Island Hop

After five years of living on the Big Island we finally took a few days to hop to another island and do some exploring. The selected target was Oahu, a place we have never properly visited before, changing planes at the airport does not count.

First impressions… Oahu can be a nice place to visit, but the traffic is beyond terrible! The roads packed with cars playing by aggressive city rules. Even the North Shore and Windward were bad, not just Honolulu. After years of driving on the Big Island, where there are no interstate freeways and the driving is quite relaxed, it was an unpleasant experience. I managed, and we got around with little real trouble, re-learning the old skills of dealing with heavy city traffic. I am so glad to be back to Hawai’i and out of that traffic.

The Fourth of July is a pretty good day to visit patriotic monuments like the battleship Missouri and the Pacific Aviation Museum. This was the plan and it executed well.

Battleship Missouri
The 16″ guns of the Battleship Missouri in Pearl Harbor
I had wanted to visit the Missouri for some time, I love museum ships, such tangible remnants of the past. This battleship is simply big, everything about her was big, from the enormous guns to the massive anchors. The exception was the average crewman’s bunks, which were stacked in ranks throughout much of the first deck. There was a tangible sense of history here, the silent guns spoke of the fierce battles of WWII. A simple plaque in the deck marked where that terrible war finally ended.

For the Fourth all of the ships in the harbor were decked out in flags, including the Missouri, the many US Navy and foreign ships gathered for the upcoming RIMPAC exercises. Another treat was the Mississippi Lions All State Band performing pier-side the battleship.

Next stop was the Pacific Aviation Museum. The museum collection was somewhat smaller than expected, the selection of WWII aircraft was far from complete. What aircraft they did have were very well displayed, including a Japanese Zero, P40, a Dauntless dive bomber, and an F4 Wildcat. The larger Hanger 79 housed more modern aircraft such as an F-14 and F-15. The highlight here was a wonderful conversation beside a Huey gunship with a fellow who server as a gunner in Vietnam. Jerry relayed a few war stories and corrected some common misconceptions about flying in these iconic helicopters.

We stayed at the Ala Moana Hotel. This turned out to be a good choice on a couple points. The hotel is connected to the enormous Ala Moana Mall. This offered numerous places to eat without the necessity to drive anywhere, a distinct advantage considering Honolulu traffic and parking issues.

Fourth of July fireworks at Ala Moana park
The mall parking structure also offered a great place from which to view the large 4th of July fireworks display. We merely had to walk a short distance from the hotel to where we had a clear view to enjoy the show. The crowds were simply stunning, tens of thousands of people poured into the park, the adjacent streets and the extensive parking structure of the mall. It was a decent show, with more than 1,300 shells sent into the sky from Ala Moana park just in front of our vantage point. When the show was over we looked at the traffic beginning to leave and were thankful we had no plans to drive in the nightmare developing on overloaded streets. Instead we walked back to the room and let the exhaustion of a long day take its course.

We planed to do two days of diving with the primary goal of diving the wrecks off Pearl Harbor. Thursday we dove the YO-257, a dive we were really looking forward to. Conditions turned out to be a mite troublesome. Big swell and a current that went from moderate to screaming as we started into the dive. We did get down, and we went right back up again, hand over hand up the mooring line. No attempt at the second dive. The incident deserves a better writeup, a post of it’s own, expect that to show up in a day or two.

With south shore conditions realistically un-divable we headed to the North Shore for some shore diving. This plan worked much better, a pair of pleasant dives at a site called Three Tables. The differences in the reef between here and Kona were remarkable. Not surprising when you consider this coastline is famous for surfing and huge waves. Thanks go to Gabe of Kaimana divers for providing a nice experience. I expect I will have to do a better writeup of this day as well.

Examples of fishhooks and line from islands across Polynesia at the Bishop Museum
Saturday we headed windward to see the Byodo-In Temple and gardens. This is an extraordinarily picturesque place, Deb and I slowly circled the temple four a couple hours, continually finding new scenes to capture as we played with the cameras. After lunch we headed for the Ho’omaluhia Botanical Gardens and a scenic drive over the Pali Highway, both fodder for a few more photographs.

Sunday our flight was not until later in the evening, giving us much of the day to plan another activity. We packed and relaxed a bit in the morning, then headed to the Bernice Pauahi Bishop Museum to learn a little Hawaiian culture. An excellent museum with wonderful displays of Hawaiian artifacts and history. I wandered slowly from case to case reading and learning. There was an entire floor concentrating on the myths and gods, and another for the ali’i, the rulers of Hawai’i. It was the floor that concentrated on the common man, the makaʻāinana, that I spent much of my time perusing. Here were the artifacts and history of everyday life in the islands.

It was five busy days of activities. Time to go back to work and rest a bit. Well maybe not rest that much, I am pulling cable through Keck 2 today.

Author: Andrew

An electrical engineer, amateur astronomer, and diver, living and working on the island of Hawaiʻi.

One thought on “Island Hop”

  1. The Ala Moana was our favorite hotel on Oahu too, for its proximity to the shopping center and park, access to bus lines, and view of the harbor basin. When my son had a spinal fusion at Queens, he and my wife lived there for seven weeks. You covered some nice garden spots, but Foster Gardens was practically a hangout for me. It always amazed me how calm it felt in the midst of chaos.

    Another thing that amazes me is your ability to write such diverse and interesting posts week after week. Keep on keeping on!


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