Does Hawaii Have a Winter?

246772_2038314394142_3246539_nWith my raincoat and rain boots I was one happy kid on a winter day. The above house where I lived as a young girl in Daly City California was usually shrouded in fog. On a winter’s day which seemed to be all year-long I would dash out the door on my way to General Pershing Elementary and immediately jump into the gutter where the water was over flowing the curb.

I was a smart kid because I knew that the water would go into my boots and soak my socks and shoes. Why was that smart you may ask? I hated school and I knew that the teacher would see how wet I was and therefore sit me in the hallway on a bench with a heater under it.

Smiling, I would sit and miss a good hour of class. That was my winter in California.

IMAG0055This is my winter where I live in Hawaii. signs of winter? Well you can see there are not too many people on the beach in Waikiki. Who in their right mind would want to swim in 68 degree temperatures? You’ll notice that most of the people still have tee shirts over their bathing suits.Of course it is still early morning.

IMG_3104No leaves on the plumeria is a sure sign of winter. Oh, and you will notice there are gray skies above. But the plumeria seems to be the only tree that looses its leaves this time of year. Remember in Hawaii it’s a jungle out there.

DSCN0725Then there is this wall of orange flowers that has bloomed in the late fall. Pretty apropos since Halloween is just around the corner when you see this in bloom.

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How did the ancient Hawaiians recognize winter? It was during this time that the Makahiki season began. The above symbol for the god Lono would be carried around the island and offerings were collected. When this was finished the official season would begin.

The Hawaiians knew this season by the rising of the constellation Makalii or Pleiades and they would put away all intentions of war and would play games. Games that would demonstrate ones skills such as throwing spears, or slings among other things. These would sharpen their ability to fight during a war.

Of course this being winter, the ocean would be to rough to paddle canoes to carry warriors to battle so this all made sense.

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Navigating the long lines headed out to the North Shore  I see many signs of winter. Someone must have piled their stones to ask for big surf or maybe their work of art. In ancient times it was not unusual to see pohaku ( stones) piled or placed around a dwelling as the Hawaiians believed that stones could have mana or power.

DSCN2269But a dead sure sign of winter is this sign. I never get tired of looking at the waves. They are magnificent. Unfortunately I did not have my good camera with me and did not get any shots. I was having trouble looking into the viewer on my pocket camera and was lucky I even got these shots. Lessen here is never leave home without my Cannon.

DSCN2280                                    50 foot waves and higher are the surest signs of winter and that brings out all the surfers…..

1044422_10203000667967669_41725385_n                                     Gotta catch that wave.

DSCN2272                                                                                           and sightseers.

So you see, we do have winter in Hawaii. Ah it’s a bitter season but someone has to endure it. Never need my rain coat and boots anymore. Even if I had them it is too hot to use those rainy day items. What can I say. Lucky I live Hawaii.

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Lucky You Live Hawaii

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The Sun goes down and the water remains bath tub warm. The view makes me want to cry. But I’m not here. My son took this photo. This is his youngest son who is still going at it as the last rays flash into the horizon. If you look closely you can even see red sails in the sunset.

I am sure there are those of you who would give anything to be sitting on this beach watching the sky change colors like a chameleon. Maybe take a moonlight swim or just hold hands with someone special and kick your feet with a slight splash as you stroll along the shoreline.

I know that is what I would love to do. “Hey wait a minute” you may say, “you live in Hawaii, what keeps you from doing it?”

Hmm. Good question. I’m becoming a recluse. With all this beauty around me I rarely leave the house. So I’m going to force my way out of the house and look into a few places that one of my readers, Helen Dano, suggested. Sink holes and a natures preserve.

I will just do it! Meanwhile I need to head down to that beach and capture a few shots of my own. I need to be rejuvenated. After all, to paraphrase a saying here in the islands,  “I’m lucky I live Hawaii!”

 

So This is Christmas, Waikiki

Big bucks are spent to vacation in Hawaii during Christmas. Since it had been two years since I’ve been to Waikiki for the holiday I decided to call my good friend Yvonne to join me for breakfast at the Outrigger Hotel.

Breakfast somehow seems more special when I am  sitting overlooking the pool and ocean and enjoying conversation with my long time crony. The food always seems to taste better when you are looking at such a beautiful site.

But alas it was not to be. That is, sitting overlooking the ocean. Instead, we had to take what was available, a table across from the preferred seating overlooking other people’s heads who were overlooking the pool and ocean.

It seemed from that point on I slowly turned into the Grinch.

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Yvonne was happy to be there and was just fine where we sat. She just ignored me as disappointment and complaints poured out of my mouth. The menu didn’t appeal to me so I ordered a short stack of macadamia nut and banana pancakes. They tasted dry as I tried to look through heads out to the sea. The coffee was bitter as I poured packets of sugar to mask the taste and somehow I only saw the tinsel side of Christmas as I looked around.

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There seemed nothing extraordinary to photograph that represented the holidays. This bar next to the table where we ate seemed to sum up the way I felt. It called to me but unfortunately it was closed. Even if it had been open I am sure they could not have made me a drink that would have made me feel better about my surroundings. So we headed down the stairs. I realized that the food had not changed and we had a wonderful waiter but I am a creature of my surroundings and I don’t choose place to eat for the food but for the ambiance.

 

 

IMG_0892I believe I took this very same photo two years ago for my Christmas blog back then. The Outrigger had very little to show in the way of Christmas decorations and so we didn’t bother to stay to look around.

Is it me or are the hotels losing the spirit like so many other places. Here it is December 16th and I’ve not heard one person say Merry Christmas. It’s as thought they are like the recorded message you always get when calling a business but paraphrased. “Your money is very important to us please take in our token Christmas decorations while you wait to pay the cashier.”

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The Moana Hotel, though their decorations have not changed, still had a beautiful presentation.

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The lei in the tree looked Hawaiian and Chrismasy

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Here we were at the Princess Kaiulani Hotel. This is a portrait of the young princess who was next in line for the throne. She died very young before taking the throne and even had she lived she would not have been able to reign as Queen Liliuokalani the Queen at the time, had been dethroned by big business men from the United States. Her imprisonment marked the end of the Hawaiian Monarchy. Much to the sadness and outcry of the Hawaiian People.

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This carving of a peacock is also a symbol of the Princess. Her home was in Waikiki and it was surrounded by her beloved peacocks. It was said that the peacocks cried through the night as the princess lay on her death bead. But more to reality the reason they may have cried would have been to announce the stream of strangers that were calling throughout the night to pay their last respects to their beloved princess.

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My last Christmas visit to the hotel they had this elaborate ginger bread set up  but it was all Hawaiian. This year they gave a nod to all the foreign visitors who patronize the hotel. This is the London Tower Bridge and to the side is the Eye of London or is it the London Eye?

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And do I really have to say what this represents other than a lot of cookie dough? The Eiffel Tower.

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And this is the rest of the village that looked a little to snowy for me. Yes Christmas can have a lot of snow, but in Hawaii? These are historic sites in Hawaii but it was just cluttered for me to try to single out.

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Now we’re  at the Hyatt Regency Hotel. I did not visit it the last time so it was all new to me and yet the tree pretty much looked like all the other hotel trees.

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But I did like this carousel display. The wind was blowing and the waterfall splashed down and out. Their was a bit of a chill, not much, but still a chill in the air. The bright display attracted the children but the spray of water became more attention-getting then anything else. I expect coming from all over the world and many from cold countries, the spray felt wonderful under the Hawaiian sun.

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So the last Hotel display I took was this one as I really liked the lay that this zebra was wearing. But that was as close to a Hawaiian look as there was going to be for a display in this hotel.

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When all was said and done. This was the real Christmas in Hawaii for those who were checking in to the hotel. From breakfast to the last display, I felt, Christmas had left the building and if there had not been these displays in the hotels you would not have known what time of year it was once you stepped out of your room.

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From street settings such as this along Kalakaua Avenue ,

IMG_0932to Duke Kahanamoku with fists full of leis welcoming all to his island

IMG_0947And the statue of the young boy surfing alongside a seal

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This is the real Christmas in Hawaii

 

Kissing Paradise Goodby-Waikiki on the Fourth of July

Every year my son has a 4th of July picnic in Waikiki. It is my favorite ritual. In order to get a decent spot he has in the past arrived the night before to save a place. I would join him around 5 AM so that I could, one, find parking and two, sit and drink coffee while the sun came up. It was a wonderful event.

Last year he was told by the city that they were no longer allowing people to stay overnight and that you had to wait until 5 AM to get into the park.

I did not know this but still planned on my 5 AM arrival. Well due to a new alarm clock that I was not sure how to set I kept waking up to make sure I had not over slept. By 2 AM I was exhausted and thought the heck with it I’ll just sleep and hope it would go off.

Just as I drifted off Max decided he wanted to sleep on the bed and jumped up and plopped his furry body right in front of my face. He refused to get off the bed. After fighting with him for 20 minutes I finely got back to sleep but not for long as he started to bark at the person delivering the paper. It was now 3 AM and I gave up.

I got up packed up all my things, made coffee, got ready and i was out the door at 3:30. I was in Waikiki in 20 minutes. What would normally take 40 minutes during the day in regular traffic was a breeze on a holiday.

And a good thing it was fast. When I arrived there was not one parking space in the whole street along Waikiki beach. When I arrived at the park there were only 5 spaces left. Where I was always able to park right next to our spot, there were cars lining the area. What’s more I could not see my son. I drove way down from our usual space and took the first space I saw.

In the past there was never any tents set up. Now they were everywhere. The rule that only one person could sleep over and only in a sleeping bag to save a space had been totally ignored! I phoned my son, he was just driving down and I told him to hurry as the spaces were almost gone. He was upset when he arrived. People were sleeping everywhere.

Four in the morning and you can just see tents set up to the right But at this time there are so many people down here that I don’t want to venture to the bench to drink coffee as I might stumble over someone.

The Dawn is breaking and the only peaceful place is on the beach it’s self. The lifeguard post is still quiet and unmanned.

Looking toward Waikiki the Natatorium lights have just come on in the bathrooms

A few people enter into the water at around 6:30

Looking through the Natatorium window as the sun rises over the mountains

It’s around 7 now and people are starting to arrive to swim. The sun is just starting to rise by Diamond Head

This is looking into the park and you are able to get an idea of how many people have arrived at the park. It is getting so crowded that there will soon be tents on tents.

My son starts to set up. He and I are the only ones there at this time. He is a bit fuzzy from having put in a full day of construction the day before and was up a 3 AM to start loading and getting ice. He was not able to get the spot he usually got as there were already three tents set up there.The photo is a bit fuzzy because, well, I was a bit fuzzy too.

You can see all the cars parked along the park. I was parked way past those cars getting one  of the last few stalls left.

All of the tents are starting to appear

This canoe appeared early in the AM and sat for hours right in the middle of the only place left for kids to play. When we inquired as to who it belonged to, nobody laid claim.  So we put it on the side and the kids got on with their day.

I’m not sure if this guy didn’t want to deal with the crowds on the beach that were now gathering or he couldn’t swim. I guess he was practicing as he and the boat soon disappeared.

This was a party of Marines who had a huge elaborate set up down from us. I found this surprising as the military has private access to some of the best beaches on the island. Nice beaches for locals are so overcrowded I find it hard to understand why they would want to set up and fight the crowds on this beach.

And this was the “Chef.” Boy did his ribs look good. And those are two chickens he has in there also. I asked him how in the world did he get that huge set up down there. Of course he pointed to all the strong Marines standing by waiting. They really know how to party.

As the day got brighter and more and more people arrived, illegal tents with BBQ’s started to take over the beach. And it was still before 9 AM!

My son and I looked around, both of us tired. I had not enjoyed my coffee ritual and we were crowded in between too many tents with strangers kids wandering into our area. What there was of it. Our families arrived and started to settle in. I looked at all the tents around us.

There were a few of the older families that once had picnicked here. It was more younger people and military. Things were again changing in these islands. I told my son that I don’t think I will be coming again. If I had not been harassed by Max and left the house so early I would not have found parking. The thought of getting up at that hour next year just to get a space no longer held any charm to me.

I am sorry for the local families that are slowly loosing all their wonderful picnic areas. Yes indeed. We can kiss paradise good-by.

 

 

 

 

 

Hula, Halus and the Hilton Hawaiian

Tee shirt for this years Hula Festival

Being one that does not like traffic jams, expensive parking spaces and crowded streets I seldom go into Waikiki. But once I’ve navigated through all of that and I get out of the car and look around I chastise myself. There is a lot of beauty in a day that begins with trade-winds, blue canals and the thought of Hula Kahiko. ( Ancient Hula)

Ala Wai Boat Harbor is the first to greet me as we park the car to go into the Hilton Hawaiian Village

My son is trying to be patient with me as we head on to the hotel grounds. He is talking to me and walking ahead when he realizes that I’m still at the statue taking photos. The sculptures are graceful, full of meaning and captivating. I need to take a picture. How else can I tell a story.

This tells the story of the making of Kapa by two sister in an ancient legend. The seated woman who is pounding Kapa is Puanani Van Dorpe who has learned the ancient ways of Kapa Making and passed it on so that the art of Kapa won’t be lost. She has been named a Living Hawaiian Legend.

So my son backs up and tells me it is OK he understands  and once again we start for the festival. Then I see the chapel on the grounds and what’s that in the window? A bride. I must take a photo.

The wedding chapel where a Japanese bride is waiting. Many Japanese come from Japan to get married here. They most likely will have had the traditional Japanese wedding at home but still pay big money to have an American wedding here. Usually it is just the bride in groom and no guest.

I’ve purposely left the photo large so that you can see the bride inside the window.

My son now has told me that it is getting late and if we don’t hurry we won’t get a good seat. So I leave all the Kodak moments behind and we head into the hotel.

As we step out of the elevator we step into the heart of the festival. By that I mean the preparation. I’m not sure why a lot of the work is going on in the hallways. Maybe the hotel did not provide the halaus with an area to prepare or the halaus just spilled out into the walkways. What ever the reason I find it thrilling and immediately start taking more photos.

Dancers are working on a Ti leaf skirt

One of the males is being fitted for his skirt.

Bird of Paradise flowers have been wrapped in preparation for head pieces

A hairdresser adds fern, ginger and the Bird of Paradise to the dancers hair

Finished hair piece

My son has now managed to relate the urgency to me as I take my last photos. I just could not pass up these leis.

Leis for sale

Orchids and more orchids
Leis are works of art

We are finely inside and like my son said, we should have walked faster as we are in pretty bad seats. But what I could see they were all pretty bad seats as they were level with the stage so that I could not see a lot of the dancing. To make things worse I had forgotten my tripod and had to take hand-held photos without flash. So my photos are a bit blurry

The fixture lights up signaling the beginning of the festival.

Auana Hula (modern hula) This is what most people think of when they think of Hula. The graceful dancers whose hands seem to float tell a story about the snow.

This halau appears in the style of King Kalakaua era in the 1800’s

The Kahiko (ancient hula)

When the halau enters the stage  the kumu calls  to get ready. The excitement begins. The audience which by now is full of other halaus call out loudly and excitedly. This is a competition but everyone has worked hard, raised money, put much time and sweat into their routine and when a strong move is performed they are not competitors but co-hearts, all are one in the perpetuation of an ancient art that almost disappeared because of the outside influences to the islands. I can’t help but cry I am so emotional to watch my calabash granddaughter perform.

The performance is over and the kumu hugs one of her performers. Love and respect passes from the dancer to her teacher. They’ve worked hard and the expression on the kumu’s face shows how much she cares for her girls.

It’s over now. The Kumu calls her girls together and they wait for the elevator to head back to their rooms where they will change and come back to the auditorium to then cheer on the other halaus.

My son and I head out of the hotel I with my camera in hand now that I am not on a time frame. But everything seems to pale after all the color and excitement. Then I see this one last sculpture.

I believe it sums up the day. What a beautiful tradition

Christmas at the Moana Surfrider Hotel in Waikiki

December in Waikiki

The rain is shining  the leaves with small crystal drops. The temperiture is probably down in the low 60’s and I’m sitting in my yard with my sweat jacket and shorts on. Ka Mea is wrapped in a blanket and Max has his fur to keep him warm. After all he is a sheep dog and Quite comfortable in this cooler climate.

It was uncomfortably warm last week when I went to Waikiki to take these photos. More of a typical winter day. So I continue on with Christmas in Paradise and how some of the hotels put on their displays or lack there of.

The Moana Hotel

The Moana Surfrider and the Royal Hawaiian are really the only two hotels that have any beauty to them from the outside. They are the oldest hotels in Waikiki also and were built before the cement jungle set in.

This tree is in the main lobby right as you walk in. It did not seem to have a Hawaiian theme to it. I went in surch of more Holiday decorations but only found a Palm tree.

This was their Hawaiian theme. A palm tree Christmas tree.

As I searched around for more Christmas decorations this is what I saw. A closet where they hang the leis to greet the guest. Hopefully they are from the islands but most of the orchids now used in leis come from Thailand . (http://www.amysorchids.com/) The flowers are to expensive here. But somehow that just does not seem right to me. Plumeria leis which have a wonderful scent to them grow so easily here and really seem more Hawaiian would make a nice alternative and support the local growers. Why do they use orchids?

But then I guess orchids are synonymous with Hawaii too. But none of it is Hawaiian anyway. You might want to try a Maile lei or for your head put on a Haku. Now those are Hawaiian. Maile Lei or Haku Head Bands

And once again I find the obligatory Hawaiian real or fake artifacts on display in the Moana’s lobby. I tried to find the information on what they had here but I must have missed it. From appearances it looks like a gourd, an Umeke and a piece of Kapa. If you want to know all about these items you should try to take a trip to the Bishop Museum where they have many on display and tell you all about their uses and how they were made. An Umeke is a bowl that is made of wood and Kapa is the cloth that the Hawaiians made from the bark of trees. Gourds were more commonly used by the everyday Hawaiian for carrying things in or maybe for bowls for food or to eat out of. The umeke would more likely be used by the upper class or Alii.

 

If you are fortunate enough to be able to stay at the Moana this is a fine way to spend a winters day thinking about all your pals back home fighting the elements as you dream away in the 80 degree weather.

As we leave the Moana Hotel I head down Kalakaua Ave. This is the main drag in Waikiki and is more what Waikiki looks like. No ocean view, all the Palms and beaches have  been dug up to put in imported trees and brick sidewalks to try to fancy up the place and detract from all the cement buildings  that surround you. However their still is the nice weather.

My next post will be at the Princess Kaiulani where they put up a huge display of gingerbread. I think it is time I get back to posting about the museum. Very little Christmas there but lots of the real thing as far as Hawaii goes.

 

Christmas at the Outrigger Hotel in Hawaii

Hibiscus Christmas Tree

This hotel was a little more festive then the Royal Hawaiian. I loved all of the hisbiscus that decorated the tree.  Exactly which Outrigger I was at, I am not sure. I identify it as the Outrigger where I can sit and have breakfast and look out to the ocean as the photograph in my last post showed.

An Outrigger Canoe at the Outrigger Hotel

Here an Outrigger canoe is incorporated into the Christmas display. It seems fitting. The hotel industry likes to put out “Hawaiian” displays to give you that “Your in Hawaii” feeling. Just like the Christmas trees trying to give you that “Christmas” feeling.

Neither work in my estimation but they are nice to look at. When ever I can I try to encourage people to leave Waikiki. It was once the playground of the Alii (Kings and Queens) but thanks to the corporate world they have destroyed the wave action in that area and have had to bring in sand to replace beaches that are washing away and are trying their best to landscape between all of the cement jungle to try and bring back some semblance of Hawaii to greed gone haywire.

Again, I think of the Eagles song, where they say “call someplace Paradise and you can kiss it good-by.

Herb Kane Painting Of Hawaiians coming to the islands

If you double click on the above photo you will get a better view of the painting. Many people don’t realize that due to excellent navigation skills the Kanaka Maoli (The People) as the Hawaiians called themselves, purposely set out for the islands. They were not blown off course nor did they just happen upon the islands one day when they were out fishing.

Of course there isn’t anything to indicate this in the hotel.  People will just look at the canoe and maybe will connect it to canoe races or beach boys. But as is shown in the painting the Hawaiians came great distances with every thing they needed inside those great canoes.

Landing on pristines shores, devising a land system where all were dependent on one another and there was no such thing as greed. If an alii were to be harsh to his people and demand to much of them they had the right to move on to another area and under another cheif. This would bring disgrace upon the demanding one so it happened very seldom and all lived quite well.

That is until the forigners landed. So here we are in a cement jungle with a few Hawaiian artifacts thrown in, real or not. Too bad we can’t kick out the ruling chiefs of today.

Well anyway if you do decide to stay in Waikiki do rent a car and drive out to the windward side. Take in the real green. The Koolau‘s. I will cover that on another day.