(Photo by Cheryl-Anne Millsap)
In this column I usually write about the objects I discover on my travels and bring home with me, vintage finds that are reminders of the places I’ve been and seen. But occasionally, the destination itself is the treasure.
I spent my last night on a recent visit to the island of Kaua’i in the little town of Waimea. In 2006 the entire town, a place that was once the hub of the island’s sugar cane industry, was given National Trust for Historic Preservation® status.
The Waimea Plantation Resort had been the site of a thriving plantation but at the end of Kaua’i sugar production in the late 1980s the owners decided to create a resort destination that captured the period feel of the plantations. Worker cottages from around the island were moved and refurbished into vacation cottages and the original plantation manager’s house became a large ocean-view rental.
My cottage, built some time in the early 20th Century, was set back along an avenue of tall coconut palms and the windows framed a slice of ocean view. It was perfect for me.
The original wide plank floors and tongue-in-groove walls of the interior were cool under my feet. One bathroom featured a claw-foot tub and the other a vintage soaking tub. Wide lanai doors in the living room and master bedroom opened to carry the ocean breeze throughout the house.
While comfortable and contemporary in all the right ways, the simple cottage was not fussy or artificial. The small kitchen was simple and open, with shelves for crockery and a period Schoolhouse ceiling light.
At night, after a “catch of the day” dinner at the Grove Cafe, and a walk back to my cottage under a sky filled with stars, I slept with the doors open to the cool night air. The sound of birds woke me in the morning.
I love small houses. I like the compactness of a cottage and I especially appreciate a house with history. I like the idea that people, sometimes generations of one family, lived there in every sense of the word, putting every corner to good use.
With an evening flight, I requested and received a late checkout and spent the coolest hours of the morning sheltered under the wide tin roof of the front porch, writing and editing photos and looking out toward the sea.
I came away with the feeling that I’d managed to find something unique. This was my first visit to any of the Hawaiian Islands, partially because I'd worried I would be disappointed. That what I’d imagined no longer existed. That paradise had been paved and planted with high-rise condominiums. But when I woke up with the Kaua'i sunrise, strolled down to the beach before breakfast and then back past the tall Cook Pine tree, I stopped for a moment to admire the little house where I’d spent the night. I couldn’t bring it back with me so I did the next best thing. I captured a file full of photos and made a promise to myself I would return.
Cheryl-Anne Millsap is a freelance writer based in Spokane, Washington. In addition to her Spokesman-Review Home Planet and Treasure Hunting columns and blogs and her CAMera: Travel and Photo blog, her essays can be heard on Spokane Public Radio and on public radio stations across the country. She is the author of “Home Planet: A Life in Four Seasons” and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org