Buck's Blog

The Stream-of-Consciousness Journal of a Wargamer

Hawaii Vacation, Days 1, 2, and 3

On Tuesday we began our family vacation to Hawaii.  This may be the last time we can go on a long vacation like this for some time due to Tom’s military schedule, Sam’s school, and Buck’s work so we wanted to do it up right.  Candy planned a full schedule of interesting events.

The trip began in an interesting way, with a flood at BWI airport that brought down the baggage conveyor belt system.  This led to an hour delay to our departure.  We had a tight layover in Oakland, CA, but we made our flight to Hawaii.  We arrived in Honolulu airport around 8:30 PM in the midst of a torrential rainstorm that flooded roads all over the area.  There were three lighting strikes on people that day, two at the airport.  When we got our baggage, a lot of our stuff was wet.  The rental car facility was flooded, so they couldn’t use their computers for fear of electrical shock, they wrote down our information on a piece of paper and handed us the keys.  We arrived about 10:00 PM at the Hale Koa hotel, which is an Armed Forces Recreation Center on Waikiki beach, a prime location.

A view of the Hale Koa

A swell dude and his trophy wife under “Gus” the large Banyan tree

Tom and Sam under “Gus”

Sam on Waikiki

Under the 16-inch guns on the Battleship Missouri.

Our first morning in Hawaii we grabbed a quick breakfast at Happy’s Cafe in the Hale Koa.  Then we headed to Pearl Harbor.  Last time we were here 13 years ago, we saw the Arizona, which is closed right now, but we wanted to see the Missouri, which began life in WWII and was decommissioned after Desert Storm.  We took the “heart of the Missouri” tour, which included a detailed, docent-led tour below decks.

Sam taking down “Zekes”

After our tour, we ran into one of the normal guided tours and hear a very interesting talk about the signing of the Japanese surrender document.  For those not aware, the Missouri is where the famous picture of the Japanese surrender was taken in Tokyo bay.

Tom and Candy swabbing the deck of the Missouri

A view of the Arizona memorial over the bow of the Missouri — where WWII began and ended

We were flirting with rain all day.  We had planned to spend the afternoon on the beach at Waikiki, but with the rain, instead we chose to do some shopping for Hawaiian shirts at the Pearl Harbor Navy Exchange and wander around some of the shops in Waikiki.  We also enjoyed pina coladas at the Barefoot beachside bar (in the rain).  That evening, we took in a really good magic show in the Hale Koa Warriors Lounge.  Earlier that afternoon, Tom and I were in the lobby waiting for the girls, when the magician came up to us, saying “hey, I have this new trick I’d like to try out on you.”  He proceeded to perform an amazing card transformation slight-of-hand trick in Tom’s hand.  This clinched it for us.  We wanted to see the show.

The next day, our second full day, Candy had arranged for a guide to take us to a number of lesser-known things round Oahu.  Shane picked us up in the lobby of the hotel and drove us around the island.

Waiting for our guide in the lobby of the Hale Koa.

We began the day with a hike to a waterfall. There were all kinds of signs saying “keep out,” but that is meant to keep the tourist traffic down, and our guide took us up to the falls. There were many other groups of hikers we met along the way.

Shane pointing out some local flora.

We began the tour with a  three-mile hike to a secluded waterfall.

The falls.

It was a nice hike.  We got rained on during the hike back, but we dried out quickly and moved on to lunch.

Some kind of flower related to the Bird of Paradise.

We had pre-arranged with Shane for lunches.  He drove us to a park across Kaneohe Bay from the Marine Corps base.  We were a couple hundred yards from a small island known as “Chinaman’s Hat.”  We ate a really nice lunch on a picnic table and then headed to our next stop.

“Chinaman’s Hat”

Lunch. You can see how overcast it was all day.

Some swell people posed in front of mountains that have been used in the various Jurassic Park movies

Next we drove around the coast — after a stop at a Kona coffee and macadamia nut tourist trap (where we bought macadamia nuts!!) — to this interesting rock formation.

The dragon’s eye

Ancient Hawaiian legends talk about two Hawaiian heroes / gods who defeated a giant lizard that was eating people.  This is supposedly the lizard’s head that was chopped off by one of the heroes.

You can see that the sky was overcast and the surf was pretty rough here. No one was foolish enough to be swimming here, and most of the people left as the rain began again.

Candy and Tom enjoying some fresh fruit

We stopped at a roadside farmer’s market and picked up some fresh pineapple, mango, and mixed fruit.  Our guide wanted us to try two local fruits.  The first is Lychee, which looks like a strawberry, but has a very tough skin that must be peeled before eating.  They were very sweet and very good.  The second was called a mountain apple, that had a peach-like pit and tasted more like a sweet pear.  Both were really, really good.

Our next stop was 90 minutes of snorkeling around “Three Tables” beach were we swam with schools of fish and got very close to three sea turtles frolicking along the rocks.  We were probably one good kick away from being able to touch them!

Then we drove to Waimea Bay to do some “safe cliff jumping.”

This was a lot of fun.  Sammy surprised us by doing a forward flip!  I didn’t even know she could do that.

A Hawaiian Green sea turtle

Our last stop was at a small stretch of beach where we saw this Hawaiian Green sea turtle.  It was 37 years old and weighed 225 pounds.  The park ranger had placed a rope on the beach to keep everyone at least a meter away from it.

Pineapple fields

On the way back to Honolulu we drove through pineapple plantations.  The air had a pineapple aroma.  We had heard that pineapples weren’t grown on Hawaii any more.  It turns out that a LOT if pineapple is grown here, but it is not exported; it is all used in Hawaii.  The pineapple you find in Publix or Giant comes from Costa Rica.  I’m not sure my palate is sensitive enough to tell the difference, but the pineapple here SEEMS softer and slightly less tart that what we get in the grocery store.

We had a really good day.  After an overpriced dinner we spent a half hour at the Hale Koa pool before collapsing in the room.


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