It was our last morning on the Kohala Coast in our gorgeous, decadent home by the beach. Of course, there was lots to do to get ready for our one last move before we head home next weekend. We have only one more week which I am finding hard to believe. But, before we left our favorite little spot of paradise, Mike and I trekked down to the beach one very last time. We carried our beautiful meile leis and the kids’ flowered leis with us, having read that one should never trash a lei; it is considered disrespectful of the earth’s offerings. In fact, they recommend that the leis be given back to the earth and nature. We thought it would be nice to return them to the earth at the spot of our renewal earlier in the week. So, we found a nice rock in front of our ‘spot’ to send our leis back to the land and to the sea.
Mike and I stood for a moment in silence and I prayed a prayer of thanksgiving for my wonderful husband and for my beloved kids. I have discovered that when I am outside, surrounded by nature, especially in landscapes as beautiful as the islands, I feel closer to God than I do on any given Sunday sitting inside a church. In fact, I was commenting on the beauty of the neighborhood while walking with Danny (our renewal ‘officiant’) the other night and he replied, “Hawaiians consider the outdoors God’s church.” I couldn’t agree more. It was a holy moment for me, reflecting on all the blessings in my life. I was overwhelmed with gratitude.
Coincidentally, we ran into Edith on our way down to the beach. Edith is originally from Germany but spent her adult years in California with her husband. She owns the gorgeous home below ours, a beautiful, custom built Hawaiian paradise that we have to pass by every time we go to the beach. I know because she and her husband gave us a tour of it 6 years ago, right after they had finished building it. I think they took a liking to us back then because we got the FULL tour. The bedrooms, the garage, the amazing gardens full of banana, mango and avocado trees, their pool, everything! We just walked around with our mouths half open as they proudly showed us what took over two years to build (in Hawaiian time). Edith’s husband even sent us back to our house with a bag full of fresh mangoes from their gardens. We haven’t seen them since that first meeting in 2011 so we were thrilled that Edith remembered us today. Sadly, she reported that her husband passed away in 2013, only two years after completing their beautiful Hawaiian home. She was remorseful that he had worked so hard all of his life only to pass away just shortly after retirement. It was a fresh reminder to us as we shared our leis with the beach, to enjoy each day, no matter where you may be, and especially with loved ones, while you have the time.
We were glad to chat with Edith though and we actually exchanged contact information; she will be coming to Dallas in a few months and we offered to take her out to dinner if she calls us. I hope she does.
After saying our goodbyes to Janet and our favorite home-away-from-home, we traveled up to Waikaloa Village for lunch at Lava Java then on to Saddle Road, or what is now called the Daniel Inouye Highway. When we first started coming to the Big Island in 2007, this road was off limits to rental vehicles, it was not really passable even though it was the quickest way to get across to the other side of the island. Now it is this gorgeous stretch of smooth highway, with wide shoulders and brightly painted lines. It cuts through Mauna Kea to the north and Mauna Loa to the south, both extinct volcanoes. We stopped at the Mauna Kea Visitor’s Center at 9200 feet above sea level. You might as well be on the moon when you are up that high on this mountain. In fact, the employees on Mauna Kea live up there while they are working, coming back down the mountain during their vacations or extended breaks. There are 12 telescopes up at the summit, 13,900 feet above sea level. This is literally, one of the best places on this entire earth to see the stars.
Because we don’t have 4 wheel drive on our huge SUV, we didn’t want to chance the dirt road and incredibly steep incline that starts after you leave the Visitor’s Center. I’m all for adventure on this trip but even that seemed too daunting for us. (In fact, the last time we drove up the mountain, kids under 16 were not even allowed to go to the summit. They took away the gate past the Center since then, and I guess, decided to let people decide for themselves if it’s worth the effort.) We just took a few pictures safely at 9,200 feet and ventured back down to the highway that takes you to Hilo.
Because we had some time to kill before we could check into our new house, we detoured up the lush Hamakua Coast on the east side of the island to grab a smoothie from What’s Shakin Farm and Smoothie Stand, which is currently for sale for a measely $2.95 million. That is a deal considering they were asking $5 million just two years ago when we visited. (They know how to make a great smoothie by the way!)
Heading back down south, we drove through Hilo again, made a stop at the Walmart there, and finally ventured toward Kapoho where we were to find our home for the next (and last) 6 nights.
If you were a local in Hawaii, you would have known about Hurricane Fernanda. Just 4 days ago, it was heading toward Hilo as a Catagory 2. Since then, it has all but dissipated out in the ocean north of the islands and for that we are all very grateful! However, Fernanda had to leave us a little reminder to respect nature because the tides on this side of the island, with coasts unprotected by literally ANYTHING east of us for thousands of miles, were especially high this weekend. They call it King Tides. It can be a site to see. We were warned by our home owners to be on the lookout; we may have to park closer inland and walk to our house on stilts if the tides are really high.
I think we arrived at the exact moment when the tides were at their absolute highest. In months, according to a local we asked. Even he, enjoying a walk and a beer at 4 pm, was clearly surprised by all the water.
I honestly started to freak out a bit as the three possible roads that lead to the street we needed to get to were totally flooded. I finally got out of the car and walked through the water on the third street to see if our SUV could handle it. (I tried to upload the video but internet is spotty here, so will have to add it later.) I remember reading that this could happen when I booked this place, but I started to think I had made a BIG MISTAKE here; we had a car full of groceries and suitcases and still a 1/4 mile to reach this house. What was I thinking last August??
We got through the water fine fortunately, eggs and milk still in tact. Then we saw this…
Everybody started to relax at this point. (Ok, almost everyone. But I’m good now:) The home is as beautiful on the inside as it is on the outside. The master bathroom… is completely out in the open air! (Pics to come.) Crazy!
To say we are ‘getting away’ this week may be an understatement. I think we could go completely ‘off the grid’ if we wanted to out here.