Day 2, Tuesday 9th June
It's strange how jetlag affects you badly one way, but not the other. Apart from some very very slight intermittent wooziness, the time difference wasn't affecting us at all and, on this day, we were up bright and early, ready to go to Pearl Harbor. I was dreading this trip, actually, as I had read so many horror stories about people lining up for hours in the heat. But it had to be done.
It wasn't too long a drive to Pearl City and onwards to Pearl Harbor, but, surprisingly, perhaps, although it was only 10:00am, the car-park was quite full. Let's hope we had beaten the coach tours. You were not allowed to take bags, of any sort, into the memorial, so I had to leave my bag in the boot and hope that nobody would pinch it. On the way to the ticket office, I picked up a plumeria flower, which had fallen from a tree. My OU friend, Terry Jones, was sick with bone cancer - I had been told of this just before I left the UK. Apart from being a close ally in things global warming and nuclear, he was a nice old boy and I remember him saying how he had visited the USS Arizona and had found it very emotional. So the plumeria was for Terry (Taj).
We traipsed to the ticket office, didn't find a queue and picked up our (free) tickets for the USS Arizona memorial. Our tickets were for 12 noon, so, after traipsing the fair walk to the memorial museum, we still had a long wait, and it was very warm, despite being slightly overcast. Jerome Hagen was in the shop, signing copies of his 'War in the Pacific Volume II' tome - he seemed busy. Reading (afterwards) a review of his 'War in the Pacific Volume I' tome, I noted that somebody had remarked on meeting him at a book signing at the memorial back in 2002, which made me wonder if he lived there. He was selling a steady number of copies though. We sat on the grass for a while. There were lots of zebra doves plodding around. They are a common sight on Hawaii and are very dozey little birds who plod around in circles, nodding their heads, without any obvious aim in mind (rather like Leighton Baines). You could see the memorial from the museum, so we took photos of the memorial, the submarine, USS Bowfin" and the active aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis, a Nimitz-class, nuclear powered supercarrier, whose home port is Bremerton, Washington.
At noon, we lined up outside the movie theater and were almost last in, so we had to sit where we could, which was right in the front row. They showed a 23-minute film, which was very interesting, but, sitting in the front row, sometimes very disorientating and I had to look away. Being in the front row meant that we were first onto the boat though! It only took a couple of minutes to get out to the memorial, where we all disembarked and the people from the previous boat, waited to board. It is, indeed, odd to be standing over a ship containing over a thousand dead. I hadn't been sure how I would feel about this, and I still wasn't sure. Bits of rusted funnels and other parts, stuck out of the water and much oil still seeps from the hull and an estimate quart of oil leaks into water every day. Some say that the oil will only finally stop once all the survivors of the attack on Pearl Harbor are dead. It is all certainly moving. I threw Taj's plumeria into the water for him and for all the men down there. It was later that I learnt that Taj had passed away barely two hours before.
There had been talk of scrapping USS Arizona altogether, but the decision to make it into a permanent memorial came to fruition thanks partly to a benefit concert by Elvis Presley. I'm glad they didn't scrap it, but as we drifted away from the monument, on the boat, I still 'wasn't sure'. We returned to the rather ramshackle museum, visitor center and shop which are all, thankfully, in the process of being modernised - and then to our car and back to our condo.
After a quick lunch, we headed off to the beach! We drove to the other side of Waikiki, around Diamond Head, stopped at a lookout at the bottom, then around the coast, past Sandy Beach and to a quick stop at Makapu'u Beach, where Rabbit Island lays just offshore. The beach was lovely, but the current was strong and Paul was half drowned just standing there!
We continued on, passing through Waimanalo, before parking up at Kailua Beach. My word, it was stunning. Clear turquoise water and white sand as soft as icing sugar. The only possible improvement could've been that it had been deserted, except for two palm trees with a hammock strung between them. Paul and I frolicked in the foam - being whirled by soft warm currents and our pants filled with sand ...
We showered on the beach, where guys were pulling down their shorts to rinse out the sand. We stopped off at Kailua shopping center, because (as you can see from the photos) Paul had somewhat wet his shirt and had not thought to bring spare. He bought a T-shirt from the Times Super Market Kaimuki Store. We drove 'home' via the Pali Highway. And we continued showering well into the night, with our wet stuff hanging around everywhere. One big bad mark for the Pink Plumeria. The cupboard to the washer and dryer was padlocked ...