I woke up this morning at the time I set my alarm for. Turns out I didn't really have to bother getting up so early. I was ready for my 8:20 am pickup by the Duck (an amphibious vehicle used in WW II and beyond) early: at 8:05 am I was sitting in the lobby watching all kinds of people being picked up (and a few dropped off) for all kinds of reasons. At 8:40 I was still waiting, so I called and found out that the vehicle had been caught in traffic after dropping off the early morning's load.
The thing pulled up at about 9:10 am and instead of someone comming up to the lobby to find the parties for the tour, the driver started shouting and quacking for me. I walked down the stairs of the hotel to the sidewalk with a scowl on my face, which wasn't affected in any good way by a couple of the people already on the vehicle saying "Hurry up!" as I walked to the back of the vehicle and up the stairs. As if it was *my* fault that the tour was an hour late!
We picked up one more couple (and if my slow walk contributed to our lateness, then the fact that we had to park and go hunt these people down really must have thrown us off of our itenerary!) and then we headed the slow way out to Pearl Harbor. Along the way, the driver (whose name I never got) delivered his patter to keep us occupied. This time, the patter was at least half made up (though the other half, about things like Captain Cook's arrival on the islands, and the whaling history in the islands, was true) - for one thing, he told the Duck that the pink building on one of the hills was the Mary K Cosmetics headquarters, when it is actually a military hospital (I'm pretty sure).
At about 10:20 or so, we arrived at the Arizona Memorial's Visitors' Center and got in line. The memorial is free to visit, and it is arranged so that the "tour" consists of a 25-ish minute video history of the attack on Pearl Harbor, then a launch trip out to the memorial itself, time at the memorial, and then a launch trip back. Tickets are issued with numbers which control access to the theaters (there are two, with the shows staggered every 15 minutes). We got to the point where the tickets were issued and were given number 25, and told that our show would start at 1:45 pm.
The Visitors' Center is nice, but not 3 hours of nice. There's a museum, some external plaques, a bookstore, bathrooms, and a snack stand. There's a lot of seating, though not nearly enough in total, and certainly not enough in the shade. Essentially, the place is operating at about 3 times its designed capacity - it isn't supposed to occupy people for three hours, but that's what their theater size and video length require. They're fundraising for a new visitors' center, and from the thermomiter's reading, they're about 2/3rds of the way there. I hope the fundraising works soon - even the previous Duck drop-off at 7:30 am had to wait until 10:30 for their show.
I walked around and took photos here and there. I sat for a while and watched the blue-faced doves and chickadees come within inches of the visitors looking for food. Finally I got way too bored, and bought some books. One is a picture book of O'ahu, and the other is a history of the rise and fall of the Hawai'ian Monarchy. I read about 20 pages, which successfully got me through to the 1-hour-to-go mark. I then got some snacks, ate a pseudo-lunch, and waited for the last half hour without too much trouble.
The video was impressive and moving, and visiting the memorial was too. There were 4 people with the last name "White" that went down with the Arizona. I doubt they were relatives - I'd think I'd have heard off that - but it was sobering to see those names.
After the launch delivered us back to dry land, the 20 of us trooped back to the duck (we didn't actually all stay together) and the rest of the tour started. We drove back toward Waikiki, turning off in the dock areas to take a short ocean ride off of Sand Island's public boat ramp. We just tooled out into the bay, turned around, and tooled back. Then we drove into Honolulu where we got a quickie tour of the historic buildings in that city. Finally, starting at about 5pm, we started dropping people off. Even though I was second-to-last to be picked up, I ended up being last dropped off because the driver missed my turn.
I went back to the room to drop off stuff, then went back out to Tanaka's Japanese Steakhouse in King's Village. It's a tepanyaki place - like Benihana's, with the chef at the table putting on a show and cooking your food while you watch. It was very good, and so was the show. The only thing that I wondered about was the fact that I ordered the shrimp appetizer, but the chef served it to everyone at the grill. As desert was being ordered, I learned that the party of three who had been seated with me at the grill first (eventually about 8 more people were seated at that grill) - a couple and their child - were also from Philadelphia! Small, odd, world.
So that's about it for today. I didn't get my pineapple sorbet at the restaurant (they ran out), so I stopped at the Baskin Robbins about a block away and had rhaspberry sorbet instead. I returned to the hotel and checked my email, but the internet was slow today and I only got through about 85 or 90 messages in about 40 minutes ... so I gave up and went back to my room to do the photos-and-travelog thing.
Tomorrow is a free day. I intend to go up to Ward Center and one or another book store up there. I'd also like to check out the zoo and the aquarium. I might even try some swimming. Since I don't have to get up at any specific time, I'll do a little research and see what else is available - maybe a bus trip to the Sea Life Center or something. Or maybe just sit in my room, pack, and watch TV. Nah, that's too much like home ...
By the way, Hawai'i seems to have the same kind of prime time as the midwest - it starts at 7 and goes to 10. Late-night (Letterman, etc) starts at 10:35, not 11:35. I wonder why?
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