Camper Living

When Romeo and I found our land in rural Hawaii, it had everything we wanted in a homestead - except for a home. Our options were to locate a rental or to devise some sort of temporary shelter that we would live in until our house was complete. Finding a rental not too far from our neighborhood that wasn't too expensive and took pets proved to be almost impossible, so it was on to Plan B. People had all kinds of ideas for us, from converting a storage container to buying a yurt. But these were not cheap alternatives. In the end, we opted for a 2001 Coleman Pop-Up Camper, which offered us the kind of ventilation we would need in a tropical climate and went for a decent price. 

The camper is about 175 square feet. It came with an outdoor shower and a small propane fridge; we've since added an old stove and a washing machine. Once a catchment tank was installed on the land, Romeo set up a downhill gravity-fed water line to the camper. We raised a canopy over the camper to protect it against the elements, and installed gutters from that to collect even more rainwater. Two solar panels run our laptops and lights, with a back-up generator for days with less sun. Internet is over a cellphone hotspot.

We share this space with two dogs and one of our three cats, so it's definitely cozy. But it's also functional, comfortable and supports our goals in sustainability and self-sufficiency. As the old saying goes, "home is where the heart is."

CamperLiving

Chasing Coconut Chris

Christopher Carter, aka Coconut Chris, loves plants. By the time he was 8, he had started growing tomatoes and sugarcane in his parent's yard in Southern California. He stopped going to school in 9th grade just so he could devote more time to growing food. When he was 22, he worked at an exotic plant nursery in Vista, California, where he learned about plant propagation, grafting and edible landscaping, all useful skills for growing tropical plants.

Chris now lives in Kukuihaele, by the Waipio Valley, on a 600 acre ranch. While he goes by Coconut Chris (due to his ability to scale tall coconut palms in search of their fruit), it's bananas that Chris is especially into growing. Bananas have been growing in Hawaii for as long as people have been living here, with varieties brought over by the first Polynesian explorers. Chris grows over 50 kinds of bananas on his farm, many of them rare Hawaiian types. If not for his efforts, these species could become extinct; preserving them helps to maintain an important part of traditional Hawaiian culture. Plus, bananas are one of the easiest and fastest to grow of all the tropical fruits and are a nutritious source of carbohydrates.

Coconut Chris lives off-grid on his farm and follows a raw vegan diet. In addition to bananas, he grows an endless list of tropical foods: Jackfruit, starfruit, passionfruit, cacao, breadfruit, pomelo, papayas, edible hibiscus, soursop, durian and, of course, coconut. His passion for biodiversity and all home-grown food is truly infectious, and I always come away from a trip to his farm feeling inspired - along with a truck full of banana varietals to plant.

Tropical Mod

I wanted to shoot a fashion editorial based in Hawaii that was different from what I had noticed. Something sweet and demure, a little more covered up even. I also wanted the images to evoke an aura of the early years of Hawaii's statehood. The dress the model wears is Tori Richard, a Honolulu fashion house founded in 1956. And while the Royal Kona Resort wasn't built until 1968, it's architecture is still evocative of the earlier part of the decade. So here's what you get when you mix 60's mod with the tropics - Tropical Mod.

Model: Helena Brewbaker

Makeup: Anais Huet

Vintage Tori Richards dress courtesy of Deja Vu Antiques in Kainaliu, Hawai

Shot on location at the Royal Kona Resort in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii.