Saturday, September 26, 2015

Cruise to Hawaii - Our Final Stop: Oahu (Part 1)

We made it to our 4th and final Hawaiian island stop - Oahu!

We had a nice view of Diamond Head and the big city of Honolulu from the ship.

First on the agenda was, once again, walking to the rental car shop to pick up our ride. We walked past this neat old building. I think may have been a fire station at one point in time.
Once we had our mini-van, we headed over to do the one thing we planned for the day: a visit to Pearl Harbor.  

In actuality, the official name is the World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument.  

And we only saw a small portion of all there was to see.
Our first tour was of the USS Bowfin submarine.
I am always amazed at how men lived in these tiny quarters. I would have lost my mind with claustrophobia.

The view from the front of the Bowfin with the bridge to Ford Island to the right.  We never even made it to Ford Island to see the USS Oklahoma or the USS Missouri.
A view of the Arizona Memorial from the bow of the sub.
The museum was amazing and the audio tour really enhanced the experience.

As much as I enjoyed the hour or so we spent reading and looking at the displays, it was watching the kids' reactions and listening to the comments and questions they had that was really great.  

We work hard to make sure they understand that nothing in life is guaranteed or free, especially the freedoms that we enjoy in this country.  

It was an honor and a gift to be able to experience and share this part of our nation's history with them.

The entire national park/monument is done so well and is very well organized.

As expected, the most heart wrenching site we visited was the USS Arizona Memorial.
The distinct level of quiet and respect displayed by those on our tour was appreciated and allowed us to quietly pay our respects.
The fact that we were literally standing over the final resting place of so many who sacrificed their lives for our futures was beyond humbling.
As expected, it was a fairly emotionally charged day and we were all a little spent by the time we left.

Our next activity was to find a place to park our rental for the night.  Unfortunately, this was more difficult than we expected. We were unable to find a public lot or deck that allowed overnight parking without charging an exorbitant fee.

In the end, after driving around hot, muggy and crowded downtown Honolulu for over an hour, we decided to park along a side street at the advice of our rental car agency. The only thing that made us a little nervous about doing that was that we had been driving around city block after city block of homeless tents. 

We'd never seen anything like it, outside of a refugee or natural disaster type situation.  
This is not something they mention in the Hawaii visitor guide and it took us by surprise.  The homeless village stretched for blocks and seemed to surround the University Medical School buildings.
The car rental place assured us that, as long as we didn't leave anything in the van, the car would be fine.  So in the end, we parked overnight for free near the tent city.

We then walked a couple of blocks back to the pier where we would spend our last night on the Disney Wonder.
We were happy to be back on the ship, with the beautiful decor and the Disney tunes softly playing in all the hallways. It really does make you feel like you are away from it all.  

We were looking forward to our final night of Disney fun and then we heard an overhead announcement that went something like this:
"Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, this is your Captain speaking.  I'd like to make you aware of a situation that we are monitoring regarding the Tsunami watch that has been issued for the Hawaiian Islands."


Because of course. The one time the Hughes go to Hawaii, earthquakes and tsunamis.
It seemed that while we toured Pearl Harbor, an earthquake occurred in South America that caused a concern for the Pacific islands.

But, hey, at least it was sunny!  

Thankfully, the watch was canceled but it did provide some interesting discussion about potentially taking the ship back out to sea instead of staying docked for the night.

In the end, we had a lovely last evening on the ship and Will got so very close to his goal of 50 ice cream cones in 10 days. This was his final cone: #44!
It's important to set goals in life!

Up next: our final 36 hours on Oahu!

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