Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Oahu, Hawaii Sept. 5 - 11th

Beautiful Oahu. Seems like a garden island to me, so I can't imagine what Kauai will look like.

We are out in the country on the North side. There are no high rises here and we like it. We're more out with the people. It is very different here. Prices are much better than expected and that could be because we are outside the main tourist area. Been interesting arriving on a 3 day weekend. Hard to find parking spots along the most popular destinations during the holiday.

Saturday Up at 3:30 a.m., great flights, just beat the crowd at the car rental company, got the heck out of Honolulu and it was pretty easy to get on the road North.

Got to our Airbnb and it was pretty yucky (rust, which is understandable right at the ocean, but when you are renting you have to keep things nice). With the storm the humidity is off the charts and it is summer here. Guess I was not smart picking a place with no A/C. Several fans just did not work. The sliding door would not lock. I had to leave the sliders open for air and there was no screen. So I ended up starting our first night with many mosquito bites. No sleep for me, so called and got us a Courtyard by Marriott room with air conditioning and wrote owner I better get some of my money back. Now I'm scratch, scratch, scratch.

First person we met gave us free shave ices - Welcome

Hard to find food out in the "country"  This was the biggest
double cheese burger I've ever had.  We could not finish them.  Like two mini meatloaves

Sunset from our one night stay

Sunday drove up to Waimea Falls. Stopped along with way at beaches, parks, scenic views. The drive is right along the coast so you get to see the ocean all the time. I opted to hike to the Falls and John stayed down below and watched peacocks It was a 1 1/2 mile round trip that was an OK walk with only a little uphill. I would have said it was 5 miles, but I did make it The trail to the Falls is a botanical garden with plants and trees from all over the world. It was phenomenal and I would not have missed this for the world. I took so many pictures and enjoyed this walk immensely. The walk was better than the water fall. Pretty, small fall, brown water, lots of people in the water. They have warnings of leptospirosis, so I'm glad I didn't go in. If I want to go into a water fall, I'd want it to be way more remote and pristine, like the ones you see in commercials on TV. When I got down I was thirsty I had to have a "shave ice"which is what they call snow cones in Hawaii. They call it that because they actually shave the ice not crush it like on the Mainland. I had strawberry and John tried the local favorite that he couldn't pronounce Li Hing Mui. He gave me a taste and it was one of the best things I've ever tasted. That syrup is made from Japanese plums and it has a distinct and perfect flavor.

These were so delicate, like tissue paper

One white, one pink

This is a huge shrub

This was on the ground and had fallen from a huge tree covered with blooms

I made it and even with a smile

Waimea Falls

Varigated bananas

Headed back and checked into our hotel and came into our heavenly air conditioning. Hardly ever felt so happy. There are not lots of restaurants out here so we stopped at the store and I got some hot dogs, buns and mustard and we microwaved those. Simple, cheap, fun. I was asleep at 8:00 a.m. I am usually a night owl, but I was exhausted and slept great.

Monday: Up at 6:00 a.m. (unheard of for me). Got in the car and gauge said tire was low. Trying to find air out here, well let's say it is a challenge We pulled in to at least 6 gas stations, no one had air except for one and that was out of order I know people in Oahu must need air? Finally, later in the day and closer to Honolulu we found a wonderful 76 station that had air and if you can believe this 1) it worked, and 2) it was FREE (that was a total shock). So that was our funny experience for the day.

Had breakfast at a little place down the road, nothing fancy, fresh air dining (porch screened in) and had their breakfast plate which was choice of meat (including Spam and Portuguese linguica) 2 eggs, choice of rice or french fries (very different) and toast. A meager price of $5.99 and that included a drink. So from what you hear about Hawaii and the prices, I think being out of Honolulu, you can do pretty good   Breakfast was fine.

Headed down to see the sights along the coast. Hit a little rain here and there. Today does not seem as hot or humid as yesterday Went to the Blow Hole which was fun to watch, stopped at Hanauma Bay to check that out for snorkeling later in the week, Sandy Beach to see the big surf and crazy surfers out in that water. You've got to be very brave to get in that water. There were lifeguards here. It is funny how few lifeguards we've been on all the beaches we've visited.
Hanauma Bay, so beautiful

The blow hole

We went down to Waikii because you just have to. Parked at Hilton Parking Garage and it was less expensive than I thought it would be - $8.00 first hour and $4.00 each hour after that. Walked around and through hotel, out to beach. Actually, our beach in Clearwater, FL is prettier. Saw Diamond Head, met an English couple and visited (they took our picture), strolled along the beach a bit and then went to Happy Hour. Had two marvelous Mai Tais and since we weren't hungry we split a huge and tasty bowl of various fruits,  the pineapple was so sweet. Stopped at the Honolulu Cookie Company and had several free samples. Delicious shortbread cookies with pineapple, some with macademia, Kona coffee, we bought some to eat later.

Famous Waikii Beach

Diamond Head

This was so cute

Mandatory Mai Tai at Waikiki

Beautiful parrots at Hilton

So we had a long day of driving. Along the coast and most of the way there are winding two lane roads. Top speed for the most part is about 35 mph, so it does take awhile to get downtown As we were nearing home we stopped for some tire foam and yogurt. We decided we weren't even hungry and we'd eat our one each hot dog, fruit we had in the room and cookies. We don't seem to be eating a lot, maybe the heat? Maybe when I get home I will have lost weight?

Tuesday: Huge day, we did just about everything. Filled the parking meter twice for a total of 4 hours, and then used a parking garage. Went to the oldest church Kawaiaha'o*, "the stone church".

Visited Aliolani Hale, home to the State Supreme Court and is the Judiciary History Center.  Beautiful building that contained a great museum where we learned many things about Hawaii.

A grand staircase

Gold leaf statute of Kemehameha the Great

Across the street for a tour of Iolana Palace. It was the first State Capitol of Hawaii so I had to tour it. The palace had electric lights and telephones several years before the White House.

Next on our agenda, and next door, was the State Capitol where construction was begun and the capitol opened in 1969. Nothing like typical state capitols, but then I have to remember it wasn't built in 1850. The building offers no visitor information that we could find which was odd. I wasn't all that enthralled with the building until I really got to the 4th floor and tuned into the architecture. There are some wonderful lines and once I was able to appreciate that I fell in love with this very different capitol.

Queen LiliÊ»uokalani

Hawaii capitol - designed like a volcano

View of capitol from Iolana Palace

Hopped into car and headed to China Town to sight see and get our dinner Very disappointing, which is how these areas now seem to be for the most part. There are tons of street people living in parks, under trees and at the beach. I think drugs have hit Hawaii hard and it is very evident with the people who are homeless and in desperate straights, many totally burned out and insane. It is so sad to see. We walked around looking for open shops and restaurants and didn't find much. Finally, on about our last corner we found a Chinese Dim Sum place that ended up being listed as Honolulu's best dim sum place. We had a good meal.
Back to the car and headed to the best place in Honolulu to see the sunset. I found this doing some research Quite a curvy, steep and narrow road up to the top, but the view was breathtaking. There were a lot of people who came and went to see the city from above. A great view of Diamond Head and the sunset was OK. So glad we went.

An hour drive back to North Shore, decided to have a drink and go to pool and hot tub to relax. We had fun in the water, relaxed and to bed pretty early again Really a jam-packed day. Our feet and bodies are so tired.

Wednesday: Up later, needed some sleep. Stopped for lunch at Pakele's.  I had kahlua pork, poi, lomi lomi, and two new foods for me, chicken long rice and luau squid. It is made with taro leaves, coconut and squid, it was kind of sweet and I thought it was a dessert.  When I asked the girl who worked there what it was I was shocked, but it was OK. 

We spent some of our day snorkeling at Hanauma Bay. It has gentle water and a reef.  While there we saw mogooses, not something you see every day except on Oahu.  Very interesting story about them.  (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Invasive_species_in_Hawaii) Saw many fish and got a few partial pictures, they were fast. It is so hard to take photos underwater without my glasses.
Two of them just ran right in front of us.  
We saw many on this island.

Fast fish

I look like I'm crying, but I'm just squinting w/o my glasses.

God Bless these little carts, rides up/down all day $4.00
Very, very steep hill down to the Bay

Stopped on our way back because we had to have some Huli Huli chicken at Mike's - a Food Channel recommendation.  It was delicious.  While formal (and air conditioned) restaurants are hard to find in the "country side" food trucks selling everything are easy to find.

Thursday: Our time seems to be flying by, only two days on Oahu left. Left our room at 8:10 a.m. For a big day Headed to the Punch Bowl Crater (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Punchbowl, to see the National Memorial Cemetery. This is a wonderful, perfectly manicured memorial.

Two grounds keepers - loved their hard hats 
and asked them for a picture

Beautiful memorial

The grounds here are amazing  You can't believe how
wide this tree is and they are every where.

Next we headed to Diamond Head. Arrived with four huge fire trucks, one that passed us on the road, along with a rescue helicopter. I imagine someone had an issue with climbing up to the top. It is quite a hike, it was in the mid-90's, and very, very humid.  I opted not to go which was smart. We stayed at the bottom and read things around the crater and had a delicious shave ice.

Mine was 1/2 strawberry 1/2 passion fruit

Back in the car and we headed for Dole Plantation. Pretty drive out in the country. Saw a pineapple demonstration (info and how to cut), went outside where we got caught in the rain and that was refreshing. Looked at the pineapple gardens that had different kinds of pineapples and it was fun to see them. Drove through North Shore which is a cute little town, busy with lots of tourists.

Everyone needs a pineapple ATM

Many cool types of pineapple

Headed back toward our room and noticed there was a Farmer's Market going on at Waimea Falls so we decided to stop. We hadn't eaten all day so looked at all the food booths, tried out free samples and had a good time. Lots of arts and crafts to enjoy too We had Brazilian rolls with meat and then homemade ice cream between cookies, delicious.  I bought a sugar apple and passion fruit so we could try them  They were both very good   Stopped at Ole's for a last burger, this time only a single.
Waimea Market

Left - sugar apple, right - passion fruit 
Passion fruit, tart and sweet

Friday with rain and severe flash flood warnings we decided not to drive down to Pearl Harbor to see the WW II US. Missouri Memorial. Very sad to miss this, but we just didn't want to take the risk, especially in unfamiliar areas.  The roads in Hawaii are unique to say the least and they take a beating from the ocean, streams, washouts, etc.    Learned a good travel rule, don't save the most important item for the last day.  Guess we can't always have perfect luck!!!!   I did the wash at our hotel and then we headed next door the the Polynesian Cultural Center. We ate there and walked around a bit and looked in shops.

John's jalapeno burger

Back to the room for packing up.  How how are we going to get all this stuff into our suitcase again with a few extras we bought.

Up early, got through some flooded roads and through repair work being done. Got right to car rental return, caught shuttle and to airport. Several hours early – but not late. Had a nice meal, goofed around and our plane was delayed.  The flight to Maui was so short I could not believe it, we barely got the seat warm.

New adventures await. The trade winds are needed, really needed. This is the worst humidity Hawaii has had in years.  We're cooking!!!!!!!!   New discoveries: I love passion fruit and the juice and am wild about Li Hing Mui. Pineapple here tastes so different than in the states.  It has been a fun experience, all new things - even the heat and humidity, never felt anything like this or close to it.

Up, Up and Away to Maui

*  http://www.gohawaii.com/en/oahu/regions-neighborhoods/honolulu/kawaiahao-church/