Sunday, January 30, 2011

Pele, Fire and Volcano Goddess of Hawaii

Finding myself about to embark on a trip to Hawaii, one of the goddesses I am anxious to meet Pele, goddess of fire, volcanoes, dance, and violence.

Pele, for one, after sleeping with her elder sister's husband, fled Tahiti just ahead of her water goddess sister's wrath. Every time she found a home and created a volcano, her sister would quench the flames, flood the island, and chase her away. Pele eventually landed on Maui, or some say The Big Island, where she was torn into pieces by her sister, becoming the goddess the Hawaiian people know today.

Like many of the Greek gods and goddesses, Pele is known to visit mortals, either as a tall, beautiful young woman, or as an elderly woman. Whichever she chooses, she is often accompanied by a white dog. Like in many folk tales, Pele is a goddess that often tasks mortals with a chance to redeem themselves by giving her food, drink, or a trip across the island. Those who are selfish find themselves victims to bad luck, possibly to a fire that will rip through their home.

For those who have been to Hawaii, one of the biggest myths, or perhaps more likely an urban legend, is Pele's protection of her lava rocks and black sand. Tourists who take these items are said to find bad luck upon returning home. Although this myth was started by a park ranger, there is some truth to heeding the words. After all, the beauty of Hawaii cannot be enjoyed by our children and our children's children, if we have taken the beauty away.

Somehow, I will have to resist the temptation, and look to the other gifts on the island to enjoy, in particular, the large variety of tropical fruit. Those are gifts that will return year after year for all to enjoy.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Salt Lake City's Ever Green House & City Cakes

As a traveling vegetarian, one of the most coveted attractions in any city is that city's vegetarian restaurants. On my recent visit to Utah, even though we were only in Salt Lake City for a single evening, we stumbled upon two delectable treats: Ever Green House and City Cakes.

Ever Green House is a little hole in the wall. You can park on the street or behind the building. The first thing that amazed us at Ever Green House was the service. We were greeted by a young woman who was happy to see that it was our first time to Salt Lake City, and was determined to give us a wonderful dining experience. The next thing that amazed us was the menu. In a typical Chinese-American restaurant, vegetarians are often limited to a couple of tofu dishes, vegetables in brown sauce, and vegetable egg foo young. But here, we had a multitude of choices. They were also having vegetarian sushi night and the things listed on the special menu were types of fish I didn't even know someone could make a vegetarian equivalent of! Our server was happy to explain what they were and the first thing we wanted were spring wraps. I opted for sweet and sour soy, and my husband selected the curry potato with soybean. When the food came, we were not only surprised at the portions, but also that the food looked like it had been hand chopped (instead of coming out of a bag). The sauces were slightly sweet and earthy, and I left the remainder on the table when we left with a sigh. If only our hotel had a fridge so I could dine on the rest in the morning... Our server gave us a printout that she had made of all of the vegetarian and vegetarian friendly restaurants in Salt Lake City if ever we came back. I definitely plan on holding on to it.

Several blocks away, and a nice walking distance after a lovely dinner, is City Cakes. This is a coffeehouse/cafe that is completely vegetarian. They serve vegan mac & cheese, sandwiches and pastries. I had heard many things about Salt Lake City's scones, and grabbed a lemon blueberry one. The lemon flavor was perfectly done and the scone just about melted in my mouth. This is definitely one of the places I will come back to and try the next time we visit this beautiful city.

So if you're a vegetarian, or just looking for a healthier meal, try one of these two local places in Salt Lake City. You won't be disappointed.

The menu for Ever Green House can be found by searching, and click here to take you to the City Cakes website.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Kodachrome Basin State Park - Utah

Another beautiful state park off of the beaten path in Utah is Kodachrome Basin State Park. This park is located on the Colorado Plateau, which covers much of the Four Corners Area. It can be reached from Scenic Byway 12 and Canyonville, and is a nine mile trip down a paved road. We did this trip in a rental car which had no problems whatsoever.

Why should you visit? There are rock formations seen here that you will see nowhere else in the world. There are almost 70 spires, called pipes, that jut up from the red rock formations. Geologists aren't sure as to how these pipes formed, but there many theories. One of the main ones is that there were ancient springs which were full of sediment. The sediment cemented together and became more erosion resistant than the surrounding rock. Therefore, the part around the pipe crumbled away leaving these monolithic spires standing.

You can easily see these pipes from the roads in the park, or you can choose one of the many hikes available, ranging from easy to difficult. We hiked the Shakespeare Arch trail which was a shorter easier hike to see the only large natural arch in the park and made our way to the Sentinel, one of the larger pipes. At this point the trail became markedly more difficult and for time sake, we opted to turn around. Upon this trek we found several beautiful mineral specimens on the ground as well, including a piece of gypsum the size of my fist.

The price in summer of 2010 was $6 per car, a small payment to see some of nature's oddest and most beautiful rock formations.

Picture courtesy of