After having “The Best Day Ever!”, as depicted in Hawaii Part 1 with rainbows & water falls, we couldn’t believe that the next day would also be worthy of another “Best Day Ever!” exclamation.
Thursday, Oct. 13:
Waking up early, we headed down to catch the hotel pickup for our Arizona Memorial, Pearl Harbor and Punchbowl Sightseeing Tour. It was the only actual excursion we booked, any other sightseeing or adventures we figured we could just do ourselves. Thankfully we had a great tour guide who gave a great history lesson, shared local secrets, and even let us stop off to take pictures (which they don’t usually do for our tour).
First stop on our tour was the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific at Punchbowl. It’s called Punchbowl because the cemetery is located in the Pu’owaina Crater (Punchbowl) – also, in ancient times, the crater was known as the “Hill of Sacrifice”. Today, the cemetery is a memorial to men and women in the U.S. Armed Services and includes many other wars, but the 776 casualties from the December 7, 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor were among the first to be buried here.
The statue of Lady Columbia symbolizes all grieving mothers and looks out on the cemetery that fills the 116-acre Punchbowl Crater. She is said to care for and watch over all those who were lost.
The view from the Punchbowl encompasses the city of Honolulu from Waikiki and Diamond Head to Pearl Harbor.
After the Punchbowl portion, we zoomed off to Pearl Harbor. Along with beautiful views of the Harbor, the USS Bowfin submarine, the USS Missouri, and a Pearl Harbor/WWII museum there is the main “attraction” – the USS Arizona.
For those who don’t know, or need a refresher, The USS Arizona one of the battleships that sank during the attack on Pearl Harbor; which brought the United States into World War II. The mighty ship has rested in its watery grave since that day, December 7, 1941, when it was hit by Japanese bombs. The overturned hull of the battleship entombed 1,100 sailors who were caught unaware by the attack. The memorial was built in 1961 as a tribute to all the men and women who lost their lives on that historic day. The memorial is 184ft long and crosses over the USS Arizona’s midsection. Openings on both sides allow viewers to take in the dramatic sight of the ship resting on the floor of the harbor. A marble-walled chapel in the memorial lists the names of all the sailors entombed here. To this day, oil can still be seen rising from the wreckage. The seepage is sometimes referred to as “the tears of the Arizona” or simply, the “black tears”. They say that at the rate the oil is leaking it will continue to for another 50 years at least.
In addition to the USS Arizona Memorial, we also checked out the museum and surrounding grounds. Here are a few snapshots:
Overall, the Pearl Harbor visit was everything I hoped it’d be. As most of you know, I am very much obsessed WWII and am constantly watching movies and reading books about it although mostly I focus on the Holocaust, memories from both sides (the Germans and Jews/Dutch/Gypsy/etc), the Resistance, and the Eastern Front/Russian Campaign as well. Anyway, the second we chose Hawaii as our honeymoon destination I told Mr.C we had to go visit Pearl Harbor. I have longed to travel oversees to visit a concentration camp in Germany so I was pleased to “get my fix” with something a little closer to home.
Pearl Harbor, for me, was definitely a place of remembrance and reflection. I soaked in all history and artifacts that the museum had to offer as well as the many stories of the courageous people on the island and in the harbor that day. For example, the tales of men who, after escaping from the sinking ships, swam through the burning oil water’s surface to begin aiding others who were wounded once they swam ashore to Ford Island. I loved that they had a lot of information from the Japanese side as well and that they included information about the Japanese-American internment camps. I highly recommend reading this book, “Farewell to Manzanar: A True Story of Japanese American Experience During and After the World War II Internment”.
The memorial was beautifully constructed. The design includes open windows and portholes that allow the fresh breeze to flow through as you look through the waves to see the USS Arizona. We even saw a few fish flitting about near the rusted pieces.
Looking out over the harbor and the ships at dock it’s mind-boggling to imagine the events of that day.
“Forty torpedo bombers attacked ships along Battleship row, 1010 pier, and the north side of Ford Island. Torpedos blasted holes as large as 40 feet (12 m) wide in heavily armored ships, including the California, Oklahoma, West Virginia, Nevada, Helena, Raleigh, and Utah. The Utah and Oklahoma capsized within minutes.” – Museum of Pacific Aviation.
“The first wave of the attack began at 0755 and a second strike begins an hour later. By 0955 the attack is over. In that time frame, four battleships were sunk, 2 destroyers sunk, 188 aircraft destroyed and 2,402 military personnel killed.” -Wikipedia.
On the day we visited, 1940s music was playing softly in the background. It was a beautiful, warm, sunny day, not unlike the day of the attack.
I could go on and on about visit to Pearl Harbor but honestly it’s something you just have to go experience for yourself. You will not regret it.
Moving on….after our visit to the memorial we were swept back on the tour bus and taken to see the historic downtown. On the way we saw this large coral pink building on top of the hill.
Our tour guide informed us that it was Tripler Army Hospital. Many rumors are floating around as to why it is pink. One is that the it modeled after the Royal Hawaiian hotel which is painted the same color, another is that it was supposed to be blue but a solider ordered the wrong color, and yet another is that they wanted it to camouflage in with the red dirt in the area. The more likely story, the our tour guide told us, was that the architect conferred with the Robert Wood, who was with the Army Corps of Engineers at the the hospital was being built and finished and that when told to select a color, Wood looked out the window of his office at the red dirt on the ridge and said “You’ve got to get it as close to that color as you can because that’s the color it will be when you’re through.” With no landscaping on the ridge yet, the winds would blow the red dirt onto the white mortar, making it that rosy coral color. No matter how many times it was repainted the color would eventually come back so they just committed to the “pink” and kept it that way.
Anyway, continuing along downtown we saw a lot of neat old buildings.
Once the tour of downtown was over we were dropped back off at our hotel. We decided to cool off and go swimming. Sadly, the photos we took while swimming are still being developed (they’re on an underwater camera) so I’ll have to post those later. But swimming was really fun! The waves were great that day for body surfing, plus some of the rain off the mountains finally reached us and so we got to be out in ocean when it started sprinkling. It didn’t last long and afterward we were rewarded with yet another beautiful Hawaiian rainbow.
We of course stayed for sunset before heading down to the International Market to wander around and hopefully find some food. And find food we did! First we stopped off at a crepe place on the Waikiki strip for a strawberry and chocolate crepe which also came with strawberry gelato. It was delicious. We ate it overlooking the ocean.
Then we went to the International Market Place. Apparently Thursday night is their Farmers Market so we scored some amazing pineapple and the BEST pork and chicken I have ever eaten. It was from the Buk Buk Kitchen which makes delicious asian fusion/hawaiian/filipino barbeque which always comes with a side of white rice and corn. We got a heaping plate to share and went back for seconds!
And to top off the night there was free entertainment at the International Market as well – a hulu show! 1 man and 2 women did a terrific job of showcasing traditional hula to both traditional Hawaiian music and more modern tunes. I took photos but it was so dark they did not turn out as well as I hoped. So instead I attempted to shoot my first video on my camera. It turned out well but sadly it will not let me post it to the blog. How annoying! So try to imagine a pretty amazing hula performance when you see the pictures below.
Well, after our second round of food from Buk Buk Kitchen and a hula performance or two we headed back to the hotel to rest up for our future adventures on Friday.
What else can we say….Best Day (2) Ever! haha
Stay tuned for “Hawaii Part 3” where we find a secluded beach, get stuck in another rain storm or two, and swim in very turquoise waters.