Our trek to the tropics began bright and early Monday morning with a nine-hour flight from Houston to Honolulu. Brazos Valley residents and News 3 viewers from Bryan, College Station, Camp Creek, Jewett, and Gause, have joined Beth and me for this once-in-a-lifetime Holiday Vacations trip to Hawaii. Upon arrival in Honolulu, we were greeted with fragrant leis being placed around our necks. After checking into the Marriott at Waikiki Beach, we took in some of the sights close to our hotel, then watched the sun set over the palmed-lined beaches and past the surfers who were looking to catch that last good wave. Since Hawaii is five hours behind Central Time right now, our Monday was 29 hours long, and we were ready to turn in early.
Our guided tour Tuesday began with Pearl Harbor and the USS Arizona Memorial. You have to take a boat across the harbor to reach the Arizona, and not a soul out of the hundred or so aboard stood up until a lone veteran using a cane disembarked and walked up the steps alone. Talk about putting a lump in your throat. Sixty-nine years after the tragedy, fuel oil still seeps from the sunken battleship, the final resting place for over one thousand American sailors. Many in our group dropped flower petals from our leis into the water to drift with the oil slick past the memorial.
From Pearl Harbor, we drove to the Punchbowl, the National Memorial Cemetary of the Pacific, which sits in an extinct volcanic crater. After a wharf-side lunch at the Aloha Tower, we drove to the north side of the island of Oahu, stopping at Nuuanu Pali State Park high above the Pacific where the air is refreshingly cooler. Our tour bus took us along the highway back down the east side of the island, where we took in some spectacular vistas of ancient volcanic slopes meeting the green and turquoise tinted Pacific Ocean. The tour came to a close as we rounded Diamondhead, the mountain that overlooks Honolulu from the east.
Wednesday was a day to head out and do our own thing. Several in our group went snorkeling, some went to the zoo, and others spent the afternoon at the Polynesian Cultural Center. The rest of us, including Beth and me, spent the day on the beach at Waikiki, being careful not to get toasted this early in our trip.
Thursday we head to the big island of Hawaii for a couple of days. I'll write from there. Aloha.