Sept. 3, 2007
WAIKIKI, Hawai'i -
Before reading...I apologize for the length, usually I am a very short winded person, but today is a day I feel deserves a little length.
Our fourth day in Hawaii started bright and early with a 6:30 (or earlier if you are Stephanie and had to fix your hair until every strand was perfect) wake up in order to try and beat the crowd to see Pearl Harbor. After meeting in the lobby, all of us preceded to wait in line for some overpriced (but well worth it) $5 coffee and doughnuts. We then boarded bus #505, looking forward to a quick nap before we got to Pearl Harbor. This wish was soon shot down when we met our enthusiastic and entertaining bus driver Ronda (not Brooks), who proceeded to give us a narrated tour on our drive. We learned that first time visitors to Hawaii are given a Hawaiian name meaning those who carry maps, H1 is the name of their interstate (which doesn't connect to any other states, I don't think), and most importantly that she was available (as is Ronda Brooks).
As we pulled up to Pearl Harbor we all gasped. It was only 7:30 and there was already a huge line that wound around an even bigger field. Ronda quickly settled us down and assured us that this was not at all unusual. The line actually moved incredibly fast, forcing me to chug the rest of my coffee....and even tempting Carolyn to try a little (she didn't approve). So now hyped up on caffeine, we entered the memorial.
With some time to kill before our tour began, we all walked around to view the museum, browse the bookstore, and look at the shoreside exhibits. Finally our ticket numbers were called out and we proceeded to the theater. We then saw a short, but emotional and striking film about the attack on Pearl Harbor. Those who know me well know that I have a deep and profound respect for military personnel. However, today affected me in ways I haven't felt since visiting New York City after September 11th. While watching the film, I went from feeling respect for those who experienced Pearl Harbor, to shock at seeing the USS Arizona blow up, to incredible grief for those who lost their lives. Walking to the boat to go out to the Arizona, I had tears running down my face and was visibly shaking, as I began to fully understand the sacrifices and courage of those who were and are dedicated to the defense of freedom. A short boat ride took us out to the USS Arizona memorial, a white structure built over the sunken ship. It was quite an experience for all of us to look down at the Arizona, knowing there were many bodies still aboard, still serving their country. This was a site I am extremely glad I got to see and experience.
After a late Sunday brunch after returning to the hotel, we all ran (some ran faster than I believe they ran the cooper...) to the beach to enjoy our free time in the sun. Many girls bought cheap floats, and we all played in the water and enjoyed the sun. Heather and Ashley had a bit of a scare, getting caught up in a riptide and losing their $.99 floats in the process, but I think it might just have been a ploy to get saved by one of the surfer guys. I, after getting bored with laying out, resorted to people watching.
After our afternoon of fun, we got ready to go on our nice relaxing sunset cruise. The mile walk through sand and water should have prepared us for what was to come, but it was less relaxing and not so much sunset as it was a wild roller coaster party boat ride. We were soon bombarded with huge waves, soaking those daring enough to brave the hammock-like front of the boat (Caitlin, Chelsea, Jenni, Moni, among others), and hitting even Coach Hoppa, the one person trying really hard to avoid getting wet (shame on you Gabi for laughing). The waves soon caused some of us to fear for our lives and one by one we stopped trying to be brave and resorted to sitting down and holding onto whatever we could find. Our amazing boat ride was filled with entertainment. This was our site for our first official rookie review, where our freshmen have to dance and make fools of themselves. While Addie gave a somewhat disappointing showing, I have faith that she will step it up next time. On the other hand, Jessi threw it all on the line and even with ACL tear #4, dropped it like it's hot. The best showing had to be from Keidane and Nancy though, who blew us all away with their dancing skills even as huge waves hit the boat, all the while threatening to capsize at any second. One woman, who had taken advantage of the "party" aspect of the ride, assured Gabi, Kristi and me that if we came back around Christmas we would be able to find Rudolph the red nosed dolphin. Hmmm...
After finally making it back to land with everyone still alive (although we did have one loss, Addie's shoe flew overboard), we got to go to a delicious dinner. My table had Kristi, Summer, Stew, Skyler, Caroline and Becca. Needless to say we had an entertaining dinner (my apologies to Skyler, who will probably never sit with us again) that included Christmas carols by the singers who came to our table and reliving our fun times together. The food was delicious! I ate the teriyaki sirloin, salad bar, bread, and then proceeded to sample Kristi's shrimp, Summer's ribs, and anything else left on people's plates.
When I finally thought my amazing day in Hawaii was finished, I somehow ended up shopping with my group. We all spent too much money....some of whom conned their sleeping parents into paying for things over text-messaging (Lizzie). We even dared to enter Louis Vuitton and Dior, pretending we had the money to buy one sock.
Realizing we were about to miss curfew, we walked quickly back to the hotel, pausing shortly to check out the weird show along the way. A dancing robot, a man trying to con people into paying for a massage alongside the road, tarot card readers, bongo drums, a man with tattoos covering his face and the omniscient sign that said we could ask him anything, J-Pro's shorter twin brother playing banjo, and much more. As the best day ever is coming to a close, I leave you with the words of Kristi "Thank God for this crunkness".