This week’s edition of Safely Speaking, "Icy Roads" is available for your review.



Kwaj Christmas

Just another day in paradise! All I want for Christmas is some fresh food to eat! :)


Turtle Maintenance

There is a turtle pond here on island that has three sea turtles living in it. I'm not sure exactly what the story is on why we have sea turtles in captivity; I do know that the Marshallese have been known to eat sea turtles so maybe it's way to protect them, or possibly it just for our enjoyment.

I've posted about feeding them before but this week it was time for their annual checkup.

The process begins by rounding them up and getting them out of the pond and onto the grass.

Next step is to scrub all of the algea off of them (top and bottom). I don't think this normally a problem for the wild ones. Their heads are covered to keep them from escaping or biting. 

They are measured, weighed and their blood gets drawn. Apparently drawing a turtles blood is not an easy task. It took a few people a few tries.

That's it until next year.



...the only way to tell what season it is around here (besides rainy and doldrums, those are obvious) is the decorations.....

Stage For Santa's Arrival       


It Always Surprises Me.....

I know we have enough humidity around here but for some reason it always surprises me when I see mushrooms......


Suck It Up!

Currently we are having yet another tropical storm. The wind is blowing 30MPH gusting to 37MPH and of course there is a great deal of rain. I am trapped at work. The work bus stopped running over an hour ago and my route home is straight into all that wind and rain. All I have on is jean shorts, a tank top and leather sandals. Nice.

In looking at the radar, it does not appear this is going to end any time soon so I am currently debating waiting it out or just sucking it up and getting as wet as a person can possibly get without going swimming. I wish I had the option to call for a ride today, but I don't.

Wish me luck!



There aren't very many butterflies on Kwaj. We're kind of a long way from anywhere so getting here is probably a challenge for them. Most of them are brown and mothy looking; not very exciting. But the other day I spotted this:


Only On Kwaj

I try to make it a point to carry a camera with me everywhere I go here; you never know what you might see....

Unfortunately today I was running an errand and of course did not have it with me and I missed a golden opportunity!

Imagine this if you can:
A guy, riding a bike, with a vacuum attached to the handlebars! He had the base of it over the bars with the bottom facing toward him and the handle sticking out in front. It was comedy!

I've heard rumor of groups of people heading to fit ball class with their exercise balls strapped to their handle bars too. Makes me want to wait in the shadows outside the class so I can capture it on film!

Hey, you make due with what you've got and Kwaj is the epitome of that.


Turtle Rescue 2010

I got up for a run last week and stumbled right into the middle of a turtle hatch! I watched as hundreds of baby turtles flocked out of their nest and made their way to the water. Unfortunately many of them got confused and headed the wrong direction. I wasn't sure what to do, so I skirted the mass and finished my run. When I got home, I grabbed my camera to see if I could get some pictures. When I arrived, other residents were collecting the lost babies and taking them to the water to set them on their way. I joined in and while I was there, we helped over 50 of them. It was truly a special event to get to participate in!
Young girl gathering baby turtles.

Baby turtles heading into the ocean.

They flapped all the way to the water.


The Underwater World

I don't dive, yet ( I like to leave the option open) so as a result, you miss out on getting see an aspect of Kwaj that I'm sure everyone would like to see.

A friend of mine posted this pic on his Facebook page today and it was so cool I decided to borrow it so that you could see it for yourself.
Photo belongs to Dan Farnham


2010 Fishing Tournament

The Labor Day Hanapa'a Fishing Tournament on Kwaj isn't a highly competitive tournament. It's for fun because this time of year is not so great for fishing. When the doldrums hit, it gets hot and the fish go deeper, making the typical trolling style of fishing quite unsuccessful.

We managed to accidentally snag one fish in the four hours we were out. We're not even sure what it is, the officials called it a gray snapper.
While we were out, one of our engines decided to die so we had to make our way to the nearest pass and return to the lagoon side and limp back to the harbor.

The fact that we managed to snag anything ensured us a place in the drawing and there were 5 boats that didn't even catch one fish so we felt somewhat vindicated.
 The next week (since I'm always behind on my posting means this week) my husband went fishing on a Saturday when the rest of us are working and they caught a bunch of fish. Over 10 Ahi and Aku, 4 that got away.


Labor Day Events

This weekend was full of fun stuff to do.
  • Chili Cookoff
  • Hana'pa Fishing Tournament
  • Candied Apples & funnel cakes
  • Home Brew Tent
  • Carnival Games
We had a very enjoyable time. I hope you did too!


Black Wednesday

This is from an article in the Marshall Islands Journal

Although rumors have swirled for days on Ebeye, Kwajalein and Majuro about an imminent “massive” layoff at the missile testing range, a US official told the Journal Wednesday the actual number will be 79 jobs cut. US Embassy Deputy Chief of Mission Eric Watnik in a telephone interview from Kwajalein Wednesday said 28 Marshallese and 51 Americans will lose their jobs effective this month at the US Army Kwajalein Atoll (USAKA). “The numbers going around are much larger than the reality,” Watnik said. “USAKA worked hard to bring the number (of job losses) down.” Kwajalein Range Services President Dave Norwood told the Journal he was faced with accommodating a 20 percent budget cut for fiscal year 2011, that starts October 1. Originally, he said, this amounted to the need to cut 250 KRS positions. But the reduction in cost was accomplished by cancelling 150 vacant positions, reducing some departments’ weekly working hours, and laying off 79 workers total.
The 79 jobs that are being cut amount to about four-and-a-half percent of the existing American and Marshallese workforce, which now number about 800 and 950, respectively. The cuts will reduce the Marshallese workforce to about 775 and the American workforce to about 900.
Watnik and USAKA officials said rumors of “massive” layoffs are not correct.
Joe Moscone, Deputy to the USAKA Commander, told the Journal Wednesday that notification to the RMI government would be issued shortly. Moscone said that soon after new Commander Col. Joseph Gaines arrived in July, the command began addressing the FY2011 budget situation. “The cuts being discussed were so significant, we felt the need to go through a process to mitigate them,” Moscone said. “Though (the cuts are) still significant, they are not anywhere near where we thought we’d be when we started in July.”
Moscone said USAKA and KRS officials looked at “every single line item in the budget — everything was on the table” — to hold job losses to the absolute minimum.
“This lay off thing is creating a panic on Ebeye,” RMI Liaison Officer to Kwajalein Jelton Anjain told Major Christopher Mills, head of USAKA’s Host Nations Office, in an email at the weekend as rumors made the rounds.
As recently as Saturday, Mills told RMI Assistant Secretary of Finance Bruce Bilimon that he was unable to give him a definite answer regarding job cuts, “as the current budget review is not yet finished.”
Bilimon had asked Mills for information, pointing out that if major cuts were planned, “then we will need to make adjustments to our tax revenues out of USAKA for the upcoming fiscal year (budget).” Mills told Bilimon at the weekend, “Though we are expecting less funding this year, we are still calculating the impacts to this command.” The RMI Ministry of Finance receives a five percent tax from the salaries of all American workers at Kwajalein, as well as income taxes on Marshallese workers at Kwajalein, so any cutbacks at the Army base have a negative impact on the General Fund budget. In addition, Marshallese contribute to the Marshall Islands Social Security Administration fund so reductions in force affect the retirement fund, which is already stressed because benefit payments are higher than its income. Watnik said the reduction in force at USAKA was part of a worldwide cutback in line with Defense Secretary Robert Gates’ decision to slash the Defense budget by $100 billion over the next three years. “Every defense facility is affected,” he said.


If You Have A Small Boat In The Water

I received this notification this afternoon:


Amidst a low-level trough near the Ratak Chain, a closed circulation has developed at the surface this afternoon. Current satellite and radar imagery show a large complex of cumulonimbus clouds and thunderstorms primarily south of the circulation, with other scattered activity having already developed in and around Kwajalein Atoll. This system is expected to move to the west-northwest through the evening and overnight hours, bringing a wide swath of precipitation, occasionally heavy, and a few embedded thunderstorms to the area. Winds around cyclonic circulations move counterclockwise, so a track to the north of the atoll means winds are expected to become northwesterly and even westerly tonight into early tomorrow. This will be especially the case over the northern atoll, which will be closer to the center of circulation. A West Wind Warning is likely for Roi-Namur, possible for Kwajalein Island, perhaps as early as 2200 tonight, with the threat of west winds lingering through tomorrow morning. The system track and winds in the atoll will be monitored closely. The chances for precipitation over Kwajalein Atoll are 30% today, increasing to 80% this evening through tonight. Combined seas in the open ocean will be 3-4 ft.

I stopped and asked one of my friends what this meant; what was I supposed to do? He said pray.

The problem is the wind normally comes out of the NE, now it will be coming from the west which means the boats will swing a full 180 and if there are any weak spots in your mooring, you may lose your boat! Yikes! I just have to hope for the best.


Lebowski Fest on Roi Namur

This is our big event for the weekend:
Come as your favorite character or just bring a float and relax in the pool. There will be marmot flinging, the sheriff of Malibu coffee cup toss, the ringer toss, and the Valkyrie ring toss. A special performance by "Shelley and the Restraining Orders" will happen at 8 p.m. To be followed immediately by a pool side showing of "The Big Lebowski"

Marmot flinging? I haven't seen the movie but I have to get in on that!


Kwaj 4th Of July

Here it is over a month later and I'm finally posting pictures from The 4th of July. The slow internet around here makes posting pictures quite the daunting task. Every photo has to be edited so it is small enough to process over the dial-up. To think, a year and a half ago I was teasing people who were still on dial-up....that's what I get!

I must admit, Kwaj puts on a pretty good fireworks show. Here are a few of my better shots. Pretty good considering I have a pretty mediocre camera and I don't have a tripod. I love that the one on the bottom right looks like a palm tree.


Pretty As A Picture

It was absolutely gorgeous today! I took these on my way to work.....
Not that it's not nice all the time but some days stand out more than others and this was one of them.


Waiting For A Ride

Here are the Huey's loaded onto rail-cars and waiting for the next barge off of Kwaj.
This was the first (and only so far) helicopter I've gotten to ride in.
These are the same helicopters my Dad flew in in Vietnam. They've been around longer than I have; its kind of sad to see them go. The new ones are orange and kind of ugly but I wouldn't pass up a ride in them if I were given the opportunity!


The Cherokee

Ever since I arrived in February 2009 I've been passing through the boat yards on my way to work and watching the restoration of The Cherokee from a distance and hearing updates in passing about the progress they were making.

When I was researching Kwajalien, I ran across a blog that told about the adventures of three guys and their 74 foot trimaran and the fact that it was for sale. It was interesting reading and fun to see it for myself once I got here, not to mention meeting the captains in person. The other day I stopped to take a picture of the freshly painted hull and it's a good thing I did because the very next day it was back in the water and they are ready for their next adventure!

The Cherokee is actually for sale, once they get back from their trip to Fiji that is.

Happy Sailing!


Mystery Fruit

Can anyone tell me what the heck this is? Post a comment if you know. Thank you!


My First Avocado *Updated*

When I was a kid I remember my Mom making many, many attempts to grow an avocado; I do not however remember any of them actually growing. I figured this was probably the perfect environment to try one of my own.
And here is the result!
Here it is just a week later! Amazing!


Feeding The Turtles

I think it's kind of funny that I've lived here for a year and a half now and it never occurred to me to feed the turtles in the turtle pond. One of my blog readers is now here on island, she got a job here and I've been introducing her to the island. The first thing she wanted to do? Feed the turtles. Hmm, why didn't I think of that?

I decided to stick the camera in the pond and this is the shot I got....