Monday, January 2, 2023

When a Trip Falls in Your Lap - Pearl Harbor


I've always been interested in WWII, the madness, the bad decisions, the heroism. It's an interesting and dark period in our history. When we were planning the trip (see prior post) the one thing my husband really cared about seeing was Pearl Harbor.

I missed the two week time period when you could get tickets to go out to the Arizona Memorial. Online it said you could try to get tickets at 3:00 p.m. the day before you planned to go. I tried and failed, the tickets were gone within one or two minutes (75 tickets per time period). The next day, we had 4 people on 4 devices and we still didn't get tickets. Ugh. We decided to go to Pearl Harbor anyway the next day. I bought tickets for everything else, and then we found there was a "wait" line for the Arizona. So when people didn't show up or tickets didn't get claimed, you can wait in a line and see if you can get out to the memorial. I'm pleased to say that this worked and we really didn't have to wait long... maybe an hour? 

Memorial Wall Arizona Memorial

To me it's always interesting to see a place that you've seen on TV or movies several times. It changes your perspective. For instance, the first time I saw the Alamo in person I was shocked that it was so small. The Arizona was one of those places, both where it is placed and for some reason I thought the memorial wall was much larger. I thought the oil leak was a much bigger thing, but it only happens a drop at a time. According to one Ranger there, the legend is the Arizona will continue to leak until all her men are back on board. I overheard her say "we know there are at least three people who will not be back here." I'm not sure if that meant they were already dead and buried somewhere else, or that they knew 3 were just going to refuse to come back. It's a beautiful and appropriate memorial and I'm so glad we were able to get out there.

The thing that I hear over and over from the programs that feature the survivors is that they want people to remember what happened so that it doesn't happen again. Pearl Harbor is a perfect way to do this, and it's important to take in all that they have there.

Tree of Life portion of the Arizona Memorial

We wandered around reading the signs in the peace garden, took a few pictures, including one of a statue that reminded me of my father-in-law. He was on a ship during the Korean War and had a coat like the one on the statue.

The whole place is beautiful, of course. There is still something a bit unsettling about hearing a plane fly overhead while you're standing where the attack happened. It was just weird hearing that. (Can you see the plane?)

We then went aboard the USS Bowfin. I would never make it serving on a submarine. Cramped everywhere, no privacy and when I went to lift my leg over the first bulkhead, I couldn't do it! (I'm old and fat.) Not to mention not being able to breathe fresh air for days on end. I truly admire the men and women who do serve on them.

The USS Missouri ("The Mighty Mo") is docked not far from the Arizona Memorial but you need to take a shuttle to Ford Island in the middle of the harbor to be able to get to it. The Missouri was still being built when the attack on Pearl Harbor happened, but it was certainly there at the end of the war. You can take a guided tour or download a map to your phone. After the tour you can explore the lower decks on your own. This is an independantly run museum. There is a gift shop on shore whose proceeds help support the ship. The location of the Missouri being close to the Arizona kind of "bookends" WWII. The sinking of the Arizona was at the start of WWII for the US, and the Missouri is where the unconditional surrender of Japan occurred, signaling the end of the war. This is a huge ship, you can go down below to explore and you can climb up several floors to the bridge and see some beautiful views. I thought my legs would fall off after climbing up and down so many ladders, but I'm very glad I did it. 

Computers on a WWII ship? You might be suprised to know the Mighty Mo saw combat in the first Gulf War.

The smell of bread must have been incredible. The gold seal shows where the
unconditional surrender was signed.

Later in the war a kamakazi tried to attack the ship. The cook took the picture of the attack. The dent was all the damage it did to the ship. They didn't repair it.

View from the upper decks of the Missouri

One of the other sights to see on Ford Island is the Aviation Museum. While small, there are some interesting things to see there, and in the hanger behind it. Obviously, there was damage there from the attack. Below are two windows from a hanger with bullet holes from the attack. The control tower had not been finished at the time of the attack, and it doubles as a water tower. The large piece of metal is from the Arizona. I had to take a picture of the truck because it had my granddaughters name on it. The large hanger behind the museum is mostly empty, but there was an older Blue Angels jet in there.

We spent the whole day there and still did not see everything. I want to watch everything to do with Pearl Harbor now that I've been there. It is so humbling what was sacrified that day. There were civilians, women and children who died that day. So humbling that people went to sign up to fight after the bombing happened. So many young men died. People sacrificed at home, went without, and then often lost loved ones in addition. It went on for so many years. It worries me that we would not be as willing to sacrifice today, and in a way that makes their sacrifice mean less. It doesn't mean less to me, but I feel sometimes like as a country we just don't care anymore. That's dangerous. There seems to be no sense of pride, no sense of right and wrong. I pray I'm wrong and we don't go down that path. Remember.

When a Trip Falls in Your Lap

I do these travelogues for me. If I don't write it down, I just forget so much of the trip.

Last spring, an opportunity to reserve a trip to Hawaii presented itself. Hawaii has always been a place I've wanted to visit, but other places were higher on the "bucket" list. This opportunity to go to Oahu presented itself in a way that made it obtainable cost wise so we jumped at the opportunity to split a two bedroom condo with our son and his family. The trip was to take place over Christmas week, so there were several months of anticipation in which it didn't really seem real.

We left our house at 8:00 a.m., our grandson driving us to the airport. He was to watch our dogs and keep an eye on our house while we were gone. There has been a new airport built here in the last few years (a second "half" of it is still being built) and this was my first time at the new airport. I have heard a lot of jokes about the walk required at the airport being another "pioneer trek" because of how far you have to walk to get to the gates. Our glass guild had tried to apply to do some art work for the airport, and basically received a flat "no", a company from California was doing all the artwork as part of the contract. So this was my first time at the new airport, and I'm pretty sure this was my first time flying since 9/11.

Pretty, but I think the guild's glass would have added much to it.

I'm not afraid of flying, but there is always that little bit of anxiety during takeoff and landing. During the taxi to the runway, I turned to my husband and said, "Bernoulli lied!" Of course, he laughed. We took off and the view during the flight was beautiful. I took several pictures, one of which I think was of Death Valley and possibly Lake Mead. At times, the clouds cleared enough to see the ocean, even at 35.000 feet.

We landed, and met up with our son and his family who had landed earlier and rented a car. Then we were on our way to the condo we were staying at. The sunset picture at the top of this post is the scene that greeted me as I went out onto the deck (lanai). Between that and the sound/sight of the ocean, I was in love. What a beautiful sight, and the temperature was perfect. The view from the landing on the front of the condo is just as beautiful. 

We got changed and went down to walk on the beach, possibly get hit by a few waves and enjoy the ocean. The waves were just a bit more than we were prepared for we realized as we got hit by the first one, lol! You get reminded that the ocean is a powerful force.  For dinner we found a wonderful, local place that served poke bowls. They had the absolute best crab won tons I have ever had. Yummy.

Someone sitting on the beach with their own Christmas tree. Loved it.

My husband and I had opted to go to the Polynesian Culteral Center on Saturday, my son felt it was a bit too expensive for his family. The plan was for him to drop us off at the PCC and return to pick us up after the evening show. Saturday morning, my silly husband realized he had left his insulin on the kitchen counter. He had an emergency perscription phoned in before we left, because the order he had in was going to be delivered after we left, so that complicated things a bit more. He spent Saturday morning trying to get that taken care of, including going to two different pharmacies. It wasn't going to be resolved quickly, so we went to the PCC. We found a place to eat in the "common" area of the PCC called Pounders and it was really good food! So our son's family left after that to do some sight seeing and return to the condo. 

We entered the "village" area of the PCC and this was a beautiful sight just right inside.

We weren't quite sure where to go, and it took awhile after we were inside to learn that each of the different villages had times where they had "shows" that demonstrated something about the island where they were from. As we were passing by the village that represented Samoa, a very funny man was telling the traditions that come from there. He demonstrated how to open a coconut with a large stick, and climbing a tree to get the coconuts among other things.

It turns out he's an artist. His name is Kap, he paints and he carves. He has two galleries at the PCC. He told us he's a friend of Tom Holdman who does the stained glass windows for many of the temples for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints among other things. He was fun to talk to.

Next we found the village that represented the Maori culture. In one area they were teaching people a game where you left your stick standing and moved either to the right or left (depending which was called) and grabbed their stick before it dropped. 

They had a center that showcased the art of carving. This thought was displayed as you came in the door.

Here in Utah, there is a large population of Pacific Islanders. Hakas are seen before certain football games, etc, and I love watching them. This group of wonderful performers sang, performed with the sticks and did an amazing haka. I did get a video of them singing so I can remember the beautiful harmonies. I tried to get a video of the haka, but apparently missed hitting the record button. Dang. If you've never seen a haka... I'm sure you can find videos on YouTube. They are amazing.

As we wandered around we saw this amazing double outrigger canoe. Apparently, this magnificent specimen gets taken out on the ocean every two years by the students at BYU Hawaii for a week or two. Sailing one of these in a storm must be an ordeal, as there is really very little shelter on board. It would be fun to go out for a little bit.

Inserting these shapes in the wood helped keep splits in the wood from running further.

The grounds at the PCC are beautiful. I truly wished we'd had more time to look. One of the things I had really wanted to do on this trip was to try poi. I've always understood you either like it or hate it. I hadn't been able to get tickets to the luau that happens here, so I wondered if I'd get the chance. We happened upon this area where they had just finished a demo on making poi. I didn't get to see it made, but at least I did get to try it. I liked it! It reminded me of mushrooms, a very earthy taste. I just wish I could have tried it as part of a meal.

The poi making station and the taro plant that the poi is made from.

A war canoe. Huge. Beautifully carved at both ends.

Time was running out and we were supposed to eat at the Gateway buffet. So we started walking that way. We ate there, but I was not impressed. We still had time before the evening show, so we decided to take the shuttle to Laie, and see the temple. There were a couple of delightful sister missionaries that were very informative as we took the shuttle and drove past BYU Hawaii, and then on to the temple where we were allowed to disembark and go to the Visitor's Center. It was wonderful to see the temple all lit up.

We got back in plenty of time for the evening show, which was wonderful. No pictures were allowed. It followed a beautiful story of a young man traveling through the different islands and experiencing all of their cultures and ended with an amazing fire dance show. 

Our son was there to pick us up when the show was over. He wanted to pick up some groceries, so we stopped at a WalMart. There was no meat counter there! It was a little strange buying groceries there. I think Hawaii may be still experiencing supply problems. We made one more attempt to figure out the insulin problem, still no solution. We went back to the condo at this point. By this time, it was 2:00 a.m. Utah time. 

The next day, my husband and our daughter-in-law went to find a grocery store to get the goods we couldn't find the night before. My grandson has celiac disease, and we were unsuccessful at finding gluten free soup so I could make a traditional potato dish for Christmas day. I modified the recipe and it wasn't too bad. The hubs was finally able to get his insulin as well. Other than the trip to the store, for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, we really didn't go anywhere. Saturday I watched from the lanai as my son's family hung out on the beach for a bit. Caught a pic as a wave crashed over him.

We hung out around the condo, walked the beach, and on Christmas Day we watched Mathilda the Musical. The kids were able to open a few presents, and while shopping, a small Christmas tree was found, and that was our Christmas.

Next to our condo is Mauna Lahilahi, or "thin mountain". Christmas afternoon, Chuck and I decided to walk along the beach and around the point of the "mountain". I took oodles of pictures and videos of waves. I really want to try and replicate some in glass. There is some kind of statue on top, but there seems to be very little information on what it is, and we didn't hike up to find out. Beauty everywhere you look.

The condo we stayed in. My son and his wife sitting on the lanai.

I had to have a pic of my feet in the sand on Christmas day.

Local wildife. Sandcrabs and pigeons sharing breakfast.

The sunsets were different every night. Starting Christmas Eve, there were fireworks almost every night.

The day after Christmas we went to Pali Lookout for some beautiful scenery. The drive through this area is amazing. We were going to go to Diamond Head as well, but apparently, since covid, they require reservations. Chuck got on the phone and set reservations for the next day for a "walk up" ticket, which meant we couldn't drive up to the parket lot... more on that later. 


Since we couldn't go to Diamond Head, my son found a Buddhist Temple outside of Honolulu. Again, such beautiful scenery. Perfect.

Ringing the bell before entering the temple is supposed to clear your mind and center you.

The goldfish are like the pigeons. If someone stops on a bridge, they all swarm to get fed.

The phoenix on top of the temple and a beautiful Japanese cemetary just up the road.

The following day, we went to Pearl Harbor. As this post is already huge, I'll devote a post entirely to Pearl. We had the reservations for Diamond Head, but we had so much to see and do at Pearl, we just didn't make it.
On Wednesday, we went to the famous flea market at Aloha Stadium. Didn't take any pictures there but did manage to spend a little cash. Brought home some truffle oil balsamic vinegar that is out of this world (among other things)! We slowed down a bit for our last afternoon at the condo and spent time at the beach or the hot tub. This was such a fantastic trip. I LOVE the weather there!! My only disappointment was that the location of our condo made it so we took 40 min to 2 hours to get anywhere. Well, that and oh my goodness the number of homeless camps on the beach! They are truly everywhere through Waianae and Makaha. But seriously, I almost could have spent all my time either on the beach or the lanai at the condo and been happy. Love the sound of the waves and I could watch the waves all day long, so different, so fascinating. I think for both the hubs and I, we loved the trip and feel we could go back. What a beautiful place!

I learned a few things in Hawaii. One is that everything shuts down between 3-5:00 p.m. Even in the airport, trying to find something to eat at 5:00 was ridiculous! Ended up with a COLD Burger King Hamburger. Ick. Island time is a real thing. Sometimes making purhases was frustrating because they wanted to talk, which usually is not a big deal for us, but a couple of times when we were in a hurry it could be frustrating. The people are nice, the traffic can be nuts, but most of these inconveniences were minor. (OK, except for the eating part). Bottom line, loved the trip.

A decorated "post" at the airport. 

Design by Duane Miles, beaded by Kerry