"All good things are wild and free." --Henry David Thoreau

Thursday, October 11, 2012


On a mountain road in Ka'u


Ka'u District, Big Island
Hawai’i was a second home to me in the 1980s, as my mom scratched out a place for herself over the years. If the Big Island was likened to a diamond with Kona on the left and Hilo on the right, then the place I know best is the southern area, known on the Big Island as Ka’u District.

My mom and some of her friends bought land within a block of each other in a rural subdivision, Green Sands. There was no electricity, and water was hauled in after being collected at the Wai’ohinu Park spigots. Ka’alu’alu Road didn’t even have a road sign, I think; we just knew to turn off the main highway onto the road parallel to the drainage ditch between the towns of Wai’ohinu and Na’alehu.
Walking on South Point
One family arrived in a renovated school bus they had driven across the mainland and shipped over the Pacific. Another family came like mine, occasionally. Most people had kids, and by luck they were all around the same age. Neighbors were far enough apart that the woods of haole koa and Christmas berry became the children’s territory while the parents hand-cleared their chosen spots, strung up hammocks, and built shacks on stilts with corrugated tin roofs. Parents could say, “Go play outside” and have just about nothing to worry over.
Tutu's home

For years we just camped, then there was a 12x12 shack, and finally a barn-like house. We went from a porcelain toilet bowl in an outhouse made of beach mats to indoor plumbing.

Now as then, this was the epitome of the countryside for this city-slicker gal. The only concrete was keeping a post in place. Out here the dirt roads glitter with olivine crystals, a color that makes my husband think of apple flavored Jolly Ranchers. When night falls, a million stars sparkle, and even the Milky Way appears as a long, whitish smudge across the dome of the sky.
The Green Sands playground
Green Sands Beach

There are more people living around her now, naturally. More dogs, more roosters crowing at 3 a.m. But it’s still the deep countryside of Ka’u District, the southernmost district in all of the United States. This autumn, my husband and I brought our three-year-old out here. We were fortunate to be joined by Tutu, our daughter’s grandmother, who is now seventy.

The few jaunts I’ll be writing about are not exhaustive by any means--they are slivers of a great place to explore. Check back soon to read about some hikes on the Big Island. Mahalo!
on Punalu'u Beach
Ka'u horse

Dinner in Ka'u

Under the trees of Waiohinu Park

Hanging on the back porch

Foggy, a Ka'u cowboy

The best thrift store in Ka'u, located in Na'alehu
Tutu's hug

Waiohinu cuteness

Tutu's little shack
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