Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Desert Symphony notes 35th season with gala, 5-shows, Sinatra singer

Palm Desert is a haven for sun seekers, hikers, bikers, lovers of the desert
and its beauty.  Since 1989, tourists and locals alike have something else
to attract them to this unique part of the country: the Desert Symphony.
The Desert Symphony
has a full orchestra of
60 gifted players, from
all walks of life. 

MUSIC SOARS
 ABOVE PALMS:
GRASSROOTS
EFFORT 
BLOSSOMS
TO PRODUCE A 
SYMPHONY WITH
60 PLAYERS AND
FIVE-SHOW
SEASON



STORY By CHRISTENE MEYERS

PHOTOS By BRUCE KELLER

and courtesy Desert Symphony

Headlining the March 6 gala to celebrate Desert
Symphony's 35th anniversary are Daniel Emmet
and Pia Toscano, at Agua Caliente Rancho Mirage.
The Desert Symphony will accompany the duo.
THIRTY-FIVE years ago, an ambitious group of Palm Springs residents decided to organize a symphony, to bring orchestra music and musical events to the area normally associated with golfing get-aways, movie stars and admirers of the desert, its relaxed lifestyle and scenery.

The Indian Wells Symphony was born in 1989 and soon adopted its present moniker, the Desert Symphony. With the energy of volunteers and support of local businesses and its enthusiastic long-time president Nancy Tapick, a driving force in the region was born.


The Symphony's annual gala takes place in
the showroom of Agua Caliente Casino Resort
and Spa in Rancho Mirage, on March 6. 
The reach of the symphony extends to future musicians in Coachella Valley, through programs for school children. "Our goal is to inspire them to become musicians and music appreciators," says Tapick.
The Children’s Music Discovery Series offers programs ranging from a string quartet to a wind octet, supervised by the symphony's music director and drawing from the talents of the orchestra, whose musicians have played with major symphonies in the country. The organization proudly encourages young musicians through scholarships.  Several have gone on to professional music careers. 

 

The Desert Symphony of Palm Springs presents five concerts
yearly, including popular entertainers, singers, musicians
and acrobats -- plus a major gala  fundraiser.  Performances
are enjoyed by both locals and tourists 
at McCallum Theatre. 

THROUGH THE years, the symphony has hosted -- and accompanied -- a "who's who" of popular performers, including its first big name, singer Glen Campbell.  A roster of other famed artists followed including Andy Williams, Jose Feliciano, Peter Nero, the Gatlin Brothers, Tommy Tune, Art Garfunkel, Roger Williams, Jack Jones, Kaye Ballard, Michael Bolton, Jason Alexander, The Texas Tenors, Neil Sedaka, Crystal Gayle, Melissa Manchester, Peter Frampton and recently, Mary Osmond.

Next up this season is noted singer Tony DeSare. He promises an evening of treats, celebrating the music of Frank Sinatra, who lived in Palm Springs for many years while touring the world and making films. The Feb. 29 concert is DeSare's second performance with the Symphony.  The first was so well received he was invited to return.

Singer songwriter Tony DeSare will headline
a concert accompanied by Desert Symphony. 
New York born DeSare promises to "do my best to conjure the magic of the music from the Great American songbook with a few surprises sprinkled in."  The jazz and soul singer is also a songwriter and musician and may take a turn at the piano in George Gershwin's "Rhapsody in Blue."  "I’m excited to be working with the wonderful Desert Symphony again," says DeSare, about his return.

Then just a few days later, this year's gala features pop duo Daniel Emmet and Pia Toscano performing at Agua Caliente Rancho Mirage, Wednesday, March 6 . Cocktails are at 5 p.m., dinner at 5:30 p.m., and the concert at 8 p.m. The duo, discovered by Marie Osmond, presents a show, "Simply the Best." 

Through years of an impressive five-part season, the Symphony has earned a reputation as one of the finest orchestras of popular music in the southwest United States.

Glen Campbell was the first
big name to play with
 the Desert Symphony.
Many other stars followed. 

Singer Tommy Tune is one of many luminaries to
perform with Desert Symphony, now 35 years old.
In its early days, the season  featured great works from the world of classical music, including Beethoven, Mozart, Tchaikovsky, and Brahms. "The orchestra began a slow transition toward  “pops,” says Tapick, when residents and visitors expressed interest in lighter fare.  The board listened, introducing the present format which includes popular entertainers accompanied by the 60-piece orchestra.
The Desert Symphony has performed and partnered with the Boys and Girls Clubs of Coachella Valley, the Rancho Mirage Public Library, the City of La Quinta, La Quinta Public Library, the Palm Desert Public Library, and McCallum Theatre, where it presents its docket of five annual "star" concerts.
Two final concerts round out the season, a John Denver tribute concert March 27, and "Let's Hang On" April 11, a quartet featuring the music of Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons.   

For more on the Feb. 29 concert, March 6 gala or the symphony season, call 760 773-5988.  
 
 
More is more at Oscar's with dancers, acrobats,
big wigs and lots of bosoms, eye lashes and make-up
Here's Diamond Evvon, with her chest armor
Oscar's owner and producer
Dan Gore as Cheyenne Demuir
will zip line from Oscar's 
balcony in drag March 10. 
UP NEXT: Drag is time honored, and the drag show at Oscar's in Palm Springs is celebrating its sixth anniversary the weekend of March 9-10. Owner Dan Gore plans a special appearance during two performances of Sunday's "Bitchiest Brunch." He will zip line into the house in full drag -- from the balcony to the stage area below. Risque fun is all part of Oscar's brunch birthday party.  Two Sunday shows will feature Gore, dressed as his alter ego Cheyenne Demuir, with Oscar's gang of beauties performing, too. Emcee Anita Rose as the wisecracking spirit of Oscar's keeps the fun and jokes rolling.  She has headlined the brunch show all six years of its run and is a favorite with the packed houses. Book a seat for  laughs, bottomless mimosas, endless irreverence and more. Oscar's also has a great restaurant and many other shows to consider. Remember to explore, learn and live and catch us weekly for a fresh spin on the arts, travel, nature and family. Check out oscarspalmsprings.com/events/
and look for more arts and travel pieces at: www.whereiscookie.com

Thursday, February 22, 2024

SCAD sends artful ripples from Georgia, to Hollywood and the world

Bruce Keller poses in one of the many intriguing spaces in the SCAD Museum of Art, where
constantly changing exhibitions feature established and emerging artists from around the world.
  

SCAD: VISIONARY SCHOOL'S MUSEUM MIXES INNOVATION, IMAGINATION IN ARTFUL WELCOMING SPACE

An installation by Patrick Dougherty is part of the landscape
at the SCAD Museum of Art. Its weaving and bending of
sticks is in a way a metaphor for the museum's intent.
SCAD IS A WELL known acronym in Savannah.

Everyone recognizes Savannah College of Art and Design, because it is internationally famous. Art students from Iceland come here.  So do budding artists from Peru, Japan, Italy and many other countries. Multiple Oscar winners studied in SCAD's creative halls.
Christene "Cookie" Meyers examines
an interactive, playful piece using
oranges to challenge the visitor.
You can't walk a block in Savannah without seeing some SCAD reference, because the enterprise is  museum, school and community presence. With an emphasis on art and design, it has more programs than any other university in the country.
This piece focuses on the lovely museum, which challenges the mind, bends notions and knocks stereotypes into the stratosphere.

WE FOUND during two visits an intriguing array of exhibitions, all designed to challenge the mind and refigure our ways of considering the old-fashioned meaning of "museum."
Take for instance, the work of Patrick Dougherty. I first saw one of his graceful nature inspired installations in my native Montana at the Tippet Rise Art Center, a magical indoor-outdoor forum for art, music and nature.
We were delighted to discover another of his installations in Savannah. "Making the Birds Proud," which -- like the Montana piece --  uses vernacular building techniques and tree saplings to create a welcoming, site-specific sculptural building that twists, towers, bends, coils, and soars. "Walk right in, have a look," it seems to say.
At both Tippet Rise and the SCAD Museum of Art, Dougherty mixes his carpentry skills with his love for nature.  Other exhibits do this, too, in unique ways.  "Challenge" is the byword at the SCAD museum, where art, craftsmanship, and design open doors to the imagination and power of art, often encouraging participation from museum guests.
This Erwin Wurm photo challenges the viewer
to reconsider many things: style, fashion,
balance, always with a sly sense of humor.  
SCAD's buildings encompass
a sweeping architectural range.

 

WE STOPPED AT many works which invite touching and imagining in playful yet challenging ways.
Just as Dougherty bends and weaves twigs and sticks into tangible shapes, SCAD Museum of Art weaves and bends the imagination, encouraging excellence and high standards. Among SCAD students, guest artists and lecturers are "audacious artists and fashion phenoms," Academy Award winners, Grammy Award recipients and Pulitzer Prize winners, all dedicated to SCAD's mission of exploring the arts in thoughtful, novel ways. 

GENDERQUAKE,
for instance, invites viewers to acknowledge ways in which fashion influences culture.  Students find new ways to view and create, whether the medium be photographs or jewelry, music, film, television or furniture -- almost everything the human experience encompasses.
 
SCAD pushes the envelope, whether
in its classes and projects and in the
provocative exhibits at its museum.

 
Consider Erwin  Wurm, our favorite guest artist.  His amusing and thought provoking pieces push the envelope, eliciting smiles even laughter. In one piece, a perfectly dressed, high-fashion male model balances artfully barefoot atop a horse -- reins in one hand, briefcase in the other.
Among other varied and ever changing SCAD museum exhibits is one by Korean born artist Cindy Ji Hye Kim.  Her "Silhouettes in Lune" is an intriguing installation of paintings, sculptures, and a striking hand-drawn mural. 
The open, airy exhibition spaces at SCAD's
museum encourage taking time to reflect.
NEARBY ATLANTA is considered by many the Hollywood of the South, and that is due in great part to  SCAD. Its role in Georgia's growing film and television industry can't be over emphasized, because it is partly generated by an enthusiastic group of students and alumni from  SCAD.
SCAD's influence reaches
around Savannah, including a
fun "Beach" retreat visited
recently by Keller & Cookie. 
 

Founded 45 years ago, SCAD has spent decades guiding and grooming students for Hollywood. The school proudly reports 43 SCAD grads from seven disciplines contributed to 11 Emmy-nominated shows, including "The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel," "Ted Lasso" and "Succession." SCAD's film alumni have also produced many Oscar winning and Oscar nominated films including "Black Panther: Wakanda Forever" and "Avatar: The Way of Water."

Grace Delaney and Robert May weave a magical chemistry
as two lonely Irish seniors who form a meaningful friendship.
 Humor and pathos merge in this artful production, directed by
 Christopher Williams at Scripps Ranch Theatre, through Feb. 25.
BEST BET:  If there's a way you can beam yourself to San Diego, an absolute "must see" production is "Chapatti," on the boards at Scripps Ranch Theatre through Feb. 25.  Two terrific actors artfully deliver the lyrical script by Christian O'Reilly. The play tackles serious subjects -- including death and suicide.  But, in typical Irish form, its story unfolds with a perfect blend of humor and pathos. It's one of the top productions we've seen of hundreds in this talented corner of California.  "Chapatti" is both the name of Dan's dog and a popular Indian flatbread.  Betty is a lonely cat lover, who helps bring Dan back to the world of the living. The sensitive production captures the complex dynamic of loneliness and the human need for companionship on a charming, compact set. Broadway quality all the way. scrippsranchtheatre.org  

Tony DeSare headlines
with the Desert Symphony
Thursday, Feb. 29.
 
UP NEXT:
A musical oasis in the desert! Come with us to Palm Desert, where 35 years ago a group of culture loving music fans organized a symphony orchestra.  Through the years, Desert Symphony has grown to produce a five-part season of popular
Daniel Emmet, Pia Toscano
promise an evening of fun at
Desert Symphony's March 7gala.

performances featuring some of America's best known performers, from Andy Williams and Jose Feliciano to the March 7 hit duo, Daniel Emmet and Pia Toscano, who rose to fame in "America's Got Talent" and headline the Symphony's gala. There's still time to book tickets to the Feb. 29 concert by Tony DeSare, noted singer-songwriter, known for his wide-ranging repertoire of Frank Sinatra favorites, with a bit of Billy Joel and Elton John in the mix. Remember  to explore, learn and live, and catch us weekly for a unique spin on music, travel, nature, performance, family, the arts and more. For tickets: desertsymphony.org or 760 773-5988. 


  

 

Thursday, February 15, 2024

Charleston, the belle of South Carolina, offers history, color, gentility

Charleston's marina is a busy but peaceful place with shops, restaurants, 17,000 linear feet of
dock space for both motorized boats and sailing vessels. It's a beautiful place to stroll, too.

CHARLESTON: CITY OF CONTRASTS AND BEAUTY WHERE OLD MEETS NEW, ART AND MUSIC ABOUND, BOATING, SPORTS, MUSEUMS, FINE DINING VIE FOR  THE VISITOR'S ATTENTION  

STORY By CHRISTENE MEYERS
This vintage home displays the popular and
time honored "haint blue" southern tradition.

PHOTOS By BRUCE KELLER

CHARLESTON, South Carolina, is a city of contrasts. You'll find modern shopping centers and new hotels, skyscrapers, horse drawn carriages and genteel homes from the Civil War era.

It boasts a beautiful harbor, the fort where the Civil War began and a gaceful bridge, the Ravenel Bridge, named after Arthur Ravenel Jr., a successful South Carolina businessman who served four terms in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Christene (Cookie) Meyers and Bruce
 Keller at sunset under the Ravenel Bridge.
 
The spectacular bridge -- also known as the Cooper River Bridge, is one of many attractions to this attractive town of only 151,000. The bridge is cable-stayed, the third longest in the U.S., and connects downtown Charleston to Mount Pleasant. It is designed to carry 100,000 vehicles per day, a number experts say it will reach before 2030. Last count, more than 97,000 vehicles a day crossed the bridge, which includes a well shared bicycle and pedestrian path.

You'll likely transit it when you visit this charming port city, founded in 1670.

Charleston from the water at night, a pretty sight.
It is defined by its cobblestone streets, horse-drawn carriages and pastel antebellum houses, particularly in the elegant French Quarter and Battery districts. 
Both Battery Promenade and Waterfront Park overlook Charleston Harbor, while Fort Sumter, a federal stronghold where the first shots of the Civil War rang out, lies across the water. You'll see it on the harbor tour we recommend later.

The Charleston Princess gives
visitors a thorough look at
the harbor and coastline, from
Fort Sumter and the bridge.


WE ASKED 
about the significance of the many pale blue ceilings we saw on Charleston porches. Why that color? You'll find out on a Charleston city tour, as we did with our delightful guide, Alan Rosenfeld. He gives a unique and entertaining city tour, explaining that the color, known as "haint blue," is associated with the  Gullah Geechee people,
descendants of enslaved Africans in parts of Georgia and the Carolinas. The word derives from their language and means ghost.  The Gullah people have maintained a rich cultural heritage. Among their traditions was the belief that haint blue repels haints, or ghosts. You'll find the color on thousands of southern porches.
African inspired crafts are
part of the culture and often
seen at fairs and markets.
 Established as Charles Town in honor of King Charles II of England, Charleston adopted its present name in 1783.

Charleston's streets are defined by attractive,
tree lined boulevards and parks. 
 
St. Michael's Anglican Church is
one of the city's historic buildings.
THE CITY is  home to the Charleston Symphony and many arts related events including an annual Wine and Food Festival, Charleston Fashion Week, Festival of Houses and Gardens, Flowertown Festival, High Water Festival and the MOJA Arts Festival, celebrating black arts and culture. For 17 days and nights each spring, the famed Spoleto Festival USA fills Charleston's historic theaters, churches, and outdoor spaces
Piccolo Spoleto Festival and a well known Southeastern Wildlife Exposition are also popular events.
A FUN OPTION is a tour of Charleston's historic homes.  Conde Nast offers a good one, hitting the city's best known and nicely maintained relics of a bygone era. (Link at story's end.)
Discover Savannah's charms
The Citadel, Army National Guard, is on
a unique driving tour we enjoyed
.
Fort Sumter is on most visitor's "must see" lists. The attack on the fort began the  American Civil War which lasted four years and cost the lives of more than 620,000 Americans. It also freed 3.9 million enslaved people from bondage.
THE CITY made the news with another shooting for it is the scene of the 2015 mass shooting at Mother Emanuel AME Church.
The gunman, a white supremacist, entered the church,
stayed for the service, then killed nine parishioners. Racism exists in Charleston, and in every town in America. But our New Jersey born guide, who is happily transplanted and loves Charleston, considers it a welcoming place with a pleasant mix of people from around the country.
Cookie rings the bell of the Princess.
WE NOTICED very little overt racism, but chatting with people of color, we learned that there is still subtle discrimination. "Inevitable, I think," one waiter told us. "People and old ideas and ways are changing, slowly but surely."


Excellent tour guide
Alan Rosenfeld gives a
lively overview. Book him
at charlestonharbortours.com.
MORE INFORMATION:
www.charlestonharbortours.com
www.cntraveler.com/gallery/best-historic-house-tours-in-charleston
www.expedia.com/Things-To-Do-In-Charleston.d179997.Travel-Guide-Activities




Karole Foreman movingly captures the essence
of "Lady Day" -- Billie Holiday -- with Lanie
Robertson on piano in a fabulous two-person show
.
BEST BETS:
Fans of the great jazz singer Billie Holiday have just a few performances to catch Karole Foreman in the title role in "Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill." Written by Lanie Robertson, it's at Cygnet Theatre in Old Town, San Diego. This stunning two-person show features virtuoso pianist Damon Carter as Jimmy Powers, Holiday's accompanist, friend and confidant, who keeps Billie on point while the tunes seamlessly roll. Carter is musical director for the show, which features Foreman singing many of the singer's best known songs with a running commentary on her loves, losses and the racism, drinking and drug abuse that shadowed her life. Foreman truly captures Holiday, with all her gifts, lip and demons. It's a stunning piece of theater which left us absolutely mesmerized for 90  minutes. Wren T. Brown directs, from Ebony Repertory Theatre of Los Angeles. Worth a trip to San Diego from wherever you are -- even the moon! 619-337-1525, cygnettheatre.com. Through Feb. 18.


SCAD's Museum of Art offers beautifully curated exhibitions,
including both famous and emerging artists. You'll want to spend
 several hours in this artful, open, beautifully curated space.
UP NEXT: SCAD. That's the word in Savannah if you are interested in art. Savannah College of Art and Design has an international reputation and attracts students and artists from around the globe.  We spent an entertaining afternoon at the the SCAD Museum of Art, a  premier contemporary art museum  featuring emerging and established international artists through commissioned works and rotating exhibitions. We'll take you there next week, with photos sure to draw a smile. Meanwhile, remember to explore, learn and live and catch us weekly for a fresh spin on art, music, travel, nature, family and more.   



Thursday, February 8, 2024

Body Glove fits like a charm for Kona Coast sightseeing pleasures

Happy passengers on a sunset trip up the Kona coast on Body Glove's comfortable, sleek catamaran.
Below, on top deck, Body Glove's design is open, airy and offers excellent views. On the ground
floor, an historian delivers fascinating commentary and live Hawaiian music is played.
 



SUPER YACHT FITS LIKE A 'GLOVE' FOR BEAUTIFUL, CULTURAL RIDE UP THE KONA COAST



STORY BY CHRISTENE MEYERS

PHOTOS By BRUCE KELLER

Both music and history 
are part of the package
on a fun dinner cruise.


IF YOU HAVE wanted to take a boat trip up the gorgeous Kona coast, now's the time.


Body Glove awaits in Kona's harbor, where
its eye-catching design attracts tourists.
A graceful and comfortable boat awaits you whether you're in the mood for snorkeling, whale and dolphin watching, or a luxury dinner cruise with cocktails and a tasty meal.

This young passenger
was moved to dance.


Body Glove's newly renovated vessel is tailor made for tourists and locals looking to connect with one of the most beautiful corners of Hawaii.


Body Glove's new catamaran is a perfect Hawaiian coastal pleasure boat, for entertainment, viewing of the scenery, relaxing with a beverage and the breeze, and communing with nature.  

Bruce Keller and Christene "Cookie" Meyers
have enjoyed Body Glove several times, here
on her exciting "super raft" trip.






Its varied itineraries and a pair of vessels offer adventurous snorkel and scenic tours, wildlife viewing and just plain relaxing while enjoying some of the Pacific's most attractive shoreline and wildlife activity.

FAMILIES and kids of all ages will enjoy flotation and water toys on day trips, snorkeling with all the gear, whale and dolphin spotting. Toward evening, adults love the sunset and dinner cruises, relaxing evening options with cocktails and a meal served by a smiling, attentive staff.

Delicious tender beef, veggies and mashed
 potatoes are offered on a dinner cruise.
 
Body Glove's two-story, 65-foot motor yacht is a sparkling, handsome addition to Kona's Honokoahu Harbor. You'll see it awaiting as you approach.  Next to it is Body Glove's "super raft," which we've enjoyed, too.  It's a pleasant experience, attracting couples and adventure seekers, a small group who enjoy being close to the water.  We recommend both -- they're so different.

 WE ACTUALLY expected we'd be jostled a bit on the "super raft" but we were perfectly comfortable -- albeit yes, we did have a few bumps on the ride back to Kona from the Captain Cook's monument.


After the sun sets and evening comes, relaxed
 passengers enjoy as the boat returns to Kona Harbo
r

AS WITH most boat tours, the crew, captain and entertainment make or break it. Body Glove hires top people who understand the importance of Hawaii's famous "aloha" or welcoming spirit. The service and specialists are tops. Wildlife guides, musicians and trained historians are lively and well informed.

The crew goes beyond the call to be helpful and courteous, pointing out places to watch or helping spot manta rays, whales and dolphins.

We've had great times on every Body Glove experience -- from a rewarding whale watch to lovely dinner cruise and super raft adventure.

If you look closely, you'll see the face of Pele
 in the beautiful coastal rock formations.
ON THIS  recent trip, we had tasty veggie appetizers, drinks and dinner  on our journey up the coast.  We heard tales of early explorers and the native peoples' struggle to sustain its culture through the missionary years. A highlight: seeing Pele herself in an unusual rock formation.  According to Hawaiian mythology, the revered goddess of fire lives in the volcano on the Big Island. Along the coast, the guide points to her face, visible in the sea cliff. We could picture a woman lying on her side with long, wild red hair and fierce, piercing eyes. It's Pele, Hawaiians believe, keeping us in line. More information: bodyglovehawaii.com

Charleston claims to have several of the nation's first churches,  
and its first public college, museum and golf club. 

UP NEXT
Charleston's wonders unfold as we visit this historic southern city in South Carolina, where most believe the Civil War began at Fort Sumter. The city is a blend of old and new, with well preserved architecture and new buildings conveying a feeling of progress. Charleston boasts the country's first public college, museum, some of the country's oldest churches, and a still active playhouse dating back to its early days. The first golf club in America was founded here. Remember to explore, learn and live and catch us weekly for a fresh spin on travel, nature, family, the arts and more:

www.whereiscookie.com 

 .

Tuesday, February 6, 2024

Kualoa: Oahu working ranch offers magic, entertainment, education

Part of the educational fun at Kualoa Ranch is watching workers prepare the harvest for sale in
the store on the property, and for demonstrations during various farm tours of this working ranch.


KUALOA RANCH OFFERS ADVENTURE, LEARNING ON HORSEBACK, BIKES, MOVIE SETS, FARM TO TABLE,  ZIPLINE, ECO TOURS AND MUCH MORE 

The beauty of the Kualoa Ranch acreage includes lovely
seafront areas, near movie sets and a World War II bunker.


STORY By CHRISTENE MEYERS

PHOTOS By BRUCE KELLER


KUALOA means "long back" in the Hawaiian language. It resides in Oahu's deep valleys and dramatic mountains, which resemble a back in some ways.
We went to this beautiful refuge -- our second trip -- to again soak up the wonders of this magical place.
Bicycle tours give participants a chance to explore and view
close-up the wonders, variety and beauty of Kualoa.
Established in 1850, Kualoa is a 4,000-acre private nature reserve and working cattle ranch which also served our country as an important World War II air base.
IT'S BECOME a popular tourist attraction and filming location on the windward coast of this varied and exciting Hawaiian island.  Most tourists land on Oahu, at the capital of the state, Honolulu, Many make their way to the chain's other islands.
Hawaiian gods are present in wooden sculptures on view.
We often spend time on Oahu and now have made Kualoa a regular stop.  It is about 24 scenic miles from Honolulu, and 32 miles from

Haleiwa, easily accessible by car -- or if you arrange, the Kualoa bus will pick you up at a central hotel.
FOR CENTURIES, the valley was sacred to ancient Hawaiians. A respected chief, Laʻa-mai-kahiki, settled  here after visiting Kauaʻi before returning to Tahiti. It was also the site of the sacred Hill of Kauakahiakahoʻowaha, the key to the sovereignty of the Kingdom of Oʻahu. According to an ancient Hawaiian genealogical chant, Kualoa is where revered leaders Papa and Wakea buried their first still born child, Haloa. Native people believe that the first kalo or taro plant grew from the fertile soil where Haloa was buried.
Posters and educational displays
are part of the Kualoa intention.
  

Cookie tastes a cocoa bean
on a farm tour at Kualoa.
Tours take visitors around the ranch, into sacred
areas where ancestors worshipped. 

THE RANCH is a kind of rural Disneyland, where guides share the place's larger than life history along with imparting its sacred meaning to the Hawaiian people.  It's close to Honolulu on a verdant valley, but far enough away to be another world.

 


WE LOVE that despite all the spectacle, Kualoa  is a working cattle ranch -- (my Montana roots are showing.)  There's  enough to see for at least two visits. 
Keller climbs aboard one of the jeeps used in filming
"Jurassic Park." The studio left several remnants behind.
 Kualoa is one of the world's prime filming location, too. It spreads out on prime land on the windward coast, a lovely drive from the bustle of the city.
Movie fans from around the world enjoy the chance to
walk around Kualoa Ranch's "Jurassic Park" where many
hit films and TV shows have been filmed.

WHILE THE BEAUTIFUL
ranch is home to some famous movie and television sites, it offers much more than movie making entertainment.
On our second visit, we chose from various and diverse offerings.  We narrowed the field from a horseback ride through fields, a zip line over the valleys, a boat trip to a private hideaway, and a bike tour and farm overview. 
You can even exercise your green thumb and plant a tree, one of many ecologically hip offerings at this pretty and progressive place.
Our movie tour the first visit was great fun, and this time we enjoyed trying other options. 


Horseback tours are among the
preserve's most popular.













WE ENJOYED a visit to the World War II bunker where in 1941, the U.S. military occupied the land and developed Kualoa Airfield.
After the war the ranch was returned to the Morgan family, owners and descendants of Dr. Gerrit P. Judd, the  American doctor and missionary who in 1850 purchased 622 acres of ranch land at Kualoa for $1,300.
Kualoa grows its own produce and has shrimp ponds, too. It's
a working ranch, unique because it also has historical status
.

KUALOA
managers are proud that the land was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in Oahu in 1974, has hosted major rock festivals, and is listed in many guidebooks and international publications.
 John Morgan oversees the working cattle ranch and tourist enterprise from the island of Hawaii. Kualoa offers  eco tours, movie and horseback tours, bicycle tours, ziplines and more.  It has a gallery of vintage posters, photos and Hawaiian history. It also has a lovely store, with produce grown here, souvenirs and delicious teriyaki beef. 
More information or to book a tour:
 www.kualoa.com 
A rainbow is part of the spectacle of a Body Glove tour out
of Kona. Various options are available for a mix of fun. 

UP NEXT: Body Glove is a fun option while you're in the Hawaiian islands.  The creative operation offers leisurely catamaran tours and a more adventurous high-powered, fast moving raft trip.  Its specialties are boat tours and wildlife and snorkeling trips. Our favorites are the sunset cruises, where we have seen gorgeous sunsets and beautiful rainbows. A skilled and lively historian accompanies the history and scenery tours and first-class amenities are provided on board -- from cocktails to delicious local fare. The Kanoa II is back, nicely renovated with a multi-million dollar price tag. She's both comfortable and attractive and whether you choose a dinner cruise, or a dolphin and whale watch, we give Body Glove thumbs up! Remember to explore, learn and live and catch us weekly for a fresh spin on nature, travel, performance, family and the arts.