Off the Beaten Path

Yellow and white plumeria flowers littered the streets and magenta bougainvillea tumbled tumbled over the walls of mansions as we crept up a sleepy neighborhood street.  We had just taken a group of seven special guests and hiked up Hawaii’s classic landmark, Diamond Head.  It’s a fun, short hike with fantastic views of Waikiki and the ocean.  Done with the morning’s activity and well hydrated, we decided to venture off the beaten path.

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After driving for a while, we pulled over into a cul de sac and parked.  I am sure our guests were wondering why were on the side of the street in front of a row of large houses.  “Is this legal?”  Kahana and I smiled.  “Yes, it’s legal.”  “Where are we going?”  “Just wait…you’ll like it.”  And so we quietly shuffled down a narrow path, listening to people’s breathing and the crunch of rocks and grass…until you could hear the unmistakable sounds of the wind and the ocean.  Everyone started walking faster, excited at what was to come.

The end of the path opened up to an expanse of black, brown and blue.  We were on the side of some cliffs.  Dark rocks meet frothy white and shade after shade of blue in an area called China Walls.  China Walls is a spectacular place to stop and appreciate Oahu’s nature.  Ocean water flies up forcefully as it slams into rocks and a cool mist hangs in the air.  It is a strikingly beautiful place that visitors will remember for the rest of their lives.

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As I looked around, wind whipping people’s hair, big smiles, ocean for miles and miles, cameras recording the moment…I couldn’t help but think about my swim coach who moonlights as a cliff diver – his favorite spot to jump just a few hundred yards away…but that is another story…

-Meredith Novack

 

More Than Family

Family.  In Hawaiian it is called ‘ohana.  It’s the same as the mainland but different…family, here, is not just blood. It goes much deeper.  Spend some time on the Hawaiian islands and you will come to know the true meaning.

When the bombs blew up and missiles exploded that quiet morning, the “day of infamy”, on December 7th, 1941 at Pearl Harbor – what caused such shock and stirred the hearts of Americans was that part of their family was killed.  Of the 1,400 naval officers and enlisted aboard the USS Arizona, 37 were sets of brothers.  The majority of those onboard were between the ages of 18 and 22 years old.  When almost 1,200 of them died instantly in the unprovoked attack, America did not simply mourn.  They truly grieved the loss of family.  The American public wanted to hug the mothers, offer a hand to the fathers, support the sons fighting in the military in any way that they could. This act of terrorism, an act that caused the United States to formally join World War II, united the country instantly.

Family means everything.  Perhaps living on a small island so far away from other civilization causes people to rely on each other a little more than other parts of the world.  Everyone wanted to come together and help on this little island in the Pacific.  While almost 40% of the 423,000 people living in Oahu in 1941 were of Japanese decent and more than 75% of these Japanese descendants were born American, everyone living in Hawaii wanted to protect their beautiful island and support the American war effort.  One day after the attacks, lines wrapped around Oahu’s military recruitment offices with men ready to join the Army, Navy, Coast Guard or the Marines.  More than 2,000 Native Hawaiians served in the United States Army during World War II.  In fact, many of these men were decorated with medals of valor for their heroic acts and bravery in Europe.

Remember Pearl Harbor.

-Meredith Novack

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Whale Wandering

Whales, Kohola in Hawaiian…graceful creatures…swimming, slipping quietly to the bottom of Hawaii’s warm waters and surfacing for air – spouting spray forcefully from their blowholes…whales were NOT what I expected to discover when I took a drive to Oahu’s Holona Blowhole Lookout.  I expected to see a few lava tubes and rocks but what I ended up discovering was so much more.

Holona Blowhole Lookout was named after the large amount of whales that congregate in the immediate area.  Humpback whales enjoy the cool waters near Alaska during the summer months then travel 3,000 miles to Hawaii’s warm waters to nurse their young during the winter.  Whale season is typically late December through early May and Halona Blowhole Lookout is one of the best places on the island to spot them.

It is a divinely beautiful place to pull off the road after passing Hanauma Bay.  The road winds around Oahu’s scenic coastline where you can stare in awe at the beautiful navy and turquoise sea that seems to stretch out forever…seemingly to eternity – which is the appropriate name for the adjoining beach: Eternity Beach.  Eternity Beach is a small cove of golden sand.  Acclaimed movies have filmed in the area, most notably the film ‘From Here To Eternity’, an Academy Award winning movie that won eight Oscars in 1953.

Hawaii’s waters are filled with vibrant sea life and while Holona Lookout is a sanctuary for majestic whales, it is also home to tropical fish, endangered monk seals and Honu.  Honu is Hawaiian for turtle. Because of the Hawaiian’s hard work and dedication to protecting marine life, the Humpback whale population is thriving…so much so that they might be getting off the endangered species list soon!

Walking around, hair whipping in the strong winds, I marvel at the face of the jagged black rocks that cut sharply into the swirling ocean.  Lava rock is abundant and the ocean pushes its way into crevices and holes, waves splashing up and yes…if you watch patiently…you will see a gush of water that flows through ancient lava tubes burst into the air exactly like  whale’s blowhole!

While I have yet to swim with a whale, i have been fortunate to swim with pods of dolphins out in the wild blue sea…but that is another story…

-Meredith Novack

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The Second Kamehameha Statue

The Kamehameha statue is famous. Every June 11th. on Kamehameha Day, this bronze statue, clothed in gold with an outstretched arm, is draped in Hawaii’s finest leis…plumeria, pekake, ginger, and tuberose decorate this striking figure. This statue is located near downtown Honolulu and I must have driven past it one hundred times…so today I decided to take a closer look and share it with you!

Standing directly in front of the Ali’iolani Hale, Hawaii’s Judiciary History Center and Supreme Court, and across the street from the Iolani Palace, stands Kamehameha, Hawaii’s ruler from 1782 until 1819. Considered the Guardian of the God of War, Kamehameha was best known for his humanitarian efforts. His grand gesture, holding a spear in one hand and reaching out to his people with the other showed the artist’s European flare, as it was a pose used commonly by Roman generals. Commissioned in 1878 by a member of the Hawaii government, this 14-foot statue was sculpted in Italy and then sent to Paris, France to be cast in bronze. In 1883 the statue was shipped to Hawaii – but it didn’t arrive. The ship carrying this precious cargo was shipwrecked near the Falkland Islands. Can you imagine? Shipwrecked!

Luckily the statue was insured for $12,000 – an exorbitant amount of money at the time – and a new one was quickly cast. Before the second statue could be shipped from Europe, fishermen in the Falkland Islands found the first statue. It was sold back to the Captain of the wrecked ship for $500…the crafty Captain then turned around and sold it immediately back to Hawaii…for $875!

Now Hawaii has TWO statues! The original statue can be located at Kamehameha’s birthplace on the big island of Hawaii and the second commissioned piece is here on Oahu…in the heart of Honolulu!

137 years later there are now six Kamehameha statues but that is another story…

-Meredith Novack

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