Tag Archives: Palms

Hale’iwa Cottage

Back in March we stayed on Oahu’s North Shore, and now I’ve gotten around to painting a little  “thank you” watercolor for the family who graciously allowed us to stay there. The house is an interesting place, and so I thought I’d post it here. The place is about 3 miles or so north of Hale’iwa, that North Shore wide place in the road that’s famous for the shave ice, odd people and giant surfing waves. How big are the waves? Well, right down the road a local surfer was sleeping in his beach-side cabin when a rogue wave came in, smacked the place apart and he awoke to find himself behind his home, surfing up the hill on his bed. He’s lucky to tell the tale.

This little cottage, also oh-so-close to the giant waves, had its lower front windows boarded up because of the same problem. Try sleeping soundly at night with THAT knowledge running around in your head. We were told the place was originally an old WW2 army barracks that was moved here after the war, then remodeled endless times to become a truly old-Hawaii experience. This means it’s a mixture of everything that’s available yet nothing that’s entirely permanent. Nothing fancy, no granite countertops, just a tidy little place like the summer cabins I stayed in as a kid. There’s a long sand beach just down the block where green sea turtles haul out to rest, but the ‘beach’ out front is mostly lava rocks and remnants of an ancient coral reef when sea levels were a bit higher.

For the most part, the entire 808-State (Hawaii area code) isn’t like this anymore. You have to really look for the old Hawaii Nancy and I love – but it’s still here in bits and pieces. The family who remains true to this small and simple old place on the beach is pretty savy, I think, of realizing how to enjoy life.

Thanks for reading this week.
Larry Eifert

Click here to go to the online blog this was to.

Here’s a link to our new Bristlecone Pine jigsaw puzzle.

Click here to go to our main website – packed with jigsaw puzzles, prints, interpretive portfolios and lots of other stuff.

Click here to check out what Nancy’s currently working on with her photography. New images from her Glacier National Park trip are featured. Bears, peaks, loons and foxes, oh my.

“Vanna White” – 20 Years Remembered

Painted just last year, my two best friends, “Vanna White” and Nancy in an interpretive painting for Olympic National Park. For decades to come, visitors will see but not fully understand what this painting represents to us.

I’m greaving  today over a separation from my second best friend, “Vanna White”. For 20 years and a third of a million miles, as a research vehicle I’ve driven this VW Westfalia Camper to just about every park in the Western United States. We’ve camped in her in places you wouldn’t think a 2-wheeled car could go,  talked to her like a person, and some people thought I would be buried in her – a ready-made coffin! 

One favorite story is the burned-up water pump-event north of Bakersfield. We got her stopped before the engine blew up, and were hauled into town by a good-hearted Chicano tow operator. Saturday night, all shops were closed (and there’s almost no civilized camping in Bakerfield), so he took us over to a friend’s house for the night, where we slept in the driveway in a neighborhood filled with Spanish-speaking kids and dogs. Early morning, our new friend found a pump somewhere and had it in by nightfall –  and event that included tasty food being brought over by the neighbors. I remember lots of fried chicken and lots of kids, all very interested in who we were and what we did. Vanna was like that – drawing a crowd no matter where we landed.

Now, while my Dad would buy a new car every three years no matter what, we camped more times than I can count in Vanna during the past 7,300 days, from Mexican beaches to Banff in the Canadian Rockies. I wrote park guides in her, painted watercolors on picnic tables and woke up with snow on the roof.  Burning through 17,000 gallons of gas, most parts were replaced as we went along. Cosmetic surgery and new paint (by me – after all, I am an artist and own a spray rig), but also a new engine, transmission, three clutches, four or five water pumps, three stereos and more carpets than I can remember. And, like another Vanna White we all have known for decades, she just never seemed to age!

2006: Here’s Vanna next to a 90′ mural we were working on in 29 Palms California. We painted two murals here, a decade apart, and Vanna was there both times.

And so, after driving her a distance of from here to the Moon and half way back, we recently decided to find her a new home. It didn’t take long!  Just a couple of days on Craigs List and yesterday Vanna went off to Portland with a delightful younger couple who, we’re sure, will have the time of their lives continuing on with this same boundless spirit of adventure. AND, I’ve been told of a local support group I can go to of former Westfalia owners.

And why did we do this heart-wrenching thing? Well, we now have a little Scamp trailer waiting for us in the Tampa area. That’ll be a 6,600 mile trip to bring her home – and a good start on the next 340,000-mile adventure!

Vanna on her last adventure with us. California’s Anza Borrego Desert State Park, December 2009.

Thanks for reading this week.
Larry Eifert

Click here to go to our main website – packed with jigsaw puzzles, prints, interpretive portfolios and lots of other stuff.

Click here to check out what Nancy’s currently working on with her photography.

Surprise Canyon and Palm Bowl

The blog’s been silent! We’ve been away for a few weeks, hiking in the Southern California desert and visiting family and friends. No painting this week, but this was a hike so exceptional I wanted to share it.

East of San Diego, Anza Borrego State Park is California’s largest state park, so big all the other state parks could fit in it with room left over. Most visitors see the palms near the visitor center, but there are many other backcountry native palm groves that have few visitors except mountain lions and coyotes. Driving 50 miles south of the visitor center we found a vague sandy turnoff, parked the camper and began hiking up Surprise Canyon – and what a surprise it was. First one grove, then another, and finally the canyon opened up into an entire bowl full of them – 100’s of native California fan palms. We had never seen so many in one place.

It wasn’t the number of palms, but the cool and ethereal silence we felt here, and at the same time, the place was alive and vibrant. You could clearly see open areas where countless generations of Indians had made their homes under the trees. Dates were hanging everywhere, and several dozen western bluebirds and finches were flying from tree to tree, munching as fast as they could and chattering away. Date seed piles were everywhere too, showing that coyotes hang out here enjoying the same fruits, and sure enough, one big alpha male studied us from the ridgetop. Then, Nancy spotted a little nest on the ground, blown out of a palm by a recent storm we were sure. Judging by the size, it could have been made by a gnatcatcher or maybe a bushtit, but if you look carefully, you’ll see that every piece of the nest is actually a fishhook cactus spine. They’re all intertwined and tightly fitted, and each ‘hook’ is stiff as a needle. You’d need pliers to cut it. We can’t imagine how a tiny bird could have managed this construction feat. Just getting close enough to grab the spine is one issue, but how the bird broke off each spine, brought it here and wove the nest is beyond reality. I pictured a bloody and punctured bird when it was finished, and, of course I hoped it was a male. I thought it amazingly smart because what predator would attack an armored nest like this? Any ideas?

So why are these palms here at all? Native California fan palms are usually found where water is forced to the surface by an underground solid rock ledge. They need their feet wet but tops in the sun – and brutal sun this is. Young palms have wicked red spines along each frond stem, but older trees don’t. It’s thought that Pleistocene mastodons couldn’t reach any higher that about 18 feet, and so young palms adapted spines to ward off the huge browsers. With Climate Change, who knows what will happen to these last few groves of our only native desert palm. They could easily go the way of the mastodon.