Travel Cook Islands Cindy, Keith return to South Pacific trade winds

Cindy Gannon and Keith Kelsay returned to the same South Pacific trade winds six months later... “If heaven like this I’m going tomorrow,” exclaimed Cindy.

Arriving at the Rarotonga airport just before day break was just as she remembered it, a light rain had just glistened the runway for their arriving plane. After deplaning and clearing customs they were asked to step over to see the man behind the long table.

“Yes sir, we do have boxed food and cashews, but no frozen chicken,” Cindy replied. He smiled and waved them on.

Returning to the Palm Grove Lagoon bungalow was all she remembered it to be.

Morning comes early, scooters carrying passengers to work; roosters announcing day-break.

They took a dip in the lagoon, and words can’t begin to describe the moment.

Saturday is farmers’ market day, not quite as they know it, a mix of unusual fruit, Cindy’s favorite, star fruit, plus the usual tourist stuff, pareos, black pearls, waffles, beautiful floral head pieces and more. Cindy had floral head piece made by the staff of Palm Grove, their home for two weeks.

Palm Sunday gave them a delightful day at one of the local churches followed by lunch in the Fellowship Hall. Keith has a knack for making palm crosses that the staff enjoyed immensely.

The 15 Cook Islands lie halfway between New Zealand and Hawaii, scattered like a string of pearls. Storytellers believe Captain Cook only sailed through the Cook Islands, and it was Russian map-makers who named the islands after him.

Week two began with much anticipation. They took a day-trip, 45-minute flight by small plane, to Aitutaki (pronounced eye-to-talkie), a triangle-shaped reef encompasses a lagoon embedded with massive coral heads and clams as big as a Mini Cooper.

This is the same location where Survivor 2006 was filmed, and some of the original huts are still visible. This year’s Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition featured this spectacular Motu.

Flying just below the clouds Cindy was spellbound, her eyes fixed on the turquoise lagoon spreading before them. The door of the tiny plane opened; the air is fragrant and the sky seamlessly blue. Everywhere there is greenery punctuated by the vivid pinks, reds and purple flora.

Boarding a catamaran, they set out for an all-day experience of a life time. They snorkeled over schools of wonderful fish. Snorkeling the length of a football field wore out Cindy.

Lunch was freshly caught broad-bill tuna salad, grilled bananas and fresh fruits. The plane arrived, and their day in paradise was over.

The evening sunset rituals were wonderful, meeting new friends calf-high in the lagoon, glass of wine in hand, discussing the days events, watching the hermit crabs race around and the wonderful sunsets.

Day 11 they woke to thundering rain, and stayed on the deck playing cribbage and drinking coffee from their French press.

They woke to clear skies and warm tropical trade winds the next day. KoKo’s Lagoon snorkel trip was the next adventure, aboard a thatched-roof pontoon boat. They had fresh caught grilled tuna again for lunch.

Out of nowhere, a dog swam up grazing Keith’s arm and creating a need for a band-aid.

All was quiet Good Friday, as nothing was open. They spent a lazy day in the lagoon and did a little pre-packing.

Saturday night arrived and the long flight home. They knew it was coming, and like all trips, they brought fond memories of another spectacular journey home.

—Cindy Gannon

 

St. Jude Support

Trip set to San Manuel Casino

The St. Jude Support Group will sponsor a day-trip to San Manuel Bingo and Casino in Highland on Tuesday, June 10. All LWers and their guests are invited.

The cost of the trip is $15 and includes $10 back from the casino for food or gaming. The bus will leave from Clubhouse 4 at 9:30 a.m. Call Aileen Ackerman, 493-6774.

—Aileen Ackerman

 

On the Go

Fantasy Springs — June 4, $25; $25 cash in machine, New York Club, Los Alamitos Seniors’ Club, Phyllis Pierce, 598-3743; Chee Chee Porr, 430-5949; or Verna Burns, 596-1896.

San Manuel Casino— Tuesday, June 10, $15, $10 back, St. Jude’s Support Group, Aileen Ackerman, 493-6774.

Pauma Casino Wednesday, June 11, $15; $10 cash in machine, New York Club, Phyllis Pierce, 598-3743; or Chee Chee Porr, 430-5949.

“Grease” Lawrence Welk Theater — June 18, $92, New York Club, Los Alamitos Seniors’ Club, Phyllis Pierce, 598-3743; Chee Chee Porr, 430-5949; or Verna Burns, 596-1896.

“Jersey Boys” Segerstrom Center — July 8, $105, New York Club, Los Alamitos Seniors’ Club, Phyllis Pierce, 598-3743; Chee Chee Porr, 430-5949; or Verna Burns, 596-1896.

Pala Casino —Aug. 15, $6, American Legion Post 327, Tony Dodero, 430-5828.

Del Mar Horse Races — Aug. 27, $70 with lunch, New York Club, Los Alamitos Seniors’ Club, Phyllis Pierce, 598-3743; Chee Chee Porr, 430-5949; or Verna Burns, 596-1896.

Oak Glen— Oct. 22, $61, New York Club, Los Alamitos Seniors’ Club, Phyllis Pierce, 598-3743; Chee Chee Porr, 430-5949; or Verna Burns, 596-1896.

Los Angeles Chocolate Tour — Nov. 12, $88, New York Club, Los Alamitos Seniors’ Club, Phyllis Pierce, 598-3743; Chee Chee Porr, 430-5949; or Verna Burns, 596-1896.

Mission Inn Holiday Spectacular — Dec. 17, $84 with dinner, New York Club, Los Alamitos Seniors’ Club, Phyllis Pierce, 598-3743; Chee Chee Porr, 430-5949; or Verna Burns, 596-1896.

Harrah’s Rincon — Daily, free, Amphitheater, 7:15-7:30 a.m., (877) 777-2457.

Pala Casino — Thursdays, free, $5 back in slot play, Amphitheater, 7:30 a.m., reservations needed, (714) 283-8687.

Pechanga Casino — Daily, Amphitheater, 8 a.m., free, $10 in EZ Play upon arrival, (951) 770-2579.

Valley View Casino — Daily, Amphitheater, 7:45 a.m., $6, $15 back in slots.

Bicycle Casino—Tuesdays, Amphitheater, 10:30 a.m., free, $20 bet voucher, $10 food voucher, 806-4646.

 

Overnight Trips

Yosemite, Amtrak— June 16-18, New York Club, Phyllis Pierce, 598-3743, or Chee Chee Porr, 430-5949.

Laughlin, Riverside Resort— June 22-25, New York Club, Los Alamitos Seniors’ Club, Phyllis Pierce, 598-3743; Chee Chee Porr, 430-5949; or Verna Burns, 596-1896.

Laughlin, Edgewater — July 20-23, New York Club, Los Alamitos Seniors’ Club, Phyllis Pierce, 598-3743; Chee Chee Porr, 430-5949; or Verna Burns, 596-1896.

San Francisco, Wine Country— July 31-Aug. 3, New York Club, Phyllis Pierce, 598-3743, or Chee Chee Porr, 430-5949.

Laughlin, Riverside Resort Luau— Aug. 4-6, New York Club, Los Alamitos Seniors’ Club, Phyllis Pierce, 598-3743; Chee Chee Porr, 430-5949; or Verna Burns, 596-1896.

Zion, Valley of Fire, Cedar Breaks, Mesquite, Las Vegas — Sept. 29-Oct. 2, motorcoach tour, Traveling Tigers Club, Joanna Matos 598-1849.

Albuquerque and Santa Fe, N.M.— Sept. 28-Oct. 4, Passport to Adventure, Jazmin Bilby, 925-3144 or 715-6282.

New Mexico, Albuquerque Balloon Festival — Oct. 5-14, New York Club, Los Alamitos Seniors’ Club, Phyllis Pierce, 598-3743; Chee Chee Porr, 430-5949; or Verna Burns, 596-1896.