The year was 2009. Our middle child, Carl, had just graduated from college, and our tradition was to take the new graduate on a week-long trip of their choosing. Just them and us. A final hurrah before they went out into the world on their own.
This comes from my journal of the trip, the first week of August:
Carl chose to go to Alaska, and wanted to stay in rustic places and have an active vacation. So we lined up an itinerary that included hiking, kayaking and fishing. We chose accommodations that were primarily cabins with a lodge and B&B thrown in – perhaps a little less primitive than Carl originally had in mind, which was a compromise for traveling with Mom and Dad.
Our trip started out on the Kenai Peninsula, south of Anchorage. We stayed in the very small town of Hope, off the main highway on the Turnagain Arm. That turned out to be our favorite lodging of the trip, at Bowman’s Bear Creek Lodge. They had 5 log cabins, which were around a small pond, and ours also had the creek running behind it. They were very basic cabins, just for sleeping and relaxing, with a bathhouse shared by all the lodgers. We rather liked that, because it limited the guests to people like us who like things simple but in beautiful surroundings. They also had a little café, which served fabulous food. Our first dinner of the trip was on their outdoor deck – at 8:00 at night it was still warm enough and plenty light to eat outside. Carl and I chose fresh salmon, which was as good as promised. What a great start to the trip!
Our hosts at the lodge were Kent and Melanie Bowman. We took to them immediately, and loved their approach to life which was embodied in a “free spirit” canoe that floated in the pond. “If you can catch it, feel free to paddle around.” Kent provided us with great advice on renting kayaks, fishing spots and knowledge about the general locale.
We spent three nights at Bowman’s Lodge, keeping active and enjoying our downtime just hanging around, playing cards, reading and lighting a bonfire late at night when it was finally close to dark.
When we left the Kenai Peninsula it felt like we were old friends with Kent and Melanie by then. They had given us lots of ideas and recommendations – all of it good.
The remainder of our trip brought additional adventures, sights and places to explore and precious alone time with Carl. We stayed in other great places, but Bowman’s still stood out as a highlight.
That could have been the end of the story. But it wasn’t.
Enter FaceBook, that love it or hate it app that connects people everywhere. I don’t know who friended whom, but Rich and Kent soon became FB Friends and kept in touch. Tired of hearing news second hand, I too friended Kent. So it was that I happened on a series of comments that drew my attention.
After working many years on the North Slope in the winters, Kent promised Melanie they would move somewhere warm when he was done with that gig. He was as good as his word and had posted a photo of the home and extensive land they had bought on the Big Island of Hawaii. It also included a guesthouse.
It was Rich’s comment below the post that drew my attention, which went something like this:
That looks gorgeous! We might have to go over and stay there!
Now I’ve always been interested in going to Hawaii, but Rich was not so inclined. Seizing my opportunity I entered the fray:
I saw that, Rich. You’re on!
A few years and Covid intervened, but Rich also kept his word. For our inaugural trip to Hawaii we booked into Bowman’s Big Island Guesthouse for 10 days.
Nestled next to Lava Tree State Park near Pahoa, Bowman’s is a paradise all its own. Entering through a set of private gates, we drove onto their six-plus acres of land and encountered a private retreat. Expansive grounds surround their house, outdoor living area and other outbuildings, including the guesthouse and a gazebo for guests’ use. Dotted with palm trees, flowering plants, gardens, greenhouse and a chicken coop (including an early rising rooster) it feels like an oasis. It is bordered by thick jungly greenery, enhancing the privacy of the space.
Kent and Melanie greeted us with open arms and our friendship was immediately refreshed. The change in locale only enhanced their friendly helpful approach to hosting, and we loved catching up on the new climate and lifestyle they have adopted.
The simplicity of the guesthouse is in perfect keeping with island life. Surrounded by windows, open to the breezes, light fans circling overhead, and enough kitchen amenities to be self-sufficient, it meets all our needs. The large front porch and gazebo provide extended living spaces. Dining by tiki light has become a favorite of ours.
We are just a couple of miles from Pahoa, which is a delightful small town that boasts multiple coffee shops, some good restaurants, and even a free 50-meter community pool. It feels right to be nestled a distance from cities, high-rise hotels and crowds. This is the Hawaii we came to experience. Life feels slower here. There’s no need to rush anywhere.
Being located on the east side of the island, the wet side, means that we are in the midst of lush greenery, with humid weather and occasional showers. Okay, and sometimes big downpours. The only sounds in the yard are those provided by nature. The wind in the trees and the rustling of palm branches is all I hear in the background, accompanied by birdsong and the chickens. Nights are profoundly silent.
Just as Bowman’s Bear Creek Lodge defined its guests by its unique set of amenities, the Big Island Guesthouse will also appeal to a specific type of traveler. For us, it’s the perfect fit. And brought us all the way from Alaska to Hawaii.