Personal Journey: A second chance at the green sand of her dreams

Patti Petrash found it difficult to get to Hawaii's Green Sand Beach.
Patti Petrash found it difficult to get to Hawaii's Green Sand Beach. (FRANK PETRASH)
Posted: December 23, 2013

My wife Patti was a science teacher at Upper Moreland for 35 years. She has a collection of sands from beaches the world over. Some are from her students' travels, and some are from hers. It's all sand from different exotic places, some in jars, some in plastic bags.

On a trip to Hawaii many years ago, Patti got sand from a black beach and sand from a coral beach, both on the Big Island of Hawaii. The one beach that she wanted to get sand from was the green beach, one of only four in the world, on the farthest southern point of the United States, also on the Big Island. She tried, but did not make it because it entailed a two-mile walk over desertlike terrain. The wind was blowing about 40 m.p.h. and she didn't have the proper shoes or water.

This last summer, Patti and I celebrated our 35th wedding anniversary with another trip to Hawaii. One stop was the Big Island again, with the idea of maybe trying to get to the green beach this time. We rented a Jeep to see if we could drive to the beach - no way. The rocks and the deeply rutted road made it an impossible venture. As we surveyed the road, a local came up to us and asked if he could drive us to the beach - $15 a piece. That is all Patti had to hear. I am so glad he drove his dilapidated truck over the ungodly terrain - I know I couldn't have made it. It took more than 20 minutes to drive over this desert area with sand pelting the truck from the high winds.

When we finally arrived, we had to climb down the steep slope of the eroded caldera to finally stand on the green beach. The color is due to the mineral olivine from a volcano. Patti was overwhelmed, she started crying, and we took many pictures. As we left, we took a little sand to display with the rest of her collection. She was in her glory.


Frank Petrash writes from Hatboro.

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