I intended to start this on Monday, but something happened...most likely I couldn't find some vital document and spent the day unpacking boxes in a desperate search to find it. At any rate, I'm assuming that most of us will not be spending Memorial Day weekend on sandy shores, dipping our toes in emerald waters. So, let me at least provide the pictures. You all can supply the fantasy. Feel free to include your fantasy in the comments section...unless it involves clowns or Richard Simmons. Those 2 things scare me beyond all reason and I'm in no mood for nightmares.
So, just to recap...this is what we left....
And this is what we woke up to 48 hours later:
Princess Pomtini and Host Husband live on the 35th floor of a high-rise condominium building in Honolulu...obvis. I could so get used to living in the sky. Sitting on the balcony is somewhat unnerving, but getting a bird's eye view of the island could become addicting. And when I put the long lens on our Rebel, I saw these guys:
Oh wait...maybe you can't see them. There are 3 guys, doing that stand and paddle thing that is so popular in the islands. These diehards were at it at 7:30 that morning. We didn't see them again...maybe they were still on Eastern Standard Time, as we were.
For the first day, Princess Pomtini (named so due to her unbelievable mixing capabilities) drove us around O'ahu to get a feel for the place and its residents....both living near the beach and...um...on it. Not surprising once I thought about it, Hawaii has a bit of a homeless problem, which is really most visible during the day. They are allowed to build their tent cities during the day...in the parks and on the beaches...y'know, just to serve as a visual teaching aid to the children: "if you skip school in favor of surfing all day, this could be you." (And before I get slammed with hate mail, I'm not poking fun at the plight of being homeless. I realize it's a dire situation for many. However, I have a little less sympathy for the ones who are living off fresh coconuts and sleeping in tropical temperatures year-round. The homeless in Nebraska have my undying sympathy.) At night, the Honolulu Police drive through the parks and beach areas, evicting the stragglers. They're serious about clean beaches and parks at night. Because, y'know...that's important.
Anycrazy, Princess Pomtini greeted us at the Honolulu airport with these beautiful and real leis. The next morning, mine had started to wilt a little so we snapped a quick pic before it shriveled and browned.
Neal only brought 3 shirts with him. They were all loud button-downs with screen-printed palm trees. My only consolation is that everyone dresses like that there...even the locals. For the first time ever on a vacation, Neal blended.
Our driving tour kicked off with several stops along scenic lookouts that provided amazing views of the ocean. But all of that beauty will create quite the appetite, so we soon stopped for lunch at Kona Brewing Company.
Oh yes, Kona Brewing....you do provide Liquid Aloha...specifically in the form of Wailua Wheat Ale, which I couldn't find anywhere else except in the restaurant. Needless to say, we had to go back later in the week. Plus, the patio tables present this view:
This is not with the long lens. I simply turned 45 degrees and snapped it. The Kentucky River does not look like this.
Next stop was the Halona blowhole on the south shore. Every time the waves roll in, it spouts a geyser of water that, apparently, does not photograph well...but was phenomenal to see in-person.
Before we headed out, Princess Pomtini got a picture of us...which was nice, considering Neal's arms are growing shorter and keep re-appearing in the bottom corners of our self-portraits.
And speaking of arms, I seem to have grown a third one. Queen Elizabeth had to study this one for a couple of minutes to determine where my arms were and where Neal's were. Isn't that the sign of a solid marriage, though? All intertwined and whatnot? Even if it does end up on Awkward Family Photos.
This is Manana Island, aka Rabbit Island. While it does bear an uncanny resemblance to a rabbit's head, it is actually named so because rabbits were raised here until 1994. Unfortunately, the rabbits got booted because they were destroying the native ecosystem of the island, which is an important seabird breeding area. And as we all know, rabbits can multiply like...well, rabbits.
Our next stop was along Pali Highway, where the Battle of Nu'uanu took place. I am borrowing most of my info from Wikipedia, so keep that in mind (although it is reinforced by the educational plaques at the overlook). And the pictures aren't fantastic...but it can't be sunny in paradise all the time. Otherwise, it would be a desert.
This is the northeast coast of the island, also considered the "windward side." It is known for the battle and the trade winds that whip through. As evidenced by this:
You can actually lean into the wind and it will almost hold you up. Unless you've had one too many cans of Spam...and then the only thing propping you up is a concrete barrier.
The story goes that this is the site of one of Hawaii's bloodiest battles. Kamehameha I came to O'ahu after conquering Maui and Moloka'i in 1795. The defenders of O'ahu, led by Kalanikupule, were driven up into the valley and trapped above the cliff. More than 400 O'ahu defenders were driven off the edge of the cliff and fell to their death, 1000 feet below. (I guess my first question would be: if you were defending the island, wouldn't you be a native of it? And if you were a native of it, wouldn't you know that the cliffs existed and are not where you would want to be in times of war? Just sayin'....) While some doubted the story, Princess Pomtini told us that during excavating for a construction project, they did find the skulls and skeletons of, what they believe to be, Kalanikupule's soldiers.
But perhaps more famous to mainlanders than the Battle of Nu'uanu, is Gilligan's Island...which was filmed here:
The roads that lead here actually cut through the mountain and are steep and narrow. My hats off to all of those who drive it during their daily commute. I consider it the same as riding into the depths of the Grand Canyon on a mule.
We made a quick stop by Queen Emma's Summer Palace to pee and because it was on the way down the mountain. Shortly after we arrived, a group of schoolchildren rolled in. Being Hawaiian schoolchildren, they sang (in Hawaiian) for permission to enter the home. The docent answered their request with a song of her own. It was beautiful and moving and like nothing I've ever seen back at the ranch.
Last stop for today is at this random cemetery. I haven't a clue what it is...I was just shocked that you can fit that many gravestones into one small space.
Talk about a tight squeeze....
Our last stop for the day was actually Punchbowl Crater, home to the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific. The Punchbowl's Hawaiian name, "Puowaina," literally means "Hill of Sacrifice." And I, being very hooah hooah about our military, feel like that deserves a post all of its own. So, I'll save it for Champagne Friday and the start of Memorial Day Weekend. What better way to remember the men and women in uniform who sacrificed ultimately than with a post about Punchbowl?