Of Airplanes, Apes, And Albatross

David Attenborough had to be here. I stopped dead in my tracks and looked around. I could hear his voice, that clipped British accent narrating, “Here on the shores of the majestic Pacific, near the nesting and hunting grounds of the albatross, we have an isolated colony of great pink apes.” However he was nowhere to be seen. Aside from the local family fishing at the trail head and the young couple we’d passed who were camping illegally, we were the only people on the beach before you reached them.

The nudists.


For a moment I considered walking past them. I wanted to see the rest of the beach. It was low tide and the reef might go out farther, who knows what might have gotten trapped in the tidepools? Rossi chose then to get upset, and I accepted defeat. I couldn’t drag my heavy screaming dose of reality past those pale pinkish beings who had tried to escape the real world, where people wear clothing and toddlers throw tantrums.

Gideon was ecstatic, he hadn’t wanted to walk the length of the beach to see what was around the corner. He wanted to draw the night sky on the sand. We recently got a telescope so he’s quite the self declared expert on all things celestial. The kids drew in the sand and I watched waves barrel over and crash on the reef a few hundred feet out. There was half a dozen albatrosses’ hunting on it, soaring over and plummeting down to the sea, emerging with fish clutched between their talons. When they flew overhead their shadows were like dragons. A few swooped right past, I excitedly snapped pictures, but ended up deleting them as they contained not only birds but blurry naked people in the distance.


I felt maternal towards the nudists. I have to convince Gideon to wear clothes (beyond underwear) sometimes and seeing them I felt like their mothers had just gotten tired of reminding them to dress. I repressed the urge to run up with our beach towels and cover them saying, “There, there, my little dears I know you want to run about naked, but really you mustn’t, it just isn’t done.” (Being raised in a cold northern Christian environment I’m an incredible prude of a person.)

I had given the kids a 10 minute heads up that we were leaving when the rumble of an airplane engine filled the sky. Gids jumped up and down waving his arms, yelling, “Rescue us! Save us!” Rossi screamed along with him, excited and not really understanding what was happening. (Background: Gideon’s favorite scenario when we see airplanes and boats is to pretend we’re stuck on a desert island and rescue has arrived.) It was a really cute moment and I smiled as the airplane faded away.

My smile was replaced with panic when it turned around and began making straight for us. Terrified it was in distress and about to crash, I grabbed the kids close to me, and was ready to cover their eyes. (A while ago an airplane crashed near our house on the road we use to go to the beach. The little boy I babysat was late that morning, if he hadn’t been, the kids would have witnessed a horrible accident and people burning to death.) The pilot of the airplane leaned out the window, smiling and waving as he flew past. The kids stared at him dumbfounded, too delighted and surprised to wave back. I laughed in relief, my eyes tearing up that a stranger had taken time from his day to make my kids day. Sitting in the sand, still holding each other tight, we watched him until he was just a speck on the horizon.

Despite the magic of a friendly stranger in a red airplane, flying against a bright blue sky I never managed to shake the feeling we had intruded on the set of a nature documentary. One that we had somehow become a part of I realized when packing up our things I could hear David Attenborough saying, “Now that the mother has exhausted her children she will take them back up the steep hillside. Leaving the land of the albatross and great pink apes never to return.”


Thank you so very much for taking the time to read this today, I really appreciate it!!! I hope you find your own magical moment today, one you can bottle up and save for eternity!!!:D

IMG_20170505_145428_840End note: Will I recommend you visit Larsens? Well yes and no. One time sure, it’s beautiful and the albatross are cool to watch. Would I go again? No, and not because of nudists. The trail to get there is steep. Alone it’s doable, but carrying a kid or two, and all their beach gear and snacks I was happy to make it back to the car without breaking my neck. Kaua’i is full of beaches you drive your car on, right up to the waters edge so it’s hard to justify the amount of effort it takes to get to Larsens. Not to mention it’s not great for swimming!!!


2 thoughts on “Of Airplanes, Apes, And Albatross

  1. Hi Em! Great adventure. I enjoyed the tale. Very cool photo with the plane. Keep up the great parenting and story telling!


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