2.10.2014

Hawaii: Day 2 (Pearl Harbor & Hanauma Bay)

I was going to try using a different format for my posts about this trip, but it turns out that I still like the day by day thing. 

We all felt a civic duty to go see Pearl Harbor, so that was first on our list of things to do in Oahu. There are four different Pearl Harbor Historic Sites: the USS Arizona Memorial, the USS Bowfin Submarine Museum, the Battleship Missouri Memorial, and the Pacific Aviation Museum. You can purchase a One-Day Passport to Pearl Harbor and visit all four for $55. Or you can do what we did and just go to the USS Arizona Memorial (the number one visitor destination in Hawaii). Admission to the Arizona Memorial is free, and it takes an hour and 15 minutes. (The tour includes a 25-minute documentary on the history of Pearl Harbor and a short boat ride to and from the memorial.) Tickets are available to reserve online up to six months in advance, but you really have to plan ahead. We tried to reserve tickets on the website the night before, but they were booked out for five weeks.

We left for Pearl Harbor first thing in the morning so we could get walk-up tickets, which are distributed on a first-come, first-served basis. We dropped Scott and Paul off at 7:45 am and sent them to get tickets while we drove to pick up breakfast. 


We had barely pulled out of the parking lot when they called and told us there were tickets available for 8:15 am or 10:30 am. By the time we voted and decided that we could hold off on breakfast and to hurry and snag the 8:15 am time slot, those tickets were already gone. So we picked Scott and Paul back up and went to breakfast together. 

We drove to the Koa Pancake House. . . which was located on a strip mall right next to a nail salon. (That's why Heidi is in charge of the food. . . she does some serious research and learns about hidden gems like this.) 


The Blueberry Pancakes were awesome, but Steve's Mushroom Omelette. . . not so much. They used canned mushrooms and Steve was pretty certain that the "fried potatoes" were repurposed, day-old baked potatoes. Paul and Sherry were daring and ordered the Loco Moco, which is composed of rice, a hamburger patty, brown gravy, and topped with a fried egg. Loco Moco is a popular dish in Hawaii, and we had a few deep conversations about how this dish must have first been created. Steve ended up going back and ordering some Banana Pancakes, which were my favorite: 



The coconut syrup that we drowned our pancakes in was good enough to compensate for any shortcomings. . . we may or may not have drank the leftovers.

Then it was back to the World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument:


We still had quite a bit of time before our tour, so we meandered around Bowfin Park: 


If we would have had our kids with us, I would have purchased tickets to the USS Bowfin Submarine Museum. You actually get to walk all the way through and see the cramped living conditions of the crew members who served on the submarine:


But we were pretty content staying outside in the warm sunshine: 


Sherry and Paul were more than just content. . . more like exuberant?


We learned a lot from reading the signs and monuments: 



Well, some of us learned. . . and some of us napped: 


The sun was too bright, so my photo of the plaque didn't turn out, but I love this poem that Eleanor Roosevelt kept in her wallet during World War II:

Dear Lord
Lest I continue
My complacent way
Help me to remember 
Somehow out there
A man died for me today
As long as there be war
I then must
Ask and answer
Am I worth dying for?

We had a good view of the USS Battleship Missouri, which is located across the harbor on Ford Island. Visitors are driven over on a shuttle:


Those battleships are massive:


We walked through the museum and learned about the events that took place prior to the attack on Pearl Harbor: 


And some of the things that happened after the attack:


There ended up being a few extra open spots on the 10:15 am tour, so we went with that group. (And by the way, nobody ever actually checked for our tickets. . . we probably could have gone even earlier.) We started out with the documentary film and learned some basic facts about the attack on Pearl Harbor:

What? Surprise military strike by the Japanese Navy against the United States. There were 2,402 Americans killed and 1,282 wounded. The attack led to the United States' entry into World War II.
Why? Japan was planning to invade many areas of Southeast Asia and the Pacific in a series of  offensive attacks. To keep the United States from interfering with their conquest, the attack on Pearl Harbor was a preventative strike to destroy the U.S. fleet.
Where? The headquarters of the United States Pacific Fleet in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, on the island of Oahu.
When? December 7, 1941
How? Japan was thought to be too weak to pose a serious threat to the U.S. There was lack of cooperation between the Army and Navy and poor communication between Washington and Hawaii. Two early warnings about the Japanese attack came, but both were ignored.
Who? Isoroku Yamamoto, an Admiral in the Japanese Navy, proposed the surprise attack against the United States. Yamamoto did not believe that Japan could ultimately defeat the United States, but he knew that the attack would cripple the U.S. long enough to allow Japan to invade oil-rich countries in the South Pacific. Yamamoto studied at Harvard University.

Again. . . some of us napped. But everyone woke up in time for the boat ride out to the memorial: 


The USS Arizona Memorial is accessible only by boat and straddles the sunken hull of the battleship, in the form a bridge floating above the 608-foot ship, without touching it. (Click here for an aerial view.) The memorial represents the height of American pride before the war, the sudden depression of a nation after the attack, and the rise of American power to new heights after the war. 


The sunken remains of the battleship were declared a National Historic Landmark in 1989. 


No photographs are allowed as you disembark the boat and enter the memorial. I was going to try and sneak a picture until I saw someone else get in trouble with their camera. 

The central assembly room features seven large open windows on both walls and the ceiling, signifying the date of the attack. There is also an opening in the floor, overlooking the decks of the ship below. Visitors used to toss leis into the water, but that is no longer allowed because the string from the leis can damage sea life. The man in the blue shirt on the right was a volunteer who spoke about the memorial. To the left, you can see the marble wall that bears the names of more than 1,110 sailors and Marines killed on the USS Arizona. 


After a while, most of the visitors had moved through the open assembly room area and onto the back, so we took turns posing for photos in front of the windows:


We were surprised to see oil on the surface of the water. . . Paul said it was from the USS Arizona, but we told him that couldn't possibly be true.


So we went and asked the National Park Service ranger, who confirmed that the oil is from the sunken battleship. Removal of the oil tanks would require major dismantling of the ship, and the slow release of the oil does not pose any significant environmental issues. The ship is considered a gravesite to the fallen soldiers, and the "tears of the Arizona" will continue to seep out for the next 70 years.


There is some concern that saltwater corrosion of the oil tanks could cause a rupture, resulting in a large release of oil, but the National Park Service says they are closely monitoring the condition of the submerged vessel.


Visiting Pearl Harbor was an extremely informative, sobering experience. I would recommend it to anyone visiting Hawaii and will definitely take my kids there someday. 


Then we were off to Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve. We had planned to stop and buy things for a picnic lunch, but we were so excited about going to the beach that we forgot. The parking lot fills up quickly and people are turned away when it is full, so we were a little nervous about arriving later in the day. But we got to Hanauma Bay around noon, slipped right in, and found a spot. 


Can you sense the excitement?


This is the view they were looking at: 


Admission to the nature preserve is $7.50 per person. (No charge for Hawaii residents or kids 12 and younger.) Before entering, visitors are required to watch a 9-minute video that teaches about snorkeling safety, marine life, and preserving the coral reef. I know this is a terrible picture, but these padded bum bars we leaned up against during the video were pretty cool: 


Hanauma Bay is a shallow reef and is considered one of the world's best places for novice snorkelers: 


Everyone geared up and went snorkeling:


It was absolutely incredible. I had only snorkeled once before (in Cozumel). I had borrowed someone else's mask and didn't spend enough time to enjoy it. This was amazing. Crazy, crazy amazing. I've been waiting to publish this post to include the video that Scott took with his GoPro camera, but I'll have to add that later. 

I kept getting water in my mask because I didn't put it on correctly when I first got in the water. (They covered that in the video. . . something about know before you go. . . I was busy texting my kids and missed that part.)

Sherry and I didn't last as long as the boys because we got too cold. (I am shivering in this picture.)


So we enjoyed some time on the beach:


I should also note that there is a concession stand up top at the entrance to the bay, but nothing down on the beach. We purchased some snacks before we walked down from a woman selling food from a cart: three bucks for a small bag of chips, three bucks for two bananas, and five bucks for a frozen liter bottle of water. . . (that we didn't even end up drinking). 

The beach provided some great people watching, which resulted in a lot of laughter. My favorite quote was "Is that an animal or Asians?" No need to be offended. . . the large group of Asian tourists on the beach was extremely loud. 

We enjoyed soaking in the sun:  


Until Steve abruptly declared that it was time to go. 

Our next stop was at Kokonuts for some shave ice. Because that's where President Obama gets his shave ice: 


I thought the Hawaiians were pretty adamant about calling it "shave ice" instead of "shaved ice". . . but maybe they ordered this sign from somewhere else:


Steve needed a crepe:


Then we walked down a few stores to Bubbies for some Homemade Ice Cream & Desserts: 


We were there for the homemade mochi balls: 


Mochi is a chewy Japanese rice cake, traditionally eaten for the Japanese New Year. Lots of frozen yogurt stores in the U.S. offer mochi as a topping (not my favorite). Mochi balls are made with ice cream, wrapped inside of a layer of mochi (my favorite). I had my first mochi balls at Tona, and I have also purchased them from Trader Joe's. 

We sat outside, enjoying our second dessert of the afternoon, as all of our kids were back home, eating dinner and getting ready for bed. 

In case you are wondering how our kids were doing at this point, here's a text from Rachel: 


See. . . they were just fine without us. They don't even need a tooth fairy anymore. 

There weren't too many negative things about Hawaii, but traffic was one of them. It took over an hour to get back to our hotel. After some swimming and showering, we drove out to Kapolei to go do dinner at Le Nonne Hawaii

Those of you who live in Logan are probably familiar with Le Nonne Ristorante. . . and if you aren't, you should be because it's one of our favorite restaurants. Steve worked there back when they first opened in 2001. My brother, Paul, started working there as a busser and my cousin, Maggie, became their dessert chef. At one point, all four of us were Le Nonne employees. Le Nonne catered our wedding breakfast and continues to be one of our very favorite restaurants (simple, authentic Italian food). Last year, they opened a restaurant in Hawaii, so we were eager to go visit Stephanie and Pier. 


The lighting in the restaurant was dim, so my pictures didn't turn out very well, but Steve had a heyday and ordered everything his heart desired. We ate family-style and feasted on Bruschetta, Carpaccio, Crab Cakes, Caprese Salad, Penne All Arrabbiata, Rigatoni Alla Amatriciana, Gnocchi Pomodora, Pollo Ai Funghi. For dessert, we had Creme Brûlée, the Chocolate Hazelnut Mousse Puff Pastry (can't remember what they are called), and Tiramisu. So amazing. 


We shouldn't have been surprised that we gained some weight during our trip. 

After dinner, Pier talked to Steve about the restaurant, life in Hawaii, etc. I'm not sure how he managed to do this, but throughout their 20-minute conversation, Pier didn't even swear once. 


Good food, good times. Needless to say, everyone had an amazing first day in Hawaii. 

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Those people jumping gleefully in front of Pearl Harbor are very inappropriate. -concerned friend ST ;)