Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Hawaii is for the birds!
Sorry, no photos to share (I'm a film person, not a digital camera person). But for those who care, we had a wonderful week in Hawaii, and it was an especially good week for critter watching. Both my husband and I are huge animal lovers, so a large part of our trip was spent in birdwatching, turtle viewing, dolphin spotting, and other outdoor sports. We saw some wonderful animals, but I think my favorites of the birds were the francolins. They are partridge-like birds with large bodies and tiny heads, which makes them look very stupid. This appearance is seconded by their tendency to walk around in groups of 6 or 7 in an aimless sort of way, which is just hilarious to watch. I especially like the last guy who always has a "hey, wait for me!" moment and has to run to catch up with the rest of the crowd. They run surprisingly fast, which just makes it even funnier to watch. In fact they spend so much time walking around, I thought perhaps they couldn't fly -- or at least not very far. That myth went out the window the morning one of the local feral cats tried to pounce on one and that francolin took off like a supersonic jet.

Our morning viewing of the "francolin parade" was one of the daily highlights. My other favorite birds were the cute little Java Sparrows who took over the hotel bird feeder in bunches of dozens at a time.

One morning a pod of dolphins swam into the bay by our hotel and we spent about 30 minutes watching them do show-off acrobatics for the appreciative crowd. We also found a sheltered spot where the sea turtles go to sun themselves. Unfortunately getting there was like the Bataan death march and I ended up just this side of heat stroke from the hike. But it was worth it to see the turtles up close. They were so beautiful and peaceful that it was worth the nausea and general hideousness I felt for the rest of the afternoon. Thank heavens for large bottles of water, cold showers, and ice.

The one touristy thing we did was take a stargazing tour to the top of Mauna Kea where all the observatories are. It's 13,000 feet high, and damned cold. Thankfully they provide parkas and hot chocolate. (Go to Hawaii...wear a parka.) After watching the sun set from the summit, you come down a bit and they set up a telescope and you get to look at all sorts of cool things. The white smear of the Milky Way was clearly visible before the moon came up, and both Venus and Mars were hanging around...though avoiding each other. I'm glad I did it, but once was enough and the tour guide was truly annoying.

Other than that, we were lazy. We read a lot. We bought some great Hawaiian music. We drove to the other side of the island to see the house a friend of ours just bought (he's completely gone Hawaiian). We read some more. We had margaritas. We read. And then we read a bit.

All in all, a fine time. And no, I'm not glad to be back at work...

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