Sunday, March 27, 2011

Granddaughter Savannah's Visit

Savannah in Hawaii
Savannah leaves her mark at Waikiki Beach

My Granddaughter, Savannah – or “Maryy Janee” as she is calling herself due to her resemblance to a character in one of the Spiderman movies – spent her spring break with me here on Oahu.  She was here from March 13th to the 21st.  It was a whirlwind 8 days.

My friend Sherb and I greeted Savannah on Sunday with beautiful floral Lei’s the afternoon she arrived. The plane was almost 3 hours delayed due to problems with the air conditioning before departing LAX Airport.  We brought Savannah and her luggage to our apartment for a short rest and then we were all off to go to see a long and slow moving parade down in Waikiki. 

Savannah feeds the Lion for Luck

The parade was celebrating the Honolulu Festival. There were over 90 entries of groups from islands and countries around the Pacific Rim – Guam, Okinawa, and the islands near New Zealand, China, and Indonesia, the Philippines, Malaysia and many from Japan.  We were particularly impressed with the groups from Japan being here when things in Japan were going so bad after the great quake and tsunami of just two days before.

Tattooed Group from Samoa

Alaskan Indian Dancer

The Largest Aloha Shirt in the World

Samara i Warriors in the Parade

A Large Lighted Float

The last entry in the parade was a giant fire breathing dragon. This float is a tradition in the parade.

Fire Dragon - the final float.

After the parade, there was supposed to be a great fireworks show put on by a Japanese company.  However, the show was delayed until the following year out of respect for the suffering people of Japan. It did not seem right to be celebrating with an enormous fireworks show so soon after the disaster.

We ended the evening by having a steak dinner at Outback Steakhouse.


The following morning we set off for the historic places at Pearl Harbor.  Parking places were at a premium even at 9:30 AM, so we had to walk quite a distance to pick up our voucher for a free visit to the Arizona Memorial at 12:45 PM. We took the shuttle bus after buying entry tickets to tour the Battleship Missouri while we were waiting.  

At the entry of the Pearl Harbor Historic Sites

Submarine Launched Ballistic Missiles Display

The Battleship Missouri - BB 63

Site of the Japanese Surrender signing that Ended WW2

16 Inch Guns on the Missouri

Shells for the guns above

The shuttle bus enters Hickham Field which was one of the targets of the Japanese surprise attack. The Pacific Aviation Museum, which we did not visit, is located at the field. A bit further on is the stop for the dock where the Battleship Missouri is on display.  

The ship is huge and was the apex of naval warfare before the introduction of aircraft carriers and naval air-power.  The thick armor on the battleship has to be seen to be believed, it is over a foot of hardened steel. The Missouri's big guns could fire 3,000 pound shells over 20 miles.   

Savannah made the tour of the ship on her own as I had visited it several years before. I am including a few photos from that earlier visit on this blog entry.

Dockside - a WW2 era Quonset hut canteen
We had a soft drink in a WW2 style dockside canteen in a Quonset hut.  Savannah spent some time in the gift shop.  Savannah did enjoy all the gift shops every place we visited!

We also saw a number of torpedoes and the outer canisters for submarine launched cruise missiles including several used for nuclear warheads!  We went through the memorial for the 52 submarines lost during the war in the Pacific Ocean.
While we were at the visitor center, the aircraft carrier Abraham Lincoln was leaving to return to its home port of San Diego. 

The aircraft carrier Abraham Lincoln
It was soon time to watch a short movie at the visitor center. This is where they gather the 90 or so people who ride out to the Arizona Memorial built over the sunken Battleship Arizona.  The launch was handled by a 3 person US Marine crew on this visit.  

Launch used to visit the Arizona Memorial
Savannah and Papa Al at the Arizona Memorial

Oils still seeps out from the Arizona

Battleship Arizona Memorial
 There were 1,177 sailors and Marines lost on the Arizona that December morning. They are still entombed in the Arizona.

After our visit, we returned for some beach time at Waikiki.  I did not realize what a magnet for young men an attractive 17 year old girl can be. A number of young guys managed to start conversations with Savannah in short order at the beach and at the gift shops she visited across the boulevard from the beach.

On Waikiki Beach
Very large waves were breaking on the North Shore of Oahu, so we drove up the center of the Island to see them.  We drove past Fort Shafter and then were out into the agricultural areas of the island where the Dole Company pineapples are grown. 

Dole Plantation - note the pineapple at lower left

 We stopped at the Dole Plantation center for our lunch, to buy gifts and to see growing pineapples close up.  Savannah said the very fresh pineapple juice was excellent!

Dole Plantation - Gift Shop

Shave Ice at Matsumoto's World Famous Store

We stopped at the edge of the small surf town of Haleiwa for a snow cone from Matsumoto’s world famous store.  On Hawaii snow cones are called “Shave Ice.”  The variety of flavors is amazing.  I am a purist and have only cherry flavor, but Savannah ordered the rainbow with a scoop of ice cream on the bottom.  

We stopped for a photo by the well known sign and then headed South on the coast road, the Kamehameha Highway toward Waimea Bay and the other big surf areas. 

Haliewa on the North Shore's carved wood sign

The waves at Waimea Bay were very large, running from 20 to 30 feet on the faces as they broke.  There were a group of about 30 surfers out, but it was impossible to park along the road, so we did not see any rides. 

A parade of 20 to 30 foot high swells - Waimea Bay, North Shore

We went up to the park at the Pu’u O Makuku Heiau on top of the bluff overlooking Waimea Bay to see the lines of large storm swells rolling in from the North Pacific storms.  

Waimea Valley immediately behind the beach area
Pu'u O Mahuka Heiau - Ancient religious site

Savannah looking at small offerings at the Heiau

I do not know much about the old Hawaiian religion or culture yet, but I have learned that this area was a place where the Hawaiians on Oahu would come to stay for 4 months each year.  They stayed in the very pleasant small valley below and used the Heiau (pile or hilltop) in their religious observances.  The bluff area was believed to contain Mana and Kaipu (spirits) of various sorts.
We did see small offerings of coins, leaf wrapped rocks, and other small offerings left on the rocks surrounding the Heiau.

We stopped at the Nu’uanu – Pali overlook in the pass from the Windward side to the Leeward side of the island.   

Nu'uanu - Pali cliff at the pass

This is where King Kamehameha 2 consolidated the Kingdom of Hawaii in a final battle. He and his warriors drove his opponents off of the cliff to die on the rocks several hundred feet below.

The winds were very strong at the exit to the tunnels in the pass.  The evening before, they had blown a 75 foot tall ironwood tree down in front of  a bus causing a serious accident. Luckily, no one was injured seriously.


Savannah and I started Wednesday morning with breakfast at the Original Pancake House where Sherb, Jen and I usually have breakfast on Sunday mornings.   

Breakfast at the Honolulu branch of The Original Pancake House.

Savannah wanted to see the place featured in the A&E TV reality show,"Dog, The Bounty Hunter.” Dog’s office – Da Kine Bail Bonds and their gift shop is not far from our apartment so we stopped there on our way to spend a day at the beach.  

Entry to Da Kine Bailbonds - Dog's House
Savannah with Dog's Poster

We then went on to the South Shore of Oahu to go to Hanuma Bay State Park Beach.  The parking at Hanuma Bay Beach was full, so we explored farther down the road, stopping to watch the rough surf batter the volcanic shore line.  We saw the Blowhole before turning back to try the beach parking again.

South Shore Blowhole
Hanuma Bay Beach is formed from part of an ancient volcanic cinder cone.  One side of the cone has collapsed or been worn away by the ocean, leaving a beautiful small, protected cove with a sandy beach sheltered behind extensive reef formations. It is an ideal place to go snorkeling to see wildly colored fish that inhabit the reef without having to contend with large breaking waves.  There is an entry fee for non-residents.

Hanamau Bay Beach - formed from a collapsed volcano crater

Hanuma Bay Beach was a playground for the Hawaiian royalty in the early times.  Now it is probably the finest beach on Oahu.  There is a snack bar at the top of the cove wall and a shuttle for rides down and back on the steep road down to the seaside.  We enjoyed the day there and made plans to return on Friday.

Savannah at Hanuma Bay Beach

The next morning, we returned to the Windward side of the island to visit the Valley of the Temples, which is a large cemetery complex. The most striking feature is the Buddhist temple with a large pond.  We visited the temple, rang the large Japanese bell there and then set out for the Polynesian Cultural Center along the Windward coast road.

Entry to Valley of the Temples

The Buddhist Temple at the Valley of the Temples
Japanese bell at the Temple

Feeding the koi fish and the black swan
At the gift shop - Valley of the Temples

Savannah and friend clowning around
Savannah in a serene place.

On Kamehameha Coast Road - Windward side of Oahu
The Polynesian Cultural Center is located in the town of Laie, which is also the sight of Brigham Young University’s Hawaiian campus. The Center is run by the Mormon Church and BYU University.  The grounds are extensive with 6 or 7 different Polynesian villages surrounding a lagoon where visitors can ride in large canoes.  

The "Elvis Presley" Coconut Tree - because he rode under it.

Two canoes passing in the lagoon

Each village around the lagoon represents a different branch of Polynesian cultures – Samoan, Tongan, Hawaiian, Arotearuan (New Zealand), Rapa Nuian (Easter Island) and Marquesan with examples of their dwellings, religious buildings or grounds, images, canoe styles and artistic carvings.

Polynesian Cultural Center walkway

Bougainvillea and Hibiscus flowers   

Arotearu (New Zealand) Canoe

Moi statues from Rapa Nui (Easter Island)

We arrived quite late after missing lunch, so getting something to eat there delayed our visits to the various cultural areas quite a bit.  We had burgers from the snack bar there.  I had not paid to attend the large Polynesian buffet style luau where most of the visitors seemed to be, so the grounds appeared deserted as we went from one village to the other. 

We did see examples of Samoan method of making fire, flaming knife twirling and climbing coconut trees.

Samoan boy demonstrating twirling of and ignited knife/warclub

Samoan method of tree climbing
Savannah and I did go to the evening show called "HA" – which presents a rather Disneyesque look at the life of one boy growing up to be the chief or king of his island.  The show included a lot of dancing, singing, fire walking, fire baton and fire knife twirling amid beautiful sets.  The theater is partially open to the night sky.

Chicken Katsu with Fish Cake and Saimin Noodles
Our dinner was quite late at Zippy’s, a local restaurant chain, where Savannah finally got to try some Hawaiian style food (actually a Chinese style dish) Chicken Katsu with fish cake and Saimin noodle!  She liked it very much.

Savannah and I returned to Hanamau Bay Beach and later we all went out to dinner at one of our favorite Italian restaurants – Bella Mia.  

L-R, Al, Savannah, Jen, Sherb at Bella Mia Ristorante

After dinner, Sherb took us all for a ride on Round Top Drive, a winding road above Honolulu, to see the Super moon.  The moon was full and at it’s closest approach to the Earth in 28 years. The city below was just sparkling.

City lights of Honolulu from Round Top Drive - U of H Stadium on the right

Memorial at the Punch Bowl National Cemetery of the Pacific

Savannah and I visited the Punchbowl Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific and then to see the exhibits and planetarium at the Bishop Museum. We learned how the Polynesians used the stars and the set of the mid ocean waves to navigate from island group to island group without a compass or navigation instruments of any kind. 

Bishop Museum Planetarium from the Great Lawn

Bishop Museum Dinosaur Exhibit.

New evidence shows many dinosaurs had proto feathers

There was a special exhibit of dinosaurs showing the new knowledge of the relationship between dinosaurs and birds.  We learned that many dinosaurs were warm-blooded and may have had an early form of feathers!

Sunday, Savannah wanted to return to Waikiki for a bit of shopping and to go onto the beach again.  We did that after going to see several movies at the Dole Cannery complex.  

The beach at Waikiki behind the "slippery wall" breakwater

Later in the day, Savannah and I went to use one of the two pools at our apartment complex.  Sherb fixed a wonderful dinner and then it was time for Savannah to pack for her flight back to the Mainland the next day.

On Monday,
Savannah returned home.  I really enjoyed her visit.  It was great to have someone visit, which gave me the incentive to get up and out of the apartment and walk a lot more than usual.  It was also really nice to have someone with me who could drive – Savannah was able to “get the car” when it was parked a long way away from the entrance to the various places we visited.  

Savannah driving my car. Yes, she has a license!
Thanks for a great visit, Savannah.  
Love you always, 
Papa Al