My recent vacation was a fun and exciting time from when we left the airport in Austin, on a bright and sunny morning, until our flight back home eleven days later. We had to be at the airport really early for our flight to Phoenix, AZ, where we transferred to a plane going straight to the Honolulu, HI airport. The time in the air was uneventful and very smooth. My granddaughter-in-law met us at the airport with beautiful leis, and we drove to their home on Ford Island, where the children were waiting for us and were excited to see us. Later that afternoon, we were able to walk to the memorial for the USS Utah. It, of course, is not as large as the one for the Arizona, but you are in awe of the things it represents.
Friday morning when I got up, I was surprised to find my grandson at home; as we didn’t think we’d get to see him before his pinning ceremony. He had coffee ready when I got downstairs, so we got to have a nice visit and morning coffee together, and we did that almost every morning I was there. It had been a long time since we had gotten to do this, and I really enjoyed it.
In mid-afternoon, we went out to the USS Missouri, which is docked there at Ford Island, for the very impressive and moving ceremony, the FY-20 Ford Island Chief Petty Officer Pinning Ceremony of the United States Navy. The official party arrived, there was the Parade of Colors, and the young men sang the National Anthem, which was totally beautiful and brought tears to almost everyone’s eyes. The Invocation, the guest speaker, and then the presentation of the Anchors and Cover followed this. (The “cover” is the name given the formal hat with the bill, not the little white caps we usually associate with sailors). Each man was called up and introduced, and a wife/mother/friend pinned the anchor to their collar. The ones who did the pinning were given leis and returned to their seat. My daughter and his wife were the ones who pinned his anchors, while his mother-in-law and his children were in the audience watching. (I got to take the pictures of his pinning, which I was very proud to do). After each man was pinned, he moved forward a few steps and his cover was placed on his head, a whistle was blown, he saluted and walked through an honor guard that was saluting him, to a place behind where we were sitting.
The Chief Petty Officer’s Creed was read, and believe me, this is a very impressive missive. The Benediction was given, followed by a few closing remarks about their roles as Chief Petty Officers and the ceremony was over, followed by a group photo session of the men. The group also sang the Navy song, Anchors Aweigh in its entirety…and that was another moving song!
There were several groups that had their pinning that Saturday afternoon, at different times, for a total of forty or more.
The USS Arizona memorial is just a couple of miles from their home and each time you go on or off the island you go past it. One afternoon, four of us grown ups and my great-grandson, who is seven, went out for the tour. All I can say is that it is moving, heart wrenching, and awe-inspiring to walk through this memorial. They show a film of Pearl Harbor and then you got to the next part of it. There is a wall with the names of everyone killed on that ship and the branch of service they were in. Also, a few feet in front of this wall, there are two markers that have the names of men who survived the attack and have chosen to be buried with their shipmates. This is still allowed, however, I doubt there are very many of them left.
Saturday, my grandson, his wife and son and my daughter decided to go for a hike, they said it was wonderful, the scenery beautiful and great exercise until my daughter mis-stepped and fell. She landed on her face and they took her to an ER facility, where it was discovered she had a mild concussion and (most probably) a broken nose. Needless to say, the rest of the week she wore heavy cover-up make-up and dark glasses. She was in quite a bit of pain the rest of Saturday and all of Sunday, she took her meds like she was supposed, but tried her best to stay out of pictures! The rest of the week the bruising gradually dissipated, but the discoloration of the bruises moved down her face, and eight days later, she still had some bruise marks when we got home. Her doctor will be doing more x-rays and such to be sure there isn’t any more damage.
From Sunday on, we stayed busy with shopping, sight-seeing, going to a luau, eating a special Hawaiian pastry called a “malasada”, (think, doughnut without a hole), trying out the shaved ice they make, (ice cream under what we would call a snow cone), and an afternoon at the beach! We ate out several times, the most beautiful, besides the luau, was at a restaurant named the Lanai, and it was on their lanai (deck or porch), and looked out over the ocean. Diamond Head was within our sight and since it was nearly dusk, we could see planes coming into one of the airports.
A lot of our shopping was done at NEX, which is the Naval Exchange, but we also went to what is called a swap meet, a tented area near their stadium that had individual tents set up and you could find almost anything from a to z to purchase. Lots and lots of souvenirs shown, clothing of any type and style, things carved from coconuts, items made out of carved wood, and on and on!
At the NEX, I had to always be with someone who had a military ID, this was not difficult, as there were four of us who had this. I found a beautiful mumu at NEX, as a gift from a friend. It is blue with white Plumeria blossoms on it, and, I managed to find cute gift for my sister. They also have a wonderful eating area that has food booths for almost anything you would want to eat. The first time we were there, some of us had food from the Korean booth, the children had McDonalds, and another of us had something from Philly Cheese Steak. It was all delicious.
The beach we went to was on Bellows Air Force Base and it is a private beach, well cared for and beautiful. Yes, I did get my feet wet, tried to build a sand castle with the little great-granddaughter and had a wonderful time in general. My grandson, his wife and my daughter were out a little farther than I ventured, and they eventually had the little boy and the three-year old great-granddaughter with them. My grandson and his son played with the boogie boards, but the waves weren’t really as high as they needed, but they enjoyed it.
On the Thursday evening we went to the luau at a place called Paradise Cove. It was very nice, they took your ticket, gave you lei made of shells and your other first welcome was a Mai-Tai, it was delicious. The food was self-served, going through a line; you could take whatever you wanted. Pork and chicken were two of the main dishes, with some type of fish being the other meat selection. Several types of salad, rolls and dessert completed the menu. After the meal, the entertainment began; with a woman who was the mc as well as a singer, did songs in both English and Hawaiian, and there numerous types of dancers, including hula, fire swords, and what looked to me like war dances! Later in the program, they invited the audience to come up and learn to do the hula. My granddaughter-in-law and great-granddaughter took to the stage, it was really cute, and when it was finished they each one got a little certificate to take home.
On the Saturday before we came home, my granddaughter-in-law took us to Waikiki, where we finally found the ABC stores everyone was telling us about! They are really neat stores, where again, you can find almost anything you could possibly want. Different foodstuffs, candy, liquor, nuts, coffee and tea…and the list goes on and on. I think my daughter quit counting how many of the stores there were when she reached ten in a matter of about three or four blocks! We walked in the sand near the beach which was crowed, even though it was fairly early in the day, and people were out in the water swimming, and playing and there were a number of canoes out with people paddling around. There were lots of surfboards and boogie boards. The water was beautiful, but not for us that day.
In driving around the various places, I discovered that the east end of the island is lush, green and mountainous, while the west end of the island reminded me of west Texas with the grass being dry and scrub trees, that looked similar to mesquite.
Plumeria trees and bushes abound on the island and are in numerous colors. The one nearest the house was a white one, which seems to be most common, but I also saw pale pink, yellow and a really deep pin, Hibiscus are growing everywhere, and also some trees that look as if they might be mimosa, but when you get close to them, the blossoms look more like crape myrtle or wisteria! Another plant which totally fascinated me when we were driving was really unusual as the bloom came up from the plant and consisted of eight to ten red stalks that looked as if they had closely packed berries or seeds on them. When we were at the one ABC store, I picked up a book on the trees and plants of Hawai’i, and as I opened it, there was a picture of the plant, the name was “Octopus Plant”! Actually, I could see why it was named that because if stalks had been hanging downward, they would have resembled tentacles.
One of the things I found out was that Hawai’i, is also pronounced as if it has a “v” in the middle of it rather than a “w”. Also the way I have it spelled in these last couple of sentences is how it is spelled all over the island!
And, last, but by no means least, they have “Pearl City”! It is much, much larger than our Pearl City, but I got a kick out of taking a picture of the sign.
All in all, to me, this was a trip of a lifetime, I had so much fun being with family, meeting new people, trying new foods, flying for the first time in 28 years (overseas for the first time ever), and in general, just getting to have this vacation. There were so many people who helped me with this, my children and my friends have been wonderful and I am so thankful for all of them.
This recipe is called Pumpkin Pie Cake that I got from my granddaughter-in-law. It sounded delicious and I thought I’d share it with y’all.
Pumpkin Pie Cake
1 (29-oz) can pumpkin
1 (13-oz) can evaporated milk (i.e. Pet Milk)
3 eggs, beaten
1¼ cups granulated sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ginger
½ teaspoon cloves
1 box yellow cake mix
1 cup chopped walnuts
1 cup butter, melted
Preheat oven to 350ºF.
Combine all ingredients, except cake mix, walnuts and butter. Pour into lightly greased 9×13 pan. Sprinkle dry cake mix over pumpkin mixture and pat down gently with a spoon. Sprinkle with chopped nuts. Drizzle melted butter over cake. Bake in preheated oven for 50 to 60 minutes.