Professor Caren Michaelson heart is slowly healing under the Hawaiian sunshine and Dr. Chance Matthews constant attention and careful ministrations of a steady supply of heart stopping romance. This is all well and good—for a vacation but he continues to press for more. Can Caren afford to throw caution to the winds to free fall into a second chance at love, commitment and—God help her—marriage?
Caren Michaelson was having the time of her life. She was on a helicopter tour of Na Pali coastline when the copter lurched and dipped. She gasped as her seatmate, Chance Matthews, did. Over the speaker headphones, the World Travel and Tour group heard the captain’s voice say reassuringly, “Aloha, sorry about that. We caught a little wind shear plus we wanted to make sure you’re all awake.” Chance loosened his grip and took a breath. Everyone took and released a collective sigh and relaxed.
“I’m your captain. I’ve flown these choppers longer than most of you have been walking so you can feel safe and leave the driving to us. Today we’ll interrupt the music we’ve provided for your listening pleasure with info about our lovely island of Kauai. If I need to give you instructions, all I hafta do is push this doohickey here and presto the music is gone, and you’ll hear yours truly. That doesn’t happen so much now that we put the tape together, but if there’s a need, it’s nice for you to know we can chat. Loud as it is, I gotta tell you, this Plexiglas separates us, but I can hear everything. So be nice and listen up cuz afterward Kekoa is gonna give you a quiz about what you learned today.”
I hafta do is push this doohickey here and presto the music is gone, and you’ll hear yours truly. That doesn’t happen so much now that we put the tape together, but if there’s a need, it’s nice for you to know we can chat. Loud as it is, I gotta tell you, this Plexiglas separates us, but I can hear everything. So be nice and listen up cuz afterward Kekoa is gonna give you a quiz about what you learned today.”
Caren’s eyes glowed despite her initial anxiety about the lift off. Chance sat ramrod straight in his seat while Herb hung tensely onto his seat strap and ceiling handhold.
“Looking out now you can see the huge Lihue Airport.” Everyone laughed at this, for it was, in reality, tiny. “Plans for great expansion, however, are well underway, as you can see by looking at the bulldozers down below.” The music cut in at that point until they flew over Hotel Kauai.
“In order for our sleepy little island not to become another Waikiki, no hotel can stand higher than a coconut tree. Or put another way, no higher than the hotel you see now.”
Listening to the tape, they learned how Kauai is the fourth largest of the eight main islands but was geologically the oldest. The lava—which had formed the island—stopped first here on Kauai.
Caren enjoyed all she was learning on the trip. The information and music kept her from thinking about her fears of loving again. She welcomed the soothing music as well as the tape because, not only did it feed her intellect, it also freed her from dwelling on her life. It provided the best antidote to divorce she had ever come across. The music was timed perfectly to coincide with the view. What an effective blend of culture, relaxation, and recreation. Her mouth ached from the constant, bright smile on her face. She was glowing.
She had expected the helicopter to do more sweeping and dipping than it did. She was surprised they covered the ground so slowly and came to the conclusion she had seen too many helicopter scenes in movies. They continued down the coast and before they could hear about it, saw they were flying daringly over what was called The Grand Canyon of the Pacific, which looked enormous.
She enjoyed the sheer cliffs of green, gold, rust and red that contrasted sharply with the views they had experienced just a few minutes before, where fields of green sugar cane grew beside sweeping ocean vistas.
They approached the Na Pali coastline. She felt tiny shivers race across her spine. The coast took their collective breaths away. They were told of some areas so private and inaccessible they could be reached only by boat, helicopter or on foot. No roads were cut through these primeval, mystic cliffs and mountains. That called to mind another isolated beach she visited with Chance… her skin shivered as she recalled their passionate exchange last night on the moonlit beach.
The helicopter glided between and among high, green-draped peaks decorated with long ribbons of waterfalls that reflected the sunlight and glistened, making the scene one of incomparable beauty. They gasped and laughed as the copter came breathtakingly close to the sheer crest and then suddenly dipped in between two towering mountaintops. That was when she decided Hollywood had got it right. The ride was frightening.
Chance blanched and Herb went totally white with fright. Unlike the lift off from O’Hare International Airport, it was Caren now who held Chance’s hand. She, while nervous, was simultaneously filled with exhilaration as the copter swept in for clearer views of the awesome beauty. She was thrilled beyond words as they played between misty mountains wrapped in rainbows.
They traveled the course of dark sea caves where the sea swirled secretly into their depths. She could not get over the beauty of the green primeval jungle and the raw beauty everywhere the eye could see.
The soft strains of Bali Hai was heard as they neared the Hanalei section with its crazy quilt taro patches, deep rainforests, and sweeping blue-green ocean views. Nothing, no picture, no tape, no verbal report from any brochure prepared her for this incredible, inspirational flight. She could not recall a poem or piece of music to equate it with either. It had to be experienced in order to be understood, to be absorbed on the spot, first hand. It had to be felt. The scenery was more than cliff, flower, waterfall or beach. It was an atmosphere of tranquility and pure unspoiled nature in complete harmony with God, man, bird and plant. Tears escaped her eyes as it was undeniably a little bit of heaven, if not Eden, itself.
She could see Chance noticed but he said nothing, for he, too, was as moved by the natural splendor of the island as she was. He whispered in her ear, “The island should have been named Caren,” then handed her a clean linen handkerchief and squeezed her hand.