WEDNESDAY JANUARY 3, 2001
yet in the morning
still at home
Surprisingly, I slept well all night. It was Werner who was awake and waiting for the alarm to ring as it did at 4:00. Everything went so smooth we were out of the house and in the car by 4:27 (temperature 49 degrees). Being we were the only ones on the road, the drive to Petaluma went by like a lighted car in a dark dream. I never saw the ocean – only its blackness blotting out the stars.
We had to hunt down the Airporter service but finally found it at the ragged edge of town. Interestingly enough all the cars left in the parking lot were white with thick frost! Here it was 32 degrees freezing cold. Because we were so early (1/2 hour) we sat in the car with the heater going full blast.
where the wear and tear is
When the bus arrived (late) it was nearly full. Many young kids were going back to college it seemed. When the lady came through selling tickets, and I asked for a round trip fare, she, without asking gave me the senior discount (round-trip $25 instead of $18 one way) so I felt blessed and as if my birthday had advanced two weeks to cover me. I didn't feel sick on the bus, but did have a few moments of panic wondering what I had let myself in for with my desires for adventure.
the airporter bus hums
aloha a a
green leaves not yet
on the oaks
a stranger says she is
ready to fall in love
But I was soon distracted by our arrival at the new airport terminal. There was a long line waiting to check in luggage at United and I was glad I had my cane to lean on as the many bags and cases slowly inched their way along the labyrinth of waiting. I finally had my luggage checked in and out of the pull of my shoulders.
At the gate I found seat overlooking the passing conveyer belt hoping I would see Heidi as she came through.
waiting for her
all these other people
and a woman on TV
so much chattering
yet none speak her name
However, I got so interested in looking at people it was a jolt and lovely surprise to see her coming across the lobby with the curls in her long hair bouncing all around her wide smile. Ah, this critical point (of getting on the same flight to Hawai'i) was successfully breached. I guess we were both nervous with the upcoming flight as we had a hard time getting the conversation going between us. We knew each other from so far back and yet there was the great gap of the last twenty years yawning between us. She was so beautiful and yet so full of contrasts between her smile and beautiful hair and the hiking boots and no nonsense traveling outfit, it was hard to know how to approach such a being. I saw many people staring at her in delighted disbelief and felt a bit shy to be so close to her.
for the flight
inviting the angels
to fly along
the rosary beads
many new prayers
Because, as we later found out, the flight was only 1/10th occupied, we were soon boarded. This meant that people had a whole row to themselves. We were right next to the kitchen. For a while a small, bright-eyed girl, a nanny from Santa Rosa who was flying to Hawai'i to meet her employer and family sat with us, but when she saw all the free seats, she moved away and we finally had room for our knees.
warm in my hands
coming closer to me
with each flight hour
Later in the flight Heidi began to have one of her migraines so some of her smiling lights were greatly dimmed. However, I felt strong and positive.
half way through the flight
my legs also
going to Hawai'i
all the empty seats on the plane
The time seemed, at times to stand still forever, and then I'd be surprised to see that a half an hour had secretly gone by. I changed into a sleeveless top when I saw others begin to appear in the aisles in shorts.
As the plane circled the island, the cabin heat began to rise. As we walked out of the plane, onto an open rolling ramp the humid air smacked onto us and crashed into Heidi's poor head.
The lei greeter was a sweet local Hawai'ian girl who did her best to make us feel welcomed, but somehow having ordered the flowers for ourselves still seemed a fake and heavy and weird feeling on our necks.
on a crapey neck
the softness of flowers
in a lei
I did take a photo of Heidi with her flowers but she was too hot and tired in her California clothes to offer to do the same for me.
We had to wait 'forever' for our bags to come down as another plane, which had been late, had also arrived at the same time, completely overwhelming the Kona airport facility. The airport is only a roof over the bare necessities (one baggage carousel). I found it charming with trees and plants and smelling of flowers and sea air instead of sweat and the nervousness of everyone else. I was able to shed my long-sleeved t-shirt but Heidi continued to swelter in vest and pullover. So many bags made us aware of how many people come to this small airport in just one hour.
packing it in
the over-filled suitcase
the too-small bikini
Sitting on a wooden bench between lanes of airport traffic waiting for the shuttle car from Harpers was the last pleasant moments that afternoon. At the office, Heidi had to read endless sheets of forms, initial paragraphs and agreements over which our heads were swimming. Being in the air-conditioned office (with a white-flocked Christmas tree and wooden snowmen! Christmas IS a time of fantasy) made my wait easier, but she got very upset with these strange brown people who were treating her like she was a criminal or out to cheat them already. We felt very white and definitely in the minority. The walk-around the RV in the four o'clock in the afternoon sun was very hot and our hearts sank as we saw how very beat-up the vehicle was. Inside it was really terrible looking – worn and very dirty. So much was broken, bent or just plain filthy. The carpeting had pieces of plastic laid over it. We did not know if the plastic protected us from the dirty rug or if it was to keep our dirt from adding to the grossness of it. There was so very much to learn in operating lighting, plumbing, generating, flushing systems in addition to their terrible smells and sounds. I was thinking of trying to upgrade to the other company that rented an RV for $250 a day, but the logistics of such an idea added itself to the humidity and drove all constructive thinking from my head. I was surprised when Heidi asked for my camera and began to photograph the RV from all sides from a distance that showed it was still on their lot. What a stoke of genius. I was so touched by her idea and felt so taken care of by her that I began to think we could manage with this broken down claptrap as long as I had her with me.
She was the one, then, who thought to ask where we could buy groceries. We did not want our maiden voyage to be the 10 mile drive the back into the congestion of the city, so the man suggested we go to the Waikoloa which laid to the north, in the direction of the campground.
Yes, Kona shock exists. It is very weird to come to the Big Island with all these Hawai'ian pictures in one's mind of beaches and palm trees only to be confronted with acres of unused land untouched since the volcano thousands of years ago laid down the molten shapes of black and brown as far as the eye could see. Easily entertained, I loved looking at the various shapes of the lava as we inched our lumbering way north. The only thing that grew on the lava were small tender (but surely tough) tufts of grass from cracks were dirt had blown in. As we got onto the highway (#19) we began seeing plentiful examples of the Hawai'ian graffiti. On the black sloped areas people would spell out names and messages with the stark white coral rocks gathered from the coast. This phenomenon went on for miles. We actually saw one family at work on their own graffiti and I would have liked to stop to photograph them just to prove to myself that human hands did all this work. Heidi was feeling very rocky herself as she fought to keep the RV from being blown off the road by the winds which seemed to want to push everything on earth up into the heavy dark clouds gathering over the mountain, Mauna Kea which stretched out beside us like a huge animal with green fur.
When we turned from the highway toward Waikoloa the road began to climb. Turning sharply off into the shopping mall was not easy in such a big vehicle so we ended up lost in a charming sub-division. I was surprised, though, that Heidi kept her sense of direction and soon had us out of the winding, dead-end streets and back on the highway.
The grocery store was a mid-sized supermarket and seemed very mainland except for the racks of beach gear and snorkels (for $15.00 instead of the $40.00 I paid at Jay Baker's). We shopped like the old pros we are – even finding the Russell Stover sugar-free chocolates I need for emotional stability. The bill was $201.08. I worried I had not brought enough money for 10 days of this. The exertion of shopping left both of us white-faced in the growing dusk.
As we pushed our loaded cart to the RV I got caught up in the sound of birds hidden in the tall palms. It was as if the palm trees were so strange I could believe that the leaves made birdsong by themselves. As Heidi slung bags of groceries into the aisle of the RV I was gazing around in the wonder and magic of the sweet songs of the palm trees trying to find the haiku in all of this. Before one of the business buildings were birds of paradise plants that were 20 feet tall with flowers over a foot in length. I felt I had never seen anything so wondrous. I was content to just stand there in the parking lot gazing at so many marvels.
We easily found the Samuel Spencer State Park and were comforted to find the facility to be fairly new and greatly regulated. Right off, in our first swing through the first parking lot, I saw a space right next to sand where we could overlook the beach and suggested she simply pull in here. No, this was her father's child! Scenes of my first marriage. We had to drive around the whole park, both sides of the beach and slowly inspect every available possible place. When we returned to 'my place' I was overjoyed and out of that car and barefoot and in the soft golden sand in warm water with tiny lake-sized waves while Heidi still had the keys in her hand.
A soft misty warm rain was trying to bless us and welcome us to the beach. In the golden light of a low setting sun the flight was forgotten. We were almost alone on the beach! Two older couples were having a picnic back under a tree. As the sun sank into the water, the rain fell, still gently but now more heavily. I stood under a tree with huge leathery bright green and red leaves. (I found out later the tree's name was Heliotrope.) Heidi sat on a rock and solemnly watched her photographing light slip away from her. I asked her what was more important to do: photograph the view, eat or get our groceries and gear unpacked and put away. She said her head left her no choice.
how easy to kneel
at the altar of a beach
on the Kona beach
smell of coffee
But the beach gave us another option and we simply stood there to look. I began to walk along the beach. As I got beyond the trees, there was arching into the clouds covering Mauna Loa a vibrant brilliant rainbow. When the picnickers saw me swinging my arm and pointing to the west they, too, came to the water's edge to stare back at a most perfect rainbow! We all stood there, with our faces lifted up into the gentle hair-like rain. What a greeting the old gods of Hawai'i gave us! When some others got out of their car to photograph the rainbow it suddenly turned itself off. Heidi went back to her black rock, where she later discovered coal black crabs trying to scare her off.
The beach was less than 100 yards long and edged with huge chunks of lava. Above the lava shoreline are small trees where 6 - 8 persons were camping in tents. I talked to a couple who had just arrived yesterday as I joined them under the heliotrope tree when it began raining again. They said this was the best beach they had seen. Some of the campers now joined us as we watched the last light fade out of the sky.
I had been warned that dusk was much shorter in the tropics, but I did not feel this. Maybe the nautical twilight made the difference, or just my euphoria stretched out the time in a joyful line of light. As we walked back to the RV, by a lava wall, we found a tree dropping its five-petalled flowers that were white with a bright yellow center. We were so touched that a leafless tree was blooming and tossing its flowers down like gifts, so we sat on the wall to look at them, smell then and praise their beauty. Yes, these were the famous plumeria. Finally I could see the rib on the edge of the petal and understand why artists drew the flower they way they did. Unable to face the mess in the RV, we sat there numbly holding the flowers in our hands until our butts hurt.
Heidi felt the parking place I had chosen was not level enough and insisted on parking on the opposite (and more ugly side of the parking lot). This involved a lot of backing up and our discovery that when the RV was in reverse it made a horrible beeping sound like a bulldozer that simply tears through the air!
We were now so hot (Heidi was finally in a tank top and I had put on shorts), even in the dark. No coolness came with the sundown. With all the piles of stuff, the small places and our unknowing what we wanted to do, every inch of place to move filled up into overflowing. I wedged myself into the kitchen to put away the groceries while Heidi stowed her stuff over the cab. We puffed and sweated and I am sure, she like me, seriously regretted making this trip. She called Ray only to find out he had put his back out and was in great pain in addition to missing her. This only bummed her out more. She repaired herself by buttering croissants and reading the free literature she had picked up in the rental agency.
I put my stuff away and got out chicken bits, crackers and V-8 juice that was still warm. The refrigerator has not yet reached its maximum strength. The freezer stinks of rotten meat and we have vowed never to open it again for the next 10 days.
Because the only place we can 'dump' our wastewater is in Hilo or Kona at the Harper facility, the parks are not set up to accommodate RVs, we've decided to use as little water as possible by using the facilities for which we have paid. Heidi mentioned she had seen showers in the restroom so I gathered up my things (we had forgotten to buy soap, so I used shampoo) and headed out into the gentle darkness. The showers were cinder block walls without a roof and offering only cold water in a tiny stream but it was absolutely heavenly, as I stood naked under the soft black skies getting the trip washed away. In that act I was glad I had come here. The whole trip was worth this standing here naked in the tropical night.
When I got back, Heidi was already in bed. Yet her one eye popped open in amazement to see me – already gone island with only a sarong tied about me. I laid down on top of my sheet on top of the sleeping bag with all the windows open hoping for a breeze. When our neighbor, also an RV, but from the other company that charged $250 a day, turned on their noisy generator blasting us with noise and smelly fumes we could only lie there and grit our teeth. It was only 8:00 but we wanted to sleep. When they finally turned off their generator, everyone in the park applauded and we all went to sleep.
Next day -THURSDAY JANUARY 4.
Hawai'i with Heidi Copyright © Jane Reichhold 2001.