My trip to the islands over the last two weeks included a major bonus for me in addition to the military history, hiking, great foods, and great friends. The visit to Hawaii means that I have now visited all 50 states. Indeed, I have now hit most of the territories with the exception of American Samoa (which is long over due for a constitutional lecture).
Day 12 is my final day on Oahu and my departure to the states. I spent the hours before my flight in a mad search for gifts. It tried last night without success but had more success today. The last roughly two weeks have been an amazing experience in visiting Guam, Saipan, Palau, Tinian, and Hawaii. My greatest hope is that the travel blog might inspire some of our readers to travel this far into the Pacific. It is worth it. Trust me.
Day 11 was my hiking day in Hawaii. In the morning, I did one of Hawaii’s famous waterfall hikes followed by a second hike to a crater. I then climbed Diamondhead overlooking Honolulu. I ended the long day by going swimming at Waikiki. I did not wait for changing into a swimsuit. After the three hikes, I was dying to go into the warm green waters and dove in as soon as I made it back. It was great to float in the surf as the sun went down over Waikiki. After cleaning up, I then went back to Waikiki to watch the evening fireworks. They were awesome. You can just lie on the beach and they fire off truly impressive fireworks from a small lagoon. I loved it. It was a great way to spend my final night on the island.
Day 10 was spent immersed in my passion for military history at one of the world’s most historic sites: Pearl Harbor. After arriving the night before, I set out for Pearl Harbor by public bus. The public buses on Oahu are wonderful. The Hawaiian bus drivers are incredibly nice and helpful. Just tell them where you need to go and they are full of suggestions and will often call out to you to make a transfer. I have been taking buses all day and found everyone of the drivers to be hugely helpful and kind. Trips cost only $2.50 and you get to see more of the island (including areas with large numbers of homeless people).
Due to the lack of internet access during the trip, I was not able to post Tinian pictures of our exciting day exploring the runaway for the Enola Gay, the historical site of the Taga Latte stones, and the wonderful feast on the beach with the mayor and others from this island.
Day 9 was spent back on Guam. After a brutal 2 am flight (flights from Palau take off at ungodly hours to make connections), I made it to Guam and was reunited with my brilliant young hostess, Karen Quitlong, who had already planned a hiking trip to the Spanish Steps, a famous snorkeling area on the island. While the steps were turned out to be closed that day, the backup plan proved incredible.
My eighth day was spent enjoying the unique islands of Palau. I have heard my whole life how pristine and gorgeous these islands are, but nothing prepared me for encountering the lush jungle, turquoise blue waters, and rock islands. After torrential rains on the first day on Palau, the skies suddenly cleared in the morning and a perfect blue day emerged. With the help of our hosts, Judge Watford, his wife, and I went on a snorkeling trip that offered multiple stops in the rock islands. We then finished the day at a remarkably good Indian restaurant with Chief Justice Arthur Ngiraklsong.