‘Honolulu’ Category


You Must Remember This

Originally Published July 17, 2020 by Linda Lou Burton posting about American Samoa from Little Rock, Arkansas – On June 23, 2012, I was at the Polynesian Cultural Center on the island of Oahu, Hawaii, with my granddaughter, who was 10. Here’s how it went:

They found a place for Kayla and me on the back row of the jam-packed Fiji hut, and there we sat, bamboo sticks in hand, learning to chant and sing Fiji style. And, learning how to remember. The presentation at the Fiji settlement in the Polynesian Cultural Center was titled “History through Chants & Dance” and we’d just been taught how, as a group, to beat out rhythms, “one-two one-two-three” then “one-two-three-four” fast and slow, stop; then a call to us, “moo-oo” then our response “mai-ii” and repeat; somehow the roomful of us managed to do this together; and somehow, the feel of it began to stick in our memories.

Our narrator explained the value of learning by chanting: “we had no written language until recent times, so stories and our history were passed down orally. Family is very important in our culture, and children are taught from the beginning about their ancestors,” he continued. “My 10-year old son can recite our family genealogy for 17 generations.”

Kayla and I exchanged glances, startled. Seventeen generations?

The Polynesian Cultural Center – rated the top tourist attraction in Hawaii, is a non-profit organization operated by the LDS church. It is a family place with pleasant walkways and waterways meandering through 42 acres of Polynesian “settlements” representing Samoa, New Zealand (Aotearoa-Maori), Fiji, Hawaii, Tahiti, Tonga, and Easter Island (Rapa Nui). Its purpose is simply to preserve the culture of Polynesia. It’s all about remembering.

As I planned my 2020 RTW stops in Hawaii, American Samoa, and New Zealand, I thought back to that day, and how little I really know of Polynesian culture. I’d planned to remedy that somewhat today as I explored the National Park of American Samoa, which of course is closed due to COVID-19, but I’ll share some facts from their website, https://www.nps.gov/npsa

The Samoan culture is Polynesia’s oldest. We believe the first people of the Samoan Islands came by sea from southwest Asia some 3,000 years ago. Over the centuries, distinct cultural traits emerged that we now call fa’asamoa (fah-ah-SAH-mo-ah). From Samoa seafaring explorers and settlers journeyed to other Polynesian island groups hundreds of miles away.

Follow the Fa’a Samoa —The Samoan Way

Alofa and Afio Mai! — Hello and Welcome — with some tips for pleasant visits to the villages of the islands.

  • Always ask villagers for permission before taking photographs, using the beach, or engaging in other activities, however unobtrusive your actions may seem. Permission will almost certainly be granted.
  • Sunday is the day for church, rest, and especially for quiet around the villages. Activities that are acceptable on other days, such as swimming, may not be permitted on Sunday.
  • In a traditional home, called a fale (fah-LAY), sit down on the floor before talking, eating, or drinking. Cross your legs or pull a mat over them; it is impolite to stretch out your legs uncovered.
  • Do not eat or drink while walking through a village.
  • Each evening around dusk, villagers observe a time for prayers called Sā. If you are entering a village during Sā, stop and wait quietly until Sā ends. You may even be invited to join in a family prayer. It is not necessary to stop for Sā on the main roads.
  • It is considered an honor to be asked to share ‘ava (a local drink made from the root of the pepper plant). To show respect, spill a few drops on the ground or mat in front of you, then raise your cup and say manuia (mahn-WE-ah) before drinking.

The ONLY US National Park south of the equator, the National Park of American Samoa’s 13,500 acres are distributed across three islands: Tutuila, Ofu, and Ta‘ū. Its purpose is to preserve and protect coral reefs, tropical rainforests, fruit bats, and most importantly, Samoan culture. Part of the US National Park System since October 31, 1988, it is unusual in that the NPS does not own the Park lands, but entered into a 50-year lease with Samoan village councils.

Twenty-nine states have national parks, as do the territories of the US Virgin Islands, and American Samoa. There are currently 62 parks in system, with this mission: “to preserve unimpaired the natural and cultural resources and values…for the enjoyment, education, and inspiration of this and future generations.”

It’s all about remembering.


Pass It Forward https://capitalcitiesusa.org/?p=2365

Want Me To Jump? https://capitalcitiesusa.org/?p=2383


The Hot Spot

Originally Published July 15, 2020 by Linda Lou Burton posting about Hawaii Volcanoes from Little Rock, Arkansas – Some folks go to Hawaii to sit on the beach and drink Mai Tai’s, peering at the ocean over a slab of pineapple on the rim of their glass. Peering over the rim of a volcano is what I’m interested in, and it is the main attraction at Volcano House on the big island of Hawaii. The “only volcano hotel in Hawaii,” at 1 Crater Rim Drive in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, Volcano House is a historic retreat right by the rim. “Breathtaking” is the word as you gaze over the Kilauea caldera from your room. From your room! You are on the edge of an active volcano and a UNESCO Heritage Site, 4,000 feet above sea level.

I wake up this morning in my king-size bed (on my “vacation that would have been if not for a world crisis”) and watch as wisps of smoke curl over the barren landscape. An ever-evolving landscape, shaped by volcanic activity, always a ticking clock.

Volcanoes are the “fast-forward” of geological construction. Winds and waters eroded out the Grand Canyon over eons, ice-age glaciers took a while to scrape out the Great Lakes. But volcanoes do their bit in a hurry. Blam! Ash goes flying, hot lava flows, and anything in the pathway is toast. Result: new land is formed, old land is reshaped.

Do you know about The Hot Spot? That’s the baby-maker of the Hawaiian island chain, and it continues to build islands. The tectonic plate beneath much of the Pacific Ocean keeps moving northwest, but the “hot spot” remains stationary, creating new volcanoes. Currently active volcanoes are on the southern half of Hawaii island; the newest, Lōʻihi Seamount, is located south of the coast.

Haleakalā, on Maui, erupted sometime in the 18th century, possibly earlier. Kīlauea exploded in 1790, the deadliest eruption known to have occurred in what is now the United States. It erupted again in May 2018, opening 22 fissure vents on its East Rift Zone. The destruction, coupled with lava flows and sulfur dioxide fumes, necessitated the evacuation of more than 2,000 people.

It’s quiet today. Sensors and video cams keep track of every gurgle and tremor, you betcha. Mauna Loa, about 20 miles northwest of Kilauea and the largest active volcano on earth, last erupted in 1984. For a virtual visit, check out a few live cams, courtesy of the USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory.


  • Kīlauea Caldera from HVO Observation Tower is a live panorama of Kīlauea Caldera.
  • Halemaʻumaʻu, water lake, gives a live panorama from the west rim of the new summit collapse features; Thermal image of Halemaʻumaʻu and water lake is a live thermal image.
  • Mokuʻāweoweo Caldera from the Northwest Rim, positioned on the rim of Mauna Loa volcano, is a temporary research camera. If you look carefully around early morning or late evening, you may see a few thermal areas emitting steam.
  • Mokuʻāweoweo Caldera Thermal is a temporary thermal camera there; the temperature scale is in degrees Celsius up to a maximum of 500 degrees (932 degrees Fahrenheit).

Volcanoes are hot!

But there are also plenty of cool things within the 4,028 square miles that make up the Big Island of Hawaii. Trails through rainforest lead to hide-away waterfalls; black-sand beaches are the place to catch a sea turtle napping. Devastation Trail winds through exotic flora and fauna and now-cooled lava flows. Imagine yourself walking through a 35-foot-high lava tube! The highest point on the island is Mauna Kea. At 13,796 fee it is (just barely) 125 feet higher than Mauna Loa. The lowest point in Hawaii is at water’s edge – the Pacific Ocean.

Where you can sit on the beach and drink Mai Tai’s, with a nibble of pineapple, if you please.


Hawaii Volcanoes National Park https://www.nps.gov/havo/index.htm

Volcano House https://www.hawaiivolcanohouse.com/


And What Is So Rare

06 lowellLinda Burton posting from Arkadelphia, Arkansas – “And what is so rare as a day in June?” I ask on this last day of the month. That’s the leading line of a poem by James Russell Lowell (1819-1891), here’s the full verse:

And what is so rare as a day in June? Then, if ever, come perfect days; Then Heaven tries earth if it be in tune, And over it softly her warm ear lays; Whether we look, or whether we listen, We hear life murmur, or see it glisten.”

I had a friend who kept 366 journals. He built enough shelves all around the room to accommodate 366 notebooks labeled only with the month and day, not the year. February 29 didn’t have nearly as many pages as the other 365, he explained as he’d lift a notebook and tell you exactly what he was doing, or thinking, on a precise day, as far back as fifteen years! I admired his tenacity, but the revelation was how our feelings, and perceptions, change over time. even when the planets are aligned the same. Because we have new experiences? Because we get older, slower, wiser? I decided to go back to the first year of the Journey and revisit my “Junes,” checking for rarity. » read more


Girls Just Wanna Have Fun

Linda Burton posting from Honolulu, Hawaii – “What was your most fun thing?” granddaughter Kayla asked. We are sitting at Gate 20 in the Honolulu airport, wearing long sleeves now; dressed for Seattle’s cooler temps that will surely shock our senses as soon as we get off the plane. It’s the last moments of our stay in Honolulu, and we’re reminiscing. “Everything was fun,” I answered. “When I could see through my hair blowing in my face.” “Well that was just one day then,” Kayla said, “when we were towelheads in our room!” That brought giggles from both of us, yep, those tropical breezes are part of the attraction in Honolulu, moderating the sun and the warm morning rains. So what was the most fun thing? “I liked the Aquarium today,” Kayla threw in. “And going into Diamond Head.” “You liked the Trolley Driver,“ I said. “Because he kept telling you how cute you are!” It’s true, he’d let her get off the Trolley for pictures, and wait till she was done before resuming the Tour. “She’s so cute,” he’d say when she got back on. “Did you get what you wanted, little one?” She tipped him big, with money out of her own pocket. So Honolulu, what was the most fun? » read more


Yellow on the Submarine

Linda Burton posting from Honolulu, Hawaii – I had the name for this post the minute we booked the tour. I get claustrophobic in caves, so why on earth would I enjoy a submarine? But it was the one thing on the brochure that Kayla picked out, and who can deny, it would be unique. I decided to be brave; after all, I told myself, I do like being ON TOP of the water. And I’ve always liked the adventures of Jacques Cousteau. It could be a good story to tell, later on. But the wind was blowing hard today; our pickup trolley was late; they didn’t have our names on the manifest, although I held the voucher in my hand. Are these warning signs? Should I listen to the Karma of the Day? Kayla was dancing the excitement jig; the coordinator called ahead; nodded at us both; “Just get on,” she said, “we’ll straighten it out when you get to the boat.” Hop on, ride to another hotel, walk the beach walk to the pier, our yellow tickets were ready, slipped into my hand. Yellow! Yikes, another sign? » read more


A Loverly Bunch of Coconuts

Linda Burton posting from Honolulu, Hawaii – “Thank you, thank you, thank you,” they muttered as we applauded the procession coming towards us on the sidewalk. Ten blond California-stereo guys in grass skirts and coconut bras were catching the attention they sought on the streets of Waikiki, turning heads and generating laughter along the way. A pirate look-alike with a bright green parrot on his shoulder hung out mid-block offering opportunity – Pose with Polly, $10. Just in front of our hotel, a black man in baggy white shorts was turning circles to the count of two passers-by; when he got to 13 they yelled “Jump!” and he did a backflip, barefoot, without falling down. And then collected his tip. Not weird, in this party town, where the sheltering palms seem to attract an odd assortment of coconuts. » read more


Wear Your Slippers

Linda Burton posting from Honolulu, Hawaii – “It’s not for me to reason why,” I grumbled as I tucked my camera in my bag and pulled slippery bootees over my sensible shoes. The Guard Guide continued to bark instructions to everyone. No smile, no aloha warm. Kayla wiggled her feet admiringly, “Baby boots,” she said. Here we sat, on a bench outside the Iolani Palace doors, ticketed for the tour that included “audio,” being sternly lectured as to how we should behave. “Do not take off your slippers. Do not touch anything. Do not get any pictures. There is a button on your wand for each room. Push it when you get there. Now go.” The door opened and the group of us meekly entered the Palace one by one. Highly polished floors stretched ahead in the Grand Hall; I stepped and slid and almost fell. “Be careful GMom,” Kayla warned, “just glide. And turn on your sound.” Both of us pushed Button 2 on the audio wands hanging from our necks, and glided on the shiny floor. The Throne Room was to our left. » read more


Going in Circles

Linda Burton posting from Honolulu, Hawaii – We picked Tour #7, The Grand Circle Island. “See Oahu from Hanauma Bay to the North Shore on a 120-mile trip which includes a visit to Kualoa Ranch and Dole Pineapple Plantation.” That teaser pulled us in; “bay and shore and-pineapple” are key words when you think of Hawaii, and the idea of someone else driving that 120 miles appealed to me. Kayla was gung-ho for everything, we were up and ready to meet the bus out front at 8:30 sharp. She re-read the brochure while we waited. Oahu’s prestigious Kahala area. Hanauma Bay overlook. Halona Blow Hole lookout. Nuuanu Pali Lookout. Byodo-In Temple amidst mountain backdrop. Kualoa Ranch including scenic drive into the Ko’olau mountains overlooking Chinaman’s Hat and Kaneohe Bay. World famous North Shore surfing beaches of Sunset, Banzai Pipeline and Waimea Bay. Dole Plantation and Plantation Gardens. No-host lunch. That’s what the brochure said we’d see. Now I’ll tell you what we saw, as we spent the day on a luxury bus with Driver Don, from Minnesota. » read more


Aloha is Love

Linda Burton posting from Honolulu, Hawaii – “Aloha is love,” reads the first line of the children’s book entitled Let’s Learn the Hawaiian Alphabet (ISBN 1-59700-102-3, author Patricia Murray, illustrator Sharon Carter). We’ve asked everyone “What does “aloha” mean?” and every reply has been different. It could mean hello or goodbye, it could simply be a greeting, or it could mean “I love you.” Hmmm, a word to use with care! Every tour guide and every tourist spot has nudged the crowd to shout it out – A LOW HA! And we always fail the test. “Not very good!” they tell us, so we get a little louder. Still, a word has to have meaning to you when you say it, or it doesn’t sound like you really mean it, so ka-chung, the tour guide shakes his head and laughs. Kayla and I wanted to learn some real Hawaiian words, and use them properly. “Mahalo” we try to remember to say for “Thank you” and sometimes we get a smile in return. We’ve studied the street signs to get familiar with spelling, and Hawaiian names. “There are only twelve letters in the Hawaiian alphabet,” Kuka told us. Kuka was our soft-spoken driver on Saturday, delivering us safely to the Polynesian Cultural Center in Laie. Kuka went through the vowel sounds with us as we rode north; Vanna’s Wheel of Fortune would sound different here though the letters look the same. “U” is not “You,” it is “Oo” – we know not to say “you-ka-lay-lee” any more! But back to the book. » read more


Pass It Forward

Linda Burton posting from Honolulu, Hawaii – “My 10-year-old son can recite our family genealogy for 17 generations back,” said our narrator. They’d found a place for Kayla and me on the back row of the jam-packed Fiji hut, and there we sat, bamboo sticks in hand, learning to chant and sing Fiji style. And, learning how to remember. The presentation at the Fiji settlement in the Polynesian Cultural Center was titled “History through Chants & Dance” and we’d just been taught how, as a group, to beat out rhythms, “one-two one-two-three” then “one-two-three-four” fast and slow, stop; then a call to us, “moo-oo” then our response “mai-ii” and repeat; somehow the roomful of us managed to do this together; and somehow, the feel of it began to stick in our memories. I know there’s a scientific explanation for what happens in the brain when rhythms and sounds take on a consistent pattern; but overall, it seemed to be the joy of it that took hold. Yet I was startled by that last remark. Seventeen generations? » read more