richardson Corn Maze Adventure Farm Spring Grove McHenry County Illinois

Zipline Richardson Farm and Corn Maze Spring Grove

Meet April M. Williams

April M. Williams is a resident of McHenry County and frequent traveler. April and her husband Noel F. Williams frequent both off the beaten path travel sites and neighborhood destinations. April and Noel’s “Where Are You Today” travel blog highlights visits to McHenry County, the Midwest, Hawaii and destinations beyond. April and Noel are PR and review friendly for travel destinations, travel products and travel related services. Fam tour invitations and media queries welcome. Contact us for more questions.

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April is a nationally recognized speaker, author and coach who has assisted hundreds of people in career transition. An entrepreneur, April is President and Founder of CyberLife Tutors. April has published her own book Social Networkiing Throughout Your Career: What’s All the Buzz About? and a contributing editor to the Blacks Gone Geek IT forum and Hawaii travel website 808Talk. She is a contributing author of “Press Pause Moments” book and numerous articles on career building as well as other related business topics. She has been featured in major publications including the Wall Street Journal, CBS Chicago News, Project Management Institute, Savvy and Nations Restaurant News. April is available for speaking engagements for corporations, associations, public seminars and events, and industry-specific trainings. For booking information call 414-502-7745 or email April for more information. Hear what attendees are saying http://bit.ly/April_Speaks

April M. Williams

April M. Williams

Connect with April Call 414-502-7745 Email me

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