NYC Right Now; The Food Diaries – Boulud 3 Ways.

Let’s call it a parable of loaves and dishes. Thanks to restaurateur par excellence Daniel Boulud, we ate well (and often!) during our city sojourn. Initially alarmed to learn of the closure of our beloved Café Boulud, we vowed to somehow make do with the chef’s UWS outpost, Bar Boulud.

Has “making do” ever looked better?

Chef Boulud, through some sort of wizardry or legerdemain – or perhaps just talent and hard work – is currently juggling fifteen establishments, seven of them in NYC. Bar Boulud, felicitously, is less than a thousand steps from our apartment and has adapted its space and menu brilliantly to pandemic cuisine. Talk about comfort food!

Yes, I know, I should have stopped at the Kale and Fig Salad:

But it was NOT my idea to order the Merveilleux Noir: “crispy meringue, jivara chantilly, dark chocolate sorbet”. I ate two bites. Okay, maybe four bites:

It’s not just the food at a Boulud restaurant. There is always a genuine warmth of hospitality and sometimes even a bit of whimsy. Some nights the sommelier at Bar Boulud totes a jeroboam around the restaurant, offering patrons a glass of something they might not otherwise have tasted – the night we were there it was a French burgundy. I personally think it’s bad luck to ever say no when someone appears bearing a jeroboam.

The centerpiece of of our culinary experience this trip was an evening at Boulud’s recently opened Le Pavillon at 1 Vanderbilt next to Grand Central Terminal. At 1.5 miles from our apartment, at least we got a few calorie-burning steps in during our walk down to 42nd Street that evening.

The restaurant’s space is delightful – chic but not overly formal. And yes, it’s on the pricey side, but one always departs a Boulud restaurant with the sense that whatever the tab, it was worth it. Le Pavillon is apparently thus christened in honor of a former restaurant that occupied the same space from the 1940’s to 1960’s. debuting at New York’s 1939 World’s Fair:

Boulud’s iteration of the space recalls the airiness of its predecessor but in a distinctly 21st century way:

After a refreshing cocktail

we pondered the menu. It is seafood forward but there are plenty of options for those who prefer terre to mer. We took a first course dip with “Torchetti pasta, Maryland jumbo lump crab, fennel confit, Jimmy Nardello peppers”:

and “Yellowfin tuna, fennel pollen, soccer crisp, tonato sauce”

I was too focused on my Sole Romanesco to notice what the CE ordered. It took all my attention to behold the tableau of “kataifi crusted Dover sole, roasted Romanesco, artichoke, sauce grenobloise”:

For dessert, the Peche with Fromage Blanc:

What a lovely evening we had! While we certainly needed a long walk home after that meal, it was late and the city doesn’t feel as safe as it has in the past. Le Pavillon’s location is a bonus because while cabs seem to be in short supply these days, you can always find one in front of Grand Central Terminal. Another reason to love Daniel Boulud!

Lucky for us, the re-opening of Boulud Sud, the chef’s Lincoln Square nod to Mediterranean cuisine, was scheduled for our last night in the city. The CE enjoyed a mezze appetizer

while I ordered the gambas:

and then my old favorite, the chicken tagine:

Of course, this was all just lead-up to one of our favorite desserts in the city: Grapefruit Givré. A 2018 Eater article deconstructed the elements for us: “The chefs spoon sorbet into a hollowed out grapefruit shell before tossing in fresh segments of the fruit and citrus marmalade…sesame foam…rose loukoum, [then] seals the grapefruit with a brûléed orange sugar tuile, and anoints the whole affair with halva candy floss.”

Pure sorcery! Pure delight! The CE was unwilling to share, so we each had our own:

If only along with all the other “passports” we need these days, Daniel Boulud offered one for his “frequent flyers”. If there were such a thing, perhaps I could “earn” my way to an evening at the pinnacle of the Boulud empire: Restaurant Daniel on the UES. One can always hope…

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NYC right now.

I can’t tell you how many times I googled it in the past few months. “What is it like in NYC right now?” Plenty of news stories. But I couldn’t get a sense of the pulse, Louboutins on the ground, so to speak, of what it is like to actually be in Manhattan.

Some of the challenge, of course, is that everyone’s Manhattan, just like the drink recipe, is different. I can only share with you my own “recipe”, but I can tell you that if the past week is any gauge of Manhattan going forward, I’ll be ordering another, and another and another!

We began with fear and trepidation. After a cosseted year and a half in California, could we even do this? The Countess said, definitively, no, as she monitored the chaotic last-minute packing process.

After a harrowing day of travel (was it always this hard to get anyplace?) we arrived at Newark airport and easily grabbed a cab – there was no one in the taxi line! Our driver snaked through New Jersey suburbia, taking a route so nondescript that it was a complete shock when suddenly we were on the 495 and glimpses of the Manhattan skyline came into view.

It was a heart stopper. I felt like Dorothy seeing Oz for the first time. Then, of course we were mired in the morass of Lincoln Tunnel traffic, which brought me back down to earth…briefly. Because when our cab finally rounded a corner onto Central Park South I felt instantly infused with all the magic that is New York City.

We arrived in time for a glorious sunset.

And a celebratory dinner up the street at Bar Boulud:

We’ve taken it easy, getting a lay of the land. First things first, of course: the Park remains magnificent. I couldn’t wait to be wrapped in its lush green cocoon.

Our immediate question was “are things open?” And the answer is: we’ll, mostly. Actually, even more so than we had hoped. Our immediate neighborhood feels almost normal, just minus the usual extra helping of tourists, which is not necessarily a bad thing.

Outdoor dining has actually morphed into an art, judging by the inventive way restaurants have enhanced their street side tables.

People seem relaxed, cheerful, and positively buoyant. For all the negative things we’ve all heard about “those New Yorkers”, I have to say that all my encounters have brimmed with courtesy, kindness and that odd, ephemeral sense of warmth and connection strangers share in the city. A carriage driver returning to the stables clop-clop-clopped past us as we stood at a 6th Avenue crosswalk the other day. He caught our eye and nodded, almost as if in recognition. It was a look that said “Here we all are. And it’s going to be okay.”

Of course, it’s not all okay. If you happened to be dining at Philippe Chow the other night, you might have had a side of robbery and gunfire with your Peking duck. We have felt absolutely safe everywhere we’ve been this week but of course that can change in an instant. I walked the 3.5 miles from Soho to Columbus Circle the other day and my impressions were that there are certainly more drug-impaired and homeless people on the streets than in the past. As I waited to cross a street in the West 40’s, I saw a man block traffic, planting himself in front of a line of cars and refusing to move until – until what? He probably wanted money. I didn’t stay around to find out.

And this has become a more common sight; a new twist on having a view of the Park:

I don’t know whether these changes are related to the pandemic or politics. Hopefully both will be changing as New York soon welcomes a new mayor and navigates a path through COVID19, 20, 21…and beyond.

From what I see, it takes more than a bio-engineered virus to rattle New Yorkers. Yes, we are asked for our “papers” at most restaurants. But for the most part, people seem to have what is perhaps a somewhat cynical, somewhat bemused attitude toward the long haul. Outdoors, I would say that maybe 20%-30% of the people I see are wearing masks. Inside, some places insist on it, others don’t. Zara and other stores have adopted this approach:

There is a sense of freedom, dare I say even of joy? There is still the thrill of walking out of our building and having the city at our feet. I’ll get to the restaurants next week – oh the lovely meals we’ve had! And don’t forget the shopping: the department stores are OPEN!

Are we more likely to contract COVID here than at home? Well, yeah. Do I wish I had stayed home? No. Not even a little bit. There is risk everywhere and will continue to be going forward. We are having a magical, shimmering, glorious visit in this spectacular, resilient city of cities and it is an absolute tonic for the soul. If I can place an order for the future, please make mine a Manhattan.

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Family Album: 99 never looked so fine!

If age really is just a number, I think we should all choose 99. It surely looks good on Phyllis!

The crown, along with with a sweet pot of flowers, was a gift from Daniel and Victoria. Queen V drove up from LA with the treasures and her sweet visit with PG was one of the birthday girl’s favorite events of a fabulous celebration weekend.

As always, the birthday season kicked off when Gail arrived from Montana – she never misses her mom’s birthday. The two of them celebrated with friends at Maravilla, all of them younger than Phyllis but guess who always wins at bridge;-)

Taylor flew in from San Francisco for a very quick trip. We were so happy to see him we broke out the Booker’s (courtesy of Uncle Mark!) and Lily was so happy to see him that she let him share her couch:

When the big day arrived September 5, we had all the bases covered: There was Phyllis’ favorite, coconut cake, and some almost-too-pretty-to-eat gluten-free cupcakes:

There were, of course, flowers:

And balloons!

Phyllis’ very special friends, Dave and Karen, joined the party:

And the most welcome surprise of all – Tina somehow found the time to drive up from Newport Beach to wish her granny a happy 99th:

We feasted on Labor Day barbecue:

And Daniel called right before the birthday candles were lit:

She made a wish:

And reminded us all to “appreciate every day, because you don’t know what’s coming tomorrow.”

In her case, tomorrow brought plenty of leftover cake. Just as it should! Our wish for her is that every day of this next year will be a piece of cake. We can’t wait to celebrate the 100th!

Phyllis chose this quote to share with us in the wisdom of having lived long enough to know what matters:

“The love that will not let you go is the love that we have for the Lord; but the love the Lord has for us is far greater than what we have for Him.”

– Phyllis, on her 99th birthday
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Color Me (Adirondack) Red.

Remember back in May when I was green with envy?

Potato envy, that is. Our friend Tammy had a flourishing crop of potatoes growing in a cardboard box that I would have stolen if I could have lifted it. There was not a potato plant to be found anywhere in town given the flurry of pandemic gardening.

I resorted to mail order. Gotta admit I was a bit crestfallen when I saw what my $15 had purchased…caveat emptor! They were described as Adirondack Reds, although they clearly looked more like Adirondack Deads to me.

We planted them in grow bags in June (Tammy helped, and was kind enough not to point out that I could have found better looking potatoes than these for free in anyone’s vegetable bin…) and I marked today on the calendar – 90 days to harvest, I read on the card enclosed with the shriveled little specimens. I also read that potatoes are ready when their vines die down. One grow bag’s vines are still leafy…

But the other was bare and brown, so I grabbed a spade and dug in.

Today is most definitely the red letter day! So excited about the harvest. I actually grew something that looks edible!

They are pretty inside and out!

While the history of potatoes dates back to the Neolithic Age – it is believed that potatoes were first cultivated in modern-day Peru sometime between 8000 and 5000 B.C., the Adirondack Red is a 21st century creation, developed by Cornell University breeders in 2004. They are noted for their pink flesh and high levels of anti-oxidants. So maybe they were worth $15 after all?

It was absolutely worth $15 to dig into the grow bag and come up with those beauties. Like Christmas morning! What a great gardening project this would be for kids, if they can be persuaded to wait out the three-month growing period. All you have to do is “hill” the soil to prevent the roots from being exposed and be careful not to over water. Hey, if I can do it, anyone can do it.

All in all, the summer gardening experiment has taught me to be endlessly grateful to the farmers who grow our food. I now walk through the produce section of a grocery store with awe and amazement.

And I haven’t completely given up hope on the tomatoes, by the way…maybe we’ll actually end up with a few to put in a salad.

Meanwhile, tomorrow morning we’re going to celebrate our Adirondack Red Letter Day by scrambling some fresh hen’s eggs and frying up some potatoes. I’m declaring the garden experiment a success!

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LA Weekend.

One Saturday in the mid-70’s when I was very new to California and having some difficulty adjusting to things like purple ice plant blooming in mid-February and the hills on fire in December, the CE suggested we make a day trip to Hollywood.

That sounded like fun! Glitz, glamour and movie stars, I thought.

I thought wrong, of course. We parked and walked to the famous corner of Hollywood and Vine and found a scene that was sketchy, seedy, needy and downright depressing. A sere wind blew trash in small eddies around the sidewalks and I said I was ready to go home. And other than the obligatory forays to LAX, I henceforth mostly avoided the place that Dorothy Parker called “72 suburbs in search of a city”.

LA was a place for other people.

Until recently, when the list of “other people” began to include our progeny. Tina made the move to the OC. Then Angie popped up in Santa Monica. And last fall, Daniel made the cross-country trek to settle in Echo Park. What’s more, he gifted us a night at the stylish Silver Lake Pool and Inn so we could stay in his nabe. I studied the fine print carefully – would people as old as us even be allowed in? Amazingly, yes! And what’s more, Daniel had reserved us the spacious King Studio, complete with a view of the Hollywood sign out of our window.

Once we’d settled in, Daniel and Freddy arrived and after a cocktail at the buzzy hotel pool

they whisked us off to have a glass of wine at their fabulous Elysian Heights digs.

So good to see THESE boys again, too:

Daniel showed off his newly-acquired Formula One driving skills, navigating the narrow, the winding and the treacherous course on the way to Los Feliz for a most wonderful dinner at All Time. I would drive to LA just for another taste of their “good ass salad” and “Steak for 1”. (And we’re buying next time, Freddy!)

Saturday morning we fortified ourselves from the pre-brunch menu at the hotel’s “Marco Polo” cafe.

And Daniel and Freddy arrived to ferry us to our next event, which was – in Hollywood. I guess once every 45 years is about right. It was STILL somewhat seedy and sketchy but that didn’t matter because our crew was all here. So great to see (almost!) everyone for a post-Hawaii reunion.

We all caught up over pizza and then walked a few blocks over to the “Lighthouse” to see Immersive Van Gogh Los Angeles. Such a great exhibit.

Then we were off to the aptly-named The Atrium in Los Feliz for a mid-day cocktail.

Daniel and Freddy had plans that night so the CE and I ventured all the way across the street from our hotel for a tasty dinner of North African fare on the charming courtyard at Bowery Bungalow. Definitely get the fried cauliflower!

And the mini mezze plate…

And suddenly it was Sunday morning and time for us to go. We weren’t ready to leave LA! Daniel softened the blow by stopping by for a leisurely breakfast with us and then, goodbye. That part never gets easier :-/

But there was one more fun phase of the day – shopping in Pacific Palisades for Angie’s almost-birthday. Somehow I missed getting photos – I guess you can just picture lots of dollar bills with wings flying off into the ether beyond the Pacific Ocean…;-) Cold and foggy this morning – glad we got you that cashmere sweater, Ang!

What a truly wonderful weekend. And while I may never be a big fan of the intersection of Hollywood and Vine, I think I now actually like LA. And I can’t wait to go back!

His eyes were the color of the sand

And the sea

And the more he talked to me, you know

The more he reached me

But I couldn’t let go of L.A.

City of the fallen angels

— Joni Mitchell

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Nature is a beast.

Neighbor dropped by the other day. Nice chat. Until…

Tomatoes.

“I have sooooo many tomatoes. Just overrun with them. I don’t think we’ve ever had a better year for tomatoes. Will you take some, please?”

Reader, my tomato-red blood ran cold.

As you know, I basically called an end to the summer’s gardening “experiment” when our renewed (never ending?) drought became impossible to ignore. A few things refuse to die – that mint is a jezebel of a weed! And I did manage to nurture a single sunflower from a seed into its briefly bright reign.

But, ahem, tomatoes. If I factor in time + labor + worry + water, it hasn’t added up to much. Some gimmes from a Home Depot plant that was, at purchase, loaded with so many cherry tomatoes they looked like Christmas ornaments. I managed to grow another plant on my own, but it gave up the ghost after producing a handful of surprisingly bland-tasting specimens.

And then, there were those two plants that faltered in the table-top garden (soil not deep enough, I think) that seemed to revive after I re-planted them in grow bags. After my neighbor departed, presumably to bask in her own garden bounty, I decided to check on those tomato plants of mine. After all, my garden is what, all in all about 800 feet from hers? Surely things should be going well!

I was ever so briefly encouraged. My, I thought, those leaves are certainly looking robust.

Um, wait. Look again.

The horror!

Those ain’t leaves! The miracle of an Internet search told me within seconds that these beasts – with their terrifying little mandibles planted squarely in the few little tomatoes on my plants – are called tomato hornworms. And while I ever so briefly considered pitching them over the fence to visit my green-thumbed neighbor, I instead followed the directions of dousing them in a mixture of Dawn dish detergent and water, which they decidedly did not like. Once they loosened their grip on my paltry tomato harvest, I pried them off and re-located them far away from the tomato plants.

They were gone the next morning, either to maraud elsewhere or perhaps they served as a juicy breakfast to someone higher on the food chain. At any rate, they have not returned, and the plants, oddly, seem no worse for the wear.

Maybe I’ll get to brag to my neighbor about my “tomato harvest” after all. She doesn’t need to know that it will be a total of – one tomato!

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Crossing that bridge when I come to it.

Toward the end of 2020, I wrote the date down in my calendar on a whim. August 14. An exercise in hopefulness. Surely we could be back in the city by then, right?

In the meantime, I was making no travel plans, just nursing my homesickness for NYC with my nose in a book – David McCullough’s The Great Bridge: The Epic Story of the Building of the Brooklyn Bridge. 608 pages long, and all you could possibly want or need to know about wire cable and shady New York politics.

What stayed with me the most, however, was the courage and perseverance that brought the project to fruition. There was crusty John Roebling, who, in 1867, conceived the design of the Brooklyn Bridge and, sadly, perished as a result of contracting tetanus after an accident on the project in 1869.

His son, Washington Roebling, stoically shepherded the project onward, despite almost insurmountable challenges and life-long crippling health issues subsequent to suffering “the bends” during a fire that broke out in the enormous caissons that would anchor the bridge on each side of the East River.

Many doubted that the bridge would ever be built. Which made August 14, 1876 a day to remember. It was the day the first two cables were strung between the Manhattan and Brooklyn bridge towers.

Nearly two weeks later, on August 25, in another burst of courage, Master Mechanic E. F. Farrington was the first person to cross the bridge. Suspended from those first wires connecting the towers, Farrington was seated on a board tied to the cables like a swing, and with upwards of ten thousand people gathered to watch, he had the best view in town during the twenty-two minutes it took him to cross to the other side. At one point, he tipped his hat to the crowd below.

I wonder if anyone is gathering at the bridge today, or will on the 25th. If so, I can only tip my hat at them in solidarity from California, because we still haven’t been back. Fingers crossed – although I know I must be mindful that plans in the time of COVID seem to go awry. Here’s hoping to be there soon – and on the (very long) to-do list is a walk across the Brooklyn Bridge. Can’t wait to be back in the city!

Down Wall, from girder into street noon leaks,

A rip-tooth of the sky’s acetylene;

All afternoon the cloud-flown derricks turn . . .

Thy cables breathe the North Atlantic still.

Hart Crane “To Brooklyn Bridge”
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Family Album: Maui Memories.

Yes, it was a bit of a challenge to get there. But I’d do it all and more again to be back in Maui. Every trip is a little bit different but always, always magical.

We go back a long ways with Maui.

Now, even the littlest ones aren’t so little. Seems like just yesterday Caleigh arrived in a stroller…

This trip she convinced her dad to take her up in a helicopter!

Ah, remember when…

And now…

Back in the day…

And now Thomas is about to get his drivers license!

He’ll always be the baby of his family, but even James insists on growing up…

Good thing these two don’t ever change…

So special to be together with them.

Somehow, these four never seem to age…

We all had such a great time. There was snorkeling…

The annual leap off Black Rock – even Caleigh did it this year!

And an Uno game for old time’s sake…

Although going forward I think it’s going to be Hearts and more Hearts. Including poor Randy’s broken heart…Tina looks entirely too happy in this photo!

My personal favorite “activity” was our afternoon at the spa. Thanks Tina and Ang!

Kids of all ages seemed pretty happy.

Not to mention well fed…

And just like every other trip going back, what, thirty years, we enjoyed visiting with our friend, Keoki.

We’ll always drink a toast to Maui

And we’re all ready to go back ANY time. Mahalo and Aloha. What a great trip we had. xoxo

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How to Ka’anapali right now.

Seems like everyone and his/her/their brother is here today and gone to Maui.

Hawaii is a prime destination this summer for all the obvious reasons and then some. Sunshine, sand and mai tais are the siren call for some who’ve long been waiting to get on a plane. And the state’s strict entry requirements appeal to those more hesitant to drop the mask and get out of town. Hawaii is perceived to be safer than other destinations, although COVID cases are rising given the proliferation of the Delta variant. Here’s the Maui County graph for new cases this past week per The New York Times:

Maui’s Ka’anapali Beach is always crowded in the summer, but I’ve never seen it busier than it is this July. Should you bother to go? Absolutely. But be prepared to jump through a number of, um, hula hoops. We figured it all out bit by bit but here is the primer I wish I’d had to work with when we planned our trip.

First things first:

Book your trip and your travel as far ahead as possible. Forget those bargain offers from a year ago. However “transitory” they say inflation may be, it is with us now and everything is super expensive. And for you spontaneous types, don’t even think about showing up without lodging reservations – the CE saw someone at the reception desk at our hotel inquiring about a room and the answer was “zero vacancy”.

Once you’ve got a flight reservation and a roof reserved over your head, get your restaurant reservations lined up. In the past, we used to wander over to Hula Grill and put our names on a fifteen-minute waiting list to sit in their sweet sand-side tables. Last week that waiting list, if they would even take your name, could be two or three hours long.

Here’s the CE at the Hula. “Table for 15, please?”

The quandary is this: hotels are fully open and fully occupied. Restaurants were allowed to go to 75% capacity on July 8 – but there’s a Catch 22: they have to be able to maintain the six foot distancing rule. Thus, the 75% capacity is more like 50%.

I started calling restaurants early in May to request reservations for our trip. Hula Grill was already almost booked through the end of July at that point. I thought we would be able to fill in the gaps once we arrived but it wasn’t easy. Oh, and don’t count on room service – due to COVID there is currently no room service, at least at the Westin Maui where we stayed. Their Hale Mo’olelo beach bar and the adjacent deli turned out to be a lifesaver for our group.


Another option is to dine at odd hours – if you don’t mind eating dinner at 3:30 in the afternoon you might be able to get a table somewhere. Or try someplace like Monkeypod Kitchen at Whaler’s Village, where it’s first-come, first-served since they don’t take reservations. I was never able to score a reservation at Leilani’s or Duke’s, but by setting an alert on the OpenTable app, I did get a table for two one night at the Hyatt Regency’s Sonz Steakhouse. Japengo at the Hyatt is a tougher reservation but so worth it – the sushi and the view are superb.

But I’m getting ahead of myself here. You can’t fight for a place at the table until you’ve made it to the island. And they don’t make it easy. Even with the slightly more relaxed rules as of July 8, 2021, you still have a lot of work to do. Bookmark the travel.hawaii.gov web site because you will be spending a lot of time there prior to your trip.

As soon as you have your flight reservations you can create an account on the web site and, if you’ve had the jab, upload a copy of your vaccination card.

If you are unvaccinated, you will need to peruse the list of “trusted travel partners” to find an accepted testing source. You will have to have the COVID test (note that ONLY NAAT or PCR test results are accepted) AND receive your results all within 72 hours of your flight.

Keep in mind that the tests can be pricey – last quote I saw was $140 – and that things can go wrong. One of our family members was belatedly told that “the test vial was damaged”, had to race to take a second test and literally did not get the test results until they were standing in line to board their airplane.

I was feeling just a bit too smug about my own preparedness for the trip. I’d long since uploaded my vaccination info, packed plenty of masks and was ready to settle in for the five-hour glide over the Pacific. What I had failed to comprehend, however, was the pursuit of the wily Hawaii wristband. You can’t get in without it.

For some reason, I thought we just showed up at our departure gate and it would be issued. No, no, no. The last, and possibly most important hoop, a hoop of fire to rival any Polynesian warrior dance, is the completion of the Health Questionnaire on the web site within twenty-four hours prior to your flight.

Yes, I know it says so right there on the web site. How I faltered I do not know, but I was not the only one. Many people on our flight were completely clueless about the wristband requirement.

If you’ve paid attention and complete the questionnaire a few hours in advance, you will calmly await the arrival of your coveted QR code in your email. It will look like this:

If you screw it up like I did and rush to get it done while standing in line for your wristband at the airport where the wi-fi is funky and connectivity is slow, you will sweat bullets (and, in my case, a few tears) awaiting that elusive email. Fortunately, ours arrived in the nick of time. No piece of jewelry I own could seem as valuable at that moment as the hard-won wristband:

If you don’t get your wristband before you board your flight, you will have to procure it when you reach the airport in Maui. There were at least a hundred people in line for it when we arrived. What a way to start your vacation…ugh!

Last hoop: we had to show our wristband and our QR code – with the obligatory green checkmarks indicating our “exemption” at our hotel check-in. That hurdle accomplished, we were finally, officially on vacation.

One last thing on your checklist – don’t forget to take your masks. They are required for entry to some restaurants and most retail stores. I would say maybe 15% of the guests at our hotel were wearing masks on the elevators and even outside.

Just remember to remove your mask when your mai tai arrives…you’ve earned one by the time you make it to Ka’anapali!

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Maui morning

I may not know what day it is but I know exactly what time it is. We are out the door by 4:45 am for Phase 1 of the day: the competitive deck chair search. It’s us, the pool staff with their head lamps glowing and the other bleary-eyed hotel guests bent on reserving their place in the not-yet-risen sun.

Oh, and there is also Keoki. His handler brings him out at 5 am to enjoy a bowl of fruit and peanuts and call out “Aloha” to all the early risers.

Pool chairs secured and Keoki greetings exchanged, we get in line for coffee. Starbucks opens at 5:30 am and the line is Manhattan-esque by then. Ka’anapali is very, very crowded right now.

Latte in hand, we set off for our morning walk.

Hello to the cats of Ka’anapali – there are so many of them! In years past they slunk about, mangy and skittish, but of late there seems to be a group of felineophiles who feed and care for them, hopefully also attending to spaying and neutering. Their coats are shiny and all appear contented. What cat wouldn’t want to spend all of their nine lives on Maui?

A quick wave to the swans at the Hyatt Regency…

and just to prove that if you snooze, you lose, we early birds reveled in the pièce de résistance of the morning, a glorious moon-set over the island of Lanai:

By 9 am our work is done. Time to relax in our hard-won lounge chairs overlooking the Pacific Ocean and watch the clock for Phase II of the day: mai tais and a nap. Aloha!

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