Turf & Rec

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An eye-opening vacation


March 28, 2011
By Ian Robinson

This is how I accidentally went to a nude beach on my vacation and, in the process, became the best dad ever.
No, really. It was an accident.

It actually was one of those honest-to-God errors, not even close to being one of those pretend “mistakes” you use to explain your Internet history to your life partner.

“Honest, sweetie, I was just curious about the origins of the Trans-Canada Highway, but when I typed ‘trans’ into the search engine I wound up at Transsexual Dream Dates. Really. I’m going to write a sternly worded letter to Google. What? Why did I go to Transsexual Dream Dates 19 times? Um … look! A mouse!”

We went on vacation to Hawaii because it makes a nice break from the purgatory of the Calgary winter.

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Actually, it’s not winter that makes Calgary a rotten place to be November through April; it’s the fact that city officials have decided they can cut costs by not plowing the streets very often.

The winter months involve citizens sitting in automobiles that perform movements on ice that you rarely see outside the winter Olympics.

Double toe loop in Olympic figure skating?

That’s nothing. Because of Calgary’s policy of non-snow clearing, I’ve done that, and more — and behind the wheel of a pickup truck, no less. Anybody can do it on skates.

Acapulco would have been cheaper, but there aren’t any news stories about Honolulu cops discovering 30 murdered guys in a single day, half of whom were decapitated, which unfortunately, you can’t say about Acapulco.

I think a sensible way to choose a tourist destination in a warm place is to go where there are the fewest number of mass decapitations.

I’m a wimp that way.

So we’re on the island of Maui and they tell us about this beach. It’s a red-sand beach. Those are rare. It’s secluded and apparently gorgeous even by Maui standards — which is like saying if you think Jennifer Anniston is hot, wait till you meet her good-looking friend.

It’s a beast of a hike to get there. The trail winds along the face of a cliff. Parts of it have washed out, which means you have to clamber down to where the waves are pounding against the rocks and pick your way across to the place where the trail picks up again. Then you have to climb halfway up the cliff to get back on the trail.
Did I mention the trail ranges in width between 12 and 18 inches?

There are mountain goats around who’d look at that trail and go, “Jeez Bob, I dunno. Maybe we should find another path. Looks dangerous to me.”

So we climb and we clamber and we slip and slide and scare ourselves over and over again until we get there.
As we slide down the final few feet to one of the most beautiful vistas I’ve ever set eyes on, my entire party freezes into immobility and one of us says, “Oh. My. God.”

Tone is everything and the tone definitely wasn’t the right kind of “Oh my God.”

Remember the first time you tasted praline ice cream and the words, “Oh my God” escaped your lips in such a way that meant that, for a moment at least, your faith in a just and benevolent Creator had just been affirmed? Or the first time you rode a world-class roller coaster — The Hulk at Universal Studios comes to mind — and when you regained the power of speech, you said, “Oh my God” in just the same way?

This wasn’t that kind of, “Oh my God.”

This was the kind of, “Oh my God” that you hear in the cockpit recordings of doomed airline pilots the millisecond before they make a gigantic hole in the ground.

There are a lot of moments you want to share with your teenaged son.

You want to be there for his first quarterback sack, when he knifes through a hole in the other team’s defensive line and falls upon the other kid like a lion on a gazelle at the waterhole and lays him out horizontal. You want to be there when he jumps from a great height into the ocean for the first time, graduates from university.
You do not want to be there when he encounters a naked woman for the first time. The live sighting of naked girl bits is the sort of thing that should happen with an age-appropriate partner in the back seat of a car or a closet at a party or something. Not with your dad on a beach. And not this naked woman.

The naked woman he saw was, to put it mildly, not in his dating range. She was this side of 70, barely, and was not merely topless but completely naked. And there was nothing that wasn’t on full display. And she was not … svelte.

My poor boy was frozen into immobility by shock and horror. Another 10 seconds and it’s possible it would have warped him forever.

And then I came to the rescue.

I grabbed him by the shoulders and turned him 45 degrees. “Look over there instead,” I said.

He turned.

He smiled.

There was a gaggle of spring-break university girls taking advantage of the clothing optional policy.

“Dad,” he said.

“What?”

“I love you.”