Hang gliding when pigs learn to fly
Aloha! This Time Out comes to you from the Big Island of Hawaii. It is a part of my continuous ploy to write off my vacations, a ploy that the Internal Revenue Service has yet to accept.
I am on my sojourn with fellow retired Ramona Unified School District teacher Mike Jordan and his beautiful wife, Linda. Having Mike and Linda here with my wife, Margaret, is a blessing.
Mike and I like to participate in outdoor activities. Linda and Margaret like to shop and sightsee. Hence, when Mike and I play golf, our wives can shop and spend 10 times more than our green fees.
Writing a column about our golfing skills would be a very short and comical article. Writing about the beautiful golf courses on the Big Island would be too long. So the topic of this cheap attempt to write off a vacation will be one of Mike and Bill’s Excellent Adventures.
Mike would not agree to a kayak trip to the Captain Cook Monument at Kealakekua Bay. It seems that somebody who read my account about our last kayaking adventure in the Sentinel told Mike that I sandbagged and let him do most of the paddling. From now on, there is a new rule: “What is read in the Sentinel stays in the Sentinel.”
Mike came up with an idea that he figured would make me pull my own weight, literally. The island of Hawaii has an active volcano and the remnants of several fairly recent lava flows. The lava from those flowed to the sea. As a result, there is a plethora of crescent-shaped beaches and lagoons.
Many of those beaches and lagoons are protected from the public by lava flows. One can see those tropical wonders from the highways, but there are no roads to them. There are trails and lava flows that can be traversed.
Hence, Mike decided that we would park our rental car on the highway and hike into an isolated lagoon. We asked a local who was our server at a restaurant if he had a suggestion. His first suggestion was to go to a resort beach or take an expensive snorkeling excursion. He explained that very few tourists get lost on such trips.
We figured that he probably got a finder’s fee or had a brother-in-law who owned a boat, so we pressed the issue. He gave us directions to a trail that led to a black sand beach that had a beautiful lagoon. He then disappeared in the kitchen area.
For about five minutes every employee who left the kitchen came out laughing. When he came out, he had a difficult time looking at us without laughing.
The next morning we woke up early and drove north on Highway 19 to the 81 mile marker. We saw some cars parked on the side of the road and hung a U-turn. We saw an elderly couple getting out of their car and asked them if there was a way to get to the lagoon that was visible from the road. They explained that was where they were going.
They were going to hike over the lava flow but they had hiking boots. They suggested that we park and take the trail. It is a lot longer but safer for tourists wearing athletic shoes. So instead of braving the lava flow, we took a trail through a rainforest.
Being experienced hikers, we came prepared, or should I say I came prepared. I brought a backpack with several cold drinks (one of them was a water), ice, a bandage, a towel and a snack. Mike brought only his snorkeling equipment and a towel. He suggested that I carry the towel in my backpack. Since he drove, I put his towel in my pack. We then braved the trail.
The trail was primitive but wide enough for two hikers. There were no other monkeys besides us. There were, however, herds of wild goats. They were not domesticated and resisted our attempts to pet them.
The trail was lined with coconut trees and other tropical plants, bushes and trees. The trail serpentined for about two miles. On the trail there was an ancient man-made lava wall. The wall had some iron gates that had signs that said “private property, keep out, that means you!” We kept out even though we could see the beach through the gates. The final 10 yards were through thick foliage that would make Ramar of the Jungle pale. When we reached the beach, it was all that we expected and more. The water was a bit rough, but we noticed two lagoons just a few hundred yards to our north.
There was an actual grass hut like you see in the paintings, only it had a television aerial so we guessed it had electricity or at least a generator.
We walked by two very nice homes right on the beach. One had a private property sign that also had a sign that warned about falling coconuts.
When we got to the lagoon, we took out our towels and put on our snorkeling gear. The lagoon was fed by fresh water coming down from the Mauna Kea volcano. The water was clear and beautiful, but there were no fish. So we moved to the salt water lagoon.
We snorkeled and saw some great fish among them, my favorite the Humuhumunukunukuapuaa, a big name for a little fish, but it is my favorite. The two lagoons were actually attached, so Mike had a great idea: swim through the rocks between them as a shortcut.
The current was tough and we struggled to get through. We were making little or no headway. Mike saw the panic in my eyes as they bulged into my mask. I told Mike that I was having a tough time and he suggested that I stand up and rest, since it was only two feet deep. Great idea! I did so and then made it through.
Mike spotted a turtle and we trailed him. He knew the shortcuts and how to avoid strong currents. Touching a Hawaiian turtle is a big fine. They are protected by state and federal laws. They know it and don’t worry about tourists who have a hard time swimming in a foot of water.
We rested and then toyed with the idea of taking a shortcut through the private property. The vision of a local with a machete or a shotgun came into both of our heads, so we took the long way back.
We both sustained injuries on the way back. Mike sprained an ankle as he was not watching the lava rocks while gazing at a sun bather. I cut my finger on coral but didn’t notice it until the trip out. We both rallied by happy hour.
Our next adventure will be hang gliding when pigs learn to fly.
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