zolac_no_miko: (*shrug*)
Well, holy shit, I haven't posted here since July.

Things have been happening. I went to Colorado for a family reunion and Rocky Mountain hiking in July, Iowa for a friend's wedding in September, presented at and attended the Hawaii Conservation Conference in August, and presented my thesis proposal to my thesis committee in September.

Yesterday I had a lovely day's outing with Forrest and ten of our friends to Pololū Valley; we got thoroughly muddy, sweaty, and mosquito-bitten hiking through a jungle for several hours, but then we got to swim under a waterfall and pick ‘ulu from the trees to cook in a fire and stuff our faces with. On the hike back we swung like Tarzan across a small gully using the viney aerial roots of a banyan tree and snacked on sprouted coconut. Later we visited Forrest's favorite coconut tree and he cut us down some fat young coconuts, and I drank the largest, sweetest coconut ever before eating the spoon-meat. It was an AWESOME day.

On the way back, the rear window of the car I was in abruptly shattered, showering me with tempered glass, but that's neither here nor there. (No one was hurt.)

So those are the highlights. Mostly I've been very bored. I don't have classes anymore, and I do poorly with large stretches of unstructured time. Boredom, depression, loss of efficiency, loss of energy, loss of creativity. Part of why I haven't had much to say here. Been feeling a little lonely, too. Miss the strong feeling of community I've had online in the past.

I'm working on addressing these things. I'm trying to make an effort to reach out to friends, start conversations, hang out as best we can when we're thousands of miles apart. And in a blast to the past, I'm planning to apply to an online fandom RP called Snowblind. RP has been a good source of community and creativity for me in the past; it's also been a distraction, but honestly I'm at peak inefficiency already so I can only go up from here. My other source of community historically was LJ comms, but all my comms have pretty much shriveled up and died. Anybody know any good ones that might be in line with my interests?

I am looking forward to [livejournal.com profile] mini_wrimo. It didn't make me any friends last year, but it was great for my writing. Y'all should join us! All the accomplishment feels of NaNoWriMo for the low, low price of a 100 word daily minimum. Look, a banner!


journal_banner
mini_wrimo on LiveJournal      ||    mini_wrimo on Dreamwidth


I'm also job searching, uggggggggggghhh. (Very few things are more distasteful to me than the entire process of searching for jobs, applying, interviewing—if you get that far—waiting around to hear stuff, etc. Someone just give me work, plzkthx.) Looking for part-time work so I can have the moneys and a change of pace while also working on my thesis. I am making about $55-$70 a week teaching dance, which is not bad for a hobby, but I'll need a bit more if I don't want to drain my accounts. Wish me luck.

Those of you who post, I do see your posts; I'm still an unstoppable lurker. To all of you and to those of you I haven't heard from in a while—I think of you, and hope you are well.

Aloha.
zolac_no_miko: (after twenty months at sea)
This weekend, we had an Adventure. It was not the adventure we had meticulously planned, but it was indeed so very, very adventurous.

By "we" I mean myself, Forrest, eight of our closest friends, and another group of...I think seven or so hooligans?

The adventure we planned was this: we wanted to kayak to either Honoke‘a or Honopue Valley, camp out for two nights, and enjoy ourselves fishing and lobster diving and hunting and surfing and exploring sea caves and standing in waterfalls and swimming and gathering coconuts/liliko‘i/‘ulu/bananas/mangoes/avocados/citrus/heart of palm and making big fires and drinking and stuffing ourselves with food. Our first group of ten would launch Friday morning; the second group would follow 24 hours later. We planned to launch from Keokea Beach Park, the closest sheltered launch site, and paddle down the coast, passing Pololu, Honokane Nui, and Honokane Iki Valleys to Honoke‘a or Honopue, which none of us had been in, as they are practically unreachable by land. We organized the distribution of kayaks, dry bags, water, food, fishing/diving/hunting gear, and communal supplies. We scouted the launch site and kayak route on Google Earth. Knowing that Hamakua is a famously treacherous coast, we scrutinized the wind and wave forecasts; we expected Friday to be the roughest day, but not too rough, with conditions calming down to a 5 knot wind and 1 foot swell on Saturday and Sunday as the area settled into a weak low pressure system. We decided Group One would leave Hilo at 3 a.m. on Friday, arriving at Keokea by 6 a.m. and launching in the pre-sunrise twilight to take advantage of the calmest part of the day; we'd have an easier time on the return trip, with calmer seas and the wind at our backs. If we arrived at Keokea and it was too rough to launch, Plan B was to drive to the Kona side of the island and kayak-camp to a beach on that coast, which would be much calmer.

This is the adventure we actually had: )
zolac_no_miko: (Darwin Valentine)
Hmmm, apparently I haven't posted since January, and I haven't done a real non-meme, hey-this-is-what's-up-with-my-life journal entry since, um...November. WOW.

So here's what's up with my life.

Mostly what's up with my life, and the reason I'm so scarce, is grad school. I'm taking three more credits than last semester, and I'm enjoying my classes lots but DAMN there's a lot of work to do. I'm busy all the time just trying to keep up.

I have squeezed in some fun times, sometimes probably more than I should, like, I was SUCH a slacker over Christmas break. But I had an AWESOME camping trip with Forrest on a lonely, remote beach, I had a BRILLIANT family Christmas visit on O‘ahu with dancing and hiking and beaching and Hobbiting and archaeology and being silly with relatives and SO MUCH FOOD. And my darling Melissa came to visit me for New Year's and we watched movies and read Hawkeye comics and went on adventures with Forrest, lava adventures, kayak adventures, hiking-in-a-rainy-valley-and-being-menaced-by-flash-floods adventures. So I didn't get a lot of work done, but vacation was AWESOME.

My darling Maile got married to Fred a couple of weeks ago in Kona, so my darlings Chris and Kate and Garrett came from the mainland and we had more shenanigans. It was a Friday morning beach wedding followed by an awesome fancy brunch, and Maile was GORGEOUS and she and Fred were both sick so Fred had to keep drinking water and they were both sassy at each other and it was all very cute and lovely. I like Fred a lot. Chris and Kate and Forrest and I harassed some sea life and Forrest and I disgusted Chris by eating sea weed off of the rocks when there was AN AWESOME BRUNCH RIGHT OVER THERE, OH MY GOD YOU TWO DESERVE EACH OTHER, etc. We lounged around by the pool and on the beach, and then all of Maile's Whitman Friends Plus Significant Others and all of Maile's La Pietra/O'ahu Friends Plus Significant Others went to Kona Brew Pub together to have amazing food and amazing beer and get to know each other (I had an amazing beer made with lemongrass and ginger, and then an awesome Hefeweizen). Forrest and I gave up our Saturday to hang out with Chris and Kate, and we did the Farmer's Market and a beachside picnic and poked around Lili‘uokalani Gardens and Coconut Island and got smoothies at What's Shakin' and saw Rainbow Falls and ‘Akaka Falls, and then Chris and Kate and I went swing dancing, and it was good. Then I gave them my car and let them have their own shenanigans while I studied my ass off, although we did get together for dinner at Forrest's and a showing of my high school Beowulf movie project, which is always a hilarious time.

Speaking of Forrest, in case you were wondering, yes, that's going well. Extremely well. I'm kind of...um...madly in love? Which is a new and strange thing for me? He's gorgeous and kind and fun and smart and he treats me well and we're massively compatible and have more and more in common all the time, so...that's nice. (Also he lurked around this journal and found and read some of my fanfic and he REALLY LIKED THAT ONE DEPRESSING BATMAN ONE, I feel so fucking validated.) I've solved the constant-struggle-over-who-gets-to-pay-for-things problem by introducing a rock-paper-scissors system, which is hilarious and is working out well. (Incidentally and hilariously, the first time we tried it we tied 5 or 6 times in a row before I figured out how to break the pattern and beat him. Because again, WE ARE ACTUALLY THE SAME PERSON A LOT OF THE TIME.) On Valentine's Day I went all old-school with paper, glue, pens, and scissors and made him a badass card version of my Darwin "I select you, naturally" icon with photos of Darwin and natural selection in action. (There were pigeon skulls. He loved it.) We had dinner and cocktails at the Rim Restaurant on the edge of the volcano, then camped overnight at Kulanaokuaiki Campground and had a lazy campground brunch with eggs and bacon and fruit and POG mimosas. It was awesome. (Can we talk about how this is the first Valentine's Day in my ENTIRE LIFE where I've had a significant other? I missed it by like TWO DAYS last time. ...So that was weird, but nice.)

So that's mostly what's been going on with me. Aaaaaaand I'd better get back to it. Sigh.
zolac_no_miko: (after twenty months at sea)
So, just about a year ago I went on a massive trip to Europe with brief stopovers on the East Coast and in London, and I never made a post about it. So, I'm doing that now, or at least making a start. Because reasons. (Mostly, shame.)

DSCN0777

Part 1: Washington, D.C., and London (many many pictures under the cut!) )

[Part 2: Zagreb, Karlovac, and Plitvička Jezera National Park (Croatia)]
[Part 3: Korana, Barac's Caves, and Krupa Monastery (Croatia)]
zolac_no_miko: (Pele says hello)
So, I need to be awake in *squint* five hours, but I wanted to tell y'all about my illicit volcano adventure I had on Friday night when [livejournal.com profile] look_alive was visiting.

So, in Halema'uma'u Crater within the summit caldera of Kilauea, our actively erupting volcano, there's an open vent with a lava lake in it that's been steaming away since 2008. Before 2008 you used to be able to drive down into the bottom of the caldera and drive right up to Halema'uma'u and walk to the edge and look in, but since the vent opened up the entire bottom of the caldera has been closed to the public because of Danger. You can stand on the edge of the caldera and see the steam coming out of the vent and at night it makes a gorgeous glow, but you can't actually see the lava lake.

So we decided we wanted to see the lava lake.

I've actually done this before, about six months ago, but I don't think I talked about it anywhere other than Twitter, and I'm not sure I posted any photos. That time, we crossed the caldera at night without flashlights (to avoid detection) on one of the old hiking trails, and let me tell you, even with a half moon it is a pain in the ass to follow a trail over black lava rock marked out by black lava rock cairns in the dark without flashlights. But we got there and back and I feel pretty badass about my navigation skills, actually.

This time we walked down the road, which is a MUCH SMARTER WAY TO GO.

Anyway, I can't... I can't properly describe to you what it's like. I've been getting up close and personal with molten lava my whole life, but where watching lava trickle into the ocean is fucking amazing, standing on the edge of a cliff and looking down the throat of the volcano into the molten lifeblood of the Earth is FUCKING AMAZING. It's this whole other level of astonishing. It's the closest thing to a religious experience I've ever had. It reduces you to idiotic babbling.

The lava lake was even more exciting than the last time I saw it, too. It was much closer to the edge of the vent, and much more active. Louder, a constant low rumble, and constantly bubbling, and at one end a spatter fountain kept flinging lava into the air and onto the surface of the lake with audible splashes.

Pictures don't do it justice, but here's one anyway. I took video also (still doesn't do it justice) but I haven't had time to upload and knowing me I NEVER WILL so here's one of [livejournal.com profile] look_alive's.

I'd like to thank Pele again for being gracious and hospitable and allowing us to admire her in all of her fiery magnificence and walk safely away again. Mahalo nui loa, seriously.

...Anyway, off to Hakalau again tomorrow. For the past three weeks, and for the foreseeable future, I'm spending three days a week up on the refuge harassing birds for science. I spend all day in the beautiful forest, and then drink a lot of beer and eat amazing food. I fucking love my life, you guys.

I'm back!

Oct. 6th, 2012 02:07 pm
zolac_no_miko: (beauty and beasts)
I have returned from Eastern Europe! I'm not going to go into massive detail in this post, because that would take FOREVER, but as soon as possible I will do a gigantic photo dump. ...As soon as possible is not likely to be as soon as I'd like, because to my disappointment the house is exactly as messy as I left it, and I have broken things to replace and groceries to buy and laundry to run and fifty billion emails to check and assorted other chores and errands. ...This weekend will not be long enough. *SIGH* ...Also I have a lot of television to catch up on. (But at least I'm all caught up on Doctor Who, because with me and Mom and [livejournal.com profile] sirona_gs all in the same place for several days, there was no way that was not happening. ...POOOOOOOOOOOONDS!!!! T_T)

...But I will say that I had a FUCKING FABULOUS TIME. Croatia is bloody gorgeous and everyone there is incredibly friendly, and we had a great group and had massive fun hiking and biking and kayaking and canoeing all over Croatia and Bosnia & Herzegovina, and I ate SO MUCH FOOD, ohmigod, the food was so amazing, usually we were eating at the private homes of farmers and everything was homegrown, homemade, and fresh, and the wine, oh my bloody goodness, and the weather was always perfect and the lakes and waterfalls through the karst were like a bleeding fairytale and sunsets in the Adriatic were like a dream and oh my god oh my god.

Also Dubrovnik (besides just being ancient and beautiful and bloody fantastic, walled cities, I mean seriously) is one of the filming sites for Game of Thrones and I saw some of the filming really far away and then after, when Mom and I were at dinner at this absolutely amazing vegetarian restaurant, JEROME FLYNN and FINN JONES and some guy we didn't recognize (new actor for season three? bit part? crew member?) stopped by and tried to get a table. We hemmed and hawed about going over to them but decided not to bother them, and rather than wait thirty minutes they wandered off to find another restaurant. But for a few minutes Mom and I were like A;SHDKL;GHFASKLJDHF;KLADJSFL;AHS;AKFJD. (If Peter Dinklage had been there, there would've been no stopping me.)

...And Bulgaria was fantastic and [livejournal.com profile] sirona_gs is even lovelier in person and her Gran is fabulous and I got to meet up with my friend Toni as well and EVERYTHING WAS FANTASTIC, okay, it was a bloody excellent trip.

Even if I did leave half my ankh in the Rila Mountains. We were just taking a walk throught he autumn leaves and it just BROKE in HALF, wtf. I've always dreaded losing it; I wasn't expecting it to BREAK. So now... I don't have my ankh anymore. D: HOW WILL PEOPLE RECOGNIZE ME?? I seriously feel like I've lost a limb. ...So it goes, I guess.

Those of you who requested postcards should be getting them soon; some of you have already got them, I know. ...[livejournal.com profile] potatoe1988, do let me know if yours fails to arrive? I'm a bit nervous about whether the lady at the post office in Trogir gave me the right amount of postage for Australia. *gnaws on fingernails*

...HI HI HOW ARE ALL OF YOUUUUU? ♥ What did I miss?
zolac_no_miko: (‘I‘iwi)
So I had an awesome time in Lupea. This place, I can't even express, to a person like me it's like Candyland. See, it's extremely remote, and on private property, only accessible by passing through several other large parcels of private property, so it's not really a place very many people get to see. And the more I travel in Hawaiian wilderness, the more I appreciate that there's no such thing as just rainforest or just mesic forest or just dryland forest, every corner of these islands has its own unique community with its own unique mix of species, so everywhere I go I'm seeing something new. And we travelled through some amazing stuff on the way to Lupea. A highlight was the old-growth rainforest of immensely tall, broad-trunked, ancient 'ohi'as, wrapped in lush tangles of 'ie'ie vines.

And then we get to Lupea, in the saddle between Hualalai and Mauna Loa, and it's this fabulous forest of old-growth koa-sandalwood-mamane-naio forest, some big 'ohi'as and kōleas on the 'a'a flows, and just–these sandalwoods, I can't even. They were tall, like, properly tall, 60-70 feet tall (?), and many broad enough I couldn't put my arms around them. And so many of them, thousands of trees.

...Some context. Back in the monarchy days, the Chinese found out about our 'iliahi sandalwoods and sparked a wildfire of logging. Hawaiians were cutting down every 'iliahi they could find and loading them on ships to China. Sandalwood very nearly went extinct in Hawai'i. Even today sandalwood is a rare and valuable wood, sandalwood oil is going for $1000-$1500 per kilo these days. Most Hawaiian sandalwood I've seen is really a glorified shrub, maybe 15 feet tall and 30 years old at best; I've really only seen two or three specimens in the whole state that could properly be called a tree. So Lupea? BLEW MY MIND.

Really beautiful area. In the mornings, when it's clear, the views of Hualalai, Mauna Loa, and Mauna Kea are magnificent. The forest is, again, exceptionally stunning, even though the ground has been completely denuded by feral sheep, so the forest is sorely lacking in understory species and young trees. There were, indeed, quite a lot of sheep, especially on the other side of the fence. There are also feral dogs, which was a bit scary; we heard them howling in the early morning. Another unpleasant sound was the sound of chainsaws from the property next door, continuing to cut down ancient hardwoods (Lupea, thankfully, belongs to Kamehameha Schools, which has sworn not to earn a cent from cutting live native trees).

I had some singular experiences up there. I've now tasted the sandalwood nut, and wow, I can see why the rats love them so much. Something between raw coconut and raw macadamia nut. And then there was that fallen sandalwood log that was blocking the road, so Andrew picked it up and took it back to camp. And the last evening was dry and clear, and he chainsawed the log into pieces and we set it on fire. Let me tell you, there is something opulently extravagant in the highest degree to burn sandalwood. We felt like we should be sitting on polar bear rugs, eating endangered species caviar and drinking the kind of vodka that has gold flakes in it, I mean, that was seriously some Donald Trump shit right there, propping our wet hiking boots up next to the hibachi full of burning sandalwood, wafting the perfumed smoke over us. Just, fantastic. That could happen nowhere else, not in these islands anyway.

...So yeah, it was a fun camping trip, even if I want to punch every last feral sheep in the face.

I have already embarked on my next adventure. I'm sitting at the gate in Los Angeles at ass o'clock in the morning, waiting for my flight to Baltimore, enroute (eventually) to Croatia, Bosnia & Herzegovina, and Bulgaria. Got about 45 minutes yet until I board... time for more fanfic, I guess! :D

Catch y'all on the flipside!
zolac_no_miko: (WHEEEEEE~!!)
Quick drive-by update, since it's been a while. Since I wrapped up my USGS Avian Disease Project job my life has been brief flurries of adventuring all over the island in between bouts of being too sick to move. For serious, I have had this horrible cold off and on for weeks. Finally got my energy back (for the second time) in time to hike down to the bottom of Pololū Valley (FINALLY) and go dancing to The Olliephonics at the Blue Dragon in Kawaihae and eat piles and piles of delicious food (omg the lambchops with the fig-pomegranate sauce and the fern shoots and the goat cheese mashed potatoes and the jaboticaba sorbet a;lhsdlgha;ksjgkahsldfk). Had great fun dancing with a guy who just moved to the island from Eugene; he's in Kona but he swears he'll come to Hilo often so he can dance with us. All I can say is, HE'D BETTER, god, young, awesome dancers really need to move here more often.

So that was Sunday, and we got back late Sunday night, and I had just enough time to get my shit together Monday morning before taking off again into the field for the first couple of days of my new job. Up to Hakalau with grad student Josh and an intern who will be leaving shortly, taking a side trip to the summit of Mauna Kea just for fun, spending an enjoyable evening eating teriyaki and char siu axis deer and talking about Science, and waking up early to spend the day in the forest looking for birds. So many excellent sightings of ‘akepa and Hawai‘i creeper, among other things.

In theory I am now full-time employed, although I haven't actually seen my boss' face since February, and I haven't heard from him where or when I'm needed tomorrow or what I'll be doing. *SIGH* Pat is an excellent scientist and a super nice guy and I owe him a lot and I will owe him even more over the next few years, but... he is not terribly well organized. OH WELL.

The big big news is that in ten days I'm taking off on a massive trip with my mother that will involve a day of poking around in Baltimore/Washington D.C., a day of poking around London, many days hiking, biking, kayaking, etc. through Croatia and Bosnia & Herzegovina, and a few days exploring Bulgaria during which time I will FINALLY meet my dear friend [livejournal.com profile] sirona_gs and maybe I will meet up with my friend Toni as well? GUYS THIS IS GOING TO BE SO AWESOME OMG I AM SO EXCITED.

Which brings me to the question, WHO WANTS A POSTCARD??? If I don't already have your contact info you can give me your address (send me a PM if you're leery of leaving it in a comment, or email me if you have my email, or whatever); if you have a preference for where you'd like your postcard from (Baltimore, Washington D.C., London, Croatia, Bosnia & Herzegovina, or Bulgaria) let me know, and I shall do my best to comply. I'll be spending the most time in Croatia and Bulgaria, so I can pretty much guarantee satisfaction for those two locations, at least.
zolac_no_miko: (WHEEEEEE~!!)
Let's make a list again, I like lists.

-It's a beautiful day in Volcano. ^_^

-OMG YOU GUYS COUNTING THE HOURS UNTIL I CAN SEE AVENGERS A;SKGHSLKGJASFFSDS I MIGHT ACTUALLY DIE.

-First I have to, you know, make a contribution to my community or something silly like that. Told my Dad I'd help out with timekeeping etc. at the Big Island Interscholastic Federation Track and Field Championships at Kea‘au High School. ...Kinda looking forward to it, actually. Them high school varsity track days, thems were good days. I expect a lot of nostalgia. ...Just so y'all know, we're cheering for Waiākea High School; after all these years, I still bleed blue and white. GO WARRIORS GO!! :DD

-OMG YOU GUYS LET ME TELL YOU ABOUT MY JOB AS;ALGHSKFJALS;FSFS. So, it's getting to that time, the time where we make our expeditions down to lower Hakalau. So, next week we're not going up to Nauhi (the cabin at mid-elevation Hakalau); we're running a bunch of errands and doing office stuff and prepping for our trip. Then, on the 14th, a bunch of us drive up to the UH Field Station up at Hakalau Forest NWR. Early the next morning, we take backpacks and machetes and bushwhack our way down to the site, and we clear a landing site if necessary. The next day (weather permitting), a helicopter drops our gear and the rest of our crew off at the site. Then, on the 26th, the helicopter comes and picks us all back up and flies us out. That's TWELVE DAYS IN THE FIELD, HOLY CRAP, and all tent-camping except for that first night in the super-plush UH Field Station. A;LSGHKFASJFAKLHSGLSKJF SO EXCITED!! You guys, I am a badass outdoorswoman, but this is going to be my longest uninterrupted stay in the backcountry, and my longest stay in a tent by a lot, and it's in an area that very few people on the planet have ever been to or ever will and it's going to be very very wet and if the weather is bad we will probably all drown and it's going to be the coolest thing ever and oh my god HAVE I MENTIONED I HAVE THE BEST JOB, BY THE WAY, I HAVE THE BEST JOB. TT_TT

-As awesome as this is I am super bummed by the timing; I'd been hoping to make it over to O‘ahu and help out with my family's archaeological excavation of the pā at Pālehua; I was going to be Pat Kirch's surveying assistant! (This guy, he's like the top expert of Polynesian archaeology IN THE WORLD, I was really looking forward to meeting him!) I've been looking forward to it for months and months! But my trip to lower Hakalau pretty much exactly coincides with the dig, b'aaaaawwww. *heartbroken* WHY NOT A TIME-TURNER, I COULD BE IN TWO PLACES AT ONCE, IT WOULD BE SO AWESOME. TT_TT

-Otherwise, things at work are going pretty well. Week before last was, as I expected, EXCEEDINGLY AWKWARD. But we caught an akepa! :DDDD This is a big deal; akepa are very very endangered. They are also tiny and adorable and day-glo orange. This was the first akepa for all three of us, so we were super excited and happy. (I was the one who found it; oh for a recording of me flipping out on the radio when I called Jackie to come extract it. XD;)

-Now that I'm done with Pō Pouli, I hope to have time very soon for a super über mega picture dump of my various adventures these past few months, including my work up at Nauhi. IT WILL BE AWESOME. It's not gonna happen today though, haha. Probably not tomorrow either. Maybe next week before I leave to die in the woods on my trip?

-Speaking of Pō Pouli, I have just been in this glow of happiness all week. Now that the exhaustion has worn off and I am able to think properly... I think... I think it might be my best work to date? T_T I'm really really happy with it. And everyone has been leaving such lovely feedback, and I've even made a few awesome new friends. HI NEW FRIENDS, HI~!! :DD *waves*

TL,DR; my life is awesome and I am happy. Expect a lot of incoherent flailing in capslock re: Avengers later tonight. (Omgomgomg~!!)

WHOO~!!

Feb. 21st, 2012 08:17 am
zolac_no_miko: (Hawaii's favorite meat product)
Alright, let's see if I can squeeze this in before I lose signal.

Kapa'a was super awesome fun. It was an excellently laid-back way to spend the weekend. I had to get over my angst about feral cats and keawe trees (GIANT. THORNS. EVERYWHERE. ALL OVER THE GROUND.), but aside from that the campsite is really lovely, wild and remote, rocky coastline and blue, blue ocean as far as the eye can see. My little one-person tent was snug and cozy and delightful, and our potluck meals were tasty, and we spent the days sitting and chatting and staring out to sea and watching the whales swim by.

AND THERE WERE SO MANY WHALES. All day, every day, whales. More whales than I could possibly count, spouting and breaching and slapping. One whale would breach several times in succession, then roll over on his back and slap the water multiple times with his flipper, then go back to breaching, and so on, rinse and repeat, all the way up the coast. This went on so long, people got tired of watching him. Another whale worked his way up the coast in intervals of five to seven tail-slaps with short breaks in between. Among other quite excellent whale activities (members of the party claimed to hear singing on the second night). And a dolphin. And a monk seal that I missed seeing.

The first night was a bit stormy, high winds and surf and a spattering of rain and lightning off-shore, but my tent didn't let me down. Wetter parts of the island apparently received torrential downpours, and both peaks got massive snowfalls. The second night had some lightning but luckily was dry, so our dancing plans didn't get ruined.

The Olliephonics was great fun as usual, and we were delighted to find a couple of other lindy-hoppers on our floor, Pat and Maria from Seattle.

...So that was all very fun, and we stopped at the Big Island Brewhaus yesterday and OH MY GOD. Truly excellent Mexican food, and I'm usually pretty ambivalent about Mexican, so that's saying a lot. And they make their own sodas and yesterday's soda was liliko'i creme (that's passionfruit to the rest of you, and OH MY GOD. BEST EVER. SO DELICIOUS. I'm going to need to go back and try their ginger bier and, like, all of their brews. For serious, if you're ever in Waimea, check it out.

Okay so I'm headed up to Hakalau for the next two days, it is raining SO HARD which is going to SUCK... SO HARD, the end I love you all kbye.
zolac_no_miko: (WHEEEEEE~!!)
Okay, so in case anyone hadn't already figured it out, my internet presence is going to be somewhat diminished for the next several months. I will only have the possibility of internet when I'm not in the field, which, as I go further into my internship, will not be a lot of the time; when I'm not in the field I will only really have internet when I make the time and effort to go seek it out (only one of the volunteer houses has wireless, and it's not mine), or when I come down to Hilo for a bit. I will have internet on my Droid when I'm not in the field, so emails and LJ comment alerts will still get to me on weekends and office days, and who knows, I may even have time to respond. :P

I am going to give up all attempts at actually keeping up with my Friends list. I'll check in occasionally but I'm realistically only going to catch like 10% of what goes on there. I'll make posts when I can to keep you guys abreast (haha I said breast) of what I'm up to, and I'll really make an effort to post pictures occasionally, so you guys can see my beautiful forest and gorgeous adorable birdies.

...So yeah, anyway, this is me just squeezing in a quick update while I devour some breakfast. First week of the internship is going great. The other intern is this guy named Sean from North Carolina; he's quiet and somewhat shy and totally pleasant and amiable and we're getting along great. We live with Matt from Ohio who does insect stuff, and he's cool and friendly and we like him and I think we're all going to be great housemates. I think there's supposed to be a couple of Eban's bird demography volunteers moving in with us this weekend, but there's this whole big drama right now with Eban's crew and who's going to live where and whether or not his techs will get housing even though it's against the rules and blah blah blah, so I don't really know what the situation will be like when I get back on Monday.

Matt and Sean and I usually all start work at the same time in the morning, except for when Sean and I are going into the field and therefore have to wake up at ass o'clock (we have to be at the office at six a.m. on Tuesday. SIX A.M.), so most mornings we walk to work together. Guys, this is fantastic; I've gone from a 45-minutes-by-car one-way commute, to a 15-minutes-by-foot one-way commute. And also it's the nicest commute ever, a pleasant stroll on a path through the rainforest with the birds waking up all around us. T_T It's a great way to start the morning.

We spent a few days doing office stuff, thrilling work like disentangling mist nets and checking them for holes, and disinfecting mist nets and bird bags, and aliquoting lysis buffer into tiny vials, and getting First Aid/CPR/AED certified. We did go up to Hakalau on Wednesday to check out Nauhi Cabin, which is where we'll be staying when we're in the field for the next... a lot of time, and set up a bunch of poles and played tour guide for a visiting malaria expert from Penn State, a dude named Andrew with an awesome New Zealand accent.

Life at housing is neat. Thursday was pizza night, so we all went over to where Caitlin and Keola are living and contributed pizza ingredients. We had a vegetarian pizza with white sauce (spinach and mushrooms and garlic and onions), and a pepperoni, spaghetti squash, garlic, onions, and basil pizza with red sauce (I contributed the spaghetti squash and the Italian-style stewed tomatoes for the sauce), and I brought tortilla chips and Matt brought salsa and Caitlin busted out the SCARY INTENSE hot sauce Laurèen sent from Réunion and Brent brought cheesy bread (AMAZING) and Keola made some intensely delicious shoyu chicken and Caitilin busted out the kim chee and someone brought wine and Matt brought spiced rum and there was a lot of beer floating around. It was super fun. And I had a lot of stuff to take care of that evening, but I had a beer and some wine and a swig of the rum and then I took a hot shower and all of a sudden my head was REALLY HEAVY, so I went to sleep at like 9 and woke up early to do stuff instead. XD;

I am at home in Hilo at the moment, and for at least like another couple of hours, and then Don and Mom and I are headed up to Kapa‘a, which is a beach campground in Kohala, a little ways north of Kawaihae. We're getting together with a bunch of friends for the weekend and there will be music and singing and whale-watching and soooooo much potluck food and I had planned to invite Alex but he broke up with me so he doesn't get to come, nyahh~. And it's a three-day weekend in this great nation, so Sunday night we're sneaking away and going to the Blue Dragon and the Olliephonics are playing and like at least fifteen Hepcats are showing up and we're basically going to take over the whole place and dance dance dance.

And then on Tuesday it's out to the field for a couple of days, catching birdies whee~!

So yeah. I'll, uh. Be in touch when I can.

I LOVE YOU ALL!! ♥♥♥
zolac_no_miko: (Kestrel!)
I'm back from the woods, IT WAS AMAZING, there were lots of adorable fluffy birdies, I will tell you more, possibly with pictures, but later when I am less exhausted oh god I am so tired. TT_TT

And I have planting all day tomorrow and then several Maui Party folks are visiting and there is dancing all weekend and then my new job starts and I'm moving to Volcano and alsghasjfksjfskshjk.

One of these days I will once again have time to sleep/sit on my ass/actually talk to my friends again. Some day. Maybe. @_@

HOW ARE ALL OF YOU?? ♥♥
zolac_no_miko: (authentic Hawaiian coconut tree)
Yesterday Alex and I went to Makalawena Beach, which is a gorgeous white sand beach in Kekaha Kai State Park on the Kona side, that can only be accessed by either a) walking a long way in the hot hot sun over sharp, rough ‘a‘a rock, or b) taking your life in your hands and a 4x4 vehicle that you don't like very much down the access "road". Alex has a Nissan XTerra and is the best kind of lunatic, so we went with option b. (No seriously, I can't even tell you how fucked up this 4x4 track is, I mean, I've driven in some pretty effing gnarly places for my various internships, but jesus, that road gave us a thrashing! :DD)

Anyway, skipping past all of the very excellent things about Makalawena and going straight to the WHALES, OMG SO MANY WHALES, HOLY SHIT WHALES~!!! It's humpback season in Hawai‘i, and I've been looking and looking and hadn't seen any until yesterday just before sunset, when HOLY SHIT SO MANY WHALES showed up. I can't even, I've lived in Hawai‘i my whole life and I've traveled to Alaska and I've had some pretty freaking excellent whale sightings, but in terms of the combination of sheer number of whales, proximity to the whales, and whale activity, this was THE BEST I'VE EVER SEEN. There had to have been a dozen of them, at least, maybe more, hard to tell, they're under the water and they move around, so. There were definitely one or two babies. The closest whales, a group of I think three, including a baby, was FOR SERIOUS ONLY A HUNDRED METERS OFF SHORE. We could have swum out to them easily if that wasn't a) illegal, and b) dangerous. There was a lot of spouting and we had a couple nice views of tails, and then there were the two whales further out that just WOULD NOT STOP BREACHING, they were having a freaking BREACHING PARTY, oh my god, just flinging themselves bodily out of the water OVER AND OVER AGAIN.

BEST. WHALES. EVER.

...Okay [livejournal.com profile] platoapproved, it's safe now.

So anyway, this beach. Not too crowded due to the effort it takes to get there, and it's beautiful and there are fun sea creatures and the waves are nice for bodyboarding or surfing, and there were moa (those Polynesian chickens) wandering around entertaining us by boldly stealing food from people's unwatched bags. And surrounding the beach there are a series of rare anchialine ponds and ʻŌpaeʻula Pond, a wetland area that's a National Natural Landmark and is one of the only remaining breeding and nesting areas for rare Hawaiian wetland birds such as the āeʻo (Hawaiian Stilt), the ʻalae keʻokeʻo (Hawaiian Coot), and the ʻaukuʻu (Black-crowned Night Heron). There were SO MANY STILTS, which was super exciting, you almost never see those, and I've never seen so many at once, oh my gaaaaaawd I really wished I'd brought binoculars, and oh my god this place is totally going on my list of Awesome Birding Places to take [livejournal.com profile] shichahn to when she finally comes to visit me.

Also, check out how cute this bird is, seriously. )

...And the vog wasn't bad and the sunset was FUCKING BEAUTIFUL and asghsla;hfklsahgkfs it was a Perfect. Freaking. Day. TT_TT

Also tomorrow is a holiday so tonight a bunch of us are driving up to Kawaihae for dinner at the Blue Dragon and SO MUCH DANCING to the very excellent Olliephonics, OMG YAY I AM EXCITE.
zolac_no_miko: (Pele says hello)
I hope you appreciate how long it took me to put this post together. Literally days. There are A LOT of pictures. I swear I was trying to be frugal in my selection.

...So, that backpacking trip I went on last week....



(Click on the pictures for larger versions. Also, turn your heads for sideways pictures. I really can't be arsed to fix that.)

Haleakalā is one of my very favorite places in the entire motherfucking world. )
zolac_no_miko: (Pele says hello)
So, I'm off again, to Maui this time. Gill Clan backpacking trip on Haleakala, three nights in the crater. I AM SO VERY VERY EXCITE.

...And now, instead of sleeping, I am going rewatch "A Scandal In Belgravia" and watch the new H50 ep. I haven't yet decided in which order.

BE GOOD, KIDS. ♥

ETA: Watching H50, ha ha ha SOUL PUNK POSTER ON THE MURDER VIC'S WALL. :DD
zolac_no_miko: (all elephants (swim))
We're getting to one of those times of the year where the ratio of Fun Stuff Filling My Life to Time I Have To Sit Down And Tell You About It tilts sharply toward the former. So, recap! I shall attempt to be brief. (HA. HA HA HA.)

So Ted's Blues workshop was super excellent and fun; first workshop I've taken as a lead... I feel accomplished! Having Ted and Lea as house guests was super excellent and fun, too. Seriously, best house guests ever, they were swift and sneaky about pouncing on things like dishes and laundry, aside from being polite and thoughtful and just nice people in general. I had a great time playing tour guide with them, too; we had a fun day at the National Park, and a fun day exploring lower Puna (and nice weather on both those days, too, which was a bleeding miracle), and I took them to the Mauna Loa Macadamia Nut Factory and Rainbow Falls and around the Downtown Hilo shops. And their last two nights we invited Amy over and Ted put on some music (which is largely the same as my music, apparently), and we enjoyed tasty local brews and played Candyland and Apples To Apples and I just barely beat Ted in an excellent game of Stratego and I introduced everyone to the fabulousness that is Bananagrams.

I snuck away on Friday night to go to the HAVO Employee Christmas Party, which was fun. My boss, Mark, was one of the guys in charge of decorating the Volcano House, and he and his buddies chopped down a bunch of faya trees and stuck them in the corners and strung lights on them. ...Morella faya is, btw, an invasive alien species, and one of the top two worst problems in the Park. So. BEST USE OF FAYA EVER. There was also bamboo and monstera staplegunned to the walls and lights everywhere and live Hawaiian music and a roaring fire in the fireplace and small adorable children running around, this is important for the ambience, okay... it was very nice. And Caitlin and I arrived just as the last of twilight was fading, and the view over Kilauea Caldera with the light in the clouds and the silhouette of Mauna Loa and Venus setting over the orange glow of Halema‘uma‘u, and a huge, full moon rising behind us, clear and bright... GOD, SO BEAUTIFUL. ...Anyway, the food was traditional lu‘au fare, all the good stuff, kalua pig and rice and laulau and mac potato salad and chicken long rice and poi and haupia and THE MOST AMAZING TAKO LU‘AU EVER and it was delicious. And after Santa showed up (what a rockstar he is too, seriously, all the dude has to do is show up and wave at people and everyone cheers, everyone's happy to see him, for serious, what a pimp), Caitlin and I decided it was TOO GODDAMN COLD to hang around the main party, so we took our wine and plates of dessert over by the GIANT MOTHERFUCKING FIRE and sort of oooooozed across the couches and just talked for a while, which was nice. ^_^

And so on and so on, BITCHES DON'T KNOW ABOUT MY TROPICAL RAINSTORMS, sekrit LJ is not so sekrit, plus enjoyable spam. )
zolac_no_miko: (WHEEEEEE~!!)
Okay, another drive-by post... for serious, I really need to get some quality sleep tonight.

Work was kind of FAILBOAT today. We went to Kahuku to try to finish our last three monitoring plots. This should've been the end of the matter; usually we can do five in one day. Instead, we did one, ONE, and then fruitlessly searched for the corner poles of Plot S2M0L, wandering mournfully in circles and digging through unnecessarily thick pasture grass before giving up in disgust and going home on the theory that consulting the photo documentation will help us find it next time. Oh, and it rained on us. Quite heavily. The whole incident was rather demoralizing. *shakes fist* DAMN YOU EXCLOSURE TWO. DAMN YOU KIKUYU GRASS. ...On the plus side, acquired iced Ka‘ū coffee, cinnamon-raisin-macadamia nut sweet bread, and lemon-salt marlin jerky at the Punalu‘u Bakery, so the day wasn't a total waste. :D

Anyway, Ted and Lea seemed to have an enjoyable day. In between working they managed to make it down to the Hilo Farmer's Market and came back laden with rambutan, kaskaron, and assorted exotic greens. Andolie, bless her, took them to ‘Akaka Falls in the late afternoon, where they also acquired a stalk of sugarcane (Ted wants to borrow a machete and carry it with him everywhere, in case of future sugarcane incidents), and thence to Chiang Mai Thai Restaurant. So I feel gratified that they have been well taken care of in my absence. They also accepted my invitation to join us for Folk Dancing and had a lot of fun, so... yay!

Tomorrow after my private lesson with Ted we're heading up the hill for the requisite Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park visit, and then straight on into the first night of the workshop. So that will be fun.

Whoo!
zolac_no_miko: (self-explanatory)
Okay so it's past my bedtime already and as usual I am underslept (there is really not enough time in a day to work eight hours and commute and do all of the things I want/need to do), but I'm going to do a drive-by post of THINGS, because if anything I am about to get busier. When the fuck am I going to do my Christmas shopping oh my gaaaaaaaaaaawd!! T_T

First off, Ted Maddry is here with his girlfriend Lea... he's here to teach a Blues workshop this weekend. Mom's on O‘ahu for work, so I picked them up from the airport and fed them and showed them the ropes. It was instantly clear that they are both fabulous people, as I have come to expect from the traveling Swing/Blues instructor crowd; I'm really looking forward to learning from Ted and to hanging out with them and showing them around the island for the next week. Ted bought us beer (Maui Brewing Company Coconut Porter oh my gaaaaaaawwwwd~!) and said some really complimentary things about my mother (that he's been hearing her name from everyone on the circuit as a workshop coordinator who is supremely excellent to work with, and having corresponded with her for this workshop he can now see why) that I hope he will repeat in her presence, because awww~.

So, yeah, I'mma be busy playing tour guide and Blues dancing and having fun, and then next week I'm going on a Waipi‘o-Waimanu backpacking trip with some people, which I am super excited about; with this trip and the Labor Day Mauna Loa summit adventure that's two out of three crossed off of my Big Island Backpacking Bucket List... now if I can only get Pele to cooperate so I can camp at Nāpau-! ...Oh man, and then I've got the Haleakala backpacking trip coming up in January... SO MUCH AWESOME HIKING YAY.

And now a list of Things To Flail About:

- For those of you who enjoy Red vs. Blue, Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along-Blog, the sillier bits of Doctor Who, and/or THINGS THAT ARE AWESOME, I highly recommend The Visitor from the Future (Le Visiteur du Futur), a French science fiction/comedy web series (don't worry, it comes with subtitles). The show is, in general, much like its title character: adorable, frenetic, and slightly insane (oh my god I have such a crush on the Visitor and his crazyface, for serious, SO IN LOVE), and it's full of time-travel shenanigans and robots and zombies and silliness. So. WATCH IT.

Continued under the cut: rock and roll, naked Fassbender, jet packs, lava, SPACE, and that guy I like. And Batman eats a pony. )

THAT TOOK WAY LONGER THAN I MEANT IT TO, OH GOD I'M SO TIRED, okay bye now!

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