Ford Island

Hawaii: Day 3

Thursday, I had a free day at the conference, so we packed in as much sight-seeing as we could. We left the hotel by 7am to pick up our rental car for the remainder of our stay. We made it to Pearl Harbor by 7:30 so that we could stand in line for tickets. Thankfully, we made it on the first cruise out to the USS Arizona Memorial.

To stand on the Memorial site was truly humbling, knowing that the bodies of those men who lost their lives on that fateful day were still entombed in the Arizona below us. The attack on Pearl Harbor holds the same weight for our grandparents’ generation as that of 9/11 for me and my generation.

Once we were aboard the Memorial, it was very quiet almost as if you were at a funeral. We were able to look below and see the rusted ship below us. Little droplets of oil still float to the surface and are referred to as “black tears.”


After visiting the Arizona Memorial, we took a tour aboard the USS Bowfin submarine that was launched on December 7, 1942, exactly one year after the Pearl Harbor attack.

Then we visited the USS Missouri battleship, which was commissioned in 1944 and served until its decommissioning in 1996.

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We then toured I’olani Palace but had trouble finding it. Even though we were following our GPS directions, we ended up in the pick-up line at a school! We got out of there as fast as we could before someone reported us as suspicious!

I’olani Palace was home to the Hawaiian royal family prior to the US occupation and takeover. It was very modern and had indoor running water and electricity before the White House!

After the tour, we drove up the coast to visit the Halona Blowhole, which was very cool.

We continued driving and stopped at practically every little pullout along way. There wasn’t a bad view to be had. On one stop, we were walking back to our car when a group of girls met us and were sort of watching us. We didn’t think anything about until we rounded their car and noticed a naked man, changing clothes in the parking lot! We were embarrassed, and they just thought it was hilarious.

We were getting hungry for supper, so we stopped at the little town of Kailua and stumbled upon this great restaurant Uahi Island Grill that had been featured on the Food Network’s Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives. We had to wait for about 20 minutes to be seated, because there were about 12 tables total. But it was absolutely worth it!4BC94167-1651-4B22-A52E-0794F456481F


Hawaii: Day 2

Wednesday was the first day of the NAISA conference, so I headed to the University of Hawaii-Manoa for the day, while Kristin headed to the beach. The conference didn’t plan the logistics of getting everyone from the hotel to the university campus very well, so I didn’t get to campus until 30 minutes after the opening session began. The opening ceremony was held outside, but there weren’t anywhere near enough chairs for everyone to sit, so I stood for the remaining 45 minutes. The university campus was only about 10 minutes from the hotel, but it was closer to the mountains. The difference in the weather was dramatic. While we were standing outside for the opening, it began “raining” on us. The grass that I was standing in was so wet that by the time we finished, my shoes were drenched. Thankfully, they dried out in a couple of hours.


The campus is beautiful, and had enormous trees everywhere, including a baobab tree! I’ve only ever seen these in pictures or movies!

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I attended some very interesting sessions and made some really good contacts. The conference ended at 5:45 and then I had to wait for 45 minutes (!) to catch the shuttle to go back to the hotel. Like I said, logistics were not thought through very well.

I finally got back to the hotel a little before 7, so I changed clothes and Kristin and I headed out to find supper. We didn’t have a rental car yet, so we rode the trolley down to Waikiki Beach. Neither one of us knew what we wanted to eat so we just walked around for a while window shopping and taking in the sights. Waikiki is a very expensive, touristy area so shops like Coach, Prada, and Ralph Lauren were not unusual to spot. We finally decided on Italian and had a delicious supper!


In front of the statue of Duke Kahanamoku, a Native Hawaiian who popularized surfing

We caught the trolley back to Ala Moana Center and were the last two on the the trolley. We had originally thought the driver was unfriendly, but once we were the only ones riding, he became quite chatty. We made it back to our hotel a little after 9 and crashed. We still weren’t adjusted to the time difference, and we had to get up super early the next morning to pick up our rental car and make it to Pearl Harbor by 7:30am to make sure to get tickets.

Hawaii: Day 1/Travel

When I found out the Native American and Indigenous Studies Association annual conference was going to be held in Honolulu, I was ecstatic. Kristin and I immediately started planning to extend the conference travel for a vacation. Neither one of us had ever been, and it seemed like the perfect opportunity to go. I submitted a proposal on Native American musicians that was accepted, so we booked our trip.

It was a few hundred dollars cheaper to fly out of DFW, so we reserved a hotel for Monday night since our flight Tuesday morning was at 7:21am. We ate supper at the Cheesecake Factory with two of Kristin’s cousins, who were flying to San Diego the same day we were leaving. When we got back to the hotel, I discovered that I forgot my pjs, so we went to Walmart so I could buy some cheap ones to make it through the trip. I was so frustrated, because I had just bought new pjs for the trip and forgot to pack them.

We set our alarms for 3:30am and prayed that we would wake up on time. The hotel let us park our cars for free, so we needed a way to get to the airport. The hotel shuttle didn’t start running until 7, so we decided to call Lyft. Neither one of us had ever used this service, so we were a little nervous that they wouldn’t come on time. Thankfully, the car arrived on time and took us to the airport with no problems other than a driver who complained about customers who don’t tip.

Our flight from DFW to LAX was uneventful. When we landed at LAX, we had only about an hour to get to a bathroom, grab a quick lunch, and find our gate. We grabbed a sandwich at a cute little French market and ate while we waited to board.

IMG_0466The six hour flight to HNL went by pretty quickly and the views coming into Oahu were incredible!


We landed about 1:30pm and took a shuttle to the hotel. After we got checked into the Ala Moana Hotel, we walked to the Ala Moana Center, the world’s largest open-air shopping mall to find some lunch. It was surreal ordering Mexican food from a menu written in English and Japanese. Interestingly enough, they didn’t have cheese dip. Who’s heard of Mexican with no queso?!


Hawaii is 5 hours behind Central time, so even though it was early afternoon, our bodies were telling us it should be supper time and soon bedtime. We knew that we needed to power through, or else, we would be messed up for the rest of our time in Hawaii. So we changed into our swimsuits and walked down to Ala Moana Beach Park and laid on the beach for a couple hours napping. We saw our first of many Hawaiian rainbows, a super cool Indian banyan tree, and rowers in front of Diamond Head. It proved to be a nice, relaxing afternoon.


We were so tired by 7pm that we decided we would just order in pizza. It was all we could do to stay awake until 9pm (2am our time!). Our adventure had just begun.