So, I guess I’ll start off with the beach I went to last weekend. I was going to talk about it this weekend because I figured I would have gone back, which I would have if I didn’t find something better than boogie boarding. Then the work week was largely unexceptional: we have packed nearly 400 buckets by now, a couple pallet tubs, a few action packers, and have strapped more things to the outside and will be sending a bunch of stuff away to be frozen today. (We freeze as much as we can to kill any bugs or seeds that might be hiding in our packing to maintain Laysan’s quarantine. We also bug bomb regularly.) However, on Thursday we got to go on a field trip to the northwest corner of the island and on Monday… I found a Crew Club!!!
Boogie Boarding Beach
So, last weekend, the Laysan team went to a beach that is closed to the public because our supervisor has a military ID (also helpful to get food from the commissary). Yesterday, I would have gone back, but, as I mentioned above, I found a crew club. This beach, in Bellows Park, is apparently the most coveted beach in all of Oahu, and I can see why it might be. The sand is very fine and soft, unlike the other beaches we’ve been on. It is the Pacific, so the waters are a little cooler than I am accustomed to, but really just so much that it is refreshing when you get in and then you get used to it. On the day we went, the waves were cooperating well – a good one for boogie (or body) boarding every couple minutes, so you can ride a good one and have enough time to get out to the right depth and chat before the next one comes along. Because it is closed to some people, it wasn’t terribly crowded and we just spent the day going in and out of the water. Plus, down the street is a superette or something that sells a variety of snacks and drinks (including alcoholic ones) for those who are hungry or thirsty. I’m surprised our supervisor has ever left that beach based on her spoken enjoyment of it.
So, on Thursday, the Laysan crew went on another fruit picking expedition to the northwestern corner of Oahu. First, we stopped at Kalaeloa, which we visited last week to see if the population of Capparis sandwichiana was prepared to give us fruit to clean and take to Laysan to plant. (That reminds me, we also cleaned the sandalwood fruit that we harvested last week – that was a tedious process, making sure ALL of the fruit was off the seeds before drying them to make sure we didn’t get a mold infestation. Mold…) The C. sandwichiana fruits look like little cucumbers and come from flowers which only bloom at night. It is also called the stinky banana. I feel like we might learn about that when we get the seeds out. At Kalaeloa, we also learned a number of the plants that we will need to be able to ID on Laysan, particularly Pluchea indica (Indian fleabane), which is our primary eradication goal out on our island. We also saw tree tobacco, morning glory, indian dropseed, bermuda grass, and a bunch that aren’t on Laysan yet, but would be devastating if they were. After Kalaeloa, we headed farther north and west to Ke’ena. There we were looking for more sandalwood fruit, but unfortunately only found one we could harvest. We also used this time to reinforce the plants we had learned. The best part, however, was when we got out to the very tip, which is a strict nature preserve. There is a big predator fence, to keep rodents out and away from the variety of bird nests. When we were there, the wedge tailed shearwaters were just wrapping up their nesting stay on the point (unfortunately this is during the two months of the year that Albatross aren’t on Ke’ena, but we’ll see plenty on Laysan). Shearwaters are neat because they burrow to make their nests, which means you have to be VERY careful where you walk so you don’t twist an ankle or crush a nest. We were even able to see a few shearwater chicks, all fluffy with down, just adorable. Down at the beach, the tidal pools were full of little fish and while we were relaxing, two monk seals decided to drop by to have a little tussle with each other. Nothing more than lunging and roaring at each other, but it was still very cool to see. As with the birds, we’ll get to see much more of seals on Laysan, as it has the largest population of monk seals in the world. (We have been warned to be cautious of seals when bathing or swimming in the ocean because, sometimes, the males may think that you are of the fairer gender and make that perception clear…)
Honolulu Rowing Club
!!!! Listen up crewbies, everywhere you go, you can probably find rowing, you just have to try. So do try. Last week I was sad because I had only seen canoes and kayaks, which, while a delightful experience, is nothing compared to rowing. Then, on Monday, as I was running along the Ala Wai canal, what should I see but a rack full of singles and doubles! As soon as I got back to the bunkhouse, I jumped on the computer to figure out what the rowing club was and if I could row with them. I sent the contact an e-mail and found out that they take on new members regularly (as it is a vacation destination, they welcome rowing vacationers). Come to find out, they are incredibly inexpensive to be a part of – your first row is free, your second they ask for a small donation towards boat maintenance, and after that it is $50 for a six month membership. That’s right, $50. Compared to how much everything costs around here, in particular, that is amazing, but that is an amazing price period. (For those unaware, most clubs easily cost upwards of $500 for a season in most places, that is 10x the price for less time.) So, obviously I jumped at this chance. They practice weekends at 4p, so I will continue to go while I am here, plus they might find a way to help me go out at other times. Rowers are amazing people. So, they let me take a racing single out yesterday, without any real test to make sure I wouldn’t destroy their equipment, and it felt great. I really do feel so much better after rowing, it is crazy (which was helpful because it left me feeling froggy* for the Waikiki night life and karaoke with the other bunkhouse residents). Plus, the regular rowers here that I met were very cool. One, a divorced guy from the mainland moved here with a broken heart and now practices law here and has been rowing for 10 months. Another rowed in college in the mid-west an amount of time ago that he will not divulge, and then got to row in Europe, in London and Denmark (ocean rowing). Another coxed at Cornell while studying urban planning and is working on the Honolulu light rail system now. Cool people to meet. Anyway, that is why I ask “Is this real life?” – field trips, animals, and rowing… seriously!? This job was a great find.