Peleliu: 75 Years After WWII

Nov 2019
Peleliu: A Practice in Descriptive Writing as we walk through what remains of World War II.  Written by Michael (12)Japanese HeadquartersThe massive concrete building towers over the lush landscape as the forest attempts to retake what it once had - the land the building is on. Roots cling to the hole and bullet-riddled walls and slowly cover everything in sight. The roof sags in and threatens to collapse. Brave sprouts spring from cracks in the blackened floor, defying the concrete they had been trapped in.

200 mm Gun CaveThe massive turret guards the hill, guards the cave concealed behind it. The cave mouth beckons any spelunker to enter it’s dark interior, to face the army of crickets waiting to strike. Water drips from the roof as the cave cries, mourning the loss of it’s inhabitants who died decades ago due to the attacks of savages that call themselves Americans. It wants revenge.

CatacombsDarkness beckons explorers to approach the cave mouth, armed with flashlights and …

Palau: Exploring the Rock Islands

Rock Islands, Palau (Warning: this kind of turned into a novel... read on, brave one.) For nearly two weeks since arriving in Palau,  Field Trip has been tied to a mooring at Sam’s Tours Dive Shop and Yacht Club.  It had been a productive two weeks - meeting people, finishing videos and blogs, and getting back into the school routine - but we were all ready to untie the lines and set off again.  Only hours away lie the protected Rock Islands, a maze of gumdrop-shaped emerald islets floating in turquoise waters.  We secured our required permits, paid our cruising and entrance fees, stocked the fridge, and finally set off.

Soft Coral Arch A mere hour motor from the yacht club, we find ourselves carefully navigating between two islets and over a shallow reef to enter a secluded lagoon.  Once the anchor is set in the center, Mark and the kids tie a stern line to the shore to ensure we won’t swing into any of the limestone cliffs around us.  I’m at the helm, keeping us in position and then bac…

Palau: The US Has Been Here

“Mom!  Look!They have Swiss Miss Hot Chocolate!We haven’t had that forever!!”   I’m trying hard to stick to my shopping list, but the exclamations of excitement coming from my kids (and my husband - Sierra Nevada beer!) come to me from all sides as I walk the aisles.  
Koolaid!  Fritos!  Hidden Valley Ranch!  Dr. Pepper!  
Can you tell how long it’s been since we’ve been in a place to provision with American products??  The shelves overwhelm me with their familiarity.  My mind grapples with trying to make sense of the fact that we’re so far from the US, but in so many ways it looks and feels like we’re home.  
A part of me cringes at all the junkfood we’re being reaquainted with and the neverending chorus of “Can we get this?  We haven’t seen this anywhere for so long!”  
On one hand I want to splurge, indulge, dive in.  On the other hand, I’m sad to see us all falling back into crazy consumer mode.  I try to sift through my conflicting feelings and find a balance between ‘go ahead, enjoy …

Palau: Now You're Speaking my Language...

“What language are you speaking?” I naively asked the customs officers who were sitting in our cockpit, chatting with each other while checking us into Palau.  
“Uh.  Palauan?”  It came out more of a question than an answer.  The look they shot me assured me that they thought I was a complete and total idiot.
Right.  Palauan.  Of course.  Learn somethin’ new everyday!
So, yes, for those other idiots out there in the world who might not know, there is a Palauan language spoken here, but everyone also speaks *English*.  American English!  We can easily talk to anyone and everyone we want - and we do!  Just like those old folks who hold up the grocery line talking to the check-out clerk, we indulge ourselves by asking everyone we come in contact with anywhere between 1 and 1,000 questions.  
Where are you from? How long have you lived here?   What has changed here since you were young? Where can we find the best lunch at the best price? Which one is your favorite dive site? And on and on and on.


Tangkoko National Forest: Tarsiers and Bear Cuscus

Written By Michael (12)

The tarsier stares straight at me as I back away slowly. Its piercing gaze sends shivers down my spine. Creepy. We are standing next to a hollow tree gazing at a Spectral Tarsier that is staring right back at us. This is one of the two unique mammals we spot living in the trees of Sulawesi’s Tangkoko National Park.
The Spectral Tarsier is one of Sulawesi’s endangered species. It looks like a pint-sized monkey with distinctive clawed fingers and enormous eyeballs. Actually, the tarsier has the biggest eye-to-body ratio of all mammals, and it uses those eyes to spot prey in the dark because it is nocturnal. Insects and fruit are main staples in this wacky animal’s diet, but beware, it will also take a bite out of humans!
The other weird animal we saw in Tangkoko is the Bear Cuscus. This mammal looks like an over-sized possum, but has short legs, a long bushy tail, and the face of a cat. There are two kinds of cuscus in the park, one is a small variation that is noct…