A blog by Bill Hess

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« From the condo we have all rented here on The Big Island of Hawaii, Melanie pulls up current temperature in Wasilla | Main | In the morning I look at Pioneer Peak, and then late tonight at Waikiki; I don't believe it »

Four Oahu beaches: Wakiki - seven bikinis in a row; Turtle Beach - Shadow Me touches a turtle; Bonzai Pipeline - nice wave and a dog too; Sunset - parrot on bike ride, surfers ride big waves

After breakfast in our Waikiki hotel, Margie and I walked down to the beach, just one block away. I am not sure, but I think these girls were trying to pose for a photo. Whether they were or not, I took one. Afterward, I gave my camera, my phone and my wallet to Margie, ventured off to a place to the right of this photo where people on big surf-boards surfed on little waves a good distance from shore and I waded and swam out to join them.

I saw many good pictures out there, but without a camera I could not take them. At first, I tried to stay just to the side of where the people were surfing and tried to body surf from there. Eventually, I found myself right in the middle of them because that's where the little waves grew to their tallest and steepest. 

None of my body surfing rides were long - maybe 30, 40 feet. Perhaps I got in one or two that were 50. The waves were not the best for body surfing. And I had not even been on a swim for, oh, I don't know... ten years?

I did go into the ocean in India on my 2009 trip, but just waded around in water that only got over my head a couple of times, so you could not really call that swimming.

I am in very poor shape for swimming. I would swim 100, maybe 200 feet and then I would have to stop for a breather.

Once, I could swim all day long.

We wanted to go to the North Shore to see if there any big waves breaking. First, we picked up Lisa and Bryce, whose hotel is about five blocks from our's. The driving was slow, but finally we reached what could only be the North Shore. We stopped at the first beach with parking nearby.

It turned out to be Turtle Beach and there were five turtles sunbathing in the sand. A park official had put up a barrier to keep people a safe distance away from the turtles so they would not bother or touch them.

For some reason, when we humans come close to another animal and get the feeling we could touch it, the urge to do so is almost irresistible. I felt that urge, but I obeyed and did refrain.

Shadow Me, however, came along and went right in and patted a turtle on the back.

The turtle did not seem to mind.

The turtles are right behind Bryce. Lisa is trying to take a picture that will make it look like Bryce is holding a turtle. Lisa spotted a turtle swimming in the surf.

We continued northeast. We came to the famed Waimea Bay, but there was not much surf there today, probably because the angle of approach kept the waves from peaking in the bay. We continued on and soon stopped at another beach, which turned out to be the Bonzai Pipeline.

Boy! Did I want to get on a surfboard and get out there in it!

My soul told me I could do it - belly hernia, titanium shoulder, age and poor conditioning be damned.

My mind told me I would drown.

I listened to my mind.

Just up the beach from the pipe, I saw a dog and a man swimming together. 






We drove a few more miles to Sunset Beach, where a parrot came by with his pet human bike rider.

People were surfing at Sunset Beach, too. They say the waves are supposed to get bigger over the next couple of days. I would like to see that but tomorrow evening we head for Kona and before we go we plan to visit Peark Harbor, so I doubt I will.

This surf you see right here is what inspired me to become a photographer. Dad moved us from Montana to Eureka, California, shortly before my thirteenth birthday. The surf in that area of northern California is big, rough and cold and when we arrived the locals told us the ocean there could not be surfed.

But I got a paper route, saved up enough money to buy a surfboard, bought one, quit the route and then started to surf with a handful of others who got the idea about the same time. None of us knew what we were doing, but we bought copies of Surfer and Surfing Magazine and I was so blown away by the photography - particularly of Hawaii's North Shore - Waimea Bay, the Bonzai Pipeline and Sunset Beach in particular -  that I took up photography, intent on becoming a surf photographer as well as a champion surfer. But Dad then moved us to Sacramento and there was no surf there. 

Even so, I did get to Santa Cruz now and then and I did put a picture I took there in my senior yearbook, as I was the official photographer.

Here is Margie, at a restaurant the name of which I forget. Those who were with me back then will recall that I lost 37 pounds after my surgery, emergency surgery and third emergency hospitalization last summer. Then I went on a mad eating binge and gained nearly 30 pounds of that back.

After the holidays, I decided I had better lose some of that, especially because the doctor wants to give me a third surgery to remove this gigantic, ugly, hernia that he gave me as an unexpected part of the deal. I've been doing pretty good, too. Before we left, I had dropped seven pounds of the 30 I gained back, sp I swore I would not overdue the eating here.


Hey! If you could have tasted the Ahi Tuna salad I ate at this place, seared on the outisde with the inside completely raw, you would understand.

So damn good! Exquisite! Superb! Wonderful!

Every bite of food we have had here has been damn good.

But expensive. We are putting it all on the credit card and after just one full day in Hawaii, I am starting to get a bit worried about that.

Speaking of the hernia surgery, as I have noted, the doctor had originally wanted to do it next summer to give me time to get my strength back. When I protested that I did not want to lose another summer, he said, okay, by February he thought I would be strong enough.

But February is impossible and so is March and so is April and May and June... and so I had decided that as ugly and debilitating as this hernia is (when I swim here, I keep it covered under a special swim shirt Rex and Cortney gave me) I would try to hold out until next winter, maybe even until ObamaCare kicks fully in January and get it done then.

Today, another idea hit me. Maybe I should get it done early enough to allow me to come here about December, start swimming in the ocean and surfing every day and then maybe by this time I could be strong enough and fit enough, with my swimming skills restored enough that I could go out and wipe-out in a few of these waves.

Probably a foolish thought - probably will never happen.

But today I saw an old, wet, man walking out of the Sunset Beach waves with a surfboard under his arm. If he can do it, why can't I?

Well, it's just a thought, anyway.

A thought I like...

Reader Comments (6)

you're finally here and you're an island away... :( grr
So glad you've made it though! aloha to Margie and the gang.
Hint: ask the locals where they eat...

January 26, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterkalamahina

oh and by the way, that's a cockatoo. ;)

January 26, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterkalamahina

Many of the best things in life are our dreams for the future. So glad you were able to get in the water. Thank you for sharing once again! Oh, and I noticed that you didn't mention the rest of the photo taken of the man swimming with his dog (but you probably notice them strolling into your photo range.)

January 26, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterNancy

I noticed thems trolling into view also. One can dream, can't they. Hope you all have a wonderful time! Yes, it's very expensive over there. Do ask the locals. Can't wait to see the wedding pictures.

January 26, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMrs Gunka

Wonderful post! You definitely need a surf board. I want to see like a headless chicken, have loads of fun with your family.

Hawaii is in 100 things to do in my life :)

Look forward to more pictures..

January 27, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterGanesh

I hope you're allowing your doc to monitor the status of your hernia regularly, Bill, because there is the possibility and danger of a strangulated portion of bowel poking through that hernia site -- you probably can't afford to lose any more of your intestines to such an occurence. I hope your plan to wait until 2014 is possible, but be prepared to change those plans...

January 27, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterKarenJ

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