Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Hawaii, Day 7

Monday: I can't believe we leave in just over 24 hours. While it seems like forever since I was in Missouri, this last week has flown by.

Today was quite an adventure. I went with 3 other families to Diamond Head first thing this morning. We were on the trail just before 7:00 a.m. and made it to the top in excellent time. I realized I am not in as good of shape as I was 11 years ago when I did the same hike. Then again, 11 years ago I was 18 and played church softball and was cheerleading.

After that, most of the families were heading to the Polynesian Cultural Center. I didn't really want to spend a whole day there so my idea was to catch a ride that far and then take a bus the rest of the way to the North Shore. Well, I needed to shower after Diamond Head so by the time I was ready, I had missed the early wave of departures and was going to have to wait quite a while for the next wave. So on the spur of the moment, I decided to rent a car for the day and take myself to the North Shore, and that way I could stop along the way and see a few other sites on my list. My little Geo Tracker has seen better days but it was the perfect vehicle to get me where I needed to go today. I started at the Royal Mausoleum. (Side note: the concierge at my hotel did not know what this was when I asked him about it the other day. I had to explain to him that it is where all of the Hawaiian royals are buried. And he's a local.) This was a beautiful place and I had it all to myself except for the caretaker. I wandered the grounds a while and then went down a flight of stairs to the gate enclosing the tomb of the Kalakaua dynasty. It was really quite moving to be standing there at the final resting place of King Kalakaua, Queen Kapi'olani, Princess Ka'iulani, and Queen Lili'uokalani.

Next I stopped and took a quick photo at Queen Emma's Summer Palace. After that, I continued on Pali Highway to the Pali Lookout. It is a beautiful spot (and extremely windy) with a grisly history. It was here that Kamehameha the Great defeated the O'ahu armies to unite the Hawaiian islands by sending the warriors over the cliff.

I got back on the road and missed my turn so I ended up going all the way up the leeward side to Wai'anae. That cost me about 45 minutes or so but I soon found myself back on track and driving through central O'ahu. I passed the Dole Plantation and went through beautiful coffee fields. I stopped to eat in Hale'iwa Town and got shave ice at the legendary Matsumoto's. (I even ran into another family from my group there.) Then I drove on up the coast a bit more to Ehukai Beach Park, the site of one of the most famous surfing locales in all the world, Banzai Pipeline. I haven't had much beach time on this trip so I laid out for a couple of hours and watched the surfers. (Prime surfing season here is in the winter, so the beach was relatively deserted, but the water was still rough - and cold! - and there were a few guys out there trying to catch a wave.) I headed back into Hale'iwa and got some yummy garlic shrimp for dinner out of the side of a truck. I poked around in a few shops and then started making my way back to Honolulu. I still have the car for a few hours in the morning, so I think I'm going to be able to hit all of the major sites that I had on my list.

Sunday Update: Yesterday after church we sat and chatted a man while we waited for the tour guide. (I use that term loosely. She was a charming auntie that came and talked story with us for a while, but there was no tour.) Anyway, this man was very friendly, asking us lots of questions and telling us how he was raised in that church. When we told him we were going to be seeing Kumu Rich next, he said to tell him "hello from Brickwood." This man had seemed slightly familiar to me to begin with, but at the time I remember thinking he must just have a typical Hawaiian voice and look. Well, there was a reason he seemed familiar. He was Brickwood Galuteria, famous in Hawaii for all sorts of things (see the link). In fact, he is featured on a DVD I own called Hawaiian Rainbow. I wish I would have realized at the time who he was so I could have gotten a picture.

By the way, I bought a great book before I got here called Oahu Revealed. There is a similar book for each of the islands. This book has become to me what Rick Steve's was to Kelly & Kristy when they went to Europe. The authors are now like trusted friends. Highly recommended.

Interesting fact of the day: There was something that had been bothering since my last trip here 11 years ago. I couldn't figure out why Hawai'i has interstate highways, and I never remembered to Google it. Our bus driver the first day was the one to finally explain this mystery. With several military installations here, there was a need to move people and machinery, and therefore interstates were built that are funded by the federal government. Here is a slightly different explanation.

Here is a link to the live webcam in front of the Duke Kahanamoku statue on Waikiki Beach. I walk in front of it often so check it out sometime tomorrow (or even tonight) and you might see me.

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