Monday, November 12, 2012

BFF's in Baja!

By Lizzy S. (Racine, WI)
Do you ever wonder what it would be like going on a dream vacation with your best friend? Le me tell you from experience, it is amazing! When I first planned on coming to Baja with my school, I was ecstatic. A trip centered around marine biology and preserving the oceans was right up my alley. I knew I would have the time of my life! However, when I found out my best friend Mary, who is like a sister to me, was going, I was speechless. The list of things I knew we were going to experience together was endless and I knew that the amount of fun we were going to have would be incomprehensible. I was definitely right! Going into the trip I had never snorkeled, swam with sea lions, or even been in the ocean! Being able to experience these new wonders with someone as great as Mary was outstanding! We had so many laughs together. Whether it be the amount of times we accidentally breathed water into our snorkeles or us both falling down on the side of a mountain, laughs and smiles were always shared. This trip was amazing. Not only did I get to experience and learn new things that I am extremely interested in, but I also got to spend it with someone who is basically my twin and someone I could never live without, my best friend.

See photos of Lizzy and Mary's Trip here:!/media/set/?set=a.10150232999704360.334117.71847569359&type=3

Learn more about Baja Mexico Sea Quest:

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Being open minded in Mexico

Before I left for the trip, I was concerned about almost every thing from the flying, food, my ears, hiking, and snorkeling. I knew once I put these fears a side I would have fun and enjoy the trip. The night my group left I was busy all day so I could not just sit around and worry about the up coming flights. Once we reached the airport my fears really set in. I didn’t really want to get into the plane and fly. I was trying to keep in open mind and tell my self that It was going to be alright and just think about the end destination, a beach in Mexico.

Once we landed in Mexico, we had to go trough customs. Another fear of mine. I’m always afraid that I would be the one person who will be pulled aside and have my bags searched, I never have anything illegal, I got through that fine with out any problems. I kept an open mind and everything went fine. We got through customs with out any problems.

Then we met Tara, from then on I knew I was going to be fine. I had an open mind I had no fears, for the current time. Tara then took us to meet the group, who was going home. They were really nice and gave us some advice like watch were you step on the hikes. Than we were on our way to Cabo Pumo and they were on their way back home.

I was told by many friends not to eat anything fresh because of bacteria, So there I was worrying about is our food going to be fresh or is it going to be fried. I was trying to keep an open mind but I knew It could be a long week if I don’t like the food. Our first meal there was AMAZING, it was beef and some vegetables fried together and we put them on a tortilla shells. From then on I had an open mind and I knew the food was not going to be a problem. I don’t eat fish, but I kept my open mind and tried the fish there and I liked it. It did not smell like fish so I think that helped me be able to eat it and like it.
Abby during snorkeling checkout.

The next day we went to Fox canyon for a hike and to swim. I have weak ankles so I was concerned about falling and doing something to my ankles. This hike was fun, we got to see different types of Cati and plants. We also got to swim in two different fresh water ponds. It was so refreshing to get into the water, to cool off.
Snorkeling Checkout.

Group in Fox Canyon
After that we went to do the snorkel check out. I was looking forward to it. It was going well until my teacher got stung my a jelly fish, than I started to freak out. About the same time we started to working on diving down. I have never been a fan of diving because my ears are sensitive I can never get them equalized, (it took about 1 and ½ hours for them to equalize after we landed in Mexico). At this point I was certain I was just going to be floating on the surface looking at things from there. I was working on my somersaults and I got a cramp in my calf. The way Tara told me to stretch my calf out, I get cramps in my hip flexor. My closed mind was just farther proven right, I was not going to be diving and I will just float the whole time.

When snorkeling after that first day I got more comfortable in the water and soon was diving down to about 10 feet. As I would go farther down, I would become more open minded and wanted to explore more and dive more.
On our last night one of our dive leader Chabelo took us on a sunset hike. I wasn’t real up for hiking and did not really want to go, but I did. It was another time where I was closed minded about something. At first you have to step over a small stream of the Sea of Cortez, than climb the rocks. I hate rock climbing, so that was another reason I was closed minded about it and than we reach the first flat section of the hike, I did not realize we were already that far from our camp. The camp looked small but the people looked smaller. We took a bunch of pictures and than continued onwards. We reached the top and the view was SPECTACULAR! We could see for miles. We took for pictures and watched the sun set from there. On the way back down we went trough a little cave like thing. It was so cool! By this point I was so open to the hike. It was so much fun! I’m so glad that I went on the hike!
Sunset Hike

I’m so glad that I was able to go on this trip! I will remember it for the rest of my life, and I hope to one day return to the island and have more Green EDventures!
Abby taking a leap!

Abby D., IA

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Baja Mexico Sea Quest: A Teacher's Perspective by Kyla Burns

It’s not the place you travel, but the people you travel with that make the difference. I had the great opportunity to go on a grand adventure to Baja, Mexico. Along the way I saw roaming cattle, was introduced to bizarre cacti, hiked through dry deserts and photographed lush palms. I lived a life at sea, boating with my fellow travelers to our next adventure.

One of Kyla's students bonding with a wild sea lion at Los Islotes in Baja California, Mexico.
We saw whales, made waves for dolphins, identified native birds, and spent an intimate hour bonding with a young sea lion in the waters of the beautiful Los Islotes sea lion colony. Evenings were spent learning fish names and days were spent with exhilarating snorkel trips in search of the Coronet Fish, the Fanged Blenny and the Mexican Goatfish. And when the sun set, we feasted on a chefs feast on our private beach and settled into our tents to the sound of crashing waves.
Kyla and students making waves with dolphins!
As glorious as these experiences may sound, they are made special due to the company we shared. Tara is like a long lost old friend. So easy to talk to with humor that keeps us laughing. She assumes the position of instructor to the students, but is more like a friend sharing her passion for the ocean, for Mexico, and for conservation. She is the driving force behind Green Edventures and her passion is contagious.

Tara Short (Green Edventures) and Chabelo Castillo (Fun Baja)
By her side is Chabelo, dive leader for Fun Baja and instant friend to the participants. Chabelo leads snorkels into a world he is very familiar with. He guides hikes into places he has countless stories for. With the students, he plays volleyball, gives Spanish lessons, pilots their kayaks and by the end of the week, forms a bond with each one of them as they promise to keep in touch.
School of Mexican Goatfish.
Any person can travel to Baja. Any person can snorkel with fish, go whale watching and sleep on a beach. But not everyone can say they shared these experiences with two friends as great as Tara and Chabelo.  It’s not the place you travel, but the people you travel with that make the difference. That’s what sets this trip apart from the rest, and what will bring me and my students back each year.

Kyla next to a Sweet Pityha Cactus at Fox Canyon

Kyla Burns
Johnston High School Science Teacher
Johnston, Iowa

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Wild Wildlife All Around in Alaska by Molli Bichrt

I am 16 years old attending the Hudson High School and I participated in the Green Edventures trip to Alaska.  This coming year I will be a junior. I enjoy sports (such as soccer) and love to be outdoors.

July 9, 2010
We all awoke to a great surprise – sunshine! After eating a hearty breakfast, we hopped in the van and headed down to Resurrection Bay. We were loaded onto the boat the Stellar Sunrise and jetted off to Holgate Glacier. On our way, we had the pleasure of seeing sea otters, a humpback whale, sea lions, and puffins. The whale appeared several times and splashed out of the water through its blow hole. About 2 hours later, we arrived at the base of Holgate Glacier, where the glacial ice meets the ocean.

After the shock of how beautiful it was wore off, we ate lunch and learned about the glacier. it moves at a rate of 2ft per day. The water in close proximity to the glacier is so full of silt that a secchi disk could only be seen 9 inches from the surface. At this point in time, the sun slid behind the clouds and the wind started to gain speed so Captain Tanya thought it would be a smart idea to trek back to the calm waters of Resurrection Bay.

On our journey home, we viewed starfish, jellyfish, bald eagles, and several birds including marbled murelette, common mures, pigeon gilamonts, and black-legged kittwakes. At one point in time, a couple of Dall Porpoise swam along the bow of the boat. All around, it was a fascinating day full of wildlife and fun experiences.

Kayaking in a T-shirt Under Blue Sky in Seward by Alex Wakefield

My name is Alex Wakefield. I grew up in Hudson, WI and currently to still live there as a senior in high school. I work as a nanny and in my free time, which is very little, I like to baby sit, hand with friends and family, horseback ride, and to be outdoors. I came to Alaska with Green Edventures because it has so much to offer. It also has been a life long goal of mine. I’ve learned a lot.

July 10, 2010
Seward, AK
The morning of our kayak day started off with waking up with a blue sky and the sun shining downJ. After getting fitted into PFDs we headed down the road to launch the kayaks for a 6-mile journey to Caines Head State Park. Along the way we saw many kinds of birds, but we also saw sea otters up close. One I remember I could see eating an urchin.

As we paddled towards our destination, we got to see the coastline in detail. I was in awe that just 6 miles of coast has so much to look at. When we arrived at Caines Head, we parked our kayaks on the shore and headed on a 2-mile hike to the WWII bunkers. The view was amazing. We saw all of Resurrection Bay and across were snow covered mountains.

After eating lunch, we headed back down and journeyed back. My favorite part was not only getting to explore the bunkers but getting to be right on the water and enjoying being on the water in just a t-shirt! Overall, this was an awesome day and 16 (roundtrip) miles of fun.

Salmon, Science & Water, Alaska by Mac Parsons

July 9, 2010
Seward, AK

I was born and raised in Florida and moved to Wisconsin at the age of fourteen. This coming year I will be a junior at the Hudson High School. I really wanted to come to Alaska because I wanted to experience the outdoors and explore the mountains. The one thing I enjoyed the most was the hiking of Mount Marathon and learning about the natives in the Kenai Peninsula (photo: Mac at Exit Glacier).

Today has been fun. We learned about salmon, scientists, and water. At the end of the day we got out on the side of the road to pick weeds. Yeah, yeah, I know what you are thinking. Not one of the most fun days, right? Actually, it was really cool and interesting.

We went to a river to look at salmon and then we ran into an Alaskan mountain man/scientist (concerning salmon). He was a gruff dude but knew a lot about his “children.” His job is to net the salmon and then take them out of a holding area and check that they are healthy for spawning. He takes care of them like he was a father figure. He called them his kids and talked like he loved them very much. He was passionate about his career. It was so cool to see a hardworking Alaskan taking care of one of their most famous resources. In Alaska salmon are treated like gold-it’s Alaska’s most precious resource (below: Mac moving salmon to a holding tank at the hatchery).

Which leads me to our next activity… water testing! Boring, right? WRONG. It was so much fun to see how well Alaska takes care of its water sources which in turn takes care of the salmon. The main part of the water testing is to make sure that the water is healthy enough for the salmon to thrive. They test the pH, temperature, and other scientific stuff and we got to be the scientists and go behind the scenes and test the water! (below: water testing)

After that we had a little break then it was off to pick evasive weeds to help protect Alaska from harmful plants. We got the privilege of helping make Alaska a better place. We picked weeds that focused on the ox-eyed daisies. It might not sound fun, but think of it this way- you’re leaving your mark in Alaska by helping out  (photo: below group with many bags of Ox-eyed Daisies).

You might not be a part of Alaska, but Alaska will always be a part of you. No matter how small, you helped make Alaska a little better. Today was a good day, and it really helps to have a good group to make the experience a little richer.

Day with the Kenaitze, Alaska by Student Camden Droppo

I am your average outdoors man, I love to go fishing and hunting. I am going to be a junior at our high school after this summer. At the end of my freshman year I heard about this trip to Alaska, and it obliviously got my attention. My first thoughts we yeah right like I’d be going to Alaska in High School with out my parents. The funny part is here I am now writing my blog in our hostel at 1:30 in the morning. For any kids that read this take the chance to come up to Alaska. It will be something you will remember forever. For me the reasons I came up here was to experience the different cultures, go see how you feel climbing a glacier that makes you look like an ant from distance. Through this trip my favorite parts was visiting the Kenaitze and hiking to the bowl on Mount Marathon.

July 12, 2010
We forgot to set an alarm for today. It was funny I woke up at 7:55 a.m. I was still the first one up to eat like I usually am. Today was my day I was looking forward to this week. The main part was going to net salmon with the Kenaitze tribe. We first drove an hour to our first stop at K’Bec. It was a Kenaitze National Park just outside of Kenai. There we took a tour with one of the girls in the tribe. She showed us some old native homes which were called natish. In the homes it was a whole family including the grandparents. The grandparents in the family got there own room, because they deserved it from all the work they have done in their lives. Like me I got my own room too, but the kids in the tribes haven’t earned the right yet. It was interesting hearing our everything guide had to tell us. After our tour we got to do some arts and crafts. 

We made necklaces and at the end is an agate. It is said by the elders the agate’s are lucky and can bring luck to the one wearing it. I decide to wear this necklace at home as much as I can and test its luck out. We continued our to the town of Kenai. Our group got another tour of the town, and while on the tour of the town we saw a calf moose with its mom. They were being barked at by a dog and the mom charged at the dog. We had to leave to she wouldn’t charge us. We stopped by the Russian church, it looked very old. The priest looked very old school, with his long white beard. He told us about his beliefs and how their services worked. I am not a very religious person , but I enjoyed hearing what he had to say. Later after that we had some fun learning some dances. One was about a Raven and a man who needed an axe. The dances were more fun than I thought they were going to end up being. Finally the real fun was going to start. (Below: pulling in the nets)

We drove to the Kenaitze private beach where we’re going to net the salmon. Through the day we netted two hundred and fifty red or sockeye salmon, and one king or Chinook salmon. It was nice helping the natives catch there favorite food. In our free time we got to look for some of the lucky agates on ocean beach. I got to know two of the tribe girls named Allison and Josie (below).

 They were the girls who taught us the dances earlier in the day. The natives made our group a dinner, and it was amazing. They made salmon, chicken, rice, and this funnel cake like bread. After dinner we got to do all of the dances with the tribe. It was a lot of fun being apart of what they love to do. There was so much I could have put into this blog, but would end up being like five pages. I think I summed up the day by putting all my favorite parts. If I could I would come back and visit the tribe and those two girls I met every year. This was by far my favorite party of the Alaska Green Edventures Trip.