Mahalo Hawaii

A week on Hawaii’s Big Island was paradise: a perfect nonfiction writing workshop with compassionate and talented teachers; red-headed and yellow-bodied birds chirping their morning happiness, nightly stars popping out of the darkness.

And new writing friends with stories that focused on the should’s of traveling with an old friend, confronting an alcoholic/questioning dad, a John McPhee-like piece about   walking on a lava path of petroglyphs.

My two-mile walk of choice paralleled the beach.


Making friends with the Pacific was huge. I loved staying buoyant in its turquoise warmth, the melding of ocean and air temperatures. No need to snorkel, kayak, paddle board, or play with beach toys. Floating was enough for me. Perhaps I’ll cross a wider swath of the Pacific, travel to Vietnam or Thailand, not sticking only to western culture in future treks around the planet.

One afternoon, keeping an eye on one of my housemates who snorkeled for hours, I saw something large and dark on the horizon. That spouting whale surprise made my day.

I doubt if I’ll get to circumnavigate the globe, but I’ve circumnavigated Hawaii’s big Island. On our day off from writing, two of my housemates and I drove from micro-climate to micro-climate. What a kick!



Akaka Falls is twice as high as Niagra Falls.

Wish I had a photo of Uncle Bob hawking us from the side of the road. “Stop, stop,” we three shouted at the same time. We each sipped the milk from our coconuts, then his nephew cut them up, bagging them together with pieces of pineapple for afternoon snacks.



Hilo’s Shasta Building reminiscent, I’m told, of the “old Hawaii”


Next time, I’ll hike the eight miles up and back across one of the world’s most active volcanoes.

What struck me this first day back in Tucson — seeing license plates from Michigan, Montana, Missouri, and New Mexico.

On our Hawaiian island tourists and natives alike sport the same license plate. Perhaps that’s one reason why everyone was so nice. Far out in the Pacific, we all somehow belonged together.



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8 Responses to Mahalo Hawaii

  1. judith cox says:

    Just wonderful Sheila! You are a great travel writer—I see a book in your future. Sending love in this season of increased light, which we are so aware of up here in the northeast corner—and more light everywhere in the form of wisdom and compassion. Love, judith

  2. Sheila Bender says:

    Ahhhhh, beautiful photos and travelogue. Ahhhhh, I can’t wait to go back! I missed seeing Hilo and the volcano this time, and even Maui was faint at the horizon days I got to that beach but, oh, you have captured it all for me!

  3. Katharine Hathaway says:

    Love your experience writing “with compassionate and talented teachers.”

    I marvel at the raw beauty of the Big Island, so new and still forming. I just learned that Frenchman’s Bay on MDI is the bottom of a volcano, supported by the rock formations on my beloved shore path. From one extreme to the other; from one ocean to another, still both islands marching in time, populated by people who know they must depend on each other. We enjoy them in the present and imagine the past. That’s the thing about travel, so many ways to do it.

    Bring on time travel, please.

    I echo Judith’s sentiments in sending light to you and the world for wisdom and compassion, adding justice and love.

    • sheilawill says:

      Ah yes, I had the island thing going too. Maybe you’d like to go next Dec. 9-16? I’m thinking of going again; it was that perfect.
      All the best,justice and love to you and John in 2018. Give a holler if you get to Tucson!

  4. sheilawill says:

    Thanks Judith! You are a role model of wisdom and compassion.

  5. Sheila Lepley says:

    Teaching in Hawaii as I did a long time ago, changed my world. Glad you have experienced it. A walk inside of the crater is amazing, unlike any other type of hiking. The longer you stay on the islands, the more you will discover which is true of many places. I look forward to hearing about your trip there next year, if you go. I pray for peace, understanding, charity, enlightenment. When will it happen I wonder. Happy New Year.

  6. sheilawill says:

    I loved Hawaii’s Big Island more than I thought I would. Floating in the Pacific was sublime. I must do that hike! Happy 2018 to you, good luck to us all!

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