Pearl Harbor

On our second full day on Oahu, which also happened to be our last, Conservative Hubby and I were up before the sun once again.

Figuring this would be the case, we had booked an early-morning excursion to visit Pearl Harbor.

At first we thought we'd just hitch a ride on the local bus, but then we discovered that although it would only cost a couple of dollars, it would take quite some time to reach the part of the island where the harbor was located. Then we (very briefly) contemplated a cab ride to the site, but that would've been unnecessarily expensive. In the end, we decided to fork over $24 each to go with an official tour company booked through the concierge.

One reason we did this: It ensured we reached Pearl Harbor early in the morning, before the crowds. Otherwise it might have been tempting to take our sweet time eating breakfast and working out and showering first, in which case we would've arrived late, waited in line for tickets, not been able to get a spot on the tour until mid-afternoon, and ended up stuck there all day.

Visiting on the tour bus turned out to be a wise decision. For starters, our driver, Rocky, kept us entertained all the way to the site and back. (And shared an island's worth of knowledge, only half of which we actually believed.)

Once we arrived at the Pearl Harbor Historic Site, Rocky waited in line to snag our small group tickets for the USS Arizona tour. We lucked out and were in the first group of the day.

First, we entered a theater where we watched a 40-minute video of what happened on Dec. 7, 1941. Although anyone who has taken an American history class undoubtedly knows about the "day of infamy," it was interesting to revisit all the details. Of particular note: The entire 40-minute narrated video featured actual footage from the day of the attack, provided by people stationed in Hawaii at the time as well as by the Japanese. I had no idea there was so much video footage of that day!

The video was incredibly sobering, and the actual visit to the USS Arizona Memorial was even more so.

We boarded a ferry run by the U.S. Navy which took us across the harbor to the memorial.

The striking structure was built over the top of the sunken battleship.

From inside the memorial, you can see views of the harbor and the USS Arizona from every direction, including from an opening in the floor.

It was amazing to see the once-massive battleship's remains so close to our feet--and it was particularly surprising to see the rainbow-hued oil slicks floating on the surface of the water. After all these years, the USS Arizona--an underwater grave for the soldiers who lost their lives aboard the ship that day--is still leaking oil.

At the back of the memorial, the names of those brave servicemen who gave their lives are memorialized.

After our ferry ride back to the site, we wandered around looking at the other memorials to the soldiers and civilians who were on the other battleships that went down or who were killed in the harbor.

Conservative Hubby and I, along with our fellow tour mates, opted out of the actual tours of the Battleship Missouri Memorial, USS Bowfin Submarine tour, and the Pacific Aviation Museum, as that would've consumed our entire day and required purchasing multiple additional tickets.

We were able to spend plenty of time looking at outdoor displays and taking photos of the USS Missouri and the USS Bowfin, however.

And there were other things to see at the historic site, including some interactive exhibits like this one showing the inside of a submarine.

Plus, on the way home, good ol' Rocky drove us through downtown Honolulu, which we might not otherwise have seen. He showed us where he lived, in case we wanted to visit. He also pointed out the street on which Dog the Bounty Hunter's office is located, where Chinatown is (and we learned that we shouldn't visit after dark), and the giant glass building the guy from Dirty Jobs scaled and cleaned.

We are much better off knowing these tidbits, folks. Don't you think?

All joking aside, though, Conservative Hubby and I were glad we took the time to visit the Pearl Harbor Memorial Site. It was a striking setting and a humbling experience to see a place where so many people lost their lives and to remember an event that so drastically shaped the history of our country.

Should you ever make it to Oahu (I hope you do!), make sure to leave time to visit it yourself.

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