Pearl Harbor and Kayaking

Authored By Brian

Today was Pearl Harbor day. Not officially or anything, but it was our scheduled day to see the USS Arizona memorial. Both of my grandfathers served in WWII and I really wanted to see the memorial. This was a running joke between us where I told Jennifer I would go on the educational portion of the trip and she could sit on the beach. In the end, we got up early and left our hotel by 7am so we could be near the front of the line. It’s not far from waikiki but the speed limit on most of oahu is 35 or 45mph. Thankfully there aren’t many police so you can drive (along with everyone else) around 60. When we showed up at 7:20, there was already a line of what looked like a couple hundred people out front. It wasn’t that many people though as we wound up being on the first shuttle boat across the harbor to the memorial.

I don’t want to get into too much about the significance or emotions that I felt while at the memorial but it was a moving experience. Looking down just a couple of feet and seeing the top of a giant battleship that buried hundreds of sailors is a curious sight. About 2 quarts of oil a day leaks out of the Arizona and the surface has little colored rings as the sunlight bounces off the film. Given our situation in Iraq, a visit to a great memorial like that strengthens the resolve to support our troops. They put it all on the line so that we can live the way we do. Whether you agree with the policy of why we’re in Iraq, the soldier should be supported regardless.

After we returned on the shuttle boat, we walked next door and took the self-tour of the USS Bowfin, a WWII submarine. Add this to my list of places I’d rather not spend 90 days underwater with a bunch of lonely guys. As interesting as the submarine was, I couldn’t help but wonder how much effort went into converting it from a real submarine to a public tour? Everything has to be de-programmed, turned off, bolted shut, sealed, etc. I doubt any of the electronics still have their guts or anything else. They even made a fake gattling gun on the top deck. I wonder who does that kind of work?

My favorite [flea market item] was a Lotus 1-2-3 Users Manual circa 1989 in 80’s fab brown

We left Pearl Harbor and headed to Aloha Stadium just down the road for the famous Flea Market. Aloha Stadium is where they hold the NFL Pro Bowl and it’s a pretty standard size football stadium. The flea market consisted of three concentric circles of vendors the entire circumfrence of the stadium. There are two groups of vendors – an organized class selling t-shirts (8 for $20!), macadamia-nut-based foodstuffs, endless Taiwanese and Chinese mass-produced toys and trinkets and a hodgepodge of individual sellers who unload from their vans a strange mix of one-off crystal bowls, books and other garage sale type items. My favorite was a Lotus 1-2-3 Users Manual circa 1989 in 80’s fab brown. A must-have for any serious spreadsheet enthusiast.

On our list was to go to Chinatown for lunch afterwards but we got so turned around trying to find an on-ramp to the H1 that we just headed straight to our next destination: Kon’ohe Bay on the windward (northern) side for some kayaking to “Sunken Island” (an off-shore sand bar not readily visible from shore). We wound our way through the breathtaking mountains and across some surface streets to the site listed in the book. This is when things started to go a little south. Wandering the premises, there was no sign of a kayak rental facility. In fact, the only sign of anything were some people setting up for a party and a handful of people feeding the stray cats and chickens in the parking lot. From a point, we could see there was a marina next door and, assuming we read the book wrong, hopped in the car and headed next door. The marina store told us that, no, it was at the Friends of Hale’iwa spot next door and gave us a number to call. I called and got the answering machine so we headed back a second time.

On closer review, we found a map with a dock when entering the place and decided to take a look there. With a sketchy walk through a very faint trail, we came to a tiny inlet of still water off the bay. There wasn’t anything here besides mosquitos. Jennifer walked out in the water to peek around the treeline towards the marina (which we were now facing) to see if we missed anything but no dice. Before we left, we saw some little fish jumping and stopped to look. Then we looked down into the water closre to shore and noticed a bunch of long caterpillar-looking eels on the sandy floor. And a big crab that was poking his head in and out of a hole underwater. The eels had scary looking whitish tentacles coming out of one end. I could picture them latching on to Jennifer’s ankle so we took a picture and headed out. No kayaking here.

We drove south along the coast to Kaliua Bay which is another popular kayaking spot and when we found the beach, we found kayakers. Unfortunately, we had also found the end of the day and they were no longer renting them. D’oh! We got our towels and headed to the beach just in time for cloud cover to roll in and obscure the sun. Back in the TRACKER and to Honolulu.

We ate at the Shorebird again for dinner tonight and this time we ordered filet mignon. As it turns out, you cook your own meat here so they bring you a cut raw and then you head to a giant open grill and stand around while your meat cooks. I am undecided on whether this is genius or simply a great cost-saving measure for the hotel. There was a decent array of buffet food to accompany your main dish. I tried the purple poi, made from the Hawaiian taro root, and it is nasty just like Jennifer told me it was going to be.

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