Tag Archives: Banyan Park

Thankful For – Loyal Clients, Poisonous Snakes, Bawdy Ladies of the Yukon, & Psychedelic Trees

vintage thanksgiving (11)
Hello everyone!
I’m so thankful for you, my loyal clients!

I’m also so thankful for travel!
Sit back with a cup of tea, beer, or wine and enjoy as you travel with me to strange and beautiful lands…

Take a little photo journey with me as I reflect on the places I’m grateful to have experienced this year. Click on the hyperlinks in the captions to get more information about why I chose the pictures and places I did. Nothing is random here, all have a back story and I have many more if you’re interested!
I’ve had some amazing experiences and I am THANKFUL!
Costa Rica, two weeks in Hawaii and two weeks in Alaska…
Next year, Ireland and then a river cruise through Europe.

All of these places will make you happy, trust me. How can I help?
Please let me know!

Gail Hummel
Burkhalter Travel

Royal Lahaina Luau
Me at the Royal Lahaina Myths of Maui Luau! The food and entertainment were wonderful! This is my home away from home. Get an ocean front room there during whale watching season and bring your binoculars. You’ll see many whales because they winter in the channel off the islands there.

Cabin in Fairbanks
That was one big polar bear! Outside of Anchorage, the Chena Indian Village had walking paths, living history cabins, reindeer, sled dogs, and presentations. The guides working with the Riverboat Discovery told a good story, but it was very much a tourist destination.

Skookum Jim’s cabin in Carcross, Yukon Territory. I would love to return! Skookum Jim and three others originally discovered gold on Bonanza Creek, thus creating the Gold Rush. The back story is very interesting!

Desserts Costa Rica
Fancy desserts in at Cafe Y Macadamia, Costa Rica. No, I didn’t eat either one of those, but I did buy some bee pollen there. To get from the Arenal area to Gunacaste, it is an hours long bus ride over roads not quite ready for prime time. Main roads are good, mountain roads not so much.

The psychedelic trees along the Road to Hana, more commonly known as Rainbow Eucalyptus.My headband matches. I bought it for the hike through the Bamboo Forest on the Pipiwa Trail. Have you been? This is in a different part of Haleakala National Park than people normally visit. If hiking is your thing, there is nowhere in the world like this Bamboo Forest.

Dinner at The Plantation
Dining at The Plantation House which overlooks the award winning Kapalua Golf Course. The food was incredible and so was the view. I also liked the Golf Shop and was disappointed it was closing as we arrived. Jordan Speith hangs out here. I’m impressed because he is awesome! If you like to golf and want the best Maui offers, let me send you here!

Building in Dawson City Yukon
A dusty street scene in Dawson, which is an incubator of history, talent, miners, and bawdy entertainment! Where else can you do a toe shot? No, didn’t do that either. Nope. I did find Dawson City to be one of the most interesting places I’ve ever been. Everyone is a character. I won’t tell you what that means. You have to let me send you and  find out for yourself.

Old Lahaina Luau guys getting the pig started
This is where the guys put the pig in traditional Imu at the Old Lahaina Luau. This is the most authentic luau on the island of Maui and also the hardest to get into. Make your reservations early! This is not just a luau, it is an award winning event and worth making the time for.

Dirty Gertie's in Dawson City
The ladies at Diamond Tooth Gertie’s are saucy and known to drag husbands up on the stage and make them cross dress. Once you’ve lost your dignity, head over to the nearest table and lose your poke. Miners still pay their tab with gold dust here.

Pods at Tabacon
If you stay at the Tabacon, you get to enter paradise, also known as the Shangri-La Gardens, this area is exclusive to resort guests. You will bask in the thermal pools, gazing up at Arenal. This place is a paradise that defies description. You need to go and I need to go back.

Kalaupapa Father Damien Settlment on Molokai
This view is overlooking Kalaupapa, the site of Father Damien’s colony that helped those ostracized by Hanson’s Disease (leprosy). To get there, it’s a mule ride down a steep hill. No, I didn’t do that either. I’m not fond of mule rides.But the view was incredible!

Here I had a tour with Jacamar Naturalist Tours at the Hanging Bridges area near Arenal,Costa Rica, I got in trouble for not wearing closed toe shoes that were specified in our travel documents. We saw two poisonous snakes, a poisonous frog, and Howler Monkeys trying to kidnap a baby Spider Monkey. This place was literally a jungle.

Boarding the plane on Molokai
This plane ride offered the opportunity to have your weight yelled out by the pilot that was flying the plane as you were waiting to board. Some chunky people got their own seat to balance the weight on the plane. Oh joy. On the upside, the flights between Molokai and Maui typically run at about $60 per person, one way and run twice a day.

Farmer's market on Molokai
The Farmer’s Market in Molokai is a very interesting place! It’s obvious you are not a local because everyone knows everyone. They are happy to have customers, with only 7,345 residents. I love that little island of heaven. I’d like to send you there, too!

Mark Ellman and I at Honu on Maui
Here I am trying to get some fame to rub off on me by hugging famous chef, Mark Ellman. I can’t even think about his crab sandwich right now because my mouth waters and I get a little mad that Honu is so far away. If you are ever on Maui and you don’t make it to one of his restaurants, you should probably have just stayed home. He runs the restaurants with the help of his wife and daughters- they are very busy and the food is very, very good. Mala Ocean Tavern, Frida’s Mexican Beach House. Honu Seafood and Pizza. All of these places deserve your attention and money. This guy is a phenomena for a reason.

Jilkaat Kwaan Heritage Center Alaska in Haines Alaska
Tribal dancers share their deep heritage at the Jilkaat Kwaan Cultural Heritage Center. I visited as an excursion from a Holland America Cruise when overnighting in the port of Skagway. This was an experience full of cultural treasures and guided by a native Alaskan that had some good bear stories.

Yukon gold rush paper
Tucked into the hillside in Dawson City is what is fondly referred to as Author’s Row. It consists of Robert Service Carrier’s Cabin and a little jaunt away, Jack London’s Cabin. These literary giants had tales to tell and stories told about them. I highly recommend reading some of their works before making the trip here.

Lahaina snorkeling trip with Trilogy excursions.
There’s nothing like snorkeling off an unspoiled beach off Lanai and then having a tour by local Aunties to show you all about the tiny island of Lanai. I long to return here. A special end to our excursion by Sail Trilogy Tours was locating a large passel of spinner dolphins that led us back to the harbor in Lahaina. I’ll never forget that day! Another special moment was when they unfurled the sails and cut the engines and we were sailing, take me away….
Klondike Dredge sign at Bonanza Creek Dawson City Yukon
To really understand the Gold Rush, take a tour of Gold Dredge Number Four. Our driver knew the old and new history of the mining operations that are still evident in the Dawson City area. We were taken right down to the bend in Bonanza Creek where the Gold Rush started. I was impressed, but then my grandpa’s brother was part of this Gold Rush, so I enjoyed imagining him with his stake, heading into the area and well, he actually struck it rich and went to Pomona, CA and bought land right downtown. That carried him the rest of his life.

Moody atmosphere as we arrive into Juneau     Me being welcomed to Juneau by a great wooden sign
Approaching Juneau, we were met with the eeriest of weather. Smoke trails enhanced the unusual atmosphere and it felt like we were entering a strange new land. Alaskans are not kidding when they refer to anyone from the lower 48 as outsiders. This is a different world, one I am grateful to have seen, and one I long to return to.

Banyan Tree Park - Lahaina

Banyon Tree Court Park in Lahaina on Maui is a favorite. I am a dendrophile (tree lover), so this is a spot that draws me. Local musicians and artists ply there trade here, tourists wander and wonder.. and the tree reigns. If you’ve never experienced a tree that can cover most of a city block, I can get you there. You’ll never forget it.

In all of my travels, the feeling I carry most is fresh of breath air gratitude to be able to experience the newness of a place I’ve never been, or dive deeper into everything a place I am returning to has to offer. I am thankful. I am grateful. I am hopeful that as 2018 approaches, you and I will be busy crafting new adventures that reinforce a deeper appreciation of all the world has to offer.

I am thankful for you because as we work together, you widen my world as we mark the path. I hope the memories made are ones you carry with you!

Warm regards,
Gail Hummel


Like a Moth to a Maui Flame…. Come Part 1

It’s been a month since I left for a nine day trip to Maui Nei. I had never been to Maui, all islands but. I was excited because I knew there was on old whaling town and how I love history. Little did I know the depth of that history or how it would draw me, like a moth to a Maui flame. Better yet, this trip was sponsored by the National Association of Career Travel Agents (NACTA) and the American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA)– two groups that support agents and promote travel in ways that deepen cultural understanding and depth of destination. It is the perfect first trip to Maui and I leave with more friends and bigger Hawaiian dreams.

Arriving – Well the rainbows are personal with me. I love Hawaii and I am not ashamed to say that I think Hawaii loves me. I stop counting at nine rainbows during my ride to the resort.

Welcoming rainbow at breakfast my first day. This was taken sitting at my table.
Welcoming rainbow at breakfast my first day. This was taken sitting at my table.

The skies scream a welcome I could hear, even above the grumbling of the Russian driver. Russian? Yep. Hails from New Jersey, visited five years ago and never went back. Something tells me he doesn’t love his job but that his off hours on Maui make the grind worth it. He grumbles off after our arrival at the Royal Lahaina and I check in, Aloha style. Kindness flows at the front desk and at the end of the open air lobby, I spy the ocean. I rumble my suitcase upstairs and throw open the lanai doors. Ocean view, check. Ocean wave sounds, check. Coffee maker and Hawaiian coffee, check check! Time for dinner.

The sun sinks while the ocean groans and shimmers. It hugs the golden sand like a longing lover, crashing again and again in its passion. I see this from where I’m eating dinner. Tiki lights are lit, Hawaiian music plays and the tinkle of ice from drinkers at the bar supply a background melody. I’m exhausted. I never sleep the night before a trip and I’ve been up almost 16 hours, most of them spent in an airport or airplane. A full stomach has me moving into the corridor and doing the Mai Tai stumble to the elevator. It is time.

When my consciousness meets daylight, I have this great realization that I’m in Maui. Yippeee! Two whole days to explore before my business trip starts so first things first-

Everyone enjoying Aloha life on the beach!
Everyone enjoying aloha life on the beach!

walking shoes and sunglasses, I hit the beach. What a beautiful beach- Ka’anapali. Long golden stretch with the Black Rock sticking out. I meet many other early wanderers and then cruise up to the walking path that separates the Ka’anapali Golf Courses from the ocean. It wanders in front of the resorts in this area so a good long stretch awaits. Everyone is up! People are surfing! The different resorts I stroll through are each unique but I really like the pools at the Westin.

I find a spot to sit and just watch everyone; the workers at the surf shack trying to kill the night’s after effects with coffee, retired

Golden sand and waves whisper. Ka'anapali Beach is incredible.
Golden sand and waves whisper. Ka’anapali Beach is incredible.

ramblers with their fanny packs huffing into their finest stride, families lugging everything needed to host a day at the beach with toddlers- all in a subdued morning mode. No rush, island style, happy and bright with the anticipation of a day in paradise. I find the Whaler’s Village and note there is everything from Kate Spade to Maui Jim’s for shopping, quite a few dining places also. But the town is waiting for me. I have a couple specific goals today and one includes the town square in Lahaina.

Banyan Tree, how did you grow so big? Art show, aren’t you glad to be nestled in its shade? Homeless people sleeping on the bench,

Planted in 1873, this tree wraps a city block in aloha.
Planted in 1873, this tree wraps a city block in aloha.

does this tree protect you? It’s natural magnificence is equal to the historical significance of the Old Lahaina Courthouse. I feel like I have struck gold. As a travel agent, I’m pleased. As a history nut, I’m thrilled. As a genealogist, I know there is royalty buried close and an old prison of dubious nature nearby. Pay dirt! No one besides a triple threat nerd like me could ever understand the thrill running in my veins as a stroll this area.

The struggle with leviathans was real during the early history of Lahaina Town.

The courthouse is a gem tenderly housing artifacts both native and haole. The banyan tree planted in 1873 has spread it’s branches and roots over the town square. The history is compelling- raucous sailors and warring Hawaiians collide with missionaries and a fledgling government, all with differing agendas. You have to know how juicy that story is but explore for yourself when you come. Spend a couple days wandering the museum now housed in

View over the harbor from the second story lanai of the old courthouse in Lahaina .
View over the harbor from the second story lanai of the old courthouse in Lahaina .

the courthouse. Stand on the second story lanai and look out at the harbor where the whalers would drop anchor. Wander through the Pioneer Inn next door and have some lunch while you watch Maui culture collide with tourists from a cruise ship. “Real surfers!” I hear one say. “Did you see her suit?” says another. “It’s up her butt crack. That can’t be right.” Don’t spit your drink trying to snuffle a choked laugh. Wipe yourself off and head to the cemetery.

Old Prison anchor
Huge anchor attached to an equally large rusting chain at the entrance to the Hale Pa’ahao, the old prison.

Now I don’t know how I was led to cemetery number one except that my mental map and where my feet trod landed me in a spot I hadn’t intended. It was the grounds of the Holy Innocents Episcopal Church but it wasn’t my final stop, I had somehow wandered here in search of a different cemetery. Coincidence? Probably not. If I don’t find them, they lead me to them. The lovely part? After I left the cemetery, there was that old prison I mentioned- Hale Pa’ahao. What a place this was- talk about some history!

Moving on on the bright heat of mid-afternoon Maui, I am finally at my destination- the Waiola Church where Waine’e Cemetery was founded in 1823. Buried here is the last King of Kauai, Kaumualii. He benevolently made an agreement with King Kameahea in order to prevent bloodshed for his subjects. Marriage to Kaahumanu who had royal Maui lineage sealed the alliance. This sacred ground is adjacent to Moku’ula, the ancestral grounds of the Maui royalty. It is being reclaimed with the intention of restoring it from a baseball diamond and parking lot to its original condition. We toured this area as part of our cultural familiarization trip for NACTA/ASTA, but I get ahead of myself. I’m also afraid I will lose you in the name trail. Anything too unfamiliar (i.e. Dick or Jane, Tiffany or Brett) and people’s eyes start glazing over.

Kinoole Memorial
Kinoole Memorial.

But this was it, what I had traipsed around in the hot son for, the sacred burial ground of Ali’i.  I sat on the lava rock wall and watched. Birds visited, people came and brought flowers and then a guy showed up with water for the flowers that were in the graves of Kaumualii and Kaahumanu. He didn’t linger, he was purposeful, but his dedication was sincere. I wanted to know his

Last King of Kauai and his wife- Ali'i burial site.
Last King of Kauai and his wife- Ali’i burial site.

story but oh, there he goes in his pick-up. I look over the abandoned baseball field and parking lot (not yet knowing it was the ancestral home of royalty waiting to be reclaimed)- consider cutting through this field but feel an inexplicable caution so take a longer, scorching way the couple of blocks into town. I later find out it is a historical and sacred site you have to call to the guardian spirits to be invited into and get goose bumps, but am grateful for the sentient whisper that keeps me from overstepping my bounds.

Lahaina Town again and back to the shuttle stop. Great service there from Ka’anapali; two dollars will get you all the way into or out

Many places to explore right on Front Street in Lahaina Town!
Many places to explore right on Front Street in Lahaina Town!

of town. I am beat and ready for a swim in the breaking waves on the beach. The Royal Lahaina sure delivers for stunning views from my oceanfront room and after a dip, I sit on my balcony and relax. Coconut Shrimp from nearby CJs Deli is washed down with onion rings dipped in banana ketchup. Yes, it is good! Tomorrow starts my familiarization trip and from what I have already experienced on my own, I can’t wait to learn more!

Later our group congregates in the lobby and we are a far flung group! Florida, Texas, Vancouver BC, California, Denver, Iowa, Nevada,

Our host at the Royal Lahaina, Jennifer Carvalho. She welcomed us like we were Ali'i!
Our host at the Royal Lahaina, Jennifer Carvalho. She welcomed us like we were Ali’i! Jennifer is center, Steven and Louisa Wong on the left of her, Shelia Sweet and Nicole Dalasta to her right.

New Jersey, Honolulu and more are represented. The Maui and Molokai Convention and Visitor’s Bureaus are represented by people we lean on and embrace for their insider knowledge – Chris Kai’aokamalie and Julie Bicoy. Representing NACTA is Ken Kimi and his lovely wife Wendy. We gather to meet and greet then head over the

Happy FAMers at the Myths of Maui Luau. Left to right: Donna Evans, Renee Drummond, Ed Davis, Lesley Trudelle and Chris Kai'aokamalie enjoying the feast before the show!
Happy FAMers at the Myths of Maui Luau. Left to right: Ken Kimi/NACTA Hawaii Chapter Director, Donna Evans, Renee Drummond, Ed Davis, Lesley Trudelle and Chris Kai’aokamalie/MVCB Director of Leisure Sales, all enjoying the feast before the show!

Myths of Maui Luau on the grounds of the Royal Lahaina. The food and drinks are amazing, the entertainment a wow, especially the cameos set against the setting sun. As great as it has been, the time change hits me and bed awaits, another Mai Tai shuffle to the room.

Bright and early we meet Jennifer Carvalho who shows us fantastic oceanfront rooms at the Royal Lahaina, rooms in the high rise towers and recently redone cottages big enough for a family. Nice and sumptuous, with a heavy

History and caffeine collide at the Maui Grown Coffee Company.
History and caffeine collide at the Maui Coffee Company.

dose of island decorating, perfect for honeymooners, families or any kind of getaway. Next stop, the MauiGrown Coffee next to the old Pioneer Mill site. Old railroad engines that carried the sugar cane to the mill line the parking area, as well as the smoke stack. The operation is tiny but mighty and the brews are sublime, set in the little historical storefront used to be the company office.

We next stop in the parking lot next to a thrift store. A loud backhoe pummels the blacktop while two explorer types crouch in a little hole slightly filled with water, absorbed in the hole with serious

Maui Ne Expeditions guide Kalapana Kollars begins our tour at the Mukele site and then leads us into town.
Maui Ne Native Expeditions guide Kalapana Kollars begins our tour at the Moku’ula site and then leads us into town.

looks.  As we wait for Kalapana Kollars from the Maui Nei Native Expeditions to being our tour, we wander to a large placard that explains the meaning of this Moku’ula site and the plans for its restoration. The field we seek to enter requires chanting in between two of our guides. We stand silent as they voice the greeting and its answer. Then we move forward. This tour and the company that created it is at the root of a cultural resurgence that unveils sites, legends and the native way of life. Hawaii has beautiful beaches, but it is so much more if you open your mind and heart to the true essence of Aloha! …. Stay tuned for more!