Paradise By the Dashboard Light

A former client once quipped that expectations are like premeditated resentments. I can’t help but notice what a recurring theme this is in my own life.

When I was young and living in the foothills of the San Gabriel mountains, the biggest treat for me was when Dad would wake us up at four in the morning to load up the boat and/or car in readiness to experience wilderness. Whether on land or sea, plunging into the wide-open always swelled my heart to overflowing with a sense of meaning, of purpose in Being. And yet our father was a paradoxical man: if any of us seven made a false step, even unwittingly as children do, the trip was canceled. Time and again I resented the gods for placing me in a family that stymied my sense of impending joy. I ached for the kind parental images captured in the television box – white compliment to my black existence.

In retrospect and after having journeyed almost sixty years into this life, it is clearly a paramount lesson to release expectations and enjoy life as it comes instead of trying to bend conditions to my will. In doing this, I am often pleasantly surprised by the spectacular. Before I possessed hindsight, I did not realize that my spirit was in training. For in order to fully participate in the here and now, I cannot be delving into the precipitate of my past nor flitting about in an unknown future.

And so it is that I venture out in Paradise without prediction or conjecture – striving to remain in the present moment while allowing for the possibility of what might present itself  – while not attaching myself firmly to how that might play out. And it is here, in the interstices of space and time, that I often experience more magic than the average bear.

Journal: Sunday, January 29, 2012: We head out from our home on the north shore of Hawaii Island to Waimea town’s Mana Road. This bumpy four-wheel drive road is accessible courtesy of Parker Ranch, one of the country’s largest working cattle ranches. One of us drives while the other jumps out to let dogs ramble and/or to open the various gates chained to rein in livestock. The first leg of the road is often laced with fog:


cattle in the mist


This misty collection of gentle slopes nestle around the base of the great Mauna Kea’s back-side. Visitors must keep reminding themselves that they are indeed in Hawaii, but residents originating from the mainland’s wooded areas seek respite in these hills. Just before the next gate, we encounter these lovely creatures:


We stop to visit, and nobody shies away from us or the camera: horse nose


Finally we arrive at the crest of the road and enter the forest. One of the first sights that jumps into view is this stand of bluish eucalyptus seedlings, christened by the light of day to show off an unusual hue:



The subtle interplay of light and shadow is always most apparent to me at this juncture in the trail:



And although we care for three dogs, the only one we brought with us from Maine is Chudleigh the chocolate Lab. Originally from near Maine’s Canadian border, he always rocks out with pure bliss when his feet hit the forest floor:



Anyone disputing the Sacred has only to enter this grove of trees to know It to their bones. (And for those who are very astute, there is a spirit face in the lower left quadrant of the photo.)



With just a dite of imagination, anybody can see face(s) in the bark, just below:



Walking slowly in a forest gives a person time to marvel at what lies above as well as below:


eucalpytus seed pods & leaves


Mister Rock Face


Leaving the forest, and I wish I could show you more, we head onto that gnarly red road – down the slopes toward an eventual meeting with the Saddle Road and the National Park’s entrance to Mauna Kea’s summit. I think to myself, Wow. Another amazing trek through one of the most beautiful places on earth. It’s strange though – we haven’t seen any owls or turkeys or geese or wild boar like we usually do up here – though we did hear some pigs screaming. Oh, well – I’m content to have experienced the beauty of this place, once again. And on we go …



One of the many sights along this stretch of road are the dinosaur bones of old cast-off machinery. What I least expect to present beauty, does. And then my husband points his finger at the Pueo, circling an adjacent field. These are the Hawaiian day-flying owls which we often see while on this road, and we are not disappointed:



Then as if the heavens themselves open up and cast mana to the weary, wild turkeys begin to cluster, here and there:



It takes effort to suspend disbelief as, walking right up close to our truck, two wild boar piglets stand and pose for their portrait – then scurry back in the underbrush to their mother:



Sinking once again into the shrouded mists surrounding the base of the mountain like a Hawaiian version of Avalon, magical island of my Celtic heritage, we have touched the arcane and it is enough.



This is one of the last vistas we behold before hitting the tarmac, once again. Saddle Road, here we come! But if it is endings we are expecting, Madame Pele, Goddess of fiery volcanoes, holds yet more in store. This small cinder cone volcano lies beyond the outer limits of Waimea town – reminding me of the old television series The Outer Limits as much as anything ever could. Completely unretouched in the light of the setting sun:



Returning to civilization is a gentle thing when views such as these bathe eyes in wonder:



Waimea town lies still in the days’ waning light, as I glance backward in a bid of farewell to the magical Mauna Kea …



This parting shot brings to mind lyrics from an old ‘eighties tune:  Thought it’s cold and lonely in the deep dark night, I can see Paradise by the dashboard light …  A hui ho. Until we meet again …


17 thoughts on “Paradise By the Dashboard Light

    1. Thanks lovely – although my camera can in no way rival the crystal brilliance of your own lens, I love taking photos these days, using my little Nikon digital. Fun sharing with you all 😉

  1. Oh, Bela, this is so enchanting. The whole trip into Mauna Kea and all you captured made up for the disappointment of cancelled childhood trips in my heart.

    I became a Big Sister at one time. In our training, we were told we must never tell our Little Sister we’d call or do something together without doing it. That was one of the biggest sins we could commit, we were told. So your description of your joy and disappointment really affected me.

    I’m so glad you live in a beautiful place with a hubby who shares your joy about it.

    1. Souldipper, thanks so much for your heartfelt empathy. Yes, it was hard as children to feel as though we had to be perfect. But it taught me never to promise what I could not deliver to my own girls, so two lives were made better as a result. A net gain, no? 😉

      You know it’s funny I was just mentioning to Chris the other day how much I appreciate that we are both bonded to wilderness – I don’t think I could be happy with a city-dwelling type. We both NEED nature, it’s not even a choice. So thanks for your kind sentiments there as well. So pleased to be connected with you!

  2. Of course I relate to your feeling about your dad. I thought Charles Dicken’s said it best in A Christmas Carol:

    “A small matter,” said the Ghost, “to make these silly folks so full of gratitude.”

    “Small!” echoed Scrooge.

    The Spirit signed to him to listen to the two apprentices, who were pouring out their hearts in praise of Fezziwig: and when he had done so, said,

    “Why! Is it not! He has spent but a few pounds of your mortal money: three or four perhaps. Is that so much that he deserves this praise?”

    “It isn’t that,” said Scrooge, heated by the remark, and speaking unconsciously like his former, not his latter, self. “It isn’t that, Spirit. He has the power to render us happy or unhappy; to make our service light or burdensome; a pleasure or a toil. Say that his power lies in words and looks; in things so slight and insignificant that it is impossible to add and count them up: what then? The happiness he gives, is quite as great as if it cost a fortune.”


    1. This gives me chills and brings me to tears. Thanks so much for sharing this excerpt, JDHF – I deeply appreciate the time and thought it took to do so. Chris and I just re-viewed the newish Jim Carrey-as-Scrooge in the past couple of months after I originally saw it in 3D. And I so identified with this particular scene – though there were others as poignant. I love Dickens and his keen ability to explore the razor’s edge of human nature – that interplay of shadow and light. We are indeed complex creatures, filled with tenderness and vengeance, with great love and our own particular trauma-induced hatred borne of unconscious misunderstanding. It makes me want to bless all of humanity with compassion.

  3. We share a Celtic heritage (for me, Celtic and Scandinavian) – I wonder if this is what makes me feel as if we are very much alike? Then as I write this, I think this may be a tad – what? vain? silly? Never mind. What a pleasure to experience that bit of the arcane with you. I love how you used that word, too!

    1. Well then luvvie, you are a blend of my husband and me 😉 It’s no wonder we feel a kinship. Not vain or silly at all – a thoughtful observation, which is why I value your input and your own words in this virtual universe.
      Thanks for your appreciation! Did you see the spirit face that appeared in the photo near the forest floor?

  4. Oh by the way y’all? Please ignore the superfluous “horse nose” in the horsey photo. That actually was another image, deleted when I went back to edit, and only the caption remained. My internet speed is so slow, this series of images completely maxed out my bandwidth. Glad I was able to post them anyhow – would love to share more, but just couldn’t manage it.

  5. Incredible post and a lovely way to share your walk with everyone. Whilst it was all beautiful, I particularly liked the piglets!

  6. I was looking at the pictures first and saw that something stood out in the lower left of the forest picture, and then I read your description! The forest picture also reminded me of the Fangorn Forest from LOTR. Loved the 4th from the last photo of the volcano!

    It was a relaxing read of your journal with beautiful photos, especially after the insightful opening.

    ‘(striving to remain in the present moment)….without prediction or conjecture…’
    I want to remember this.

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