I'm sad to say it, but it's time for this blog to meet its maker. I'm going to spend my last month in Hawaii update-free while I focus on making new music. This is the end of the road. Aloha, internet!
After making a brief pit stop in the civilized world and indulging in a Subway sandwich, we soaked in the sun on Makalawena beach.
Cory. Cory. Cory of the jungle. Watch out for that tree.
Banyan trees are epiphytes, meaning they grow around and encompass a host tree. In the process, the become gigantic. We probably spent a good hour climbing this single Banyan from bottom to top.
Aaron and I took a day trip to Hilo in search of the elusive Rainbow Falls. Instead, we found that the river had been diverted through an old factory, reducing the falls to a mere trickle. I'll take what I can get.
Ocean View is like a giant sandbox filled with odds and ends. A random trailer full of tires here; a rusted out truck there.
I'm glad werewolves are among the many species that do not inhabit the Hawaiian islands. I don't think we'd survive very long with how clear and bright the full moons are.
We spent sunday snorkeling on the northern tip of the island. You can blame my disgruntled face on the sea urchin that stabbed me in the leg.
Sometimes it's nice to spend the day at home and take in the ocean view. I've been working on a hip-hop EP for release sometime next year. Let's just say it's inspired by the ocean and the occasional mac nut.
It may not look or feel like Thanksgiving in Hawaii, but boy did we give thanks. Scott smoked a turkey all day, baked rolls from scratch, and made some mean green bean casserole. Even I'll admit that five pies for ten people might have been a little excessive.
Meet Jericho, the multi-colored macaw. He enjoys birdie omelets, fruit-loop inspired bird feed, and causing a ruckus.
When it comes to cows, we like to double up on security. We've begun adding new barbed wire fences as back-up for the farm's rock walls.
Our productivity just quadrupled on the farm with the addition of an automated bagging machine. Instead of portioning coffee by hand, the new machine will drop the perfect amount into each bag.
Today we visited Pearl Harbor and took a boat out to the USS Arizona memorial. The memorial was built directly above the sunken battleship as a memorial for the lives lost on December 7, 1941.
On day two of our vacation from our vacation, Rose and I relaxed on Oahu's beaches, saw the new James Bond movie, checked out a bunch of super fancy shops, and stayed out way past our bedtime at a club called Zanzabar. Oppa gangnam style.
The Waikiki Beachside Hostel isn't exactly the Sheraton, but they do offer free toast between 9 and 10am. We shared a room with 8 others including a cop from Sao Paulo, two Bohemians with crazy top hats, a Canadian, an Australian, and some really tired dude who slept the whole time.
No one goes hungry working at Paradise Meadows. In fact, it's quite the opposite. We all get together for dinner on Thursday nights to celebrate the week's accomplishments and fall into a collective food coma.
The greenhouse is a highly self-sustaining system, but we sometimes need to go through and do a deep-clean. Today, we power-washed the styrofoam plant floats and cleaned out the hydroponic system.
The word is officially out. I know how to use Photoshop. With sales stronger than ever, we decided to do a slight logo refresh and also update our coffee packaging.
What a glorious day. The banana trees around the farm have finally begun to ripen. We don't have enough bananas to sell, so there will be plenty to take home.
Today we woke up in Kona and made the trek back to Ocean View for a much needed stay-home-sunday. Laundry tends to pile up - even in paradise.
We spent this Saturday in Kona where we toured the headquarters of liquid aloha (aka the Kona Brewing Co). After relaxing on the beach, we met up with a CouchSurfing friend and slept under the stars in a great big hammock.
Nothing lasts forever. Especially lawn mowers. This poor mower's deck belt was no match for the lava rocks lurking around the farm.
We've been stockpiling a whole bunch of coffee over the past few months. After pulping the coffee to remove the cherry, we drop it off at a coffee mill to remove the parchment and digitally sort out the bad beans. There's upwards of 4500 pounds of coffee on that trailer. I know because I lifted it.
There's no need for a barbell strength class at the gym when you're lifting 80 pound lava rocks all day. We've been slowly upgrading all the rock walls surrounding the 75 acre farm. It's heavy work, but escaped cows are no bueno.
Meet Picture Cow. Yes, that's actually her real name. Megan, the farm's resident artist, painted a lovely portrait of the bovine that is proudly displayed in the farm's dining room. It's been picture cow ever since.
Wet socks and a dirty scythe sum up this Monday. We spent the majority of the day clearing drip lines in two of our newest coffee fields. A drip line is the area directly below the coffee tree. We pull all the weeds within a certain radius of the young plant to keep nutrients from getting stolen by weeds.
I've made more than a few baking soda volcanoes in my day. The real thing is equally awesome.
Kileuea is constantly spewing a cloud of gases that contain high levels of sulfur dioxide. The area around the volcano can get so hazardous that roads are often closed due to gases or lava flows. The ground rumbles day and night as lava oozes out of the crater and creates new land.
We woke up early and bussed to Volcanoes National Park. We hiked nearly 15 miles through the rainforest, craters, lava lakes, steam vents, and mountain ridges. At night, the lava filled the entire sky with fog and an eerie orange glow. We listened as Kileuea – the most active volcano in the world – rumbled in fury.
Every couple weeks, a cow escapes from the farm and we have to chase it back onto our property. We've been upgrading the fences, gates, and rock walls surrounding the farm in an effort to keep the cows contained.
It's only been a month since I arrived at Paradise Meadows and it's still a pleasure to be working with such amazing people. Everyone here has truly become a temporary family and I'm super grateful to be here every day.
Our wwoofer family grew by three people this week with the addition on Jon, Jackie, and Rose. We spent the afternoon at 5000 feet above sea level atop Mauna Loa. The rolling hills on top are the closest thing to heaven I've ever seen. There are no other people around and the fog gets so dense you can only see a few hundred feet in all directions.
There's no such thing as an ordinary night in Ocean View. Either hundreds of dogs are barking, a giant centipede is on the loose, or the stars are shining so bright you'd swear it was still late afternoon. Tonight, the tsunami sirens started blaring due to an earthquake off the coast of British Columbia. The tsunami was mostly a false alarm, but the threat was very real.
Hi, I'm Rose. Please bring me to the volcano so I don't have to walk 50 miles through the lava fields. I promise to be a friendly hitchhiker and smile the whole way – just like the smily face I drew on the back of this Monopoly board.
We ground enough coffee today to make the entire farm smell like a Starbucks. Throw a little jazz music into the mix and we too could charge $4.00 for warm milk.
Everything on the farm is either broken, fixed, or awaiting repair. The rider mower broke down twice this week after mowing through lava rocks, but it's back in commission thanks to a two-hour welding sesh.
Living on a farm has its perks – like a greenhouse packed with lunchable items. We like to keep things fresh with an assortment of lettuce, tomatoes, ginger, papaya, and cucumbers.
We set sail for a nearby snorkeling bay and ended up on the shores of Captain Cook, Hawaii. The reef wasn't the most vibrant, but there were a bunch of crazy cool fish swimming about. We later stopped to try a local brewery's flagship brew – the Longboard Island Lager.
It's taken me 22 years to realize my affinity towards power tools and vehicles with hydraulic apparatuses. I could scoop and dump for hours. It's like that one scooping toy at the city park, but for real.
It's been a while since I've been stung by a bee, so I only have a vague memory of it being quite painful. Needless to say, we didn't take any chances while doing this month's hive inspections. Donning NASA-style bee suites, we eradicated a beetle infestation and restored the hives' health. We're happy to report the bees are no longer in the beetle trap.
One of our biggest mac nut buyers doubled their order overnight, so we kicked into high gear and floated an additional 1500 pounds of nuts. We stumbled across this bad nut.
We're still not sure if the hula ornament is a good luck charm or an omen. Send us a sign, King Kamehameha.
I'd say today was pretty sweet, but it was actually pretty sour. We harvested a whole bunch o' limes for delivery to the local ChoiceMart. The best part? We got to keep 100 overripe limes and turned them into two gallons of concentrated lime juice. Looks like we'll be drinking fresh limeade for the foreseeable future.
It's been an action-packed weekend full of camping, bussing, hitchhiking, and climbing super steep hills. This old van best reflects our current state: worn out, but well-travelled.
Hello, Hilo. Our bus connected through Hilo on the way home from Waipio Valley. That means we've officially been to every major point of the island - north, south, east, and west. We still have a lot to explore in the coming weeks including going up to the top of the Mauna Loa volcano (pictured here).
Waipio Valley is on the northern tip of the Big Island and was the residence of many early Hawaiian Kings. It's a magical place with a breathtaking view. We took the bus most of the way and were able to hitchhike the remaining 10 miles, including down the world's steepest road (sometimes steeper than a 25% grade). We camped overnight in the valley.
It's hard to appreciate everything that goes into a grande vanilla latte until you experience the journey a single coffee bean makes before it winds up in your mug. Although we haven't roasted beans yet, we began harvesting the first early-bloomers from this season's coffee crop. The beans are ripe when the coffee cherry turns red.
If you have a weak stomach or are eating, go ahead and skip to the next post. We spent the day doing a bunch of maintenance around the farm including reinforcing fences, weeding the garden, packing coffee, and cleaning the shed. We stumbled across a disgusting surprise while washing out a stack of buckets.
On the Big Island, everything runs according to Hawaiian time. Everyone tends to rise and fall with the sun. It's weird - I've been voluntarily waking up at 5am and going to bed at 9pm. Hawaiian time also means 9:00am could actually mean 10 or 11am. It's refreshing to live in a place where time is more or less irrelevant.
Back to work! We've all become professional grouters for the week. We're putting the final touches on a new nut production facility before the USDA inspection happens in a few weeks.
The weird part about living on a volcano is that you can't actually see the volcano most of the time. There isn't some steaming peak in the distance. We're literally on the side of the volcano. That means everything is either uphill or downhill. The landscape is a strange collage of volcanic flows, lush rainforests, and barren deserts.
Our fairy-wwoof-parents who preside over the house flew to the mainland for the weekend, so we decided to take it easy and spend the weekend in Ocean View. We met up with our friends from the beach and played horseshoes at the Ocean View Park. We're definitely getting used to riding in the back of pickup trucks.
Another Friday spent at the hidden beach. We met some more locals, but didn't end up scoring a ride home this time. Good thing we brought two liters of water for the five mile walk home through the lava fields.
Farming is dirty work, but there's character everywhere you look.
It takes exactly seven hours to "float" one ton (2000lbs) of Macadamia Nuts. After getting cracked open, Mac Nuts are dumped into a huge bucket of pressurized water. The best nuts naturally float to the top because they have the highest fat content. The bad nuts and shells fall to the bottom and become pig feed. Every nut is washed and inspected by hand.
When I'm not wielding a standard farm-issue AK-47, a weed whacker and hedge trimmer are my weapons of choice. Mowing and maintaining 75 acres of farmland is a huge undertaking. The cows help us out big time in the grass-eating department, but we occasionally use power tools when they decide the grass is greener somewhere else.
Kona is about an hour drive from where we live in Ocean View. It's infinitely more touristy than Ocean View, but makes for a great day trip. We spent the day combing the beaches, visiting local shops, and sipping the world's best java. Take that, Starbucks.
After a treacherous five mile hike through the lava fields, my roommate Aaron and I stumbled across a hidden bay. We attempted boogie boarding and got pounded by the waves. We caught a ride home with some locals and ended up staying at their mansion on top of the volcano. We're ohana now – part of the Hawaiian family.
Here in the Aloha State, we affectionately refer to macadamia nuts as "mac nuts." Paradise Meadows distributes ten varieties of mac nuts to local stores, but before they can be packed and flavored, they need to be husked. We spent the morning using a giant mechanical husker to process 250lbs of nuts. It was basically the food processing equivalent of a pinball machine.
You know you're living on a farm in the rainforest when you wake up to a rooster crowing at the crack of dawn. No joke. Today, I had the pleasure of meeting all the farmers at Paradise Meadows – including a whole bunch of cows, horses, parrots, cats, and dogs. We're an eclectic bunch.
It's true. My first big food purchase was at a Hawaiian Target. I promise to check out the famers' market and the local swap meet (where you can trade anything for anything) next week.
Time to take to the skies. I purposely de-optimized my flight to make it as indirect as possible. The reward? Two complimentary sprites, two complimentary cokes, a kona coffee cookie, a 1/2 ounce hawaiian trail mix bag, and one complimentary Mai Tai. And not a single missed connection.
Living vicariously during my last
24 hours in Minnesota.