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The Hawk's Nest

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The Hawk's Nest

The best way to cope with winter

Last month in The River Journal, I read with interest the cover story “Coping with Snow.” I think Trish Gannon did a good job of addressing several winter conditions all of us living here deal with. 

When I told Trish I was going to write a response to it in my column she said “Oooh you’re going to wax on and on about how wonderful winter and snow and ice and cold are,” and I could do that. I do enjoy winter and everything it brings. I have said here before I’m not sure if winter is my favorite season but it’s in the top four. 

However, I need to talk about another way to cope with snow that came as a complete surprise to me. It is from a new teacher who I’m sure will have many more lessons for me. Most of them I don’t even know I need to learn yet but will be clear when presented. The teacher is my new granddaughter, Alice Lindy, who was born three days before Christmas. 

And the lesson she taught me about coping with snow; do it from Hawaii. 

The Islands had never been high on our places to visit until a couple of years ago. The Navy told our kids their services were needed there. Well, at least Noah’s services were needed so, of course, Ana moved there also. 

Right away, we knew we would be vacationing there sometime during his tour. We were thinking of a fall trip before prices spike for Christmas. It would also allow us to be home for winter fun and frolic. 

Then last spring the call came, “Could you please come for Christmas, please.”

“Well, okay, if it’s that important.” 

“Good, you can be here when the baby arrives.” Ana has a way of getting the family together for the holidays. 

That is how Alice taught us a new way to cope with snow. 

As soon as we heard the first grandbaby in the family was arriving, we knew the vacation in Hawaii would not just be a tour of a tropical paradise and that was fine with us. A newborn in the house would take most of the time and our vacation would be a wonderful experience of getting to know this new kid in town.  

However, Linda and I did manage a couple of outings as Ana, with the help of friends, took care of Alice. 

First, we did a fun hike on Aiea Ridge Trail. Not far from Honolulu city center, this is a state park with fantastic views of Halawa valley. It is rather surreal to look down from a narrow mountain ridge into a jungle-filled gorge with a four-lane freeway (H3) entering the picture, top center, from a tunnel in the steep canyon wall. The wall is so steep the lanes ride a viaduct over a mile long before it reaches the canyon floor.

Further along the trail we enjoyed southern views of the crater Diamond Head, as well as the many bays of Pearl Harbor, all backed by the South Pacific and blue skies with white cotton clouds for perfect accent. 

For us, the real treat was the forest, or forests, on this tropical trail. As we moved up and down, changing elevations from about six hundred feet to nearly sixteen hundred, we passed through several different environments each with its own kind of beauty.

I was surprised at the steep gorges dropping on both sides. In some we passed the lacy needles of the Ironwood trees; a little farther was a grove of naked looking giant Eucalyptus trees. At one point a dense bamboo forest with tall shoots on both our left and right created walls like a hallway without a roof.

Another environment was grass, grass taller than Linda before it bent and reached back down to the ground. Aiea is an excellent few hours I would recommend to any hiker visiting Oahu.  

On another day we actually left Ana and Alice to have their first overnight alone. Alice was a week old and Ana kept telling us we needed a Hawaii vacation. 

Our friend Chris, who has lived on Oahu for three decades, has been after us to visit for years so we accepted her offer and spent a night in her waterfront home in Hawaii Kai. Chris is a gracious hostess, and like many islanders the most used room of her home is the lanai. We enjoyed dinner there and the next morning we watched the sunrise over Koko crater with coffee, fresh pineapple and papaya. 

Later we hiked the Makapuu trail, the most eastern point on Oahu. It is an old paved road about two miles long, a constant climb. There is about a 450-foot elevation gain from the trailhead to the observation deck. The deck sits atop the 600-foot cliff to the vibrant blue water. Unlike Aiea, there is no shade, another environment on the same small island. 

The ocean views are startlingly close. The lower section presented dramatic views into Koko crater and along the windward coast. As we climbed, we were awe struck by the vivid shades of blue, from azure to indigo, of the ocean water crashing on the rocks at the bottom of the cliffs below us.

From the track, we watched humpback whales swimming the channel with Molokai in the hazy distance. Part way up we passed the lighthouse, built in 1909 and still in use. On top, we looked down on it, again with that rich blue water below. 

It was a wonderful outing and when we met Ana, she and Alice were tired but just fine. 

One of Alice’s first outings was a drive up to the North Shore. The intention was to see that world famous winter North Shore surf. I found it impressive. I’m guessing the waves were 10 to 12 feet, not real high by their standards but it looked like a huge wall of water to me. 

While the baby was feeding in the car, Linda and I walked the beach. With cameras in hand, looking for the perfect wave to catch, we came upon two sea turtles sunning on the sand and more swimming just off shore. These guys are three to three-and-a-half feet long, and can weigh up to 400 pounds. An oddity on the North Shore is both males and females come ashore; in most places only the females crawl up on the sand. 

Back at the car Alice was well fed and asleep for the drive back into town. 

So a little baby girl taught me another way to enjoy the chilly dark season. Yes, I was glad to get back to our misty winter woods, but I bet there will be another vacation, sometime, on the Islands. Maybe even after Alice and her parents move back to the continent. 

I wonder what Alice’s next lesson is for me?


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Author info

Ernie Hawks Ernie Hawks is a former theater director who has branched into the creative fields of writing and photography. He lives in a cabin in Athol with his lovely wife Linda, and feeds the birds in his spare time.

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travel, Hawaii, vacation

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