Susan J. Demas: Letting the green sand beach go

Susan J. Demas, Waikoloa, April 2016

Susan J. Demas, Waikoloa, April 2016

It was almost three in the afternoon. I exhaled a little too noisily as we hit another stoplight.

I could tell that in a matter of minutes, Kona's moody blue sky would start to open up. And we still had at least an hour and half left on our drive to Papakōlea, Hawaii's famed green sand beach.

We had gotten a late start, well, just about every morning, which isn't what I'm used to. The last time I was in Hawaii, my then-nine-year-old daughter and I did a whirlwind, three-island camping tour. Our days usually started no later than six with some oatmeal I made on our propane stove (much to her chagrin). When I camp on my own, I've been known to hike out at four or five a.m., just to enjoy the stillness of the morning mountain air.

But my husband wanted to relax. He's a political consultant, already immersed in a crazy campaign season. Who could blame him? There were plenty of beaches and trails just minutes from our Waikoloa condo that I could venture off to on my own.

I insisted that we trek to Papakōlea, however, even though I'd seen it last time in all its weird, mustard-green glory. Because when would Joe see something like that again? He agreed, even though in the first five minutes, we passed by three lovely beaches he noted we could relax at.

Susan J. Demas, Hiking down to Papakōlea, July 2012

Susan J. Demas, Hiking down to Papakōlea, July 2012

But here's the truth. I've always been obsessed with seeing all I can see. Once when I was on fifteen-hour flight to Tel Aviv, the pilot announced we were passing over Paris. I actually felt myself wince that we wouldn't be stopping in the City of Lights (which were all lit up), even thought I'd been there twice before.

So after flying halfway across the Pacific, Papakōlea was now just a couple hours away. How could we not go?

I watched the raindrops start to plop on the windshield. The sun would start to melt away in just three hours. I knew we'd be hopelessly rushed. If we kept going, it would more be to tell ourselves we did it than to really take the beach in. And I knew we'd have better luck with weather in perpetually sunny Waikoloa.

"Do you want to just hit a beach closer to home?" I asked.

Joe didn't even try to hide his relief. We ended up spending the next few hours at Waialea further north. He read in a shady corner while I body surfed. As we watched the yellow-burst sunset together, I realized that sometimes, it's okay to just let go.