Layover in DC en route to Roma

Aloha mai kākou,

My first post may seem a little out of sync with the rest as I am joining my travel sisters a week late, and I have just had a delightful travel day in some place other than Italy.

With 11 hours to kill in Washington D.C., my friend Frank has taken a day off to hang out.

I met Frank here in the summer of 2002. I was a resource to the area docents for the Kaho`olawe exhibit that was at the Smithsonian that summer and he was one of the docents. His brother worked for the Kaho’olawe Island Reserve then. That summer was one of the most exciting as there was some advocating going on at the time in behalf of Native Hawaiians and lots of local people were here at the same time. I attended a conference on minority health and meetings in the Senate building, receptions to preserve native languages and lots of time talking and teaching about Kaho’olawe–which is a story in itself. One of the funnest events was a concert at Jay’s Shave Ice in some medical-sounding name of a town in Maryland. The Aloha Boys played, and as the full moon rose and the evening progressed, scores, and then hundreds, of Hawai`i people arrived getting out of trucks bearing license plates from as far north as Pennsylvania and as far south as Georgia and all states in between. It was a lu’au, but the common repast was shave ice!

During my 3-week stint here in 2002, I stayed with an inspiring woman named Claire Pruett, who had retired from the Kamehameha Schools and was working in D.C. for a few years. When I told Frank what I’d like to give Claire as a mahalo gift, Frank, who is one of the most helpful people I know, picked me up in his truck and took me Ikea. Then in the back room of our exhibit at the Smithsonian, he assembled it and we hauled a really nice bookshelf to Claire’s apartment. There we presented her with something upon which to put her stacks and stacks of books.  Mahalo, Frank.

Today, we went to Arlington National Cemetery where each of us got tied up with a different funeral service. During my visit with dear old Col. Pops, I stepped aside for a military band, a horse-drawn casket-bearing caisson and entourage.

We visited the U.S. Air Force memorial–dramatic. You’d like it, Dad. We then went to the National Museum of the America Indian, most of which I’d seen. We enjoyed the Ramp It Up exhibit as skateboarding’s genesis goes back to surfboards and sleds and Hawai’i is generously credited. Lunch at NMAI was fab, and then we headed for Q Street NW.

The Cairo, formerly known as the Cairo Hotel, is where Queen Lili’uokalani stayed in 1897 when she came to Washington to appeal the American overthrow of the Hawaiian Kingdom. I had been there once before, but it was worth another try to go upstairs to see the apartment in which the queen lived.

The CairoThe Cairo

Constructed in 1884, The Cairo is today the tallest building in the districts, as it is responsible for laws forbidding anything taller. City fathers were then concerned with a skyline that could obliterate the Washington Monument.

I’ve had a good day in D.C. and I have Frank Mokihana Enos to thank for it.

Off to the airport where I will catch my last flight to Italy and join the gals on the trip I’ve been dreaming of for a year.

Kim Ku`ulei Birnie