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Moloka`i Mo`omomi Preserve

Dirt RoadAs I mentioned last week, the proprietor of the B&B where I stayed offered me several suggestions about places to take photos. One that he suggested intrigued me so much that I had to forgo playing golf (at the 9-hole public course) to go visit. The place is the the Nature Conservancy preserve at Mo`omomi (pronounced moh-[short pause]-oh-MOH-mee). The destination is not without challenges, however. First, the dirt road — and me with a rental car agreement that forbids me from driving off-road. So I had to drive to the end of the paved road then walked — three miles in, three miles out plus a couple miles around the preserve.

Second, there are no facilities of any kind. So I filled my water bottle, stuffed some snacks in my pack, slung my tripod case over my back and off I went.

I noticed a truly odd situation during the first part of my hike, I actually had better cell phone reception than I did at the B&B. One has to wonder why they have five bars where there are no people and no bars where several hundred people live. Go figure!

Windblown TreeAlong the way, I encountered many intriguing sights such as this windswept tree. The strong prevailing winds have shaped it so the trunk is windward and the branches and leaves are leeward. Quite dramatic.

Mo`omomi Beach Finally after my three-mile hike I arrived at this spectacular view of Mo`omomi Beach. It is hard to tell the dimensions from the photo but is was probably about a mile from one side of the beach to the other. What is obvious is that there are no people anywhere. How cool to be the only person on the beach — just me and Mother Nature. I understand (and observed) that the waves were very rough and swimming would be quite dangerous. I was certainly not tempted.

Driftwood However, walking the beach by oneself is awesome. Lots of driftwood and other debris — the latter mostly plastic. I was told that volunteers for the Nature Conservancy clean up the non-natural debris once a month.

And I had to laugh out loud when I found this gem. It is a coconut with a few fibers of the outer husk still attached — but with a hole in the shell. This looks so much like the helmets worn by ancient Hawaiian warriors — that I wonder if this is how they got the idea.

Next I encountered this peculiar object. It actually looked like a creosote-treated log covered with sand and being eaten by bees! It was covered with hundreds of them — although only a few of them are visible in this close-up view which I selected so you could see the bees clearly.

I shared the images of this object with several of my fellow students and no one could identify what the object was and why bees would be interested (and I certainly don't know). The best guess, in my estimation, was that this was a small seal that had died and was washed up on the beach (one photo showed what might be a bit of a flipper). But still, why would bees be eating a seal?

This beach is so huge that there are plenty of sand dunes and areas of drifting sand. This spot caught my attention because the sand was blowing into a small river which was dammed up by the beach. I presume that when the rains come, the river would flow all the way to the sea. But right now it is a small pond with sand intruding in its right of way. Way cool but this small photo really does not do it justice. You need to see it in person!

Where you have sand dunes you also have vegetation such as these flowers. They were holding their own against the brisk winds. And the photographer must use a fast shutter otherwise the blossoms would just be a blur in that wind.

The strong winds also work to erode the rocks exposing multiple layers. Some of my fellow students suggested it was layers of limestone formed by shells compressed under ancient oceans but I think that the Hawaiian Islands are too young, geologically speaking, for that. I am certainly not a geologist but I'm going with the theory that the layers are formed of lava — some layers denser than others resulting in this type of erosion.

There are also remnants of the more recent past — the barbed wire used to fence off the lands used for grazing cattle. The salt air is doing a real number on the steel wire — as Mother Nature seeks to reclaim what Man has tried to claim for himself.

Another example is this building that is gradually collapsing. I shared this photo with one of the people who works at the retreat and she remembers when the building was still intact. She was quite surprised to see it in this condition.

Even machinery is not immune to Mother Nature's reclamation. I cannot fathom why this tractor was just left standing there in the field — but it looks to me that it won't be there for long.

I must confess that this little photographic journey was one of the most interesting of my life. Since I did not have the time or energy to complete the eight-mile trail that follows the perimeter of the Nature Conservancy land, I sincerely hope to return some day and continue my exploration. All I can say is "Wow"!

 Life is good.

 B. David