It’s Day 5 of my trip to the Hawaiian Islands in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, and my first day of rest. It’s been a whirlwind tour so far, and a lot has been crammed into the first few days of my 18 day stay in this beautiful chain of islands.
My stay so far has been limited to the island of Oahu (second main island from the left in the picture), but a three day journey to the Big Island is planned for the coming weekend.
One of my first experiences on Oahu was Pearl Harbour and included climbing inside the World War II submarine USS Bowfin, taking a boat trip out to the memorial of the USS Arizona (sunk 07 December 1941 during the attack on the harbour by the Japanese), and making my way over the Battleship Missouri (Mighty Mo) that sits proudly at the Fort Island dock. The battleship was the site of the signing of the Japanese surrender on 02 September 1945, and was both America’s first and last battleship in service. She was decomissioned in 1992 after participating in Operation Desert Storm.
Another day saw a drive up to Punchbowl Memorial Cemetary, which serves as a memorial to fallen servicemen and women of the US Military. At first the area looks like a wide open park, but along every patch of open grass is a small stone remembering a fallen member of one of the many conflicts that the US has been involved in. This is a sobering thought when you see how far the grassed area extends, and the thousands of stones inlaid with each one remembering a single soul. A drive from Punchbowl up Tantalus look0ut provided breathtaking views of Honolulu and Diamondhead Crater below.
Yesterday was another full day, with a drive to Kaena Point on the northwest side of the island. The road stops short of the actual point by 2.5 miles, so a hearty walk was the order of the day. Loaded up with most of my camera gear, we set out along a rough road to our destination. the coastline was simpley breathtaking, with natural arches, large explosions of water against the coastline, and a towering mountain range to our immediate right. The path was mostly stable, but one small section was particularly treacherous (see photo). The path was completely washed away, with loose rocks to negotiate. I almost lost my footing once to a 30 foot fall below, and managed to bang my head against an outcropping. We all made it across safely and continued to the point. At the reserve we saw Laysan Albatross chicks, Wedge-tailed Shearwaters, and Monk Seals.
The drive home gave me the opportunity to get a local mobile phone so I wasn’t using my iPhone on roaming, which was a drama in itself and caused the staff at Radioshack to break into near fisticuffs as they argued the proper way to process the phone I wanted. Then it was off to Burger King for lunch and my introduction to “plus tax”. You see in Australia, all prices include goods and services tax (GST), so you pay the amount you see in the price. In America, the value you see doesn’t include tax. So in my situation when I ordered my $5.89 burger meal, I figured $6 would cover it. When the assistant told me $6.17, I figured she’d ordered the wrong item. My partner in crime was quick to point out with a laugh the folly of my mistake, conluding with “You have to forgive him, he’s from Australia”. Thanks Mat.