A Real life Story from Pete:

Was fast asleep by 10 pm last night in my Hale Moana condo, but vaguely grew conscious of the sirens - then the condo land-line phone rang, which really woke me up. It was Donna, my land-lady, with the news of a big quake in Japan, local tsunami warning, & evacuation order. She offered me a place to spend the night. Waves not expected until about 3 am, so had plenty of time to pack pretty much everything. Had to leave new bicycle, & food, of course. Was out of the place & on the road by 11, joining a long cue of vehicles heading toward downtown Hilo on Kalanianole, which runs right alongside the bay. It was a strange feeling, roused from slumber, on the road with a throng of others, a refugee from an oncoming potential disaster.

At Donna's place, which is safely ma'uka (inland/up-slope), above Hilo at about 500 ft or so elevation, I met fellow vacationers Thelma & Larry of Eugene, Oregon, who were also staying in one of Donna's rentals, & who had also been offered refuge by her. Donna & husband Chris (a native Hawaiian, by the way, who speaks the language) were out, moving boats to safe places & taking care of some other preparations. Eventually they arrived, and the five of us sat up watching the large flat screen, stunned by the incredible images of destruction from Japan. Couldn't stay up past 2 am, though - only about an hour short of "H-hour", as I was nodding off. So I went off to the bedroom graciously provided by my hosts, to cut some zees.

Woke up at my usual rising time of about 6 am. Listened to the radio, trying to ascertain the local tsunami damage. Turned out that destruction on this island was almost entirely confined to the Kona side. By 8 or so everyone was up. The "all clear" had not yet been given, so there was nothing to do but wait around until it was. Chris was out of the house taking care of some business (he provides generators for local businesses). Donna fixed coffee & a nice breakfast, & we four shared a nice convivial time over our meal . Eventually Chris returned with news that the roads to the shoreline were once again open. Thankfully, the disaster that could have happened here in Hilo did not materialize, for which we were all very grateful, & much relieved. The disaster which did unfold, & continues to unfold, in Japan, nonetheless provided a somber background, despite our happiness at having "dodged the bullet".

While this turned out to be a benign event, even a rather enjoyable time shared with interesting, pleasant company, it's utterly unscheduled nature and the emotional aspect of it, with hints of dire, imminent danger (does that sound like 'wine connoisseur talk'?), brought to mind a saying from one of my favorite writers, Ted Simon: "The interruptions are the journey". This episode is definitely something which will help keep this visit to Hawaii vivid in my memory.

If you ever want to buy or rent a place over here on the Big Island, I can't recommend a better person to deal with than Donna Herbst. She's a great person, who goes the extra mile for her clients. Providing me a place to take refuge as she did, in her own home, was something I consider far above a mere obligation.

It's turned out to be another utterly gorgeous day here on Hilo Bay. Think I'll head down to one of the local beach parks & take a dip.

A hui hou!