Sunday, March 30, 2014

A short trip to Hawaii

Last year, Anthony and I bought some rural property on the Big Island of Hawaii.  It's a gorgeous, 7.4 acre valley with views of the Pacific and of Mauna Kea.  It is raw, beautiful land.  The only structures on it are two old redwood "sheds" that the previous owners had moved and placed on pallets there.  No electricity, no water.

We took Anna and Colin there last August, and even camped a few days on the property.  This month, Anthony and I went back to do some work.

Here's sunrise the first morning on the property:

That's one of the sheds or cabins.  We actually stayed in the smaller one.  It is rustic, but we bought a Euro Lounger that we used as a bed this trip.  It was luxurious compared to the air mattress!  We also have a small one burner camp stove and a cooler -- very basic kitchen supplies.

Below is the produce that we were GIVEN by our friends and neighbors.  People in Hawaii are very generous and friendly, and its easy to grow lots of your own fruits and veggies.  Below are apple bananas, a big papaya, two avocados, two lemons, and a pepper.

 Here's what I ate for breakfast nearly every morning: purple sweet potato hash browns and an egg from our neighbor's chicken coop.
 Anthony was impressed me so much.  He can do anything mechanical, and is an encyclopedia of knowledge.  He can talk to anyone, and asked them questions about how stuff worked in Hawaii, like rainwater catchment, septic tanks, building foundations, fence repair.  People loved talking to him, because they learned stuff, too - about solar panels, credit unions, hybrid cars.

 One day Anthony hooked up an outdoor shower AND he hooked up a generator to the electrical wiring existing in the house.  This was an amazing feat.  If you've ever been camping or in a similar situation where you are without a shower for a few days, you know how valuable that shower is!  Anth borrowed a tank and filled it with water from our kind neighbor, attached tubing to a pump, hooked to the generator, that led to an instant water heater, hooked to a propane tank.  Here's our outdoor shower.  It doesn't look like much, but showering outside makes you feel so free and clean!  Hot water!
The electricity was so nice, too.  We had a floor lamp that provided us nice light after sunset.  We could charge our phones and even watch a movie on the computer.  It's amazing how the little things can mean so much.

Unfortunately, they were having a rainy spell while we were there.  Obviously, it rains a lot where our land is, usually a nice shower every afternoon.  This was more like a monsoon.  It rained hard, 9-10 inches PER DAY, for 5 days in a row.  It rained all day and all night.  Not good when you want to work outside.
Finally we had some beautiful weather, so we were able to clear part of the land.  It is being invaded by Guava trees.  Sounds nice, but this non-native plant grows like a weed, choking everything out and making walking difficult.  The fruit is mostly seeds, really only appropriate for juicing.  The fruit fuels another destructive, non-native invader, the wild hog.  The pigs spread them further by pooping out the seeds.  We were shocked how much the guava was taking over just in the short time we've owned the property.

Anthony cut guava trees and shoots down with a chainsaw, and I followed with a cane knife (like a machete) and herbicide.  We hate to use an herbicide, but cutting the guava alone will not kill it.  Some of the guava I cut in August had already regrown, springing up in huge branches from the stump, stronger with a full root system.  I used a powerful herbicide in a sprayer, so we could target only the guava trees.    We worked 6 hours one day, until we couldn't lift our arms!  Then we took a wonderful outdoor shower, drove into town, and ate this ginormous pizza.

While it was a working trip, we did have some fun.  On the 4th rainy day, we gave up and drove to the other side of the island, the dry side, and went to the beach.  Great boogie boarding!  We also were invited to a friend's St Patrick's day party.  There we met other homesteaders like us, people who have bought Hawaiian land and are trying to figure out how to build and live on it.  It was a great evening.

We were sad to say goodbye to Hawaii and all our friends there just 10 days after we'd arrived, but were happy to have accomplished some tasks.  Can't wait to go back with the kids in the summer!  I hope it rains less.


Eric said...

Great stuff. Glad you thad some Cameron Hughes wine!

Boilerdad said...

I love this post. You sell yourself short, though. The meals you cook with the little bit of stuff we have blows me away - Just as you say about me with "mechanical stuff". Good thing we are on the same team.