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  • Mission Complete

    Woah. A whole month has gone by since my last post, but it feels like only yesterday. I've never traveled for work at this scale before - a field campaign, a science convention, and preparation for the next field campaign all at the same time. I was in Oahu so long my hotel room started to feel like an apartment.

    Over the next few days I'll try to break down some of the highlights of the trip. The plane containing the PRISM instrument arrived two weeks late. I took a Portugese Man-O-War to the face. We experienced 26 mph winds in Kaneohe Bay during a time period that's historically calm. But after all was said and done, the Operational Readiness Test was deemed a success! Thank God.

  • Kona Post 2: The Work

    I know this post is long overdue... thank you for being patient while I scrambled, prioritized, and totally uprooted my life. Now let's get back to the topic at hand: moray eels!

    Eels are such a regular occurrence in Hawaii that the usual diver reaction is boredom, if not slight annoyance. But to me (being bright-eyed and bushy-tailed for Kona water), having an eel curiously tag along on field work is the most exciting part of the day. This guy followed me around for a good 15 meters, diving in and out of the reef and swimming a little too close for comfort. I think I saw a total of 4 eels that day!

    This fine piece of machinery is called a Profiling Reflectance Radiometer (PRR). There are sensors facing out of each end that measure the amount of light in the water column. We'll be deploying it everywhere to amass a gigantic data set about ocean optics.

    The team was lucky enough to hire an incredible boat driver that had pimped his ride perfectly for our style of field work. Seriously - I have never worked on a boat so comfortable or well-formatted. John was hilarious, accomodating, smart, and gave great local food recommendations. (Not to mention that whole bag of homemade breakfast musubis he brought us.)

    Then we discovered reefs have fish. Crazy, right!?

    ...And this is a great shot of when we desperately attempted to dry all of our scuba gear on the hotel balcony less than 24 hours before traveling halfway around the world with crammed, salty luggage. Welcome to airplane life.

  • Kona Post 1: Poke, Poke, Mocha

    No trip to Hawaii is complete without lots of poke and spam. Eric and I quite literally went straight from airport to marina for fresh ahi poke and fish tacos. Tuna was the catch of the day at every restaurant on the island this week, and boy, do I love me some raw tuna.

    From top to bottom: fresh poke from Bite Me! Bar and Grill, fried poke balls with spicy mayo and pickled cucumbers, and teriyaki poke with furikake rice, kim chee cucumbers, and crazy delicious mac salad (not pictured) from Umeke's.

    I found it strange that spam treats were harder to find on Kona (as opposed to the other islands). Our boat driver responded to my grievances by bringing a huge paper bag of homemade musubis one morning. AHHHHH! <3

    I also discovered Lillikoi Hi-Chews (seriously, best flavor) and Royal Mills iced Island Mochas. The canned coffees contain four different milk products plus sugar - which is my favorite way to drink caffeine. Thank god these aren't in the states, or I might get fat and hyped.

    We also visited the original Kona brewhouse, which, albeit being poorly set up as a restaraunt, had surprisingly good pub food and duh-licious beers. The Hula Hefe sealed a perfect end to every exhausting boat day. God. I. Love. Hawaii.

  • First Up: The Big Island of Hawai'i!

    Some field work on Kona was abruptly dropped into my lap last week. I pulled some organizational acrobatics and get to fly out early Saturday morning for my first NASA research site. Unfortunately, I'm a little out of date on the AAUS diving requirements and can only perform dive work up to 30 ft. Boats, 78°F, and volcanoes - totally sucks, right?

    If you haven't used Google's new My Maps, it's brilliant. I'm going to start logging all of our field sites here, adding in foodie stops and hangouts along the way. The key is pretty easy:

    • Home Icon: My home base for the duration of the work
    • Red Drops: Targeted field sites
    • Airplane + Path: Target airplane flyover routes

    The work will go something like this... Eric's colleague is going to fly an airplane along the west coast, taking consecutive high-res images that we can use to map portions of the reef. Our team will trail the flight path by boat, taking various environmental measurements with both handheld instruments and probes deployed over the side. The next couple of days will be diving and snorkeling to collect underwater imagery and spectral measurements of the actual corals.

    I'm doing my best to rack up 12 dives, so I can level up by the time I get to Bermuda. (Or should I say level down? Eh? Eh?)