Friday, January 20th was our last day in Hawaii. We rose early in the morning and drove to the airport. Then, we took a short flight in a "puddle-jumper," as Britt called it to Honolulu on the island of Oahu. We had no set plans, but we hoped to visit Pearl Harbor, the Polynesian Cultural Center and the temple, as well as possibly finding a missionary from our area and taking him to dinner. I also hoped to eat at a place that had been featured on Man vs. Food.
Well, if you remember the day we went to church in Hawaii, a speaker talked about being a tourist and just wandering from point to point, without using the tools available to us, like smart phones, etc. And how you might have a good time, but you might miss something, or not have time to do all you would like.
This day turned out to be one of those kinds of vacations. We hadn't fully planned in advance, and even though I tried to find some information about the places we were visiting on my iPad, the fact was we were just following the road and hoping to get to experience all of Oahu in approximately 12 hours. In case you didn't already know, each one of the things we wanted to do in Oahu actually required a whole day's time to dedicate to it. We should have known that, but unfortunately, we optimistically believed we could experience all of Oahu on the fast track.
Pictures cannot capture the essence of Pearl Harbor. This was our first stop on the island, after we picked up our rental car.
When we arrived there, we immediately picked up tickets for the Harbor Tour, which included listening to actual recordings from the events of the day of the attack on Pearl Harbor, as you rode a shuttle boat over to the location of the sunken Arizona. When Britt realized the tickets were for two hours later, he insisted we return them. Most of what we wanted to do that day was on the other side of the island, and we figured it would take about an hour to get there and at least an hour to get back.
In hindsight, I wish we had gone ahead and done it, but we enjoyed visiting the museums and other displays there, anyway.
Then, I looked on my smart phone for a place to eat. I found Helena's (the place from Man vs. Food) and even had a reasonable idea about how to get there--it wasn't too far--but we decided it was out of our way for our travel plans that day, so we ended up going to a place right by the Pearl Harbor Memorial called Schooner's. The food there was a huge disappointment. The service was painfully slow. The view of the harbor was nice, but otherwise there wasn't anything redeeming about the place. Live and learn, I guess.
Next, we got in the car and drove. And drove. And drove. We got a full view of the island, since we ended up circling the entire island that day. Well, maybe not a full view. By the time we left the temple that night, the sun had gone down. We actually missed watching the sunset as we drove by Sunset Beach by probably all of 20 or 30 minutes.
I have no pictures, but when we arrived at the Polynesian Cultural Center, which I had looked up on my iPad, we discovered there was a $50 per person charge, and the activities there really required a whole day to experience them, not to mention, I think it was extra for the meal, which was at 5:00 and lasted at least 2 hours. Even though I had checked out their website, I had not found price information, or any kind of schedule. Basically, we realized we could either spend a couple hours there (for $100+) and then head back toward the airport, or we could go to the temple.
What a humbling experience to attend the temple with several members in wheelchairs, with canes and crutches. The Spirit there was so tangible! The smiles on those sweet Hawaiian members faces truly brightened my day. It was so worth it. The rest of our rushed day was irrelevant. Being in the temple made our entire trip worthwhile.
It was getting pretty late. We knew we would need to get the rental car back by 9:00, and we still needed to eat dinner. We decided to try Helena's. It ended up being in this odd Hole-in-the-wall place, not far from where we got the rental car, in fact. But it also ended up being closed. The place closed at 7:30! What kind of an odd time to close is that?! Oh well. Britt didn't seem to be too impressed with the place, anyway. Then, we started asking locals where to go, but it wasn't exactly the nicest neighborhood, and we were kind of desperate by then.
We found a busy diner, right by the gas station where we filled up the rental car. Then we rode the shuttle back to the airport, followed of course by the longest plane ride home. Um, not quite home. The longest plane ride to Phoenix, and then the long drive home.
An interesting part of our drive home was when we drove into a Northern rainbow, just north of Flagstaff. That's not something you see very often, in the middle of the day. And then a few hours later, we really were home.
And as much as I had loved being in Hawaii, the best thing is being able to sleep in your own bed!