Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Waterfalls and Chicken Wings


There's a Saipan reunion taking place right now in Buffalo, New York. I'm sorry you didn't get your invitation.  Long term readers of this blog will remember when Diana Gabroni (Saipan's Pinay American Midget) was my roommate.  And Brad, Saipan's only celebrity, needs no introduction.


The party also includes Brad's better third, Kathy, and their two munchkins.  I arrived on Sunday night and it has been a non-stop party ever since.  On Monday we drove to Niagara Falls, Canada so that we could have lunch at Burger King.


There is little in life as entertaining as watching island people slowly freeze to death.  Strangely enough, everyone we talk to keeps mentioning what a mild winter we are having.  Only in Buffalo is 22 degrees Fahrenheit considered mild.

Want to see more of Niagara?  I've posted 37 more photos to Facebook.


The day after our Niagara Falls adventure, Brad tried to kill us all by taking us hiking to Eternal Flame Falls.  Tuesday was even colder than Monday.


The walk to Eternal Flame Falls was pleasantly scenic.  The first part of the hike goes up and down several hills and over trickling streams.  The sparse snow that melted on the concrete in town stayed put on the fallen leaves.  It was Kathy, Keoni, and Leilani's first time seeing snow.


The second part of the hike was a bit more treacherous.  After descending an earthen staircase the trail winds along a small river.  The frozen water made the going slow.  The girls opted to stay up top.  The boys went in search of the waterfall at the head of the waterway.


This section of the hike meanders over fallen tree trunks and criss crosses back and forth across the water.  Like a champ, the three year old walked most of the way.  But he got ferried in a couple of spots.  We all got our feet wet.


In exchange for cold toes and fingers we were greeted with a short waterfall.  That yellow glow is the eternal flame, a seep of natural gas that when lit burns despite all the water.  While not nearly as majestic as Niagara, the flame behind the waterfall is pretty damn unique.


The experience made me want to pose like Walt Goodridge.  And if you want to see more photos, there are 25 on Facebook.

So after 48 hours in Buffalo, I've managed 2 waterfalls and 7 chicken wings.  My goal for finishing out 2014 is to eat more.

Friday, December 26, 2014

10 Years of Blogging

This is the 2,538th blog post on the Saipan Blog.  I've been blogging for 10 years.

Tiana and me in early 2005
In 10 years this blog has taken my readers (both of you) from Florida to Japan to Saipan back to Florida and then up to Washington, DC.  I've worked in conservation nearly the whole time, with a few adventures sprinkled between jobs.

It's been a great ride, but it hasn't always been easy.  Now I look this this (I'm on the right):

A photo posted by Angelo Taotaotasi (@sharkdefenders) on

The years have not been kind.

Earlier this year I set out to write about my experience blogging over the last 10 years.  I didn't do a very good job.  So what have I learned in 10 years?  Not much.  If I knew more or was a better writer, I'd be getting paid to write this rather than typing it out from my living room while watching Netflix.

One thing for sure is that being a successful blogger takes time and perseverance.  The recipe is simple: You get visitors and readers by building search engine optimization and posting material that makes readers want to return.  When something is getting lots of searches, you want to be at the top of the Google results.

Fat guys running half marathons and going to Jollibee don't get lots of searches, and hardly any return visitors.  Japanese bikini girls are way more popular.  It's also popular to write mean things about politicians, you know, like calling on the governor to resign (even if some people still like him).

So what have I done well?

Every year I get a boost in traffic for people looking to plagiarize my (terrible) JET application essay.  And my trip to The Northern Islands  and my tongue in cheek blog on Famous Chamorro People are still popular.

My photos of coconut crabs were snarfed by Boing Boing and now appear all over the internet.  They are probably the most popular photos other than the one of a crab on a garbage can.  Check out Twitter search and count how often they pop up.

And then there's all those conservation posts.  Oh my.  Let's say that I write in a different style now that I'm over 30 (well beyond, I admit).

See, I told you I didn't learn much.

Merry Christmas!