13. Night at the Beach

Hapuna Beach13. Night at the Beach

Interesting that the “Big Island” of Hawaii has only a few public beach parks with reef-protected swimming.  Hapuna was one of the favorite beach parks with a pavilion, and was the site reserved for an overnight new student orientation.  Since we were new faculty, all we had to do was show up, and camp overnight on the beach while the students slept in the pavilion.  However, Hapuna was on the other side of the island from Hilo, and we had no camping gear.

With my Scouting experience, sleeping on soft sand seemed like a piece of cake, so we borrowed a tarp and a poncho, and set off for Hapuna.  The drive up the island Belt Highway past cane fields and small villages, and then through an incredible rain forest of tall trees, was beautiful!

We emerged from the forest unto rolling ranch land with a few small ranches, and then passed Parker Ranch headquarters before the slight descent to the beach on the eastern shore of the island.  At that time Parker Ranch was the largest single-owned cattle ranch in the United States, with much of it open range.  The backdrop for the ranch was Mauna Kea, rising 13,796 ft above sea level.

OphiiAll I remember of student orientation is roasting hot dogs and singing along with the guitars and ukuleles.  A student asked me, “Would you like an opihi?”  “What’s that?” He showed me a small snail.  “What would I do with it?”  I asked.  “Suck it out, bite it, and eat it – they’re good.”  I looked at the snail, and the snail peeked out at me, and I decided I couldn’t eat anything that was looking at me. 🙂

Betty and I spread the poncho on the sand under some protruding tree branches, and the tarp over the branches, and plunked down for the night.  So much for Scouting experience.  Sleeping on the beach next to the Pacific Ocean is cold; sand is hard; and we discovered little scorpions in the sand around us in the morning.

We’re glad God protected us from any stings.


4 thoughts on “13. Night at the Beach

  1. Aileen

    This story brought my lips to a curl on both sides and teeth shining with sounds gurgling out from my lungs! You’re a natural comedy writer, Bob. Mahalo nui loa! Aileen (I kinda liked opihi. Haven’t eaten them for years. Kinda expensive…and am avoiding shelled fish since you introduced me to Dr. John McDougall.)

  2. jonwite

    I did most of my camping as a scout at Salmon Creek Beach, about 50 miles North of San Francisco. I loved sleeping in the sand; it was dry and easy to scoop out shoulder and hip holes so that it was pretty comfy. And there were no bugs to speak of unless you were down next to the surf, but you wouldn’t want to sleep there. But unlike Hawaii, the water was cold at about 55 degrees, it was usually foggy, and a high temperature was often only in the low 60s. But Salmon Creek Beach had lots of sand dunes and we loved playing in them! Running and jumping off the top of a high steep dune to drop maybe 20 feet or so and roll in the soft sand was exciting and fun. And playing hide and seek, and kick the can, tag, and other games was a lot of fun.
    I must say, the sandy, cold, wet, beach is not nearly as enticing 50 plus years later!

  3. Sandy Buck

    Very interesting. Camping out in the sand must have been different. Eating snails is not cup of tea either. Ugh!!! Lol And waking up to scorpions no matter what size would find me screaming to the top of my lungs. Another ugh creapy!¡

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