Hawai’i – Day 2

Our adventure in the Aloha State continued today. We started with an early-morning trip to the Pearl Harbor Memorial. We ended up spending about half of the day wandering the museums and memorials. Of course the U.S.S. Arizona was a highlight.

Inside the memorial, which was constructed directly above the sunken remains of the great battleship, you can look down on the rusted, barnacle-encrusted ship.

There’s also a room dedicated to the 1,400+ men who were killed when the ship sank. The tour guide pointed out that unlike many national monuments, this one is more than a monument or tribute: it’s an actual cemetery, because those men are still beneath the water. The crowd– easily a hundred people– were very quiet and respectful. It added to the reverent gravity of the atmosphere.

After a few hours learning about the Pearl Harbor attack of 1941, we took a tour of the U.S.S. Missouri (a.k.a. the “Mighty Mo”). It’s hard to describe the size of this battleship: it’s simply huge. It has the distinction of being the last battleship in the world, finally decommissioned in the 1990’s after being reactivated for duty twice during its five-decade lifespan (it first set sail in 1942).

As they say, “Sun’s out, guns out!” Kurt and I modeled our guns alongside the 14-inch main turrets of the Missouri:

It was cool to see where the armistice with Japan was signed on the main deck, and then explore the lower decks for a while. Unlike submarines, which always feel cramped with terribly low ceilings, the interior of a battleship is comparatively roomy.

That is, until you see the sleeping quarters for most of the 1,600 men who served aboard the ship:

After we finished learning a ton about Pearl Harbor, we took a trip up through a banyan forest to Pu’u’Ualaka’a (oof!), a state park overlooking Honolulu.

Then we headed over to Diamond Head, the famous rock formation– actually a long-extinct volcanic caldera. The hike to the top was rated “very strenuous” and included more than 200 steps. Here’s one stretch of 99 stairs (I counted):

At the top, the old military lookout post commands an amazing panoramic view of the city and the ocean.

Finally, we decided to head over to Waikiki Beach again to watch the sunset. We arrived at the perfect time, just as the sun was sinking toward the horizon.

Here I am with my best friend:

There were several sailboats (and surfers!) on the distant horizon, and I managed to capture one passing beneath the sun. Sailor eclipse? Hah!

Just another day in paradise.