Thursday, April 17, 2008

Hawaii, the 50th State, August 2004

As many know, my wife Judith grew up in Hawaii. Her parents grew up in Western Pennsylvania, south of Pittsburgh, met as students at Penn State, married and had Judith in 1943, the year of the steel penny. Her father graduated and became a professor of Horticulture and moved his family to the territory of Hawaii where he taught agriculture at Lahaina Luna on the island of Maui. The school still exists, sitting above Lahaina on the side of the hill and has not changed too much since her father taught there. When her parents divorced, her mother remarried a Honolulu fireman after moving to Oahu. Judith grew up in Waikiki, when there was just the Royal Hawaiian Hotel and Moana Hotel to choose from. She and her friends would romp barefoot through the hotel lobbies and swimming pools as though they were guests and rarely were “caught” as impostors. Her step father helped put out the fires on Dec. 7th, 1941 and Judith still has his fireman’s badge. Judith won a scholarship to attend the famous Punahou School in Honolulu where all the grandchildren of “colonial”, moneyed families attend, along with the children of the Hawaiian power structure. Punahou is also where Presidential candidate Barak Obama attended school, also being granted a scholarship.

After graduation she moved to North Hollywood, California and lived in a house 2 or 3 houses down from where my daughter Vikki now lives. Karma?

We got married in Hana, Maui June 2001 and honeymooned on Molaki so this time we decided to visit Kauai. But first, we spent some time at Waikiki and drove around the island.

So when going to Oahu with Judith, we visit her old haunts and she reminisces about what it was like before many tourists came. We ALWAYS must go to Leonard's Bakery, established by a Portuguese family, to eat some “Malasadas”. There is always a line of patrons, but always worth the wait.

Old habits die hard so in the morning we walk a couple hundred yards from the Sheraton and sit in the Royal Hawaiian Hotel beach chairs and watch the sun come up before the hotel guest arrive. The photo shows Diamond Head and a would be surfer to practice before the waves get too big.
We went to Pearl Harbor to see the Arizona memorial arriving about 9:30 and were given a ticket showing our scheduled time to see the pre-trip movie and board the boat was 12:30. So those of you who go to Pearl, go early, or do what we did and take a tour of the Battleship Missouri and the submarine Intrepid in between times.

This was taken from the command center of the Missouri battleship. It was on the deck below where Japan surrendered WWII. The Arizona Memorial can be seen in the background. These powerful symbols represent the beginning and the end of WWII for the United States.

While going through the Missouri, I came across an area set aside near the canteen where war documentaries were being shown. I watched for about 20 minutes and the only other person watching was a Japanese man about my age. Both of us were too young to have been actively involved in the war, but I could not help wondering what was going through his mind as he watched the U.S. version of the invasions of Okinawa and Iwo Jima. He watched passively.

Before getting on a boat to travel to the Arizona Memorial we watched a movie about the bombing of Pearl Harbor. The movie showed Japanese air strikes of Pearl Harbor and other airbases on Oahu with some dramatic footage, mostly stills with film of the clean up project. The navy runs two boats for visitors back and forth between the land and the memorial situated over the Arizona.

Before the memorial was built, Judith remembers her family taking visitors out in a rented boat to look down at the graveyard ship. I remember December 7th 1941. I had just turned six years old and I remember the serious look on my parents’ faces on day as they huddled around the radio. They tried to explain things to me, without scaring me. Arriving at the Memorial. The mood was somber throughout the visit in tribute to our fallen Americans. We drove around the island the next day. There is plenty of paradise still undeveloped. I would urge everyone to take a day and drive around the island (well you can’t really drive all the way around) Oahu and capture the variety of people and places to see. Quite sandy beaches frequented by locals, crashing surfer waves, beautiful scenery of green high rising mountains, occasional resorts, pineapple fields, and sleepy little towns where you can stop and get some ‘shave ice” (snow cones). All are there to see. The little island in the background is called Chinese Hat. I played golf on the world’s most difficult golf course (from the back tees) Kona Loa. I played from the resort tees and shot 96 losing three balls on my first 3 holes. The fairways are narrow and surrounded by what they refer to as rain forest, but I saw it as jungle. A ball hit, even one yard into the jungle was lost, no sense to even try to find it, the jungle was that thick.

We left to the island of Kauai on late on Father’s Day, but had breakfast on the main drag in the morning. Each Father’s Day the street is blocked off from traffic for about 4 blocks, umbrella tables were set up and the hotels and restaurants had booths where a very nice breakfast could be purchased for a reasonable price. Artificial turf carpeting was put down on the street which helped change the atmosphere to a day in the park. There were both tourists and locals there with families. Nice touch, I thought.
Kauai is the northern most island of the archipelago. This island offers the most spectacular scenery one will ever see, but to get the full effect its best to buy a helicopter ride. You will NOT be disappointed.

We stayed again at the Sheridan near Poipu. They gave us an upgrade so we had a suite with our own private outdoor hot tub just 30 yards from the ocean. We sat out on the patio and watched the spectacular sunsets every night. We watched a couple get married by the palm tree 5 minutes before this photo was taken. We drove to the west as far as the road went, stopping along the way to see this noted blow hole. We stopped along the road to see the Waimea Canyon. A local stopped and came up to me and asked if I smoked. At first I thought she wanted to bum a cigarette, but she wasn't talking about tobacco and she didn't want to receive but to sell.

So this is a segue into the "Puff the Magic Dragon" song being about the marijuana culture. Peter, Paul, and Mary so "no" and they wrote it. But I think the locals like to romanticise that it is, because if you fly above the town of Hanalei you can see the shape of a dragon in the hills behind the town, using a little imagination. And hippies used to hang out there in the 60's according to our former Viet Nam helicopter pilot.

Mt. Waialeale is 5200 feet in the middle of the island and it is thee wettest spot on earth. It rains everyday and produces about 480 inches of rain annually. When we took our helicopter ride, we were able to see the numerous waterfalls and deep canyons. Then we went to the back side of the island where the only access is my boat.

Our pilot was very skilled and gave a thrilling ride as he gave us his tourist guide spiel.
I played golf here also on a public course (Wailua) right on the water. Lots of traps and thin sand with small greens made this a difficult course. Played with a couple of locals and got some of the lowdown on living here. If I ever were to live on Hawaii, Kauai would be my choice.


GETkristiLOVE said...

Jamie and I had a similar helicopter ride with awesome scenery like that. I've never been to Kauai though.

Dad E said...

We have not been to the big island, but when we do, a helicopter ride will be on the list.