Monday morning we called and rented a car. A taxi picked us up on base and took us to the rental car agency and within minutes we had wheels and were on our way to explore Honolulu.
We headed to the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific also known as Punchbowl National Cemetery’s the Hawaiian name is “Puowaina,” meaning “Hill of Sacrifice.” This translation closely relates to the first known use of the area which was as an altar where Hawaiians offered human sacrifices to pagan gods. During World War II, tunnels were dug in the rim of the crater for shore batteries to guard Honolulu Harbor. More than five million visitors come to the cemetery every year to pay their respect to the 28,778 missing whose names are carved in marble tablets and to enjoy the panoramic view from the Punchbowl.
As we rounded the corner into the cemetery, it is almost enough to take your breath away. A small island with the American flag at half-staff and two tree lined avenues leading up to the court of honor. We stopped in the small visitor’s center to view artifacts that have been recovered from battlefields and wreckage. We barely talk above a whisper.
The dedication stone at the base of staircase is engraved with the following words:
IN THESE GARDENS ARE RECORDED
THE NAMES OF AMERICANS
WHO GAVE THEIR LIVES
IN THE SERVICE OF THEIR COUNTRY
AND WHOSE EARTHLY RESTING PLACE
IS KNOWN ONLY TO GOD
At the top of the staircase in the Court of Honor is a statue of Lady Columbia, also known as Lady Liberty, or Justice. She is reported to represent all grieving mothers and stands on the bow of a ship holding a laurel branch. The inscription below the statue, was taken from Abraham Lincoln's letter to Mrs. Bixby, reads:
THE SOLEMN PRIDE
THAT MUST BE YOURS
TO HAVE LAID
SO COSTLY A SACRIFICE
UPON THE ALTAR
A small chapel is hidden behind Lady Columbia with marble floors and cabochons are inlaid into the windows with the sun glistening through the colored gems. On either side of the chapel are two map galleries which describe the major battles of the Pacific War.
Next on our journey for the day was lunch at the Highway Inn in Honolulu and another Triple D recommended place to eat. After ordering ice tea and carefully checking out the menu Larry and I both ordered the Kalua pig sliders. Kalua is the traditional Hawaiian method to cook in an underground oven. With all the construction it was a little hard to get to and parking is sparse but the food was great and we laughed when we realized we were just around the corner from Hank’s Haute Dog where we were at the other day.
I grabbed a Starbucks before we ventured into the Foster Botanical Gardens for a walking tour. Queen Kalama originally owned the land before being sold to Mary Mikahala Robinson Foster and her husband. Mary Foster was the daughter of Kamakana a Maui chiefess and grew up in the royal Hawaiian social circle. Not much is known about her life but she left a lasting tribute with the gardens.
There are many rare and old trees in the gardens and you can only stand under them in amazement when you look up into their canopies hundreds of feet above you or stand feet away from massive tree trunks. When you enter the garden there is a sacred fig tree that was propagated from a Bodhi tree planted in Ceylon in 288 BC that Buddha sat under for inspiration and was gifted to Mary Foster in 1913.
In the upper terrace we found the Queensland Kauri, the Travelers tree, and Kapok tree standing tall and proud. We rounded another corner farther down the path and I saw a Cannonball tree that looked just like it had cannonballs hanging all over it and beside it was a tree we had never heard of called a Sausage tree. In the middle of the gardens is Quipo tree that just leaves you stunned by its circumference and height! Have you ever chewed a chiclet? We saw a Chicle tree and this is where modern chewing gum came from. One of my favorite trees is the Baobab, just because of its size and beauty.
We finished the gardens by walking through the conservatory filled with orchids and tropical plants and an open air butterfly garden.
Traffic was not too bad heading back to the base and Kelly arrived home with the little guy just after we did and fixed quiche for dinner. Kyle was off to the gym before work tonight.
We headed west on H1 Tuesday morning to see the west side of the island. We drove to Kapolei and then turned north through Maili and stopped in Lualualei to buy sandwiches and sit on the beach for a picnic. The tide was coming in and it was pleasant to bask in the sunshine and the quiet, because today it’s a week day on the quieter side of the island there are not many tourist. The scenery is definitely different on this side of the island, dry, almost high desert like, no lush green vegetation and it’s sparsely populated. The beaches seem to never end. You go around a bend in the road and it is more parks and more beaches with very few people and only the occasional car.
After lunch we traveled up the road to Waianae, Makaha, all the way to Ka'ena Point State Park where the road ends and you have to turn around. It is hiking trails from this point on and oh my we forgot our hiking shoes. Driving back we saw a Small Asian Mongoose know as a 'Iole manakuke (e-oh-lay ma-na-coo-kay) run across the road. Yes I had to look up the animal on google and while I can give you the spelling in Hawaiian, don’t ask me to say it. They are invasive animals in Hawaii and they are trying to remove them from all the islands. We stopped at Makaha to watch the surfers and enjoy the view.
We saw a store as we passed by that advertised $10 tires….no way. Can you imagine the stories those tires have to tell. Where they have been. How they have been abused. How much tread is left or how many times they have been patched?
We drove back to Waipahu and took highway 750 north. Within minutes the scenery was altogether different. Here is the valley where bananas, pineapples, taro, and many other crops are grown. The fields are lush and full and everything is green again. We drove past Schofield Barracks and on to highway 930 to the other side of Farrington Hwy. that we were on earlier today. A small point of land on either side of the point is only accessible by hiking trails. The waves on the north side of the island are putting on a more magnificent display than the west side but no surfers, only hikers at this end of the island.
We saw several glider planes get towed from Dillingham Airfield and then watched as they circled the sky before landing along with the tow planes. Larry said it looked like they were dong touch and go’s probably for their hours needed for certification. The small airfield is also used for sky diving.
On the way back to Haleiwa we passed a place that said horseback trail rides at Mokuleia, and thought next time we come to visit maybe the little guy and his parents would like to go for a beach ride. We watched several stand up paddle boards at the boat marina and what looked like an outrigger canoe team practicing. We crossed over the little bridge in town to see the east side of town which was not much and then back across the bridge to see the town that was covered in darkness when we came to dinner last week.
We decided to drive back home on highway 99 to H2 and then stopped in Mililani to go to Costco to buy chocolate covered macadamia nuts to take home as gifts and to find something for dinner, and of course while you are Costco you always find a few more items you didn’t know you needed until you got in the store. So it is cheese pizza for the little guy and grandma and clam chowder for Larry, Kelly, and Kyle, or so I thought. Everyone decided pizza for an appetizer was great with chowder and pretzel rolls for the main course, except me….no way, no fish, no how…no, no, no.
When we got back to base I had Larry drop me off at the preschool and I picked the little guy up and we walked home holding hands. I’m going to miss having him tell me about his day and the fact that he looks forward to having grandma walk him home.
In my stocking at Christmas was Jamberry nail wraps so tonight Kelly did my nails and then hers. All pretty now to go to the aquarium tomorrow.
Wednesday is our final full day in Hawaii. We returned the rental car and Kelly followed us and we went to breakfast at Koko Head Café. Chef Lee Anne Wong is a world famous chef and this little café is off the beaten path for tourists so it was great that Kelly and Kyle had already checked out this place. We only had to wait about fifteen minutes to get seated and we started our meal with coffee and doughnuts, cinnamon sesame cake donuts with a Kona coffee creme anglaise sauce. Drinks ordered, food ordered and when the food came it was too much to finish. A great way to start the morning.
We returned home to check in for our flight home tomorrow and then we were off to the Waikiki aquarium which has been open since 1904 and is the second oldest public aquarium in the United States. It is not a large place but has nice exhibits, friendly staff, and the best part was my grandson loved it and especially touching the hermit crabs and the sea urchins. The oldest and largest giant clams in any aquarium in the world live here and two of them weigh over two hundred pounds.
We drove around Waikiki beach and then went to get frozen yogurt before going home. While Kelly was cooking I took the little guy to the park to play soccer, run through the water spouts, and play on the equipment. Kelly fixed shrimp cakes for everyone else and I had leftover pizza since I am not a fish person.
One of the best websites we found for things to do in Oahu was: http://www.to-hawaii.com and while we tried to do as much as we could, there is still more to see and do for another trip.
Kelly took us to The Guru Glass of Honolulu where she works to meet her boss before we left for the airport. Kelly loves her job, her bosses, her coworkers and it makes us happy to see her happy. We arrived early at the airport, unloaded our luggage, hugs, and kisses for Kelly and then we checked in.
The airport is beautiful with the open glass corridors leading to the different terminals and a small garden below, near our terminal that is so serene. No first class seats this time. We were almost an hour late taking off but finally in the air.
We arrived in Portland with enough time to buy sandwiches and then the dreaded announcement. Our flight from Portland to Bellingham would take off but due to fog in Bellingham, there was a chance that it would not be able to land and would have to return to Portland and we would fly out the next morning. An act of God does not get you a room for the night paid for by the airline, so you are on your own if this happens.
God was looking out for us and the fog had lifted by the time we reached Bellingham. We arrived later than expected and Stacy had volunteered to pick us up but since she had to work the next day and we weren’t sure we were even going to make it to Bellingham we told her we would take a taxi.
I am not really sure why people say good-bye because leaving family is never easy and really hard. The term originated from Godbwye or God be with ye. I’ll go with the Hawaiian phrase: Ke Akua pu a hui hou meaning God bless you and see you later.