Friday, September 28, 2012

Arrived in Honolulu

Hawaiian Archipelago. Main Hawaiian Islands on the right with a chain of
atolls extending to the northwest from Kauai, Tern Is roughly midway from
Midway in French Frigate Shoals.
After a rather painful two hour delay at LAX, and a relatively brief five hour flight halfway across the Pacific, I now sit on standby at the Fish & Wildlife Service bunkhouse (recently changed to the more friendly sounding ‘guest house’) in Honolulu on the Hawaiian Island of Oahu. I share the house with the refuge manager of Tern Island (my soon to be home), fellow Tern Island volunteer, and four other volunteers that will be working on Laysan Island, another atoll further down the Northwest Hawaiian Island chain. We’re essentially going to be marooned on Tern for six months, with no visitation from any boats during our stay (aside from a possible visit from the US Coast Guard). To prepare for our adventure, we’ve been sorting out how much of what kinds of food six people require for 180 days with no fresh provisions; a daunting task to say the least. On top of this is our limited budget, forcing us to omit luxury items like bacon, lunch meat, and candy for essential items like canned chicken, butter, and a whole lot of flour. So far we’ve spent around 2,500 dollars with a remaining 1,500 to spare. Not much when you think about the price of food these days, especially on a remote island. This will be a huge difference from the food we received on the Farallones; where we would spend roughly 1,500 dollars every two weeks on fresh, tasty, healthy food. Eating at Tern will be all about protein and survival rather than splurging on quinoa and pecan pie.
 The past few days have are filled with packing food, drinking coffee, and getting in a morning and evening surf at Waikiki when I can. The water here is so amazingly warm and beautiful, if it wasn’t for the sheen of coconut sunscreen from all the tourists (literally it burns your eyes) this place truly would be paradise. Thanks to a hurricane off Mexico and the south swell it’s throwing at the islands, Waikiki has been producing clean chest to head high long rides; and thanks to Illana ( a former Farallon volunteer who lives in Honolulu) generously offering me her surfboard, I can enjoy these waves until my flight to Midway in a couple weeks. This morning’s surf was particularly scenic, with white lofty tropic birds buoyantly cruising overhead, green sea turtles raising their heads for a breath, and a golden sunrise beaming through a morning shower on the jagged volcanic cliffs of the interior. I won’t be allowed to surf on Tern, so I’m trying to fit in as much board time as I can, while still helping with all the necessary work of packing.

Shipping containers containing our food.