On the Cruise… Island Hopping, The Main Island – Oahu

            The first stop after picking up the rental car was the Pearl Harbor Memorial operated by the National Park Service. Don’t miss this if you ever get to the main island of the Hawai’ian chain. Also, be sure to make reservations in advance; maybe even weeks ahead.

            The trip out to the Arizona Memorial starts with a brief lecture and a short movie telling of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.

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           A motor launch transports visitors out to a gleaming white curvilinear structure built over the sunken battleship. Some parts of the ship remain above water and from the memorial’s deck you can see more of the hull below the surface.

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            On one end wall of the memorial are carved the names of the 900+ Sailors and Marines who died on the ship that day, most of them still entombed within the ship’s hull.

            When the tide and winds are just right, as they were the day we visited, globs of fuel oil leave a rainbow sheen as they drift away from the Arizona. It is slow leakage from the ship’s fuel tanks that have not been emptied. Sort of a fitting reminder of blood and tears shed on December 7, 1941.

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            After a brief launch trip back to the main site we wandered around a couple of the museums. Then it was time for lunch. As we drove away, I felt just a bit morose thinking of what had happened behind me so many decades ago. I hope we never forget.

            I you ever decide to rent a car to travel these islands, I recommend taking your GPS. My Tom-Tom was a real help getting us through the warren of streets and onto the highway for a trip over the Na’Pali overlooking where I spent three years as a US Marine, Kaneohe Bay.

           Although the road was been replaced by four-lanes of modern road and a couple tunnels, a remmnant of the old Pali Highway still remains near the scenic view at the top. When I was there, some 57 years ago, the old road was a narrow two-lane ribbon snaking up, down, and around through what at night appeared as an inpeneterable jumgle. I remember hitchhiking it a couple times after I’d emptied my wallet on Waikiki Beach and didn’t have the two dollars to pay for the taxi ride back to the base at Kaneohe.

            From the Pali, we drove down to Kailua Beach and did some wading.The water was warm even if the first toe dip seemed chilly. That side of the island is for me filled with nostalgia. Its where I met my future soul mate. Some of the memories made my eyeballs sweat just a little.

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           From Kailua we took the scenic long route back to Honolulu, with a stop at the Blow Hole that I remembered from times past.

            This particular feature is an ancient lava tube that extends from the surface to down below the surf line. When conditions are right, high tide and three to four foot swells, the water rushes into the bottom and spews out the top. When the Blow Hole is in top form, the water spouts 30 to 40 feet into the air.

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            We turned in the rental car and headed back to the ship pretty close to the last minute. Close enough so that I was the last passenger to board the ship before it sailed away to our next adventure.  Next stop — Kauai, the Garden Island.