Archive for the ‘Hawaii’ Category

Duke KahanamokuDuke Kahanamoku is a true surfing legend. He represented the USA in three olympics as a swimmer, winning gold medals in 1912 and 1920, and collected a  silver behind Johnny Weissmuller (Tarzan of the old black and white movies) in the games in between. He also went to subsequent games as a water polo player, and landed many parts in movies over a career of 40 years.

Later on he went on tours around the world like my own and is the single person responsible for introducing surfing to most of the planet, particularly Australia and as a consequence is widely regarded as the father of modern surfing. He was a fantastically skilled waterman, who before development trashed the breaks here in Honolulu he rode a single 35 foot wave a mile and a quarter in 1917, which would be hard enough to do now, let alone on the wooden boards he would have been riding.

Duke by the way is his name rather than a title, and he later went on to become the Sheriff of Honolulu. A position he held for about 30 years, and I also noticed yesterday that he was instrumental in establishing the war memorial at Pearl Harbour.

Xmas DukeThere is a statue of him on the beach at Waikiki and I give it the lei I was given at the Lu’au to say Mahalo (Thankyou in Hawaiian) for his gift to the world and in particular to me.

Respect is due. Enough said.

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Luau CompareI’m not having Christmas dinner with my family as usual so I treat myself to a lu’ua at the Royal Hawaiian Hotel know as The Pink Palace because of the colour it is painted. Once there I am greeted with a beautiful Lei, which is the flower garland you all associate with the islands, before being sat with a family from Mississippi who I can’t understand (the Dad’s name is Ted, but he has o tell me it about 8 times before I get it-at one stage I thought it was Thor!), a Japanese couple who speak no English and another lovely couple from America who have actually enjoyed a bottle of wine at the summit of the Great Orme in Llandudno back at home. The host is a very cheesy Hawaiian version of Val Doonican or Andy Williams who is chummily tapping people on the shoulder as he wanders the room under the spotlight. “And where do you beautiful people come from?”, etc.

LuauThe luau is held on the beach with people still surfing behind it, and has loads of different acts based on the history of Hawaii both mythological and more recent. It is completely overdone but I have to say I loved it all. More cheese han  Quattro Staggioni.

Luau Hula girlsThere is plenty of hip swinging hula girls and fire dancing , as well as a young girl who is getting all Jimi Hendrix on her electric Uke. The drinks are free so I aim for the Mai Tai consumption record and must have got fairly near to it by the end of the night.

Luau Fire2Great fun and I am back in a very festive mood as I head back to the hostel.

 

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 I make some new friends over breakfast and agree to give a bloke a lift over to see Pearl Harbour with me today. An eventful journey inluding another trip on the interstate, but we get there unscathed. This is USS Bowfin. Far too small for me inside. Very claustraphobic 

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We go over to the wreck of the Battleship Arizona which was destroyed instanteously in the attacks on pearl harbour when a bomb hit its magazine. The decision was taken to leave the ship resting on the bottom of the harbour with nearly 1000 service men still inside as an eternal memorial to the men lost on that day. You can just see the outline of the ship’s bow under the water the left of the oil slick which is still coming out of the great ship 71 years after she was sunk.

USS Battleship MissouriAll of this is a very sobering experience and I am swiftly losing my Christmas cheer, but we end the day visiting The ‘Mighty Mo’, the Battleship Missouri on which the Second World war was brought to an end with the signing of Japan’s surrender in 1945. It is the last battleship ever produced and is an awsome vessel which saw action in WWII, Korea, and as recently as the first Gulf War where it started the tommahawk cruise missile campaign.

IMAG0957Mighty Mo’s main battery consisted of nine 16 inch guns, which could fire 2,700 lb armor-piercing shells 20 miles resulting in a crater the size of a tennis court. Awesome firepower!

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Wheels of SteelMy lovely Triumph it is not but I hire this 200cc moped to ride over to the other side of Oahu. It is just as financially crippling as a hire car but much more fun. The only protection you are obliged to wear in Hawaii are sunglasses or eye protection, so I spurn the offer of a helmet because it is too hot and go for the flies in the teeth option instead.

Oahu Road

The roads are epic, as everything is in Hawaii. Not much is more impressive than the beautiful scenery of North Wales but Hawaii does if only because it is so much warmer. 

 

Golf view

I ride half way round the island in search of a golf club where an octogenarian Ukulele virtuoso is supposed to be leading a gig of Hawaiian music. A big gutted that he is too ill to perform but have a great time enjoying the tunes without understanding any of the words. I’m pretty sure I heard Silent Night at one point because it is a Christmas Gig although I cant really be sure. Very mellow and as you can see the view from the club house is also beautiful. So much so that I do not realise the time, or noitice it has got dark.

At this point I wil refer you back to the protective sunglasses I am obliged to wear, which might just as well be a blindfold! I have what we will call a challenging journey back to Honolulu in my vest and shorts, but get back in one piece and go for a walk on the sea front at Waikiki.

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Air Force OneThere is extra secuity at the airport because Air Force One is stationed on the runway.

President Obama is in town. It is either to visit his family for Christmas or because he wants to discuss the Iranian wave pool idea I had in Washington with me. I will let you decide.

An uneventful plane ride back to Oahu apart from flying over Maui where the sky is clear. I get to see an epic view the Haleakala crater that was misty when I saw in on foot, which is a pleasant surprise.

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Lava12Kilauea is the most active volcano on the planet and currently has two eruptions which are on going. Clearly I am keen to take this in, but it isn’t easy to get to the lava flows. This picture shows the little that is left of the highway after a recent eruption.

Kilauea and MeI hear that the best time to see the volcano is at night so park up as close to the crater as I can, and grab a few hours kip before going for a stroll in the dead of night to see how much nearer I can get. If the heavens were eerie the night before this is as close to Hades as I am hoping to get. I have the place to myself and it is deathly quiet apart from ocassional mumurs from the crater. I get the fright of my life when a park ranger appears from nowhere. He is good enough to take this shot of me but escorts me back to the viewing area, where I take these as the sun comes up.

Kilauea steam

Kilauea crater14

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Mauna Kea2Later in the day I drive to Mauna Kea which is the highest peak in the Pacific. When I arrive just as the sun goes down the park ranger suggests I shouldn’t go all the way up to the top at 13,796ft or 4,205m because it might be too challenging for my non 4×4 rental. I heed his advice and spend the evening at the visitors centre hanging with a load of astronomers who show me:

  • Orion Nebula
  • The Andromeda Galaxay
  • Jupiter and its moons
  • Brilliant images of the current crescent moon

All of which are amazing from such a great vantage point. We also see loads of shooting stars as well as the International Space Station. This picture of the Orion Nebula is something I have lifted from the net but it looked exactly like this. It is a brilliant night and the sky is so clear you can see so many stars, but that also means it is not the warmest as I settle in to sleep in my car for the night. As usual I wake up well before dawn, but quickly decide to grow a pair and have a go at the mountain in my hire car in the darkness. The road is like the corrugated surface I spent so much time bumping along on my Sahara Surf trip but it is also at a 45 degree gradient to spice things up. There is only one solution I must go faster, and it seems to work. :o)

Mauna Kea telescopesI get to the top and am there on my own with only the selection of huge telescopes for company for about an hour. All the fantastic buildings look like something out of Star Wars. It is a mind blowing experience.

 

 

UKIRT3I pause at the UK’s own Infrared Telescope whose funding has recently been cut in favour of something newer in South America. (You can use it for £250,000 a year if you are interested.)

 

Before too long a group arrives and lieterally shuffle off into the pitch black towards the adjacent hill blowing a conch shell horn to guide each other through the darkness. Once they reach the summit there is a Polynesian guy performing a ceremony for the sun on the peak (without realising it I later discover that I have happened to stumble across the winter solstice completely by accident). It is eerily silent apart from the haunting sounds of his conch horn and his cries into the night. The closest I can get to describing it would be to think of the Maori Haka without the aggression, and with a great deal more deference thrown in.

Mauna Kea sunrise15The sunrise eventually comes and it is epic, don’t you think? After snapping away for ages I have to descend the hill and realise that in a manual car I would keep it in low gear for the huge descent so as not to allow too much speed to build up, but in the glorified dodgem I am driving that is easier said than done. No matter I bump all the way down the awful surface without incident and realise that it is Saturday morning and I am so overdue a fry up it is criminal. I head towards Hilo (which is actually a place as opposed to an option on a fruit machine) on the east coast for breakfast and note with interest the waves breaking on the shore.

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Random TaffOn my travels I spot this back pack and say hello to the bloke carrying it. It turns out his dad is the Welshman and he comes from Welshpool where my Grandfather’s brother was the town solicitor. Wales being what it is he knew my Great Uncle Elwyn Roberts. Small world

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Another early start sees me pleased that the world hasn’t come to an end as predicted in my sleep, which means that I’m off to the worst signposted airport in the world to get a flight to the Island of Hawaii, which is almost universally known as Big Island, because it is when compared with the others. South CoastAnother exercise in patience at the rental desk and I am away touring the south coast. Most of the Hawaiian Islands you could get around in a few hours, but this one is certainly much bigger. I enjoy the rugged coast road west before turning north and head for Kailua

 

 

 

 

 

Captain James CookAs I travel down the road I go through the town of Captain Cook, named after the first European to visit the islands, which is somewhat ironic because he was killed and possibly eaten at the next town along when he returned some years later! Would you like fries with your legendary British navigator?

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ArseYou wanted pictures of bikinis, so here is a picture I took of the side of the bikini shop. To be fair the outfits you see here are actually quite demure compared to what the locals wear. Enjoy!

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