So says Bob, the man sitting across the aisle from me in the G-2 plane we took to get to Midway a week ago yesterday. He’s right and for some reason, I don’t believe it until we’re on the tarmac…on Midway. It’s surreal: leave Honolulu at 7pm, hurdle across the ocean for 2 hours and then out of nowhere – a landing. No lights, no real indication that you’re anywhere close to a hard surface except for some ear poppage and a descending feeling. All of a sudden, BAM! Midway!
That’s how the first night went and how the past week has gone. The reason I haven’t written until now is because as soon as we landed (after an unsuccessful night of sleep – too much excitement!) we went full-tilt into getting things ready for the 70th anniversary of the Battle of Midway. The coolest thing that has happened on the island so far hasn’t even been related to birds or the ocean or plastic…it’s been the company I’ve been a part of for the last 6 days. We were fortunate enough to have two veterans from the Battle of Midway attend the ceremony. One of them, Colonel John Miniclier is 90 years old and the springiest little man I’ve ever seen. He entertained us day in and day out with stories from when he was on the island and I’m so excited to have had the opportunity to meet him.
After Monday’s celebration, us volunteers dove straight into what will become our summer responsibilities. Things like learning how to band birds properly (it’s really, really hard), discovering what a seep is and how to check it, identifying the Laysan duck and various other bird species, finding and recording banded Laysan Albatross chicks and a whole host of other things that we haven’t even touched yet. It’s safe to say that we’ve been super busy all week!
This place is almost beyond words. It’s so hard to describe in a concise way, because there’s so much about Midway that makes it amazing. I’ve only been here for a week and already I can tell that the next 4 months are going to be mind-blowing and that I’m going to learn so much. I’m already learning so many things! I work with two other ridiculously cool and hilarious volunteers, Jen and Liz and we are constantly laughing and cracking jokes with our boss whenever we can. I fall asleep to birds calling to one another. Laysan Albatross chicks nip at my ankles as I go for my morning runs and today I banded my first Laysan Albatross chick! Yesterday we went snorkeling for the first time here and I saw a pencil urchin the size of my face, no joke. I swam on the edge of an atoll, in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.
Tomorrow is our first day off and aside from an hour of work in the morning, the day is mine! There will be snorkeling and there will be a run around the island and possibly just some quiet time to sit and ponder. Luckily, I’m in the perfect spot to do just that.
**To everyone that has encouraged me on my journey out here, thank you, thank you, thank you. I am so excited to be here and so very glad I can act as a small window into this beautiful place.**