Brigid Travels

Updates from The Road

Maui - 2/1 [2014]

Happy St Brigid's Day! My patron saint, who turned bath water to beer :)

This morning Danielle and I did a 5k starting at 7am, the Run/Walk for the Whales, starting at Ma'alaea Harbor and up/ on Kihei Road a bit. Lovely, with just a bit of rain. And we spotted some whales out in the bay!

Now resting up before heading to another whale watching raft adventure!

On a sad note, a brother from my college fraternity, Delta Sigma chapter of Sigma Nu, died yesterday from complications of liver and pancreatic cancer. So sad. So young. Bob "Klump" Klemm was so much larger than life, absolutely hilarious and a proud West Virginian. Haven't seen him in a number of years, but he will be missed. I'm so glad to be in touch with my frat brothers and little sisters via Facebook.


Unfortunately we were not able to go whale watching today :( the waves were too rough so all boats were canceled. We came back and walked down to Black Rock to see if we could snorkel. We couldn't. We would have been battered against the lava rock!

Since it was choppy and there were lots of whitecaps, it was hard to spot whales from shore, too. And then the deluge started again. So plans have been frustrated today but it still was a lovely day.

Maui - first few days [2014]

We arrived Monday afternoon and headed to Costco and Safeway to pick up Mai Tai fixins (POM juice + dark rum) and some food to keep us going this week. It was raining. On the drive to Ka'anapali we saw some whale spouts and flipper slaps :) Very cool. We just chilled that night in the room.

The next day, Tuesday, it was still raining and we headed down to the Maui Ocean Center. Very cool place! Highlights were the feeding the sharks and rays, when we got to see a ray's underbelly :) and an amazing iridescent display of jellyfish.

Wednesday we got up at 5:30 in the pouring rain to get on a whale watching raft at 6:45, just as the sun came up. It rained off and on, but the highlight was seeing a "flying pickle" - a baby whale repeatedly trying to breach :) so cute! Afterwards, we headed up to a place recommended by a local as the best breakfast on the island - the Sea House. Wonderful!!! They had lots of dishes with local ingredients, affordable, right on the sand... Amazing.

Afterward, we drove up to the north shore to see what was up with the waves. It was still raining, waves were probably 5' or so - big but not jigundous. We stopped at Hololua Bay and chatted with a local surfer/filmmaker under the palm frond palapa which protected us from the rain. But the surfers down below didn't have it so good. Half of them were in the "chocolate milk" aka "poo water". That's a technical term. But it was cool.

We got back to the room, changed, and headed to Black Rock for some snorkeling. We were afraid we would be wading into the "poo water" but it was pretty darn clear. Saw tons of fish :) we had dinner in the room, spotted a few whales and hit the hay early. An exhausting but fantastic day.

Thursday we went to Black Rock again and this time spotted our quarry - turtles! And tons of fish. Wandered around Whalers Village a bit and headed back to the room, then yummy lunch at Paiololo - juicy burger for Danielle, taro burger for me. Plus accompanying tropical adult beverages, of course. Really good. Next we hung on the beach to see the whales spouting and jumping. They do put on quite a show, though they are pretty far out there! Just after sunset we joined a Hawaiian navigator-in-training who talked about how Hawaiians, and Polynesians in general, navigate in their outrigger or double-hulled canoes. Very cool. And the stars were out so it was amazing to identify constellations and learn about how they rise and set and how to use them. The concept is a non-magnetic compass. That was a 'late' night, getting to bed about 9pm! We are party animals!!

Friday was a relaxing day. We took a walk in the morning and browsed the local artisans tent shops that popped up overnight. Then Danielle prepared for and aced an interview while I did some therapy, journaling about the rough assignment this fall - Exploring Engagement. I think I have purged it for the most part :) Later we headed down to Ma'alaea Harbor to pick up race packets and T-shirts for Saturday's 5k. It took us 1.5 hours to go the 20 or so miles!! Because there were so many whales out, people were going like 5 mph. Tiring. After we got home we napped in anticipation of a night out. We went to Lahaina and had some great pizza at Lahaina Pizza Co and grabbed some gelato (lavender for me, chocolate sea salt for Danielle) and wandered the shops. Truly a late night - didn't get to bed til 10!

Round the World - The end of the trip [2000]


Well, I landed safely at LAX at 2:15 on Saturday, and Cindy and Scott picked me up. They had a great welcome home banner for me, crafted by themselves and Rosa (thanks!). For those of you at work, I hung it in my office. For everyone else, I'll take a picture and put it up on the website with the rest of the pictures! It was questionable whether I would get home, though, because my 10pm flight from Fiji left 5 hours early so I missed it! Luckily I was at the airport early enough to get first on the stand-by list for a 7:40 flight through Honolulu (the other one was straight through). It's for the best that I missed the original flight, though, because I would have landed at LAX at 8am and not been able to get home for hours! The flight was fine, and I got a few hours' sleep, plus the bonus of an extra day due to crossing the dateline.

Fiji was ok - but there are still signs of the coup that happened in May. For instance, there was a manned sandbag-strewn raised bunker at an intersection outside of town. I went to an orchid garden, took a dip in a hotspring (but that is a secret because my guide wasn't supposed to take me there - it's where locals go), and did a wee bit of hiking to a point that looked over Nandi and off into the island-studded ocean. It really was beautiful, but the whole political/ethnic situation is aggravating the poverty and crime situation so I didn't feel all that comfortable there. I was not looking forward to spending the night there if I didn't get a flight out. But they were very excited to have a tourist to pay attention to - their season has been dismal.

Sunday I mostly slept, and I think I am almost over the jetlag and the daylight savings time switch :)

So that's it. Back at work today was good - I really did miss everyone! And I got most of my pictures developed (over 300 - not including Ireland films which are still en route, probably in the middle of the Atlantic on a slow boat). Some of the photos are great! And Cindy gave me great ones for the first week of Ireland, so really I'm just missing 2 weeks. I'll bring the pics to work for the next week or so, and eventally will do a whole scrap book with brochures, ticket stubs, narrative, etc.

I already posted all the emails that I have sent to my webpage ( -> Sabbatical Recap). My plan is to get a webpage with narrative/highlights/favorites/FAQ/lessons learned/best stories/etc to go with the better pictures scanned in by Christmas (hopefully sooner). I'll send one more mass mailing to you all when that is done, and at that time I'll probably have a little travelogue shindig for those of you who are interested in the San Diego area (and Philly area when I go there for Christmas - plus I might have to go to DuPont and talk, too, since they have been following it!).

Anyway, thanks for hanging with me during my travails. I really appreciate all the emails of support I have gotten all the way through. And pretty much everybody said they were worried by my Mt Kenya tale - sorry about that. If you have questions, feel free to ask!

Until next time... Brigid

Fiji [2000]


Flight Out

NON-LAX 10/28 10:00pm-1:20pm (American Airlines 739)


  • Nadi – I only had an afternoon here, and went on a pretty tense driving tour – they were gearing down from a coup a few months earlier.

in Fiji [2000]


This one will really be the last (I think). I'm at the airport in Fiji, and it is 12:30 on Saturday. I'll be arriving home at LAX in an hour (thanks to the dateline). Tonga was pretty good, but the people on "The Friendly Islands" were a little too friendly - very nosy, which can be ok, but the guys were pretty slimy and gave a new meaning to 'leer'. I had read that they saw too many American movies and thought all American women were easy targets, so I was a bit prepared.

I arrived Wed and was grabbed by the first taxi guy claiming he was a tour guide as well (that's what his badge said). So he drove me to the blowholes where the waves spewed up through small channels in the volcanic rock. Quite dramatic. Then I saw a palm tree that had 3 heads (Edward was very proud of this genetic mutation) and looked at some bat-like flying squirrels high in the trees.

The first night I decided to stay in a hostel-type guest house, and afterwards decided to never do that again if I can help it. Nothing too bad, but just not clean, and the water was not very hot, and the roosters crowed at 4:30am. I was glad I had brought my own sleep sack, but still got a bunch of bites. Thurs I got picked up at 6 and flew to Vava'u, arriving about 9. I checked in at one of the most expensive places on the island ($50) and walked to town to see what I could do until the next day at 3:30 when I needed to return to Tongatapu in order to make my flight today. Unfortunately since it was raining a bit, I had pretty much no choices. The tourism woman suggested getting a taxi to the Tongan Beach resort and then taxi back to go on a boat if the rain had stopped. I decided to walk instead, not knowing how long it was - I had all day to kill. It took me 1-1/2 to 2 hours through some very lush palm fields, and it rained almost the whole time so I was soaked. But I made it there, and they said they did, indeed, rent snorkel stuff in the rain so off I went into the water. There were some pretty cool fish on the coral - blue, yellow, black/white. My favorites were the bright blue starfish and the fish that looked like it was spray-painted blue/green/yellow. The water is so amaxingly clear.

I taxied back to the paradise and took it easy the rest of the day. After dinner, I joined some New Zealand fishermen and together we sloved all the world's problems over a few beers.

Friday I walked around a bit and bought a book on Fiji's coups in the late 80's. The only books in the bookstores were religious, children's and history/art of Tonga. This one probably slipped in because of the regional historical aspect. It must be regulated by the King. Also, I heard an amazing choir practicing - hauntingly beautiful to be walking, checking out the chickens and pigs (and adorable piglets!) on the road and roadside and hearing that.

Back on Tongapatu, I stayed at one of its most expensive hotels, the Dateline ($50), which was exactly like an old college dorm. At least it had an ocean view and TV - I watched a BBC World report on how much mud-slinging there is in the presidential elections. And I think I heard the Yankees won the world series. So it appears I didn't miss too much :)

There were many people in the traditional garb especially on the island of Vava'u - woven mats tied around their waist. It doesn't look to comfortable or slimming, but it it very interesting to see the variations. Also, many people wore leis, either on their heads, around their necks or draped from shoulder to hip. All just as a matter of everyday life. Very pretty.

I'm about half way through the Fiji book, and so I'm a little nervous about being here, given their more recent political disturbances. But everything calmed down months ago, so I'm sure it will be fine.

Gotta go - I booked a half day driving tour. I had wanted to take a quick flight out/back on a little island, but since it is not high season the flights are not plentiful enough for me to do that.

In any case, I will be back home in a day! I can't believe it is over!! I'll send one last mass mailing after I get home, and I'll be putting a whole bunch of stuff on my website by the end of the year.


Tonga [2000]



10/25 : horrible guest house, Nuku’alofa 10/26 : Paradise International Hotel, Neiafu, Vava’U 10/27 :

International Dateline Hotel

– Vuna Road, Nuku’alofa

Flight Out

TBU-NAN 10/28 10:20am-10:50pm (Royal Tongan 305)


  • Nuku’alofa on Tongatapu – I spent a miserable first night in a rooming house, and a better last night in the dorm-like Dateline Hotel. Beautiful, but the locals are a little too friendly.
  • Neiafu on Vava’u – I had a nice few days here, wandering around the island and meeting Kiwi fishermen!

NZ day 2 [2000]

Well, I didn't snowboard today - I slept instead, which is probably for the best. But I definitely have to come back here - I love New Zealand! I ended up reserving the last seat on the last bus from Kaikoura to Christchurch. I spent my last few hours there in the Kaikoura Bar with some very friendly and incredibly amusing New Zealanders - Adam, Matt and Kimi. Adam has a killer imitation of Beavis' Cornholio. Hopefully the picture will turn out.

I slept most of the ride home, being woken up only when I smacked my head against the window as the driver zomed around some of the mountainous curves a little too quickly. We got home almost an hour early (of a scheduled 3 -1/2 hour ride).

I woke up at 6, in time to catch a shuttle to Mt Hutt, but decided I was too tired to risk my life on the mountain today. So I slept, until about 3pm. I think it was a good decision.

This evening, I had dinner at a great vegetarian spot - Dux de Lux. Tomorrow I'm off to Tonga, where I probably won't have any more email access. So I'll send the last update after I get home this weekend.

Just 3-1/2 more days :( Brigid

Dolphin swim [2000]


I really need to get a thesaurus. Everything has been amazing, incredible, intense, stunning or wonderful. Swimming with the dolphins was all that. We had a quick briefing where they told us not to touch the dolphins (they run away), don't flail your arms, but do make squeaking noises, do move rhythmically, do dive down under the water with the snorkel on if you can. They like those things, and will play with you. We drove out into the ocean about a half hour, and then found a suitable pod, without any babies. Moms (and nursemaids) were too protective so we couldn't be near them. On the way, the boat crew gave us 2 rounds of antacids (I think) which were supposed to function against sea sickness. I was the first one in the water and the last one out. We had full wetsuit gear on (including hoods, gloves, booties) and snorkel gear (mask, blowpipe thing, fins). Once in the water I started my rhythmic movement - I put my flippers together as if they were one and moved like a dolphin does. Very soon they came to see what was up. I was careful not to touch them, to keep my hands to my body, but they were so close it took effort. Initially there were 3 of them checking me out. Eventually I got into talking to them through my snorkel gear in alternatingly squeeky and soothing tones. And I dove down (as much as I could with such a bouyant wetsuit). Every time I dove down, a couple of dolphins came swimming by very close to compliment my effort. They were all over everyone - our boat had a dozen swimmers. They popped up and sometimes jumped around us. Every once in a while they would disappear, but always reappear when I tried to do my diving :) After a little over an hour, the boat sounded its horn and the last of us still in the water got on the boat. The dolphins seemed to know what was up, and crossed in front of me as I was trying to maneuver to the boat. To use an oveused word, it was amazing. One time, a dolphin crossed in front of me, then swung on hist back and sailed under me, looking at me over his white belly :) The water was so bright blue-green... the dolphins were black and white, just stunning. And when I looked out of the water, there were snowcapped peaks beyond the dark beaches. I loved it!

The only problem is that I missed the 4:08 train and the 5:45 bus was full, so I got the last seat on the 8:10 bus. I didn't realize it's a holiday here today, so everything is booked up. But I have to get back to Christchurch so I can (hopefully) catch a 7am shuttle up to go snowboarding :) Yes, I'll be careful - no broken ribs or back injury that lays me out on the floor for a week.

This web shop is closing - I guess I'll get something to eat while I wait for the 3 hour bus ride.

:) good day, despite the lack of sleep (I'll catch up in Tonga) Brigid

Hi from Kiwi Land [2000]

I just wiped out my message with an unknown shortcut key, so I apologize if you already got one just now. Last time I wrote, I was between Madagascar and Mauritius in Nairobi. Madagascar was great, but the last day while I was hiking, when the rain stopped the mosquitos attacked me so have a plethora of bites on my calfs (or is it calves? I think calfs).

The flights have all been fine - only one with a mother I wanted to belt for not attempting at all to hush up her screaming child (who was too old to be putting up such a fuss, if you ask me and all the passengers around me). Mostly I read - 'Circle of Friends', a good book!

When I landed in Mauritius, I realized that I had not been surrounded by Westerners for over a month - it was kinda weird to be in a crowd of people I could understand. Most of the tourists there were British, plus a healthy dose of French and Indian. It's a very touristy island, as evidenced by the fact that Prince William was on holiday there a little while before I was there. The water is beautiful, as are the mountains that fall into the sea, but I guess I have been spoiled by being in places that have more raw power. So the night there was fine, but I was not overly impressed.

The next night I spent in Perth Australia, but after a late flight and all the customs rigamaroll, I checked in at 11:30 pm and had to leave at 9:30am. So what I saw of Perth was through a cab window. It did look similar to San Diego, as Tony said it would!

Last night I arrived in Christchurch and again went through alot of customs stuff for a few small wood things I bought in Kenya, and here they checked my boots to be sure I didn't have mud sticking on them. The Aussies and these guys are very serious about quarantine stuff. I had picked up 2 feathers - one in Ireland and 1 in Kenya and I have to have them fumigated before they can leave the country. I guess it is good to be careful - look what kudzu is doing to the southeast. Well, I guess none of you would know that story (imported vine for erosion control, took over uncontrollably, climbing on trees, killing them, decimating forests).

Anyway, I got into the hotel at 3:30 and had to get to the train station at 7am, and including jetlag I got 20 minutes of sleep. So I'm ready to greet the dolphins! In an hour, I do my swim in the ocean, and hopefully we'll see some whales as well.

I'll tell you about that next time! Brigid