December 07, 2015

A Visit to Pearl Harbor ~ A Guest Post

The most rewarding thing anyone can say to a travel writer is, "You've inspired me to travel." While The Thrifty Gypsy's Travels is primarily a labor of love for myself, I did also hope to inspire others to realize their travel dreams - because travel isn't just for millionaires

I am honored today to feature a guest post from the very first person to tell me that my travels inspired them to make adventures of their own. Sara Ann currently lives in central Virginia like myself, but has lived in various states along the East Coast. This past year, her travel bug told her to go west! And on this 74th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor, Sara Ann is sharing her experience visiting the war memorial in Hawaii.


After following the Thrifty Gypsy for some time, I got the travel bug myself.  I won’t lie.  Seeing someone take the time to experience the world is inspirational, and it made me wish I could, too.  In the last 15 months I have taken every opportunity to explore and am glad for it.  Denver, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Hawaii, a drive north along the east coast, a drive south along the east coast, some local trips mixed in there - I’ve tried to explore and do SOMETHING each month since I came down with this bug.  I’m so happy now to have the opportunity to guest blog and share some of my experiences on the page that started it for me.

During our trip to Hawaii, I was able to visit one of the most iconic places in our country’s history of war.  So here is a summary, editorial, photo journal or whatever you wish to call it of my experience visiting Pearl Harbor and the USS Arizona Memorial as well as the USS Missouri.  In essence, the beginning and the end of the war with regards to Japan.  
Pearl Harbor / U.S.S. Missouri
December 7, 1941


Our visit to Pearl Harbor started out overcast and cool, and the weather set a somber mood.  There was a threat that because of the weather the boat to the memorial would stop running, but we made one of the last runs out before they shut it down for the day.  I don’t want to clutter this post with many words; however, I will share this description.  It smells like death there.  I realize that when something is degrading below the sea, there is bound to be a smell, but the odor of the ocean at that specific location was not nice. And while I said some prayers for the souls of those interred beneath the sea, my mind registered the stench of suffering and death.  There is so much hope, peace, and love elsewhere on the islands, but this place was much, much different.  You felt the loss.  No one spoke above a whisper while visitors paid their respects, not even the smallest of children that were on the tour.  You could hear boats and planes in the background, and without the sounds of the hustle of people, it was easy to imagine exactly the sounds that were heard that fateful morning.

What many people don’t realize is that on the east side of Ford Island, there is a section that is referred to as ‘Battleship Row,’ and the location of each ship is marked.  During the boat ride, you pass concrete markers identifying where each ship that was sunk and/or damaged during the attack was moored.



The remains of the USS Arizona are not completely underwater, and I’m sure much of the smell that impacted me so much was because of this.  As the water flows around the underwater tomb, it slowly washes away and erodes the remains with the evidence of fuel and oil creating a rainbow atop the water.  For the last 74 years, I’m sure this has been the same, and the environmental engineer in me was very intrigued about the impact of this and other toxins to the immediate ecosystem.

There is a very specific amount of time you are allowed to spend at the USS Arizona Memorial.  The boats to and from run on a military schedule, and as it pulls up to unload the next group, you are expected to board and leave regardless of if you wish to spend more time there.  Prior to boarding the boat from shore, you will watch a film and then exit the theater directly to the dock to board and travel to the memorial.  The entire time including the film (about 25 minutes), boat ride to and from the memorial, as well as the time you can spend viewing is under an hour and a half.  They request visitors to head to the exit, and when the next boat arrived with the next group, I wished that I could have just a few more moments to spend.


The day we visited the USS Arizona Memorial, we also had the privilege of going to the USS Missouri.  We did not have a rental car available for unlimited use for this trip, so I had booked us tickets for a bus tour that brought us to both sites as well as  the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, lunch, and a quick tour of downtown.  With so much to do and see, I do recommend it because the bus picked us up about two blocks from our hotel, and the tour guide/bus driver provided us with many local insights.

Having toured other ships, much of what I personally experienced on the USS Missouri was similar to what I had seen on my east coast travels; however, here are a few images to summarize the experience of the rest of our day.







Have you been to Hawaii and visited Pearl Harbor?

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