Friday Photo: Humuula Sheep Station

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Friday Photo: Humuula Sheep Station

Posted by: Kim Steutermann Rogers
Destination: Hawaii Island
Nov 25, 2011

Friday Photo Findings: Humuula Sheep Station

This is a window at the Humuula Sheep Station on the slopes of Mauna Kea. As you might guess from the broken glass and weathered wood, the sheep station is no longer in use.

I like pictures of windows and doors. I imagine it's because of what they represent--a glimpse into another life, entering a new world, the opportunity for a new beginning. You know, all those kinds of classic metaphors and meanings. For me, windows and doors also spark the imagination. I remember peering through this window earlier this year while on a Hawaii Forest & Trail tour to Mauna Kea. We had stopped at the one-time station for dinner--stew, veggie or beef style, but no lamb offerings. I wondered who had walked through this room, what they were wearing, thinking and doing, and what, by chance, they thought would become of the place. At the beginning of things, you rarely think about the end of things. 

The thing that sticks with me the most about Humuula Sheep Station was that the guide had mentioned Mark Twain. He said that there was a chance Mark Twain had slept there. "Mark Twain slept here." That refrain is about as popular in Hawaii as the words "Kilroy was here" and its associated big nose friend in graffiti. Still, I gazed beyond the glass and into the room, its walls and floors long given up the dressings of paint, and imagined the young Twain, a red-head then, scribbling away in his notebook. 

There is a possibility that Mark Twain did sleep at the Humuula Sheep Station, a stop along the Hawaii Island's famed Saddle Road. It was built in 1860. Mark Twain visited Hawaii in 1866, spending three weeks riding around Hawaii (Big) Island on a horse that led to a reported incapacitating case of saddle boils. In the book, "Mark Twain's Letters from Hawaii," Twain writes about arriving at Kailua town. He writes several letters about the environs of Kealakekua. He writes about Kau and Waiohinu, making his way south along the coastline, getting intro trouble with his imaginary travel companion Mr. Brown. He covers the volcano erupting atop Kilauea. But he doesn't write about Hilo or Mauna Kea or Waimea. That's not to say he didn't visit those areas. Mark Twain's personal notebooks and letters reveal more of his activities than those reports he sent to the Sacramento Union for publishing. Unfortunately, there is a notebook suspected missing from Twain's Hawaii visit. And, indeed, it seems he misplaced another one temporarily while he was "ransacking the islands." The result is eight weeks go unrecorded, and those eight weeks match up with his neighbor island visits to Maui and Hawaii (Big) Island.

I wonder what happened to that notebook? What a window into another world that notebook would reveal.

Note: This blog post was inspired by the 30 Days of Indie Travel Project.


susan | Nov 26, 2011 06:16 AM

Perhaps you could write the missing notebook, Kim. Write it as if Twain wrote it, in his style, with his sense of adventure. Wouldn't that be fun... imagining the places he went, the things he might have done, the people he might have met. Let's think of a title... Absolutely LOVE the photo!

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