May 18-19: A Weekend in Savannah
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January 7-14, 1984
A Week in Hawaii


After all that had happened to me during this past Fall, what with the depression and all, I decided that a trip to Hawaii was just what I needed, so this time I didn't combine business with pleasure and just flew out there.


Getting to Hawaii

I left Chicago on a non-stop American Airlines flight to Honolulu. I've been on this flight before; it's unusual in that this is the only American flight I know of that serves Mai-Tais on the way.

As a companion for the trip, David Sebastian from California joined me out there. David is a very nice man that I met in a bar in Long Beach last year. I was watching Dynasty on the TV above the bar (the show was very popular with gays, and I first became interested in it out there), when David came over and started talking to me.

We spent some time together that week while I was doing my class nearby, and I saw him again on another trip to California a couple of months later. We have been corresponding a bit (although he is nice enough there is little chance that we would develop a relationship as the distance is just too great).

When I mentioned that I was going to Hawaii, David said that he could get a really cheap fare from Long Beach and meet me out there. Since I'd already booked a double room at my favorite Honolulu hotel- the Sheraton Waikiki- I told him that if he wanted to come on out and spend the week, he could just stay with me, so all it would cost him would be the airfare and perhaps a meal or two. David could only spend the first half of the week, but that was fine. Our plans worked out and I met him at Honolulu International Airport. We took a cab in to Waikiki and the Sheraton, where I got a nice room with a view for the part of the time David would be here. I moved to the Garden Annex when he left.

The Sheraton Waikiki

I have been staying at the Sheraton Waikiki on all my Hawaii trips save for my first stop here on the way back from Korea in 1970; on that trip I stayed in a military barracks at Fort DeRussy, a now decomissioned military post. When Tony Hirsch and I came to Hawaii for our first work with Cullinane Corp., and when I returned there a couple of times later on, I always stayed at the Sheraton. We stayed in the tower once, but we usually stayed in a low-rise building at the front left of the main tower called "The Garden Annex" because it was a lot less expensive for our clients. But the Sheraton is a great hotel with a huge, open-air lobby through which the winds blow in all four directions.


Honolulu and Waikiki

I'd like to orient you to Honolulu so I can show you the relationship of some of the places that David and I went during the week.

At right is an aerial view that covers the area from downtown all the way to Diamond Head.

Near downtown is the Honolulu Marina; it lies at Ali Wai Harbor, and the Ali Wai Canal begins there, and rund down between Waikiki and Ala Moana park. Nearby, is the Hilton Hawaiian Resort and the iconic Hilton Hawaiian Village Hotel with its signature mosaic facing the ocean. Waikiki Beach begins about here, and runs all the way southeast past Kapiolani Park.

I have marked the location of both the Sheraton Waikiki and one of Honolulu's oldest (and classiest) hotels, the Royal Hawaiian. I remember when I was a kid home sick and I watched afternoon game shows, whenever a contestant won a Hawaii trip it was always the Royal Hawaiian where they stayed.

Ala Moana is a large park on the other side of the Ali Wai Canal from Waikiki; most people use "Ala Moana" to refer not only to the park, but also the canal and the area of the city beyond up the hills. Kapiolani Park is another large park just across Kapiolani Boulevard from Waikiki Beach.

The last marked location on the view above is the southern tip of Oahu- marked by the extinct volcano Diamond Head. Diamond Head is another of those iconic Hawaiian landmarks, and is recognizable to most people. From the beach, it looks like a mountain headland, but from the air, you can clearly see the crater inside. There are hikes you can make up the north side of the mountain and then down into the crater itself; I didn't do that on this trip, but I plan to in the future.

Since David was only going to be here for the first four days of my week, I rented a little jeep-like vehicle for two days so that we could repeat a trip that Tony and I took on one of our visits- a drive up the windward side (east side) of Oahu to the North Shore and a return through the center of the island.

We also used the car to go up to the Nuanuu Pali Lookout that offers expansive views of Honolulu and the windward side of the island.

But the main objective of this trip for me was just to relax. I'd had a rough six weeks around Thanksgiving when I fell into a bout of depression (brought on by a particularly depressing movie and a few weeks of very unusual inaction on the work front). I know that many people suffer from a more permanent state of depression, and I know that the theory is that brain receptors and enzymes get out of whack. It is very difficult to restore the balance, so I am aware that the depressive state can last many years or even a whole lifetime for some people.

My depression was "situational", which means that it had an actual cause or trigger, and could be maintained by some other factor. In my case, the depressing movie was the trigger, and my lack of work for a period of weeks was what maintained me in the state of depression. My depression departed as suddenly as it came on; it was when my time off work ended and I went back on the road to do my classes that the depression lifted. But in the month I was in the state I felt just like all those other folks feel- although they feel that way for years at a time. I find that hard to imagine, as I certainly felt pretty bad.

So this had taken a lot out of me, and was one of the primary reasons for my trip out here. I was able to relax, both while David was here and after he left. We did lots of stuff together and after he left I was content to follow a relaxing daily routine. That routine included time at the pool, time walking along the beach, investigating the tourist activities in Waikiki and my evening jogging (a four-mile circuit around Ala Moana and Kapiolani Park.

Right across from the Sheraton on Kalakaua Street was the Hawaiian Market and a host of shops and other attractions. We ended up walking around the area almost every night, just to see what we could see. For me, this wasn't a "tourist" trip so much as a "get away from it all" trip. So while I took a few photos during my stay, I certainly did not take a lot of them, so this page will be fairly short.


The Nuanuu Pali Lookout

On one of the days we had the little car we drove up into the mountains along the Pali Highway to the windward city of Kanoehe, and then back into the main part of Honolulu on the Likelike Highway.

At left I have put a map of the little circular trip we made. Driving up the mountains North of the city on Route 61 (the Pali Highway), we arrived at the Nuuanu Pali Lookout, which offered us views along the Koolau Range, which stretches from the Southeastern tip of the island, up the Eastern side of the island to a point midway along the Northern shore.

Nuuanu Pali is a section of the windward cliff ("pali", in Hawaiian) of the Koolau mountain located at the head of Nuuanu Valley. It has a panoramic view of the windward (northeast) coast of Oahu. The Pali Highway (Hawaii State Highway 61) connecting Kailua/Kaneohe with downtown Honolulu runs through the Nuuanu Pali Tunnels bored into the cliffside. The area is also the location of the Nuuanu Freshwater Fish Refuge and the Nuuanu Reservoir. The Nuuanu Pali State Wayside is a lookout above the tunnels where there is a panoramic view of the Oahu's windward side with views of Kaneohe, Kaneohe Bay, and Kailua. It is also well known for strong trade winds that blow through the pass (now bypassed by the Nuuanu Pali Tunnels).

Oahu is basically a rectangular island, but it is tilted so that one of the corners of the rectangle points due North. So the eastern shore of the island is also on the northern side. Most people ignore that, and just call it the eastern shore.

The Nuuanu Pali has been a vital pass from ancient times to the present because it is a low, traversable section of the Koolau mountain range that connects the leeward side of the mountains and the city of Honolulu to the windward side and the cities of Kailua and Kaneohe. The route drew settlers who formed villages in the area and populated Nuuanu Valley for a thousand years.

The Nuuanu Pali was the site of the Battle of Nuuanu, one of the bloodiest battles in Hawaiian history, in which Kamehameha I conquered the island of Oahu, bringing it under his rule. In 1795 Kamehameha I sailed from his home island of Hawaii (known today locally as "the Big Island") with an army of 10,000 warriors, including a handful of non-Hawaiian foreigners. After conquering the islands of Maui and Molokai, he moved on to Oahu. The pivotal battle for the island occurred in Nuuanu Valley, where the defenders of Oahu, led by Kalanikupule, were driven back up into the valley where they were trapped above the cliff. More than 400 of Kalanikupule's soldiers were driven off the edge of the 1,000-foot cliff to their deaths.

The views from the Nuanuu Pali Lookout are always spectacular, but today the clouds hugging the mountains where very thick, and the sun was pretty much obscured. Here are the two pictures I took from the Lookout:

From the Nuanuu Pali Lookout, this view looks toward Pearl Harbor.

Again from the Lookout, this is the windward side of Oahu and the city of Kaneohe.

On an average day, most of the clouds stay inland, on top of the mountains, and so here it is very shady, while down at the beach it is bright and sunny (of course, you can see from the pictures that the sun is pretty sparse today). This pattern reverses itself in the early evening, as the clouds move down the mountains and out to sea. This happens because of the relative temperature differences between the land and the water.

This means that the beach is only likely to get rain in the early evening or early morning, unless there is a storm system present. Although it is shady here, it is still quite warm, though not so warm as at the beach, of course.

In 1845 the first road was built over the Nuuanu Pali, to connect Windward Oahu with Honolulu. In 1898, as this road was developed into a highway, workers found 800 human skullsó believed to be the remains of the warriors who fell to their deaths from the cliff above. This road was later replaced by the Pali Highway and the Nuuanu Pali Tunnels in 1959, which is the route used today. The now extinct bird, the Oahu nukupuu, was last collected in this valley.


A Drive Up the Eastern Shore

The next day, we took the little Suzuki up the eastern (windward) side of the island all the way to the north shore, and then came back down to Honolulu through the interior of the island.

We followed the shore road east below Diamond Head and then towards the southeastern tip of Oahu. This part of the island is not sandy, but very rocky. There is no swimming or surfing here, and the waters are too treacherous for sailing either. This part of the island, still showing the volcanic origin of Hawaii, is very scenic but not used for much. We continued east along the southern shore to reach one of Oahu's most famous natural attractions- the Blowhole.

The Halona Blowhole is a rock formation and blowhole near the southeastern tip of Oahu; it takes its name from the fact that it located off Hanauma Bay at Halona Point. In Hawaiian "halona" means "lookout".

The Halona Blowhole formed thousands of years ago when numerous volcano vents were active on Oahu. Here, the Koko Volcano's lava flowed into the ocean at this point through a lava tube. The tube remained open underwater and over time part of it on land either wore away or collapsed. So, as underwater ocean waves enter the open tube, the water is forced in and then up through the landside hole forming a geyser. When the currents are aligned with the tube opening, the geyser can spray over thirty feet into the air.

We continued driving north along the shore, passing through Kaneohe and then heading through a part of the island that is relatively sparsely populated.

As you drive North along the shore, the mountains parallel you just inland. Civilization has encroached right up to the base of the mountains in most places, although there are some parks that have been kept in a more natural setting. We continued north along the Koolau Range, and eventually came to Punaluu State Park.

The drive up the highway was really neat, and riding in the open Suzuki gave us better views all around. The only other time I have driven a vehicle like this was in Korea, fifteen years ago, when I violated regulations and drove my own jeep out on payment runs to outlying bases along the DMZ.

At Punaluu, we walked out onto the beach a ways, and that's where I got the picture of David at right. There was a stiff breeze and it was very pleasant, though warm. We had swimsuits on, so we went in swimming for a bit; the water was wonderful.

The jeep was a lot of fun, but it would not make an everyday vehicle by any means. It did have a canvas top, which we had to put up a few times yesterdday when the weather turned briefly to the rainy side.

Off the eastern coast of Oahu there are perhaps five or six very small islands; these are all unoccupied, and at least a few of them have a history of being used for target practice by the military since the Second World War.

As we continued along the Eastern side of the island, there were nice beaches alternating with rocky shores, although the island gives way to continuous beach about halfway up. It was particularly interesting to be standing on a nice beach and see the rock outcroppings offshore; they are remnants of the original lava flows.

North of Punaluu, just before we rounded Kahuku Point point north of Kaneohe, we stopped and went down to the beach again. The surf was neat, and the view of the point ahead of us was pretty nice.

The weather was uniformly good once we reached Punaluu Beach; from that point until we got back to Honolulu, we were never close enough to the mountains to come under the cloud cover surrounding them. I did also notice that as the day wore on, those clouds seemed to evaporate and the tops of the mountains in the Koolau Range became visible.

Here at Kahuku Point, I took another picture- this one of David standing up in the Suzuki. We were both enjoying the drive and he was an excellent companion for it. I was quite happy that he had chosen to join me out here.

This was a wonderful beach, and there were a number of other tourists and natives here, and the views looking towards Kahuku point were quite beautiful. We continued our drive all the way around the northern tip of Oahu and then southwest to the town of Haleiwa where we stopped for lunch. We turned South at Haleiwa to go down through the center of the island and back to Waikiki. The road does continue around the island, but there is a stretch at the northwestern corner of the island where the road is not paved, and we didn't want to chance getting in over our heads.

The center of Oahu has extensive pineapple plantations. We didn't actually get onto one of them, although we stopped at a roadside stand that was selling pineapple fresh from the fields. The taste of it is hard to describe; anything else seems watered down after you taste pineapple that has just been harvested. Just about every place you go to eat in Honolulu, and particularly the buffets (and there are a lot of them), fresh cut pineapple is available. It is really delicious- much, much different from what you get in cans or even what you get in supermarkets when you buy a whole pineapple.

At the end of four days, David had to head back home, but I stayed on until the end of my week here. I spent time at the Sheraton Waikiki pool, walked along Waikiki, explored the area between Waikiki and Ala Moana, and did my jogging every afternoon. On the way back from these runs, I would pass by the covered beachside pavilions where there were chess players and card players. A couple of times I got to sit in on a bridge game, and that was pretty neat. I returned to Chicago rested and ready to get back to work.


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May 18-19: A Weekend in Savannah
Return to the Index for 1984