Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Hawaii 2015 - Day 3 morning - Hanauma Bay, Shave Ice, and Saimin

Back to my trip to Hawaii! Actually I'd sort of hoped I'd have to do a fishing trip report first from my first-ever fishing boat trip in NYC, but seeing as the only fish that were hungry were the non-tasty sea robins, which we threw back, I'll hold that for later. It was still a fun day on the water with a couple of friends from Sebago, and Old Time Vincent's Clam Bar and Italian Restaurant cooked up some excellent consolatory clams and a nice pitcher of sangria for us. Hey, if it's just about obtaining fish, you should just go to the fish market, right? Actually I did that on Sunday, got a couple of flounder filets and fried 'em up in butter and olive oil for dinner, had that with corn from the Cortelyou Road farmer's market for a nice easy summer dinner. We'll give the fishing another shot - the very nice lady who won the pool for the biggest fish with a lovely good-sized fluke said we'd missed the peak of what had been a very good fluke season in Jamaica Bay; she recommended October for blackfish, which might work out well with work and other stuff I've got going on, August is supposed to be a relatively quiet month at work but it hasn't been, and then September is always crazy. An October fishing trip might be a nice reward for getting through the crazy.

Anyways - my second full day in Hawaii (really Day 3), I got in 3 of my "must-do's" for any trip back home. I went snorkeling, I had shave ice, and I had saimin (it's funny how many of my must-do's are must-eat's, but that's really kind of a Hawaii trait, I'm on a couple of Hawaii-themed Facebook groups and we spend an inordinate amount of time making each other hungry talking about poke and saimin and malasadas and spam musubi and all kine, local kine, ono kine grindz, 'cause there just isn't anything like the good island food we all grew up with and crave to this day).

Speaking of Facebook groups, I met two Facebook friends out there. I'd already written about the excellent meal Keaka and I had at Aiea Chop Suey - so much better eating there with at least one friend, I am not somebody who has any problems with eating in a restaurant by myself, but at Aiea Chop Suey, it's much better to be in a group 'cause otherwise you have to pick ONE THING from the menu and THAT'S JUST SAD. 

Tane actually lives on the Mainland now but she happened to be back on Oahu around the same time helping out her father, so she and Keaka and I planned a Monday morning trip to Hanauma Bay. Unfortunately Keaka ended up not being able to make it (she and I went later in the week, I love snorkeling and willingly traded in thoughts of paddling, which is lovely in Hawaii but which I can do here in NYC anytime, for an extra snorkeling session) but Tane and I went ahead and went. I'd read that the parking lot there fills up fast, so we were aiming for 6:45 am and did make it there a bit before 7; that worked great 'cause the parking lot attendant wasn't even on duty yet so no charge (plus plenty of space)!

This beautiful spot was very nearly a literal victim of its own popularity in the late 80's to early 90's, when unrestricted and careless use led imbalance and destruction, so now numbers are limited and everybody who goes has to watch a short film that talks about proper snorkelling practices. You still see plenty people walking on the reef, I guess they're thinking the guidelines don't apply to them, or they just don't care, but I guess enough people listen 'cause it doesn't look quite as bad as it was said to at the worst - the inshore coral still doesn't look so good, but there's a nice variety of fish acting pretty natural, not just the roving gangs of mooching mullet that people have told me were ruling the roost back in the days when people would bring bags of frozen peas to feed the fish (unnatural selection for the greediest and pushiest fish, which I guess were the mullet). We watched the film, walked down, I rented snorkel gear and a locker for our valuables, and then we hit the water for a lovely couple of hours. The water was a little bit murky, but I had much better luck catching fish with my camera than I did with my hook in Jamaica Bay last weekend!

As always - click on any photo for a better view.

Hanauma Bay
Tane ready for some snorkeling!
Me too!
First fish of the day - not very fancy but I was still happy to see them. I wasn't quite sure what kind this was - they're silver like mullet but wrong shape, but I found a nice little fish ID card on the University of Hawaii's SeaGrant site and looking at that I think these guys are Hawaiian flagtail (Hawaiian name, which that card gives, which is nice, is āholehole). 
Here's a yellowfin surgeonfish, puaho. There are a bunch of different kinds of surgeonfish here with strikingly different colors, but they all have a similar body shape and the main thing that tells you you're looking at a surgeonfish is that they've all got that same little surgeon's knife sticking right at the base of the tail.
A nice pair of bluestripe butterflyfish. Butterflyfish are another variety with all sort of varieties, but again, they tend to have similar body shapes and lovely colors - lots of bright stripes and splashy patches of black.

Here's a parrotfish, uhu, hanging out with a school of convict tang, manini. Manini means this kind of fish but you also use it to say "little" in Pidgin english - "Kinda manini, da waves, yeah?".  Manini aren't the biggest fish on the reef but they always hang out in good-sized schools so they have the advantage of numbers. I have to laugh at myself now 'cause I was just making some pedantic blanket statement about always being able to tell a surgeonfish (tang being another name for surgeonfish) by the little blade on the tail, but on these guys it's pretty small and hard to see. Same sort of pumpkinseed shape, though. 

Here's another uhu with a Picasso or lei triggerfish. This is one of a couple of fish that go by the famous humuhumunukunukuāpuaʻa,, which means triggerfish with a snout like a pig. This is not actually the one that's the state fish, that's the slightly less flashy (but still very attractive) rectangular or reef triggerfish. Whether that fish should be the state fish has actually been discussed more than one might think; obviously the name is tons of fun to say and of course there's the famous song where the humuhumunukunukuāpuaʻa goes swimmin' by, but it was once pointed out to me that these guys are found in tropic waters all over the place and although you can't beat the name for uniqueness, it might have been nice to pick a fish that's more unique to Hawaii. I don't have a strong opinion about this but I thought it was an interesting point. I didn't actually know that this triggerfish is also called a humuhumu until I posted it on Facebook when I got back, I thought that was only the reef triggerfish, but friends from the islands enlightened me.  

Slightly better picture of the same guy. I got better pix of the reef triggerfish when I came back a couple of days later. 

This guy sent me back to  (a very well-organized site that TQ found when we were identifying fish we'd seen in the Caribbean in January) 'cause I'd honestly never seen one like this before and he's not on either of my fish i.d. cards OR the online one from U.H. I have to say that it is VERY neat to spot an entirely new fish here in a place that I've actually spent a lot of time. I think the birders call it a "life bird", when you see a kind of bird for the first time in the wild -so thank you Hanauma for giving me a life fish! Which I think is a Flying Gurnard - and isn't that kind of a fun name in itself?
Picture's right-side up, it's the fish that's upside-down, trying to get an especially tasty bit of coral. This is a Four-Spot Butterflyfish (two on each side), Hawaiian name Lauhau.
Done for the day, hoofing it back up the crater wall, and had stop to get a picture of the beach naupaka. There's a mountain variety where the flower grows with only the top half. There are local legends that connect the flowers to unfortunate lovers, parted or killed - you can read a couple of summarized versions here.  

Back up on the rim of the crater. Aloha for today! 

And what's better after a couple of hours of good snorkeling than shave ice (with azuki beans and ice cream YAY)? We went back to Tane's father's home to pick up her husband, and they took me to their local favorite, Waiola Shave Ice. It was delicious, with a really unusual texture - they grind the ice much finer than most places so it's very soft and fluffy, more snowy than crunchy icy. Tane said it almost tastes creamy to her. Really delicious! Funny thing was I happened to be wearing my Aoki's hat, didn't even think of it until Tane posted this on Facebook! Aoki's is close to getting back into business, they'd been hoping for the end of July but didn't quite make it, but even if they had, I didn't make it to that particular corner of the island this time. Even if they had and I had, it would have been a bit of a dilemma because one of the reasons I used to pick Aoki's over Matsumoto's every time was because the lines at Matsumoto's are kind of ridiculous when Aoki's made a perfectly wonderful shave ice -- but of course if they'd started selling their shave ice again after a couple of years off the week I was there? My gosh, the line would've been halfway to Waimea. Anyways, Waiola was delicious, the company was good, and I stocked up on crack seed from their little store.

We parted ways then and I headed back for Lulu's, very sleepy and ready for a nap before doing whatever I was going to do in the second half of the day. Another nice thing about going to Hanauma Bay so very early was that enough of the day was left that I was going to be able to fit in a solid second activity -- I'd been actually stressing out about the shortness of my stay vs. the things I wanted to do (or eat), so this was absolutely a gift.

And speaking of eating - the route back to Lulu's took me down Kapahulu right around lunchtime. The shave ice had been a perfect post-snorkeling snack, but I still had room for Zippy's!

I was after that only-in-Hawaii noodle soup, saimin, of course, which Zippy's does well. I do wish I'd taken a picture of the specials board for Baydog -  where else in the world would you find a fast-food restaurant offering a tripe stew special? 

I stuck with the saimin, though. Funny, you'd think that with the supposedly increasing popularity of Hawaiian food in NYC (various friends have sent me food critic Robert Sietsema's article about how Hawaiian food is the new thing but he names very few restaurants, including 2 that closed a long time ago and only one of which I can personally vouch for as being really local-kine, so the article leaves me underwhelmed)  combined with the explosion of really excellent ramen joints (including one sponsored by Hawaii's own Sun Noodle Company),  there would be somewhere in NYC that you could get something in the saimin line - but if there is, I haven't found it yet. So for now - this is still a very special treat! There's no taste like home, there's no taste like home...

Next up - the afternoon's adventure!

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Caprese break!

Tonight's dinner, late but good. Tomato and basil from the garden; didn't have time this week to get to the deli that still sell's Joe's Mozzarella but the fancy mozzarella di buffalo from Dean and DeLuca is a passable substitute. 

 No idea what variety of tomato this is except that it's orange and meaty and delicious. I got the Dragonetti Heirloom Pack of Mystery this year, as I like to do when Dragonetti's has them. They don't actually call it the Heirloom Pack of Mystery,  but it's 4 assorted seedlings labelled "Heirloom", no detail beyond that, and you never know what you're gonna get until the fruit ripens, which is actually kind of fun. Haven't had a bad one yet.

Hawaii 2015, Day 2 Part 2 - Bowfin Museum, Pearl Harbor

Wow, it's been a been a very busy week, but as promised/threatened, here are a bunch of pictures from the USS Bowfin Submarine Museum at Pearl Harbor. This was the 2nd of the 2 Pearl Harbor museums that I chose to visit on the afternoon of my first full day back in Hawaii, which I'd chosen to spend in my hometown of Aiea. 
The USS Bowfin was launched on December 7th, 1942, exactly one year after Pearl Harbor, and became known as "The Pearl Harbor Avenger". She served in the Pacific until the Japanese surrender. She then joined the Atlantic fleet and was actually based right here in NY, in the town of Tompkinsville in Staten Island, for a couple of years. She also served in the 1950's during the Korean War. She was in mothballs in Mare Island for the later 1950's, then travelled north to Seattle where she served as a Naval Reserve training sub during the 1960's. In the early 70's she was selected to become the museum boat she is today, in honor of the U.S. Submarine Force (in which my dad proudly served for many years, hence my particular interest in this museum). History condensed from Wikipedia; of course also has her history
The museum has both indoor and outdoor exhibits, plus the Eternal Patrol memorial, with tablets for each of the 52 submarines that were lost (with over 3,500 officers and crew) during WWII. The Grayling caught my eye in particular as my father served on a nuclear sub that was named in honor of the WWII vessel. 

The commanding officer of the USS Tang survived the sinking of his boat and later wrote Clear the Bridge!: The War Patrols of the USS Tang a book that gives an excellent sense of the life of WWII submariners. I just pulled it off of my bookshelf, may be time to revisit. 
After visiting the memorial, I headed on inside the museum building on shore. They've done a great job of putting together artifacts that tell the story of the submarine force from the earliest US submarines on up through today. 
The focus is primarily on the US, but there is a section of the exhibit that talks about the German u-boats. I've read Iron Coffins, of course, but this simple but chilling exhibit really brought home the terrible dangers these men faced. 

I didn't have a lot of time left before the museum closed and I didn't want to miss the Bowfin herself so I sort of rushed through, but I did grab a couple of pictures. This ropework  crown (made to be worn by the sailor playing King Neptune during the equator-crossing ceremony) struck me as something my artist friend Frank Hanavan might like to see, and might even try to make (he always has some interesting project going on), so this is for him.  
Getting up more into my dad's era - I think this is a missile control panel,
And this is an inertial guidance system that uses an ENORMOUS gyroscope.
A model of the USS Skipjack - this was another boat on which my dad served
Dad's got 3 of these.
Now aboard the Bowfin. You come down into the torpedo room.
Engine order telegraphs - classic!
Driving the boat! There was a lovely volunteer who saw me walking through on my own, grabbed my camera, and walked me through a whole series of pictures. I didn't get her name but that was so nice of her! More of those to come.
Helmsman's station
I think these were for the diving planes. 
Lots of copper and brass
Pretending to buff the copper
Crew quarters
Engine room
Interesting juxtaposition of classic old engine order telegraphs of shining brass with much more modern-looking equipment on this old sub. 
Up on deck
I was the last visitor so my photographer followed me up -

Beautiful bird of paradise - couldn't resist one more picture as I left the grounds. 

Next (and really final) stop of the day was at Aiea Chop Suey, where I was meeting Facebook friend Keaka for dinner. This was actually funny - she asked me to pick someplace, and...well, I love my holdouts from small kid time but somehow I felt like asking her to come to Aiea to eat at a totally unfancy (but delicious) Chinese food place was asking too much. Of course I was being silly, she's far more of a woman of the islands than I am, and people who are really FROM there totally understand the value of the totally unfancy place with the solid good food - plus she actually doesn't live too far from there so she was completely into trying a local favorite. Seriously - Aiea Chop Suey looks almost exactly like it did when I was a kid - the vinyl on the banquettes is obviously not the same vinyl as I sat on as a kid, they've replaced that enough to keep it from looking shabby, but otherwise, it just hasn't changed - and the food is still fantastic. We had an excellent dinner and she sent me home with the leftovers, which made for several hearty breakfasts.

All in all, a great day back in the town where I grew up.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Hawaii 2015 Day 2 part 1 - Back To Aiea!

Ok, back to Hawaii again. Second day was Sunday the 26th, and this was my day to hang out in Aiea, because it was my only Sunday and although I'm not really a churchgoer now, I do enjoy attending the service at Aiea United Methodist Church, the church my family attended when I was a kid, when I make it back to Oahu - a few members are still there from back then and it's really nice to see them and catch up a little bit. 

I started out really early to leave myself extra time in case of traffic or getting lost or whatever. Fortunately there was no traffic or getting lost or whatever so my first stop was for a delicious breakfast at Aiea Manapua and Snacks! 

As usual, click on any picture for a bigger version.
I absolutely love that this very non-fancy little place that opened here in 1980 (somehow I always thought it was longer than that, but I brought back a box and the box says "Serving Aiea since 1980" and I guess they would know) is still here and doing well. It was nice coming so early, they can get pretty busy later in the day and when that happens they like you to be pretty snappy with your order, but here at a little after 8:30 a.m., customers are coming in one at a time and it's just me, so the counter staff can humor me as I stare at the menu (oooh, why didn't I take one pickcha?) and that works out well for them cause when I open my mouth to start ordering I just keep going!
Uh, one steamed char siu. And one pork hash. And a half-moon. And oh yeah, one pepeiao! Oh boy. Not gonna need any lunch today. Yum yum yum. 

Utterly stuffed, I headed on over to the church for the service. Very nice seeing people, a mother and daughter danced a hula, the new minister got very confused over whose daughter I was (the funny thing is that although my real last name is a pretty unusual German one, there are actually two families named Aldinger that are former members of Aiea United Methodist - the older members of the congregation helped sort out the relationships), and it was just nice to be back somewhere that I'd spent a good deal of time when I was a kid.
After the service, I ran down to the car to get my cell phone, as one the couple who are old family friends wanted my sister's number as they have a daughter in Houston and visit Texas sometimes. I hit the button and was momentarily baffled when the car failed to respond with a beep and a click - and then it hit me - oh no! When I'd been driving up to Aiea, I'd noticed that a lot of people were driving with their lights on on the highway; I thought "OK, so this is how they do things here, I will do that too" and switched on the lights and then must not quite have switched them all the way off. Fortunately this time my rental car was a well-worn old Toyota Yaris instead of a slick shiny new Mustang like last time - why is this fortunate? Because the shiny new Mustang didn't have KEYHOLES, the door only opened with the electric key fob, which I managed to not kill while snorkelling only because I locked it in the trunk, which actually turned out to be a good thing because otherwise I would have killed it while snorkeling, but that's a story for later on in the trip, when I did return to the scene of that particular crime. Seems like I'm making a tradition of making one really stupid mistake with my rental car when I go back home for my reunions. This wasn't too bad though; I went back up and asked around and it turned out that the minister had jumper cables. A few other folks helped wheel my car out of the parking spot, the minister hooked up the cables, my car started on the first try and I said thank you and then set out to drive around for a while to recharge the battery.
Fortunately, if there's one place in Hawaii I know well enough to be totally comfortable just driving around randomly for an hour, it's the town where I grew up, and this actually fit it OK with my plans, which included a spin up Kaonohi St. to see my old neighborhood. I'd originally planned to park the car & walk around but instead I drove around, occasionally parking the car, with the motor on, to take pictures.
Nice view of Pearl Harbor from one of the condominium parking lots on Iho Place

Same view from higher up the ridge, corner of Kaonohi and Kahapili - 

Directly across the street from where I grew up. Can't show you the house where I grew up 'cause the folks who bought it from my folks tore it down to put in a bigger home.
Here's the place that my folks moved to from the old place. Still on Kaonohi St, which loops back on itself in a big backwards P shape, but a nicer place and higher on the hill, so with a better view. I almost didn't believe my folks when they said that 'cause the view from the old place was spectacular (part of why my folks bought it back in the 70's), but this place had the same view only continued on towards Diamond Head. Very very nice!

Next stop, since I still wanted to drive around a bit more, was to admire the watercress farm. Even more than Aiea Manapua and Snacks, this always feels like something that should've gotten gobbled up in the development stampede that started with Pearlridge Center phases 1 and 2 (2 was added when I was a kid) and continues relentlessly today (that's why I'm so happy to see those few old standbys from the 70's still here). Developers certainly wanted this land, the Pearlridge Center folks wanted Phase 3 to be right here, but the Sumidas, who'd been farming this land since the 1920s, fought it and managed to win. Click here for nice KITV News piece about the farm.

At this point I'd been driving around for pretty close to an hour, and although it had been a bit of a hassle having to go almost to Aiea to get my rental car, now it was excellent that the rental place was over there - I drove over there to turn off the car to see if I could then turn it on again. They were swamped with arrivals and the guy who came to see what I wanted was very cranky when I explained why I was there, but that was where I wanted to be before I turned the car off to see if it would start again - I did that, it worked, and I was on my way again.

Next stop was Aiea Bay - I'd read something about a bike and walking path that started there and I thought that might make a nice hike; couldn't find anything that looked promising until I was driving out, when I did spot it, but it looked like it didn't really travel the shoreline. Review had said something about being popular but a little on the unscenic side, plus it was kind of hot, so I decide to give it a pass this time.

I still had a couple of hours before I was supposed to meet a friend for dinner at Aiea Chop Suey (we'd agreed on there the night before when she asked me to pick; I was almost embarrassed to suggest Aiea Chop Suey because it's about as unfancy as you get, like all of my Aiea faves, but I'd forgotten that K. doesn't live too far from Aiea herself and she actually liked the idea, which absolutely made my day - it was really kind of sad going there by myself the last time I was home, so hard to pick one thing!). I was toying with the idea of heading up to the Keaʻiwa Heiau State Recreation Area in Aiea Heights - I'd done the loop trail the last time I was there and it was great, but it's always really muddy and I was wearing some shoes that I didn't want to wreck, but it's only the last bit of the trail that gets puddly and I was thinking I could just do the dry part & turn back - but as I was driving along considering my options, I saw a sign for the Pearl Harbor historical exhibits and made a snap decision to go there instead - not to see the Arizona Memorial this time (I've seen it before and it's a long wait to get on one of the tour boats), but to see the Bowfin Submarine Museum. My mom used to be involved there in some capacity and on a whim, I'd made a donation in my submariner dad's honor for Father's Day (never know what to get Dad for Father's Day), but I'd never actually been there.

And that's exactly what I did. I also went to the Aviation Museum on Ford Island; I didn't have enough time to visit the 3rd major exhibit that you can get to by bus there, which is of course the battleship Missouri - good to save something for next time.

The Aviation Museum is actually on Ford Island, in the middle of Pearl Harbor - going out there was interesting in itself as I'm actually not sure whether I've actually been there, unless it was maybe to go meet my dad's boat coming back from patrol (the crew switch would frequently happen on Guam, though, in which case we'd go welcome Dad back from sea at the Honolulu Airport, where the crew would always have to spend what seemed like an agonizingly long time behind frosted glass doors in customs). My dad would take the ferry to work there, and my folks may have attended some shindig or other at one of the officer's homes there, but there wasn't anything that you'd really take your kids to see, so it was actually pretty interesting to get on the shuttle bus and get driven around there. 

This was the only place where you were allowed to take pictures from the bus; this the memorial for the USS Oklahoma. One white stake for each sailor lost, lined up to represent sailors in their dress whites standing in formation on deck. 

The aviation museum is in a couple of old hangars there; one of them still has bullet holes in the windows left over from WWII. They don't know whether those are Japanese or American but they're still there. Interesting collection of planes, both military and civilian (including one of the civilian planes that was in the air at the time of the attack), all cared for by a group of restorers that must be kindred spirits to Floyd Bennett Field's Historic Aircraft Restoration Project. There was a special tour available where a docent tells you much more about the preservation and restoration efforts - I wish I'd had time for that, but again, good to have something new for my next visit, and I did want to make sure I made it to the submarine museum with enough time to see it. I did, but just barely - that's not just the Bowfin, that's a pretty comprehensive set of artifacts starting from the earliest submarines, on through the boats of my dad's era and then up to the present. Told the story well, and I think I will give that a post of its own tomorrow, since this is already plenty long for a blog post, and it's getting pretty late, and I'm running something at the club tomorrow. Closing with a few photos from the Aviation Museum: