A suspected arsonist has been busy at The Holler.

Multiple fires have recently broken out in our extremely fire prone region that have been effectively fought and extinguished by our incredible fire fighters. We live in Southern California in a climate-change worsened rural fire zone under constant threat of fire.

A highly unusual hurricane is forecasted to bring significant rain to the region this weekend which will be a blessing if it arrives.

We flew from The Holler fires to West Maui two weeks ago with the whole family in tow including the four year old twins who are in love with the ocean. (Click to enlarge).

The fires came with hurricane winds on the second day.

Power, all forms of communication, and food quickly perished and were not replaceable. We were informed by our condo hosts that water may be turned off.

Information was word of mouth. We knew there were three fires on Maui and one on Hawaii. We knew they were very serious. We knew they were close. We saw and smelled the smoke, but we didn’t yet know the extent of the carnage and the heartbreak. It was an extremely confusing time. No clarity about where to go or what to do. There was no access to the internet/iphone or information to make decisions.

We were in condos for three days during the fires that were supplied with no flashlights, candles or emergency supplies. We stood, with hundreds of other souls (mostly tourists), in line for food much of which was packaged and distributed by volunteer organizations, including, but not limited to, a church group in Tennessee. Thank you Volunteer Organizations! You make an incredible difference.

Thousands of tourists clogged the airport trying to follow the governor’s edict to leave Maui. Many were evacuated to a convention center in Oahu.

We left West Maui on the fourth day of the fires which required us to drive by the historic and beautiful town of Lahaina. I took no photos. Lahaina is a mass fatality zone. Photos would have been invasive and disrespectful.

We relocated to another part of the island until flying home yesterday. I include here some photos of beautiful Kihei Maui which escaped the flames, but not the pain.

(Click to enlarge). Maui is strong but she needs our help. It truly does make a significant difference. We experienced this first hand when we received desperately needed food and flashlights. If you are able, here are some organizations that need help, or chose an organization that you know and trust:

Love and solidarity to the suffering people of Maui~

Off the Beaten Path: Painted Sea Caves~

On the western side of Santa Cruz Island (click/tap to enlarge),

in Channel Islands National Park,

off the coast of Southern California,

you will find,

the fourth largest sea cave in the world.

The cave extends for a quarter mile under the basalt cliffs of Santa Cruz Island.

You can enter and explore the cave by boat.

It’s vibrant colors are created by lichen growing on the cave walls.

I saw similar caves in Isla Ballestas in Peru, but the colors in the Peruvian caves were formed by strata in the rock and there was more natural light to see inside:

Islas Ballestas~

Cheers to you from the world’s fascinating ‘Off the Beaten Path’ Sea Caves~

Off the Beaten Path: Super Pods~

This is what you see first in the far distance. Sea birds congregating over dolphin herded fish balls. Note the dolphin in the lower center of the photo. For every dolphin you see at any given moment on the surface, there are scores more underwater (click to enlarge).

As you focus in, you notice odd splashes everywhere around you, and dolphins cresting in the distance.

The Captain spins the boat,

in fast churning 360 degree circles,

as dolphins race towards you,

to play in the wake.

They swim,

directly at,


and underneath the boat,

far surpassing the speed and skill of the captain.

Cheers to you from the stunning dolphin super pods~

Off the Beaten Path: Santa Rosa Island~

Endless, pristine beaches with no one on them (click/tap to enlarge).

My son chooses a favored spot,

and prepares to take a very long nap.

Santa Rosa Island,

in Channel Islands National Park in Southern California,

is like a distant, undiscovered paradise. It is only a three hour bumpy small boat ride from mainland California, but it feels worlds away.

It is the only place in the world, besides my hometown in La Jolla, where Torrey Pine Tree forests grow naturally.

This is our boat leaving Santa Rosa Island with Santa Cruz Island in the background. The islands are suprisingly large, unpopulated and completely undeveloped. The waters around them team with wildlife, including blue whales and the largest population of multiple species of dolpins in the world. Super pods are often encountered here and I have been in the midst of them several times, including yesterday, which is a thrilling experience. I will show you some dolphin and whale photos soon.

Wild flowers are still growing profusely in mid-June!

The islands are home to lots of fauna too, including Channel Islands Foxes, which live no where else in the world, are tiny, adorable, and unafraid of humans. Photos of them soon.

What the islands may lack in modern conveniences,

they make up for in spades with unspoiled splendor.

Cheers to you from Santa Rosa Island~

Off the Beaten Path: Aviero

Aviero Portugal (click/tap to enlarge),

is off the beaten tourist track.

Portuguese people often vacation here.

It is the Venice of Portugal, replete with canals and gondolas,

but quieter and more peaceful.

There are old Azulejos tiles all over Aviero,

many depicting the town itself.

Except for cars,

and wonderful street art, Aviero hasn’t changed much from the scenes depicted in the old tiles.

Cheers to you from peaceful Aviero~

Note: My new theme! WordPress tech support was really helpful in sorting out many of the aforementioned blog problems. So thank you WordPress support. You are appreciated!

Toast ~

(click to enlarge) This blog is burning,

but, unlike California deserts,

there is no rain on the horizon.

The blog continues to be overwhelmed with WP errors. There is the unfollowed followers issue and there are now 26K+ and growing daily, PHP warning in my WP site logs linked to WP installed/managed plug ins.

PHP warnings are caused by unwanted errors in code or script. They are warnings that there are problems that are likely to cause bigger problems in the future.

Additionally, Google has identified 1.26K blog pages not able to be indexed by google due to redirect errors.

I am not hopeful that this will be fixed.

So, unlike the rain in the desert,

making wildflowers, rivers and waterfalls,

this blog continues,

to burn.

Cheers to you from the wet and happy Sonoran Desert~

Note: Desert wildflowers in order are: Bristlebush, Prickly Pear Cactus, Desert Willow and Desert Marrow.

Off the Beaten Path: Kotor II

There were questions about Koto Montenegro, so here is another post, in the ‘Off the Beaten Path’ series.

A blogger asked if there were any interior shots of the church of St. Nicholas and here is one. The exterior of the cathedral is in this prior post:

Another blogger mentioned hiking the old city walls,

here they are,

extensive and remarkable to explore.

St. Tryphon’s Cathedral and Old Town Square.

Kotor is a wonderful place,

to get lost in,

and the best part is,

it is off the beaten path!

Cheers to you from Kotor Montenegro~

Wasteland Wakened~

The Sonoran Desert in Southern California,

is bursting in bloom!

Rains continue into May in the desert which is unheard of.

Note the people midway up the mountain to give you perspective on the scope of of the superbloom which cover many mountains.

Blooming Brittlebush carpet the foothills in vibrant yellow blankets.

This bloom in Whitewater Wildlands Conservancy is ‘Off the Beaten Path.’ Most superbloom areas in Southern California are mobbed with crowds, but even on the weekend, there are very few people here. You hike by yourself in the wilderness.

The river for which the conservancy is named is full of snow melt cascading into the desert from the surrounding mountains,

filling natural resevoirs to capacity with overflow.

Southern California mountains and deserts are happy!

Cheers to you from the desert in May.

Note: I am traveling now and continuing my ‘Off the Beaten Path’ travel destination series as I go.

Off The Beaten Path: Kotor

Church of St. Nicholas,

Kotor, Montenegro.

My favorite places,

are less traveled and uncrowded.

Kotor is exactly such a place. It is charming, unspoiled and an explorers paradise.

Kotor is one of the best preserved medieval old towns in the Adriatic.

It is a desiginated as two separate Unesco World Heritage Sites. First, for it’s buildings of medieval significance, and secondly for it’s Venetian defensive structures built at the height of Venetian power in the 16th and 17th centuries.

Cheers to you from the first in a series of ‘Off the Beaten Path Places’ in our small world~