The first leg of my six week 2004 trip started in Hawaii, February 22nd. Flight times were two hours from Syracuse to Chicago and nine hours from Chicago to Honolulu. Accompanied by friend, Nellie, our hotel in Honolulu was across the street from Waikiki Beach, a very busy, beautiful place. On our first night, dinner was at the Cheese Burger in Paradise. I had a nice mahi mahi (ma hee -Joyce's pronunciation guide: you'll see this many times on this trip) fish.

When we arrived at our hotel, the Pacific Beach, a high rise, the elevators were stopping at every floor. Now wasn't that fun?!? When we returned from dinner the elevators had been repaired.

Our first day out on tour included a visit to the USS Arizona Memorial the cemetery in the Punchbowl, and a tour of Honolulu, including government buildings and Chinatown. We had time to explore the area near our hotel in the afternoon. Dinner, steak, was at the Waikiki Hotel.

The next day we ate breakfast in the Japanese restaurant in our hotel. The orange juice on the buffet was spoiled. Yuk. The waitress brought us tall glasses of good orange juice, after we told her the problem.

We took an early flight to Hilo, Hawaii, the big island. Our journey there was from Hilo to Kona, through the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. We stopped at the Kilauea (kill ah way ah) crater, had a luncheon buffet, walked on lava flows, walked through a lava tube, and stopped at a black sand beach. Incredible. The volcano erupted a few days after we left.

Our Kona hotel room faced the bay and ocean. The beach area was covered with large black lava rocks. I went on an Atlantis submarine to view the sea life and coral. We took a launch out to board the sub. The portholes for viewing were about two feet in diameter. My pictures are okay. They represent what we saw. That evening we went on a dinner cruise which included Hawaiian music and dancing.

The next morning our luggage was picked up at four a.m. Joyce was not happy. The goal was to be first on Maui that morning, which we were! We first drove to the Iao (ee ow) Needle and Valley. The scenery was incredibly beautiful. I particularly enjoyed the gorges. We had lunch in Lahaina (la hi nah), pork and a Portuguese bean soup, very nice. We then had time to wander through Lahaina where a banyan tree takes up a complete city block.

We were at the Royal Lahaina Resort, on the Kaanapali (kah nah polly) Beach, a bit out of town. The weather turned to high winds and rain, so our scheduled whale watch was cancelled. We took a shuttle back to town to wander some more. Another scheduled activity would have been nice, at this point. We did get into the famed Hilo Hatties that afternoon. Our luau was held indoors that evening, due to the weather conditions. It was a large buffet of delicious food and entertainment of Polynesian music and dancing. The poi was edible, 'nuf said. The next day we went on the Road to Hana excursion. The sky was overcast, but it wasn't raining. The drive was curvy, some hairpins, short one lane bridges, waterfalls, ocean views and foliage. The rainbow eucalyptus was beautiful. We saw philodendron, which grows (where I live) indoors as a house plant, winding around trees. The guide said it would kill the tree eventually. Again, we stopped at a black sand beach and a couple spots of high surf on the north shore. We drove back to the hotel in a rainstorm. On this drive we saw Jim Nabor's driveway, which cost $100,000, Willie Nelson property and Kris Kristofferson's gated, locked driveway. Nabors grows macadamia nuts. Maui is a lush, beautiful island.

It was the end of the Hawaii tour. I said good-bye to Nellie and early morning headed for the airport for a flight to Honolulu, 9:04 a.m. departure. Nellie was leaving the hotel at 1:30 p.m. for a 5:00 p.m. flight directly to Chicago. About fifteen minutes before my flight was to leave, we were told all flights had been delayed due to a security problem. To make a long story short, a man had driven a stolen SUV into the lobby and set it on fire. The ceiling was scorched, the sprinklers came on and it was thought the security systems may have been damaged. The airport was closed for ten hours. Our flight was allowed to leave, without the passengers who were downstairs and with passengers who were upstairs scheduled for other flights! We were evacuated. Nellie was supposed to arrive in Syracuse at 9:30 a.m., Monday and did arrive at noon on Tuesday at 12:30 p.m. She went back to the resort, stayed in a ritzy cottage on the grounds, and has a long, wonderful story to tell.

In Honolulu, my flight to Australia (second leg of my trip) was scheduled for the next day. So I had an opportunity to go on a whale watch. We saw a couple humpbacks doing their thing. I wasn't fast enough with the camera to get a real good shot but did manage to capture an image.

Please enjoy the pictures on my web site.

Joyce N. Church
Written April 2004
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