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!

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