Tag Archives: Waimea

Camp Tarawa

Signs at the entrance to the former Camp Tarawa in Waimea, Hawaii

Waimea was the site of Camp Tarawa from 1943 to 1945. The camp was built by the 2nd Marine Division which had just fought the battle of Tarawa, hence the name of the camp. Those marines then trained there for their next campaigns before moving on in spring of 1944.

They were replaced by the 5th Marine Division, who used the area to train for the attack on Iwo Jima. After that campaign, those marines returned to the camp for further training, but the war ended before they were called into action again.

The camp was closed in November 1945 and returned to Parker Ranch, which had leased the land to the U.S. government for a nominal fee, with the proviso that it be returned to them in its original condition. This meant that few buildings from that time remain, but the land between Waimea and the South Kohala coast was littered with unexploded ordinance and shrapnel, some of which remains to this day.

Signs at the entrance to the former Camp Tarawa in Waimea, Hawaii

View of Mauna Kea

A view of Mauna Kea from Kohala Mountain Road.

This view of Mauna Kea is interesting for a couple of reasons, neither of which have to do with Mauna Kea itself.

The first is that it shows the dry side of Waimea, which is to say some of the western part of the town. The dry side gets considerably less rain and more blue skies than the wet side though the separation is only a few miles.

The second point of interest is that this view looks nothing like this today. The area between the dark line of trees and the base of the clouds is where the recent brushfire went through. So it’s not currently green and pastoral. It’s more black and brown and apocalyptic.

The good news is the land will recover, assuming there are no more fires for a while.

Sign of a brush fire

Smoke from a brush fire clouds the early morning sky

This is an early morning view of smoke from a brush fire burning south of Waimea. The fire started on Friday morning and high winds, up to 40 mph, caused it to grow rapidly. On Saturday, 8,000 acres were reported burned by noon and 12,000 acres at 5 pm. Sunday morning, at 11 am, that figure had jumped to 36,000 acres and by 1:30 pm was around 40,000 acres.

The fire jumped Highway 190 on Sunday afternoon, prompting an evacuation order for Waikoloa Village, a community with more than 6,000 residents. This order was later lifted as conditions changed and the immediate threat to the community eased.

As of Monday evening, the fire, while not fully contained, had at least been brought somewhat under control and its surge stopped, though a renewal of high winds could easily change all that.

Posted for Bushboy’s Last on the Card photo challenge. See more responses here.

Where there’s smoke

Smoke obscures Kohala Mountain Hawaii
Smoke obscures Kohala Mountain Hawaii

I work at Hapuna on the South Kohala coast and typically, during the day, clouds build up to the north and east until Kohala Mountain, Mauna Kea, and Mauna Loa are obscured. That was the case a few days ago when I noticed a dense, dark patch rolling down the hill from Waimea. My first thought was that this was rain headed my way, but it looked odd. It proved to be smoke, a fact soon confirmed when the smell filled the air.

The smoke came from a brush fire, 30 miles away, in the vicinity of Pa’auilo on the Hamakua coast. Tradewinds blew the smoke over the saddle at Waimea and on down towards the ocean. The fire consumed about 1,400 acres of brush and eucalyptus trees before it was contained late the next day. The cause of the fire is under investigation, but it’s been remarkably dry for quite a while so the fire danger is currently high.

The top two photos show smoke blotting out Kohala Mountain, the second one being taken 15 minutes after the first. (Compare this with the hillside under normal circumstances here.) The bottom photo, taken a little way north of Kawaihae, shows the plume of smoke over the ocean with clear skies to the north of it.

Smoke hangs in the sky off the Kohala Coast Hawaii

Rainbow yellow

The third of my rainbow colors in response to Becky’s April Squares challenge theme of ‘Bright.’ (See more responses here.)

Today’s rainbow was taken from Kohala Mountain Road and looks down towards the southern edge of Waimea.

In the middle, a bright yellow saffron finch perches on a bare branch of a plumeria. There were zero leaves on this tree and only a few budding flowers, such as the one next to the finch.

And finally, the yellow robe of the painted statue of King Kamehameha I in Kapaau.

Signs: Supercuts

Here’s a little peek into the commercial world in Hawaii. These signs illustrate enterprises found here, probably a similar pattern to those in many parts of the world.

Supercuts is a national franchise with locations across the country and elsewhere. It’s a hair salon and, to be honest, I’m scared to go here for fear of getting my hair styled and smothered in ‘product.’

L&L Hawaiian Barbecue is a Hawaiian franchise that started in the islands but, like Supercuts, has spread nationwide and even internationally. I eat at L&L once in a while. It’s pretty good, some dishes better than others, the kind of place you know you can get a decent meal if you’re in a hurry.

Noodle Club is a local enterprise which, I confess, I haven’t been to. But I have been to Village Burger, operated by the same ownership, and they’re very good.

Posted in response to Becky’s January Squares challenge theme of ‘Up.’ See more responses here.

Saddle up

The headquarters of Parker Ranch, founded in 1847 and one of the biggest ranches in the USA, can be found in the bucolic town of Waimea. It’s the heart of cattle country on the Big Island and where there’s cattle, there’s cowboys, but not here. Here in Hawaii, the cattle are tended by paniolos. That’s because, when the cattle industry grew, ranch hands were needed.

The first three came from California, then part of Mexico. These three vaqueros (Spanish for cowboys) spoke español, but the theory is that, because the Hawaiian language couldn’t handle the word español, it was converted to paniolo. The name stuck.

Over time, the local Hawaiians learned the skills associated with handling cattle. So well did they do this that, in 1908, three of them were entered in the Frontier Days World Championship in Cheyenne, Wyoming. Not only were they a huge hit with the crowds, but they also won titles. Ikua Purdy won the world steer-roping contest and was later voted into the National Rodeo Cowboy Hall of Fame. To commemorate those achievements this monument was commissioned. It arrived on the island in 2003 and today stands next to the main highway, on the edge of the parking lot of Parker Ranch Center, a large (for Waimea) shopping complex in the center of town.

For more information about monument, go to https://paniolopreservation.org/a-monument-to-paniolo-pride/.

For a brief history of the Big Island’s cattle industry, go to https://www.bikemaui.com/hawaiian-paniolo-brief-history/.

Posted in response to Becky’s January Squares challenge theme of ‘Up.’ See more responses here.

Two or three horses

I saw these two horses in Waimea, near the Parker Ranch headquarters. Nothing remarkable about them, but I’m pretty sure that brown lump in the grass is a third horse. I mention this because one of the early things I learned about horses is that they sleep standing up. They can do this because they have something called the stay apparatus, which locks the knees so they don’t fall over. The benefit of sleeping while standing is that they can respond quicker to a predator attack from that position.

While I learned this bit about horses, it didn’t register in the same way that horses will also lie down to sleep. As a result, every single time I see a horse lying stretched out in the grass the way they do, I think it’s dead or dying. Despite knowing better, this response seems to so ingrained in me that I doubt it will ever go away.