The Conclusion

As usual, I was up by 3 am on Thursday. I had my morning meeting and my Cliff bar and made my way to the gas station to fill up. $26.41. Not bad. To celebrate saving more than I originally anticipated, I purchased two hard-boiled eggs and a coffee for $2.50 total. On the road again...

I took the northern half of Rt. 11 to Kailua-Kona. When I drove into it, I passed the first courthouse three times before I realized what it was. I was a little early, so I sat outside and talked to my mom on the phone for a little while. It was 1:30 am back home, but Mom had been up, so she kept me company until the courthouse opened.

Shortly before entering the building, a man walked down the hill next to the courthouse and who I was. I knew it had to be Dad's lawyer because the only other people here were guards. He led me inside and explained the proceedings to me. The door to the courthouse building was actually a large gate. Just inside the gate were the x-ray scanner and metal detector. Beyond those, there were four chairs against the right wall and then a long table with pews on either side that gave it the appearance of a hybrid buffet restaurant booth and conference room. It was made even more awkward by the unbelievable view of Kailua-Kona and the ocean beyond out of the massive, floor-to-ceiling window that was opposite the gate.

After a riveting conversation with one of the guards about hard-boiled eggs, I was taken into the courtroom. I sat just behind the attorney and waited. The judge came in, everyone stood, he rapped his gavel to seat everyone, and we all waited another twenty minutes until my dad was brought in--he had to travel from Hilo as well. During the wait, it was obvious just how relaxed the people here were. The judge was carrying on banter with various guards and both attorneys.

When Dad was brought in, he was wearing full chains and leggings. It was, without a doubt, a bit overkill. He teared up when he saw me and a couple times during the proceedings when the judge was informed that I was there.

"I understand the defendant's son is present," the judge stared. I rose and introduced myself.

"And where are you from?"

"Ohio, your honor."

"That's a little way away, isn't it?"

"Yes, sir. Roughly four-thousand, four hundred miles."

It was mentioned again in the judge's statements regarding the terms of my dad's release. Something to the effect of Dad having a strong, loving support structure to help him stay healthy and out of trouble. Altogether, the hearing lasted about an hour and a half. I was instructed to drive up the hill to the other courthouse where Dad would be given his personal effects and be released for me to take him home.

Chickens invading the sanctity of the courthouse grounds
are not even given the honor of being birds anymore. 

I waited in the parking lot of the second courthouse for two hours before they finally released my dad. He was elated, as was I. I hadn't seen my dad in person for over eight years. It was surreal; still is.

My dad and I get the what-have-you-been-up-to's out of the way and head for Wal-mart so Dad can get some clothes--or at least different pants, he kept the shirt. I took him to a couple of places he needed to go for the courts and then to the bank before heading to meet Teddy. Of course, he half drove me out of my mind with the conspiracies and cult stuff, but you know... He's my dad.

I was prepared to some degree for my dad's eccentricities. I had dealt with a much milder version when he was still in Ohio, and I had been well-primed by Barry the day before. What I was not necessarily prepared for was meeting Teddy or seeing where Dad lived.

Walking up to Teddy's place.

Teddy's neighbor lives in the van on the right.

Teddy set the guy up with some power.

Teddy's mobile e-bike garage and charging station. When we arrived, Teddy was in the middle of building an aluminum mounting lattice to install a large array of 250W solar panels on the roof of this bus.

This is one of thirteen e-bikes Teddy has--and Teddy himself. This Yeti has 6 hours of battery life to push a 1500W motor assist. I test rode it and hit 45 mph before it freaked me out and I had to slow down. It was eerie pushing like I was on the lowest gear on my trainer and flying up a 7% grade at over 30 mph. The off-road quality was simply incredible.

This is Teddy's place. Cobbled together? Yes, but masterfully so. Teddy has 110V power thanks to a large solar array behind the shack and a Tesla wall of Teddy's construction. He has running water from a large cistern he has up the hill a bit. Everything is sturdy, believe it or not, and the wiring is all protected and sealed. Teddy is one major reason I'm planning to go back to do more investigating into this strange sub-culture of people. I must also add that during the conversation about engineering things with Teddy, he at one point turned to me and said, "It's really great to finally meet someone else that's from Earth." I knew what he meant and instantly had both admiration for him and empathy.

After leaving Teddy, Dad and I drove another five or ten minutes to his little piece of Ocean View. His dogs met us with vigorous excitement to see their master--Teddy had been taking care of them while my dad was gone.

Dad's van on the left, my rental in the center, and his Avalon on the right--the only vehicle of his five that runs.

Walking back towards the shack.

Still walking.

Side yard, and...

My dad's abode.

There is a toilet in the shack, but it isn't connected to anything--supply or drain. So...

Make sure to let your carburator cool for at least five minutes before serving...

The floor space is somewhat limited, but I'm told there's a guest room in the works...

...that's missing a door and stairs--it is also not accessible from the inside and happens to be where the haphazardly cobbled together power distribution wiring is.

Spare bits and access to the "basement" storage area where a broken-down motorcycle resides with some half dissected electronics from the late 80's.

There is a view...

...of the evidence of my dad's dispute with the refuse collection company.

What home is complete without cats? Well, none in Hawaii--they're just as prevelant as the chickens.

"Let's go check out the chicken coup."
"Okay, Dad."

This is where the chickens would be if the roof was there. Oh, and some more wall--definitely more wall.

This is where the eggs will be collected--along with the tetanus...

It's worth mentioning that my dad is nowhere near as handy as Teddy, but he used to have some respectable skills. They've left him, I suspect. No running water, or potable water storage for that matter. The only power comes from one of four generators in various states of disrepair and is routed through a frightening array of scrap bits of wire. The hot tub shell you saw in the full shack pic is purportedly for collecting rainwater for the plants.

During this tour, Dad made two great points for living the way he did...

"Stop for a second," he said, as we made our way back to the chicken coup, "listen."

I stopped and listened. I have heard silence before, but to see the expression on his face you would swear he was listening to the most moving symphony ever composed.

"I don't hear things beeping, buzzing, ticking, or whizzing by. At night, I can see every star in the sky."

The reverence he had for the island as he spoke about it began to break my heart. He knew he had to come back to Ohio; his father and his sisters needed him to and he had pissed off a good portion of the Hawaii he loved. But, it's still a little sad that it all had to end this way.

I drove back to Hilo that night with heavy reflection. I barely slept. I dragged as I drove back to Kailua-Kona the next day, and since I've been home, the terrible experiences on the flights home don't even seem worth writing--so I won't.

In three or four months, Dad will be coming back to Ohio. Back to civilization. I can't imagine the culture-shock he'll have to overcome. Before I left, he said, "I know I have to come back, but I don't want to die there. I want to die here." Mark my words, I will do everything in my power to make sure he can when the time comes.

Wednesday - Part III - September 27th, 2017

When Barry and I finally arrived at Ho'okena Beach, there were no more than twelve people on the beach. The waves were calm, the view was spectacular, and dolphins were playing in the distance.

Barry and I sat in the car in the parking lot of Ho'okena for about half an hour while he told me about the events leading up to my dad's arrest in more personal detail. There was a car deal, a bail loan, and some harsh words exchanged--but, Barry was more than willing to work something out to rekindle their friendship, which I respect.

We finally went down to the black sands of the beach and found an out-of-the-way bench to sit and enjoy the shade and the serenity of the place. Barry continued with bits and pieces of the strange belief/pseudo-science that he subscribed to. I commented here and there, and quickly realized the futility in trying to bestow any actual fact.

It was at this point that something struck me; I had to be up in the morning at 3 am. Barry had mentioned me sleeping on his couch, but I didn't think about how early I had to be up--and talking on a video call.

"Hey, I have to be up pretty early to join a video call for work, is that going to bother you?"

"Oh, no, man. Not at all. You'll have the bus all to yourself, I'll be in the RV."

"Oh," I replied. Bus? Did he say bus?

As it turns out, Barry lives in an old, dilapidated RV that has been haphazardly attached to an even older, rusty bus. There is a small section built of old palette wood that is built off of a cut-out section of the bus that has a tarp for a roof--supported by two long branches tied to the buss with baling twine. I learned this after I dropped him off, but I'm getting ahead of myself.

Another thought occurred to me; a thought that may just get me out of this arrangement. Hanging out with crazy; I can deal with that. Sleeping in an old bus in the middle of nowhere on a tropical island; I've done much worse. Both of those things combined, though...

"Do you have power?" I asked.

"No. You can charge your phone in the van, though. You know, if you need to."

I explained to Barry that I had to work and that I needed my laptop to do that. Given that I had to work a full day, being without power would not be possible and I would have to take the drive back to Hilo and then back again to Kona. He seemed a little letdown but said he understood. We continued staring out at the ocean for a while, and Barry went and took a dip. I took pictures and thought for a while.

The cliffs to the southeast

A small cave closer to us

I took a ton more pictures, but due to the reason for our isolation--take that as you will--I over-exposed 90% of the pictures to the point of no recovery. There are plans in the works to go back and delve deeper into all of this, I will certainly be more mindful with my cameras.

Barry and I left Ho'okena long before sunset, so I had some time to drive before it got dark. When I dropped Barry off, I saw the property, but only from a distance. I could see part of the bus and the makeshift addition with the tarp roof. We shook hands, and I left--but not for the hotel. My destination was a bike shop in Hilo, then up to Mauna Loa.

By this time, everything I had was dead, and I couldn't waste any daylight charging any more than what I could with the $5 charger in the car. I rented a hybrid bike for $20 and played hell getting it into the Versa. I didn't have the time--nor possibly the endurance--to start from the bottom of the suggested route, so I started at about 6,400ft.

The path I took was only about 12 miles one way, but it was grueling like I'd never known. There were sections of the road I wished were simply uphill climbs, but they seemed to surge out of nowhere with no real downs to speak of. I took a couple of breaks when the path seemed to be at it's least inclined, and it ended up taking me nearly four hours--for an embarrassing 6 mph average speed.

I was glad to have the hybrid bike because I veered from the road leading to the observatory onto another path that I can only assume was a service road of some sort. I righted myself and ended up at the gate just before the observatory. I had passed some markings in the road that signified the 11,000 ft mark.

The decent was an entirely different, and somewhat frightening experience. I would get waves of pure pleasure when I could see all around me, and it seemed safer to go faster, but then I would get struck with a sudden fear, as I rounded a sharp bend or crested a small berm, that someone may come up the mountain and I wouldn't be able to stop or swerve fast enough to avoid them. This, of course, never happened. I saw absolutely no one. I didn't even see any other cyclists.

I wish I had been able to take pictures; not really on the whole route, it was unsurprisingly bleak, but there were a few opportunities for taking some pictures for memory's sake.

After returning to the car and stowing the bicycle--which seemed three times heavier now--I proceeded down the treacherous roads as the sun set. I arrived back in Hilo just in time to return the bike and head to the hotel; I was certain I wouldn't have any trouble sleeping that night--I wasn't entirely wrong.

I had eaten a Cliff bar on the way to Mauna Loa, but I was well ready for another when I got to the hotel. I smoked a cigarette and shared my experience with the roofer who seemed to have a cigarette at the same exact times each day--which was fine because I apparently did the same. I checked my emails and messages, and then I took a shower and got ready for bed. It took me an hour to fall asleep, but I did actually fall deeply asleep and awoke the next morning feeling rested for the first time on the trip.

Thursday, work would wait--I had to drive to Kailua-Kona to get my dad.

Wednesday - Part II - September 27th, 2017

Barry was about six foot tall with an amber tan and long, white hair that he kept in a ponytail. He couldn't weigh more than a hundred and forty pounds or so. He had a slow manner of speaking; not too much so that it made me impatient, but slow enough for him to feel he had conveyed his meaning. When I walked up to him, he was seated at a small table in front of the coffee shop. Across from him was a plump, older man with thinning, dirty grey hair.

"Are you Barry?" I asked, addressing the man whose voice I was sure I recognized.

"Yeah, grab a cup of coffee and have a seat," he replied.

I hadn't had a single cup of coffee in three days; I was more than happy to oblige. A 16 oz coffee was $1.50. It was the freshest, most flavorful coffee you'll ever drink. I thoroughly enjoyed that cup of coffee while Barry finished his story to the other man. They laughed about something I didn't catch, and then the other man said his goodbyes, shook our hands and left.

"I'm going to run over here to the market and grab something to drink, if you want something, you should grab it now before we go to the beach," Barry advised.

I complied. I got a "Green Peace" tea and a hard-boiled egg--they were on every counter in every convenience store I went into down there. Usually, they were 50 cents. Barry got some chips and a gallon of extra sweet tea. I only mention this minutia for the purpose of record.

Barry had walked to the coffee shop, so I drove. When we got in the car, Barry announced, "We're gonna stop at the water stop before Ho'okena."

Barry asked some questions about what I'd already seen on the island and made some suggestions. I told him about my dad's deal and release and Barry suggested I stay with him to avoid the 150-mile drive from Hilo in the morning. This sounded perfectly reasonable--at that point.

About twenty minutes up the road, we arrived at the water stop, which is--as you can probably imagine--a small parking lot with a garden faucet welded to the end of an upside-down, L-shaped pipe. Occasionally a car would pull in, the driver would get out, retrieve a couple gallon or larger containers and proceed to fill them, and then drive off. We sat in the shade; waiting.

Barry asked me what I did for a living and the other standard questions that follow. When my pursuit of a degree in Physics came up, things started to spiral a bit...

"Oh, Physics. Right on. So, you probably know about sacred geometry?"

I was frozen. Sacred what-now? Ok, maybe it's not something crazy, maybe it's just something he picked up. I shook my head with hesitation--instinctively not breaking eye contact. For the next hour, Barry regaled me about the intricacies of the universe--you know, how it was built on spiritually significant figures like spheres and tetrahedrons; super stoked about the tetrahedrons.

Now, you may say to yourself, "Well, the world is sort of close-ish to that direction of thought. The spheres for sure." You would also be partially correct. Spheres are a simple way to look at, say, an orbiting particle or a body emitting radioactivity of some kind with more or less equal energy output in all directions, etc. Tetrahedrons even show up a lot. In fact, this structure is responsible for the electromagnetic properties of metals. This, however, is not the worst of it.

Barry went on to tell me about the flower of life--which I'd heard of in some religious contexts in passing. Then, he proceeded to tell me the story of a Nobel prize-winning physicist that had convinced the scientific community of the existence of black holes at the center of every living being. At this point, the person we were waiting on arrived.

I don't know who the person was, and you can take away what you will about the purpose of this stop. After Barry returned to the car, we sat there while Barry told me the rest of his story as though he were teaching a new recruit which end of the Solo cup to pour the Kool-Aid. This, ladies and gentlemen, is it--Barry's piece de resistance:

When this prize-winning Physicist was a young boy, he was taken from his parents. By aliens. Yes. Aliens. He was taken to see the Intergalactic Council where he learned that the Earth was on trial for splitting the atom--imploding is illegal, according to Barry. I didn't even have the heart to explain that one is the result of the other, but they are not one in the same. The point is that splitting the atom is dangerous, and so humans are dangerous. The Intergalactic Council's solution? Destroy Earth, of course.

But, wait! We have representation! A nine-year-old who is obviously destined to become a world-renowned--albeit, not commonly known--physicist. His task? To make a case for sparing humanity to the Intergalactic Council--which I'm also told at this point has twelve representatives from over a hundred and fifty different species--nice to see supreme beings also have troubles with gerrymandering.

This apparently goes on for many years. In fact, the boy's parents "became accustomed to their son disappearing for days--sometimes weeks--at a time." Yep. Sounds about right.

I am writing this a couple of weeks after these events, and I have done a great deal of research on these things Barry talked about. There are so many particulars to this, L. Ron Hubbard would be proud--or want to sue for copyright infringements. I will be spending considerable time on another article concerning these beliefs and the believers, but I hope you will bear with me as the tale gets even more unusual...

Wednesday - Part I - September 27th, 2017

Many of you may be wondering when I will post pictures. I will start with this post.

This was the view of Hilo Bay from the balcony of my hotel room. I did not take any pictures of the room, and I took few pictures on my various escapades. The reason for this is two-fold; when I started on this adventure, I hadn't really thought there would be much to share. Seriously, I knew I had to work most of the time, and I had little to no money to do anything, and I had one goal; free my dad.

Thankfully, my phone alarm woke me effectively--there was no clock in my room. At 3:00 am, I was up and on my way to the vending machine to try the second row of pop-tarts to see if they were any fresher. I was pleasantly surprised to find that they were a different flavor, but it didn't matter much because they were also just as old and stale. I consciously made the decision to forego future pop-tart breakfasts.

My meeting was fairly uneventful as was my work and my lunchtime Cliff bar. Before I could call Barry, one of the other guests I had been talking to on the smoking bench invited me to get some pizza. Food! Mostly. The pizza place was good, the pizza was middle-of-the-road pizza you'd expect from your local pizzeria. I ate one slice and couldn't eat any more. I was a little surprised. I had eaten a grand total of three Cliff bars and two pop-tarts--three individual tarts technically, I threw the last single pop-tart away.

On the way back to the hotel from the pizza shop, I got the phone call I'd been waiting for; my dad had been offered a deal and would go before the judge the next morning to accept the deal. He would shortly after be released. I was asked to be present in the courtroom. The session would be in the third district court in Kailua-Kona.

Having eaten and returned to the hotel, I called Barry. I told him I was headed for Ocean View and he gave me the name of a coffee shop to meet him at. I told him he didn't have to wait at the coffee shop for me, I could call him, but he insisted it was no big deal and said he'd just wait there.

From Hilo, it is about an hour and a half or so to get to Ocean View, which is south of Kailua-Kona--the exact opposite side from Hilo. When I arrived at the coffee shop, I met Barry.

Tuesday - September 26th, 2017

Because of my normal vocation, I have daily meetings at 8:30 am CST. Six hours ahead of Hawaii. This means I had to wake every morning at 3:00 am local time at the latest to prepare for the meeting. In addition, I had to try to be in bed at a reasonable hour, so I shot for 8:00 pm local--2:00 am back home in EST. Now, the sun sets at 6:30 pm and rises at 6:30 am in Hawaii, which made this a little easier, but it still felt inexplicably abnormal.

On Tuesday, most of the day was spent working again. The evening--my evening being between 2:00 pm and 8:00 pm sort of--was mostly spent making phone calls and attempting to get my dad out of jail. For the purposes of this blog, the method employed to accomplish this is not important, but it cost me around $500. At some point in the afternoon--local--I ate another Cliff bar.

While I was making my calls, I spoke to one of my dad's friends on the island. I haven't received permission from him to mention him in my writing, so I shall call him Barry. Barry told me about the events leading to my dad's arrest, he told me some stories about he and my dad's local hangouts, and he extended an invitation to show me around a little. I accepted and told him I'd contact him as soon as I had finished with work the next day.

The hotel had a small, covered smoking bench in the parking lot that I was going out to fairly often. I saw a few of the guests, and even spoke to some. Most of the ones that were frequent visitors would regale me of their past expeditions around the island, the first-time visitors would regale about yesterday's expeditions around the island, and the few locals would point me in the direction of the things that the tourists didn't do--once they got to know me.

After talking with one of the regulars that came to the island to work--he was a roofer--I decided to try to sleep. I took a shower, brushed my teeth, and attempted to sleep. I attempted from 8:30 pm to about 12:30 pm local time. I just could not get comfortable. I missed my wife and our bed. Four hours of staring at the ceiling can really drain you. Don't get me wrong, I tried to watch some TV, put on some music, white noise, open the curtains, shut the curtains, open the louvers in the wall, close the louvers in the wall, sheets, no sheets--nothing seemed to help me, so I mostly stared at the ceiling.

Perhaps getting more acquainted with the island with Barry would help mellow me out.

Monday - September 25th, 2017

I’d like to start by saying that I’m writing this on the third plane home, so I’m not in a good mood at all. I’ll try to leave it for the appropriate post, but I’d really like to call Delta when I get home and explain to them how they’ve made this the worst series of flights I’ve ever had and I’m never flying with them again—but, I digress.

Monday morning, I left the house with my in-laws—who are phenomenal people in case I didn’t mention that before now. I arrived at the airport at 7:30 am, and I boarded the plane at 9:30 am. There really wasn’t much to remark on in that time, other than I hate airports in general (except Kailua-Kona international airport, but I’ll get to that in a while).

The flight from Indianapolis to Minneapolis wasn’t long, but the airport made me want to hurl sharp objects at people. The odds and ends stores are all out in the open walkways; I mean to say that if you build one of these stores—complete with shelving units like any other store—right in the middle of where you walk, and then stripped away the walls, that’s the entire airport there. It made traversing the terminal next to impossible. I can’t see how they have any loss prevention. It felt like I was searching for a plane in the middle of Costco.

Minneapolis to LA was also a more or less agreeable flight until it came time to get off of the plane. I sat waiting to get out of the plane for twenty minutes after they had opened the door. This would be the case for the first two flights home as well—I’ll let you know later if it applies to the last, and I expect it will. The airport wasn’t too bad because my gates were close to not only each other, but a short walk from a security checkpoint that was a few yards from the roof of a parking deck that I had about six illegal cigarettes on.

The flight to Kailua-Kona did start to really get long and monotonous, but when I landed I was in love with the airport there. They rolled a staircase up to the plane, everything was open like a big gazebo, the people were actually helpful, the shuttle was simple, the rental place was even easy to get in and out of on both the arrival and return trips. It wasn’t super busy and it all just sort of flowed. Maui, I would discover later, was the exact opposite. Maui feels like Kona trying to be LA with junk cluttering the walkways like Minneapolis—it’s just checkpoints and people and signage; oh god, the signage.

After the minute and a half it took me to familiarize myself with the airport at Kona, I simply walked across the street, had a cigarette, took the shuttle that kindly waited empty for me to have my smoke, and not even twenty minutes later I was driving out of the lot of Alamo rentals. I got a Nissan Versa.

The guy gave me the choice for no extra charge of getting a sedan, and I wish I had to some degree, but I thought the gas mileage would be nice to have. What I didn’t count on was that with my foot on the floor completely—no exaggeration—I could not climb the saddle any faster than forty-five miles an hour at some points. The saddle is the road that runs between Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea so you can go between Kona and Hilo without having to drive the beltway around the island—although I did that as well a couple of times.

Despite the Versa’s absolute lack of real power, it was wonderful on gas, and the creature comforts like Bluetooth, backup camera, and cruise control were great (I once rented a Yaris in the Mojave desert that had no cruise control and it pissed me off on the two-hundred-mile straightaways with nothing around to see or hit).

There are little to no street lights in Hawai’i. I’ve heard some locals complain about this, but I think most understand that one reason they don’t have them is the incredible array of observatories they have there, including one of two Genesis Observatories housing an 8.1-meter reflecting telescope. This observatory has a twin in Chile and between the two they are able to observe the entire sky around our planet.

Having little to no street lights, when I got over the saddle and started down the other side of the mountain, the sudden ninety-degree turns really started to catch me off guard at seventy miles an hour. I got used to it though because you don’t really have a whole lot of traffic, and the markings on the road are perfect, as well as the signage.

Once I arrived at the hotel, check-in was easy. I got a real key like you’d have to your house as opposed to the cards most bigger hotels have. This was not really new to me, though. When I stayed in Death Valley I stayed at a motel that had regular door locks, and truthfully, I prefer them. They just feel more home-ish. The room had a huge bed, a nifty table that unfolded and made a perfect desk, two standing fans, no A/C, a kitchenette with a nearly full-sized fridge I didn’t really use, and a balcony overlooking Hilo Bay. For what I paid, it was perfect—even if the roaches could steal my car. I found the cure for that—I let the geckos in. The geckos were cooler company, too.

I set up my little desk, checked out the shower that made me wish I’d brought stainless steal sandals and some disinfectant. I sat on the edge of the bed I was afraid of looking at with a black light, flipped the television on the local news for the gecko on the dresser, and proceeded to research where everything was that I needed.

That first day, I ate a Cliff bar and a stale pop-tart from the vending machine in the main area of the hotel. I figured I’d wander around the next day and maybe find a cafĂ© or something to have a sandwich, but the first day was mostly just getting set up, working, and familiarizing myself with the long drives I’d need to take later on. These drives would be great because you can get to almost anywhere on the big island in three turns or less.