Rock Fever?

did-you-know-map-pacific-hawaiiI’ve been asked on more than one occasion if I or any of us in our family ever suffer from rock fever, or if we feel that we are trapped out here in the middle of the ocean on this tiny island, with absolutely no way to escape other than to get on an airplane.

Although rock fever is a very real phenomenon for some people, I can honestly say I’ve never experienced it, or any sort of “trapped” feeling since living here on Kaua’i. I love living here.

I couldn’t live anywhere where I couldn’t get in my car and drive whenever I wanted to get away, I’ve heard people say. But, when I’ve queried those same people about where they drive, or how far from home they typically go, many admit to never traveling more than a few miles away in their cars. If they do drive long distances it’s on the Interstate, with stops at brand-name hotels and restaurants along the way. Many people opt to fly if they’re traveling any distance, which is exactly what we do whenever we want to get away.

Don’t get me wrong – I enjoy road trips. I traveled all over the U.S. as a child, and Brett and I have driven across the mainland more than a few times, from the east coast to the west for change of duty station moves, with loads of sightseeing included along the way. We’ve taken to the road to visit family, or attend special occasions like graduations and weddings, and we’re looking forward to a couple of road trips on the mainland in the future. But, the reality is that most of the time we stayed pretty close to home, no matter where we lived, with our longest drives typically things like an occasional 80-mile trip out to the coast when we lived in Portland, or down to the campground for our annual camping trip, or up to Miami a few times when we were stationed Key West, or to Washington, D.C. when we lived in Maryland.

Rock fever is a frame of mind where one convince oneself that they need to be able to get in their car and escape from wherever they are. Here on Kaua’i though I can escape to someplace different simply by driving to the end of the road on the west side, with its different climate and lifestyle than what we experience here on the east side. The same is true whenever we head to the north shore. Each part of the island enjoys its own microclimate, and driving 20 miles to north or south provides the same change in scenery and temperatures that the 173-mile, three- to four-hour car trip to the campground did back in Oregon. Daily driving distances here are shorter overall, and after living here for a while and adjusting to those distances, a trip of more than 20 miles or more takes on a similar feel to long-distance journeys back on the mainland. We know if we do feel a need to go further we can get on one of the many flights that leave Lihue each day for the other islands. It might not be as inexpensive as driving, but it’s still very doable. Each Hawaiian island has its own unique climate, culture and sights to see. Kaua’i is not like Oahu which is not like Maui which is not like the Big Island and so forth. Adventure awaits!

Rather than feeling trapped, seeing the ocean every day, and looking out to the horizon gives me a feeling of great freedom. I wonder about what lies beyond the horizon, of the places I might visit, the cultures I might experience, the foods I could try. There’s a world out there beckoning me to explore it. In the meantime, I get to live in one of the most beautiful, friendly places on earth.

Rock fever? Not me. Besides, how can I feel trapped when I’m surrounded by all of this?

8 thoughts on “Rock Fever?

  1. One of my favorite things about visiting Kaua’i (besides seeing you all!) is the driving is so nice, even with traffic. It’s a whole different mindset. Yes I know, we are on vacation, but I have a feeling that living there is the same way. And you’re 100% right about areas of the island having their own look, feel, and weather. There is so much there, and I look forward to finding it all.


    1. Driving is different here. People are for the most part very laid back and polite, and you learn to slow down and take in what’s around you. Both YaYu and WenYu are glad they learned to drive here versus back on the mainland – it was just less stressful.

      We were up on the north shore yesterday (Dr’s appointment) and it was like we’d gone to an entirely different island in just 30 minutes. Different plants, more rural, etc.


  2. When I first visited Hawaii (my first island was Kaua’i), I was much younger and had that ‘rock fever’ thought when my husband said he could live there. Now, as the world has become increasingly more global, I see my kids living abroad, or in Canada, and I realize that we are all just a plane ride away from one another. I do love the idea of driving all over the continental US, but how often do I do it? When we want to go to Arizona or Florida, California or Seattle, we fly. And we speak to our family members on FaceTime often, so it’s just a different world. I do like being near my mom and brothers, though, as I age. And I have a strong emotional attachment to the Great Lakes, especially N. Michigan, where I grew up.


    1. I have felt more trapped in places we lived on the mainland than I ever have here. We lived on Key West for 2+ years, a tiny island, and never felt stuck or claustrophobic, but we knew others there that felt trapped even though there’s a highway connected the Keys to the mainland! It really is all in your mind, and as a friend says, you can become trapped by your stuff.

      It is a different world now, and communication is so much easier. We FaceTime with our grandson over in Japan, and the girls and I use it to chat with each other several times a week. Travel is easier these days too. Maybe not as cheap as it used it be, but there are an amazing array of choices and ways to get where you want to go and see what you want to see whether it’s by plane, train or car.


  3. As much as I love Hawaii, I don’t think I could live there–at least not at this point in my life. I would miss the changing seasons too much. We’re heading into fall here and the leaves are starting to change and it’s pretty. I hate winter though, so if I could find a way to live in Hawaii during that time, I would!

    A good friend of mine was in the navy and was stationed at Pearl Harbor for six years and he told me the last year or so he was starting to get rock fever because he felt he had seen everything there was to see on all the islands. So he left and went to Europe for a few years and then regretted leaving Hawaii. Sigh… I agree with you that most people don’t take long drives. I’ll be taking a 2-1/2 hour trip in a couple of weeks to go camping, but I can’t even remember the last time I did that, so it’s definitely not the norm.

    I agree that with Facetime and ease of travel, we’re all more connected than we once were, so that certainly makes the distance easier to deal with.


    1. One secret for not seeing everything is to . . . not see everything. When we visit some place here on the island, we never try to “see it all.” We always leave something back so we have a reason to go back. We especially never try to see or do it all once we first arrive. We save things for later. We lived on Key West for 2+ years and didn’t visit Hemingway’s house until the day before we left! We’ve been here over 2 years and have barely gotten our feet wet on things to see and do here, and of many things we have done, we’re looking forward to going back and doing it again.

      We may not get the changing leaves here, but there are seasonal changes. They’re just more subtle here than in other places. Fall has always been my favorite season, and our first fall here I missed it greatly and felt very nostalgic. But not last year, or this year either. I also like not having to deal with all the pumpkin stuff. I like pumpkin, but it was getting out of hand by the time we left and I believe it’s only gotten worse since then.


      1. Your comments about the pumpkins made me laugh. It is definitely out of hand. I like pumpkin, but by the time Thanksgiving is over, I don’t want to see or eat anything with pumpkin until the next year! I don’t even celebrate Halloween because where I live, kids trick-or-treat right after school when it’s still daylight and I’m not home from work, so I always miss it.

        I think the mistake my friend made when he was stationed at Pearl Harbor was he was in a mad rush to see everything the first couple of years he was there because he didn’t know that he’d end up being there for 6 years. Maybe if he had known, he would have spaced it out better.

        I’ve always lived in places that had the 4 seasons so I don’t know how I’d feel about not having the drastic weather changes. Like you said though, I guess you do get used to it. I’m sure I could adjust because today it’s cold and rainy and I’m feeling nostalgic for Kauai!


      2. Our first autumn here was hard, but that was due to the El Nino that was occurring October was miserable – hot, humid and practically no trade winds blowing. Once the trades started back up though and it cooled off we were happy to be here, especially when we kept hearing from friends back in Portland that it was raining (again). I’m getting better at seeing, feeling and appreciating the more subtle changes that happen here in the fall.

        I may make a pan of pumpkin bars this fall, but that’s it for pumpkin around here. We used to make pumpkin pancakes, but YaYu doesn’t care for pancakes. Maybe when the other girls are home for Christmas . . . .


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