Marcy and I have both done a fair amount of traveling in our lives and quite often we find that at least one of us has visited any given location. However, neither of us had ever been to Hawaii…
Although Marcy’s business gives her many opportunities to travel, as a family, it just hasn’t made sense for us to join her at any of the conferences. However with the kids now 3.5 and 5 years old, we decided we should try, and given that neither of us had been to Hawaii it seemed like it should be worth the effort.
Of course living our fun Famvan travel lifestyle leaves most people thinking that we are on constant vacation, but in reality, this is just our “normal” life. I know your going to laugh, but we wanted a vacation.
Having some flexibility in our schedule, we were able to carve out 10 days prior to the conference for our journey. We flew into Honolulu on the island of Oahu. Our primary reason for coming to Honolulu was to visit Pearl Harbor and the USS Arizona Memorial, but we did allow 5 days to simply enjoy the gorgeous weather and beaches.
As a Marine, there was no way I was going to come to Hawaii and not spend some time at Pearl Harbor. As it turned out, we spent an entire day. We visited the Pearl Harbor Museum, the USS Arizona, the USS Bowfin and Submarine Museum, the USS Missouri battleship, and the Pacific Air Museum. It was a full day, but the kids were amazing. We did lose Derek at one point as he decided to head topside on the USS Bowfin while we were still below, but overall it was a very special day.
Heading out to the Arizona I wasn’t expecting an overwhelming emotional response, but upon entering the memorial, I was immediately overcome with tears. Even writing this today my eyes fill with tears and my chest tightens. I guess I’m just emotionally tied to those who make the choice to serve, and feel especially grateful to those who gave ALL. On the other hand, I couldn’t believe that almost no one removed their hat as they entered the memorial. Disgusting, disrespectful, and simply sad. If giving your life in defense of ones country doesn’t earn a show of respect, then what the hell does?
The Museum itself does a great job of telling the Pearl Harbor story. It isn’t a “good guys” vs “bad guys” tale, but a historical collection of data from both sides of the battle. It’s a very respectful approach, and given the number of Japanese visitors, it’s the only way to showcase this important day in our history.
On board the USS Bowfin submarine we were treated to a quick glimpse at what life must have been like for the submarine sailors. Space is at a premium in the sub world and spending a little time in those tight quarters gave us all some perspective. For example, even though we live in a tiny van, we each have our own bed. Most of these guys “hot bunked”. In other words they shared a bunk with someone else who worked the opposite shift. When they headed to bed it was still warm from the other guy who just woke up to go to work.
The USS Missouri is an important piece of history for many reasons, but most famously for being the site of the treaty signing that ended the war with Japan. We enjoyed a tour of the battleship, learned about her history, and even saw the dent in her side where a kamikaze pilot left his mark. We wrapped up our visit to the Missouri with a couple of servings of shave ice and headed to the Pacific Air Museum.
The Pacific Air Museum is the newest addition to the series of museums associated with Pearl Harbor. We didn’t spend too much time here, but were able to see most of the museum. The museum showcases many of the important aircraft and air battles from the Pacific Theater including the B-25 bombers of the Doolittle Raid on Tokyo. Although there was more to see, we were all exhausted both physically and emotionally and headed back to the hotel, content with an amazing day in and around Pearl Harbor.
While on Oahu we had planned to see the famous waves of the North Shore but the area was closed to the public following a crash between two Marine Corps helicopters. Search efforts were thwarted by the huge surf and all 12 Marines are presumed dead. Rest in peace my brothers. Semper Fidelis.
On a lighter note, we were able to visit the Dole Plantation and learn about the pineapple business. We toured the plantation, ate lunch, and of course enjoyed some pineapple ice cream.
We wrapped up our visit to Oahu with a hike to the top of Diamondhead and I even caught the Patriots playoff game against the Chiefs. On to the Big Island…