My apologies for the tardiness of this post, but its been a whirlwind four days. Wait… that was only four days? Wow.
Tuesday was my last day on the mountain, and the last bits of work that I did involved re-sighting Nene, checking traps, and controlling Holly (between Monday and Tuesday). Tuesday afternoon, I came down the mountain to make sure I had all of my stuff, wrap up in the office, and be ready for my day of travel starting Wednesday morning. I got to go out to lunch with a few of the office FWS workers, which was lovely, take in a little bit more sun, and have my last Hawaiian meal (for now) of Poke and Mochi. I’m definitely going to try to make Mochi at one point, because it just such an interesting food! That’ll be an adventure all its own.
On Wednesday morning, the extensive process of getting back to the East Coast of the mainland from Hawai’i started. I checked into the Hilo airport (first security check) and then flew to Honolulu. Seeing Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa poking their peaks up out of the clouds is really a beautifully breathtaking sight. I could also see the Hakalau refuge, or at least make out where it is, because there are so many more trees there. In Honolulu, I had to change airlines, which meant another security check, as well as agriculture inspections and a change of terminals. Then, a little after noon, I flew to San Diego, a five hour plus flight. Now, in my opinion, airline companies are trying to put themselves out of business, but make more money. As a traveler yourself, you’ve probably noticed escalating prices for everything, and getting less for the more you pay! For instance, on this five hour and four minute flight, we were offered complimentary beverages and a single bag of complimentary snack mix, but if you wanted anything more substantial, it would cost you, as would any entertainment (besides SkyMall, of course) because they don’t just show one terrible movie for the whole airline to have the option to watch. My reasoning for this, now that I’ve had half a week to process, is that more and more people are bringing their own personal entertainment systems, which are becoming more and more complete – iPads and other tablets which contain music, games, movies, and more. So, if they show a movie now, fewer people are watching it. But, they weren’t charging for the movie before, so why do they have to charge now? Yet, we continue to submit to it… so we’re plotting our own demise. Rant(ish) over. On the flight to SD, I got a free seat next to me, lovely, and a SD local on the other side of the free seat returning from a week-long vacation to Oahu, who decided we should have a conversation for the last hour and half or so of the flight. Thanks to my hitching experience, I was fully prepared to give a brief explanation of what I had been doing. And he was delighted to tell me about his time their and his life. He also wanted to bring his Rat Terrier to help get rid of invasive species in Hawai’i…
In San Diego (‘I think it means “a whale’s vagina”‘), I had to change terminals again, which meant going through security again before flying to Newark. Thankfully, that was the last time. On the red-eye across the country, either they offered no snack even, or I slept through it, and they had personal TVs mounted in the head rests, but again charged for use. I did my best to sleep, so minded less. Again, despite having a quite full flight, I had an empty seat next to me again, but this time there was a woman on the other side of it who was happy to sleep. In Newark, I just hung around my gate to Baltimore for a couple hours, and was tempted by an adjacent flight to a town very near my AB, but wanted to save the surprise (and complications). The plane to Baltimore was a two prop plane, four seats wide, so they wound up the rubber bands and we were there in no time, landing on Thursday about 24 or 19 hours, depending on how you look at it (timezones…) later. I was picked up by my parents, saw freshly fallen snow, and knew I sure wasn’t in Hawai’i anymore. Then, the the whirlwind began.
My first task, was to see, and greatly surprise, my AB. You see, I had not told her when I was coming home, besides some vague information that it would be this past week by Friday. So, after washing all of the germs of airplane people off of me, and repacking some necessities, I was driving farther north and farther from Hawai’i. Over eight or so hours, I saw the snow banks along the sides of the highways get thicker and thicker. Thankfully, I didn’t have to go past Connecticut. I waited for her to get back from work, considering all of the hilarious/terrifying ways I could surprise her, but just waited for her to walk into her apartment, then knock. The whole time, I was worried that my vagueness would have given away my surprise, but, to my luck, she had not given it further thought than I was just being sketchy, as I guess I tend to be. My AB was very surprised, and very happy, to see me. The next day, we went on an “Erg-date” (erg = rowing machine), very romantic, and out for dinner that evening. Dinner was phenomenal. Went to Cafemantic, which is apparently very different at different times of the day. For breakfast and lunch, it is your standard cafe – sandwiches mostly. But for dinner, it turns rather posh, I might even say a little hipster, and serves tapas. They’re always focused on tasty, local foods, though. We got a winter citrus and greens salad with goat cheese fritters, roasted bacon-wrapped dates, a spinach and avocado dip, beef and pork meatballs, and a prosciutto and pear grilled cheese. Oh. My. Goodness. It was fabulous. So much cheese. That night, we continued playing with food. You see, after the Ravens beat the Patriots to win the AFC, my AB owed me a baked good, and I decided on Peanut Butter Spam cookies, which one of my friends had just shared with me, because it sounded really interesting. Also, stop looking at me like that, I think they taste really good. Saturday morning, we drove back down to Baltimore for fun with college friends who would be coming over to my house for foods and such that evening. Most of the drive was perfectly easy, except for the middle of the NJ Turnpike – shocking, right? There was apparently a large accident that took up all of the lanes. While stuck in the parking lot, we saw four ambulances go by and several other emergency vehicles. Somehow, after being stuck for 50 minutes, though, they had everything cleaned up and we were on our way again. All that remained of the accident was some sand on the road. I was very impressed.
Getting to see one’s best college friends is always a delight. Saturday night was for a bunch of the kids from the crew team. Those who were free and in town came over to cook and eat dinner together, chat, watch a movie, and spend the night. Being largely indecisive people, it took a while to decide on what to have, but we ended up making butternut squash mac and cheese with spinach, fried duck tongues (I really wanted to make it), and a salad. I strongly advise the mac and cheese, in all forms, but definitely with the butternut squash. We also added the spinach and chunks of roasted squash to make it more better. It was really great to catch up with everyone and that night we watched The Perks of Being a Wallflower. Heavy, but a really good movie. The next morning, those that were left had breakfast then returned to their normal lives. Well, “normal”. Eventually, I had to take my AB to the bus so she could go home, very sad, but See you Soon is the thing to say. Then, shortly after getting home, I was off to DC to see other friends who just happened to be in town for the weekend. More chilling, talking and eating. Finally, that night I was home again and able to sleep for a greatly extended period of time. I haven’t even gotten around the journaling the past three nights!
Thanks for following me through Hawai’i, there is a pretty good chance I will go back because it is amazing and beautiful and offers all kinds of different opportunities. I hope you get a chance to go! In the mean time, though, I will be off to other places and will continue to tell you all about them. Just as a heads up, I will be taking this next week off from blogging, but I know I’ll be back strong in two weeks. Keep on adventuring!