We spent a night in Santa Cruz so we could have a mini vacation.  Our sightseeing consisted of the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, the nearby pier and coast, the Mission, and a stop at U.C. Santa Cruz.  I’m normally hesitant about the coast because of the potential for cold and fog, but the weather was just about perfect for our day at the beach.

Take a look at the photos:


We had an enjoyable day touring a couple of local historic sites in the East Bay.  First up was the Port Chicago Naval Magazine National Memorial located in Concord.  The site is on the Military Ocean Terminal Concord (MOTCO) military base which makes it challenging to visit.  The hours it’s open are limited, but we were able to get tickets to the annual memorial which provided a great opportunity to visit the area.

While not very well known, Port Chicago was the site of one of the worst mainland disasters of World War II.  On July 17, 1944, munitions exploded and killed 320 men.  Back then, the military was segregated and African Americans were put into low level or dangerous jobs.  Loading munitions was dangerous work.  In the explosion,  2/3 of those killed were Black.

Following the explosion, some men protested the unsafe working conditions and were court marshaled.  They were defended, unsuccessfully, but one of the observers was Thurgood Marshall.   The event lead to the integration of the U.S. military.  In this case, the military was well ahead of the rest of the country.

The memorial service was informative and we browsed the site and the exhibits.

From there, we went to downtown Martinez for lunch.  Since we were in the area, we took the opportunity to visit the John Muir historic site, where he lived for part of his life.  That was also interesting as we were surprised to learn how well off he was.  We toured the large house and some of the surrounding farmland.

View the pictures from today:


Hawaiian Cardinal

For our last full day in Oahu, we rented a car.  This let us explore other parts of the island beyond the tourist center of Waikiki.  We drove around nearly all of the island and made various stops listed in our guide book.  We even doubled back a little bit so we could drive along highway H-3, which was well worth it and quite scenic (the route is somewhat notorious for its price of $80M per mile for a total of $1.3B).



View the photos from today:


Today it was back to the outdoors.  Nearby to Hanauma Bay (a world renowned snorkeling spot) is Koko Crater.  This was a short hike…but straight up.  It rises about 1000 feet in around 0.7 miles.  It goes up a funicular track that is abandoned, so it is basically stairs all the way up.  We did this in the morning so we could avoid the hottest part of the day.   The climb was challenging, but we made it to the top.  The view is pretty good, but probably not as good as you deserve after the uphill.   You also get to listen to the nearby shooting range the entire time which is not the most pleasant of background noises.

After the much easier decent, we headed back to Hanauma Bay.  First up was lunch and ice cold sodas.  We then got on line to get tickets  which is followed by waiting to watch the enviornmental movie about the area.  The movie is okay, but we felt it was kind of a waste of time.  After the movie, it was down to the beach.  L’ did a little snorkeling while I read my book and relaxed.

Pictures from the hike and beach:


We went for more urban activities today with a trip downtown.  We again took the very efficient and convenient bus to the Iolani Palace.  Both times I’ve gone to visit the palace on past trips, it has been closed so I was glad to finally tour the inside of it.  Only guided tours are allowed which was fine because the docent was knowledgeable about both the palace and its former occupants.   It is strange seeing royal things in the U.S.

Iolani Palace

Since it was the weekend, the nearby capitol was closed, but we took in an exterior view of it and the Hawaii Supreme Court.  They are filming episodes of “Hawaii Five-O” here so there were some extra police cars on display.

After lunch nearby, we headed back to the hotel for some vacation naps.

Photos from today:


Today we hiked to the top of Diamond Head.  I had not done this on my prior trips to Oahu and was looking forward to the view at the top.  This hike is interesting because you start from inside the cinder cone.  Diamond Head is thought to be extinct at this point.  The top used to be a military look out, but now it’s a National Monument.  The hike up is 3/4 mile, but it’s not too steep, although the last part goes up with stairs unless you take the longer, well graded detour like we did.

View of Waikiki

View of Waikiki

The view at the top was good as you can see all of Waikiki (which is quite a densely populated zone with lots of high rises).  The ocean is a pretty shade of blue as well. The only down side of the hike is that it’s fairly crowded and the viewing area at the top is filled with people.  It’s still well worth though.


View the pictures of Diamond Head:


Looking for a somewhat more relaxing vacation than we usually have, we decided to go to Waikiki for a week.   I had not been to Hawaii in the summer in a long time, so it was nice not having to worry as much about rain.  This was L”s first trip, but there is enough to do that the only repeat for me was Pearl Harbor.  This was actually a good thing because the visitor center at Pearl Harbor was built after I was there and is now greatly improved.  I highly recommend it.   It was very informative.  It even had movies recorded by the Japanese which was certainly something I had not seen.   Having never really studied much about the Pacific Theater of World War II, I found it really interesting.

USS Arizona Memorial

We spent most of the day at Pearl Harbor touring the visitor center and  USS Arizona Memorial first.  In addition to those, we toured the USS Bowfin and Submarine Museum.  Having toured the USS Midway last summer, we didn’t feel the need to stop at the USS Missouri.    While it would be neat to see where the Japanese surrendered ending the war, we didn’t really have time nor the interest to tour another military ship.

View the photos of Pearl Harbor:


We spent a night in lovely Carmel, CA.  We had been there briefly before, but this time we stayed for the night.  The area is pretty and quirky.  For example, there are no addresses.  Houses have names and directions are given via cross streets.   This made putting our hotel into the GPS a challenge, but we still got there.

When we woke up on Saturday morning, we were surprised to see the sun and not a single cloud in the sky.  Carmel is not known for the best weather.  Turns out the reputation was correct and a few hours later, it had clouded over.  We spent the morning walking around downtown and checking out the ocean.  The downtown area has lots of restaurants and a candy store for some fudge.  Shockingly, we did not see an ice cream store.  I’ll need to contact the chamber of commerce.

After lunch, we went to Garland Ranch Regional Park, which was suggested to us by the folks in the hotel.  It’s inland about ten miles or so from the hotel.  Being inland, it has the advantage of being slightly warmer, less breezy, and sunnier.   The volunteer at the visitor center suggested a nice loop for us.  While the views were wonderful, it turned out to be a little steeper than we had anticipated and we gained 1300 feet in elevation in about a mile and a quarter.  There were some spectacular wild flower blooms to make it worth it.  The park had a great variety in vegetation and views which made it an enjoyable afternoon.

View all the photos here:


It was spring time so that meant we went to the East Coast to visit the families.  While in the DC area, we experienced the whacky weather that’s the new normal – snow in late March.  A couple inches of accumulation made for some snowy pictures and cold weather.  We stayed inside for the most part to avoid the cold.  Our blood has thinned after many years in California. We don’t do winter.

Space Shuttle Discovery

Space Shuttle Discovery

For an afternoon of sightseeing, we visited the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center, located near Dulles Airport.  This is part of the National Air and Space Museum.  It is a couple of large hangers with lots and lots of airplanes and exhibits related to the space age.  The primary interest for me was the space shuttle Discovery that is now on display following the end of the space shuttle program.  While I saw a shuttle launch as a kid and the shuttle fly by the Bay Area on its way to retirement, I had never been this close to one.  It was fun to see, although bittersweet to think that the country no longer has a permanent manned space program.   Other sites of interest here were an SR-71, the Enola Gay, and a Concorde.  The museum was a fun afternoon.

See the photos from the trip:


Today the Maverick’s Surf Contest was held off of Half Moon Bay.  It’s not visible from the beach, but they only hold the contest when there is a high surf.  While there might be 20 foot waves out at Mavericks, along the coast it’s a little more tame, with 5-10 foot waves.  We went to check out the coast and see them.

The temperature was very pleasant, but as usual it was very windy.  We walked along the beach and watched the waves.  In the distance, we could see a lot of boats trying to get a glimpse of Maverick’s.  The coast, as always, is very scenic.  View all the pictures here:


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