Travels With Betty and Sally, Part 4

Touring the Way Out, Far Out West By Car, Golf Cart, Plane, Train and Launch
June 18 - July 14, 1999

By Lewis Nolan

Updated Nov. 19, 1999. Please visit again.
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Betty Nolan at Overlook for Hanauma Bay, Oahu's Top Snorkling Beach


Speedy Jumps To Trip Segments:

Part 1: Memphis To Oklahoma City, Route 66, Tucumcari, N.M., and Sante Fe
Part 2: Taos, N.M., Williams, Ariz., Grand Canyon, Desert Drive to California
Part 3: Palm Desert and Palm Springs, Calif.
Part 4: Honolulu and Oahu Island, Hawaii
Part 5: Tubac, Ariz., West Texas and Hope, Ark.
Photo Album

Quick Jumps To Points Of Interest On This Page

Arizona Memorial
Battleship Missouri
Hanauma Bay Snorkling
Botanical Gardens
Waikiki Beach

Wednesday, June 30, 1999 – To Honolulu

We got up at 3:20 a.m. and Casey drove us to the Palm Springs Airport before 5
a.m. That is an extremely unusual time for us to start anything. But to take advantage of a
special airfare deal out of LA, we had to travel on the early-early flight. The United
Express commuter plane left on time at 5:44 a.m., arriving in LA about 30 minutes later.
The streetlights against the black desert made for a beautiful view. We boarded a Delta
jumbo jet that was supposed to leave at 8:10, but we sat on the tarmac for an hour while a
“black box” was repaired. The flight to Honolulu took nearly 5 hours, which while long
isn’t brutal like the long connecting flights from Memphis. Our tourist cabin seats were in
the interior section, with me on the aisle and Betty next to a fellow teacher from the
Mojave Desert town of Lancaster, Calif.

Tired from the early start and long flight, we picked up a Budget rental Chrysler
and had a quick lunch at a McDonald’s near the airport before our drive through heavy
traffic to our hotel, the Outrigger Waikiki Surf at 2200 Kuhio. We were two short blocks
from the crowded beach, in a very small but adequate room on the 7th floor with a tiny
balcony overlooking the pool. The newly refurbished hotel was comfortable, its staff was
knowledgeable and friendly and its pool was beautiful, built around landscaped lava
rocks. Waikiki Beach is a beach and also a large section of Honolulu that extends a mile
or more from the beach proper to the interior, where expensive homes rise up the
hillsides. It is wall-to-wall with high rise hotels and condo/apartment buildings,
restaurants and shops catering to tourists. Our hotel is right in the middle of things, with
much hustle and bustle all around. Within a few steps of our hotel are a McDonald’s,
Japanese take-out restaurants, tourist junk shops, convenience stores and other high-rise
hotels. The location reminds me of a clean New York’s Times Square, with tropical
foliage and Aloha shirts but without the grime and street people.

We walked around hotel row, marveling at the abundance of sushi restaurants and
other Japanese businesses. Many of the store signs are in Japanese only. Hordes of young
and old Japanese women – wearing silly high platform shoes or wobbly spike heels – walk
about in groups. There seem to be many more women than men; maybe the men are back
home working the heroic hours the Japanese are famous for. We soon found ourselves at
the main Waikiki Beach, which is heavily patrolled by polite young policemen on
mountain bikes. The beach was very crowded, mainly with Japanese sitting on the sand
and wading around the shoreline water.

Several hundred yards out, surfers rode the rollers and outrigger canoes paddled
the tourists through the waves and foam. Several surf schools were teaching lessons in
the shallows. Ocean-going freighters steamed by a mile or so off the beach. With only a
tiny exception or two, none of the Waikiki Beach hotels have their own sand beaches.
Most of the hotels are across the street from the beach. The landmark Royal Hawaiian, a
pink-coral structure that dates to before World War II, has a narrow strip of sand along
the back edge of the public beach. One of the big Hiltons has a seawall that fronts the
ocean, but at high tide there is no beach. I suspect that many tourists are surprised when
they find out that the high rates they are paying for Waikiki Beach hotels still leave them
with a walk to the crowded, public beach. The lobbies of the grand hotels and the
sidewalks leading to them are filled with stylish shops, including names like Tiffany’s,
Gucci and Chanel.

Betty Nolan Aboard Arizona Memorial. Ship's Sunken Gun Turret at Left

Thursday, July 1, 1999 – In Honolulu

Following an Egg McMuffin breakfast from the McDonald’s across the street –
happily served with fresh pineapple chunks – we drove our rental car to the Arizona
Memorial. We had been advised to not rent a car by our travel agent, who cited extremely
high parking charges and heavy traffic. But the hotel charged only $8 a day for attended
covered parking, and we didn’t find the busy traffic too hard to cope with outside of rush
hours. With our curiosity and interest in seeing the sights on our own schedule and at our
own pace, a car is almost essential. Honolulu has excellent public transportation, with all
kinds of city buses (some equipped with bike racks) and free shuttles. But I’m glad we
followed our instincts and got a car because of the freedom of movement it gave us.
Our first auto outing was across town to Pearl Harbor and the U.S. Arizona
Memorial
. We had seen the unique, white structure from the air on previous trips to
Hawaii. We had long wanted to visit the memorial and resting place for most of the
ship’s 1,177 crewmen who lost their lives Dec. 7, 1941, when the Arizona was sunk at
anchor during Japan’s sneak attack. The Memorial is an excellent place to contemplate
the sacrifices of our nation’s fighting men in all wars, and the War in Pacific in particular.
The National Park Service and U.S. Navy operate a museum, boat launch and visitation
service to the stark, white Memorial. The structure of steel and blown concrete bridges
the awarthships of the sunken ship.

The tour starts with an emotionally moving film about what President Roosevelt
called the “Day of Infamy,” when Japanese airplanes from a 33-ship attack fleet bombed
battleship row, Schofield Barracks in Oahu’s interior and other military targets in and
around Honolulu. The USS Oklahoma rolled completely over, trapping 400 men inside.
The California and the West Virginia sank at their moorings. The Utah capsized. The
Maryland, Pennsylvania and Tennessee suffered significant damage. The Nevada
attempted to run out for sea, but had to be beached to avoid sinking and blocking the
channel. As students of World War II (and movie fans who saw “Midway”) know, the
attack shattered the U.S. Pacific Fleet. However, the Navy’s aircraft carriers were at sea
and were able to strike back with a vengeance. The American people, who had been
divided over U.S. entering the War against the Axis, rallied together and exacted a
terrible retribution on Japan.

On the day of our visit, there were no chattering people. There were probably few
dry eyes that were round in the audience during the introductory, 20-minute movie that
contains much horrific film shot of the burning ships. I had been warned by a friend back
home to be prepared for churlish behavior by Japanese tourists similar to that we had
encountered from a tour bus group of rude, laughing Germans when we visited the
American Cemetery at Omaha Beach, Normandy in 1990. However, the dozens of
visiting Japanese visiting the Memorial this day were perfectly respectful of the somber
atmosphere. Among the Japanese in our group of 75 or so who rode the Navy launch out
to the Memorial were several women and a man with shaven heads and odd clothing
possibly worn by Buddhist or Shinto religious leaders.

The weather was perfect for viewing the Memorial, with sunny skies and
comfortable temperatures. The top of the hull of the sunken Arizona, minus its great
guns, is clearly visible in the shallow, clear water between the mainland and Ford Island,
where the watery tomb rests. The rusted remains of a gun turret foundation and a few
other ship parts protrude a few feet above the ocean water. Visitors may enter the
Memorial, which has a chapel where all the names of the dead are listed in alphabetical
order. Everybody observed the solemn decorum that is more familiar at funerals than at
tourist attractions. We were told that just an hour before our tour started, the ashes of a
recently deceased Arizona survivor had been scattered in the water over the ship, with
full military honors. A drop of engine oil still bubbles up from the ship every minute or
two. Colorful fish swim about the coral that forms on the wreckage below.

The architect of the Memorial, Alfred Preis, described his work by saying, “the
structure sags in the center, but stands strong and vigorous at the ends, expressing initial
defeat and ultimate victory.“

A nice closing to a visit to the Arizona is a tour of the USS Missouri, the
battleship where on Sept. 2, 1945, Japanese diplomats signed the surrender documents
that ended World War II. The Missouri was towed across the Pacific in 1998 to its new
anchorage a few hundreds yard from the Arizona. We caught a tram shuttle to it from the
stop at the submarine warfare museum adjacent to the Arizona Memorial museum and
visitor center. The great battleship is 887 feet long and 108 feet wide at the beam. Its keel
was laid in 1941 and the ship was launched in 1944, when it provided gunfire support for
many battles in the Pacific during World War II. The Missouri was alternately
decommissioned and recommissioned several times, called back to service during the
Korean Conflict and for several actions in the Persian Gulf. Its last military use was in
1991, when it launched missiles and bombarded Iraqi forces during the Persian Gulf War.
“Mighty Mo’s” 16-inch guns could hurl 2,700-pound projectiles up to 23 miles.
The Missouri has been open to visitors since January, 1999. During our visit a
large part of its dock was being fitted with several hundred banquet tables for a charity
fundraiser that evening. Only the upper areas of the ship have so far been opened to tour,
unlike the USS Alabama in Mobile where visitors are admitted to most areas where the
crew lived and worked. The exact spot on the Missouri’s deck where the Japanese
surrender documents were signed is marked. A recording of General Douglas
MacArthur’s remarks provides sound backdrop. A private group, the USS Missouri
Memorial Association Inc. of Hawaii, operates the ship tours and gift shop and provides
volunteer tour guides. It appears that most of the volunteers are Navy veterans who have
retired in the area.

I t was a good tour of a great ship. Since our visit followed our tour of the Arizona
Memorial, we experienced vicarious alpha and omega to a terrible period for all mankind
in the 20th Century. On the 45-minute drive back to our hotel, we stopped at the mother
store in Honolulu of Hilo Hattie’s, an island chain specializing in Hawaiian souvenirs and
Aloha shirts. We’ve visited similar, smaller outlets on previous trips to Maui and Kauai.
The Honolulu headquarters includes a factory viewing area when shoppers can watch
several dozen Asian women and a few Asian men sew garments. We bought some gaudy
clothing and souvenirs and then repaired to a nearby Fisherman’s Wharf restaurant,
where we had the only really crappy meal of the entire trip. We compensated that night
with an excellent dinner of Mahi Mahi at Lewer’s Street Fish Co. near our hotel.

Betty Nolan at Historic Spot on USS Missouri
Japan's WWII Surrender Documents Signed Here

Friday, July 1, 1999 – In Honolulu

Following my usual breakfast of takeout Egg McMuffin and fresh pineapple, we
drove 45 minutes or so up the coast to what the locals and guide books call the best
snorkeling beach on Oahu. It is Hanauma Bay, an idyllic setting of palm trees, white sand
and sparking water that was once the floor of a volcano. The ocean side of the ancient
volcano is open to the sea, forming a half-bowl frame of incredible beauty. We had
gotten off to an early start as advised. It was a good thing we did, because we were one of
the last cars allowed in before attendants closed the full parking lot just before 10 a.m.
For $2 that was well spent, we rode a tram down the steep, windy cliffs to the wide beach
below. Many choose to walk down for free, but I don’t envy the discomfort caused by the
steep grade pushing against sandals or beach walkers.

There are restrooms, change facilities, a snack bar and places where snorkel gear
can be rented on the beach. There were hundreds of people sunbathing and snorkeling
around the shallow water. The gin-clear water and patches of sand interspersed with
patches of coral in 2-to-5 feet of water make it an ideal location for beginners. The
myriad numbers of wildly colorful reef fish, which have been tamed by tourists offering
fish food that looks like doggie chow, make it interesting for even the most experienced
snorkelers. Just outside the main reef, the ocean bottom slopes down from 6 or so feet to
20 or more feet. Only a few snorklers and SCUBA divers ventured out beyond the
protective reef, which is washed by gentle waves. I saw dozens of varieties of reef fish,
including some schooling species 18 or more inches long. It was the best snorkeling I’ve
enjoyed since Casey and I swam around some coral canyons a couple of hundred yards
off a beach at Grand Cayman Island a decade ago.

Following lunch at a patisserie down Kuhio Avenue from our hotel, Betty
repaired to the hotel pool for more sunning while I drove 40 or so minutes to Waikele
Golf Club on the other side of Honolulu, past Pearl Harbor. I could see part of the
mothballed Navy fleet at Pearl from the I-H1 (oddly part of the Interstate system). I opted
for the “twilight special,” 9 holes for $40 after 3 p.m. I found the course to be quite good,
with an interesting layout that included a lot of sand, hills and water. Due to some good
chipping and putting, I was just under bogey golf through 7. But then the afternoon rain
came and my game left. I bailed out in a downpour while my partners, locals Bob Dove
and his son Michael, who had played football at Tulane several years ago, continued. I
left my umbrella on a wide, verandah outside the clubhouse, where somebody ripped it
off. When I complained, the Japanese-American guy running the pro shop laughed at the
absurdity of me expecting it to be recovered.

Dinner was Japanese takeout, with me having chicken teriyaki and Betty opting
for shrimp and vegetable tempura, both served with lots of rice and a soup of seaweed
and green onions that was surprisingly tasty. Unlike some other “native” foods I’ve tried
on vacation, the Japanese meals did not result in any indigestion.

That evening, we walked around the grand hotels and shops of Waikiki Beach,
amusing ourselves by watching young Japanese women walking about in their high-rise
footwear. I was told by golfer Bob Dove, who owns a worker’s compensation insurance
company, that most “haoles” (a pejorative term used by native Hawaiians to describe
Caucasion tourists) favor the other islands. But the Japanese “love Waikiki,” he said,
adding that Japanese investors and companies own much of the Waikiki Beach area.
Among their holdings are chain hotels based in Japan. According to Bob, so much of
Oahu’s tourism promotion efforts have been focused on the Japanese market that the
country’s sagging economy has hurt Waikiki Beach. Tourism in Oahu is down this year,
he said, while the other islands whose promotional efforts are aimed more at North
America are showing increases.

Betty Nolan at Entrance to Lewers Street Fish Market at Waikiki Beach

Saturday, July 3, 1999 – In Honolulu

Betty wanted to enjoy the morning sun at the hotel pool, which by afternoon is
covered by the shade of a canyon of surrounding hotel and condo buildings. I drove to the
nearby Ala Wai Municipal Golf Course, said to be the busiest in the world, with 160,000
rounds a year. It gets a lot of play and it shows it. Ala Wai is a ratty course and I decided
not to play. But there were still several dozen singles on the wait list, hoping that
somebody with a reserved time would be a “no show.” There was even a wait to get on
the shabby driving range, where people who looked like tourists hit beat-up balls into
landing areas of red dirt.

Virtually all the tee times are reserved a week in advance by local foursomes, who
are allowed only a limited number of no-shows before sanctions are applied. A resident
can play 18 holes for $10, the cheapest greens fee I’ve ever encountered. In comparison,
a non-resident pays $40. A cart is $14 extra. The one-fourth price for locals seems to be
universal here, even at privately owned courses like Waikele, where the tourist price for
18 is $107. Effectively, tourists are heavily subsidizing the local golfers by paying
inflated green fees, in addition to providing the tourism money that makes the island’s
biggest industry go. It galls me and provided a big incentive to limit my play.

We took an afternoon drive up the north shore to the Polynesian Cultural Center,
which had been recommended by a friend who visited it recently. We stopped at several
scenic beaches along the way and saw some absolutely huge Hawaiians enjoying the
beach, the shallow water and picnic facilities with their friends or families. Many native
Hawaiians make their family outings to the beach parks all-day, every weekend affairs.
Some of them arrive early to claim choice spots, where they pitch tents and sun shelters.
It appears that devoting their energies and hang out time to the beach takes a higher
priority than does upkeep on property. Much of the island housing we saw has a
neglected look.

We were disappointed with the Polynesian Cultural Center, mainly because the
young staff didn’t seem to have the training to handle the very large crowd of visitors that
showed up this Fourth of July weekend. The place must have been oversold since we
found ourselves waiting in long lines for nothing. We got to the front of the lines only to
find out that the stands were out of shaved ice or that all the seats in the IMAX theater
were taken. People not able to get in to see the shows blocked the entrances to several
outdoor stages.

But we did see a sample of the native singing and dancing of Samoa, Tahiti, Fiji,
New Zealand, Hawaii, Tonga and other islands in a sort of waterborne “preview.” We
also talked to a very nice Mormon couple of our age - Frayne and Shirley Hobbs of
Orem, Utah - who were doing a two-year adult mission on behalf of the Church of Jesus
Christ of Latter Day Saints. The center is run by the Mormon Church and is largely
staffed by several hundred, work-study college students from the islands, who attend the
local campus of Brigham Young University. We learned that the Mormon Church is very
active in the islands and has a great number of new members in the Pacific.

We decided to forego the dinner and floor show we had paid for in advance and
left early. After I informed center management of our disappointment at not seeing the
IMAX film and the snack bars running out of snacks, we got our money back and even an
invitation to have a buffet meal on the house. The Mormons were nice, but we had all the
crowds we could stand and headed back to Waikiki. My advice to potential visitors
would be to eat before you go and only go during the week. Pass on the packages and pay
only for general admission.

Dinner that evening was Mahi Mahi and chips, again at the very good Lewers
Street Fish Co. Afterwards we poked around the ritziest section of Waikiki Beach and its
Chanel, Tiffany, Prado and other fashion shops that cater to the ubiquitous Japanese. In
celebration of the Fourth of July weekend, the Fairmont Shopping Plaza (adjacent to the
Fairmont-managed Royal Hawaiian Hotel) had a country and western band playing just
off the sidewalk. It was fun watching a half-dozen Japanese women wearing cowboy
boots trying to line dance, Nashville style. Our sleep that night was interrupted several
times by loud firecrackers, whose illegality is ignored by the fireworks-loving Asians.

Lewis Nolan by Giant Tropical Tree in Honolulu's Foster Botanical Garden

Sunday, July 4, 1999 – In Honolulu

After circling around several parking areas in our rental car in a vain attempt to
get a parking place near Queen’s Beach, we discovered that our 10 a.m. start was just too
late. Queen’s Beach is part of the Waikiki Beach but several hundreds yards away from
the most crowded area. It looked as though every car in Oahu was hovering about, hoping
to claim one of several hundred parking places within a walk of Queen’s Beach. Maybe it
was because it was Sunday. Maybe the Fourth compounded the congestion near the
beach. But it was inpenetrable. So we decided to drive 45 minutes or so to the interior of
the island, to the Dole Plantation Visitor Center. We were met with another
disappointment. The center consists of only a big souvenir shop and a small
demonstration garden plot, where several young pineapple plants grow. The advertised
“restaurant” was a hot dog stand. Some years ago, we were told, Dole provided guided
tours of the pineapple fields and a packing plant.

A few miles away is the Waihi’awa Botanical Garden, one of five gardens
operated by the Honolulu Department of Parks and Recreation. The garden is several
miles inland of the city, in a tropical rainforest area of rugged hills covered with dense
stands of tropical trees and jungle. The 27-acre garden is on a plateau, elevation 1,000
feet, and has dozens of varieties of tropical flora that require a cooler climate than the flat
coastal areas of Oahu. A brochure says such native Hawaiian plants as ariods, palms, tree
ferns, calatheas, heliconias and epiphytes grow wild in the garden. With the help of the
brochure and markers along a self-guiding trail, we had enjoyable experience of
identifying species never seen in Memphis. Among the exotic plants we saw were Saving
Brush Trees, Autograph Trees, Nutmeg, Allspice, Candle Trees, Elephant Apple Trees
and Cigar Box Tree (so named because its lightweight, pleasantly aromatic timber is used
to make cigar boxes from the West Indies to the Amazon.)

We happened to come across a wedding in the garden. We spoke briefly to the
groom, a muscular young native Hawaiian wearing a white tux and traditional braided lei
for men, and wished him and his bride much happiness. We also got his OK to take a few
photos. The official wedding photographer was a scruffy-looking guy who would be at
home among the streetpeople of Memphis. A couple of singers played guitars and sang
native songs. The bride, wearing traditional Haole white, was beautiful, of course.

We also visited Foster Botanical Garden in downtown Honolulu, which Fodor’s
lists as one of the not-to-be missed attractions. Unlike the wild tropical rainforest of
Wahi’awa, Foster is more like a carefully cultivated and freshly clipped estate park. We
loved it. The garden got its start in 1853, when Queen Kalama leased a small area of land
to a German physician and botanist, who wrote a book in 1888 on the “Flora of the
Hawaiian Islands.” His property was sold to Thomas and Mary Foster, who added to the
garden and continued to develop it. It was bequeathed to the city and county in 1930 and
has been open to the public since 1931.

Its collection of tropical plants from around the world goes back more than 140
years and is perhaps the world’s finest. Included are a number of rare and endangered
species. Of more than 100 trees that have been designated “exceptional” on the island and
worthy of preservation, 26 are in Foster Garden. Among them are the Cannonball Tree
(from Brazil and named for its heavy, spherical fruit), the Cupang (from Malaysia, with
huge fern-like leaves growing as much as 100 feet above ground), the Kapok (from Java,
known for its hollow filaments used for stuffing life preservers and furniture), and the
Loulu (a palm tree found only in Hawaii.) Other treats for plant-lovers include a bromeliad garden, hybrid orchids and a
wealth of spice bushes and trees. Dinner that night was Japanese takeout. Again, a little strange but good.

Monday, July 5, 1999 – In Honolulu

While Betty sunned and shopped, I drove up the coast to Hawaii Kai Golf Course.
I passed some glorious views of waves breaking on the lava-rimmed beaches. Hawaii
Kai, described as one of the top courses on Oahu that are open to visitors, is set in a
scenic area and has many views of the ocean. But from what I saw, the course itself pales
in comparison to my home course or other very fine courses I’ve played on vacation. I hit
a large bag of balls, then played 18 holes on the executive course, where I hit my irons
surprising well. With the exception of one Par 4, the executive course is a Par 3 layout,
with tiny greens. So my score of 76 (due to three-putting most of the bumpy greens)
didn’t count toward my goal of someday breaking 80 on a real course. But the views
from the greens and tee boxes on the steep hillsides overlooking the deep blue, Pacific
Ocean were excellent. Providing color was a fleet of racing cruisers that sailed by, flying
spinnakers.

That night, we had a memorable dinner at Nick’s Fish Market, owned by a Greek
and variously billed in magazines and restaurant rating services as one of the top 75
restaurants in the entire U.S. and the finest place for fish anywhere in the Hawaiian
Islands. I can believe it, especially after eating a large portion of macadamia-nut
encrusted Ono fish. It was elegant, fine dining at its best, with waiters in tuxedos, posh
décor, a live singer and attentive service from a parade of staffers that started as soon as
we walked in the door. It made no difference that I was sans tie, wearing a new Aloha
shirt. It was pricey, but worth it. I wish we had such a place back home.

Our waiter told us that Nick’s, like other Waikiki businesses that cater to the
higher end of the market, has really felt the decline in Japanese tourism. He recalled that
half the customers were Japanese a few years ago, before the country’s economy took a
nosedive. Today, he opined, even the very wealthy Japanese are no longer coming to
Waikiki like they once did, instead opting for other exotic spots they’ve not seen before.

Lewis Nolan Hangs Five by Rack of Big Gun Surfboards at Waikiki Beach

Tuesday, July 6, 1999 – In Honolulu

We spent the morning driving and walking around Diamondhead, the signature
promontory that juts out into the ocean at Waikiki Beach. It was interesting to see the
remains of World War II fortifications high up on the ocean sides of the volcano. I
recalled climbing around some similar observation and artillery posts on the San
Francisco hillsides as a young boy tagging along with my father, an Air Force reserve
officer. We drove up the road to Diamondhead’s volcanic crater, but did not trudge up the
long path to look down due to my somewhat limited mobility caused by heel spurs.
There are many estate homes on the shoreward side of Diamondhead, providing
the very rich with multimillion-dollar views of the beach and ocean. Government has
preserved public access to the beaches and surf below the homes with several trails
leading down the steep cliffs from parking areas. One estate home we admired had a
gorgeous pair of handcrafted, ornamental metal gates of steel and copper, forming an
ocean scene of dolphins, waves and seabirds. We took a couple of photos so we could
give one to our friend Jim Wallace in Memphis, the director of the National Ornamental
Metal Museum. I was amused to learn that we weren’t the first Museum members to
bring him pictures of that fabulous gate.

We retraced the route I had taken the previous day up the coastline, where ancient
lava has been weathered by heavy wave action to form cliffs and a blowhole, where the
swells jet a curtain of water up through a small hole in the rock. We had spectacular
views of blue rollers and white surf booming against the rocks.

We spent a couple of hours on the Sans Souci section of Waikiki Beach, where
Betty caught some rays from the hot, tropical sun. I found a perfectly shaped palm tree to
lean against while sitting in the shade on a straw mat. I tried to swim and snorkel, but the
beach sand immediately turned to jagged chunks of coral at water’s edge. The lifeguard
warned about knee injuries, giving me a quick understanding of why so many young
people are on surf mats or surfboards when they are in the water. I also learned why most
adults sit on the beach. Later, we enjoyed drinks and a great view of the surfers and
surfrigger tourist boats at the most densely populated part of Waikiki beach, from the Mai
Tai beachside bar at the Royal Hawaiian. We ate light that night at Lewers’s Street Fish
House and returned to our hotel to pack for the next day’s flight back to the Mainland.

Wednesday, July 7, 1999 – To Palm Springs

We checked out of the Outrigger Waikiki Surf Hotel at 9 a.m., quite an early start
for us. We wanted to allow plenty of time to drive through downtown traffic and for
rental car return and baggage check-in. Everything went smoothly, which was a nice
change given our earlier experiences with getting in and out of Honolulu. Consequently,
we had nearly two hours to read and relax in the un-airconditioned terminal before our
Delta flight took off for LA. This flight was better than most, and the only one serving
the island we’ve been on that had some empty seats (due to the travel demand pause
following the 4th of July weekend.) We were told by its crew of self-described
“dinosaurs” that the daily flight has the most senior crew of attendants in the entire Delta
system. The lady who efficiently served us was 63. Adding to the pleasantness of the
flight was a decent lunch of chicken teriyaki.

A 60-mph tail wind had us going 625 at times and we arrived in LA early,
enabling us to catch an earlier United Express commuter flight to Palm Springs, which
we had nearly to ourselves. The low-flying prop jet gave us some good nighttime views
of city and highway lights in the valley northward and eastward of LA We got into Palm
Springs Airport at 10:20 p.m. local time (three hour time difference with Hawaii) and
were met by Casey.

After eight nights in Honolulu and a lot of great sights around Waikiki Beach and
the island of Oahu, Betty and I agreed that we had seen it. It was an enjoyable trip, but
not spectacular as it was a little too urban and Asian touristy for our vacation tastes. I
doubt we will return, unless it is to change planes coming or going to Kauai or other
island.


Continue Trip With Part 5: Tubac, Ariz., West Texas and Hope, Ark.
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