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Sunday, June 15, 2014

Sistermoon Part One: Oahu

Dear Mom,

Goodness! We have been too busy for me to keep up with the blog. Leigh Ann and I have laughed at points that this has been more of a "trip" than a "vacation," and we'd hoped it would be just the opposite. (A trip being something from which you need a vacation to recover.) So, we are hard at work making sure our last few days are as restful as possible, even if that means missing out on a few of Maui's supposed must-do experiences.

Because really, isn't one of life's big lessons that you can never possibly do it all?

Anyway, back to the recap. We may not have done it all on Oahu, but we gave it a good try. The time share that Dad and Laura rented for us served as home base in Waikiki. We LOVED each having our own room, as you can imagine. With all of our sisterly togetherness, it provided a nice break. She got the king bed, but my room had a nicer view of the city.

On Saturday, I met a cool guy at the Honolulu airport while we waited for our bags from Kauai. He lives in Philly and was traveling solo, so we exchanged numbers, and he ended up meeting us on Monday for Pearl Harbor. Saturday night we walked to the Westin and had some cocktails and snacks on the beach. Sunday morning, we rented a car and drove to the North Shore. Leigh Ann had been a little disappointed by the crowds and city buzz of Waikiki, so she was psyched to get away from the congestion and tourists.

We parked in Haleiwa and enjoyed a tasty breakfast at a cute outdoor restaurant. And we posted our very first "sistermoon" photo!
There was a really calm little channel of water coming in from the ocean, so we decided to rent paddle board. At first we were going to shop around and negotiate, but the guy who started helping us was so yummy and helpful, he clearly deserved our business. Plus, he was from Uncle Bob's town of Encinitas, California.
Leigh Ann hollered at some people in a canoe to get them to take our picture and text it to us. They also texted us a few shots of the giant sea turtles, but those are harder to see. They were AMAZING. We wished Miss Betty was there to enjoy them! They were 3-4 feet wide and kept popping up every few minutes. 
Photo: Hawaii day 1 - paddle boarding followed by snorkeling and beach sitting. #Sistermoon rocks!

I fell off my paddleboard once chatting with the photo takers, but for the most part it was one of those genuinely-fun-and-not-stressful-or-frightening experiences you really want to have when you try something new. We really loved it!
Then we drove along the coast for a while, pulling into the Turtle Bay resort for a peek. They had beach cabanas for rent, so we got one of those and some snorkeling gear. Leigh Ann was SUPER excited to snorkel. 
I was more excited to chill on the beach. After her swim, we shared a burger and had an adult beverage.
I decided to get in and snorkel a bit, but I didn't last long. I informed Leigh Ann I'd seen more fish swimming at the Red Lobster! On the way back, we stopped at a beach where sea turtles come up to rest, but there was only one in residence, and it wasn't even photo-worthy. I chatted with one of the volunteer turtle protectors, who was adorable and reminded me a lot of Nanami.

On the way back into Honolulu, we made plans to meet up with Bethany and David (a.k.a. Yoda), and the cute guy from the airport (Kevin) texted to see if we wanted to go to Pearl Harbor on Monday. That was already our plan, so we offered him a ride. We had a drink with the Lowes. He is a trip and obviously a very savvy entrepreneur. You would really enjoy him. He amused us telling us about his "scientific" approach to finding his perfect woman. It is obvious they complement each other really well. You also would have been very tickled at the way he outsmarted me when I tried to close the tab and insisted on treating us.

Tuesday morning, Kevin met us for the drive to Pearl Harbor. We were aghast when we arrived and saw the line, and realized we'd been off by 30 minutes on the opening time. But it moved pretty quickly, and despite the fact LA had to scoot to the car to stash my handbag (when they say no purses, they mean NO PURSES, even little bitty ones), we still got tickets to the U.S.S. Arizona. Those are free but in limited supply. Our tickets were for 10 a.m., so we purchased tickets to the U.S.S. Missouri and toured that to pass some time, while keeping a careful eye on the clock.

It was very cool, and a nice complement to the Arizona. We picked up audio guides but didn't use them, as we opted into a tour with a delightful guide, who provided very entertaining context and commentary.

There was a large Japanese tour group with us on the deck where the Japanese Instrument of Surrender was signed in Tokyo Bay on September 2, 1945, and I was dying to know how their guide was telling the story, as the version we heard was quite animated and full of juicy details.

Our guide also got a kick of asking us to look at the document in the case and tell her what was wrong...this is exactly the sort of thing you would have enjoyed doing with your eighth graders in Washington. The representative from Canada signed on the wrong line, which threw off all the signatures. It was pretty funny and must have been colossally embarrassing for that dude.

Here's how Wikipedia tells it:
The Canadian representative, Colonel Lawrence Moore Cosgrave, signed below his line instead of above it on the Japanese copy, so everyone after him had to sign one line below the intended one. This was attributed to Col. Cosgrave being blind in one eye from aWorld War I injury. When the discrepancy was pointed out to General Sutherland, he crossed-out the pre-printed name titles of the Allied nations and rewrote by hand the titles in their correct relative positions. The Japanese initially found this alteration unacceptable—until Sutherland initialed (as an abbreviated signature) each alteration. The Japanese representatives did not complain further.'s the photo for our loyal readers who might never make it to Pearl Harbor to see for themselves.

Here's a pic we got of Kevin, who was absolutely delightful company. He was smart and funny and a perfect addition to the Sistermoon. (Honestly, I know some people find the Smith Sisters' overpreparedness as annoying as we find their underpreparedness, but Kevin just rolled with it. We really enjoyed him, and I think he appreciated our company too.)
We were queued up for our tour right on time. It begins with a short film about the history of World War II, which was certainly helpful context. In fact, I want to see if it's available online so I can watch it again. The film did a great job of setting the appropriate tone for the memorial. We took a short boat ride over to the site, which floats above the remains of the ship.

One of the most touching and surprising aspects for me was the list of survivors whose remains have been returned to the site as they've passed away over the years.
The concept of survivor's guilt was incorporated into some of the quotes in the public space around the harbor.

We then went into the exhibits outside the theater, which were really fascinating and well done. All three of us were quite captivated by the anecdotes about the way the Japanese planes showed up on radar before the attack, but the supervising officer told the radar operators it was probably just some American planes coming in that day. Honestly, in this day of social media and endless information sharing, the surprise and scope of the Japanese attack is even more astounding. We also found the diplomatic element really interesting...apparently negotiations were ongoing with the Japanese right up until the attack happened (they were trying to get the U.S. to lift a devastating oil embargo). I'm not really sure whether that qualified as intentional misrepresentation so much as a case of diplomatic and military channels being somewhat out of sync in terms of communication, but given my experience writing speeches and incorporating last-minute edits and updates from executives, I was taken by this copy of Roosevelt's speech to Congress.
We were all hot and starving, so we headed toward downtown and used some apps to find a decent lunch spot en route. However, Trip Advisor led us to a spot that was closed on Mondays, so we used the old-fashioned "see where there's a crowd and go there" approach to dining and ended up at a BBQ spot. Since we were all so hungry, it was absolutely delicious, but frankly, the photo we got of it is almost disgusting. (Sorry, Miss Carolyn!) It's a huge pile of meat with white rice and macaroni salad. Is there anything less nutritious than a brown and white lunch?!

From there, we hit the Bishop Museum and Iolani Palace. 
We learned a lot of interesting facts about Hawaiian history, and I would tell you some, but I am running out of steam and ready to wrap this up, so let's speed it along. (The mouse on my laptop isn't working, so I am doing this on my phone, and I've about had it.) 

Here's the palace, which amused us with  it's highly nationalistic audio narrative (e.g., "the King was the best dancer in the land"). Leigh Ann practiced her royal curtesy in the throne room. 

Okay, I think I'm going to wrap it up an save LA's birthday for the next edition. We are having a great time on Maui and sad the Sistermoon is nearing its end on Tuesday. 




Dee Stephens said...

What a memorable trip. What's up with the cute guy from the airport? Looking to keep in touch? :)

Dee Stephens said...
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