Max has been face first in the food dish a bit too much of late.
We’ve started calling him the Dumpling Dog, or “Dumpling” for short.
Occasionally we mix it up and call him Gyoza or Bao, sometimes Empanada or Kreplach and sometimes Maultaschen after the large Schwabian dumplings that absolutely no one recognizes by name.
Anyway, Max the Endomorph needed some attention, a little PX-90 for Maltese, so we took him kicking and screaming for exercise by walking around Diamond Head Crater in the hope it would help generate a canine version of those Brazilian Buns of Steel that we see on late night infomercials.
As you know, Diamond Head is the most iconic of Oahu images, familiar to most everyone around the world. The volcanic tuff cone is only 767 feet high but occupies a commanding position on the eastern end of Waikiki Beach.
To Hawaiians the promontory is known as Lēʻahi, which loosely translates to Mount Tunafish Fin. It was a sacred venue and its surrounding areas were the sites for several heiau, or temples. Papa’ena’ena, one of the most significant, was the site of the sacrifices of both kings and criminals. It was perhaps erected by King Kahekili to celebrate his conquering of O’ahu in 1783.
In 1884, Diamond Head went from private, royal ownership to government property.
Under King Kalakaua, the Diamond Head crater and part of the surrounding lands were transferred from the estate of King Lunalilo to the Hawaiian government.
Diamond Head got its English name from 19th century British sailors who mistook worthless olivine (calcite) crystals on the adjacent beach for diamonds thereby proving that poxy scurvy-ridden sailors should not be your first choice as gemologists.
People who know about these things (often called “smart people”) estimate that Diamond Head is about 200,000 years old. It’s been inactive for 150,000 years suggesting that it is part Maltese. Geologists do not expect the volcano to erupt again which is good news for those of us living nearby.
In 1904 the US Government paid $3,300 for Diamond Head Crater which today would represent about $100,000. This area was developed into Fort Ruger, which was considered to be the eastern end of the defenses of Honolulu and the military bases in the area.
From 1904 until 1950, Diamond Head was closed to the public at large. During this period of exclusive occupation, significant construction occurred within the crater. Bunkers, communication rooms, storage tunnels and coastal artillery fortifications were built.
Battery Harlow on the north slope of the crater and Battery Birkhimer inside the crater were designed to fire to the south over the crater at ships at sea and some of the guns at Diamond Head had a 360 degree field of fire and the range to fire over the Koolau Mountains to the windward side of the island.
In addition to providing protection from sea based attacks, Fort Ruger was to defend Honolulu from ground based assaults from the eastern end of the island which explains the many bunkers and pillboxes along its length.
Some of the old bunkers and defense sites are accessible to visitors although 75% remain off limits due to safety and other concerns.
Today, Diamond Head is a United States Monument. While an FAA air traffic control center was in operation from 1963 to 2001, nowadays there is only a National Guard facility and Hawaii State Civil Defense in the crater.
Entry to the park inside Diamond Head is through one of several tunnels that pierce the wall of the crater rim.
The most popular attraction is the three-quarter mile hike that leads to the edge of the crater’s rim overlooking Honolulu. It’s an easy hike although those who have spent their vacation exercising under a drink with a small umbrella might find some portions to be a puffer.
The toughest slog is up the 99 steps through a tunnel followed by a climb on a narrow spiral staircase. The tunnel is now well lit – until a few years ago you had to bring your own flashlight. Access to the trail to the top is until about 4:30 daily. Sadly, night hikes are not allowed.
My favorite crater memories are from early Seventies when there transpired the Diamond Head Crater Festival, better known as the Sunshine Festivals.
The first was held on Jan. 1, 1970, with an attendance of about 12,000.
It was a celebration of peace, love, Hippiedom, dope, music, more dope and did I mention the dope?
Big Brother and the Holding Company, along with local act Cecilio and Kapono headlined the show which started at sunrise. The morning air had a purple haze if you know what I mean and I think you do. But I digress.
In later years, Carlos Santana jammed at the Crater, Buddy Miles got his blues on and others like Mackey Feary, War and The Little River Band all showed up to party. Man, do I feel old.
Each year the crowd grew and eventually reached about 75,000 as the event grew more commercial, and in 1979 a state-appointed citizen’s task force asked the state Department of Land and Natural Resources to ban the festivals. Bummer, man. Bunch of fussy old farts that couldn’t even boogaloo.
Less recognized was the 1975 TV program “The Diamond Head Game”. As you will no doubt not remember, the game was set at Diamond Head and the host was Bob Eubanks, star of Dating Game and other socially important programs.
Final contestants were given the great, good opportunity of stepping into a “Money Volcano” to try their hand at catching flying bills of real money in different denominations. Enough to make you want to Bogart that joint.
It was fun to visit Diamond Head although Max did not much care about the history and good times at the Crater. His goal was to stay in the shade and avoid exertion. He seems quite comfortable with the idea of being a Pierogi.