This next guest poster is Tricia at This Happy Home! I first “met” Tricia on a yahoo mailing list years ago. I am still hoping we end up at the same post sometime in the future 🙂 She is an Army wife with 3 little kids stationed in Hawaii 🙂 Since they are getting ready to PCS stateside again she will be writing a few other posts on her blog about Hawaii as well.
Nearly three years after arriving in Hawaii as a disgruntled pregnant army wife who did not want to be here, I’m leaving, with two more kids than we arrived with, a person who is grateful for the experience, enjoyed her time…and wouldn’t fight coming back. Our duty time here has had some amazing highs (one and two) and some definite lows. I came with the attitude that this would be an experience unlike any we would have if we weren’t military, so I was going to take advantage of it.
Keiki should be seen and heard. Everywhere. From church services to high-end restaurnts, normal kid noises and behavior are expected and welcomed. Rare is the “evil eye” from someone when your adorable keiki peeps up in the middle of service to tell you he needs to visit the men’s room or has the wiggles at dinner. You’ll find that Hawaii is one of the most family-friendly places you can be stationed.
The kama’aina are amazing. I have never felt anything but welcomed by the locals. You’ll hear stories about how much the locals hate non-natives, particularly military, but I have never had a single occurrence. And I have spent quite a bit more time in the local communities than most military wives I know. They are friendly, warm, welcoming and helpful. They have a rich history in the islands and they love to share their history and culture. And food!
If you enjoy Asian food, you’re in luck! Hawaii is rich with cultures from all over Asia and the Pacific Islands and, with that, comes incredible foods. From hole-in-the-walls to chains like Zippy’s and L&L Drive In, you’ll never have to search hard for good food.
Where else can you be stationed and have the opportunity to be treated at a big pink hospital?! Tripler Army Medical Center is huge and, because it sits on the side of a mountain, it can easily be seen from many places. And the pink-ness of it makes me smile every time. Add in that I birthed both of my boys there and I have even more reason to smile at Tripler.
One of the greatest things about being here, I think, is the ability to easily travel to the other islands. Airfare is very cheap, with prices starting around $40 roundtrip, rental car deals can be found utilizing Priceline and many hotels offer military rates. In a matter of a couple of hours, you can drive to the airport, fly to your destination and be on an island far different from Oahu. Take advantage of this opportunity!! I’ve known several military wives who have vowed never to travel to the other islands…I can’t tell you how much they’re missing out on!
I’d gladly be stationed here again just went for the shave ice (call it shaved ice and they’ll know you aren’t local!)!! Our favorites are Waiola when we’re in town and Matsumoto’s when we’re on the North Shore.
Its Aloha Friday, No Work ‘Till Monday In addition to the incredibly catchy tune that you’ll hear all over the radio on Fridays, the aloha spirit comes out on Fridays. Everyone moves a little slower, is a little more friendly and spirits are up. I recently learned that Aloha Fridays were the inspiration behind “casual Fridays” you find on the mainland…and that Aloha Fridays were started to encourage wearing of Aloha shirts!
Need I go on?! 🙂 As much as I am not a beach lover, wow…we have some amazingly beautiful beaches!!
And beautiful beach sunsets!
And the struggles…
With prices so much higher off base than on base, you’re “bound” to the bases for shopping. While shopping at Target and such is high, it is quite doable. Shopping for groceries? No way! Sale prices can often be decent but non-sale items have prices that are quite prohibitive for regular shopping.
Getting around can be highly irritating some days. Between the traffic at rush hours, the high number of cars on Oahu, the parking spaces made for tiny sedans (which are a rarity!) and the lack of signage (it’s not unusual to be looking for someplace and somehow stumble upon it…without ever having seen a sign for it anywhere).
If you want to eat ethnic food that is not Asian, good luck! Outside of a few restaurants, we’ve found very little good non-Asian/local ethnic food. Tex-Mex is especially hard to find. Pizza places that are not chains are also few in number. And delivery food? Even less!
I knew it would be hard for me to live someplace with very little weather change from season to season. Growing up in the Midwest, I was used to four very distinct seasons. When I read in the guide-book that average temperatures were 80 plus or minus five degrees, reality hit. Seasons really were NOT going to be different in any significant way (save for rain during winter months if it wasn’t a dry year, which it was last year). This fall, for the first time, I noticed a very, very subtle change in weather–the winds were a little cooler, mornings and evenings were slightly chilly. If you weren’t paying close attention, though, it would be easy to miss. I miss different seasons but, more than that, I miss the CHANGE of seasons. I miss those early spring days when it’s just warm enough to go without a jacket, to crack the windows in your house or car. I miss leaves turning colors, the hint of crisp breezes, watching the stores for fresh apple cider and cinnamon brooms. I miss guessing whether early winter precipitation is rain or spitting snow. Every day the same (plus or minus five degrees!!) can be a hard adjustment.
I knew the distance from the mainland (and associated travel costs) would be great. I didn’t realize just how great until I was traveling alone with a 3-year-old and 12 week old!! Add in travel costs and travel to the mainland can quickly become quite difficult to make. Even when staying in Hawaii, the difference in time (as zones can make it difficult to connect with family. Six hours behind the east coast (five during the winter) means that friends and family are almost at the end of their workday just as your day is getting started.
Seemingly minor, it can grow increasingly frustrating when you can’t get online purchases shipped here. eBay sellers who insist custom forms are needed to ship to Hawaii so they won’t sell to you, retailers that only ship via UPS Ground (diapers.com, for example), no Amazon Grocery! And still others ship here…but for very high costs (Target, Frontier & King Arthur Flour, for example). When selections are already limited (groceries & craft supplies), the shipping issues add to the frustration.
As with any duty station, Hawaii is what you make of it. The struggles can be really trying sometimes…but this is truly an experience you’d (likely) never have if you were not military.