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In presenting photographs, I take them using a high-resolution camera, mostly with my Nikon, and a few with my iPhone. As a result, these are large and graphically clear photographs. Consequently, they may take a moment to load, depending on your internet speed. Be patient, wait, and enjoy the beauty in each picture.
- John and Linda;
- Olivia, Darin, Robyn, Isabel;
- views from Marriott’s Ko Olina Beach Club, Kapolei – Oahu, Hawaii
Before getting into detail, allow me to state unequivocally that Hawaii is a magical place. A veritable paradise. We vacationed on one of the eight Hawaiian islands; Oahu, meaning “The Gathering Place”. From the scenery to the weather, to the people, absolutely everything makes this a wonderful place to visit—and likely, a great place to live. The Islanders are incredibly friendly. We benefitted by touring out of peak season. It certainly helped that Marriott has a magnificent resort, with unparalleled service, and high-quality amenities to satisfy the most discerning guest.
Hawaii probably has a higher cost of living than mainland US. There are no venomous snakes on the islands. A few bugs like mosquitos that bite and sting are present. There are 19 different species of cockroaches. We did not encounter any insects. When visiting Hawaii, Customs and Immigration are concerned about what you are bringing onto the islands. Food is confiscated. Animals are not permitted unless first quarantined.
When we left home, Southeastern Wisconsin had its 11th coldest November tied with 1871. The month’s average temperature came in at 32.4 Fahrenheit (0.2 Celsius) or 6.6 F (3.7C) below normal. We had grey skies, and the trees had lost their leaves.
Arriving in Hawaii, also in the Northern Hemisphere, just a few degrees south of the Tropic of Cancer, was lush with green foliage. November is the start of the wet season, and end of the hurricane season. The average temperature is 77F (25C).
Allow me to describe one example of Hawaiian friendliness. Much as we found when visiting Quebec City in Canada during September this year, if we want to cross the road, cars would stop for us and let us have the right of way. This attitude is prevalent in Hawaii, part of the graciousness of the people. In our community at home, if we wish to cross a dual 2-lane road near our condominium to shop at our local grocery store, we take our lives into our hands attempting that feat. Motorists will not slow for us. We can walk several hundred yards to the nearest traffic controlled intersection to cross safely, but it defeats the purpose of convenient access to our shops.
On November 6, 2018, midterm elections were held in the United States. Donald Trump stated that a vote for any Republicans was a vote for Trump. 43 House Republicans retired, versus 20 Democrats. The retiring Republicans did not appreciate Trump’s brand of politics. Of the 435 seats in the house, the Democrats won 235, flipping 41 seats, and the Republicans held 200 seats. In the Senate, 33 of the 100 seats were contested; Democrats had 26 seats up for election versus 9 for Republicans. Republicans flipped 2 seats to hold 53 versus the Democrats 45, however, the Democrats garnered 58% of the popular vote. Independents won the other 2 senate seats.
In Wisconsin, three-term (technically two plus a recall that he won) Republican Governor Scott Walker attempted to get elected for a fourth term but was unseated by Democrat Tony Evers. Under Walker, Wisconsin lost 150 manufacturing plants—the 12th worst in the nation, with Minnesota to our west adding 394 manufacturing establishments, and Michigan to our east adding 2,290. A Washington, D.C.-based research group found that about half of our state’s major roads and highways are in poor or mediocre condition due to a lack of state and local funding. The Transport Development Association ranked Wisconsin roads 49th (out of 50) in the nation for quality of roads, and 41st for transportation. Under Walker during his tenure, funding decreased across every major road program. In comparing Democratic run Minnesota (neighboring state) against Republican-run Wisconsin we find: Minnesota has pursued liberal policies, spending more on health care and infrastructure and education, raising taxes on the wealthy, raising the minimum wage, increasing the number of public employees. Wisconsin has pursued conservative policies: cutting taxes, weakening labor unions, deregulating, rejecting federal funding for infrastructure, reducing the number of public employees. Minnesota’s policies produced better economic outcomes.
So what does this political commentary have to do with Hawaii?
It is a comment about Republican policies of enriching the wealthy at the expense of the working majority, versus the Democratic mantra of supporting social programs and benefitting the population as a whole. In visiting the Hawaiian island of Oahu, I was impressed by the attitude of the people and the soundness of their infrastructure plus their embrace of environmentally clean energy. Hawaii is often derogatorily called a one-party state. Of the state’s representatives, 45 of the 51 are Democrats, and the governor is a Democrat, too. Tourism is Hawaii’s economic pillar, generating most jobs in the islands. With a population of 1.4 million, according to the Hawaii Tourism Authority, the total daily expenditures for Hawaii’s tourism reached more than $43 million in 2016, supporting 192,000 jobs. The tourism industry contributed $1.8 billion in tax revenues to the state in 2016. Its diverse scenery and mild temperatures explain why it is a paradise for tourists. Among the eight islands, including the biggest, Hawai’i, for which the state is named, the state boasts of an array of scenery – ocean, beaches, volcanoes and other mountains. Without distinct seasons, the islands’ daytime temperatures average 85 degrees Fahrenheit (29 C) in the summer and 78 F (26 C) in the winter, though the lows register at about 65 F (18 C) in the high altitudes of its three tallest mountains – Mauna Kea, Mauna Loa, and Haleakalā – where snow falls in winter. Hawaiians’ friendliness and hospitality is another draw. The state government adopted the nickname “The Aloha State” in 1959. Aloha means “hello” and “goodbye” as well as “welcome,” “love” and “best wishes.” Some people also call it the Islands of Aloha. Hawaii’s healthcare is rated number 1 in the nation.
Hawaiian history. The islands’ history is rich and colorful. Many theorists believe that wind, currents, and birds brought life to the islands because they are far from the continents. Whether true or not, the earliest history of Hawaii dates back to around 1,500 years ago when Polynesians sailed from the Marquesas Islands in double-hulled canoes only with the guidance of the stars.
In around 1000 A.D., Tahitians arrived, along with their belief in God and the practice of the kapu system (a hierarchal social order similar to caste in Hindu culture). Hawaii entered into the age of chiefdoms. While conflicts for the expansion of territories and power were frequent, this period also witnessed the birth of hula (dancing) and surfing.
In 1778, British Capt. James Cook became the first documented Westerner to land on Hawaii. Cook named the chain the “Sandwich Islands” in honor of John Montagu, Fourth Earl of Sandwich, one of his voyage’s patrons. Sailors, merchants, traders, and whalers flocked to Hawaii, bringing new culture but also carrying diseases such as smallpox, measles, and influenza, to which the isolated islanders were not immune. To trade more with Westerners in exchange for western goods and weapons, chieftains imposed harsh taxes and forced the people to work “nearly to death.”
Queen Kapi’olani of Hawaii 1874-1891.
In 1791, a royal dynasty was established under King Kamehameha the Great. Between Cook’s arrival and 1820, wars, disease, and famine killed more than half of the Hawaiian population, and the years from 1778 to 1866 witnessed a loss of about 243,000 Hawaiians, according to a report to Congress by the Committee on Indian Affairs.
American colonists controlling much of its commerce and plantation were eager to expand their markets, and win protection from the Hawaiian government. They forced the government to enact a new constitution and overthrow the king, who became a figurehead. In 1898, Hawaii became a U.S. territory after the Americans staged a coup and replaced Queen Liliuokalani with a committee representing a new regime – the Republic of Hawaii.
Hawaiian culture is highly influenced by immigrants from various cultures, including their food, languages, music, dance, and religion.
More diverse than most, Hawaii is the only U.S. state where Asians and Asian descendants are a plurality. U.S. Census data show that 38.6 percent of the population is Asian or of Asian descent, 24.7 percent white, 23.6 percent of more than one race, 10 percent Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders, 1.6 percent African-Americans, 0.3 percent Native Americans. With a population of 1.43 million, given its size, it is one of the most densely populated of the 50 states.
The median household income in Hawaii, $74,511 in 2016, stood well above the national average of $57,617.
Hawaii became the 50th US state on August 21, 1959. It is the most northern archipelago island group in Polynesia in the central Pacific Ocean.
Polynesia (from Greek polys “many” and nēsos “island”); is a subregion of Oceania, made up of more than 1,000 islands scattered over the central and southern Pacific Ocean. New Zealand is the largest country in Polynesia with a population of 4.8 million people. Hawaii is located just south of the Tropic of Cancer. The Hawaiian Islands receive most of their precipitation during the winter months (October to April). Notice the jagged International Dateline drawn from the North Pole to the South Pole. In this view, New Zealand might be on a Friday (say 12 Noon), while the Hawaiian Islands are on a Thursday (with a corresponding time of 11:00 am).
Hawaii is the most isolated population center on the face of the earth. Hawaii is 2,390 miles (3,846 kilometers) from California. Hawaii is the only state that grows coffee. Hawaii has a population of 1.4 million people.
The eight main Hawaiian Islands are—in order from northwest to southeast: Niihau, Kauai, Oahu, Molokai, Lanai, Kahoolawe, Maui, and the Island of Hawaii. Kilauea volcano eruption is one of the biggest in recent Hawaii history. Since the eruption of the Kilauea volcano May 3, 2018, on the Big Island, it belched out about 250 million cubic meters of lava, making it one of the largest eruptions in decades in Hawaii. The eruption was preceded by hundreds of earthquakes.
Oahu is known as “The Gathering Place”, the third largest of the Hawaiian Islands. It is home to roughly one million people — about two-thirds of the population of the US State of Hawaii. The state capital, Honolulu, is on Oahu’s southeast coast. We vacationed from Saturday, November 24 through November 30, 2018. We stayed at the Marriott’s Ko Olina Beach Club, in Kapolei, Oahu, on the southwestern side. Getting to and from Hawaii is a story in itself. We drove 2 hours to Chicago, Illinois on Friday afternoon, staying at the Marriott’s Residence Inn Chicago O’Hare. The flight out of Chicago’s O’Hare International is at 7:00 am on Saturday, but we have to check in by 5:30 am, and had no plans to leave home at 3:00 am to drive to the airport and find parking. The hotel provided Linda, Robyn, Darin, Olivia, Isabel, and me a shuttle to the airport. We arranged to leave our cars at the hotel, a cheaper option than parking at the airport.
From Chicago’s O’Hare we flew to Seattle, Washington, taking 4 hours 43 minutes, followed by a layover of 2 hours 32 minutes. We flew to Honolulu, Hawaii a duration of 6 hours 26 minutes. We collect a rental car and drive 30 minutes to the Marriott resort. On the homebound journey, 30 minutes back to the airport in Honolulu, 6-hour 16-minute flight to Salt Lake City, Utah, 2-hour 34-minute layover, 3 hours 12-minute flight to O’Hare, and 2-hour drive home. That totals 16 hours 11 minutes on the outbound journey and 14 hours 32 minutes on the return trip. One reason for the time difference is that flying west airplanes have a headwind, and obviously, the return journey has a tailwind. More than that, we have an interesting time zone change. When we leave Chicago at 7:00 am, it is 3:00 am on the same day in Hawaii. Flying east, we gain 4 hours. On the return trip, we leave Honolulu at 10:00 pm Friday, arriving in Chicago at 2:00 pm on Saturday. This flight is known as a “red eye” because sleep on the flight is not guaranteed.
Friday, November 23, 2018. After laundry and last minute packing, we journey to Chicago setting the cars GPS and heading south. I have lost count of the number of times I have driven to Chicago over 32 years for business purposes, and a few pleasure trips. But the lady on the GPS gave me what I thought was a stupid instruction, and continued on the road I was on without taking the turn I knew I should have taken. However, there might have been a reason for the GPS confusion. Since we were formally on vacation, it did not matter, as it was a fun detour. When we originally left the condominium, we drove to the wholesale club to fill the car with gas/petrol. This required that we drove beyond our regular turn off to Chicago, with this poor GPS woman getting quite exasperated telling us that she was “recalculating” and pleading with us to “do a legal U-turn”. While pumping gas I remembered that I forgot to draw cash from our bank located near our condominium, so we headed back home. This may have confused this poor GPS woman because I did not reset the GPS—I just left it to do its guiding task. As we restarted our journey from the bank, heading south, we got to the on-ramp for the interstate that would take us to Chicago. The GPS woman gave me different instructions, so I decided that we had lots of time and carried on driving south on a country road that we had never used during the time we lived in Wisconsin.
We traveled through farmland and small villages. We enjoyed the scenery, and after about 20 minutes, the GPS woman eventually requested us to join the interstate while still within Wisconsin. Now on familiar roads, we got to the Marriott Residence Inn located in close proximity to Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport in Illinois. We selected this hotel because they allowed us to park our vehicle for a week and provided a shuttle to and from the airport. I earn points at Marriott that contributes to future free stays. There is a cluster of hotels and restaurants in the area. We crossed the parking lot to a nearby fast food restaurant for dinner. Robyn, Darin, and twins Olivia and Isabel traveled with us to Hawaii. Robyn had to work a half day Friday, the day after Thanksgiving a public holiday in the US. We communicated back and forth via text messages. Robyn and family drove the same interstate. It was shut down in both directions due to a diesel spill from a road tanker. Their 2-hour trip turned into a 3-hour trip. They made it safely to the Marriott. Another reason for us not to plan to leave home early on Saturday morning and run into a traffic situation.
Saturday, November 24, 2018. We had a very early start to the day by waking at 4:00 am to shower and present ourselves at the front desk of the hotel by 5:00 am to catch the shuttle to O’Hare. We checked two bags, and I carried a backpack with my trusty computer and a carryall with my camera. Going through security, I was stopped for a thorough inspection by TSA (Transport Security Administration). For those in the know, Linda and I are both TSA Pre-Checked, and normally do not get harassed. TSA was puzzled by the “beanbag” in my camera case because “it looked like a blob” on their monitors. The beanbag steadies the camera if you are in the car wanting to rest the camera on the window to take a long distance photograph using a telephoto lens. Once TSA understood—and tested it for evidence of explosives, I was on my way.
Our flight to Seattle, Washington was completely full. This is a very busy travel weekend with family and friends getting together for the Thanksgiving holiday, and many now making their way back home. We had lunch in Seattle’s airport. With many restaurants to choose from, and since I did not have breakfast, desired to feast on bacon and eggs. Regrettably, the restaurant we selected was a vegan only restaurant, so I ended up with a yogurt, granola, and fruit platter. The fruit was not exactly ripe to eat, and the meal was very expensive. How do they remain in business?
Next was the long flight from Seattle to Honolulu in the Pacific. Not much to report except the captain apologized for the turbulence. That was unnecessary as far as I was concerned as it was hardly noticeable. I have experienced considerably worse turbulence crossing the Atlantic. We arrived at the airport 20 minutes early and sat on the runway waiting for an arrival gate to open. Nothing gained from this potential benefit. One achievement on the trip was my opportunity to read a book. Neil De Grasse Tyson is a humorous writer, who frequently appears on TV. His “Astrophysics for People in a Hurry” is a great read. However, I plan to re-read this book at home where I can make notes and Google some of his facts for greater understanding. In addition, I watched the movie “The Greatest Showman”, the story of PT Barnum. A pleasant couple of flights in all.
We collected a rental car, a minivan that could hold the 6 of us, and made our way to the Marriott timeshare. We arrived at around 6:00 pm. After checking in and admiring the view from our 10th-floor suite, it was time for dinner. We ate at a restaurant located on the hotel property, one not owned by the Marriott. My selection was the rack of lamb. There was nothing to complain about regarding the food, the taste, the presentation, the service, and the local Hawaiian beer on tap, but the bill was a shocker. Very expensive. That was the only time we dined there. As we learned from our trip to St. Thomas in the Caribbean, when everything is sourced from the US mainland, prices are steep. We retired to bed by 8:00 pm or midnight back home. On our first day, our internal body clocks had not yet adjusted.
Sunday, November 25, 2018. The first time I woke, was 3:00 am, or 7:00 am back home. I did manage to get back to sleep, finally waking at 6:30 am. After a shower, we had breakfast at another restaurant on the Marriot property, but this time company owned. Here we took benefit of the buffet. I ate bacon and eggs, but the best treat of all was the pineapple juice. This is a pineapple country and the start of a love affair with this fruit during our time in Hawaii.
For our first adventure of the day, we drove to Diamond Head Crater, Oahu’s premier natural landmark. In the late 1700s, western explorers mistook the calcite crystals in the crater for diamonds, thus the name Diamond Head. The U.S. Army Corps of engineers built a walking path in 1908. Access is via tunnels, 310 steps and hiking on the rock bed takes you to the 791-feet (241 meters) summit. My Apple Watch told me that I had walked a mile to get to the top, climbed the equivalent of 20 flights of stairs, and even managed to get my heart rate to spike at 155 beats per minute! The 11-year old twins had just trained for and competed in a 5K run the prior week, so they took this hike in their stride. The walk or hike is on narrow uneven rock paths with visitors struggling to ascend while keeping their balance, whereas others are descending and jostling for the narrow available space. Nevertheless, everyone is courteous and accommodating. It was interesting to see how many nationalities were represented during the time we were on the mountain.
As a treat, we enjoyed a pineapple smoothie when we finished our journey. Pineapples are grown in Hawaii and are in plentiful supply. The pineapple is hollowed out, the ingredients placed in a blender with ice, ground up, and the smoothie poured back into the pineapple shell. Delicious.
The afternoon was spent on Waikiki’s famous beach. Waikiki means “spouting water” because it was a vast marshland fed by many streams. Waikiki has some of the best summer waves in the world. Swells vary in height from 2 to 8 feet, and on rare occasions as high as 35 feet. In 1917 Duke Kahanamoku caught a 35-foot wave and rode it a distance of a mile and a quarter to shore. We were entertained by a nearby concert in the park with a 60-piece orchestra and soloists performing a variety of musical scores.
Driving around Honolulu I enjoyed the cultural differences of the city. I was fascinated by street names, many that I would have difficulty pronouncing. I researched street names in the city and discovered 2,671 different names. Looking at the first letter of those names, including the numeric names such as 1st Street, I found 34 different first letters. Ten of those first letters made up 81% of street names. I spoke to a local about my findings and learned that in Hawaiian there are 12 letters; 5 vowels (a, e, i, o, u) and 7 consonants (h, k, l, m, n, p, w). In reviewing my table, the letter “C” was the only letter that was not part of this Hawaiian grouping. Examining my original street name list, I saw the anglicized influence. Street names beginning with Camp, Captain, Carter, Casey, Catherine, etc. I was impressed to see a street name with all vowels—Aiea! I have never done that sort of research in my community, but I am possibly more familiar with our “conventional” pronounceable names.
I pondered vehicle license plates. Most plates have 3 alphabetic characters followed by 3 numeric. I did see police vehicles with 3 plus 4 numeric digits. Vanity (personalized) plates seem to be limited to six characters. If you drive an electric vehicle (EV) like the Tesla, there are many benefits as Hawaii strives to be environmentally friendly. EVs have different license plates consisting of three numeric and one alpha. EVs can use the HOV (high occupant vehicles) lanes with a solo driver. HOV normally implying more than a single person in the vehicle. EVs do not pay parking fees at parking meters. Electricity supply companies offer EV owners special off-peak charging rates. In the US, it is common to see plates from different states in your neighborhood. I did not expect to see any out of state plates on the island. I saw one from Texas, and one from Washington State.
The evening meal was prepared by Darin with chicken legs and steak barbequed on a grill supplied by Marriott for guest use. Robyn grocery shopped for salads. Due to all the perspiration with the morning climb, we had to do laundry. A washer and dryer is part of the facilities supplied in the suite. That night the Marriott guests were entertained with an outdoor movie—The Greatest Showman, the same movie that I had seen a day before. This gave me an opportunity to speak to a local resident learning more about Oahu specifically, and Hawaii in general.
This island gives the impression of being well managed and prosperous. The homes are magnificent, the 20 story high-rise apartment and condominium accommodation imposing, the cars are mostly late model, with a wide variety of brands owned, including Tesla and Porches. Naturally, there are less wealthy people in the world and their accommodation is less grand. That too is the situation in Oahu. In addition, I saw several homeless people on the streets.
One source of income for the population in Oahu is the military. Hawaii is the headquarters of the United States Pacific Command (USPACOM). USPACOM comprises Army, Navy, Marine Corps and Air Force service components, all headquartered in Hawaii. The Coast Guard, providing unique services to the islands, also has a large presence. Retail is impressive with high-end brands including Chanel, Dolce & Gabbana, Louis Vuitton, Jimmy Choo, Swarovski, and Saint Laurent, etc. In sequence, the biggest source of revenue for Oahu is tourism, defense, agricultural products, manufacturing of apparel, refined sugar, pineapple, juices, jams, and candy (sweets), most of which is exported, and the services industry with hotels, healthcare, finance, and real estate.
I would be remiss if I did not mention again that everyone you meet on the island is extremely pleasant and respectful.
Monday, November 26, 2018. This day did not work out as envisaged. Darin, Robyn, and the twins had planned a snorkeling adventure that would leave Linda and me to do our own thing. Due to 30 to 40 foot (9 to 12 meter) high ocean waves, the outing was postponed until less challenging seas presented itself—expected within a day or two. The local TV station, KHON2, reported as follows “According to the city Division of Ocean Safety and Lifeguard Services, lifeguards performed 34 rescues and 1,745 preventative actions on Oahu’s North Shore, and 68 rescues and 865 preventative actions on the west shore.”
Notice the small cross on the bottom left of photograph 2 and 3. Not sure if that signifies a drowning. See the South African flag in the last photograph.
We headed out to the North Shore area and specifically stopped at Sunset Beach where a surfing completion was to be held but postponed due to the extremely high surf. Of the 64 entrants in Heat 1, 4 were from South Africa. We stopped in several places along the shore to admire, photograph, and video the high waves.
This 8 minute YouTube video is only a portion of the narrated ride on the Pineapple Express, filled with fascinating information. The sound from overhead speakers is intermingled with chatter from the visitors on the train. And yes, I had a few focus issues with my camera that should not spoil your enjoyment of this video experience.
We visited the Dole Plantation and spent 20 minutes on the Pineapple Express Train Tour. This is an informational ride through the plantations explaining the history and working of the Dole Food company. One highlight was the enjoyment of a pineapple ice crème. I purchased myself a Hawaiian shirt.
Next stop was to a number of Food Trucks gathered in a park alongside the road. The main attraction was Giovanni’s Shrimp Truck, while we supported Delice Crepes, prepared by a Frenchman using his grandmother’s recipe, and prepared in an identical style to the crepes we had in Quebec City. We purchased three bags of Macadamia nuts offered in different varieties from another food truck vendor.
When on the road, you sometimes need a bathroom break. The parking attendant supporting the food truck vendors in this small parking lot had to ensure that nobody parked to have fun at the shops across the street. He questioned anyone leaving on foot if they had arrived by car, and if yes, to please remove their vehicle. Parking was very limited. He was helpful in apologizing for not having a bathroom but recommended McDonald’s across the street that had such a facility. McDonald’s kept the bathroom locked, and would only allow access after you had purchased a food item. Now what?
Driving conditions are varied. You can rapidly commute across 5-lane interstates, and on the side roads with two-way lanes that curve left and right to correspond with the local landscape. We were advised that traffic conditions can be hectic with the morning or evening work rush, comparable to Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, or Cape Town. And yes, we got caught up in this mess later in the week.
In driving around the island, I noticed that the fire trucks and fire hydrants are yellow. Apparently, instituted about 12 years ago. This site provided additional interesting information including how the four counties are organized and the shifts worked by the fire department. While eating at the food truck stop, I was interested to see and hear a fire apparatus rushing by with sirens blaring, while towing a boat. A sea rescue perhaps with the rough wave conditions?
In touring this island, I am more than impressed to see the number of wind farms, solar farms, and a large number of residential houses sporting solar panels. This community seems to be striving to be environmentally friendly. “The energy sector in Hawaii has rapidly adopted solar power due to the high costs of electricity, and good solar resources, and has one of the highest per capita rates of solar power in the United States. Hawaii’s imported energy costs, mostly for imported petroleum and coal, are three times higher, and will soon be close to four times higher than the mainland, so Hawaii has the motivation to become one of the highest users of solar energy. Hawaii was the first state in the United States to reach grid parity for photovoltaics. Its tropical location provides abundant solar energy.” Wind power in Hawaii has the potential to provide all of the electricity used in the U.S. state of Hawaii. The 114 commercial wind turbines in the state have a total capacity of 206 MW. In 2013, they produced 5.1% of Hawaii’s electricity”.
After enjoying a spectacular sunset, and taking photographs, we walked a mile to a shopping center. The walk itself was interesting. It was a pitch-black evening. The path alongside the road meandered around trees and rock formations. Browsing a general store, I was fascinated to see that bananas sold for $1.49 per pound. Back home the Kwik Trip gas station sells them for $0.24/pound and the two grocery stores in our area range $0.49 to $0.59/pound. We had a family sized pizza at Pizza Corner Kapolei. We ordered half-Hawaiian and half vegetable. I can say without contradiction that this was the hottest (heat hot) and tastiest pizza ever. The pineapple and ham were the delicious, and vegetables the freshest available.
Tuesday, November 27, 2018. The day got off to a slow start with breakfast in our suite. On the way to the pool, we stopped to visit artists presenting and selling their wares in the hotel lobby. Apparently, this is a daily feature. We experienced it for the first time today. We saw artifacts made of bone, beads made from coral, photographic displays set on metal, framed, or prints to take home to frame. Decorative clothing was a popular attraction. Jewelry was the most common artwork offered by these artists.
The pool, one of two on the property, was a relaxation spot. One featured a fitness instructor encouraging mostly senior citizens to exercise in the pool to pop music for an hour each morning.
Visitor access to the USS Arizona Memorial (4th photograph) has been suspended for several months due to movement of the loading dock and corresponding movement of the loading ramp to the memorial, which poses a safety concern for visitors. While repairs are made, the USS Arizona Memorial will remain closed. Repairs are expected to be completed by March 2019.
After lunch in the suite again, we set off to experience the sights at Pearl Harbor. Security is strict. Going on the tour forbids bags or belongings except for cameras and cell phones. They provide lockers if required.
We started our learning experience by visiting a museum displaying many photographs and exhibits laying out the history of the Pearl Harbor attack in chronological sequence. Next, we watched a movie featuring original black and white film, explaining the circumstances that led up to the Japanese bombing the US fleet at Pearl Harbor. Then onto a boat to get a close up of the sites where the devastation took place. To me, the saddest comment is that the USS Arizona currently leaks a gallon of fuel from its sunken hull every day, 77 years later. I felt somewhat uncomfortable to see all the Japanese tourists present at this monument. The commemoration is not exactly friendly toward the Japanese.
“Pearl Harbor is a U.S. naval base near Honolulu, Hawaii, that was the scene of a devastating surprise attack by Japanese forces on December 7, 1941. Just before 8 a.m. on that Sunday morning, hundreds of Japanese fighter planes descended on the base, where they managed to destroy or damage nearly 20 American naval vessels, including 8 battleships, and over 300 airplanes. More than 2,400 Americans died in the attack, including civilians, and another 1,000 people were wounded. At 8:10, a 1,800-pound bomb smashed through the deck of the battleship USS Arizona and landed in her forward ammunition magazine. The ship exploded and sank with more than 1,000 men trapped inside. Next, torpedoes pierced the shell of the battleship USS Oklahoma. With 400 sailors aboard, Oklahoma lost her balance, rolled onto her side and slipped underwater. Less than two hours later, the surprise attack was over, and every battleship in Pearl Harbor—USS Arizona, USS Oklahoma, USS California, USS West Virginia, USS Utah, USS Maryland, USS Pennsylvania, USS Tennessee, and USS Nevada—had sustained significant damage. (All but USS Arizona and USS Utah were eventually salvaged and repaired.) Drydocks and airfields were likewise destroyed. After the Pearl Harbor attack, and for the first time during years of discussion and debate, the American people were united in their determination to go to war. The Japanese had wanted to goad the United States into an agreement to lift the economic sanctions against them; instead, they had pushed their adversary into a global conflict that ultimately resulted in Japan’s first occupation by a foreign power. The day after the assault, President Franklin D. Roosevelt asked Congress to declare war on Japan”.
“The Lone Sailor® represents men and woman who have served, are serving, or will serve in the Navy. He’s called the Lone Sailor yet he is hardly ever alone. He is about 25 years old, a senior second class petty officer who is fast becoming a seagoing veteran. He has done it all–fired weapons in war, provided humanitarian assistance in far-away lands, been attacked by the enemy and defended our freedom. He has made liberty calls in great cities and tiny villages where he was a courier, ambassador, adventurer, friend, missionary to those less fortunate and representative of our way of life. His shipmates remember him with pride and look up to him with respect.” Reprinted from a plaque alongside the statue.
“During the final stage of World War II, the United States detonated two nuclear weapons over the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki on August 6 and 9, 1945, respectively. The United States dropped the bombs after obtaining the consent of the United Kingdom, as required by the Quebec Agreement. The two bombings killed 129,000–226,000 people, most of whom were civilians. They remain the only use of nuclear weapons in the history of warfare. Japan announced its surrender to the Allies on August 15, six days after the bombing of Nagasaki and the Soviet Union’s declaration of war. On September 2, the Japanese government signed the instrument of surrender, effectively ending World War II. The ethical and legal justification for the bombings is still debated to this day”.
Prior to our trip to Hawaii, Robyn did extensive research into “must dos”. One item on the bucket list was Malasada Portuguese doughnuts and specifically from Leonard’s Bakery. We drove miles in very heavy traffic to find the food truck that sold this specialty. Linda says it is reminiscent of vetkoek (a South African specialty of deep-fried dough), but without the syrup. Malasada is a very tasty treat—a doughnut without a hole. We purchased a dozen, 6 with a custard filling, and 6 plain.
Darin was called on to grill pork chops so that we could eat in our room for dinner. We purchased food at Target in the late afternoon. Target does not supply paper bags, and we were obliged to purchase a reusable cloth bag. Another winning strategy for Hawaiians. When will the US mainline fall in line with a more responsible environmental attitude? I am aware that California banned the supply of single-use retail plastic shopping bags in 2016, but this is not a countrywide mandate yet.
Toa Laua is run by a Samoan family and they are able to show a more encompassing view of Samoan culture. They also have dancers from all over Polynesia who perform traditional dances from their home islands.
Hula in the Hawaiian Islands. In ancient Hawaii, a time when a written language did not exist, hula and its chants played an important role in keeping history, genealogy, mythology, and culture alive. With each movement – a hand gesture, a step of a foot, swaying of hips – a story would unfold. Through the hula, the Native Hawaiians were connected with their land and their gods.
This 9-minute YouTube video shows the stations we attended prior to the main stage event. Here showing how food is prepared, and amusement to be had.
This humorous 18-minute informative, fascinating, and detailed presentation describes the preparation to cook food.
This 33-minute YouTube video covers some of the main stage events. I apologize that several sections are out of focus–mea culpa. (I promise that most of the video is worth watching and is in focus). I am sharing this to induce you to visit Hawaii and enjoy the available entertainment. Some luaus have audiences of over 3,000. Toa Luau keeps attendance to under 300 to make it intimate, interactive, and enjoyable. I highly recommend this organization. Please understand that a video can never convey the atmosphere and excitement of attending in person.
If you wish to make reservations to attend a Toa Luau event, click here.
Wednesday, November 28, 2018. Darin, Robyn, Olivia, and Isabel set off on their snorkeling cruise while Linda and I spent quiet time at the timeshare. The twins reported that they saw dolphins. After Robyn and family returned we set out to the north of the island.
First stop was Matsumoto’s Shave Ice. When Robyn did her research, she looked for the best places to visit on the island, and often the first to start a trend. Matsumoto’s began business on the island in 1951, offers shaved ice in 39 different flavors, plain or on top of ice crème. With the shaved ice, you add up to 3 flavors or select from popular options. Naturally, I selected Hawaiian flavor on top of ice crème.
The twins use their swimming skills to get close to the impressive Waimea Valley Waterfall.
During our recent tour of Quebec City, I raved about the botanical gardens. We had the pleasure of visiting the Waimea Valley Botanical Gardens in Hawaii. Waimea means “reddish freshwater” and represents the power that the water holds. This coloring comes from the iron oxide present in the island’s volcanic soils. All streams and waterfalls are naturally fed by rainwaters. The waters provided healing powers to the inhabitants, as well as a cure for injuries. Being in a tropical setting, the variety of trees were more than magnificent.
One motivation for the visit was to hike to the waterfall and provide the twins with an opportunity to swim in the pool at the bottom of the falls. We saw the world’s largest water lily with circular leaves that reach over 8 feet in diameter. The river’s small rapids enhanced the beauty of the gardens. ‘Awa or Kava is the name of both the plant and drink made by brewing its roots. This root has been used by Hawaiian and other Polynesian culture for over 3,000 years.
Orchids growing on trees are evident in the gardens. Acanthaceae family of herbs, shrubs, and vines represents one of Waimea Valley’s most colorful gardens. The gardens feature Halau Wa’a canoe and open houses to understand how Hawaiians built structures using available trees and plants, and where locals could congregate to confer on matters of community. The gardens are set in a valley with impressive mountains lining the sides. In some places, the neighboring wind turbines can be observed rotating in its pleasant rhythm.
The evening entertainment was a Toa Luau at Waimea Valley. A luau is a traditional Hawaiian party or feast that is usually accompanied by entertainment. It may feature food such as poi, Kalua pig, poke, Lomi salmon, opihi, haupia and beer, and entertainment such as traditional Hawaiian music and hula.
The evening began by going to various stations to learn how to make the food, Hawaiian style. Green bananas are used. We were shown how to prepare taro, but with us doing the work to learn from the experience. Taro is a starchy root crop with edible leaves. It has provided good nutrition to Pacific Islanders for hundreds of years. Coconuts were split, the juices saved, and the coconut itself cut into small pieces. Ultimately, after the food preparation, they prepared a fire, Hawaiian style, to cook the food for an hour using hot rocks covered with leaves.
Frankly, I am unable to do justice to this experience in words. After the food preparation, we were entertained by the group on stage, followed by a conventional meal—served buffet style. Late in the evening, we sampled the food prepared from earlier in the afternoon on the fire. A delightful event all around. I should add that there are a number of Luaus on the island. Robyn chose this one because attendees are limited to 240 people. Some of the luaus have as many as 3,000 people attending. Our event was personal and interactive.
Thursday, November 29, 2018. Today started off as a lazy day. We left the suite after 10:00 am and drove to a nearby shopping center to eat at one of Robyn’s research favorites—My Café. I was able again to get my desired bacon, egg, wheat toast, preserves, pineapple juice, with each of the others selecting their desired breakfast. As popular as this restaurant is, we only had to wait 30 minutes for a table.
We stopped in at Safeway for a small grocery shop. With our departure tomorrow, we only needed a few items. Next to nearby Island Markets to purchase a t-shirt for Linda, and one for me. Naturally both with a Hawaiian theme. The reusable grocery bag cost us 15 cents, and again a pleasure to spend so little to help save the planet. Dark chocolate snacks are hard to come by on the island, but we found a box of dark chocolate covered macadamia nuts. Wonderful. The afternoon was spent in the sun at the pool. Relaxing.
Friday, November 30, 2018. We were required to vacate the Marriott timeshare by 10:00 am but only fly home at 10:00 pm. What to do for the next 12 hours? The weather forecast was rain. As it turned out, there were a few drops in the late afternoon, but nothing that could spoil our last day on the island. We had the rental car and decided to tour parts of the island we had not seen.
First stop was Kaupō Beach where we could view uninhabited Rabbit Island, also known as Mānana Island. Mānana in Hawaiian means buoyant. A volcanic tuff cone island last erupted 200,000 years ago. It encompasses 63 acres (0.25 sq. km) and rising to about 360 feet (110 m) at its highest point. It was not named for its shape, although many regards the island to be formed in the likeness of a rabbit, but because originally it was the location of a rabbit-raising farm. John Adams Cummins established the rabbit colony in the 1880s when he ran the nearby Waimānalo plantation. In 1994, the rabbits were removed because they started destroying the native ecosystem of the island, which is an important seabird breeding area. Mānana is a State Seabird Sanctuary—home to over 10,000 wedge-tailed shearwaters, 80,000 sooty terns, 20,000 brown noddys, 5–10 Bulwer’s petrels, and 10–15 red-tailed tropicbirds, and numerous Hawaiian monk seals. The neighboring small island has no significant importance but features in most photographs. We drove on to Waimanalo Beach where we were able to take additional pictures of Mānana Island.
The vegetation is fascinating. I did not get an opportunity to photograph the tree canopies that appear to form a barrier covering and hiding the ground in places. I am not sure if this is an effective description, but the mountains appear to have a ground covering presenting a beautiful green coloring.
Our lunch meal on this final day of our trip was at Ono Steak and Shrimp in Kapolei, Oahu. Another on Robyn’s bucket list. A restaurant that looks more like an enlarged food truck. The food was great. The prices highly competitive. Read cheap. I enjoyed their Korean style steak. The fish was particularly popular with our group. The food was served in styrofoam boxes with plastic utensils. No wasting on expensive crockery and cutlery here.
We made our way back to Honolulu to visit some of the city center stores.
We had an afternoon snack and drinks at Duke’s. And really enjoyed their ice creme special. This establishment named for the legend Duke Kahanamoku who grew up swimming, surfing, canoeing, and body surfing here. (See prior photograph and story).
We parked near the International Market Place home to over 80 stores, although they advertise 100 shops and restaurants. They offered music in the central court, but we did not have time to sit and enjoy. Aside from admiring the many stores, we elected to have a final small dinner at Il Lupino, a posh Italian restaurant where we had cocktails and a single pizza to share with the family.
The homeward journey was uneventful. We arrived at the airport in Hawaii with two hours to spare. Guess what? The TSA is consistent. I got stopped again with the beanbag in my camera case! One the flight to Salt Lake City I started to read James Michener’s book Hawaii. I read more on the onward flight to Chicago. Having now been to the island, I better understood where Michener was coming from with his very long excruciating details. We were met with heavy rains in Chicago, and that stayed with us all the way home. Fortunately, the temperatures were well above freezing or we would have been driving in feet’s of snow.
Would I like to return to Hawaii and visited one of the other islands? In a heartbeat, yes. I would have no problem returning to Oahu. What a great place with very fine people.
Hawaii was once an independent kingdom. (1810 – 1893) The Hawaiian flag was designed at the request of King Kamehameha I. It has eight stripes of white, red and blue that represent the eight main islands. The flag of Great Britain is emblazoned in the upper left corner to honor Hawaii’s friendship with the British.