Sunday, August 30, 2009

Roadtrip to North Shore

This morning was very leisurely, and Kanoa and I just watched reruns of Psych until about 1 in the afternoon. It was gloooorious, I've missed TV more than I should! Then we headed up to the North Coast, where there are some gorgeous beaches. The drive was spectacular as well – the mountains here are RUGGED. The mountains consist of super jagged valleys and spines that dive almost straight into the ocean. We didn't actually eat at the place in the below photo, but there were tons of similar signs along the road and they had a ton of personality!

We stopped to take a picture at the Mokolii, a small island off the coast. Kanoa explained that in Hawaiian culture, the island was formed when a goddess traveled from the Big Island to Kauai. On the way, she was attacked by a giant, vicious lizard and fought it into submission on Oahu. She broke it into pieces, and the island is the tail of the lizard. At low tide it’s possible to walk straight out to it! Otherwise, it’s probably better to canoe because there are 15 foot tiger sharks swimming in the surround water. Crazy!! The water was SO BLUE and the views were breathtaking as we drove along the coast – I wish my camera could capture even a tiny fraction of that beauty, but photos don’t do it justice. The ocean and the mountains are so different and I can’t decide which I’d rather look at. So beautiful!

The beach we visited at North Shore had pretty large waves, although apparently they get significantly bigger during the winter and are great for surfing. Kanoa and I just chilled in the surf and got swept back and forth towards the shore. I love the ocean here – I can float without any effort and the water is so warm. It’s crazy relaxing! We drove back towards home and ate at a roadside fresh shrimp stand. The salt and pepper prawns were fantastic, and Kanoa was horrified that I ate the shells and tails but I think they’re delicious!

When we got back home, we ate some pizza and watched football. Not my normal TV choice, but the high school teams playing were pretty good. I realized that I’ve seen probably 2 high school football games EVER since I never went to the Mitty games, so this makes number 3. Pizza is also one of the greatest culinary developments in existence! Yummy yummy.

Tomorrow we’re going to go snorkeling pretty early and then go to the women’s volleyball match between UCLA and Hawaii. It should be really exciting since both teams are highly ranked, and I’m glad I’ll get to see at least one volleyball game this season since I’ll be missing everything while in Australia!

Only 1 more day in the US. AHHHHHH!!!!

Saturday, August 29, 2009


Hello from Oahu! I’m staying at Kanoa’s house in the Kalihi valley, about 20 minutes from Waikiki. His house is gorgeous, and the view from the window shows the lush green sides of the valley. Yesterday Kanoa and I went to the USS Arizona at Pearl Harbor in the morning. The ticket included a 20 minute movie and then a boat ride out to the wreck. The movie was great and had lots of original footage from the footage. It was very sobering, and the memorial itself was amazing because you could see the wreck under the ocean.

We then went to the Outrigger Canoe Club, where Kanoa is a member, and chilled at the beach for most of the afternoon. The water was gorgeous, the sun was shining, and it was super super fun! I wish I’d taken more photos but it was pretty unbelievable. Then we went to a dinner at the Halekulani Hotel to celebrate Kanoa’s grandmother’s birthday. It was PERFECT. We could see the sunset and there was live Hawaiian music and hula. Kanoa’s family was good friends with the men in the band, so we could request songs and had really great seats near the stage. The food was also great and his family is really fun and friendly! Afterwards, Kanoa and I met up with some of his friends to drive up to a viewpoint over Waikiki and then walked around the Waikiki strip. His friends are really friendly and it was just a fantastic day. Oh Oahu!!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Packed up and moving on

Today I moved out of my apartment in Hilo and finished saying my goodbyes to the Big Island of Hawaii. CRAZY. This summer went by in such a whirlwind, and I can’t believe I’ve lived somewhere outside the Bay Area and am already moving on! I finished work on Monday – it was the last day of the whole summer, and Jake and I forgot to bring the Whirl Packs for the Malaise traps! That means we had nothing to put the bugs in so we ended up using our water bottles, the Menehune gallon jugs, and triple-bagging samples. It was creative to say the least, a bit sketchy to be honest. But we got the job done and afterwards I separated my last three bags of leaves and branches EVER (hopefully). So that was my last day of work. Here's a photo of the trail sign for our often-traversed path to the kipuka, and below is a photo of my view coming home from the forest service. That hill is a pain to climb, but it's so fun to whizz down. I'm actually going to miss it!

Jake and I cleaned the apartment on Sunday and Tuesday so that Sal, our landlady, could do her walkthrough. Apparently only Clorox with bleach can get rid of stains on the bottom of the shower, incase you were wondering. I cleaned the bathroom and vacuumed our living room, and it looked great! So that process was a lot easier than expected. Here's one last view from my apartment door. And Wednesday, Tommy and I just drove around saying goodbye to Hilo since Jake had already left and the apartment was pretty much all set to leave. We stumbled across an awesome waterfall that emerged from a huge tunnel cut out of the rock, but I got a bunch of bug bites. Lame!

Today I finished packing my last few items, took out the recycling, and boarded a plane to Honolulu. I still can’t believe I’m not in Hilo, and that in just a couple days I’ll be in Singapore! I’m staying at my friend Kanoa’s house while I’m still in Honolulu. It’s a beautiful house and he has a car so I think we’ll be able to hang out at the beach and whatnot. This summer has been the best of my life, and I can forsee it getting better and better as I travel!

Friday, August 21, 2009

One more week!

Wow I haven’t updated my blog in forever. Sorry Uncle Marty, I know you’re my only fan and I would hate to leave you without updates on my summer! This update is going to be mostly photos because I think they speak for all the fun I’ve been having!

The family visit was amazing, we went to the top of Mauna Kea and saw the stars, and went jetskiing in Kona. It was SO FUN! Here are some photos from our exciting adventures.

I’m basically a pro jetskiier:

Drinking Mai Tais with the family – aww they’re so cute!

If you were wondering what my Hawaiian boyfriend looked like, here's a photo! Oh yeah, be jealous!

I finished getting scuba certified on Saturday, so I can now enjoy Australia to the fullest!! I’m so excited to see the Great Barrier Reef and all the other awesome things – this summer has been amazing, but there’s so much to look forward to!

Tad came back to work with us this week, and we got through a lot of samples, litter, and bugs. We’re finally getting a rhythm, and it’s basically time to leave! I only have one more day of work on Monday, and then I’m officially done working in the kipuka. Forever!! CRAZY!! This has been such an incredible experience, I can’t believe it’s almost over and my summer in Hawaii is drawing to a close. I finally got my ticket to Honolulu, so I’m definitely leaving. It was a close call – I kept half-hoping they’d sell out of tickets, but apparently I’m destined to leave Hawaii and travel the world a bit more.

We tried tree climbing yesterday, and I went up about 50 feet or so! It was terrifying trusting my life to a thin little rope, but a lot of fun. I can’t believe Devin and Bernice and Tad had to climb trees and then wield tools. The harness was pretty comfortable! Way better than rock climbing ones. Here's a photo of the Dream Team: Christian, our contact at the Forest Service, Tad, Devin, myself, and Jake! Yay for a great summer with great people!

This weekend will involve a lot of cleaning so we can move out of the apartment. I have to sell back my bike and deal with some last-minute errands, but I think I’m actually pretty set to go. WOOO!! Life is so good!!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

I'm Back!!

I have seriously slacked on keeping my blog up-to-date. I don’t feel too bad about this because I don’t think anyone reads it but my family, but I should still try to update a little more often. My bad!

Thursday I had the day off, so Tommy and I saw some waterfalls around Hilo. He tried to catch crayfish, but they were too wily and quick. They move REALLY fast!! The waterfalls were really pretty, but I still prefer the one we went to the day I shadowed his project because we could swim in it, and we had it all to ourselves. So fun!

After waterfalls, we went into downtown and got some Kava. Kava is a really bitter, gross drink made from plants, and it tastes like fermented soil. Ew. But it mellows you out, kind of like a drug, so people drink it after work and socially. I’m not a fan, but the guy at the Kava bar gave us bananas, liliqoi lemonade (passionfruit lemonade), and a mini-shot of concentrated kava. So it turned out alright. I didn’t really feel mellowed out though because we saw Terminator: Salvation right after drinking it, and that movie is INTENSE. It was really good, and it made me want to watch the first three since I’ve never actually seen a terminator movie. Lots of explosions and cool gadgets. Christian Bale’s voice sounds so weird when he’s trying to sound angry and emotional – I’m not sure I like it, and I noticed it in Batman too. Oh well, I still enjoyed the movie a lot.

Friday, Jake, Devin and I went up to Hakalau National Wildlife Refuge to help with a study on Koa trees. They had planted some in grids to help them regrow, and are comparing their growth patterns with naturally regenerating Koa stands. Very cool! They’re trying to figure out if it’s better to just let it regrow by itself, or to help it out by placing it far apart. The refuge used to be beautiful natural forests, but they cleared almost all of Mauna Kea to turn it into cattle grazing and so now all the trees are gone. There’s a lot of restoration work being done, and apparently Hakalau is only open to the public one day every year. So we were pretty darn lucky to get to work there! It was very beautiful, and we took a TON of measurements on the trees. I was cold almost the whole time – I think I’m not eating enough red meat.

Saturday I went to the farmer’s market to get fruit for the family. I got tons of papaya and lichee, and some malasadas. SO DELICIOUS! I didn’t realize papaya was one of the healthiest fruits – good thing, since I eat a ton of it! My parents arrived around 3 and we hung out around Hilo, then ate at Sombat’s Thai food. It was also delicious, and I got to keep the leftovers. I do love eggplant =). We headed up to Volcanoes National Park, where we stayed that night. The Volcano Inn is the only hotel located inside the park itself, and our room overlooked the steaming vent in Kilauea (see photo for the view from my window!). It was really amazing, although we couldn’t see the reddish glow anymore because an earthquake caused rocks to cover the glow.

Sunday we hit the Volcano farmer’s market, where we had lots of tasty snacks and a truly wonderful quesedilla. I was NOT expecting to find any good Mexican food at the farmers market, so go figure! There were also cream-filled malasadas and other little nibblers. The market closes around 8 AM though, so we were up super early.

We went back into the park and hiked Kilauea Iki, which is a 4 mile jaunt through a filled-in lava lake. We started around the rim, then walked down into the bottom of the crater and came back up the sides (see photo below). There was a huge indent where the lava vent had collapsed, and lots of invasive (but beautiful) ginger plants along the side of the trail. We also went into the Thursten Lava Tubes, which were a bit lame compared to the one I went to at Mount St. Helens. But it was still pretty cool.

For lunch I had a burger at the Lava Rock Café – the first red meat I’ve had in a long time! It was wonderous. We headed back into the park to go to some museums, and while we were staring at the vent, an ash event happened! It was CRAZY and I got a little nervous, I’m not going to lie. Look at the progression!!

We ate dinner at Café Pesto that night, and I had some great eggplant pizza and lilqoi cheesecake. So good! My food intake has increased since my family arrived, but it’s been nice to not cook every day. Yummy yummy! I have enough groceries to last until I leave, which is only in 2 weeks. AHHHH!! Only 2 weeks before I head off to different lands!!!

Monday we started late because Jake and Kendra went to Kona over the weekend, and bus ran Monday morning. I thought it was going to be a super long day, but we ended up finishing pretty early. I drove the Ford F250 truck, which is HUGE. I couldn’t put my foot on the floor, just had to balance it on the gas and brake!! Very safe.

Today, we thought we would have to forgo field work because Hurricane Felicia was supposed to hit Hilo pretty hard. But when I woke up, the sky was totally clear! Mother nature is so fickle, playing with my poor emotions. So we ended up going into the field and had a very nice day, actually, except that we had to hike about a mile to our kipuka. Over a’a, the worst kind of lava rock ever. I’ll admit to being pretty tired, since Jake and I had to make the hike twice to carry all our gear. Now it’s time to enjoy the company of my family once again, and thanks for tuning in!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Busy Busy Busy

Scuba diving on Saturady was AMAZING. I saw an octopus swimming around, and it was incredible!! It can imitate the shapes of other fish, and I could only identify it when a tentacle would come loose. SO COOL. There were also tons of sea turtles, and lots of tropical fish, and a school of over 1000 opelu. Bill, my dive master, said it was the largest school of fish he’s seen in 27 years, and that the overall fish count was astonishing. The coolest part is that we dove straight the shore and went down about 60 feet, so we didn’t need a boat or anything. Hawaii is truly incredible. I only have 2 more dives before I'm officially certified, and I already feel very competent. If you're ever in Hawaii, definitely go to Nautilus Dive Center. Bill totally knows his stuff!

Saturday and Sunday, I went on another brief roadtrip around the northern part of the island. Tommy had to pick up his roommate at the airport, so I tagged along and we went to the beaches near Kona. The water was gorgeous, the sun was shining, and I didn’t get sunburned! I’m slowly accumulating some color – but still wearing that SPF 55 sunscreen just incase. It gets pretty toasty here sometimes!

We had Monday off at work, and Jake’s girlfriend is in town, so Tommy drove us all around Puna and we went to Lava Tree State Park, the hot springs, and down to see the lava flowing into the water. Lava Tree State Park was awesome – it just shows how lava can encase trees and burn them out, so that the remaining lava is hollow where the tree used to be (see photo). So cool! And the hot springs were really warm and comfortable, although apparently they’re full of disease and bacteria. Doesn’t surprise me, but it was totally worth it.

There are some gorgeous tide pools along the coast, and I want to go back and go snorkeling. I didn’t bring my gear so I ended up just putting my feet in, but the view was amazing! (see photo). We also peeked in at Kahena, which is apparently a nude beach in Puna, but didn’t see anything exciting. Maybe next time! And the lava flowing into the ocean was gorgeous. We were there right about sunset so we could see the reddish chunks of lava flying around as the lava hit the ocean. The view was mostly steam, but sometimes a flurry of lava would emerge and everyone would gasp. There were tons of people just sitting and watching the spectacle. Very cool!

Tuesday was a long work day, involving lots of rain and dirt. And an INCIDENT. We finished collecting everything by 4ish and drove out Powerline road to the gate. When we got to the gate, however, it was totally blocked by a parked truck and we were trapped inside!! After waiting over an hour, we finally got picked up by our supervisor at the Forest Service who drove up to rescue us. We had to leave the car locked inside the gate, and today Devin and Bernice went back up to continue collecting and hopefully retrieve the truck. Crazy!! It was super frustrating because we just wanted to go home, and some stupid local or tourist had blocked our exit. Argh. We finished around 7 PM and called it a night, even though we hadn’t sorted the bugs.

Today, Jake and I sorted the bugs and loaded up the Berlese funnels. We finished around 1 PM and will go back later tonight to help with today’s bug sorting, but it’s nice having a bit of a break in between. I bought my ticket from the south island to the north island of New Zealand, and am planning to get my ticket to Brisbane tonight! AHHHH!! It’s all coming together – CRAZY!

Saturday, August 1, 2009

HCC Revealed!

The conferecce was SO COOL! We woke up at 5 AM on Tuesday to catch an early morning flight into Honolulu, and made it in time for the opening speech at 8:30. Dr. Stephen Schneider, who works with the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel of Climate Change) and is also a Stanford fellow, was the keynote speaker and he was GREAT. Very engaging and funny, and also very relevant. It’s nice to hear from a scientist who also understands the policy requirements to make science effective, and I found him very engaging and insightful.

The rest of talks throughout the conference made me appreciate the HumBio core more than I ever expected. A lot of the talks had to do with avoided loss, marginal benefits, and other economic terms that took me FOREVER to understand during HumBio, but that background made the conference much more accessible. I attended a lot of the talks about the ocean’s potential responses to climate change, especially with regards to corals and algae. There’s a ton of very cool research going on in the Hawaiian Islands!

The convention center was beautiful and very nicely structured. One side was open and only the rooms were air conditioned (see the view from the open side).
There was also a running path/walkway at the bottom that looked onto an inland section of the ocean.

I saw rowers paddling both with the current and against it!

I stayed at the Maile Sky Court hotel, which was halfway between the conference and Waikiki Beach. The location was convenient, although the satellite TV kept cutting out so I missed some of the best parts of the Food Network shows (when they show all the food at the end) because it kept freezing. Boo! I ended up spending most of my day at the conference, but I explored a bit both Tuesday and Wednesday evening.

Tuesday night, Jake, Russell, Russell’s friend, and I went to Zippy’s for dinner. It’s a Hawaiian food chain and the food was really good! I’ve had a sore throat for a couple days now, so I couldn’t really enjoy it fully, but it was still tasty and the chocolate milkshake really hit the spot. Jake and Russell ended up sharing a bit of Jake’s cream puff at the same time, just for fun, and it was hilarious! Oh boys.

Wednesday night, I walked around the beach after the conference ended and explored “The Strip,” or the streets near Waikiki Beach that have tons of really nice shops. It was fun and I liked window shopping, but I really enjoyed people watching. TONS of people go to Waikiki for all different reasons, and there is a crazy amount of diversity just looking around the street.

Thursday morning, I wasn’t interested in any of the talks so I went to Waikiki Beach until around 11ish and hung out in the ocean. It was GORGEOUS, although the waves weren’t great for surfing. I think that was probably a good thing because otherwise people would’ve been getting run over right and left. From where I was sitting, I could hear Spanish, Australian accents, Japanese, and Midwestern accents. Like I said, people come from all over!

We flew back on Thursday night and this morning Jake and I went straight back to work. We had to collect the rat tracking cards from the rat tunnels, and then move the litter samples from the Berlese funnels. It took us from about 8-3, and then I dropped off Jake at the airport so he could pick up his girlfriend. I drove the truck back to work, and then tried to ride Jake’s moped back home, but the front wheel was a little screwy so the moped kept vibrating weird! I’m also too short to use the kick-start while on the moped, so I ended up majorly bruising my ankle before getting off the bike to start it. Tommy was actually in the parking lot at UH and saw me struggling with the moped because the front wheel was loose, so he helped me get back to the apartment. Super embarrassing, but kind of funny at the same time. *sigh*

Tomorrow I have scuba at 8 AM! I’m going to get in a couple more dives and hopefully get that much closer to being certified! Yay!!