Saturday, June 30, 2012

Our Last Day in Oahu

Our last day in Oahu we spent
"on a little hike"
(yeah, right...)

OK...let me start off by saying,
I am not all.

We, however, were traveling with 3 marathon runners...
and my best friend who told me this was the worst hike of her life...

But we took on the challenge anyway...

Here'a a quick shot of the entire travel group...
from left to right...
Scott, Jackson, Leisa, Me, Joy, Michele, Kerri, Tami,
Bobby, Joan, Rick and Austin.

We snapped a quick picture with the crater of death behind us...
and we were off...

So, everything we had read about Diamond Head made it sound like
no big deal.  There were a few blurbs about a set of pretty steep steps
but other than that, it didn't sound that bad...

And then I saw this sign...which used words like
"Strenuous and Challenging"

Say what?

Joy, who suffers from a pinched nerve in her back and had
already been told by her doctor to NOT do some of the activities we 
had planned, decided early on that she would not make the climb.
The little path that you were sharing with others who were coming 
off the mountain was uneven and oh yeah...dirt and uneven rock!
Austin woke up that morning not feeling very well either,
so he stayed back and kept Joy company while we hiked up to the top.

On one of the little stopping points, on the way up, I snapped
this picture...wondering why on earth I had agreed to do this.

Almost to the top!  We had just finished one flight of death in the 
form of stairs and were taking a breather.  You can kind of see the outline of the crater.
The building down below is where Joy and Austin are waiting for us...
(wishing I was there, wishing I was there)

We skipped the second flight of STRAIGHT UP death stairs for
the little bit longer but not as steep set of stairs.
You can see Jackson and his little orange shorts running up to the top.
He was a trooper!!  He pretty much climbed the entire way without asking to
be carried.  He would start to whine and Tammy would say,
"Come on, let's go..."
and he was on his way!

Kerri had run on ahead of us...literally...stinkin' marathon runners...
and was waiting  for us to finally get ourselves to the top.
You can also see that Jackson finally sweet talked Tami into a quick piggy back
ride...which she is used to...another marathon runner...and she has also 
hiked 13 miles down into the Grand Canyon carrying a 40 pound back pack...
yeah, whatever!

Once we got to the top, the views were amazing and 
all of the wind-sucking that was done on the way up,
went away and it was nice to take it all in.

The view of Honolulu and Waikiki Beach.

A quick snap of us all on the top!
We made it!

And now, we have to go back down...the same way we came up...
which was not very easy.
Remember...small path...uneven, rocky...
but we were going down!

In case you have not noticed... Tami was Jackson's favorite 
on this day.  He wanted to be right by her side, every step of the way
and when she would offer a fun Piggy Back ride...
he was all in!

We made it back down and we were all starving.
We kept thinking that it must be time for lunch, but it was only about 
9:30am.  We had left out early that morning to try and avoid hiking in the heat of
the day.  So, we decided to try and find a good place for breakfast.

There are not a lot of "chain" fast food restaurants in Hawaii,
 so we all pulled out our handy dandy little smart phones
 and tried to find a great "local" pancake house 
and boy did we find it!
This place was GREAT!
We all got such a wide range of things to eat as well.
I had a great Omelet and Kerri had some amazing Banana pancakes
and let me tell you about the syrup...
There was regular syrup...
and there was Coconut syrup...
but the Orange Syrup was
Sooooo yummy!
Some of the group ordered home made burgers
and Austin said that it was the best burger he has ever had!

So, in the end...we didn't die from the hike and ended the morning 
with a great meal...

Time to get packed up,
we've got another island to hop to! 

Friday, June 29, 2012

Let's Hit the Beach!

We headed out one morning with the intention
of hitting the beach!

We headed over to Hanuma Bay to do 
a little snorkeling...
we never made it!

They will only allow so many people at a 
time in and each time we drove by the little man out at the 
road would tell Rick that the lot was full
and we were not getting in...

On to Plan B

We headed down the road to a scenic overlook and got
a few shots of the beautiful rocks and shoreline

It was so beautiful...everywhere you looked
there were beautiful shorelines of dark rock that 
the waves would crash on.

Jackson just looked around and took it all in...

We continued our drive down the coastline and came upon a 
Macadamia Nut Farm.

We pulled in and unloaded our two car loads full
and went to explore.

Kerri taught Jackson how to crack a Macadamia Nut with
a rock...he was really good at it, but would not try a nut to 
save his life!

And then he spotted the....

The Roosters!
They are everywhere on the islands!
They just run free and walk around like they own the place.
Jackson wanted to catch one so bad, he just about
couldn't stand it!
But never fear...the chickens were safe in the end!

The grounds around the gift shop were beautiful...

Austin tried his first cup of coffee...
or should I say..
Austin drank a big ol' cup of Milk and Sugar with
a little bit of coffee...
Yeah, that's more like it!

My boys waiting for the rest of our crew to head out...
It was almost lunch time so they were getting a little cranky.

These beautiful flowers were out front.
The picture just does not seem to do them justice.
The colors were so bright!

We drove on around the coast and headed to grab a bite to eat...

Kerri wanted to eat at Giovanni's Shrimp Truck...
and this was the sight when we drove up...

We were a little scared but knew that she had eaten here before 
and had not died of some strange disease so
we ordered up a bunch of shrimp and 
sat out under the palm trees for lunch.

It was really delicious!  But was definitely one of those places
that if someone I trusted had not been the one telling me
"We really have to eat here" 
I would have just driven on by and found the first 
"normal" looking restaurant...this could definitely qualify for 
one of Guy Fieri's "Diners, Drive-in's and Dives!" 

We drove a little more and finally landed at 
Lanikai Beach!
It has been named as one of the best beaches in the world.

Jackson wasted no time grabbing his sand toy and heading
for the water.  He really enjoyed swimming out and letting the waves
push him back to shore.

The rest of our crew headed out to do a little snorkeling.
Now, I have never been snorkeling before and I did give it a try,
BUT, there is just something weird to me about sticking my 
head under water and then trying to breathe!
Just can't do it...
I tried and was able to see a few fish, but as far as floating around
with my head under water like nothing was going on around me....
Not Happening!

Austin was out there with the crowd and loved it!

Jackson stayed close to the water's edge and had lots of fun.
He even hijacked Aunt Leisa's little board and would float around
on it for a while.

I was finally able to stick my little toes in the sand...

and unfortunately, Jackson learned how to grab the sand in his
hands....and throw it!

He was fascinated with the sand and loved playing on the beach. 
Jackson also loved jumping on Austin and trying to 
ride the waves...
I think Austin had gone back to the water to try and wash 
a little sand off of him.
I don't think he knew what hit him!

We enjoyed the sun and the sand and then loaded back up 
and headed to the house for a bite to eat.

Just another day in Paradise...
Come back tomorrow, we are going on a 
"light hike"
(insert sarcastic voice here...)

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Remember, Understand, Honor

Those words are on a plaque standing next to the
anchor that was recovered from the USS Arizona
after she sank on Battleship Row on December 7, 1941
in Pearl Harbor.

We started out our day visiting and paying our respects to those
who gave their lives for the freedoms that we enjoy.

In the picture above you can see the white monument to the right
that spans over the top of the sunken Arizona.  In the middle is the
USS Missouri or the "Mighty Mo" and to the far left you can see a 
new battleship that is coming into port.
The USS New Orleans

As we stood and watched the giant ship come into port you could not help
but imagine the fiery scene that took place seventy years ago... 

As we sat there and watched these proud young men bring their 
boat into the dock a crowd started to gather and watch.
There was something very somber about a current ship of war,
docking right next to where so many lives were lost
in an act of just gave you chills.

Small conversations started while we were standing there watching...
Rick has worked on some of the parts of the ship that was docking
and Scott currently works on improving military tools...
while they were discussing all of their "work" the man you see in
this picture, wearing the plaid shirt, turned around and started talking with them.
He has served two tours in Desert Storm and his son
was currently serving on the New Orleans.
He had not seen his son for the last 10 months and had come to Hawaii
to welcome him home.  The parents were being invited on the ship later that 
evening, but he did not know what time they were going to dock.
It was just a coincidence that he was there at the right time.
He was so excited to see them come into port and could not wait to 
see his son!

Soon after we took a quick boat trip over to the Arizona Memorial

The monument spans perpendicular over the sunken wreckage
and you can still see parts of the ship just under the water. 

You can also still see oil seeping from the injured ship.

There were Veteran's on the Memorial passing out flowers to
the visitors.  We were told that we could keep the flowers or
throw them into the water in memory of those
who died on that tragic day.
Jackson chose to throw his in the water and then just sat
and watched as it floated softly in the calm waters.

On the back wall of the monument is a list of all of those who lost their
lives on the Arizona that day and the rank they held..
That day, the Arizona lost about 80% of it's crew.

The Arizona is also the final resting place for those who survived that 
day in history... these veterans have returned to their ship as their final
resting place with their fellow shipmates.

The Flag was waving ever so elegantly in the breeze overhead
as we toured the memorial.

A thankful family for the freedoms we have and the men that have
fought for our freedom and continue to fight today.

After our tour, we returned to the gift shop and purchased a book
on the events of Pearl Harbor and had the honor of meeting these two men
who were serving in Pearl Harbor on that day, so many years ago.

The man on the left is Sterling Cale.  He served in the United States Army
and had just signed out of the night shift at the shipyard dispensary.
He saw the planes coming in and thought it was just a drill and then saw
the "Rising Sun" on one of the wings and quickly realized that this was not a drill
and Pearl Harbor was under attack.  One of his jobs following the attack was to remove
the bodies of his fallen soldiers from the Arizona.

The man on the right is Alfred Rodrigues. He served in the United States Navy.
He was on duty the morning of December 7th and had just sat down to eat his breakfast
when the alarm sounded.  He was issued a gun and began shooting at the planes as they passed 
overhead.  He said they were flying so low that you could see the faces of the 
Japanese pilots as they flew by.

This is the author of the book that we purchased.
His name is Allan Seiden.
He signed the book for the boys 
"form a place touched by history"

"December 7, 1941, 
A date which will live in infamy...
No matter how long it may take us to overcome this premeditated
invasion, the American people, in their righteous might,
will win through to absolute victory"

President Franklin D. Roosevelt

I was glad we were able to visit and that Austin is old enough
to understand the impact that this place
has on the history of our Nation.

We needed to lighten the mood so we 
spent the rest of the afternoon at the 
Aloha Stadium at the weekly
Swap Meet...
Sorry, no photos were taken...
we were too busy shopping!!!

Come back tomorrow...
we're heading to the beach!