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

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?”.

Final Hawaii Reunion for Pearl Harbor Survivors William Temple

On December 7, 1941 William “Bill” Temple was a 20 year old in the U.S. Air Force working in Pearl Harbor when he was surprised by the Japanese attacks. This week he returns to Hawaii for the first time since he left in 1945. Bill is here for the final Hawaii reunion of members of the Pearl Harbor Survivors Association.

Membership in the organization, chartered by congress, is open to those who were on active duty in Pearl Harbor during the World War II attack. His youngest daughter Joan joined him on this visit. Bill decided to make the trip this year as it was important to him to attend this last reunion of the Pearl Harbor Survivors in Hawaii.

Pearl Harbor Survivor William Bill Temple at Wheeler Field Honolulu, Hawaii

Pearl Harbor Survivor William Bill Temple at Wheeler Field Honolulu, Hawaii/ Photo credit Joan

One of the sights he looks forward to visiting on the trip is his old barracks at Wheeler Air Force Base. He was also stationed at Kualoa. Bill says, back in those days, he would walk out to Chinaman’s Hat.

Bill’s mind is sharp as ever and he keeps up with news and politics.

“The idiots in Washington better get God back into the country or they can kiss it goodbye. Republicans or Democrats – if they don’t have God in what they do, they are wasting their time.” he said.

Bill lived in Virginia Beach his whole life. He was not impressed with his first visit to Waikiki Beach.

“When I got there, the first thing I said was “I left Virginia Beach for this?””

I think he warmed up the the island of Oahu during his stay. When Bill was stationed in Hawaii, he took up surfing and body boarding and was pretty good at it. Not surprising as his teacher was Olympic medalist Duke Kahanamoku.

After his tour In the service, Bill returned to Virgina Beach, married and raised a family. His diverse career included gas station owner, carpenter, electrical engineer and hospital employee. At 91 years young, he is state chairman of the Pearl Harbor Survivors Association and the group’s chaplin.

A deeply religious man, Bill credits his long life and good health to God. At 91 years young, he lives alone, still drives, has 20/20 vision and is in generally good health. Besides his work with the Virginia state Pearl Harbor Survivor Association, Bill is active with his church and local army base.

Bill and Joan have nearly a week of organized activities planned for the attending Pearl Harbor Survivors including a boat ride around Pearl Harbor. This will be an emotional time for these veterans. The Pearl Harbor Survivors are getting a hero’s welcome. Joan showed me their schedule for the visit and there is not much free time. Tomorrow they look forward to renting a car and doing some sight-seeing. Bill looks forward to seeing the Pali again. Hawaii has changed in the 60+ years since Bill last saw her. I am interested to know what he thinks of things today.

Joan says her father keeps her on her toes.

“He calls my voice mail every morning to see if I have updated it to the correct date. Sometimes he catches me,” she smiled.

Bill’s only complaint is when he has nothing to keep him busy. He is active on the computer and emails often. He works with local Indians and learned their native crafts. Bill fashions jewelry, spears and other objects. The spear pendant he is was wearing is one of his works.

Bill keeps such and active schedule, it would be hard for someone half his age to keep up. Approaching his 92 birthday, Bill’s daughter says,

“He will live to be 100 years old. You just watch!”

This is a challenge I look forward to. Welcome back, Bill.

I am very grateful to have met several Pearl Harbor survivors on my travels to Hawaii. Many of these soldiers toured the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center last year for the final Pearl Harbor Survivors reunion. As they reach their 90’s it is harder for them to travel, especially long distances. Here are the stories of four other Pearl Harbor survivors.

So You Think You Know Hawaiian History?

We travel to Hawaii often and likely know more about Hawaiian history than the casual tourist to the islands. Our visits include stops at cultural and history sights important to making Hawaii the diverse location that it is. Then we met Richard Wong, tour guide for Ohana Tours. When our friends at Ohana Tours heard about our love of history and Honolulu they invited us to check out the weekend walking tour of the downtown area. We took our ohana (family) to meet Richard on a recent Sunday morning.

Our adventure began in downtown Honolulu in front of the golden Kamehameha Statue in the heart of the city. You can see this statue on the Hawaii state quarters released as part of the state series. For the next two hours Richard shared history of Hawaiian culture, religion, politics and people. As history buffs ourselves, we were overwhelmed by the detailed stories our guide shared with us. Richard is a gifted story teller. His vivid words and smooth delivery made the tales come alive for us. Drawing on a long career as a Honolulu police officer, he personalized his tales with accounts from his time on the force.

We found another link between us and our guide. To bring the islands to us when we are in the Midwest, we started watching the Hawaii 5-0 television series starting at the pilot. I get chills every time I hear the Hawaii Five-0 theme song playing. The show ran for 12 years from 1968 to 1080 and was filmed in Hawaii. The second floor of the Iolani Palace was the fictional state police headquarters. Many scenes were filmed at the iconic Ilikai Hotel in Waikiki overlooking Duke Kahanamoku’s Lagoon and the Honolulu Marina. Richard worked security during many of these shoots and shared stories of the cast and crew. He even had a few on screen parts.

You can read more about our tour on the www.808talk.com article. Listen to how Richard started out our tour below. If you are  staying in Honolulu over a weekend, check out Ohana Tours for information or reservations.

Street Named for Duke Kahanamoku on Waikiki Beach Hawaii

Last week the city of Honolulu named a street for Duke Kahanamoku, surfing legend complete with Hawaiian traditional blessings. The Duke was known as an Olympic medalist and ambassador of Aloha. The street runs along the Ilikai Hotel next to the Hilton Hawaiian and recently renovated lagoon also named for the Duke. No waves for surfing on Duke’s Lagoon!

Duke Kahanamoku

Duke Kahanamoku

The Thrill of the Hunt Geocaching in Hawaii

Have you heard about geocaching?

I discovered I could incorporate several activities I enjoy within a single hobby. I like spending time with my family and friends, solving puzzles, seeking out new adventures, exercising and being environmentally “green”. Geocaching is treasure hunting with a GPS receiver. You can search for geocaches online by zip code and download the coordinates into your hand held GPS unit. You seek out hidden geocaches based on longitude and latitude.

Sometimes the jackpot is as small as a prescription pill container with a piece of paper rolled up inside so you can log your visit. Some containers are so tiny; you need to bring your own pencil. Other containers are as large as a Tupperware food saver or an army surplus ammunition box filled with trinkets. Our geocaching equipment includes a bag of tchotchkes that we swap based on the theme of the geocache.

For me though, the fun is not in finding the treasure, but the thrill of the hunt. We geocache while in Hawaii as an activity to challenge our brain and seek out new adventures.

This is a hobby the both family and friends can participate in. My husband and I often take others with us to introduce them to the hobby. We took keiki with us to the Honolulu Zoo to find their first cache. When we return to the island, their first question for us is “Are you going to go geocaching?” Other times we need subject matter expertise. One of the geocaches in the North Shore, Hawaii required solving a puzzle to figure out the coordinates. Ten car logos were pictured from different auto manufactures around the world. After identifying the car model and country of origin, the digits of the location could be determined. I recruited a couple of world traveling gear heads to help figure out that one out.

Williams Family geocaching at the Honolulu Zoo

Williams Family geocaching at the Honolulu Zoo

While geocaching we learn about local history. A geocache is hidden on the estate of the last reigning Hawaiian monarch, Queen Lydia Liliuokalani. The site overlooks the drainage canal built to convert water logged taro fields into dry land becoming Waikiki.

A multi-stage geocache requires several stops. At each site you visit, you find clues to identify the next location. We learned about local leaders during a 5 stage history tour to five statues along Waikiki. Each statue had a plaque which told a story. There is Father Damien, who came from Belgium, to Hawaii in 1864. He devoted the rest of his life to the leper settlement on the island of Molokai before succumbing to the disease himself. He has been nominated for sainthood. During the 1893 overthrow of the Hawaiian monarchy led by U.S. business men, Princess Kaiulani spearheaded a campaign to restore the throne. Beloved native son, Duke Kahanamoku, born of Hawaiian royalty, was a swimming sensation earning Five Olympic medals. “The Duke”, starred in Hollywood movies and is known as “The father of modern surfing.”

You can get a good workout in a day hiking up Diamond Head, the extinct volcano which stands at the east end of Waikiki. If you have comfy shoes, cache your way around the volcano on foot enjoying a heart healthy work out and spectacular views of the Pacific, Waikiki and downtown Honolulu.

Get away from the crowds and cache in Kailua. There are finds along both the busy and the quiet parts of the beach. Don’t forget your sunscreen and snorkel gear. You’ll be hungry after a day of swimming and caching. Check out the yummy handmade cookie store in town for a snack.

When you are on Oahu, you don’t have to go far to find these treasures. There are hundreds of local finds. From the crowded pedestrian malls of Chinatown to the top of Diamond Head to the shores of Kailua, there is a cache for every interest and ability.

While we are getting our exercise, learning about the area and catching up with friends and family, we also pick up trash. We carry in a couple of empty garbage bags to snatch up any litter we spy while we are out. This is referred to as “cache in, trash out”.

You can learn more about the hobby at geocaching.com. I enjoy the opportunity to combine time with my family, brain exercise, and physical activity all in one hobby. If you like history, culture and the great outdoors, you should give geocaching a try.

Profile for Diamond Head

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