Saturday, April 8, 2006


Making an ass of myself as usual

As promised, I'm going to drop what few minor details there are from my trip (and a truckload of Wake Island coral dust and sand that worked itself into my shoes, boots, clothes, and everything else in between).

After leaving San Diego we spent two nights in Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii. Good deal, right? Unless you happen to be staying at the Marine Corps Air Station there. Support for transient aircrews there leaves much to be desired, especially considering that Marine aircrews are under orders to use "K-Bay" vice the Air Force Base at Hickam, where, frankly, service and accommodations are several orders of magnitude better. At Kaneohe, transportation, billeting, flight clearance, etc. all comprise a crew-rest time consuming fiasco. Transient billeting is a third-world crack-den; a rebarred-concrete monstrosity of a barracks that should have had its date with the wrecking ball 20 years ago.

I didn't bother taking my camera out of my backpack there. The only picturesque sight on Oahu as I saw it was the drive from Kaneohe to Honolulu through the mountains. Honolulu itself, in my eyes, is an overdeveloped, tourist-trap eyesore. To say nothing of the recent sewage spill at Waikiki making the water unsafe for swimming.

Despite its austerity, I enjoyed my afternoon and night on Wake Island far more. There's a place I could spend a few days, months, or more. Isolated and serene, a perfect place for an irascible loner like me. No crowds of gawking tourists, only a handful of contractors keeping the airfield running and in good order. The views and the thunderous surf at the fringe of the reef surrounding the island are nothing short of spectacular.

Wake Island from the air, on a right-downwind to Runway 10 (Click for full-size):

I could go on for days and days about Wake and its history, perhaps in a later post, especially with so many vestigial reminders of it history present (the ruins of a Pan Am-managed hotel, remnants of the American defenses from 1941, and subsequent Japanese defensive positions, to name a few). For now I'll limit myself to what little I was able to see and do with a scant 15 hours on the ground.

I had mentioned the surf on Wake. On the way in to land I saw a heavy swell on the ocean setting from the northwest, and here is the result of that swell shoaling up from the 6000 feet or so of water a few miles offshore to the ten feet of the reef that lines the northern side of the island.

Your humble correspondent perched on a rock near the remnants of the bridge between Wake proper and Peale Island (one of the three small islets that form Wake). In the background is a channel with a ferocious tide-rip and the remains of a causeway that was built long ago to connect Wake and Peale (not sure whether it was by the CPNAB contractors for the Navy or for the Japanese), that has since subsided so much that only parts of it are visible above the water at low tide.
The infamous watering-hole of the Pacific, Drifter's Reef. The cheapest (and only) booze for 700 miles.

Sunset. Try seeing something this pristine in your urban sprawls.

I just hope I get another chance to get out there before my EAS rolls around. And if they'd ever re-open Midway Island to visitation I'd jump on the chance too. I'll have to dig through my pictures from my trip there back in 2000 and see if there's anything worth scanning and posting.


kissyface said...

It looks like you're in Paradise.

Citizen H said...

As close to it as I'll ever get unless I can at some future date make a trip to Mauritius or the Maldives. If I'm going to go tropical I'd rather it be in the most far-flung reaches of the western Pacific or the Indian Ocean.

kissyface said...

you should post more often.