Karen and Jay
in Blue Hawai'i

June, 2008

Text and images copyright Jay Ducharme 2008

Karen and Jay spent ten days with their son in beautiful Hawai'i. Although there were technically a couple of parks in the 50th state (and one roller coaster!), that wasn't their focus. They were mainly there to relax. They took a combined total of over 600 photos, which have been distilled down here. To view a photo, click on a number.


1.    The flight took about 14 hours, non-stop from New Jersey. The time seemed to pass more quickly than that. We watched Finding Nemo on Karen's iPod Touch, read, slept and also looked out the window a lot. This shot was taken as we passed over the Rocky Mountains. We were pleasantly surprised by the meal we were served on our Continental flight. We're vegetarian, and the steward brought us each Palaak Paneer, an Indian treat. It was quite good.
2.    We arrived at the Honolulu Airport in the late afternoon. The airport was a fairly modern structure with lots of openness and a large exterior garden area with a flowing stream. As the weather was usually 85 degrees and sunny year round, the building was designed to take advantage of that fact and allow the cool island breezes to blow through.
3.    Since our son, Michael, is an Army medic, he was able to sponsor us at the Pilila'au Army Recreation Center in Wai'anae, which was on the northwest shore of Oahu. The complex consisted of quaint cabins, arranged in sets of seven lined up corner-to-corner.
4.    The cabins were spacious, with stone tile floors and bamboo furniture. There were two bedrooms, a bathroom and a small kitchen. The living room had a large sliding glass door that opened up onto a lanai (deck).
5.    The view from the lanai was magnificent. The Pacific Ocean stretched out before us, the churning waves rolling up just several feet from our steps.
6.    We saw many interesting birds during our stay. Our constant friends were zebra doves that flocked to our lanai whenever we sat there. Their "cooooo-coocoo-coo-coo-cooooo" call was strangely soothing.
7.    This panorama looks from south to north across the beach outside our cabin.
8.    Karen took this shot of Jay gazing out onto the expanse of water.
9.    We would usually awake at about six every morning. Even at that early hour, there were often many surfers riding the waves. We hadn't before realized how many varieties of surfboards there were. One particularly amazing feat to watch were those surfers who simply stood upright on their boards, paddling around on the ocean and occasionally riding a wave in towards the shore. They were very choosey about which wave they would ride.
10.    Karen loved the waves. The water was so clear, it sometimes appeared to be liquid glass as in this shot Karen took.
11.    We soon discovered what "Blue Hawai'i" meant. Unlike the beaches in the northeaster U.S., there was no system shock entering the ocean. It felt like bath water.
12.    For the most part, the beaches were covered with fine white sand. But there were many areas with coral reefs and lava rocks. There were also several breakwaters contructed along the beach to form a calm bay where children could safely play.
13.    This panorama looks back on the cabins from a promontory to the south. In the distance, the Wai'anae mountain range is visible.
14.    Many canals were constructed through Oahu, drawing the ocean water through the towns. The mouth of one such canal was located near the northernmost cabin. It became a favorite spot of our for watching large crabs basking in the sun and sea turtles floating in the current.
15.    Karen took this shot of Jay apparently attempting to do semaphore with his water slippers. We purchased the slippers across the street from the Rec Center at a surf shop staffed by a woman who seemed to be straight from southern California. When we asked for some slippers, she responded with, "Sweeeet!" Her conversation was peppered with "awesome!" and "excellent!" It appeared that a lot of the islanders -- surfers especially -- had migrated from the mainland.
16.    We were also suprised by the variety of palm trees. They came in all shapes and sizes, with many different types of bark. Here, Karen is peeking out from behind one near our cabin.
17.    There were many other plant varieties completely foreign to us. Most had thick leaves typical of succulents and flowers in bright shades of red, orange or purple.
18.    These hibiscus bushes were everywhere, often sculpted into hedges, and had dazzlingly bright flowers.


19.    Mike drove us around in his black Ford Ranger, which had a small extended cab section with a swing-out minature seat that Jay was able to squeeze into.
20.    He took us to Zippy's, a sort of fast-food family restaurant. This was one of the few, however, that offered vegetarian fare as standard menu items. Karen got a tasty veggie burger and Jay got some really good veggie chile with rice.
21.    Mike brought us to a nearby commissary. It was a fairly new building, beautifully designed and landscaped.
22.    Inside the commissary was a big lobby with a high domed ceiling on which was painted whale scenes. An escalator abutted a large waterfall that featured a whale seemingly jumping out of the water. An artist was in the lobby selling photographs he took of various marine life. Karen bought a print of a sea turtle.
23.    As Mike brought us back to our cabin, a beautiful rainbow soared across the clouded sky. It rained almost every day in Oahu, but usually only for a few minutes. The shower was more like a fine mist blowing across the landscape.
24.    There were lots of interesting sights around our cabin, like this strange tree with its roots above ground. But we wanted to see more of the island. So for our second day, although Mike graciously offered to drive us around, we got bus passes. It was a long hike up to our cabin, about an hour's drive for him. The mountains were tall and steep, so most of the highways skirted around them creating longer distances to get from one place to another. And rush hour routinely brought traffic to a standstill. So the bus gave us more freedom and saved Mike on gas.
25.    We took the bus to downtown Honolulu. There was a mix of old and new architecture, including the oldest church on the island, pictured here on the left.
26.    We also spotted the famous statue of King Kamehameha, standing in front of the building that served as McGarret's headquarters in the old TV series Hawaii 5-0.
27.    After transferring buses, we found ourselves in fabled Waikiki. Everyone on the island seemed so helpful and friendly. A stranger told us about what in his opinion was the best restaurant in Waikiki, Lulu's. So we had lunch there. This photo was the view from our seats.
28.    Jay had an ahi sandwich (sort of like tuna). Karen got shrimp and we both shared a delicious crab and artichoke dip. Our waitress seemed to be trying a bit too hard; no matter what we ordered, she'd respond with a cheery, "Definitely!" When we left the restaurant there was a tiki statue at the bottom of the stairs. Jay was about to take a photo of Karen standing next to it when a man approached out of nowhere and offered to take our picture. As we posed, he told us that one day he was having a heart attack and he reached out and touched the statue and it saved his life.
29.    The water in Waikiki had more of a blue-green tint to it. The waves were a bit stronger. The place was packed with swimmers and surfers. Visible in the distance of this photo is the famous Pink Palace, which was closed for renovations.
30.    Karen posed next to the famous surfer statue.
31.    Unusual (to us) plantings surrounded us. These huge banyan trees seemed to have their roots hanging down from their branches. Kids would swing from them like Tarzan.
32.    So naturally, Jay had to find his inner apeman....


33.    We strolled across the large Kapiolani Park and walked to the Waikiki Aquarium, situated along the beach. The entrance plaza displayed modern art depicting various aspects of the ocean.
34.    There were plenty of coral reef displays inside the aquarium. All of our friends from Finding Nemo were here, including Marlin and Nemo hiding in their anemone.
35.    Several large examples of Dory (a blue tang) were visible.
36.    We also saw Bubbles (a yellow tang). It was easy to identify what we saw: with the price of admission we were given cell-phone-like devices that allowed us to punch in the display number and hear a description of what was there. All sorts of fish, coral, sea urchins -- pretty much anything you could find around the islands -- could be seen in the aquarium. It was well worth a visit.
37.    We walked along by the shore. Waves came crashing in against stone barriers, sending showers of salt spray into the air. Jay snapped this strobe-like picture at the right moment.
38.    This building was The War Memorial, once a large saltwater swimming pool dedicated to soldiers from World War I. The site had since fallen into disrepair and most of it was off-limits.
39.    This sweeping panorama covers Kapiolani Park (named after one of Hawai'i's queens) and the famous Diamondhead monument (on the right).
40.    The row of trees lining this path once led to a horse racing arena.
41.    We walked through the small but colorful Botanical Garden. It was so small in fact, sandwiched at the corner of two busy streets, that we wouldn't have even seen it except for the fact that we were heading for the zoo across the street.
42.    Karen posed under this egg-shaped topiary.
43.    The Honolulu Zoo was much bigger than we anticipated, especially from the modest entrance.
44.    Just inside the gate was a pond populated by pink flamingos. They looked strangely like lawn ornaments....
45.    Many exotic and rarely seen animals were on display, including this komodo dragon. One child passed by asking, "Is that a fire-breathing dragon?"
46.    We never realized bamboo grew so tall.
47.    Beautiful fauna was at every turn.
48.    This stunning bird was flitting about in the zoo's large aviary.
49.    It was fun to watch this meerkat pose for photographers. It kept switching its stance as if to say, "Make sure you get my good side."
50.    A klipspringer hid in the shade of its confines.
51.    A rhinoceros wallowed in the cool mud, while zebras and a giraffe looked on.
52.    This hippo knew how to cool off.
53.    This playful hippo sculpture looked like it was once a pool.
54.    There were many nice landscaping touches and statues scattered about, including this ritual outfit.
55.    Notice the little pot man standing next to this beautiful bush.
56.    We had never before seen a red-capped cardinal. But evidently they were common in Hawai'i; we saw them everywhere.
57.    We were glad this crocodile was safely behind a tall stone wall.
58.    Karen longed to see a sea turtle. For now, this African tortoise had to suffice.
59.    This dolphin statue was located near the exit.
60.    Karen stood under the cooling shelter of a banyan tree.
61.    Another surprising thing in Kapiolani Park was this statue in honor of Mohandas Gandhi.
62.    We arrived back at our cabin in time to view a colorful sunset.


63.    On our third day, Mike paid us a visit. We had a great time kayaking together in the ocean. Jay flipped out of his kayak and had a heck of a time getting back in. Mike helped him, and then flipped out himself. Karen sat stoically in her kayak, peacefully staring out at the wide Pacific. After about an hour and a half we returned and walked along the beach to the south and out to that promontory. All along the narrow public beaches from Wai'anae south toward Barber's Point, there were tents set up, some in colonies with large tarps over them in case of bad weather. It was where a sizeable homeless population lived. The local law enforcement apparently didn't mind; the residents were well-behaved and actually had formed a strong social bond. The promontory had one tent on it, but otherwise seemed barren.
64.    The promontory seemed to have been built up with large lava rocks, as if two building foundations had once existed there but had since been filled in, one on top of another. The edge of the promontory dropped off sharply down to a silvery ocean.
65.    An older man approached us and asked where we were from. Wary, Jay responded, "The world." The man paid no mind and proceeded to tell us the story of the promontory. Whenever local natives died, their ashes would be scattered here into the sea. Then friends or relatives would erect a memorial to their loved one. That's what all the stones were. We were walking through a cemetery. The man pointed out all the memorials and flowers scattered about, some being bathed by the ocean waves. It completely changed how we saw not only the land but also the people of Hawai'i. (The man also mentioned that we might have seen this cemetery on an old episode of the Brady Bunch. Karen instantly recalled it.)
66.    We had tickets for complimentary drinks at the Rec Center's Wai'anae Beach Club restaurant. So we had dinner there. The drinks were "virgin" mai tais (with no alcohol) and were quite tasty. The dinner was very good, too.
67.    The next day we simply relaxed at our cabin. Much of the day was spent lounging on the lanai or soaking ourselves in the waves.
68.    Michael had stocked us up with some food for our arrival. (We later discovered the Wai'anae Store next door, which stocked everything we could ever want.) One of the items was this Army-issued MRE (meal-ready-to-eat), a veggie patty. So Jay decided to try it. Inside the packet was the patty, some toast, tabasco sauce, utensils and a special heating packet with instructions. He followed the instructions, placing the wrapped patty in the heating packet and adding just a little water. We were amazed to see the packet begin bubbling and steaming. After fifteen minutes, the patty was thoroughly heated (and the packet was still untouchably hot).
69.    Jay poured emptied the contents of the patty packet over the "toast" and voila! there was a delicious serving of high-nutrition food. Believe it or not, it was actually very good!
70.    Sleeping at night was comfortable, with a constant breeze blowing through our windows and the sound of the ocean waves filling our room. We occasionally had to deal with noisy revelers or crying children from one of the other cabins, but the sound generally died down as the night progressed.


71.     Karen stopped to smell the flowers before we climbed aboard The Bus, the main method of transportation around the island. Jay was intregued by how each bus would announce the street intersections as we approached them. A driver told him that every bus was interconnected with a Global Positioning System. The Bus would even alert a driver if a wrong turn was made.
72.     We transferred buses and headed north along Highway 2 (of only 3 highways on the island). We passed though a much different landscape -- wide open farmlands of red earth. We saw the famous Dole Plantation, which seemed to be doing a really good business; the vast parking lot was filled. Eventually we crested the hills and viewed the wide open expanse of the north shore.
73.     After two hours of riding, we stopped in the little surfer town of Haleiwa. It was a bit too "touristy" for our tastes, with a sort of strip mall complex lined with upscale shops. Some of the shops featured unique hand-carved souvenirs at hand-carved prices. It was about noon and we were hungry, so we stopped in to "world famous" Kono's, which promised "epic food and drinks." Karen ordered french toast and I had a banana and macadamia nut waffle. Our food was really good and reasonably priced. Another customer struck up a conversation with the owner who, it turned out, was from New Jersey. It was difficult to find native Hawai'ians with their own businesses. We wandered about the various shops and then re-boarded a bus.
74.     It was a long, long bus ride up to Kahuku Point (the northernmost section of Oahu) and down the windward west coast to Kaneohe. Along the way, we saw very little of what we were expecting. Mike had told us that the north shore had much bigger waves. But we couldn't tell. The entire stretch of shoreline was clotted with development, much of it apparently new and protected by high fencing. We passed by the Mormon Temple in La'ie and the associated Polynesian Cultural Center. But that was about the only identifiable thing we saw. As we approached the lower west coast we passed the Chinaman's Hat, a tall pointed island off the coast. By that time another three hours had passed and we were exhausted. We originally planned to continue south and circle around Diamondhead, but instead chose to cut across the Pali Highway, head to Honolulu and take The Boat back toward home. We finally found ourselves at the Aloha Towers.
75.     The Aloha Towers consisted of an upscale airy shopping mall. It was where the Don Ho restaurant was located, where the diners overlooked heavy construction along the Honolulu Harbor.
76.     Some parts of the harbor resembled a New England fishing village.
77.     We passed by a cruise ship in front of which a Hawai'ian band and dance troupe were performing.
78.     The harbor appeared to be a busy hub, with both cruise and giant cargo ships passing through. Each one of those "Matson" boxes in the picture was a semi-trailer.
79.     We finally found the mooring for The Boat. Since traffic was so bad in Oahu, The Boat was an alternative to driving. It ran a very limited schedule (during rush hour) and to a limited location (Barber's Point). But we figured it would be a relaxing and cool change of pace. Unfortunately we discovered that The Boat had broken down. It would be an hour-and-a-half wait for the next trip. It was five o'clock and we were burned out. So instead we found a nearby express bus. Ironically, it took us right to Barber's Point where the crippled Boat lay quietly docked. A transfer bus then took us back to our cabin.
80.     Karen snapped a photo along the way home of the setting sun breaking through some thick cloud cover. After over seven hours on the road, we had enough bus rides for this vacation.


81.     The following day we laid low, leisurely swimming and relaxing. Karen spotted an orange boat that every morning about 7:00 parked near the promontory/cemetery south of our cabin. It was usually filled with people in scuba gear who would jump off the boat. Within minutes they would be surrounded by spinner dolphins. The spinner dolphins would do just that: one or more would shoot straight out of the water like a bullet, spinning around and then plunging back in. We didn't know what the excursion was called or how much it cost. But we knew where the boat docked, so we walked down the street in that direction. After about a half-mile, we turned left toward the dock area. Nearby in a grassy field, a hula lesson was taking place.
82.     We reached the dock, but the orange boat was nowhere to be seen. A two story building next to the dock was locked up. Karen suggested checking out another building further away. It was a little ice cream shop. They told us the company was called Dolphin Excursions and they gave us the phone number.
83.     There was an intermittent WiFi connection near our cabin, so Jay found the company with his iPod Touch. Their website claimed a 90% success rate finding dolphins at 7:00 in the morning (which we could attest to, watching from our cabin), but much less success later in the day. Jay called the company, but their morning runs were booked solid for the rest of our stay. So instead we walked out to the breakwater at the mouth of the canal near our cabin.
84.     Seemingly in a sympathetic gesture for not being able to encounter dolphins, two sea turtles appeared, floating along with the canal current. Karen was thrilled to finally see them up close.
85.     They bobbed and weaved, floating along with the waves and occasionally popping their heads above the water for a quick breath before diving back down. Under the water, their shells blended so well with the rocks at the canal bottom that they were nearly impossible to see. We gazed at them for several minutes until they swam off.
86.     Another evening settled in as we relaxed by the shore. This was really what vacations were meant for. There was no pressure, no schedule, no need to be anywhere and any specific time. We could just listen to the peaceful sounds of the ocean and forget about our worries.


87.     On Sunday, Mike picked us up to bring us to a church that he recently had begun attending. He told us his chaplain at Tripler (where Mike was stationed) told him about it. We passed by Tripler on the way to breakfast. The hospital looked imposing and regal, a large pink edifice high on a hill.
88.     He took us to the Koa Pancake House. It was a chain around the island, sort of a Hawai'ian-flavored version of the International House of Pancakes.
89.     Mike had fish for breakfast. Jay had some delicious blueberry pancakes. Karen got an omlet. Because the weather in Oahu was almost always beautiful, most eateries featured outdoor seating.
90.     We arrived at the Olivet Baptist Church a bit early. Mike was instantly recognized by Roger Honda, a church member who was parking cars there. Karen mistook him for Mike's chaplain and wanted to get a picture of the two of them. Roger was puzzled but completely flattered.
91.     Roger then graciously offered to take a photo of the three of us together. Then we went inside. The church itself was modern and set up almost like a theater. There was a contemporary band on stage rehearsing. The service was enjoyable, low-key and thoughtful.
92.     After church we headed toward Honolulu and passed Hilo Hattie's. Jay suggested we stop there, having read about the place in a travel brochure that stated it was good place to find discounted Hawai'ian souvenirs. Karen had been hunting for a mu'umu'u (a sort of loose Hawai'ian dress), and maybe they had one. The store was unmistakably and stereotypically Hawai'ian, definitely geared toward tourists. We were each given a shell lei as we entered, and greeted with a cheery "Aloha!".
93.     The store displayed a playful sense of humor. As we entered, a wall display featured the world's only size 400 shirt. There were many photo opportunities as well. Karen snapped a shot of Mike and Jay next to a large tiki.
94.     The store was huge, with everything from clothing to furniture. We could hear a handbell ringing every so often, usually preceded by a loud "Alooooooooha!" We found the source toward the middle of the store. It was a jewelry section. Mike recognized it as a chain known as Pearl Divers. They gave customers a key and asked them to try opening a treasure chest. If the key worked, they could pick a discount coupon out of the chest and then try for a pearl. Karen's key worked, a saleswoman ran the handbell and Karen received a coupon for 40% off the cost of a pearl. The enthusiastic saleswoman then told Karen to pick an oyster out of a giant clamshell. "Pick an ugly one," she said, "because they have the prettiest pearls." Karen picked an especially nasty-looking one. It was on the small side. The saleswoman instructed Karen to tap the oyster three times and say, "Aloooooooha!" Then the saleswoman pried the oyster open with a knife and pushed back the meat inside. There, in the middle, was a large silvery pearl. The saleswoman was surprised, telling Karen it was unusual to find one that large. And then the sales pitch -- surely Karen would love to have that pearl mounted in a nice piece of jewelry! Karen settled on a delicate-looking gold flower. As a bonus, the saleswoman opened another oyster and revealed two small pink pearls (one for each of our twin daughters). Karen felt a little guilty about the purchase, but it was certainly a beautiful keepsake.
95.     Hattie's had all sorts of toys as well. We passed by a display of dancing hula dolls. Karen finally spotted a selection of dresses. She kept toying with purchasing a ukelele. One of the dresses was covered with images of ukeleles, so though she couldn't find a mu'umu'u she wanted, she did get a ukelele dress.
96.     Mike brought us back home. We spent some more relaxing time by the ocean. At night, we had noticed a bright light far on the horizon, like a lighthouse. One of the Rec Center's security guards found out that several fleets from across the Pacific had gathered together for a sort of conference. The light was one of the ships anchored out at sea. We looked out across the peaceful scene and felt a little sadness: we only had two more days left in Hawai'i.


97.     We really hadn't done many of the typical tourist things. Karen suggested we go see the big stage show at the Polynesian Cultural Center. Several people we knew had suggested we see it. So Jay went online and after navigating the confusing website ordered three tickets. There were several packages available, including a lu'au with roast pig. We opted for just admission and the show. It wasn't cheap, but who knew when we'd have a chance to return? Mike picked us up on Monday afternoon. It was a long drive up to the north shore. We arrived at La'ie around 3:30. It cost $5 to park, and the place seemed crowded. As we approached the ticket booth, a family was trying to get tickets for the show and were told it was sold out.
98.     The Center was sort of like a theme park without rides. There were six island sections: Samoa, Aotearoa, Fiji, Hawaii, Tahiti and Tonga. Plus there was a large exhibit called Marquesas Village. There was beautiful landscaping everywhere, with lots of different plantings and several waterfalls.
99.     We did encounter one ride of a sort, a canoe tour through the different lands. The huge fiberglass crafts were built to look similar to native boats. They were powered by a guy standing at the back, pushing off the lagoon bed with a long wooden post. (Most of the workers at the complex were students from Brigham Young University next door.)
100.     The canoes reminded us of the boat ride at Cedar Point. The guy in the back engaged in a running commentary about the sites around us, peppering his talk with silly puns and humorous banter. It was a long, relaxing and picturesque trip.
101.     We encountered a suprising number of boats out on the lagoon, all of them filled with passengers and all going in different directions. One boat in front of us was filled with Japanese tourists. The enthusiastic Japanese interpreter at the front nearly got whacked on the back of her head as the boat passed under a low bridge.
102.     It was interesting to compare the different building styles from land to land. Each section had its own look based upon variations in climate and resources.
103.     We returned to dry land and walked around. The park was much larger than we anticipated. There were interesting native exhibits everywhere we turned. The Marquesas Village exhibit itself was quite large but seemed abandoned.
104.     At the Island of Tonga, we saw an energetic performance with three drummers. They brought some people up from the audience and had fun teaching them how to beat out a rhythm.
105.     There was a little hut sitting on the riverbank. We were offered "bait" (soft dough) and given fishing poles. The bait was placed on a curved piece of wire that served as a hook. Jay lowered his bait into the water and felt an abrupt tug from an unseen fish. The bait was gone. Then we walked around a bit more. There were three separate areas for the lu'aus: Hale Kuai, Hale Aloha and Hale Ohana. The smell of roasting food drifted out. We also saw a small recreation of Easter Island.
106.     We stopped into the large IMAX theater and watched a well-done presentation about coral reefs. After that we had about an hour till showtime. We walked over to the Banyan Tree Snack Bar for a tasty meals of (naturally) fish. Then we headed for the huge Pacific Theater where the "Horizons" stage show was to take place. On the way we passed by the anachronistic Aloha Elvis shop, sporting everything Elvis (well, Hawai'ian Elvis...).
107.     The Pacific Theater was indeed sold out. We were seated on the upper left side. It was primarily an outdoor stage, with mainly the audience undercover. The show was quite a spectacle, with stunning costumes and elaborate choreography. Volcanoes erupted, waterfalls flowed. The highlight was a fire dance near the end. If we had realized that the Polynesian Cultural Center was going to be so much fun, we would have set aside more time for it; it really would take an entire day to see everything. But we were glad we took the time to visit, even for a few hours.


108.     For our last full day in Hawai'i, Mike went with us to Pearl Harbor. He had to don his dress uniform, so we took the bus down and met him there. We had been told by several people what a moving experience it was, but didn't quite understand what the people meant. The well-known Arizona Memorial was visible as we approached the harbor, next to the decommissioned Missouri battleship on which the Japanese surrendered marking the end of World War II.
109.     There was about a three hour wait for the free ferry over to the memorial. We waited in a long line and picked up our tickets. Mike arrived just as we exited the queue. He looked quite sharp.
110.     The Arizona was free, but other attractions at Pearl Harbor were an upcharge. Like the Polynesian Cultural Center, there were different packages available. We decided to do everything, since we had a long wait. Mike had warned us that no bags (except for ones from the gift shop) were allowed at the complex. So before we could enter the area, Karen had to check her pocketbook at a storage booth.
111.     The first area we explored was the decommissioned submarine The Bowfin. Scattered about the grounds were various weapons and artillery, such as this torpedo.
112.     There was a somber semicircle of stones near the water. The stones commemorated the ships that were lost, and the crew members lost with them. On each stone were inscribed the words, "On Eternal Patrol."
113.     The Bowfin was a marvel of engineering. It wasn't as claustrophobic as we had expected. The sheer amount of tubes, hoses, wires and controls was overwhelming.
114.     Crew quarters were a bit cramped. But then, the crew wasn't out there on vacation.
115.     The deck of the submarine was fairly open, with slatted metal walkways.
116.     Karen took this shot of Mike and Jay. To the right is the long bridge (the longest in Hawai'i) heading over to Ford Island.
117.     Having only seen pictures of submarines, it was now much easier to appreciate their massive scale. This propeller was about six feet in diameter.
118.     The Bowfin was anchored to the shore -- literally. The anchor's chain ran down through a channel and then underwater to the vessel.
119.     Jay sat at a gunner's station, which appeared to have been constructed with old tractor parts. After touring the Bowfin, we took a shuttle (run by the same people who provide bus service for the Polynesian Cultural Center) over the bridge to Ford Island. Along the way, the driver cautioned us not to take pictures of the military installation on the island. He followed that with, "For the Japanese tourists: You take picture -- I take camera, throw in harbor. Then I take you and throw you in harbor." There was a small restaurant in the Pacific Aviation Museum. We ate some fish (no surprise) and then headed back to the Visitor's Center.
120.     The Visitor's Center for the Arizona Memorial was nicely landscaped. But we discovered later that a new and much larger memorial was soon going to be constructed.
121.     In this photo Karen begins to contemplate the complicated events leading up to the Japanese attack.
122.     There were numerous displays and enormous amounts of information placed around the Visitor's Center. A number on our ticket was associated with a time for our tour. Before we could board the ferry, we first watched a well-made and emotional movie about the attack of December 7th, 1941 which precipitated the United States' entry into World War II. It was requested when we get to the Arizona memorial that we keep our speech to a minimum out of respect.
123.     The memorial was a sweeping concrete deck that crossed the sunken remains of the battleship Arizona, still plainly visible under the water. Mike said that the open window sections on either side of the deck represented Navy officers standing watch over the site.
124.     The Japanese flew in low and first took out the U.S. air defenses, then headed for the harbor. A single bomb hit the Arizona's munitions room and the massive explosion sent the ship to the bottom of the harbor in seven minutes, with over 900 crewmen trapped onboard.
125.     Only a few portions of the ship remained above water, including this broken mast leading down into darkness.
126.     Oil was still trickling out from the remains of the ship. Some say that the ship is crying for its lost crew.
127.     The mooring to which the Arizona was attached was still standing, though scarred and blackened.
128.     In all, three ships were sunk and many others badly damaged. The original moorings for the ships were left standing in memoriam.
129.     Historians will continue to debate whether the U.S. would have entered World War II had the attack on Pearl Harbor not occurred. But the course of history changed that day. Our country was truly united with a single purpose and eventually helped bring peace to the world.
130.     The Missouri (nicknamed Mighty Mo) sat next to the Arizona, facing it. We took the shuttle bus back across the bridge in order to board it.
131.     The massive scale of the ship was difficult to comprehend. If the Bowfin seemed like an amazing engineering achievement, the Missouri dwarfed that.
132.     We had never seen so much firepower in one location. Karen tried her hand at taking aim with one of the "small" guns.
133.     "Gun" was a euphemism to describe the rows of gargantuan cannon turrets lining the ship. It was hard to imagine that this is what the Arizona once looked like.
134.     Each iron link in the anchor chains was about half the size of a human body, and about three times as heavy.
135.     The accomodations aboard the ship were much more spacious. There were large open community spaces, large cafeteria areas (which were actually selling refreshments) and rooms with many of the comforts of home. This photo shows the office of the Master at Arms.
136.     Naturally, the Captain's quarters was the most comfortably furnished area, with wood veneer, gold trim and fancy china.
137.     A plaque on the deck commemorates where the Japanese surrendered to General McArthur.
138.     One look at the support structure for the communication towers impressed on us the massive scale of the Missouri. It was hard to understand how such a huge structure could have been sunk in just seven minutes.
139.     The big guns of Mighty Mo seemed to be saluting its fallen comrade.
140.     Karen posed in front of the Pearl Canteen. The whole area around the canteen seemed more like a theme park than an historic monument. Naturally, the requisite gift shop was next door.
141.     There was also this curious relic, an arcade machine that allowed you to match your muscle against Uncle Sam.
142.     We hopped the shuttle over to the Pacific Aviation Museum. It was a large hangar with various historic planes and dioramas on display. The floor at the entrance was fascinating, a giant aerial photograph of Pearl Harbor.
143.     One interesting diorama featured a floor with the flight paths of the Japanese planes. Notice the LCD monitor in the center, which was playing a documentary of the attack.
144.     This was one of the Japanese bombers on display.
145.     Just like at an amusement park, all of the sites with the exception of the Arizona offered guests a chance to pose for a picture against a diorama. This one came out well, and was actually a bargain: twenty bucks got you the 8x10 framed glossy, another glossy photo of the air traffic control tower and also a set of four magnets with our photo on them.
146.     We came to Hawai'i and were greeted with a rainbow. As we left Pearl Harbor, a rainbow bid us goodbye.


147.     "Aloha" is an interesting word, meaning both hello and goodbye. In our all-too-short stay, we found the residents to be outgoing, friendly and helpful. Friends had told us that a week in Hawai'i was too brief a time. They were right. After ten days, Karen felt she could stay there forever. The island was beautiful and the culture was fascinating. We packed up on Wednesday morning and then walked out to the beach for one last contact with the Pacific Ocean.
148.     The waves came crashing in bigger than we had ever seen them. Some reached high up over Karen's head. (Note the little flipper of a swimmer at the far right.)
149.     Of all the memories from the trip, the one that seemed to linger the longest was standing on the grounds of that cemetery, watching the waves crash in over the memorials people had created for their loved ones.
150.     We stood on our lanai for one last time, looking out onto the dreamlike view of the ocean and the expanive horizon.
151.     We took one more leisurely stroll around the Rec Center grounds. Mike arrived to pick us up. We thanked him for sponsoring us; the cabin was so much nicer than staying at a standard hotel. We felt so relaxed and comfortable there. We piled into his truck and headed toward the airport.
152.     We made one detour first. Karen discovered that there was a huge swap meet on the grounds of Aloha Stadium that day. So Mike indulged us and drove us there. It was basically a gigantic outdoor flea market circling the stadium parking lot. It would have taken hours to walk through the entire thing, where vendors were selling everything from clothes to art to food. Karen had heard about some small purses with sea turtles on them. She wanted to get some as gifts. So we made our way through vendor after vendor, and she eventually found them. Mike found some seafood snacks. Shortly afterward, many vendors began packing up. So we got headed back for the truck.
153.     There, on one side of the stadium parking area, sat Hawai'i's only roller coaster. It was a small portable Galaxi, common at many carnivals and small amusement parks. A few other carnival rides as well as many closed up booths filled the area. It was part of the 50th State Fair, which had closed a few days before we arrived.
154.     Mike dropped us off at the Honolulu Airport. We bid him goodbye and thanked him for being such a gracious and patient host. We gazed at the palm trees and the deep blue sky, and felt the gentle breeze on our faces.
155.     We checked in through security in a very short time. That left us with nearly five hours before our flight. We down to the garden area and walked slowly among the plants, the little brook trickling around us.
156.     One palm tree seemed to be crawling, snakelike, along the edge of a waterfall.
157.     The garden pond was filled with large tropical fish.
158.     We passed our time reading, checking e-mail, poking around the various shops. Three musicians (a guitarist, bassist and a ukelele player) were performing Hawai'ian music while two dancers swayed to the beat. We saw them just as they finished their set and followed them to another gate where they were next going to perform. They rested on some chairs for a few moments. But then the musicians began spontaneously jamming with each other. They started with 1950's rock and roll, sliding from Johnny B. Goode into Roll Over Beethoven. Then they switched to mellow standards, such as You Send Me. All the while they were having a great time, laughing and mixing up the lyrics. They finished off their impromptu set with songs such as The Banana Boat Song and Lemon Tree and ended with a loud, "Welcome to Jamaica!" (which must have confused people just getting off their flights).
159.     Karen never did get a ukelele of her own, but she did almost take home a giant guitar. It probably wouldn't have fit in her bag, though....
160.     Soon we were back in the air and with a tailwind made it to Houston ahead of schedule for our nine hour layover. friends from that city with whom Jay had corresponded but never met, Allen and Johanna Pasternak, were gracious enough to drive out to the George Bush International Airport (which has a large statue of the former president titled "Change in the Wind") and take us out to lunch at a local chain called Papa's. The one we went to was Papa's Seafood and -- surprise! -- we had fish. The food was delicious and the conversation was lively. It was great to connect with old friends we never really knew. The skies opened up and heavy rain pelted the ground. In too short a time, it seemed, we began the final leg of our journey home.

    Because of the storm there were multiple delays on multiple flights, including ours. It was almost as if Hawai'i, so many miles and time zones away, didn't want to let us go. But by the early morning hours of Friday, we were back at our home. It was great to have spent time with our son. We made a lot of wonderful memories and saw many unforgettable sights. But mainly we simply relaxed and enjoyed the picturesque paradise that is Hawai'i. Aloha and mahalo.