Thursday, April 15, 2010

Hawaii Part 5

This is the final post of photos and commentary from our vacation to Hawaii. (If you missed the first four, here's part 1, part 2, part 3, and part 4.)

If you remember from my post last week, I told you that in the wee hours of the morning on our sixth day on the big island, Justin and I jetted back to Honolulu for two more days of fun in the sun, before heading back to Chicago.

It was a quick plane ride from Hawaii to Oahu, only about 30 minutes in the air, but once we touched down and had our luggage, we didn't know we would wait an hour and a half for our rental car. Nonetheless, after standing around with about 50 other people, as everyone else get their cars but us, we finally got ours and were off like a herd of turtles (as my mom would say).

Our first stop was Pearl Harbor. We spent all morning and an hour or two in the afternoon walking around the USS Missouri, the USS Bowfin submarine, and the memorial for the USS Arizona. We took a short bus ride to reach the USS Missouri and were greeted by this grand entrance. Little did we know, but the day we visited was the day before good 'ol MO was being officially reopened after being in dry dock for some time as she was getting some restoration and body work done. And let me tell you, she looked pretty good!

You can't tell me this isn't at least a little intimidating.

In the photo below, look closely, see where the side rail is dented? That is the only damage that a one-seater, Japanese fighter plane made when he flew into the side of the ship. The plane basically bounced off and crashed into the water.

After touring the exterior of the ship, we went below deck to check out the living arrangements. I was captured by these racks of mugs. They looked so deserted, but also like they belonged in a diner.

At this size, you can't read the white sign very well, but it said "5-inch Gun Characteristics." So, I, of course, had to show it up with my guns, which I believe are closer to 11".

After spending a little more than an hour on USS MO, we went back across the bay and checked out the USS Bowfin submarine. It didn't take long to walk through it, since it's tiny, but it was still fascinating to learn how it was operated and how people lived on it. My dad was in the navy for the first few years of my life and he warned me that the Bowfin is about 1/2 the width of the one he was on. Yikes!

It was only fitting that the last stop on our tour around Pearl Harbor Bay was to pay our respects at the USS Arizona Memorial.

This beautiful structure spans across the middle section of the sunken battleship, creating a cross if you saw them from above. According to its architect, Alfred Pries, the design of the memorial, "wherein the structure sags in the center but stands strong and vigorous at the ends, expresses initial defeat and ultimate victory....The overall effect is one of serenity. Overtones of sadness have been omitted to permit the individual to contemplate his own personal responses...his innermost feelings."

I was pleasantly surprised to enter the memorial and see it bare and minimal. The cutouts allow tropical breezes to flow through and provide a natural air conditioning to the space. (The one creepy thought I had while walking around the memorial was that it felt like I was in a rib cage.)

On one end, there is an observation area where you can look down and see the sunken ship. Here's a photo of what you can see of USS Arizona looking down into the water at that point.

In various spots surrounding the Memorial we saw oil surface and ripple out from below the surface, creating beautiful kaleidoscopes of color. I overheard a woman say that the oil that continues to leak out from somewhere in the ship and they call it tears from the ship.

Does this look familiar? This is the tower that was part of the setting in the 2001 movie Pearl Harbor. The funny part is that in the movie, it is used as an air traffic control tower and in actuality, the tall tower is a weather station and the lower one on the left is air traffic control.

The rest of our first day (Day 6 of our trip) was spent checking in to our hotel at the Waikiki Beach Sheraton and walking around the area, doing a little shopping, and grabbing some dinner. (The photo below is the view down to the infinity pool from our room's balcony.)

The next day (our last and final day of vacation) we woke early and got moving. There was a lot we wanted to do and see before we had to get to the airport that evening for our flight and didn't want to waste a minute of our time. First, we went to a flea market/swap meet at the Aloha Football Stadium. There wasn't anything too exciting there so we did one loop and jumped in the car to go to our next destination, North Shore Beach on the north side of Oahu.

We read in our guide book that this beach is famous for its waves, and is a hot spot for surfing competitions. However, it failed to mention that the beach is beautiful as well, way more stunning than Hapuna Beach on the Big Island. The sand was soft, clean, and perfectly colored and the water had wonderful blue hues that changed each time a new wave crashed. The day we were there, we heard that the surf was low, but at 6–10 feet, Justin and I were still impressed and listened to the "do not swim" signs.

See what I mean about the color? Gorgeous.

Even though, we were not permitted to swim, there were tons of surfers trying their best to make the most of the small waves.


Here we are relaxing in the sand, watching the surfers.

After getting our fill of sand and surf, we set off to go back to our hotel. Instead of taking the same way we drove to get the North Shore, we took the scenic route and circled back around the east side of the island. En route I read about La'ie Point just off of Kamehameha highway which boasts the best view of a sea arch the ocean punched out of an island not too far off the coast, and convinced Justin to stop by. Aside from the light drizzle and the packed parking lot, it was very cool and frightening to imagine the ocean so rough it beat a hole through that patch of land.

Once we were back at the hotel, we packed up our things, walked around the Waikiki Beach area for a little while longer, and were back on a plane in no time flat. Ah, what I wouldn't give to go back right now...aloha! (These photos are just a sampling of pictures I took on our trip. If you want to see them all check out our flickr page.)

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