April 25

Aloha. I'm winging my way from the glory that is Kauai (and dear Sharon and her son's house) to the glory that is Honolulu (and my adorable family of Browns: nephew, niece, and great-nephew and -nieces).

What a whole lott'a Aloha for me!
I arrived and taxied to the church exactly in time to see all of Christa's part in the debate finals at the speech and debate tournament.

This is a shot of all the participants. Christa is the one in the second row, far right, black suit-blond hair.

from the left-front: 1) Julie Shelly, Luc Ceci, Matthew Tanoue. 2) Meghan Hedrick, Catherine Gardiner, Renee Katayama, Judith Teruya, Gracie Cockett, Rachel Urbano, Rachel Eichner, Rachel Arakawa, Christa Brown. 3) Brittanie Hedrick, Caleb Nakasaki, Kai Miyamoto, Carin Young, Alisa Tualaulelei. 4) TJ Metcalf, Joshua Takamori, Jeremy San Nicolas, Brian Cox, Joshua Duncan, Justin Burbage, Justin San Nicolas, Jacob Urbano, Laura Gagliano, Dylan Pilger, Gabriel Tanoue, David Arakawa, Ryan Eichner.
Here are a couple shots setting the scene for the debate.
That's Christa up there!
From the left, Charis, Christa's partner Catherine, Caleb, and Christa...
...and this is Christa and Catherine when they learned they were the First Prize WINNERS of the debate.

There are many categories in a speech tournament such as Extemporaneous Commentary and Humorous Interpretation but the debate is SO Much More WORK. Kudos to the winners!
After the program virtually the whole crowd showed up at Ruby Tuesdays for dinner.

The last people got their food two hours after we arrived. But everyone was having a great time anyway. And those of us who got the salad bar started eating right away and I for one never had to stop.

That's Christa-Caleb-Charis right down the middle there and some of the other competitors and siblings.

Front row from the left, Will Cockett, Luc Ceci, Charis Brown, Judith Teruya, Renee Katayama, Gracie Cockett.

Back row from the left, Caleb Nakasaki, Kai Miyamoto, Caleb Brown, Christa Brown.
April 26

This afternoon I got to take Caleb and Charis up to a neighborhood parking lot where for a good long time the kids worked on their triathlon skills, without the swimming leg though.

We did this drill in pieces and in whole, timed and just practice, for a couple hours:

Run barefoot to the bikes (as though just out of the water); put on shoes and helmets; run with the bike to the start line; bike laps around the parking lot; drop the bikes and off with the helmets; r...u...n.

They got better and better with each effort, and it was cool to see them improve. Saturday we'll get up at 4:30am for the race, and fun it'll be.
Beth and Janice, lookin' good.
Sunset from the front porch. Wait...what's that we hear...
...the Ice Cream Truck!
April 27 and 28

Janice (Beth's mom) and I took a nice looong walk today. Janice had chores to do and I wanted to scope out the options for tomorrow's day with Charis.

It's been Perfect weather for Honolulu - cool, bright, dry. Couldn't have hoped for better. That's Diamond Head there in the background.
Today I got to have the day with Charis!

First we went to get a spa mani-pedi at the place Charis chose from the brochures I brought back yesterday. She picked the cozy small salon in favor of the bigger ones, and the woman who did her did a great job.

We took a lot of time studying up the colors...
...and ended with this delightful combination of darker blue and blue sparkles on the toes, and just the sparkles on the fingers.

And I got to enjoy a whole hour of the massage chair!
Then we played hand-clapping games while we waited to take a long bus ride to an ice cream parlor where we found both an opportunity for a tasty treat and entertainment as well.

They had an old player piano there that was tricked out with a tambourine, an accordion, drums, maybe some other instruments too. We plied that piano with quarters and had Two servings of ice cream.

Then, to take the top off the sugar high, we shared a hamburger and played connect the dots.
Now we had to take two buses to get home and that was an adventure in bus riding. And not really so much the kind you look forward to enjoying.

First we waited for an hour instead of the advertised 30 minutes max. While we were waiting Charis took many great pictures with my camera including this one of Me, hassling a driver on a different line to find out wheeeen was our bus going to come.

When the bus finally did come the driver was so busy complaining about the bikers and the jay walkers and the rude drivers and the crazy clothes kids wear today that he sailed right past our stop(!) and Charis had to mention this fact. 'Oh, yes!' he said, and stopped in the middle of the road for us to get out!

Then we walked the couple blocks home where the whole family exclaimed over Charis's gorgeous hands and feet. Thanks for coming out Charis - it was FUN!

April 29 and 30

On the 29th Christa and I went to a totally authentic Korean Spa. The pictures on their website are entirely inaccurate. In a Korean Spa no one wears any clothes at all, none, except the washer ladies who do their work in underwear. It's all women here, me and Christa and twenty naked Korean ladies.

It was quite the experience. It's a lot of soaking and steaming and sweating and then one hour of scrubbing where they scrub you and you are c.l.e.a.n. when they get done. After the scrubbing you get a lavish oil soaked massage.

We had to use their resting room at the end, tired as we were, and sooo relaxed, not to mention c.l.e.a.n.
Then we went to Zippy's for chili/rice. What a great day!
On the 30th Sharon come to town from Kauai. We rented a car and set out for adventure.

But first we got her settled into the Moana Surfrider hotel, the Grand Dame on Waikiki Beach first opened in 1901. That's me reflected in her patio door.
These days at the Moana Surfrider it's all about Japanese weddings. They do several a day providing the whole package from Welcome to Bon Voyage.

Every bride is done up to the nines and every groom is wearing lace and rhinestones. The attending parties are rather small which is one reason, I hear, that having a Hawaii wedding is so popular, because the guest list does not have to include all the business associates and casual acquaintances that would be required were the wedding local.
The hotel has a truly excellent evening show out in their back lanai where for the price of a beverage you can sit for two hours enjoying the music and dancing, which we did, and will probably do again!
May 1

Today was our first full day of touring and we made The Most of it.

First stop, a tour of the Iolani Palace. From their website: "Hawaiian national treasure and the only official state residence of royalty in the United States, `Iolani Palace was the official residence of the Hawaiian Kingdom's last two monarchs--King Kalakaua, who built the Palace in 1882, and his sister and successor, Queen Lili`uokalani. During the monarchy period, the Palace was the center of social and political activity in the Kingdom of Hawai`i."
Then we strolled around the area seeing the State Capitol, the Courthouse and other government buildings, the tourist highlight of the great King Kamehameha's statue...
...and a stop at the Hawaii State Art Museum for the free visit and the not so free lunch at the very nice cafe.

I really liked this. The title card read "Masami Teraoka employs the Japanese ukiyo-e (prints of the floating world) style to expose the follies of modern society. From the Waves and Plagues series, the watercolor features a ronin as a Japanese tourist and a blond woman at Hawaii's popular marine life sanctuary, Hanauma Bay. The pair engage in dialogue that comments on the economy and unemployment rates in Hawaii and Japan."
I liked this guy too. It's a self-portrait by Tian Wei. It makes me wonder what he's thinking.
Then we headed out to visit the USS Missouri. We'd both been to Pearl Harbor and the Arizona recently but we'd neither been to the Missouri.
We both agreed that it was a fabulous tour and if you had time for only one, it is more entertaining than the Arizona/Pearl Harbor Memorial.

Yes, Big Guns.
There were some displays but mostly everything was as it was in its final decommissioning in the mid '80s. The ship had been mothballed after WWII but then reinstated with New Big Guns for the first Gulf War.

It was here on the USS Missouri that the Japanese sighed the surrender treaty of WWII.

There were four ships in this class, the last of the battle ships, and all four now out of service as all the modern war efforts at sea are going into aircraft carriers.
When you pop for the extra seven bucks for the tour on top of the entry price you get to go to a few places available only on the tours, like this control room. Since there were only six of us, like on the Iolani tour, we had great service from the guide.
And then (and we're tired by then!) we, both thinking about pasta, had a lovely Italian dinner and Then...
...another entertainment back at Sharon's hotel. Remember how we were nuts-oyd happy over the previous night's show but this time it was less perfect. Oh well, there's always tomorrow night!
May 2

Janice, Christa, and I came later, at SIX-AM...the rest of the family got up at 4:30am to get a good place for the start of the kid's Triathlon.
From the parking lot. Ahhh.
Charis is first off and here's Trevor giving her some final tips. Caleb, Christa, and Beth surround them.
Swim! Bike! RUN!!

(bad Granty bad...this is not Charis in the swimming seqment. I'm really sorry Charis!)
Charis came in second among the girls. Good Job Charis!
Ronald MacDonald, Island style.
Caleb and one of his buddies getting ready for their age group's start.
Swim! Bike! RUN!!
Caleb had some unfortunate technical difficulties with his bike and is the youngest in his age group but he hung in there for a very respectable finish. Good Job Caleb!
Some friends joined in time for the festivities. Then, by about 8am, I went home for a little rest before kicking off our day of sightseeing. More pictures to come!
May 2 and 3

After the Triathlon of the early early morning Sharon and I set out for more sightseeing. Here we are up at the Punchbowl viewing station having some photos of Honolulu...
...and a nice look at the Diamond Head crater.
Then we went to the Honolulu Academy of Arts to eat some lunch and enjoy the museum.
Isn't she just so aloha?
In the evening the Browns all met us at the Moana Surfrider to chat and watch the show. This is the third different group we've seen. These guys were much better than last night and not as good as the first night. What a treat!
We had a pretty quiet day today, Sunday, walking at the Ala Moana park.
This was the sunrise picture from yesterday.
And we also had a nice drive out the 63 to the 83...
...for a local small town lunch and some amazing views.
May 4

We're off to the North Shore today, first stop, the Dole Pineapple Plantation Tourista Center. It was truly very interesting, and it smelled Great.
The North Shore surf is a wild and dangerous place and it's a red-flag day...
...which deters the surfers not one bit.
We stopped off at a traditional Shrimp Truck for lunch. They didn't serve out of a truck though, but we did eat a bucket of shrimp.

Then as a fitting contrast we had tea at the Turtle Bay Resort.
Do you know about that vog (yes, not a typo, it's vog) pouring out of the Big Island from the erupting volcano that is making a real mess of air quality.

You can't smell it and it doesn't burn your eyes, but it looks just awful.
Back at the hotel these folks, who spoke not a word of English, rather unexpectedly thrust their baby into Sharon's arms and proceeded to take pictures of the two of them. It was soo sweet.

Then I got a chance to hold her too and what a delight that was!
And here we have our fourth hula show and the fourth group of performers. We couldn't decide whether we liked these guys best or the first group. What a treat it has been to enjoy these great shows.
May 5 and 6

Isn't this great...the statue of (The Great) Duke Kahanamoku on Waikiki Beach. Everyone gets their picture made with The Duke.
Sharon and I went for a hotel stroll checking in at all the Waikiki classics, prime among them, The Royal Hawaiian...
...and the newest hot ticket, the Halekilani.
Then in the evening it was time for me and Caleb to go for our Ravenchase. It was a really outstanding entertainment.

Rather than describe the hows and whys and ins and outs of Ravenchase you can check it out at ravenchase.com.

They say about themselves: "Experience unforgettable treasure hunts and adventure races that will lead you through historic sites, museums, parks and more. Racing against other teams and the clock, you'll solve riddles, and encounter planted actors and use gadgets and guts to outwit your adversaries and win the prize. Our events excite the mind, test the body and forge friendships which will last for years to come. Each package comes with handmade treasure maps, brilliant clues, great devices like black lights and cipher wheels, and fabulously tacky prizes at the end of the race."
One of the clues led us here and on those flowers under the tree they had written the answer to the clue.
Here was our next location. I wanted to have a picture of each one but after this we just got so busy.

We, our team, team Birthday Boy named for Caleb, is made up of myself, Caleb, and a local couple who had played before. Caleb got special extra added clues from the staff for his birthday present so the couple got real happy to be our partners.

There were 7 locations total and we got them all. It was f.u.n.
Then they had a wonderful after-party with food and beverages and Prizes.
We won Second Place! Caleb is holding our silver gnome trophy in front of his shirt.
And here are the first place winners. They were great - we could see them solving the puzzles, and they got the anagram without even having to go to the location.

Here is the note I wrote the the staff who were so helpful: "Good morning gang, and THANK YOU. We both had a FABulous time! The card to Caleb The Adventurer was just perfect as was your 'boost' to get us all going. Our teammates, who might have been skeptical at first of the kid and his Granty, were our new best friends by the end. It was all quite delightful and like I told my nephew Trevor last night, it was an impressively conceived, organized, and realized event and I do so enjoy being impressed. Even the after-party was a highlight. 'GREATJOB'!"
Then next morning Sharon and I went on a tour of the Doris Duke house. This was our guide who was both knowledgable and entertaining. Wow, Another great day.
We loved it. The whole fabulous place was done up in magnificent museum quality Islamic Arts and Architecture. And what a setting.

Then we hung out at the Browns for the evening and we were happy. And then we went home.
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