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  • This weekend we went to a dedication of a Harvest Corn Maze at Kahua Ranch here on the Island of Hawai'i. My 8 year old son invited one of his best friends to come with us. The boys chatted away in the back seat as we made the climb up the mountain to the ranch.

    To get to Kahua Ranch from our hometown of Waimea you have to take Highway 250, or as we call it, "The Mountain Road" because nobody here bothers to remember the highway designations. Directions are given by natural landmarks: the Saddle Road, the Belt Road, the Coast Road, the Hamakua, not by their imposed numbers. There is no east, west, north or south here. There is only makai (to the sea) or mauka (to the mountains).

    The Mountain Road is spectacular and dangerous, proving that the two often go hand-in-hand. It's a narrow, two-lane series of switchbacks that cut through rolling hills of ancient volcanoes now covered in lush wind-swept grass. Cattle, sheep and horses dot the verdant landscape, and from the evaluated heights you can look down to the coast and see the wide expanse of the blue Pacific. They call it "God's Country" and they're right, for the gods have always favored this land, be they ancient Polynesian or the One God of the missionaries.

    The boys spent the afternoon blazing through the corn maze and hiding from one another. The sound of their shouts and laughter carried on the wind as they did their best to lose themselves inside the corn. Then, as so often happens here, the weather took a turn and the misty slap-rain prompted us to gather the boys and head home.

    Dusty, hot and a little tired, the boy's backseat chants of "Oi Oi Oi" to AC/DC's "TNT" did little to provide the perfect soundtrack for our descent. My wife suggested that we install a wall between the front and back seats for future trips, but all singing stopped as we rounded a corner to find police cars and an ambulance.

    Bikers on their Labor Day ride had pulled over and were directing traffic around a flipped car that lay crushed in the mauka lane. As the ambulance pulled away the boy's questions came.

    "How did that guy flip his car over?" (He lost control around the curve, and then hit the hill and flipped.)

    "Do you think they were all crushed?" (It looks like the front seat is mostly intact. They probably hit their heads and need to see a doctor.)

    "Did anybody die?" (I hope not. They're on their way to the hospital now.)

    The police worked the scene as the bikers handled the traffic and motioned us forward. My wife texted the mother of my son's friend letting her know that everything was fine. There's only one road through Waimea and one up the mountain. When the sirens wail up the Mountain Road, everyone knows why.

    I said to my wife, "Well, honey, there's your Labor Day accident. You can't drive fast on this road."

    The boys were silent for a minute then went back to their animated chatter.

    Around the next switchback we could see Waimea in the distance. Floating over our little town was a beautiful rainbow. It's not a rare occurrence. It happens all the time.

    * * * * *

    Photo taken by Judith Roberts. Kohala Mountain Road, September 2, 2012.
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