Ever since I went on the amazing trip to one of our National Parks with American Latino Expedition, I’ve had a love affair with our national parks. I now realize how important they are to preserve and to visit! I told myself that if I ever have the opportunity to visit a national park, I must go.
I recently took a family trip to the island of Oahu with my parents and two of my children to visit Aulani, a Disney Resort and Spa on behalf of BabyCenter (you can read more about my time in Hawaii here and here). I knew our trip was going to be a whirlwind, and with so many amazing things to do in Hawaii–swim in one of the amazing beaches, sip the plentiful pineapple juice, visit the North Shore, lounge by the beautiful blue pools, hike the lovely, green mountains shrouded in clouds, etc. etc.
One of the places we really wanted to make time to see was the World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument. Actually, my mother was adamant.
We have to do something educational for the kids.
We will regret coming all this way and not seeing it for ourselves.
I totally agreed. So, of course we had to visit Pearl Harbor.
On one of the only free days I had during our trip to Hawaii, we decided to rent a car for the day. It was a fairly easy practice. We considered booking a tour through the hotel concierge but we found the cost to be crazy expensive. Besides, we wanted the freedom to drive around Hawaii on our own–I really wanted to visit the North Shore and my mom wanted a Dole Whip at the Dole Plantation. Renting a car was the perfect answer and very economical for us.
|“Pretend like you love one another!” as we wait near the car rental window at Aulani.|
The drive was a mere fifteen miles away from the resort and we must have left right after morning traffic because it was pretty mild. Funny story: our driver from the airport mentioned the “terrible traffic” in Hawaii and the jaded Southern California person in me just giggled. I lived in L.A for several years–nothing is worse than L.A traffic!
The weather was perfect, sunny and mild. It was nice to leave the resort and get a taste of the island. My history buff (Diego) was excited for a day to explore. All of my sons love history and they read history books for their own entertainment (I call it “school”).
During the busy summer months, there is a limited number of spaces for the USS Arizona Memorial program, but you can also reserve your tickets online. We had a great time visiting the exhibit galleries and the memorial theater. Some of my favorite and most touching aspects were the video clips of people who were children at the time of the attack on Pearl Harbor. They recounted their experience, their memories, photos, etc. The lines on their faces was so beautiful and so rich. So many years later and they still shed a tear when sharing their story.
The USS Arizona memorial is just a quick boat ride away. It is amazing to see all of the ships against the backdrop of Hawaii’s endless blue skies.
I know this may sound strange, but as I walked through and read the names of the soldiers on the memorial wall and looked at the bubbling, rusted USS Arizona underneath us, I began to feel really ill. My stomach felt queasy, my head began to pound and all I wanted to do was lay down which hello, was kind of impossible at the time. Every time I looked into the water and imagined the poor souls who died in a dark, watery grave, my sick feelings would become more intense.
The monument is very moving and it’s a must-see for homeschooling families. There was so much information, photos and video clips in the exhibit that it just made the whole thing come alive. I know that my kids will never forget what they’ve learned because they had a real life experience. That is the beauty of homeschooling.
Also, it’s vital that we take time to visit our national parks because so much effort goes into preserving them for us to learn and enjoy. I learned just as much as my family did–this was such a great experience.