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Sunday, October 28, 2012

The Big, Not-So-Big-Tsunami Adventure

Sushi leisurely sails by, daring you to ignore its tasty savoriness
HEY!  Was that a plate of spicy tuna going by there?!

Post Volcanoes National Park, on my drive back to Kaila-Kona, I called Ron, Jeannie & Stephie so we could meet up for dinner. After much discussion - there are a lot of choices for din-din in Kona - we settled on Sushi.

The sushi made its way past us on a lazy susan and we could just nick what we liked as it sailed by. Each plate is color coded for its price. V. dangerous place for myself and my wallet because I can eat sushi until the pipi come home (pipi, which is pronounced 'pee pee', is Hawaiian for 'cow').

I had my rental jeep with me, so after din-din, Stephie came along with me, and before we headed back to the time share, we stopped at a nearby Keahou shopping mall. There was a festival of some sort going on & Jeannie wanted to a look see. Then, just as we were headed back to the time share WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!
Our ears were blasted with the siren's blast. I freaked. Had martians taken over Big Island? Was the appocolypse at hand? What the hell man, what the HELL!?
A lovely Pipi
Ignorning the din, we got back to the time share and turned on the TV. A 7.7 magnitude earthquake hit the Charlotte Islands in Canada and a Tsu-freakn'-nami was on its way to Hawaii!

I mean, you could have knocked me over with a pipi.

Ok, I guess you could knock me over with a pipi under any circumstances, but you get my drift, I was thrilled with excitement and just a little scared - I saw those horrifying Japanese Tsunami videos, and they began to play in my mind over and over again. Were we about to be floated out to sea, with flotsam & jetsam of what used to be the Big Island? The Tsunami was due to hit the entire state, and all its island at 10:28 PM., Hawaii time.

Evacuation buses added to the dire feelings of the moment

We decided to do what most people do in the face of dire emergency - pretend nothing was happening. Would have worked too - but around 9:30 PM BIT (Big Island Time), there was a pounding at the front door. The management came by to demand we high tail our touristy rear-ends up to our Tsunami staging area, which was the shopping mall we had been at a couple of hours earlier. 

We took the jeep up to the Keahou shopping mall, and there we joined the other tourists and locals in what was to be a long, exhausting wait. The movie theater was open, and though the others went to see if there was anything worth seeing - there wasn't - I didn't want to see any movie. Why see a movie when real life was, at the moment, a little more exciting than What She Said.

None had had a good night's sleep in at least a few days, from our pre-vacation jitters.  Every 20 minutes or so the sirens would go off, as though intent on keeping us at wit's end. Jeannie, Stephie and I found a nice spot from which we could spy the ocean in the distance. I figured if I saw the ocean retreat and disappear I would just lie down, have a heart attack and be done with it.

The entirety of Hawaii was on alert, all the low lying areas were evacuated, or were supposed to be. You won't believe this, but I hear there are idiots that like to pretend there is no emergency so they can stay put and not have to go anywhere.

These signs hold new meaning for me
 I was miserable. I sat coiled up in the jeep, trying to asleep. I really ought to have gone walk-about. Ron was wandering around and said many of the locals took advantage of the emergency to set up and sell food & drinks. Jeannie and Stephie sat on a low stone wall, waiting for us to be released from our late night purgatory.

Finally, around 1 AM when we were all on our last nerve, rumor shot through the crowds we would soon be released. We jumped in the jeep and drove to the exit, where, finally, the police relented and we were all allowed to drive back to our residences. I'm telling you, when I finally dropped into my bed in the wee hours I was out cold. Early start for birding Mauna Kea in a few hours? Uh... nope.

Final word on the Tsunami - uh... it was canceled. Can you do that? Apparently. The average waves that hit Hawaii were so small no one would have noticed. The highest waves, 2.5 feet hit Maui. Anyone complaining about that? No. Just HELL no. Hawaii had the best tsunami, which is no tsunami at all.

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