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Waikiki Chase

Aerial Waikiki

Today I have 2 young cousins that are in Waikiki. They’re first cousins and didn’t even know that the other would be there too until their mothers informed them today of their posts that they read on Facebook! One is there for the Honolulu Marathon Week festivities and the other is just there for a short stopover before she heads for a much-needed 3-week vacation to be with her Mama, who lives on Kauai. Of course, this reminds me of a myriad of fabulous memories and events that I’ve enjoyed in Waikiki throughout the past 40 years, but thinking about the Honolulu Marathon being run tomorrow makes me think about my own WAIKIKI CHASE that occurred 26 years ago. The photo above is an aerial photo that was taken recently of Waikiki but the shoreline is basically the same, although the sandy beach area in front of the Sheraton Waikiki isn’t nearly as expansive as it used to be. The 2 red stars that I have placed on this photo are the beginning and end points of this ‘chase‘.

When my (now ex) hubby was stationed on a ‘remote’ tour-of-duty on the Arctic Circle in the very northern part of Canada, the USAF sent the 3 children and I to Oahu for 14 months to be near Hickam Air Force Base. We assumed this would be our next assignment. It didn’t turn out to be so, Hurlburt Field in Florida’s Panhandle did, but that will be for another story. Our favorite activities were going to the beaches and to the zoo. Luckily, the beaches are free and we had an annual pass that included both the Honolulu Zoo and the Waikiki Aquarium. My daughter loved watching clams and anything else that’d make it’s way into the sand, and running after the birds. My youngest son had his most fun building sandcastles. My oldest son played in the water and chatted with the tourists. That’s one of the main reasons that I usually chose to frequent the beaches with the lifeguard stands….because my 3 kids were ages 5 and under.

We always took a cooler to the beach with our sandwiches and drinks. I kept my wallet in the bottom of this cooler for safekeeping so that I’d not have to have a purse to sling over my shoulder every time the kiddies and I wanted to go into the water. We had a lot of ‘stuff’ that we took to the beach: beach towels, hats, sunblock and suntan lotion, aloe, 2 pairs of sunglasses for each of us, boogie boards, slippahs (flip-flops), assorted items to build sandcastles with, pails and shovels, cooler, bandages, and even an extra swimsuit for each of the kids. I had a couple of big cloth bags that fit all of this stuff and it fit into the trunk of my car. Our car always had this ‘beach kit’….ready for anytime that the mood struck us to ‘hit the beach’!

On this particular day, we were eating lunch at the Ft. DeRussy Beach, which is the military beach at the western end of Waikiki. My daughter started chasing a small flock of birds. I called to her but she didn’t hear me. The wind picked up and she kept running, so I grabbed a boy in each hand and took off after her, leaving ALL of our belongings behind. Every time we got close to her, I’d call out to her but she didn’t hear me. She was 3-years-old and her only thought was to run and laugh as she chased those birds! She was having a blast while the boys and I were barely able to keep her within our sight! The tourists paid no attention and I don’t know why it didn’t occur to me to ask a lifeguard for assistance. All I could think of was to get to my baby girl! We FINALLY caught up to her at the eastern end of Waikiki near the zoo. We’d run a total of 1.8 miles in the sand! My 5-year-old son caught her first and we all collapsed into the sand, exhausted. That’s when I realized that I didn’t want to make that long and tiresome trek back. I suddenly remembered that all of my belongings, including my wallet and keys, were almost 2 miles away. I decided to beg for a ride so that’s exactly what we did. I brushed off as much of the sand as we could, and then we went to the road, where The Bus comes along every 10 minutes. I was extremely thankful that the very first busdriver believed my story and let us ride for free!

When we got back to Ft. DeRussy, I was relieved that our stuff was still in the same spot where we left it. I was nervous as I stuck my hand down into the cooler but my untouched wallet and keys were actually there too! We gathered everything and walked to the car. Of course I made the kids pay extra attention to the long path as I drove along the exact route that we’d taken as we ran that 1.8 miles during our WAIKIKI CHASE!!! We were very tired when we got home but the ‘lecture‘ was minimal. My daughter never did catch those birds. She still tries though. She’s studying to be a Biologist with hopes of getting a Master’s degree in Zoology. Guess what? She DOES HAVE a special place in her heart for birds too! Hmmm, maybe it started when she was about 3 on a beach somewhere in Hawaii!

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Magnum Kiss

Smithsonian's Magnum P.I. shirt

Meeting and seeing celebrities has been a part of my life since the late 1970s when I attended college in Hawaii. A decade later when I returned to Oahu as an Air Force Officer’s wife with 3 very young kiddies in tow, I’d had many opportunities to teach them that celebrities have lives other than those that are portrayed on TV. We saw sooooo many celebrities that it seemed rather commonplace, especially since Hawaii is a popular vacation destination for them too. I’m thinking this is the reason that my children don’t particularly ‘go nutso‘ whenever they see somebody famous nowadays. This is a good thing because now they either are, or have been, Disney Castmembers and are once again seeing dozens of celebrities. I taught my kids not to pester famous folks for autographs (unless it’s a book signing, for example) or for photos because these people are only hoping to have an enjoyable vacation experience like everybody else! And to think that, for them it all started more than a quarter-of-a-century ago with my daughter and her ‘kiss‘….a MAGNUM KISS to be precise!

I took my children to the beaches of Oahu almost on a daily basis. There were numerous beaches to choose from so we liked to explore different areas and tried to find some of the quieter beaches. Of course we adored the ever-popular Waikiki Beach but my kiddies had a tendency to get away from me quickly there since the beaches were crowded and the children were ages 2, 3, & 5 and very quick. We also tried to go as early in the morning as possible so as not to get too overly pink; besides, the tourists were mostly still kinda hung-over from partying the night before and didn’t usually start arriving until 10:30 or later. By noon Waikiki & Kaneohe beaches are packed. So earlier was better for us. A breakfast picnic on the beach was fun and lovely!

One perfect morning we were at a particular beach, which shall go nameless for the sake of celebrities that enjoy the privacy of this stretch of beaches. I knew of several celebrities that lived in the area because of a former college job that I’d had delivering floral bouquets. So I sometimes brought the kids to this beach because it was usually very quiet and we were often the only ones there! But that morning there was a couple strolling far down the beach and my 3-year-old daughter saw them and recognized HIM before I did. She jumped up and started running down the beach towards them, hollering “Magnum, Magnum, Magnum!”. (she was too young to understand that he wasn’t actually named that in real life) I was embarrassed but had no choice but to leave our things, grab a hand of each of my boys and start running after her! We 3 were so much slower than she was by herself. Of course, by the time we finally caught up, she’d already made her way to ‘the man from the TV‘ and his then-girlfriend Jillie. So there I stood, face-to-face with THE HEART-THROB of the decade, apologizing profusely to Tom Selleck and his girlfriend while he held my daughter and acted like he honestly didn’t mind! Tom and Jillie were the nicest, sweetest people and were extremely kind to my 3 children as we chatted for 20 minutes or so. My daughter didn’t wanna let go of him but he kissed her cheek and she giggled….probably his mustache tickled!

That was a memory-of-a-lifetime for her! Me too! Oh, and by the way….my daughter’s name is Jillian. She’s always liked her name. Sometimes we call her Jillian, and often she goes by Jill. But you’d better believe that after meeting ‘Magnum’s girlfriend‘ that my 3-year-old preferred us to call her Jillie for about a year after that encounter. She was as much enthralled with Jillie Mack as she was with Tom Selleck! For MANY years afterwards, we’d ask her: “Where did MAGNUM KISS you?” and she would always coyly point to her cheek and smile. Such a precious memory to have her very first non-family-member KISS be from such a handsome man! Aaahhh….could I possibly have been jealous of a 3-year-old?

Favorite Lighthouse

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My daughter took me on a mini-vacation. She was supposed to be going westward for a couple of weeks with my brother and niece (her uncle and youngest cousin) but those plans fell through almost at the last minute. So instead of Disneyland & Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Death Valley, New Mexico, Arizona and the Grand Canyon….my daughter ended up staying home. She was able to ‘give back’ some of her vacation days but most had already been scheduled so she’s been having what she calls a ‘staycation’! We’ve been wandering around central Florida, doing too much shopping and not enough housework! But last night we got home from a little trip that culminated in what is ALWAYS a treat for me: a quick visit to my all-time very FAVORITE LIGHTHOUSE: in St. Augustine Beach!

We decided to get away from the theme parks for awhile and go to the beach. This is not uncommon for those folks whose jobs are at the local amusement parks! So we went to the Daytona Flea Market, which is only open on the 3 weekend days. We had our shopping goals in mind and did find exactly what we intended to buy. Then we stayed at a cutesy hotel in Daytona Beach Shores. We swam in their pool which, surprisingly, was identical to our own pool in our backyard except that ours is deeper & hasn’t quite the fancy filtering system (we wish it did!). We ate at some off-the-beaten-path & quaint and/or quirky restaurants because that’s what I like to do, especially while on vacation. I’m thinking that vacation means that my palate also oughta have a vacation from the normal restaurants, too. That usually means no fast-food and no restaurant chains. Mom-and-Pop diners, seafood places, waterfront pubs….these are what I am seeking!

When we left Daytona and headed north, driving along highway A1A, we didn’t get very far before my daughter wanted to stop alongside the road and walk along the beach again! So we stopped for an hour in Ormond Beach (we usually do!) for a walk. I had fun watching 8 seabirds skimming the surface, fishing. The synchronicity of their aerial acrobatics was awesome. My daughter totally missed it because she was engrossed in watching the bean-clams scurrying into the sand between each succession of waves coming ashore. She has been doing this for as long as I can remember (she’ll be 30 next month) and this makes me wish that my sons were with us too and that I could turn back the calendar approximately 2 decades! Soooo many of our best memories as a family with 3 young children are/were upon the Hawaiian and Floridian beaches!!!

We took a tour of the Whetstone chocolate factory in St. Augustine. That was a first for me, I’ve been on many tours (I am a Travel Agent, after all) but that was my first chocolate factory! It was interesting and they certainly DID give out free samples! (and I most certainly DIDN’T take my blood sugar reading last night!) We drove around the old part of town, like we always do. It’s fun to imagine how folks lived there when things were originally built and there weren’t any cars. The architecture is just so amazing that it’s difficult to look at everything at once while in a car; that’s why the walking tours really are the best idea if it’s your first time to visit. We used to live nearby, in Jacksonville Beach, so we’ve visited St. Augustine numerous times but every time we visit there’s something else that we choose for ‘next time’! Yesterday, my daughter exclaimed that her ‘next time’ visit will include the Pirate Museum. She doesn’t remember visiting when she was very young.

I enjoy lighthouses and try to visit every lighthouse I’m close to on any of my travels. However, the St. Augustine Light is the one that I’ve been to so many times that I’ve lost track! It’s very pretty. Lotsa folks confuse it with the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse in North Carolina because of the striping design but the base and lightkeeper’s homes are not the same. There’s a small marina here also, and dozens of gnarly, crooked trees that my children always enjoyed. We used to bring our lunches and eat at the picnic area. I have good memories there. Even if we were passing through the area at night, we’d stop by (even tho it’s closed, of course) just to look. It’s great to see the light from that lighthouse sending out it’s beam from miles away, just as it’s supposed to. I know it’s ‘job’ is to warn the boats to stay away so that they won’t get too close….but it’s light also draws me to it, but then again I’m ON land! One night when we stopped at the lighthouse for a few minutes….we’d been at the theme parks in Orlando and were heading home to Jax Beach….I walked up to the fence as close to the lighthouse as I could get and looked up and I saw a girl in a white dress standing in the window. I was shocked! Who should I call? Somebody got locked in the lighthouse after closing! Oh my gosh! When I looked again, she wasn’t there. I kept looking and looking and didn’t see her anymore so we finally left, with me not knowing if I was seeing things or if the moon was somehow reflecting on something or what. A few years ago, I saw an episode of a TV show called ‘Ghosthunters’ and supposedly that lighthouse is the most haunted lighthouse that there is. It even scared those dudes on the TV show and I got a kick outa that! So the little girl in the white dress was a ghost, huh? Mystery solved! St. Augustine is the oldest town so there’s surely ghosts wandering around! Oh well, the St. Augustine Light is still my very very very FAVORITE LIGHTHOUSE and it was a great ending to our little vacation, thanks to my sweetie daughter!