Monday, December 30, 2013

Hawaii Video

I made a video of the Hawaii trip, and here it is!

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Return to Hawaii

 I've been off again, having adventures! 
This time I went to Hawaii, to the Big Island, the one that is newest and sort of triangular (in my eye) and full of lava.  Fresh Lava.  Oh, that one, to the east! 
I'd been to Hawaii before, to Hilo, and from there I hitchhiked around the island a bit, but this trip was to be a more thorough expedition.  I brought along my trusty companion, Lindsay, and we were set to explore.
Hawaii has a big ridge of sorts that runs north to the south, and consequently there are two sides, the wet side (where Hilo is) and the dry side, or Kona.  On all sides there are lava beaches with black sand and some nice mosses that grow in the breaking surf.  Since the island is in the middle of the ocean, there is not a lot of calm waters around.  

I like the jungle a lot, but I can't show you pictures from inside it, because it is dark, so I was happy to find a tree that was standing outside in the sun, with its roots grasping around the crumbling lava on the shoreline.  Sadly it was a dead tree. 

The liquid hot magma comes up and out the volcanic vents, and then upon touching the atmosphere it transforms into lava, and flows down the flanks of the mountain.   As it flows downhill and finds the ocean it makes these sharp cliff edges (on the SE side) which crumble away slowly into the storming ocean and churning seas.  We never got to see the hot lava, though we wanted to badly and set about making plans, but it was too far away.  The lava is really interesting in the shape and color, as every flow is different and as the lava ages and weathers it changes a lot. 

We found some cool snails that slide around slickly on their slime.  Later we found out that they are not a native species.  Hardly anything is a native species here.  The Polynesians brought over a lot of plants and also some tasty food animals, then let them loose.  This was just the beginning.  As white people arrived they brought countless new life to the island, and it is still arriving.  We learned that Yellow Jackets are a recent addition, brought over by Walmart Christmas Trees.  They shipped the trees over and some Yellow Jackets came along with.   

 I went to this road closed sign once before.  It is in the National Park, where the lava flowed over the road and shut it down.

 There are a few neat animals on the islands, one of them is the Nene.  They are like Canada Gooses, and they honk a little and fly around and eat grass.  They are also quite protective of their territory, and this one came charging up to us as we were parked to look at them.  He (I think it was a he) then posted a sharp lookout and kept his beady eyes on us.  This is not unlike the hawaiian surfers, who are quite protective of the territory, and sometimes will charge or punish the howlies they find invading upon it.  We in fact, came into a primary contact with someone who found our car unsuited and perhaps invasive.  I don't know what it was we were doing wrong, but as we were camped at a spot near the north part of the island, we camped near another tent in a place where camping is allowed, but with a permit.  We of course did not have the permit, but were told by a local that the officials did not check the area.  The next morning, of course, someone came around to check on us, but after I told them that we didn't have a permit, he said it was our lucky day and let us be.  He then proceeded over to the other tent and asked loudly for the guy to come out and show his permit. 
Nobody came out of the tent, so he was rude for a bit more, loudly, then left.  We went snorkeling and came back to find the tent gone and our windshield wiper bent all out of shape, by an angry hawaiian (I think) bent on destruction from the annoyance of earlier.  I am suspecting the tent-sleeper in the matter, but I have no proof. 
Along with the Nene, there is another type of goose, a Mongoose!  Here is a picture of one up nice and close.  I think they are quite curious creatures, and possibly related to cats.  They are fast, however, fast enough to dodge cobras and other snakes (which they like to eat) so possibly their curiosity will not kill them.
As we were tromping around in the damp jungle of the Hilo side, we found a decaying smell brought to our noses and the drip of mildew upon our upper lips.  We did not, however, find many mushrooms.  Here is a small sample of some of the ones we did find:  A slime mold and a mushroom.  Luckily, we were able to make friends with a mycologist, who was able to identify the both for us, but I cannot remember the name.

There are Banyans all over the place, one of my most favoritist of trees.  I climbed a bit in this one.

 We found a lava tube to go spelunking in, but sadly the name has changed to "caving," but the fun is still the same.  It is dark and sharp corners await, and in this one there were a lot of cool colors from the lava flowing through it.  We didn't see the monster, but in the photo you can see it, so watch out!
 It rains nearly every day in Hilo, and we were caught unprepared one of the days, but luckily Lindsay found a big leaf to use.  It works nicely.

 This other leaf, however, would be a bad choice. 
 On North Point, or the northern point of the island, we found a great place with a dirt road in the middle of nowhere to camp and then played around in the wind.  It was blowing so hard it chopped my arms clean off!  I was able to get them back later. 

 South Point is another story, and many people go there and jump off the cliff edge to the waters below.  Here's a shot of the jumping place, and this is the landing zone.  Its a long ways down, something like 40-50 ft. 

 On the last day there we went up to the Mountains.  There are two main ones, Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa.  Mauna Kea is a little taller, at 13,796 ft tall, and Mauna Loa is something like 200 ft shorter.  The main difference is in the build.  I am pretty sure that the most of Hawaii is actually based on Mauna Loa, because it is a true shield volcano, with really slowly sloping sides and the most gentle of grade.  This makes it gigantic, which fits in the name.  Mauna Loa means Long mountian.  It is huge.  In fact, as the people say, it is apparently 50,000 ft tall because it descends down to the sea floor, and then it has pushed the crust down another 10,000 ft beyond the ocean floor by the enormous weight.  So, Big.  Sprouting off to the north side (in my eyes) is a cinder cone, with steeper slopes and few lava flows.  This is Mauna Kea.  There are a lot of very expensive telescopes on Mauna Kea, while the heights of the Long Mountain hold up the atmospheric observatories.  We got to go up there and explore the observatories guided by an excellent astronomer, who was looking at the solar atmosphere through telescopes.  There are collection sites for various particle assessments there and most famous, the Keeling building is where they collect the CO2 measurements for the famous Keeling Curve, where they first found the global CO2 levels to be rising.  This is sort of the birthplace of Climate Science, or at least the birthplace to Global warming, I think. 
It began to snow while we were on the top, so we headed back, and discovered a very cold bicyclist coming down the hill.  He was in the severe stages of hypothermia, and we got him into the car and fed him sugar, warm water and finally quesadillas.  I think the mexican style food made the difference in warming his heart at the end, so he was fine.  As he got picked up by his wife in their van, I took this shot of the place the bikes had been lying in the gravel in the rain.

We went over to Mauna Kea to look at the telescopes, but the snow had shut down the road to the top, and we had to content ourselves with the view from the visitors center.  It was a nice night with a near full moon on the rise and a good end to a great trip. 

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

A tale of two Tables

I've driven, then thanks-given, and kept on livin', then thanksgiven again. 
After the road trip, but before being allowed to go back to Bellingham, I was invited over to my brother's girlfriend's parents for a turkey toasting.  They live in Bellevue, up in a fantastic tower, with clean-ness all over it.  I was surprised they let me in, but they are kind hearted souls, and not afraid of the dirty, I guess.  Abe had brought venison, smoked salmon, wild rice, and nettles; basically the whole meal, though there was a turkey looking mighty tasty sitting on the table as well. Katrina's family was there, so I took a family shot.  They have a very proper dog, with immaculate etiquette and good floor manners.  

 Abe and Katrina also made some pies, which were all delicious. 
 The table, which of course this whole blog is about, was set white and clean, with three sets of plates.  I only used one set, but that just showed my ignorance.  Everyone knows that to properly thank sgiving you have to have at least three plates.  Here is a shot of the venison sitting proudly and prettily in the midst of civilization.  
 We came back to Bellingham on Friday (and a very Black Friday it was), and I got to see my precious Altair for a little bit, to check her spirits and bilge level, then on Sunday I got to give thanks again at my mother's place, around a less square table, with my family. 

 After all this delicious feasting and fattening up of my fatted calves (on my legs) I've been doing a bit more wondering about where the food comes from, and just today I had an excellent lesson from my brother Abe about how to prepare wild rice for consumption.  It is a lengthy process to go from stalking the stalks in the wading ponds to pulling the husks and turning golden into black.  The good parts are black like mini mouse terds, while the husks are a beautiful golden fluffy color, but they blow away nicely in the winds, like so much chaff.

 The rice is hard to separate completely, so it takes a lot of work on the machine abe has set up, then finally hand picking out the golden pellets at the end. 

 Its been really cold lately, and as a result water is getting pulled up from the earth and freezing into little pillars of ice.  They go crunch when you walk and it is great.  The light is really pretty when the skies are clear and the sun is setting, so since I had my camera out, I took a few shots near my dad's place.

Tomorrow I fly out to Hawaii, to the Big Island, for a two week trip out there with my friend Lindsay.  I hope to have lots of cool pictures and maybe a story or two and even a scar, or a tattoo on my face, or some wild Hawaiian thing. 

Monday, December 2, 2013

Road Trip video

I made a summation video of the road trip.  The music comes from the "Sam Robert's Band"  and I heard them first on a radio station from Victoria.  The sound waves manage to cross the border without too much trouble. 
Of course the road trip was great, but as you can see there was a lot of snow in some places, so if I were to do it again (maybe next year) I would avoid Yellowstone, and go straight to Arches and Canyonlands. 
Anyways, without further ado, here it is:

Thursday, November 28, 2013

West coast Shuffle

 The road trip is now complete, and Cheetah is resting in her place in Seattle.  Danny and I are still alive, but we might have damaged our nostrils, and those who have come near us.  Charlie is barely alive, but green slime comes out of both ends and his boredom levels have never been higher.  Still, the stamp of completion remains!  We left Bellingham eastbound on the 11th, went through Washington, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Montana again, Wyoming again, Utah, Utah some more, Utah again, Arizona, Nevada, California, Oregon, and finally back to Washington! 

Since last I left off, I went to my brother Jeremy's house in Fillmore, CA, near Ventura, then down to Carpenteria, near Santa Barbara, to Danny's Mom's house.  We walked the beach a little and basked in the sun there, and reluctantly left the next day.  I am sure I could have spent a few days resting in the golden glory of the sun.  We puttered up the coast to Morro Bay, and jumped off the sand dunes there, something I've done before.  There is a park called Montana Del Oro State Park, a mountain of gold it is.  The park has some large sand dunes and a bunch of great coastline, so everytime I am near, I like to go visit.  I also like the coast there because it is less crowded than further south.  The Central Coast, they call it. 

 We trundled furthermore to Big Sur, the coastline just south of San Francisco and north of Morro Bay.  This area is steep and rugged and the place to have a James Bond scene.  The Cheetah wasn't about to do any of that nonsense, so we purred along at a smooth rate.  Charlie was driving most of the time, and he didn't like us getting out to take pictures all the time, so here is a shot of him barking at us to come back and sit down.  Its a hard life being a dog.

 We stayed the night in a great secret spot that I cannot tell you more about, (secret) and then continued onwards toward Monterey.  While in Monterey, we mused about the steel boat that Danny bought there in December 2009, then wandered the waterfront to look for more boats to lust after.  We eventually made it to the Aquarium and reluctantly paid the $35 entrance fee and went in.  It was fantastic, but I am still a bit begrudging the fee.
They have lots of California fishes, like the Kelp Greenling...

There were a bunch of Jellyfish, and I like how they set the exhibit up for that, with a blue infinity background and lights to attract the jelly and light them up.  The orange and blue contrast was great.  I tried to get pictures that worked, but it is difficult.  At times I felt like the James Bond car chasing we had done on the big sur coast didn't go so well and we had been captured by the world-controlling fiend who had thrown us into his slow-death dungeon with beautiful, but fatal, jellyfish.  There were no jelly beans from the jelly fish.

 They have a giant tank for Tuna, and in it, there are a few Bluefin Tuna that are the size of a motorcycle, and heavy.  HUGE thing they are.  They wander the tank in a circle and even though it is a giant tank, it still isn't very big for them.  They also have Dorado, and hammerhead sharks, and some other pelagic fishes, many of which I've seen before in the wild. 
The aquarium is mostly filled with little ones.  There are tiny fishes and tiny kids watching the fishes. 
They have a bunch of Leopard Sharks that are really pretty, sliding through the tank like a sideways slinky.  I like the kelp, and I want to go back to the Channel Islands to dive some more in kelp.  Or just to dive again.  I miss being under water.  I'll be heading to Hawaii in a week, so I should get some catch-up time in la Profundo then.  

 They had a Pacific Northwest exhibit with a big bulgy frog too.
 After Monterey we went to Marin County to see my sister Rachel, and her little ones.  We tarried the night but slipped out the next day to make time out and north.  As we left California we got a view of the sun setting with the grasses waving their farewell.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Westbound and down

 After meeting up with the mighty Colorado River and passing through Arches and Canyonlands, after crossing Natural Bridges, we flowed on downhill through some unknown canyons and through some that are known, past Bryce Canyon, towards Zion. 
People had been telling us about the wonders of Zion, but I didn't know what to expect at all.  I thought of a canyon, like these ones, (see pictures) where the red rocks were eroded away by time and patience, but the valleys were flat and wide. 
But it was not to be so. 
The evening before arrival, we spent the night out in a cow pasture, with wide flat red dirt flanking the Cheetah on all sides.  Far away the mesas glowed with the last light of the dying day, and the skies blossomed overhead in many colors.  Color Rado was the theme once again.  As the lights dimmed towards darkness and starlight, we slipped off into slumber. 

Dawn found a cloudy sky overhead and some little pesky raindrops pattering on our windows.  We set off with all speed and found some caffeine, some gasoline, and pushed onwards.  Climbing up into Bryce Canyon led us through snowfalls and the high point of the trip, which was 9,600 ft.  Bryce was snowy and beautiful, but sadly the pictures did not reflect that as much, and it was cold, so we left after a short time.  

 We arrived at Zion right at dusk, and had to vie for the road with the wildlife there.  Bighorn Sheep lingered on the shoulder and put their horns down in front of us, casting stern glances about, and we slowed and passed with reverence.  
This specimen was caught in a private act.  I guess I'm practicing to be a paparazzi. 

Wild turkeys also roam the streets and valleys of Zion.  They are not the prettiest of birds, but are quite neat to watch, while they bob their heads about and peck at the ground.  Wouldn't you rather that the national bird, the symbol of our kindhearted and peace-loving country was this?

 Zion is in fact a very steep canyon with high red walls arching above a small plain.  It is very similar to Yosemite, I think, but the rocks are different.  There are deer everywhere and the river was flowing strongly with the fresh rain.  The rains followed us the rest of the trip (so far).

 We arrived in Las Vegas with a following raincloud, and passed our way down the strip, then went for a nice little walk with the dog.  We stayed in Sin City for a short evening, then drove out to a lonely road to sleep, and the following day drove through Death Valley. 
Death Valley wasn't as exciting as I would have liked because of the rain, and we drove through rather quickly, then climbed out over a 5,000 ft pass with lots of snow all over.  We are now at Jeremy's house (my big brother) in Southern California.