New car lusting, questing and educating

  • Dawn F. Kawahara / Special to The Garden Island

    A jeweled VW Bug, “Vochol” 2010, by eight Huichol (Jalisco, Mexico) artists using traditional beadworking designs and techniques, contains 2,277,000 glass beads, resin, paint and yarn, and is from a 2018 exhibit at the Folk Art Museum in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

“I am not a ‘thing’-oriented person,” I reminded myself as two of my friends came tootling up in red cars that shone sassy-sweet as candy apples. “I am not my car,” I reminded myself again as others came along in snappy, ocean-blue and polar-white, brand-new SUVs and hybrids equipped with all the newest bells and whistles, including back-up views.

Re: that last feature, I could have used it when My Gal LE-Camry (MG leC) was brand spanking new. Finding myself hopelessly hemmed in at a 2004 bon dance parking area, I was guilty of inflicting the first ding in her pristine lunar silver back bumper when I misjudged the extent of a murderous towing extension of a truck parked behind me. Crunch! Not only had MG leC lost thousands of dollars in value just being driven off the lot, but now I had dented her pretty rear — and this while she still retained her enchanting, new-car aroma. “Where were my ancestors that night to protect me?” I couldn’t help wondering.

By now, Dear Readers, you’ve no doubt done the math and figured out that MG leC is 15 years old. A pretty good record, no? To her credit, she’s always gotten 26 or more mpg, even with the air-conditioning running full blast in high summer. She’s dependable, too. She carries more than that original ding now, and after losing two of her original zingy wheel covers (due to potholes that The Shadow hadn’t yet shamed the county Roads Division into fixing/filling), I settled for some el cheapo plastic ones. She’s not as attractive as she used to be, but still shines a brave face to the world when I treat her to a wash-‘n-wax even if some of her faded bumper stickers are peeling at the corners (I can’t help seeing the parallel with myself here).

Two years ago I acquainted myself with electric vehicles somewhat, wanting to “go green” with a cleaner fuel alternative. The Lihue Business Association hosted a program that dealt with the pros and cons of owning an EV, the published facts of which commanded my attention (“Last month Hawaii marked 5,000 electric vehicles on our roads. Many knowledgeable people believe that as batteries and overall technology improve, EVs are our green energy, ground transportation future.”)

After attending talks and demonstrations at the Saturday market at Kauai Community College, I visited Kauai car outlets and obtained facts and figures on the purchase of a new or used EV or lease agreement that several County Council members had, I learned, negotiated. I called two of them to ask their input. Seeking to learn the benefits and risks for EV owners, I received some answers to my questions. Important to consider was the impact that might be brought about by such a change on Kauai and throughout the world in the way of environmental health. At that time there was a doubly generous incentive offered in terms of a rebate from the Kauai Independent Utilities Cooperative as well as the IRS rebate, a practical “hook” to influence making the choice of owning an EV.

What put me off then was that the overall range was but 100 miles, approximately, and there were few free charging stations. I reasoned that I owned a “bird in hand” and didn’t need to act — yet. However, I applauded the idea of NOT supporting the gasoline industry and, inadvertently, all the wars over oil and territories that produce that black gold in our recent back history, as well as our current conflicts in the Middle East.

All of these reasons are still with me, in fact, all of us. And a new EV fair of sorts is being taken to our Westside to make it easier for residents of our leeward side to attend and get acquainted with EV choices.

Here, two web links that flew into my inbox from my New Zealand cousin for those who wish to study this controversial subject further, balancing the cons with the pros: and

My Dear Old Gal LECamry (yes, she’s still around) has some real benefits, even though her owners no longer need her spacious trunk to carry two or more sets of golf clubs and carts. She can deliver a reasonably comfortable ride and seatbelts for a driver plus four passengers. Her back seat folds down and allows for long surfboards or over-sized building supplies and the like to be shoved through and carted to and from necessary sites. Once in awhile that trunk is full of more than folding beach chairs and insulated shopping bags. For instance, my Yamaha keyboard and/or violin and all musical accoutrements can fit in easily, too, along with a potluck dish or dishes.

And at the Eo e Emalani Festival time, four hula maidens plus their luggage, special costuming, some bedding and food supplies for the special weekend in Kokee, can fit between the car and the trunk, with maybe room for one more. And lastly, MG leC is — and has been for some time now — paid for, i.e. all mine. I will keep my commitment until my A-1 mechanic Glen tells me the old gal is green-lining beyond hope, or else her quoted rejuvenation costs ($teep) will send my eyebrows into my hairline. Then, watch out, the new car lust will rise once again and no denying it then: I might give in to my desire for a bejeweled VW Bug, since I, too, am heading toward being a collector’s item.


Dawn Fraser Kawahara, author and poet, made her home on Kauai in the 1980s. She and her husband, a retired biology teacher, live with books, music and birds in Wailua Homesteads. They share the passion of nature and travel to far-away places. Coming soon, the writer’s memoir II — “Burma Banyan, A Daughter’s Odyssey.” Other of her books may be found in local outlets and on Amazon. For further information, email


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