Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Dolphin Whisperers

This is a journal entry of Avery's that is about swimming with dolphins.
Sandy's house in Hawaii
Sunny and cloudy
    Yesterday we went swimming with dolphins with a lady who is a friend of a friend of my parents.  Her name is Jan and she's really cool.  She is a dolphin whisperer and an artist.  
    First on the trip we drove up to the harbor in Kona were we met the captain of the boat we were going out on, the captains name was Kit.  Then we put the boat in the water because it was on a trailer.  Then we headed out.  Well to swim with dolphins you have to find the pod so for about a half hour we went up the cost looking for them.  While we were looking for them Jan told us all about the dolphins we were going to swim with.  The dolphins we were going to swimming with were spinner dolphin. They have a long snout that is made for spinning when it jumps.  They can spin up to 3 times before hitting the water.  The baby's can start jumping 2 days after birth.  
    Something else we learned is that there are five groups of spinner dolphins in the Hawaiian islands.  The 1 group that belonged to the big island was the one we were going to swim with.  Each group had different DNA but in one group every single dolphin has the same DNA.  Theses groups are split into pods each pod had about 600-800 dolphins.  Recently thou the scientist have noticed that some young spinner dolphins have white spots on the tip of there nose, and instead of spinning when they they jump there jumping hirer then the rest of there group, and there not spinning but when they jump they look like there hovering in mid air.  These dolphins still had long noses and other traits of the spinner dolphins.  This dose not make sense since all the dolphins in a group have the same DNA.  Then science realized that they are mating with the spotted nosed dolphins, and now there seeing  traits of the spinner dolphins in the groups of spotted nosed dolphins.  
    Spinners become old enough to mate when there 6 years old and they live about 35 year.  Those are the facts I can remember about the spinner dolphins but I did learn that the parrot fish eat corral and poop out sand.  That is were some of the sand on the beaches comes from. After learning all about the dolphins we found the pod they were moving in the direction we came from.  After we found the pod they went all around us they were going really fast.  We went up to the front of the pod and our caption dropped us of in the water.  When we were in the water we saw the dolphins under us and around us.  Since they were moving forward in the direction we came from they all past us.  We got back on the boat and the caption brought us up to the front of the pod  again.  We did this 4-5 times then ate lunch on the boat me my brother and a lady who was out there dolphin swimming ate slower then the rest and every one else went in the water.  Well when we were ready to get in the water it was time to head back so we did not go in the water agin.

                                                                                 IT WAS REALLY COOL!!!!!

Jan the dolphin whisperer

Searching for the pod

Dolphins swimming under and around the boat

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Eddie Aikau- North Shore Oahu Waimea Bay

Eddie Aikau is a true Hawaiin hero. He was a surfer legend, and a spokesman for the ressurection of the pride that Hawaiins could take in their culture and heritage. When we found ourselves "stuck" on Oahu for 2 days, we had to make the pilgrimage to the place he surfed and where he worked as a lifeguard and saved countless lives.

Here's a shot of his lifeguard station. Though when he worked there it was much simpler.

Eddie Aikau died in a valliant way. He was fullfilling his dream to make the trip from Hawaii to Tahiti in a replica of the voyaging canoes that are speculated to have originally have made the trip, when the first Polynisians came to Hawaii. The Hokule'a means "Arturus" which is one of the important navigational stars for the month long voyage. The trip started in rough weather and the canoe capsized. Against all odds Eddie insisted on going for help on his surfboard. He died trying to help all of his crew members.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Mauna Kea: November 20th

     Mauna Kea is 13,803 feet above sea level, and 33,500 feet from the sea floor.  Now that is one big volcanic mountain!!  We braved the altitude one cloudy day, to drive up and test our bodies in the thin air. A few headaches and somewhat rubbery legs seemed to be the big effects. But Avery was insisting that we were 2.5 feet about sea level (she meant about 2.5 miles.....) So we think that our minds were affected as well. So we did not linger too long at the top.    
     There is an array of 13 telescopes up top with researchers galore looking all over the Milky Way and at other astronomical wonders. These 13 observatories are run by 11 countries. We were hoping to do some star gazing up in the clear, unturbulent air but the cloudy weather thwarted us. I learned that turbulent air and windy air are 2 different things.  Even though it can be windy up there, it is the lack of turbulence that allows for really good visibility.
      Looking at all the expensive equipment up top lead to a converstation about ethics and needs, and how come we (as in people) spend so much money to study the stars, when there are so many in need here on earth that we could be using that money for. 
     We have been doing a lot of stargazing and learning of the heavens this home school year, but on this trip, instead of the heavens we ended up focusing on the the air around us. 

What?!!! we actually had to put on pants and jackets.

At the top, 13,803 (plus a rock pile)

   We played with water bottles and ziplock bags to see how the air pressure effected them going up, and then back down. Talked about altitude sickness, mountain climbers, Mt Everest, and pressurized airplanes. We wondered (well Owen wondered) what would happen if you took a deep breath of air at sea level (and held it in your lungs), and then magically arrived at the top of Mauna Kea, what would happen to your lungs? (explode?) Howard and Owen ran a mile down the mt, to see if the altitude winded them more than normal (not much). We keep a close look out for invisible cows, but didn't see any.

13,800 foot air in the bottle, being squished at about 800 feet. Love the real life
lessons in air pressure

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Ohana Makahiki Festival Sat., Nov. 17

A homeschooler's dream: We got invited to Waimea Middle School by an old friend from my college days. We got to learn about voyaging and the foods Polynesians brought with them to Hawai’i.  Guess where the Polynisians came from?... Tahiti!!! Super cool to make that connection, as that is our next stop.  

Makahiki games They taught us games and explained how these connect to the past and present – including their ties to science and cultural and environmental learning. 

Makahiki games

This makahiki game is where you roll a stone disc through  a target.  This is how the women used to help their warrior men in battle.  The women were not allowed to fight, but they tripped up the enemy by rolling hundreds(?) of stones at the enemy's feet as they were attacking

This game is another practice for battle.  You slide the wooden sticks along the ground to trip up opponents

A game of strength and balance- hold one foot and your opponent's hand and the first to step out, or fall down loses. 

The Alaskans held their own

In this game, the object is to get the opponent onto the ground, or move his middle foot.  

Making Poi
The 3 main carbohydrates for indigenous island folk were: Bread Fruit, Taro Root (Poi) and Sweet Potatoes
Here a gentleman is peeling taro root (called kalo) with a limpet shell.

The work place to make the poi.

All the folks there seemed to really like poi. After they helped tech, they  all made a baggie fr themselves.  

The finished product goes in a bag, and it is very stable, and can store  without refrigeration for some days. 

Siblings pounding poi

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Surfing Hawaii

 Our home school physical education program is looking OK.
We found a surfing teacher @ Kona Surf Co.
From previous experience trying to surf I had my doubts, but we decided this was something we wanted to do, and we went against Mozen tradition, and hired a pro.  Our teacher, Austin, from Kona Surf Co. was excellent

First try O stood up.

First try for Avery.

Dad about to run the gang over

Elizabeth took right to it.  

Usually pretty graceful- Elizabeth held it together even in the wipe outs. 
All of us working a wave.  (If only I had stood up)  

Here they go.  Owen is scheming....

Yeah! I can finally catch Avery, and maybe run her over!!!

I'm getting her. 
.She's getting away!!

I love these bookends.  The photographer on the shore got us to buy some photos when he showed us this shot. 

Volcanoes National Park

Volcanoes National Park: November 16th and 17th, 2012

     After much prodding we tore our selves away from generous cousin Sandy's comfy house in Kailua-Kona, borrowed another sleeping bag and a cooler, bought food that needed neither cooking, or cooling (well except for that can of Turkey Spam, though it didn't need to be cooked, it certainly tasted better that way:) and headed on our way at the break of day, well maybe noon. Okay maybe after 2.
     We arrived at Namakani Paio Campground, within the park, just before sunset and scrambled to set up camp before dark dark dark hit us. As an Alaskan, who is very used to the extremely long dusk and dawn periods each day, this business of when the sun goes down, it is dark in 20 minutes has taken a bit getting used to. Howard went to the site next to us to borrow a match (you always forget something....)  to light a fire. The folks next to us were Alaskan too, with kids the same age doing the same thing we were, homeschooling and traveling the world. As we talked we realized that Avery and their Dylan had gone to Kindergarten together at Winterberry in 2005. Then another member of their party showed up, and it was Mike Thompson, a ranger from Wrangell St Elias, who I know through work. (Can you hear the lyrics?: "its a small world after all, its a small small world).
     After we ate our flame broiled turkey spam, put on our layers (it is chilly at 4000 feet), played a rousing game of flashlight tag, and admired the amazing stars, we hopped in the car and drove over to the Jagger Museum overlook to see the glow of lava. It was a misty night, and that combined with not having seen it in the daylight made the view rather discombobulating at first. Depth perception was very off, and it seemed like we were looking at a  smoke machine with orange light bulbs about 50 feet away. After blinking, thinking, and reading the signs we realized that we were truly looking at the Halema'uma'u Crater, about a mile away, with its golden orange glow and steam. Halema'uma'u Crater is an active crater with in the Kilauea Caldera, and the active flows are attached to the same magma chamber, but coming out of a vent (Pu'u O'o) miles away along the east rift zone.
     In the morning we started our explorations of the park, and while Howard hung out in the car talking on the cell phone, taking care of Wrangell Mt Center business (he is on the board), the kids and I checked out the visitor center and watched the park movie, with great footage of spewing lava. We learned about the devastation the wild boars do in the park and on the island, destroying forest, which destroys habitat of endangered, endemic Hawaiian birds and plants. (new word for the kids: endemic.  meaning found only here in Hawaii).
     The first real stop was the Thurston Lava Tube. The literature told us we would be able to scramble in the unlit half of the tube, so we were ready with hiking shoes and headlamps.  No such luck, closed off for of all things because of hazardous volcanic activity. Who would have thought?

E, A and O in the Thurston Lava Tube
     The lava tube was cool. I could have driven our truck right on inside of it. Amazing to think of it being filled with hot hot flowing rock. It reminded me of the tunnels in the glaciers back home, that funneled water downstream.
     Next we got ready to take a hike through the rainforest and into Kilauea Iki Crater. (but first Howard needed to take a nap) (Daddy always needs to take a nap......) We donned our rain gear for the misty rainy walk, and realized that we were quite the colorful group.

Rainbow brights, taking a hike

      The trail took us along the rim of this old crater, through the rainforest and then slowly descended into it.

Howard and Owen at the transition zone

Lost in the mists of Kilauea Iki......
Kilauea Iki Crater is another crater within the Kilauea Caldera. This one exploded in 1959, making the rock we were walking on 1 year younger than Howard! (math word problem: How old is Howard?) The crater had already existed, and was about 800 feet deep. When it erupted it filled the lower basin with lava, then it would drain back down the vent, then reflood, drain, reflood etc.  It filled in the basin with over 400 feet of lava, creating quite an impressive lava lake.  The 36 day eruption, of 2100* F lava, took 36 years to cool down! The surface cooled fairly quickly, but the inside stayed liquid for along time, sort of like a molten lava chocolate cake, (Yum Yum).

The plant succession begins.......fern on lava

'Ohi'a tree, another pioneer

The Lehua flower of the 'Ohi'a tree
A, H and O: Buckled lava flow

After our hike we went and checked out the Voclano Art Center, located in the 1877 Volcano House (the old hotel that used to house the visitors after their horseback ride up). We were very impressed and inspired by the Hawaiian artists work that was there. Like this Hawaiian outrigger canoe made out of Koa wood, and the pottery and felted runner. The kids decided to participate in the ranger artist program and then spent the evening rummaging about the woods of our campsite to find materials to create natural sculptures in the firelight, which they then presented to the Art Center the next day. (sorry no pictures, lame mommy)

     To get that firelight we had to go beg yet another lighter, and found another group of Alaskans, with mutual friends amongst us. It was a drizzle night, so not much star gazing. We woke up to a Mozen wrestling match in the tent. Boy that was fun. Some of us liked it better than others. Then on our way, to the Tree Molds, and no I don't mean fuzzy green mold as big as a tree, I mean trees that created a mold when the lava flowed around them. The tree has enough moisture in it that is doesn't immediately ignite on fire, the lava cools just enough to form a firm mold, so that when the tree does burn, it leaves a cavity where it once stood.

Howard, always the rule follower, showing us the size of the tree mold hole.
 It was about 8 to 10 feet deep.

     After an ear popping descent from 4000 feet to sea level, we found ourselves at the end of the Chain of Craters road.  We poked about and checked out the lava cliffs and sea arch. We decided that this was not a good place to take a swim, for it would be very hard to get back out. And it would be a long time treading water waiting for a boat or helicpoter to come and get you.

    We followed the road on foot, hmmm wonder why the road is closed to traffic.

What is that blocking the road?

Oh, it just some lava

Do not cross the white line please!

Owen running across lava that is younger than he is!!

No duh

Limpet shells by the hundreds. Bird dining room

     As we went to leave the park we stopped and walked along one more trail, the Mauna Ulu trail.

Can you find Owen?

     What we found was some more  awesome tree molds. These molds still had the trees in them (sort of)! These flows were from about 1970. When the tree burnt, and then fell, the surface of the lava had cooled enough that the trunk did not burn away, so there was a little forest of collapsed trees and there molds.
Howard pointing to the hole, and Owen next to the downed trunk. 

Schooling in action, look at that engrossed student!! (do you
think we posed this picture?)

The steam in the background is from Halema'uma'u Crater, (the one we looked at glowing in the dark.) It is part of the Kilauea Caldera, home to Pele, goddess of the Volcano. We are hoping she will be kind to us and let us get a glimpse of the lava flowing.

     So we finally boogie out of the park and drive down to the Hilo area, buy fresh tangerines along the side of the road and make it to Other side of the Chain of Craters road about 3pm near what used to be the town of Kalapana.  We had been trying to piece together the vague and contradictory  information about hiking out to view molten lava. What was most concrete was satellite images on the web showing the lava to be closer to the county side of the flow (maybe a 6 mile hike roundtrip), and out of the park(which would have been a 12 mile roundtrip hike), and about 1/2 mile from the coast. So we parked the car along a sad stretch of road, in the middle of a lava field, that used to be a subdivision. houses dotted the landscape, some abandoned, others lived in, other burnt to the ground or obliterated. We set off a little after 3pm, keenly aware that is was dark by 6pm. But we were prepared with headlamps, snacks and water. Hiking across the Pahoe'hoe lava was very much like hiking on the Root and Kennicott Glaciers back home (except hot and no water)(we were very lucky with the weather, overcast so not to hot). Up and down, jumping crevices, winding back and forth route finding. The lava is so sharp it cut my hand when I fairly gently leaned on it. Finding red hot lava is a bit like fishing, sometimes your are lucky, sometimes you are not. After and hour we hit the jackpot! It was actually very hard to see from a distance, the cooler surface was a steely grey that blended into the black of the older stuff, but the shimmering heat waves gave it away (as well as the 2 ladies standing next to it gawking). 2,100*F rock oozing at our feet. What an amazing privilege to be able to watch this for a little while.
Howard, playing with fire

Awesome Family photo!! 

    Many years ago a friend showed us his lava ring, from when he had taken a stick out to the lava and poked it in and 'made' him self a rock ring. We have fantasized about doing that for years, so we made sure we had our sticks to poke poke poke. (I had marshmallows in the car and didn't even think to bring them!! How cool would that have been.......lava burnt 'mallows!)

to close for comfort

proud of her blob

    Each kid came back with a lava blob that they made.   Created by Pele, shaped by Avery (or Owen).

These are now the kids official
 2012-13 school year photos, Avery: 7th grade and Owen: 4th grade. The world is our classroom.

Yes, it is 80* out, and she is standing a few feet away from 2000* rock.  But she rocks the wool hat!!

The flame is from the stick we threw in

     At 5:05pm we pulled ourselves away and power hiked back towards the car. In the deepening dusk we returned to a small group of people, corralled in a viewing area with no view (i guess sometimes you can see the lava at night from there). We were tsked, tsked by the man in the lawn chair. We had 'snuck' by him (he wasn't there at 3, though the signs said "area open at 2")Apparently we were not supposed to go out to see the lava up close. Like I mentioned before, misleading and contradictory information, but heck! it worked out in our favor!  A very full day, with a great family; awesome hiking kids and my sweety. A big big Mahalo to Madam Pele for allowing us to see this most amazing of sights.