Monday, October 23, 2006

Big Island

Jeff and I took a trip to the Big Island for the Ironman World Championship in Kona this weekend. This is a picture of the athletes checking their bikes as the sun came up.

We had all day Friday, most of the day Saturday (we decided not to stick around for the entire 8+ hours of Ironman racing) and all morning Sunday to explore the island a bit.

We took A LOT of pictures, but I am going to post just a few. You can look at the rest by clicking on this link. Jeff and I are really looking forward to going back when my parents visit in January - they have a room booked at the lodge at Volcanoes National Park!

Akaka Falls, over 400 feet! This is near Hilo, just a little drive and a short hike at the state park.

Jess climbing a tree near Hilo.
View on a trail near the Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden.

Jeff climbing rocks at an unnamed black sand beach at the end of The Road to the Sea.

Deserted black sand beach!

Check out the link earlier in the entry for more photos, and feel free to give me an email if you want to know what anything is! It was a terrific weekend, and I think Jeff particularly enjoyed getting our 4x4 Jeep very, very dirty. That was definitely a good move; most of the interesting stuff on the Big Island is difficult to get to! We didn't get to see nearly as much as we'd like, but at least there's next time! Personally, I think the Big Island is much cooler than Oahu.


Thursday, October 19, 2006

I'm Back, Briefly

I returned yesterday from six weeks of training for deployment. USS Paul Hamilton (DDG 60) was conducting a variety of training exercises with Carrier Strike Group Three, which includes the USS Okane, USS Antietam, USS Preble, and USS John C Stennis. Unfortunately, I'll only be in the area for a week before I'm headed back to continue training.

Jess didn't mention that we rehomed Kitsune. Unfortunately, with her busy schedule and my not being around, we weren't providing him the sort of attention he needed to learn to be a good dog.

- Jeff

Monday, October 16, 2006

All shook up

Power's back!

For those of you who haven't heard, either from the news or from Leslie or my mom calling around (they were two of four people I was able to talk to today because the phone circuits stayed busy), Hawaii was hit by a 6.6 magnitude earthquake around 7:07 this morning. I was already awake; I'm used to getting up around 5:20 to get ready for the bus during the week, but Sundays I take my time. Only today was different because Zeke started freaking out around 20 minutes before the earthquake hit. It was very unlike him; usually if he's mad at me because his litter box is nasty or because he's out of food, he'll cry for 2-3 minutes before he gets distracted and leaves me alone, but today he cried louder and louder, and when I came out of the bedroom, he was pacing all over the place. I think he probably felt something strange.

I was in the process of emailing Jeff when it hit, and when the first little shakes hit, I deleted the first message to write something along the lines of "Waitasecond, was that an earthquake?" before the house started shaking to the point that I was wondering if I'd gotten on the bus, fallen asleep and dreamed I was inside the house. I leapt from the couch and ran for a doorway - isn't that what they always tell you in middle school? - and waited there for the shaking to stop. After that, I had just enough time to send the email to Jeff and do enough Googling to find out that earthquakes are often a natural tsunami warning...then the power went off!

I didn't think it was that big of an earthquake; then again, I had nothing to compare it to. I heard some of my neighbors moving around, so I went over to my neighbor Jan's house to see what was going on - she grew up here, so I figured if anyone knew about earthquakes in Hawaii, it'd be her. No one really knew anything at that point, but we checked on each other from time to time. She got a little crack in her wall from the shaking. Our place appears to be completely fine. While it was shaking, the biggest thing I was worried about was the enormous, heavy Dali print that was a real pain to hang up, but Dali made it through just fine, as did Zeke, Kitsune and me.

The house was pretty dark all day because it was pouring rain; I think that probably had a lot to do with how long the power was off. So while I had daylight, I studied for the chemistry test, and once it started getting difficult to read, I cleaned the house some, well, as much as I could do in the dark and without using much water. Jan had lent me a little radio, so I knew that we shouldn't be using much water because the treatment facility wasn't running at capacity, people weren't leaving from the airport, etc. This was the hardest I've missed Jeff since he's been gone; I was thinking about what people did to entertain themselves in the evenings before there was electricity, and things came to mind like checkers, chess, poker, bridge, maybe some crossword puzzles, live theater... That stuff's a lot better with two! I kept listening to the radio; the numbers kept crawling up, "Power's been restored to about 5% of the island...10%, 20%, 35%..." So now I know we're toward the end of the line when the power goes out and has to be turned back on methodically!

I dozed off aroudn 35% while reading some biology with a flashlight. It hardly seemed like the sort of reading you would sneak after lights out at camp, but that's what it felt like. From what I understand, class isn't canceled tomorrow except for at ten schools on the Big Island (I hope this doesn't affect our trip next week!), but I am one of those rare people who is happy about it; if the test were rescheduled, it'll probably be Wednesday, which is when I am picking Jeff up - and needless to say, I would much rather spend time with him than take a chemistry test!


Saturday, October 14, 2006

Travel plans and kitty cats

Jeff's going to be back Wednesday, for those of you who don't know!

As for me, I have a chemistry test Monday and a biology test the next Wednesday, so I've been diligently preparing for both so Jeff and I can have fun for the brief time he is here.

I'm not sure if I've written anything about our travel plans:

Jeff and I are going to Kona on the Big Island next weekend for the Ironman World Championship! We are staying at an interesting place called Pineapple Park, which is basically a hostel with some private rooms. So we'll be sharing common areas (bathroom, kitchen, lanai) with other travelers on the Big Island. I stayed in a hostel before in Washington D.C. and loved it - I was there for a weekend last year and met a friend I still keep up with who loves in Oklahoma. It's usually a bunch of foreign backpackers, but I figured it would guarantee an interesting experience. We'll be leaving early Friday morning (yes, I am a bad girl skipping class) and coming back Sunday evening, so in addition to the race Saturday (where we'll be volunteering in the transition area), we'll have a little time to explore the island in a rented 4x4. I'm thrilled to be getting away from Oahu for some quality time with Jeff!

The BIG travel plans are that we are going to Australia! Everything is worked out - my parents gave us an extremely generous wedding present of a week of their time share, which we traded in to get a resort in Gold Coast, Queensland. There are lots of interesting things to do around there. We're leaving Oahu December 16 and departing Australia on December 23rd, which means we're going to be back in Hawaii, wait, I am not sure if I have this right...about the time that we'll be hoping the plane doesn't hit Santa's sleigh. So Jeff and I will have gone from never having flown together to two trips within a couple of months, and I will have the first stamp in my passport! And I am sure most people would argue that living in Hawaii is a 18-month honeymoon, but really, I think Australia is more of the official one.

I'm considering getting involved with a second nonprofit here on the island, Hawaii Cat Friends
. Basically the group tries to control the feral cat population on the island by catching them, spaying or neutering them, and releasing and monitoring them. There are so many feral cats and dogs here, something that dates back to the Polynesians bringing them on their ships when they first got here. This wouldn't be as regular of a thing as the Audubon, which I am doing weekly; it would be meeting up monthly to search for and trap feral kitties so that they can be neutered and released. Being a cat detective in Hawaii sounds like way too much fun to pass up!


Sunday, October 08, 2006

Hanging out in the jungle again

Sorry for the gap in posts - lately things have been pretty routine with work, school and transit!

Today was my first day volunteering at the Waimea Valley Audubon Garden. By far the most interesting thing today was being practically swarmed by Hawaiian moorhens (or 'alae'ula, which stands for something along the lines of "red skull" because of their beaks), which is the guy at the beginning of the post. They are very endangered (there are only about 500 left) and native only to Oahu and Kauai - but we saw a bunch of them at the park today! The tags on its legs tell you two things - the blue and silver ones on the left leg tell you that the bird came from the Waimea Valley, and the colored band on the right leg is unique to that individual bird, like its name. After I snapped the shot of this one, we were joined by a bunch of his/her (you can't tell the birds' sex visually; males and females look exactly the same and sex is determined by a blood test) buddies. Two of them were "posturing" which is a behavior similar to chickens preparing to fight - head down and feathers ruffled. Sure enough, there was a moorhen brawl just feet away from the volunteer coordinator and me.

This next picture is of a jackfruit tree. I drank a snapple or something like that that was made of jackfruit, only I had absolutely no idea what a jackfruit is. So those enormous fruits in the tree are jackfruits, and they are delicious. If you have ever had a fruit beverage that you have never heard of, it is probably from here, things like breadfruit, star fruit, dragonfruit, etc. Dragonfruits are interesting looking, but I would have absolutely no idea how to eat it!!!

Last but not least, the tree at the end was my favorite thing that I saw today. The formal name is entada monostachya, and it is from the West Indies to Guiana, Venezuela, and the Dominican Republic. This one was planted from a seed in 1977.

I am keeping up with the online album of Audubon pictures, and they aren't all posted here - so if you want to see what I am seeing, you can always go to this site.