Playground Tour 2014: Hickam Air Force Base

Mad and I woke early yesterday to meet with my Aunt Jess and my cousins Alana and Ritchie. Our plan was to get breakfast at the Wright Brothers Cafe at Hickam, then check out the playgrounds on base. I was told by my aunt and Lynnette that the playgrounds there were legit, though neither of them used that exact word. It was raining heavily in Mililani when we woke, but I told Alana that we’d meet them anyway, then hope for the best. It drizzled through breakfast, but slowly ebbed, and finally stopped.

Even this doesn't do it justice.

Even this doesn’t do it justice.

That's right, it was a top-5 playground all-time.

That’s right, it was a top-5 playground all-time.

The first playground we went to was a monster. The play area was covered in sand. The actual structure was huge, and I somehow neglected to fit the swings into this panorama. I think if it were up to her, Madison would have stayed here all day. Her favorite parts were the spiral slide (it was taller and faster than the ones we’re used to), the chain bridge, and of course, the swings. I decided that yesterday would be the day that Madison was introduced to the “Underdog” technique of pushing someone on a swing. “Push me,” she said. “OK! Underdog!” I shouted. “What?” she said. “Hold on!” I said. I held her in front of me, then jogged forward, eventually lifting her over my head, then letting go. “TOO HIGH!” Mad screamed. She’ll be fine.

That's an expression of glee, I assure you.

That’s an expression of glee, I assure you.

The second playground was much smaller, but had two features Mad really enjoyed. First, as pictured here, is the see-saw. I don’t know if Madison had ever been on one before, other than those small plastic ones built for 2-4 year olds. I don’t think she understood it at first because sat on it and behaved as though she expected something would just happen to or for her. When Ritchie finally got on the opposite seat, Mad was shocked at first, then thrilled to be bouncing up and down without having to do any of the work. The second “ride” Mad liked was the rail glider. We come across these rarely, the two I remember are one at Universal Studios, and I think there was one at Punahou. At first, Mad was hesitant to give it a try (because of the Great Fall of Summer 2014), but eventually remembered that it was awesome.

I am glad no one minded Mad's screaming.

I am glad no one minded Mad’s screaming.

The final stop on our tour of Hickam was a standard playground, but much larger than most of the ones we find. Mad’s favorite part was the covered slide. Her review of it was mixed as she said “It’s just like the water park, but it’s not too fast.” Well, OK then. More than the structure itself, though, Mad enjoyed playing a game with Ritchie in which the sole objective was to scare each other. I think Ritchie won 8-0. Whenever Madison would climb into the slide, Ritchie darted to another part of the playground and waited. The best one – pictured here – is Ritchie’s patience atop the slide. When Mad came down, he got her. Madison screamed, then laughed.

Thanks for a great day!

Thanks for a great day!

Alana was born the during the same month I graduated from high school. When I was 18, I think I said something like “Oh, cool, however old she is is how long I’ve been out of high school.” It’s just depressing now. Ritchie was born when was in away at LMU. They are the youngest of my cousins, and since the gap between Alana and the next cousin up is about a decade and the gap between Ritchie and Madison is about a decade, they occupy a weird place. It’s why I tell Madison that my cousins older than Alana are uncle or aunty, but Alana and Ritchie are her cousins. We see them infrequently – at parties or picnics or dinners, and they’re so grown-up already. Alana is looking at colleges and Ritchie plays baseball at Pac-5. He’s also nearly taller than me. Where does the time go?

It was great to hang out with them. They used to live on base, so to hear them describe the playgrounds we were headed to was a treat. For a short time yesterday, I could hear them in their 7 and 8 year old voices, telling Madison and I about the way they used to run all over these same playgrounds. Even better, they jumped right in and played with Mad, humidity be damned! Thanks, Aunty Jess, Alana, and Ritchie for a great day! Have fun on your trip! We’ll see you when you get back for more adventures!

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