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.
All 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.