The DougBlog
"Et sans savoir pourquoi, disent toujours: Allons!" —Baudelaire

Sunday, December 03, 2006

The Aloha Blog, Part 1: O`ahu


So I was very much in need of a vacation, but not sure of where to go. Then the perfect opportunity presented itself: my friends Clare and GM were getting married in Maui and asked me to attend and be their photographer. I graciously accepted and parlayed it into a 2-week Hawaiian vacation.

This is my third time in Hawaii. It’s one of those places that I fell in love with the first time I came and where I always feel right. I’m so glad that we overthrew the rightful government and illegally occupied and annexed these islands!

The challenge is that each island is truly different from the others, and I never know whether to return to my favorites or try something new; so this time I did some of each: I returned to Honolulu and Maui while exploring new territory on the north shore of O`ahu and the less visited island of Moloka`i.

My first, brief stop was Honolulu. I haven’t been there since my first trip with Janét and Skye. I stayed at the Sheraton Waikiki, where I booked a basic room (“City View”, which for any Hawaiian hotel is the nice way of saying “Absolutely No View Of The Ocean Whatsoever, Even If You Lean Out The Window And Look To One Side”) but, as a Starwood Preferred Guest, I was upgraded to an ocean view. I quickly passed out from the late hour and long flights, and the next morning awoke to a classic view of Diamond Head and Waikiki. Yes, I had arrived.

View from my lanai (as always, you can click on any image to enlarge):

I spent the afternoon and evening walking many miles along Waikiki into Honolulu to visit some old haunts.

Monument to Duke Kahanamoku, inventor of modern surfing, on Waikiki:

Hawaii 5-O?:

King Kamehameha I—who united the Hawaiian islands—in front of the state supreme court at night:

I have to say, one weird thing here is CHRISTMAS. Maybe it’s different if you grow up in the tropics, but it just seems so incongruous to see holiday decorations and hear carols about white Christmases and sleigh rides while its 90 degrees under the swaying palms. And there are just so many times you can play “Mele Kalikimaka”. But I digress…

The next day I checked out of the Sheraton and headed to O`ahu's north shore. Actually, I spent most of the day closer to Honolulu, visiting two sites I’d never been to before. First, I hiked to the top of Diamond Head crater. You can drive into the bottom, but then it’s all on foot, up steep slopes and steps, to get to the rim of the crater. It’s a tough climb, but the views from the top are worth the effort.

Hiking up the walls of Diamond Head crater:

View from the top:

Here’s a shot I took later of Diamond Head from the plane: you can clearly see that it really is a crater!:

Then I went to Hanauma Bay. This is another volcanic crater, but partially sunken into the sea so that it provides the perfect protected environment for fishes (and snorkelers). There were countless beautiful fish, and I was very excited to see three of Hawaii’s lovable and recently re-crowned state fish, the endearingly named humuhumunukunukuapua`a. Each time I stalked them until they eyed me with suspicion and hid (sorry, no underwater pix).

Hanauma bay:

For some reason, snorkelers always look like morons from above:

Again, a view of Hanauma Bay later from the plane:

At the North Shore, I stayed in the beautiful Turtle Bay Resort. That’s right folks: I was a paying guest (not my usual trick of staying at the cheap motel next door and then sneaking in to use the good place’s facilities!). Here I took it easy, even getting a nice long seaside ("makai") massage. I also motored about to check out the small towns that dot the shore and watch the surfers on the Banzai Pipeline.

Another room with a view—this time over Turtle Bay (at least I assumed it was Turtle Bay, given that that was the name of the hotel, and there were plenty of turtles swimming in it):

The Waianae mountains:

A random shell stand on the side of the road:

Is this vehicle legal?:

Some surfers and beach views:

Watching the sun set from the oceanside pool at Turtle Bay:

Here’s some tropical Christmas decorations (these at the Polynesian Cultural Center):

The day I was to fly to Moloka`i, I decided to get an early start and revisit Pearl Harbor—or, more specifically, the USS Arizona Memorial. This was the ship on which more than 1,000 soldiers perished on Dec 7, 1941. Most of their remains are still entombed in the sunken wreck, which is visible just below the surface from the floating monument.

Here you can see a few parts of the Arizona that still break the surface:

65 years later, oil still leaks out of the ship—about 2 quarts a day. They call the slicks it forms on the surface “black tears”:

There was a bonafide Pearl Harbor veteran on our tour, He got the royal treatment: he was saluted by every soldier, and always got to see things first, privately. Here he is saluting his fallen comorades, whose names fill one wall of the monument:

A soldier wrote this letter to “Momma and Daddy” in 1941, and actually uses phrases like, “She is such a swell gal!”. He died on the Arizona.

Back on land, there was a retirement ceremony for some military bigwig:

Talk about the times-a-changin’…Japanese tourists took each others’ pictures with the Pearl Harbor veteran, who gladly complied (I just shook his hand):

The soldiers primped themselves—and each other—more than most women!:

I think the one on the left didn’t ask, and the one on the right didn’t tell:

In Part 2 of the Aloha Blog, you'll get to see me ride a mule into a leper colony…stay tuned!! In the meantime, a few parting shots...

Is the lesson to be learned here that “Kane” is Hawaiian for “Men”, or that pants are optional?:

Generous portions on United’s first class. Do I really get to have both the tomato and the shrimp?!:

Apparently, the taste of Hawaii is “Collon”:

That must have been one hell of a drive to O`ahu:

This seems like a very subjective category for the employee survey:

For the love of God, I need a manila folder NOW!! Help me!! What should I do?! Oh, wait, I know…:

Now, when you say it’s a “nut massage”, that can mean one of two very different things…:

Aloha for now…


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