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Daily Blog for Avery Sandborn


Day 18: 60 BPM

Posted on June 29, 2012 by Avery Sandborn

I spent the day in the lab processing data.  After many hours spent struggling to georeference the historical maps in Erdas, I finally came up with a system that worked.  I was able to georeference 7 maps/images to the recent World View data.  When I go back to the lab again, I can create orthophotos of the remotely sensed data and georeference those images too.

Matty took the lab groups on one last tour of the part of the NTBG that we haven’t seen yet.  It was full of beautiful water features and fountains that are all unique in their own ways.  My favorite feature was the oscillating fountain that fluctuated at 60 beats per minute.  Rumor has it that if you meditate there long enough, your heart rate will slow.  I should have brought my flute and I could have played some Mozart with this natural metronome!

After another great taco and burrito dinner, everyone headed back to the NTBG Research Center to give presentations on their projects.  Everyone seems to have a clear idea of their projects and I can already see results for many of them!  I think our final posters will definitely show how hard we’ve worked over the past few weeks.

Day 17: Hawaiian Triangle

Posted on June 27, 2012 by Avery Sandborn

After acquiring the prehistoric maps from yesterday’s museum trip, I started to process the data this morning.  By using the Erdas program, I can align the scanned maps to a remotely sensed base image that is already properly projected.  I spent most of the morning learning how to use the program, with Lawrence and Paul’s help.

In the afternoon, we drove back out to the vegetation grid to fly our own kite and hexacopter.  The kite was flying well, so we attached the camera to it and hoped for some awesome imagery.  Everything was going well until one small mishap.  The string that attached the kite to the anchor snapped, and with that, the kite (and camera) flew away into the Hawaiian wind.

In the blink of an eye, Sam and I both bolted for the jungle to go find the camera and kite.  Everyone was searching high and low, but to no avail.  All the tourists we passed reported no sightings of a fly-away kite, but we did end up fooling them into thinking we were from Kauai, since we were talking about our research instruments and sites (our work here is done).

Finally, we received a call from Drs. Lee and Lipo reporting that they had found the kite and camera fully functional and in tact.  Even more surprising, the crash site was also the crash site of our remote controlled plane that crashed last week.  Understandably, we decided not to fly the hexacopter, called it a day, and headed back to the house.

Day 16: Maps!

Posted on June 27, 2012 by Avery Sandborn

Dreams really do come true!  Mike and Burney took me and Sam to the Grove Farm Museum: a museum with tons of Hawaiian maps (and a billion cats roaming around)!  And if you don’t know by now, I LOVE MAPS.

We needed to digitize a few maps of Koloa and surrounding areas for our projects.  We hijacked a few framed maps from the wall, and sifted through a few file cabinets until we found the maps that were best suited for our needs.

One of the employees demonstrated how to scan large scale maps in order to georeference them.  After we slid the map upright under a plastic cover and clamped it down, we calibrated the color and focus of the image, then we scanned it!

Once I get back to the lab, I can georeference the maps and create various layers of the Koloa Field System and other archaeological features.  After leaving the Grove Farm Museum, the agriculture and vegetation teams drove to Kukuiula Boat Harbor to have a try at paddling outrigger canoes, an adapted Polynesian form of transportation.  It was a ton of fun and I’m glad that I had the chance to try it!  Then the professors took us out for burgers and fries at a small and delicious burger joint in Poipu.  I was glad to have a meal that I didn’t have to prepare myself or clean-up after!

Day 15: Productivity at it’s Best!

Posted on June 26, 2012 by Avery Sandborn

Dr. Wechsler and Dr. Lipo joined Team Archaeology for a team meeting at the house this morning.  We spoke about all of our research interests and what questions we can answer for the remaining duration of the REU.  My project is going to focus on what we can learn about Kauai’s landscape from past and present technologies.  Merging remotely sensed data from the field with historical maps will hopefully provide the NTBG and other archaeologists with a resource for future research and restoration projects.  I feel like I have a better understanding of my research project after meeting with my team, and how I can best contribute to research in Kauai.

Our team was the only group that went into the field today, so I felt like we got a lot of work done.  We took some data points at an ancient agricultural field and watched as Chuck and Dave flew the kite and plane over the fields.  We left the fields and traveled back to a heiau that we visited last week.  Sam and I placed a few targets scattered around the heiau so that georeferening would be easy and accurate.  The plane and kite flew above the heiau in addition to the agricultural fields we went to earlier.

The archaeology team was the first team to arrive home, so we cleaned the entire house and started dinner.  Our dinner was excellent and we had time to write our group blog which can be found on our wiki page!  I’m excited to travel to the library tomorrow with Sam to retrieve some literature and historical maps for our projects!

Day 14: Ouch.

Posted on June 25, 2012 by Avery Sandborn

In yesterday’s post I talked about how my mom told me Waimea Canyon was “the thing” to see in Kauai.  I’m going to go ahead and just throw it out there, that the trip to Nualolo Kai topped the canyon and most anything else you can think of.  We woke up at 4:45am to catch the Zodiac Tour to and arrived to the park at 7:30am.  Nualolo Kai is an isolated beach, accessible only by a 20 mile boat ride since it is surrounded by towering cliffs.

The boat ride was a knee-slappin’ good time.  The Zodiac ride was basically an hour long roller coaster with no seat-belts.  My hands were extremely stiff and sore (wound 1) from clutching the ropes because we had to sit directly on the edge of the boat, but flying through through the sea-misted air full speed ahead was so much fun.  After the captain toured us around some neat caves, the boats were tethered just beyond the shore line.  We had to wade through the water to shore and establish an assembly line to bring in all the gear.  As soon as we set-up a base camp on the beach, a few of us began using some archaeological techniques on a grassy patch of the beach.  GPR (Ground Penetrating Radar) measures the composition of the ground up to 3 meters below the soil, and I’m sure this technique is directly applicable to the archaeology team research.  I did get a few battle wounds on my legs from walking through the thick brush while using the GPR (wound 2).

After a morning of science, I took advantage of this perfect beach, un-invaded by tourists and technology.  I kept my snorkel gear from yesterday’s outing, a wise choice since the snorkeling here is fantastic.  A few of us swam out past the coral reef and snorkeled for about 45 minutes until we found ourselves on the other end of the beach.  There weren’t as many fish at this beach compared to Poipu Beach, but the vibrant coral and humongous sea turtles were amazing to swim by.  I’m so glad I rented the snorkeling gear for today’s adventures, but I came out with a big red sunburn on my back (wound 3) and some cuts and bruises on my hands and legs from the slippery and sharp rocks along the shore (wound 4).  Once we got out of the cold ocean, we encountered a warpath of boulders that were much too hot to walk on.  So we settled for a nice warm pool near shore that was very hot-tub-esque.

I also participated in some beach yoga led by Ali and Ryan.  Doing yoga on the beach made it feel like I was in a commercial for one of those perfect picturesque resorts you see on TV all the time.  I’ve never really done yoga before, so I definitely came home with a few aches in my body (wound 5).   The scenery at Nualolo Kai was epic.  There were some awesome natural features carved into the cliff wall, an ancient heiau, and turquoise water to take a swim in.

My roommates (Kate and Ali) decided that we will return to Nualolo Kai when we’re 80, wearing those tacky “60-Year-REU-Reunion” shirts.  Our boats arrived to pick us up around 6pm and I rode that roller coaster one last time.  At the end of the day, all the battle wounds were completely worth it, and I wouldn’t change a thing.

Day 13: Shoobies

Posted on June 24, 2012 by Avery Sandborn

Ahh, a day to be a tourist, or as those Rocket Power fans would say, a shoobie!

Pretty much every day before I left for Long Beach, my mom would call me and say, “If there’s only one thing you do while you’re in Kauai, go to Waimea Canyon.”  Well today, her wish came true.  The grad students whisked us away at 8am to drive to the canyon.

The beautiful neon mountains and plants were a striking contrast to the red rocks and cliffs they lay upon.  As we approached Kalalau Lookout, the fog and clouds made it feel like I was approaching the end of the world.  Waimea Canyon is a sight to be seen.

After a week of being on Kauai, we finally got the full “shoobie effect” by spending the afternoon on Poipu Beach.  I rented snorkel gear from the local surf shop and snorkeled for the first time.  It was more difficult than I imagined; I felt like a five-year old flailing in the ocean.  But later that day, my second attempt was much more successful.  We ate a good BBQ dinner thanks to our NTBG grill!  The night ended standing on a small island watching the sun set behind a few rolling hills.

A typical day in the life of a shoobie.

Day 12: The Quarry

Posted on June 24, 2012 by Avery Sandborn

Burney lead Team Archaeology through the quarry located just beyond the cave and agricultural fields.  The quarry is a beautiful area that houses many endangered and invasive species.  There were numerous rock piles reminiscent of other heiaus, as well as blockaded caves that supposedly guard possible grave sites and other archaeological areas.  There were tons of different kinds of rocks that held extinct land-snail fossils and other clues to the ancient land.  The wetlands in the quarry are the strangest habitats that I think I have ever been in.  The ground is covered in white algae that reminds me of a huge crunchy spider web.  I saw the endangered Hawaiian Stilts that only live in the ephemeral ponds where they do not have to compete with fish for food.

We hiked around the base of the quarry until lunch.  Our favorite local lunch spot once again mesmerized me with serene ocean waves and melodious chicken squawks.  We then toured around the upper area of the quarry to gain an overall perspective of the various habitats and terrains of the quarry.  Hopefully with the help of the GRAM Archaeology team, Burney can begin restoration efforts for the quarry.

After we finished hiking the quarry, we joined up with the vegetation team to watch the launch of the Gatewing X100.  The plane successfully launched 2 out of 2 times!  I’m disappointed though, my camera battery died seconds before the launch, so I don’t have any footage or images of the flight.  Check out some other blogs for images/videos though!

After a long day in the field, we came home to a broken house.  Our cable had been out for a while after trying to play an old VCR tape that failed to work.  The microwave was broken, and the porch had been damaged the night before while doing yoga!  And to top it all off, the internet wasn’t working!  Blogging was put on a temporary hold that lasted until the next night.  But the whole house did enjoy a night at home to catch up with each other and chat about life.

Day 11: Why did the chicken cross the road?

Posted on June 22, 2012 by Avery Sandborn

If you want to know the answer to this question, I guess you’re just gonna have to read on!

Today was our first “lab” day in Kauai (it was the first day that no one jumped in the shower when we got home!).  All groups traveled to the research center for a cool and relaxed day inside.  Team Ag (Sam, Lawrence, John, and I) spent the morning creating an orthophoto of the heiau pictures from yesterday’s kite imagery.  The imagery ended up working really well, although we weren’t able to export our work because we were only using the demo version of PhotoScan.  In the screenshots below, you can see a small sample of photos from the kite.  The labeled blue polygons above the image show where the photos were taken with regard to the angle and elevation of the kite.  Once we can export the orthophoto, we can import it into ArcGIS in order to create a digital elevation model and perform other data analyses.

Paul also taught us how to use the GPS Pathfinder Office program for importing data from our handheld GPS units.  This will definitely come in handy when we need to import the perimeters and points of interest of different archaeological features in the land.  After a quick lunch, my team joined Drs. Lee and Wechsler, Burney, and Ted to survey some areas that may suit the Gatewing X100 launch.  This plane is completely self-controlled and completes launches, flight paths, and landings by itself.  If the weather permits, I think we will be able to launch the Gatewing tomorrow!  We also drove to another heiau that is an an official Hawaiian archaeological preserve.  Sam and I took some data points at it since we will probably not be able to fly any of our equipment over it.

Alright, here’s a trivia question for you.  Where was this photo taken?  CSULB or Kauai?

If you guessed CSULB, think again!  Although this deli uses the exact same font, colors, and words as the CSULB logo, it’s actually a little deli that we stopped by at Poipu Beach.  The professors bought Team Ag some shaved ice and ice cream (shout-out to Dr. Wechsler!), and we had a great time at this little CSULB corner of Kauai.  While eating our cold treats, a few chickens started to linger in the street.  We were overly concerned that they would get run over, but Burney saved the day.

And thus, I have finally solved the mystery of why chickens cross the road: Burney chases them!

Day 10: If we knew what we were doing, it wouldn’t be called research

Posted on June 21, 2012 by Avery Sandborn

Today, the agriculture group (with the help of the vegetation group) began tackling the heiau project.  We flew both the remote controlled plane and the kite to obtain some aerial imagery.  John, Sam and I tried to obtain our own images by taking photos from a small camera on the top of a huge pole.  The goal was to photo-synth the images together to create one giant orthophoto.  Unfortunately, it was rather difficult to  take the picture… The image often caught me on camera or  were blurred from the winds.  The images were also small and warped since the camera was a fish-eye lens only a few feet off the ground; capturing the entire area would be incredibly time consuming.  Although our makeshift camera probably will not help us in mapping the heiau, we did learn a lot from the process.

After another beach lunch, we helped two University of Hawaii students fly the plane and kite over the vegetation grid and sinkhole.  It’s really exciting when the plane takes off successfully, especially since more times than not the engine fails to start or the wind hinders the plane from flying.  You can see the beginning of a successful flight in the image below!  The kite was towed by the pickup truck across some agricultural fields.  Hopefully, these fields will be the launch site for the Gatewing X100 over these next few days.  This expensive plane has it’s own launcher and completes automatic flyovers without the use of a remote controller.

The agriculture group was in charge of making dinner tonight, so when we got home we planted ourselves in the kitchen.  Our orange chicken was delicious and the clean-up was easy since we basically cleaned up as we cooked.  We had a fun night hanging out and are looking forward to spending the day in the research center to get a handle on our individual projects.

Day 9: Kauai’s Past

Posted on June 20, 2012 by Avery Sandborn

David Burney began our day with a tour of the Makauwahi Cave.  He lead us through a small opening at the north end of the cave that spread out to a large sinkhole only a few meters off the beach.  The other end of the sinkhole opened into a large cave with many different passages and rooms.  Although we weren’t allowed to walk through the smaller rooms, I could feel the eerie and spiritual presence as I stood humbly in this cave.

In the afternoon, everyone hiked up the ridge past the sinkhole.  We passed an awesome vantage point on the cliff that overlooked these huge extinct duck footprints on a boulder in the ocean.  Turns out these giant ducks were the original animals that grazed the land in prehistoric times; and the turtles from yesterday are their designated replacements in modern times.  The final stop on the hike ended at an ancient Hawaiian temple called a heiau.  My team took advantage of this amazing archaeological masterpiece.  Sam and I took the perimeter of the rocky area so that we can later identify it on maps, separating it from natural rock formations.  Most of the rocks at the temple had lichen on them, whereas the surrounding rocks did not.  Lichen on rocks is usually results from long-term, stationary rocks, which is indicative that these temples may have existed in prehistoric times.  Although we didn’t stay at the heiau long, our team is heading back tomorrow to take more measurements.

We had a lecture by Chuck Blay at the NTBG research center later in the night.  He lectured on the evolutionary history of the Hawaiian islands.  He spoke about many different geologic features of Kauai, such as Waimea Canyon, Lihue Basin, and Mount Waialeale.  I really hope we get the chance to visit these stunning places during our stay in Kauai.

About Avery Sandborn

I am a rising senior at the University of Maryland-College Park. I am a double-degree candidate in Geographic Information Sciences and Flute Performance. Go Terps!