Saturday, November 19, 2011

Aloha from Oahu

(note: turns out that the timeshare over here on the Big Island DOES INDEED have interent...woo-HOO! And thus, I am able to connect with the world. So, without further adieu, I give you the last 3 days on Oahu!)

 Aloha (hello)!

We arrived safe and sound in Oahu Wednesday afternoon. With no checked luggage, we quickly picked up the rental car and made a beeline for for Waikiki Beach and the hotel. Getting off the airline in Honolulu is always a joy. You step out of the gate area into open air...and it's almost always 80 or so degrees out. Suddenly wearing long pants is not the ticket. Our rental car this time around was a Lincoln Towncar...or as I called it, "The Love Boat". First time I've driven a Towncar. It was huge, but it drove nice.

We got downtown and the room was PHENOMENAL! We were staying at the Hilton for the first night, as Jeannie had points to use or loose (FREE ROOM!). We ended up on the 27th floor in the Rainbow Tower...the closest toward the ocean. We even had 2 directly ocean view and the other looking north towards the airport and the West Shore. It was probably the most amazing view I've had from a Waikiki hotel. Here is what we saw:

Keep in mind this is a 3 picture panorama that I made shooting from the oean-view balcony. Turns out doing a pan of that much area gives the ocean a rounded look at the horizon, and the closer stuff doesn't connect together in straight lines (such as the seawall jetty at the far right of the first pic and far left of the 2nd). And the wave direction also doesn't work...but all in all it shows what we saw. We headed out  soon after a basic unpacking and had our favorite Mai Tai's at the Hale Koa hotel's Barefoot Bar (the BEST Mai Tai's on the island IMO) before an early dinner.
The FIRST Mai Tai of the trip

Thursday we drove up to the Pearl Harbor area (where we lived) and did a local hike we both love: the Aiea Loop. It's about 4 miles through various forms of jungle high above Aiea/Pearl City. The terrain goes from lush green thick and mucky to wide open and sunny tropical jungle. On the far side of the loop there used to be a gigantic tree with airplane parts stuck in it. Back in 1944 a B24 Liberator had taken off and the pilot failed to make a turn in the darkness and the plane crashed into the jungle on the ridge. All 10 crew were killed, and there is now a nice plaque at the start of the loop honoring the men. The tree has fallen down (unless I missed it the last 2 times we hiked it) but the area it used to stand was rather dense jungle on a VERY VERY steep portion of the ridge. I have many pictures (and here are a few) of our hike, but none do justice to the beauty and ruggedness of the Hawaiian jungle.
 Here's Jeannie taking a break in a sunny section as we head down towards the creek at the bottom.

The H3 freeway heading up the Halawa valley towards the tunnel and over to Kailua/Kaneohe on the eastern shore. (note: Halawa is pronounced "Halava" Hawaiian the w is pronounced with a v sound)

The H3 freeway took over 20 years to build, as seemingly every shovel of dirt was into burial sites of ancient Hawaiians. They ended up finally building nearly the entire freeway suspended above the jungle on giant concrete stanchions, and when it was finally completed it was the most costly few miles of freeway in the US...something like 20 million $ per mile.
You can see Jeannie up ahead as the trail turns to the left. When the trail went downhill she was like a deer running ahead of me. Any time I'd stop to take a picture she'd easily get 50 or more yards ahead.

Thursday afternoon we moved into the Hale Koa hotel which would be our home for the next 2 nights. This is the military hotel just next to the Hilton in Waikiki Beach on a gigantic piece of Army property. We stay there every time we go to Hawaii (as I'm retired Navy) and all I can say is Biba's restaurant downstairs has possibly the best Mahi Mahi on the island! (and their Mai Tai's ARE the best!)

This is Friday morning. Jeannie's first cup of joe is on the nightstand (you're WELCOME Matt!) and the sliding door is open looking out at the beach and letting in the already warm Hawaiian air into our FRIGID room (Jeannie likes to turn the thermostat down to about 60 for sleeping). She is reluctant to finally climb out of bed for some reason.
Jeannie's twin brother John (my Navy buddy) and his wife Donna finally arrive in Honolulu Friday afternoon. He's sporting his new cast covering the surgery where they put a rod and screws into his radius (the big bone in the lower arm). They were SUPPOSED to fly on Wednesday like Jeannie and I did. However Monday he fell out of his hayloft about 12 feet onto a bare concrete floor. Considering everything, he was VERY lucky to get away with just a broken arm. When he returns from the trip he says he'll tell everybody he was attacked by a tiger shark.
Friday dinner (and BEER!) at the Yardhouse on Lewers Street. They claim to have the largest selection of draft beer in the world. All I know is the half-yard of tasty beer is just what the Dr. ordered, and not just for John! For any beer connoisseurs out there, give me a shout and I can direct you to them if you are ever in Waikiki. Their beers are from all over the world and are an amazing selection. It would take a VERY LONG vacation to sample them all!
After dinner Jeannie and I made it back to our room JUST in time for the Hilton's Friday fireworks display. We had a spectacular view, and I was able to snag a few decent shots. It sounded like a battlefield as the reports echoed off the hotels and wasn't very far at all from us. Quite a nice ending to our last night on Oahu. 

In both photos you can sort of see the Hilton hotels at the far right. In the 2nd shot you can clearly see the building that towers above the closer bldg (which is darker). That farther bldg is the Rainbow tower where our first nights room was only 4 floors from the top.

Our Saturday morning stroll along the beach. This is the world-famous Diamond Head crater of course. I only have about 3000 photo's of this landmark. But still you HAVE to take more pictures of it. Leaving Hawaii without any DH pics is a violation of State Law. It was a rather blustery morning, but still shorts, T-shirt and flip-flops. A so-so day in Hawaii is still a banner day most anywhere else. Especially in November!
Here we are at the beach in Waikiki. And yes, that is the amazing Diamond Head just behind know....just like in the last picture, only you can't see it.

And finally, Jeannie and I bid you Aloha (goodbye) from Oahu.

Next stop: Kona and the Big Island.


  1. THANK YOU for the pics Matt! I'll be dreaming of Hawaii tonight and feeling that warm tropical breeze (hopefully). Ahhhhhhhh.

    I'd wish you again a wonderful vacation, but how could you NOT have one when in paradise? Hope we get to see more. Keep in mind that you need to be enjoying it for me too ;)

  2. Once again Matt transports me away from the cold and rain! Little paper umbrellas!

    but Matt! where are all the food pics?

    My aunt and uncle lived in Hawaii from WW2 until the mid 60s. I never got to visit them there, and frankly, haven't ever had the urge to vacation there either. And I've never tried a Mai-tai either.

    Happy Thanksgiving to all-- Janann, Matt, Cathy, susieb, Theresa, and anyone else lurking out there!

    I am on radio silence (literally)and avoiding stores until after Thursday-- cannot stand that Christmas music is playing already (well, okay, I am listening to the local public radio station -- I don't believe they will ever play Christmas music actually!)

    Thanksgiving was always an important day in our home. My hometown never lit the Christmas lights until Thanksgiving night--it was part of our holiday to pile into the care and drive into town to see them. I hate seeing the day turned into not much more than a precursor to shopping. Can't even attend church, since I will be working Wednesday evening and no churches around here have services on the day anymore! grump grump grump


  3. Matt, thanks for sharing your vacation with us! When I was 15 I lived with my sister and Navy husband on Oahu. He was stationed at the sub base at Pearl Harbor and originally we lived in civilian housing in Aiea, but later in the summer we moved to base housing out at Barber's Point. I was too young to drive so don't really have a good feel for the lay of the land, but we drove around the island a lot on Sundays and I remember a crazy drive called the Tantalus (or something like that) up near the Pali Lookout. Gorgeous!

    Happy Thanksgiving to all of the IA! Enjoy good eating and good friends!

  4. Hello all, things are great over here in Kona! This morning we went to a Seahorse ranch! (yes, they actually breed and raise Seahorses). Also got to see 2 pairs of adult Sea Dragons (VERY rare!) Tomorrow we are going out deep sea fishing, hopefully hooking up w/ a blue marlin! That would be the dream...quite honestly it wouldn't bother me if we hooked up and fought it all the way to the boat and it suddenly gets away. I hate the thought of killing a fish like that...but I know it happens all the time. At least it would get eaten (tasty too). On Friday we will drive over to Hilo and I am taking a helicopter tour of the volcano. It will be the FIRST time I've seen flowing lava...and I've been coming over here now and then since the eruption started in late 86. Should be EXTREMELY COOL! (also never been on a helicopter before either). Nothing planned for Turkey-day except to eat our catch from tomorrow (we hope). Wishing all of the IA a WONDERFUL Thanksgiving!

  5. And Cathy...Tantalus Drive is up above Honolulu in the's a wicked winding road with awesome views. People who rent limo's usually end up on that drive at the end of their evening drinking champagne at one of the pull-outs.

    I took small boats out of the main Pearl Harbor boat dock (called Makalapa landing) which first stopped at the Sub Base landing, and then out to Ford Island....did that for 8 years (that or the ferry boat..took that a bunch too). Now they have a stinkin' bridge. Oh well. I got my sea-time going to/from work.

  6. Well...all good things must come to an end...packing up to leave Kona in just a few short hours. Been a great time...and so very sad to go. I'll do a post on the week here in the Big Island maybe Sunday...what a great week! Nothing much else to say just now except "Aloha!" (oh, and GO BIG BLUE! Michigan is playing Ohio State as I type!) Later Gaters!!