Martin and I awoke to pounding surf, grey skies, and threatening rain. We stood on our little lanai in the dark, overlooking the leaden bay, listening to the roaring surf and howling wind, and watched the sun struggle to come up.
Despite such iffy weather and threatening skies, we decided to venture out, driving up Kuamo’o Road to ‘Opeaka’a (“Jumping Shrimp”) Falls. We admired the view of the thundering waterfall, then drove on, stopping frequently at other overlooks along the road and admiring the flocks of handsome “red junglefowl” (really, a bunch of chickens) pecking freely through the wet grass. The Keahua Arboretum was at the end of the road, where the road plunged into the Wailua River.
It was pretty – green everywhere, short tidy grass, the Wailua River spilling right across Kuamo’o Road in front of us. We parked and walked along the river’s edge, marveling at the jungly tangle of plants, the pretty water chattering over rocks, the occasional deep pools.
Martin really wanted to drive through river, park on the far side, and explore over there. I argued that over there was pretty much the same as over here, and why would we want to jeopardize our very lives (not to mention the cost of the Jeep rental) by trying to cross a swollen river after days of heavy rains, on an island that had recently been declared a disaster area?
But he’s a guy. There’s that problem of testosterone. He just wanted to.
Actually, he had to.
We watched another Jeep drive bravely (stupidly?) through the rushing river. It wasn’t swept away. It arrived safely on the far side. “See?” Martin insisted. “We can do it!”
I was anxious. Isn’t this the stuff of news stories? I could see the headlines: Dummies cross – excuse me, attempt to cross – swollen river in a car after heavy rains, in a declared disaster area. Dummies’ car swept into river, Dummies require rescuing, Dummies now buying (well, paying for) rental car company’s destroyed Jeep. All because they were big dummies, trying crossing a flooded road in a vehicle.
To get a view from the opposite bank.
Uh, no thank you. No thank you to all of it. In fact: No way.
But instead I screwed up my courage (actually, other words spring to mind, like recklessness or lunacy) and gulped, “Okay! Go!”
And Martin put the Jeep into gear and slowly crept across the swiftly-flowing Wailua River while I clutched the armrest, white-knuckled. I kept waiting to feel the Jeep’s tires slip, feel the Jeep drift sickeningly towards the edge of the underwater roadway, feel it tilt sideways and then roll down the spillway … but the vehicle was solid and, heart pounding, we arrived safely at the far side.
I cast an anxious eye at the river when Martin happily announced, “Now we have a whole new area to explore!” I looked at the grey clouds upriver, thought of the spattering rain we’d been receiving this whole time, and wondered what kind of rain had been occurring upstream, what kind of flood might be churning towards us. Those dark clouds certainly looked ominous.
The big orange sign, located on this new side of the river, shouted in bold letters “Warning! Flash Floods! Water rises without warning!” It did nothing to allay my fears.
Martin enthusiastically started unloading camera gear while I located a particular rock in the river. I noted how the river tried to wash over it (but never really did), and during my exploration of the area, kept drifting worriedly back to check on the rock and the river’s water level. A few times, with a stomach-turning jolt and panicky wave of horror, I found my rock completely submerged, and knew the river was on the rise—Stranded! Screwed! Lost jeep! Imperiled lives! – and then would realize I was looking at the wrong rock, and start to breathe again.
No, I definitely would not call it a relaxing afternoon.
Too bad. It really was beautiful. The open grass, the pretty flowers, the river tumbling over shallow rocks, the deep green pools, the light pitter-patter of raindrops. I climbed a small hill and discovered a little valley of grasses and African-looking trees stretching out behind us.
Martin was hurrying happily back and forth with his camera, setting up his tripod, framing each photo just right, snapping picture after picture, grinning boyishly with delight, then turning to hurry a few feet away to a brand new scene. Taking photo after glorious photo. He was, understandably, completely absorbed in and inspired by the loveliness of the area.
But by now I was uncontrollably muttering, aloud, “Anxious! Anxious!” and casting unhappy glances at the dark clouds upriver, and running (no longer “drifting”) back to check that specific rock in the water, always imagining the worst – and was finally driven to find Martin, and clutch his arm, and beg him to return me to the other side.
Martin, being the wonderful person he is, was relaxed and good-natured in the face of my distress, and immediately agreed to cross back over the river, despite being rapturously in full Photography Mode.
You know what?
That’s pretty much defines “best husband ever,” right there.