National Geographic : 1938 Oct
HAWAII, THEN AND NOW middle of what had been a landslide and was about to be another. If he moved, the gravel began sliding. It was obvious that if he moved far he would be carried to the bottom of the crater in an avalanche of gravel and rocks. Just as I arrived, his camera went. It was not a pretty sight to see the thing leap ing along, breaking to pieces, the film streaming out. He began to give me messages to my aunt, but I told him not to be an ass. It was no time to be respectful. I ordered him to remove his trousers and throw them to me. This he did with great difficulty, slipping sickeningly as he did it. I had taken off my own trousers and quickly I fastened the two pairs together with my belt. Then I lay flat on a solid rock and threw him one end of the crude life line. Following instructions, he stood up as well as he could and made a leap for the solid edge of the slide. If he had missed it, he would have gone down with the thunder ing mass of rock that he started when he jumped. When, an hour or two later, we got back to the rim of the crater, my father had much to say to his brother-in-law. I realized that I had never before known the extent of my parent's excellent vocabulary. With our tough little ponies we rode to the Kohala Mountains at the north end of Hawaii where we could look down into those magnificent valleys, Waipio and Wai manu. The cliffs are so stupendous that there is no possible approach to the broad, level valley bottoms except from the sea. On the north side of Molokai are similar though smaller valleys. In such places one can still see Hawaiians in almost their primitive state, so utterly cut off have they been from the rest of the world. To one of these Molokai valleys some settler took a pair of water buffaloes to work in the rice fields. He left the valley, or died. The water buffaloes multiplied and now no man dares visit the valley, since these dull, patient-looking creatures, harm less when tamed, are among the most dan gerous of all wild beasts. They cannot spread into other parts of the island because they cannot swim the sea around the head lands nor climb the cliffs which hem them in. Kauai probably gives more scenic vari ety than any other island. It has broad, peaceful valleys that somehow remind one of England; it has canyons with all the color and the impressiveness of the Grand Canyon of the Colorado, if on a smaller scale (Color Plate II); it has, on the marshy uplands of the central mountain, one of the rainiest regions in the world; and along the northwest coast of the island are superb barren cliffs, cut with narrow valleys which can be approached only from the sea. It used to be a miserable trip to Kauai from Honolulu. The channel dividing the islands is only about 74 miles wide, but it is almost always rough, and the steamers which in those days made the trip were absurdly small and amazingly unsteady. The trip took most of the night and, unless one was an extraordinary sailor, a day of recuperation was necessary. Today one can take an airplane after breakfast in Honolulu, fly to Kauai, circle the island, and be in Honolulu again for luncheon! HAWAII, PERCH OF MAN-MADE BIRDS We can now fly with safety from the Pacific coast to the islands. Honolulu has become a world aviation center. It is the first lap on the westbound trips of the Pan American Clippers on the route to Hong Kong and Shanghai and on the contem plated route to Australia. Honolulu sends out planes daily to Maui and Hilo, and every day except Sundays to other islands of the group.* From Pearl Harbor, the naval base, sped planes on the futile search in the South Pacific for Amelia Earhart. One can sel dom look upward without seeing military planes, often in large numbers, practicing or maneuvering. There have been entirely successful mass flights of naval planes from southern California. As for commercial flying, Clippers from San Francisco and the Orient are as regular as ferryboats. They leave San Francisco Bay in the afternoon and arrive in Honolulu the next morning for breakfast. By the lay of land and water the islands must always be the great commercial and military air base of the Pacific, the point from which radio beacons operate, the concentration and dispersal point for all the planes that fly the widest ocean of the world.' * See "Flying the Pacific," by William Burke Miller, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE, Decem ber, 1936. t See the National Geographic Society's Map of the Pacific Ocean, issued as a supplement to the NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE, December, 1936.