Pearl Harbor

A couple of days ago we left Kauai and made our way to another of the Hawaiian islands; Oahu. That’s where Honolulu is located, and Pearl Harbor. Yesterday we paid a visit to the museum and war memorial where the Americans were caught off guard by Japan on the 7th of December 1941. We purchased a ticket (only a total of $59) for three of the attractions; The Battleship Missouri, the Pacific aviation museum, and the submarine USS Bowfin.

The Battleship Missouri

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Also known by her nickname “Mighty Mo”, she was christened by Margaret Truman, daughter of Harry Truman, who later became the US President. The fact that the Missouri was christened by Truman’s daughter, made it “his ship”, and so there was no coincidence that the Missouri was chosen as the place for Japan to officially surrender. The Missouri was anchored in Tokyo bay and the Japanese were invited on board September 2nd, 1945. General MacArthur made a short speach, and then the documents for surrender were signed. It took place right here on this deck.

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We were allowed to walk freely around most of the ship. Very fascinating indeed to be on board such a mighty battleship. In fact, the Missouri stayed in service all the way from WWII through the Persian Gulf War. Naturally, she went through some modernization over the years, and had for example Tomahawk missiles installed. Here’s a photo from the missile control center. One can only imagine the amount of fire power and the destruction that has been carried out from this room.

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The Pacific aviation museum

Spread out in two big hangars, plus a few planes outside, the aviation museum had a vast display of various warbirds from WWII and all the way up to modern times.

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The impressive exhibition also included some enemy airplanes, such as this Japanese Mitsubishi Zero from WWII.

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And here’s a Russian MIG, still airborne.

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The USS Bowfin

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I had never been on, or should I perhaps say inside, a submarine before. So this was an exciting finish of the tour. As we boarded the Bowfin, we were handed head sets which provided a full one hour audio tour. The audio tour was absolutely great, as it mostly had recordings and explanations of former crew members. Being on board a submarine during WWII was both an effective way of doing damage to the enemy, but it was also a great risk involved. A total of 19% of the US submarines were destroyed during WWII. As explained by former crew members, there was nothing more depressing than chasing a target for maybe ten hours, and then miss it, or worse, have a torpedo malfunction. Especially in the early phases of the war, a lot of torpedos malfunctioned. In the worst cases, the torpedo actually turned around and came back towards the submarine! Here’s the torpedo room on board the Bowfin.

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Following a torpedo launch it was standard drill to go into “Quiet mode”. This meant diving to depths to as much as 600 feet (180 meters), and turning off most of the equipment to avoid being detected and destroyed. There was no such luxury as air condition, and it’s a pretty small place, so sweat was dripping into big pools every time the Bowfin went into Quiet mode.

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In order to keep morale high on board, the crew of a submarine enjoyed good and varied food, better than what was served in the rest of the Navy. In addition, the dress code was more casual on board a submarine. Here’s a photo of the dining area, which was also used by the men to socialize when they had time off. Many a card game has been played here.

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Exploring Kauai

As forecasted, the surfing conditions have been very sweet on Kauai recently. In particular from Sunday-Wednesday, with the swell coming in from the north, and the wind turning to other directions. With the change of the wind, the temperature picked up a few degrees, making it rather pleasant out here (about 25 celsius during the day) 🙂 Here’s a map of the island that I found, so you can better follow the different locations I mention in this post.

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We’ve had about 2-3 hours in the water every day lately, enjoying the good conditions up north in Hanalei bay. I definitely feel it in my back, core, and shoulders now! Surfing is quite a workout with all that paddling. Unfortunately I’ve got no video/ photos to show for, as I couldn’t attach my GoPro on the rental-board. It is in fact a GoPro-holder on the board, but the half-wit who put it on placed it way too far down, so I would surely have banged my head in the camera. And that would not have been good. So, sorry to disappoint peeps, but I’ll surely get the GoPro going again soon.

Instead, I can tempt you with a photo of Eivind cooking up a feast on the bbq by the pool in the resort where we live 🙂 The resort, located in Kapaa on the east coast, is a little bit beyond our budget, but cheap accomodation is hard to find on Kauai. However, the great bbq facilities partly make up for it, as we can eat in every day here.

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Today, we explored the south and the west of Kauai a bit. We drove up to what is known as the Grand Canyon of the Pacific, the Waimea Canyon. A spectacular view awaited us with the tropical forested canyon half-way covered in fog and clouds.

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We even spotted a few goats climbing the canyon walls! Amazingly nimble and sure-footed creatures.

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We even drove all the way out to Polihale on the west coast. It’s a famous surfspot, but it’s well-known for superstrong rips and currents. We brought our boards in case though. However, it wasn’t a good day for us to go out there. It was too big and wild, and we could actually see the currents ripping through the ocean! And not a single surfer was out there. Better safe than sorry, but it’s nice scenery at Polihale, so definitely worth the drive.

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The Sleeping Giant & Sunrise Shells

For the last couple of days the swell from the north has been rather strong, but so has the wind from the same direction… Result: Very messy conditions. Therefore, we’ve had to seek out alternative activities. Kauai island is nicknamed the Garden Island due to its lush rainforests and flourishing flora. In fact, the centre of the island is one of the wettest places on earth, with an annual average precipitation of 374 inches (881 cm). About half of the forest on the island remains intact, and as there are several peaks and mountains here, hiking the beautiful nature has become a popular activity. Norwegians never pass on a chance to do some hiking, so we decided to get up on a nearby peak called the Sleeping Giant.

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The Sleeping Giant stands 1160 feet high (354 m), and the trail took us through some pretty dense forest.

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The last part of the trail actually involves a small bit of climbing. Good way to get the pulse up! 🙂

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The top offers a very nice view around the island. Alltogether it was a nice little hike of 2,5 hours.

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Another recent happening worth blogging about, is related to a type of shell called Sunrise Shells. This is a type of shell that is only found by some of the Hawaiian islands and nowhere else in the world. The Sunrise Shells grow deep in the ocean (100 feet (30 m) and deeper), so divers go out in search for them. Sometimes the shells are washed ashore, so one can be lucky enough to find a Sunrise Shell laying on the beach. In the old days, only Hawaiian royalty were allowed to wear Sunrise Shells, as they were considered sacred.

It just so happened that I met a girl yesterday (yes, through Tinder 😉 ) who works as a juveller here on Kauai, specializing in shells. As a memory of her, she gave me nothing less than a Sunrise Shell. What an amazing gift. She drilled a hole in it and attached it to a necklace I have, it made a perfect combo. So thankful. And in case you wondered, that shell would sell for $200 (!).

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According to the forecast, the wind is suppose to change direction tomorrow, with good-sized swell still coming in from the north. Fingers crossed for sweet conditions!

Aloha!

So we crossed the equator, and the international dateline, and are currently in Hawaii! Everyone here greets you with the phrase “Aloha”, which is Hawaiian for “love”, or “care”, but it can also mean “hi” or “good bye”. Quite a useful phrase 🙂 To be more precise about our Hawaiian location, we’re on the island of Kauai.

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One of the top priorities here was to get our hands on some surfboards. We were initially planning on buying second hand boards, but as it turns out that those are hard to come by on this island, we decided to rent boards instead. Fortunately we were able to score a pretty good deal at Tamba Surf Company here on Kauai. The actual price for renting a board for the desired period (March 10th – 22nd) was $165 per board, but we got it for $125. Thank you Tamba! 🙂

I went for a board similar to the one I rented in New Zealand; 6-8 long, 21 wide, and 2 7/8 thick. It has kind of a narrow nose though, and it definitely feels a little more wiggly than my old board, but I’m starting to get used to it after a couple of sessions. It’s also faster than my old board, and of course should be easier to maneuver, as it’s smaller.

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Today’s session took place up north on the island, at Hanalei bay. The surf was smaller than predicted, like 2-3 foot. And it was a little messy out there, even though the wind wasn’t all that strong today. But despite the conditions being pretty average, it was good to get some practice in on my new board. And the scenery is quite stunning. So as I was sitting out there on the board, waiting for the swell to pick up, I just enjoyed looking in at the amazing tropical rainforest. Could have been worse right. However, I must add that I thought Hawaii would be a little warmer! It’s barely 20 degrees celsius here, and a grim north wind actually makes it straight out dangerous to walk out the door without a sweater! Equator is right down the road, and this is what we get. What worries me more though, is the fact that this is what a Norwegian summer is often like. How then, will I ever make it through another winter in Norway! I might have to become a climate refugee 😉

Anyway, here’s Hanalei bay 🙂

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We also rented a car as we need some wheels to get around on the island to the different spots. Went for a Ford Fiesta this time. Small, but all right. Fits us and the surfboards (barely!), so that’s all we need 🙂

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South Island activities

After we got off the ferry in Picton it’s been a pretty busy week here in New Zealand. Quite a lot of driving down the beautiful west coast of the South Island, and we made a few stops here and there on our way down to Queenstown.

Route South Island New Zealand

Queenstown might just be the extreme sport capital of the world. You’ll find just about any adrenalin-rushing activities you can think of here, and probably a few you haven’t even heard of. We decided to try out a couple we haven’t explored yet: Paragliding and Canyoning!

First out was paragliding. I had some butterflies before leaping off the cliff, but after that it was pure joy. It felt like flying, and I even spotted a hawk cruising along underneath us. My instructor, Omar, was great and got us down in one piece 🙂

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Next up was canyoning. This sport is basically about going down a river-canyon. There are several ways to get down: Walking, sliding, jumping, swimming, abseiling, and even zip-lining. We tried them all 🙂 It was an absolutely fantastic experience, quite a thrill and a bit physical too. The water was definitely not warm, so good thing we were active. I brought my GoPro with me, and I didn’t smash it against the rocks, so you can check out some photos and videos here 🙂

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And here’s the video 🙂

North Island activities

The last week has been full of activities up here on the North Island of New Zealand, as previewed in the previous post of mountain biking. In order to get around we’ve rented a car, a Nissan Tiida. Not exactly a racecar, but we’re getting from A to B in it 🙂

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Here’s the route we’ve been travelling by, from Auckland via Rotorua and down to Wellington.

Route North Island New Zealand

As you can see on the map, I’ve marked off Muriwai Beach. Located about an hour out of Auckland, it’s where we had our only surf session so far in New Zealand. Muriwai is a beach next to a point break, which always means strong currents play in effect. Besides that it was a pretty easy going playground with a nice sandy bottom, and fairly gentle waves the day that we were there (about 3-5 feet).

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I rented a board down by the beach, a 6 foot 8 inches, 21 inch wide, and 2 3/4 inches thick. My old board had the following measures: 7-4, 22, 2 3/4. It was fun to try a smaller board, and I had no problems managing it, so I feel like I’ve progressed to the 6 foot level now 🙂 Trying out this rental board was a useful experience as I know much better what sort of board to look for in Hawaii now.

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Rotorua is located in an area with a lot of volcanic activity, and one of the attractions there is the hotsprings. Being a couple of sizeable comfort junkies, we sought out a Polynesian spa and soaked up in the mineral water there, while looking out over Lake Rotorua. Quite enjoyable, despite the volcanic gases being a bit smelly!

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Another activity we spent half a day doing, was rafting. It was quite good, although we had hoped for a little more action! We went for a grade 3 river, but next time I’m going rafting I’m definitely upgrading to grade 4 or 5. Still, we had a great guide, the scenery was nice, and it lasted for 2.5 hours so it became a decent workout 😉 I wasn’t allowed to bring my GoPro on board, as they were trying to make business out of selling photos afterwards. But as the greedy bastards wanted $30 for a CD with photos, I just took a photo of the display screen instead. Quite poor quality I’m afraid due to the reflection of the screen, but it’s the best I’ve got to show for.

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The final activity I can report from is fishing. We rented fishing poles for a day, bought fishing licenses, talked to the locals for good tips, and set out to try our luck with the rainbow and the brown trout. Sadly, none of us caught anything… We could even see the trout in the clear water some places, but it just wasn’t interested in the spinners that the guy at the local fish- and game store recommended. Quite frustrating, in fact. It helped that we got to see some beautiful scenery though, and got to spend another nice day outdoors.

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To conclude this post I’m just throwing in a couple of photos from the scenic drive from Rotorua to Wellington. We enjoyed blue skies almost all the way of the drive. Right now we’re on the ferry from Wellington to Picton, it takes about 3h and 15min, and then it’s time to explore parts of the South Island.

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