Thursday, October 4, 2007

Day Five- History in Pearl Harbor

I will affectionately call Tuesday in Hawaii Michael's Day. We toured the World War II historical sites at Pearl Harbor.

We checked in first at the USS Arizona Memorial to get our place in line. It's free, but there were so many people there to see the memorial that we had a 3 hour wait.

While waiting for our 1:00 pm tour, we saw the neighboring USS Bowfish submarine. We were able to tour the sub, walk (crawl) through it, and I know that I could never have been paid enough to work on a submarine. The quarters are just too cramped for me. And definitely not enough yarn storage capability. Those men were lucky if they had enough room to store a spare pair of underwear. I've included a photo of Michael playing on a deck gun.

I found the USS Arizona Memorial to be less than I expected. I was envisioning something solemn and emotional. And my anticipation was heightened because you had to wait so long to see the memorial. Instead, and I assume because there are so many people, it felt like cattle being herded through mourning. And the day that we went, the water was so cloudy that you couldn't see anything of the Arizona wreckage in the water at all, just the one turret base that was sticking out of the water slightly. Really, all there was to see was the hall with all of the names of the 1177 men that died on the Arizona in an instant when the Japanese bomb hit the ship. It seemed a bit too concise to just boat out to the memorial, get off, look down in muddy water, and then wander past a wall of names. I am thinking there might be something even more memorializing than that. I will have to think on it and then send in my ideas to the government. And I found that all of the possible photo opportunities I could find had already been taken.

Michael and I took a bus over to Ford Island for the remainder of the afternoon. On Ford Island, we first visited the new Pacific Aviation Museum. It is a restored hanger right on the site of the old Ford Island naval air station that was also bombed on December 7th, 1941 during the attacks on Pearl Harbor. Inside the hanger, there were several planes restored and on display. There was also a great snack bar set up to look like an old officer's club. Michael and I shared a plate of guava BBQ ribs and garlic french fries. Michael bought a hat and T-shirt in the museum store. The museum hopes to raise enough money to restore the lookout post that is on the old airfield as well. It is very run down as-is and it seems like an important piece of history to save.

We gained access to the USS Missouri (Mighty Mo) battleship via Ford Island as well. What a huge ship! Much more spacious than the USS Bowfish, but I was disappointed at the expense that seemed to have been put into catering to the more senior officers. Seems like a waste of money when they could have been sharing the same facilities as the rest of the men. (Maybe this attitude is why I would never work out in the military.) But anyway, the ship is now retired, but everything looks like it still works. And they got the ship back up and running even after it was hit by a Kamikaze in the war. Maybe people would pay to take cruises on the ship, turn it into a cruise line for military buffs? Would have to do something with that green everywhere, but paint is cheap. The historical event probably most famous on the Mighty Mo was the signing of the surrender documents by the Japanese at the end of World War II.

I tried very hard to keep my opinions to myself so as not to wreck Michael's nostalgic jaunt through the military stuff. My favorite was the new Pacific Aviation Museum, probably seconded by the Mighty Mo.

Michael and I were able to spend some time in the early evening in the hotel pool and hot tub before going back to the kitchenette to cook up the super sweet corn, long eggplant, and try to eat down the contents of the fridge.

Our review on the super sweet corn is that it was sweet, but also a little starchier. We assume it is more consistently sweet year round than New Hampshire corn, but still not quite ready to say it beat the sweetness of that one good batch of corn per summer that you buy in NH at the farm stand that is so sweet and wonderful.