Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Hawaii Pilgrimage

So I've been in the town of Hawaii Kai on Oahu with James and Jessica, their Charlie & Teddy, Jessica's sisters Jennifer and Jacqui & their families, Jess's mom & dad Barbara & Dean, friends Bridget & her Darryl, 'Cricket' Chris Wallace, and Barbara's nephew and his family who live here on Oahu - Jamie & Leeann Hoffman & their daughters Becky and Audrey - who stop by often and are our most knowledgeable sources of info on the island.  We arrived Sunday, December 27th and will be flying back to California on Wednesday, January 6th.  Our rental house has plenty of room for all of us
(the Mann cousins are all here. . .)

and the house is on a nice lagoon with an island 'bird sanctuary' in the middle of it.  Very nice work by my daugher-in-law, getting this place.  (Thanks, Jessica!)

Yesterday was our first full day here, and most of the rest of the gang went to a beautiful beach east of here (and saw a motorcade carrying a certain "favorite son" who - with his family - is visiting his old home this week).  I, however, struck out on my own and headed to downtown Honolulu.  I did some shopping and strolled Waikiki Beach awhile.  A few folks back home told me "Honolulu is Honolulu; just another city," I was impressed.  Clean enough, and everyone very friendly.

Ever since I was I stamp collector, as a kid, I've been impressed with a certain stamp.  Never thought I'd have the opportunity to go to this point-of-land. . . .

. . .  But this morning, after I had 'chatted up' taking a hike up Diamond Head, Dean, Barbara, and. . .

. . .Dwayne and Bridget went with me.

It is a beautiful park, inside a crater.

Highest point on the rim of the crater at over 700 feet, faces the sea, and isn't much higher than the hills near my home in Martinez, but the views are spectacular.  Here's a bunch of photos I took on the way up as well as on the way down:

There's a nice little lighthouse at the base of it near the sea.  I don't think there are any trails to it from the area where we were, but likely that there is a trail closer to the base of the mountain that leads to it:

Looking back into the crater, from about halfway to the summit:
The climb was arduous. . . .
 and got even more so, the higher we went.

Not exactly "trailblazing". . . .  Reminded me more of photos I've seen of people taking their pilgrimage to the summit of Mt. Fuji in Japan:

The upper, steep parts of the trail were actually staircases and tunnels. . . .

After climbing the tallest, steepest staircase and going thru the last tunnel, looking to the tunnel passageway to the right, there's this truly twisted torture chamber.  . . .Actually a "lighthouse" type spiral staircase leading to the pillbox near the summit.  When I turned the corner and saw it I thought "WHY am I doing this??"  I took another of my many "breaks" along the way at this point, letting quite a few of my fellow travelers "play through" while I gulped some water and took advantage of the cool surroundings.

Coming out of  the "twister" I entered yet another dimension of Hell.  An old army pillbox, which I was surprised to learn was built in 1910.  I don't know what threat was perceived back then to make the army build the trail and pillbox, but they must have seen something coming.
Getting out of the pillbox and climbing to the platform above it (the summit) was the final insult to my dignity.  The space was only about three feet high.  Kids and younger folks were able to "Limbo Rock" thru it, but I gave up and got on my hands and knees and crawled for the few feet of it.

Finally, at the summit, it was more crowded than I remember the Crown of the Statue of Liberty (which I visited oh, some 55-odd years ago, but still remember being elbow-to-elbow with others at):

The views made it all worthwhile. . . .

The intrepid climber at the summit:

Going back down was easier, but I thought "Gee, did I really climb over this stuff?"  The trail is better than 3/4 cut into rock.  Footing was not even, but there were no sections where there was dirt or even gravel.

I'll just copy and paste the rest of the photos that are in my camera here.  I don't think explanation is necessary. . .

Finally, back on level ground, where I caught up with Barb, Dean, Bridget, and Darryl.  (I had told them about 1/3 of the way up to go on ahead because of my frequent need to take photos.  Well, that sounds like a plausible excuse for my slowness, anyway.)

It was a great hike.  Not at all what I expected, but a once-in-a-lifetime experience that I will always remember!

Oh, yeah, I almost forgot. . . .  I got my turn to see what the rest of the gang must've seen yesterday at the beach:  They exited the park in a row of 6 huge black SUVs. Couldn't tell which HE was in - windows heavily tinted - but we, just like everyone else else who saw the motorcade go by as we were on our way back to our car - waved anyway. The locals love their favorite son. . .  In the news out here they talk about just where on the island is the Presidential Library going to be built?  A lot of good natured rivalry for it.

To be continued. . . .

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