Six or so years ago, the Sailor promised me that when he made Chief, he would take me to Hawaii to celebrate. Shortly after that he made Chief and moments later I was told I had the big C. Needless to say, any plans, regardless of promise, was forgotten while we dealt with that shit blip. Years passed, the Chief got saltier, my hair fell out, then grew back and we moved to Japan. I never let him forget that he still owed me a some authentic Mai Tai’s on any one of the Hawaiian Islands many beaches.

Lo and behold, shortly after arriving at Yokosuka, the Sailor informed me that in February, the command was sending him to Oahu to take a class for a few weeks and he asked me if I wanted to join him when his class was done, for a little vacation. I mean, did he even need to ask? Because yes, my answer is always YES to traveling anywhere especially a tropical paradise.

I had never been to Waikiki and let me tell you, it did not disappoint. I could have done without the traffic and human congestion downtown but, Waikiki is a city so it wasn’t exactly a surprise. But the country side, oh the country side; Lush green jungle covered mountains and valleys with cerulean waters as a back drop to white sandy beaches. Needless to say, those off the beaten path areas were my jam.

My first day there Kyle had class right after he picked me up from the airport. I literally took a coma for the day to try and deal with the jet lag. I literally traveled back in time to experience that same morning again. The next day was Valentines Day but Kyle only had the morning off and had the night portion of class that evening. So we spent the day together and I spent that evening with a delivery pizza in my PJs still working off that jet lag. After that, it was nonstop fun and sightseeing.

We went on base at Pearl Harbor a few times. Twice to sight see and a few other times for grabbing stuff from the base store. The times we visited the base to sign see walked around the Ford Island Loop, took a short boat ride out to see the Pearl Harbor Memorial, went to the Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum and Toured the USS Missouri.

The Ford Island Loop is just over 3 miles and is an easy paved walk with some cool views. Blue dots embedded in the walk way direct you along with frequent informational boards and plaques pointing out memorable things to see at that point and interesting information. The most poignant thing on the walk for me were all the strafing marks from the attack in 1942 still found in the concrete. Here is this beautiful blue bay and palm trees everywhere then suddenly, in the side walk a line of pitting reminding you this beautiful place was once bombed chaos.

Strafing Marks

The boat ride out by the Memorial takes you by the Battleship Missouri and the Memorial that resides over the wreck of the Arizona. Unfortunately the dock to actually visit the memorial was damaged in a little ship fender bender and was not open for guests so, we couldn’t go through.

USS Missouri from the Memorial boat ride
Pearl Harbor Memorial

The Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum wasn’t exactly on my top list of places to go. I mean, I didn’t MIND but, that’s the Sailor’s gig. I was pleasantly surprised as how much I really enjoyed it. My favorite part was by far the hangar or planes being restored, some even being worked on as we wandered around. When the Sailor asked which plane was my favorite, I had no hesitation, it was Swamp Ghost. She’s a Boeing B-17E Flying Fortress piloted by Captain Frederick ‘Fred’ C. Eaton, Jr, that ditched in a swamp on Papua New Guinea during the WWII. It was a really interesting story which you can get a glimpse of at the Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum website. You also really should read about the Disney Swamp Ghost Nose Art which helped in my selection of this beauty being my personal fav of the day.

Swamp Ghost

Hangar 79 were the planes on display are kept in have doors at either end. The original blue glass still show the bullet holes from he Japanese attack. Again, another somber reminder of this area’s significance to our history.

Original hangar windows with WWII bullet holes


We went on the USS Missouri and opted for the fancy guided tour because, you know, ship stuff. I learned a bunch of cool stuff from the very nice guide as well as my own personal salty Sailor.


Broadway passageway, looks like an infinity mirror effect but, really is just repetitive doors all the way down.


A thick ass door.
September 2, 1945 Japanese Instrument of Surrender was signed here on the deck of the Battleship Missouri


Our first evening out exploring had us basically just driving around the island looking around taking it in. We ended up on a basically deserted beach at sunset in Makana. We stopped to just enjoy the view for a bit before heading back to the hotel.

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The next day we decided on a ride to the North Shore. Along the way we planned to stop at the Pali Lookout. Cold, rain and fog didn’t stop us but, didn’t make for the greatest pictures. Thankfully we went when we did because that evening there was a landslide that closed the main highway down to the point making it inaccessible for the rest of out trip.

Nali Lookout is supposedly a beautiful view.


If you know Kyle and I then you know we have a love for Disney. Every trip to any of the parks in the US is not complete without Dole Whip. If you don’t know Dole Whip, you are missing out! It’s a creamy delectable pineapple soft serve that Dole invented specifically for Disney to offer. Official Dole Whip can only be found at The Polynesian Resort and Aloha Isle in Adventure Land at Disney World in Florida, at the Tiki Juice Bar in Disneyland in California and at the Dole Plantation. It just so happens that the Dole Plantation is on Oahu on the way to the north shore. Needless to say, we went specifically for that personal favorite icy treat.

Dole MF’ing Whip Bitches.

When I first saw Disney’s Moana, I, like everyone else loved Heihei the empty headed chicken. I just assumed that he was a creative liberty taken by the animators and story creators to include the trademark silly/adorable/laugh getting animal that every Disney animated film has. And that’s true BUT, there is fact behind that feathery knucklehead. These guys are literally EVERYWHERE on the island and I loved them. I couldn’t help but yell out, “BABY CHICKENS!” every time we drove or walked past a fluffy little brood peeping along in the sandy grass.

Heihei in the flesh

The North Shore is known for surfing. The Banzai Pipeline or just, Pipeline is notorious for huge waves which break in the shallows just above a jagged, vast reef, forming large, hollow, thick curls of water. If you have seen a movie with surfing, where the surfer rides through a tube of water as the wave bends and curls over as it breaks, that’s what the water is like at Sunset Beach Park. Many people have died or been seriously injured at Pipeline and it’s been called one of the world’s deadliest waves. We were content to just sit and enjoy the view listening to the crash, than be in it.

Banzai Pipeline


There are lots of cool hikes around Oahu. One was within walking distance of our hotel. Diamond Head is a slightly rugged hike up an extinct volcano. Some of it is paved, some not and some consisted of concrete stairs through a tunnel. It was a crowded, hot, sweaty workout that resulted in some beautiful panoramic views of Waikiki.

Peak of Diamond Head


On the way back down, glistening.

After the day of hiking in the sun, we treated ourselves to a quick walk and swim at Waikiki Beach at sunset. It was the closest beach to our hotel but, also a really crowded one being that it’s right along the shore of the city. At dinner time though, many people and their families trickle back to their rooms and condos to go to dinner and the beach is bearable and the sunset beautiful.


I have never been snorkeling. Listen, I come from a land locked state in the US so swimming, not my strong suit. My parents weren’t the type that signed me up for lessons either. I vaguely remember being tossed into a pool and hearing “kick your legs,” so, really no surprise I haven’t partaken in a lot of water activities in my life. Pair that with an irrational fear of carnivorous fish and deep water and you have yourself me, an awkward, fear filled swimmer. I want to change that a little. I mean, I’ll never be the one at the pool gracefully swimming laps but, the though I just floating on the surface looking down at cool coral and colorful fish, yeah, I can try that. Knowing my level of experience (none) Kyle suggested Hanauma Bay, a beautiful protected marine life conservation area and underwater park where there is little to no waves and guaranteed fish in the reef.  The first time we went, the wave break was so uncommonly bad that sand was churning to where you couldn’t see even a few inches below the surface which explained why it wasn’t as crowded as we expected. We opted to hike the ridge that day rather than battle the churning waters. But, Kyle had bought me a mask, a snorkel and even got me some fancy flippers, I was going to try my hand at floating above some fish dang it so, a few days later we went back. It was a beautiful day; sunny with just a few wispy white clouds for occasional reprieve from the sun. I won’t lie, I struggled with panic the first few times I tried to lay face down in the water. Kyle patiently waited floating  around me popping up to look at me and make sure I wasn’t freaking out. Eventually though, my internal screaming silenced and my tensed body begging me to run to shore, eased and let me tell you, it began to be fun and the views, awesome. Needless to say, I loved it. So many fish so brightly colored and anemones blooming like flowers on the reef. My shoulders ached the next day from all the breast stroking and wiggling over and around coral without touching it for fear of hurting a single thing. It was a shame that SOMEONE (cough ** Kyle** cough, cough) forgot to bring the GoPro with the waterproof case with him or I could have shared some sweet underwater pics. He promises next time he won’t forget.


Swimming in sun shirts to avoid being tomatoes later.

Oahu has been the setting for scenes in several major motion pictures. One of the most famous, Jurassic Park. That scene were the dinosaurs are “flocking this way” and  Alan Grant with Tim and Lex almost get trampled by a stampede of Dinos? You know, this one:

It was filmed on Oahu. The Sailor being a huge Jurassic Park fan (me too but not as big as that guy) wanted to see it. Turns out there is a nature preserve called the Kualoa Ranch where you can do just that… for a price. A very hefty price we learned when we arrived. They had horseback tours, ATV tours, zip lining, boat tours, small dune-buggy like off-road vehicles they called Raptor tours or the easy peasy open sided bus tour. All for hundreds of dollars each. While we both did contemplate forking over the cash, ultimately we felt that the amount of money could go a lot farther elsewhere, especially since it was raining and muddy mess that day. Instead we opted to just drive back out to the public roads and look around the outskirts of the valley. Luckily on one of the drives (because we came back that direction a couple of times) the skies cleared up and we happened upon the back side of the reserve and were treated to a pretty spectacular view into the valley with the ocean merrily crashing behind uson the shore across the street we parked on.

Looking into the back side of the Valley where Jurassic Park and World Scenes were filmed.
And now you’re humming that theme song. You’re welcome.

As we continued our drive that day we ended up just up the road about 30 minutes at Pounders Beach where we practically had the place tp ourselves other than the few body surfers and boogie boarders. So we sat in the sand and enjoyed it for a while.

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Another day, another hike. This day was Makapuu Lighthouse. I had hoped to spot one or two humpback whales while we were in Hawaii and the Sailor told me this would be the place most likely. And he was right. It was a pretty walk up a paved trail along the cliff edge with regular look outs for breaks and whale watching. I stopped at every single one and danced with glee at every breach I was lucky enough to witness. We both tried our hardest to catch one in picture or video and the Sailor was mildly successful but it’s hard as they were a distance out. Even without the performances by the giant mammals of the sea, the views were beautiful.


The reward at the end of the Makapuu Lighthouse hike

All of our previous hikes on Oahu had been practice, appetizers to the main course, to get me feeling confident that I could conquer Koko Crater trail. It’s an abandoned railway-turned-trail to the peak of the crater. Reviews said it was difficult and occasionally reviews used the word “grueling”. The Sailor assured me that I could do it, that we could stop as much as I needed and wanted on the way up. So I agreed. I agreed to 1,043 steps straight up. Below, you will not see any cute smiling pictures of me glowing with joy and sweat because I died half way up and this is my ghost writing this. JK. I didn’t die but, I though I might at the time. 10 out of 10 would do it again for the spectacular views and sense of utter bad ass accomplishment. Shout out to Kyle for having the patience of a saint as I literally stopped every 5-15 steps of so for the last half of the epic climb. Even telling me to stop and sit down if he saw I was trying to just push through red faced and on shaky legs. For also not being embarrassed by me crab walking on the way back down on the part that was suspended off the ground by like 8 feet. We had taken a little detour around that part on the way up for my benefit and I had insisted that I was fine to do it going down. I was wrong. Several steps down I panicked juuuuuust a little and then I couldn’t trust myself to not slip a leg between ties and break a femur by walking down it bipedal. So i sat my ass down and carb walked the rest of the way like Linda Blair in The Exorcist. A tiny ancient Japanese lady breezed by me while I did it and I still have no shame in my crab walking game.

This is about 2/3 of the way up. This picture was taken by me sitting down trying not to die.
Sailor approved.

During the week I insisted on trying as many local food spots as possible. Zippy’s for Chili and Korean fried chicken. L&L for Kalua pork and cabbage. Leonard’s for Malasadas. Eggs n’ Things for Loco Moco not to mention food trucks along whatever beach we happened to be driving by. The one thing that I needed in my life, which I frequently told the Sailor throughout the week was some fresh delicious Poke. Now, i knew this was one of the few things that he would NOT be interested in but, I NEEDED it. So I asked (forced) him to take me to Fresh Catch on the way back to the hotel from Koko Head to do just that finally. It was a tiny place with old school glass deli cases that held dozens of types of fresh fish made into every flavor combination of Poke you can image among many other fresh seafood options. To be fair, I picked this place because they also served BBQ and fried chicken for him. It had plain concrete floor and there were a couple wooden picnic tables for those that wanted to stay and eat their purchases. The moment we entered the tiny place I knew I’d be leaving with my Poke and Kyle would be leaving as fast as possible. As we stood in the short line to the register, he leaned over and with a wrinkled nose said, “It smells like fish in here.” So I got my Firecracker Ahi Poke Bowl to go and we left. When we got back to the hotel, the Sailor walked over to McDonalds to get him self some cheeseburgers and I tucked into my coveted ahi tuna tossed with spicy chili, scallions and roe. It was spicy, savory, roe poppingly delicious.

It wasn’t a pretty picture but, I was in Ahi Tuna heaven.

After the day, our last day of vacation, spent conquering Koko, we earned the reward of one final Mai Tai (or two) from the famous Duke’s. The Sailor had surprised me taking me there for dinner the night after Valentine’s Day since we hadn’t gotten to be together the previous night. I didn’t know about Duke’s until we walked up and I did a quick google to find it pretty fancy. Color me impressed. Kyle’s not one for fancy restaurants ever! Apparently he remembers it fondly from his early Navy career and drinking Mai Tais at the bar with the other knuckleheads on his ship when they were in port at Pearl Harbor. I started with a famous Mai Tai per the Sailor’s recommendation for my cocktail and then had a swoon worthy macadamia encrusted sautéed Mahi Mahi. The Sailor ordered something called a Tropical Itch that came with an actual back scratcher in it which he left in while he drank it.


It was only fitting to go back and end our last night there sitting on the back patio listening to the sounds of Waikiki waves while we got tipsy going over all the amazing sights and sounds and food we had crammed into the 12 days we were there.


It was a perfect end to an amazing vacation full of adventures. ❤

Mt. Nokogiri and Nihonji Temple

A few weekends ago we decided to take a little day trip to Chiba to check out Mt. Nokogiri and Nihon-ji Tenbodai Temple grounds. With the Holidays fast approaching and the chaos that comes with them, I’ve been just sitting on the hundreds of pictures we took and writing a sentence or two between trips to the mall, hanging decorations and lines at the post office.

Anyway, our day trip started off with a short walk to Yokosuka-chuo train station to hitch a ride to Kurihama port where we took a 45 minute ride on the Tokyowan Ferry that runs pretty much hourly. Right around ¥2500 got us round trip walk on tickets over to Boso Peninsula, Chiba. Well worth it. It was a overcast and somewhat foggy morning but the views were still pretty and a nice way to spend part of the journey.


A 15 minute walk got us to the Nokogiriyama rope way. ¥500 gets you a oneway ticket in a little car suspended from a series of cables to the top of the mountain and ¥930 will get you a round trip up and down. Since we planned to not just take in the lookouts at the top of the ropeway of Mt. Nokogiri and head down but, to continue on and hike around the temple grounds, we forked over a whooping ¥1000 for two one way tickets and joined the queue for the suspended journey. It’s the easiest way to get up and I would imagine beautiful in full on fall with the leaves turning or in the throughs of spring when it’s at it’s lushest green. Be warned, they FILL the cable car and you’ll find yourself standing shoulder to shoulder. Still for the low price and the quick trip up you still get a great view and an easy ride.fullsizeoutput_1d5

Once you reach the top you are treated to a beautiful view of Tokyo Bay and the Chiba Valley. You’ll also get your ankles batted at by the resident cat colony that lords over the vending machine area staking claim to the picnic tables whether you like it or not. Take your chances with offering them innocent pet. You have a about a 50/50 chance of being met with purrs or slaps and hissing. So basically they are normal jerk face cats. I pet every last dirty one and had no regrets.fullsizeoutput_1d6fullsizeoutput_1d7fullsizeoutput_1dafullsizeoutput_1d9

But wait, there’s MORE! That’s right, more look out points with amazing sights. If you’re feeling like glute workout and want to get to the true peak, you can climb a flight of stone stairs on the “hike to hell” for  a spectacular view of the bay and valley. If it’s a clear day, you’ll get to see Mt Fuji looming over the bay. On a really clear day you might even catch a glimpse of the Tokyo Skytree. Unfortunately for us, it was a bit hazy the day we visited but, the vistas were not disappointing. It’s here that you’ll get a chance to take in Jigoku Nozoki or “View of Hell” which is probably the most famous view on the Mountain. You can clamor up a steep rock wall to find your self walking down a stone stair case to a small cliff that juts out over the valley. It’s railed off but, if you have issues with heights the rail won’t matter to you. It offers stunning views and pretty sweet photo opportunities especially if you have a willing partner to remain over by the summit of the stairs to get a sweet pic of you out on the cliff. This area of the peak offers a complete 360 degree view. If you’re disappointed with it at this point, just go home, you obviously can don’t get nature and views.


Heres were you can decided to head back down on the ropeway or wind your way through the grounds of the Nihonji Temple. The ¥600 per person to get in is well worth it. You can easily spend at least a few hours or more exploring the grounds. While it’s an easy hike, it’s still a work out. To see everything, be prepared to walk up and down and up and down several series of cut stone stairs and slopes. Like hundred of stairs. It’s well worth it for all that you get to see.fullsizeoutput_1e0

Since we were at the top thanks to the rope way we worked our way down. The mountain got its unique saw-tooth shape from years of quarrying which begins to show as you enter the trail. It has been a Buddhist site for over 1300 years so it should be no surprise that the first sight you come upon as you start your descent is 30-meter tall Buddhist Hyaku-Shaku Kannon of the Goddess of Mercy. Carved in 1966 into a stone cliff, it is dedicated to those who died in WWII. The Kannon is also worshiped as a protector of transportation due to its protected location surrounded by rocks.fullsizeoutput_1dd

As you wind your way around the paths, up and down slopes and stairs you find hundreds of groupings of small stone carved rakan or disciples known as the 1500 arhat. These are mortals who have attained enlightenment, and each has a unique facial expression and demeanor. They are perched along the cliffs in nooks and on ledges of the winding paths of the mountain slope. The 1500 statues vary in size and shape, with many beheaded, the unfortunate result of the anti-Buddhist Haibutsu Kishaku movement that came after the Meiji Restoration. During this time many Buddhist sites were attacked and damaged.fullsizeoutput_1edfullsizeoutput_1e1fullsizeoutput_1f0fullsizeoutput_1eefullsizeoutput_1e7fullsizeoutput_1e8fullsizeoutput_1ecfullsizeoutput_1ebfullsizeoutput_1f1fullsizeoutput_1f3fullsizeoutput_215

The statues here were not spared in the violence, but their bodies remain, some with repaired heads and some without adding to the uniqueness of each. The scars are still visible but, time and the elements have softened the edges and covered some with a down moss bandaid. The trails leading to the individual groups often lead to dead ends so, don’t be surprised when you need to back track to the main trail. Keep an eye out for the “mind your head” signs on the low tunnel like passageways as you go. fullsizeoutput_1f4fullsizeoutput_1f5fullsizeoutput_1f6fullsizeoutput_1f7fullsizeoutput_1fdfullsizeoutput_1fcfullsizeoutput_1fafullsizeoutput_1fbfullsizeoutput_1f8

I was obsessed with the 1500 arhat. We took over hundred pictures of them and could have easily taken a few hundred more.

As you start to approach the bottom of the mountain you come upon the Ishidaibutsu, the largest cliff-carved Buddha in Japan. To say it is imposing is a bit of an understatement. It was carved in 1783, 1000 years after the temple was founded. Fun fact, as the healing Buddha, he holds a container of medicine in his hand and is is said that “if you bathe in the radiance of the emerald contained in it, your illness will be healed”.fullsizeoutput_200fullsizeoutput_201fullsizeoutput_205fullsizeoutput_210fullsizeoutput_207fullsizeoutput_208

To the right of the Ishidaibutsu is a small picnic area that was perfect for a short rest as well a peak at a spectacular view from the tables.fullsizeoutput_209

Once we were done taking in the greatness of the great Ishidaibutsu, we headed down the final section of the trail to the temple its self. The oldest place of worship in the Kanto region, Nihonji Temple is a Soto Buddhist temple built over 1300 years ago in 725 CE. CE as in AD. Wrap your brains around that history folks. The temple was originally a monastery and was home to well-known figures such as Roben, the founder of Todai-ji in Nara and Kukai, the founder of Shingon. Having changed from the Hosso Sect to Tendai and now Soto Zen, the temple has been abandoned and revived multiple times throughout the ages. With the anti-Buddhist movement leading to attacks and damage as well as fires after an earthquake in 1939, the temple has undergone restoration for most of its existence.fullsizeoutput_20a

The walk continues to wind down the rest of the mountain; down stairs, over stone bridges, through the dense wooded forrest, leading you past the back parking lot and depositing you on the opposite side of the mountain you started on.fullsizeoutput_216fullsizeoutput_217

From here you have 3 choices: Hike your ass back up the way you just came, over and around the mountain. At this point I’m willing to bet you’ve had your fill of stairs and slopes. This leaves you with the other 2 options. You can take a 10 minute walk to the left and catch a bus that will take about 15 minutes to hustle you to the ferry. Or you can follow GPS and go right and walk around the base of the mountain back to the ferry. We chose the latter of those last two. BE WARNED! There are several tunnels that do not have operational sidewalks nor were the berms ample. We found ourselves timing our jogs through the tunnels between traffic flows occasionally flattening ourselves, laughing, along the sooty wall as a truck or kei car sped by unaware of our perilous presence. A few of the tunnels had walkways outside along the cliffs to the bay but, most were closed for apparent repairs. We braved on such sidewalk and found it led to a dead end which then forced us to hop in the window/barrier halfway through the tunnel and jog the rest of the way battling traffic anyway. Basically, I’d recommend taking the bus around the mountain or sucking it up and back tracking through the temple grounds back the way you came. Regardless, the 45 minute ferry ride back across the bay was a welcome rest before walking back to the train station then ultimately walking back home. 10 out of 10 would recommend. 10 out of 10 would go back during a different season for a different view of the scenery.fullsizeoutput_20bfullsizeoutput_20c