Saturday, July 16, 2011

Who Has a 10 Day High School Class Reunion?

 If you graduated from Punahou High School in Honolulu and came to your 50th anniversary celebration, you would have the choice to spend one evening with your returning classmates, or up to 10 days visiting both the Big Island and Oahu.

As you may know, Punahou was founded by Christian missionaries about 175 years ago for the purpose of assuring a quality education to the children of white people who came, from mostly New England, to take advantage of the economic opportunities to make fortunes and/or to transform the highly spiritual Hawaiians away from their religious views to adopt Christianity. It became the home for children of the wealthy and powerful to be educated to assume into their place in society. Nothing was ever suggested during their education that there would be any obstacle too great to fulfill their destiny. They were programed for success, I would say.

Somewhere along the way, Punahou allowed deserving students to receive scholarships which were given to bright children with educational skills and to football and basketball talent. Judy Ann Morgan (my wife) and Barack Obama were two such scholarship students. Every year at the end of the school year, Punahou holds a class reunion for all graduates with those classes in multiples of 5 years being featured. We attended Judith’s 40th reunion just before we got married but only attended the main ceremony, the luau.

The 50th anniversary is a special deal, with the class being invited to a president reception and being ushered to their seats at the luau with the Punahou band with cheers from those already seated, etc... However, it is the tradition for a class, especially the 50th, to hold many group activities before the luau. Usually this means having activities at the Big Island before having some on Oahu. Judith decided this was the time to go all out and attend almost everything. So for 10 days we traveled around the Big Island first then to Oahu to attend places of interest. Not all the places we attended would be on the typical tourists’ to-do-list.

Most of the group on the Big Island lodged in Waimea but Judith research the lodging and decided it was not good enough even though it was more centrally located to most activities. We flew to Hilo, reported to have the most rain of any city in the U.S. and we did get some rain, but mostly showers in the afternoon or night. We picked up our rental car and drove to a very nice B&B, the ”Palm Cliffs” run by a retired couple from Oregon. We were served breakfast on a veranda overlooking the ocean and the morning sun.

We had to drive to Hilo for dinner, a trip on 13 miles one-way and the next day we went to Hilo to walk around a visit the home of one of the first missionaries from Massachusetts to settle in Hilo. It is a museum now of course. The native docent was quite good in describing how they lived and what happens to them and their descendants. Much of the original house and furniture still remain. Although Hilo is not a large town but plenty of churches were in evidence.

The first group activity was on Friday morning at Volcano National Park about an hour’s drive.  At the visitor’s center, we picked up our badges to wear around our necks, divided into manageable groups and drove a short distance to the Jagger Museum on the rim of the active volcano, Halemaumau where the plume continues to spew water vapor, ash, bits of lava glass, and rock dust.  There was a huge explosion in March 2008 as our colorful park ranger explained.  The smoke, fog, and sea mist presents a hazy atmosphere that seems to change constantly and quickly.

Afterwards, the drove across the highway to the town of Volcano where we had lunch and everyone introduced themselves and where they now lived.
Then we drove back to Hilo, picked up our left luggage as Palm Cliffs and took the 2 lane highway up the eastern side of the island where the vistas were sometimes spectacular, with jungle like foliage and small waterfalls. After a couple of hours we turned left and continued on to Waimea. We drove through Waimea, down a twisting downward highway to the Kona coast where we checked into Kapuna Prince.

We hurriedly changed clothes and drove back to Waimea to meet up with some others from the reunion at the Parker Ranch Center and caravanned up to the beautiful new home of classmate Wendy Greenwell Craven high up the slopes of Mauna Kea for a Paniolo BBQ dinner. There was live Hawaiian music.
The hostess showed us her stunning home with local and other exotic woods throughout. The main living space had a high ceiling complete with a large fireplace.

The lanai overlooked green pastures toward the west. Clouds prevented seeing a sunset but the view was pretty awesome nevertheless.
We drove back to our hotel late at night. Fortunately, there were reflectors along the road to guide our way back to our hotel.

To be continued.

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