The breaking light of morning over the balcony found me waking and ready for a quick day on O’Ahu. We broke the fast at the hotel buffet and were off to Pearl Harbor. Strangely enough the GPS didn’t know where the monument is, but it got us to the city and signs led the rest of the way.
Standing on the rocky shores of the harbor is thought provoking. In the distance you can see where the many ships were moored the morning in December 1941. The USS Arizona Memorial seems to float ethereally over the water. Just beyond that is the USS Missouri. And elsewhere are active ships of the Navy, because this remains an important base. This is a place where the finger of history reaches forward and prods recognition from our present world, demanding our undivided attention.
We went, first, to the USS Arizona Memorial. This isn’t something you walk to – you are taken by boat to this very solemn place. It is a structure built over the site of the sunken battleship, now a sacred tomb for 1200 sailors. Little of the ship itself is obviously recognizable with the exception of the remains of the gun turrets and a few other structures that peek tentatively above the surface.
Drops of oil still spread like ichor on the surface of the water, the tang of its volatile murk an incense in the air.
This is a place among the holies. Elegant and beautiful, it is a fitting memorial to the lost. Notably, some of the sailors who survived have had their remains interred with their shipmates, the most recent being in 2013. Navy divers take their cremated remains down to the ship somewhere. As World War II passes further into our cultural memory I can’t imagine many more such interments will be happening.
We left the Arizona, then, and visited the Bowfin, a WWII era submarine. This was really fascinating – I’ve always wondered what it would be like to be in a sub.
The answer: small. These were really tight living quarters.
But the workmanship on this submarine is astounding. The brasswork is just breathtaking. Dad would have loved it.
See this board? That’s the electric control board. Here’s a little tidbit I learned – all subs, be they diesel or nuclear, are ultimately electric. Ultimately, you can’t run diesel underwater because of the exhaust, so they use the Diesel engines to charge batteries when they are surfaced. But when they dive, they are powered by electricity.
Basically, a submarine is a big Chevy Volt!
Finally we went to the USS MIssouri. This is where Japan surrendered and World War II ended. Touring the ship was a personal experience, as I reflected on many of Dad’s experiences in the Navy and the stories he told.
As I looked at the enlisted dining quarters (ignoring the fact that this ship was redone in the 80s) and the posted Thanksgiving menus and recipes I reflected on his tales. He told me he didn’t mind the food on ship, and in fact rather liked the Yankee Pot Roast. I wonder how many times that was served here.
I also lingered looking at the dental clinic onboard the ship. Dad never practiced on ship, but this would have been his place.
Finally, climbing toward the bridge (which we weren’t allowed to enter) this was the view over the bay. She truly was a mighty ship, but the era of the big battleship has passed, having been replaced by the aircraft carrier.
And that was how we spent our morning. The rest of the day involved a quick trip to see the waves at the Banzai pipeline, and then catching yet another flight, this time going from Honolulu to Hilo, on the less populous (and less touristed) Big Island of Hawai’i.
The airport there is also open air. We grabbed the car (a Jeep) and sped to our Bed and Breakfast in Pahoa along the south side of the island. We checked in and then found dinner.
I started with a Pina Colada because …. its Hawaii and I wanted it. It was really good except for the fact that they use cool whip rather than real whipped cream on top.
Appetizers were pork wontons and fried fresh mozzarella. This was much better than the frozen sticks you are used to.
D had flank steak. Marinated in balsamic vinegar and delicious.
Finally dessert was banana spring rolls (actually more like banana baklava) with vanilla ice cream.
And then back to the B and B to sleep.