Ralph Higgins

Ralph Higgins
color pencil sketch by Gayle Higgins

Quotes I Like

“Everyone is a genius, but if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”

-Albert Einstein


Thursday, March 27, 2014

Hawaii Revisited

      After literally hundreds of articles as a weekly newspaper columnist and also on this blog, I’m at a point now where I really don’t know if I’ve written about something more than once.  I apologize in advance if you find stuff on my blog that you’ve read before. Warning – it’s probably going to get worse.  

            With more road behind than lies ahead, I tend to look in the rear view mirror for material to toss at you in a post.  Here I go again.

            I have friends who live part of the year in Hawaii.  That seems idyllic to me.   I’ve been to many tropical islands and thought that I could live happily on several of them, but it’s the beautiful turquoise water in places like Polynesia that seems to overwhelm me. 

            I’ve only visited Hawaii once and that was when I was young, single, and stupid.  “Vacations” for me were always about adventure and exploration.

            During my one and only trip to Hawaii, I wanted to learn to hang glide and spent a day looking for a particular cliff where hang gliders plied their skills.  I figured that someone would give me a shot at it.  Fortunately, I didn’t find the location.  I came back to town to learn that three guys were killed that day at that very cliff.  There was something about wind or down drafts.

            But I was able to fly in Maui with an instructor on a two-man glider.  As you know, that’s a big “wing” that you hang from while using a bar to control your flight. The instructor was concerned that I would overpower him if I panicked and we could crash, but I was perfectly calm, enjoying the flight and following instructions. 

            With no rope or any connection to the earth, we were free to glide over the island and the water.  It was the closest to being a bird that I’ve ever experienced.

            Unfortunately, not long after my flight, the instructor took another “student” up and they crashed.  Both were killed. Evidently I was one of his last students.  Very sad.

            On that same trip, a Canadian friend and I “borrowed” a plane from the Maui airport, where he worked, and flew to the Island of Lanai, where there was nothing but pineapple plantations. Neither one of us was licensed to fly a plane, but we made it successfully, bringing back a ton of pineapples.

            A more humorous event comes to mind when I wanted to try to body surf.  I rented a car and drove around Oahu, looking for a place where the waves were said to be huge.  I came around a turn in the road and spotted the largest waves I had ever seen.  This beach was known for the size of the waves.

            I parked, got into my trunks, and bolted for the beach. I charged the next mountain of water, but when the wave hit me, I thought I was hit by a train. I have never felt that kind of force.  The wave pummeled me, finally driving me far up the beach as the water monster retreated in victory, leaving me high and dry and seriously stunned.

            I looked down to see my trunks around my ankles as an audience of natives laughed at the naked “haole,” who sat disoriented in the sand.  I didn’t want it to end that way, so I pulled up my trunks and sprinted toward the waves again.  And again, the huge mountain of water won.  I ended up in the same spot with my head spinning.  This time my trunks hung precariously on the big toe of my right foot.  I appreciate that toe to this day.  It saved me from a long, naked sprint to my car, past a laughing audience.

            Again, I couldn’t let the locals down, so I tried once more.  This time I dove straight through the monster and somehow ended up beyond the wave.  Victory at last.  They say it’s best to leave your audience wanting more, so I rode a wave to shore, ran past a disappointed audience with my trunks on, jumped in the car and wrestled with questions of my sanity during the drive back to town. 

            Even now, when Gayle and I travel, I don’t want to sit on a beach soaking up the sun.  I can do that at home.  I’d rather rent a motorcycle and explore an island or try scuba diving, which I did in Bora Bora.  To be honest, that scared the daylights out of me.  Human beings aren’t supposed to breathe underwater.

            I’ve been lost in the jungle in Costa Rica and almost lost in a crowded market place in Tunisia, where dark female eyes peered out at me from inside black garbage bags.  There were many other “mini-adventures,” but somehow I still want a vacation to be one of exploration and adventure.

            Exploring the buffet on a cruise ship, with a bunch of round guys with skinny white legs and Hawaiian shirts isn’t really an adventure.  But if that’s all that’s left, I’ll go for the prime rib. 



  1. I believe I saw those photos of your "trunks realignment" on You Tube recently. It sure looked like Hawaii!

  2. I don't know who you saw on You Tube, but it wasn't me. That incident in Hawaii was so long ago, I don't think we had cameras back then.