Adventures on O'ahu
Our trip began flying to O'ahu.......our first sight of the island was from the airplane window. The water color was a breath taking sight of every color of aqua you can imagine. After settling our 'stuff', we headed to Waikiki beach, which was a block from out hotel. What a sight....all the local kids body surfing and surf boarding in swelling waves. We stayed until sunset and got some terrific shots of the sun slowly sinking in the western sky.
The next day we took a trip around the island in search of the turtles and more awesome sights. Our first stop was to climb Diamond Head Crater. It is the most recognized landmark on O'ahu and its two volcanic shields are for O'ahu's creation over 2.5 million years ago. We then ventured north on O'ahu's eastern shore and experienced a blow hole. (volcanic tubes under land that water spews from due to oceanic wave action.). We were in awe at the dramatic mountain range of Ko'olau and the sheer fluted cliffs, carpeted with every shade of green and never failed to impress us. On our drive we saw many small islands off shore. One in particular caught our attention. It is known as Chinaman's hat and it really does look like a chinaman's hat!!! We made it to turtle bay and saw many large sea turtles, but unfortunately, could not capture one on film. And, unlike Waikiki, the northern part of O'ahu, is laid back....giving us the feeling of Hawaiian time....slow and easy. We enjoyed a leisurely time there talking with some of the local people.
The next day was enjoyed by the pool and just some relaxation time.
On Friday we went to visit the USS Arizona Memorial. When the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor in 1941, 21 vessels were damaged or sunk, but the USS Arizona caused the most deaths.....1,177 young lives were snuffed out when the armor-piercing bomb dropped and drilled through her top deck and ignited the battleships own ordinance. The vessel sank in only 9 minutes and it is a miracle that 337 were able to escape and survive!!! Standing on the memorial, perched over the sunken ship and the many men still entombed under our feet, brought the reality to the present day for Jim and I. Seeing the marble wall with their names engraved, only then did the event that happened many years ago, cement in our minds the horrific tale of the beginning of WWII, turning an event of part of our history, to an assault that stole the lives of people like you and me. Also, standing over the sunken ship we were able to view the oil that is still seeping from the ship and are known as tears of sorrow being shed by the mighty Arizona in remembrance of her brave boys lost!!!
From there we went to visit the USS Missouri Battleship which is a short distance from the USS Arizona. When the Navy was looking for a resting place for this ship, the symbolism of location was a fitting place to rest her, placing the floating ship that ended WWII next to the sunken ship where the war began. It was on the Missouri's decks in Tokoyo Bay the Japanese signed the surrender documents bringing the fighting in the Pacific to an end!
The "Mighty Mo" was launched in 1944, near the end of the war. It was the last battleship ever built and only 11 years in service, it was considered obsolete and put to rest in 1955. She was brought back into service in the mid 80's for a short time and armed with tomahawk missiles. The usefulness of battleships had long passed, even for a giant that is 887 feet long and weighs over 100 million pounds. It was a real treat to be able to walk the decks and peer into how the sailors lived and to appreciate the sheer scale of this vessel. Looking back in time it must have caused fear in the enemies hearts to see this mighty warship coming a them in anger!
The next day we decided to go visit some of the islands military bases. One in particular interested both Jim and I, was the Schofield Barracks. I am reading 'From Here to Eternity' which takes place on O'ahu and at this particular base. We were hunting a museum at this base, got so lost and when we finally found it, we were told it was closed. (how frustrating) Schofield is a US Army installation and was established in 1908 to provide mobile defense of Pearl Harbor and the entire islands. From there we entered Wheeler Army Air base, which is a very small base and had evolved into a primary base for Army aircraft responsible for air defense of the Hawaiian Islands territory. It is also known as the first Hawaii-to-mainland solo flight in 1935 by Amelia Earhart. Next is Hickam Air Force Base and currently shares runways with the Honolulu International Airport. This base had many names and was officially activated September 1938. It, then, was principally an Army airfield and today is the property of the Air Force since 1941. I was so impressed with the size of the shopping facilities. Two stores full of anything you could ever possibly want or need. In addition to that, a food court and various other shops.
Another day we visited the Punchbowl National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific. Not only are there fallen military buried there, but a huge memorial built for those who were never recovered. Each name engraved in marble slabs rising to the memorial chapel and tribute to the fallen men in various battles in the Pacific. It brought tears to my eyes at the enormity and honor this memorial dedicated to those who served our country. Its location is in a huge crater that shadows Honolulu. It is the final resting place for those who served in World War I, World War II, the Korean and Vietnam wars. Both veterans and dependents have been interred there. Next we visited the aviation museum on Ford Island in Pearl Harbor. It is located in 2 hangers that still shows the signs of that horrific day when the Japanese struck so long ago. this museum honors the patriotism, valor and sacrifice made by Americans in defense of freedom in the Pacific.
Our last day on the Island we visited the west coast of O'ahu. Here we saw some wondrous landscaped. It seems there is one continuous beach along this leeward side of O'ahu, but they are individually named. Also, this part of O'ahu seems to be the least populated, but where the more common folk live. Also, we visited a pineapple plantation owned by Dole. It is undeniably a classic tourist trap, but we wanted to stop just to say we were there. They do have a world renown hedge maze that is largest in the world and a train tide through the pineapple fields, but we just wanted to peruse the gift shop, have a cup of coffee and continue on back to the hotel.