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CSULB Geospatial Research and Mapping (GRAM) Field Program
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Ouch

Posted on June 24, 2013 by Courtney

Today, I got burned by a flame 92,960,000 miles away. Not fair.

And being that I’m sunburned and just remembered right now that I forgot to blog yesterday, my apologies in advance for the succinct nature of this post.

Yesterday, like the day before, involved a lot of swamp-stomping, only this time I was actually in a swamp, full of water and mud and mangrove-type trees with creepy roots that hang down from above as they grow their way toward the floor. This swamp was weird, too, because it also had garbage, saltwater and chickens. The garbage was just unpleasant, and the chickens startled me (seriously, what are chickens doing in a swamp?), but what I was really interested in there was the saltwater, and boy did I find it.

The thing is, I almost didn’t, because my practice with the conductivity meter so far has been to measure near the surface, because it’s an easy way to standardize the measurements between points. The problem with that, though, is that saltwater sinks to the bottom while freshwater floats on top. This meant that my initial reading was only 4.0 mS (milli siemens), which is about double the conductivity of drinking water, while the reading at a lower depth taken at the same point was up to 30, which is beginning to near oceanic salinity. With this discovery at the first point, I realized that I would have to take two recordings at every point if I wanted to get accurate data. That being said, it took me a bit longer than I would have liked, and I even had to climb trees periodically when I completely lost all GPS satellites due to the thickness of the canopy. But when I put in the data later last night, there were some interesting trends that I’m excited to look into tomorrow when I have more time and a fresh (not exhausted) mind to think about them.

Today was our full day off, and we had a lot of freedom and a lot of options between all the different cars, which was incredibly awesome. I went with Briton, Emily, Scott and Shelby to Makapu’u after Scott told us that it was his favorite hike. It was a pretty simple, paved climb to the top, where there were beautiful views, some World War II bunkers, and a lighthouse. But the real attraction was down below, some 350 feet down a cliff face that was only just suitable for climbing (for me, that is): the tide pools. Being from the Midwest, I don’t get to experience ocean wildlife or ecosystems all that often, so I was thrilled just to be seeing them in the first place. But then it turned out that we could also swim in them! The tide pools were relatively calm, though there were huge waves hitting the rocks all around us. There was even a sort of geyser-like explosion of water at a point where the rocks were open all the way to the sea level some ten feet below, but in a very narrow channel. When the waves hit hard, there came a few second delay and suddenly the little open space turned into a firebreathing dragon. The other surprise of these massive waves was one we discovered the hard way: that when they hit the rocks, the waves sometimes turn into an arcing spray of water 15 feet high that rains down upon you. This serves as a warning for what comes next, because the same force that powers that wave up in the air also comes rushing in over the edge of the tidepool, sweeping everything there with it toward the cliff face, including people. Better we get forces inward than dragged outward, but it was still unpleasant to be forcibly pummeled against rock walls, and occasionally involuntarily transferred to new pools via unusually slippery rocks that provide no hand or footholds whatsoever. Despite the inevitable discomfort of this, though, we thought it a fine adventure and left happy and satisfied with our first half of the day.

The second half was more relaxed, and involved several hours spent laying on the beach in Waikiki in total apathy and contentment. It was nice to see the more touristy side of Hawaii that you always hear about in people’s vacation stories and though it was crowded, I enjoyed the change of pace a lot. Unfortunately, the rest of me didn’t have the same experience, because I apparently failed at applying sunscreen as pervasively and as repeatedly as necessary. The final result is that I am now pink and sore, and apparently very entertaining to Shelby who has been laughing at me all day because I have handprints on my back (except that she just realized she got sunburned as well, so I think we’re all equals in this). I have no idea how I’ll feel in the morning, but right now, despite the pain, I’m very content with how the day was spent, and it was a much-needed slip away from reality. Before I find something to complain about, I’m just going to go to sleep happy and warm in my sleeping bag. Goodnight!

 

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