Sunday, January 31, 2010

Katie's Baptism!

Katie was baptised today!

She's the last one in our family to be baptised.

Kerry was baptised in a lake in Alaska. The ice had just melted off it the week before. This was much warmer.

Our pastor asked each person to tell why they were being baptised. Katie gave such a speech, the pastor announced that she would be delivering the message next Sunday.

Afterwards, she was presented with leis and chocolate by the members of the church. It's a glorious day!

Saturday, January 30, 2010

A Picture of Kerry and Me On Our First Date

This is just before he kissed me.

Just kidding. That is one big honkin' toad though. Kerry and Ben were driving up to the house this week and the headlights picked up this big fella in the road.

Kerry, in his usual rapturous state of just having spotted a creature no one else would want to touch, leaped out of the car (I think he actually managed to put it in park first) and nabbed the thing.

Ben wanted to run over it. He's learned in science class that these toads are an invasive species not native to Hawaii. I pointed out that white people are not native to Hawaii (and pretty darn invasive) but I wouldn't want anyone running over us.

Cane toads were brought to Hawaii in 1932 to help control sugar cane beetles. Unfortunately it quickly became apparent that they were useless in this area because they could neither fly, climb, or otherwise scale the sugarcane plant to get to the beetles. However, the toads did prove to be adept and voracious predators to almost everything else: small mammals, other amphibians, snails, terrestrial and aquatic insects, and even dog and cat food. They also secrete a toxic substance which kills off anything that tries to eat it. It's the toad's only means of defense, but you have to admit it's pretty darn effective. They've managed to change the ecology of the island in many ways.

We did end up letting this one go. We just can't kill an animal that ugly (bugs don't count).

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Rigger and GG

Poor Rigger.

Every morning, GG would make herself a piece of toast. Rigger would gaze mournfully at her until she took pity on him and gave him her last bite of toast. Nobody can give you sad eyes like Rigger can.

He's a natural showman.

He would watch each bite go from her hand to her mouth, his eyebrows raised in a questioning expression. "Are you going to eat the whole thing? Really? You won't even give me one little taste?"

And GG fell for it.

Rigger loves her.

She started making two pieces of toast every morning so he could have his own entire piece instead of just a bite.

It's really hard to eat and not feel guilty with that pitiful face staring at you.

Now that GG has gone home, Rigger doesn't get a piece of toast every morning.

Or any morning.

He misses her.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Score A Point For Katie

We were on our way to a friend's house recently with all the kids in tow. We pulled into a shoppette and Kerry ran inside to pick up a few things leaving me and the kids in the car with the A/C running.

Ben rolled down his window.

"Ben, roll your window back up," said Katie. "You're letting all the cool air out and bugs will fly in."

"No," replied Ben tersely.

They bickered back and forth for a minute.

A man walked out of the shoppette and passed near our car.

"I'M HIS SISTER!!!" Katie bellowed out Ben's open window.

Ben promptly rolled his window up.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Polynesian Cultural Center

If you are visiting Oahu, one of the things you MUST do (I'm not kidding - you really have to) is plan a day at the Polynesian Cultural Center. This is some of the best entertainment on the island.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Iolani Palace

Iolani Palace is the only royal palace in the US used as an official residence by a reigning monarch.

We signed up for a guided tour. You can go through parts of the palace on your own, but you see more on a guided tour and get lots of information from the docent.

The shoes of mere mortals are not allowed to touch the hallowed floors of the palace so you have to put on these nifty little surgeon shoe covers.

I'm joking about the hallowed floors. It really would mess up the floors and carpets if people were just tromping through all the time in high heels and with who-knows-what stuck in their treads.

The palace is huge by Hawaiian standards. Compared to the castles in Europe, or the Biltmore House in NC, it's probably not so big - but definitely worthy of a royal residence when it was completed in 1882.

David Kalākaua was the first Hawaiian king to travel around the world, and see the homes of other monarchs. Upon his return, he commissioned the construction of a very modern palace. It had electricity and telephones even before the White House.

They are very strict about taking pictures inside the palace so I have no photos to share. I'll buy some postcards which show some of the rooms inside and scan them so I can post them on here.

Right across the street from Iolani Palace is a statue of King Kamehameha I - another famous symbol of Hawaii. On Kamehameha Day it is covered in leis which hang almost to the ground.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Hale Koa Luau

The luau at the Hale Koa is always a wonderful experience. The food is great, it's not too crowded, and the dancers and entertainers are polished and professional.

We had a little more excitement than usual at the luau this time. One of the performers was up on the stage talking to us about native Hawaiian life. It's informative, but at the same time it's a comedy routine. It's very entertaining and we enjoy it a lot. He was part way through his spiel when someone a few tables over jumped up and yelled, "Is there a doctor in the house?!?!?! An EMT??? A nurse??? Anyone?!?!?" Someone at their table had collapsed.

The guy on stage stopped and repeated the request for a doctor into the microphone. Several people rushed over.

Then the performer wasn't sure what to do. He seemed badly flustered. I'm sure he was trying to decide how to continue on with a comedy routine when there was a possible life-and-death situation going on right there. It would be awful to be telling jokes and then find out there was a person in the audience who died.

He finally decided to continue on with his routine, but he toned it down and seemed to cut it a little short.

Another interesting element was that the Army's Soldier of the Year was in the audience and they pulled him up on stage and dressed him in a hula outfit and had the females dance around him. He was quite a character and had a lot of fun with it.

One of the gentlemen at our table fell asleep during the performance. His daughter was with him and she took a hilarious picture of herself grinning like a Cheshire cat while leaning in next to her snoozing father and then texted it to their family. I'm not making fun of him for falling asleep though. When they asked for the veterans of World War II to stand, he stood. When they asked for the veterans of Vietnam to stand, he stood. And when they asked for the veterans of the Korean War to stand he stood. The man deserved to rest. Plus, his daughter said he comes here every year and had seen the show many times.

Katie wanted to have her picture made with one of the dancers. I managed to snap a quick shot as we were making our way out. Unfortunately, Katie is not what you notice when you look at this picture, is she?

It's okay to admit it.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Diamond Head

We had planned to take GG and Sherry on a hike up Diamond Head Volcanic Crater, but after the disastrous Manoa Falls hike, we decided to just settle for taking a picture of them in front of it.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Manoa Falls

We love to take visitors to some of our favorite spots around the island. A nice easy hike through a rainforest up to a 150-foot waterfall is always a hit, so of course we took GG and Sherry to Manoa Falls.

It's a fairly short hike (a mile and a half) to the top. The trail can have some rocky spots and muddy areas which adds to the fun and keeps it from being just an ordinary hike.

This is us near the beginning of the trail. It's true rainforest here and you feel as if you are in an episode of "Lost" (which is actually filmed here on the island by the way).

See how happy Sherry and GG are?

They didn't know we were about to endanger their lives.

This picture was taken not too long after we started up the trail. It looks a little darker than the first photos, don't you think?

Keep that in mind. It may play into the story later.

We started the hike a little later in the day than we had intended. I don't remember what we did that morning, but it was something. Must have been fun.

Anyway we didn't start the hike until 5:00. We asked the gate guard at the entrance if we had enough time to make it to the top before it started getting dark. He assured us that we did.

About halfway up the trail, when it seemed to be getting pretty dim, we asked some hikers who were on their way down if we could make it up and down before it got dark. They assured us we could.

Now here is a picture we took of the waterfall on our last visit to Manoa Falls:

Here is a picture of GG in front of the waterfall on this trip:

Keep in mind that the flash is on and it's lighting GG up nicely. But notice how dark the waterfall looks.

That's because it was stinking dark.

And we still had to hike back down.

In the dark.

Over the rocks and through the slippery mud.

When we got to the top and saw the waterfall Kerry said, "You all have five minutes to look at the waterfall and rest. We need to head back down. Seriously. I'm not kidding."

The sun had not actually set, but the trees were so thick and tall, they blocked out most of the sun. There were two parts of the trail that had washed almost completely away. There was only a little narrow, muddy, slick path left with a straight drop down on the side.

I was worried senseless that my mother was going to slip and hurt herself. Kerry went first and GG followed him. I went behind her with my arms stretched out on either side of her like she was a toddler learning to walk. Sherry brought up the rear and it was so dark she said she kept looking behind her afraid something was going come up from behind us and get her.

I kept assuring them all that there are no snakes in Hawaii.

I never mentioned that there are plenty of wild pigs.

Long story short, we finally made it to the bottom. Kerry and I had pulled out our cell phones to use for light on the last half of the hike. When we got to the parking lot, even the attendant had left for the day. Our car was the only one in the lot.

You'd think that they would have been concerned that there were still people up there in the dark, but apparently dinner was getting cold.

USS Arizona

After the beach...........

Kerry took Sherry to the USS Arizona Memorial.

GG, the kids, and I had all been before, so we decided to sit this one out.

The memorial is an awesome experience, an absolute MUST if you are visiting Oahu.


Since going boating with our friends is one of our favorite activities, we took GG and Sherry out on the water one day.

Riding on "Big Bertha" (the giant inner tube in the picture) is some of the most fun I've had here.

GG got this great shot of Kerry, Sherry, and Katie getting ready for a ride in the tube.

And I got this great shot of them being dumped out of the tube when they overbalanced in the middle of the water.

Katie promptly doggy paddled back to the boat and refused to ride in the tube again.

The rest of us watched Kerry and Sherry try to get back in the tube.

I can tell you from experience, it's easy to climb in the tube when you are in shallow water.

It's nearly impossible when you are in way over your head and there is nothing to stand on.

But it is quite amusing to watch when you are safely riding in the boat and out of their reach.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Pali Point

The first time we went to Pali Point I wrote about it here.

There was an excitingly bloody battle in which most of the men defending their island died. Who doesn't want to go see where that happened?

The view is amazing.

Katie and Sherry, trying not to freeze in the wind.

GG trying not to get blown away!

It doesn't seem like a horrible battle could have take place in this peaceful spot.

See those guard rails? There are also signs warning people not to go past the guard rails because it can be extremely dangerous. A man was killed this week after climbing past the guard rails to get a better look.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

To The Beach!

First things first, we had to show GG and Sherry some of the spectacular views on the island.

The south-east part of the island has some really glorious scenery.

We went to the "From Here To Eternity" beach.

And to the Halona Blowhole which, frankly, wasn't blowing much. We did however, get to see an idiot tourist and his (I assume) bikini-clad wife climb past the safety railing and march all around the blowhole trying to get good pictures of it. Every year someone is killed or injured doing this. I had my camera at the ready, hoping to get a good shot if they got swept away, but it didn't happen. (If I sound uncaring, I apologize. There were warning signs everywhere and you just can't protect a fool from himself.)

When we drove back by a couple of hours later, there was a fire truck, an ambulance, and several police cars there and they had the road blocked off. I searched the papers for a couple of days, but could find no mention of what happened.

Since Hanauma Bay - our original destination - was closed for the day, we headed a little further down the road to Sandy Beach.

Sherry and Kerry buried the girls in the sand. I'm not sure who enjoyed it the most.

Sandy Beach is not a good beach for swimming. The waves are aggressive and experienced body boarders and surfers are the only ones who need to go in past their ankles. We like to just stand on the beach and let the waves knock us around a little.

It's fun to let the waves drag you around. And if you don't really like the water........

You can always just sit on the beach and soak up the sun.

Japanese Fishing Shrine

Here's an interesting little spot we stopped to see. I'd passed this many times before and had never stopped to see what it was. Since GG and Sherry were here, we decided to check it out.

There is a shrine of some sort with a statue and a carved rock. There was no information on sight as to what it is that I could find.

There were flowers, food and incense left around the base of the shrine. There was a ceramic statue and a rock with a figure carved into it. None of the food was old or rotting (although plenty of it had clearly been pecked by birds) and the flowers were all fresh which made me think it must be cleaned and cared for on a regular basis.

After we got home, I did some research and found this article about it from the Hawaii Star Bulletin, our local newspaper (I have edited out some bits, but otherwise the article is unchanged):

"Maintenance" of the monument has been assumed by a group of Vietnamese Buddhists - Shingon Shu Hawaii, the Buddhist temple that dedicated the monument nearly 80 years ago, conducts an annual memorial service there on the second Sunday in November.

The story of how the monument came to be placed at the public spot -- with the blessings of the then-director of the city Parks Department -- dates back to the early 1930s.

It's told in local author John Clark's book "Guardians of the Sea -- Jizo in Hawaii," with a photo of the monument pictured on the cover.

In the book, Clark explains how members of the Honolulu Japanese Fishing Club, in the early 1930s, made it a community service project to put up warning signs along the Oahu shoreline where fishermen had drowned. One of only two that survive today is located near the Blowhole ("Kokua Line," July 20, 2003).

In December 1931, members of the casting club were walking along a ledge near Bamboo Ridge to put up warning signs when one man was swept into the ocean and drowned.

The club then ordered a statue of a Buddhist guardian -- a Jizo -- from Japan to protect the fishermen, placing it on a spot overlooking Bamboo Ridge and Halona Point.

However, vandals constantly targeted the Jizo. After it was severely damaged in 1939, the club "replaced it with a monument that stands there today: a large lava boulder with an image of Jizo carved into its west face," according to Clark's book.

Clark said he met earlier this year with a small group of devout Vietnamese Buddhists, not associated with any temple, who placed the statue at the monument. They told him that several years ago two women from Vietnam were on an island tour when one, a psychic, asked to stop at the Jizo.

She "recognized the monument and its grounds as a sacred place" and said the boulder was identical in size and shape to a boulder with a carved image of the Vietnamese goddess Quan Am Nam Hai in Vietnam, Clark said.

"The legend of the Quan Am Nam Hai boulder in Bac Lieu is that it floated in from the ocean and set itself up on shore," he said. "People built a shelter over it three times, and each time the shelter was blown away by strong winds, so today it is out in the open where it is also an ocean protector. It is regarded as an important shrine, and many people go there to pray."

The psychic suggested a statue of Quan Am Nam Hai be placed where the Umi Mamori Jizo is, because it was "a special, peaceful place and that the spirit there is very good."

Clark said the Vietnamese did not know the story of the Jizo, thinking it was abandoned.

So, on March 29, 2007, they placed a Quan Am Nam Hai statue on the south side of the monument. When it was vandalized, they replaced it with another one from Vietnam.
The Vietnamese "take care of the entire area, keeping it clean, and come regularly to pray and leave offerings," Clark said.

The Rev. Sumitoshi Sakamoto of Shingon Shu Hawaii conducts the annual November memorial service. He said he was surprised when he first saw the statue and various offerings placed at the monument, but added that he had no complaints.

Because the monument has been there so long, Chang said the city's main concern is that it remains basically what it was set up to be: a guardian of the sea. He also was looking to meet with the Vietnamese Buddhists about the care-taking situation to formalize "an understanding of what can and cannot be done."