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.