A Final Hawaiian Vacation (Probably)


My posts have been a bit sporadic because I have just returned from a wonderful Hawaii vacation.

This is the 27th time we have vacationed in Hawaii, almost exclusively on the “Garden Isle” of Kauai and for as long as nine weeks, but this time we (and I mean my whole “Ohana” – family) – went to the Hale Koa Hotel on Waikiki.

That hotel is Rest and Relaxation hotel for military and civil Service Only, and it is a story of itself. First let me say that it costs the taxpayers nothing – it was constructed in a 1911 Army Base located on Waikiki, and the construction was funded by the profits of military Exchanges and Commissaries, worldwide. The room rates pay for the continuing expenses of the hotel.

My wife and I stayed at the OLD Army base, Fort Derussy, back when it was only WWII Army Barracks, with ripped screens and paper-thin walls. When the soldier next door put his change on the table, we could hear and almost count the change. I was there while attending the Submarine Prospective Commanding Officer School.

Those barracks have been replaced by two 14 story towers, and the 72 acres of Fort Derussy have been changed into beautiful gardens. (The Hilton Hawaiian Village, next door, only has five acres!)

My family enjoyed what will probably be our last Hawaiian vacation, considering my age. Each member of the family did what they wished, appropriate to their age – I went to the Bishop Museum, while my Granddaughter snorkeled. I happened to hit the museum when they had an entire room dedicated to Ni’ihau Shell Leis, something both my wife and I wear constantly even on the Mainland. These are leis consisting of tiny sea shells, so small as to be almost impossible to string – two of every three are broken while stringing.

Those shells are collected only on the almost uninhabited Island of Ni’ihau, where about 125 Hawaiians live without roads or electricity, and whose few inhabitants have collected those these shells for many centuries. They are a historical item worn by the Ali’I (Chiefs), and are so valuable that they are the only shell lei that can be insured. Older “Aunties” (Hawaiian women elders) are buried with their Ni’ihau leis to avoid family disputes. Needless to say our shell lei are not so grand, but still we wear them knowing their historical significance. (I also have a home office made of the VERY rare historical Hawaiian wood – Koa.)

Most people who vacation in the Sandwich Islands enjoy the sun without any knowledge or interest in the history or culture of the islands, but the visitors are missing a lot if they do not learn. Two of our states, Hawaii and Texas were their own nations, and each have absolutely interesting histories.

I have written hundreds f pages about the history, culture and politics of Hawaii, and in small stories, as befits a columnist usually limited to 500 word bursts.


Most of my observations are about Kauai, the island most like the “Old Hawaii” – although the southern part of the island is well commercialized. It is possible to see parts of Old Hawaii on every island, particularly on the northern side of each island, but on Kauai there is so much beauty…

One Response

  1. Welcome home. Glad you enjoyed your time in paradise while the rest of us are suffering from seasonal affective disorder in between bouts of frozen lungs. Ha ha.

    Seriously, you have earned the time to relax.

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