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Sunday, October 6, 2013

Beach Bums and Introspection

Going off of a hunch I had that I didn't need a resort to have a blast in Hawaii I booked my flights and came down prepared to wing it for a week. The results were nothing short of amazing! 
Day one I arrived in Lihu'e and made my way to Costco. Picking up lunch meat, bread, and a few other staples I popped into a fast food restaurant for utensils, then the drug store for $30 worth of smaller items. A nearby Starbucks got me wifi to find my campsite and off I went.
Anini Park Campsite

The day was hot and beautiful. The tent went up quickly and I realized how silly I looked with a six person tent on the beach. I'm a big guy, though, so I guess it works. With the screens all open and my front porch facing the ocean, I knew immediately I had made a good choice. A few beers and a sandwich later, I was in the cool Pacific and happier than the fish that surrounded me. 
Anini Park, first night.

That night it rained pretty hard and the wind howled. Waking up enough to close the screens, I fell fast asleep to the sound of the rain on my nylon roof. When the sun rose I joined it and lie there in bliss. There are some that may entertain notions of stalking the flocks of wild chickens and roosters with a 12 gauge, but I find their morning welcome peaceful. The campsite is literally covered with these birds. The scratch and peck constantly, which I assume means fewer insects to bother me... 

The second day was a hit and miss kind of day. My dedication to work and more so to ASTE forced me to drive in to town and score some wifi. Scouting out a Starbucks ahead of time I then focused on the day at hand. The Canyons in the center of the island were appealing so I set out to meet them before lunch. Listening to the local island radio I heard a flash flood watch was in effect but I pressed on. Thankfully someone knew what I was up to and answered the question I wanted to ask: the park trail was closed due to high water. Turning back around I figured the Kapa'a beach was as good as any and spent the next four hours listening to the ocean and reading.
Kapa'a, waiting for ASTE Board Meeting

Heading home after my ASTE board meeting, sponsored by Starbucks, I stopped for a sandwich on the beach and departed when the rain began. What seemed like a passing shower turned out to be much more. I had just enough time to get to my campsite, open a beer, and settle in for the evening before all hell broke loose. The wind ripped up and lost three stakes, blew my tent sideways, and forced me to lie on the side of the shelter the storm's main thrust was focused on. I clumsily rolled to the right side of the tent to hold the floor flat. Not to under exaggerate this storm, I had to literally hold it to the ground by grasping the outside poles through the tent's nylon in both hands for fear they would uproot the remaining stakes and send me rolling down the campsite. All the while I got wetter and wetter as the wind simply forced water through nylon or rained vertically up and under the lid of my tent.

Waking up early on the third day I broke camp and headed a few miles down the highway to Haena beach to meet my dive master. The beach was empty and quiet at 7:30. The scene was picturesque, pristine compared to the night before. I dove twice for about 45 minutes each and saw eels, sharks, and countless fish. One shark must have been at least 10 feet long! 

The afternoon wound down as I made camp, hung my sleeping bag and wet gear out to dry and cracked a few cold ones. Trying to cover my interest in sketchy homeless, bums, and general safety, I socialized with a few neighbors. They told me that they had been camping for a few weeks and that the local beach bums were harmless. I ending up staying up with these pleasant fellows the next night and chatted late into the night about Hawaiian sovereignty, the American Dream, and how to survive off the grid. The lives they lead were not ones I envied, but there were attractive points I discovered. Surfing all day, foraging/begging for food and beer, and sleeping in the wild was tempting to a certain part of me...
Haena Campsite, Honalae Bay

Thursday was time to head to the airport so when I woke, without an alarm I might add (perhaps my favorite detail of the trip), I began packing soon after breakfast. I managed to buy way too much food, so I ended up with extra chips, peanut butter, and water. I had the pleasure of saying goodbye to the acquaintances I made in the last week and left them a mahalo of food for keeping an eye on my camp. Much aloha overall as this was certainly a trip to remember. 

In case you are wondering, the total cost was about $1500. The flight to Anchorage was 10000  miles ($12 booking fee), to Lihu'e was $1100, the car was $140, and gas was $38. Food was about $250 including a mixed plate from a food truck, boxes of macadamia nuts for friends, and beer!