Music and Words

March 27, 2010

Hawaii, Day 5

Filed under: Words — melomania @ 3:02 pm
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It’s a 2-for-1 day!

Yesterday we headed out to do the snorkeling that we missed out on Thursday. We stopped to rent snorkeling equipment and ask where the best place is to go. We drove up to a “beach” that turned out to be a small stretch of sand surrounded by rocks and headed out with our underwater camera and snorkeling equipment to see some fish. The sea was rougher yesterday so the underwater visibility wasn’t as good as when we went on Monday, but there were some reefs close to shore. We found some little fish and some cool rock formations. I even saw a sea turtle! Unfortunately, it was too far away to get a good picture and then it out-swam me when I tried to get closer. I tried to snap a picture but I doubt it turned out. We’ll see when we get the film developed.

It didn’t take long before we all got tired and came in. We moved up the shore to a bigger beach. Mom and Dad went for a walk and managed to throw each other in the water and came back dripping wet, but Doug and I were perfectly content to sit on the beach and relax. (And get sunburned.)

We came back from the beach to get ready to go to the luau last night and discovered that we were all very sunburned. Doug and Mom will be very tanned in a couple of days, but Dad and I are more likely to peel and go back to the stark-white color that we do so well.

We drove out to Paradise Cove for their luau last night and got to participate in some events like spear-throwing. We watched some volunteer “natives” pull in the fishing net and watched some people go for canoe rides. Dad didn’t like the idea of the canoe rides because they didn’t take you out on the open surf, which defeats the whole purpose in his mind.

We ate the underground-cooked pig and some friend chicken and mahi-mahi, and drank some Mai-Tais and pina coladas. After dinner Paradise Cove put on a show with hula dancing, music, and other Polynesian dancing. I declined the invitation to go up on stage and learn to hula dance in front of 600 people. Mom and Dad also declined a later invitation to dance, even though they could have done it with the lights down and no one looking.

The dancers did all different kinds of dances including lots of hula, naturally, so I can definitely say I’ve seen hula dancing in person. One Samoan guy played with fire for us too. That was great, especially when they turned the lights off and all you could see was a ring of fire spinning in mid-air.

The luau was very fun but I think we were all glad to get back to the house and go to bed. That may have been the latest we stayed up all week. I’m trying to not let my body fully adjust to the time change because I have to be back at work on Monday morning. However, after a red-eye flight to Phoenix tonight, my internal clock is going to be so messed up it won’t matter.

Today, Mom, Dad, and the Two Grannies are going to the Polynesian Cultural Center while Doug and I go to the beach. He’s going to do more surfing. I might just stick with boogie boards and sitting on the shore (in the shade because I’m sore enough as it is). Tonight we’re going to have a quick dinner then head out to the airport. Doug and I have flights leaving around 10 at night. I’ll be returning to Phoenix and he’s heading to Denver with a layover in Seattle.

I’ll get some pictures from Dad at some point and post them. I can also get the underwater camera developed (I used to do cameras like that all the time when I worked in the photo lab at Target) and I’ll post some of those too. The next time I write will be from my own computer back home.


Hawaii, Day 4

Filed under: Words — melomania @ 1:55 pm
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I know, I know, I’ve been slacking.

Day 4 was Thursday. We had been planning to go snorkeling that day but quickly discovered the weather was against us. This rain shower followed us as we drove around the southern end of the island. We saw some sights, like the lighthouse at Makapuu Point, but were quickly driven back into the car by sudden rain showers.

We stopped at Makapuu Point, overlooking a beach on one side and looking up to a hill on the other side. Over the hill is the lighthouse, but due to a combination of it-started-pouring-rain and we-were-only-wearing-flip-flops, we didn’t bother to climb up and get a better look. Doug stopped to check out the military bunkers, then wandered around looking for the entrances to them but didn’t seem to find any.

Next stop was a blowhole. We stood for a while and watched the waves come in, trying to judge when a wave would force the water into the blowhole. Naturally, once you get the camera out and ready to go, the blowhole doesn’t really do much for about 5 minutes. Eventually another set of waves starts to roll in and this happens: “Oh, look, there’s a big one! That’ll definitely do it! Get the camera ready! Here it comes! … Oh wait, that one didn’t do it. Never mind.” Then, after you’ve lowered the camera and started scanning the ocean for a good-size wave, a couple of little waves come in, joining together at just the right point, and the blowhole starts spurting out water. “There it goes, take a picture! Nope, too late now.” Then it started raining so we all ran for the car, hunched over our cameras to keep them dry.

Go figure.

We drove around the southern end of the island and looked for a place to stop and eat our picnic. As I mentioned, we had this set of rain-containing clouds following us around the island, so we finally stopped at a not-safe-for-swimming beach (strong currents) where we ate our sandwiches and watched people load their outrigger canoes into the water. Every time Dad sees this, he wants to do it even more. We finished our sandwiches and made a break for the car because (guess what!) it started to rain again.

After lunch we made our way into Honolulu to see the Aloha Tower. We rode up to the top of the tower and looked out at the views. We saw some ships in the harbor and lots of condos. Helpful signs pointed out locations of specific things, like the pedestrian mall and the deep part of the bay where they turn the ships. Before we came down we located a ship way out on the horizon making its way in to port.

The two grandmas, Mom, and I went shopping in the tower’s shopping center while Dad and Doug went to go check out the maritime museum. Turns out the museum has been closed for a while now, so their excursion didn’t last long. They came back and joined us for some ice cream.

We got back in the car and drove around Honolulu looking for the statue of King Kamehameha. Honolulu is one of those cities that has one-way streets in their downtown, so we drove around where the statue was supposed to be, and drove too far one direction. Of course, you can’t turn the way we wanted to on that particular street, so we missed seeing the statue entirely. We promptly gave up and┬áheaded for the house with plans to pick up Thai food for dinner. We had a nice, quiet evening at the house eating Thai food and beating each other at Euchre before heading to bed.

March 25, 2010

Hawaii, Day 3

Filed under: Words — melomania @ 12:57 pm
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We went over to visit Pearl Harbor yesterday. Because they have a limited number of tickets for the USS Arizona memorial, we had an early start to the day. I think we were at Pearl Harbor by about 8.

That’s 5am in Tucson.

My body is having a really hard time changing time zones, so I’m never entirely sure what time it is. I’m not tired when I should be and I’m exhausted in the middle of the day. But the point remains the same: we got up early.

We got our tickets to the USS Arizona memorial then toured the submarine USS Bowfin while we waited for our tour time. The Bowfin tour had an audio guide to get more information on the submarine, and hear some stories from people who served on it. We saw the torpedo launchers, and the tiny sleeping quarters, and learned about how there were fewer beds than men so they slept in shifts. We heard about when they took the submarine deeper than it was designed to go in order to avoid Japanese depth charges, and succeeded. The Bowfin performed very well for the US Navy, sinking many enemy ships and submarines and avoiding casualties. They said the only casualty the Bowfin suffered was one man’s leg injury.

After we finished with the Bowfin, we watched a video about the actual attack on Pearl Harbor. We saw video footage of the attack and learned about how the Japanese were actually in Washington, D.C. doing peace talks when the attack happened. (That must have ended really quickly.) They sent out two waves of planes from aircraft carriers stationed to the north of Hawaii. The guy manning the radar at the time saw all the planes and radioed the people in communications. They thought it was just the flight of B-17s that was supposed to arrive that day and told him not to worry about it. The Japanese were hoping to hit the aircraft carriers, but the carriers were actually not in port at the time. A lot of battleships, however, were in port, so they attacked the battleships. The USS Arizona was sunk after a direct hit caused all its ammunition to explode. The USS Oklahoma flipped over in the water, but was actually salvaged and put back into active service during the war. Most of the ships that were hit were able to be salvaged. The Arizona is the only one that was never recovered.

After the video ended, it was time for our trip across the bay to the USS Arizona memorial. The memorial has been erected over top of the sunken ship and includes a marble wall inscribed with the names of all 1,177 sailors and Marines who died on board. About 950 of those bodies were never recovered and remain in the ship at the bottom of Pearl Harbor. The tour guide pointed out that there are a lot of places on the wall where the same last name is repeated. She explained that until 1942, members of the same family were allowed to serve together, so some of those repetitions indicate sets of brothers who served together on the Arizona, and died together. In one instance, there is actually a father/son pair that both died on board.┬áThe ship is still leaking oil into the bay and from the memorial you can see the point where the oil bubbles up from the fuel tanks. It doesn’t seem to bother the little tropical fish that hang around the ship.

We returned to the shore after that memorial, got some lunch, and made our way over to the USS Missouri across the bay. Dad and Doug took off on their own to explore this huge battleship, but Mom, the two grandmas, and I all got the audio tours to learn about the ship. We saw the place where the surrender agreement was signed on board the Missouri in 1945. We also saw the place where a Japanese kamikaze pilot flew into the ship. The bomb that he was carrying had fallen off his plane in the ocean, so he didn’t do any damage. The fire that resulted was put out immediately and his remains were recovered from the wreckage. A sailor on board the ship at the time told a story on the audio guide about what happened afterward. He said the captain ordered an honorable burial at sea for the pilot, and the medical staff on board recovered all the body parts from the wrecked plane and put them back together. The crew didn’t feel that this was necessary, but the captain insisted that the pilot was just serving his country the same way the battleship crew was serving theirs, and he deserved the burial.

Dad and Doug wanted to go see the Pacific Aviation Museum, but none of the rest of us really felt a need to do that, so Mom, the grandmas, and I took off in the car to drive around. Mom conveniently forgot her driver’s license, so I drove, which meant that Mom got to see the sights as we drove through downtown Honolulu and past Waikiki Beach. I’m told it was beautiful, but all I was looking at the was road and the horrible rush-hour traffic. We turned around to go pick up Dad and Doug, stopping to find a Starbucks on the way, then made our way back to Pearl Harbor. Dad and Doug were the only people left.

We drove back to the house for dinner and spent the evening applying aloe vera gel to our sunburns and watching a C-17 do touch-and-go’s at the Marine base near our house. In fact, he never did land at the base, instead flying back toward the North Shore after he was finished playing around. He was back this morning doing more of them.

We’re having a pretty relaxed morning today, with plans to go out and do some more snorkeling this afternoon. We’re going to go down to the South Shore and go snorkeling in a bay that’s known for its reef life. After that we’re going to do some more driving and find some blowholes. (Not the kind on whales; the kind that are holes in the rock where sea water spurts up and looks cool.) Apparently Doug’s Air-Force-brat friend used to live in Hawaii and says we should see that.

No pictures today because I didn’t get any from Dad. I don’t think he’s gone through them yet to even pick and edit the good ones, although he is going to have so many airplane pictures from yesterday that I don’t know how long that would take. I’ll get some good ones of the memorials and post them later tonight or tomorrow morning.

March 24, 2010

Hawaii, Day 2

Filed under: Words — melomania @ 1:21 am
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So Doug and I learned to surf today, and the experience wasn’t a dismal failure (especially for Doug, who took to surfing like you’d expect from a kid whose hair used to look like a blond afro). I found it to be a little harder, although my family who watched from the shore assure me I looked great. And hey, isn’t that what surfing is all about? Looking cool?

See? Don't we look cool?

We did have a very good instructor. We learned how to stand up on the boards before heading out into the ocean. Doug managed to catch lots of waves and I’m proud to say I had a couple of good runs. (Runs? Is that how you’d say it? That’s a snowboarding term.)

Anyway, I managed to at least stand up after a few attempts and a couple of times I was even able to ride the wave all the way in to the shore. I fell off the board a lot more often than I jumped off willingly, but I’m looking on the bright side – I’m still alive. And I never even got clocked in the head with the board.

It didn’t take long before my arms were killing me and I really just wanted to lay down on the board and not think about paddling. We were doing butterfly paddling, because it’s more powerful to have both hands doing the same thing at the same time, and butterfly happens to be the stroke that I was good at when I was on swim team as a kid. (Well, I didn’t get myself disqualified like the whole rest of the team because I was the only one that could keep form, but we’re going to say I was good at it.) However, I remembered very quickly why I didn’t actually LIKE doing the butterfly as a kid. See, there’s these muscles in your back and shoulders that you use when doing that stroke that you don’t use any other time. Ever. So it really hurts. And after paddling out once a few times, memories of pain in those exact muscles came flooding back.

I'm Up!

Oh well.

My first attempt to stand didn’t go so well, because I didn’t have my feet in the right place. Of course after that, I was being overly careful to get my feet in the right place, and it was taking me too long to stand up. That problem lasted the rest of the day.

There now, isn’t that a nice picture? Looks like the family members were right – I do look cool.

Doug looks like a natural, of course. He should consider growing his hair back out if he wants to make a habit of this. It would suit him.

Add some long blond hair and a better tan and he's all set.

Somewhere along the line, he switched stances so that his left foot was in front (which is the way I ride) and didn’t switch the leash to his back foot. Good thing he didn’t get tangled in it.

Like I said, we had a really good instructor who recommended I sit backwards on the board and ride in that way. Apparently, this looked like I was tired and giving up when really, it was the ride that made me decide to keep going. Surfing (like a lot of things) turns out to be a lot easier sitting down. I got to see all the ocean behind me and just had to look over my shoulders to make sure I didn’t run up on shore. I didn’t even fall off until I was getting close to shore, and then I meant to, so it doesn’t count.


I CAN stay upright after all.

After surfing, we loaded back into the van and drove the scenic route around the North Shore and back down to the house. We stopped to take a look at all the beaches where they hold the big surfing competitions – Waiamea Bay and Sunset Beach. We just missed seeing the Banzai Pipeline when we stopped at Sunset Beach. We didn’t realize we’d already passed it.

The waves were great. It’s already March, which means the surf will be starting to fade now into the glassy calm that the North Shore experiences in the summer, but surfers were all over the waves today. A couple of them even caught waves. One person got inside the pipe and we got to see him ride that way a while. It’s an interesting experience to watch someone do that after just learning the basics of the sport yourself. Maybe “interesting” isn’t quite the right word. Weird? Yeah, that’s better.

Waiamea Bay

We kept driving and passed a little stand advertising sliced coconut, pineapple, papaya, and various other tropical foods. We stopped and got some sliced coconut. I really liked it, and so did most of the people in the family, but Doug quickly realized that it’s not just the shredded kind he doesn’t like after all. He gave up on the coconut pretty quickly, but Dad and I had some more. I was really hungry after surfing, which helped the matter, but I did like it.

We drove back to the house, stopping on the way for dinner. We were looking for a Thai place, but we couldn’t find it, so we got some dinner from a grocery store and had roast chicken and salad for dinner, with pie and ice cream for dessert. Doug and I ate heartily but most of the rest of the family who had spent the day watching us weren’t so hungry.

The pie was good, though.

Tomorrow we’re planning to go to Pearl Harbor. I’m looking forward to a day of standing in lines and giving my eyes a rest from the contacts, rather than swimming. It’s a lot easier to wear contacts in this climate, but my eyes still can’t handle doing it all day. And mixing ocean water with sore eyes certainly isn’t helping. After we got back to the house today, I looked at myself in the mirror and noticed that I had gotten sunburned (or maybe windburned) on my face. This was especially apparent because my face was the same color as my bloodshot eyes. That can’t be good.

As I was saying, I’m looking forward to Pearl Harbor. I like learning about the World War II time period. I find it to be the most interesting period of American history. When I was in Berlin two summers ago, the most interesting parts of the trip were the Holocaust Museum and other sights related to World War II. Now, I’ll be seeing it from the point of view that I’m used to – the American one. The USS Arizona memorial represents the beginning of American involvement in the war, and the USS Missouri memorial represents the end of the war.

Also, there’s a submarine, and submarines are really fun to explore.

March 23, 2010

Picture from Day 1

Filed under: Pictures — melomania @ 11:37 pm
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Here’s a picture from snorkeling yesterday. As you can see, I wasn’t really clued in to when the picture was being taken. I seem to recall taking my snorkel out of my mouth just after this.

Hawaii, Day 1

Filed under: Words — melomania @ 1:19 pm
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Sunday afternoon we arrived in Honolulu, where we got leis at the airport and then went to get our rental car. We were able to put me on as a driver (for a fee, because I’m under 25) which means if my brother and I want to take off and do some surfing (after we learn how) we don’t need the parents to drive us. We eventually made it to our house and had a rather uneventful night, tired after our day of traveling.

Yesterday, our first full day in Hawaii was…well…exhausting. We’re still adjusting to the 3-hour time difference and we spent lots of time wearing ourselves out in the water.

We took a cruise up the west side of Oahu on a catamaran that included some good snorkeling. Note to self: next time we go snorkeling, don’t forget to buy an underwater camera. We saw lots of cool tropical fish, including some black-and-white stripey fish, some gray fish, some angelfish (like the scar-fish in Finding Nemo!) and we even saw a sea turtle! It was hiding under a rock for a while, but a while later it came out. It was hanging out letting the little fish clean the algae off it’s shell.

There was a pod of dolphins hanging around us too, although they never got close enough to see them underwater. They weren’t interested in showing off and jumping for us either, but it was still cool to see them surfacing for breath. After we got back on the boat and picked up speed, they rode the bow for a few minutes, and then we got to see them having a bit more fun.

On the boat, we got some lunch and Mai Tais (which, by the way, I quite like) and hung out, watching for whales. We got a nice view of some whale tails as they dove.

After the boat trip, we went to the beach near our house and did some boogie-boarding. After catching my first wave, I couldn’t do it again. We played around in the ocean, then picked up some pizza and went back to the house to have dinner and play some cards. I got royally creamed (and our game of Up to the King isn’t even over yet; we’ll finish it tonight) but I wasn’t as tired as I should have been, so I kept playing.

Sometime in the middle of the night, my dad came in to my room to ask for painkillers. Apparently my mom has sprained her ankle, but doesn’t remember doing it. That’s not stopping her from blaming him for it, of course. See, at the beach yesterday, he ran down and tackled her in the water before she had the chance to take off the clothes over her bathing suit, so she figures that’s when it must have happened. She’s feeling better this morning.

Mom’s sore ankle changed our plans for today, though. We were going to do Pearl Harbor, but since she can’t walk, Doug and I are going up to the North Shore to take surfing lessons. The adults are going to take a scenic drive. Or maybe stay and watch us fall on our faces. Not too sure. It probably depends on how much falling we wind up doing. I’ll let you know.

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