Julie and I decided we wanted to do something really special for our 25th wedding anniversary, which happened earlier this week. We decided to visit three of the Hawaiian Islands which, to this point anyway, was the trip of a lifetime. We enjoyed the beauty and the balmy temperatures, but we also learned a lot of things we didn't know about Hawaii.

We landed in Honolulu and stayed in Waikiki Beach for the first two nights. We took a 12-hour bus tour that traveled around the entire island of O'ahu. Our first stop was what is, unfortunately, Hawaii's most famous location: Pearl Harbor. So many American lives were lost there on December 7, 1941. I had no idea more than 350 Japanese aircraft were involved or that a warning that morning went unheeded. A radar operator was told the planes were likely U.S. Army B-17 bombers. A group of them were supposed to be arriving in Hawaii that morning. We visited Pearl Harbor early in the morning, the same time the horrific attack occurred. This is the USS Arizona Memorial, which is currently closed for repairs:

Julie James

Our guided tour around O'ahu also included a visit to the Dole Plantation where we discovered that a pineapple plant only yields two edible pineapples. The first is the sweetest and the second one is still sold. The third pineapple a plant produces is used to grow a new plant. Also, all pineapple grown in Hawaii are sold on the islands, not in other parts of the U.S.

Julie James

It was also the day we experienced breathtaking views for the first time.

We were able to get close enough to a blowhole along the Pacific to actually hear it.

Our next stop was the island of Kauai, population 70,000. They call it the Garden Isle, and for good reason. In a word, it's lush. It's also teeming with beautiful wild chickens. Legend has it their ancestors escaped chicken coops during hurricanes on Kauai in the 80's and 90's.

Julie James

There are wild cats, too. They're camera shy and much more prone to prowl at night we learned.

Julie James

Away from the very busy Waikiki Beach, we saw our first sunsets on the beach in Kauai. They didn't disappoint. The first one below was taken on a sunset cruise.

Bob James
Bob James

Waimea Canyon, often called Hawaii's Grand Canyon, was also a sight to behold.

Bob James

In Kauai, we also witnessed just how much work goes into the Palm trees in public areas. We were told they're trimmed and coconuts removed every few weeks to avoid accidents. Note the flip-flop in the first picture, dwarfed by the trimmings from a single tree. The second photo is of the tree trimmer himself, who was incredibly adept with a chain (to pull himself up the tree) and a corn knife... I assume they call it a palm knife, but I digress.

Day or night, they're a beautiful tree.

Bob James

Our last stop was Maui, where we saw Costco for the first time in Hawaii. The line for gasoline was incredible. Why? Gas was $4.06 everywhere. Costco customers were paying $3.06 per gallon. If there's anybody on Maui that isn't a member, they should have their head examined. Then again, judging by the crowds we encountered both times we were there, I think every single one of them is.

Bob James

Everybody said we had to do it, so we took our rented Jeep Wrangler on the Road to Hana. Man was I glad we had a Jeep. The tag of a t-shirt I purchased tells you all you need to know. It reads,

with an average speed limit of 25 miles-per-hour, it takes roughly 2.5 hours (without stops) to travel the 52 mile stretch of highway between Kahului and the town of Hana. There are 617 hairpin curves and 59 bridges (46 of which are one lane) to traverse. Many of the bridges date back to 1910 and all but one are still in use.

Clearly, we survived. However, I wasn't sure we would. Being behind the wheel for that drive was not one of the highlights of my life.

We also attended a luau, that featured way too much food. Most of it was delectable. The octopus... well, I can say I tried and finished it. Once is enough for me, though.

Julie James

We saw more natural beauty, include our final sunset and sunrise on the islands. I swear both were the prettiest we saw.

That final morning on Maui was our 25th anniversary so Julie did a little writing in the sand before we departed. We both want to go back to Hawaii again... and really hope it doesn't take another 25 years for the return trip. It's a magical place.

Bob James