This last weekend we found ourselves in the Hawaiian version of the American west: Waimea. A town in the crest of a valley of rocky cloud kissed hills and lush rolling grasses, where stop signs read “whoa.”. Needless to say its my favorite place on this island.
Boisterous and skilled Latin American vaqueros arrived in the late 1800′s, teaching the natives and foreign cattle hunters techniques of handling the dangerous longhorns. Hawaii’s unique breed of cowboy, the paniolo, derived his name from these Spanish Espanoles.
The era was short, lasting only as long as the wild longhorn were plentiful. By 1841 Governor Kuakiki had placed a kapu on killing wild cattle. The casual “beef establishment” as it was called, gave way to more controlled business of ranching. Parker Ranch, so visible today, was one of the first ranches to be formed. John Palmer Parker built the original headquarters seven miles out on the plains at Mana, along the main route to Hilo. Tame longhorns roamed unfenced, devastating crops. Both the wild bullock hunters and the farmers departed. Waimea town was quiet and empty.
And that with the exception of parts being a hipster’s tropical paradise is basically how it stayed. Stark expansive landscapes, good coffee, and cool fronts make up the majority of modern Waimea and wouldn’t you know it, it’s also home to the Big Islands only Pumpkin patches.
Not expecting much, I must say I was astounded to pull into the 8 acre lot with a clear view of Maui on my right and both a you pick sunflower plot and giant corn maze to my right. All and all, moving back to the mainland is long overdue but this last Saturday, it was pretty damn nice: