We awoke to a fresh wind from the south. We had planned a beach day in sunny Kīhei, but as the clouds spun in from Māʻalaea and drove them straight to our usually dry location in lower Kula, we realized an alternate plan was in order. I knew the gloom of the South Shore would be a distant memory if we headed northeast to Kaupo.
We gathered ourselves for whatever laid ahead of us that day, which meant packing everything from hiking shoes to slippers, bathing suits, jackets, and long pants. A quick supply run to the Minute Stop in Pukalani yielded a big box of fried chicken & potatoes, spam musubi, drinks, and some mango Hi-Chews which are highly coveted by all. We set off from the growing gloom of Kula and headed to sunnier shores, entertaining ourselves with the “Word Game”: a creation of mine whereby someone says one word and the next person replies with another word that shares a meaning or the meaning of a homonym. If the given word were “steel” for example, the response could be “stainless”, “sword”, or even “robbery”. It’s great fun and teaches vocabulary and meanings.
Our word game eventually dissolved into arguments over silly points with my son Bear soon replying “Sparta” and “drunk” to every word so we decided to give the game a rest and enjoy the magnificent vistas of Ulupalakua and Kaupo quietly instead. Bear’s fascination with drunk Spartans is both disturbing and highly entertaining all at once. With every mile we headed northeast the sun grew stronger and the clouds more scarce. We eventually stopped to grab a few pictures of the coastline and stretch our legs. It was such a colorful and amazing day on this side of the island. I imagine there’s some life lesson here somewhere. If you think about it there is always a sunny place somewhere on even the darkest day. I realize this bit of philosophizing works much better on an island than elsewhere in the world but there’s no need to dwell on realism when it comes to my metaphoric nonsense.
Back in the car and we’re off to St. Joseph’s Church in Kaupo. It’s Sunday so there are quite a few people on this narrow road but when we arrive at St. Joseph’s there’s not a soul in sight. The sky is super blue and there are a few of those puffy “cotton candy” clouds floating by. The Church and grounds look gorgeous against the blues of the sky and greens of the vegetation. I snap a few shots and notice some other cars pulling up. This is something you have to deal with on the more crowded islands. People will be driving along and see a car parked and immediately think this is some amazing thing going on or sight to see, so they stop. I have literally pulled over to pee and had people pull over to see what was going on. Our car parked at the Church soon had at least 5-6 other cars now parked with their occupants getting out to investigate. We had our brief private moment at the church and got a few photos so it was back on the road to our next destination.
We pile back in the car and then we’re off to St. Joseph’s Church in Kaupo. It’s Sunday so there are quite a few people on this narrow road, but when we arrive at St. Joseph’s there’s not a soul in sight. The sky is super blue and there are a few of those puffy “cotton candy” clouds floating by. The Church and grounds look gorgeous against the blues of the sky and greens of the vegetation. I snap a few shots and notice some other cars pulling up. This is something you have to deal with on the more crowded islands: people driving along see a car parked and immediately think there is some amazing thing going on or sight to see, and they stop. I have literally pulled over to pee and had people pull over to see what was going on. There were soon at least 5-6 other cars parked alongside ours, with their occupants getting out to investigate. Our private moment at the St. Joseph’s Church was gone, and with a few photos it was back on the road to our next destination.
We drove through the very heart of Kaupo past the closed Kaupo Store. We drove on to the Hui Aloha Church for our next photo opportunity. I absolutely love this little stretch of mountain and sea. Many years ago I visited the Church and as I drove down the gravel road I met a little old Hawaiian lady who stopped to talk. She asked me where I was from and what I was doing in Kaupo. At the time I was working at the Hana Medical Center, and we ended up talking about the challenges of living in a remote location especially as one gets older and needs frequent medical care. She then said something to me which I didn’t think much of at the time, yet it stuck with me: the light of Heaven falls here first and on the rest of the world after. Every chance I get I come and enjoy the beauty and solitude I find here. I have come to understand what she meant, and now believe as she did that Kaupo is about as close to Heaven as you can get without actually giving up the ghost.
After I get some great pictures of the kids, the Church, and my beautiful girlfriend Penni, I decide to set aside my camera and my blog-driven aspirations to head to a waterfall a few miles away to cool off and give the kids something more to do than stay out of the way of my photo-ops. We arrive at our destination and have a picnic. I really like Minute Stop fried chicken! We finish our food and head into the canyon to go for a swim at the waterfall. The stream bed was bone dry (which is not the best sign for a waterfall), but the canyon is stunning with it’s lush greens contrasted by black lava rocks and the deep blue sky. We arrive at the falls to find barely a trickle, but there is still a fairly deep pool of cold water at the base which looks very inviting after the hike through the heat and humidity of the valley. Eva and I head right in. She’s quite the water-child and never misses an opportunity for a dip or swim. The water is cold but so refreshing! When Bear finally comes in, the three of us realize someone is missing the fun. We politely tell her to put down her phone and sunglasses so nothing gets harmed when we throw her in. After successfully throwing Mom in, which is always the highlight of any beach or fun day, I snapped a few photos and we headed home.
We only get a few miles until we run into a wagon train of cars heading home at a blistering 8 mph. I decide it would be better to stop at the Kaupo Store and relax on their porch steps for a half hour or so than be stuck behind a bunch of cars in the dust. There’s such a timeless quality to this place. Sitting on those steps watching the kids play as the clouds scudded by I was reminded of how lucky we are to live in this amazing place. We jumped back into the car and headed home on a much emptier road. We made good time and were soon back in `Ulupalakua where the skies were quickly darkening. By the time we reach Kēōkea, it’s raining hard with the clouds are low and the visibility poor. It is such a sharp contrast to the colorful and bright district we just left, but it is also a fitting end to a day that was filled with spectacular sights and wonderful company.
Lower Kula was cold and wet when we tiredly returned home. A hot shower and dinner are going to be the perfect ending to this perfect day. Lucky we live Hawaii. We say this a lot here and usually with good reason! Aloha!