After spending some time around Spencer beach we really wanted to travel north all the way up to the “end of the road.” We packed up our gear and headed towards the highway to see if anyone was in the mood to meet a few new people on this late morning. As I said before everyone that picked us up was really quite wonderful and made the adventure that much more amazing. Some people would drive out of their way just to get you where you needed to go like this one woman, Lorraine, who picked us up in on our way to Hawi…
She was on her way back from a morning swim at Hapuna Beach when she picked us up in her old ford blazer. She jumped right out and opened her trunk for our packs and was said she was happy to give us a lift. She was a genuine and kindhearted soul you could tell right away. As we came to learn she had moved from NYC to Hawi (HA-VI) several years before with her daughter after a tough split with her husband which must have been both terribly hard and easy to do all at the same time. Hawaii is definitely a change of pace from the mainland so much that I don’t consider them the same thing… I actually refuse to accept that Hawaii is actually a part of the United States.
Anyway, Lorraine couldn’t have been a sweeter soul to find on our way up to the Northern coast. Sitting in the car with her we came to know her pretty well (I guess it’s easy to talk in front of a captivated audience) and I could see that her move to Hawi had been the best decision for her. Especially now with her daughter a bit older she had more freedom to discover who she truly was at the heart of it all (and it’s even easier to do while in Hawaii). She started dating someone new and really started to feel connected to the place, the people and most importantly to herself. You could see the hawaiian sparkle in her eye. You could also tell that maybe she was still trying to figure out a few other things but it was awesome how much she opened up to us and vice versa. She asked us what our plans were as we said we didn’t have any she said she had the afternoon to show us around a bit if we’d like (of course we did).
With the windows rolled all the way down and the sun blazing on her face, Lorraine’s hair was a wild vision of perfection, a jet black curly mess blowing in the breeze.. and as we approached Hawi she turned to us and told us not to blink or we might miss it. She took us to the little main street of Kapa’au to admire the statue of King Kamehameha the great and to drop off a few letters at the post office. She said she knew of a great place by the ocean if we were up for it (of course we were.. we were in HAWAII!).
The roads became narrow and windy and lush and beautiful. The north was by far the most gorgeous place that I had seen on the island. The cooler ocean breeze made the sun feel sooo good and you could see the ocean from wherever you stood. I liked it up there.. it was perfectly quaint and something about it reminded me of home and I felt connected almost instantly. Our lovely new friend took us first to Keokea Beach which was off of a sharp curve in the road so if you weren’t paying attention you surely would have missed it. The road took us through a small neighbor hood where it opened up to giant fields full of “dr. suess” trees and even an old Hawaiian graveyard. At the end of the road was a fantastic lava rock jetty and the most beautiful view of the earth shaping ocean.
The waves were hitting hard here, way too hard to get in the water so it was easy just to sit and admire the view. The earth was a rich burnt orange and looked magical against the turquoise waters. Where am I again? I looked over at Lorraine and she smiled. It’s funny how things work out sometimes.. I felt like we both genuinely needed this day together.. a lifting of the spirits. She seemed happy to take the time out of her day to be reminded of the beauty that was around her and I was grateful to be the one she shared that with (we all need a reminder every now and again..even if it IS Hawaii).
After spending some time admiring the sea she said she’d like to take us to the “end of the road.” If there ever really was such a thing I surely wanted to see it. So we hopped back into the car and headed just a bit further north to the Pololu Valley. On the short ride up there the windy, jungle road opened up and all of a sudden there were open farm fields and cattle roaming about – a 360 view of absolute beauty.
I wasn’t sure what to expect when we finally arrived at the end but I couldn’t wait to see it.. it was a beautiful blue skied day so nothing was going to obscure my view. When we finally arrived and jumped out of the car I didn’t know what to do. I walked over to the ledge and looked over the side and this is what I saw….
Seriously, places like this exist? All I could do was stare in wonder and amazement of the absolute beauty that lay before me. It looked so peaceful and serene at the bottom of trail and without a person in sight on the black sand beach I knew I had to get down there. We didn’t have much for food so I knew we had to get back to town but I knew we’d be back here eventually..
Lorraine happily drove us back to Hawi where we grabbed some sushi at this amazing little place she suggested called Sushi Rock. Before departing she jotted down her name on a piece of paper and told us to call her if we needed anything at all.. that we had made a genuine friend in Hawaii. We sat outside to gather our thoughts and enjoy our locally caught meal and I couldn’t help from smiling or laughing. I was so happy and thankful to be exactly where I was and nothing could take that away from me. It was all mine.
What next?, I thought. I asked the young waiter if there were any cool places to camp around there for the night. He suggested a few of the obvious options and then finally suggested we might (might.. might.. really?!) want to go back to Pololu Valley and camp there for the night. He told us that, “People go there during the day but no one ever camps out there at night… except on the weekends when the locals go out to have bonfires… but it being the week you guys should have no problem.” Before I could even think twice we were going back to Pololu..
With happy bellies and full hearts we made our way to the road and got our hitchhiking thumbs ready. A nice young woman picked us up and we jumped in the back of her pick up. She said she could only give us just a short ride to Kapa’au but we’d surely take it. She worked at a nearby farm and was on her way back to the homestead. Thankfully, it didn’t take too long after to get a ride from a fellow east coaster from Vermont. We sank into his old mini van and he asked where we were going. “The end of the road.” “Well I’m not going all the way out there but what the heck I’ll bring you there anyway.”
He was a cool guy who had moved to Hawi 20 or so years ago after touring the world as a semi pro surf boarder. Boy, he had some stories to tell and we were happy to listen. He was a sweet guy who talked a lot about the distance traveling put between him and his sweetie but how much fun he had as a young guy just traveling about and adventuring. There’s a balance there some where between traveling and the life that awaits you back home… it was awesome to feel that through his stories though because I felt like I was just beginning….
We made our farewell and were off on our the decent down into the Pololu Valley. The closer I got to the bottom the faster my body was moving. I couldn’t wait. The sun was dancing between the mossy trees until it opened up and really let it shine in the first valley. I made it to the river and followed it down to the ocean side. I couldn’t stop from smiling. There were two free roaming cattle hanging out and I said hello. I met back up with Ty and suggested we set up camp before it started to get dark. We made our way just up to the trees and all of a sudden I felt like a wild thing. Homemade hammocks made of heavy fishing nets, drift wood shelters, fire pits and rope swings. This place was where the wild things were.
To the left was the ocean and to the right was the first sweep of the valley floor. It was pure magic. I spent the next hour or so collecting fire wood and we built up a really nice fire. It was a quite the windy eve and as we sat by the fire’s edge the sparks danced high up into the sky, twirling endlessly into the jet black night. The stars hung and sparkled over head and all we could hear were the crest fallen waves in front of us and down below.
In the morning it was even more magical. I awoke before the sun rose and made my way down to the ocean side. I watched as the sun came up over the hillside and made the earth sing. I built rock sculptures and watched as the tide came in and took them out to sea. I couldn’t believe how meditative and alive I felt at the same time.. I had found something here that was always a part of me and all at once I felt completely free…