December 27, 2021


Me in my mask

December in the Pacific Northwest is cold, so we flew to Honolulu.

Everyone is concerned about the risks of travel during a pandemic, but we felt good about going to Hawaii, since the state required everyone getting on the plane to have either proof of vaccination or a negative Covid test. We wore N95 masks onboard.

Our hotel was just a few blocks from Waikiki Beach.

Of course, there's a pink hotel (we didn't stay there).
The banyan tree on the main drag is over 160 years old
Nearby, the Honolulu Zoo houses animals whose native habitats are warm.
While we were there, the Royal Hawaiian Band performed Christmas music, including a song called "Here Comes Santa in a Red Canoe".
The zoo also has a nēnē sanctuary. This is the state bird of Hawaii, and is found in the wild only on these islands.
We visited Waimea Canyon, where we enjoyed seeing beautiful tropical plants and Waimea Falls.
On another day, we drove to Valley of the Temples Memorial Park, where we visited the Byodo-In Temple, a smaller-scale replica of the 950-year-old Byodo-In Temple in Japan.

It is a tradition to ring the bell before entering.

No visit to Oahu would be complete without a trip to the pineapple plantation. We were fascinated by all the pineapple-themed products. Of course, we had to have pineapple ice cream with pineapple topping. Delicious!
Pineapples originated in South America. No one knows when they were brought to Hawaii, but they were being grown commercially in the 1800s.
Another excursion we really enjoyed was our driving/walking tour through the Ho'omaluhia Botanical Garden. The park is divided into several sections planted with examples of plants from different regions of the world.
There are some interesting rules here.
(Click to enlarge)

The wild "jungle chickens" of Hawaii are descendants of birds brought here by the first Polynesian settlers. They show up everywhere, especially in places where people eat outdoors, like the food trucks of the North Shore.
We had lunch at one of the trucks, being careful to keep our food away from the watchful birds, and then enjoyed a scenic drive along the shore.
Not all the attractions are outdoors. We visited the Bishop Musem, home of the largest collection of Hawaiian and Pacific cultural artifacts and natural history specimens in the world. The exhibits tell the story of Hawaii's culture and history. Walking among the displays, I thought about how conquerors and colonizers dismiss the reality of indigenous people. If their technology is less advanced, they are labeled "primitive". Their religion is called superstition. Their art is hardly seen. Even though they build in a style and with purpose, they are not credited with architecture. Sadly, many cultures around the world have been lost and forgotten this way. The Bishop museum has documented the richness and complexity of Hawaiian culture in a way that is respectful and inspiring.
After a wonderful week in a beautiful place, it was time to go home. Fortunately, we'd had the foresight to pack jackets in our carry-on bag, so we could put them on as soon as we landed.