OK, now I am starting to get why people vacation on the West (aka dry) side of the island. WOW — it rained for about six hours straight. Not that I really mind the peaceful sound of the rain drops on our roof. It was a beautiful way to wake up.
Our plans today included a bit of laundry, packing up, one last dinner in Pahoa and a pleasant neighborhood walk once the sun came out. I think the biggest struggle with the rain this morning however, was that since we don't have air conditioning (almost no one does in this neighborhood as the trade winds keep things cool) all the screened-in windows and doors remain open at all times, which makes everything inside feel just a tiny bit damp. I honestly don't mind given the beauty of the house and its surroundings.
This home was built as a retirement oasis, the lot purchased in 2003 and the Architectural Digest-worthy home finally completed in 2013. The owners' son is an LA architect and he designed it for his parents. With huge massive doors that open to the south and east, the 180 degree view of the sunrise and tide pools is really unparalleled.
The vaulted ceiling is 23 feet high with hand rubbed beams and floating globe pendants that I now want to install somewhere in my own home if only my ceilings were tall enough. A curved Mango wood staircase leads up to three different open air bedrooms that all have views of the tide pools. The master bath is completely open air — one of only two doors inside the whole house provides the necessary privacy from the rest of the rooms but the bathroom itself opens up to a beautiful view so that it feels like you are showering atop the trees of a jungle. The kitchen is full of beautiful African Ribbon mahogany cabinets and dark leathered granite counters and is conveniently set up.
But the lanai? That is my favorite. It's 600 sq feet of relaxation that overlooks both the ocean and the back yard of tilapia-filled pools, complete with a hot tub that has been used quite a bit this week. Really, the owners spared no expense on this home and we have enjoyed it immensely. But it is clear that owning a home on an island can be very maintenance-intense. All this dampness leads to rust on just about every possible metal item, from the toilet paper holder to the frame on the refrigerator. One friendly maitre' d we spoke with back on Kauai a couple weeks ago mentioned that he finally got tired of having to buy a new TV, refrigerator, washer, dryer, etc. almost every year and finally sold his ocean front home for something more inland. It makes me appreciate the lack of humidity in Dallas and the relative ease of purchasing and maintaining a home in a large city with lots of options.
Kapoho may not be the easiest place to live, but it might just be one of the prettiest. In fact, I am intrigued by the number of people that make this their full time residence. For example, Gary lives here full time next door with his wife, who broke her ankle last week and is now in a wheel chair recovering from surgery. Their house, like all houses here along the water, is on 20 feet of stilts so she literally crawled up the stairs on her behind after the surgery and hasn't been back down since. (At least she has something beautiful to look at while she recovers.)
Meanwhile, the couple directly behind us, who must be writers or web developers, have the cutest little bungalow with lights strung up around their house. While our house tends to block a fair amount of their view, I would guess they still have a pleasant little slice of ocean. He has stayed up all night the last two nights smoking and working on his computer out on their lanai, even in the rain. I know because every time I've woken up I see him out there, his face focused and glowing in his computer's light. I'm dying to know their story.
Speaking of lights, they are actually considered a no-no around this neighborhood. It is truly one of the darkest skies on the planet and many locals try to respect that others might want to enjoy the millions of stars (or take pictures of them, like my boys have been doing). We have spent several nights fumbling around in the dark once the sun sets. But that is mostly because light attracts bugs and when your screened-in doors and windows are open all the time, they are bound to sneak in at night. During the day, everything is open and bugs are not a problem at all, but come dusk? We make sure every screen is secured, per Mama's strict instructions!
While I didn't necessarily plan it this way, I love how our trip has progressed from visiting the bustling city of Honolulu, with the busiest beaches and just about any convenience a short drive away, to staying in one of the more remote areas of the Big Island, having to drive down long stretches of really dark and winding roads just to grab a dinner or some gas. We really feel like we 'got away from it all'. We have seen a wide and wonderful cross section of this state and have a better appreciation for all that it offers; it's positives (the land, the beaches, the food, the diverse population, I could go on) and the negatives (the homelessness and poverty, the effect of weather on everything, the lack of some conveniences). I had hoped that this extended trip would provide enough insight on the pros and cons of living here more permanently, or at least semi-regularly. It definitely has served that purpose. Mike and I could easily spend a lot more time here if life wasn't calling us back to the mainland, and we plan to make more trips back to the islands in the future. But, while I think Mike, Casey and I (assuming Dan heads off to college) could enjoy living in a place like Waimea or the Kohala Coast full time, I have gone back to my original desire of spending some time here on a regular basis, while maintaining a home base in Dallas. The city really has a lot to offer (especially Casey) and we love the community of friends, family and support services that we have built over the last 13 years.
However, one thing I have learned about myself over the last couple years is that I need to switch things up every so often. Whether it's getting away for a few days to clear out the cobwebs that come from the monotony of the daily routine, or uprooting your whole family to move 10 miles south, it turns out that seeking new surroundings and challenges is just good for my soul. Maybe this internal desire comes from all the moving that I did when I was young. I can't otherwise explain why, almost two years ago now, I was excited to forego such a fabulous community with its parks, pools, restaurants, and golf-cart-welcome roads for an older, more expensive, smaller home in a much more urban area. (Yes, Casey's school situation provided a very valid excuse, but inside, I was ready for a new adventure.)
Fortunately, breaking up the routine of life and seeking new surroundings and challenges… that is where Mike and I might be most compatible, and the kids have followed along in suit just beautifully so far. In fact, we have been very very fortunate that Casey has been able to roll with the tide, so to speak, as our family tries new things over the years. Many children with Down Syndrome like and need a constant routine to help them feel comfortable and safe. Casey is relatively easy going in that regard, but we have also sought out ways to help her adjust to new situations and so far, she has risen to the occasion almost every time. She really has been a good sport and I am very proud of how she has rolled with all the moves, changes, and activities that she has been exposed to in the last month. Regarding the length of this trip, she didn't even mention Dallas until Day 22, and that was only because she finally realized there were no Chick-Fil-A's on the Islands. She did have a quite the little melt down the other night however, while we were enjoying a lovely authentic Italian meal in a tiny little restaurant in Pahoa that was BYOB. We didn't realize that so we were all just drinking water. She asked for a Sprite, then a lemonade, only to be told that they don't have anything but H2O. You might have thought the waitress had told her our dog had died. She broke down crying saying she didn't like this part of Hawaii because they don't have good drinks, and she needed to get back to Dallas. We laugh about it now but I realized then, it was time to take her home.
Heading out to Kaleo's in Pahoa for our last Hawaiian dinner of the trip. I made sure they had Sprite just for our girl.