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Friday, May 31, 2013 20 comments

Hi! From Hawaii: "HI2" - From Honolulu Zoo

I thought I’d try a new weekly (pictorial) series called HI2 (short for “Hi! from Hawaii.”)
The inaugural HI2 is at the Honolulu Zoo

Set on thirty acres of prime, downtown land adjacent to Waikiki Beach and downtown Honolulu, the zoo is home to more than 1,200 animals and you can find out more here.
I’ll walk you around some of the places I know, share my thoughts, pictures and we’ll see what happens.(Please note: For today, and in any future HI2  posts, I won't do "official" reviews, (because *you* try discover something about, say an Indian Elephant, as No. 2 Son screams and runs one way, while No. 1 Son runs screaming the other way - and No. 3 Son just screams.)
I’ll gladly take requests for anything on O’ahu – although anyone who wants a review of the Honolulu nightlife will have to wait for years.
Everything I do is with the kids and/or the missus, so this is all family friendly, PG-6.  (OH yeah, no stopping this train, baby..... (until I have to add another quarter  :)
Tortoise 1 on left: (Four months ago): “Dude, you go first.”
     Tortoise 2: (last week): “No, pal, you go first.”
Tortoise 3: (in a huff) "Man, I hate traffic jams."
Who's looking at who, I wonder :)

 PS… Outside the Orangutan’s area, there is a “Zookeeper Note” that says, in part, “Due to the fact that we orangutans are normally quiet, solitary animals, we can be very sensitive to noise…” (I pitied the beasts once my lot went through...)
If you don't want to discuss the 800lb Elephant, that's Diamond Head in the background.

Oh little ones, if only I could share what I know...

Papa? Did that man just Photo Bomb my perfect shot?
African Savanna: Land of interesting Silver Circles...
...And awesome animals that work hard in chilling out.


We don't need no stinkin' Banana Boat!
Aquarium in the Keiki (Children's) Zoo (there's a tunnel, too!)
Which of these two wants to explore the Petting Zoo area?

No. 1 Son: "I'm trying!"
No. 2 Son (on knees): "Let me try." 
No. 3 Son: "Wottle. Milk Wottle."

Sure, you can touch the cute, sweet animals...


My favorite exhibit at the Keiki Zoo.


Dreaming of Kit-kats or Meerkats?
Monday, May 27, 2013 31 comments

Memorial Day: A Visit to the USS ARIZONA (BB-39)

With this being my second Memorial Day on Blogger, I again dedicate this post to the fallen men and women of the United States Armed Forces.
Their sacrifices will never be forgotten.

For many people, standing at the USS ARIZONA Memorial is a bucket list item and the Memorial remains the #1 visitor destination in Hawaii.

With it being Memorial Day Weekend, it made perfect sense to revisit this iconic memorial, so we went as a family Sunday.

Driving to the main entrance of the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center, I was glad of the little extra time we built in. (Parking was tough to find and no backpacks are allowed inside, so the diaper bag was stripped and emergency supplies distributed in my multi-pocketed shorts.)
However, I soon lost sight of these mundane things when one of the first things I saw were two Cold War-era weapons, including an old POLARIS nuclear missile.
It’s free to enter the grounds and museums of the Visitor Center, and once through the turnstile, you enter an open- air atrium with a map of the Pacific at your feet.
There’s also no charge to visit the actual Memorial, but you have to reserve the tickets for the boat ride, so make that your first stop. This may seem simple, (you can reserve tickets online here but there are a lot of things pulling at you. (The gift/book store, a snack bar and the restrooms – if you bring the kids.)
Ignore all that if you can (unless you “really have to go, Papa”) and head to the ticket counter directly ahead of you.
Main Entrance
TIP: Send someone to the Visitors Center before 9 a.m. – and you can generally have your pick of times. One adult can reserve up to six tickets. Currently, sailings to the Memorial start at 8 a.m. and run until 1 p.m., weather – and federal agency permitting. (The National Park Service operates the Visitors’ Center, but the U.S. Navy runs you out to the Memorial – and won’t sail if the winds are too high.)
First Sighting...
Tickets in hand, feel free to come back closer to your allotted time or wander the ground where you’ll see various exhibits and interactive museums on the grounds – including the USS Bowfin (SS-287), a retired diesel submarine, which is worthy of its own day trip.
Once your time approaches, make your way to the small theatre where a Park Ranger offers some basic info and directs you inside. After an excellent 23-minute documentary that answers, in part, the why behind the events of Dec. 7, 1941, exit the theatre and you’ll be on the pier and next to one of the white transport boats.
Taken from Museum Video Clips (Above & Below)
The ride to the Memorial takes about five to ten minutes, so enjoy the unique view of Ford Island and parts of Joint Base Pearl Harbor Hickam on the way – as well as the majestic sight of the USS MISSOURI (BB-63), which sits, like a guard, over the wreck of its sister battleship, the USS ARIZONA (BB-39).
1,177 Sailors lost their lives on the ARIZONA alone and the remains of more than 950 are entombed in the hull, so conversations are muted (or nonexistent) as the coxswain maneuvers the boat into place, and you walk up a stairwell/ ramp into the Memorial proper.

Location of the Memorial in Context of the Ship.

You walk through a small interior “room” and then the long open section of the Memorial. Walk over to the right, about three quarters of the way and see the rusted, circular stack that is the remains of one of the gun turrets.
The White Buoy (background) Marks the Stern
Contrast of Ship and Sea

Depending on the wind, and where you stand, the smell of oil that seeps from the ship - 72 years after the attack - sneaks up on you like a surprise. 
Leaking Oil from the USS ARIZONA
"Black Tears" of the USS ARIZONA
The Park Ranger I spoke with said each day the ships bleeds several quarts of the oil, known as “the black tears of the ARIZONA.” According to some estimates, the ship will “cry” for its lost souls another 350 years. He also mentioned the legend that the ship will stop crying once the last survivor dies and returns to his former shipmates.
Since 1982, dozens of survivors who died have been interred at the site – the latest ceremony was held Dec. 7, 2012. (As of this post, about a dozen known survivors from the ARIZONA are alive.)
Since 1982, Dozens of Survivors have been Interred with their Shipmates
The Latest Crewmember to Return to the USS ARIZONA
Walk further, you’ll come to the main interior room, where each fallen Sailor's name and rank is inscribed.
(I never realized the significance of Valkenburgh Street, a nearby road I use daily - until I discovered the Commanding Officer of the ARIZONA was a CAPT. F. Van Valkenburgh...)
A trip to the USS ARIZONA Memorial is something you will never forget – just like we should never forget the men who were lost on that terrible date that will live on in infamy.
As we waited in line for the return trip, the most poignant words of the day came from our five-year-old. He told his Mama he “had a question about all those people on the wall.”


“But, when will they go home?”


Lest We Forget...
A Memorial Day Tribute to the Fallen:
Friday, May 24, 2013 24 comments

You Know You're A Parent When... it's 'Gradulation' Time :)


It’s been seven months since I’ve posted one of my You Know You’re A Parent When… series, so now that I’m (about) done with WIP#1 edits, what better than to jump back and offer a few warning signs tips to “in-coming” parents – or remind those with children why we have no more are blessed.

You know you’re a parent when…

...You've missed naptime by ten minutes, and the Zombies have attacked the 100-Acre Wood...

No, leave me. It's too late for Pooh... Go! Save the Butt Paste


Stop, I say, STOP!!!

...You appreciate No. 2 Son for his optimism...


... but are there for the aftermath

Ahem, Carry On...


...You clean the patio windows to perfection, (sweating like a Zoomba dancer using illegal narcotics in the noon sun,) so the kids can use their new pack of Crayola Window Crayons… (I don’t make this stuff up, folks – well, except for the Zoomba dancer thing!)

...You bring the kids to the new dinosaur exhibit at the Bishop Museum and the first words out of No. 1 Son, (who's since grounded until he is 40 - at least) are, "Look Papa, it's a Dinosaur Papa - he has no hair, too!"

Earliest Known SIGGY :)


...You finish a well-listened to (including good eye-contact) “Stranger Danger” conversation, only to see No. 1 Son immediately run to the next person walking in the park and ask, “What’s your name called?”


....You remember to sing (or at least hum) the words to Cat in the Cradle in the midst of a ridiculous multi-tasking moment when:

No. 3 Son cries ‘cos he threw his pacifier under the couch (accompanied by the usual “Oh ohhhh…”)

No. 2 Son asks again for his soup, which you are cooking (while trying to move the couch.)


No. 1 Son wants to share something important (about ice melting) that’s really important – to him.

...You wander up the stairs, only to discover rumors that the 100 Acres Wood has been freed by Rebel Children are unsubstantiated.

I smell like Pooh

I can't smell anything..
...You and your spouse happily manhandle bring the kids to somewhere (LOUD) like Ruby Tuesdays on a Friday at 3 p.m. for “date afternoons.”
And finally... when you're told about "Gradulation", it becomes the coolest word of the day.
(Courtesy of our 5-year-old who "Gradulated" from Kindergarten this week.)

Dude, can I borrow the car keys now?
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