Time Difference

Last night, I slept from 6PM Hawaii time (11PM EST) until 5AM Hawaii time (10AM EST). It was the longest I’ve slept in years, I have not adjusted to the time change and not sure if I will within the week I’m here. With that being said, work picked up yesterday and I couldn’t do as many adventures, but did sneak a couple activities into the day.

It was windy yesterday, like the kind of windy that would rip a kite off the strings. I wanted to hit up a beach and try snorkeling, but the waves were pretty angry, so I thought better of it. I drove across a long lava field that may have violated several provisions of my rental car agreement:

img_0779

Finally arriving to a secluded beach with tons of interesting tide pools. By the way, what is up with these Hawaiian names, couldn’t they have called this beach Ka’Elehulu, it seems a little over the top to call it Ka’Elehuluhulu, they should have gone the extra mile and called it Ka’Elehuluhuluhuluhulu

img_0767

I touched a snake last week, but I wasn’t going to touch these things

img_0770

Here’s a rock with tons of those purple things

img_0772

I’ve seen these shells in beach towns, but never came across a live one.

People use the volcanic rock to send messages, here was one of my favorites:

img_0778

I also drove up to an enormous waterfall, but couldn’t find a way to get much closer. It is on the very right of the shot, falling down the cliff into the ocean.

img_0780

 

Big Island Hawaii

I am in Hawaii for work. When I am not working, I run as fast as possible to the car and find adventure. First stop, Volcano. This was worth the trip alone, I am a Hawaii believer and would encourage anyone to see it. It is worth the price of admission. The first three pictures are from an observatory near the top rim, they don’t let you get closer to that very active crater because of the poisonous gasses and perhaps possibility that lava would shoot out.

img_0735img_0734img_0738

The Volcanoes National Park has other volcanoes and volcano related hikes, I found one that briefly took me through a rain forest and then into a lava tube. I first came across this bird:

Here’s the lava tube:

An image taken inside the tube:

img_0742

Then I found a little trail near my parking spot that just went steeply downhill, I decided to investigate. I was going back and forth on rapidly descending switchbacks through a tropical rain forest, it was gorgeous and I was picking up speed and adrenaline. I saw this sign, which made me pump the breaks a little:

img_0744

Eventually, I emerged at the floor and this was my view:

img_0748img_0750

It was a somewhat dormant volcanic crater, I decided to press forward:

img_0758img_0747

Since there are no trees to mark with paint, a small sign advised to follow stacked rocks to stay on safe ground and away from the steam vents emitting toxic gas. It was still surprising easy to get close to the harmful gas, the wind was blowing it away from me, so I took a quick video below.

Here’s an image of the volcanic rock.

img_0752

A selfie to prove I was there:

img_0763

Amazing place, can’t wait to see more.

A Snapshot of 2017 So Far

A resting passenger on our way back to my parents for Christmas.

img_0653

We went to Cleveland last weekend, I stopped at the Great Lakes Brewing Company (which is very, very good and receives the highest endorsement from me), here’s a creative use of a tap handle on the bathroom door.img_0717

A stretch of the public market in Cleveland, could have enjoyed the atmosphere all afternoon.

img_0714

Of course we hit up the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, I loved it and the kids enjoyed it too!img_0712img_0705

Happened to have a lovely view of Las Vegas from my room the other weekend.

I think we can all get behind Dalia’s BioPoem!

img_0664

My place setting at Mel’s Diner in San Francisco, a good way to start the day.

img_0632

We had unseasonably warm January weather in Cleveland (61 degrees), resulting in long lines to Mitchell’s Ice Cream…it was well worth the wait. You can also look into the factory and see how the ice cream is made/packaged. It was a nice little stop.

img_0718

Went hiking last Sunday. The Slippery Rock Creek is swollen with rain.

Nearly stepped on a Garter Snake, it was motionless on the trail. I picked it up and he started to move around. I set him on a fallen tree and found him there about an hour on my way back. I moved him again in a more discreet hiding place. It must not be fun to be a snake in the winter.

Something Important To Me

It is 2017 and we now have a new President, I wish him the best of luck.

With that being said, I am concerned about this recent article I read:

“Representative Ryan Zinke of Montana, President-elect Donald Trump’s nominee for secretary of Interior, on Tuesday said he would consider an expansion of energy drilling and mining on federal lands but would ensure sensitive areas remain protected.

The former Navy SEAL sought to outline a measured approach to the job of managing America’s national parks, forests and tribal lands during a four-hour Senate confirmation hearing that was mostly cordial, lacking some of the hot-tempered grilling that has marked other sessions to vet Trump’s cabinet nominees.”

http://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-congress-zinke-idUSKBN1511DQ

Here’s another article that suggests there might be drilling within National parks:

http://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-trump-energy-nationalparks-idUSKBN14V1EP

Donald Trump ran under the tagline of “Make America Great Again”, but America’s outdoors and parks are already magnificent, I would argue that America’s most unbelievable and majestic asset is the varying landscapes and parks that it offers. For all of us that work hard every week, it is so wonderful to sneak out onto a trail or hop into a boat onto a creek or river, this beauty is the perfect counterweight to the Walmarts, Sunocos, and McDonalds we see on every corner.

Logically, I do not understand why it is important that we open up national parks for drilling because our current gas prices are super low due to the overwhelming supply that already exists. In fact, the only reason prices recently nudged up a little is because OPEC is reducing supply ( https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-11-30/opec-said-to-agree-oil-production-cuts-as-saudis-soften-on-iran) and several US suppliers closed wells due to the lack of unprofitable operations with the low oil prices (http://www.offshore-mag.com/articles/print/volume-76/issue-6/gulf-of-mexico/low-oil-prices-continue-to-take-toll-on-drilling.html). Supplying oil does NOT seem like it is a problem, in fact, it seems like oil supply is the problem, there is too much and it is driving down the price too much and no one is making money.

But let’s assume that we are now very worried about oil supply, is fracking the right answer? Well, people need to first consider the earth quakes. Oklahoma does a lot of fracking and as their fracking has increased, so have their earthquakes. Earthquakes and Oklahoma are two things you do not normally associate with each other, for good reason, because in 2008, only 2 earthquakes occurred. However, once fracking began picking up, that number rose to 889 in 2015 and was 572 as of November 2016 ( http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/2016/11/07/oklahoma-earthquake-fracking-well/93447830/).

The earthquakes are pretty small and maybe that’s just an Oklahoma thing. Someone might say, “if fracking is done right, it is perfectly fine, it can be totally safe”. That might actually be true, but the problem is that people do the fracking and people have an amazing capacity to make mistakes. We know the big issues like the BP Oil Well Explosion in the Gulf of Mexico, we know the Exxon Valdez, but even more common are dumb truck crashes and spills that cause the toxic wastewater to spill out into lakes and streams. For example:

This article happened in my township in Pennsylvania:

http://www.post-gazette.com/local/marcellusshale/2014/04/22/Washington-County-crash-sends-fracking-water-in-stream/stories/201404220103

Here’s a Washington Post article about wastewater somehow leaking from storage wells:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/energy-environment/wp/2016/05/11/this-mystery-was-solved-scientists-say-chemicals-from-fracking-wastewater-can-taint-fresh-water-nearby/?utm_term=.a43a6cd85ef3

Here’s an article about wastewater spilling from a drill site and wiping out a species of fish in Kentucky:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/08/28/fracking-fluid-kentucky-fish_n_3832139.html

Here’s a Popular Mechanics article about a Pennsylvania well site that overflowed, which caused the toxic water to spill everywhere and get into a local creek and possibly in resident’s drinking wells.

http://www.popularmechanics.com/science/energy/a6597/pennsylvania-fracking-accident-what-went-wrong-5598621/

This last site is admittedly some conservationist concerned about fracking, but the list of Pennsylvania creeks (14 of them) harmed by fracking wastewater spills checks out:

Big Poisons, No Plan: List of PA Streams with Frack Fluid Spills

My last problem with all of this is that once the companies drill this stuff, they leave. Do you know when you buy a home in Pittsburgh, you are encouraged to buy Mine Subsidence Insurance? My realtor said, “Yeah, people have mined all under Pittsburgh for over 200 years and chances are there are mines under your home or near your home. Sometimes those mines collapse and the land caves in and that really will mess up your house, you can buy Mine Subsidence Insurance to get money if that happens to you.” I could not possibly conceive that the scenario she outlined was actually possible, but sure enough, here’s Pennsylvania’s website encouraging residents to buy it:

http://www.dep.state.pa.us/msiHomeowners/

These companies disappear, they do not stick around to clean up the mess, I never received any benefit from this mining under my house, but I did inherit the possibility that my house may cave in and now have to pay more to protect this asset.

As you know, I love the outdoors, I love hiking and fishing and I have my own personal experience with gas drilling and how it negatively impacted a park that I enjoy. I was walking through Mingo Creek Park on a trail with Benny and Rosie. All of the sudden, the trails smelled terrible, like methane gas. I could hear the earth bubbling and hissing and I could not figure out what the hell was going on. I looked deep into some pricker bushes (they call them jagger bushes in Pittsburgh) and found this marker, the sound and presumably the smell was emerging near this sign. Turn on your volume and hear for yourself.

I crawled into the bushes, found the company name and tried to call them to notify them of the issue. The line was disconnected, the company no longer exists, but we still have the problem, gas polluting the air, who know what it can do to the environment or if it is flammable, but it is still there is you want to see it.

img_0529

So, please Mr. President, think twice before we drill in National parks. When people say drilling is safe and it does not harm the environment, that is total bull, it happens all the time and this land must be protected, it is the one thing that everyone agrees makes America great already.

Jannnnnnuuuuuaaaarrryyyyyyyy

2017 has been insane and full of possibility!

January has already taken me to Dallas and this weekend I am off to Las Vegas. Later this month, I have to go to Hawaii. Unfortunately, work is also requiring early mornings and long nights and the travel has made my weekends disappear. In short, it is not a sustainable proposition. While Jaclyn has been sympathetic thus far, I better get this under control or I will be sleeping on the couch very soon.

I have never been to Hawaii before and the island I’m going to will have an active volcano. This trip takes place at the end of the month and I will do my best to report often as I hope to really take advantage of every minute that I have on the island when I am not working.

I gotta go, I feel like the rabbit in a hurry in Alice in Wonderland.

Image result for rabbit alice in wonderland

New Year – 2017

Happy New Year everyone!

We finished the year with a pretty exciting party at the Deem residence, the whole neighborhood came over and we had a wonderful time counting down and watching the ball drop!

There was a little bit of unanticipated excitement early in the evening. We locked Benny, our big black Labrador retriever upstairs in the spare bedroom until most guests had arrived, otherwise he would go crazy with excitement each time a new person would walk in the door. Well, about 15 minutes into the party, Jaclyn noticed something dripping through the kitchen ceiling onto the food she was making for the party (meatballs, mini hot dogs, cheese, etc.). She may have said something like this:

“I do not even want to know what is causing this to happen, but Robert, liquid is dripping from the ceiling onto my kitchen!”

Understanding the principles of gravity, I headed upstairs directly above the kitchen and found Benny standing in an enormous puddle of his own urine. It traveled down a couple of steps, found a crack sufficiently porous to drain through the ceiling and it dripped out a little hole in the kitchen ceiling with a recessed light bulb onto the stove.

Jaclyn threw away about 5 lbs of food, cleaned the entire kitchen, and made a new batch of everything and the rest of the party went by without a hitch. We initially intended for Benny and Rosie to be in the kennel that night, but they were closed on New Year’s Day and I felt like it was too much to have him out of the house for 2 nights for a single party. I miscalculated.

A couple New Year’s Resolutions:

  1. Blog more consistently
  2. Camp more often
    1. Would like to try to canoe down Allegheny River and camp on various islands
    2. Would like to try bicycling down the Great Allegheny Passage and staying at a hotel or two
  3. Winston just got a GoPro for his birthday, would like to make sure he continue has enough experiences to make good videos throughout the year
  4. Get Jaclyn to Canada (that is where she wants to go on vacation at some point)

I do have a premonition that this year will result in a professional inflection point for me, I am still uncertain what will happen, but I feel confident that I’ve worked hard enough for the turning point to be a positive one.