via – Debby Kantorik, Tennis Department | Team AVAC®
Four days on the big island of Hawaii. It would be a short vacation and our first visit to the home of our oldest son, Jordan and his new wife, Elisabeth. They make their living as teachers in the remote town of Naalehu, near the southern tip of the island. Sharing good times and high adventure was the goal so we buckled our tall frames into the cramped airline seats and settled in for a 5 hour flight.
Minutes before leaving for the airport, I managed to smack into an SUV with my car, damaging only my bumper and my pride. I tried to put these thoughts behind me and press on toward the welcoming shores of Hawaii. Leave my troubles in San Jose, they’re not coming with me! I rested my head on the shoulder of my hubby and tried to relax for the onboard movie. But rest would have to wait, the poor woman sitting behind us suddenly passed out. Because of our close proximity, we were swept into emergency procedures, assisting the flight attendants with oxygen tanks and ice packs. By the time we landed, all was well. We pressed on and de-boarded to familiar faces of Jordan and Elisabeth.
After a good night’s sleep in a Kona condo, and a strong cup of Kona coffee, of course, we packed a sushi lunch and headed to one of the few sandy beaches on this rocky volcanic island. It was a little crowded, but we stretched out in the sun, and enjoyed the warm and clear water. Our vacation had begun! We hadn’t been there long, when the lifeguards called everyone out of the water. What now? We munched our tuna rolls and watched a helicopter circle over the water. Waves of rumor washed down the beach and we heard something about a shark attack. Sure enough, a man was seriously injured in four feet of water when a 10 foot tiger shark bit his arm. The announcement was made to evacuate. They were closing the beach.
I have never snorkeled a single day of my 54 years, but today would change that. On our second day, we boarded a 20 foot zodiac boat for a three hour snorkel tour. It took some getting used to, but I finally plunged my mask into the ocean and took in the brilliant neon fish and intricate coral depths. It was exhilarating to swim among creatures I had only seen on TV. Back in the boat, our guide showed us spinner dolphins, caves and lava tubes. Someone even spotted a whale off shore, so we sped out to get a closer look. Four or five males were competing for mating rights with a lonely female. They put on a fantastic show, breaching, splashing, thrashing their bodies and fins on the water’s surface. We sat in this tiny boat, watching 40 ton animals in their natural habitat. It was thrilling.
A bumpy boat ride back to the dock, and a long windy road to my son’s house proved too much adventure for this middle aged momma. We had more than one emergency roadside stop, but I lived. It wasn’t pretty, but I lived. What a day!
The view from their house was spectacular, overlooking the southern most point of the US, and miles and miles of nothing but clear blue water. Geckos and lizards run free, and roosters crow all hours of the day and night. We enjoyed their home and the local sights, and headed to Hilo on the eastern side for our final day. We hiked the waterfalls of the botanic gardens and snapped pictures of unbelievable flowers and plants that thrive in these tropics with no effort at all.
We rented a bright red Jeep for our next adventure. Next stop, the summit of Hawaii’s tallest volcano, Mauna Kea, also the tallest mountain in the world from its base. In two hours, straight up a long bumpy road, we drove from sea level to over 14,000 feet. The air above the clouds was thin and freezing (32 degrees), Hawaiian snow still piled high along the road. We bundled ourselves in layers of clothing and took pictures of the setting sun from the top of the world.
I warmed myself in the Jeep and thought of the adventure we had experienced. We pressed on through fender benders and airline mishaps. We pushed past shark attacks and motion sickness. We worked out the good and the bad. Without the low points in life, the high points are just not as spectacular. We witnessed natural wonders of sea life and plant life. I toured this amazing island with people I love and saw everything it has to offer. True adventure is all inclusive. It’s not just the destination, it’s the journey.
– Debbie Kantorik