Saturday, November 11, 2006

10 November 2006 – 9:00 AM HST
I’m two days behind in journaling this trip. We are sitting in the airport waiting to fly over to Maui for the next five days. I didn’t realize that we would have to go through security that is just as tight to fly from one island to another. It gets to be a hassle, but as they say, they’re doing it to keep the flight safe. While packing our bags we had packed a soft-sided cooler with some food that we had bought and packed it in Julie’s suitcase, which is already big and heavy. It ended up being overweight by about ten pounds. We had to unpack some things out of that bag and stuff it into another bag. When they were scanned at security, that was the bag that they wanted to open. It would hardly close back up. I hope it doesn’t pop open on the flight. The bag with the ammo case went through without any concern at all. We had started keeping my epi-pen in Julie’s backpack. I had forgotten that I had put a razor blade in the kit a few weeks ago for removing bee stingers. The security agent was almost apologetic when he suggested that we couldn’t bring a razor blade on the airplane. I’m impressed that their scanners picked it up.
On Wednesday (11/8/06) we went to see Pearl Harbor.
We had been told to get there at 7:00 (before it opens) to avoid having to stand in line for three hours. We got a little lost on the way and didn’t get there until 7:40. The line was probably 300 feet long. Fortunately, when they did open, the line files in fairly quickly and we were into the museum within half-an-hour. They give out tickets for the introductory movie and the ferry ride over to the Arizona Memorial. We had 1 ½ hours to look through the museum before the movie, which was actually just about perfect. Some of the history was amazing. They were experimenting with radar in 1941 and actually followed the attack flight of almost 200 planes in for an hour before the attack.
The technician told his superior, but was told not to worry about it because it was probably a flight of US planes they were expecting that morning. The information never went past those two or three people.
It really made me appreciate that the attack occurred in a peacetime setting when their defenses were down. At the time, the US was building up its military strength and the Japanese military knew that they would have to strike quickly to be successful. It was really sobering to think about all of the life-and-death decisions that were being made in those few minutes after the attack.

After a morning of museums, we decided to go swimming and snorkeling in the afternoon. We had been told that the beach below Diamond Head had good snorkeling. We found a pull off, but the area made us uncomfortable. While there were a lot of cars parked along the road near the beach, it seemed like too many of them had solitary men just sitting in them. There was a little foot traffic down along the shore, again all men. When we rounded the corner looking for a good place to access the water, we came to a larger group of men on the beach wearing very little (at the most). We decided that we weren’t the clientele that normally visited that area. We decide to go to a beach near Kapiolani Park where I snorkeled just off the swimming beach. It’s amazing how much there is to see so close to shore.

We had dinner at the International Marketplace where we ate the first night. We stopped in at a bakery where we bought a piece of chocolate cake and croissants for lunch tomorrow. It was odd being in a bakery with a French name, speaking English to a Japanese clerk, and feeling the need to say Mahalo (Hawaiian for “thank you”). It is quite a multicultural experience.

We started off Thursday (11/9/06) with a trip up to the Nu’uanu Pali Lookout, which is up in the Ko’olau Mountains. It gives a great view of the windward side of the island … at least it does when it’s not raining and foggy (cloudy?). There was not much of a view when we got there, but we could wait around a little until the weather broke a little and we could see out to the water in some places. The overlook is on the side of a cliff where King Kamehameha drove the Oahu warriors off of the cliff when he came from The Big Island to “unite the islands”, as the sign so politely put it.

Driving down the windward slope of the mountain, we stopped at Ho’omaluhia County Nature Park, which is a botanic garden that lived up to its name (peaceful). We walked around a lake and saw a lot of the birds that we have become familiar with, and Hawaiian Coots, which were a new bird for us. We were hoping to learn some of the native plants, but can’t seem to get our tongues wrapped around the native names. We then drove along the coast looking for a good snorkeling place, but decided not to stop anywhere.
We did stop to do some bird watching along the coast across from a marine bird sanctuary. The sanctuary is a ways off shore, so you can’t see birds on the island, but can sometimes see them flying along the waves. Julie was sitting on the rocks staring out to sea when she realized that there was a large gray bird hunkered down on a rock not more than twenty feet from where she sat. It turned out to be a Pink-footed Shearwater, which was another new bird for us. (Such excitement, you say! It takes all kinds in this world.

We ended up the day hiking up to Makapu’u Lighthouse to view the sunset and several hang gliders flying along the cliffs in the dwindling light. It was quite a sight, but made us wonder how one learns to hang glide, considering that making a mistake leads to instant death. Can’t just chalk it up to experience and try again in the morning.

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