October 2, 2013

Hawaiian Vacation: Day 10

photo-14 I have completely lost track of days and dates. We booked several excursions at the start of our trip and I had to repeatedly check our tickets each day to make sure we didn’t miss one. Someone once told me that when you lose track of your days/dates, it’s the mark of a good vacation. On the whole, this has been an incredibly relaxing and lazy vaca. Today, was one of our more structured and active days.

We got up at 5am. Yes, 5am on vacation. The plan: Spend the day at Pearl Harbor. Well, as a result of the nonsense going on with the government, we weren’t able to visit the Arizona Memorial or the Bowfin Submarine–both national parks were closed. This is the first time in YEARS we haven’t been able to pay our respects. My 82-year old father, a Korean War veteran, was both annoyed and disappointed, as were we all–but something tells me, visiting Pearl Harbor touches him a bit deeper than the rest of us. Alas, we made do…

Our early day started by having a moment at the USS Oklahoma Memorial,  a tour of the Mighty Mo (i.e. photo-15the USS Missouri), then it was off to the Pacific Aviation Museum, capped off by  a drive through of Punchbowl Cemetery and finally downtown Honolulu. It was a lot to see and we enjoyed every minute of it.

My father often reminisces and tells stories of the ship he was on when he was in the Navy. He wasn’t on a battle ship, but a Destroyer. I love those stories. Our guide today on the Mighty Mo was awesome, incredibly informative, and we all learned things we hadn’t heard before. For me, it was that the family of the kamikaze pilot that crashed into the Mighty Mo and died had donated a photo of the pilot as a child as well as in his military uniform. I was also unaware that when the instruments of surrender were being signed, 2 POWs were standing at the signing and weighed less than 100lbs. each after being held captive for 3 years. Both men standing over 6 feet tall. War is an ugly, ugly thing.

But it was not all solemn. My father talked of sliding down the rails when going from one deck to another. How he slept on the top bunk in case someone got seasick. And how one of his shipmates was plotting to escape home to Panama when the ship went through the Panama Canal because he didn’t want to go to Korea. (Ultimately, he was thrown in the brig on land. But he did avoid Korea.)

photo-16The Aviation Museum was fun. Though I have to say, it has cemented my refusal to ever ride in a helicopter. You are allowed to enter actual military helicopters and they just freak me out. But then so do submarines. Hmmm…perhaps I have a touch of claustrophobia…but I digress.

This was the first time we drove through Punchbowl. Usually, we take a walking tour, guided by a docent; but apparently, that is no longer allowed. Bummer, those WWII vets were the cutest! As far as cemeteries go, it’s a very pretty place and I’m glad the men and women that serve our country have such a beautiful final resting place.

One of the coolest things that we saw today, was a Naval ship pulling into Pearl Harbor. The seamen were on deck, the horn was blowing… To stand on the deck of the Mighty Mo watching a ship pull in is something that I will remember for the rest of my life. Awesome.

So, for a day that was actually cut short due to the first 2 visits being off-limits, it was still a long–but enjoyable day. A day that finished out at the pool. Still working on my tan! But now, it’s off to dinner. Yummy!!!

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