Second Stop Light in Waimea

 I have been known for stringing stories together; mostly true ones. The truth has always been stranger than fiction . My brother, God Rest His Soul, well he told a few too.  So when he and I decided to go to Hawaii together it was apparent from the get-go that there would be stories told and in one interesting case, proven.

 We had been going back and forth to Hawaii visiting many of the Islands. Carolyn’s sister has lived there many years. Our son decided after a senior summer trip to visit he’d like to go to college there.  So from 1995 on we had traveled to many of the islands but always we stayed the longest on the Big Island and in the town of Hilo with Kristopher.

 Hilo is wet; it rains there. The National Weather forecast for Hilo begins with rain and ends with rain. It’s green there. The grass is green, the flowers are green; the roofs of the houses are green, well that’s mold and stuff; the walls are green and your clothes are …. Well they are a nice ….  Mildew green.

 So if you live in Hilo you expect rain and humidity but it is never unlivable.

 So when my brother and I decided to go to Hawaii it was to the Big Island with stopovers on O’ahu.  The Big Island was the natural place for us to go. Carolyn and I owned a nice little residence for Kristopher. It was part rent house and we were trying to at least break even on the cost of Kris’ education and high cost of living. So we had a “motel room”. Transportation on the Big Island is expensive and Kristopher offered his truck and solved our transportation problems.

 After we bought the house we decided to enlarge the living area by enclosing the carport giving Kristopher a large 20X20 bedroom, office with the large water heater closet and the original full bath for his own. Our neighbor Ted had inspected the carport; designed an enclosure and built a private entrance. Kristopher was to be the landlord.

 Now this house had been both a blessing and a curse. It was not too auspicious a start as on the morning Carolyn “found” it Pele hammered us with an earthquake that tested all the house joints. It was next door to Kristopher’s apartment and she noticed it was for sale and she made the inquiries and the arrangements. 

 We always had hoped to make a little money. First housing is expensive in Hawaii. Second the house is near the University so we had potential tenants; and third Kristopher was taking a full allotment of years and his work on Mauna Kea and later his computer business had neither one proved to big money makers.

 But the house had always been a barely break-even affair. Kristopher being a really nice guy took in renters that were marginal payers at best and sometimes dead beats. As I think of it the deadbeats were better than the pot growers. Ted saved the day; he called me one evening to tell me that we were growing baby pot plants in the back yard under the Plumerias.  We went to Hawaii and eradicated our stash and ejected the growers.  When we did get paying customers we had good years and then we would get a year contract and the poor student was seriously injured snow boggening Mauna Kea’s white slopes. Oh well.

 Lee and I met up in Dallas and flew to Honolulu and then short hopped to Hilo on Hawaiian Air. Kristopher had arranged to leave the truck at the airport so after grabbing our bags we were at the house in 30 minutes. It rained.

 Lee was a little amazed at the differences between seeing Kona side tourist photos of sand and sun versus the humid, flower and rotting plant green third world banana republic style of Hamakua side Hilo. That is not criticism I like that side of the Island!

 It rained when we arrived and rained off and on all evening. But in Hilo you put on shorts, flip-flops and off we went. He would ask; “ when does it stop raining?” and my standard reply would be; “at the second stop light in Waimea.”  He standard reply was “whatever”.


 So finally one morning we decided to drive up the Hamakua Coast to Waipio Valley with stops at Laupahoehoe site of a devastating killer tsunami and Akaka Falls. Then as it was approaching lunch time we headed through the rain forest up Hawaii 19 to Waimea/Kamuela. It was still raining in the …. Rain forest!

 Lee asked if it was going to rain all day.

  “It will stop raining at the second stop light in Waimea.”


 “Would you consider a small wager; loser buys sandwiches and beer.” 


 So we drove up the valley between the slopes of Mauna Kea and the Kohala Mountains. The road winds up from the coast into huge tall trees and into the clouds and more rain!  Duh it’s a rain forest.

 “So it’s going  to stop raining?”

 “Second stop light.”


We passed the fatted cows of the local dairy industry which with a state mandated minimum milk price has the most expensive moo juice in at least 49 states.

 We passed the extra green verdant Waimea Country Club in Kamuela. Now here’s a story. Apparently as it was told to me; the Japanese were looking to build a golf course that they could fly golf tourists from Japan to play golf at a reasonable price. Golf in Japan is priced very unreasonably. They finished it and it is beautiful; it is naturally watered. Rain! Very important on an Island that has extremes of wet and dry weather. But they were in luck; this is the wet side of the island, it’s also situated  before you get to the first stop light in Waimea … so it rains there constantly. Hmm just how many Japanese or for that matter how many anybodies want to play golf in the rain. So it was not a success; it was either sold, given or repossessed and now is a municipal golf club. I saw the pictures on their web site. The trades must have been blowing from the Kona side as it was sunny and clear. The trades usually blow rain.

 We entered the outskirts of Waimea; tall beautiful trees; green grass, flowers every where and rain constantly.

 “So it’s going  to stop raining?” 

“Second stop light.”


 We approached the first stop light.

 It rained harder. Then as we neared the middle of town we could see the second stop light.

 We stopped; and then as we drove on through the intersection the sun popped out and it stopped raining. True.

There is an explanation as to why. The trade winds blow up the Hamakua  slopes and the humid moisture rises and cools causing rain and the clouds are laden with the stuff until they break out of the valley at Waimea and the clouds disperse and it stop raining, at the second stop light.

 We stopped and ate a sandwich and drank a beer parked out by the airport. When you leave Waimea/Kamuela to the west the first thing you notice is that the lush green is gone. There are few or no trees; no grass, nothing but rock, lava and some burned over brush. In a few short miles you have left the tropical rain forest and arrived at a desert where it hardly ever has rain and not many clouds.

 Big Island 11 Microclimates Weather Changes

Here’s the proof

 So we ate our lunch and headed down onto the Kona Coast side of the Big Island. There it rarely rains and only if the winds change and blow up a big storm from the west. We explored Kailua-Kona and even found an excellent fish and chips joint with a baby sprawled in the doorway in downtown Kailua/Kona. Her mom fixed us the best basket of local fish and fries. The British have nothing on her. About 5:00 we started back up the slopes of Mauna Kea for the trip back across the island

 “Where does the rain start again?”

 “Second Stop-light in Waimea.”



                          Kent M. Herrick, 2010

Kent M. Herrick, Editor in Chief, 2010


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