Waipi’o Valley

Although no one’s read it yet, anyone who gets their hands on my current manuscript is going to know immediately that I’m madly in love with the Big Island. We lived there for two years and figure that, whenever we settle down, it’ll be back there. Neither of us have ever felt that kind of connection with a place before.

The downside to setting a book there (besides that fact that draft 0 was more ‘love story to the island’ than ‘murder mystery’) is that my memory is made of old sponge. It’ll hold information for exactly as long as its relevant, but no longer. What was my first address? Dunno. How do you find the median? Not a clue.

So I’m doing a lot of research.  And parts of that research won’t make it into the book, no matter how much I wish they could.

For instance: the mysterious Waipi’o Tea House.

Naturally, I have my protagonist doing a Waipi’o Valley tour. As the Valley of the Kings its culturally and historically relevant, so it makes perfect sense that my travel blogger, Jax, would visit it. Since I did a Ride the Rim Tour that’s what I have her doing, because I’m most familiar with it. But I looked into other methods of visiting the valley- hikes, horseback, all sorts of stuff- and I came across this interesting building:

waipio tea house
Photo by This Guy. He has more pictures of it on his site.

Apparently it was supposed to be a restaurant, although everyone calls it “the teahouse.” It was built in the 60s, but for some reason it never became a full business. Now it’s owned by the Bishop Museum, which has elected to ignore it and let the forest reclaim the space.

Is anyone else fascinated by abandoned buildings? I’ve never been bold enough to explore one myself, but urban explorers who go into derelict hospitals and abandoned apartment buildings have my complete attention when they share their pictures. There’s probably something deep and meaningful about my interest, but I usually just sum it up as “neat.”

According to my research, this teahouse was one of many “follies” that people tried to start in the valley, part of a long line of failed businesses like “steam plant” and “gourmet frog legs.”

So even though Jax will probably never make it down into the Valley proper, I wanted to share this, because the idea of an abandoned, glass-walled building slowly decaying into the jungle in a sacred valley on a paradise island in the middle of the ocean struck a capital-R-Romantic chord with me and I thought you might like it.

Has anyone ever gone urban exploring? Is it fun, or just creepy? Does anyone else think this is cool?

P.S. I just moved, have pity!

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