|The state flower is the hibiscus--the yellow hibiscus.|
It turns out that the Hawaiian islands are the most isolated in the world. California is 2,390 miles away, Tahiti even farther, Japan 3,850 miles. You definitely feel in the middle of nowhere, grateful for dry land as the Pacific sweeps around you seemingly forever. The western half of O'ahu, the leeward or drier side, is the more populated ... the windward is the wetter, lusher. A spiky mountain range (that's not really so very high) divides the two. Wanting to see the rural areas--the rain forests, cane fields, fishing villages--I took a circle tour by bus one day. I was eager to see small-town O'ahu with its ever-present seascapes and abundant greenery.
|Leaving Honolulu and approaching the windward side of the island.|
|A windward seascape.|
As for features, except for the Pali Lookout where 18th century warriors had been driven over the jagged cliffs in King Kamehameha's attempt to unify the islands, the history we were shown seemed to center around the film and television industries. Here was the beach bungalow where Tom Selleck lived when he was making Magnum P.I. Here was where Jurassic Park was filmed. This was the beach in Elvis's Blue Hawaii ... and this the one where Burt Lancaster and Deborah Kerr had the famous kissing scene in From Here to Eternity.
|The From Here to Eternity beach.|
|The windward side, looking toward Kailua and Kane'ohe.|
|I love this view of the sharp peaks and craggy cliffs.|
|I can't identify this vegetation but appreciate its tropical look.|
|Hawaii's flag is a blending of British and American. As for the Union Jack in the top corner, King Kamehameha thought it would honor his friendship with Britain. The stripes (white, red, and blue) denote the eight main islands.|
|Byodo-In Temple was built (without nails) in 1968 to honor the first Japanese immigrants. It's a scale replica of a 900-year-old temple in Japan.|
After skiddling up the two-lane windward-side coast road (part of it in the rain), we topped the island and turned back to the leeward side where the rain promptly stopped. This was the North Shore, the hot-shot area with such fabulous surfing beaches as Sunset Beach and the Banzai Pipeline--the latter named for the curl of water the waves create, allowing surfers to sweep along as if inside a pipe. I looked off, north, realizing that there was nothing between Alaska and me as the Pacific's stormy swells accumulated, swept down, and came crashing in, producing some of the world's highest waves.
|Sunset Beach--a surfer's paradise on the North Shore.|
This North Shore visit took on a personal note. When I was in college in the '50s, my brother was stationed with the army at Schofield Barracks in the middle of O'ahu--the same that was strafed by the Japanese and that was filmed in From Here to Eternity. He had a weekend cottage on the northern shore where there was a good beach, he wrote, ti trees, coral. As it turned out, my parents had scattered and I had no (California) home address. My college registrar kept saying she needed something for her records. So my brother offered me his beach address. There I was (and probably still am) listed in my college records with an Hawaiian address. I thought it wonderfully exotic. I never did get there and it was only now, some fifty years later, that I finally saw the area.
I would have liked to have stopped and walked along the beach that bounded that old cottage. But the bus pulled into the Dole Pineapple Pavilion, instead. A few Hawaiian fields remain but most of the pineapple production has moved to Central America. Hawaii's foremost agricultural crop now is GMO corn. That's right, genetically modified corn. But because pineapples make better copy than GMO corn, the Dole place--once a large cannery--is now quite the showplace. Rather like Southern California's still being portrayed as filled with citrus groves, most of the pineapples may be gone, but their cachet lingers on.
|The Dole Plantation Pavilion sells pineapple in just about any form you can imagine.|
|Part of the demo garden.|
Before returning to Honolulu, we skirted Schofield Barracks, now an historic district with its art deco, craftsman, and mission-style architecture. Of course, we didn't stop there either, but I was glad to finally glimpse this spot where my brother was once stationed.
O'ahu, I found, means The Gathering Place.
What Makes January January
Snowplows ever-ready on pickup trucks around town
Mud rooms filled with parkas, scarves, mitts, boots
A black, white, and grey world
Home-made soup steaming up the kitchen