Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Reflections on the A to Z Challenge 2017 and FAQs about the "Hookipa Pillbox"

Pictures. Grr. I remember one A-Z Challenge – maybe it was last year – where I was looking for a particular photo for a blog post. I knew I had taken it but couldn’t remember which folder it was located in, or if I had tagged it, or renamed it, and I spent hours looking for this one photo. In the effort to find it, I spent more hours looking for the photo than writing the post and formatting it. A few months later, I found the photo. 

Since then I’ve spent a lot of time naming and organizing photos. It’s not a perfect system, and there are probably things that I still can’t find.  

This year, I had planned to do a very different theme for the A-Z Challenge, but didn’t have enough time to do the research much less the writing! As April loomed closer, I realized I had several dozen photos of street art, graffiti, random painted words, vanity plates, and stickers on signs, and that I might have enough to get 26 letters of the alphabet. Originally I planned to give them all equal treatment, but as I sifted through photos, decided to feature an old WWII bunker facing the highway along Maui’s north shore. 

My husband calls it the Hookipa pillbox, since it’s located near Hookipa Beach, a famous windsurfing spot. I’ve shared several murals or street art paintings of this pillbox in other posts, but was planning to one day do a few posts chronologically, showing all the photos I had taken in one particular year. 

One day. Ha. That’s in the big pile of “somedays” and “one days” and “in the future.”

The pillbox is highly visible, though only for a few seconds driving at the speed limit, and you still have to be paying attention or you’ll miss it, it’s become something of a community bulletin board. People share rants, birthday greetings, philosophical musings, graffiti, or beautiful art on this wall. It’s located close to the ocean, in a field of grazing cows. Those cows have a multi-million dollar view.  The private landowner doesn’t seem to mind that people trespass across his cow field to paint their art or sign. Occasionally people climb the fence to explore or go fishing.

Here’s a quick video of how it looks from the car:

If the video above doesn't show up, the link is:

Some frequently asked questions based on comments:

Who paints the murals? Seems like anyone with the gumption and enough paint.

How long does each paint job last? Sometimes only a few days, sometimes for weeks or months. My friend said the ham radio club once painted a mural that lasted for 8 months.

How do you get permission? Well, it seems that most people don’t bother to get permission from the land owner, but once a year, the ham radio club hosts a radio field day and receives official permission to camp there overnight and repaint the pillbox.  If anyone wanted to contact the landowner, you would have to look up the parcel on the Maui tax map records, find the owner’s name and address and then write them a letter. 

How big is it? Hmmm, well, maybe 12 feet high by 20 feet long? I’m not the best at measuring.

Why did it ever become so popular? I don’t know. Here’s a random theory: in Hawaii, billboards are illegal. Some decades ago, a group of civic-minded residents decided they wanted to protect Hawaii’s natural beauty from big signs and billboards, so they successfully passed a law to prohibit them. Even today, you’ll see some sun-dazed individual standing outside all day holding signs for a store event, car wash, or big sale as the cars zoom by. This empty wall was perfectly located for constant traffic in a state without any billboards. 

Why was there a building there to begin with? It used to be a WWII communications station, and it’s still communicating to the world! 

Is there a telephone pole next to the building? Yes, or an electric pole, though I don’t think there is any service to the building.

Well, this is probably the longest A-Z challenge post I’ve written this year. For the first time ever, I was able to keep my posts fairly short. Also, I made a real effort to post one photo on Instagram for each day of the challenge.  I looked for #azchat on twitter, which I’ve always enjoyed. I did appreciate that #Storydam hosted their chats on Thursdays.
Thanks everyone for stopping by and commenting and for the hosts for organizing another wild April challenge. Here’s the part where I say I should have done more blog hopping and commenting, but the truth is, I always feel I should have done and could do more blog hopping and commenting. In a way, it was a relief to not have the sign-up list this year. I won't make any promises about doing more blog hopping or follow up.  If I manage to write a blog post a month, that'll be a big win. 

By the way, AAA Hawaii has a photo contest of a landscape or still life from Hawaii, with great prizes. Entry deadline is May 31.

Visit more posts in the Archives including other A-Z Challenge posts. If you enjoy this piece, consider signing up for a monthly-ish newsletter for insider tidbits about Maui.


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