A shortish post today as we have to pack and eat before our shuttle comes at 11am.
We’ve been both lucky and unlucky with weather here in Hawaii this week. Scattered showers or cloud cover has dominated although we’ve had sufficient clear blue skies to get a good taste of the Hawaii of the post cards. But since a lot of our stuff has been outdoor activities, it’s been nice that things have been a little cooler and less oppressively humid. We were especially happy about that part in the morning when we went to hike Diamond Head.
Diamond Head (Le’ahi) is an volcano crater that is now a State Monument. For 100 years it’s been a military installation, first for the Army, which built gun emplacements on it heights, and now the National Guard, which apparently keeps disaster relief supplies there. But the fact that you have to come up a steep paved road and through a tunnel and the emerge into the crater to see military equipment led Darren to call this the military’s Secret Volcano Base. 😉
The Diamond Head trail was built so bring food, crew and equipment up to the Fire Control Station – and by that they don’t mean putting out fires, they directing artillery fire – but is now out of service and stripped. Some modification have been made to make it accessible to hikers, although the climb is not for the faint of heart. It isn’t just that it is a steep climb, it’s the tunnels hacked through the crater, the 200+ steep stairs, the spiral staircase and crossing out of the former gun turrets over wooden planks to get to the top most portion.
Once you get there the view is worth the effort. Pics when I can.
We made the climb up and back in just over 90 minutes, which is what they estimate it should take. Grabbed a cab who we were initially going to have take us downtown but since we wanted food before taking on the next item on our agenda, he recommended going to Cheeseburger in Paradise. Also a good call. Best darn cheeseburger… well, not ever but pretty close. Cheesie place to but fun and good food.
Next to Pearl Harbor, the main reason for coming to Oahu over the other islands was to see the ‘ ‘Ionani Palace. This is the only royal residence on United States soil, having been, for a brief time, the home of the King and Queen of Hawaii and capitol of the Kingdom of Hawaii. The site is sacred to Hawaiians – it had been a place where the chiefs lived and were buried for thousands of years before the palace was built there in the late 1800s. It is also a symbol of the sovereignty of the Kingdom that was stolen from them by the greed and fear of white Europeans and Americans. In short, it is a place of great power and sadness.
At the risk of sounding overly political (hah!) I think our country has a lot to answer for and we don’t seem to have learned the lesson that power and greed are NOT good reasons for going into a sovereign country and taking it over. And no, a government essentially designed and hand picked by OUR government does not make up for invading and over throwing the one that existed before (they even called it the Provisional Government for cryin’ out loud!) Pardon me for seeing the parallels between Hawaii more than 100 years ago and Iraq now. There is of course no parallel between Queen Liliokalani or her brother before her and Saddam Hussein – in fact, quite the opposite, both the King and Queen were highly educated monarchs who worked tirelessly in service to their people. (King Kalakaua BTW was elected King!) But the real reasons for the overthrow of the Queen’s government is exactly the same as the real reason for overthrowing the government of Iraq – the US wanted Hawaii’s resources and the Kingdom’s government was a barrier to that. (OK, off my soap box!)
The Palace is beautifully and lovingly restored. It is amazing to see how much of the furnishings they have managed to find and restore to the rooms and also depressing how much is yet to be found. The floors of the palace are apparently not all original but have been redone in the same manner as the original. There is little ‘Hawaiian’ about the building and furnishings. It is largely European (Victorian specifically) in style as King Kalakaua, who had the palace built, wanted to be seen as a modern monarch and Hawaii as a modern country. But in contrast, the King, his wife and his sister (later Queen) Liliokalani were very big supporters of native Hawaiian culture. They wrote Hawaiian music, support the hula, made Hawaiian the state language again.
It was a wonderful visit and afterward we crossed the street to see the statue of King Kamehameha I, who united all of the islands into the Kingdom.
Back at the hotel we decided to have another drink at Dukes and stare out at the ocean for a time. Got my girlie drink and some appetizers and relaxed for a time. I’ll let Darren tell you all about the meal we had at Alan Wong’s but let me just say, it was incredible. And the dessert was BRILLIANT! 🙂
Well, I am off to buy a few more touristy items then get lunch and pack. More when we get home.