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It was a perfect day in Hawaii.

by Keone Michaels Wed Apr 11th, 2007 at 03:15:51 PM EST

It was a perfect day in Hawaii.

    It was a perfect day in Hawaii.  The sun was bright and the electric blue sky was clear.  Sparkling highlights from the waves off Diamond Head bounced in the distance.  From my vantage point high over Honolulu on the trail above St. Louis Heights I could see most of Honolulu stretching out to Pearl Harbor and beyond.  On a clear day like this you could see the whole island if you got high enough.

   


And that was our plan, to hike up along the narrowing mountain ridgeback to the highest place with a windbreak and a view.  Once at the spot we would cook our lunch and enjoy the island views of Oahu beneath and beyond our feet.  We were an odd little male only group.  David who had just completed a six year enlistment stint in the Air Force was still very much the master sergeant and was certainly the father figure while my six-year-old son Mickey and I were like the children.  David was in charge and this was his hike, a day off boys only.  David and I didn't go hiking together often.  This was his gift to me in the midst of my martial woes.

    Later as we got higher and higher on the trail, as the Northeast wind got fierce and the other hikers became fewer and finally we were alone on a narrow 10 foot switchback with a few large boulders for shelter against the prevailing winds.  On either side of the ridge were cliffs hundreds of feet down to the thick jungle below.  One slip and it was certain death and down below the wild pigs would most likely scavange and scatter your remains.  We were all careful to stay in the middle portion of the ridge.  

We spent a magic couple of hours there cooking and eating our hot dogs and beans and rice and philosophizing about the city beneath before we packed up our gear and returned down the mountain to the city below.  The sense of danger from the treacherous trail and the insistent and sometimes unexpected wind bursts made for a high level of adrenaline I am sure and I've often wondered if that was what made my recollections of the day so bright and sparkling?  

Before the hot dogs and chips, before the sitting down happily full and making fun of the citizens below working on a weekday, before all that, we parked our car and locked up the valuables in the car trunk at the impromtu dirt parking lot near the start of the trail.  As we organized our belongs  I noticed a local couple holding hands going on ahead of us.  She was "full figured gal" as they say, with a tight pair of jeans and a pale green t-shit.  He was big man and was in jeans and a t-shirt also but with a dingy gray hooded sweatshirt.

As it turned out they were about 20 minutes or more ahead of us as we had to pack our food and stuff in the knapsacks and David felt constrained  to give solemn instruction to each of us as to our responsibilities and especially to me to watch out  for Mickey who was just having fun and not much aware of the serious need to be careful as the hike could be very dangerous due to the narrow trail and the wind.

Before the brush and trees turned into windswept mountain ridge there was a mountain trail and on either side of the trail there were small nooks and crannies that people often used as lover's hideaways or just family camping.  After the Vietnam conflict and the men returned it was rumored that some of them periodically made their way into the hills to rely on their survivor skills, but  this day the other hikers were young folks and some tourists. I only noticed the one campsite that day.

The camp was pitched in an idyllic little grove away from the wind, the bright yellow sun flickered on a small breeze buffered by the hump of the hill away from prevailing winds. The shining light through the trees rendered the leaves a watercolor painting of shades of green and yellows.  

 As we passed I spied the couple that had preceded us on the hike up the hill as they snuggled into their two-person tent, just their legs and feet showing beyond the deep shade inside the tent.  I could just see his gray sweatshirt as he lay below her on a slight slope in the tent floor.

A few feet away they had a campfire set up with a pot actually cooking while smoke twisted up in a circle like a postcard.  The whole scene in the dappled sunlight was so pretty and peaceful and perhaps because I was involved in a nasty divorce at the time I remember comparing the idyllic scene to my own life, feeling jealous of the people in the tent and wishing that I was he and his woman was my woman.  The whole scene seemed so perfect, a museum display that  I remember thinking at the time that I could reach out and touch it, like a nativity crèche in which you can reach in and move the figures around.  I thought it should have "objects may appear closer than they actually are" stamped on it like a rear view mirror.  When I see the warning on the mirror sometimes I still think about this little scene.

On the way back down the path I slowed and made sure to peek at the happy couple as we passed the tent, the fire now just smoldering and the couple in the tent, their legs and feet just showing as I remembered on the way up the hill.  Sweet untroubled sleep I  thought.  

A few weeks later I was contentedly sitting at a concrete table on Kuhio beach, waiting for my running partner Howard Cho to come back from the bath room he always used when his cousin worked the front at the Denny's across the street  from the completion of a weekly  3 or 4 mile run through Waikiki.  I picked up the Honolulu Advertiser someone had put under a small piece of coral on the bench away from the prevailing wind.  The front page and some sections were missing, but   3 or 4 pages back in section A was a small article that immediately caught my eye and it went something like:

The bodies of a couple were recently found in their pup tent on the hiking trail above St. Louis.  The bodies had apparently been there for some time as the tent was clearly visible from the trail.  Decomposing odors from the site alerted hikers who investigated and called authorities.  Foul play is not suspected.

I was definitely blown away by what I had just read and when Howard came back from the bathroom I suggested we return immediately to our cars in the Zoo parking lot.  I needed time to think this over?  What did it mean?  

The sea sparkled off the little waves.  The bright Hawaiian sun spread dappled shade beneath  the big Banyan tree on the lawn outside the Honolulu Zoo.  Howard turned to me and smiled " it's a perfect day in Hawaii, isn't it?

         http://i36.photobucket.com/albums/e8/Manuahi/wishIllus.jpg

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I wrote this little memoir over Easter.  Although it has a dark side to it, there are several positive messages for me,  not the least of which is to be careful what you wish for because you may etc....

alohapolitics.com
by Keone Michaels on Wed Apr 11th, 2007 at 03:20:24 PM EST
Wow, I'm not sure what I think about that. So many beautifully described crystalline images and yet...and yet..

wow

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Wed Apr 11th, 2007 at 05:09:14 PM EST
and yet?  What do you mean?  Look here for another recent Easter story:  http://www.myleftwing.com/showDiary.do?diaryId=15940

alohapolitics.com
by Keone Michaels on Wed Apr 11th, 2007 at 05:16:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Eeek, I'm glad I'm no storm crow. I don't think I'd cope well with that stuff.

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Thu Apr 12th, 2007 at 04:06:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Storm crow? I like that phrase.

alohapolitics.com
by Keone Michaels on Fri Apr 13th, 2007 at 12:22:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
any backstory?  Spent Monday hiking 12+ miles in rough country so piqued my interest.
by HiD on Thu Apr 12th, 2007 at 05:29:26 AM EST
late seventies early eighties as far as I can remember

alohapolitics.com
by Keone Michaels on Thu Apr 12th, 2007 at 06:45:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It was later reported as a suicide, despondent about finances methinks I recall as family said.  

alohapolitics.com
by Keone Michaels on Thu Apr 12th, 2007 at 06:48:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
the more things change, the more they stay the same.

It's interesting to spend some time talking with people who lived out here in the plantation era about how hard their lives were and how utterly they were under the thumb of the lunas.  Makes me shake my head when I hear about "the good ol days".

by HiD on Fri Apr 13th, 2007 at 05:36:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]


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