Day 5, Friday March 27
Well, today we left the beautiful Hilton Wiakoloa Resort and flew to Honolulu on the Island of Oahu. Honolulu definitely has a different feel from the Big Island. I guess that is what you get when you go from country living to the city. After getting our car, we took Candice and her hubby Mark to their hotel to drop off their stuff then we all went to our hotel to change and go to Waikiki beach so the guys could try their hand at surfing. Check out the sunset view from our balcony!
An old surfer dude, Sam, taught Kevan and Mark to surf on land and then they headed out to the water. Both of them got up on their first time! Candice and I sat on the beach and took video and pics and visited while the guys surfed.
After surfing, we headed back to our room to change. We watched the sunset from our balcony. Mindy and her hubby Brett came to meet up with Candice and Mark and they headed off to dinner. Kevan and I went to go meet a friend who lives there on Oahu, Karen and her husband Alex, for dinner. Karen is my sisters best friend so she is like a little sister to me. Kevan and Alex had much in common since Alex has just recently returned from a tour in Iraq, so Army stories were shared. After dinner we took a stroll down the sidewalk along the beach and watched several of the street performers there was Elmo, artists, drummers, break dancers, preachers, you name it. Every ten feet or so was some one new performing hoping for tips. It was starting to get late so we said our farewells and headed back to our room for the night. I was a little sad to walk in the room and not find a pillow gift. I really got used to that! Stampin' Up! sure did spoil us.
Day 6, Saturday March 28
Our day started early again. We headed off to our first stop for the day Punch Bowl National Cemetery. However, the map we had was not very helpful and unfortunately there aren't a lot of signs directing visitors, so we missed an exit and made an unplanned stop at Pali Lookout. It was windy there, but the view was fantastic! I am kinda glad we made a detour.
We finally made it to Punch Bowl. What an awesome experience. We parked the car and walked around the whole thing. We looked at graves, some had names and dates, others didn't and were simply marked "Unknown". All of the stones with names were engraved with a religious symbol, a cross for the majority of Christian faiths, a Star for Jewish, a wheel for Buddhist, and an angel Moroni for the Latter Day Saints.
The memorial building was beautiful. There are tall pillars that line the stairs to the top. All the names along with rank, unit, and home state are engraved in the stone. We counted 23 names that were colored in gold and marked with a star. We found out that these men (or their families if they were killed in action) were recipients of the Medal of Honor.
At the top, there are beautiful maps made from colored stones in a mosaic fashion depicting the events of WWII, based on each area. We only took pictures of a few.
We paid our respects in the little chapel area. It still brings a tear to my eye, as I reflect on standing there thinking of the list of names of those killed in Pearl Harbor. How great their sacrifice for our freedoms. There were very few visitors here. Maybe 12 including ourselves. It is off the beaten path therefore not a common place to visit for most tourists I imagine. But, with the military as big a part in our lives as it was, Punch Bowl was a very important stop for us to make. I am so glad we did and I would recommend you visit if you ever get the opportunity.
After leaving Punch Bowl, we headed back into the city to grab some lunch and catch a tour of Queen Liliuokalani's palace. We learned much about Hawaiian History. This palace was among the first to have indoor plumbing and electricity, even before the White House. Fabulous tour. It was very beautiful. We were not allowed to take pictures inside, I wish I could show you, but I understand why they want to keep things preserved.
From the palace, we took a drive up to the North Shore. We stopped in the little town of Haleiwa. Apparently this is a favored spot for surfing during the winter. The waves are much bigger on this side of the island. We ate dinner at Breakers, then grabbed a famous shave ice. These are different than the snow cones we are used to. First, they put some small beans at the bottom. These are a really sweet bean. Then a scoop of vanilla ice cream and top it off with the shaved ice. It was REALLY yummy.
We continued to drive around the northern part of the island. Stopping to take a picture of the temple and then it grew dark so we headed home again. Once back at the hotel, we packed our bags since the morning would come early and we had much to do before heading to the airport.