January 18, 2012
(Note: this blog entry is repeated with photos at the beginning of the new section “Further Adventures in Hawai‘i 2012” – please find that new section and sign-up for email notifications if you wish.)
Over the last few days the winds in Hawai‘i have been blowing from the south and southeast, the relatively unusual Kona winds. These have not only been unhelpful for our passage back to Kailua Kona (a southeasterly course) but they have brought clouds and vog from the Big Island. Matt was lucky not to be here still. Since he and Shev departed on January 4th, we have been busy with many small projects on the boat (e.g., re-positioning lights and the fan in the fore-cabin) and getting caught-up with annual accounts, etc.
We have not been completely boat-bound but without the rental car we have focused on enjoying some of the more local attractions. For example, after a good recommendation from Shev and Matt, we visited the US Army Museum at Fort DeRussy which is in Waikiki, just east of the Hilton Hawaiian Village. Most of Fort DeRussy Military Reserve is open parkland but there is a large hotel, the Hale Koa, which is only for military families, and there are a few offices and an Army Chapel. The museum is housed in a part of the WWII shoreline battery that proved to have been so well built that it was almost impossible to demolish when it was intended that the hotel be built on that location. So instead, the bits that had been destroyed were rebuilt and the museum was installed.
We also enjoyed more hospitality from Kathy (Dan was still away in West Virginia) including dining with Karin (who swapped jobs with Dan), her husband John, and Kate and Earl (who organized our Thanksgiving camping trip). We planned a day-sail with Kathy, Karin, and John after the parade on Martin Luther King Day but with the gusty, choppy conditions we had to settle for hanging out in Tregoning’s cockpit while still tied to the dock. Randall also benefitted from Kathy’s TV by watching some of the college bowl-games and NFL playoff-games at her house.
The Martin Luther King Day parade went through Waikiki from Ala Moana Park (to our west) all the way to Diamond Head. There were few vehicles but it was very well attended by marchers representing a diverse collection of organizations. It had been a busy weekend for parades because on Saturday afternoon we had joined Kathy downtown for the Chinese New Year parade and then wandered around very crowded booths on the closed streets of Chinatown. The actual lunar New Year does not start until January 23rd but the celebrations here start early. Randall and I had never been to a Chinese New Year parade so we were thrilled at the opportunity, especially as this is the Year of the Dragon.
As anticipated, there were several sinuous dragons dancing along the route including a large one at the end of the parade. Kathy also explained to us about feeding money to the lions. Traditionally, for good luck money is fed to them wrapped in pieces of lettuce (they are presumably vegetarian lions) and the lettuce is discarded on the ground as a symbol of new life. We dutifully brought some lettuce with us and Randall fed one lion in this manner but everyone else was just offering “raw” cash. The children around us were particularly excited about feeding dollars to the lions despite their fierce appearances. The parade also had its share of dignitaries, beautiful women, and people in costumes. There were several martial arts groups, including some jiu jitsu demonstrations, cars and a few trolley buses with participants aboard, but only one or two typical floats including one with beautiful lotus flowers and meditating children. Unfortunately, this tranquil float was followed a van from a radio station with a humorous DJ blaring out very loud hip-hop music. Some meditative skills were being sorely tested.
An elderly gentleman sitting next to us was apparently someone special because several parade participants came over to greet him. This included a lion that bowed very low and a dragon that curled up tightly and then bowed its head. Having asked him how he was saying “Happy New Year” in Chinese which he did tell us, he then said firmly that he was not Chinese. We did not feel inclined to ask him further questions but we enjoyed the benefit of seeing the special recognition that was paid to him.
The weather forecasts suggest that the southerly winds may resume again next week (in time for the actual Chinese New Year) but there is going to be a lull over the next couple of days during which time we will escape from the luxury of Honolulu and head south. We have really enjoyed staying at Ala Wai Harbor and look forward to returning in late February (to meet my brother, Mike). But we are also looking forward to a change of scene and a chance to catch-up with our friends in Kona and Hilo. Luckily, there is room for us at Honokohau Harbor although we must hope for good weather as our berth will be next to the entrance where our friend Ron’s boat is usually kept (it is currently out of the water). So we look forward to setting off tomorrow morning (Jan 19th) for the overnight passage and a return to having a wonderfully clear and rich snorkeling beach just outside our backdoor (so to speak).