Monday, May 11, 1998
Cleaned beaches restore
pride, privilege of isle life
I love living in Hawaii, but there's nothing like going
on a trip to renew my appreciation of it. My satisfaction starts on the
plane when I get my first glimpse of the islands surrounded by the
startling blue ocean.
Last week, Hawaii's vibrant color seemed even more
striking because I was returning from a visit to the New Mexican desert.
That area has its beauty, too, but it's so far from the water!
In the airplane, as I was gazing out the window at the
sparkling islands, a tourist leaned toward me. "It's sure something,
isn't it? How long are you staying?"
I smiled. "Forever. I live here."
The conversation then degenerated to the usual topic:
how expensive it is to live in Hawaii.
Yes, it's more expensive to live here than many places
on the mainland. But attitude is everything.
Not long ago, a couple from Texas moved into my
apartment building. I welcomed the woman and we briefly chatted. The two
had always liked the idea of living in Hawaii but had been warned about
practically everything: high prices, no housing, no jobs, racism. You name
"Finally, we just did it anyway," she said.
She sighed contentedly. "Look at this," she
said waving her hand toward the ocean. "It's so BLUE! Sure we're
going to have less money here, but look what we get. Every day, when we
look at this ocean, we know we did the right thing."
Speaking of doing the right thing, last week, when I
rode my bike down the highway to Kaena Point, I noticed that the beaches
past Mokuleia Beach Park were remarkably clean. They have been for some
time, but now they're staying that way.
A few years ago, these white sand beaches, some of
Oahu's most beautiful, were a source of great frustration to me. They were
Once while I was biking there, a carload of tourists
stopped to ask for directions. "You can't drive around Kaena Point
anymore," I said. "But go to the end of the road. It's
incredibly beautiful out here."
The tourists stared at me blankly, then took off. I
looked around. Just behind me, all over that lovely white sand, were dirty
diapers, beer bottles and fast-food containers. The place was awful.
It was such a jolting experience that I organized a
team to pick up trash there during an islandwide anti-litter campaign. We
worked like crazy and got about a quarter of the trash.
The next year we did the same, with similar results.
The place looked better for about a month, then quickly reverted to its
previous garbage-laden state.
The third year, I couldn't get my friends to go. I
called the Army to complain about the area there called Army Beach. Then I
called the state DLNR, and asked them to arrange for trash bins and
regular pick-up out there. I got nowhere.
Or so I thought.
Now, two years later, the area looks noticeably better.
I stopped my bike at several spots that looked clean. Dumpsters now stand
neatly among the bushes, and track marks of sand-cleaning machines were
I finished my ride feeling good, pleased that people in
our military and state government (and whoever else may be helping)
appreciate what we have here enough to help take care of it.
As I continued my ride, a humpback whale breached just
outside the fringing reef. I stopped by the side of the road to watch,
thinking what a privilege it was to be able to do such a thing just a few
miles from my home.
A car with a tourist couple also pulled over and gazed
at the ocean. "Fantastic view, isn't it?" the man said to me.
"You live here?"
I smiled. I knew that.