Waikiki Natatorium in Honolulu Hawaii World War 1 Memorial

The Waikiki Natatorium, just Diamond Head side of Waikiki Beach is a memorial to World War 1 veterans. At the time, Hawaii was a United States possession, not yet our 50th state. Over 100 residents of Hawaii fought for our country in this war.

Opened in 1927, this salt water pool was a popular swimming hole. On opening day, celebrities were invited to the festivities and those attending included Olympic Gold Medalist and surfer Duke Kahanamoku. Other famous swimmers include Johnny Weismuller, Esther Williams and Buster Crabbe.

Bleachers next to the pool offered a specular view of the Pacific Ocean and Waikiki Beach. The concrete facade is divided by a towering iron gate fence while four stone eagles watch over visitors as they enter the pool.

The gate of the Waikiki Natatorium in Honolulu, Hawaii

The gate of the Waikiki Natatorium in Honolulu, Hawaii

Over the years, time has taken a toll on the building. The city of Honolulu infused money into renovations though these we halted before completion. The site is was closed due to dangerous conditions. The pool decks have deteriorated leaving gaping holes in the concrete.

Estimates to repair and reopen the war memorial are in the millions of dollars. Honolulu officials considered tearing down the facility and moving the gates to another location in Honolulu.

Preservation groups have organized to fight the destruction of this war memorial. For more information follow the Waikiki Natatorium on Twitter or Facebook.

If you are in Honolulu, take a few minutes to visit the Waikiki war memorial while it still stands. When you visit, walk directly across Kaulakaua to see the World War 1 Veterans honor roll.

Click on the image below to watch this video episode of “Where Are You Today?”.

Doris Dukes Shangri La on the Pacific Ocean Honolulu Hawaii

Shangri La, the Pacific oceanfront private home once owned by socialite Doris Duke is now open for tours through the Honolulu Academy of Arts. Built in 1937, the custom design sits on a large estate overlooking a rocky beach near Diamond Head crater.

Tours begin and end at the Honolulu Academy of Arts and guests are transported to Black Point beach on a motor coach bus.

A guide meets you at the gate with an introduction about the property and overview of the rules for your visit. The first rule is not photography is allowed within the walls of the complex. Photographs are available for purchase at the  museum gift shop. No photos are included with the $26 per person entrance fee.

Visitors snap photos before entering Doris Duke's Shangri La in Honolulu Hawaii

Visitors snap photos before entering Doris Duke's Shangri La in Honolulu Hawaii

Doris Duke came into money as a young girl. She married and after traveling around the world, purchased 5 acres just outside Waikiki for a part time residence. Duke was involved in the intimate details of building the home creating a showplace for her growing collection of Islamic art from places she had visited. Persian carpets, mosaic fountains and ancient pottery quickly filled the large rooms.

The cavernous living room is surrounded by floor to ceiling windows with a spectacular view of the garden, pool and Pacific Ocean. The windows can be lowered into the floor with a flip of a switch allowing walkout access and trade winds to blow throughout the home.

Our guide said, “Miss Duke would only lower the windows halfway to keep her menagerie of dogs inside the house.

The center courtyard is lined with plants and century old Asian vases with a center  skylight.

@biznaz and @noelfwilliams at the entrance to Shangri La

@biznaz and @noelfwilliams at the entrance to Shangri La

Tickets to Shangri La can be purchased throughout the Honolulu Academy of Arts and include admission to the museum. Learn more about Doris Duke’s art collection in this book.

Another Perspective of Diamond Head Honolulu Hawaii

For a real adventure talk a walk around Diamond Head. Really! Around Diamond Head! Put on your comfortable shoes because we have a long hike ahead of us. Plan on four to five miles depending on your starting location.

The best time to take this walk is just before sunrise, before the day heats up. If you are starting from Waikiki, walk along Kalakaua Avenue and listen to the quiet of the morning. Traffic is light, mostly trucks delivering food and supplies to businesses. Say “hello” to your fellow early morning walkers and those visitors too jet lagged to sleep in. As you pass the Police Station near the Duke Kahanamoku statue, watch the surfers out catching the best waves of the day. Just outside the station, inside a fenced area are the four ancient Pohaku Stones, a gift from Tahitian healers to Hawaiian residents. Watch out for maintenance workers clearing trash or sweeping sand from the sidewalks to prepare the beach for the onslaught of sun bathers.

Continue walking past Kapiolani Park but don’t stop here before dawn. On your right, you’ll pass the huge banyan trees in front of the Waikiki Aquarium and Natatorium. Continuing along Kalakaua you will see sleepy tourists outside drinking their coffee and hotel workers clearing garden debris from the sidewalk. At the end of the park, take a right onto Diamond Head Road and begin your ascent.

This stretch can get crowded with walkers, runners, bikers and surfers early in the morning. Stay to the right and out of the traffic flow. Beautiful homes are nestled into the side of the volcano. As you pass Kaluahole, Makalei and Le’Ahi Beaches, the number of cars parked on the side of the road increase. Surfers know where the best waves are. If you want to try your luck here, be aware of a long, steep decline to get to the water on sometimes unstable slopes.

Listen to the new sounds along this stretch. Roosters crowing greetings to the new day. Other colorful birds like the Red-Crested Cardinal rustle in the branches. Keep your eyes open for mongoose darting through the rocks. A few stray cats cruise by checking out the scene. Check out the view over the Pacific as the sky begins to brighten.

Soon you will pass Diamond Head Lighthouse. The original was built in 1899 and replaced in 1917. The Fresnel lens shines brightly warning ships away from the jagged shoreline. Take in the view from the street as this lighthouse stands on the current residence of the 14th Coast Guard District Commander and is not open to the public.

Continue along past Kuilei Cliffs beach where you can rest your weary feet for a moment on the lava rock wall. Say hello to the master gardeners who keep this tropical garden trim and neat. This is a prime spot to wait for the sun to crest the ocean as the day officially begins.

Next up is the Amelia Earhart Monument and parking area. Watch out for buses as this is a favorite spot for tour guides to stop for photos. The Pacific views and beaches below are breathtaking. Look along the coast to the left and see Black Point and Doris Duke’s Shangri La. Built in the 1930′s, you can now tour the home and Islamic treasures Duke collected.

Across the street is Diamond Head Park, endowed by Muriel Flanders, and can be identified by the plaque on a large stone. She led the effort to replace the weeds and garbage with native plants. We are not quite at the half way point. Let’s continue on our walk.

As we reach the top of the rise, we will take a left as Diamond Head Road turns and Kahala Road goes straight along the coast. The large park at the intersection is a common gathering spot for charity walks and other events. Now we begin our long descent on the inland side of Diamond Head.

On the right, we pass Fort Rutger Military Reservation. Several buildings out in front and gates on the side of the road further along are made from lava rocks. Few remnants remain of the former Officers Club on the left side of the street. Also on the left is the driveway into Diamond Head State Park. If you still have energy, walk into the park then hike to the top of Diamond Head for spectacular views of the Pacific Ocean, Waikiki, and Honolulu. On your .8 mile hike you will climb 560 feet above the crater floor.

If you are not up for that hike, check out the outdoor workout area in the park on the right in front of Kapiolani Community College. Then walk to the front of the college for a tour of their cactus garden and views of Kahala and Koko Head Crater. If this is Saturday morning, check out the farmers market in the college parking lot. Fresh fruits, vegetables, and delectable treats await you. Pick up a cup of Kona coffee to sip while you shop. Taste island and other exotic dishes, even bakery items. As you get back to your walk, check out the Peace Garden nestled in the hillside across from the college entrance.

Now we are on the home stretch. Honolulu and Waikiki stand before you. Diamond Head Road becomes Monsarrat Avenue as we return to the Diamond Head neighborhood. Check out the stores and restaurants like the Diamond Head Market and Grill.

Continue under the tree canopy as you walk along the fence outside the Honolulu Zoo. On the weekends, local artists display their art on the fence and chat with each other or work on new art pieces. On your right is the Waikiki Shell where you can enjoy the outdoors and listen to music. We are back at Kapiolani Park. Check out the gazebo and statues or sit on a park bench and take in the sights.

What a great way to start the day. Now you won’t feel guilty about lounging on Waikiki Beach during the afternoon.

Learn more about off the beaten path site in Honolulu with Oahu Revealed.

Aloha From Jim Nabors the Perpetual Gomer Pyle

Long time Hawaii resident Jim Nabors is far from his home town in Alabama, were he began singing during his school years.

His travels west gave him the opportunity for a guest appearance on the “Andy Griffith” television show. This event led to his role as the lead character in “Gomer Pyle USMC” running from 1964 – 1969.


Jim Nabors as Gomer Pyle USMC

Next, Jim starred in his own variety show, “The Jim Nabors Hour”.

Through his long music career, “Jim recorded twenty eight albums and numerous singles and has garnered five gold and one platinum record” according to his official website. “In his entire career he has put out 46 albums says IMDB.“

Jim appeared in major picture films including “The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas”, “Stroker Ace” and “The Cannonball Run II.”

Multi-talented, Jim also starred in theater productions and live shows in Las Vegas and Honolulu.

Jim has been a guest star or featured actor on sitcoms, variety shows and talk shows. The younger set may recognize Jim from his appearance on “Sesame Street.”

Since the 70’s, Jim has been a fixture each May at the Memorial Day weekend Indy 500 race singing “Back Home Again In Indiana”, the opening song, before the start of the Indy 500 Race for the race fans and drivers.

Recently, Jim Nabors attended the opening of the new Pearl Harbor Visitor Center and the Pacific Aviation Museum in Honolulu, Hawaii.

Jim Nabors at the Pacific Aviation Museum Honolulu, Hawaii

Jim Nabors at the Pacific Aviation Museum Honolulu, Hawaii

I interviewed long time Hawaii resident Jim Nabors Star of stage, screen, theater and song, via email.

April M. Williams: “First, happy 80th birthday, Mr. Nabors!”
Jim Nabors: “Thank you.”

AMW: “You were born on the mainland and lived in various cities around the country. What is it about Hawaii that drew you to the islands?”
JN: “The weather, beauty and the people.”

AMW: “Since the 70’s, you often sang at the Indy 500 race Memorial Day weekends in Indianapolis. What changes have you seen in racing and racing fans through the years?”
JN: “All the technical advances of course and the fans and drivers who I started with are grandparents of the next generation.”

AMW: “You are an accomplished television and movie actor and your records went gold and platinum. Do fans recognize you most often for your acting or your music?”
JN: “Both – thank goodness.”

AMW: “I heard you were good friends with Doris Duke. What was she like?”
JN: “Great lady with incredible talent and taste.”

AMW: “Would you like to comment on the upcoming holiday season and future appearances?”
JN: “I have retired.”

AMW: “Is there anything else you would like to share with our readers?”
JN: “How blessed I have been with my life and career.”

Scottish Festival 2011 Waikiki Honolulu Hawaii

Make your plans to attend the 2011 Scottish Festival in Waikiki, Honolulu, Hawaii the first weekend of April. Kapiolani Park is the site of the Celtic festival on April 3 – 4, 2011. You need not be Scottish or even have a Scottish surname to attend. All are welcome.

This two day Scottish and Highland games festival is packed with entertainment. Visit the Kapiolani Park bandshell for a taste of Celtic music complete with bagpipes and drums. Listen to the lilting voices sing and take in lively Celtic dancing. While you are relaxing to the music, you can even get a Celtic tattoo.

Entertainment at Scottish Fest 2010

Entertainment at Scottish Fest 2010

Be careful not to stumble into the medieval sword fights and fencing duels or the Highland games where men test their skills with feats of strength. Of course, after all this excitement, there are plenty of food and drink vendors at the festival. For those brave souls, haggis is on the menu.

Swordplay at Scottish Fest 2010

Swordplay at Scottish Fest 2010

Bring your credit card and peruse the large vendor tents filled with Scottish and Celtic goods from jewelry, blankets, t-shirts, to honey. A large selection of authentic and sports kilts are available. I did not know the difference between the kilt types so I asked one of the attendees about his outfit.

Bagpipes at Scottish Fest 2010

Bagpipes at Scottish Fest 2010

Don Barnes from Clan Gordon explained the origins of the phrase whole nine yards. “This kilt I am wearing is not an authentic kilt, it is a sports kilt. The difference is the amount of fabric and the way it is put on. The phase “the whole nine yards” comes from the kilt because of all the pleating in the back. Now, you can see how this one is not closely pleated. A real kilt will be very closely pleated so that you almost reproduce the plaid, the tartan pattern, through the pleating in the back. A sports kilt is much lighter, a lot less fabric and it goes on with Velcro.”

Click on the image below to view this episode of “Where Are You Today? as we visit Scottish Fest.

Don also explained how to notate the tartan patterns with number and letter code so genuine patterns can be reproduced by another weaver.

In another tent, we found tables lined with representatives from Scottish and Celtic clans. There were books with historical information, tartan patterns, family crests and reunion information. We learned that due to migration and changes in political boundaries those with Scottish, Celtic or Welsh names could have family origins in many different countries.

At Scottish Festival we met Jeanine Ainlay, a volunteer with The Falls of Clyde. This tall ship named after the Falls of Clyde in Scotland is on the National Register of Historic Places. Click here to hear Jeanine tell the story of saving this ship from scuttling.

Click on the here to view an episode of “Where Are You Today?” as the president of the Friends of Falls of Clyde leads us on a tour of this historic tall ship.

This free event is sponsored by Hawaiian Scottish Association and you can find detailed event information on their website.

Leonard’s Bakery Malasada Pastry Kapahulu Hawaii

Leonard’s Bakery on Kapahulu Street in Honolulu, Hawaii has sweetened up locals and tourists alike with their ono malasadas since 1952.

Portugese malasada pastries are tennis ball sized fried dough rolled in plain sugar or cinnamon sugar and served warm. Malasada puffs are filled with custard, haupia, dobash, macadamia, lilikoi, mango, guava, pineapple or banana filling.

Leonard's Bakery Kapahulu Honolulu Hawaii

Visit Leonard's Bakery Kapahulu Honolulu, Hawaii near Waikiki Beach. Photo credit @noelfwilliams

Each time we visit, a line of customers snakes through the store past the breads, cakes, doughnuts, cookies, wraps and malasadas. Many customers order two or three dozen malasadas to delight family and friends.

Fortunately, in a few minutes it is my turn to order. I prefer the plain sugar malasadas but the cinnamon sugar runs a close second. We head for the benches outside the door to savor our sweet treats. The malasadas are toasty hot as we take them out of the bag and devour these delights.

In just a moment, all that is left is a sprinkling of sugar over our fingers and a smile on our faces.

Leonard's Bakery Malasadas Honolulu Hawaii

Which is your favorite flavor? Photo credit @noelfwilliams

If you are on Oahu, Hawaii stop by Leonard’s Bakery in Honolulu in the Kapahulu neighborhood, a short walk from Waikiki. Visit their second store in Aiea or the Malasadamobiles in Waipahu. For those in Japan, check out Leonard’s Bakery in Yokohama, Japan.

Leonard’s Hawaii
933 Kapahulu Ave.
Honolulu, Hawaii 96816

Click on the image below to view this episode of “Where Are You Today?” as we visit Leonard’s Bakery on Kapahulu Street in Honolulu.

Click on “Comments” and tell us which is your favorite malasada flavor.

Leonard's Bakery on Urbanspoon
Leonard Jr.'s Bakery on Foodio54

Zen Guide to New Year: Plan Your Goal in January

This January, we took a page from Japan and the Buddhist Zen philosophy as we start the New Year and plan to reach our goals. Our plan began in Honolulu, Hawaii with a Daruma doll.

Japanese Daruma Dolls

Japanese Daruma Dolls

We went to Shirokiya to watch bakers from Japan make Usaguya dorayaki, small pancake-like cakes filled with sweet red bean paste. As the chefs cooked the pastries, they were packaged in pairs and sold. We shared an order of these gooey, filled confections. The pancake was light and fluffy while the warm filling was thick and creamy. Our Twitter friend, Yoshiko, tells us this is a very popular treat in Japan.

Still hungry for more, we roamed the second floor of this Japanese department store where vendors sell traditional Japanese food. Each vendor section, about ten feet wide, is filled with their specialties. We wandered up and down the aisles selecting a variety of dishes and snacks that appealed to us. When we had purchased an assortment of foods from different vendor, we sat at the open area with other shoppers. We sampled tempura, sushi, salads, noodles, rice and mochi.

Daruma Dolls

While at Shirokiya, we purchased this Daruma doll. In Japan, Daruma dolls are given to others to bring good luck. In January, Daruma festivals are held all over Japan and you can purchase Daruma dolls in many sizes. Red is the most common color for these dolls through they also available painted in white, gold, purple, blue, green, pink, orange and white.

These dolls are named for the sixth century Buddhist priest Dharma, the founder of Zen Buddhism. It is said that Dharma achieved enlightenment after sitting motionless in a cave for nine years. During this long meditation, he lost use of his arms and legs.

Daruma dolls are often weighted in the base to keep them upright. When knocked over, they tumble before returning upright. This represents Dharma’s resilience and persistence in pursuing goals.

Usually, the dolls are purchased with the eyes unpainted. When a goal or intention is set, one eye of the doll is painted. When the goal is complete, the second eye is painted and the dolls are saved as a keepsake or burned as offerings during ceremonies at temples.

The “Where are You Today?” crew set our goals for this year and painted in the left eye on our Daruma doll. We wish you and your family a healthy and Happy New Year where you accomplish all your goals.

Click on the picture below to watch as we set our goals and color our Daruma doll’s eye.

Getting More

Getting More

Having It All: Achieving Your Life's Goals and Dreams

Having It All: Achieving Your Life's Goals and Dreams

2010 Honolulu Toys For Tots Motorcycle Parade Hawaii

Street Bikers United Hawaii (SBU) and the United States Marine Corp Reserves sponsored the 36th annual Toys for Tots parade through Honolulu, Hawaii on December 5, 2010. The ride draws between four and five thousand bikers to Waikiki.

“These bikes are coming from all over Oahu but we get some from Maui. We have some from Kauai. We have some from the Big Island,” said Street Bikers United Oahu President Rick Davis. “They ship their bikes over in a container usually a week ahead of time. They come just to do that once a year.”

Santa on Bike 2010 Street Bikers United Toys for Tots Honolulu, Hawaii

Santa on Bike 2010 Street Bikers United Toys for Tots Honolulu, Hawaii

Santa on Bike 2010 Street Bikers United Toys for Tots Honolulu, Hawaii

Ray Pagan, Street Bikers United Hawaii State Treasure, said bikers come in from Japan and the mainland also. Ray and Rick Davis organize this annual event. Pre-event work includes gathering donations from businesses to offset expenses which are over $12,000 each year. Bikers are asked to donate $2 each to ride in the parade. Money raised pays for police, permits, insurance and other expenses.

Motorcycle Riders 2010 Street Bikers United Toys for Tots Honolulu, Hawaii

Motorcycle Riders 2010 Street Bikers United Toys for Tots Honolulu, Hawaii

There is much work involved and they organize the day because of the kids who benefit from the toys. Marines stationed at Kapiolani Community College collect over 10,000 toys at the end of the parade route, it’s no surprise that the most common toys given are the fastest RC trucks and cars. Yesterday, Christmas morning was brighter for 10,000 island children because of the generosity of SBU, riders and sponsors. We checked out the bikes and talked to the riders at Magic Island before the parade start. Emcee Michelle Shockley from KPOI 105.9 FM and music from Flux Capacitor entertained the crowds. Club members mingled and checked out the motorcycles decorated with holiday ornaments and loaded with toys. The Kaneohe Windward Harley Owners Group was well represented. Hawaii depends on tourism and this event contributes. Every year we watch tourists lining the parade route and cheering on the bikers. Off island riders stay at Hawaiian hotels, eat in restaurants and patronize bars. Some Waikiki residents are calling for an end to the parade due to noisy bikes.

“I would like to apologize, especially to the people in Waikiki that live there. We are going to try to hold the noise down, if possible.” Rick Davis continued, “If you can kokua us a little bit, we are only about an hour and half through Waikiki and it is a good cause for the kids. If you can try to have a little tolerance, we are trying to get the group to hold the noise down when we go though there. Thank you very much.”

SBU reached out to each club in advance asking for their cooperation. Before the parade start, Rick reminded riders to be respectful of Waikiki residents and not rev their engine on Kalakaua Avenue. Riders came out decked in holiday colors and we even saw a few Santa and Mrs. Clauses in the parade. Bikes of all shapes, sizes and styles were represented from Rick Davis’ orange trike to a pink Vespa Barbie and everything in between.

Rick Davis President Street Bikers United Oahu brings toys

Rick Davis President Street Bikers United Oahu brings toys

See video from the 2009 Honolulu Toys for Tots motorcycle parade. Click on the image below to see the “Where Are  You Today?” video of the 36th annual 2010 Honolulu Tots for Tots parade along Waikiki Beach in Honolulu, Hawaii.

Technorati Tags: , , ,

Christmas Cactus Tree Trimming Party Honolulu Hawaii

We recently met a group of surfers in Honolulu, Hawaii just outside of Waikiki. Walking along Diamond Head Road and the Pacific Ocean, we headed from Waikiki Beach toward Fort Ruger and Kapiolani Community College.

Doug at Christmas Cactus Tree Trimming Party in Honolulu Hawaii

Doug at Christmas Cactus Tree Trimming Party in Honolulu Hawaii

This group looked like they were having so much fun, we stopped to talk with them. After a morning of surfing, they met for a potluck at the beachfront park. They had quite a spread including homemade pumpkin bread. This group surfs together in this spot and gathers for informal parties regularly. Any excuse for a potluck is welcome. Recently celebrated were Christmas, Thanksgiving and their patriarch Gilbert’s birthday.

We watched this garden over the past six years and it is a highlight of our early morning walks. It is a favorite place to stop, admire the view, talk to the gardening crew and others gathered at this local hangout.

This is their fourth annual tree trimming party. There are not many evergreens growing along the tropical Pacific coastline and the local preference against tree removal has forced the community to improvise using a cactus tree.

Jan said, “We end up feeding everyone who comes along.”

The group set the food selections on the low wall. Next, they assembled several boxes housing an eclectic collection of ornaments amassed through the past four years. One of the bravest souls, Doug, teetered on the tall step ladder as they decorated the 20 foot cactus tree and shared memories sparked by the decorations.  Kevin Simon is holding the ladder steady.

When I asked where all the ornaments come from, Jan said, “They come and go. That’s how it is.”

As we looked at a cartoon character ornament, another tree trimmer Loke Simon said, “Some have stories. Some just appear. Some just disappear.”

Thanks to Jan, here are some of the cast of the video and behind the scenes details.

Gilbert is the patriarch of the garden, the older Asian man. Without him, the garden would be non-existent, as he has nurtured it from dirt for the past 10+ years with plantings from his own residence. We are just his “helpers.” Soyu Kawamoto is the man who said his favorite ornament was the burlap “rat.”  He is an awesome surfer! Steve Casar was the elf that put up the “McCafe'” ornament. Other people that I could see in the background are Meiko, Fe, Ihan and her daughter Jade, and Aussie Pete (we have approximately 6 “Petes:” Aussie Pete, Painter Pete, Dr. Pete, El Camino Pete and a just-plain Peter). There’s also Buddha Pete, a religion professor at the University of Hawaii.  A somewhat somber person when I first met him, I now call him “Sunshine” when greeting him out in the water…he likes that, it makes him smile.

If you are near Diamond Head Road and you spot one of these beachfront potlucks, pull over, park your car and share your malasadas and a few laughs with the crew.

Mele Kalikimaka from the crew of Where Are You Today?

Sounds of Aloha from Around the World

On those cold Midwestern nights, we get the hankering for the warm Spirit of Aloha. There is something comforting about the sounds of Hawaiian music filling the house. We listen to Hawaiian 105 KINE streaming on the internet from our home in the summer or winter.

Hanauma Bay on Oahu Hawaii

Hanauma Bay on Oahu Hawaii

When you are ready to get back to the islands, listen to Hawaiian 105.

%d bloggers like this: