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.

 

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.

70th Anniversary of Pearl Harbor Attack

In the early morning hours of December 7, 1941, Japanese planes bombed Pearl Harbor Hawaii. Before the day was over, the Unites States lost airplanes, battleship and many lives in this surprise attack.

This week, we remember the 70th anniversary of this World War II milestone with events at the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center. The brand new visitor center was opened on Pearl Harbor day of 2010 as part of the final reunion of the Pearl Harbor Survivors Association. Members of this group are in their 90’s and many find it hard to travel long distances to these gatherings.

We are fortunate to have met several of these heroes and are touched by  their stories.

A visit Ford Island and Pearl Harbor is moving. Sites include the USS Arizona Memorial, USS Oklahoma Memorial, USS Bowfin, USS Missouri and Pacific Aviation Museum. Nearby Punchbowl National Cemetery is nestled in a volcanic crater and narrates the war time timeline through mosaics.

In honor of Pearl Harbor Day, we share stories of service men who were at Pearl Harbor during the bombings and we were fortunate to meet these Pearl Harbor survivors. The personal stories they tell are much more powerful than reading history in books. These gentlemen in their 80s and 90s have plenty of spunk and courage. Read their stories, see picture and watch video of our heroes. Click on the links below to hear their testimonials.

Arizona Memorail in Pearl Harbor Honolulu Hawaii

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 force 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.

Aloha Pearl Harbor Survivor Dave Davenport

I met Ernest “Dave” Davenport, retired with 21 years in the Navy, on a flight to Honolulu, Hawaii. Dave is a survivor of the World War 2 attack on Pearl Harbor December 7, 1941. Although it has been 69 years since that fateful morning, the memory of the Pearl Harbor bombing is still sharp. The first attack surprised everyone. Dave and his fellow seamen quickly ran behind a barrier and started shooting. Dave said they were able to take out one of the planes.

“It is important to remember Pearl Harbor and to always be alert. We were not alert on December 7, 1941. We were not alert on 9/11.” Dave told me. As a reminder, he gave me a “Remember Pearl Harbor” lapel pin as part of his personal mission to keep America alert.

After his Navy career, Dave returned to Virginia Beach where he taught high school for 17 years. Dave and his wife of 66 years have three sons and two daughters-in-law accompanying them to the reunion to meet with other members of the Pearl Harbor Survivors Association. They will be at the opening of the new Pearl Harbor Visitors Center this week.

The new Pearl Harbor Visitor Center in Honolulu, Hawaii at Ford Island is one of several collocated historically significant military sites. The brilliant white Pearl Harbor Memorial rests peacefully in Pearl Harbor above the battle ship U.S.S. Arizona lies at the bottom of Pearl Harbor with many of her crew still entombed. This is where world War ll began for the United States. Standing guard across her stern is the U.S.S. Missouri where the Japanese signed the peace treaty on the deck of the ship. The U.S.S. Oklahoma, Bowfin submarine and Pacific Aviation Museum are also located here.

This is the last Hawaiian reunion planned for the Pearl Harbor Survivors Association. Previously, the group met every 5 years at Pearl Harbor. Many survivors are unable to travel due to illness or advanced age. The number of survivors dwindles every year. Born in 1921, Dave was 20 years old on the morning of the Pearl Harbor attack. He is a spry 89 years old today with a twinkle in his eye. Many of the others on duty that morning were older.

The Pearl Harbor Survivor Association is chartered by Congress. When the members are gone, the organization will cease to exist. For Dave and other survivors, it is import for us to learn the lessons from the past and do our part to keep our future secure.

In closing, I asked Dave about his nickname. He said, “In the service, everyone is in a hurry and always rushing. If you had a long name, it got shortened. My name is Ernest but no one was going to use such a long name. So they shortened my last name Davenport to “Dave” and I have been Dave to everyone ever since.”

Learn more about the Pearl Harbor Survivors Association in my interview with Mal Middlesworth, former president of the Pearl Harbor Survivors Association and Herbert Weatherwax, Pearl Harbor Survivor and volunteer at the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center who tells us why he shares his story with future generations.

Aloha Dave. Welcome back to Hawaii.

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 other Pearl Harbor survivors.

Waikiki Honolulu Motorcycles at Toys for Tots Biker Event

Harley Davidson motorcycles will roar in Honolulu, Hawaii and along Waikiki Beach on Sunday December 5, 2010. This is date of the 36th annual Toys for Tots Motorcycle Ride sponsored by Street Bikers United Hawaii. The motorcycle toy run benefits United States Marine Corps’ Toys For Tots program.

Waikiki Honolulu Motorcycles at Toys for Tots Biker Event 2009

Waikiki Honolulu Motorcycles at Toys for Tots Biker Event 2009

According to Ray Pagan, State Treasurer for Street Bikers United Hawaii, the event draws participants from Honolulu and parts of Oahu as well as other Hawaiian islands, mainlanders and even motorcycle riders from other countries. The ride begins in Honolulu at Magic Island, rides though Waikiki along Kalakaua Avenue beside the blue water of Waikiki Beach, ending at Kapiolani Community College where the toys are loaded into awaiting trucks.

Street Bikers United Hawaii sponsor the Honolulu Toys for Tots Motorcycle Event

Street Bikers United Hawaii sponsor the Honolulu Toys for Tots Motorcycle Event

Spectators line the route cheering the bikers who ride in a variety of outfits. Some wear their club colors and leathers while others dress more seasonally in t-shirts and shorts. Last year we saw Mrs. Claus, the Grinch and an elf riding in the parade. I even saw Santa riding a Harley Davidson motorcycle. These rider donate 10,000 toys to brighten the holidays for keiki.

2009 Tots for Tots Motorcycle Event in Honoulu, Hawaii

2009 Tots for Tots Motorcycle Event in Honoulu, Hawaii

Click on the picture below to watch video of the 2009 35th annual Toys for Tots Motorcycle Ride sponsored by Street Bikers United Hawaii. Notice how quiet Waikiki Beach, Honolulu is at the start of the video and how loud things get when thousands of bikes take over Kalakaua Avenue.

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

If you plan to be in Honolulu and ride a motorcycle, come on down for the Toys for Tots parade and bring a new toy. If you do not ride, check out the parade and cheer on these riders who are supporting the United States Marine Corps’ Toys For Tots program and making the holidays brighter for tots.

Contact Ray Pagan from Street Bikers United Hawaii for more information or find out if your city is hosting a Toys for Tots Motorcycles Biker Event.

** See video of the 2010 Honolulu Toys for Tots Parade.

Puka Dog Hawaiian Style Hot Dogs in Waikiki Honolulu Hawaii

When we heard about Puka Dog Hawaiian style hot dogs in Waikiki, Honolulu from the Anthony Bourdain Travel Channel show, Noel said “I have to try those hot dogs.” We live in Chicago, the hot dog and pizza capital of the world and it is hard to beat our local restaurants on these items. Noel was ready for the taste test. Being a vegetarian, I agreed to join him but did not expect to partake.

When we arrived I found the “hot dogs” choices on the menu either Polish Sausage which Noel likes and (surprise!) veggie dogs. We both were going to have lunch. The choice of dog was just the first of our options.
April M. Williams Hawaii restaurants
Any good dog needs a bun and this is not your typical bun split down the side. The Puka Dog bun is tube shaped with a hole at one end. After you choose your dog your bun is slide onto a toasting spike. Seconds later, you watch as your Puka Dog is assembled.

Puka Dog Hawaiian Style Hot Dogs in Waikiki Honolulu Hawaii

Puka Dog Hawaiian Style Hot Dogs in Waikiki Honolulu Hawaii

Your sauce selection, either mild or spicy, is dispensed into your bun. Next comes the relish. While some may be traditionalists, opting for ketchup or mustard, we tried the unique tropical versions. Tropical papaya, pineapple, coconut, guava, star fruit, mangoes or bananas relish is squirted into your bun on top of your sauce selection.

Finally, they slide your choice of dog into the tube. You’ll be glad these are served wrapped in a paper sleeve to keep the sauces from ending up in your lap. Dine alfresco on the patio or opt for take out.

Staff here was animated as they explained the menu to us and answered all our questions. The Waikiki store on Oahu is Puka Dog’s second location. The original Puka Dog is on the island of Kauai. Follow Puka Dog on Facebook too.

Click on the image below to view this episode of “Where Are You Today?” as we visit Puka Dog Waikiki.

Puka Dog Inc.
2301 Kuhio Avenue # 334
Honolulu/ Hawaii 96815
Phone: 808 923-4510

Puka Dog (Waikiki Town Center) on Urbanspoon

%d bloggers like this: