We woke up early... and naturally. I didn't realize there would be any adjustment necessary to the time change, but I guess I was wrong. Hawaii is 3 hours behind CA, so we found ourselves waking up at 3:00 or 4:00 AM on most mornings.
I made reservations on recreation.gov for the first USS Arizona boat at 8:00 am. Instructions said to be there an hour early to pick tickets. We stopped by the MAC 24/7 To-Go cafe downstairs to pick up some coffee and pastries before we left.
The drive was short and the parking lot was near empty when we arrived, almost 7:00 am on the dot. A short line formed at the entrance where someone stood to check if anybody had any bags. I read we weren't allowed to bring bags and didn't need to bother with renting a locker, so we planned to put our camera and money in our pockets and that worked out extremely well for us. The line to purchase tickets for the USS Arizona was longer than the pick-up line, but it seemed to move fairly quickly. There was only one person assisting people who had made reservations and 2 or 3 agents assisting peope who didn't have reservations.
We found ourselves with more than 45 minutes to spare. The visitor's center was new to me, so we took the opportunity to walk around before we had to report to the theater at 8:00 am for the movie on the USS Arizona. The movie was moving and informational and had most people in tears by the time it was over. When the movie finally came to an end, we silently exited the theater to board the boat.
Being the first boat of the day was quite emotional in itself. The memorial was quiet and empty and waiting for us to pay our respects. We took our time to take it all in, to try to imagine what it was like on that day. We stepped into the room where they had the names of those who died on the ship that day, inscribed on the walls. We joined the small group of people who were already in there, and read each and every name on the wall. An older gentleman making his way into the room seemed to be overwhelmed with emotion, and that brought tears to my eyes once more. It didn't seem long before the second boat arrived. A group of people began to crowd the entrance of the boat, I'm assuming they wanted to head back. A significant amount of people from our group were still observing the memorial when one of the ladies who worked there yelled for everybody to step aside so that the passengers could deboard. She didn't seem to address just the group that was waiting at the entrance to return, but to everybody in the memorial. I recall being able to stay as long as you wish to pay your respects, but it seemed that our entire group returned as a whole. Maybe this has changed?
It was about 9:00 or just after when we got back to the visitor's center and made our way to the USS Bowfin. We had our picture taken and were told we could view it when we were finished with our tour. We were encouraged to each take a headset that contained an audio guide on it. There are certain stations on the USS Bowfin that have blue and red placards with different sets of numbers on them. The blue placards were for the adult tour, while the red placards were for the family tour. I'm unsure of the difference of the two tours. We began with the first number, right before you board the USS Bowfin. We continued onto the second spot, and decided in the middle that we just wanted to tour the submarine on our own. Most of the submarine seemed the same to me, although I don't remember it in detail from almost 10 years ago. Not many people were touring the USS Bowfin with us, only a handful of other visitors.
We finished with the USS Bowfin at about 9:45 am. When we deboarded the USS Bowfin, they had some other things on display that I decided to pass on. Somehow, I had developed blisters on the balls of my feet the day before, so I opted to sit out and rest a while. There's a seating area with lots of tables and chairs in front of a hot dog stand. It's like a courtyard, with the museum behind the hot dog stand, the gift shop to the right, and the USS Bowfin behind you. I saw only a few people sit down with hot dogs and drinks. It made me hungry! We decided to enjoy some hot dogs before we continued on with our tour of Pearl Harbor. I don't recall them having so many condiment choices before. They had ketchup, mustard, onions, relish, chili sauce, cheese sauce, and maybe sauerkraut? Drinks were offered through vending machines. My boyfriend bought this meal so I don't recall how much it cost us for two hot dogs and two drinks. I was also hungry, so it didn't matter much to me.
After scarfing our hot dogs, we decided to look around the museum. A lot of interesting things in there, lots of incredible stories behind the things on the display. I enjoyed the museum much more this time around, now that I'm older and can appreciate it a little more. Call me a naive teenager, but a lot of this didn't interest me 10 years ago.
We then proceeded to the shuttle stop to take the shuttle to the USS Missouri and the Aviation Museum. The first stop was the USS Missouri. We found more people here with most of them opting to take the guided tour. Again, we decided to tour on our own. Although, looking back on it, we should have chosen a guided tour. They only give you a tour of the top of the ship, but when we passed these groups, we heard so many interesting bits of pieces of the stories they were telling. It felt like were missing out on some of the history behind the USS MIssouri.
This ship is so big that I don't recall much and everything seemed new to me. We felt like kids cliimbing up and down the narrow ladders, going through the inside of the ship and looking at everything they had on display. The inside of the ship is like a museum and it's even air conditioned. We read almost everything there was to read, trying to fill our brains with knowledge and history.
When we were finished with the USS Missouri we decided to take a quick ice cream break. There's a gift shop, a snack shack that sells ice cream and dippin dots, though they were out of dipping dots that day, and another shack that sold food. I was unaware of these food options and thought the hot dogs were our only choice back at the Visitor's Center, but now I know for the future! After our ice cream, we made our way back to the shuttle stop to head for the Aviation Museum.
The museum is new to me, something that wasn't there 10 years ago. We had admission to hangars 37 and 79. The shuttle bus dropped us off at Hangar 37, which felt like a museum, with a gift shop and a cafeteria inside. Not too many things on display here, but what they have is interesting and fun to see. It's a short walk over to Hangar 79, which has additional aircraft on display.
By the time we were finished and took the shuttle back to the visitor's center, it was about 2:00 pm. We debated on hitting up the swap meet but knew they closed at 3:00 pm. We had already had a day full of walking (on my blisters!), and though it was hard to pass up some time to shop, I decided we would visit the International Marketplace sometime before we left.
The rest of our day was spent relaxing on the lanai. We called for room service from MAC 24/7 for dinner. This place is getting addictive! Before we knew it, we were fighting sleep, determined not to go to bed early on our vacation, and try to enjoy every moment of Hawaii. But, tomorrow is snorkeling day and our anniversary, another amazing day to look forward to!