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From the beginning, Pearl Harbor was at the top of Ruth’s list of sites to visit in Hawaii. For good reason. She knew three of the young men who died on the USS Arizona the morning of December 7, 1941. Nothing–including her fear of water–was going to deter her from visiting the memorial and paying her respects. The somber atmosphere is palpable from the moment you pull into the parking lot.

Entering the Memorial Visitor Center

The launch over to the Memorial

The Memorial out in the harbor

The Memorial perched over the sunken Arizona

The entrance to the Memorial

The ambiance surrounding the Memorial is one of silent respect.

Inside the Memorial

Thanks to the leis that Janie and Darrell treated us to upon our arrival in Honolulu, we had gorgeous flowers with which to honor the three brave Kansas farm boys who perished along with more than 1,100 other servicemen and civilians.

De-stringing our leis


Petals floating above the submerged ship

The list of men killed that morning covers one end of the memorial. You cannot helped but be overwhelmed by the loss the wall represents. As the mother of a much-adored young adult son, the mother-in-law of the perfect son-in-law, and the aunt of six lovable young adult nephews–one of whom is a navy veteran–I could hardly breathe.

The wall of names

I can’t believe it’s been nearly a month since my last post. Which reminds me, if any of you are within the sound of my voice the next time I idiotically tell my traveling companions, “Oh, I’ll organize all our pictures,” you must promise me to grab the nearest newspaper, roll it up as tightly as you can, and give me a good, solid smack. Turns out, between the five of us, we took nearly 1,400 picture, and that doesn’t count the five full DVDs worth of video that Carole shot. Thankfully, making something of Carole’s footage is a project for another day. As it was, compiling the photos, organizing them chronologically, labeling them, and getting them burned onto DVDs for everyone took forever. It didn’t help that my nearly six-year-old computer was waaaay too low on memory and was making threatening-to-explode noises the whole time. I got a wicked new computer out of the deal, but that’s a story for another day. Anyway, the good news is the pictures are done. Finally. And I’m anxious to share the last half of our Hawaiian adventures with you.

The last time I wrote, I believe we’d just arrived in Honolulu. While not all of the pictures I’m sharing in this post were taken on the same day, together they give you a good overview of where we stayed in Waikiki. In subsequent postings, I’ll take you to Pearl Harbor, some of Oahu’s beaches, and then to the North Shore. In my final post on Hawaii, I’ll share some of the photos we took of the glorious sunsets we were lucky enough to enjoy…then, I’m going to tackle the videos. Sigh.

The first picture is the entrance to our condo, a 50-yard long arbor draped with orchids. Ahhhhh.

The entrance to our condo in Waikiki

Our view off the lanai was both beautiful and entertaining. For example, the morning after Halloween, the beach was littered with revelers who’d chosen to just lie where they’d fallen the night before. Most days, we enjoyed watching the surfers, the paddle-boarders, and the variety of ships and small watercraft that were ever present. Unfortunately, we couldn’t hear the surf over the other noises of the city.

Waikiki Beach down below our balcony

The pinkish-color building in this photo is The Royal Hawaiian which was one of the first two hotels to open on Waikiki Beach in the late 1920s. Besides its iconic appearance, The Royal Hawaiian is famous for being the home of the world’s first mai tai and Shirley Temple cocktails. I have nothing to report concerning the latter, but I can tell you without hesitation that a Royal Hawaiian mai tai takes no prisoners. And that’s all I saying about that.

The Royal Hawaiian, home of the world's first mai tai

At one point, we tied a brightly colored shirt on the railing of our lanai so we could tell which lanai was ours. Unfortunately, we didn’t get a picture of it and counting up that high makes me dizzy. You can just guess where we were.

The Waikiki Beach Tower, our condo, from the street below

Our view of Waikiki Beach at street level was just as entertaining as from high above. You see all kinds and people from all over the world. Thankfully, we saw very few thongs or Speedos.

Activity at Waikiki Beach in front of our condo

This guy is Duke Kahanamoku, the most famous surfer and swimmer in Hawaii…ever. He was also an eel wrestler. According to the January 29, 1913, issue of the Long Beach Press, Duke wrestled a ten-foot eel “to the death,” losing the index finger on his right hand in the process. Clearly a stud muffin of the highest order. Today, he stands watch over Waikiki, holding leis and taking pictures of tourists from a video camera posted high on a pole in front of him.

The Duke on the beach at Waikiki

Walking along Kalakaua Avenue, the street that runs parallel to the beach, is a study in juxtaposition. Sunbathers in flip flops (or slippas, as the natives call them) stroll beach tote-to-Prada bag with shoppers in three-inch stilettos. Name any high-end retailer in the Western world. It’s on Kalakaua Avenue, right next to a McDonald’s, Burger King, or ABC convenience store. Hmmmmm.

Walking along Kalakaua Avenue, the street that runs parallel to Waikiki Beach

One of our last mornings in Waikiki, Mother Nature treated us to a rainbow that started downtown and arced right out into the water. Stunning!

A Waikiki rainbow

A Waikiki rainbow

Next, our trip to Pearl Harbor. Aloha!

Hard to believe, but I’m actually happy to be home from Paradise. Oh, we had a fantastic time for sure, but after twelve days on the road…getting in and out of the minivan dozens of times every day…schelpping luggage and tote bags around…and sleeping in strange beds every night, I was most happy to come home and see my boys, my own bathroom, and my bed. And, as has been the case any time I’ve traveled off on my own during the nearly 29 years of our marriage, I came home to a spotless house, an empty laundry basket, a shiny, clean car with a full gas tank, and a bouquet of flowers. Sorry, girls. Tom’s taken. Permanently.

I have so much to tell you–and I will over the next week or two–stuff I just never had the time to sit down and write while we were there mostly because we crammed every day full. By the time we got back to the condo in the evening, we were exhausted. Plus, I encountered technical difficulties at our condo in Waikiki. The one time I attempted to post while we were there, downloading a picture took forever. Since I have lots of pictures to post, I quickly decided I just wasn’t going to use my time in Hawaii watching a stupid progress indicator crawl slowly up to 100% over and over again…especially when there were mai tais to drink, beaches to be walked along, and sunsets to watch.

However, I can report–smugly–that we came home with every item checked off of Ruth’s list of things to see and do. A list that included seeing a volcano, watching a lava flow up close at night, shopping, visiting Pearl Harbor, exploring a coffee plantation and a pineapple plantation, shopping, learning about Hawaii’s history at the Iolani Palace in Honolulu, attending a luau, seeing the BIG waves off the North Shore of Oahu, shopping, and dipping her toes in the surf. We did it ALL! Plus a bit more. And we have the pictures to prove it–more than 1,000 pictures plus hours of video shot and narrated by Carole. Hours. Seriously. She missed nothing.

I’ve given you of brief synopsis of what we did on the Big Island in a previous post, but over the next week or so, I’ll share more details and pictures of our adventures on both islands. Meantime, I’m sorting through all our photos, my notes, the literature we picked up, and my memories while scrambling to get back into the routine of my everyday life. I thank you in advance for your patience while I get it all done. How about if I tempt you to come back with pictures of our view from the lanai at our condo in Waikiki?

Mahalo and aloha!

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The view from our lanai in Waikiki looking north

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The view from our lanai looking south toward Diamond Head - see it peeking over the top of the buildings?

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Moonlight over Waikiki - the morning we left for the airport

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