This is just too good to leave out of the bulletin.   This could only happen to Marilyn Wooley...


Dear Redding East Rotarians,


I'm sure you all think I'm lying around on the beach drinking Mai Tais whenever I visit Hawai'i, but au contraire mes amis Rotarian, this is more like it. My flight from Sacramento to Hawai'i on Thursday was uneventful, too uneventful in fact. I should have suspected the gods had more exciting plans for me.


Thursday evening is pleasant. My family and I eat at a local Chinese place and get home before a storm. I'm tired and head to bed early (California is three hours ahead of Hawaii). 3 AM: I'm practically blasted out of bed by a white-hot flare of lightening immediately followed by a heart-stopping thunderclap right over the house accompanied by the haunting strains of Petee the Peacock screaming, “H-e-e-e-e-e-l-l-l-l-l-p! H-e-e-e-e-l-l-l-l-l-p!” Okay, I’m half asleep, looking around like one does on the first night in a strange place, and wondering, “Where the hell am I? And why?” Boris Karloff was nowhere to be seen so I eventually figure out I'm reasonably safe. The lightning and thunder storm is epic.


Friday the storm is worse. My daughter, Jessica, takes my son-in-law, David, to the airport. About 1 PM I call to warn her about flood advisories on the low lying highway back to her house. She makes it okay, but the thunder and lightning rage all around us and the rain slams down in Biblical proportions. We hunker down in the house.


Saturday: the weather clears and I drive my grandkids, Kaya and Xander, over the mountain to the big mall. We have a great time and decide to stay for dinner. Jessica, who was attending a political event on north Oahu, calls to say we should get home before another storm comes in. However, Kaya is still hungry and orders what will henceforth be called, “The near-death second helping of mashed potatoes.” By the time we get out of the mall, the storm is upon us. Lightning and thunder fill the sky. We follow the GPS out of downtown Honolulu and, of course, get lost. By the time we find our way, the rainfall is deafening, as in I can barely hear myself scream. BTW, the Prius has little teeny tires that handle lousy in weather and the windshield wipers don’t work, which means I can't see much, either. We reach the coastal highway to the house and are doing fairly well until a school bus screeches to a halt (well, as much as a big yellow school bus can) right in front of me. It's a good thing because the road is flooded. Really flooded, as in flash-flood flooded. Right about then, I smell exhaust coming into the car. In a flash of brilliance (lots of flashes here), I realize this is not a good thing and immediately turn off the highway to find high ground. We end up parking in the lot of a company that manufactures gravestones. All around us are slabs of granite engraved with people’s names and dates of death. Not exactly reassuring. While we wait it out, the tide comes in and the floodwater, having no place to go, begins to rise up to the parking lot. Cars stall every which way all over the road, brave and hearty men push stranded cars out of harm's way, emergency vehicles try to negotiate floodwaters, and in the ensuing chaos, someone drives into the river. Of course, Kaya has to pee and I give her two options. She chooses to get out and squat by the car. She's drenched to the skin in about three seconds. We're blocked in by all the stalled cars and I make a plan to evacuate for higher ground on foot if necessary. The kids are pretty scared so I distract them with “naked and dumb” stories about times I’d been caught in the buff in less than discrete situations. Hey, any port in a storm, so to speak and they'd already heard Goldilocks. Before midnight, the tide retreats, the kids are cranky, and I decide to make a break for it. Some wonderful, brave, and helpful guys guide me. I gun the engine, dodge a rescuer and an oncoming SUV, and shoot onto the narrow and still flooded highway. We make it home with only minor drama including overshooting the driveway, making a U-turn in the road, and nearly getting T-boned by a truck going way too fast for the road conditions. Did I mention all the street lights are out and I'm driving using the Braille method? I quickly learn that when the car begins hydroplaning, it's time to ease over to the left. The power is out at home, but by the light of the iPhone we manage to find candles. The kids are hyper, but eventually we all go to bed. Jessica is stranded at a friend’s house, so I try to sleep upstairs on the living room floor. “Lucky” the guinea pig is so glad to have my company he squeals and roots around in his cage. He is not a sleep aid. I manage to stumble downstairs to my bed to pass out around 3 AM.


Sunday: the day's fairly clear, but Jessica nixes any water activities because the “100-year-flood” has washed every bit of flotsam and jetsam and hazardous waste off the island into the bay. So we drive around to look at really expensive open houses and go grocery shopping. (Price wise, houses and fresh food cost pretty much the same in Hawaii. I am only slightly exaggerating.) I take the perishables home while the kids bike and Jessica goes for a run. While I’m putting stuff in the freezer, I hear this horrible screeching. At first I think someone's in the final throes of giving birth, but soon I realize the sound is more like the final throes of death--sort of like someone would sound if their guts were being ripped out inch by inch. I locate the noise coming from behind the house, mere yards from my grandkids’ bedroom window. Now I hear dogs barking. Loud and vicious dogs. Large, too. The screaming turns into an agonized braying noise. It's so awful that even the chickens are freaking out. I remember that part of Hawaiian culture includes hunting wild pigs with dogs and get an image of some fool hunter discharging a firearm right outside my grandkids’ room. Okay, Grandmare's not gonna let anyone get away with that. I charge out there and start hollering. The dogs keep barking their heads off. The pig keeps up the bloodcurdling scream. Finally, not seeing humans around, I yell, “Leave it!” Two red pit bulls stick their heads out of the bushes, like, “Huh?” I’m more than a little nervous and get ready to leap on top of the chicken coop, but before I do, I yell, “GO HOME!” The dogs are like, “Doh!” They look at each other and go trotting off into the jungle. There’s still barking and screaming in the bushes, so I yell again, “LEAVE IT!” A third pit bull sticks his head out like “Wha'?” I yell again, “GO HOME!” “Okay,” he says and trots off after the first two. Now I may be dumb, but not dumb enough to go looking for that pig. I mean, what am I gonna do? Take it to the vet?


So this is the close of my third full day of vacation. I wonder what will happen next. I have a feeling it’s not going to be enjoying a Mai Tai on the beach.