Sunday, June 09, 2013

Eleuthera, Bahamas

Today's the last full day on Eleuthera, Bahamas. Figure I should write this now before I get back to Minneapolis and get thrown back into the regular mix of things.

Lighthouse Beach, the most beautiful beach I've been to on Eleuthera. Spent 3 days there doing work. Look at those sand dune layer deposits, incredible!

"The three best-looking guys on the island", says Luis, a fish researcher from Mexico. My new friends at the Cape Eleuthera Institute (CEI). Niels (middle) is a past student at CEI, he was visiting for a couple of weeks before he sets on a 6 month backpacking journey through South America.

Sunrise view from my bedroom, go to bed and wake up every morning to the sound of wind and waves. No air conditioning at CEI, but no problem, this place is designed to always use the wind to flow through buildings.

Field trip to the middle part of Eleuthera, this was at the Glass Window, the narrowest point of the island. The Atlantic has whipped up some good storms in its past. Not too far from Glass Window are some very large boulders named The Cow and The Bull, those were deposited up a steep cliff and onto land by a tsunami.

Found a good place to snorkel on the south side of the island at Fourth Hole Beach. The corals have seen better days but still plenty of beautiful fish to look at.

A night out at the Conch Fest with Brady and Luis. We all have pineapple pie to go. It made a yummy breakfast next morning. Students at CEI had a booth at Conch Fest promoting eating the invasive lion fish. Students at CEI did a study that showed that almost half of conch harvested for human consumption are sexually immature, this means at this rate that conch can disappear in 25-30 years. So eat lion fish, not conch!
Oh and there's my 10L dry back which I started using as my purse, since I didn't bring one and it kept everything dry. At night in my room I started putting my snacks in there to keep them away from these tiny little bugs that found their way into my snack food one day.

Gary our cab driver in Nassau, Bahamas. A few of us had to stay overnight in Nassau, Bahamas on our way to Eleuthera. Gary was entertaining us with dual 15" subwoofers and told us we should eat at The Poop Deck. Poop Deck was delicious that evening.

Doing work at Lighthouse Beach.

Asia, Molly, and Me at the end of a long day of coring. The first several days on Eleuthera it rained and rained. After the 3rd day of solid cold rain I borrowed a wet suit instead of dealing with quick-dry clothes that don't ever dry if it rains all day and being soggy. I wore the wet suit all day and it worked like a charm. I also wore NRS Titanium kayaking booties for most of the field work. Walking in/out of water and over sharp karst terrain, and into some caves we explored, I couldn't think of a better shoe for the job. I also fell in love with my Stohlquist rash guard, with UPF 50 and long sleeves, I was protected from the sun and it felt so nice to wear in the field when it was 89F and real hot every day. I was very comfortable and way better than wearing a sticky t-shirt. Also essential was my Hyrapak. Several days in a row I would have that thing drained by 14:30 in the afternoon, not including the water I would drink from my water bottle. With the healthy food at CEI there were a few days where I had to add salt to my food. I felt like I wasn't retaining water and losing too many electrolytes. The cook staff at CEI were great, they made us field lunches every day. All the food in the dining hall was reminiscent of food that my Mom makes. I felt right at home.

View from the caves at Boiling Hole.
Well, it's been an interesting time here on Eleuthera. I've been driving every day on the left side of the road, too, I'm sure I'll quickly adjust back once in Minneapolis. I didn't get to ride a bike on Eleuthera as much as I liked. Looking forward to summer in Minneapolis and riding my bike again.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Grand Isle

It's that time of the year where patience runs thin when we get a new layer of snow. I'm just glad I got in a nice little ride yesterday. I subscribed to to keep me sane, too.
We got back from Louisiana last week, it's a beautiful but different place. Not sure why someone would want to live on a house on stilts. We spent a week surveying sand dunes in Grand Isle State Park, mapping out the changes that are happening to the barrier island, Grand Isle. I learned quite a bit about barrier islands and how sand dunes provide natural protection from storm surges. Jon and I worked with a professor from Rochester Community and Technical College, Dr. Moosavi, on this on-going beach restoration project. He started this project when he taught in New Orleans.
It's good training for me, since I will be spending a couple of days doing similar work on Eleuthera in the Bahamas. I'll be there for a couple of weeks end of May/early June as a lab TA to some student interns this summer. For the remainder of the 2 weeks on Eleuthera we'll be coring small lakes on the island. Then we come back to Minneapolis to the lab for the rest of the program and do various analysis on the sediment. On Eleuthera my group will be staying at the Cape Eleuthera Institute. It's a totally environmental campus. No napkins, 2 minute showers, re-using gray water, etc. It's going to be cool to see how it all works first-hand. Our group is overlapping what will be the end of a semester for a high school group that will be at the Institute. For the high school kids' "gym class", they have to train all semester for either a half-marathon or a 4 mile swim, so our group will be participating, too. I'm planning on the swim since I can still swim alright with having decent overall fitness and without serious swim training, however, I can't do the same with running. I'm not much of a runner anymore. The only other times I've done any open water swimming was on Hayden Lake in northern Idaho, with my friend Traci. We've done a 1 mile swim and a 6 mile swim. That was a long time ago! I miss living in the same state as her, sad. So I guess I need to find a place to do lap swim.

Writing down data.


Bunkhouse where we stayed at the state park, on stilts.

Oil rig, you could see a number of oil rigs on the horizon, too.

Jon getting a picture of a dolphin.

Bourbon St., at Pat O'Brians before the line got ridiculously long.

Arrgh, mate.

Still a handful of flood damaged homes in Lower 9th Ward from Hurricane Katrina, 2005.