Tuesday, July 28, 2009


Yesterday was a fun, chill Sunday. I went surfing again, but the waves at Honolii weren't quite as easy to ride so I ended up doing worse! But it was still a lot of fun. I also saw "Year One," a very lame comedy with Jack Black and Michael Cera. I laughed, but mostly to keep from crying. Luckily it was only $1 to see it because the Kress Theater is amaaaazing! I hope they keep bringing in good movies before I leave because it's a really nice theater and a good way to pass a couple hours.

Today was fairly uneventful – Jake and I went into the field to pick up the Malaise traps. There were TONS of moths in one of our traps, and the dust from their wings actually prevented them from falling into the solution and dying! So we ended up with a couple bags of partially-live moths, which has never happened before, and which required a lot of maneuvering to keep them from flying away. It was pretty sunny in the kipuka, although it also drizzled whenever the clouds came over. I don't like when the weather is so bipolar because I have to keep taking my raingear on and off... but such is life! It was quite pretty (see photos). We also sorted a couple bags of leaves and branches. It was SUPER EXCITING! (Maybe not so much).

We got off work early, around 3, so I got to Skype with Sam for a couple hours. I love Skype!! What an amazing invention. I also cooked up some stir fry, and packed my duffel bag for HCC!

HCC is the Hawaiian Conservation Conference, an annual conference about all the big research projects being done on the Hawaiian Islands. It’s a really big deal, and Tad arranged for Jake, Devin, and I to attend! I’m really excited because it’s the only real Hawaii-centered conference other than Professor Vitousek’s meetings, and they have some really cool speakers lined up. I’ve never been to anything like this so it should be an experience. I’ll be back really late on Thursday and have to work on Friday, so I won’t be able to update until then. See you on the flipside!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Fun in the Sun

Yesterday was AWESOME, I learned how to surf!! Tommy took Jake and I to one of the local surfing spots, and we both stood up by our 3rd try, which is pretty darn good if I do say so myself. It was SO FUN! I didn’t manage to do any cool tricks (yet) but it was still a lot of fun just hanging out and pretending to be legit. Hopefully I’ll be able to go surfing again before I leave so I can stand up for more than a couple seconds.

Today I had scuba! The weather was gorgeous and it was a great day to be outdoors. Bill, my dive instructor, is about 60 and is an extremely good teacher. We practiced lots of basic skills in the ocean, since they don’t have a pool, and saw some cool fish and corals. There wasn’t a whole lot to see where we were, but apparently next week’s dive spots are phenomenal so I’m looking forward to it. The only other person in the class is Ed, a 58-year-old who lived in Marin for awhile is now settled on the island. He’s super cool and it was a fun dive. I got home, made some stir fry, and am reading a Michael Crichton book I picked up at the Salvation Army. I also found a $2 tank top there! Yay! And bought some delicious malasadas (Portuguese donuts) at the farmers market.

Sorry for the lack of photos, I’m hesitant to get my camera too near water at this point, but I’ll try and be better about my visual aides!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

3 Day Weekend Commencing!

Yesterday and today passed like a blur! Hard to believe I've been in Hawaii for a month and a half now... crazy. Only one month more, and I still feel like there's so much to do!

Wednesday was a lab day, as always, but this week I ended up sorting the Berlese funnels rather than the insects from the Malaise traps. Berlese funnels work by placing litter (leaves, branches, etc… from the forest floor) onto a wire mesh inside the cloth frame. It’s then placed beneath a lightbult, which dries out the litter and causes all the little bugs to dry up and fall through the mesh, where they’re caught in a vial with ethanol. Then this vial is removed and we can see what kind of bugs were inside the litter, and by extension the forest floor!

There’s 3 major steps to working with the Berlese funnels:
1. Removed the two-week-old vials from the funnel and put the contents into scintillation vials (see photo). Label everything! And then remove the litter into a paper bag.
2. Move last week’s samples from the right side of the frame to the left side. First remove the vial, then pick up the funnel and sift through the dirt to break up any chunks of litter that are still wet. These should be exposed for the 2nd week of drying. Make sure to catch all the little dirt bits that fall through the mesh, and then replace them into the funnel before moving it to the right side of the frame. Then replace the vial, adding more ethanol if you have a really juicy sample.
3. Place the new litter samples into the recently emptied funnels. Label the funnel, the vial, and the litter itself by leaving in its identification tag. Make sure all the lightbulbs are functioning!

So that’s what I did for about 5 hours, and then spent the next couple hours weighing the leaves and branches from the branch clipping samples. When Devin and Tad arrived, we sorted through their branch clippings and were done for the day!

I went to the beach after work and it was really pretty out. There are some crazy people who like to swim even when the water is rough. Good for them!

Today, Jake and I spent about 4 hours collecting rat tunnel tracking cards. It was pretty uneventful, although we were driving a Ford 250, which is the largest truck I’ve ever been in. I could barely get into the car, it was so tall! Totally unnecessary for our work, but we needed a car so we took what we could get.

Then we spent about 5 hours separating branches and leaves. Not too exciting, but I put my iPod on shuffle and was really impressed with the playlist that resulted. That’s the nice thing about having a small mp3 player – I have to carefully choose what goes on it, so I like all the songs!

Now I’m going to watch Watchmen. Should be fun, I’ve heard really good things about it! And no work tomorrow since we’ve already put in a solid 40 hours this week. I’m not sure what I’m going to do with my day off... maybe just have a leisurely day at the beach! Word on the street is that there’s a ziplining place north of Hilo, so I hope to check that out at some point.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Marine Training Base + Restoration Work? Sure!

Today Jake and I shadowed another project up in PTA, the Pahokaloa Training Area, which is about 15 minutes part our normal work site. It’s a Marine training station so there were tons of armored vehicles, tanks, helicopters, young men in camo, guns, etc… as we entered and we had to show our IDs and get visitors passes. We also had to get trained on what to do if we found UXOs – Unexplained Objects – which are basically bombs that they dropped anywhere from 60 years ago to the present and failed to explode. Apparently they’re all over PTA, and just last week they found a 250 lb UXO that was still live. Crazy! We didn’t see any in the field but there were some cool ones in the training demo.

It was really bizarre seeing all those army guys walking around – I didn’t see any women except for the ones who were working at the general store. Crazy! We worked outside of the main training area, in the live ammunition and blasting area (of course) which was exciting because we could hear the bombs going off and helicopters sometimes flew over us. It was very empty other than that – PTA is over 50,000 hectares, so they have tons of space, and we were just doing work in some of the restoration areas.

We were specifically measuring 100 plants, 20 different individuals from 5 species, for their longest horizontal width and then the width perpendicular, as well a the height and estimating percent dead. They’ve been following the 100 plants at this plot for about a year now to see how they change over time, to estimate which plants will respond best and be the most robust if they want to use them for restoration purposes. It was pretty boring actually, but fun because Megan (see photo of her measuring) is really sweet and we were chatting basically the whole time. It was also a bit hotter out there because there’s no shade, and I didn’t have a hat! But I wore tons of sunscreen and didn’t get a burn or anything. I also saw some bones around our plants, and with Mauna Loa in the background it was just a cool picture. So enjoy! We also used a crazy hand-held computer that has all the capabilities of an Excel spreadsheet. It made data entry a lot more convenient and was also just really cool! Very nifty tool.

As we were leaving, we stopped back at PTA main station to return our badges and get some snacks/cold water. I got a Marines cap, which ended up being $6.50 because I guess all the gear there is 50% off and there’s no tax. So go figure! Now I feel hardcore. Also a bit foolish. But whatever!

After PTA, I went to see Harry Potter 6. It was really good! I still really dislike the character playing Dumbledore, but I’m beginning to accept Hermione’s bad acting and the rest of the characters were really quite good. I’d forgotten so much of what happened in that book! It was probably my favorite HP movie so far.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Exploring Hilo

Today I woke up around 9 and made some tasty scrambled eggs with cheddar, Babybell cheese, and baked beans! The baked beans were a little sketchy because they’ve been in the fridge for a long time, but I haven’t been sick yet and they tasted fine. Plus I cooked them – no big deal!

I cleaned my room and set out all my hiking stuff to air out and dry. It’s so wet here that everything starts to smell mildewy and gross unless you put it out to dry and air out every day, so I’ve been working on keeping everything nice. My rain jacket already smells better!

Tommy invited Jake and I to the beach today, but Jake just wanted a lazy day so Tommy and I went around Hilo looking for cool places to go. We jumped off the big pedestal at Coconut Beach (see photo - it was probably about 15 feet high) and then headed down the coast towards Richardson St. Park, where we eventually ended up. I didn’t bring my snorkel stuff but the water was pretty murky so we just swam around and then hung out on the beach people watching. There are a lot of interesting people at the beaches here – hippies, families, really fit old people, really large people of all ages, etc… so it was a lot of fun just watching the sights.

We headed to the Hilo Zoo afterwards, which was pretty small but had some cool animals. Lots of monkeys and some native animals, as well as a WHITE TIGER! The tiger looked really pathetic though, very flabby fur and it seemed pretty lonely. I feel bad for all animals in zoos, but this guy seemed especially pathetic. They should get it a pet doggie or something… The blue macaw (see photo) was getting pretty frisky when we went up to its cage and it kept “laughing” and trying to bit us through the bars.

We also stopped by the Macadamia Nut farm which is really close to Hilo and we got lots of delicious samples. Apparently they usually sell bags of the defective chocolate-covered nuts, so they’re a lot cheaper and just as tasty! After all, your stomach doesn’t care what they look like! But since it was a Sunday, they’d sold out their weekend supply of the defective ones. Guess I’ll have to go back!

For dinner, we made chicken enchiladas. They were REALLY good, but super spicy because Tommy put a whole can of jalapenos in the sauce. Oy. I stuck it out and ate most of it though!! I’m getting better at handling really spicy food.

Sorry for the lack of pictures, folks, I forgot my camera this morning! I’ll work on putting more up and hopefully will have more visual aids in the coming days.

Saturday, July 18, 2009


This week was pretty typical, picked out a lot of bugs on Wednesday, went on Powerline on Thursday and Friday to pick up rat tunnels and do tree measurements.

Here's a photo of the dirt that gets collected by the Malaise traps. We have to filter the bugs from the dirt, but there was almost too much to deal with!
Here are lots of vials full of many many hundreds of bugs, hand collected. Nice!
The kipuka were gorgeous on Friday morning, but it's been pouring since we came down Friday afternoon. Go figure!

Last night we went to see Shakespeare in the Park, and they put on a great production of “Taming of the Shrew” in a 1950s style. The acting was really excellent and there were many clever Shakespearean innuendos, and I laughed a LOT! It’s really fun just hanging out and enjoying some of the local stuff, although it started pouring about 1/3 of the way through and kept up a steady downpour for the rest of the show. Since the show went on, rain or shine, we ended up freezing and soaking at the end. But it was worth it!!

Today I had the first day of my Scuba certification, which involved about 5 hours straight of instructional videos and quizzes and little demos. It was raining all day so we didn’t actually go in the water, but the guy who runs the certification program is GREAT! He lived in Californi and did a lot of diving in Monterey, and has been a PADI instructor for 27 years in Hawaii at this point and knows all about the currents, best places to go, etc… He’s also very safety conscious and helps rescue sea turtles that are caught in fishing netting! So I have a good feeling about this process and I can’t wait to actually get in the water!

Tonight we’re going to see “Angels and Demons” at the dollar theater – we meaning me, Tommy, and Tommy’s friend, since Jake has already seen it and doesn’t want to go again. Although he might change his mind since it’s only $1.25.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Today dawned clear and gorgeous! Of course, by the time I started biking to work it had begun to rain and I arrived soaking wet, once again. I gotta work on my planning for the weather – especially since I forgot my rain jacket when we actually went into the field! It was pretty sunny the whole time, luckily, so it wasn’t a big deal and I ended up using a trashbag as rain protection when it started drizzling.

Here are some photos of the Malaise traps we set up - note how tall the uluhe (ferns) are in this photo! They climb up trees and it’s pretty wicked cool. Also very inconvenient.

Devin climbed the trees to set up rat tunnels and clip branches so we could remove the bugs from them.

Also, there are 2 volcanoes in this photo! Mauna Kea is the big one we’re facing, and Kilauea is in the mirror. Crazy!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Chilly in Hawaii?!

Today we went in the field from 8 to 3, off of powerline road. The trail off of Saddle Road is super hard to drive but I did a good job of driving us in - I bottomed out only once, and Jake bottomed out like 7 times as we drove out. That road is vicious!

It was raining on the way to work so I arrived soaking wet. I'm going to start bringing my field work clothes in my pack and change when I get there so I won't start the day chilly... and since it kept raining the rest of the day, I never really warmed up! Especially since I left my rain pants in the car when we went out so I would have more space in my pack for picking up Malaise traps. Sorry, no photos today because it was so damp and we got so dirty! My hands were filthy from picking up litter (leaves, etc...) off the ground so we can dry them and see what the floor-level forest productivity is like.

I had some tasty rotini pasta for dinner; I swear it tastes better than normal pasta! And I got some Parmesan cheese so it was just perfection. YAY!

I'll just leave you all with a photo of the sunrise from my campsite Saturday morning... because it's gorgeous!

Sunday, July 12, 2009


We had Friday off because we worked so many 10+ hour days this week, so I woke up and got my brakes tightened at Walmart. It was a very quick, easy process, and I’m glad I bought a bike there rather than at a use bike store because they were super efficient with the service and didn’t hassle me at all. While there, I talked to Tommy (the masters student at UH Hilo) and he mentioned that he was going to Kona with his friend if Jake and I wanted to go. I responded “YES!” because that’s the perfect way to spend a day off. He called back awhile later and asked if we minded extending the trip to Kona into an all-weekend road trip around the island, to which Jake and I answered with a very excited affirmative. I just can’t believe I actually met a local who’s willing to let me and Jake go on adventures with him!! AWESOME!!!

We left around noonish on Friday, delayed only because Tommy had to finish making a quische – that’s right, he cooks. We went to Waipio Valley first, and started hiking into the valley but realized it was a 25% grade slope all the way down, meaning it was also 25% grade hiking up. So we took some photos at a scenic viewpoint on the road and meandered back up to the car. Ronnie made us stop the car so he could pet a goat and take a photo with it, since his mom loves goats and they have some at his house. He also mentioned that his goat doesn’t know it’s a goat, and plays and runs with his dogs as if it were actually a dog. Funny mental image!

We drove around the northern tip of the island and stopped to get some Malasadas, a Portuguese pastry that is DELICIOUS. SO GOOOOOODDD!! I wanted to eat like 10 of them, but restricted myself to just one (for now). We then went over to the west side towards Kona. We stopped at Hapuna beach and swam around until sunset, which was GLORIOUS. It wasn’t a super clear horizon but the clouds and colors were amazing. Here’s a photo!

We camped at a site about 30 minutes north of Hapuna beach, so we backtracked a bit and set up a tent. Jake slept under a permanent structure at the campsite, Ronnie slept in the car, and Tommy and I kipped in the tent. It didn't rain on us, although it was super windy and sounded a bit like a tsunami around 3:30 in the morning!

Tommy also almost got mauled by a cat while he went to the bathroom. Luckily there was a glass window in the way, because it jumped at him and tried to scratch through the window! Later, the cat was stalking around the tent and I saw it staring straight at us, and then Tommy said it was coming towards us so I freaked out. Of course, he was lying. *sigh*


We woke up really early (think 6:30!!) and went straight to a beach a little past Hapuna. It had some beautiful trees but the beach was a lot more rocky so we swam for a bit and saw some turtles! See the photo. napped and read, and then headed back to Hapuna. I had a great time, but we had been up since 6:30 so of course I fell asleep and woke up super disoriented when we arrived at Kmart to get Little Ceasar’s for lunch. Oh Little Ceasars – the pizzas are $7 in Hawaii instead of $5, but it’s the same crappy and wonderfully delicious pizza.

We then drove past Kona to Magic Sands beach, which earned its name because sometimes there’s a lot of sand and sometimes there isn’t! It’s magic!! And has something to do with currents, etc… and there was indeed sand when we arrived. Ronnie and I mostly hung onto a boogie board and floated out in the waves, while Tommy tried to boogie board and avoid the rocks. It was pretty fun and we stayed there until around 3ish, then continued around the island.

We stopped at a coffee roasting place where they had tons of free samples of cookies, coffee, etc… which was a great rest stop! The coffee here really is delicious. We then drove to Green Sands Beach (where Jake, Devin, Tad, and I went a couple weekends ago) and I took my own photos of windmills, cows, and such.

There were some crazy local guys who were jumping off the top of the platforms, so I snapped a quick photo because it was too cool. They also jumped into the caves from above, which just seems dangerous but they survived! Crazy. We camped at Green Sands beach after Tommy and Jake jumped off the cliffs. I chose not to this time because it was cold out, and then we set up tents and hung out chatting for the rest of the night.


Woke up early once again and hiked to the Green Sands beach. The waves weren’t as big as when we were there before, so it was a bit nicer. We didn’t stay for too long, and headed back to the cliffs when I did indeed jump one more time. The tide was lower so it was actually a higher jump and it hurt a bit more. I tried getting out of the water through a cave, but was a bit short and Tommy had to haul me up when the wave hit just right. It took me 3 times to get it right – I kept getting buoyed up by the wave but then getting sucked back down when the wave went out, and have some sweet scratches on my legs and hands to show for it. But it was still really fun!

On the way back to Hilo, we stopped at the Southernmost Bakery in the US – Punaluu Bakery – and got some more Malasadas. The passionfruit one was so tasty! We drove back to Hilo, and considered stopping at Volcanoes but it was raining and there was a long line just to get in, so decided to keep going.

For reals, I can’t believe this weekend happened. It was amazing and I got to see so much of the island! Hopefully I can keep exploring since there are still some places I want to go, but this was super fun and fantastic and wonderful!!

Oh, and incase you’re wondering, I’m NOT super tan even though I’ve been in the water for about 3 days straight! I’ve been wearing SPF 50 sunscreen and it’s working. So maybe I will slowly become a brown Hawaiian girl, but that’s still a work in progress!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

3 Day Weekend, What Now!!

Today was rough – we spent the first part of the morning collecting more rat traps and measuring the climbing trees for DBH (diameter at breast height), height, and distance from the edge of the plot. We had to go back to some of the kipuka we went to yesterday since we didn’t know we were supposed to be measuring the trees, and that was a bit frustrating because these kipuka are especially dense and hard to hike though. It was also raining the whole time and I was dripping even though my rain pants and jacket. On the final kipuka, we ended up going to the wrong one before we realized our mistake and had to hike even further! All in all, I think today has probably been the least comfortable and most frustrating day in the field, but we finished around 1 so at least it ended early.

We got back to the station and had lunch, then spent the rest of the afternoon sorting leaves and branches. Just like yesterday it was tedious, but at least it wasn’t raining inside (obviously, but still nice enough to mention). We did that until about 5:30 and then packed up for the day. Since we worked so many long days this week, we’re going to take tomorrow off and I plan on getting my brakes checked on my bike. They aren’t doing a very good job of slowing me down on the way back from work, so I want to have them fixed ASAP!

When I got back from work, I made some friend rice and then dug into my Moose Tracks ice cream. It’s the greatest – rich chocolate ice cream, swirls of hardened fudge, and chunks of dark chocolate. Oh my goodness. I might have some more right now. Yum! And the view from my apartment window was super nice because the clouds started moving in and spreading around the sky a bit. Gorgeous!

As I’m writing this, a lizard is walking across my window screen and eating the bugs that are attracted to my light. It’s really cute and funny to watch. I want to keep the lizard as a pet, but it’s pretty skiddish and tends to run off the screen as soon as it grabs a bit to eat. I think it’s full tonight since it seems to have disappeared.

Halfway Through the Week...

… and I’ve worked two 12-hour days in a row!! We had another 7 AM – 7 PM day, but this one felt way longer than yesterday because we had a lot of lab work. Jake and I went out in the field for a couple hours to collect rat traps: here’s a photo of one of the rat traps with all the little rat footprints. They ate the coconut! The paper inserts have a little ink pad near the coconut so the rats make tracks as they leave, and we attach a thread to one side so we can pull them out while we're standing on the ground and can avoid climbing the trees unnecessarily.

We got back to the lab around 10 and spent the next 5 hours sorting bugs individually. This involves rinsing with tap water, rinsing with two washes of ethanol (about 5 rinses per wash) and then literally picking out each bug individually and putting it into a vial. I swear, my eyes were crosseyed by the last sample. It was actually kind of satisfying, and once again I had a book on tape to keep me company. Otherwise I think I would’ve gone insane. I don’t think Jake has ever done that kind of super tedious work before, and he just had regular music, so I don’t know how he managed to keep at it.

We finished the bugs around 3, and then spent two hours separating leaves from branches. That’s right, separating individual leaves from branches and putting them into two separate bags. The hardest part was sorting the through the dusty leafy bits at the bottom of the bag, because there were lots of fragmented leaves we had to pick out. I did two bags and Jake only got through one bag before he had to leave and go on a run. I think he was getting a major case of cabin fever.

Devin came back around 5 with 4 bags of tree clippings that we had to sort for bugs, so that took another 2 hours. The leaves were pretty wet because it had been raining and there were a lot less bugs, so we’re worried that maybe the temperature/sampling environment might play a significant role in insect density instead of just kipuka size. We’ll have to sort that out… but it was still fun playing with the aspirator. I think I got a couple lungfulls of ethanol before we fully rinsed the aspirator though – my poor lungs!

We finished work around 7 and jetted back to the apartment so we could speed eat our dinner. Tommy, who we shadowed last week, gave us a ride to the dollar movie theater (it was actually $1.25 per ticket) and we watched “Land of the Lost” with Will Farrell. Jake, Tommy, Ronnie, and I all really enjoyed it even though it was absolutely ridiculous. I think they filmed the actors just talking, and then decided on a storyline afterwards because it made no sense and was filled with random and hilarious lines and “plot” twists. We just got back and now I am officially tired. Phew!

Tomorrow we start at 8, so that will be a nice break from the early morning wakeups. We have a ton to do though, so no guarantees about when we’ll be done; I guess we’ll see what tomorrow has in store!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Camera Reborn!!

I have a replacement camera!! AMAZING!! Of course it arrived after I got back from the field but it’s ok! Expect original photography commencing tomorrow.

Yesterday (Monday) we had a short day, just collecting Malaise traps from four kipuka. It was very low-key and we finished around 1:30, so I had time to bike around for a couple hours running some errands. I returned my super lame rainpants, got 7 more papayas for $1, and got a turtle bottle-opener so that Jake and I could give it to Devin for his birthday. Apparently he’s been using his car key and it’s all munched, so we thought it would be a nice gesture and actually useful.

Today was a LONG DAY. 12 hours of field work is a lot!! I biked to work today, and it’s all uphill. I actually ended up walking my bike for a good part of it because I got too tired to bike! Luckily I’m listening to a pretty good podcast book – Murder on Avadon Hill – and that kept me entertained. I finally arrived and it took us awhile to get situated and ready to go out, but we made it down the infamous Power Line road (which requires 4 wheel drive and some serious skill to manage the lava rocks).

Jake and I set out 7 Malaise traps while Devin and Bernice cut branch clippings and set out rat traps. Here’s a photo of the rat traps, with little pieces of coconut nailed to the center as bait. Mmmm. We went through 3 coconuts to get one with enough meat, and Jake used a machete to open it up. SO AWESOME! I love that Devin owns 3 machete, and that the US Forest Service has several available. Ridiculous! I drove us out, meaning I had my first 4 wheel drive experience and it was fine!! I only bottomed out once! Granted, I think the SUV we were using today is easier to drive than the truck, but still we usually bottom out 4-5 times just because the lava rock is so vicious.

We got back to the lab and set out the branch clippings so we could use the aspirator to suck up the bugs. See the photo for some of the stuff that fell off the branches! It was fun, as usual, although by that time it was about 5 PM and we’d been at work since 7 AM so we were all pretty tired. I also didn’t bring enough snackage, so I’ll make sure to do that from now on. Here’s a photo of me with the aspirator, using it like a cigar. Much like cigars, ethanol tastes pretty gross. How appropriate!

Tomorrow we start at 7 again, and now I know that it takes me about 25 minutes to bike/walk to work so I’ll plan accordingly. I’m going to be in good shape because of this though, I can feel it!

Sunday, July 5, 2009

4th of July

The 4th was a lot of fun and the weather was amazing! I woke up early and had a delicious banana-macadamia nut waffle at Ken’s House of Pancakes; it was way bigger than my face and I couldn’t finish it all! They had the most incredible syrups made from tropical fruits: coconut syrup, papaya syrup, and I think a citrus syrup. They were so tasty and bizarre and wonderful!!

The farmers market was hopping because so many people were in downtown. They also had a giant barbeque in downtown to celebrate the 4th, and I got some papaya, fresh lichee, bak choy, pork chili and rice, and thai lemonade. Everything was so tasty and bustling, it was really nice to see so many people out having a good time.

There was also a ginormous car show going on across the street from the farmers market – they devoted a huge field to hundreds of beautiful old cars and everyone was milling around eating shaved ice and admiring the paint and restoration jobs. I don’t know much (or anything) about cars, but I was very impressed and really enjoyed walking around. Apparently they only have this car show every 4 years because people actually ship cars in from the mainland, so we were lucky to come on a car show year!

I also bought a dress and I love it! It shouldn’t wrinkle too much, and even if it does it will still look good so it’s travel friendly. And it has normal straps! Exciting =) I finally found a cute summery dress!

I rode my bike around for awhile and poked into some new shops. Unfortunately, I arrived at a used bookstore about 3 minutes after it closed, so I’ll have to go back and check it out later. I also watched “He’s Just Not That Into You,” which was cute but definitely not great. I think it was trying to be like “Love Actually” except there can only be one “Love Actually!” and this movie definitely fell a bit short. But oh well, still a cute movie.

Jake and I borrowed Devin’s car yesterday so that we could go on a trip today, but the weather is pretty rainy and we’re both feeling chill so we might not go out. I actually wouldn’t mind driving up the coast just to go hiking but I think we’re going to wait and see if the weather clears at all. It’s so hard to gauge weather conditions because they change so fast! I realized that I miss driving, and Devin has a stick shift so I’m really glad I had Egbert so I can be a competent driver.

The fireworks were awesome! We sat right along the beach and they shot fireworks from the edge of the bay so that everyone could see them. They had some shaped like plumerias and stars and lots of kids along the shore also had sparklers. Apparently they’re big on small fireworks, sparklers, etc… because the kids next door to our apartment were shooting them off all day in their backyard. Thank goodness Hilo is very rainy, or I’d be concerned about the fire hazard.

All in all, it was a fun 4th of July and I’m so glad I finally got to see a full fireworks show! Two years ago I was in Rome, so obviously no fireworks, and last summer I was with Will’s volleyball team at JOs and we only saw them from the freeway. Yay holidays, and yay for long weekends!

Friday, July 3, 2009

Road Trip!

Today we didn’t have work because of the 4th of July weekend, but we decided to still go on an outing together and it was great!! We went to South Point, which (as the name implies) is on the south point of the island. But interestingly enough, it’s also the most southern point of the US! Excluding territories, anyways.

One the way to the beach, we passed a windfarm and there were tons of cows chillin on pastures along the road. I actually saw a bird sitting on a cow’s back! Like in cartoons! But REAL!!! I wish I’d had a camera…

We first went to the Green Sand beach and splashed in these HUGE waves. The shore is pretty steep so we didn’t have to go far out into the ocean for it get pretty deep, and I was definitely throw up up and away by some 10+ foot waves. The undertow was crazy!! The beach is green because an olivine cindercone was once located where the bay is now, and there are tons of little green crystals in the sand. It was gorgeous. We had to hike about 2 miles to get there over these crazy 4 wheel drive roads and it was worth it! Plus it was a huge incentive to jump straight into the water since we got a lil toasty from hiking.

When we first arrived at the Green Sand beach around 11, it was empty – but by the time we left at 2:30, there were tons of Dutch and Korean (I think) tourists. It was fun playing the waves, and also fun watching other people get thrown up on the shore when they misjudged waves. Teehee!

After the green sand beach, we drove about a mile back towards Ka Lea point, which is where there are 40+ foot cliffs where you can jump straight into the ocean. Below were some gorgeous corals, so we jumped into the ocean off those platforms in the photo and swam around for a bit. Jumping in was scary, but climbing up the rusty ladder was WAY scarier. Some of the rungs were half-way rusted through, and while we were snorkeling we could see segments of ladder on the ocean floor where they’d been thrown during storms or fallen off from too much rust. Freaky!!

I actually ended up jumping 3 times – the first time was just so I could go snorkeling. The second and third time were because other people wouldn’t jump until someone went first (plus I wanted to jump again). A girl from Oahu was too afraid to go until I had gone; she watched Jake jump and still wasn’t convinced until a girl did it. So I jumped! And gave a piercing shriek. It was AWESOME! The third time I jumped, a guy and his dad were both too afraid to go. His dad said that his son (who was probably like 24 years old) would jump if I did – I think he was trying to be a wingman for his son. Awkward, but funny. So I gave it one more jump, and then the guy and his dad both gave it a whirl. The cliffs were gorgeous, the water was super warm and the snorkeling was crazy cool! There were also lots of caves you could go into and explore.

On the way home, we stopped by 7-11 and I got a Slurpee. SO DELICIOUS! All in all, today was really really fun and totally worth getting water in both ears and once again losing the ability to hear. I think I should get earplugs or something – but given the mad water adventures I’ve been having, I think they’d probably fall out! My watch actually fell off when I did my 2nd cliff jump, but luckily Jake was nearby with a snorkel mask and snagged it before it sank to the bottom. PHEW!

Tomorrow Tad and I are going to Ken’s House of Pancakes! Jake is going to sleep in, but I’ve been consistently waking up around 7 AM naturally and can’t sleep in any later so waking up for breakfast on the 4th of July is no big deal. Plus, it’s the infamous Ken’s House of Pancakes! Hilo has a huge bbq and fireworks celebration so that should be fun too. Happy early 4th everyone!!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Goodbye, Sweet Camera

*My camera is dead. A new one is in transit, the old one is hopefully being repaired. Islands = bad place to break things. Shipping = expensive. This situation = awesome. *sigh*

** All photos are from the internet, at least until either or Jake or I regains a functional camera!


The Mauna Kea Visitor Center is awesome! We drove up and saw tons of stars, had constellations pointed out for us by volunteers, and drank hot cocoa. Great fun =) and hopefully we’ll go back in a couple weeks when it’s the new moon and there are tons more stars visible! You can see both Northern and Southern Hemisphere constellations from Hawaii, which was awesome and we just caught a couple stars in the Southern Cross before it got too late out.


We set up tons of Malaise traps on Tuesday, which will be used to trap insects. They’re about 6-7 feet tall and have a bottle of water with salt and soap at the bottom. The insects get trapped, die, and fall into the bottle, where the salt preserves them and the soap makes sure that they’re dead. I wonder what kind of flying insects we’ll trap! Ours look pretty much exactly like the one in this photo, even color-wise.

Devin and Tad took a lot of branch clippings and set up rat tunnels while Jake and I were setting up Malaise traps. The rat tunnels have coconut inside to tempt the rats, and ink so that their footprints show up and we can see what they’ve been up to/how many rats there were. The branch clippings had another, much more interesting result!

We took the branch clippings back to the forest service and caught all the insects attached using a mouth aspirator (See photo). We beat the branches on a white trash bag and pointed the metal part of the aspirator at the bugs that fell out. By sucking on the plastic tube, we managed to suck up spiders, flying insects, mites, caterpillars, etc… But let me just tell you, there were 1+ inch spiders. FREAKY. I was fun with most of them, but then a GIANT reddish spider fell off a branch and started running around, and I freaked out. Jake had to suck that one up using the aspirator, and I am not ashamed. It was terrifying!!! But other than that, I’ve mostly gotten over my fear of spiders.


We spent the morning trying to find omao, a native bird to Hawaii. It has several distinct bird calls but unfortunately the omao (and birdlife in general) was pretty shy and we didn’t get much interaction or hear many birdcalls. That was potentially going to be part of our research, but it seems like we need a more experience birder to be with us to make it practical so we’re scrapping that part of the project.

The afternoon involved cutting lots of blocks of wood for the rat tunnels, and I think I drilled about 400 holes into the wood so we can use rope to attach it to the tunnels. We also sorted dead bugs into vials. FUN! Lots and lots of worms, spiders, flies, and the like. Creepy and cool!

We had dinner at Devin's house last night. He made purple yam enchilladas - my first experience with them and they were delicious. He also showed us a lot of photos from Laysan, an island in the Hawaiian Archipelago where he lived for 6 months. Apparently only 4-5 people are allowed on the island at any given time, and they make 6 month rotations. You have to commit to living for 6 months on a tiny 1 x 1.5 mile island, with all your food and supplies, and do a lot of work on restoration. Who knows - maybe if I graduate and can't find a job, I'll work there for 6 months! It looks awesome, absolutely beautiful. Intriguing idea...

When we got back to the apartment I had a hankering for a good chick flick, so that night I watched 27 Dresses. For like the 6th time. It’s still adorable!


Today we set up 8 edge plots with litterfall traps. The kipuka were located along Powerline Road, meaning we were in 4 wheel drive and still bouncing around like crazy. The truck is great – we consistently bottom out several times on the way in and out, just because the lava rock is so jumbled, and our trusty vehicle is still going!

We finished early (around 3) and Tad drove me to mail my camera to the repair center. I hope everything works out quickly and painlessly with Olympus – it was really pricey to send the camera to CA, so they’d better fix it, darn it! I also stopped by Safeway and stocked up on more food. They sell huge bags of frozen chicken breasts and I cooked one for my fried rice tonight. Delicious!!

We also stopped by a chocolate factory in Hilo so Tad could buy his wife some Hawaiian chocolate. They had samples all over the store and coffee and it was AMAZING. So many tasty treats!! And there was a glass wall so you could see them making the chocolate on the other side of the window (see photo below). So cool!