View from Lisa's house of Diamond Head Crater
I spent two small stints of my Hawaii time on Oahu. When I returned from the Big Island, I hung out with Lisa Curtis of Pittsburgh ultimate fame. I nagged her into playing sometime around 2002. She couldn't throw when she started, but was as fast as could be. She went to nationals before I did. Anyway, our first morning we hopped on bikes and headed for Hanamau Bay that my dad had recommended for snorkeling. On the way, Lisa took me to the Spitting Cave that works like a blow hole but blows water out horizontally. I have never seen anything like it and we were lucky enough to see a couple humpback whales there too even though the whale boat I called said they were closed because the whales left town for the season.
The Spitting Cave
A view from our bike ride.
After enjoying one of natures little wonders, we set off to Hanamau Bay. I didn't entirely know what to expect except good snorkeling. I thought it might be a quiet place. It isn't. I'd guess it is the most visited beach in Hawaii outside of Waikiki. You have to pay to get in if you aren't a Hawaiian resident (which I like), but man was it built up. You could even take a shuttle down to the beach. The price varied for uphill and downhill rides. The snorkeling was good, but, again, not great. The farther you went out, the better it got. Unfortunately, it was colder farther out and they kept blaring the loud speaker about strong currents if you went out too far. I am a good swimmer and I had fins on so I think that makes me a great swimmer, but I've heard about ocean currents so much that I was worried. I don't know if they are that bad or just being careful. Any thoughts? I can tell you that Hawaii's state fish, the Humuhumukununukuapua'a, is brilliant and I would have had no problem identifying it at the Great Barrier Reef even if I couldn't remember the full name to save my life.
Hanamau Bay shuttle.
I rounded out my first visit on Oahu by attending the Kokua festival at the Waikiki Shell. It is a festival put on by Jack Johnson for his charity that supports environmental education. Jake Shimabukuro, a Hawaiian born ukulele master played lots of pop covers. He was followed up by Taj Mahal & The Hula Blues Band. I've always enjoyed Taj's blues music. This wasn't that. It was still good, but not great, for me. Ziggy Marley did some solo stuff and then Jack Johnson closed out the show. This was a family event. Jack Johnson sang the songs he wrote for Sesame Street which was a hoot. The whole concert was done by 10pm, maybe 10:30pm, and that was just fine for me. I needed some more sleep.
On my second visit to Honolulu, my host for the evening was delayed. I ended up paying for my only night of lodging in Hawaii at a hostel near Waikiki Beach. It was weird to be in a hostel so close to the finest clothing boutique stores that you'll never catch me near. I was pretty exhausted from my trip to Kauai (next blog), so I just crashed out in the hostel.
Sunrise from a Diamond Head Crater bunker.
Honolulu from Diamond Head Crater.
The next morning, I was headed for Diamond Head Crater to watch sunrise on a tip from Celeen. I got directions from the front desk and followed the water as instructed. I was able to walk on most of it because in Hawaii the shoreline belongs to the people. It can't be owned by whoever has that giant house next to it. I eventually found the road that I was directed to. It didn't get me to the entrance to Diamond Head Crater. It did get me to Diamond Head though. It was pretty neat to see people rolling up at 5am to get their pre-work surf in. As the sun got closer and closer to rising, I realized that my directions were bonk. On an educated guess, I just took a left turn and started scrambling up the hill. I was pleasantly rewarded when I got to the crater rim. I walked from old military bunker to bunker wondering where the actual trail was. I eventually found it after the sun had risen and everyone else showed up. Apparently, I was lucky. The guards at the gate did not let anyone in until after the sun had already come up. One couple asked if I had been the guy on the rim that they saw at sunrise. I was and was a little proud of my serendipity, which I can't take any credit for. It just happened.
USS Missouri in Pearl Harbor.
My visit to Pearl Harbor was moving. After waiting in ninety degree heat and taking the longest bus ride ever to get there, I was told I'd have to wait two hours to take a tour of the USS Arizona memorial. In the mean time, you could explore all of the other tours that cost money. I signed up for a tour of the USS Bowfin submarine. I haven't been in a sub as an adult. Man, they are small.
After I left that tour, I was reading the 54 plaques with the achievements of the submarines that were lost during the war. For reasons I can't explain, it brought the experience a lot closer to home. It made it personal. I don't know of anyone that served on subs, but something clicked.
List of names of people interred in the USS Arizona
USS Arizona Memorial
When I was done, I headed over to my USS Arizona memorial tour. You take a boat over to the memorial which straddles the sunken ship. Once there, you get 15-30 minutes to explore and hear a ranger talk about what happened. In the memorial, there is a list of 1,177 men who lost their lives on the USS Arizona when Pearl Harbor was attacked. However, there is a second list of those who survived the initial attack, but chose to be interred with their shipmates when they died later in life.
Honolulu Airport Lounge