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Exploring The Shady Side of Oahu
My 10-year-old, who has tasted the joys of horseback riding in Central America, a pre-litigation society where they care not if you gallop over a cliff (as long as someone pays for the horse), now disdains the nose-to-tail plodding of the modern American trail ride. Well, you'll never confuse one of Happy Trails' outings with a steeplechase, but they do let children as young as 6 ride their very own well-mannered horse (under the close eye of the trail master). That's prize enough for the younger kids, and for the adults the payoff comes when you emerge from under a canopy of koa and ironwood trees onto a forever view of the Waimea Valley. This is as dramatic an interior slice of Polynesia as you're ever likely to see, and getting it from the back of a horse on a thread of ridge that's being petted by the lovely trade winds is a thrill that only a jaded 10-year-old could deny.
INFO: Happy Trails offers four rides a day during the spring and summer, two at 90 minutes for $55 per rider, two at two hours for $75. The stable is on a winding road not far from Sunset Beach, the famous surfing venue. Best to call or check the Web site for directions, but essentially you take Pupukea Road at the Foodland and drive up a mile. 59-231 Pupukea Rd., North Shore Oahu, 808-638-7433, http:/
DIVERSION: The USS Bowfin Submarine Tour
SUN PROTECTION FACTOR: 100 (sunburn is the one hazard you don't face on a submarine)
TIME OFF THE TOWEL: 2 hours
The kids don't get a lot of the gravity that infuses Pearl Harbor and the USS Arizona Memorial, even when we tie the story to their Navy vet grandfather. But there's nothing elusive about the drama of going aboard a genuine World War II submarine. The USS Bowfin, which is part of the harbor's memorial complex, is the real thing, one of the few surviving subs from that era, and it's been completely restored. Step down from the teak deck and the press of the lower compartments is overwhelming.
As a machine, it's a fascinating nexus of old navy (the glistening brasswork) and modern warfare (the muscular torpedo tubes, the ballast plumbing). But it's the, the, the immense smallness of the space that is most affecting. Squeezing past a crew bunk room that allows a coffin's worth of space for each sailor, you wonder what was worse, the terror of battle or the confinement of daily life. These guys endured both, and even kids get that.
INFO: The Bowfin is berthed next to the USS Arizona Memorial Visitor Center at Pearl Harbor. It's open daily from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is $10 for adults, $6 for kids 4 to 12. (Children younger than 4 are not allowed on board, but they can visit the adjacent museum.) 11 Arizona Memorial Dr., 808-423-1341, http:/