Sunday, August 29, 2010

LA Week

I had a business training course in LA this past week, so the family tagged along to do some tourist things:
* Natural History Museum
* Science Museum
* Wax Museum
* Universal Studios - with the mandatory visit to Its Sugar
* Melrose Avenue - highlight was the Kidrobot store
* Mann Chinese Theater
* Hollywood Stars
* Manhattan Beach Brewing Company - much more upscale than we remember, and they don't brew their own beer any more
* Santa Monica - spent the day on the pier at Pacific Park, the Carousel (and its wonderful soda fountain) and the Heal the Bay Aquarium

Friday, August 13, 2010

Pacific War Books

Last year I made a couple trips to Pearl Harbor for business. On one occasion I had the great fortune to visit the COMPAFLT's (ADM Willard at the time) office. I found out this is the same office that Admiral Nimitz used during World War II. That piqued my interest in the Pacific War and I started reading up on it.

  • "Return To Midway by Robert Ballard" - A fasciniting description of Ballard's search for the Yorktown. Has a decent history of the battle as well.

  • "Clash of the Carriers: The True Story of the Marianas Turkey Shoot" by Barrett Tillman - The Battle of the Phillipines Sea is often overlooked but was a key battle in destroying Japanese carrier capabilities. This book is good narrative of the battle but does have quite a bit of Naval jargon that might need interpretation.

  • "The Last Stand of the Tin Can Sailors: The Extraordinary World War II Story of the U.S. Navy's Finest Hour" by James D. Hornfischer - A thrilling account of Taffy 3's fight for its life during the Battle of Leyte Gulf.

  • "Sea of Thunder: Four Commanders and the Last Great Naval Campaign, 1941 - 1945" by Evan Thomas - An interesting account of four naval commanders during their careers through WWII culminating in the pivital Leyte Gulf battle.

  • "U.S. Submarines in World War II: A Illustrated History" by Larry Kimmett and Margaret Regis - A highly detailed account of submarines actions in the Pacific during WWII.

  • "How They Won the War in the Pacific: Nimitz and His Admirals" by Edwin P. Hoyt - This book covers Nimitz and his genius in handling his Admirals, his boss (Ernest King) and the Army (in the form of Gen. Douglas MacArthur).

Hawaii 2010

July meant another much-anticipating family get together in Kauai.

We spent the first day in the Poipu area. Ate at Brenneke's deli on the beach. Saw a turtle very close in and a monk seal sleeping on the sand bar. There was yellow tape around the seal but you could get within 10 feet. Checked out Spouting Horn and the nearby crafts market where we picked up some souvenirs. On the way back, we took a side trip to Kipu Falls. You have to trek about a mile through sugar cane and jungle to get to these hidden falls. My parent said they never used to see anyone there but nowadays you always find people enjoying them. The primary attraction at Kipu is jumping off them, either directly over the falls or from a rope swing. Kevin dove in right away and Gabe followed shortly thereafter. It took me awhile to make the plunge (literally) but it was worth the 30+ foot jump.

Took the requisite trip to Lydgate Park for snorkeling. We also discovered the second playground a little farther south from the main one.
Hiked the Kalalau Trail to the first beach. The sea cave there was completely full of sand this time so the kids were disappointed. Snorkeled at Kee Beach and were able to get close to some turtles that were feeding on the outer edge of the reef. I had to hold Bengt's hand to get him out over the reef which was under less than a foot of water in some places. We went back a couple days later and the turtles were still there but the tide was out and the reef was exposed so we couldn't get out past it.

Had an awesome time on Captain Andy's snorkel cruise to the Na Pali coast. The snorkeling was ok but the water was too deep to get close to the creatures. The food and Sneaky Tikis were top notch. We sat most of the time in the cockpit and chatted with the crew. Along the way we saw pods of both bottlenose and spinner dolphins. The spinners were jumping and spinning as if they were former Sea World performers.

Bengt, Gabe and Jyoti took paddleboarding lessons on the Hanalei River. The kids picked up on it very quickly. Bengt even took Alex on his board and paddled around. The girls did a movie tour during this time. Had a great early dinner at Scotty's Beach BBQ and went to Weimea for sunset family photos.

Did the luau at Smith's again. Good food and a good show. Also made some stops at Ono Char but got smart and learned how to call in our orders on the way there.
We got in a few geocaches and discovered some neat places along the hunt. One of which was the swinging bridge in Hanapepe, something I had no knowledge of. Another neat spot was Kalihiwai Bay.

When we got back, we took a trip to Universal Studios.

One of the highlights was the It's Sugar candy store.