Collecting and Sharing Yukon & Alaska History

The subject of Northern history shows up a fair bit on this blog, and a lot on my main Web site (ExploreNorth), but I’ve never really shown you what my passion for history looks like at home. With the weather not being very conducive to outside activities, I’m spending a lot of time with my collection lately.

Getting down to start a review of what’s here, a few days ago. For space reasons, it’s now mostly paper (most of the actual artifacts have been donated to 2 Yukon museums), but the thousands of pieces of paper range from photographs and brochures to books and official documents. Anything that relates to the Yukon, Alaska or Arctic has been the broad focus since my serious collecting started 17 years ago.
Murray sorting through his historic papers
One of the subjects that I have a lot of material from is the Yukon Quest sled dog race. This racer’s bib from the 1993 race is the prize in that category.
1993 Yukon Quest racer's bib
If there’s a subject that I just never tire of, it’s early transportation. In the past few days, I’ve put this entire 24-page guide to the Richardson and Steese Highways from 1931 online – you can see it here.
The Richardson and Steese Highways in 1931
I come across some surprising material in my searches. Until the mid-1970s, the U.S. Highway 287 Association promoted U.S. Route 287 as the best tourist route to Alaska. That, too, is now online (though only partly, because it’s size is impossible for me to deal with effectively), here.
In 1985, during the celebration of the National Parks of Canada Centennial, the Klondike Heritage Mail Run carried special envelopes between Seattle and Dawson City via the Chilkoot Pass, and they received special cancellations at several points. As of yesterday, you can see that story here.
And finally, one piece from much further back in the collection – a 1905 grant to allow a Dawson-area placer gold miner to divert water to a group of claims on Trail Gulch.

The two oldest documents in the collection are a 20-page summary/review of a 2-volume history of Greenland, published in The Annual Review of 1793, and an order to ships from the British Admiralty in 1836 (may be signed by John Barrow, who went on to be in charge of all Arctic expeditions). [A hi-res pdf copy of the 1793 review (148MB) can now be seen at my public Dropbox folder.]

I have months and months worth of work/pleasure in the basement yet – enough for several winters :) Much of it will end up on ExploreNorth, some of it on the Facebook pages of several groups I belong to, and some of it on eBay as I pare the collection down to a more manageable size.


Getting into Winter Mode with a Drive to Skagway

It’s hard to believe that it’s only 12 days ago that we were on Waikiki Beach. My head has been having a hard time adjusting, and I needed to do something to get myself into winter mode, so I drove to Skagway with the fur-kids yesterday. It’s been almost 5 weeks since they had a road-trip, too, so I knew that they’d enjoy it.

Winter has made brief visits over the past 3 weeks, and back on the 8th or so, a heavy dump of snow did a lot of damage to trees on our property – some terminally bent like these 2, some much larger ones snapped right off. Most of the snow has melted, but the weather forecast for yesterday called for snow flurries in Whitehorse and afternoon showers in Skagway – not great, but not bad either.
Our snowy back yard in the Yukon
We didn’t get away until after 09:00, with the temperature sitting at -5°C (23°F). The light was generally flat, but had enough variety to be quite pretty down the South Klondike Highway.
South Klondike Highway north of Carcross, Yukon
Looking south along Windy Arm. The highway had started to get quite slippery by this point, with frozen rain covering everything. It’s rather funny that I sometimes don’t notice how slippery a road is until I step out onto it – although my car grips nicely at times like this, my shoes don’t.
Snowy mountains along Windy Arm, Yukon
When I stopped to take the photo above, at Pooley Creek, I was very pleased to see a lot of mountain goats above me – at least 15 of them. Poachers were taking a toll on this population a few years ago, but they seem to be doing very well now. Hopefully the poachers ended up in jail (though I know that they didn’t get arrested for poaching), or better yet, dead.
Mountain goats on Montana Mountain, Yukon
Morning mist at the south end of the dead-calm lake (Windy Arm).
Morning mist on dead-calm Windy Arm, Yukon
Looking back at Dail Peak. To me, this is one of the most scenic spots on the entire highway – I love that mountain, and the curve of the highway. You’d never guess it from this side, but it’s actually quite easy to get almost to the top of Dail.
Dail Peak
I initially stopped at Log Cabin to get another photo of the peak in the centre of this photo – a peak whose name (if it has one) I’ve never been able to figure out. But it was so nice there that I decided to take the kids for a long walk down the tracks.
Log Cabin, BC
The start of the very long Log Cabin siding north of the highway crossing.
Log Cabin siding on the WP&YR
That’s the sort of view that makes me want to walk and walk and walk… but I had neither the gear nor the time to continue further this day.
Log Cabin siding on the WP&YR
I did have time, though, to slow down. Bella and I both enjoyed frozen puddles – me to take photos of them, and Bella to jump on them, probably just to hear the noise :)
Frozen puddle
The humidity must be quite high to get such good frosting on everything.
Frosted leaves
A brief stop to get a shot of the Canada Customs (sorry, CBSA) post at Fraser.
Canada Customs at Fraser, BC
Beautiful moody light at Summit Lake.
Beautiful moody light at Summit Lake, White Pass, BC

The road condition remained quite poor all the way to Skagway, and I didn’t meet a single vehicle on the 90-minute drive between Carcross and Skagway.

I picked up my mail in Skagway, then went for a wander. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a freighter sitting at the Railroad Dock before. I thought at first that it might be a tanker.
Freighter Nordana Madeleine in Skagway, Alaska
But then saw the hatch cover being lowered, so knew it was cargo. Googling when I got home, I see that the Nordana Madeleine is a new ship (built in China in 2009), and heavy-lift cargo is one of her specialties. She’s based in Denmark.
Heavy-lift cargo ship Nordana Madeleine in Skagway, Alaska
“Come on, guys, back in the car!” :)
Monty and Bella running
Driving around to the Railroad Dock, I saw a crew measuring the height of cables over the road, and when I got to the dock, I saw why. I assume that these are fuel tanks for the White Pass shops – it will be an interesting move to get them through town!
Freighter Nordana Madeleine at the Railroad Dock in Skagway, Alaska
Ahhh – Skagway is quiet for a few months again.
A quiet early-winter day on Broadway in Skagway
Heading back up the hill, I stopped at a few waterfalls. This is the time of year to savour that sound, because it’ll be getting silent very soon now as Father Winter locks everything up in his icy vault.
Waterfall in the White Pass, Alaska
The vacation was wonderful, but it is so great to be home again!
A mountain view along the South Klondike Highway
I made another quick stop at Log Cabin to get a photo of these new winter-friendly outhouses in better light than I had during our long morning stop. Recreation Sites and Trails BC has recently installed these – impressive when many people don’t even know that this is part of BC.

That was a great day. The dogs are pooped out, and I’m more focussed. While I have a lot of physical work to do around the property yet, I’m also spending a lot of time in my large collection of historic documents (by “large”, I mean thousands of items). A few days ago, I posted 3 articles of local interest from The Journal of the Canadian Mining Institute, 1909, and I’m currently working on getting these 3 documents entirely online.

Edit: the one on the right, a 20-page guide to the Canadian section of the Alaska Highway published by the Canadian Travel Bureau in 1958, can now be seen here.

And in my spare time, there’s planning to do for future Adventures!


Now you can Subscribe to The ExploreNorth Blog

It was brought to my attention by a reader a few days ago that I don’t have an easy way to subscribe to this blog. I’m very flattered to have been asked this question, and have just added one that works on a system that I’m quite impressed by. With News@Me, your subscription will get you an email notification only when I post something related to the post that you subscribe on. A subscription box will appear at the bottom of every post – in the example below, if you subscribed on that post, you would only get posts related to Vancouver, BC, cruises and a handful of other tags. Since the Yukon, Alaska and BC are my most common subjects, and “RV” will be once it gets warm again, those are the tags that I’ll use on this post, for those of you wanting to keep up with my usual posts.

Note that if you just scroll down the main page of the blog (http://explorenorth.com/wordpress/ or http://explorenorthblog.com/, you don’t see the subscription form – only if you’re on a specific post, ie. http://explorenorth.com/wordpress/now-can-subscribe-explorenorth-blog/ in this case.

The Trip Home, from Hot Sand to Snow

On Thursday, we began the 4,000-mile trip home. We were scheduled to fly out of Honolulu at 1:15 pm with Alaska Airlines, have a very short overnight in Seattle, and be in Whitehorse just before 2:00 pm Friday. Although there were some bumps along the way, that’s not too far from what happened.

I haven’t posted many photos of the hotel we stayed at, simply because I didn’t want to spend any time taking a good set. Everything about the Outrigger Reef Waikiki Beach Resort was wonderful, though – this is the massive reception desk on the right.
Reception desk at the Outrigger Reef Waikiki Beach Resort
We thought about laying on the beach and going swimming one more time, but to me it didn’t seem worth it to deal with wet bathing suits again for just a couple of hours. We did go for a last walk, though, and were greeted by this rainbow in a clear sky.
Rainbow over Gray's Beach, Honolulu
Out at the end of the jetty, dozens of these little fish were being bashed around where the waves hit the rocks. It seemed like an odd place to choose to live.
Little fish along the jetty at Gray's Beach, Honolulu
There were a few little crabs out baking in the hot sun instead of dropping into the still water a foot below.
Little crab on the jetty at Gray's Beach, Honolulu
While we waited for a cab to the airport at 10:20, I took this photo of the weather report screen in the lobby. *sigh* :)
Weather report for Honolulu
At the fairly quiet Honolulu airport just after 11:00, a very helpful agent assisted us with the checkin kiosk and Agriculture inspection, and we were soon through security.
Alaska Airlines area at Honolulu
Hawaiian music and a last photo op with a hula dancer in the terminal.
Hawaiian music and a last photo op with a hula dancer in the Honolulu terminal
The Japanese garden in the center of the terminal is lovely. That’s our plane in front on the left – very convenient.
Japanese garden in Honolulu airport terminal
The control tower, directly above the Japanese garden.
Honolulu airport control tower
Although I take photos of lots of airliners, I seldom post any to the database I contribute to, because they’ve all been done before. The listing for this one, though, Hawaiian Airlines’ 2013 Airbus A330-243 N393HA, didn’t have a photo yet so I added it.
Hawaiian Airlines' 2013 Airbus A330-243 N393HA
Awesome – Honolulu Airport with a Hawaiian Airlines plane, and Diamond Head in the background :)
Honolulu Airport with a Hawaiian Airlines plane, and Diamond Head in the background
At 1:27 we were off the ground, and 12 minutes later, said goodbye to Hawaii. Mahalo!
Hawaii from the air
Sunset out in the middle of the Pacific Ocean somewhere. Having a large beer with lunch at the airport was good for helping me pass the time with my eyes closed.
Sunset out in the middle of the Pacific Ocean somewhere
We landed in Seattle a few minutes before 10:00 pm, caught a shuttle to the nearby Hampton Inn & Suites, and were in bed by 11:00. Because we had to start Friday with an international flight (so a 2-hour-prior arrival), we had a 04:00 wakeup call. The fog outside didn’t look good!
Foggy morning in Seattle
The days of good dining were over – a fast-food breakfast in the food court at SEA.
Food court at SEA
At 07:00, we walked out to our plane for the 34-minute hop to Vancouver. It was Alaska Airlines’ (Horizon Air) Bombardier DHC-8-402Q (Dash 8) N402QX, which is decorated with University of Montana colours and logo.
Alaska Airlines' (Horizon Air) Bombardier DHC-8-402Q (Dash 8) N402QX
When there was no real attempt to increase power as we travelled along the active runway, I said to Cathy that an ugly message was coming, and a couple of seconds later the captain announced that the flight had been postponed due to weather issues in Vancouver. We taxied back to the terminal but didn’t get off the plane, and at 08:45, we tried again, though we were #9 in line for takeoff this time.
Taxiing in a Dash 8 in the fog at SEA
At 08:48, we were above the thin fog layer, looking across at Mt. Rainier. When we got to Vancouver I could see no indication that there had been any weather issues, but we were still in time for our connection to Whitehorse so it didn’t really matter.
Mt. Rainier above a low morning fog.
Security, Customs and getting our Air Canada boarding passes was all quick and dead simple, but Cathy’s Swiss Army knife had somehow ended up in my backpack, and she no longer owns it.
Quiet day at YVR
Our Embraer 190 taxied away from the terminal at 11:20 as scheduled, but we sat in the run-up area as plane after plane went around us. The captain announced that we had a minor maintenance issue to deal with, and a few minutes later that it was actually a crucial mechanical problem that had to be dealt with, so back to the terminal we went. It might not take too long so again we stayed in the plane.
At 12:20 we were on our way again, and quickly climbed into clouds. There were a few breaks around 2:00 as we neared the Yukon, though – just enough so we could see the mountains and feel at home.
Aerial view of mountains in north-western BC
At 2:33, the final turn to land at Whitehorse.

We arrived home just after 3:00 pm, to a joyous reception from the kids :) As amazing as the trip was – one of our best ever, we agree – getting home to our family is the best feeling.

I can’t finish this off without thanking the wonderful woman we found to take care of our home and family at the last second when our regular sitter got very sick. Rebecca Barfoot is an artist from Colorado, and as well as taking an instant liking to her, we both love her work. She left this beautiful piece for us with a note that says in part, “a little piece of ocean & a little piece of the Aurora (which she saw here on her birthday), & the boreal”. You can see some of her work on her Facebook page and other pages linked from there. Monty clearly missed her the first day, so we have no doubt that life was good, and we can’t thank her enough.
Painting by Rebecca Barfoot

Now, back to reality. It’s Thanksgiving weekend in Canada, and that’s precisely what we’re doing – giving thanks for the amazing life we have here. I hope that you’ve all enjoyed travelling with us on our last long trip without our family for many years. From now on, the trips you’ll be seeing here will be motorhome adventures :)

You might wonder what this trip cost. In round numbers, the total for the 19 days was $9,000, and all of our flights and the Seattle hotel were free on points. By booking almost a year ahead, we got great rates on both the cruise (which sold out a couple of months in advance of sailing) and the Hawaii hotel.

Post #1 of 16 from the trip – 48 Hours in Vancouver, the Cruise Port


Nu’uanu Pali Lookout and Highway H-3

With the end of our Hawaiian vacation nearing, there was one more site we needed to see on Oahu – Nu’uanu Pali Lookout. It was planned to be a very short excursion with MJ and Jim, but we got a bit sidetracked :)

From our hotel to the lookout is only a few minutes drive via Hawaii Route 61 (the Pali Highway). When you’re used to mainland distances, everything in Hawaii is surprisingly close. Going from the hustle and bustle of the city to dense forests and relatively light traffic that quickly is wonderful.
Hawaii Route 61, the Pali Highway, Oahu
I expected that the lookout would be well marked, but it wasn’t – I saw the sign right at the exit ramp. This stunning peak towers over the lookout.
Oahu

As is said constantly about this site on TripAdvisor, parking at the lookout is a mess. There are very few parking spots, and although the machine to pay the fee said that credit cards weren’t being accepted and you needed $3 in coins (who carries $3 in coins???), it was actually completely broken according to someone Cathy spoke to and so parking was free.

I don’t think I’ve ever seen a sign like this before. Winds make them mad? It turned out to be very true, and Cathy got a nasty sting a few minutes later (it’s still bothering her after 5 days).
Beware of bees at Pali Lookout, Oahu
Another thing I’d never seen before – feral chickens digging nests into the hillside beside the walkway to the lookout.
Feral chicken on Oahu
Whatever faults it may have, Nu’uanu Pali Lookout offers a broad, stunning view of much of the Windward Coast. “Pali” means “cliff” in Hawaiian.
View from Nu'uanu Pali Lookout, Oahu
The lookout is a powerful site historically. In 1795, King Kamehameha I, with an army of 10,000 warriors, won the Battle of Nu’uanu here, bringing O’ahu under his rule. This was one of the bloodiest battles in Hawaiian history – the defenders of O’ahu, led by Kalanikupule, were driven high into the Nu’uanu valley where they were eventually trapped above the cliff here. More than 400 of Kalanikupule’s soldiers were driven off the edge of the cliff to their deaths 1,000 feet below. Wikipedia states that “In 1898, as this road was developed into a highway, workers found 800 human skulls – believed to be the remains of the warriors who fell to their deaths from the cliff above.” This painting of the battle, painted by Herb Kawainui Kane, is displayed at the lookout.
Battle of Nu'uanu, by Herb Kawainui Kane
The route through the mountains here has a long history. In 1845 the well-used historic trail was paved with stone and widened to 6 feet, then in 1897, as seen in this photo, a 20-foot-wide carriage road was built below the trail by blasting some of the cliffs and building stone retaining walls.
Old highway at Pali Lookout, Oahu
A short section of the old highway can still be walked. Along it is this intriguing indent in the cliff. My guess, because of the rectangular cutout above the bench, is that there used to be a plaque there commemorating the opening of the latest version of the highway – the date “1932” is cast into the main concrete retaining wall close by.
Old highway at Pali Lookout, Oahu
Looking down on one of the 2 pairs of tunnels that take modern Route 61 directly under the lookout.
Tunnels on Hawaii Route 61
Cathy read that H-3, the John A. Burns Freeway, would provide an even more spectacular route back to Honolulu, so we continued north on 61, went through the tunnels seen in the photo above, and had a very disappointing lunch at Starbucks in Kailua (our first poor meal of the trip!).
Tunnels on Hawaii Route 61, Oahu
The next 3 photos were taken along H-3 – it is indeed spectacular! The highway, which just opened in December 1997, was extremely controversial and is the most expensive “Interstate” highway ever built, at $80 million per mile. See more photos of, and information about the 16-mile-long highway, here.
H-3, the John A. Burns Freeway, Oahu
H-3, the John A. Burns Freeway, Oahu
H-3, the John A. Burns Freeway, Oahu

Although we got carried away with the incredible scenery, Cathy and I were back on the beach by mid-afternoon, and I even rented a paddleboard for an hour. While out with the board, a HUGE turtle swam right under my board and then popped up for a breath inches from the front of the board. I’d have paid $25 for that experience, so the paddleboard was free for an hour :)

We were back on the beach in front of our hotel for sunset (as were thousands of other people!)
Sunset at Waikiki Beach
This, our last sunset in Hawaii, was the best yet. Perfect :)
Sunset at Waikiki Beach, Oahu

The next day, we’d begin the long trek back to the Yukon. Not sadly at all – we were both anxious to be back home with the fur-kids.


A Milestone Birthday on the Beach at Waikiki

On Tuesday, we finally reached the special day that this trip was planned to celebrate – Cathy’s 50th birthday. After our long and hot day at Pearl Harbor the previous day, this would be a calm beach day, with dinner at a great restaurant that night.

After a walk on the beach, we went for breakfast at the beachfront Ocean House, another of the restaurants in the Outrigger Reef Waikiki Beach Resort, starting it off right with mimosas.
Mimosas to start the beach day in Honolulu, Hawaii
Excellent Eggs Benedict. Unlike the situation at many hotels at this level, we never felt that we were being nickled-and-dimed to death. Wi-fi is free, there’s no “resort fee”, and food prices are reasonable. Mimosas are $7 each, Eggs Benedict $14 and coffee $4.
Eggs Benedict at Ocean House - Honolulu, Hawaii
A telephoto shot of the beach action, taken from our breakfast table.
Honolulu, Hawaii
We decided to do a bit of exploring over towards Waikiki Beach proper after breakfast. I particularly wanted to see the Royal Hawaiian, the grande dame of Waikiki hotels.
Royal Hawaiian hotel, Honolulu, Hawaii
I’m not a big fan of pools when the ocean is available, but the infinity pool at the Sheraton Waikiki is pretty cool, especially since Gray’s Beach there has pretty much disappeared. A plan to restore Gray’s Beach at that point was developed in 2007, but it doesn’t seem to have begun yet.
Infinity pool at the Sheraton Waikiki, Hawaii
The beachfront sidewalk is beautiful, but narrows down to barely 2 people wide for a while. This was as far towards Waikiki Beach as we went – it just looked too busy for us.
Honolulu, Hawaii
The high concave concrete wall below the beach walk makes surf fun to watch.
Honolulu, Hawaii
This tiny cove was providing kids with lots of fun riding the surf.
Honolulu, Hawaii
Cathy’s choice for dinner was House Without a Key in the Halekulani hotel next door to ours. Reservations are not available, so we got there just before the 5:00 pm start of dinner service. Cathy and I started with the mai tais that the restaurant is justly famous for. This photo (taken by our server) makes it clear who the beach fans in the group are :)
House Without a Key in the Halekulani hotel - Honolulu, Hawaii
Hawaiian music with hula performed by a former Miss Hawaii under a huge century-old Kiawe tree packs the cocktail part of House Without a Key. Arriving early got us one of the best view dining tables, but to get this shot with Diamond Head in the background I had to walk across the lawn in front of our table for about 100 feet.
Honolulu, Hawaii

House Without a Key is widely considered to be one of the best restaurants in Honolulu, but we felt that prices were reasonable. The mai tais are $14, the highly recommended coconut shrimp appetizers are $16, and the swordfish, which our server said the chef has perfected (and I agree) was $29. If you like coffee, it’s very good (a Kona blend apparently), but is $6.

Another beautiful sunset, at 6:07.
Sunset from House Without a Key - Honolulu, Hawaii
The light just after sunset was gorgeous. The dancer was unfortunately doing a costume change and didn’t return until it was dark a few minutes later.
Honolulu, Hawaii

We spent almost 3 hours at House Without a Key – it truly was the perfect setting for this celebration.

We finished the evening off with our favourite activity, a walk on the beach.
Honolulu, Hawaii


A Day at Pearl Harbor – Pacific Aviation Museum

This is part 2 of our day at Pearl Harbor, which began with about 3½ hours at the USS Arizona Memorial. We would have less than 2 hours to go through the Pacific Aviation Museum, which I knew would not be enough. It had become clear that to see Pearl Harbor properly requires a well-planned 3-day visit, not a few hours.

My regular readers know that I’m “just plane nuts”, so there’s a lot more information about planes here than normal people will want to go through, but I hope that you all enjoy this look through the excellent museum.

At 3:00 pm, after about a 15-minute wait, our shuttle bus left the USS Arizona Memorial to take people to both the Battleship Missouri and the Pacific Aviation Museum.
Pearl Harbor, Hawai'i
Hanging in the entry hall of Hanger 37, the first of 2 hangars to go through, is a 1/3 scale model of the first airplane to fly in Hawai’i, a Curtiss P18 Honolulu Skylark. On December 31, 1910, thousands of people who had paid $1 each watched pilot J. C. “Bud” Mars make history with it at Samuel Damon’s Moanalua polo field.
Pacific Aviation Museum Pearl Harbor, Hawai'i
Admission to the museum is $25 per person, but we had a 2-for-1 coupon in our Entertainment Book, making both the book and the museum a great value. The museum displays begin by showing what a paradise Hawaii was for military personnel.
Pacific Aviation Museum Pearl Harbor, Hawai'i
Shortly before 08:00 on on Sunday, December 7, 1941, though, that paradise turned into hell for many. I found that abrupt change in displays of paradise and then incoming hell to be very effective, reinforcing the shock felt by the people who were here that day.
Pacific Aviation Museum Pearl Harbor, Hawai'i
The first display aircraft is a Mitsubishi A6M2 Model 21 “Zero”. Although portrayed as one of the Pearl Harbor attack participants, this particular aircraft was built in December 1942. It had a maximum speed of 335 mph, but has been re-powered with a Pratt & Whitney R-1830 to keep it in flying condition – only one flyable Zero in the world still has the original engine.
Mitsubishi A6M2 Model 21 Zero - Pacific Aviation Museum Pearl Harbor, Hawai'i
Mitsubishi A6M2 Model 21 Zero - Pacific Aviation Museum Pearl Harbor, Hawai'i
The Curtiss P-40E Warhawk was the principal Army fighter on Oahu in 1941. This aircraft is a replica, painted in the markings of the one flown by Lieutenant Ken Taylor, one of the few pilots able to get airborne during the attack on December 7th. He was able to shoot down 2 Japanese aircraft before being wounded, but he saved his aircraft.
Curtiss P-40E Warhawk - Pacific Aviation Museum Pearl Harbor, Hawai'i
A secret plan to bomb Tokyo using modified land-based Army B-25B Mitchell bombers launched from an aircraft carrier was developed by Lieutenant Colonel “Jimmy” Doolittle to boost American morale and shake Japanese confidence. This flight deck scene shows “Ruptured Duck” pilot Lieutenant Ted Lawson talking to Doolittle prior to their very successful April 18, 1942, attack at targets in the Tokyo area. This particular aircraft was built using parts from several wrecked B-25J airframes.
Pacific Aviation Museum Pearl Harbor, Hawai'i
Pacific Aviation Museum Pearl Harbor, Hawai'i
The Douglas SBD-3 Dauntless, operated by both the US Navy and Marine Corps, is regarded as the most successful American dive bomber of World War II. They could drop bombs while in near-vertical dives, and were responsible for sinking all 4 of the Japanese aircraft carriers at the Battle of Midway, a success that turned the tide of the war in the Pacific.
Douglas SBD-3 Dauntless - Pacific Aviation Museum Pearl Harbor, Hawai'i
In this scene, U.S. Marine Captain Joe Foss stands by as mechanics ready his Grumman F4F-3 Wildcat fighter at Henderson Field for another mission over Guadalcanal. In his 51 days based there, Foss downed 26 Japanese aircraft, and was awarded the Medal of Honor as a result. This particular aircraft, #12296, crashed and sank in Lake Michigan on June 21, 1943, following an engine failure. It was recovered in 1991, and is now one of only two flyable Wildcats still in existence.
Grumman F4F-3 Wildcat fighter - Pacific Aviation Museum Pearl Harbor, Hawai'i
At 4:00 pm, Cathy came back to herd me on to the next hangar :) As we walked to Hangar 79, this great parking sign caught my eye.
Pacific Aviation Museum Pearl Harbor, Hawai'i
Sitting in the yard outside Hangar 79 is Boeing B-17E Flying Fortress, serial #41-2446, which first arrived in Hawaii 10 days after the Pearl Harbor attack. It was used for anti-submarine patrols until being assigned to northern Australia in February 1942. A few days later, during an attack on a well-defended invasion fleet off Rabaul, pilot Red Easton was forced to crash-land in the jungles of New Guinea. Known as the “Swamp Ghost” since being discovered in 1975, it was recovered in 2006, and recently returned to Hawaii to await a restoration estimated to cost $5 million.
Boeing B-17E Flying Fortress - Pacific Aviation Museum Pearl Harbor, Hawai'i
The entry to Hangar 79, looking back at the control tower, is spectacular for anyone with a passion for flying machines :)
Pacific Aviation Museum Pearl Harbor, Hawai'i
These bullet holes in the upper window glass of Hangar 79 were never repaired after the attack of December 7, 1941.
Pacific Aviation Museum Pearl Harbor, Hawai'i
Hangar 79 is very different than Hangar 37 – no elaborate displays have been built, and most of the aircraft are newer. The documentation of each aircraft is still very good, though.
Hangar 79 - Pacific Aviation Museum Pearl Harbor, Hawai'i
This CH-46E Sea Knight transport helicopter served with Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 364 (HMM-364), the “Purple Foxes”, based at Marine Corps Air Station Camp Pendleton, California. Just one week ago, one of the helicopters known as the “Phrog” made its last air show appearance, as it’s being retired from service, having been replaced by the MV-22B Osprey. Space is quite tight in Hangar 79, and this photo was created by stitching 2 photos together, as even with an 18mm lens I couldn’t get it all in the frame.
Pacific Aviation Museum Pearl Harbor, Hawai'i
Jim starts to show us a move he made many times in Viet Nam, climbing into a Bell UH-1 Iroquois helicopter (commonly known as the “Huey”). The first Hueys arrived in Viet Nam in 1962, and served the U.S. Army, Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps in medical evacuation (MEDEVAC), transport, aerial assault and general utility roles.
Bell UH-1 Iroquois helicopter - Pacific Aviation Museum Pearl Harbor, Hawai'i
Sitting at the back of Hangar 79 is “Cheeky Charley”, a Douglas C-47 Skytrain/DC-3A that is under active restoration. This particular aircraft served in the Pacific from 1943 to 1945, then went into commercial cargo service in Australia and later Hawaii. In April 2012, with total time of 55,000 hours on the airframe, Charley was towed from the Honolulu International Airport to its new home here.
Pacific Aviation Museum Pearl Harbor, Hawai'i
A final shot, of the sign thanking the “Hangar Owls”, the restoration crew.
Hangar Owls at Pacific Aviation Museum Pearl Harbor, Hawai'i

We caught the last shuttle bus as the museum closed at 5:00, and made our way back to the city. Although hot and tired, we all went to the Kani Ka Pila Grille at the Outrigger for dinner. It was, as always, excellent in every way, and a very good band was playing as well.

After dinner, MJ and Jim drove to their condo while a half-sack of Fire Rock Pale Ale in our beautiful hotel room provided a tasty calm-down for Cathy and I. We discovered this beer in Lahaina and it was usually the choice for both Cathy and I when we were in a beer mood.
Fire Rock Pale Ale, Hawai'i


A Day at Pearl Harbor – USS Arizona Memorial

The only big day we had planned for Oahu was a visit to Pearl Harbor, which we had booked months ago for the 4 of us. The USS Arizona Memorial was the first priority, next was the Pacific Aviation Museum, and if we had any time left there were more sites to see at Pearl Harbor.

A quick summary of a story you’ve all heard many times – on Sunday, December 7, 1941, shortly before 8:00 a.m., Japan attacked U.S. forces at 6 sites across the island of Oahu. In less than 2 hours, Pearl Harbor and several other military installations were left in fiery ruins. A total of 2,390 Americans were killed, over 320 aircraft were destroyed or damaged, and 21 vessels were sunk or damaged. The attack immediately brought the United States into World War II (and caused the Alaska Highway to be built) – it’s hard to imagine what the world might look like if the attack had not happened.

This was the view from the front of our hotel, the Outrigger Reef on the Beach, as we waited for MJ and Jim at 10:30. That’s the Trump International Hotel across the street, with prices starting at about $400 per night and going up to pretty much any amount you want to spend.
View from the front of the Outrigger Reef on the Beach, Hawaii
Finding a place to park at Pearl Harbor was a bit of a challenge, but I dropped the others at the gate and at 11:10 we were all ready to enter World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument.
World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument - Pearl Harbor, Hawai'i
Tickets to the USS Arizona Memorial are free, and the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center has an average of 2,000 first-come/ first-serve tickets available each day, but they apparently go quickly. By paying $9.00 each, we reserved an audio tour through the site, with a 1:30 visit to the memorial, which is accessed by boat.
Tickets for USS Arizona Memorial, Hawai'i
The first site on the audio tour is the Tree of Life, by architect Alfred Preis, on the left in this photo. The design is also used as the side windows in the shrine room of the memorial – it “has come to be known as a symbol of peace and harmony”.
Tree of Life Pearl Harbor, Hawai'i
The first of 2 galleries that visitors go through is the “Road to War” Museum, which describes the long and complicated series of events that preceded the attack on Pearl Harbor.
Road to War Museum - Pearl Harbor, Hawai'i
The military buildup in Hawaii, particularly keeping the U.S. Pacific Fleet there after manoeuvres in the spring of 1940, was felt by President Roosevelt to be “a restraining influence” on Japan, but Admiral Yamamoto stated that it was “tantamount to a dagger being pointed at our throat.”
Pearl Harbor, Hawai'i
This large, very detailed model shows the Japanese aircraft carrier IMF Akagi as she looked on the morning of December 7, 1941. The 36 aircraft on deck, half of the aircraft carried on the ship, were part of the first wave of the attack – they could all be launched within 15 minutes. The Akagi, 855 feet long and with a crew of 1,600, was one of Japan’s 2 largest carriers.
Aircraft carrier Akagi - Pearl Harbor, Hawai'i
The content of the Attack Museum begins as the Japanese aircraft begin their attack. Above the visitor is a 1/3 scale model of a Japanese Type 97 B5N2 Nakajima Torpedo Bomber known later in the war as a “Kate”.
Pearl Harbor, Hawai'i
Throughout the site, the balance of written descriptions, photos and artifacts is excellent – while the horror of that morning is clear, the burned body in front of the bombed car in the centre of this photo is one of the very few like that.
Pearl Harbor, Hawai'i
For me, small items like this are very significant in telling the story well – the edited speech that would become one of the famous in the country’s history.
Pearl Harbor, Hawai'i
It’s quite incredible that some of the artifacts on display still exist. Despite the awesome damage done, the attacks on the island’s airfields – Ford Island, Hickam, Wheeler, Ewa, Kaneohe and Bellows – caused relatively few deaths.
Pearl Harbor, Hawai'i
The treatment of American citizens of Japanese heritage following the attack on Pearl Harbor is in a display that’s currently being rebuilt, but the introductory panel makes me certain that it will be as unbiased as the rest of the presentations.
Pearl Harbor, Hawai'i
This bronze near the exit from the Attack Museum shows the position of the USS Arizona Memorial over the ship (it doesn’t actually touch the ship).
USS Arizona Memorial - Pearl Harbor, Hawai'i
This covered area allowed us to get out of the sun while we waited for our tour to begin. The bell from the USS Arizona hangs there.
USS Arizona Memorial - Pearl Harbor, Hawaii
While the others stayed out of the sun (it was about 88°F – 31°C), I had more to see. Along the shore between Contemplation Circle and Remembrance Circle, panels describe the path of the attacks.
USS Arizona Memorial - Pearl Harbor, Hawaii
At the Battleship Missouri Memorial, you can tour “Mighty Mo”, the last American battleship ever built and the last to be decommissioned. The surrender of the Japanese on her deck on September 2, 1945, brought the Second World War to an end. We ran out of time before getting to that site.
Battleship Missouri Memorial - Pearl Harbor, Hawai'i
The 75-minute tour that we booked for 1:30 began with a 23-minute documentary film about the attack, and then about 200 of us boarded a Navy boat to the memorial.
Boat to the USS Arizona Memorial - Pearl Harbor, Hawai'i
The Bowfin Submarine Museum, with over 4,000 submarine-related artifacts, from recruiting posters to battle flags, is located within walking distance of the Arizona Memorial. It’s seen here from our shuttle boat. The USS Bowfin, dubbed the “Pearl Harbor Avenger,” was launched on December 7, 1942. She completed 9 successful patrols and sunk 44 enemy ships before the war’s end.
Bowfin Submarine Museum - Pearl Harbor, Hawai'i
Construction of the USS Arizona Memorial began in 1960, and it was dedicated on Memorial Day, May 30, 1962. The structure is 184 feet long, 36 feet wide and 21 feet high at the ends, tapering to 27 feet wide and 14 feet high at the center. The concave silhouette symbolizes America’s initial defeat and ultimate victory in World War II.
USS Arizona Memorial - Pearl Harbor, Hawai'i
The centre of the memorial is the Assembly Room, from where visitors can look down on the deck of the USS Arizona a few feet below. Even with hundreds of people there, there was hardly a sound. During the peak summer months, an average of 4,800 people come though the memorial each day, totalling 1.8 million last year.
USS Arizona Memorial - Pearl Harbor, Hawai'i
This was the base of Gun Turret No. 3. The ship was hit by four 1,757-pound bombs – the last one hit near Gun Turret 2 at 08:06, went through the armoured deck, and 7 seconds later, the forward ammunition magazine detonated. The explosion killed 1,177 of the 1,512 crewmen on board at the time.
USS Arizona Gun Turret No. 3 - Pearl Harbor, Hawai'i
The day before the attack, the USS Arizona had taken on a full load of fuel – nearly 1.5 million gallons. About 500,000 gallons remain in the ship’s tanks and are leaking out at the rate of 4-9 quarts each day. I’m one of the people who see it as the tears of the ship, but the reality is that some day the tanks will corrode through and release all of that oil, and studies are under way to try to find a solution that doesn’t desecrate the tomb of 948 of the men killed that day, as well as others who survived but have had their ashes interred in the ship.
Oil leaking from the USS Arizona - Pearl Harbor, Hawai'i

The Shrine Room, where the names of all the men killed in the explosion and sinking of the USS Arizona are listed, is currently being rebuilt, so we didn’t get to experience what many people say is the most moving part of the tour. The rebuild will be completed by November.

The choppy water wasn’t conducive to good viewing into the water, but the ship could still be clearly seen.
Pearl Harbor, Hawai'i

Just before 2:30 pm, we sailed away from the memorial and would soon be headed for the shuttle bus that would take us to the Pacific Aviation Museum. This post has gotten long enough, so I’ll continue the day on another post.


Back in Honolulu, Switching from Ship to Hotel

Saturday evening was a busy night for most of the passengers on the Celebrity Solstice, but not in a good way. For about 2,400 of the 2,800, this was our last night on the ship – on Sunday morning we had to disembark in Honolulu. The other 400 would continue to Australia on her.

For many, it was the end of their vacation, and flights home were booked for Sunday. Cathy and I chose to stay in Honolulu for 4 nights, though, as the ship had allowed for no good beach time, and we couldn’t imagine leaving the islands without some time enjoying the sand and sea as well as the sun.

When I looked out our cabin windows at 06:05 Sunday morning, we were already well past Diamond Head. We were in no hurry at all to get off the ship, so had booked the latest possible disembarkation time – 9:30. That would give us a relaxing morning, and might even allow for an early checkin at our hotel.
Diamond Head - Honolulu, Hawai'i
Approaching the harbor 5 minutes later.
Approaching Honolulu Harbor, Hawai'i
There were lots of people already out enjoying the warm water as the sun came up.
Aa Moana Park - Honolulu, Hawai'i
A few hundred cars had been gathered in the container yard beside the pier we docked at, and this group, 100 or so, were all damaged, some badly. I’m curious as to why they were there. I initially thought they it was a rental fleet, but a few didn’t looked like rental cars.
Damaged cars at Honolulu, Hawaii
As we docked, Holland America’s Oosterdam was approaching – she too was on a repositioning sailing to Australia.
Holland America's Oosterdam approaching Honolulu, Hawaii
Just before 08:00, the 2 Atlantis submarines (of the tourist type) were being towed past us, out towards Diamond Head somewhere.
Atlantis tourist submarine at Honolulu, Hawaii
Cathy and I love the canopied hammocks on the ship, and decided to spend one more morning there. MJ and Jim joined us there while we waited for our disembarkation time.
Canopied hammock on the Celebrity Solstice
The ship’s crew was very busy as we relaxed. They had to make the ship perfect for the passengers who would soon be boarding. Although everything was already clean, it was all cleaned again, including getting a few grains of dried salt off the windows.
Window cleaning on the Celebrity Solstice
Fifteen minutes before the allocated time, the 4 of us went to the main dining room as requested, to await the call to disembark.
Main dining room on the cruise ship Celebrity Solstice
We were group #35 to leave the ship that morning, with perhaps 60 people in each group. That makes disembarkation so easy, so stress-free. As we were leaving, a large team of agents was being briefed for the arrival of 2,400 new passengers starting in about 90 minutes.
Disembarking a cruise ship at Honolulu, Hawai'i
Even finding our luggage was easy – all the bags were set out in groups matching our numbers. I overheard a Celebrity agent phone a woman, who had already left in a taxi from what I heard, to tell her that she’d forgotten a bag there. That’s impressive luggage control!
Disembarking a cruise ship at Honolulu, Hawai'i
Unfortunately, with 2 large cruise ships docking at the same time, that’s where the efficiency ended. We needed 2 taxis, and the lineup was very long. I spotted a Hertz shuttle bus, and instead of waiting for a taxi, Jim and I caught it to the airport to get the Hertz car he had rented, while Cathy and MJ had to wait 45 minutes in the heat to get a taxi to our hotel.
Disembarking a cruise ship at Honolulu, Hawai'i
The rental car area at the Honolulu airport is quite easy to find and navigate.
Getting a rental car at Honolulu airport, Hawaii
Right in front of the generic silver rental car Jim had been assigned, this Challenger RT was waiting. Aw come on, Jim, see if you can get an upgrade – I’ll even drive it for you! :)
Challenger RT rental car at Honolulu, Hawaii
The traffic in greater Honolulu is quite bad, although it doesn’t look it in this photo taken on H1. I was surprised by the size of the freeways, but also by the speed limits – 45 mph is the norm, and you can see a sign reducing it to 35 in this photo. Given the short distances involved, I suppose that 45 is reasonable, but those signs look funny on a freeway.
Freeway H1 in Honolulu, Hawaii
Jim and I got to the beachfront hotel that Cathy and I had booked, the Outrigger Reef on the Beach, just before 11:30, and within a half hour the 4 of us were checking out our room, #1436. It’s a mid-priced room, with a partial ocean view which we’re very pleased with. The beach isn’t a priority for MJ and Jim, so they booked a much cheaper condo a couple of miles from us.
The view from the 14th floor of the Outrigger Reef on the Beach - Honolulu, Hawai'i
When MJ and Jim got word that their condo was ready, they left, and after having a look around the property a bit, we went for dinner at the Shore Bird Restaurant & Beach Bar, one of the 3 restaurants in the hotel. The food, service and location were all excellent, and after dinner, as the sun started to set just before 6:00 pm, we walked a few feet from our table to enjoy the beach.
The beach in front of the Outrigger Reef on the Beach - Honolulu, Hawai'i
Just after the sun set, this huge storm moved in over the beach, and when the rain started, I’d never seen a beach clear so fast!
Storm over the beach at Honolulu, Hawai'i
One more photo taken from our room, then we did some exploring of the streets around the hotel, lined with some of the best hotels in Honolulu, and some very interesting shops.
The view from the 14th floor of the Outrigger Reef on the Beach - Honolulu, Hawai'i

The next day was planned to be spent at Pearl Harbor with our friends.


Exploring Lahaina, & Scuba at Lanai

On Friday night, our ship stayed in the harbour at Lahaina, Maui, allowing me to book an early-morning scuba trip to the island of Lanai for Saturday.

Just before 06:00, I boarded a tender to get back ashore from the Celebrity Solstice. The seas were rougher than they had been the previous evening, which surprised me.
Catching an early-morning tender ashore at Lahaina, Maui
It’s about a mile walk from the tender dock to Malo Pier, and the first few blocks afforded great views of the harbour and the Solstice.
Celebrity Solstice at Lahaina, Maui
Now that’s a Neighborhood Watch sign I hadn’t seen before!
Neighborhood Watch shark sign at Lahaina, Maui
At 06:30, I met the guys from Extended Horizons. Signing up was very well organized, and gave me confidence that we’d picked the right operator. The boat isn’t launched until all the paperwork, gear assignments and initial briefings are finished.
Extended Horizons scuba trip starting at Lahaina, Maui
It was about 45 minutes across to Lanai, and although, the seas were quite rough, divemasters Erik and James gave more detailed information about our first dive site, called Wash Rock. It would allow depths of up to 80 feet, with bottom times of up to 40 minutes. My first impression was that the bottom had little colour compared to my best-ever dive at Grand Turk, but there were lots of fish, and wonderful lava formations.
Extended Horizons scuba trip at Lanai, Hawaii
Extended Horizons scuba trip at Lanai, Hawaii
A few minutes away by boat, our second dive spot after a light lunch was First Cathedral, an aptly-named lava formation that really has to be seen to be appreciated. I haven’t found any photos online that do it justice. I didn’t even bring my underwater camera – I don’t dive very often, and need to focus on things that are much more important than a camera. First Cathedral only took us to 60 feet, allowing for 50 minutes bottom time. The next photo is of James, divemaster for the group of 5 divers I was in.
Extended Horizons scuba trip at Lanai, Hawaii
Extended Horizons scuba trip at Lanai, Hawaii
I can’t say enough about the professionalism, and the passion for the sea, that all 3 of the Extended Horizons crew showed. All the way back to Lahaina, a post-dive talk about what we’d seen continued, and this summary was written up on a whiteboard as we talked. If we’d been on a Maui land vacation instead of a cruise, I’d have been diving with them every day after that.
Dive record from Extended Horizons, Maui
Getting our gear together and saying goodbyes back at the Malo Pier (and buying a “Dive Cathedrals” t-shirt :) )
Extended Horizons scuba trip ending at Lahaina, Maui
The old Malo Pier is in tough shape and has been fenced off.
Lahaina, Maui
The road to the Malo Pier goes through the middle of a very large cemetery that has several signs posted stating “Burial Site. Keep Out!”.
Burial site at Lahaina, Maui
I saw many of these signs posted on telephone poles as I walked back to town to meet Cathy and the others for lunch. Wild dogs killing pets – wow!
Wild dogs killing pets at Lahaina, Maui
MJ wanted to have lunch at Cheeseburger in Paradise, a spot she and Jim had discovered on their last visit to Maui 2 years ago.
Cheeseburger in Paradise - Lahaina, Maui
Yes, the burgers at Cheeseburger in Paradise are large and very good! Add excellent service and a great local vibe and it goes on my Highly Recommended list.
Cheeseburger in Paradise - Lahaina, Maui
A little park near the tender dock that attracts locals.
Lahaina, Maui
Back at Lahaina Banyan Court Park, an art show was being held, with dozens of artists in almost any media imaginable. Some of them are very good, but we didn’t add anything to the collection.
Lahaina, Maui
I was very tired from the dives and walking, so I took some final shots of Lahaina and we took a tender back to the ship just before 3:00.
Lahaina, Maui

At 6:00 pm, we sailed from Lahaina, bound for Honolulu, where we would disembark the next morning.