Happy Birthday Dad.

Hello everyone. This week's blog is dedicated to, and all about my father, Allen Carter Sr, who died July 16, 2014, at the age of 77. This past saturday would have been his 78th birthday, and I'd like to use this week's column to talk about all of the good times I had with him.

The first thing that always pops into my head when I think of my father is riding in the car. As a kid, we used to go just about everywhere on the island of O'ahu, whether to run errands or just to joyride. I think that's where I get my great sense of direction and love of exploring new areas. I can remember it now: My father and I (sometimes my sister and mother if we were shopping or going out to eat) in one of the many cars he had (red pinto, oldsmobile omega that would overheat alot, ford taurus station wagon). If we were out during the weekends, he'd have on the local talk radio station. I can still hear the station jingle in my head. On some saturdays, he would take my sister and I to the orthodontist at the pan am building downtown. We'd go into the waiting room with the gentle door chimes that would sound when you opened it, and after getting our teeth checked out he'd take us to kapiolani park just outside waikiki. I'd play on the outdoor exercise equipment, while my sister would play on a large rope hanging from a banyan tree. Being in Hawaii of course, we also went to the beach nearly every weekend. My dad indirectly taught me how to swim at Poka'i Bay, a beach closer to where we lived on the west side of O'ahu. After I emerged from the shallow end one day, I watched him paddling with his arms and legs out to sea and back to shore with the white foam board he had. During one of those beach days, he told me that he thought a hammerhead shark was behind him, so that's why he started swimming faster that time. I'm not sure if that was true or not, though that may explain why we would always leave the beach no later than 5:00 p.m., as that was when small fish would come close to shore. My father felt that those fish would attract sharks, so we left the water before those little guppies showed up. Then there were the trips around the island. Being on an island as a kid, going around the island (even if it was only halfway) was the hawaii equivalent of driving to another state. We'd leave from Waianae where we lived on the west side, through the towns of Waipahu then north through Mililani, Wahiawa, and Haleiwa in central o'ahu and the north shore, and finally east into the cool, rainy, green mountains of the windward side. Along the way my father and I would stop for food or to sightsee. Every time we took this trip I couldn't wait to reach the windward side, as it was the complete opposite of the dry beach towns we lived in on the other side of the island. It also included my favorite scenic spot on the island, Nu'uanu Pali Lookout. My father used to take my sister and I up there alot when we were kids. It was known for being extremely windy almost all the time, and it was said that you could jump off the cliff near the viewpoint railing and the wind would pick you back up. I would advise against trying it.

There are so many other stories of my father that come to mind, but what I mentioned are the ones that mean the most to me. The last time I got to visit him back in Hawaii was in 2012, and it was a weird feeling having the roles reversed. This time, I was doing the driving, and the first place we went after breakfast was straight to pali lookout. Then I drove him around the island, just as he did for me when I was a kid. I don't remember much of what we did when we got to our destinations, but I do remember the journey. It all came full-circle for us. So thank you dad. Thank you for all those great times you gave me. Thank you for showing me the world one car ride at a time. Thank you for your easygoing, warm personality. Thank you for your high-pitched chuckle (which I do from time to time myself). But most of all, thank you for being my dad.

Happy birthday.