Change of sceneryBy Tim Ryan
does a body good
From Maili to Kapolei, 12.8 miles
EVETTE, a very large woman in men's shorts and a tank top, is pretty much draped across most of the bus bench in front of Nanaikapono Elementary School in Nanakuli, smoking, sipping soda from a 16-ounce cup and listening to a Sony Walkman.
I remember her very well because her size was a bit breathtaking, even intimidating, but also because she smiled when she stared at me with tiny brown eyes then asked "Excuse me sir, do you have the time?"
I was four miles and an hour into what would be a hot and dusty and pretty depressing 12-mile-plus walk from Maile Beach Park to Kapolei including some side trips, and Evette, she emphasizes the "E," was the only person to say a thing to me as I passed, including fishermen, campers, divers, surfers, or other people waiting for a bus.
"It's 9 o'clock," I said.
"Well, my bus should be here any moment, if it's on time," Evette said. "I ride into town every Sunday for a change of scenery, maybe a few times in one day. A change of scenery is always a good thing don't you think?"
From the way Evette appeared -- older than her years, clothes tattered, some unhealed sores on her legs -- I suspected she was homeless and perhaps lived at one of the nearby beach parks.
"It's Sunday and I should go to church, but today I feel like traveling. Do you think God will mind if I miss a day?"
Before I could answer Evette's eyes brightened and she yelled "Here it comes!"
A moment later the town-bound bus stopped and Evette, smiling and still talking, boarded and was gone.
The sun is bright and hot and there are some waves so this seems to be a good day to walk the coastline. But except for a handful of surfers near Maile Point, and a few fishermen, no one is out even by 9 a.m. Once again like so many these Oahu beach treks I have the beach mostly to myself.
I leave Farrington Highway as soon as I get to a large vacant dirt lot at Puuohulu Beach, dodging large amounts of shattered glass and other debris. This is the first time I have faced into the sun on my around Oahu trek, and the broken glass and white paper bags snagged in kiawe trees don't look so bad backlit.
In front of me are three miles of undeveloped shoreline and though much of it is covered with litter, it's wonderful to have an unblocked shoreline walk.
On my way to Ulehawa Beach Park I pass stack after stack of home construction debris dumped on the shore. Someone bought a "Wellington 30-inch Bathroom Cabinet." His name is on the receipt still attached to the carton. I'm tempted to call this Mr. Renza at home, but what would I say?
"Hell, Mr. Renza, I'm standing by a stack of the trash you dumped at the beach. It's in my way. Could you come and move it now!"
On the rock shelf just above the reef are three garbage cans filled with stuff. Two cans have the words "Toxic Waste" printed in blue letters on the side. One of the cans is turned over, it's contents spilling into the water. Not too much farther there's a pile of deer bones that include the skull, backbone and a hoof not quite decomposed.
The leeward shoreline is spectacular with its rock ledges looking like some weird sculpture and waves pounding them over and over again.
A long storm drain where Hakima Road meets Farrington Highway is covered with graffiti primarily touting the toughness of the "Hakimo Road Boys" who someone has written "Rule like pit bulls."
Nearby, sections of the Waianae District Court building have been repainted after being spray painted.
A beachside sign warns that "Removal of coral sand and rock is prohibited," but the sign is directly behind a telephone pole and blocked so the message can't be read.
Beautiful Nanakuli Beach Park is empty except for two men searching shoreline rocks for opihi. I watch them expertly ride the swell surges until they spot the shellfish delicacy and then quickly pry it from the rock.
There is no simple shoreline route to Tracks Beach Park from here so I retreat to Farrington Highway and keep my fingers crossed that I don't get hit by a vehicle. The slope just makai of the highway is also covered with trash, including a pair of sheer blue panties -- size 2 -- swinging from a kiawe tree branch.
I speed through this section, watch surfers ride ankle snappers at Tracks, then follow the old railroad tracks toward the Ko Olina resort area.
Rather than follow Farrington Highway up and over the hill -- what's the point? -- I walk through Hawaiian Electric Beach Park -- beautiful but abused and deteriorating -- and Paradise Cove. The shoreline is rugged cliff and rock, dramatic and beautiful with crystal clear water and just a few divers out.
Despite "No Trespassing" signs I sneak through the Paradise Cove Luau parking lot and by the James Campbell Estate to an overgrown path adjacent to the Ihilani Resort, the only hotel in Ko Olina. Harp music rises from the hotel lobby as I pass.
The Ihilani grounds is a startling contrast from where I've come. The grass here is green, lush and cut short. The beach at all four of the manmade lagoons for the next mile is free of litter.
At the western edge of the Barbers Point Harbor, I see Campbell Industrial Park and oil refineries looming not too far away. I have to head mauka and reluctantly return to Farrington Highway a mile away which I walk town bound for another two weary -- boring -- miles to near where Kalaeloa Road crosses the freeway and I can wait for a bus back to my car.
After I pay my fare, I hear someone say "We meet again."
"Did you see a lot, I bet you did," she says. "It's always good to go places to see new things. Tell me what you saw."
The entire bus seems to be listening.
When Evette gets off the bus in Nanakuli, she walks across the street to the bus stop where I originally spoke with her. I see her pull out another dollar and get ready for another "change of scenery."
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