Sunday, May 30, 2010

Stairway To Heaven (Haiku Stairs)

Okay so there are these stairs.

These stairs go up the side of a mountain.

There are about 500 sections of stairs totalling 3,922 steps.

People like to climb them.
They like to climb to the top and stop at 2,820 feet.

They think it's pretty.

It makes them feel strong. And young.

And I can understand that.

I'm impressed by people who can make it to the top.

Ben did it.

There's just one teensy little problem.

It's kind of illegal to hike the stairs.

Just a little bit.

They actually post a guard at the bottom of the stairs to keep people from going up. He will stop you if you try to ascend.

But he isn't there all night. He arrives some time in the morning.

So if you get there before him, you can go up and he won't stop you when you come down. He won't tell you what time he arrives every morning although he will tell you that the Internet has the time wrong. So get there early.

He's not a bad guy, he's just doing his job.

He will even take a group photo for you if you ask nicely.

(If you would like to read more about the stairs, you can do so here and here.)

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Atlantis Submarine

As a nineteenth anniversary present to ourselves, Kerry and I spent two nights down in Waikiki pretending to be tourists. We don't go into that area very often because it's pricey and full of tourist traps, but we want to experience everything we can while we're here and some things are only to be found in that area, darn it.

The Atlantis Submarine has been high on our list of things to do ever since we moved here. It's unfortunately quite pricey but since it was just the two of us (sorry kids) we thought we would check it out. A couple in line behind us took this picture for us. Just so you know, Kerry doesn't like to smile in photos. Future generations will think they had a very stern ancestor. He does smile and laugh a lot, just not if a camera is pointed at him.

For the submarine ride, you have to take a 20 minute boat ride out into deep water. Tip: Go to the bathroom on the boat. There is no restroom on the submarine and there is nowhere to run, nowhere to hide. You are stuck like chuck if you have a full bladder, baby.

The boat ride out was entertaining although rather choppy. The captain had informed all of us that they had seen a whale the day before and we should all be on the lookout. We were all delightedly looking out in the ocean when sudden excitement spread through the crowd. People were shrieking and pointing at a giant shadow gliding along under the water. I'm surprised the boat didn't capsize with the mad rush of people flocking to one side of the boat to see. I couldn't believe our luck. Kerry and I were already at the rail in the exact perfect spot to be able to see it. We didn't have to elbow anyone out of the way and I had the camera up and ready.

I snapped pictures as fast as I could and was thrilled when I realized I actually caught a shot of it spouting!

Only to realize that it.....uh.......was the.......uh.........submarine we had come out to ride.

We had to wait for the previous group to disembark from the sub and then we had to climb down a ladder to get to our seats.

The submarine is set up very well. I thought it would be like airplane seats and we would be leaning over each other trying to see out the window. But instead everyone sits back to back and each person is facing a window. Or is it a porthole? It's round like a porthole but it isn't on a ship. And you don't call a submarine a ship. Or so I've been told.

Despite my worries about not being able to see well, we had a fabulous view. There are several man-made reefs as well as two sunken airplanes and a sunken ship. These structures attract lots of fish and turtles. We had a great time looking at the thousands of fish swimming by.

The one downside is that because you can only see out of one side of the submarine, the people looking out the other side may see things you don't see. The people on the other side of our sub saw a manta ray and a shark.

We went to a depth of 107 feet which was pretty cool. The captain had all the couples kiss, because how many people can say they've been kissed a hundred feet under the ocean?

Besides me, I mean.

This is what we look like in a submarine.

Kerry doesn't want you to think he's happy.

What a cool job it must be to drive a submarine in Hawaii.
I wonder what sort of training you have to have to get this job?
I wonder what you have to major in?
I wonder when he gets to go to the bathroom?

Friday, May 28, 2010

King Kamehameha V Judiciary History Center

The last part of our field trip day was spent at the King Kamehameha V Judiciary History Center.

The building is absolutely beautiful, both inside and out. I felt like I was back in the south, sweeping along the veranda of my plantation.

This glorious stained glass window was directly overhead in the foyer.

The History Center conducts and encourages research, disseminates information, and collects, preserves and displays Hawaii's legal history.

They have a very interesting and educational museum area and several films about Hawaiian history. We learned about The Great Mahele which divided up Hawaiian lands among the native Hawaiians and the local government.

Then we watched a synopsis of the court case "Oni v. Meeks". This was a famous case involving land rights in 1858 which set a precedent for future land disputes.

Rather than just watch the film, the history center had the kids in the group act out the major parts of the case in an actual courtroom. They wrote a script which boiled the case down to the major points and gave everyone a part to play. We had more people than parts, so some parts had to be shared.

Katie, with her legal team, played the part of Oni, a native Hawaiian man whose horses were taken and sold by a neighbor (Meeks) after he continually allowed the horses to graze on Meeks property.

Emily played an angry spectator in the courtroom. Fortunately she was pro-Oni or Katie would have been extremely miffed.

Ben played the bailiff and got to bang a gavel (with gusto).
This was an excellent way to teach the kids about Hawaiian history and have them truly understand how some of the current land laws came about. I believe they will remember far more about this case than if they had simply read about it in a book or watched an educational film on it.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

The Most Fascinating Thing On The Tour

While we were touring Kawaiaha'o Church - admiring the architecture, cherishing the historical significance, standing in awe of the magnificent organ - some of the girls in our group came running up to my kids in great delight. "You have to SEE this! It's awesome!"

We all trotted dutifully up to this little non-descript building where great delight awaited.

It had four clean bathroom stalls, new linoleum, and two pretty (rather than just functional) sinks.

Yep. Our kids were most fascinated by the giant port-o-potty.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Kawaiaha‘o Church

Last week, we visited Kawaiaha'o Church in Honolulu which was the first Christian church built on Oahu and is still used for services today. The name comes from the Hawaiian noun phrase "Ka wai a Haʻo" (the water of Haʻo), because its location was that of a spring and freshwater pool in the care of a woman chief named Haʻo. The Hawaiian language is still used in parts of the service.

The "Stone Church" as it was known by locals is actually not constructed of stone. It is made from giant slabs of coral cut from ocean reefs. The slabs had to be quarried from under water (back in the early 1800's before modern day equipment) and each slab weighed more than 1,000 pounds. Natives dove 10 to 20 feet to hand-chisel these pieces from the reef, raised them to the surface, loaded them into canoes, and ferried them to shore. Some 14,000 slabs were procured in this way.

It took the Hawaiian community five years to build the church - 2 years less than it took Solomon to build his temple. The estimated cost was $30,000.

Within the walls of this church, the kingdom's royalty sang, prayed, were married, christened their children, and finally, laid in state. King Lunalilo's even chose to be buried on the grounds of the church rather than in the royal mausoleum.

There is a massive organ in the choir loft which I could tell the kids in our group were just itching to get their hands on. Pounding out a few notes on that baby would really have satisfied some deep inner longing in them. Alas, they were not allowed.

**Most of my information on the church comes directly from a flier they handed us while we were there. (Except for the part about the organ.)

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Iolani Palace Again

We visited Iolani Palace when my mother and sister were here but Ben and Kerry didn't get to see it that time. We went again last week and they got the chance to see the inside of the Hawaiian Royal Palace.

The first time we went, we took a guided tour with a docent. This time we got the "Hawaiian Talking Leis" which is like a tape recorder that you hold to one ear as you walk from room to room. Although we got more detailed information from the recording, I liked taking the guided tour better.

And this time, I remembered to buy postcards of the inside of the palace since we can't take pictures in there.

This is the throne room where King David Kalakaua and his wife Queen Kapiolani held formal audiences, diplomatic receptions, and state balls. This is also where the trial of Queen Lili'uokalani was held when she was overthrown by the Republic of Hawaii.

This is the entrance hall and the grand staircase. I like this room because there are gifts and paintings from other monarchs on the walls. One noble from France gave them a larger-than-life painting of himself (head to toe no less), and they've got it hung on the wall like he was family.

Last but not least, here is the royal dining room. The king's chair is a little taller than the others, but notice how he sat in the middle of the table rather than at the head. This was so he could more easily talk with everyone who was visiting. When you live on an island, visitors bring news from the rest of the world, and is very important to be able to hear and speak to everyone rather than having to say, "What was that fellow from France talking about? I couldn't hear him."

"He said he's brought you a twelve foot tall painting of himself as a gift."

"Oh. Lucky me."

Mission Houses Museum

In downtown Oahu you will find the Mission Houses Museum.

We took a trip there this past week to check it out. I've read a lot about the first missionaries to the islands and I wanted to learn more about them.

The missionary museum is made up of several buildings used by the first missionaries to Hawaii. In the beginning, they lived in thatched huts but after a few years, they were able to build New England style houses. Unfortunately, New England style houses had small windows to keep out the cold New England winters and short eaves to prevent cracking under loads of snow. Somehow they did not realize this wouldn't be a major issue in Hawaii. Their thatched huts were probably much cooler and more comfortable, but you know, sometimes it's hard to give up the idea of what's "proper".

One of the buildings is made completely of wood and is the oldest wood frame structure on the island. Hawaii's first missionary, Hiram Bingham resided here with his family.

There is also a building which was built ten years later which was made of local materials - coral blocks cut from reefs and boards salvaged from ships. The kids in our group were fascinated by the door on the second floor. We though there must have been a staircase there at one time but it turns out that was the door to which the missionaries would hoist their supplies. After climbing the very tiny staircase inside, it's easy to understand why they couldn't just carry supplies to the second floor.

The kids got the chance to write with feather quills.

And see how the students at the mission school worked.

The missionaries even had their own printing press on which they printed the first schoolbooks an Bibles in the Hawaiian language.

The kids also got to play games that the missionary children would have played back in the days before television and Internet.

The game "Graces" was the same one our kids played at Mt Vernon when we visited there. It was designed to make girls look graceful. I wonder if Hawaiian children saw any point in trying to look graceful while tossing hoops about. Emily demonstrated this gracefulness admirably.

Even Kerry gained some grace.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Hawaiian Tacos

If you come to Hawaii and someone asks you if you would like some of their frozen tacos because they have extra, make certain they aren't talking about the Hawaiian word "tako" ............

..........or you will be stuck with a bucket of octopus in your freezer until you figure out what to do with it.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Warning Number Two

Another warning to any girl who may wish to be the future Mrs. Ben.

I hope you are not an early riser.

You will not be going anywhere.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

A Date With My Daughter

Last night Katie and I were on our own. Ben and Kerry were camping and Emily was at a friend's sleepover. I thought it would be a great time for us to do something special, just the two of us.

There is a Thai restaurant that Katie loves, but we rarely go there because Emily hates it. So this was the perfect opportunity for us to eat there and go to see "How To Train Your Dragon" (in 3D!) afterwards.

After we ordered our food, I decided to get to know Katie's latest preferences. I discovered Katie does not like to confine herself to one answer.

"What's your favorite food?"

"I don't know. There are so many foods I like."

"Okay, if it were your birthday and I was going to make you anything you wanted for dinner or take you to any restaurant you picked, what would you eat?"

"Ummmm......meatballs, or pizza, or steak, or soup, or hamburgers, or shrimp."

"What's your favorite color?"

"Purple, pink, blue, red, and black."

"What's your favorite TV show?"

"Fetch With Ruff Ruffman which is an educational show so it's good for me. And Cyberchase which is also a learning show so it's good for me too."

"What's your favorite subject in school?"

"Language Arts, Cursive, Reading, Science, and that order. Can we move the candle closer to us?"

"I don't think we should mess with the candle. Remember how you burned your hand last week on the candle at home? Candles aren't meant to be touched or moved once they've been burning for a while because the wax is melted and could spill on you."

"Um......I need to tell you something. Um.......the reason I burned my hand is because I stuck a piece of tissue in the candle. I didn't think the flame would go as high as it did. So I put the lid on the candle to stop it, but then I couldn't get the lid back off. It was when I put my other hand on the candle jar to pull the lid back off that I burned my hand."

"You put tissue in the candle?"

""Yes ma'am."

"Well, what lesson did you learn from all this?"


"Don't play with fire."

"Oh. Yeah."