Aloha – Part I

As the plane banked for a circle loop around Oahu before landing on Saturday, March 30th, I was a bit stunned.  I just didn’t truly think I deserved to have a nice trip with my wife, Mrs. Bagby, of 35 years.  I know that sounds like I have pretty low self esteem and while that might be a bit true, it’s not entirely true.  I didn’t think that a simple boy from Bumpass, who grew up somewhat humbly would ever have an experience like this.  I couldn’t conceive of it as a possibility.

Vacations such as this were for other people not for Mrs. Bagby or me.  We had family vacations over the years to places like Myrtle Beach or Duck or Corolla but even those were few and far between.   Some of my friends and colleagues go island hopping or on trips to Europe like I go for a loaf of bread but that’s not me.  Truth is I’m somewhat phobic about traveling.  Geocaching has gotten me over this to some extent and now the desire to see my son and take Mrs. B. on a nice trip would take me the rest of the way.

We had not flown since 2000 and then it was to seen Andy graduate from basic training in San Antonio.  So that means we had not flown after 9/11.  To say we were both nervous about all the security stuff and making the connections would be an understatement.

I’ll spare you the details about our flight since most of you are seasoned flyers.  I will say that the layovers were really short which meant we spent most of our travel time actually in the air.  It was a bit of a grind but I took cat naps, listened to an audiobook and talked with Mrs. Bagby.

It was SO great to land in Honolulu and see my son and his wife.  They have been living in Honolulu for the past 2 years and graciously invited us to come stay with them and help with expenses. It’s turned out to be an awesome experience.

Photo: Hickam Air Force base Hawaii

Andy took us on a tour of Hickam Air Force base where his house was located.  The place is immaculate and the grounds are kept in country club like condition.  Since the time difference between Hawaii and Virginia is 6 hours it meant that we ended staying up for 24 straight hours before going to bed.  We were bone tired.  Mrs. Bagby said I was lucky because it added 6 hours to my birthday!!

The next day, Sunday, we woke up  super early and had a leisurely breakfast before heading out to Diamondhead.  It was a beautiful four mile round trip hike that had us going uphill all the way with quite a few steps.  After 13 hours offlying the day before it was tiring!!  While we were at the top, looking out over the Pacific Ocean, we spied some humpback whales off in the distance.

I’ve never seen an ocean that blue or vivid.  It was like a postcard.  I felt like that about the whole island throughout the trip.  Just driving around had my head on a swivel taking in everything I could.  I kept saying to Mrs. Bagby for the first few days – “I can’t believe we are really here!”

We ate in that night and it was all we could both do to stay up past eight o’clock.  We turned in early and I don’t remember a signal thought crossing my mind before I passed out tired.

Monday was a Pearl Harbor day for us in the morning.  We got there fairly early after having bought tickets to tour the USS Missouri online the day before.  The USS Missouri was the ship where the peace treaty between Japan and the United States was signed.  We had to take a bus over to Ford Island where the ship was docked.  It is an amazing piece of history.  Somewhere in my photos in my house (I hope) is a picture of my father in a grass hula skirt in Pearl Harbor somewhere.  I don’t really know at what point in the war it was but I “think” I remember him telling he was there up to a few days before it was shelled by Japan.

We took lots of pictures and snapped a few photos of the USS Arizona Memorial nearby.

We came back and all took a nap.  Andy and Renee wanted to show us a  park downtown in Honolulu and do some shopping at the Ala Moana Mall which is just across the street from the park.  The park had some amazing views.  The mall itself was HUGE.  We took a break from all the walking to visit a Mai Tai bar and have some refreshments.

Monday night saw us pass out once again in bed but this time I was able to stay up a bit late.

Tuesday was to be our most ambitious.  Renee has plans for us to tour the Windward (east) side of the island.

We first stopped at a macadamia nut farm and did some shopping.  We tasted all kinds of coffees and nuts flavored five ways from Sunday.  That being said the most delicious macadamia nut we tasted was the one we picked up from a bin out back and cracked open and ate fresh.  Yum!!!

The itinerary had us visit Kahaluu State Park which just across the road from where they filmed Jurassic Park.   After finding a geocache in the park we went south to visit the Valley of the Temples and more specifically Byudo-In Buddhist temlple.  It was gorgeous!!

After visiting the temple we went to Bellows Air Force Base Beach and went for a swim and some sun time.  The beach is owned and operated on the base and is open for military personnel only.  This, according to Andy, has irritated the locals who believe this beach to be the most desirable beach on Oahu (even over and above Wakiki).  I hate to admit it but it has been years since we’ve been to the beach.  The water was cold but invigorating. It was blue and even saltier it seemed than the Atlantic.

After beach time ,we went to L and L’s Barbeque where I had the first real meat since becoming a vegan (Mrs. Bagby is one, too) about two months ago.  Let’s just day for the time being that while I don’t miss meat or animal products, I did greatly enjoy this bbq.

We took off from L and L’s to see some amazing views from Pali Lookout where we found out why they call it the “Wind”ward side of the island.  The views were breathtaking.

I have to admit that all the running around had me tired at this point so I was glad when made our last stop in Honolulu at the Liliha Bakery which Andy and Renne were regulars.  This bakery has been seen on Hawaii Five-O several times and is a favorite of the cast and crew.

Whew!!  Writing all of that has made me even more tired.  So that’s our Hawaiian vacation for the first few days.  Tomorrow it’s off to Honolulu for a world famous swap meet in Aloha Stadium where they play the Pro Bowl.  We’re then going to the zoo in Wakiki, a walking tour of Wakiki and dinner at Morimoto’s (Iron Chef) Restaurant.

ALOHA!!!

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