Well, no matter where I go in the world I seem to find the most interesting common connections with people who I meet in the course of my travels. Usually these people are complete strangers to me at first, yet in the course of conversation I find we always have something in common. Today was one of the most extraordinary experiences of that kind of thing that I have ever had.
Thanks to an advertisement on craigslist I found a young man who lives on Kawai by the name of Travis Higgins. Travis is an independent dive instructor and he is in the process of starting his own dive company on the Island of Kauai. He has worked as a dive master for other companies, but I just happened to be his very first customer in the new enterprise he is launching. He asked about me and I told him that I was from Pocatello, Idaho and he lit up. It turns out this was a good omen for him as you will see.
Travis is a tall, good-looking, 36-year-old professional diver who is soft spoken, polite and someone who happened to be born and raised in Idaho himself! What are the chances of finding someone from Idaho in Hawaii? Travis says in all the years he has lived here he has met only two or three people from Idaho. But what is even more extraordinary is that Travis grew up in Pocatello and graduated from Pocatello high school where I also attended high school. We were both taken aback by the coincidence! We visited extensively about our hometown and some of the common memories that we share having lived in the same community for so many years.
Then I asked Travis where he lived when he was in Pocatello. He told me that when he was in the sixth grade his family his family moved to Pocatello into a tiny little house on South 5th Avenue, just behind a dilapidated old bar that had been boarded up, known at one time as The Owl Club. The house where Travis lived belonged to his father’s uncle whose name is Gerald Neeser. Imagine Travis’ surprise when I told him that I not only knew exactly the place he was talking about but that our family had acquired that house about 15 years ago from Mr. Neeser. I explained to him that we renovated the property and for the past ten years or more we have been renting the house as an office to a bond company.
He asked me, “Is The Owl Club still there? And what about that old red barn that was falling down that was behind that house?” I told him that we actually own the old red barn and that it is called Meridell Park. I explained that we have completely restored it and turned it in to a gathering place for the community, and that it is used for things like wedding receptions and parties. I also told him that we tore down The Owl Club many years ago and made a parking lot there, and that we turned the house where he lived into an office. “We have planted over 500 apple trees right behind the house where you grew up. We also donated 10 acres of Meridell Park to Bannock County and they have built a big county facility there. You wouldn’t recognize the place,” I told him. Travis says he has many happy memories of the little cottage where he grew up, and occasionally he says he still has dreams of the home and the area around it even to this day. What an amazing set of coincidences to occur half a world away from home.
Travis and I had a wonderful diving experience too. This was my first shore dive, and I enjoyed seeing eels, sea turtles, crabs, goat fish, sea cucumbers, cleaner fish, and many other varieties of sea life that are abundant in the waters just offshore at Poipu Point, near Koloa, Kauai, Hawaii. But for me the most fun I had here was meeting someone who once lived at Meridell Park, and having such an unusually interesting and coincidental experience so far away from home. I can truly say there is a friend of Meridell Park living on the island of Kauai.