Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Headed home

So, Hawaii is great. The weather is fantastic here, the sun is bright and very serious (I have a wee sunburn to prove it), and the ocean is delightful. It wasn't quite hot enough to spend much time in the water - 70 degree water really does feel cold when it's only 80-ish outside.

I did go snorkeling at Hanauma Bay, which is a very pretty place. It took me about an hour to both warm up enough to go full-on into the water and to get over some significant phobias related to the snorkel mask and breathing through my mouth. I didn't really get the hang of snorkeling; I kept trying to breathe through my nose, which caused that flap in my throat to close up - in turn causing a little panic that I had a hard time getting over.

I love swimming though, and when I wasn't swallowing the ocean I rather enjoyed swimming around and seeing all the fish. I don't love coral, and the sea creep-crawlies that live on it are gross and unpleasant. Several times I got trapped in a little coral spot and because I wasn't supposed to stand on it or touch it I felt sort of panicky about being surrounded by it. I was okay as long as I stayed away from it though. And, it turns out that I do enjoy swimming with schools of fish so that's good to know.

We went to Turtle Beach but didn't actually see any turtles. It was raining that day anyway, so even if they'd been there I'm not sure we would have done much apart from observing them (boring).

We also hiked a big crater (Diamond Head). It's only 1.7 miles from base to peak but it felt like a hundred. Somewhat steep and switchback-y, and I learned about several new phobias I wasn't really aware that I had. The first, and most prominent, being that tunnels into a mountain make me run out of breath. It was slightly uphill, dark, and very close; there were so many people around me that I couldn't get enough air and I was (completely unreasonably) convinced the mountain was going to collapse and bury me under piles of rubble. I hated that part.

I also hated the part where there was a giant staircase directly after the tunnel, then another narrow hallway (also carved right into the mountain), and then another giant staircase - this one spiraled and metal and covered with cobwebs and crawly things. I didn't love that either. Despite disliking most parts of the hike, I am so glad I did it. It felt good to have exercised (I decided, once I was done) and Steve really enjoyed it, so that made it worth it. I guess I got some pictures from way up at the top, but the view was boring so I'm not really sure (yes, I said that).

My favourite activities were Pearl Harbour and the Polynesian Cultural Centre. I'll have pictures of the Centre to post soon, but they don't really capture my experience there. It's a giant park with areas featuring the different cultures - Fiji, Tahiti, Hawaii, Aotearoa (New Zealand), Samoa, Tonga, etc.. Each area features presentations about the culture and traditions - music, food, dancing, history. There are so many hand-made items available for purchase there too, so it's a great souvenir-buying opportunity.

The Centre is run by the church, and over 75% of the people working there are students at the nearby BYU campus. BYU has a programme that allows students to have a portion (up to 100%) of their student loans forgiven if they use their leadership skills once they return home. So visiting the Centre also meant contributing to the education and opportunities of the college students.

They also offer a guided tour from the Centre over to the La'ie Temple; it's just a short bus ride to the Visitor's Centre, which is so much bigger than the Portland Visitor's Centre! I've always known ours was so small, but it's the only one I've seen so far, so the difference was remarkable. At La'ie, the Christus statue is on a giant marble base and the wall and ceiling behind it are painted like the sky. The Special Witness recordings -this is where the twelve apostles, the prophet of the church, and his counsellors have had their testimony of the gospel recorded for visitors to view- is an actual room with several chairs for sitting and viewing. They have two rooms for the regular videos shown there, with seating for dozens. The Visitor's Centre was really amazing, and the Temple grounds were beautiful. We didn't make time for a session, but I got a few pictures that I'm excited to share.

I have had a relaxing and fun vacation with my sweetie - I joked a little bit that I might never want to leave here, but the truth is that I'm ready to come back and be in my own home and see my animals. I'm also surprised to find that I maybe a little bit kind of miss the overcast rain-ish weather we have in Washington. Whatever.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

World War II Memorial

I had a chance to visit the Pearl Harbour Memorial while in Hawaii. It sort of seems like a must-see while here, and I am very glad we made time for this.


Here is the view from the main entrance area.



This anchor was recovered from the USS Arizona.

There were displays inside the main pavilion with pictures, replicas, and maps. There was too much to photograph and too many people around but here are just a few of the shots I was able to get.

These pictures told brief stories about a few of the men and women stationed at Pearl Harbour, including an African-American man who was only allowed to work in the Mess on account of segregation.

Outside the main pavilion was a concrete wall with some quotes from soldiers engraved in a semi-circle.


We boarded a small boat to go out to the USS Arizona memorial building, which was erected over the spot where the ship went down. Here are a couple ships in the harbour that I liked the look of.

This house is on the other side of the harbour; I don't know if it's owned by the base or if it's a private residence, but I think it would be an amazing place to live.

This wall is engraved with the names of those who were killed in the bomb attacks. The smaller half-walls are pedestals containing the remains of those who survived the initial attack; these soldiers wanted to be interred with their comrades and had their ashes brought back here and laid to rest.

This is part of the original ship which can be seen from the memorial building.

I really enjoyed visiting Pearl Harbour and learning a little more about that part of our history. There were many stories of heroism and heartache and the history feels vibrant in this place.


Sunday, May 4, 2014

Baptism

My nephew, Jack, recently turned eight years old. This marks the age of accountability in my church, and children born to LDS parents prepare to be baptised once they turn eight. If they're ready, they get baptised shortly after their eighth birthday. I'm so proud of Jack for being ready for this step.

His mama is proud of him too.

We had a party after the baptism. Jack's grandparents, aunts, and uncles from Jodie's side of the family came to celebrate as well. Unfortunately, I didn't get many pictures of them but they are a very nice group of people. Jodie comes from an amazingly sweet family, I was very pleased to get to meet them.

Jack's uncles

I also failed to get a picture of Jack and his dad, but here's Chris with a storytelling face. My brother-in-law tells the best stories, and he's probably the most expressive person I know.

We took an opportunity for other pictures; it's not often the whole family is together so we took some time to pose in front of this wall of flowers.

I can't resist an opportunity for a silly picture.


I really love this family.

Thanks for letting us be part of your special day, Jack.

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