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Our Magnificent Journey
Chapter 3
Hawaii - Oahu
The Long Weekend


Day 5
Wow - were we exhausted! We both slept like we were drugged. The hotel bed is quite comfortable.
I woke at 6:30 and let my wahine sleep while I went out on the lanai and watched the cruise liner Norwegian Star slowly drift into Honolulu harbor to bid aloha to departing guests and to bid aloha to excited newcomers. The sun is far to my back, low behind the Ko'olaus on the windward side of the island. The air is cool and misty. The perpetual trade winds coming in off the Pacific gently sway the fronds of the palm trees lining the pristine Waikiki beaches. Twenty-two floors below me, out in the crystal clear azure ocean, a hundred surfers ride white-laced foamy waves towards shore. The scene is picture-postcard perfect. A stone's throw to my west at the Marriott Waikiki, a hotel roughly the same size as ours, some adventurous guests have dragged their mattresses and bedding out onto their lanais and are still asleep. To my north, along the Ala Wai canal, early-risers are jogging and biking, and crews of paddlers in outrigger canoes cut holes in the canal. Honolulu is waking up and re-energizing for what promises to be yet another spectacularly gorgeous day in Paradise.
Ala Wai Canal
Canoers on the Ala Wai Canal
When Carol woke, we showered, dressed and called the valet car service, who told us that the wait would be fifteen to twenty minutes. An hour and a half later and still no car, so we grabbed a taxi to meet Michael and Sharon at the Hilton for breakfast before experiencing the Atlantis submarine. Delicious buffet breakfast of papaya, mangoes, bagels, donuts and pineapple juice at the Hilton Hawaiian Village Tropics Bar. In the mountains behind Honolulu, the seemingly perpetual misty rain enshrouds the emerald peaks. The rain in Hawaii is often a light mist followed by rainbows. We have seen quite a few double and triple rainbows that have been breathtaking.
Camille and Melanie
At 10:15 we obtained our boarding passes for the Atlantis. While waiting for the "shuttle boat" to take us out a half-mile to the submarine I took a photo of a gorgeous four-year old, Camille, all gussied up in a beautiful blue hula outfit. We also saw an exhibit of indigenous marine life, including a brown and white octopus. We had our pictures taken by the staff (we are tourists, after all…) and then boarded the Discovery, the surface ship that in two minutes shuttles us to the Atlantis staging area, with a panoramic view of Diamondhead and the Waikiki coastline. Within a few seconds, the announcer invited us to be on the lookout for bubbles which would indicate the location of the sub. Suddenly, about 50 yards off the bow we spotted a large group of blue bubbles and a few seconds later the silver-white modernistic vessel broke the surface. Captain Nemo would be astounded. The 92-foot ship boasts large, round, thick plexiglass portholes port and starboard and can easily and comfortably seat 64 passengers plus crew. It is the world's largest and most sophisticated passenger submarine.
The Atlantis surfacing
We began our descent and soon saw many multicolored varieties of exotic tropical fish, coral reefs, three large sea turtles, a large ray, a free swimming moray eel, two sunken ships, the remains of two airliners, Japanese artificial reef structures and the University of Hawaii's reef enhancement project. Our maximum depth was 150 feet and the narration during the 45 minute adventure was exciting, interesting and humorous.
The Atlantis
All too soon we blew our bubbles to signal our ascent and were back on the surface and aboard the Discovery for the short trip back to the dock at the Hilton. Along the way we spied a large group of "spinners" - small dolphins that like to "spin" as they break the surface, fly through the air and crash back into the waves.
Sea turtle - photo courtesy of Michael Dyer
Sea turtle - photo courtesy of Michael Dyer
Sea turtle - photo courtesy of Michael Sechrest
Sea turtle - photo courtesy of Michael Sechrest
All in all, the Atlantis was a terrific experience, well-managed and well-presented. The crew was superb, friendly, accessible, and made us feel safe, comfortable and entertained. We were quite impressed at how well they handled the large groups boarding and debarking simultaneously.
Spinner dolphin
Back on shore, we wandered a few hundred yards east along Waikiki beach until we came to the Shore Bird, where we had a delicious lunch of fried calamari and chips, a veggie sandwich and iced-tea in the breezy shade.
After lunch we parted company with Michael and Sharon so that we could all get some rest. Sharon's cold has kept her up coughing at night. So Carol and I walked all the way back to our hotel, staying on the beach with our feet in the cool gentle waves for the entire length of Waikiki, strolling among thousands of guests, houhlis and kama'ainas enjoying the sun and the surf. Along the way I spotted two sea turtles close to shore.
Back at the hotel we showered and rested and prepared to sample to fare at Duke's Restaurant for dinner. This restaurant is named for the world-famous Duke Paoa Kahanamoku, the "inventor" as surfing as we know it today.
Dukes Waikiki Restaurant
Duke's is certainly one of the Island's hot spots - literally. We were seated at a table for four, directly in the sun, until we asked to be moved into the shade. We ordered various fish from the menu and tried to carry on a conversation while a band pounded out pop rock tunes at full blast and young revelers danced and sweated and drank. We would have enjoyed a more "sedate" atmosphere in order to converse, but maybe we are just showing our age.
After dinner Michael surprised Sharon with a beautiful "Island Memories" ring made of black coral, diamonds, pearl and gold, each item representing some romantic aspect of Hawaii. It was very touching and sentimental, so perfectly characteristic of dear Michael, and the ring looks exquisite on Sharon's finger.
Pan-Pacific Japanese-American parade
As we walked out of the Outrigger Waikiki Hotel where Duke's is located, there was a colorful Pan-Pacific Japanese-American parade moving up Kalakaua, so we watched for a while and then crossed over to the International Marketplace. Michael showed me a Hawaiian shirt sized XXXXXXXXL, too big even for our dear friend Chris. This is THE ultimate spot for all things tourist-schlock, but it is fun and the grand and massive banyon trees are well worth the time.
Big Hawaiian shirt!!
We decided to walk back to the Hilton to sit and talk and do some people-watching. Along the way Michael pointed out a "walking tree" whose roots actually move the tree closer to water. I also took a photo of the Hale Koa hotel, a hotel for members of the military, for our dear friend Dan, a retired USAF Lt. Colonel.
Interesting "walking tree"
Hale Koa military hotel
We sat once again in the beachside Tropics Bar for a while enjoying the company, the balmy breezes, the night and the place. Michael and Sharon have been deeply involved in the Sonoran Sea Aquarium project, and they enlightened us about the good ol' boy politics of Tucson city government that sadly may doom the project. We sincerely hope that this wonderful and promising project does come to see the light of day…
Too soon it was time to say a final mahalo and aloha to our wonderful friends, the Dyers. We thoroughly enjoyed their company, and we will see them again in August when they reluctantly return to Tucson at the end of Sharon's contract with the State of Hawaii. What a glorious ten months they have had in Paradise…
Michael and Sharon Dyer
We took a deluxe Mercedes cab from the Dyer's Hilton Hawaiian Village back to our hotel, the Aston Waikiki. Our friendly driver told us that a shipload of American sailors and Marines from Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan had arrived today - I had thought I had seen some military-types in civvies back at the Tropics Bar.
We have done a LOT of walking today - twice across the length of Waikiki - so our feet are grateful when we finally crawl into bed and drift off to island dreams…

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