Naval Air Museum visit
Today we visited the National Naval Aviation Museum. We have been to the museum many times but it is always changing and updating. If you plan to visit try to give yourself an entire day and take advantage of the free guided tour. This is one of the few museums that I have ever visited that allows you to walk right under and around the displays. You can put your hands directly on the planes. For anyone but especially children this is a great advantage a visit here gives you.
The museum opened in 1963 and is free to visit. Currently it houses 150 aircraft including several world record setting planes and historically significant craft. It is over 350,000 squared feet of display space on 37 acres in two huge buildings. The buildings are really gigantic.
In one area there is an old wood carrier deck and conning tower are restored and laid out. Another is a “simulated” town and shops from the 40’s. There are areas to celebrate the branches of the military. Navy and Marines have the bulk but there is a large display for the Coast Guard along with aircraft and displays for the Army and Air Force. There is even an area with a full size Lunar lander, Lunar Rover (buggy), and Command capsule.
In an atrium 4 Blue Angels hang from the ceiling in diamond formation. Pensacola is the home of the Blue Angels. We see them fly frequently during the training season. By frequently I mean that they regularly fly over 50 training flights in a year and they do flybys along the beach on many of those days just to say “Hi” to the tourists and locals.
Everywhere are planes and other aircraft from the first Naval planes and lighter than aircraft to modern examples and space exhibits.
Along with the planes and exhibits there are flight simulators and a IMAX with movies on a variety of subjects including the Blue Angels, Space flight, and other flight films.
It is the largest undercover aviation museum in the world. Naval Air Station Pensacola was the first and began operations in 1914.
Last day in Hawaii.
This has been a great trip. Gramma is a great person to have as a travel companion. We relaxed as much as we could but still had plenty of tours and shopping (did I mention that we went shopping).
After packing and checking out of the condo, we drove down to the south part of the island for more, yes, shopping. Then we drove to the south coast and had lunch at Duke's, a very old and famous restaurant.
Duke Kahanamoku was the original "Big Kahuna" and was Hawaii’s Ambassador of Aloha. He was an olympic swimmer who won several medals, a championship surfer, and was in 19 movies. He started a restaurant at Kalapaki Beach The restaurant is open-air with views of the ocean and a 30 foot waterfall that drops into a koi pond surrounded by tables. We had a nice lunch before heading for the airport.
We arrived at the airport early and dropped off the rental car. We were so early that the American Airlines desk was not yet open. I guess we should have realized that the airport would not be very busy and did not have to arrive so early. We could have gotten in more shopping but instead we sat at the airport for a couple of hours.
In Hawaii the airports are open air. No kidding. They are wide open until you reach the gate areas even the TSA area is like this.
7,028 steps or 3.8 miles and 9 floors.
More shopping. Yes, really.
We had breakfast at a small shop in the shopping area of Princeville. We then drove down to Hanalei bay.
I don't mind chickens but the one thing I won't miss is the chickens being everywhere. If you are out on a patio eating, they will be there.
On a regular day the drive down is interesting because it is a very narrow. The road makes several tight 180 degree turns and then crosses a single lane bridge. Yes, the bridge is only wide enough for a single vehicle. Under normal conditions as you approach the bridge, you wait for up to seven cars to pass over and then the other direction can pass. It is a very pretty drive down to the bay.
Because of a landslide one lane of the road was blocked for days. Trees, sand and boulders slid down into the east bound lane. Because of the work needed to clear the highway, the traffic was being escorted from near the Princeville area to west of the oneway bridge. Had to wait for 10 minutes for our turn to follow the pilot car.
6,716 steps or 3.3 miles and 11 floors.
From there we continued on to Lihue to see the Wailua falls. It was interesting that just above the falls Disney is filming the new Jungle Cruise movie.
On to the Kauai coffee company for lunch, a walking tour, and tasting lots of coffee.
Coffee! Coffee! Coffee! It was good fun.
Warning History ahead:
From 1899 to 1987 the company originally produced sugar from sugar cane on 5,000 acres. In 1987 they decided to start planting coffee. They now have 4 million coffee trees. Wow!
Kauai Coffee Company is one of only a few that do not use pesticides growing the coffee beans or chemicals in the process of drying the beans.. The decaffeinated coffee is made without chemicals when processing so is safer to drink. I want the full effect of my coffee so full strength with no flavorings for me please.
The tour of the plantation was fascinating. BTW, you should store your coffee beans in a cool cabinet never in a freezer or refrigerator. It is bad for the oils and will make the coffee bitter.
They do have a bit of a sense of humor.
Next Spouting horn which is a place waves rush into an old lava tube with a small hole in the top. A huge spray launches into the air and a sound like a horn blowing is heard.
Then more shopping, did I say that we did a lot of shopping?
Lastly, the Sunset cruise in a catamaran . This was a very big boat built specially for this purpose. Even with the crew and 40 passengers it was never really crowded.
Of course I couldn't help myself when the captain said it would be a three hour tour. I asked if he was sure it would only be 3 hours. He answered right back "Or a couple of seasons depending on how things go".
Once we launched, drinks were served along with Pu Pu’s (appetizers in Hawaiian). The captain kept us entertained with stories and information.
Part of the time we got soaked when the water sprayed up front in the bow. Young at heart or just being silly. They were serving free wine, margaritas, and Mai Tai’s. That may have something to do with it. ?
The Na Pali coast is amazing. The cliffs rise from far below the surface up several thousand feet above us. The boat at times was so close it seemed we could have reached out and touched the rock. The boat has no mast so the captain can cruise into some of the sea caves. It was just as insane as it sounds. Here we are in the ocean at the bottom of this enormous cliff pulling up into a sea cave 75 feet across and deep. Because of the ocean waves, the ceiling is 50 feet above us and at other times half that. The captain then spun the boat so those who were on the stern could be furthest back in the cave.
We passed several places recognizable from movies. Several scenes from Pirates of the Caribbean were filmed along the coast. Almost all the exterior scenes for 6 days and 7 nights was too. It is no surprise. The island is incredible.
As we returned from the far end of the coast, they served an all you could eat meal along with drinks.
As sunset approached, we slowed and champagne was served. At the setting, we toasted and took more pictures. Who am I kidding, I took at least 100 pictures and more video.
9,355 steps or 4.6 miles and 19 floors.
Today, we started with a tour of a chocolate farm. The 3 hour tour was fantastic. You do not walk far just takes some time because of all the stopping and explaining all that is grown on the farm and the tastings.
Of course, first, there were the required wild chickens walking around.
The first thing we were offered was macadamia nuts. We could have all we would like to eat, not a bad way to start a tour.
The guide started by showing us the vanilla vines and pods they grow on the farm. They have to pollinate by hand because the natural pollinator is not found in Hawaii and would be an invasive species. The first part of the video shows our guide pollinating.
Several fruits grown on the farm were prepared for us to try. They have bee hives and had palm honey for us to taste. It had a different flavor from other honeys we have tried.
The next tasting was fresh from the cocoa pod. She plucked off a pod and split it open for us to try the fresh chocolate beans inside. They are surrounded by a tart fruit coating. Nothing like what I expected.
At the end of the tour, we tried more than a dozen types of chocolate from all over the world. We are able to eat as much as we wanted. Gramma could not resist the old fashioned swing near the parking area.
Obviously some of the chocolates were more popular than others but they were all delicious.
As we started down the mountains from the farm, we passed Opaekaa falls. It was very nice but not very close to the road.
Back at Bali Hai and while Gramma rested in the room, Shawna and I took off to walk down to the coast and see the “Queen's bath” which is a group of large basins created by the lava flows back when this island was an active volcano. This was not a simple walk. The trail down to the shoreline is not very well maintained. Roots are exposed all along the trail and could easily trip a person. It is very steep, slippery and not a trail for those who are not prepared.
At the bottom of the climb, we started across the lava down to the ocean's edge. We then scrambled for about a half a mile. The ocean waves were strong and crashing high up at the cliffs. The bath was far too dangerous to swim in that day. Waves crashed in flooding the baths and then rushed out again. Anyone who was not very careful would be swept away.
Once we reached the bottom and walked out on the flat area, it was wild. The ocean was crashing against the the shore and splashing up 20 and 30 feet into the air. At the bath, the sea would rush in and then back out again. The bath is big. Actually there are several and the smallest was about 20 feet by 30 feet. The largest was about 40 feet wide and about 100 feet long. It was huge and deep. After watching the sea for a while, we made the climb back up the cliff.
13,900 steps or 5.4 miles and 44 floors.
Today we spent most of our time at Bali Hai Villas in Princeville. The complex had a free breakfast and information session at the club house. By information, I mean a sales pitch for Luaus, helicopter flights, boat tours, etc. Breakfast was just pastry, fruit, juice, and coffee. They always have juice, ice water and some sort of snacks in the foyer.
We walked out on the patio and our “pet” birds showed up begging for seeds or something. The bird is a red-crested cardinal. He came back with friends after the first time offering him crushed almonds. For the rest of the week when we came out to the patio, he would land on the back of the chair hoping for more food.
It was a good day for relaxing. We did have a nice trade winds.
We enjoyed the pool and hot tub again.
Even on a "relaxing day", we did a bit of walking.
7,150 steps or 3.5 miles and 14 floors.
Today we drove down to Hanalei bay to go to the farmer's market. The weather was not great but it did clear up later in the morning. The farmer's markets here are amazing. Everything is fresh and grown right here on the island. There is a variety of produce that you would never see on the mainland. Much of what was available, I did not even recognize.
If you look in the background, there are several waterfalls on the mountains.
After buying great local produce, we drove along the north shore to the lighthouse for a little sightseeing. It is always great. The waves crashing on the shore below and birds close by and on the cliffs. The Boobie birds nest above the cliffs. The white spots in the picture are the birds. In many places in Kauai, there are signs warning of highway crossings of Nene, the Hawaiian goose. Nene, is pronounced "nay nay". Several times all traffic will come to a halt for them to cross safely.
We had lunch in Kapa'a at Coconut's Fish Cafe. They had really nice fish and salads. Then off to another farmer's market that also had a lot of craft booths.
Drove back to Princeville and we took a walk down to the shore line to get a few pictures.
After spending most of the day walking or riding in the car, a visit to the hot tub and pool was required. It is a nice pool area with two hot tubs and a kid's area with a shallow entry.
On the way back, we took pictures of several of the flowers around the complex. Almost everything on the island has a beautiful flower.
It turned out to be a nice day.
6,700 steps or 3.3miles and 15 floors.
We got up and had our free breakfast then jumped on the shuttle over to the airport. As we arrived at the AA counter we noticed a lot of people in the standard line but the Priority line was almost empty. We “accidentally” walked up to that line and asked about our tickets. The monitor at that line noticed we had missed the previous flight and said we could use that check-in. That was very nice of her. So instead of being in line behind 50 people we were in line behind 2. Yea! When we approached the counter the ticket agent he noticed that we were not able to meet the our previous days flight and apologized. Of course, it was not his fault and we told him that we were not upset with AA but would pay for an upgrade to our seats which were at the very back of the plane. The manager was standing near by and walked up to the next terminal and started typing. A few seconds later he printed and handed us new tickets that moved us to the main cabin extra seating area at no extra cost. So we had 6 inches more leg room, free wine, beer, or liquor, and a few other perks. Sweet! Thanks AA!
We finally arrive in Hawaii. The airport has expanded dramatically since we were last there 15 years ago for our 25th anniversary. It only had 4 gates. If you want to see it watch the airport scenes from the movie “6 days and 7 nights”. It along with a lot of other movies were filmed on the island, Kauai.
The drive up to Princeville was as pretty as ever. We did notice that the population of the island had grown some since our last visit. The condo was very nice. We may have some rain during our trip but that is not exactly a surprise in Hawaii.
7,192 steps or 3.59 miles, 2 floors climbed, 3,466 cals burned, 7 min of cardio
Leaving for Hawaii!
It is always interesting when you have to leave on a trip pre-dawn but 4:30 am is a bit much. Thanks Dad for dropping us off.
Our first flight was somewhat delayed because of the storm front between Pensacola and Dallas. As a result, we were 45 minutes late arriving. Lucky for us our next plane was also delayed and had just arrived when we pulled up to our gate. But a storm passed over the DFW airport just as we were about to take off for Phoenix. We were stuck on the tarmac for 45 minutes. This meant that we were not going to make our next flight and a major delay in the trip to Hawaii. As we arrived in Phoenix our next plane, which Gamma was already on, was pulling away from the gate. She had tried everything she could to get them to delay the flight, including talking to the pilot, the 10 minutes needed for us to join her but they could not. They were not given any option to delay based on orders from the Air Traffic Controllers. I understand it could cause problems for flights arriving and the “highways” in the sky not becoming crowded. So Gramma flew on with two empty seats next to her on the flight to Hawaii.
As soon as we got off the plane we went to customer service to see what was available. There were no flights to Hawaii until the next morning. American Airlines was able to give us a night in a local hotel along with a dinner and breakfast vouchers. So we had dinner and used the hotels shuttle to get there from the airport. The hotel was very nice and the center courtyard had a lot of palm trees, cactus, and very large mesquite trees. They were the largest we had ever seen. They also had the strangest pine trees we have ever seen. They are really tall with very short limbs.
Fitness info from the Fitbit just for fun.
8,600 steps or 4.28 miles, 5 floors climbed, 3,800 cals burned, 74 min of cardio
We are rapidly approaching the time for our trip to Hawaii! This will be our second time to visit the state. The first was for our 25th anniversary and this will be something of a 40th anniversary trip.
It should be a great time except for the flights. From Pensacola it is about a 14 hour trip to and from Hawaii. The return flights will be "red eye" overnight. Three plane change each way. Really! 14 hours! We were told we would be buzzing from one side to the other just a couple of hours. The predictions were so wrong from the time of our childhoods. Maybe someday but I am not holding my breath.
We are a couple who have started on a new adventure...