Your mission Dan, should you choose to accept it……

9 Jan

This trip is one of missions.  Multiple missions, and as with any Mission:Impossible, twists and turns in the plot, and missions within missions reveal themselves.

Mission 1 was to share my travel adventure with my family, and celebrate and welcome a new family member.   I have home issues.  Big ones.  And Manhattan and Long islands are my home.  But Hawaii’ is one of those unusual places in the world that also feels like Home to me.  And I’m sharing that home.

But I also like to do something different every time, so doing New things in Hawaii is a necessary part of the mission.

The flight experience was certainly an old experience that I wanted to share.  Now that I have the technology worked out, here are some ‘addendum’ pictures of my mission to Pearl Harbor.

A unexpected sub-mission was to repair the memory stick, that contained many of the irreplaceable photos from this trip. Obviously, Mission:repair has now been successfully executed.  Enjoy the fruits of that labor, behold!

Ironically, these new experiences involve old people.


sometimes you get really lucky.

This gentleman, Bernie, survived the attack on Pearl Harbor.  He’s 98 years old and comes 4 days a week to speak with the visitors.  His wife is 96 years old, they have been married 65 years.  He advises us his secret to a long and happy marriage is that his wife is always right.  Amity smiles at these words of wisdom.


On board the Mighty Missouri


This gentleman served on the Missouri, and told us his war stories.  This is a unique window in time where these people are still alive and can tell their personal stories.  Consider their generosity of spirit, as they volunteer their time and share their history and stories, lovingly,  in the broiling hot sun.  They are revered by the paid staff.  They are both fragile and delicate while being tough as nails.

On Board the Missouri
The many kitchens and sub-kitchens aboard the ship testify that the military travels on its stomach.

One of the many kitchens


Of course there is a specialty bakery for the doughnuts.


Laura meets the dental clinic


There may be 1800 mouths to feed, but each mouth has 32 teeth.



Amity mans the deck gun on the Bowfin while Izzy looks on


When YOU visit the bowfin, be sure to look at outside of the conning tower on the port side.  Look at the “kill board” and notice that not all of the kills were Japanese.  A French flag is conspicuously displayed there as well.  When you see it, contact me and tell me why she destroyed a French vessel!  (I know the answer, but you should too!)


East coast of O’Ahu

East Coast of O’Ahu

……… To be continued (theme song from Mission Impossible plays).



Title: opening lines from “Mission Impossible”

…Well the first thing you know ol’ Jed’s a millionaire…..

9 Jan

This trip has been a technology disaster for me.  I’m struggling to learn WordPress to write this blog on my iPad (which, considering my antipathy for Apple software is a struggle in and of itself).  I’ve also experienced a string of technology failures which I hope to include as I blog on…….
So in the interest of learning how to use more WordPress features, and because I have no pictures or better prose to offer for Saturday, January 9th I’m going to shamelessly plug a previous article written by “M” and his blog.  (Or shamelessly plagurize it).  I guess I’ll find out which when I get to his house in Ann Arbor next weekend and find out if I’m locked out in the winter cold.

When traveling to Hawaii, one usually flys into Honolulu on a major carrier, then “jumps” island to island on a local carrier.  Hawaain Airlines uses Boeing 717 regional jets, which is what we used for this trip, but there are other carriers like island air which uses smaller twin turbo prop planes, and Mokulele Airlines (honorable mention here) which uses single prop cessna’s.  In the future, if schedule permits, I will use Mokulele Airlines.  There is NOTHING like sitting right behind the pilots and watching the instruments and them fly the plane.  Very fun, very intimate.

So, if I ever did something “typical”, it’s when I give a tour of Hawaii, the first night is on o’ahu, and the first full day is at Pearl Harbor, the banzai pipeline, then back to the airport for the ‘jump’ to the island of choice.  This is the first day I did with butterblogger and this is the first day I did with my family.

Since I have a complete technology failure of pictures of the first day I will learn how to link to butterblogger previous article on this day 2 years ago, as his account is far better than any I could write.  But I will tell you the differences.

Pearl Harbor is now part of a larger historic site.  It has grown with additions to the original memorial.  One thing I do notice, and I should know as a boat owner, is the outside ships like the missouri and the bowfin age and require maintenance.  The miles of teak decking on the Missouri are showing weathering, as is the exterior of the Bowfin.

It takes money and effort to keep these relics in good repair.  And good money it costs to enter.  I hope those entry fees are used to maintain this heritage.

Also, I had wanted to see my sisters face when she saw the dental clinic on the Misouri.  Our father was a dentist and we both have early childhood (and later memories) and the experience of what it means to be the child of a dentist.  This was an unexpected bond I made with “M” from butterblogger, whilst visiting the Misouri in the past, as his father was also a dentist.

My sisters expression is stuck in an inaccessible memory card (which i hope to resolve upon my return to the mainland), but it wasn’t remarkable.  What was remarkable was once she got to thinking about it how she re-interpreted the statistics for me.

1800 sailors on board required 2 dentists working 14 hour days, 6 days a week.  Support staff consisting of lab technicians (for prosthetics) and hygienists, worked the other 10 hours a day, as there were only 2 chairs in tight quarters.  While the military may travel on its stomach, each stomach requires about 32 teeth to operate efficiently.

The dental clinic was not an afterthought, it was a primary neccessity.

Note to “M”, when she walked thought the bulkhead door and saw the “waiting room”, before she saw the operatory or knew it was the dental clinic, she instantly identified it and said “what’s this?  The waiting room?”.

I hope to have some of the technology issues repaired for the next blog.

So without further ado, this is what a morning in Pearl Harbor feels like:


Title: “the ballad of Jed Clampett” – Lester Flatts and Earl Scruggs.


So we loaded up the truck and we moved to Beverley…..

8 Jan

We rent a Tahoe and it’s off to do a little tour of the east coast of O’ahu, then the Hyatt Regency Waikiki for our first night in Hawaii.

We take off on interstate H1 and head towards the east coast.  O’ahu is the only Hawaiian island with interstates.  There are three.  I’m not sure how many people actually drive here from the mainland on the interestate but it seems like every one of them is heading east on H1 this Friday afternoon.


O’ahu has three interstates, the other islands, zero

After some extreme traffic the interstate turns into the two lane (one in each direction) Kameamea Highway and we’re driving through the rugged, twisty, hilly roads of the east coast.  We stop to see a few scenic overviews.  All I hear from the drivers seat is gasps, oohs and ahhas as we soak in the incredible views and blue blue blue waters smashing into the cliffs.

Then it’s off to the Hyatt Grand Regency Waikiki.  Waikiki is an international rodeo drive on steroids.  Tourists come here from all over the world, and it is dense with high end name retailers, glitzy shops and open air big name shops that spew their air conditioned air conspicuously out onto the sidewalks.  Japanese tourists come here, buy large luggage sets and fill them with American goods to take home.  It’s a scene.

The Hyatt Grand regency has the central location on the beach, and with our 6 person party, AARP discounts and frequent flyer matching status we manage to scrag the presidential suite, on the 40th floor, for less than the price of a couple of rooms on the ground floor facing away from the ocean.

This apartment is over the top.  Two bedrooms, an office, kitchen dining room, living room and my favorite, a separate entrance for “the help”.  The bathrooms not only have bidets, but they have electronic toilet seat bidets on the toilets.  So if you would like to use a bidet, you have a choice in each bathroom of which one!

It also has 6 balconies.  If we like, each of us can sit on our own balcony overlooking the main drag and Waikiki beach.  In fact we all sat on the same balcony and just moved from one to the next!


Amity and Izzy get ready for dinner in one of the spare bathrooms



The view east over Waikiki Beach



The Kitchen. The servants entrance is in the back


Dining room table. My bags (along with the pilfered soap) is being served


Your choice of bidets. Traditional or electronic


Electroinic Remote Control for bidet

The electronic bidet has a remote control, with presets for two users! (Just like the seats in a BMW!)
All in all the electronic bidet is superior because it also has a heated seat and a blow dryer capability!
This would be a perfect bundle with the crapper companion we saw in Florence on the Italian infomercial.

We had dinner at uncle Bo’s up the street, took a walk on the beach and so ended our day of travel to the other side of the planet!

…flying high into the sky….

8 Jan

After 11 hours of flight time the big island finally pokes up in the distance, rising out of the pacific.

Hawaii. (big island) appears in the distance


Had I told the pilot “once around the park, Jamie” we couldn’t have asked for a nicer approach to O’ahu.
  Past the big island, the over the coast of Maui and Moloka’i

Volcanic peaks of Maui poking out from their shrouds of clouds!


Can you tell these islands are made out of Lava?

Maui Coast and Molokai


The reason I seated us all on the port side of the plane was to get the view of Pearl Harbor and Hickman Air Force base. On the final approach to HNL.   Pearl Harbor is tomorrow’s destination and the view didn’t  disappoint.

Pearl Harbor


The red and white ATC tower in the center is an icon of Pearl Harbor since the attack.  On the mid-upper right you will see the Arizona memorial standing over (but not touching) the remains of the destroyed battleship and her entombed sailors.  This commemorates the beginning of the US entry into WW2.

Just to the left of that is the Battleship Missouri, facing toward the Arizona as a sign of respect.  Battleships are normally moored with the bow facing out, towards the ocean, ready at a moments notice to sail out.  The Missouri, was where the surrender instrument was signed in Tokyo harbor, and represents the end of WW2.

Typically a document like that would have been signed on the US flagship, which at the time was the US New Jersey, but Harry Truman was from Missouri, so the “Mighty Mo'” received the Japanese Delegation and the honors.

(Note – to non tech – savvy readers – you can expand the pictures!)

Hickman AFB


Hickman Air Force base adjoins Honolulu International Airport.  250 feet left to descend.

Landing at HNL


We land on runway designated 8R/26L, also known as the Reef Runway, was the world’s first major runway constructed entirely offshore. Completed in 1977, the Reef Runway was a designated alternate landing site for the Space Shuttle.

Finally, we deplane, rent a Tahoe and we’ll be spending the night in Waikiki beach on the beachfront tonite, then it’s off to Pearl Harbor and the banzai pipeline tomorrow.
See ya’ then!

Off we go!  Into the wild blue yonder……

8 Jan

We’re currently flying west over the Grand Canyon, but the cloud cover has it obscured, or I’d try to figure out how to put the picture here.  I’ve decided, I’m just going to try to get the words and sentiments out.  I’m not going to compete with my usual merciless traveling companion and his writers prose.  I’llstick to what I’m food at.  As Chico once captioned a photo of my fording a stream in a jeep- “Dan is comfortable behind the wheel”.  Just gonna be me, warts and all, and see how it comes out.  I’m also not going to blog by the day.  Maybe I’ll do short ones many times a day.  Maybe I’ll just blog a picture when I’m too busy having a good time.

I got up at very dark 15 and got out the door. (Winston Kitty was very unhappy I was leaving with my bag again) and drove the rental thing to Newark airport.  My siblings head to Newark airport from 40 miles in the other direction.  We figured we’d meet at the gate.  And use cell phones if we have to to find each other.  Turns out you can rent a Chevy spark from dollar around the corner for 15 dollars at the last minute and drop it off at Newark airport.  It took $1.90 in gasoline to top off the tank.  Cheaper than mass transit.  Dropped off the car, got on the AirTrain.

And now an advertisement for TSA Precheck!  Precheck is great.  You can usually get through security in a fraction of the time, without being irradiated and with most of your dignity intact.  Leave on your belt, leave on your shoes, leave your computer in your bag and just stroll through the simple metal detector and you’re done.  I’ll talk about GOES maybe on my next international flight.

 Those of us that are unfortunate enough to have to use Newark airport know there is only 1 TSA pre check checkpoint for the entire United terminal – at entry point ‘C’.  But I consulted united’s terminal map which proudly proclaims that there is a TSA preconceived at all entry points.  So I wrote a detailed note to my siblings that I didn’t believe them and if it weren’t so how to get to to checkpoint “C”.
The AirTrain stops at checkpoint 2, so I took the time to find out what I already knew.  There is only ONE TSA pre check at the United terminal, and it’s at “c”.  The published United documentation is a bald faced lie.  So I take the escalator and walk over to ‘c’ and get on line.   Who is directly in front of me?  My siblings.  THANK YOU MOM! (See I told you they’d be with us)  We coud not have done that if we planned. It.

  So an easy boarding for an on-time departure on UA15, EWR->HNL.  I give my family the briefing on how to use the power, bed and other amenities.  We take up the forward section of the  port side of the cabin.

The singles (me and Izzy in the front), the marrieds (Ray and Laura in row 2) and the soon to be marrieds (Amity and Paul) in row three.

The plane is a 767-400ER.  A ubiquitous mini-jumbo jet of united’s fleet.  Nice comfortable accomodations for our 11.5 hour flight.

Then it’s up up and away!,  er….  Off we go into the wild blue yonder flying high into the sky……

  • We are currently approaching the San Bernadino mountains at the southern part of the  Sierra Nevada mountain range. To fly south of LAX then over the pacific.

san bernadino mountains

Bucking a 140mph headwind… Finally over the pacific.

Our first stop will be O’Ahu, a drive along a dramatic coastline, then dinner at Uncle Bo’s and accomodations in Waikiki Beach.  We will only be on O’Ahu a short time to see Pearl Harbor, the banzai pipeline, some sights along the coast then off to less populated islands of Kaua’i and Hawaii.

  Talk to you again from O’Ahu.

Twas the night before…….

8 Jan

Enter a caption

‘Twas the night before…….

I feel compelled to start blogging (again). Actually I never felt like I did blog, as on many of my travels, I travelled with and he did all the blogging.

I was lazy.

well, tomorrow begins the trip of a lifetime. A year in the planning. Even though I’ve been there Many times before, this time it’s all about my traveling companions. My family is going with me so I can share with them many of my favorite places on earth, Hawaii.

My sister, My brother (in-law – hithertofore referred to as my brother – which is the defacto relationship), my two nieces and my soon to be nephew in law.

Amity is getting married to Paul in September. I offered to send them round trip anywhere United flies, or take the whole family to Hawaii, which I’ve been to many times and know pretty well. It didn’t take them but seconds to decide and We’re going on a trip of my lifetime. Oahu, Kaua’i and Hawaii (Big Island), 10 days on my favorite islands. Volcanos, monster waves, deserts, rainbows and rain forests.

and someone else is sure to join us, my long dead parents, who never made it to Hawaii. They knew how to travel and taught it to us. They will undoubtedly join us on this celebration of my first niece getting married. I’ve noticed lately that certain mannerisms, values and thought processes run through the generations, and i’m anxious to partake in them. I know countless times in the next 10 days we will be reminded of them and their presence will be known, through word, action and thought.

I made these plane reservations all the way back in april. 6 for us, but for me and Izzy, we ended up with seats not next to each other. The plane has been fully booked for months. Today, after check-in time, the seat next to me, 1b, opened up. out of hundreds of seats on the plane – all full, the one next to me opens up. I call up izzy and tell her to grab that seat. She gets it. As in many times in the past when synchronicity strikes I say:

“THANK YOU MOM”. Izzy tells me she it’s like when she finds a great parking space near her apartment uptown she says “I’ve never met you but thanks”. I didn’t know she does that before tonite. There will be many family revelations over the next 10 days and I welcome them.

I did a driving trip with my two nieces a decade ago touring eastern Europe, Germany, Austria, Czech republic, Poland and we had a spectacular time. This time my nieces parents, my sister and brother will join the celebration of the marriage and it will be my entire family.

so it’s time to pack and early in the morning we’ll start more than just “another”, but maybe the best ‘excellent adventure of my life’.

I’m just starting this blog up, It won’t be perfect. Please let me know if you can read it and if things look ok, and what can be better.

HKG / SIN 4/9/2014 – 1m miles part 1

14 Apr

1m mile trip part 1 intro

A personal letter from United* (yeah sure)

Dear Daniel,

We are excited that you are approaching a remarkable milestone: flying one million miles with United® and MileagePlus®. Once you are a 1 Million Miler, you will enjoy benefits that reflect your accomplishment, including status that will not fall below Premier® Gold.*

We look forward to welcoming you as a 1 Million Miler in the near future.
Dan S

Get ready to be a 1 Million Miler

*with an asterisk.

The Quest:

Is it possible to go to the other side of the world to have dumplings in 2 famous cities and back, staying in decent hotels for less than $175 and an unknown number of frequent flyer miles? Welcome to dan’s Hong Kong/singapore adventure. we’re going to find out.

The History.
a long time ago (I believe 1995) i had a business opportunity on the left coast. Up until that point i flew tower air. It was the worst! they only flew 747’s (which was nice) but they were serial numbers 1-5. the ones that only had 3 windows on the upper deck – i don’t even think they had a dash after the number, in a word: ancient. they had terrible processes and rude crews (they were israeli, so it was ok). The cheapest ticket in the sky but you just had to accept that fact that if the plane left on the same day the ticket was for, it was on time (that is NOT an exaggeration). Tower flew from JFK to OAKland.

tower air had another attribute that worked. the place ‘s’ and i worked at was at the end of the runway at oakland airport. we worked push/pull. he would spend two weeks on the left coast managing this huge project, then i would fly out, take over and he would go back. we called the time there, “in the barrel”, it was said that we would dosi-doe at the airport. From the lab, you only had to look out the window and if the tower air tail was at the airport, you had a few hours to get over there, meet sam, discuss the issues for the next two weeks, hop on or off the plane and go. Well tower air went out of business and it was time to pick a REAL airline to fly. i was a delta flyer, but they were kinda pricey, so i tried united.

My first united flight was delayed due to a mechanical problem. but something interesting happened – they made a prompt and honest announcement and gave their assessment. What is this? an airline NOT treating me like a fragile parcel being unloaded from the top shelf of a UPS truck? I was so impressed with how united handled what went wrong, and their price on the JFK/SFO run that i joined their FF program. i’m sure i missed joining the first couple of flights, but that announcement about ‘frequent flyers earn 2586 miles for this trip) caught my attention. When i found out that you could trade those miles for upgrades and sit in the big seats in the front of the plane (how DID those people do it?) i was hooked.

and what wouldn’t i do to get those ‘free’ upgrades to the big seats in the front? credit cards that got miles, YES! 19 years later, i realize that airports are the bus stations of the middle class. i have too many frequent flyer miles in the bank and the airlines are devaluing the currency. why should this be any different than the US peso, or any other currency? Since i can’t diversify my ffm assets, i decided to fly a lot. I’ve flown on A380’s, I’ve flown on 787 Dreamliners (while they were catching on fire)-even got a cockpit tour by two senior pilots! and every other plane you can imagine. and in every class. I have my memorable flights.

I flew a 787 dreamliner from newark to houston to San Fran to houston to newark on New Year’s Day last year – just to be a part of history. Since i foolishly missed my chance to fly on the concorde, i figured i’d lock this one in. It was noteworthy because when we landed in San Fran, 7 policemen rushed in, stopped short and looked around and said “damn this is a nice plane” (it is), and then went back to coach and arrested a woman and took her off the plane in handcuffs. When I reboarded i asked the flight attendant what the story was. Apparently she bought her ticket on a stolen credit card – and it wasn’t the first time. How foolish — to buy a ticket on a stolen credit card and not buy first class! but i digress – back to the adventure at hand.

This trip is noteworthy not only because i am using some of my miles to travel first class 1/2 way around the world and back (it feels like for free) and pay for decent hotel rooms, but because on this trip, i will hit 1 million lifetime miles. A dubious achievement, to be sure, but one that has great perks, priority boarding, not getting nickled and dimed for baggage and other stuff for the rest of my life (or until they change it). with some airlines charging even for advanced seat reservations, it’s a good thing.