Flipping the coin of adventure.

In saying yes to adventure, you don’t just get the fun bits. This year, I’ve decided to be more open to trying new things, saying yes to stuff outside my comfort zone. Right now, after a recent “adventure” to the Big Island with my husband, I’m reflecting on the two-sided nature of the adventure coin.

One side, variety. The other, uncomfortable.

One side: fun; the other, annoying.

One side bliss; the other, boredom.

One side, excitement; the other, expense.


If you’re going to sign up for adventure, you’re going to get both sides of the coin, and sometimes a lot more than you planned for.

This recent trip happened spur of the moment. I said, “I wish we were going on our road trip TOMORROW!” because one thing about living on an island you’ve lived on for 14 years: it’s an island. There’s only so far you can go before you end up back where you started. Mike, going to the Big Island to buy koa for a project, said, “Come with me!” and I had a light week with counseling clients, so in a day or two, I was going.

Yay! A road trip from Kona to Hilo and back, two nights in a vacation rental, some time to plot my next book in new surroundings. I had business to take care of myself, delivering books to my marketing rep (more on that later) and Mike and I could “road test” some time together getting ready for our Big Adventure in May (a month on the road seeing the National Parks.)

A lot of the trip was great. We fell in love with the land we’d bought in South Kona all over again and planned our oceanfront dream house (at least in our minds) successfully did our business of wood buying and book marketing, and met a lot of great people. We ended the day with a lovely dinner out at The Seaside in Hilo (highly recommended.)

The last day of the trip was when the Dark Side of the Adventure Coin landed tails-up. Mike had a disaster with his cameras on his morning lava shoot—a rogue wave washed them, case, lenses, tripod and all, into the ocean. He was able to run into the sea and retrieve the equipment, but likely all will need replacing to the tune of thousands of dollars.

For my part, a blissful day alone writing in the vacation rental went south when I ran out of food and patience due to repeated intrusions (without knocking) by the homeowners’ intellectually challenged adult son. (He was worrying about me being abandoned by my husband, and being bored alone. Apparently, he’d never met a writer before.)

Mike got back, upset by the camera loss and we promptly had another debacle involving a lost checkbook.  We were not happy when we finally got on Saddle Road from Hilo to Kona, a windy two-lane highway that goes between the volcano peaks in a three-hour drive. South winds had blown “vog” in, and visibility was spookily poor. Live volcanoes belch enough ashy gases to make “smog” in LA look like kid stuff!

We stopped to hike a kipuka in the wilderness, a stand of “old growth” forest surrounded by the newer land of lava flows, and I impulsively climbed a koa tree to hear the birds better. It was amazing…for about fifteen minutes. Then, I got cold, and uncomfortable, and couldn’t get down. Mike had hiked off, so I was stuck there, in the tree, contemplating my folly until he finally returned and was able to help me climb down (at forty-eight, dropping six feet into uncertain terrain is not the fun it used to be.)

This was followed by a debacle at the airport, where Mike flew out ahead of me on a different airline due to my last minute reservations. My plane, a tiny turboprop run by a company that shall remain nameless, had no ground staff, no office, no apparent budget. The breezeway between two trailers, our “lounge,” was filled with a 22 member Micronesian family with at least six feet of boxes and bungee corded coolers; when we went to get aboard, the two pilots (doing everything from checking us in to weighing and loading the luggage) were delayed a half hour sorting out who exactly of the family members was flying with us, and then weighing what we could take of their luggage. Finally, all seven of us were on board (sans chickens and pigs.)  Then, the damn thing wouldn’t start.

We all got off. I still thought it was kind of Hawaii third world funny.

We waited for the mechanic to come check out the plane. He finally arrived at 12:30 pm, (3 hours later) clad in board shorts and rubber slippers. He climbed on a stepstool and poked around under the hood with a flashlight. We heard some banging, “move the flashlight up a little, willya” and other reassuring comments. By then, I was cold. Really cold. Wearing my Volcano Park sweatshirt with the hoodie up, listening sullenly to my iPod like a fortysomething teenager, trying to wish myself somewhere else—somewhere with dinner, and a warm bed, and NO ADVENTURES.

Options like hotels and rescheduling help were not offered, and I had to work this morning, so I gutted it out. Finally, saying my prayers and making my peace with God, I climbed into the plane with the other survivors of our little airport hell. I got home at 2:00 a.m.

And as we were hurtling through the pitch dark in the little lurching plane, I meditated on the fact that, when you say yes to Adventure, you say yes to the whole coin. There’s no way just to get the good stuff. But there was no doubt that I felt keenly alive and filled with adrenaline, and when I finally kissed my pillow in the wee hours, it had never felt so good.

What do you think of flipping the coin of Adventure?

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