Sunday, March 31, 2013

Easter At The National Memorial Cemetery Of The Pacific.

It was a sunny, warm Easter Sunday in Honolulu, so I decided to jog from our downtown condo to the National Cemetery of the Pacific, also known as "The Punchbowl".  It's located inside the caldera of an extinct volcano and a bit of a challenge to reach on foot.
Looking up to the rim of the caldera of the "Punchbowl".  My route would take me up and around to the eastern side entrance.  It was fairly steep and challenging, but do-able.
I passed this gasoline price sign on my way.  Now you know why I jog and walk so much!
Some of the colorful flowers I passed on my way.
These tree roots grip the steep caldera slopes and help stabilize the rock--I hope!
The view of downtown from the way up.  The highrise building in the center of the photo is where we hope to call home soon.  We applied to rent a condo there on Saturday, but won't know if we are selected or not till the owners check us out.  It's a great building with all the amenities we could have hoped for, including a large lanai with a great view of the harbor and city.
An old cemetery.
This sign made my day on the way up.  Unfortunately, I didn't find the seller and was forced to soldier-on with a building thirst.
Getting close!
Still on my way to the entrance, this view captures a colorful high school sports stadium and Diamond Head.
Massive entrance gates, with Honolulu in the distance.
It is a singularly beautiful place.
From the entrance, a view of the vast Pacific Ocean, Waikiki Hotels and what I believe is the "Star of Honolulu" cruising off Waikiki Beach.
Hawaiian and English.
A boulevard of Chinese Banyan trees leads to the main monument of the cemetery.  The center section contains the graves I examined today.
These magnificent trees are scattered throughout the cemetery, providing shade for the many visitors.

I've featured photos from this beautiful cemetery in a prior post, but I hope these shots are different enough to make it worth taking a look.  One thing I hadn't done before, was to take photos of the headstones of military members from each of the states we've lived in.  I did manage to forget Maryland, Utah and even Hawaii, but one's perfect.  I must say, it was quite moving to read the names, think about their lives and how young they were when they died.  I don't plan on a burial, but it wasn't hard to understand why this ritual is so important to so many families.
I was born in Michigan, too.
Michele was born in Pennsylvania.
My navy career began in Pensacola, Florida.  And yes, that shadow is mine.
I received my wings at Corpus Christi Naval Air Station, returned as an instructor pilot four years later and eventually Michele and I were stationed at Naval Air Station Dallas on a staff tour.
I did three tours of duty in California, including flying the E-2B and C "Hawkeye" with VAW-114 aboard USS Coral Sea (CV-43) and USS Kitty Hawk (CV-63), as a staff member with NAVAIRES San Diego and finally, as an active duty C-9B pilot with VR-55, based at Alameda Naval Air Station.
We lived in Tennessee after returning from our time in Italy.
We lived the last ten great years in Portland, Oregon.
This one simply grabbed me and I had to include it. 
The story of the huge statue of "Columbia".  Click on the image to enlarge.
Thirty-feet tall "Columbia".
On the way down, I spotted this ocean-colored roof.  Interesting.

I hope you had a good day wherever you live. 

Friday, March 29, 2013

A Honolulu Travel-Jog.

After a few days visiting prospective homes here, it was time to get some exercise.  We did manage to visit two buildings today, but by about one PM, I was off on a long jog, MP-3 Player blaring and camera in-hand.  Hope you enjoy what I saw along my route.
The Hawaii State Capitol Building seen from one of the buildings we wouldn't mind living in.  This is my personal favorite of all the state capitol buildings.  It's surrounded by a reflecting pool representing the Pacific Ocean.  The two legislative chambers are dome-shaped representing volcanoes.  The eight columns along the sides of the building represent the eight main islands in the Hawaiian chain.
A beautiful example of a hibiscus blooming on the grounds of Capitol Place.

The route took me from the Executive Center, in the heart of downtown Honolulu, south toward the waterfront and Ala Moana Boulevard.  There, I followed Ala Moana east toward Waikiki.  My goal was the Moana Surfrider Hotel's famous Beach Bar, where I had an appointment with one of their famously delicious and refreshing Mai Tais.  One needs a bit of nutrition after such a long and thirsty run.  At the bar, I met a stock trader from Los Angeles, called LP and a friend of his named Kelly.  It was wonderful to see the beach just a few yards away and the giant banyan tree providing much needed shade.  Everybody at the Beach Bar is in a great mood and that is a memory I do enjoy.
A vessel I passed while jogging along Ala Moana Boulevard near Honolulu Harbor.  "Ala Moana" means "path to the sea".
This is the entrance to the famous Hilton Hawaiian Village, located in Waikiki.
Here we are, seated at the famous Beach Bar of the Moana Surfrider Hotel.  You can belly-up to the bar, dripping wet from a swim in the waters off Waikiki Beach or sweat-soaked from a long jog.  Everyone is welcome here and the only requirement is that you're in a great mood and enjoying another day in paradise.
As we say a fond farewell to Waikiki, we cross a small bridge over the sparkling water of Ala Wai Canal.
Just a bit of beauty along the route home.
A shot of one of the two Moana Pacific Towers. 
Simply another shot of the beauty of Hawaii.
There must be a million high-rise buildings in Honolulu and many are quite unique in design.  I snapped a lot of photos of them whenever a traffic light "forced" me to stop momentarily.  I don't jaywalk nearly as much here as I did in Portland.  The streets are much busier and with such an international driving first.  Twice during this run, I was nearly hit by inattentive drivers.  Wouldn't that be a heck of a way to begin life here!

This building, on Kapiolani Boulevard is called Imperial Plaza and a few days ago we looked at a rental condo here.  It was nice, but we really want to live closer to Chinatown.
I hope you can read this famous automobile manufacturer's sign. 
This one is much easier to read.  The two dealerships are together, along with Bentley.  Gee, I wonder what they would give us for our Honda "Fit" as a trade-in?  Two words:  Not enough!
Getting closer to home, here's the famous statue of King Kamehameha.  You've probably seen this statue and the building behind it if you've ever seen "Hawaii 5-0".  I wonder if (or when) we might see the crew shooting a scene for the show.

As for the return...I departed the Moana Surfrider Hotel and headed west on Kalakaua Avenue.  I  crossed a small bridge over the Ala Wai Canal which took me out of Waikiki and eventually I ended-up on Kapiolani Boulevard.  I stayed on Kapiolani until I ran into King Street, which took me to Bishop Street and home.  According to Map Quest, the run was two tenths of a mile short of eight miles!  Whew!  Without that Mai Tai and the cooling Trade Winds, I doubt any mere mortal could have accomplished this incredible feat.:)  Hope you had a nice Spring day where you live!

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Catching Up: The Flight, Our Temporary Home and Henry.

We're mostly settled into our 3-month rental in what's called the Executive Center in downtown Honolulu and lately, have been busy visiting buildings we might like to call home.  Other than the home search, the highlight so far, was visiting "Henry's Place" to deliver the portrait of Mr. Mitsuru Takahashi, to his son, also called Henry, on Monday, March 25th.  Henry was very kind to us and seemed very appreciative of my effort.  We had a good time chatting with him about his father and learned he was in the famous 442nd Regimental Combat Team, currently being recognized on this, the 70th-anniversary of the unit's formation, for their valiant contribution during World War II.  Henry offered us anything-and-everything in the shop, but we settled for a pint of their homemade mango ice cream, which we shared during our chat, seated in the shade just outside the small store.  Ever the successful businessman, we departed with two "Henry's Place" tee-shirts to keep the name out there.  Henry had a big grin on his face as we said "aloha".
Hey!  It's a old, balding tourist in his "Aloha shirt" with Henry Takahashi holding a portrait of his father, Mr. Mitsuru Takahashi, known to countless thousands of his customers as "Henry" of Henry's Place, Waikiki, Honolulu, Hawaii.  The freshest Hawaiian papayas, mangos, ice cream, sorbet and sandwiches anywhere.
 Our rental is on the eleventh-floor, with a view straight down Bishop Street to Honolulu Harbor.  We've had great fun watching a couple of what we can only guess were inter-island cruise ships easing into their berths.  One, the "Grand Princess", came into port early one morning as we sipped coffee and I can tell you it was really something to see.  We are still a little tied to Portland, going to bed early and waking up around six-thirty.  Hawaii does not shift to Daylight Savings Time, so it's three-hours earlier than Portland.  Having almost twelve hours of sunlight each day is a wonderful adjustment to make, too!
The Executive Center, downtown Honolulu's only "condo-tel".  It's an Aston Hotel and a bunch of privately-owned condominiums.
The view from the eleventh-floor, one-bedroom we've rented for three months.  That's Bishop Street, heading south toward Honolulu Harbor.
Cruise ship, departing Honolulu Harbor.  This photo was taken from our 11th-floor rental, located about five blocks from the harbor.  I blew this photo up so you could see it a bit better.
What a surprise...papaya for breakfast!

To be honest, it still feels a lot like we're on vacation, though we have yet to do much associated with one.  A couple days after arriving, we rented a car to pick-up several boxes at the airport, as well as, visit the Navy Exchange and Commissary to get some groceries and other "essentials", such as my favorite Italian wine and some chocolate.  We did well navigating around downtown, but as you might expect, once the rental car was in the building garage, we felt greatly relieved and a little worn out.  If memory serves, I probably had a glass, or two, of that wine.  In addition to the medicinal benefit, I had to determine if shipping it so far had negatively affected the quality.  I was greatly relieved to discover the wine was still delicious!  According to the Matson Navigation computer tracking, our car will be here and available for pick up on April 5th.
A happy passenger studying the menu just before takeoff from Sea-Tac Airport.  The Date:  20 March 2013, Destination:  Honolulu, Hawaii.
Pre-departure beverages.
Pilots, hard at work, trying to figure out how to program all those computers so we don't end-up on Howland Island!
On Time!  We truly loved reading those words that day.  We rode Delta this time.

It hasn't been all work and no play, it's just that the "play" has been coming in the form of a relaxing dinner rather than a day at the beach.  I've continued to jog, but I'm usually on a route which will give me a chance to pass by a building (or two) on our short list of possible homes.  I've gotten lucky striking up conversations with residents who have been kind enough to take me inside for a look around.  The rental market here seems fairly tight and many of the agencies and owners we've called have told us the unit we're interested in seeing has already rented.

We arrived in Honolulu on schedule, at nine PM local Hawaiian Time.  On our way to pick up our bags, I stopped to take a photo of the "Aloha" welcome sign on the old tower.  I could have been steadier with the camera, but wasn't.  Too excited to stand still!

The building we're currently in is only about a ten-minute walk due south from the Aloha Tower.  There is a micro-brewery/restaurant there with outdoor seating along side the harbor.  We enjoyed an early dinner there a few days ago and as we dined, we watched several tugboats come by, each towing a barge stacked-high with Matson shipping containers, destinations unknown.

The weather for most of our first week living here has been fairly cloudy and rainy.  Talk about ironic!  There is one huge difference, however, with rain in Hawaii:  It's warm!  On Sunday, I departed the building for a jog, dressed in shorts and a tank top.  About ten minutes into the run, a light rain began to moisten my path.  I continued without hesitation because the temperature was in the mid-seventies and I never felt so much as the slightest chill.  The run covered a long distance by my standards--from downtown to Waikiki and back and I was thoroughly soaked halfway along.  Some folks looked curiously at me and I don't blame them.  I was smiling most of the way, thinking how nice this soft warm rain felt compared to the chilly March rains of Portland.  The by-far best comparison I can offer is that of a grinning Gene Kelly, splashing about the set in the pouring rain in that famous scene from the movie, "Singing In The Rain". 

So, we can report that our transition is going well.  Each day is filled with possibilities and the excitement of change.  We're exploring a part of Honolulu most visitors never see and it makes us realize how many additional languages we need to learn!  Thanks to "The Travel Channel", we've learned how to say "thank-you" in Chinese, but we've got a long way to go before we can shop in Chinatown.  We also need to brush-up on our Tagalog, Portuguese and about a dozen other languages.  Should be fun!  Time to go, ladies and gentlemen, I need to slap on a layer of sunscreen and get out there!