July 5, 2004

dolphins, fireworks and lots more hiking

no, this picture does not need to be rotated
Happy 4th of July from Guam!

Yet again I have been quite busy since my last update. The main difference from usual however is that I have spent much of the time with my new girlfriend named Melissa. Unfortunately for me she flew back to the US mainland a week and a half ago. She was here in Guam for a few weeks to visit her sister and was only able to extend her stay by a little over a week.

I first got acquainted with Melissa during the SCUBA diving and underwater world activities that I wrote about in my last update. After that we spent more time together and
exposed coral at low tide
really hit it off. During the week after my last update we went snorkeling and visited Chamorro Village. On the weekend we went to church, had a picnic at Talofofo Bay and visited Melolo Falls for a refreshing swim.

The following "weekend" got started on Thursday evening when we went on a hike starting at the radio station when I got off work. We hiked down to the beach and were going to follow the coastline and hike back up the river to "Andrew Falls". When we got down to the beach though we realized that the waves were very big due to a typhoon in the region. Most of the beach area was passable but one point which usually just involves walking in knee deep water was too rough and dangerous to traverse. We
enjoying the dolphins
wound up walking the other direction all the way to Facpi point instead. We turned back at the point itself, again due to the rough water, and retraced our steps to the station. The hike wasn't exactly what we had planned on but we still had plenty of fun.

Friday I got off work at noon and we decided to visit Talofofo Caves. This was my third visit to the caves but we managed to find an extensive cave which I hadn't been in before. It turns out that this cave is actually the biggest one in the area but the entrance is very narrow so I had missed it completely on my previous two visits. We had lots of fun squeezing through the various passages and exploring the tunnels as far as we could. We also exited the cave via another route which involved a very tight belly crawl right at the
underwater view of the dolphins

Sabbath after church we went on yet another hike, this time along the reef at low tide. We hiked from Pago Bay to Taga Chang which is a rugged stretch of the eastern coastline. We saw lots of creatures in the tide pools and enjoyed some very porous parts of the reef where the incoming waves would force air and sometimes water through small fissures and holes. This would produce a hissing sound and sometimes miniature blowholes would also spout. Another highlight was the live coral that we could see along the reef's edge.

Sunday morning we were up bright and early to rent some SCUBA gear. Once we got
we had some extra water for this dive
our gear together we then drove to a boat launch area called Ylig Bay. A friend of mine from work had invited us out on his boat for some fishing and diving on the eastern side of the island which is only divable a few weeks out of the year since it is usually very rough. We trolled for fish the first part of the trip but didn't end up catching anything. As we got close to the dive site we spotted some dolphins. As it turned out there were a whole bunch of dolphins in the area all around the boat. One my friends counted 50 fins at one time so we figure there must have been at least 80 dolphins. One smaller group of them decided to play in our bow wave for quite a long time so we got some good pictures and even managed to touch a few of the dolphins while leaning out over the bow. After watching them play in front of the boat for quite a while we put on our snorkel gear and hopped
about to jump
into the water with the dolphins. They were of course more scared of us then but it was fun to watch the whole group of dolphins swimming as they passed directly below us. We also spotted a stingray on the bottom in about 75 feet of water so the visibility was obviously excellent. Eventually the dolphins decided to swim away so we hopped back in the boat and got ready to SCUBA dive. It had been raining off and on most of the day but just as we were ready to start diving it really started pouring. While we were on the bottom we could see some flashes of lightning but it had calmed down considerably by the time our dive was over. The diving was great with lots of coral and fish. After diving we went to a place with three natural arches and a deep sea cave hollowed out of the high coastal cliffs. Since the tide was low we could walk on the reef to get to the sea cave which was connected to the ocean via an underwater tunnel. It's pretty hard to describe this place because it was so amazing and unique. The cave was sort of like a deep pit with a little bit of light streaming into the bottom of it from the underwater tunnel. It was pretty scary,
andrew falls is normally just a small stream
but from the top of the pit there were a couple of ledges that were perfect to jump off of. We all eventually got up the courage to jump and were glad we did. After jumping we could just climb back up the walls of the pit to jump again. When we finished playing and exploring we headed back to the boat and then back to the launch area.

Monday after work it was pouring rain but we decided to go on a short hike to "Andrew Falls" anyway. It was very slippery and we were soaked to the bone within about a
upper segua falls
minute of leaving the station, but we had a lot of fun and were rewarded with a totally new view of the falls. Since there had been so much rainfall that afternoon the river had tons of water in it. What is normally a small stream had been transformed into a thundering whitewater torrent. There was so much water that we couldn't even get down into the river bed like usual because it was completely full. It was very impressive to see so much water gushing over the falls. I took some pictures but I only took the camera out of the waterproof bag for one of them when the rain briefly let up and I was out of range of the spray from the falls.

On Tuesday night we went out to eat at an Indian restaurant and then on Wednesday the weather was good so we decided to go for a walk. We wound up walking a lot further than we planned. We started near the Marina which is near my apartment and followed the coastline south to Facpi point, which we were able to round this time as the waves were not as rough and the tide was down. From there we kept on going to the next point which we were also able to round this time. We
tropical storm tingting=wind=big waves=sand on the main road
then hiked up the river to Andrew Falls which had returned to a more normal water level since our previous visit. Along the way we saw a couple of river eels including the biggest one I've seen so far. We got back up to the radio station just after sunset and caught a ride with a coworker back down to where we had left my car. After getting cleaned up and cooled off we played a game of settlers with Melissa's sister and her husband. I then got a couple hours of sleep before driving Melissa to the airport at about 3:30 am to catch her flight back to the US mainland.

On the Sabbath after Melissa left I went on a hike to Segua Falls which I have been to a couple of times before. This time it was a bit rainy and actually
snorkeling near my apartment
rained some while we were there, which of course swelled the falls a good deal. On the way back we hiked to another waterfall on the same river called Upper Segua Falls which I hadn't been to before. After exploring the falls a bit we hiked back to the car via a trail which was new to all of us. It was a long, slippery hike but we had fun.

At the beginning of this last week we had a pretty major tropical storm come through. It was later upgraded to a Typhoon but not until after it had passed Guam. We had some strong winds gusting to around 60 mph and tons of rain. I believe we were getting over 2
low tide
inches of rain an hour some of the time so there was a lot of flooding around the island. My apartment was without power for about 30 hours and they closed the clinic for a half day but other than that I wasn't affected by the storm too much. It was interesting to see and hear the strong winds though I can only imagine how much worse an actual Typhoon would be.

Also last week I got a little sick so I skipped out on the hike this Sabbath. I was feeling better on Sunday though so decided to take advantage of the low tide to explore a couple of islands near my apartment. I hiked out across the reef and was very surprised to see a small shark in the shallows. It was probably around 2 feet long and no doubt got startled when I walked up. It swam a half circle around me and then headed off into the distance moving at a pretty good speed. After exploring the island I snorkeled for a bit and then walked back to my apartment. In the evening a friend and I drove out to a place called Polaris Point which is part of the area controlled by the Navy. They opened it up just this one night for everyone to come and enjoy the
4th of july fireworks at polaris point
games, food, music and fireworks to celebrate the 4th of July. We got there with enough time to look around a bit before finding a great spot to watch the fireworks. The display was very good with lots of variety and lasted about 30 minutes.

Well, that's all the latest news from me for now.

Until next time,


PS The Epson photo service I was using previously finally decided to limit my storage space so I have removed nearly all of my albums from their site. For now I have a new gallery with new pictures online here although I'm still not sure if/when I will be able to get the older pictures back online. The new gallery is running on the same server as the rest of my website which has a limit on the amount of storage space I can use.

Posted by andrew on July 5, 2004

Thanks Andrew for a great update. We've been waiting to hear from you for awhile. Sounds like you and Melissa have a great deal in common. Hope you've found the girl of your dreams! Continue to keep us posted.

Posted by: Schwartzes on July 7, 2004

Wow, somebody worthy to date my wonderful, handsome nephew. She sounds great--and your pictures and adventures make me jealous, and a little tired. Thanks for sharing!!!! MK

Posted by: mary kay on July 8, 2004

Hi Andrew,
great website. Lots of good info for beginner backpackers (liek myself).
I noticed you said somewhere you were a volunteer. What do you actually do and how does one go about applying?
Keep it up,

Posted by: Rob on July 13, 2004

I've mostly been working on computers for the last couple years with some organizations connected to my church. I'm not sure what to suggest if you're interested in volunteering but you might have a look at http://thorntree.lonelyplanet.com since I think that question gets asked fairly often in the forums there.


Posted by: Andrew on July 21, 2004