Hawaii: Last Stop on the Road Trip

The Great American Road Trip–FINAL STOP

Hawaii path, by Kris Bordessa
Hawaii Path, Kalopa State Park


Destination: Hawaii

Book: The Shark Dialogues by Kiana Davenport

A GUEST POST BY Kris Bordessa

Try as you might, when you plug a mainland address into Mapquest with an address ending on any of the Hawaiian Islands, you’ll get a message saying that they can’t find a suitable vehicular route. Very true. And yet, how can America’s 50th state be left out of the road trip fun here at A Traveler’s Library?

♦NOTE: As with every state we have visited, Music Road provides the musical accompaniment. This time Kerry had a little help from Kris Bordessa’s son, a  musician in Hawaii. ♦

Hawaii’s the only place in the good old U S of A where you can catch views of red-hot lava flows and snow-capped peaks all in the same day. Suffice it to say that once you’ve made it to the islands, there’s plenty of road trippin’ to be had.

Hawaii is really two different places. For visitors, it’s very often a place to get away from it all. It’s hammocks and beaches and pink umbrella drinks. Hawaii is a fabulous vacation destination, but the nuances of the island are often lost on travelers with a limited time to spend here. They’ll get a kick out of the big Hawaiian guy flashing a shaka and chattering in Pidgin, usually incomprehensible to the uninitiated.

Hawaii Sunrise, by Kris Bordessa
Hawaii Sunrise by Kris Bordessa

They’ll ooh and ahh over glorious sunsets


and run their toes through the sand,

Hawaii Beach by Kris Bordessa
Kaunaoa Beach at Mauna Kea



and they’ll be charmed by Hawaiian tunes plucked out on the ‘ukulele.

But beneath these visible elements of the islands runs a deep rhythm, a rhythm that often goes unheard by visitors intent on not missing a thing. The other Hawaii, the true Hawaii, has a rich cultural history. From the first human inhabitants of the island through an embarrassing overthrow of the Hawaiian Kingdom by the United States of America and the modernization of the most remote islands in the world, Hawaiian mythology has been a constant.

In Shark Dialogues, author Kiana Davenport offers readers a chance to discover the low drumbeat of rhythm that is Hawaii. While fictional, the novel depicts Hawaii’s history from the first missionaries to the modern era while presenting the stories of several generations of powerful Hawaiian women. Pono, family matriarch, kahuna, and central character in the book, laments the fact that her offspring have left tradition behind, marrying non-Hawaiians and scattering across the globe. When her four granddaughters converge on the Big Island, they discover family ties and a compelling connection with their island home.

Finally, she sat down with them, shoveling food between her great nicotine-stained teeth. Only then did Pono visibly relax. And in that magisterial repose, a signal: the other four relaxed, looked round the place, its windswept lanai. Only then did they glimpse the orchards, fields of “Kona snow” billowing out toward cliffs and far below the sea. Only then did they feel the ocean in water-haunted sunlight that lay across each room, making objects shiver. And only then did each woman feel impervious to the outside world, as the house closed round them.

With interwoven story lines, this saga explores the passion and heartbreak of relationships from the leper colony at Kalaupapa to the Yazuka, an organized crime ring in Japan, all the while paying homage to the mysticism of Hawaii. The book’s honest portrayal of the culture and diversity of the islands is an invitation to discover the heart of Hawaii.

If you’re planning a trip to Hawaii – or just dreaming of one – Shark Dialogues is a must-read. Peppered with Hawaiian language (a helpful glossary at the back of the book) and place names, the book wraps readers in an island breeze and submerges them in the blue Pacific. Listen closely and you might even hear that oft-missed rhythmic drumbeat of the islands.

Kris Bordessa
Kris Bordessa


Kris Bordessa, an author and features writer, lives on the Big Island of Hawaii where she is working – day by day –  toward a more self-sufficient lifestyle.

THANKS, KRIS! Sounds like a great book!

Ken and I once took a road trip through Kauai  in a bright red convertible. It was so appropriate for that colorful and fun place. AND, we stayed in the hotel where Elvis filmed Blue Hawaii. (No longer in operation, I’m sorry to say). But for now, I’ll just watch the new Hawaii Five-O. The opening credits scenery is worth watching!

Next Wednesday, I’ll say a proper farewell to The Great American Road Trip, but for now, let’s concentrate on Hawaii. What’s your favorite island? Been there? Or just dreaming?


Vera Marie Badertscher

About Vera Marie Badertscher

A freelance writer who loves to travel. When she is not traveling she is reading about travel. When she is not reading or traveling, she is sharing with the readers of A Traveler's Library, recreating her family's past at Ancestors In Aprons . She writes frequently for Reel Life With Jane and other websites. Also co-author of a biography, Quincy Tahoma, The Life and Legacy of a Navajo Artist. Contact Vera Marie by e-mail.

18 thoughts on “Hawaii: Last Stop on the Road Trip

  1. Just my congratulations on a superb completed series of books. You deserve every kudos for such a monumental piece of work reviewing a book (or more) for each state of the US.

  2. Hawaii has been on my travel list forever. And after reading this I am wondering if I need to move it to the top – but not before I read this book. Sorry to see your travel posts go, Vera, but I’ve enjoyed going along for the ride.

  3. Glad to see Hawaii made the list, the last on your road trip adventures. And that you brought in a local writer, Kris Bordessa no less, to give us an insider’s perspective.

  4. Vera, you weren’t a fan of LOST? Beautiful Hawaiian scenery on that show, too (along with crazy mythological plotlines, of course).

  5. Love that you ended the series with Hawaii! It’s interesting to hear a local’s perspective on this, too.

  6. I was just talking with my mom last night about how she and dad used to spend a couple months in Hawaii during the winters. I hope to get there some day. Thanks for the post, Vera and Kris.

    I’m also loving Kris’s site: http://www.attainable-sustainable.net/, which makes me want to go back to baking my own bread and growing my own garden.

      1. Ha Ha, Vera. Very funny. :) You’ll see. I’ll get out of Traverse City some day and then I’ll show you!

  7. I’d love to learn more about Hawai’i, especially now I’ve been in New Zealand for several years. There is a lot of overlap of Polynesian culture, but I’m not sure HOW much. Curious to know.

  8. I am resisting a trip to Hawaii. My entire family speaks glowingly of it (my sister-in-law’s husbands family even own a nut farm on one island). Beaches and swimming is not my thing. Perhaps I will give “The Shark Dialogues” a read instead. ;^) -r

  9. This is a great book, which was recommended to me in the Borders Bookstore in Kauai. This bookstore is slated to be closed, which is very sad because of the staff’s emphasis on Hawaiian authors.

    The Shark Dialogues communicates beautifully the feel, taste and emotion of the islands. I too, highly recommend this book.

    1. Another ringing endorsement from Deborah. I really must try to find some personal reading time so I can read Shark Dialogues. And NoPot, I read Michener’s Hawaii during the long summer that I was pregnant with my first child. I think he whitewashed a few things, but it is fascinating.

      Richard: I felt just like you about going to Hawaii, and was so glad that we chose Kauai for our first island visit. It is just packed with outdoors beauty and things to do that have nothing to do with beaches, although the beaches can be rather addictive. I remember two in particular. One you could only get to by boat and the other you had to drive down a narrow path through a sugar cane field and when you got there saw miles of sand and NO people! Heavenly.

  10. Now this would be a great book to get a hold of. The last book on Hawaii I read was James A. Michner’s book “HAWAII” I remember the first time I visited Hawaii…I was traveling from Singapore to the US to go to University. In those days, you rarely took a straight flight anywhere- you would stop over somewhere NOT for hours, but for days- Hawaii was my stopover before reaching LA and it was a most delightful place.

Comments are closed.