So we had planned this trip for a few months. We left on Sunday, 2 Apr 2017 … the day before our 36th anniversary. (Yeah … I know, I know … but NO one is more surprised than us). Now WHY in God’s name I booked the first flight out of Huntsville escaped me that morning. It left at 6:05am … AM. Like in the MORNING. Which meant we had to be up and at ’em at like 3:00am. AM … again … in the MORNING. I am NOT a morning person. If you are … bless your dumb azz. But I am not. Anyway, we made the flight and the connection in Houston.
On our way.
We arrived in Honolulu in the early afternoon due to the time difference. However, my tired ‘ol body does not understand time differences. And as such, it was ready for bed at 3:00pm. Not that that is actually different than any other day. But we stayed up for a while … checked out the resort and it’s amenities. You literally step from the hotel onto Waikiki Beach. Not too shabby.
A good bit of the public areas are open-air … such as the reception below.
This is a great shot … for which I can’t take credit … but it shows the resort sitting right on the beach.
We decided to enjoy a refreshing beverage before retiring.
Monday, we were up and at ’em at the crack of noon. Had a leisurely brunch at one of the resort restaurants, walked to the beach, found one of the many bars, took in the beauty of the beach and surroundings, and headed back to shower and change to meet friends that evening.
Monday evening we met two friends from high school who had helped me set up a surprise for OWN (‘Ol Weird Nancy). We met them in the lobby of the resort and took a liesurely stroll out towards the beach.
After about a 5 minute stroll, we approached a lady standing on flower petals spread on the sand. We walked up and she said, “ThOm … Nancy … I’ve been waiting for you.” OWN (‘Ol Weird Nancy) had no idea and looked at me in confusion. I told her, “This is Kim … and we’re going to renew our vows in this sunset ceremony on Waikiki Beach with Diamond Head in the background.” And at this point our friends produced two BEAUTIFUL leis for us to wear during the renewal.
Diamond Head volcano crater made a BEAUTIFUL backdrop.
So thankful for this bunch that helped pull this all together: Sandi and Treat from high school, and Treat’s husband Chris (the Surf Master). Just some GREAT friends.
Afterward, we stopped by the outdoor casual area for some catching up of YEARS along with snacks … and refreshing beverages
And to end it all … we enjoyed the beautiful sunset …
Tuesday … day 2 … rolled around. We had scheduled our only “organized” tour for this morning. And we had to meet the bus at 7:15am. Again … that means IN THE MORNING. Which also means BEFORE NOON. So we had to get up even EARLIER than that to have time to get ready and grab breakfast. BUT … this was one of the main reasons I had wanted to visit. This was the tour to Pearl Harbor and the USS Arizona.
There is no need to go into great detail as they are all so well known. Attacked on 7 Dec 1941 as it was moored, a bomb hit a powder magazine causing a horrific explosion and the ship quickly sank with 1,177 of the crew lost. I had wanted to visit this memorial for years … and today was our opportunity.
There is only one way to visit the USS Arizona Memorial and that is via the National Park Service and a Navy boat. Enroute to the memorial, the boat passes several markers showing where other ships were moored on that fateful day.
Your actual time on the memorial is short … about 20 minutes. Suffice to say it was for the most part quiet and reverent. There are volunteers that briefly share the history and point out several names on the Memorial Wall dedicated to those who perished that day. Also mentioned was a wall with members who survived that day, but have had their ashes inurned with their shipmates.
A good portion of the memorial is visible in the water … and some actually sits above the waterline.
And the wall with 1,177 names …
There are no words to share that have not already been shared, written, and spoken. Suffice to say it was a humbling visit knowing you were standing over so many who had given so much.
Pictured below are a couple of tourists with the actual harbor behind us. Also below is a shot from the USS Arizona Memorial of the Missouri Memorial … which we would soon be visiting.
This particular photo below has nothing to do with our trip, but I had seen the story just before we left. PBS filmed a documentary about the ship. Remotely operated cameras were used to inspect how the ship is holding up structurally after 75+ years underwater. (The U.S. National Park Service forbids non-official diving at the site and doesn’t allow anyone to enter the ship’s hull). This particular image was captured 3 decks below the surface … an officer’s dress uniform, now covered in algae, still hanging from its hook in the living quarters … never to be worn. Also seen was a crewman’s hat with its shiny trim, a bathroom cabinet still holding its original contents and a blanket covering an intact bed.
We left the USS Arizona Memorial and headed over to Ford’s Island to visit the Pacific Aviation Museum and the Battleship Missouri Memorial. The Aviation Museum has a nice collection of aircraft on display from all the military branches and from several timeframes … including an actual Japanese Zero. We were lucky that one of the two hangers had the aircraft outside due to a function later that evening.
The two tourists found the Boeing Vertol CH-46 of particular interest … since a good friend flew one for the US Marines back in the ’70s.
Also of particular interest at the Aviation Museum was the Control Tower.
“AIR RAID PEARL HARBOR THIS IS NO DRILL.” These were the first words broadcast from Ford Island as the Japanese air raid on Pearl Harbor commenced.
From the Aviation Museum we headed over to the Battleship Missouri Memorial. This was another “must do” on our list. This was where the Japanese signed the articles of unconditional surrender on 2 Sep 1945.
Boarding the Battleship Missouri Memorial, you pass a larger-than-life (9 foot) bronze statue of Fleet Admiral (5-Star) Chester W. Nimitz. He is depicted as he appeared at the battle of the Marshall Islands in 1944. At that time he commanded the largest ocean area and most ships of any single commander in history.
Once aboard the memorial, the two tourists took a photo in front of the 6 forward 16-inch guns … BIG guns. These guns could fire 2,700 pound projectiles 20 miles.
We were also able to get a view of the USS Arizona Memorial from the Battleship Missouri deck.
Fromt the front deck we headed up to the “Surrender Deck” where the Articles of Surrender were signed. The plaque below denotes the location of the table where the documents were signed.
A photo of the actual signing.
Also located on the Surrender Deck are copies of the signed Articles of Surrender. The original copies are housed in the National Archives.
After the Surrender Deck we took a leisurely walk through the ship. We came across this model of the ship in the Officer’s Mess (and I am a huge fan of these type models).
An interesting observation in the Officer’s Mess; it was designed to double as the Medical Bay in an emergency. The ceiling contained operating room lights and the tables could be configured for operating tables.
As we were leaving the Battleship Missouri Memorial, we passed the USS Oklahoma Battleship Memorial. It was sunk during the attack claiming 429 lives. The memorial’s black granite walls suggest the once formidable hull of the Oklahoma while the white marble standards represent its lost sailors and Marines. Each perfectly aligned marble standard symbolizes an individual in pristine white dress uniform, inspired from the naval tradition of ‘manning the rails.’ In full dress whites the ship’s crew stand at attention along the rails or in the rigging of the ship to display respect and honor. The marble standards of this memorial stand perfectly straight, ‘manning the rails’ of the Oklahoma, forever.
We headed back to the USS Arizona Park to visit the submarine USS Bowfin. The interior of the submarine made me glad I chose the Air Force … even if I DO hate flying. From the ‘CLOSE” quarters to the SMALL hatches (doors), I’ll just stay above the surface.
We browsed through the museum and came across another great model … this one of the USS Bowfin.
As we waited to return to the hotel, we visited the Submarine Waterfront Memorial. It consists of memorials to each of the 52 submarines and more than 3,500 officers and crewmen lost during World War II.
Finally … it was time to head back.
This land whale was all Navy-ed out for one day.
Funny thing though … once we were back at the hotel, we had plenty of energy to imbibe with some cold, liquid refreshments.
Wednesday came and we slept in … but not until noon. We just leisurely got ready, had another AWESOME breakfast/brunch and struck out on our own with the first stop being the Dole Pineapple Plantation.
Let me just say this: these folks have some pineapples. A LOT of pineapples. And again, the tourists showed up …
The red soil made me think I was in Alabama …
From pineapples we headed to nuts … and, no, it wasn’t my family reunion. We stopped by Tropical Farms – The Macadamia Nut Farm Outlet.
And where Dole had pineapples, these folks had macadamias. From coffee, to soap, to just about ANY flavor you can imagine … and some you wished you didn’t.
Just a note here … SPAM is pretty much the official food of Hawaii. It’s EVERYwhere and in several flavors. It’s even on the menu at McDonald’s. NO kidding …
And as now has become habit, the tourists showed up. This time in a photo with King and Queen Nut …
And it was back to the hotel for dinner and more liquid refreshments.
Just a note here … it seems everywhere there are tourists, there are Ducks.
Thursday arrived with another leisurely schedule. We started out at Diamond Head State Monument.
And as now as expected, those tourist were there.
Now make no mistake, the walk to the top is no piece of cake. It’s 3/4 of a mile while gaining 560 feet. And walking is the only way to get there.
But … if you survive the trek to the top, once you catch your breath, the views are, well, pretty nice.
I think someone mentioned that this was of the most popular attractions for tourists …
After Diamond Head, we headed to the Punch Bowl crater and the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific. We paid our respects to the parents of some high school friends and also stopped by the grave of Senator Daniel K. Inouye, a WWII veteran and recipient of the Congressional Medal of Honor.
Leaving the cemetery, we headed to the Aloha Tower lighthouse. It is located in town by pier 9 and has great views of the harbor.
And agin … the tourists showed up.
And it was time to head back for our afternoon liquid refreshment before dinner …
We cleaned up and headed for the night’s dinner and entertainment … the luau.
This turned out to be a pretty decent evening of entertainment. It started off with a lawn party with several activities from making leis, to braiding a type of palm leaves to make a head dress, to … HULA (These guys played and sang Hawaiian style music for a bit before dinner and were actually pretty entertaining.
This guy showed how they climb a coconut tree with just a cloth band around their feet … and demonstrated on a 60+ foot tree beside us. They tightly bind the cloth in a figure 8 and use it for traction. Not sure OSHA would be pleased …
Then it was time for dinner and they parade the pig around. It was good, but it ain’t got NUTHIN’ on some Eastern NC BBQ.
The dining was open air under thatched roofs and was laid out nicely.
There were a TON of folks there, too. They had some traditional dishes for appetizers and “most” were great … fresh pineapple (of course), seaweed salad (which surprised me at how good it was), and poi. If you ever go, skip the poi. It’s supposed to be a staple of their diet, but most said even they don’t like it.
After dinner, it was entertainment of traditional dance … including fire demonstrations.
This young kid was the last performer. He is a two-time World Champion at fire dancing … and is just 11 years old. He was awesome.
After another refreshing beverage, we turned in for the night to ready for Friday’s adventures.
First … a note on driving. You can get nearly anywhere on the island … slowly. Below is a screen capture from my phone showing the estimated time of 29 minutes to go 4.6 miles … and the phone was fairly accurate. Traffic, traffic, traffic …
Our first stop of the day was going to be Iolani Palace … the official residence of the royal family. It is the only royal palace on US soil.
And as now has become expected , the tourists beat us there.
A statue in front of the palace of King Kamehameha the Great.
Waiting on the tour to start, they hand out velvet shoe covers to protect the floors.
They also hand out headphones so you can listen at your leisure on the self-paced tour. At this point I was STUNNED to learn that OWN (‘Ol Weird Nancy) was the last person on earth to not know about using your headphones as a football face mask. She has now been enlightened …
The tour begins in the main hall of the palace dominated by the Grand Staircase. The staircase is one of the largest koa wood structures in the world and its steps are the only remaining original flooring at the palace. Most of the palace’s glass is also original, including the beautiful etched glass in the front doors.
The detail of the woodwork is amazing …
From the Great Hall we entered the Throne Room. It is a VERY large room to use for the thrones … and I never did see the flushing mechanism.
Also in the Throne Room are the crowns, scepter, and sword of state.
Across the Grand Hall from the Throne Room was the Red Room I believe … or maybe the Blue Room. Hard to tell …
From the confusing color room, you enter the State Dining Room. While in this room, I felt sorry for the guests whose chairs were against the wall. I’m guessing they had to balance their plates on their laps. It appears this was similar to the “kids table” at Grandma’s Christmas dinner.
The second floor included a sitting room which doubled as the Music Room …
Also on the floor were several bedrooms, including the royal bedrooms of the King:
Across the central hallway was the Queen’s bedroom:
The hallway also offered another great shot of the magnificent Grand Stairway.
Many of the sovereigns were forward thinking and were the first to add “new technology” to the palace as they were added. King Kamehameha IV had flush toilets installed in 1861. Oddly enough, these were not installed in the “throne room.”
King Kalakaua followed suit in 1886 by having the new invention of “electricity” added making available electric lighting. This was 5 years before the White House and 17 years before Buckingham Palace had electric lighting. He also installed a modern communications system that included the recently invented telephone.
The tour then headed to the basement where the “real” working occurred. Servants’ quarters, kitchen, wine cellar, storerooms and the Chamberlain’s office were located here. The Chamberlain was the manager/overseer of the palace and staff.
Today, several of the original store room have been converted into climate-controlled galleries to display royal artifacts … including jewelry and feathered cloaks.
From Iolani Palace we head a short drive of a little over 2 miles to the Royal Mausoleum … which took about 45 minutes. This is the final resting place for several generations of the Royal family.
The original mausoleum was opened in 1865. Past members of the royal family were moved to this location.
Due to space constraints, the caskets were moved to an underground tombs in 1910.
The original mausoleum was converted to a church in 1922.
In addition to the royal family, there are several non-royal, but prominent members of society, buried on the grounds. These include Charles Bishop, Robert Wylie, and John Young among others.
Headed back to the resort for dinner and more refreshing beverages.
Saturday, we met our friends Treat and Chris (the Surf Master) for lunch. They introduced us to some of their friends and their friends brought “Henry.” Henry is a hoot. He is a dog that doesn’t belong to their friends … he belongs to their neighbor across the street. But he goes with their friends EVERYWHERE is a bit of a celebrity. It seems everyone knows Henry.
And Henry doesn’t live with their friends. He comes over each morning when he gets up, spends the day with them, goes all around the island with them, to the beach, etc …, but at night, he goes back home across the street until the next day. I thought that was AWESOME.
After lunch, OWN (‘Ol Weird Nancy) wanted to visit the beach to look for shells, so Treat took us to one of her spots. And I’m glad we went. While they were looking for shells, off in the distance, I happened to see a large object come up out of the water followed by a HUGE splash. We were able to watch some whales breaching which was GREAT. They were too far off for our cameras, but the photo below is an example of what we were able to see. It was an amazing show.
Afterwards, we headed to Treat’s BEAUTIFUL home and visited with she and Chris (the Surf Master) for a while. We then had the task of driving the short 23 miles/several HOURS drive back to the resort for dinner and more refreshing beverages.
Afterwards it was time to pack for the flight the next day.
Our flight on Sunday wasn’t until 7:00pm, but we had to check out by 11:00, so we planned one final stop on the way to the airport.
We visited the Bernice Pauahi Bishop Museum, which is a museum of history and science. Founded in 1889, it is the largest museum in Hawai’i and has the world’s largest collection of Polynesian cultural artifacts and natural history specimens. It was built by Charles Bishop in memory of his late wife, Princess Bernice Pauahi Bishop. She had been born into the royal family and was the last legal heir of the Kamehameha Dynasty.
It is the largest museum in Hawaii. The collection is extensive and the grounds house several buildings with displays ranging from the world’s largest collection of Polynesian cultural artifacts to natural history specimens.
There was NO way to visit all the exhibits, so we concentrated our time on the Polynesian cultural artifacts.
Afterwards, we headed for the airport to drop the car and a favorite pastime … people watching. Not sure how many I saw, though.
We boarded the flight for the overnight return arriving home on Monday, 10 April fully relaxed and refreshed.
Can’t wait for the next adventure … and more refreshing beverages.
And JUST to see if anyone actually reads these posts … the now “infamous” hula video is posted for your viewing pleaser. Just click the link below …