38. Snorkeling at Magic Island

Magic Island38.  Snorkeling at Magic Island

Betty had to master snorkeling before we ventured out in the Pacific Ocean to go swimming.  First, the gear; Betty finally found a child size wet suit, and we got fins, masks and snorkels.

We headed to the protected water on Magic Island.  Magic Island is a manmade peninsula that was added to the Ala Moana Beach Park, and protects the entrance to the Ala Wai Yacht Harbor.  It was a favorite place for families with kids to swim, because it had a breakwater creating an enclosed pool with a sand bottom and no waves.  Magic Island was created in 1964, the year before we came to Hawaii.

B&B snorkelingBetty had learned to float and swim a little in Hilo in the pool, so I was glad the wet suit gave her enough flotation to boost her confidence so she could swim with the fins in the shallow water.  When we get out in the ocean, the water would not be calm and shallow, so I wanted to be sure Betty could cope with water in her mask, and clear the snorkel.  For a city-gal who didn’t want to get her face wet, Betty was a real “trooper” and learned to be safe in the water.

pipe fishCan you imagine a scream through a snorkel?  It sounded like a loud “Whoop!” as Betty screamed and stood up! She had a sudden close encounter with a Hawaiian Blue Pipe Fish, a little stick-like creature about a foot in length.  They both were surprised!

37. Tantalus Mountain Home

Tantalus Apartment37.  Tantalus Mountain Home

Summer 1970!  It was great to see our families again in Michigan and Pittsburgh.  The summer disappeared like ice cream on a hot day.

We were glad we could go to Al and Suzy Yonan’s house when we arrived in Honolulu.  Their generosity gave us time to look for an apartment while they were still in Michigan.  We put an ad in the paper for “Apartment Wanted” — there were no replies because the phone number was wrong – a “coincidence?”

Then Betty spotted an ad — an apartment in exchange for house-sitting.  When we called, the lady asked if we could come to interview immediately — yes, of course.

Tantalus - Bob (1)The Parents owned an apartment building in Waikiki, and were gone from 9 am to 6 pm Monday through Saturday.  If one of us could remain on the premises to answer the phone while they were gone, the apartment was free.  The Parents liked us, so we moved in the next day.  Betty, in reality, was the property security guard, along with King, the German Shepherd in the back yard, while I went to school.

Tantalus - KingWe lived in a beautiful house on an acre estate high on the side of Tantalus Mountain.  Our quarters were situated in a spacious 3-car studio apartment beneath the garage.  The outside wall was all glass with sliding doors to access a wood floor lanai and peek out through the greenery at a magnificent view that stretched from Punchbowl Crater to the far end of the Waianae Mt. Range.

Tantalus - view (1)Through our green picture frame we could see magnificent rainbows below us in the valley, ships coming and going in Pearl Harbor, planes taking off from the  airport, glorious sunsets, and the somewhat begrudgingly admitted beauty of man’s proliferation of lights stretching away into the distance at night.

We were isolated in a green world of singing crickets, whistling birds, cool floating mists, a quiet jungle on the edge between urbanity and space…ahhhhh, beautiful Tantalus!

36. Kilauea Iki Volcano – A Fiery Sendoff

Kilauea Iki Volcano eruption36.   Kilauea Iki Volcano – A Fiery Sendoff

The Kilauea Iki Volcano erupted on Dec. 31, 1969 to blast the old year out.  It had previously broken through a road in the Volcano Park causing it to be closed because of the lava flows, but that morning a fountain of fire spouted behind an old crater so we were allowed to drive in as far as the road was open.

The fountain, about 150 ft. high, was creating orange pudding with black topping that poured off the edge of the old crater rim like hot sauce into a hot chocolate pie.  I do mean hot!  There is no way to put in words the beauty of waterfalls of molten lava.

Our reluctance to leave changed quickly as the fountain began to grow and spew out clinkers.  A clinker the size of a grapefruit thumped on the roof of our car as we drove away.  Too close!  Whew!

A little later from the observatory 7 miles away we watched the fountain rise 1700 ft. and disappear in the clouds as Madame Pele, Goddess of the Volcano, climaxed her show by wiping out the parking lot and area we had just left.  Aloha Pele.

What a honeymoon so far!  In five years we had stood on the rim of an erupting volcano – twice!  We had experienced an earthquake, and had unique “Hawaiian adventures” at a rodeo, luaus, parades, and sailing on Hilo Bay.

We had island-hopped to Kauai and Maui to see wild goats in Waimea Canyon, and to walk and swim at some of the most beautiful beaches in the world.  We survived the road to Hana, and saw a glorious sunset from 13,000 feet on top of Haleakala Crater.

Most of all, we had experienced the Aloha of the people of Hawaii, multiethnic, multilingual, multicultural – blended together to be kamaainas, – “children of the land.”

Aloha Hilo, Aloha Honolulu. Aloha Hawaii! (Aloha means goodby, hello, and love)

We were already looking ahead to June, a summer at home with the folks, and then moving to Honolulu for the second island on our Hawaiian Honeymoon.


35. Last Year in Hilo

 Waipio Valley lookout
35.  Last Year in Hilo

Our last year in Hilo was a fun exciting time, in spite of knowing it was the end of our dream to live there.  In the 6 months before we left Hilo memorable events added the spice to life that we’ve almost come to take for granted in Hawaii.

Waipio Valley!  The Hawaiians lived there in the olden days.  Today, taro farmers go down to work their paddies, and there’s a poi factory and an abandoned Peace Corps training camp.  We stood on the Pali (cliff) overlooking that great green slash cut 7 miles back into the mountains, wondering where it went.  Our eyes leaped across the 3 1/2 miles to the opposite cliff where a waterfall makes a suicidal plunge to the sea, then back to follow the stream up past a pond and palms and tiny specks of buildings at the camp in front of the green wall.Waipio Valley Road

One of our friends drove us down into Waipio Valley.  It takes a four-wheel drive jeep and some nerve to negotiate the steep curving road that clutches the valley wall as it drops 1500 feet to the bottom in only a mile.  Suddenly it’s a jungle road hugged by dense undergrowth, crossing and re-crossing clear rocky streams.  We bounced along past taro patches, (it grows like rice in paddies) past the poi factory with its wooden water wheel bringing the past age of water power into todays grind.  We stopped to photograph the simulated Malay Village built by the Peace Corps, then jolted on.  We were treated to a magnificent view of the peaks at the head of the valley and waterfalls snaking in and out of the green wall

Waipio Valley WaterfallWaipio Valley BeachWhen we reached a ford too deep for our jeep, we had to retreat to the beach.  We watched the white foam “catch a wave” on the dark blue and surf in to the wide dark grey sand beach.  From above we had not imagined the magnitude and magnificence of that huge grey expanse of sand that stretched away before us now.  The beach was empty, unspoiled by footprint or any trace of human passing. Just beautiful!   After watching the waves erase the intrusion of our footprints, we ate a snack in the shade of iron-wood trees.

The hair-raising climb back up the road to the top climaxed an exciting, bruising, satiating day.  I’ll always wonder what’s beyond the end of that road and around the corner at the head of Waipio Valley.

The wonder of Waipio Valley was a memorable adventure at the end of the road, and the end of our last year in Hilo.

One last memorable event for our time in Hilo, a fiery sendoff — coming up next.

34. No Place to Live

Naniloa Hotel
34.   No Place to Live

No place to live!  Now what do we do?

One of my students told me he and his girlfriend were moving out of a duplex apartment at the end of the term.  It had a bed and a refrigerator — a bit spartan, but cheap.  My memory is $100 per month.  We got it!

The duplex was located on hotel row next to the Naniloa Hotel in Liliuokalani Park right on Hilo Bay.  Coincidentally, it was tucked in back of the Lanai Motel, where we stayed our first night in Hilo.

The apartment was cheap because it was a condemned building waiting to be torn down.  It had a refrigerator, but no stove.  We got an electric skillet and a card table, and borrowed a couple of folding chairs from school.  The lady in the other half had an oven so we traded muffins for baking privileges.

We were about ten feet from the water and could watch the big freighters pass by our bedroom window as they headed for the pier across the Bay.  In the evening, we listened to the Hawaiian music from the lounge at the Naniloa Hotel.

One of my older students who knew it was our last year, and that we had no direction for where to go, asked if I had considered going back to school.  Back to school!  I was good at school, that sounded like a God-sent idea!

A check with the main campus of the University of Hawaii in Honolulu revealed they were looking for a part time Assistant Debate Coach, with 1/2 time teaching the basic course in Speech Communication.  God was working, I got the job!  And, I was accepted into the Master’s degree program in speech communication.

Another “sign” of God working to expedite our departure from Hilo – our lot sold fast, at twice what we paid for it!

33. Setting the Sail in Winds of Adversity

 Winds of Adversity33. Setting the Sail in Winds of Adversity

The winds of circumstances blow constantly on all of us as we live our lives.  We plan, we work, we dream; and then the winds of adversity, disappointment, heartache, and discouragement hit us and things change.  We are buffeted by turbulent storms  that force a change in destination, and our plans and dreams are blown away.

All of us have challenges and adversity that change our direction, whether it be an illness, an accident, job related, or a broken relationship.  Adverse circumstances happen to us all.  We all have reversals and obstacles and moments when, in spite of all our efforts, our plans and dreams seem to fall apart.  It is not what happens that determines the quality and outcome of our lives.  It is how we respond!

The winds change.  We must change!  We must “right the ship” and reset the sails, and steer toward a new destination.  It is the set of the sail, how we think, and how we respond to adversity that can either destroy our lives, or steer us in a positive direction to a better destination.

When I was paralyzed by encephalitis, it did not occur to me that I might not get well.*   That was youthful ignorance, not faith, but God was providing the direction.

When my job was terminated in Hilo**, I had matured enough to recognize that God was blowing winds of change, and though it was not our choice, we had to reset our sails and set a new course.

We can learn to discipline our thinking and develop a positive attitude of trusting God, so when the winds of life change, we can change and have faith that our situation will be better than we can ever imagine!

Read: Proverbs 3:5-6

*refer back to post #6
** previous post # 32

Is there a time in your life when you had to “reset the sails” that led to better things?

32. God Calling!

God Calling, question mark32.  God Calling!

In our forth year in Hilo, we heard God calling!   I had earned a merit wage increase and honor for my creative teaching program.  We decided we loved the place, and we would stay.  We purchased a unique corner lot in a new subdivision above Hilo, and I designed a dream home suited for the locale to have a view down the mountain to Hilo Bay.  One of the sailors that we met was John Lavery, an exceptional builder who had stopped in Hilo to build homes.  John made blueprints, and would build our dream home.

Betty had substituted a few times at Hilo High School, and when a position in Home Economics opened, she applied.  The school principle assured Betty that as soon as the School Board met, he was sure she would get the job.

At the bank, the manager told us that as soon as Betty got the job, a mortgage for our home would be simple to process.

The Provost called me to his office, and handed me an envelope which I assumed would be a letter recommending me for tenure — a permanent job to secure our staying in Hilo.  Instead, it was a notice of a one year terminal contract!  One more year to teach in Hilo, and then, I WAS PAU! (Pau in Hawaiian = finished; done!)

Next day, while we were still recovering from the shock, the high school principle called to tell Betty that an “Auntie” of someone on the School Board had been given the job.  He was sorry.

Mac told us he was selling the house; he was building a new, smaller house around the hill, and we would need to find another place to stay.

I woke up!  God calling!  Our plans all collapsed like dominos!  Too much happening all at once to be a coincidence, no jobs, no place to stay, no house, now what?  We went and talked to the pastor of the church we had attended, and he agreed, apparently God had other plans for us.

Our prayers were mostly, “What do we do now?”

To be continued!


31. The Spirit of Aloha

Aloha, sampan bus31.  The Spirit of Aloha

The spirit of Aloha is getting help when you need it – Hawaiian style.

“You go Keaukaha?  You come by Travelodge Hotel?  Go High School?  I be by Travelodge Hotel, 7:30  O.K.?”  I was listening to Betty trying to divert the local sampan bus to pick her up.  Her “Me Tarzan” style pidgin apparently communicated with the local dialect speaker on the other end of the phone because the bus came around Banyan Drive  instead of the regular route, precisely at 7:30 am.

We needed some rope for the boat but didn’t know how much.  “How much do you need?” the man asked.
“I don’t know,” I said. “How about we take all you have, cut off what we need and return the rest?” Betty said.  “It doesn’t make business sense, but it makes sense,” he said. “And pay when you bring back the surplus.”  So that’s what we did.

“Could we borrow a screwdriver?”  It was 9 p.m. and I was attempting to help a new colleague in the Speech Department get her car started at the Hilo airport.  The man at the airline counter replied,  “I don’t have any tools here, but I’ll ask a mechanic,  they’re working on the plane.”  Before I could stop him, he had jumped into a jeep and roared away in the direction of a huge Continental jet airliner.

Not being used to the way things are done in Hawaii, my new colleague was embarrassed when a parade of lights streamed back from the big four engine jet – the jeep and a cargo truck bearing two mechanics who followed us to the parking lot and got the car started with jumper cables.

I didn’t help any when I told her I could imagine a voice coming over the public address on the plane: “Continental’s flight 115 to Los Angles will be delayed this evening due to mechanical difficulties — in a small Datsun in the airport parking lot.”

Inquire about the bus schedule — you’re picked up at your door.  Want a piece of rope — you get the whole bolt.  Try to borrow a screwdriver — you get a utility truck with two expert mechanics.  Only in Hawaii!  This is Aloha.

Was there a time when people went out of their way to help you We’d be pleased if you would share about it.