Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Aloha

We had accumulated enough travel points on our credit card to pay for our airfare and some of the hotel costs and we had a good place to leave the rig at Sun Life in Mesa, so we planned (always written in sand) to go to Hawaii for two weeks. Even though it sounds like we are always on vacation, we still have the same daily chores everyone does in a regular house; cleaning, cooking, maintenance. We thought it would be nice to go somewhere and let someone else do all those things for a short while, thus, the trip to Hawaii. Upon arriving at Sky Harbor Airport in Phoenix for our direct flight we learned we were going to get bumped off that flight. The bad news, we had to fly through LA with a delay. The good news, we got two $500 comp tickets that we must use during the next year. The change in plans meant we did not arrive until 10:30 PM rather than 4:00 in the afternoon, so it was not that big a deal. This is the 49th state we have visited since we retired in 2007.When we awoke early (5:00 AM as we are still on Arizona time) and stepped out on to the lanai we were greeted with this view of Diamond Head. Is this fantastic or what?

Looking the other direction we could see Waikiki Beach and several of the hotels. It is really beautiful almost beyond description. The first morning we went to a "free" breakfast to hear about all the tours they offer. We only opted for the Polynesian Cultural Center. (More on that to follow.) On Saturday we had a "free" lunch and $100 off our cultural center tour for listening to a timeshare presentation. Both turned out fine but we can say for sure, nothing is "free" in Waikiki.

In addition to the beaches and high rise hotels, Waikiki is a mix of the high end shops like those on Rodeo Drive, the cheesy junque stores of Gatlinburg and the wild, over the top street performers of Key West. Nanc wanted to go into Prada since I would not stop at the one in Marfa, Texas. We walked the streets just looking and people watching for the most part. Of course, we did do the beach and for the first time were able to swim in the Pacific. Along the west coast of the mainland it is way to cold.

Sunset from our room. The weather has been unbelievable. Everyday the high temp has been 82 with a low of 71. The couple of times it did rain the shower was over in five minutes and was not enough to drive us inside. Even Nanc has not had on anything but short sleeves the whole time. We have slept with the lanai door open so we can hear the ocean.

On Sunday we went to the USS Arizona Memorial that is part of World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument. We had originally planned to go on December 7th, but learned the tours would be very limited that day and we did not want to miss getting out to the memorial. Even getting there by 9:30 we had to wait until 1:00 for our boat ride out. There was plenty to do while we waited. The memorial, which is built above the ship, is the final resting place for many of the 1,177 crewmen killed that day. The design on the left of the memorial is the Tree of Life.

Because it is the 70th anniversary there are many survivors here. We got to meet and thank Edward F. Borucki, left and Delton E. Walling. How great it is to get this chance to meet these true heroes as their number is declining daily. The flag at the memorial is attached to the ship.

Being on the memorial is a very solemn experience that for us was similar to visiting the three 9/11 sites. The wall has the names of those who gave their last full measure that day. Several who survived that day have chosen to be interred there. There are only 18 Arizona survivors remaining. You can see the ship below you with only the remains of a front gun turret being above the water. The sheen on the water is oil that is still leaking 70 years later.

This is a memorial to the 429 men of the Oklahoma who died that day. Its loss was second only to the Arizona. We did not have time to see the Pacific Aviation Museum that is another part of the site.

Another part of the memorial is the USS Bowfish and a memorial to the 52 submarines and over 5300 crewmen lost during WWII.

The USS Missouri, on which the Japanese surrender was signed in Tokyo harbor in 1945, is now anchored near the Arizona, thus marking this as the site of both the beginning and end of WWII. The plaque marks the spot where the signing took place. Some of the signers and the documents are also pictured. President Truman wanted the surrender signed on the Mighty Mo because Missouri was his home state and his daughter Margaret had christened the ship.

Mighty Mo was the last battleship built and the last to be decommissioned in 1992 after serving in Desert Storm. Most of the WWII guns were replaced with modern missiles, but the big guns were fired over 200 times on its last mission.

Here I am being interviewed by two sailors about my thoughts on the 70th anniversary of Pearl Harbor. They said it would be on YouTube so I will have to keep an eye out for it.

Just a few of the many beautiful flowers we have seen here. We are looking forward to seeing many more during our stay.

Just strolling along the beach we have enjoyed a couple hula performances and were even invited on stage to dance at one. Here is Nanc moving so fast she is a bit blurred. I was so quick that my picture was totally fuzzy. The Hawaiians really know how to have a fun time.

2 comments:

Jim and Bobbie said...

Thank you for a very informative blog post. Enjoyed the photos too.

Anonymous said...

Renita is also pissed abnut me not stopping at the oee in Marfa.

Mark and Renita