If you watch the TV show Hawaii Life—as my wife and I do (religiously)—you know the major Hawaiian tourist destinations are the islands of Oahu, Kuai, and Maui. However, our favorite island is Hawaii, AKA the Big Island. I threw in that police jargon, “AKA” (Also Known As), because I’ve been a fan of Hawaii Five-0 since way back when Steve McGarrett’s real name was Jack Lord.

Although Honolulu, on the island of Oahu, is the state capital, things have changed because of the volcano. Now, the Big Island has the real movers and shakers.

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My best friend, Jack, and his wife used to live on Hawaii. I visited them about a dozen times and fell head-over-heals in love with the Big Island. Then I fell head-over-heals in love with my wife and we honeymooned on the Big Island. The first Hawaiian word I learned was k’mahniwannakissya.

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 Ever since our Hawaiian honeymoon, we’ve talked about someday living there. Hawaii feels like home to us. Just like me, my wife fell head-over-heals in love with the Big Island. But now, we’re kinda afraid of falling head-over-heals in lava.

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 Aside from never-ending views of paradise, the Big Island also has food growing wild and free. It’s a whole new take on “fast food”. You simply pick fresh papaya, guava, etc., while hiking on a jungle trail. Very cool.

The best hike Jack and I ever did included not only free papaya and guava, but also free bites of chocolate-covered mac nuts, burritos, a high-protein something, and sips of Kona coffee. We were hiking in Costco.

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 My wife and I have been married for many wonderful years and I still try my inept best at being romantic. A couple of months ago, while we watched a Hallmark romance movie, I told her, “I ache for you.” She laughed. Because we both knew it was kidney stones.

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 Waimea canyon, on the island of Kauai, known as the “Grand Canyon of the Pacific”, is more than 3,000 feet deep. My buddy Jack and I had never heard of it before our first visit to Kauai. We followed a sign directing us to a dirt parking lot right above the canyon rim. In my usual, over-excited, spontaneous mood, I said, “Hey, let’s hike down to the bottom and get a drink out of that stream down there.” So, we did.

We wore shorts and aloha shirts. We had no hats and no sunscreen. My shoes were superb dollar-store flip-flops. Can you say, “idiot”?

I actually checked with a Hawaiian friend and learned that, in the Hawaiian-language, the phrase for idiot is, “white tourist”.

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 As I recall, it only took us about half-an-hour to hike/slide down to the bottom of Waimea canyon. What an adventure. We rested, got a drink from the stream, and then started climbing back up the steep crumbling wall. It took the entire rest of the day for us to escape. This is a true thing.

If we had cellphones, we would have called for the Search and Rescue Helicopter. At some point we misplaced the trail. And then we watched my broken flip-flops slide two-thousand-feet down to the bottom. It’s a good thing no rain-forest ranger saw that. I would have been arrested for littering. Right after the copter crew resuscitated me.

After sunset, we literally crawled up the last two-hundred-yards to the rim. Our third-degree-sunburn adventure was beautiful, memorable, and terrifying. Once we got back to civilization, Jack and I spent the rest of the evening drinking anything that involved little umbrellas.

Aloe vera helped a lot with the sunburn. At one point, I seriously considered sticking a little umbrella in the aloe vera and drinking it. Apparently, you really can get a sunburned tongue from panting.

Each time the blessed adult-beverage server greeted us with “aloha”, we smirked painfully through cracked lips, blinked our sunburned eyeballs, and, instead of aloha, gently responded, “Aloe ahhh.”

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 By the way, if you’re a hunter, there is an endless supply of nomadic wild boar roaming the Big Island. Now, don’t you turn up your nose. That’s the “pig” in the Kalua Pig you loved at your tourist luau. Also, thousands upon thousands of wild chickens wander all over the island. Just think of what a healthy diet that must be… free-range chicken and free-range boar.

Oh, and … you should know that if you hunt chicken or boar close to the volcano, they come already cooked.

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