Along the Hamakua Coast

Ocean waves crash high on black porous rock. A dazzling water show is foam white and electric blue. Rock crash and clatter, always tossed but never displaced. The formations like hands waving and birds perched resist the powerful fall of the cresting waves boldly, proudly, with a slow eroding grace. I sit in my little home of tent, bike, bags, and a fire ring someone else made thinking, hoping there’s no way the foam will reach me.

I sleep to soft powder rain and wake to a dripping downpour inside my four fabric walls. It is, by the clock, 2.30 and my body has woken full for the first out of three, four times. I sense in my gut it is time to go. I try to deny, to lie back down, to sleep again. One more hour, one more moment, one more dream. But my body screams. Not angry, but urgent. Now — it demands. And so, I sit up and begin to dry my belongings with a square of already damp cloth.

Into dark and night sky. The darkness is not dark but a messy white-pricked scatter of distant dust, glowing through the past at me. I think of seven dimensions, pack my things with eyes on a stranger group doing stranger things in the far corner of what — in some ways — is my park tonight. We are clearly eyeing one another, but neither makes an approach. Neither has any idea what the other does, thinks, wants, needs. We all want to keep it this way. We disappear into the blackness at the same time.

I rise slow and panting toward the main road. A falling rock is a charging boar or a dog giving chase. I panic in my blinding light, only to realize I’d rather see without it. A broad dim scope is better than a concentrated but restricted one.I turn it off to ride in the soft glow of a fogged over moon until a car comes to pass.

I give warning because I am small and you, metal fire-belching beast, are great. I do not need to die tonight. We pass and do not touch, but I use the gust from your strength to rush forward for a quick moment, savoring the stranger help.

Rain grows from damp to cold and I’m sweating but shivering, hungry and drained. Every sound is something to fear and every moment is drenched in discomfort. I stand in muddy grass, spoonful of sticky peanut butter in my dry mouth, and I’m as low as I can go.

Do I call for rescue that I do not really need? Will I get hypothermia if I put my coat on so wet? Will my legs give out? Will I collaspe to be crushed under tires and pavement?

I kick on, desperate near tears, for one more crest. There, at the peak, is the savior of a gas station glowing florescent white, gaslight gold, and pale unattractive green of adverts I don’t bother to read. I take shelter on the curb, shivering and gasping for breath. Scatter of plastic baggies of raisins and oat dusted dates. The peanut butter is almost gone. A bite of carrot, bite of cheese, bread that’s gone to crumbles. A hot air dryer for hands gets my shirt and jacket half warm.

And when I come out to face the day again, the sun and the warmth are coming up. I bike through tall yellow grass fields rolling relics of lava flows. Up and down, up and down I go, never dropping more than I climb. By the end, I’m 2500 feet in the air from sea level and crashing ocean where I started.

In town, I find a real coffeeshop with real baristas and real patrons who greet me and chat about everything. We exchange stories and names, shake hands and share smiles. I depart to the airport where my bike comes apart easily. And the attendant has the bananas I’ve been searching every tree between here and Hilo for. Seven of them from a neighbor’s tree, perfectly ripe and sweet. I eat three of them straight away, share two, and take two as gems of love in my bag across the ocean to home.

I love how home is everywhere I am. And friends are everyone I choose to love and trust. My bike and tent are symbols, magical, that make trust grow like grass between us. A fire is still a place of warmth that pulls companions out of the cold and unknown. Funny how a light, a lamp, and distance do not accomplish the same thing. When we sit and risk, we share the unique trust of travellers out on the same road.

My flight showed waterfalls and rainbows over the islands. Each one its own world. I listen as we fly to the accent of the people here, and I am in love. With the green, the black, the slopes, and the plateaus.

I have learned something new on this trip. Life is a series of ups, downs, and plains. We are high. We are low. And we plod along. We dance, we learn, we work. I can accept all these things.


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