Today we were up and out early to get off of the ship and start “Hawaii, Phase II”. We were able to walk off early and grab a cab to the rental car office. Thank goodness we did, because we had to wait in a long line when we got there well before the shuttle from the port. We headed out to do some exploring.
Honolulu is just traffic madness! Approximately 80% of the south side of O’ahu is city. Our first landmark was a drive by the Iolani Palace, which is where you always saw Steve McGarrett coming out of the office on Hawaii Five-0. MW said that the last time he was here, it was in a relatively open area. Now it is surrounded by buildings all the way around. The frustration
with the downtown traffic was growing, so we headed towards Diamond Head in hopes of escape. No luck. The slow going continued all the way around to Kailua, but the scenery was spectacular, particularly at Waimanalo Bay. We cut back across the mountain on the Pali Highway, then stopped at the National Cemetery of the Pacific. This is another Hawaii Five-0 site, but it is awe-inspiring on it’s own. I took some time to Skype with Ryan and crew.
The next stop was Pearl Harbor. Unfortunately, the Arizona Memorial wasn’t accessible, but we watched the movie, walked around the rest of the site, and bought a couple of gifts. This site is so beautiful, and it is hard to imagine the total chaos that morning. Planes firing large caliber guns, explosions everywhere, ships firing the big guns, and people screaming and running for cover all at the same time. Most of us have no idea what that could possibly be like, and we should all be thankful that is the case. On a side note: MW and I are both totally perplexed at the issues with the Arizona site. Hawaii takes in billions of dollars in tourist revenue, but there has been a crack in the platform out at the Arizona for months now. Then a couple of days before we arrived, the dock where they load the boats to go out sank. I’m not “in the know”, but it seems that some critical maintenance checks have been missed or mishandled. Many veterans and civilians alike only get to come to Hawaii once (if ever), and the Arizona is at the top of the “must see” list for almost everyone. I was sad to miss it, but for some veterans that would be a bitter disappointment. In case anyone with any clout in Hawaii reads this…GET IT FIXED IMMEDIATELY!!
By the time we finished at Pearl, it was way past time to find some food. Johnnye Rockets was on the way, so we popped in there for burgers (2 burgers, 1 tater tot, and 2 shakes = $40!). Fueled up, we headed northwest up the coast road. Along the way we passed a lot of tent communities on the beaches, which we thought was odd. In doing some research we found out that Hawaii has a true crisis on their hands with the highest per capita rate of homelessness in the US. Housing and general living expenses are huge, so even with jobs, many people cannot afford a place to live. (Our bartender, Matt, told us that a bedroom with a bathroom and no kitchen would run $700 per month minimum; a full 1-bedroom, $1,500; and a 2-bedroom, $2,500.) There is a tent village up the coast from Honolulu near Waianae that houses hundreds of people, many families with children. As one point the state offered to pay one-way airfare to the mainland to anyone who wanted it for a fresh start in an area with a lower cost of living and better job availability. The problem is that no one born in Hawaii wants to leave. Sadly, that’s what happens when your home becomes “paradise” to the rest of the world
We drove all the way out to Ka’ena Point State Park as far as we could in the rental. There were a few surfers out, and the scenery at the end of the island was beautiful. We turned around at the end of the road and headed back to find our hotel.
It took us a couple of passes but we finally landed at The Equus on Ala Moana Boulevard just across from Waikiki Beach. We took our stuff up to the room, then went back to the bar to plan tomorrow’s adventures.
More pics from today:
A couple of notes about The Equus: 1) The hotel is older, but is very clean and the rooms are nice. 2) The air conditioner CANNOT keep the room cool at night. 3) The elevator makes a squeal as it ascends that is a little unnerving when you are on it. (Where is Cherie Berry when you need her? Only folks from NC will get that joke.) Turns out that you can also hear it loud and clear outside of the elevator, all night. 4) The traffic noise does not get better at night. Ugh! Not much sleep for me, so I was determined to take it slow. I didn’t make it up and out until 8:30 AM.
Our plan this morning…go north! We took HI-750 to Wilikina Drive and traveled up through Waialua and along the northwest coast to the other side of Ka’ena State Park. Along the way we saw several groups of a dozen or so parachuters taking advantage of the beautiful weather and a glider in tow out of Dillingham Airfield headed up for a ride. We also passed through a YMCA camp where a lot of kids were trying out the ropes course. We drove until the road ended, then turned around and headed back to Waialua where we took HI-99 down to the Dole Plantation. The fields on either side of the road were pineapple in various stages of growth, which was cool looking. When we pulled into the parking lot at Dole, we figured that was a mistake. The place was
covered up with several large parking lots full of cars and buses. We checked out the attractions, which included a ride through pineapple fields, but decided against them. Instead we checked out the store, and I sampled a pineapple whip, which is basically soft serve pineapple sorbet (pretty darned good). After looking around the store a little bit, we decided to get out of the crowd.
Back in the car we went north to Haleiwa and hit HI-83. We passed through a lot of farmland with coffee and various fruits along the way, then found Haleiwa Joe’s for lunch with a patio overlooking the marina and beach. There were lots of paddle boarders, and we even had a Osprey (airplane) fly over. Haleiwa is a nice little beach town with cute shops and restaurants. There are also an abundance of chickens. In fact, we’ve seen chickens running wild since we got to the islands. They are everywhere!
After lunch we continued towards the north part of the island, stopping in at the Waimea Valley Visitor Center to look around. It was beautiful and had a nice gift shop. (Beach Boys fans will remember that Waimea Bay is mentioned in Surfin’ USA.) Then it was on up to the famous North Shore. We stopped and walked around at Ehukai Beach Park, which is well known for it’s Bonzai Pipeline. Although the waves were not the giant ones that come in winter, they were much larger than any I’ve ever seen, and it was fun to watch the surfers. I made a video of the surf. (The sound drowns out my narrative, so you just get to hear the ocean.)
We continued around the northern point and turned south to visit the Valley of Temples Memorial Park and the Byodo-In Temple (another Hawaii Five-0 landmark). It was a very beautiful and peaceful place, and the koi ponds were amazing. There were nice, shaded paths and black swans. A few craft tables were also set up with hand-made items. (There was one annoyance when a grandmother and couple allowed their child to continuously ring the gong….at a temple! Where in the world did common sense go?)
Our next stop was for chores; the laundry situation was getting desperate. We headed to Kaneche and, after a couple of failed attempts, found a laundromat. Glory be, it had really good AIR CONDITIONING!!! We considered staying there for a couple of days doing laundry for anyone who needed it. Seriously, it was discussed. I was able to get a little work done while we waited, and once everything was finished, we headed back to the hotel via the Likelike Highway.
It was early evening by the time we made it back to Honolulu, so we dropped everything at the room and walked to find dinner. We ended up at 100 Sails across the street, which was a buffet. Although it was rather expensive, it had a large variety of seafood and prime rib that was cooked to perfection (think upscale restaurant fare). My mom would have been there for days with the crab legs! It was delicious, and we were ready for a little relaxation and bed by the time we made it back.
A few more from today: