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Honeymooning in Hawaii with Elvis and Dennis The Menace

Everything I need to know about Hawaii I learned from Elvis and Dennis the Menace

View Larry and Mark Go Hawaiian - Sept 2013 on littlesam1's travel map.


I am a child of the 1950's. I was born in 1952. There were only forty eight states in 1952. I entered the first grade in September 1958 at the age of five. I turned six while in first grade. Hawaii became the fiftieth state on August 21, 1959 just two weeks before I entered the second grade. So in 1959 when I was in the second grade the addition of two new states, Alaska and Hawaii, was something exciting. At the age of six I became fascinated with our new fiftieth state. I can remember going home from school all excited and asking my parents when were we going to be able to visit the new fiftieth state of Hawaii. We were a working class family. My father was a heavy equipment operator and drove a tractor and trailer for the Department of Defense. We lived in a rented house in a small town in Maryland. Hawaii was in a different world from us. My sister was just born in 1959. My father, who was taught by his mother to use a sewing machine, made my mother's maternity clothes for her to save money. We weren't poor but we did not have a lot money for extras. Vacation meant driving down the street to Jeff Baldwin's boat dock and talking our little boat out to the "flats" just off the city park in Havre de Grace, Maryland to go swimming on Saturday afternoons. The closest I got to Hawaii was getting my parents to buy me the comic book Dennis In Hawaii - congratulations to our 50th State.

I must have read that comic over one hundred times. Dennis and his family flew on Pan American Airlines to Hawaii. Dennis yells to the taxi driver taking them to the airport "We're going to Honey Lulu". This little boy wanted to go to Honey Lulu also. Dennis got to go to Oahu or "Wahoo" as he called it. He saw a heavy lady in a moo moo and asked his mother if it meant moo moo like in cow. He went to Pearl Harbor, and even though he was too young to understand, he still got teary eyed at Pearl Harbor. Dennis got to taste poi at a luau and thought it tasted like school paste. Dennis even included a glossary of Hawaiian words for me to learn and practice saying.


Two years later, in 1961, the new state of Hawaii was still big news. Hollywood was making movies about the new fiftieth state. Surfing was becoming a new fascination. Movies set on the beaches of Hawaii were very popular with the small town Saturday afternoon matinee kids. And who else, but Elvis Presley, would capitalize on it it best. I still had my Dennis the Menace comic book, but now Elvis now brought Hawaii to life on the big screen. I saw the movie Blue Hawaii at the State Theater in my little home town on a Saturday afternoon. From the moment I saw the opening credits and the view of Diamond Head my fascination with Hawaii grew even stronger. As you can see above those opening credits still make me smile.

Now I just had to go to Hawaii. Elvis was there. He sang on the beach. He surfed. He rebelled against his parents. He got married and sang the beautiful Hawaiian Wedding Song on a canal in Kauai. I learned about luau's and what the words hooki lau meant from Elvis. What I did not learn from Dennis, Elvis taught me.

Hawaii did not become a reality for me for many years. My best friend from high school and I talked about going to Hawaii after we graduated. I started to save some money for the trip. World travel and tourism was still in it's infancy in 1970. So the thought of going to Hawaii was a real fantasy for us at the time. In reality my best friend got married and I used my savings to go to college. Hawaii remained in the world of Dennis the Menace comic books and Elvis Presley movies for me.

I had two other opportunities to go to Hawaii over the years, but both times they did not happen. One of the planned trips was going to allow me to stay at the Royal Hawaiian Hotel where Gidget and her family stayed in the movie Gidget Goes Hawaiian. But Hawaii was still a fantasy for me and would continue beckoning me in the future.

In 2013 I started thinking about Hawaii again. I had long lost my Dennis Goes to Hawaii comic book. However with the technology of Ebay, I found an original copy of the comic book at a price much higher than the original twenty five cents. But I wanted it. When it arrived I was a kid again exploring Hawaii with Dennis and the Mitchell family. The Elvis movie Blue Hawaii had been in my DVD collection for many years. It still fascinated and inspired me, even with it's cheesy dialogue and plot. I was getting older and knew I still wanted to see Hawaii but wanted to go before I was too old to enjoy it. I wanted to go before I needed a cane or walker. So sixty seem liked a good age to finally visit the island paradise.


Little did I realize at the young age of six that fifty four years later I would finally get to visit Hawaii. And I would not need Dennis' glossary of Hawaiian words because I would be going to "Honey Lulu", as Dennis called it, with my husband Mark who is a linguistics master. Same sex marriage had just been legalized in our state of Maryland and we decided to go to Hawaii for our honeymoon. We had not traveled for two years, which was an eternity for us. We had recently bought a new house, but we unable to Mark's previous house, so we were paying two mortgages for over a year until his house was sold. Much like my parents, we did not have a lot of extra cash for traveling at this time. But with the sale of his house and now being married the chance of a Hawaiian honeymoon was becoming a reality.

I was a little nervous about finally going to Hawaii. I had such high expectations and was afraid I would be disappointed. I love to travel, but I hate touristy places where nothing is authentic. I love to meet locals, explore foreign cultures, and learn lots of history. Hawaii was touristy. Some places were not authentic. But there was so much more to see and explore than I had expected. When I returned home with over a thousand photos I was overwhelmed at what I had seen and learned. When my daughter came to visit and to see my photos I broke out the Dennis the Menace comic book and showed her how I had followed Dennis The Menace's adventures and she was amazed that I had been able to recapture Dennis' trip all these years late. . I showed her where Dennis had visited and where I had visited. Everything I had learned from Dennis was still there.

As I slowly labeling and organizing my photos after I returned I often had Elvis's Blue Hawaii on my big screen TV. Along with my guide books, notes I wrote, and Dennis's guides, I also have Elvis's travelogue to be my companion in remembering the details of the vacation. Elvis wore a blue Hawaiian shirt on the movie poster and sound track album cover to Blue Hawaii. Can you guess what color shirt I bought in Hawaii to wear to the luau?


I will close this with words from Dennis the Menace and the Mitchell family on the last page of the comic book.


Posted by littlesam1 14:01 Archived in USA Tagged honeymoon elvis oahu hawaii statehood honolulu blue_hawaii dennis_the_menace Comments (5)

Return to Paradise - Hawaii Calls

Turning 65 on Diamond Head

View The Who's Gonna Fill Their Shoes Tour - Nashville & Never Ending Birthday - Oahu Hawaii November 2017 on littlesam1's travel map.


Diamond Head overlooking Waikiki

I turned 65 November 2017. It was not a joyous thought. Turning 65 bothered me very much. I started thinking about it and dreading it November 2016 when I turned 64. Birthdays had not bothered me in many years. The last birthday that I dreaded was my 30th. I honestly thought I was getting old and was over the hill. Thirty seemed so ancient. After that birthday I was fine. Turning 34 was easy. Turning 40 never bothered. But turning 65 was a jagged little pill to swallow.

My daughters wanted to do something special for my birthday. But I told them I did not want to do anything. I was not wanting to celebrate this birthday. I just wanted the day to pass and get it over with. No thoughts, no party hats, just a quiet day to not thing about the dreaded 65. Then my husband Mark asked me "What can we do to celebrate your birthday?" I told him the same thing. I did not want to do anything. Maybe sit at home, turn on Turner Classic Movies and have a bottle, not glass, of wine. But Mark knows my heart. He knows my love of travel. He said to me let's go somewhere. Name the place and I will make it happen. We talked about Italy as a possibility and a few other places. And then Mark said "What about Hawaii." And my eyes lit up! There is no place either of us have enjoyed more than Hawaii.


Ashton Waikiki Circle Hotel

So in mid November we found ourselves at the Ashton Waikiki Circle Hotel right on the beach in Waikiki. We saw the hotel on our two previous trips to Waikiki and it had always caught our interest. It's one of the older hotels on the strip but it's a fun hotel. The round shape of the hotel gives the rooms an interesting shape and also great views from any angle. Although our room was in the back we could still see the beach from an angle on our deck. It was an affordable and interesting choice.


Shaka brah - cruising in our rented convertible

We rented a convertible car and with the top down we enjoyed the sunshine and fresh air driving around the island. And not once did I think about the dreaded birthday. We drove up into the mountains, explored historic graveyards, and explored secluded beaches.


We spent our evenings dining and drinking local Hawaiian brewed beers.

Where Deborah Kerr and Burt Lancaster embraced in waves in the movie From Here To Eternity

Two days before my birthday we explored the beaches on the north shore of Hawaii. It's the winter season when the waves are tall so it was great fun to watch the big waves at Waimea and the other beaches. We got to see the famous beach where Deborah Kerr and Burt Lancaster embraced in the surf. I even got to take this 65 year old body for a nude dip on one of the north shore beaches. You can thank me later for not posting photos.

My plan was to climb Diamond Head on my birthday. I thought it would be the perfect way to celebrate. I had climbed Diamond Head three years earlier and knew it was a good hike. So I did not want to wear myself out the day before and not be able to enjoy the hike on my birthday. While we at the Maui Brewery Company, one of our favorite bars in Waikiki, the bar tender told us about Manoa Falls. He said it was between Waikiki and Honolulu and had an easy trail and was very worth seeing. Manoa Falls is located in Manoa Valley in the rain forest between Honolulu and Waikiki. The falls is 150 feet high and empties into a small pool of water. Since the area around the waterfall is considered a rain forest it is prone to heavy rainfall often raining daily. We were told it was a beginner trail so we should not have problem. So we decided why not? We wanted to see the falls and it sounded like an easy hike. So it should not interfere with out plans to hike Diamond Head the following day,

Manoa Falls - Oahu

The falls were beautiful. And yes it does rain in that area every day. And no the trail was not a beginners trail! The first half of the hike was not difficult. The trail was paved and wide for the most part. But the second half was another story. The trail narrowed and the tropical plants grew taller and thicker. We ended up climbing wet slippery rock formations and sliding in muddy trails. It was quite a journey. It was a lot more than I had expected. But it also was not an advanced or dangerous trail. We were tired the next day, but we both agreed the climb up Diamond Head would happen.

Mark and I on the trail to Manoa Falls

The next day was the big day. And also it was our final day on Oahu. So no matter how tired we were from our many days of walking and swimming this the day we had to climb Diamond Head

Field below Diamond Head as we begin our hike

We arrived at Diamond Head the next morning. I was now officially 65 and it was time to finish the planned celebration. The volcano seems impressive from the bottom. But the hike is not difficult. The hike up Diamond Head is only about 45 minutes. It was much shorter than the hike to Manoa Falls the previous day. The path is wide and well paved with hand rails and benches to stop and rest if you need them.

Mark on the trail to the top of Diamond Head

It's an easy climb but with heat and humidity on Oahu it is a bit tiresome. There are wonderful views as you climb the base of the mountain. When you get near the top there are steps you have to climb a set of steps so it best to know this in advance. There are 74 four steps that lead to a tunnel.

I survived the 74 steps and then made it through the tunnel

After leaving the tunnel you still are not at the peak of Diamond Head. Once you leave the tunnel you see another set of steps. 99 steps this time. You can hear the sighs and the voices saying "Oh no" as you leave the tunnel. But it's really not that bad.

The final 99 steps to reach the top of Diamond Head

Mark on top of Diamond Head with the volcano caldera behind him

And we made it. We climbed the trail, steps, and walked through the tunnel. I turned 65 and I climbed Diamond Head. And it was worth it. I spent the dreaded day not thinking about the age, not dreading the moment. I realized once more, just as I did turning 30, that age does not define you. It would have been a lot easier at 30 than at 65 to climb Diamond Head. But it would not have been a major accomplishment at 30. And I would have not appreciated the experience as much. We are going back to Hawaii again this coming November. I do not know if we will climb Diamond Head again or not. I may just save that for turning 70.

Happy to be 65 on the top of Diamond Head

(Thank you Mark for making all of this happen. You will never really understand how much I appreciated this.)

Posted by littlesam1 14:10 Archived in USA Tagged oahu hawaii honolulu waikiki diamond_head birthdays manoa_falls Comments (0)

Traveling with the perfect cocktail

Drinking Around The World


I love a Manhattan. To me it's the perfect cocktail. It has three ingredients. It's has a history. And it tastes delicious. If I am out for a special evening a Manhattan is the perfect way to compliment my night. It's not for the light weight drinker. It's boozy. But if you sip it slowly it will not harm you so don't be afraid of it.

Basically I would describe it as a whiskey martini. But that is not giving it justice. It is made with three ingredients. Whiskey, sweet vermouth and bitters. It is garnished with a Maraschino cheery at most bars. If you are at a higher class bar you will get a brandied cherry instead of the waxy chemically colored Maraschino. Some bartenders use a lemon peel for the garnish but I honestly think the classic brandied cherry is the best. However I will not turn up my nose or judge the bartender for the lemon peel. And I usually have to accept the Maraschino cherry from most bars and I don't complain.

Now the question is what kind of whiskey. Most recipes call for a Kentucky bourbon or Canadian Whiskey. And these days Rye whiskey is making a big come back in Manhattans. This is the classic choice and the one I prefer. Please don't offer me Crown Royale in my Manhattan. I am a bit of snob that way.

When I travel I like to sample a Manhattan in the area I am visiting. And it's fun to see how the different bartenders treat the three simple ingredients. One of my favorite Manhattans came from a bar in Charleston, South Carolina named High Cotton. If you have a Manhattan at High Cotton you will be transported back to the 1920's and think you are in a speakeasy. Their recipe is simple and classic. They don't experiment or try to wow you with new age additions. The High Cotton Manhattan is made with bourbon , Carpano Antica vermouth, a splash of bitters and brandy soaked cherries. I would travel back to Charleston tomorrow just to have one of their Manhattans. We frequently travel with out friend Gillian Hobson from Manchester, England. We took her to Charleston four years ago and one of our first stops was to introduce her to the High Cotton Manhattan. She left High Cotton with a very big smile on her face and a bounce to her step.


Mark and I love New York. And I love cocktails in New York. Years ago when Sex and the City was popular I wanted to go to New York for a Cosmo just like Carrie Bradshaw. It was fun. But a few years later in New York I wanted the classic experience. I wanted a Manhattan in Manhattan. And I have to admit there is no comparison. If your in New York you really owe yourself a Manhattan in Manhattan. Historically it is suggested that the Manhattan originated at the Manhattan Club in New York. The story goes it was invented by Dr. Iain Marshall in the early 1870's for a banquet hosted by Jennie Jerome. She is better known as Lady Randolph Churchill, mother of Wintson Churchill. The event was in honor of the Presidential candidate Samuel J. Tilden. The event was such a success the drink became highly fashionable. But don't let anyone fool you with this story. Lady Randolph Churchill was in France during this time and was very pregnant. So the story is likely false. Another story tell us it was invented in the 1860's at a bar on Broadway near Houston Street by a bartender named Black. So no one really knows the origin of the cocktail but it does have a long history.

Mark and I were once again in New York City with our friend Gillian. She does tend to end up in our travel stories frequently. We spent the day sight seeing. This was Gillian's first trip to New York so we wanted to show her all of the sights. At the end of a busy day we ended up in a bar not far from Wall Street where once again I had a Manhattan in Manhattan. I must have had a couple of drinks because here I am afterwords grabbing the Wall Street bull by the balls. No explanations no apologies. Go to New York. Have a Manhattan in Manhattan and then share your story with me.


My next rule for Manhattans. Watch your bartender. A Manhattan is a simple drink. Any good bartender can make one. But if you have doubts about your bartender I suggest skipping the Manhattan and just order a glass of wine. Why waste the experience on a bad drink. My daughter Katie and I were in Nashville earlier this year. We had spent the day walking and exploring the city. At the end of our evening we wanted to relax and have a cocktail before returning to our hotel. We found a beautiful cocktail bar called The Henley at the Aertson Hotel in Nashville. The bar was decorated with photos of Bette Davis's eyes. So this made me happy. I noticed the bartender was young. She was probably in her early 20's. So I asked her politely if she knew how to make a Manhattan. She looked at me and smiled and said "Oh, of course." So I ordered a Manhattan. Then I watched her closely. She did not go to pick up the bourbon, or the vermouth or the bitters. She went to pick up her cocktail bible. She had no idea how to make a Manhattan. I knew then it was not going to be a good experience. And she did make it wrong. And she did forget the cherry until I reminded her.


My main rule about Manhattans is to not mess with it. Don't experiment with it. Don't try to update the recipe or put your own personal touch on it. It's a classic. It does not need embellishments. However for every rule there is an exception. And if some one offers to make you a Smoked Manhattan go for it. Placing your cocktail glass over some smoked hickory chips before filling it with the Manhattan is a surprising delight.


I was in Waikiki November 2017. Once again I had been walking all day and ready for a relaxing evening with a cocktail. I had many Maitai's in Waikiki during my stay. But this day I was ready to just relax and enjoy a Manhattan. And what do I see on the menu but a smoked Manhattan. I was ready to break my rule and try this new idea. Something about the smoke and the rye whiskey just sounded perfect to me. I was in the bar at the Outrigger Hotel. I could see Diamond Head in the distance from the beach hotel's windows. It was the perfect location for this perfect drink. Now much like Charleston, South Carolina, I would return here to Waikiki tomorrow just to have another one of these drinks.

One of my favorite movies is Honky Tonk Freeway. You've probably never heard of it. It is considered one of the biggest box office flops of all time. But I saw it and loved it. In the movie Hume Cronyn and Jessica Tandy play a senior couple who are traveling to Florida. Hume thinks his wife has a drinking problem. She tends to order five old fashions with her lunch each day. Finally he tells her that he thinks she has a drinking problem.


Jessica responds that she is not an alcoholic. She says your sister always sucks her fruit when she is finished with her drinks. Now she is an alcoholic. I never suck my fruit.

Here I am after a very good Manhattan. I was not traveling, but here at home in Baltimore at Jerry D's, one of my local favorite restaurants.


Yes Jessica Tandy. I sucked the fruit. And it was good!

Posted by littlesam1 21:48 Tagged new york bars hawaii drinks honolulu waikiki baltimore nashville manhattans bette_davis _eyes Comments (0)

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