When you grow up in a place like Kaua`i, it does something to you. The island's enchantment  ruins everywhere else. I call it being corrupted by beauty.

I got to the beach early to pick up kehelelani shells and God blew my mind with this view and rainbow.

This can be difficult, because ever after you try to find a way to live in a place people visit on vacation, and few but millionaires own homes. When I grew up here on Kaua`i and started life as a young married, I worked in hotels and restaurants, and cleaned houses for Charo, Bette Midler, Billie Jean King and Guns’ n Roses. (Yeah, they really did throw some crazy parties, as least back in the eighties. It wasn’t fun being the maid.) My husband and I  had to leave Hawaii for college, to scrape our way into middle class by education—only to find there weren’t jobs on Kaua`i when we tried to return.

So we settled on Maui. What a hardship, right?

Many people think Maui is “no ka oi” and yes, it’s very nice. But Kaua`i is just hands-down the prettiest island in my opinion. Returning to the place I grew up is rich in memory, legend and lore. I’ve been fact-checking locations for my sequel, Torch Ginger, against my memory of the places and so far, so good.

  • Polihale, that swath of dunes, kiawe and rugged cliffs- just as remote and peopled by peripatetic characters.
  • Hanalei Valley and the river, so recently flooded—now a green-skinned eel snaking through lush green banks, spinning with golden hau blossoms.
  • Hanalei Bay, where Lei goes on a canoe-paddling date—yes, as gorgeous as I wrote it, and paddlers criss-crossing it in sync in the bright red and yellow traditional canoes.
  • Kapa`a—a utilitarian town of Laundromats and auto shops, taken over by cutesy shrimp and shell stands. It’s barely dolled up for a few blocks before the seediness of old town re-emerges. I grin at the cinder block Church of Latter Day Saints that I reinvented into the “urban ugly” Kapa`a Police Station in my novel.
  • Rainswept, overgrown Wainiha Valley, isolated and always a little spooky—yep, just the same as the 1970’s.
  • But some areas are so gorgeous words can’t really describe them.

Maybe my books will do so well I can afford to come home and live here. A girl can dream, right?

What are some of the vacation places you’ve visited that made such an impression you wish you could live there?

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