Waikiki Hula on the Kuhio Beach Hula Mound

Watching graceful hula dancers is one of my favorite activities during visits to Honolulu on the island of Oahu, Hawaii. Many nights during the week you can watch a hula show for free at Kuhio Beach Hula Mound on Waikiki Beach. Located just east of the famous Duke Kahanamoku statue, you won’t miss the crowds filling in just before show time. The Hawaiian hula is a living record of the island’s history and legends of the Hawaiian people. The dancers’ movements, music and chanting combine to tell the stories of their forefathers.

The show starts after the tiki torch lighting which adds to the festive atmosphere. The outdoor shows feature local hula dancers ranging from novice keiki (children) to aunties (adults). I like to go to the show multiple nights to watch different halau (dance groups) perform. Each group has its own repertoire of songs, costumes and instruments.

Hula Kuhio Mound Waikiki

If you are anywhere along the beach, you will know the show is about to begin when you hear the traditional blowing of the conch shell. Sometimes a torch lighter joins them as they make their way along the beach. This alerts vacationers to get their spot so as not to miss the start of the show. Bring a beach chair or pick up an inexpensive beach mat from any of the local quick marts and grab a spot near the mound.

Usually a narrator will introduce the history of Hawaiian culture and language to the group. Before the dancers begin, you will learn about each song’s message and the story it tells.

These dancers may wear traditional hula attire or more modern dress. To make the time-honored hula skirts, the dancers harvest and treat the long flat leaves of the green ti plant. Colorful tropical flowers are fashioned into beautiful, fragrant leis. A variety of nuts grown in the islands are strung together as necklaces.

Dancers share the mound with vocalists who chant and sing the traditional stories. Musicians join in with their mix of modern and traditional instruments to make each tale come alive. The large drums made of gourds or tree trunks have a full sound which carries along the beach.

Weather-permitting, you can catch these hula shows Tues., Thurs. and Sat. at 6:30-7:30 p.m. (6:00-7:00 Nov.-Jan). These hula shows are one of my favorite stops on trips to Waikiki. Check out these shows often to learn more about the people and culture of the Hawaiian island. Aloha…

Hawaii Geek Meet V Magic Island Honolulu Hawaii

Hawaii Geek Meet V at Magic Island in Honolulu, Hawaii was a blast. Geeks from around the Honolulu area came together for a beautiful day at Ala Moana Beach Park. Most of the attendees are affiliated with a group some might consider different or unusual. For us, we felt right at home. All we heard was “e komo mai.” Thanks for the warm welcome.

We met current and new friends from Bytemarks, Costumers Guild of Hawaii, Institute for Astronomy, Pacific Outpost of the 501st Legion and Emergency Amateur Radio Club. One of the hams set up a HF radio and antenna right in the park up using a tree to boost his signal strenght. He chatted with other hams from around the world.

An ono buffet flowed across several picnic tables including new the malasadas from Zippy‘s, healthier fresh fruit and everything in between was enough to tempt anyone’s taste buds.

Ono Food at Hawaii Geek Fest

Large telescopes were trained on the the sun and we viewed sunspots or darker looking patches. Filters allowed viewing the sun without damaging our vision.

Various mock battles erupted throughout the day as Ghostbusters took on Darth Vadar and his crew. Gladiators and Stormtroopers reeked havoc as they roamed the land. The Pacific Outpost 501st Legion are a costuming group dedicated to the awesome bad guys of Star Wars.

Hawaii Ghostbusters

One of the members explained that Ghostbusters clubs from each state have their own patch. Above is the patch from the Hawaii Ghostbusters club.

All in all, a day of fun on the beach.

Pacific Outpost 501st Legion

Pacific Outpost 501st Legion are a costuming group dedicated to the awesome bad guys of Star Wars.

 

Queen’s Surf Cafe & Lanai Waikiki Ocean Views and Good Food

Queen’s Surf Cafe & Lanai in Waikiki offers spectacular ocean views and good food. Prices are reasonable at around $10 for most entrees. Outdoor seating offers an unobstructed view of the Pacific and incredible sunsets. Cheerful flowers spill out of colorful pots around the large lanai. Comfortable seating choices include picnic tables with bright red umbrellas outside or covered seating inside the gazebo.

The new owners transformed a run down beach concession stand which had been long vacant. The Queen’s Surf Cafe & Lanai is a gem and favorite with the locals. The crowds are there Friday and Saturday nights for live music and food on the grill.

Chili Frank Plate Lunch at Queen's Surf Cafe and Lanai

Chili Frank Plate Lunch at Queen's Surf Cafe and Lanai

Food is served on square wooden plates with an orchid. Pineapple garnishes, herbs and sauces are artfully arranged for picture perfect presentation.

Menu items include plate lunches and dinners, salads, soups and vegetarian items. Thursday nights feature made to order pastas on the lanai and live music. Friday and Saturday the grill is open, live music and fireworks. Queen’s Surf Cafe & Lanai is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Follow them on Facebook and Twitter.

Ocean views at Queen's Surf and Lanai in Waikiki

Ocean views at Queen's Surf and Lanai in Waikiki

Queen's Surf Cafe & Lanai on Urbanspoon

Visit the Galapagos Tortoise at the Honolulu Zoo in Waikiki

The Honolulu Zoo is a family friendly stop right across from the Diamond Head side of Waikiki Beach. The zoo recently underwent extensive renovations. One of of my favorite exhibits is the salmon colored flamingos just inside the front door. The birds get their crimson color from the shrimp they eat.

The slow moving Galapagos Tortoises are another must see. These ancient giant’s shells are three feet in diameter. They lumber around the grassy area and climb upon the logs or each other.

Next to the tortoises are the monkeys. Often the various primates get other neighbors riled up and create a cacophony.

Williams Family at the Honolulu Zoo

Plan a couple of hours to visit the Honolulu Zoo. Limited public parking lot is adjacent and street parking is available.

Galapagos Tortoise at Honolulu Zoo

The Honolulu Zoo is located at Honolulu Zoo 151 Kapahulu Avenue Honolulu, HI 96815.

United States Postal Service unveiled new 32 cent Aloha stamps

The United States Postal Service unveiled new 32 cent Aloha stamps this week in Honolulu, Hawaii. Governor Neil Abercrombie participated in the ceremony wearing, of course, an Aloha shirt. See the series of event photos on Facebook shot by Rick Li.

New "Aloha Shirt" USPS stamps

According to the Post Office, Carl Herrman created these stamps using photos by Ric Noyle. The five colorful Hawaiian shirts on the page range in hue and bold designs. The red shirt depicts Kilauea, an active volcano on the Big Island of Hawaii. The blue and orange shirt shows off exotic Bird of Paradise flowers. Two other shirts feature surf boards and surfers. The last shirt sports sea creatures.

Governor Abercrombie at the unveling of the new "Aloha Shirt" USPS stamps

Governor Abercrombie at the unveiling of the new "Aloha Shirt" USPS stamps. Photo credit Ricki Li @hiishootstuff

This is not the first stamp to feature Hawaii people or places. The 41 cent stamp pictures Diamond Head Lighthouse on Diamond Head Road just east of Waikiki Beach in Honolulu.

Diamond Head Lighthouse

Diamond Head Lighthouse across from Diamond Head volcano on a steep Pacific Ocean cliff in Honolul, Hawaii

These are just a few of the stamps featuring Hawaii people, places or lifestyle.

 

POW/MIA Tragic Realities and a Love Story

On a warm December morning, we met Carole and Jim Hickerson at Hickam Air Force Base in Honolulu, Hawaii. We were invited to attend an Arrival Ceremony for the recovered remains of six World War II and Vietnam War military personnel. Their transfer cases would then delivered to the forensics lab for identification, family notification and burial. Carole and Jim retired to the island of Oahu and attend a half dozen of these solemn ceremonies each year.

Carole and Jim Hickerson at arrival ceremony Hickam AFB

Carole and Jim Hickerson at arrival ceremony for U.S. military personnel at Hickam AFB December 9, 2011

It is important to this pair to pay their respects to those who gave all for their country and they attend as many Arrival Ceremonies as their schedule permits. The remains of Carole Hickerson’s husband, a Marine pilot, came through Hickam in this manner in 2002. His body was escorted home, in full dress uniform and buried at Arlington National Cemetery.

During the years her husband was missing in action, Carole was frustrated by the lack of transparency from the U.S. government. There was no communication on the progress in finding and returning those service personnel who were unaccounted for during the war. While her husband was missing, she designed the image which later became the well known graphic on the black POW/MIA flag. She is quick to note she is not responsible for creating the flag itself.

Around 1970, my Godmother, Joyce Mary Moses, gave me a silver POW/MIA bracket inscribed with a soldier’s name and the date he went missing in action.

“Lt. Roger B. Innes, MIA 12-27-67″

Carole Hickerson was instrumental in developing the POW/MIA bracelet program to build awareness and public support for the return of our soldiers. I wore this bracelet for many years until the metal fatigued. In March of this year, I visited the Vietnam Veterans’ Memorial Wall in Washington D.C and found the name Lt. Roger B. Innes etched on one of the panels.

Roger B. Innes , a solder killed in action, on Vietnam Memorial Wall Washington DC

The name, Roger B. Innes, a solder killed in action during the Vietnam War, on Vietnam Memorial Wall Washington DC

Carole and her current husband Jim met through National League of Families of America’s Prisoners of War and Missing in Action in Southeast Asia.

Jim Hickerson, a U.S. Navy Captain, was a prisoner of war in Hanoi after his aircraft was shot down over Vietnam. He spent five years in the notorious Hanoi Hilton. Carole stated while Jim was a prisoner of war, his then wife “decided not to wait for him.”

Now retired from the Navy, Jim is active with the privately funded Pacific Aviation Museum on Pearl Harbor’s Ford Island. He enjoys military history and all the back stories that make the past come to life. Jim shared this story with us:

“A girl was buried on the U.S.S. Utah which sank on December 7, 1941 during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. One of the twin daughters of the ship’s captain had died and the captain brought her remains aboard prior to the attack. The ship was prepared to sail the next day and the grieving father planned to bury his daughter at sea. The ship never sailed out of port. It was one of the many ships bombed and sunk just after dawn that day. The captain and his daughter’s body were forever entombed in the wreckage. Jim says this back story came out when the surviving twin visited Ford Island later in her life.”

Carole and Jim are celebrating 37 years of marriage. Congratulations to you both!

Honolulu Marathon Vista Along Pacific Ocean in Hawaii Kai

The Honolulu Marathon offers 26.2 miles of beautiful scenery for participants. The event held annually in mid December attracted over 22,000 entrants this year, about half of which came from Japan.

The event begins at Magic Island where runners, walkers and wheelchair athletes gather at the starting line. At 5:00, fireworks burst through the dark sky as the marathon begins. The masses move as one for the first mile or so then begins to spread out.

Downtown, Honolulu City Lights festival is in full swing. Honolulu Hale is decked out with lawn displays, twinkling lights and towering Shaka Santa and Mrs. Claus wave as we go by. Iolani Palace is festive with red and green lanterns throughout the grounds.

As dawn breaks, we are on Kalakaua Street along the Pacific Ocean in Waikiki. We pass the statue of Duke Kahanamoku and the Healing Stones in front of the Waikiki Police Station. The first elevation begins along the side of Diamond Head volcano. Once at the top, we are on the way to a long loop through Hawaii Kai. The last leg takes participants back up a hill, through Diamond Head neighborhood ending at Kapiolani Park at the edge of Waikiki.

April M. Williams completes the 2011 Honolulu Marathon

April M. Williams completes the 2011 Honolulu Marathon

Six War Veterans’ Remains Arrive at Hickam AFB for Identification

The remains of six soldiers arrived at Hickam Air Force base in Honolulu, Hawaii today. We attended the ceremony hosted by the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command held in Hanger 35 on base. The transfer cases will move to the JPAC Central Identification Lab where forensic analysis will attempt to identify these individuals, then notify their next of kin.

The short program opened with a powerful voice singing our national anthem. A joint service honor guard and senior officers from each military branch were there this morning to pay their respects. Several hundred people gathered as the six flag draped, transfer cases surrounded by an honor guard were carried off the C-17 transport aircraft onto two awaiting buses.

The first five transfer cases carried World War II remains recovered from the United Kingdom, Canada, Vanuatu, Germany and Papua New Guinea. The sixth case was a Vietnam loss recovered in Laos.

Attending the service were veterans including a group of Purple Heart award recipients, active duty military personnel and media. The solemn service ended with a lone bugler playing taps.

Soldiers Remains return to Hickam AFB Honolulu

The remains of six soldiers return to Hickam AFB Honolulu for identification

Representatives from each service pay their respects as the remains of unknown soldiers are returned

Representatives from each service pay their respects as the remains of unknown soldiers are returned

We also spoke with a couple of Hawaii residents who attend as many of these events as possible. The remains of Carole Hickerson’s husband came through Hickam in this manner in 2002. His body was escorted home, in full dress uniform and buried at Arlington National Cemetery. She was visibly moved by the proceedings this morning.

She met her current husband, Jim Hickerson through National League of Families of America’s Prisoners of War and Missing in Action in Southeast Asia. Jim was a prisoner of war in Hanoi after his aircraft was shot down over Vietnam. He spent five years in the notorious Hanoi Hilton. He and Carole attend about six of these arrival ceremonies each year.

Since 1970, the U.S. government has identified remains of 1,770 American military personnel and reunited them with their families.

Honolulu Academy of Arts Masterpieces of Landscape Painting from the Forbidden City

The Honolulu Academy of Arts in Honolulu is a cultural smorgasbord. The museum is home to a permanent collection of art from around the world and much more. The Doris Duke Theater screens independent and international films. The open air Pavilion Cafe serves a fusion lunch menu featuring local ingredients amid a tranquil garden. Your tour of Shangra La, Doris Duke’s home with a collection of Islamic art, begins and ends at the museum.

One of my favorite areas is the peaceful Chinese Courtyard with the brilliant lotus blossoms poking out from the azure pond, guarded by stone dragons.

Lotus blossom in the Chinese Courtyard Honolulu Academy of Arts

Lotus blossom in the Chinese Courtyard Honolulu Academy of Arts

Ji Sun Chang suggested we visit the museum for a special exhibit. On display November 03, 2011 – January 08, 2012 are 56 paintings from the Palace Museum also known as the Forbidden City along with items from the Honolulu Academy of Arts collection. This is the first time these 13-14 century works of art have traveled outside China. Collections Registrar Pauline Sugino traveled to Beijing to bring this collection to Hawaii.

The exhibit titled “Masterpieces of Landscape Painting from the Forbidden City” features works by influential artists of the Yuan dynasty (1279-1368) Huang Gongwang, Wu Zhen, Ni Zan, and Wang Meng.

These pieces feature several distinct styles of brush strokes and use of color. The works of these four masters influenced artists of the Yuan dynasty. I was amazed at how well these paintings have been maintained. Despite their age, they are in excellent condition.

April M. Williams and Ji Sun Chang entering Honolulu Academy of Arts Masterpieces of Landscape Painting from the Forbidden City

April M. Williams and Ji Sun Chang entering Honolulu Academy of Arts Masterpieces of Landscape Painting from the Forbidden City

Entrances to the exhibit and round doorways between rooms are designed to transform visitors to ancient China. Note the garden scene above as we enter and round doorways inside.

QR codes posted next to the landscapes link to podcasts with more information about specific works and artists. Click on the image below to see the introductory episode.

Honolulu Waikiki Toys for Tots motorcycle parade SBU 2011

Street Biker United Oahu hosted the 37th annual Toys for Tots motorcycle parade December 4, 2011. The ride starts in Honolulu at Magic Island continues through Waikiki ending at Kapiolani Community College. Marines collect the toys which are distributed to Hawaii girls and boys.

This event is organized by President Rick Davis and Public Relations Officer Ray Pagan of the Street Bikers United Oahu chapter. About 4,000 riders from all over Hawaii, mainland and Japan participate.

Tourist in Waikiki stop to watch the bikes as the roll by many with large toys on the front or back. Riders often dress in holiday garb.

Click on the image below to see video of the 2011 Toys for Tots ride in Honolulu.

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