Finally Catching Some Spring in Hawaii
We enjoy catching some pre-spring rays around this time every year.
Two years ago, we visited the Orlando area for that purpose - and froze. Last year, we said to heck with Florida, we'll surely get warm in Arizona. It was in the 20s there, with frozen fountains all over the Phoenix area. The Phoenix Open Pro-Am was canceled because it was so cold.
So, in search of some real warmth this year, we did a time-share trade and anted up lots of airline miles to venture to Oahu in the Hawaiian Islands. We stayed at Marriott's Ko-Olina Beach Club, which is about 20 miles northwest of Honolulu.
It was about 80 degrees most days, with some hefty tradewinds at times. It also briefly rained a few times, not interrupting any outdoor activities, though. The Hawaiian rainbows are spectacular.
I had stopped over in Honolulu several times while traveling to Australia and New Zealand on business years ago. One of those times, prior to the 747-400, a woman got on and sat next to me in business class. Not a word was exchanged because of the nighttime lateness. Both of us disembarked in Sydney. On the return flight I ended up in the same seat, and the same woman turned up next to me again. This time we had a lively chat, and she mentioned that she was B.B. King's secretary.
Our outbound flight stopped at Salt Lake City before proceeding directly to Honolulu, and a man and his wife sat in front of us. He had on a Stanford sweatshirt, and I told him that I had been accepted at Stanford but realized Palo Alto didn't have an ice rink and went to Dartmouth to play freshman hockey. He said that he had applied to Dartmouth but didn't get in, making his Hawaiian parents happy because of the extra-long distance to New England.
I told him I had a classmate who was from Hawaii, and he exclaimed that my classmate had taught him history at Honolulu's Punahou School. My new plane partner is one of Hawaii's top surgeons.
Gas prices averaged about $4.19 per gallon, but that didn't seem to reduce traffic by much. We motored around the northern part of the island, stopping at Turtle Bay Resort, where surfers were catching 10-foot waves and sometimes running into each other. The next few days brought 20-foot waves, which makes the northern part of Oahu famous in the winter months.
Other than a fantastic luau, we did not do many touristy things. But the battleship Missouri, parked in Pearl Harbor, sparked my interest.
The "Big Mo" was still being built in 1941 and was not involved in the infamous Japanese attack. It was three football fields long (some 300 yards) and wide enough to get through the Panama Canal, and could cruise at 32 knots. It is the last battleship built for the Navy. The 16-inch guns could reach targets 20 miles away.
In the battle of Iwo Jima, a young kamikaze struck the Big Mo on the side, and you can still see the resulting dent. The pilot was found dead on the deck while the shattered plane was dumped into the sea. The Big Mo captain, saying that the young Japanese pilot was just performing his duty, ordered a full military burial at sea for him.
We played golf at Ko-Olina and were joined by Erik Thirsk, who is fun and a low handicapper. Turns out that Erik is employed by Harrison Ford as his stand-in and stunt man.
The refreshing respite in Hawaii will help us launch into spring soon.
Andy Thomas lives in Pinehurst. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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