April 26 Birthday Hawaiian Style

Today is my birthday and we are heading back to Honolulu after ten fabulous days on the North Shore of Oahu.  I can’t think of a better way to spend it than here on this beautiful island with family. 

We had a “High Surf Advisory” Sunday and here that means one thing – surfing!  We headed out to a lovely lagoon next to Shark’s Cove located just up from the “Pipeline.” 

The tide was seriously surging and it turned out to be a beautiful day; the rain decided to hold off while we spent hours snorkeling, soaking up the vibes and watching the mesmerizing surf.

The fish action was great and they acted as if we didn’t exist – I was literally swimming through large pools of them.

To top off our stay, we dined at Haleiwa Joe’s overlooking the harbor; nothing beats an authentic Mai Tai, tropical breezes and good company. It seems that cocktail mixers like to be more creative though I prefer to stick with the standards indigenous to the Island’s to include Pina Colada’s and the infamous Volcano.  

We bid farewell to my brother and sister-in-law, the local turtles who kept us thoroughly entertained, and headed back to Honolulu by way of Kaneohe.

My father had been stationed at the Kaneohe Air Base after the bombing of Pearl Harbor for a short while before he was redeployed to the mainland. The scenery was astounding – lush with valleys of jungles and skyrocketing escarpments that screamed tropical exotic. It’s no wonder so many movies are filmed here. I can imagine that during my father’s day it must have been utterly unspoiled.

We decided to drop into Kualoa Ranch where they filmed Jurassic Park. We skipped the tour but enjoyed the kitsch all the same.

Note the sunglasses

As it was my birthday we needed to top off the day with an authentic Pina Colada and we really scored at the “Lava Tube” in Honolulu where they serve them in pineapples!

My Pina Colada fix!

What a great a way to top of a memorable birthday with some Hawaiian flare!

April 15 E Ala E – A Hawaiian Rebirth

After making it back home to Portland, Oregon we had to hit the deck running as we needed to pack up the house for our eventual move to France and…we were leaving for Hawaii to join family in Oahu on the 14th; this trip had been cancelled two years prior due to Covid, and since then I had spent time scanning my father’s WWII letters from his service in the Pacific.  This will turn out to be a seminal experience as we will be meeting with the Pacific Fleet Band Master as part of our tour of the Arizona Memorial.  My father served as a Musician 2nd Class (eventually 1st Class) in the Navy aboard the Enterprise and W. Virginia and his letters ranging from Pearl Harbor to the surrender at Tokyo Bay captured a rare glimpse into the life of a musician during the war.  

When we arrived back in Portland it of course decided to snow!  The movers were coming the next day and we prayed the weather would clear, not just with the packing and moving, but making it to the airport for our flight. 

I’ve had far worse stressors in my life, but still, it was a lot and we both started to blow out some brain cells with all the details.  

Thankfully, we made it to the plane without incident, worn and a bit shattered from the last few days, convinced we forgot to bring necessary items only to find them shoved here and there in our luggage.  

Upon arrival I took a deep breath instead of a sigh of relief; I wanted to inhale the islands themselves.  We were greeted by the trade winds scented with plumeria as we explored the legendary Royal Hawaiian Resort, then we soaked our feet in the tropical blue surf of Waikiki Beach. Much has changed since my father sunbathed in front of this princess-pink landmark; it sits there defiant amongst the modern high rises – its place in history never to be questioned. And shopping mall laden Honolulu is no longer the quaint meandering village it was back in the 1940’s as described in his letters – more to come on this later after we meet with the US Navy Pacific Fleet Bandmaster on the 20th at Pearl Harbor; this subject deserves a special place in my blog.  

We dined at the Mai Tai Bar and I had the Vic’s 44 cocktail – a throwback to the Trader Vic’s Tiki Lounge that was founded back before the war.  I still have my father’s certificate.  Trader Vic’s is now all over the world except here in Honolulu which really escapes me as to why that is. The “International Market” is mostly box stores with a few galleries thrown in.

Give me some authentic Hawaiian crafts please!!!

After passing out from a long day we woke up at 4:00 a.m. —— just couldn’t get back to sleep. 

We decided to attend the Hiuwai Morning Ritual on the Royal Hawaiian Beachfront that started at 5:45 a.m. 

We were met by Kehaulani Kam, the Director of Cultural Services for the Marriott team in Hawaii, who introduced us to a traditional Hawaiian sunrise ritual that involved chants and baptizing ourselves in the ocean.  We weren’t prepared to swim but I decided to chuck formalities and go in mostly clothed.  This ritual involves the concept of rebirthing through the healing waters of Waikiki – which means “spouting fresh waters.”  The waters from the interior meld with the ocean creating an alchemy worshipped by the Hawaiians.  

What a great way to start our adventure as we are essentially going through a rebirth on this new chapter in our lives.  

Bob and I came out soaked and refreshed by the experience, glad to have immersed ourselves in this lovely tradition.  Kehaulani had explained the importance of their ancestors and carrying on these traditions – to never allow their heritage to disappear.  I let her know about my father’s legacy including the vintage photographs of Waikiki and sunbathing in front of the Royal Hawaiian and she was excited to know more. 

W.A Bender in front of the Royal Hawaiian – 1940
Waikiki Beach before and after – from in front of the Royal Hawaiian

As it turns out, I made this unexpected connection during this rebirthing ritual, resulting in my father’s legacy being introduced as part of the Royal Hawaiian historical collection that is destined for the display case in the lower lobby of the hotel!!!!!  

She was so excited to see what I had and to read his letters from his time in the Navy.  This is an ongoing development that I will continue to blog about – and I can’t wrap my head around the significance of what has emerged since our arrival. 

Despite the swarm of people and the overwhelming commercialism surrounding the resorts, when my feet touch these sands, I feel that I am cocooned in a special place and time – even though I share it, I cannot adequately interpret what the spirits are playing at.  I am grateful that I have been swept onto these shores, to convey this oceanic history and solidify my father’s legacy, that like this hotel, has withstood the test of time. 

E Ala E in Hawaiian means “Awaken