Craving Hawaiian Dirt

Waimea Canyon on Kaua’i.

Watching the film The Descendants makes me want to visit Hawaii something terrible. I want to hike all of its hidden mountains and canyons, lie on its beaches, and take in its views. I wish I had some personal pictures for this story, but–to borrow a term from Hollywood–it is in development.

The Descendants is such a good story that you get caught up in it. You forget George Clooney is George Clooney as you watch the King family go through their heartbreak with the islands of Hawaii and Kaua’i as the backdrop. The soundtrack is all Hawaiian music, too, and after a few scenes combining the beauty of nature and music, you’ve got a Jones to get over to the 50th state.

What’s over there, anyway? I know the ocean and volcanoes are there, yeah, but…what else?

In one scene the family takes in the view on their cattle ranch on Kaua’i, from a lush hilltop all the way down to a private cove on the ocean. The youngest daughter cries, “I want to go camping!”

Yes, I too want to go camping. Right there.

According to the Wikipedia page for the film, that scene was shot on Kaua’i at the Kipu Ranch, which offers 4×4 and ATV tours of its 3,000 acres of volcanic mountains, waterfalls, and lush jungle.

The fictional King Ranch of the story plays a big part in the film, looming in the background of all the family issues, being perhaps the biggest family issue when all others are considered. Should you sell the land and cash out? Or try to maintain one of the last, large pieces of Hawaiian history among many heirs? It’s an issue that does not resolve easily at the end of the film, and once the decision is made to keep the land, the impending lawsuit among cousins seems unavoidable. It’s a scene that’s been played out across the American West for over a century–that it happens in Hawaii as well seems surprising, but not really. That it’s not some mega-ranch in Wyoming or Colorado doesn’t change the dynamics that families go through when faced with the choice to sell.

In any case, Hawaii is now on my radar; inexplicably, it wasn’t before and I am not sure why. Even after a fanatical addiction to the television show Lost, I wasn’t interested in visiting (probably due to all that worrisome drama with “The Others”). Watching The Descendants changed all that. Maybe it was the music.

Visit the official web site for Kaua’i here.

Visit the official web site for the film here.

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