Friday, April 13, 2007

Aloha Bound - Part Six

Aloha Bound – Part Six

Sights to see, things to do!

None of our family had been to the island of Oahu, save for us, the parents. Therefore acting as tourists, there were other activities some wished to participate in, one more altogether.

The day arrived to head off for the hour-long drive to Pearl Harbor (link here) a pivotal tourist destination highly recommended. Heading for the highway in our separate rental vehicles, directions promising to be simple with plenty of signs to warn for the turnoffs ahead, one group decided to run ahead to see the possibility of gathering tickets for the whole gang, and knowing from our own experience the crowds gather very early for the selection of tickets available for the entire day given out in those early hours, the first vehicle arrived promptly around 7:15am with crowds already gathered plentiful, hundreds of them! Two other vehicles, us included, headed next with the remaining one shortly behind.

Good to go; wearing listening devices

Imagine our surprise to hit the island morning rush hour, all highway lanes packed full and a waiting time to move forward inch by inch was the result of the traffic jam. As well, imagine our surprise when there were no signs when traveling south towards the site. Soon we realized we'd passed our desired exit for the final destination, resulting in venturing around quite a way away to get back onto the freeway to travel north again. Signs were indeed posted several times to exit the freeway traveling north – though not at all on route the opposite way, the direction we were previously traveling.

USS Memorial site

As we ended the “scenic route” with another following our lead, the final vehicle leaving home was able to reach the site before us, obtaining the same call time we had. It was the policy not to hand out tickets to anyone not present at the gate, therefore we were together for the museum and grounds, but not the presentation movie or boating tour to the sunken memorial with the first car load.

Due to many references of high theft in the parking lot, and all site tourists were forbidden to enter with bags into the museum site, nor purses or other items not inside of pockets, I left my cell phone behind and had no maps with us as we would be returning straight to the home afterward. Thankfully this did not present something difficult for communications with the others. Once our ticket number was being summoned by the announcement over the PA system, we were directed to move towards the line-up area, noticing the mood of the crowd had quickly became very quiet and somber for what lie ahead.

Waiting in line

Straddling the sunken battleship USS Arizona in the waters of Pearl Harbor, the Memorial stands as a perpetual reminder of the tragedy. It holds different meanings for the millions who visit: as a tribute to those who died on the ship, in the overall Pearl Harbor attack, and in World War II in the Pacific; as a reminder of America’s need for eternal vigilance; as a symbol of hope for peace among nations; and as a testament to the tragedy of war and the value of human life. The USS Arizona Memorial is the final resting place for many of the battleship's 1177 crew members who lost their lives on December 7, 1941

Heading out to the Memorial site

The 184-foot-long Memorial structure spanning the mid-portion of the sunken battleship consists of three main sections: the entry and assembly rooms; a central area designed for ceremonies and general observation; and the shrine room, where the names of those killed on the Arizona are engraved on the marble wall.

Names fill an entire wall commemerating the dead

All the children behaved very well and greatly respected what they heard and witnessed. With such a tribute memorial to the horror and atrocities of war, perhaps this next generation will bring peace into our world so much so than our generation has been able to.

USS Battleship Missouri in the background

This younger generation can move
mountains for world peace in the future

When the tour was complete, the museum fully viewed and appreciated, the bookstore visited (wink), and the grounds toured to read the memorials presented there as well, some had other plans to head off, and some of us remained behind. We suggested we all tour the Battleship Missouri (the Mighty Mo), having been before ourselves as a possibility; however instead, some of us opted to tour the U.S.S.Bowfin submarine (link here), a national historic landmark.

Heading up the ramp to board the USS Bowfin

Launched on the first anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor, Bowfin (a Balao class submarine) completed nine war patrols in two years of wartime duty. One of the top-scoring U.S. submarines of World War II, Bowfin is credited with sinking 16 Japanese vessels with a total tonnage of 67,882 tons. At the war's end, Bowfin left Pearl Harbor for active duty with the Atlantic Fleet. She later served as reserve training boat in Seattle, Washington, until her decommissioning in 1971.

On the deck of the submarine

Today, Bowfin is back at Pearl Harbor berthed at USS Bowfin Submarine Museum & Park. The park, located next to the USS Arizona Memorial Visitor Center, incorporates a museum, outdoor exhibits, and a waterfront memorial to the 52 U.S. submarines lost during World War II.

Getting a feel for the inside of a submarine

Once aboard, one of our scuba diving sons was remarking how he could now understand exactly how he would approach viewing the wreckage of a submerged submarine underwater, viewing the inside of the haul and gathering the details of such a huge transport device.

Wearing listening devices for a self tour

Observing the view from the submarine deck

What a surprise to be on our vacation all the way over in Hawaii, suddenly recognizing familiar faces of former neighbors and parishioners just ahead of us. Yes, we knew this couple and their adult son from years gone by and chatted for some time while waiting in line. It seemed quite a co-incidence to meet up with someone from our old neighborhood; however we also would later meet them again in Waikiki on a crowded beachfront the following week.

Walking inside the museum courtyard

The rest of the family decided this day was their best choice to continue traveling westward towards Waikiki. One vehicle filled with our older daughter’s family preferred to attempt the hike up Diamond Head, a dormant volcano and popular site in Waikiki amongst the hotel row. They hiked up inside the volcano to the crater to view the WW2 bunker still inside. The children made it all the way up even with the heat of the day, and surely they will not forget what they had experienced this day.

They hiked Diamond Head, the inactive volcano

All of the others took in a bit of sight seeing downtown Waikiki, shopping for souvenirs, and four of them decided it was a requirement to eat at the famed “Dukes” restaurant, ocean side. Duke was the famous surfer who participated in three Olympics, taking home two gold medals for swimming, and the first person to invent and use the surfboard, the standard mental vignette appearing in our heads when mentioning Hawaii to anyone these days.

Having lunch at "Dukes"

A few days before, our older daughter and her family had traveled to experience Sea Lion Park, the children in awe when live penguins, sea lions and other wonders were directly before them while seated during the live show times, their very time viewing such mammals.


A Sea Lion right before their eyes

Recommendations were high to have a taste at the local “Giovanni’s Shrimp Truck”, found in many tourist books, a short drive away from the rental home. Graffitti was welcomed on the truck itself, pens not included however so you were out of luck if you didn't have one.

Giovanni's Shrimp Truck

Shaved ice was necessary to try, though not at Masumoto’s famous storefront, as we found a venue closer to our rental home to try these delicious icy concoctions. I thought it amusing and perhaps my age is showing but does anyone else remember the ice machine on television commercials for children years ago, the exact same ice experience for that time period? Wasn’t it called ‘The Snow cone’ maker?

Shaved ice

Snorkeling around other waterway areas, along alcoves on the ocean perimeter were often in the daily schedule, “Shark’s Cove” being the very best over the entire island, a short drive away from us. The name alone sent shivers up our spines, though surfers were plentiful day-by-day waiting for that big kahuna to roll them into the shores on their surfboards they floated on while bidding their time for it to appear.

Note of interest; A blue stop sign!

Overall, everyone seemed satisfied with the sights they were able to take in, snapping photos and making memories together all over the islands. Very quickly and all too soon, the moment came to say farewell, as we remained behind for another five days ourselves and continued onto Waikiki with the younger four children before leaving the island back to Vancouver.

In God we trust

Stay tuned for Part 7 coming soon...