Yay – I’m so excited that it’s finally summer break for the boys. While the twins will be going to Summer school in a few weeks, we still plan to take full advantage of the days we have with each other and summer for us means fun and adventures. Since the boys and I are going to be adventuring around our island like tourists this summer, I figured that I would share with all of you some of the pictures of our journey. While some of them will be fun and exciting, we also plan to revisit some of the places I played in my childhood. So many changes happen as the future evolves and this is my way of sharing all of it with my boys.
A few days ago I found myself pumping gas into my car and an overwhelming feeling of a need to visit sanctuary overcame me. As a child my parents took me to different places on the island to cool off during the summer or hot months or to just relax and as a teenager, I visited these places with friends. I wanted to take a drive to calm my mind. Out of the blue, I found myself driving to little towns that I haven’t been to in over 10 years and what I saw hurt my heart.
My first stop was to Waihee Valley and a location the locals here know as Swinging Bridges. It’s at the top of a narrow road at the base of the mountain range and somewhere I spent many summers, walking across these swinging bridges on a hike to get to the waterfall at the top of the trail. The last time we entered, we were charged a fee (about 10 years ago), even if we were Kama’ainas (local residents). So, I expected that I would need to pay a small fee to enter the grounds again. This time, I was greeted at the top of the road before the entry to Swinging Bridges with a large gate that blocked my entry.
In shock, I sat there for a few minutes to collect my thoughts. How is this even possible? I turned my car around and just as I started my descent back down the road, I passed a local man tending to his garden. His house is located just to the side of where this photo (above) was taken. If you’ve been to Hawaii or live here, then you probably know that even is Aunty or Uncle, so I greeted him by saying… “Good morning Uncle, how are you today?” He responded by approaching my car and we talked story a bit. He explained that the gate was put up about 5 years ago and the property which is owned by the plantation and a private land owner decided to remove access to the public. We talked about how the families that lived in the valley were either moving away or they were offered a lot of money to sell their homes. Long time residents that go back generations that live on the road are also blocked access to something they grew up with. We talked for about 30 minutes and the uncle ended the conversation by saying that I was welcomed to come back any time to wala’au (or talk story).
As a kid, we often went up to those areas to pick fern so that we could make haku leis (floral head wreaths) for hula, weddings and other events. The local people no longer have access to that area any longer without asking for permission. Like I mentioned before, we also swam in the ponds and waterfalls as kids to cool off from the hot Maui heat. About 10 years ago I took my eldest son to these places and he loved it, but now it is no longer accessible.
I absolutely think that those who own the property have the right to block access to the public, however, much of the land in these parts are technically not “owned” by anyone. Hawaii is known for parts of the islands that are blocked from access when they technically are not owned by the person who does so. It’s a common argument throughout the islands. I was so sad to see this gate here because I figured that if it was still easily accessible, this would be one of the places I would bring my sons to go hiking and journeying through the Valley and ending at a gorgeous waterfall. I’m sad to see that the access is blocked, but I know there truly is not much I can do about it to fix the situation. I can only hope that they open it for hiking some days and I can take my sons to visit my childhood stomping grounds.
This was just the beginning of my journey on that day. Over the next week or so I’ll be sharing more of my adventure and over the next couple of months, I’ll be sharing photos and our journey as we enjoy our summer break. Stay tuned for more.
Wishing you all a wonderful summer!
Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post and all images are my own. Affiliate links may be posted throughout and all opinions are my own.