Welcome to the Story

The saga of six pilgrims, one family with four kids…

Unplugging from suburban, east-coast America to build a homestead…

On a volcano, in the remote Pacific…

Creation stewards pursuing a sustainable, natural, God-centered life…

Plugging into community, producing all manner of cottage industry goods…

In 2013, following a confluence of disparate events (of the sort that tend to shift your worldview), John and Esther decided to end their decades-long, secure federal careers to focus more on the development of their four children, plug into community in ways that their white-collar jobs had long prevented, and engage in church more than they had allowed for throughout their adult lives to that point.  Consultations within the sphere of experts that surrounded their lives–accountants, human resources specialists, real estate brokers, a financial planner–all led to the same conclusion:  if they really wanted to make this life shift, the timing was perfect right then (from their age, to their assets, to the markets) and the window may not ever open again.

Having built up some measure of expertise over the previous six years in a wide-variety of “back-to-the-earth skills”–from raising honey bees and egg-laying chickens to growing mushrooms, garlic, and chard to making handcrafted shampoo, tallow balms, and candles–they decided to pursue their plan within the context of an organic, sustainable, homestead and to homeschool their kids.  In those six years, with many hours attending lectures and reading books by others who had made a leap into homesteading, the couple also had a framework for how to best pursue such a radical shift.

They wanted to stay close to the Northern Virginia area where they grew up, met, married, and had extended family, and they began looking for a piece of land between Pennsylvania and South Carolina.  Their research into property prices and availability, centers of off-grid-living expertise and supply, and conditions for raising produce and livestock, repeatedly surfaced one surprising alternative location:  The Big Island of Hawaii.

Though rooted in the Old Dominion, John and Esther’s careers had taken them, and the kids, to live in tropical Asia for many years, and they had been in and out of Hawaii’s Oahu and Maui islands many times.  Hawaii Island, the so-called “Big Island,” while different than the others, was a comfortable idea for them to further explore and they were well aware of the challenges that come with living on an underdeveloped locale in the middle of the Pacific.   After weeks of more detailed research into life on Hawaii Island (to get up to speed on issues of crime, cost of living, infrastructure, and other pertinent aspects that would touch the lives of their family), they decided that they needed to get on the ground to make a final decision.

In November 2013, using frequent flier miles and staying in a $20/night hostel that employed mosquito nets, the couple first flew to the island that would become their family’s home.  It was likely the oddest trip by East Coast professionals to Hawaii.  The couple did not visit one beach, see one tourist site, or sip one Mai Tai.  Time was spent at farmers markets, grocery stores, Home Depot and Target (pricing out goods), meeting with homeschoolers (learning the ins and outs of homeschool law and practice on island),  visiting public libraries (exploring learning resources), and driving around with real-estate agents (to better understand some of the antiquated and foreign-looking aspects of property ownership in the last state to join the Union, and start pinning down some viable locations to look for a plot).  After ten days, they returned to their home in Virginia convinced that Hawaii–despite its many third-world-like drawbacks and the cost entailed in moving a family of six that far away–was their place, and they began to make preparations to sell off all their assets and move their household to the far side of the country.

In March 2014, again traveling on the cheap, they made one final research trip to pin down a suitable plot of land and collect additional information on issues that would affect their transition (temporary rental lodging arrangements, longer-term rental cars, shipping and licensing and construction norms).  After reviewing and rejecting some dozen locations  (from 5 to 40 acres, from pasture to forest covered), they isolated one that would meet their needs, a 10-acre plot on a gravel country road that was surrounded by cow pasture, macadamia nut orchards, and tropical ornamental plant nurseries.

And that is how this tale began…  From there, you can follow the adventure, a blow-by-blow account of the trials, tribulations, setbacks and triumphs–on this blog, which was begun on the advice of John’s former work colleagues and quickly became an outstanding vehicle for keeping family up to date.  The blog has since become entertainment and inspiration for a readership of anonymous,  far away, and previously unknown individuals who hail from the outreaches of Ireland to the heart of the Middle East and beyond.  Welcome to the story.


What “confluence of events” rocked your world view?

Why do you describe living in Hawaii as such a challenge?