Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Warrior Dash

If you haven't heard of the Warrior Dash you have two things to do. First, go to www.warriordash.com and find out where the closest one to you is and second, DO IT! I did the one in Ohio on June 5 and it fulfilled and even exceeded my expectations. SO. MUCH. FUN. People of all sizes and athletic ability did it so don't let that stop you!

Here is some documentation of the most difficult and fun 3.1 miles I've ever ran:

Monday, May 2, 2011

Andros Island Day 12-15

Friday, December 10--Day 12:
The weather finally seemed to be improving a bit since I didn't wear jeans for the first time in 3 or 4 days. We had another puppet show scheduled as well as walking around Red Bays. Red Bays was a very poor area, but still so beautiful! We walked along the streets (which is awesome because of there being nearly no traffic!) and saw all of the baskets that some of the local people make. It's amazing that they do that with their hands, straw, and a few pieces of Androsia fabric! One of the guys on the trip, Tim, had a guitar when we were walking around and a few kids saw him and suggested that he play his guitar while they play their drums. They started reeeeally getting into it and drumming and dancing and it was SO cool to watch! It ended up being Tim just holding the drum while they play and dance.

We were all amazed at how excited these kids got with the music and how talented they were. We're so used to kids in America at that age being this happy with video games, sports, and other stationary high-tech things.

After Red Bays, some of the group went back to the station while I went with the rest to check out another blue hole--Charlie's Blue Hole. It was a little too cold for me to actually go in, but I had to see it since there was a swinging rope that went in. It was pretty cool, but I'm glad I stayed put because I was chilly in a jacket and shorts so I knew I'd be freezing if I were in the water.

Saturday, December 11--Day 13
First off, Happy Birthday Grandma! Secondly, it's a free day for us! This pretty much translates into drinking, eating, and laying out on the beach--my ideal vacation! We hung out at Somerset beach and the weather FINALLY cooperated with us. It was a little cloudy for ideal tanning, but still enjoyable. If I wasn't needing a jacket, then I was happy!

I think you could say we were enjoying ourselves :)

This day was also the first day I actually ran on the island. I hate that I didn't run more during the trip...even though it was colder than I liked at times, it was perfect running weather. The only bad thing was the beach that we were on wasn't very long so we had to run on the roads (not the most exciting thing). I knew I wasn't in shape when I took this ran considering I needed to slow down at mile 2.5, but we ended up going almost 4 miles which I was happy with considering how long it had been since I last ran.

It was taco night and I successfully kept down all of the food that night! We also went to what is called rake and scrape where they had some music play, a bit of food (not their best), and a fashion show of Androsia fabrics. It was VERY cold that night, but still a cool thing to see/do.

Sunday, December 12--Day 14:
The first day in awhile that had been 80 degrees! It was BEAUTIFUL out. And we were taking advantage of the warmth and sun and getting the tan we have wanted to show off to all our Ohio friends and family. We had lunch at the station then headed to Turtle Reef to do some snorkeling. While it was much warmer that day, it was verrrry windy--not the best snorkeling weather. I got a good work out in swimming because the wind kept pushing me away from everyone and I needed to stay at least somewhat close to them. I'm pretty sure I spent more time swimming and making sure I was near everyone than snorkeling and looking for turtles. Sadly, I didn't see any. The rest of the day was spent the last of the really warm weather because we only had one full day left and it was going to be spent in the beginning of another cold front.

Monday, December 13--Day 15:
Last full day. At this point, I was slightly ready to go home. Okay, not ready to go home, but ready to go to New Orleans. I had found out about the NOLA trip about a week ago and over the week I started really missing my friends and new that New Orleans was wayyyy warmer than Ohio so I was okay with leaving the Bahamas at the time. Anyway, our last day we went to the tourism office and learned a lot about Andros Island and how it attracts people and what are its most popular things to do. The most popular thing to do is bonefishing mostly because it's so hard to catch a bonefish.

The rest of the day was spent relaxing, packing, and hanging out with everyone one last time.

Tuesday, December 14--Day 16:
We woked up at about 5 am to catch our flight from Andros to Nassau and our flight form Nassau to Charlotte wasn't until 1. And the Nassau airport was NOT exciting so we had to entertain ourselves. We used the "underwater" cameras we were given earlier to take pictures of random things. I even took a picture of a really pretty postcard (sadly, none of these pictures turned out because the underwater camera had too much water in it--tell me how this happens). Anyway I bought a few souvenirs with the money I had left then spent the remainder of the day flying and waiting to get home. I arrived in Columbus around 7:30 and got home around 10 that night.

Overall, I absolutely LOVED this trip--especially when I look back at it now. There were many times where I wasn't full enjoying myself either because the weather was colder than expected or I was getting sick of people, but the reason I came there was to get a better grasp on biology outside of Ohio and to get in a study abroad experience related to my major and that was definitely a success! I learned A LOT and feel like I wouldn't have soaked in the information as well if I were learning about this in a lecture. If only all classes could be this fun and interesting! I believe it was well worth the money--I'm not sure if I would have been able to do anything like this after college (unless of course I'm lucky enough to do something like it as a career). To sum this trip up: it was an absolute blast, I learned so much about so many different things, and I'd do it again in a heartbeat.

Andros Island Day 6-11

Saturday, December 4--Day 6:

Another gorgeous day consisting of a lot of snorkeling and seeing a lot of cool creatures! Our group split into two and one went to Pigeon Cay to snorkel while the other went in part of the 3rd largest barrier reef in the world (I still can't get over that). I was in the group that went to the barrier reef first and it was such an amazing experience because it was my first encounter with being able to see all of these colorful fish and other cool marine animals swimming around me.

I can't take credit for this picture, but here's an idea of what the reef looked like. Thanks to global warming and other environmental stress, it's not as bright and gorgeous as you'd picture, but it's still amazing. And much better in person.

After lots of snorkeling, we headed back in the boat to meet the other group for lunch at Pigeon Cay. Very cool place--it's a very small island, but is definitely an island, and we had it all to ourselves.

After lunch, we did some snorkeling around the island followed by a plant walk discussing the terrestrial aspect of the island. And here's some of us posing for a picture on the island:

This location was where I saw a nurse shark and a family of sting rays which was soooo cool. I wish I could have gotten pictures of them all!

We boated back to the field station for taco night (this is every Saturday). Us OU students loved the idea of taco night, but didn't know if it was such a good idea to have on Saturday night seeing as how we were all going to be drinking that night. Turns out that it didn't end well for me--that's my story and I'm sticking to it!

Sunday, December 5--Day 7:
UGGGHHHH. This is exactly how I felt when I woke up, throughout the entire day, and until I went to sleep that night. It was one of those all day hungover affairs. I will spare you the details, but basically I try to block out this day but I will tell you what the rest of the group did.

They went to a few blue holes and saw some turtles (that's the one thing I was really sad about missing out on) and we had lunch on a beach in Nichol's Town. They had this famous Conch Salad which I was told was different but very tasty. It was the perfect day to catch some rays, but I just looked like a beached whale instead. Moving on to feeling better the next day...

Monday, December 6--Day 8:
I felt a million times better after a lot of sleep and water, but I was still trying to take it easy (somewhat). This day was also the first day I noticed it starting to get colder than we wanted/anticipated. Thank goodness for that 5 mm wet suit! We boated out to a place with A LOT of sand dollars. I have a TON of pictures of it in my album (check it outttt). I'm pretty sure I collected about 10-15 and to this day, only one has survived. After the sand dollar fun, we had a little plant tour and learned all about mangroves which bored me since I took a class in the fall and spring and learned all about them. But hey, review can't be that bad.

Tuesday, December 7--Day 9:
The first day of it being REALLY cold. And by really cold, I mean overnight was in the low 60's upper 50's. When the warmest clothes you packed were jeans and a light jacket and there is no heat or insulation of any sort, upper 50's and lower 60's is WAY too cold to sleep in. From this point on, everyone wore pretty much all the same clothes because we only packed so many warm things. It was kind of funny because we knew who everyone was without having to be that close or see their faces just by what they were wearing. This cold front also made for a much colder snorkeling experience. Not the most pleasant time, but I tried to make the best of it.

We headed to the Mennonite Farm first. I won't lie, I wasn't interested by any of this so I got a little ADD and wandered around doing other things or daydreaming so I can't really tell you much. BUT, the cool thing was that they had a bunch of grapefruit and orange trees so I picked a few and they were delicious!

A and C cup!

Next we went to Morgan's Bluff which is the highest point on the island:

There was also a small cave by it that we went through..so small in fact I nearly hit my head 230483287 times but somehow made it out alive!

Next stop was Money Point where we saw a lot of invertebrates--even an octopus (sadly, no picture).

Wednesday, December 8--Day 10
This day wasn't too exciting or different from what we had been doing. It consisted of botany walks, snorkling, and hanging out. The cool thing was though, that night we had a lecture from Ryan about Andros Island music. He talked about what music was like many many years ago and how it has changed but still maintained that islandy feel. It was great to get a dose of what this island is like culturally instead of constantly being fed information about the biological aspects.

Thursday, December 9--Day 11
The past few days and this day started out with botany walks because it was too cold to snorkel in the morning, so we again had a wonderful terrestrial lecture (but hey I was in the Bahamas and about to get an A in a 5 credit class so I wasn't complaining). This day must have been one of the colder ones because we didn't go snorkeling at all. Instead we did something REALLY cool and went do a few local schools and put on a puppet show about recycling. It was SO fun and really cool to meet the kids.

One of my favorite photos--the Bahamian kids representing OU :)

Like I said before, it was so cool to get a feel for the Andros Island's culture by meeting and interacting with the kids! Later on, we had another dose of Andros culture--their food! Dinner was a buffet full of homemade food that the local Andros natives eat all the time and it was delicious! I'm pretty sure I had thirds but had no regrets because I knew I wasn't going to eat this again for a VERY long time. Needless to say I didn't want to ever eat again after it. Obviously that didn't happen.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Andros Island Day 4 & 5

Thursday, December 2--Day 4:
I have a lot less pictures during this point of the trip thanks to my camera which is now very happily replaced. The website for all of the pictures taken from everyone down there is androsisland2010.shutterfly.com...check it out! Anywho, the first full day on the island was spent going to a blue hole. A blue hole is a large sinkhole created in the last Ice Age that filled with water during the sea-level rise due to the melting glaciers...they can be inland or oceanic. Andros Island has more blue holes than anywhere else in the world. This particular blue hole was oceanic but it was reeeeeally windy that day so a lot of the water was constantly being stirred up and therefore less visibility to see all of the fishies. After that, we had some lunch and were on the search for cool animals followed by a botany walk. We found a poisonous centipede, a spider as big as my hand (I know this cause I'm a BAMF and held it--too bad I have no documentation to prove it), aaaand a snake. We then went on a botany walk and learned more about some Bahamian plants.

After all of this soaking up knowledge fun, we headed back to the field station and got ready for some soccer and dinner! I'm not a fan of soccer so I just watched from the sideline which later turned into me sitting in the car watching the game since it got reeeeally chilly when the sun set. Following the game was dinner at Hank's--this was the first night I decided being a strict vegetarian wasn't going to happen. I'm right by the ocean so why would I pass up perfectly fresh and amazing seafood? I ordered some fried conch (a Bahamas specialty) along with a few other random things. They also had a specialty drink at the restaurant called a Hanky Panky which is basically a really fruity drink--very similar to a sex on the beach. Obviously, I approved. After being stuffed from a fantastic dinner we had a dance party which I believe was one of the funnest parts of the trip! I'll do my best to put in perspective how much fun it really was with pictures:

See that man with the gray hair? Our amazing "professor" who can really break it down.

After mucho dancing and calorie burnage, some of us decided to go to a bar and the rest went back to the station. I went back to the station because I was pooped and ready to get my rest for the next day!

Friday, December 3--Day 5:

Friday has always been associated as a good day due to its proximity to the weekend. Here in Andros, it didn't matter what day it was because every day was like a Friday. Or a Saturday. Anyway...we started this gorgeous Friday by going to Androsia. Androsia is a factory that manufactures batik fabric and they make clothes, purses, aprons, you name it. The process and information about batiking and Androsia can be found at www.androsia.com. Here are a few pictures of the factory:

These are the stamps or stencils they use on the fabric to make patterns. A lot of them are island themed :)

The tubs of dye where the fabric is dyed to a certain color

This is where the fabric was hung to dry

And the sewing for making all sorts of things!

After Androsia, we all went to Fresh Creek and had some lunch while laying out and soaking up some sun. Like I said before, this day was GORGEOUS and I have the pictures to prove it!

After getting a big dose of Vitamin D, we headed to Andros Island's largest blue hole--Church's Blue Hole! And boy was it amazing...sadly I couldn't get the entire thing in my camera, but these can give you an idea:

All the ladies :)

Each of us took one, two, or a million times to jump off that deck we were standing on into the blue hole...SO FUN. After hanging out there for a bit, we headed back to the station for dinner. Then it was time for a cozy campfire, a lot of massaging, and story about the man that was the start of Forfar--Archie. At this point, I can't remember much at all about the story which is good for you since it was a long one! The combination of the fire, massages, and a long story sent me right to bed!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

From Nassau to Andros Island

So now that I have been legitimately HOME from my travel-filled winter break, I can finally write about my amazing experience in the Bahamas. For those of you that didn't know why I was going to the Bahamas, I went for a 2 week study abroad program through OU and it also counts as my Tier III class! Seeing as how my major is marine biology, I felt like this trip would be very relevant and helpful for me...and it's been SO much more than that. What I really wanted to do was keep a journal and write down each day what happened and what I thought about it, but let's face it...I was in the Bahamas and writing stuff down on paper was the last thing I wanted to do.

Monday, November 29--Day 1: Arrival in Nassau
The entire group consisted of 12 girls, 12 guys, our professor Art Trese and the lovely couple Maron & Char. We arrived in Nassau around 2 PM and it was a beautiful 82 degrees! One of the first things I remember about our arrival was the Bahamaian band that was playing in the airport while we were waiting to go through customs...I've seen a lot of things in an airport, but that was definitely a first! Our group then split into two smaller groups with one staying on a boat with our friends Larry, Mark and Molly and the other group staying in the Wyndham Hotel & Resort in Nassau. I was one of the four girls along with four guys that volunteered to stay on the boat that night while the remaining people went to the hotel for the night. We left the airport with Larry to head to the dock where Mark and Molly were. Let's just say it was a VERY interesting drive.

First off, I had no idea that they drove on the left side of the road (the Bahamas used to be a British Colony) and there were some cars that had the driver's seat on the right side and some with it on the left...that was slightly confusing. Also, the traffic there is INSANE...this city has a population of nearly 300,000 people in just 80 square miles. There were a ton of people walking around and wouldn't even bother looking when crossing the street (I may be guilty of doing the same thing on Court Street, but I'd like to think that it's a bit different). We came across a local while sitting in traffic and he had crazy looking eyes and definitely had to be blind in at least one of them and we couldn't understand a word he was saying but he kept rambling on about something but it gave me an idea of what this place was like. Larry kept telling us Nassau how dangerous Nassau can be. The only impression I ever had of Nassau before arriving was that it housed the beautiful Atlantis resort and I just assumed the entire city followed suit. Boy was I wrong.

About an hour or so of traffic we arrived to the dock where our boat, Deja Vu, was waiting. Here are some pictures:

This was our boat. NOT. But I thought it was beautiful enough to deserve a picture. Moving on...

This ain't no Hocking

Atlantis be creepin'

The pool right by the dock!

The inside of the boat...verrryy narrow but I loved it so!

The couch/bed/table/magic...seriously this had the potential to be turned into a rocket that could fly to the moooon!

The exterior of Deja Vu! What a beauty :)

The rest of the evening was followed with drinks and dinner at an extravagant restaurant known as the Green Parrot...so extravagant that they used the most expensive chalk to write the name of the restaurant on a piece of cardboard. Yeah Green Parrot, you keep it classy! After dinner we all raided the liquor store at the Wyndham resort and had a fun night of never have I ever, sliding down the slide that may or may have not been closed and soaking up all Nassau had to offer.

Tuesday, November 30--Day 2: Atlantis & Bahamas National Park
Next on the Bahamas agenda was to tour the Atlantis aquarium which I LOVED. I unfortunately didn't get a tour of the entire resort (pretty sure that would have taken an entire day itself), but I was pleased regardless. Cue the pictures...

Taken from the Atlantis bridge--connects New Providence to Paradise Island

I spy an aquarium!

One of my favorite pictures. This is a spotted eagle ray--the exact species that killed Steve Irwin :(

While I never actually saw coral this colorful where we snorkeled, I did see fish this colorful

Heellloooo, Atlantis!

There's nothing I love more than walking underneath some sharks...but seriously I do love it.

Following the tour of the aquarium, we walked around to all the crazy expensive shops but fortunately came across some samples of rum cake. DELICIOUS. Depending on who made it, you may have been lucky enough to get an entire shot of it in one bite. While roaming in the streets of Atlantis (not a real one, silly) I bought an entire $2.50 postcard that was mailed the following day...and was received while I was in New Orleans...nice timing, Bahamas. Lunch followed shopping and then we had a tour at one of Bahamas National Parks. This is the part of the trip where my camera started having minor strokes so I didn't get very many pictures in but it was very interesting and we got a lot of information about both native and invasive (not native) plants of the Bahamas! After that tour we headed back to the boat while the rest headed to the hotel. A few of people (myself included) that stayed on the boat the night before wanted a chance to stay at the hotel mostly because we wanted a really good shower and night of sleep before our rustic experience in Andros, but also because the people on the boat would be sailing over to Andros Island which was supposed to take 6 hours (it ended up being around 10) while the people in the hotel would take a ferry--only 2 hours. So we did a little switcharoo and had some people from the hotel go on the boat in place of us. The night was pretty chill and some of us just went to the casino in the hotel and did some gambling and then just headed to bed. Here are some pictures from the balcony of the pool area and ocean:

Pool! Oh and that slide we went on that wasn't open...

Wednesday, December 1--Day 3: Arrival to Andros Island
The ferry from Nassau to Andros was scheduled to leave at 8 am so we had to bust our butts to be in the hotel lobby by 7 am. Thank god for that Starbucks. I was quite skeptical about this ferry ride because all I kept hearing was how sick everyone got on it last year, so I was popping Dramamine like it was going out of style. Luckily for us it was a VERY calm day and we had a fantastically smooth 2 1/2 hour ride to Andros. Here are a few pictures of our arrival:

Needless to say, I was already in love with this place. Our final stop was just a half hour drive away to the Forfar Field Station! We arrived to the station around 11 am and had lunch at noon. Everyday breakfast is at 8 am, lunch is at noon and dinner is at 6 pm in the lodge.

Here's the outside of the lodge which housed the kitchen and dining, lounge area where we hung out, computer room to check emails, classroom, and even a room with a ping pong table!

The beach (with a nice shot of Mullet the dog taking a pee break) that we woke up to every morning and lived on for 13 days :)

This was one of my favorite things at the station. The pole listed schools and organizations that have visited or still do and either the zip code or how many miles away it was from Andros.


Our beautiful cabin! There were four cabins for us--one with 8 girls (not me, thank god), one with 8 guys, one with four girls (me!) and one with four guys.

The rest of the day was spent lying on the beach and then we did a bit of snorkeling and jumped off a 15 foot tall bridge! My love for this place continued to grow...