Hawaii 2013: Day 5, Pearl Harbor


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Sunset on Waikiki Beach!

Sunday, April 29, 2013

Woke at 6:45am.   The sun is shining, again!

It has become a routine, I make coffee and snack on mini-shredded wheats, and work on my blog.

Today we spend the day at Pearl Harbor.   I made reservations a month ago.  Due to government cutbacks, the hours to the USS Arizona Memorial have been cut, just like the tours to the White House.    I can’t help but to think federal cuts could have been made elsewhere other than to services that really promote US pride and that a regular citizen can enjoy.   Personally, I would have preferred that the President and First Lady reduce their staffs or that Congress  lop off some bucks from research project (like the effect of cow flatulence) — but I guess that would have really hurt somebody!

As usual, my DH did some research and found that there are three major complaints about the Pearl Harbor attraction:

  1. Visitors are not allowed to bring in anything bigger than a camera and a wallet.  I think that is fairly telling of the priorities of a federal funded attraction.
  2. Eating options are limited.  Picnics are not allowed (see #1) and you have to eat the “special interest” of the day if you get hungry.
  3. You need reservations or you may not be allowed to see the USS Arizona.  Yes, you may be denied that opportunity to pay your respects to the men who died to protect your liberties.   Way to show us selfish taxpayers a thing of two, Congress!

Lucky for us, I knew about number #3 and as my DH is happy to remind me, a little bit of research makes for a great vacation!   On the other hand, #1 and #2 are a huge annoyance!   I’m a woman, I need my purse!!!!

We meet the shuttle that is to take us to Pearl Harbor at 9am at the hotel lobby.   An hour later, we are at the Pearl Harbor gate.   With reservation number and drivers license in hand, we get our tickets for the 11am shuttle to the USS Arizona Memorial.  Actually, they never looked at my driver’s license.  Admission is free but I paid $3 to book the reservation on line.   I worked in the computer industry for years and I can tell you that an on-line reservation costs a fraction of a cent so $3 is a margin of 3000% . With an hour to spare, we decide to tour the submarine, the USS Bowfin.

The USS Bowfin was nicknamed the Pearl Harbor Avenger and sank 44 enemy ships during the course of her nine extraordinary war patrols during WWII.  What I found to be the most interesting is how compact everything is.  The designers of submarines must be geniuses in space efficiency.  Here are some pictures:

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The USS Bowfin, Launched on December 7, 1942, she was nicknamed the Pearl Harbor Avenger and sank 44 enemy ships during the course of her nine extraordinary war patrols.

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The deck of the USS Bowfin.

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Submarines are all about torpedoes. This one can launch them from the front and the back.

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The officer’s mess. Everything in this ship is small and compact.

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The command center.

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The engine room.

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The kitchen.

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The crew mess.

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Dive! Dive! DIVE!

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Going up to the deck.

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Hey, these glasses still work!

After the USS Bowfin, we climbed on to the launch and made our well to the park’s main attraction, the USS Arizona Memorial.   This Memorial is a grave site for 900+ sailors who died here during the Japanese raid on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.   Here are some pictures:

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Boarding the launch.

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On the launch.

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Approaching the memorial.

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On the memorial.

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One of the gun turrets of the USS Arizona. Notice the oil slick on the bottom right.  The ship leaks about a quart of oil a day. Since this is considered a grave sight, it was decided not to recover the oil. It is said that the oil represents  the “tears of the dead”.

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The name of every fallen sailor on the USS Arizona is engraved on this wall.

After the USS Arizona Memorial, we had lunch.  The special interest today is beef, as in all-beef hot dogs!   We bought a couple of hot dogs (at $3/each) and water (a  bottle at $2).   I must admit, they were pretty good!

After lunch, we made our way through the museums with an excellent audio tour.    After that, we boarded the bus to take us to see the USS Missouri, the last battleship ever built and the biggest.   Besides her extensive war record, it was on the deck of the USS Missouri that on September 2, 1945, General Douglas MacArthur accepted Japan’s surrender, thereby ending World War II.   Here are some pictures:

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The USS Missouri is one of the last great battleships. It has seen 3 wars — WWII, Korea, and Iraq.

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The battleship is famous for two things. One thing it is famous for is its large guns.  You may have seem them in Cher’s “If I Could Turn Back Time” video.

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But the USS Missouri is most famous as the place where  the Japanese signed the surrender documents that ended WWII.  This is the deck where the Japanese representatives thought they were going to die as defeated warriors.

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The spot where the documents we signed is indicated by this plaque.

At 3:45pm, we caught the shuttle back to the hotel.   Around 5pm, we exchanged our shoes for sandals and walked down to the beach to watch the sunset.   The evening was warm with a cool breeze and the beach was mostly empty.   We took off our sandals and walked on the beach, dodging the waves breaking the shore.

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The sand was warm and the water was cool.

We washed the sand off our feet at the Hilton Cabana.   The bar on the beach looked tempting so we stopped at Tropics Bar for a cocktail and a little evening music.

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A “Blue Hawaii” at the Hilton Tropics Bar.

Around 8:30pm, we returned to the Thai Square restaurant for some more amazing Thai food.  It was just as good tonight as it was a few days ago.

At 10am we were back at the hotel.   My DH is reading a book and I am taking care of the pictures and cameras.   It was a really nice day filled with history, beauty, a Blue Hawaii cocktail, and spicy Thai food.  Does it get any better than this?

Quote of the day:  “All they have here are hot dogs?” — DH 

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