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.

Mount Marathon Hike, Alaska by Green Edventures' Student Andy Klanderman

July 8, 2010

Hello, my name is Andy Klanderman and I live in Hudson, Wisconsin. Ever since my grandma and grandpa came back from Alaska in 2002 and brought me a picture book of Alaska I fell in love with it. It has always been my dream to go to Alaska and explore all of its wonders since then.(Photo right: Andy (the author) and fellow students Mac and Camden).
All the guys woke up this morning getting all ready for the day and then we realized that I forgot to change my clock so we got up two hours early. Started off the morning with homemade muffins and some cereal. After our stomachs were content, Tara told us we’re going to hike Mount Marathon, which was surprising for me because it’s only our second day here, but YES! J The hike was only a couple of blocks away from where we’re staying (The Moby Dick). We started the hike through the temperate rain forest which is really eerie. The tall pines block any sun from peeking in and the floor is layered with wet devil’s club (which is basically a pricker bush). As the group worked their way up the mountain, the view grew increasingly incredible. Tara told us that every look out was an even better scene than previous which encouraged all of us up the steep slopes. On the way up we were all looking around and usually guessing about all the different flowers (I got some really neat photos). We reached the bowl and it was like the gates of heaven opened. The sun shining off the snow peaks while the river rushes to meet the ocean below. The ridged rocks were extremely fun to jump on and be like a little boy again. (Photo below: Andy, Kelsey & Alex in the bowl at Mt. Marathon)

(Photo above: Andy sketching glacier features during a "class" on glaciology. We spotted two goats on the mountain and a few marmots roaming around. The decent down was a blast. Dane and I parkoured the entire way down and we felt like real MEN! (But we didn’t have any beard money) The group had the rest of the mac and cheese and chili. Next on our list was to visit a Native tribe called the Qutekcak (Cut-two-check). There we learned about the Alaskan Native Olympics game. It’s so intense. The sports represent the ways of the nativces. Camden made it and succeeded through all of the different sports. After the culture shock we had free time which we used to our advantage… of course. The guys went down to check out the harbor which again is like a totally different world. The smell hit us all hard when we sucked in the fish and salt water aromas. As our eyes were checking every sail and boat out we had to pinch ourselves to remind us that this is REAL and not just a dream. Once free time was up, we headed back to the hostel for supper (stir-fry). The last adventure of the day was Exit Glacier. We took the van over there which was nice because we got to see a part of Seward we haven’t seen before. We traveled through the hills until we got to the glaciers. It was like we were looking at a calendar-the river flowing free from beneath the glacier’s tight grip. Tara gave us some really cool and helpful facts about glaciers, but it was different than other regular facts because it wasn’t just word, we could honestly see what we were learning about. Such as fun filled adventure day! Thanks Alaska.

Friday, July 16, 2010

From Sand to Snow: North-South Adventure by Student Jackie Mantione

I am Jackie Mantione (left); I am sixteen years old and from Orlando, Florida! I discovered Green Edventures from an internet search engine. This past summer I went with Tara on the North South Adventure. That is a two week program where for the first week you spend it in Baja, Mexico and the next week is spent in Seward, Alaska. The north south adventure is definitely a perfect opportunity to discover two completely different regions and get all the perks of a great week you could be missing out on. Being able to spend a week in Mexico was truly a week paradise. Activities ranged from snorkeling with sea lions to hiking on a mountain that still has remains from over one hundred years ago and is still considered a “private” site because Archaeologists are still revealing new things there. In Alaska you do a lot of activities where you have fun and help out the little populated town of Seward like hiking, animal watching, and investigating and getting rid of invasive plants.
In Mexico you arrive at the airport, and then you take about an hour and a half car ride to the city of La Paz, where you get to eat lunch, get your snorkeling gear, and load onto the boat. After that you take another hour and a half boat ride to the point called Espiritu Santu, where you stay on a little private island called Ensanada Grande. This island is perfect because you have mountains around you are literally sleeping in a tent on a beach! If you ever thought you have been to heaven on earth, you haven’t experienced anything yet. Then in the mornings you would go on an adventurous activity like snorkeling, scuba diving, or hiking a mountain. On the activities you learn so many things! It is amazing to hear about what everyone knows about their surroundings like animal behavior and flower growths. After about five days on Ensanada Grande you pack your bags and go to another beautiful escape called Cabo Pulmo. There you get to go snorkeling on a reef right on the beach! Also, you get to go to a private freshwater waterfall where you are sure to have the best time of your life! Getting to know all the workers, experiencing all the excursions, and learning the Mexican Culture is definitely something you cannot experience if you were to do a trip not with this amazing company!
In Alaska you get to travel to a cute and small little town called Seward, which has a population of about 2500. There you get to go on amazing kayak tours, hiking with the view you have to see it to believe it, help out a conservation center to do something good for a community and do something good for yourself. In Alaska everywhere you turn is a picture opportunity. Pictures can show how pretty something in Alaska is, but in my opinion, pictures don’t do Alaska any mercy. Every excursion you do gives you an amazing workout and can seem a little tiring, but everything is so worth it in the end. You will forget about every inch of soreness or tiredness you feel when you see Alaska from the top of a glacier, or see a moose eating on the side of the road minding its own business. Another amazing thing you get to experience is meeting the Kenaitze Tribe. That day is so amazing because I was just awestruck by how proud these everyday people are about what they grew up with and how they try their very hardest to keep the tradition going. The tribe treats you to a nice salmon feast with some of the best food you will ever try, even if you aren’t a fish fan! They also show you some of their native performances where everyday teens like you and me are singing inspirational songs invented hundreds of years ago.
Going from Mexico to Alaska is a definite change in culture, temperature, and may be a little tough to fit packing into a small bag but it is the experience I am so glad I went on and definitely something you don’t want to miss. The North South Adventure will provide you with learning that keeps you interested and doesn’t make you want to fall asleep. And if you’re looking for the best two weeks of your life, the answer is a simple one and is right in front of you.

The Diary of My Edventure in Baja by Green Edventures' Student Courtney Schultz

June 24, 2010

I got back from Baja Mexico this morning. I miss everything about it. On Wednesday, June 16th, I boarded a plane to Mexico for a Green Edventures Eco-study. My brother had previously went on this trip, and couldn’t stop talking about how great it was. He told me that he learned so much and that he wanted to go back and eventually intern with Tara when he was a senior. I personally never dreamed that I would go on this trip. The sole idea of being on an uninhabited island for five days kind of blew my mind. But after days and days of hearing my brother talking about this amazing adventure, I figured I would try it out. On the plane ride, I was worried about making friends and worried that I wouldn’t be able to keep up because of my knee injury. After our connected flight from Houston landed in Los Cabos and I stepped into the hot Mexico heat, I knew that it was going to be an unforgettable trip. (Photo right: Courtney Schultz).

After going through customs and exchanging our money, we went and met up with Tara and the group that was coming with us from
Oshkosh, Wisconsin. It was kind of awkward at first, because the only person I knew that wasn’t from Milan was Tara. She explained how the day was going to go and we headed outside to the van for our three hour ride to La Paz. It was practically planes, trains, and cars for us that first day. Then we met Chabelo. He works for Green Edventures and he definitely has a way of growing on people. The car ride was silent. Most of us slept the whole way. Once in La Paz, we stopped at the dive shop and picked up our wet suits and snorkel gear for the week. Next we had an hour and a half boat ride to Isla Pardita Island. The boat ride was captivating. The scenery looked like a painting from Picasso’s era. That boat ride flew by. Once at the island, we picked our tent mates and had dinner. After I settled in, I sat there in awe looking at the beauty of that place. I see why they made Espiritu Santo and Isla Pardita a World Heritage Site. The camp site had a beach volleyball net, kayaks, and sun bathing chairs. But best of all, we had the Sea of Cortez in front of us. I knew at that point that there wouldn’t be a moment of boredom. 

 The staff from Green Edventures was amazing. They interacted with us and they helped us with any problems we had. The next four days were a blur. They went by way faster than I would have liked them to. We did a total of six dives, and every one of them was unique in their own ways. Each dive was different. Some days we had way better clarity than others because of the plankton, and some days we saw so much more than we would have ever dreamed. We also went on three hikes. We hiked at
St. Gabriel Bay, the rest of the group did a sunset hike (I couldn’t because of knee complications) and we did a hike at Fox Canyon. All of the hikes were learning experiences and the sights were amazing. Even though they were rough and hot, it was well worth the effort we all put into it. At Fox Canyon, we had the opportunity to swim at two waterfalls, each different. The first one was small and fairly deep and we got to jump off the rocks into the water. The second one was shallow but the waterfall was fairly larger. Both sites were different in their own ways, and I’ll never forget swimming there. (Photo on Left: heading out from camp to go on a dive).

After our incredible five nights on Isla Partida, we had to pack up and make our way to Cabo Pulmo. From the island we had an hour and a half boat ride and another van ride. With the sad goodbyes and the boat ride behind us, we headed into
La Paz and ate at Biz Marcito. They served us fish and shrimp tacos. I’m the difficult one, as always. I don’t eat fish, so I was served quesadilla. Everything there was amazing. Afterwards, we went shopping at a couple places so we could bring back souvenirs. We loaded into the van and headed toward Cabo Pulmo. The ride seemed like forever. 

Finally, we arrived at the Cabo Pulmo Beach Resort. Our group got split up into two groups to live in two different houses. It seemed like paradise. INDOOR PLUMBING!!! We were all excited to take fresh water showers and hang out indoors. I personally missed the island. Sure, the bungalows were exquisite, but I liked the outdoors. I wouldn’t call our time on Isla Partida “camping,” because it was much more than that. I guess I would call it “luxury camping”, because that’s what it seemed like. We had our own chef, and staff to help with anything we needed. We were made three course meals (which were AMAZING!), and we had kayaks and a volleyball net to have fun with in our free time. (Photo above: swimming with a whale shark in the Bay of La Paz).

The next day at Cabo Pulmo blew by. I slept well that night, and dreamed in Spanish. They were getting to me. (: The next morning after breakfast (which was made by our magnificent chef Edgardo), we snorkeled on the Cabo Pulmo Reef. I saw more in that dive then I had the whole trip. I saw so many new species of fish that I hadn’t noticed before, and many rays. We were practically snorkeling and free diving against the current of the
Sea of Cortez, but the effort was most definitely worth it. It was the hardest yet most exciting dive, for me anyways. After that dive we stripped off our wet suits and rash guards and went swimming for the first time. The difference between being in the water with the wet suit and without it was shocking. The water felt sooo much more refreshing without our gear. We spent an hour or so in the water and headed back to our little houses to bathe and eat dinner together for the last time. 
After dinner, we presented our group projects. Matt, Margaret, Erin and Natalie did their project on Invertebrates, and my group (Rebecca, Bekah, Jenna and myself) did Sea Lion behavior. It was fun getting to see things from the other groups’ eyes. After our presentations, we watched a slide show of pictures from our week in
Mexico. We all headed off to bed afterward; knowing that the next day would be emotional.

We were right. Reality really hadn’t smacked us in the face until we were loading all of our belongings on to the van. We took final group pictures on la playa, got in the van and made our way to the airport. That was the depressing part. Parting from Chabelo and Tara left me distressed, and I wanted to find a way to stay. We checked our luggage in and made the most of the time that we had left with our group. Our plane took off, and I wasn’t too happy to leave my new family. When our plane landed in
Detroit, my time in Mexico seemed like a dream, and I was back from my paradise. Back into reality. 

Words simply cannot describe my experience in
Mexico. My week there will never be forgotten, nor will the following trips I make back. I am currently forming a group for next year, and I can’t wait to see what EDventures Tara has in store for us in the future.

Below are a couple of journal entries I wrote while on the trip:

This morning the “guys from
La Paz” came out to the island. We then took the dingy out to our third dive. We saw tons of fish in the shallows. There were a lot of King Angel fish and there were also tons of rainbow wrasse, sergeant majors and spotted sharp nose puffers. We came back for lunch and while waiting, we played soccer with the boys. I should never attempt to be on a soccer team.

We were supposed to swim with the sea lions today, but the clarity was terrible. The plankton was entirely too think. Instead, we went and did another dive. We saw tons of sergeant majors and I spotted some King Angel Fish. After the dive, we stopped the boat and jumped off it, taking pictures for close to an hour. Then we came back to the island to eat and finish our day. Overall, the experience we had with the orphans was a chance to realize how good we have it. It made me think about how lucky I am to have a home and parents who love me. The orphans were so fun to interact with, even though we spoke different languages. If I return next year, I plan to bring them more fun things. 

Today was our last dive. After breakfast we headed up to the beach and split into two groups. On the way to the site, the wave practically controlled our bodies. It was hard to kick. I was swayed into coral and learned to swim further from our dive leader. For me, our last dive was the best dive. The clarity was perfect and I saw so many more fish than I had previously. While diving I encountered Rainbow Wrasse, chameleon wrasse, king angel fish, six, yes SIX Moorish Idols, a few blue damsel fish, a couple of yellow tail surgeon fish, a tang, a Cortez sting ray, a diamond ray, and three different types of parrot fish. I saw the Azure, Bicolor and Bumphead. I personally was afraid of running into coral. I was also spooked by the huge ray that we encountered. Early in the dive, our dive leader handed me a huge sea cucumber. I find it interesting how they tend to soften in your hand after a couple of minutes. I loved all of our dives for the sole reason of never seeing any of these fish in the wild before. The habitats and these fish are natural beauties and I don’t know why someone would want to endanger these precious creatures.

My name is Courtney Schultz. I’m a sophomore at Milan High School in Michigan. I play Volleyball and Track. I love to read and write and I enjoy science as well. I’m into photography, and I love swimming. I love traveling the world and learning about different cultures and ethnicities.