Sunday, June 29, 2014


The "Divers Down" flag went up on the boat at around 9:00 this morning.
First three groups of divers got in the water, then me, the lone snorkeler.
A school of pilot whales were the biggest animals we saw today.
We joined the whales during the surface interval when divers stay out of the
water for safety reasons. Quite a few people snorkeled above the whales.
The next-biggest thing was this tiger shark, which Len saw while diving
at Crescent Beach. Meanwhile, I snorkeled there in quite shallow water.
I saw many schools of fish swimming among the jagged lava rocks.
A starfish on the rocky cliffs.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Hawaiian Ferns

Ferns are among the first plants growing on the cinder and ash fields after the volcano erupts. As we walked around Volcano National Park trails, we enjoyed seeing the many shapes and forms of ferns, especially the fascinating spirals at the tips of growing leaves and stems. Hawaiian ferns include the Kupukupu, the Palapalai, and the Hapu'u pulu.

Kupukupu fern: sprouting stem and leaf
At right in this indentation in the cinders near the KÄ«lauea Iki crater:
a fern just starting its life. The tree at upper left is the Ohi'a lehua,
which sprouts on newly formed lava fields and cinder cones.
Ohi'a lehua's blossoms are a favorite with some of the native birds.
Palapalai fern -- another Ohi'a lehua rises above it.
In the older forests, these trees are very tall and are buzzing with birds
eating nectar from the flowers.
Hapu'u pulu has a woody looking growth tip.
Ferns surrounding an old lava tube
at the bottom of a steep indentation in the ground.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Mauna Kea

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Audrey, sitting in the grass near the trail to the Douglas Monument
Today our friends took us on a beautiful tour of the Mana Road near the summit of Mauna Kea. We met them at the Mauna Kea Visitor Information Station, and continued in their 4-wheel drive vehicle on a difficult road, ending at the David Douglas Memorial.

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Len and Peter at the monument to David Douglas who died near this spot in 1834.
He fell into a trap for wild cattle, which unfortunately already had trapped a wild bull. 
Our friend Peter is an expert in the history of 19th century land use in the area, so he told us the David Douglas story in detail, along with much other fascinating material. Douglas, a expert botanist (whose name is on the Douglas fir) was exploring the area. A man named Ned Gurney lived nearby with his Hawaiian wife and children. It was he who had set the traps -- and warned Douglas to be careful.

Gurney was a convict, born the same year as Douglas, 1799. Some years earlier he had been convicted of a minor crime and transported to Botany Bay in Australia. Gurney had been assigned as a ship-builder and sailor in Australia. He eventually escaped from a ship built with his and other convict labor in Australia and sold to Hawaiians. When he found Douglas's body, he arranged for it to be taken to town, and he explained what had happened -- so there really seems little chance he had been guilty of murdering Douglas. Though never charged or accused by the authorities, he was accused in the public mind of this crime.

The monument dates from 1934, when members of the Burns Society in Hilo decided that there should be a memorial to a fellow Scot who had died 100 years earlier. They also planted some Douglas fir trees nearby, where they still stand in a most picturesque and beautiful wooded area around a 10-minute walk from the very rutted road.

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On the Monument
Our friend and host Peter told us many stories of the former inhabitants of this fascinating area on the slopes of the volcano while driving us along the extremely challenging wet road.

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We were enveloped in the clouds for much of our trip, and
saw the wisps of mist drifting past the trees as we looked for native birds.

Thursday, June 19, 2014


Our dive boat left Honokohau Harbor this morning around 8,
carrying all the gear for 8 divers and me, snorkeler.
Jeff, the captain, not only drives the boat and helps the divers, but also puts in a couple of fishing lines when time
permits. In the top photo, you can see the skyline of the Big Island. At right: a fish farm near the dive site. 
The dive briefing: dive-master Kerry (owner of Kona Diving Co.)
gives details on what fish the divers could hope to see.
Len about to plunge in.

I saw beautiful sun-lit coral heads while snorkeling, and one really crazy pink & yellow parrot fish that kept popping up from the coral and swimming in circles or darting at other fish. We returned to the dock around 1 PM. Everyone seemed happy except the one dry-suit diver who had an equipment failure and had to wait out the second dive.

Update: one of today's fish pictures from Len's dive:
For more pictures, see Len's photo stream on Flickr.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

As You Like It in the Arb

Dinner on the grass before the performance of "As You Like It"
by the Shakespeare in the Arb company.
As in former years, we brought a picnic.
Walking through the peonies to get to the first location: the
performance moves among the woods, glens, and fields of
the Arboretum.

Touchstone the Fool, the French maid, Rosalind, and Celia:
all played by fantastic actors.

The wrestling scene

The audience (musicians way in back).
We enjoyed a marvelous performance in what I think is the most perfect Forest of Arden imaginable!

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Hudson Mills Park, Dexter, Michigan

 In case it's not obvious, I finally have an iPhone, and I'm trying it out by taking photos in various scenic locations. A selfie was of course mandatory, though maybe I need to practice a less serious expression when I'm backed up to the scenery.

I'm also practicing other iPhone skills. Keying in the password fast enough to answer the telephone. (Update: Evelyn reminds me that you can answer the phone without entering the password. I knew that. Silly me.) Sending and receiving messages on the itty bitty keyboard. Reading mail while in formerly impossible places -- yes, I read my mail while walking through the park. No, nothing was urgent, though I did get a few new messages that I was glad to see. It's quite different from my old dumb phone: that would be the one I washed in the washing machine and dried in the dryer. I'll try not to do that to the iPhone.

A family of sandhill cranes were making their way past the basketball
and tennis courts as we walked by. These nearly 5-foot tall birds are now
residents of several of the Metroparks around us.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Downtown Ann Arbor on a beautiful June evening

Many people eating outside, walking on what's left of the sidewalks.

All those restaurants make a lot of trash!
Lots of people waiting at the Ark,
Lots of buses taking people somewhere or other.