Saturday, November 21, 2009

Kahmehameha's Revenge and Pearl Harbor

My first stop in Hawaii was, of course, Waikiki and I was wowed. I loved it. There are 2 things you need to know about Hawaii. First, the time moves slower than here. Everything is at a slower pace. It can be frustrating for us "Haoles" (Caucasians from the mainland). We walk fast, drive fast, expect fast service. You don't do that in Hawaii. Hawaiians just take their time - they are not slow or lazy, just smarter than us. Hey: "Slow down and enjoy yourself!"

An example of how nice the Hawaiians are was on my first day. I rented a jeep to run around the island and I stopped to get gas. It started to rain just as I pulled up to the outdoor pump and I had an open topped jeep so I was already wet. It was a self-service pump. As I got out of the jeep a little short Hawaiian came out from his office and said, "Here Brudda, I'll pump that for you. You go stand over there out of da' rain". He then pumped my gas and talked my arm off, asking me where I was from and if I was enjoying my vacation. Hawaiians are just like that. Just plain nice.
The other thing you should know is that fresh Hawaiian Pineapple is 100 times better than what you get here in the stores. It does not even taste like the same fruit. But there is a price for for this deliciousness. and it's called "Kamehameha's Revenge". Too much and you'll spend a lot of time sitting in the restroom -need I say more? (just a note here, I know this very well because I regularly eat too much pineapple in Hawaii - it's just so darned good....).

There are a lot of places in Hawaii to see and I am sure I will mention them as this blog goes on. Places like "The Pali", Sea Life Park and swimming with the dolphins, scubba diving in Hanauma Bay, diving from the waterfalls, the "Valley of the Temples", and even "The Yellow Submarine". In the 27 years I have been going over there I have done them all at one time or another. The one that draws me back every time is, naturally, Pearl Harbor and the USS Arizona.
I had the opportunity to go in a helicopter (a very, very small helicopter, see picture) and fly over Oahu (the island where Waikiki and Pearl Harbor are located). We flew in following the same flight path that the Japanese planes followed that terrible morning. I put together a short clip of that flight so you can see how small Pearl Harbor really is and why the ships were such easy targets.

If you ever go to Hawaii - take a morning and go out to Pearl Harbor. There, sitting in that little inlet are 2 battleships. The USS Arizona (now sunken below the waves with just the top of one of her turrets still showing) and the USS Missouri (the proud ship where the Japanese signed the surrender documents), The start and end of World War II sitting 100 yards apart. It never fails to make me feel humble and filled with pride....

A quick story about the Arizona. I was sitting in my favorite little bar in Waikiki one afternoon enjoying a Mai Tia and chatting with a couple of tourists from Spain when a Japanese man and his wife wondered in. They were dressed very well, he was wearing a 3 piece dark blue suit (complete with 3 cameras around his neck). He had a very strong accent and was hard to understand but manged to order drinks after a few tries. Our bartender, Steve, fixed the drinks then came back over to our end of the bar to continue our conversation. After a few minutes the Japanese man got up and said, in heavy accent, "Hey bartender". Steve was talking so he did not hear the man. So the man repeated "Hey, bartender!" in a very loud voice. Steve did not look. He just stopped talking and said "Yes?" The Japanese man then said "Where is Arizona? Where is ship?" Well, Steve did not hesitate, did not look, did not even turn his head. He just kept looking down washing a glass and said: "At the bottom of the bay where you guys left it 50 years ago!" --It went dead silent in that bar.-- After a moment the Japanese man and his wife stomped out and we all erupted in laughter..... I love Hawaii......

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