August 22, 2014

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Honolulu Tour Begins with Pearl Harbor

We pay our respects...

It's going to be a busy day as we start our bus tour of Honolulu and the east end of Oahu (the main island) with a visit to Pearl Harbor and the battleship Arizona memorial.

The visitor's center is being rebuilt/ redesigned, and we find the movie is being displayed in a pavilion wrapped by black tarps. Still, the narration by Kathleen Turner (or Cathy Griffith?) is very moving. It is a very balanced presentation, showing both sides of the approaching conflict and the cost to both countries in human life.

In past years, the balance of Japanese and American tourists have been 50-50, but not so much nowadays. Today, there are many fewer Japanese and foreign visitors...  I am told it is because of the worsening economy over there. It surprises me to see it.


As we file toward the motor launch that will ferry us across the bay to the memorial, we are joined by a 4th grade elementary school outing.  It is the same school that President Obama attended as a youth.  Every student is dressed in orange t-shirt, with dark hair and bright eyes.  They are excited, and I am worried that they will spoil the somber air.

They prove very well trained, and they fall silent as we walk into the memorial.  We snip our flower necklace lei's and let the flowers fall into the oily waters below.  Not much is said as we pay our respects and return after about 20 minutes to the National Park/dock.

"Uncle Dave", our bus driver, soon has us in better spirits as his infectious whit and humor entertains us.  We ride through the city, spotting locations where Hawaii 5-O was shot, and landmarks.  We are told we can't go to the punchbowl National Cemetery though...they are filming the remake of the police/action series there this week.  But everyone is excited by it.  This will help the local economy a great deal.  I'm told the hotel business is down to 66% capacity in some hotels.  But you'd never know it from the heavy freeway traffic we must fight.

It's alright though, as we continue east, past Diamond Head, to Eternity Beach and the Blowhole.  The beach is where that "hot love scene" was shot with Bert Lancaster and Debra Kerr in "From Here to Eternity".  We recognize the beach, but the blast of water from the pounding surf makes us appreciate the force of the ocean waves even more.

We continue along the beach and then up through a  mountain pass where the wind is so strong, it will support you at a 45 degree angle...  It is the location where a great battle in the 1700s united the Hawaiian people by pushing the conquered natives over the edge to their deaths.  It's as important as our Civil War was, but this is key Hawaiian history.

By the afternoon, we're tired and ready to relax, but I must call the station and file a report.  Technical problems prevent my photos from going through, and I have to settle for a phone report during the Fox 10pm News, but we get a live report taped via Skype eventually.

Now, it's time to file my blog reports.  After typing late into the night, a wrong keystroke wipes out the entire day's entry...a very moving piece that concentrates on the Arizona Memorial.   Unable to recover it, I give up and write the lighter, breezier summary you now read.  I just don't have it in me to do it again, the same way.

It's now 4:30 Eastern Time, and 11:30 Hawaiian time.   The wife is asleep and traffic sounds like it is slowing.  I must stop now, as tomorrow is our 'free day" and I hope to surf, snorkel and enjoy myself.  It's time for a little R&R.

More later....Kirk

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