Sunday, August 12, 2012


A Chamber of Commerce day in Hawai'i

Finally we reached Honolulu and we reached it just about on time. Not bad for a four-day journey! AND we had no customs or immigration hassles, just walk off the ship! We did have to show a “government-issued photo ID” as well as the normal ship-issued cruise card to get back on board. This unusual show of American Customs and Border Patrol—aka Homeland Security—friendliness was because we hadn’t touched any foreign place that might taint us and cause the CBP heartburn and thus cause us heartache.

I had reserved a convertible Mustang to tour around the islands with Chris and Phil; what a great choice both of friends and automobiles! The weather was absolutely a Hawai'i Chamber of Commerce day: puffy white clouds, deep blue sky, temperature in the mid-80s—guess what? We kept the top down the whole day (even though there were a couple of very light, misty rain episodes). What more could we ask? Well, for starters, a few less of those pesky tourists that were all over the place! Several places we wanted to show to Chris and Phil we couldn’t get into because the parking lots were full, such as Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve.

Hanauma Bay was the first place I ever snorkeled and it is a magical memory—even though I had an episode at the time of, “OMG-I’m-in-water-that-is-really,-really-deep-and-I’m-going-to-plunge-to-the-bottom!” Seems silly now but while I was totally engrossed in feeding the fish (frozen peas) I had floated over an area that was extremely deep and almost had a panic attack because the water was so clear I thought I was going to fall! Made Hanauma Bay memorable!

Our general plan for the day was to pick up the car and drive along the ocean up to the Polynesian Cultural Center and then down the middle of Oahu back by Pearl Harbor and have dinner on Waikiki Beach somewhere. Like the best laid plans of mice, it didn’t quite happen that way.

We did drive along Waikiki Beach and Randy reminisced about the places he used to go to on his layovers (none of which seem to exist any more). After reminiscence time was over, we started driving around the island trying to stay as close to the ocean as possible and we even toyed with the idea of climbing Diamondhead. Luckily we couldn’t do that because there was no parking—the perils of being on Oahu on one of the aforementioned Chamber-of-Commerce days and a Saturday to boot! By the time we were also aced out of Hanauma Bay we were hungry and found a brew pub (Kona Brewing) near the Pali Lookout (very, very windy). On the water and with a menu full of locally brewed libations, we couldn’t resist also having lunch.

Once surfeited, we launched ourselves back onto our trek around the island but pretty quickly decided that cutting the journey short—especially since we all felt that the Polynesian Cultural Center probably needed a full day anyway—would serve us better. After fighting with the GPS for a while and for a while we thought the GPS would win, we sort of headed in the direction of Pearl Harbor. Phil, Chris, and Randy all wanted to see the Arizona memorial (I had been there many years ago) but had given up on that desire because everything we saw said to expect an hour-and-three-quarters or more wait and none of us wanted to waste our time standing in line.

Arriving at Pearl Harbor we looked around to see what we could see at the Memorial that didn’t require standing in line and heard the Ranger tell the people in front of us that there was plenty of space on the boat to the USS Arizona! Off we went, watched the mandatory and very moving video about that day, and took the Navy launch out to the Memorial. Although I know nobody who was on board nor even anybody who knew anybody who was on board, it was so emotional to stand there and read the names of those too-young men who were taken by surprise and too early in their lives. One of the youngest on board (16; too young to enlist but he somehow did) is still alive. The men who were serving on the USS Arizona and who were not killed on that dreadful day have the right to be entombed with their brothers when they die and many have chosen that option. They are listed on a separate wall close by the listing of the 1177 who were killed on December 7, 1941. The ranger told us about the ceremony they perform for those men; it’s very hard not to cry. The sorrow engendered by the site is, however, mitigated by the beauty of the memorial itself and the surroundings of Pearl Harbor.

Back in our chariot, we went off in search of some retail therapy at the Ala Moana Mall, billed as the largest “open-air” mall in the world. I’m not at all sure what that means except that you have to walk outside in the sunshine (or liquid sunshine on occasion) to go from store to store. Chris had a blowout in her “tennies”—remember, the Aussies shorten everything!—and apparently the US prices are the best in the world; certainly better than Australia. The Australians on board have been going crazy and doing their best to prop up our economy single-handedly! For which we thank them! I bought a couple of things and restrained myself from buying a LeSportsac purse, something I am now somewhat regretting. Oh, well, there’s always the internet. The LeSportsac shop had a sign I’ve never before seen in the US: “Payment cheerfully accepted in yen.”

Retail therapy completed, we searched for and found a place to have some libations, Bubba Gump’s. While we have been travelling around the world I really prefer local establishments to chain restaurants that I can go to anytime. But we could not find a place to get a beer in Ala Moana that wasn’t a chain. And they do have quite good margaritas!

Having accomplished most of what Plan A called for while we were in Honolulu (for an almost-unprecedented 13 hours, 9am to 10pm; only NY and Venice were longer and in no other city was our stay anywhere close to that) we set our thoughts to dinner. Remember, we on cruise ships are totally unaccustomed to going more than about two to three hours without sustenance! We found, thanks to the rental-car van driver, normally an unusual source of good gastronomical recommendations, Chai’s Island Bistro. Wow! Is really all I can say about our meal! We all had fantastic meals and for the Aussies at least, the fact that they offered half-size portions was a big plus! Phil and I had a wok-seared chili shrimp, Randy had a tenderloin concoction that he rated as one of the best he’d ever had, and Chris had two appetizers (ribs and something else I forget) that she raved about as well. And as a plus, only a five minute walk to the ship! So at 2145 (all-aboard was 2200) we sauntered over and back on board for our next leg, five sea-days to Tahiti!

Some of our greeters as we arrived in Honolulu
The weather can change in an instant in Hawai'i

Our parking spot was at the foot of the Aloha tower (with the clock) so we could just walk off the ship and be in downtown Honolulu

Waikiki beach

Phil and Chris and our transportation pony

Pam and Randy and the crashing Pacific Ocean

Chris and Phil and the crashing Pacific Ocean

Pam and Chris at lunch at the Kona Brewing Company

Flat Stanley enjoying a beer.
Hang gliders

The hang gliders came perilously close to us!

All I could think of watching these guys was the poem High Flight:                                                                                          Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of earth
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward I've climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
Of sun-split clouds - and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of - wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sunlit silence. Hov'ring there
I've chased the shouting wind along, and flung
My eager craft through footless halls of air.
Up, up the long delirious, burning blue,
I've topped the windswept heights with easy grace
Where never lark, or even eagle flew -
And, while with silent lifting mind I've trod
The high untresspassed sanctity of space,
Put out my hand and touched the face of God.

Phil and Chris at the Pearl Harbor monument

Pam & Randy at the same place

The monument to the 1177 men killed in the USS Arizona on Dec 7, 1941.

Every ship is marked with a memorial

And the list of men killed that day seems to go on forever. One was only 16 on Dec 7, 1941, and he is still alive as are, I think, only about 14 or 15 others; he is the youngest.

The ranger who gave us a short talk.

The ranger talking to the group

Pam at the Memorial to the USS Arizona

USS Arizona Memorial

Anchor from the USS Arizona

Chris walking our ship's route across the Pacific
Phil, Randy, Pam, and Chris at dinner at Chai's Island Bistro

The scene leaving Honolulu; the only way I could capture it was using an extremely high ISO, hence the "noise"


  1. That final picture is very pretty. Not a "typical" Hawaii scene.

  2. Thanks, I just wish it wasn't so "noisy," ISO was 6400.