I find myself revisiting this self portrait series I first started many years ago, time and time again. The concept seems so simple yet becomes complex in it's delivery. To place the human form in nature, becoming part of the tree, to blend into it's roots and lets my finger tips become the bark and my arms the limbs. As I began the process of wrapping myself around the large roots of this historic banyan tree, I started to realize that this series was so much more then just fitting the human form into nature. We as humans are natural creatures that not longer belong in nature. We live in boxes where we control the type of air circulating through it, we buy our food from stores with no windows and we have no problem bulldozing the nature elements of this world just so we have a flat path to drive our un-natural automobiles down. Global warm? People still question it even though it is happening all around us, yet we still put plastic straws in our cocktail and get to go meals in styrofoam. This self portrait series has now become an ode to nature. it touches on how much we as a society have lost sight of where we really came from, the earth. I became the tree because I wanted to know the tree, I wanted to feel the tree. Because that tree is why we are here.
Jenny flew down the Kona Coast as she paddled her way to the finish. Calm seas and familiar water made the day's paddle go fast. She made it from Ho'okena in a short six hours, with her ground crew and bottles of champaign to greet her as she paddled into Kailua bay. Twenty days later and Jenny Decker is the first document person to kayak around the Big Island of Hawaii solo.
The second to last morning launch was out of Miloli'i. It went super smoothly. The night before Jenny had been interviewed by phone for the local newspaper and I had sent in a few photos. All of us were anxious and excited to see the articles but first we had to get Jenny in the water and all of our things packed. We headed to the launch site shortly after sun rise. It was a smooth entrance with wonderful friends there to help.
Miloli'i is very interesting place. An old fishing village that I have been told is hunted. The ambiance of this town is both very mystical and hunting.
After the launch, Krystal and I head back to the house to do our final clean up. We watched from the lani as Jenny slowly paddled by. Just a little yellow speck on the horizon.
Jenny arrived safely and quickly to Ho'okena. With the wind and waves on her side, Jenny told Krystal and me, it was her most enjoyable day yet.
Two locals congratulate Jenny before helping us bring the kayak a shore.
That night, other friends of Jenny's came down to spend time with her relaxing on the beach and enjoying the sunset.
The next morning was Jenny's final launch. Leaving as the sun was raising.
Watch this short video for high lights from Jenny's trip and her amazing finish!
When Jenny told a friend she was planning on camping in Miloli'i she was highly advised against it and a one night stay at a near by rental house was donated to her trip. "I feel like this is cheating," Jenny exclaimed when stepping foot into a two story, four bedroom, four bath, house with pool and hot tub. This donated house ended up being the most luxury place Jenny and crew stayed while on this adventure. Our night was spent in the infinity pool and attached hot tub. Elizabeth and Lauren made a delicious pasta meal and the six and us sat around a dinning room table over looking the ocean and starry night sky.
"I don't even remember the last time I sat down at a table and had dinner like this." Jenny stated as we all took a seat and thanked each other for our experience. Tapping our wine glasses as we cheered to our night, none of us were ready for this experience to end, but only days remained. Jenny was on her home stretch, back into the familiar waters of Kona.
Lauren learning how to open a bottle with a lighter.
Jenny tells her crew about the swells as Green Sands Beach.
Interested in stay in Miloli'i? Check out this vacation rental. It's super beautiful! Ocean Oasis with Infinity Pool and Spa.
The first time I got to meet up with this inspiring crew was in Green Sands. They had already trekked around the majority of the island and Jenny was on her home stretch. Krystal, Jenny's partner and right hand gal, had asked me to come down the night before since she was going to be the solo crew that day. As I prepared my cameras and packed my backpack, I got a call from Krystal saying Jenny's rudder had broken so she were bringing her in before she went around the rough, wind blown beach of Green Sands.
The drive that morning was beautiful. I stopped at Choice Mart and Ace Hardware on my way. As I wandered around Ace, looking for anything that could possible resemble a rudder pin, I looked up and to see a giant, yellow, ocean kayak. I headed to the front and asked the lady at the desk if they carried rudder pins. "Oh no, we have nothing like that." I point at the Kayak, "But you have that ocean Kayak. So I thought...." With no such luck, I headed into Choice Mart to get some snacks and other provisions. With a box of cookies and a knock off bottle of Baileys, I was ready. I slipped into my jeep and mapped out the coordinates of the bay on my phone.
I put the key in the ignition and turned. Nothing. I turned again. Nothing. I hopped back out and hurried back into Ace, where I found a short handled hammer on sale. Feeling a bit frantic, I climbed under the jeep and banged on the started. As I rolled back out, I looked up to see a man stunned but my appearance He stood frozen as I smiled at him, then jumped back into the jeep. She started right up. I was officially on my way.
As I reached Green Sands, my excitement started to grow. I turned on to a dirt road and followed Krystal's directions through three gates. Knocking up clouds of orange and red dust as I made my way towards the coast line. I found the bay, but no Krystal, I drove around trying to follow the pin drop on my phone, finally after having to turn around a few times, I stubble across her maroon colored jeep, caked in dust and dirt from all her travels, a large up right bass takes up most of the back, cushioned by pillows and blankets.
Krystal's radio loudly cracks into our conversation as Jenny states that she is coming in. Using my telephoto lens I spot Jenny on the horizon. Krystal and I stand on top my jeep and watch as the little yellow speck gets closer.
Krystal checks out Jenny's broke rudder.
All that was left to do was wait. Jenny and Krystal's roommate and good friend, Boz, was able to get a kayak pin and was on his way down to help with the fix. I joked with Krystal about my starter going out and showed her my funny short handled hammer. Krystal laughed as she held the baby sized mallet, "We can really use this too!" She states as she grips the handle.
As we wait, we listen to the weather and take turns looking at the map. I listen to Jenny's stories about high swell and rough waters. We drink coffee and Krystal makes Jenny a meat and string cheese sandwich. Jenny's kayak peacefully floats in the claim bay anchored with just enough line to let the long boat turn with each ripple of water.
After passing Green Sands, the three of us spilt up, Boz and I taking the higher road and Krystal closer to the shore. Jenny had already radio'd Krystal saying she had passed the rare green beach, long before we had. We flew by tourist hikers and local fishermen, over lava rock and through cliffs of sand. As we rounded the entrance to the boat ramp, with one last hill to conquer, Boz and I came over the top just in time to see Jenny waiting in the bay. We flew down the hill and jumped out of our vehicles. With huge smiles on our faces we ran down the slippery ramp to help Jenny with the heavy ocean cruising boat. "What took you so long?" Jenny Joked. Only minutes behind us, Krystal topped the hill in time to see the three of us wheeling the kayak ashore.
Camp was quickly set up and the four of us settled in for a relaxing sunset while we waited for two other friends to joy us for the night. Boz had planned a simple yet delicious meal. We all sat and drank coronas while the sun graceful lite up the sky as it slowly made it's disappearance for the night.
Krystal takes Jeep life to a new extreme.
Jenny's map. Marking each leg of her trip.
Our friend Matt, joining in the celebrations of the days accomplishment.
Please Donate to Jenny's Go Fund me: Big Island Circumnavigation for CMT
I had the pleasure of not only helping with the hanging of this sign but I also got to paint the frame. Visit Hawaii Island Sailing for your next boat adventure. Live in Hawaii? Bring your friends for local discounts on a wonderful luxury boat. Learn to sail with Elayne or just enjoy the ride. Great yacht for special occasions such as: weddings, proposals, birthdays, or just a romanic moment. Enjoy the Kona Coast on a day sail or make a weekend of it with an overnight trip.
I got to have the pleasure of seeing Day Light Mind's newest menu change. It is a restaurant located in both downtown Kailua, and in the queens shops in Waikoloa. They offer a little bit of everything, from perfectly roasted coffee to the freshest ingredients to the best view in town, Day Light Mind is a place not to be missed.
"Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away." ~Maya Angelou
I got to have the privilege of spending a day with this lovely lady, Jenny. I helped out as her ground crew for Green Sands as she kayak's the Big Island solo. It is inspiring to be around someone that has the guts to do what this amazing lady is doing. Tackling giant swells, heavy winds and rough terrain. Jenny is learning what it's like to be a tiny speck in the vast blue ocean.
Krystal checks out the broken rudder.
The morning I was set to join the ground crew I got a call from Krystal, Jenny's right hand gal, she told me that Jenny was having rudder problems and was missing the pin that keeps the rudder study for steering. This meant Jenny was making her way south without any steering. Leaving her at the mercy of the waves. Krystal had scouted a closer spot to bring Jenny in so we could fix her rudder before she made the difficult journey around Green Sand's beach. With the winds on her side, Jenny made it in safely. We ate lunch and waiting on Boz, the man with the rudder pin.
Boz shows up with prefect timing and Jenny is off to the boat ramp of Greens Sands. While the three of us caravan down the shore line. Four wheeling over lava rock and dusty dirt roads.
With the wind on her side, Jenny made it to the ramp before her ground crew. We showed up just in time to see her smiling from her kayak as she approached the ramp.
A happy crew of people, feeling accomplished.
"My fishing pole tells me how hard the wind is blowing." Jenny tells me as she whistles to demonstrate.
Krystal takes jeep owner ship to a new level.
Love is a temporary madness,
it erupts like volcanoes and then subsides.
And when it subsides you have to make a decision.
You have to work out whether your roots have so entwined together
that it is inconceivable that you should ever part.
Because this is what love is.
Love is not breathlessness,
it is not excitement,
it is not the promulgation of eternal passion.
That is just being "in love" which any fool can do.
Love itself is what is left over when being in love has burned away,
and this is both an art and a fortunate accident.
Those that truly love, have roots that grow towards each other underground,
and when all the pretty blossom have fallen from their branches,
they find that they are one tree and not two._
Couple: Tucker and Anna McElroy
Photographer: Cassidy Wayant and Justin Summers
Music: Dennis Garcia
Haku lei and Bouquet: Cassidy Wayant