By Meghan Reisenauer ‘19

Well, our trip to Hawai’i has come to an end. I write to you now from the San Francisco airport on our way back to Boston!

Thursday was our last day on the Big Island. We started the day with some MIT alumni at the Keauhou Canoeing Club! Dennis, Fred, and Sean gave us a paddling tutorial, teaching us how to hold our paddles and to complete the stroke with our whole bodies. Fred had come to our presentation on Tuesday, and we had chatted about my time on the MIT crew team, so he encouraged me to sit up front when Dennis asked who in the group would have the timing to stay with his stroke. I’m always up for a challenge, so I sat in the bow (facing forward, how odd for me!) and did my best to keep my paddle in time with Dennis’s.

The canoe was actually a double-hulled version, with six seats on each side, so Dennis was directly to my right with the rest of my boat behind me. Paddling was so much fun! We all got a good workout, and got to see the beautiful views from the bay. The seasoned paddlers pointed out the edge of Mauna Loa in the distance and Haleakalā volcano on Maui, just visible through the clouds on the other side of the bay. After we went out into the waves, we made a slow arc back around to the KCC. It was a great way to start the day!

Because it was our last day, we needed to organize all of the equipment and supplies, and determine which would stay in the storage unit and which would come back with us in the crates. The work was hot, but it went quickly with many hands working together. Next, our group split up to enjoy our last few hours on the island. I joined some of the others at a nearby beach to soak up the sun and waves for a little while. Other TREXers headed to a coffee mill and got some snazzy Hawaiian shirts to remember their time here!

Ju and Joey show off their new digs

We all met up again soon for an early dinner at a local Hawaiian eatery. For many of us, it was our first time trying different Hawaiian foods, and we enjoyed tasting the variety that was offered.  We also sampled kava, a Hawaiian root drink called the “welcome beverage,” meant to be drank out of coconut shells. Although none of us wanted to leave the perfect warm breeze and relaxing at the restaurant, soon enough it was time to head to Kona airport and catch our flight back to Boston.

I want to give a special thank you to the CEE department, in honor of my last blog – we loved the trip to Hawai’i and we have all learned so much in these last two weeks. It was a whirlwind of an experience, with so much education and fun, and of course beautiful sweeping views. Thank you also to the Kona Science Café and all the attendees of our presentation for hosting us, as well as Richard Ha for showing us his farm and allowing us to tramp through it for days, taking soil and corn samples along the way!

All in all, this TREX was a wonderful and fulfilling experience, and we leave with the feeling that our hard work paid off into something great. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading my blog for the last 16 days and have gotten some insight into our activities in Hawai’i!

 

Every year, a group of MIT students and professors travel to the Big Island of Hawaii to gain fieldwork experience through TREX (Traveling Research Environmental EXperiences). The first TREX trip was held in 2000, and since launching has taken students on research activities in domestic and international settings. For more undergraduate opportunities, click here.