That sign is an understatement at the very least. Let's start with the word "road". I am not sure we could call it that. You don't get to see the "real" Hawaii without a 4-wheel drive due mostly to the miles and miles covered with lava flow.
The road is just a hellbanging path over the lava that somehow manages to avoid the craters, lava tubes, and enormous boulders and drop offs. I did this "road" 6 years ago with Zach floating happily in utero. I remember gripping my bulging belly and trying to keep down my breakfast (which was challenging even when sitting still) thinking it was the longest 3 miles ever. But now that we are two rather than one, I see the road with new eyes. It's pure joy for my sweet boy. It meant getting to have a rare stint out of the car seat and up in the "Grandma seatbelt" for a front row view of our harrowing 2 mile an hour, rock and roll lava road ride.
Then a small hike and the pay off. White sand beach, impossible blue waters, and an afternoon to do as one wishes with only a handful of die hard surfers hanging around.
For Zach it meant the search for more adventures of course. He scurried about chasing mongoose and collecting shells and came upon these abandoned buildings.
One could just imagine the scene here... ocean side, a lava field away from civilization, I am sure some good times went down in this place. My boy investigated every corner for relics and treasures.
But in the end it was all about the trees. There are all manner of crazy, twisted, branchy trees around here just begging to be climbed. This is his happy place.
Gurly Mule, for the crime of opening the mid-pasture gate, running out of said gate, and inciting a riot amongst your pasture mates, you are hereby sentenced to a haltering and gently led ride around the property with one very happy 5 year old upon your back.
See these three beauties? Pilgrim up front, CJ on the end, and that one in the middle is Gurly. Gurly is a mule and for the record she is a trouble maker. Tipper over of feed buckets, stealer of sheep food, and this afternoon she added a new title to her name... opener of pasture gates.
Yes we had a full on jail break and stampede in the yard today. The funny thing is the pasture is WAY bigger than the rest of the land, but the mere idea of being on the outside sent these three in a frenzy, with Miss Gurly leading the pack.
Thankfully Zach had the good instincts to scurry on up to the porch to avoid getting trampled. Grandma ran off to the barn in search of sheep food (it's like cookies to these guys), and I ran to get my camera. Yes, I am oh so helpful that way. Then there was Louie, doing what farm dogs LOVE to do, NEED to do.
Louie ran his little paws off trying to herd those rascals back into the pasture. Ok, I actually don't think he was necessarily aiming for the pasture, he was just enjoying the art and sport of real herding (as opposed to just chasing the sheep in circles around the pasture.) And the part that sent us all into hysterics was my dad, chasing after the dog, waving his arms and yelling, trying to get him to stop. Good times. One minute we're planting banana trees and the next it's a full on rodeo show. Never a dull moment here on the farm.
It's all about local knowledge. A neighbor homeschooling mom and her daughter around the same age invite us to spend a day "at the beach". Down the mountain, turn off at a random street. Weave through a residential neighborhood, look for the round church. Park on the shoulder and cut through the trees at the dumpster. On the other side, white sand and broken coral beach, big weathered trees to climb, and tide pools as far as the eye can see.
(A Brittle Star. Zach was amazed watching it crawl up his arm like a spider.)
The tide pools offer endless treasures and exploring and lessons and wonder. And our only other company was a lone fisherwoman and a gang of happy sea turtles.
Turtles play in the current...
Kid plays in the current...
Turtle basks on the lava rock...
Kids bask on the lava rock...
And of course some good old fashioned splashing...
I can see why the locals keep places like this on the down low. It's was such an incredibly special spot, shared with new friends, and now etched into our hearts.
Where am I? To be exact we are in Kapa'au, Hawaii which is on the northern tip of The Big Island. About an hour from Kona and 2+ hours from Hilo. My folks have lived here for about 9 years now (has it been that long?) coming here to escape the cold and crowds of the city of Chicago where I grew up.
Many moons ago, I came out here for a shoot when I was working for HGTV before Zach was born, and I loved it! I encouraged my dad to come out since he had recently retired and we had an old family friend here he could crash with. He hemmed and hawed, wondering what point there was traveling out to Hawaii. My parents are the sort who consider a camping safari to be a real vacation, so Hawaii seemed a little "soft". But he came out and fell in love too. So much so that he never came back home. He phoned my step-mom Lynda and said, "Put the house on the market and start packing, I bought some land." He slept in the back of an old truck and built this place from scratch.
It's ten acres of former cattle land. We're at 700 feet elevation snuggled in no particular town, but between the funky little hamlets of Hawi & Kapa'au (think Cicely, Alaska in the tropics). This is not the Hawaii of coconut bras and grass skirts and drinks with little umbrellas. This is farm country, local folk, old school, dare I say "real" Hawaii. We can see Maui across a small patch of ocean from the front porch and the hills of North Kohala behind us (along with the neighbor's cows).
This week we've been doing absolutely nothing at all. Just letting Zach and the grandparents he so rarely gets to see enjoy each other. He's been helping Granny care for the animals, feeding the horses
And spoiling the dog (Louie) and the cat (Popoki) rotten. He's also been Grandpa's little shadow, following along with every farm chore from replanting a sick banana tree to fixing the wind generator.
I managed to pack just about everything we own except my camera battery charger, so some of the above photos are from our last trip. I am expecting the charger in the mail tomorrow (I hope) so I will start fresh with some new photos and such in a day or two.
In the mean time we're off to whale watch, rainbow chase, and frolic with a small Waldorf homeschool co-op on an organic farm. Life is good.
5-thousand miles and 22 hours later we arrived. Over tired, over packed, and over joyed to be here. Zach and I are spending some time on the Big Island of Hawaii with my dad and step-mom on their farm. It's an escape from cold, it's a chance to unwind, and more than anything it's all about Zach getting some rare, raw, uninterrupted grandparent time.
I plan to post as regularly as off the grid, farm life will allow. So I may be here at odd times. But this place is so very special, I can't wait to share our adventures here. In the meantime, we are still battling jet lag. Zach and I are struggling to sort out night...
(we sleep in the "shed". basically the barn where dad keeps his tools and tractor. after creature close encounters of visits past, we requested a net for our bed this time since it will be a long visit and gecko eggs hatching in my hair and spiders on my toes are not high on my list of things to do)
(papaya picked this morning by Zach with bread made by grandma smeared with liliquoi butter (passion fruit) picked from their farm and made by grandma. oh and don't forget the Kona coffee)
... and we hope our bodies catch up to Aloha time soon.
I jotted down all of your names on scraps of paper (twice for those who posted the link) and had Zach draw a name out of a bowl (we're very high tech here).
And the winner is...
Please contact me (email should show up in my profile) with your mailing address and direct email and I will connect you with the good folks at Satch & Sol.
Don't forget you can still use the discount code boat15until January 24 at Satch & Sol to get 15% anything you purchase from their online boutique. Thank you to all of you for stopping by, don't be a stranger! It's been so fun clicking on your blogs and finding new places to read. Please feel free to chime in more often here, I'd love to hear from you.
And a HUGE warm thank you to Susan at Satch & Sol for her generous giveaway and for her dedication and hard work in bringing this beautiful craftsmanship from Mongolia to our happy feet!
I am slowly recovering from our long journey and I'll be back later to share our adventures...
...in the mean time... use that extra few dollars you're saving from the discounted slippers and consider giving what you can to help in Haiti by donating to Doctors Without Borders or the International Red Cross. Every little bit makes a difference.
The only reason I pitter-patter around the boat happily this winter is because of the good folks at Satch & Sol. After 12 winters living aboard a sailboat, I have tried every means of keeping my tootsies warm, and nothing seemed to do the trick. But ever since getting slippers from Satch & Sol back in November I have had happy feet. Even on the most frigid mornings, when the floors of the boat are like ice, these little beauties keep me toasty and warm.
And for Zach, not only do they protect his feet from the cold boat floors, they are the first slippers he actually LOVES to wear!
So it's a natural that the first ever give away here on Zach Aboard comes from Satch & Sol.
Here's the scoop: (from the Satch & Sol web site) "For the love of family and earth, Satch & Sol partners with fair trade artisan cooperatives worldwide and strives to be eco-friendly through product selection and business practices.
We celebrate the artist for the unique quality each brings to the collection. The Artists of Mongolia apply traditional felting and knitting skills to create beauty and quality for the Satch & Sol collection. We are expanding by adding collections from around the world where artistic beauty abounds. Handmade processes ensure that no two items are ever exactly alike. "
It's awesome to spread the love about a company you know first hand and truly like.
So I was thrilled when Susan at Satch & Sol offered to give away one pair of children's slippers from their online boutique to a Zach Aboard reader (no dad, you can't enter). Just leave a comment here between now and Thursday telling me your favorite item from their shop, or heck tell me anything :) For an additional entry, post a link to this giveaway on your blog and tell me about it here.
And that's not all! If you shop at Satch & Sol's online boutique and enter the word boat15 at checkout you will get 15% off your purchase from now until January 24, 2010.
I'm off in the meantime, on a bit of a journey, but I'll be back on Thursday night Jan 14, at which time I'll post the winner! Thank you Susan! And good luck!
comments closed... check in late tonight or tomorrow morning for the winner! thanks!