I sat on the right side of the plane on the flight from Saipan to Narita. About half an hour after takeoff, just as the sun was rising, I randomly opened up my window and to my surprise saw a small island. Was that Uracas?
No, it wasn't Uracas. The next island we passed was a lot bigger and had a long shape. There are no big islands north of Uracas. That first island was Alamagan. The big second island was Pagan.
A few minutes later we flew past Agrihan.
Then I saw Asuncion, nothing more than the cone of an active volcano, poking out of the waves. Asuncion is the southernmost island within the Marianas Trench Marine National Monument.
It was a thrill seeing the monument from the air. I could not help thinking that I was one of the first people to see it in person since it became a national monument, even if I was at 36,000 feet hurtling through the air at 650 miles per hour.
When I landed in Japan a few hours later I took the train into Narita City. I managed to visit Narita-san and the Aeon shopping mall before heading back to the airport for the 4 PM flight to San Francisco.
The first thing I did when I arrived at the hotel in San Francisco was to update the numbers for Friday's Island Wide Cleanup. We now have 35 sites adopted, 38 groups participating, and 1,529 volunteers signed up. We have more groups signed up for this cleanup than we did for 1020 on 10/20. If some of the bigger schools sign up, ahem, like Hopwood or Garapan, ahem, then we will easily surpass the 3380 volunteers from 2006. That makes me happy.
I wish I could be there to participate, but accepting this EPA Environmental Award in San Francisco caps off a very successful 2008. It is an affirmation of all the good work we did. So what I'm saying is please take pictures of the cleanups!