August 16, 2009

Hawaii Did My Camera Have To Break?

Good morning and greetings, national health care fans. After taking a week off to recharge my battery and replace a water pump, Sunrise Santa Cruz is back with our annual, “What I Wish I Had Done On My Summer Vacation.”

For the last five years, or half decade for you historians, the Gilbert Family Robinson has ventured to Sunset Beach, which sits on the North Shore on the island of Oahu. To get there, you fly into Honolulu, head north and before you can say, “Hurricane Felicia,” you hit Haliewa and Eddie Aikau country. Or as the locals would say, “Geoff Wouldn’t Go.”

Not much was happening here before 1899, as people didn’t know the North Shore from Dinah Shore. Then Oahu sugar baron Benjamin Dillingham built the Haliewa Hotel and introduced the very popular Teriyaki Tuesday. Then in the 1940′s, people from Honolulu began to head northward to check out the epic waves and the mahi mahi lunch specials that make this macadamia crusted shoreline world class famous.

But the place really starting pumping in 1966, when filmmaker Bruce Brown produced the classic “Endless Summer,” which opened the eyes of the world to the big wave action that is the North Shore. Starting in November, this seven mile stretch from Haliewa to Sunset Beach takes center stage for the best big wave surfers, dedicated surf groupies and flight attendants from Hawaiian Air.

The North Shore is still rural and remote, much like it was 50 years ago, when as a child I was riding the big waves in the pool at the Hackensack YMHA. There is only one grocery store, appropriately named Foodland, one hotel, the Turtle Bay Resort, or as the locals say, “Nuff Hotels,” and one real food spot, Ted’s Bakery, which is renowned for its plate lunches, chocolate haupia creme pie and free valet parking.

On the nature front, squadrons of brown and electric green geckos run as rampant as oil lobbyists did during the Bush administration. Throw in the extremely colorful parrot fish at Sharks Cove, the orange butterflies floating by in the warm breeze and the golden lemon chicken with two scoops of rice and a scoop of macaroni salad and that’s island life. Lucky you eat Hawaii.

So here we are a Sunset Beach in the summertime, when the swell is as gentle as the hands of my on-call masseuse Helga. The water is a mind-blowing, crystal clear, kelp-free, aqua turquoise blue that clocks in at 80 degrees. And this, my vacation loving friends, is the number one reason for this annual trek. I need warm ocean water the same way Tom “Magnum P.I.” Selleck needs a mustache trimmer. As much as I adore this cold water paradise called Santa Cruz, the difference in the air and weather is dramatic. No layers, no sweatshirts, no fog hanging on the coast. This is what a sub-tropical paradise is, boys and girls, and unlike guests or brie cheese, it doesn’t get old.

So it was much to my dismay that on the second morning of our trip, my camera decided to take its own vacation. I already had a few shots in the can, but the Kelly Slater in me cried out for more. So when my Canon announced its early retirement I took it like a man and curled up in the fetal position and sobbed uncontrollably for few hours. I’m just kidding, it couldn’t have been more than 45 minutes.

Rather than question my vacation karma, God’s will or try and make sense of a digitless universe, I put on my newly ironed black Speedo, belted down a big gulp of sunblock and let the smell of the plumerias drift softly thru my brain. Or to paraphrase the words of Gerry and the Pacemakers, “Don’t let your son catch you crying.”

Our beach cottage overlooked the break at Sunset, which in the winter, along with Waimea Bay and Pipeline, play host to the Triple Crown of surfing. Come August, we pretty much have the beach to ourselves, although on one weekend day I saw more butts on the beach than you’d find in the Boardwalk sand after a Friday night Eddie Money concert. The Money Man has been to the islands as he’s got “two tickets to paradise.”

So in our photo lineup, we start with Sunset Beach and then move over to Waimea Bay. From there it’s a green sea turtle that came ashore for tourists along the Kamehameha Highway followed by a friendly neighborhood gecko. We close with a duo of the Hawaiian plumeria, whose scent is another reminder of paradise found. I had hoped to photograph the tradewinds, which is another key factor in the nirvana experience. Or in the words of the Association, “Everyone knows it’s windy.”

Now for just a taste of late night humor. “The two female journalists held captive in North Korea are saying they were shocked to walk into a room and see Bill Clinton there. That’s what they said. Then they said they were even more shocked to see him wearing nothing but a towel.” –Conan O’Brien “Meanwhile, this morning, Former President Bush rescued two purple stars from his Lucky Charms.” –Jimmy Kimmel “Hey, yesterday, did you hear this? Computer hackers managed to shut down Twitter and my favorite, Facebook, for several hours. In a related story, yesterday American productivity jumped by 159%.” –Conan O’Brien

So that concludes my 2009 North Shore chronicles. Another classic “Hawaii Five-0″ adventure, or as Jack Lord would say about interisland flights, “Book ‘em, Dano.” With a daily intake of fresh papaya and Maui gold pineapple, my memories of this trip are still as tasty as a pina coloda smoothie.

It would be wrong not to mention the over 2,000 heroic firefighters from throughout the state that are fighting the Lockheed fire raging in the Santa Cruz mountains. This latest blaze has already burned close to 7,000 acres and is not expected to be fully contained for another week. It’s burning hotter than New York Yankee bats. Another example of the power and fury of Mother Nature. So we’ll catch you down the right field line. Aloha, mahalo and later, Robinson Cano fans.


  1. You Geoff and the word Speedo should never ever be in the same sentence

    Comment by boots — August 17, 2009 @ 7:05 am

  2. Quite the evocative post about a truly exotic place. This is what the Oahu tourist bureau should be using to encourage visitors to the North Shore in the slow summer months – but then again that would ruin it for us who enjoy the slow quiet pace and short checkout lines at Foodland. Sorry I couldn’t be there this summer but am looking forward to future expeditions and new varieties of creme pies at Ted’s (not to mention meeting Helga and experiencing Teriyaki Tuesdays). Till then, see you on the mainland…

    Comment by Nick Swisher — August 17, 2009 @ 7:38 am

  3. Welcome home Gilbert Clan. As much as seeing you in a speedo would rock one’s world, GG drinking a pina colada would sink the mother ship. Aloha, Mahalo and Shalom.

    Comment by Jerry Hoffman — August 17, 2009 @ 10:44 am

  4. Even with the camera breaking, you still managed to capture the aloha spirit. Exotic and Incredible.
    I can almost smell the plumeria.
    Welcome Home!

    Comment by Wendi — August 17, 2009 @ 10:55 am

  5. Can’t decide which image to savor, you in a speedo or Clinton in a towel?

    Comment by nba — August 18, 2009 @ 4:40 am

  6. Geoff, this is the first time I’ve ever read your writing and you’re as great a writer as Allison is. Wow, what a couple!

    On the national health care front, my latest idea is that if enough people ask the following question, maybe we will get that public option after all:

    Regards to all,

    Comment by Judy Pokras — August 31, 2009 @ 10:16 am

  7. I think you are good writer, keep us posting

    Comment by zaklady bukmacherskie — May 20, 2010 @ 4:19 pm

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