The Great White Owl

Back in 2007, I had the opportunity to do some work in Hawaii for a few days.  I decided to extend the trip by three days in order to bring my son Clint over to enjoy both the beauty and some good father/son time together. 

We had a blast!  I’d been on several of the islands before and had always enjoyed my stays.  Our time together would be on the Big Island, which also is the least inhabited!

We began on the “rainy” side of the island in Hilo.  I’ve been fortunate to have had the opportunity to visit there about four times, so I’ve spent a lot of time exploring.  Without a doubt, it is my favorite place on the planet.  There’s just something about that place.  I’ve been told that it’s about as close as you can come to the way “old” Hawaii used to be.

As soon as you get off of the airplane, you can hear it—the sounds of the rain forest, and also smell it—the flowers.  Paradise!

We stayed there one night and then moved to the other side of the island—Kona.  It’s the sunny, and more desert side.  It’s also where Kona coffee comes from.

Over the next three days, we put 640 miles on the rental car!!!  That’s hard to do, be we made a decision to just go and see as much as we could.  Clint has the same explorer’s heart that I do.  It was one of those daytrips that I’d like to tell you about today.

Hwy. 11 is the highway that goes all the way around the island.  So we spent a lot of time driving on it.

We had enjoyed the first part of the day, going to the top of Mauna Kea, all the way up to 13,000”!  It was in the 40’s on the top of the volcano.  It was also in the middle of August!  The wind was blowing at around 20-30 mph.  We weren’t prepared for the cold and about froze, but it created a memory!  Then we’d explored Hawaii Volcanoes National Park for several hours.

Later in the afternoon we decided to go to Ka Lae, which is the most southern point in the whole United States.  It’s located at a more southern latitude than even Key West, FL!

When we got to the dirt road that you have to drive down to get to the point, it was dusk.  The dirt road is about seven miles long and you can only do about 25 mph as it’s quite rutty.  On the way, (seemingly in the middle of nowhere!) we came upon the Old Kamaoa Wind Farm.  Huge windmills!  It just shows up out of nowhere and it’s so big!  It’s totally unexpected and is a very surrealistic sight!

Clint and I kept driving, and finally got to the end of the road.  Basically, you come to a huge cliff overlooking the Pacific Ocean.  You’re looking due south.  After a few minutes, it hits you—the next thing that you’d hit if you were to keep going south is Antarctica thousands of miles away!

By now it was dark.

There were about five cars at the point.  These folks were locals who were fishing from the cliffs.  You could barely see them it was so dark.  The only thing that helped us was the beautiful moon directly above us and our headlights.

We stopped the car and got out.  The wind was blowing with a lot of force off of the ocean directly into our faces.  We sat on the trunk of the car and then looked up.

The Big Island is the #1 astronomy location on the planet.  As a matter of fact, I had led a management seminar for the staff of one of the observatories on Mauna Kea two days before.  Because of this, they try to keep the island’s ambient light as low as possible so that their huge telescopes can do their jobs.  All of the streetlights on the island use sodium lamps.  They put off the least amount of light.  There were no lights within miles of where we were.  It was as dark as a closet!

I don’t know if I can put what we saw into words, but I’ll try…

Looking up, there were more stars than I’ve ever seen at one time.  You could literally see the Milky Way and millions of other stars!  It was breathtaking.  Clint and I were leaning back, oohing and aahing like crazy.  We both agreed that it was one of the neatest things we had ever seen.  The sound of the ocean was cut off by the sound of the wind.  You could look out and see the horizon—where the water met the sea.  And off in the far distance, we could see the lights of ships passing by in the night.

We must have sat there for about 45 minutes or so, just talking–father and son.  Then we decided to get back in the car and head up to Kona. 

I started the engine, drove about 15 feet, and then stopped.  “Clint, let’s get back out.”  I wasn’t ready to leave and neither was he.  He jumped out of his side of the car.

We went to the back of the car again, and just sat there soaking up the beauty.

I don’t want to embarrass my son, but I’ll never forget that.  Being with one of my most favorite people in the world, and looking at one of the most inspiring things I’ve ever seen, I was almost overwhelmed with joy.  With love for my son and with love for God who had made this possible…

We just sat there and soaked it in.

After a while, we got back in the car.  We drove another 20 feet or so, and one of us suggested that we hadn’t had enough yet.  We stopped the car and got back out.

How do you leave paradise?

We took some more time, quietly reveling in what God had created, and enjoying the experience.  I can tell you that I would not trade that time with my son for anything in the world.  The memory will stay with both of us forever.

So we finally get back in the car, ready to tackle the seven-mile trip back up the dirt road.

We drove about 50 feet or so, and then our headlights caught something ahead of us.

Sitting on a fencepost, about 50 yards away, was the biggest white owl I’ve ever seen.  Solid white!  It was facing away from us, and then turned it’s head towards us.  We stopped the car and stared at it for about a minute, as it stared at us.

Then it jumped off the post, and started flying right towards our car.

“DO YOU SEE THAT!!!???”  We were screaming at each other!

The owl was flying directly into the wind towards the car, so it was flying in what seemed like slow motion!  It took at least fifteen to twenty seconds to come down the road.

It literally flew right at the windshield, and then at the last split second, just as it was going to crash into the glass, it flew over the car.  Its wingspan was the width of the car—at least 5’ to 6”!  It was huge!

I looked at Clint, he looked at me, and we just started laughing.  It was crazy—one of the strangest, yet most beautiful things I’ve ever seen in my life!

Why was there a white owl?  What did it signify?  Together, we were experiencing one of the greatest, most memorable days we’d ever had.  And the owl to top it off!

I’ve thought about that night many times over the last four years–and the great white owl.  There seemed to be something spiritual about it, and it still does.  Clint was home from California last week to celebrate his birthday.  And we talked again about that night and the owl.

So I’m asking you—what do you think it meant?  Was it just a coincidence, or was it more than that.   I sincerely want to hear your thoughts.   Email me at or leave a comment on my website,

Thanks for reading and sharing this experience with us!

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  1. Michael

    Robert – check this out. There is a “legend” of the Great White Sacred Owl in Hawaii – if you view the White Owl good fortune would head your way. What a COOL story! Thanks for sharing.

    • Robert Mallon
      Robert Mallon10-05-2011

      Thank you Michael! Now that’s interesting!!! R-

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