Heartbeats of Heber and Hanalei
September 6, 2016
Dateline: "Mahamoku," Hanalei, north shore Kauai. According to the "Historic Hawaii Foundation," its’s a “one-and-a-half story wood frame L-shaped beach house with high pitch-gable roof, a deep lanai that faces Hanalei Bay, and interior Craftsman design elements." It's actually much, much more.
Built in 1914 and long associated with Kauai's historic Wilcox family, it is being occupied for two weeks this September by the extended family of my sister, Mary Beth Terheggen.
Mahamoku, you see, has become a museum and for many years had been subject to the traditional maintenance artistry of her late husband Billy Terheggen. But I'm getting ahead of myself. Let's go back a week-and-a-half and begin anew.
It was one of those idyllic days in the Heber foothills when the temperature and breeze had been dialed in by some greater force and even the nags and mutts had grins they couldn't shake. It's really all a dog and pony show over in them parts, anyway. The only thing missing was family.
My son Smokey remained up on the back side of the Tetons in "Wydaho” while the rest of the clan remained hunkered down on Kauai as they had been for years. Life hadn't arrived at the point where I was so lonesome I could cry, as Hiram King Williams once mused, but the void was evident.
It just seemed ironic that, on the very next morning, I would vacate this perfectly honed Utah summer for a month with family on Kauai. Of course, there had to be a sufficient amount of drought denial brought into play if one is to refer to this summer as being idyllic.
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But, then again, I'm a superficial kind of guy. I ignore the obvious, therefore I am. And, although the U.S. Drought Monitor has seen fit to remove all drought designations for the state, hydrologists who use snowpack and runoff rather than rainfall in their calculations have yet to jump on that bandwagon.
Then there is Kauai, arguably the wettest spot on Earth. For my first 10 days on the island, it rained beautiful tropical showers on and off each and every day. At night, it upped the ante, of course, as it often does.
Not that it was torrential, but there were certainly fewer spaces between the drops and they were in much more of a hurry to seek their own level. They hit the ground running, as it were. In its own way, easily as idyllic as the Heber corrals.
So here I sit on a small lanai overlooking one of several surfers' line-ups on Hanalei Bay. It's a Sunday and the sun and a bevy of bikini-clad, board-totin' surfer chicks are strutting their stuff with little regard for either the few clouds hogging the periphery or the portly gray dude typing away on the hunt for an original thought.
His topic, as it so often is when he visits the neighborhood of 22-degees North and 160-degrees West, concerns the variables involved with his attachment to Utah. First of all, I suppose, there's that ever so cool and quaint mountain mining camp turned ski resort he first rolled into going on 50-years back.
Initially, it was all about the ski-in, ski-out, golf-in, golf-out digs behind the Miners Hospital. That was followed, first, by a Miner's shack at the Main Street turnaround and, second, the prime old-town locale of Chateau Fontana on SandRidge.
Then, after five years in Park City, a swaybacked farmer's house at the bottom of the first dugway in Woodland would come calling. Although the Provo River over thataway may have been a bit loud and the Milky Way Galaxy a bit bright, all in all it proved quite habitable.
Although the exquisite Heber Valley would follow, living in Utah was never about location, location, location. It always had much more to do with people and deep friendships forged on ski slopes, lakes, rivers, mountaintops, and barstools.
Moisture alert!!! A summer rain somewhat south of a squall just returned and, with surfers coming ashore or waiting to check out the next set, Kauai north shore plotlines begin to thicken. With the sunbathing beach-set emerging suitably-soaked to the skin, beverages and cookies of suspicious origin place more than a few gamers into check.
It becomes more and more evident with each visit to the family and their island and my subsequent return to Hebertown that each place is a magnet that is difficult to fight off. It also has become equally evident that time and place are factors with diminishing returns. Somehow, it matters less where and when you drop in on either locale and more on the condition of your heart.
Jay Meehan is a culture junkie and has been an observer, participant, and chronicler of the Park City and Wasatch County social and political scenes for more than 40 years.