Friday, September 29, 2006

Hawaii Flora, Part I

Some of the exotic plants seen in Hawaii. Last one is a coffee tree. Third one is a Palm Tree in bloom. Fourth is a bird of paridise found all over. Not sure what the others are, but are pretty.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Waiting for baby

Anyone who knows us, knows that we are dog people. It has been 3 years since our Golden Retriever passed away and we have REALLY missed having a dog around. Since buying the house, I have been impatiently awaiting the arrival of a new “ baby”.

Originally, we had agreed that we would get a dog after the yard was fenced. However, the landscaping is taking much longer than anticipated and we decided that we would not wait any longer.

We are working with a wonderful rescue organization in CT, Sunshine Golden Retriever Rescue, and have begun the process of adopting a Golden Retriever!

The first step in the adoption process was a phone interview. The SGRR volunteer was on vacation, but still took time to contact me. I was truly impressed. Very few people volunteer to help homeless animals and even fewer would take time from their vacation to talk with a prospective adopter.

The second step was a home interview. The SGRR volunteer came to our house with 2 dogs. It was wonderful to have dogs around again and we were sad to see them leave. We discussed the kind of dog that we felt would be a good match for us.

Now for the hard part…waiting!!! SGRR will review the dogs that they currently have up for adoption. If there is not a good match, then they will review new dogs that enter the program. We do not know when our new dog will arrive, but we are eagerly waiting for the phone to ring.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Mauna Kea

See my post on Mauna Kea.

Driving the Chrysler 300

The first big decision I had to make on vacation was which car to drive. Because of low inventory of intermediate sized cars at the airport, I was given the choice of a Dodge Sebring Convertible or a Chrysler 300. Being a big guy, I opted for the more room of the 300.

The first thing I noticed when I jumped into the 300 was there are two control sticks on the steering column; one for the blinkers & wiper controls, and one for cruise control. I fired up the 300 and noticed the parking brake indicator was on. I was frequently flicking the wrong control for the blinkers. The second time we got into the 300, the parking brake indicator was on again. “Hmm”, I thought, “the parking brake automatically comes on every time?” After a couple more times, I figured out that my foot kept hitting the parking brake pedal when entering the car. Annoying, yes, but once I was aware I adjusted my behavior and the indicator didn’t come on again.

All nitpicking aside, the 300 is a driver’s car. The V6 engine had plenty of power and the automatic transmission knew just the right times to shift. While going up many of the hills of the big island, the Chrysler downshifted at just the right time and stuck there until it made sense to upshift. Compare that to my ’91 Pontiac Grand Prix which would have been shifting up and down the whole hill. I was impressed.

The performance and handling became more apparent one day on the way back from Hilo. I was following a souped up Mustang somewhere around the speed limit when we got behind a train of 5 or 6 cars. After following this train for about ten minutes, the road split into two lanes. The Mustang darted to the right lane and floored it to pass all the cars and I followed him. We passed the cars quite handily and continued on. The 300 kept right up with the hot-rod past 70 and 80 until I eased off and let the Mustang go.

I found myself using the slap shifter on the many downhill runs on the southern side of the island. In particular, I descended about 4000 feet over six miles on Chain of Craters road in Volcanoes National Park and never touched the brakes. The $45 fill-ups were no fun, but at Hawaii’s typical $3.53/gal were partly to blame for the bloat at the pump. It also didn’t help that we got about 20 miles per gallon the whole trip.

I drove the 300 for about 1200 miles over the course of a week and never regretted my decision. It awakened feelings that have been smoldering since I sold my Trans Am many years ago. I can even see myself considering this car when my Honda goes kaput in another 100K miles.