• 10 - 11 May 2014: 32 hours and back home

    10 - 11 May 2014: 32 hours and back home

    Still remembering yesterday and ENO Trees Peace Circle (above) I started my return trip to home, at 4:00 AM local time in Honolulu. First stop was Los Angeles where my friend Kathy Burton picked me up and we went to see the nearest beach. The atmosphere reminded me of my last visit to LA seven years ago. Nice windy air and beautiful beach. We talked about family matters and my IVLP experience. And had some snacks in Rock'n Fish, next to LA Kings bar where some local hunks went straight from the sea with their surfboards. So funny.  From LA I took a flight to London and could not sleep during those 10 hours for some reason.  From London airport I continued with Finnair flight to Helsinki and am writing this now at the airport while waiting my last flight to Joensuu. Let's see how many days it will take to recover from time difference (13 hours).

    A great but a long trip. I have missed my family and look forward to go back to basics, waiting for a huge to-do-list.... Thank you for everybody who made this possible!

    Going home

    "I’ll embrace the wide world,
    won't bother with the small villages."
    I looked at life blue-eyed
    And I think I came a full circle.

    I exchanged café au lait and Champs-Élysées
    to a campfire coffee at lake Koitere.
    After all those years I’d seen enough.
    It was best to come back home.

    Going home again,
    Where I was born and where I’ll stay.
    Going home again.
    This is my place
    Humble though it may be.

    If I’m running out of steam, please take me there
    Or we’ll need a priest at the end of the road.
    The birch and the star in my heart,
    Always going home.

    Los Angeles -  London with 777 . Other types during this trip: 717, 737 and 757.

    When flying with Finnair from London to Helsinki I felt I was already home...

  • 9 May 2014 - Closing and showing US to US

    9 May 2014 - Closing and showing US to US

    Three weeks went fast. Today it was our last day in the programme.  In the morning the participants gave feedback about the programme and we got our certificates.  Most of the group followed me and my optional programme to visit Punahou School in Honolulu. It is the same school from where Barack Obama had graduated. We visited the school that is the largest private school in US. School is very advanced and uses advanced technology for the environment. Children grow their own vegetables and school is a unique learning environment. It was interesting to see also that our US hosts were amazed about this school.  In this case they learned about their country because of me.

    Circle closed. I met my friend Angela Church ( teacher at Punahou) who organised our visit. I have known her for about 20 years and finally was able to meet her face-to-face. Her pupils song my song Hi and ho we plant trees, together with our group. Photos to be out soon.

    And yes. We took a photo in the same place where Barack Obama had his class photo in 1979.

    This trip was an awesome experience. Thanks for everybody, especially AWESOME ASHLEY HARDAWAY!

    Yes. I did a song about our trip and the video will be soon available. But here are the lyrics.

    Traveling three weeks

    1.We started our journey
    in Washington DC
    Meetings after meetings
    So much to hear and see 
    Photos after photos 
    And free dress codes
    At Shenandoah Park
    On those country roads

    2. Then some went to Florida
    Some to Portland, Maine
    B-lovely team had cold days
    But still is not insane.
    Sunshine in Florida
    with many "Oh My God"
    Lobsters, alligators
    See you later, we got stuck.


    Travelling three weeks
    In four different states
    Snowy mountain peaks
    Warm islands and Lakes

    New friends on our ways
    Nice guys and their care
    I still recall these days
    in my rocking chair.

    3. Montana, Yellowstone 
    with breathtaking views
    Old Faithful and volcanoes
    And Joydeep's trekking shoes
    Bisons and grizzly bears
    Bus driver told a joke
    We gotta stop it here
    As someone wants to smoke.

    4. Finally we entered
    Nature's wonderland
    The sound of ukulele 
    doesn't need a band
    Hawaian harmony
    Brought tears in my eyes
    Though we'll soon apart
    This trip stays in my heart.



    Waikiki Beach.

  • 8 May 2014 -Waimea Valley and Hanauma Bay & my song about the trip

    8 May 2014 -Waimea Valley and Hanauma Bay & my song about the trip

    After two days on other islands it was time to see Oahu. We started with Waimea Valley. It is deeply rooted in Hawaiian history and continues to be a respite for Hawaiian spirituality and traditions. Its mission is to preserve and perpetuate the human, cultural and natural resources of Waimea for generations through education and stewardship. We had a private tour at Waimea Valley where we learned about the Valley's efforts to maintain a healthy, natural habitat for native flora, fauna and wildlife. We also got to know about Native Hawaiian culture, from traditional games to storytelling. 

    Our second meeting was on Hanauma Bay. It is a natural beauty that has been a major attraction for both tourists and locals for decades. After years of overuse and abuse, the fragile ecosystem began to fall apart. Through partnerships with the State and City and County of Honolulu, a fierce effort was put to forth to revive and protect the Bay. Now much healthier, Hanauma Bay is a prime example of balancing conservation and tourism.  

    During our bus drive we also practised a song I made about our trip called Traveling Three Weeks. It appeared to be easy enough for the group and I think they liked it. Stay tuned for tomorrow's blog!

  • 7 May 2014: 'Ulu, Koa and Nene in Kauai!

    7 May 2014:  'Ulu, Koa and Nene in Kauai!

    Today we had a day-long visit to Kauai on our agenda. Kauai is the oldest and northernmost island with population of only 67 000 people. This island is called the "Garden Isle" and is draped in emerald valleys, sharp mountain spires and jagged cliffs, aged by time and the elements. Centuries of growth have formed tropical rainforests, forking rivers and cascading waterfalls. Some parts of Kauai are only accesible by sea or air.

    We arrived at Lihue in the morning and drove to Limahuli Garden and Preserve. It is a recognized National Tropical Botanical Garden that has demonstrated sound environmental practices of water, soil and rare plant conservation. The property includes on plantation-era garden, as well as invasive species that were introduced by migrating humans. Behind the garden is the Limahuli Preserve where conservationists and restorartion biologists are working to preserve species native to the habitat. We met the director Mr Kawika Winter who introduced the garden for us.  His approach on conservation was very interesting as it was through cultural heritage and ancestors who came to island. Science and culture hand in hand. I leaned a new native tree in Hawaii, called  'Ulu.  I already knew Koa tree and found some of them in the preserve area!

    Seconrd meeting was at Kilauea Point. We examined a federal National Wildlife Refuge program at the Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge which opened to visitors in 1985 to provide the general public an opportunity to experience and learn about a unique diversity of seabirds, native coastal plants, and visit the historic Daniel K. Inouye Kilauea Point Lighthouse. The ocean cliffs and open grassy slopes of an extinct volcano provide breeding grounds for native Hawaiian seabirds and nene, the endangered Hawaiian goose.  This place offers a possibility to view red-footed boobies, Laysan albatrosses, wedge-tailed shearwaters and other seabirds in their national habitat.  We saw seabirds and also nenes in the end of our meeting. What a day! Mahalo!

    Hibiscus greeted us at the airport!

    'Ulu, native tree in Hawaii.

    Kawika Winter, director of Limahuli Garden and Preserve

    Koa, another native tree.

    Behind us there is a sacred hill of local people.

    Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge 

  • 6 May 2014 - A trip to Hilo and Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

    6 May 2014 - A trip to Hilo and Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

    A very early start today at 5:20AM. We had a flight to Hilo, Big Island. Hawaii Volcanoes National Park and with rangers exlore this park which showcases 70 million years of volcanic activity, migration and evolution - processes that thrust a bare land from the sea and wrapped it with unique ecosystems, and a distinct human culture. The prake highlights two of the world's most active volcanoes and offers insights on the birth of the Hawaiian Islands and views of dramatic volcanic landscapes.

    We met first Cindy Orlando (Superintendent) and discussed about park management issues. Then we got to know about water management system used, collecting rain water and its utilization.  We had a unique chance to see the work of an artist who make ancient Hawaiian festive clothes of feathers. Our guided tour in the park was by an excellent ranger. Arrival at hotel was 9:40 PM so group was very tired but happy.

    Ranger explains the water system, redwood tanks behind (not in use anymore)

    A group photo with feather artist, in the center with a bird hat made by him

    Kilauea volcano

  • 5 May 2014 - A traveling day to Hawaii

    5 May 2014  - A traveling day to Hawaii

    Monday was another travelling day. We woke up at 3:45 AM, checked out from hotel and headed to Bozeman airport (Montana). First flight was to Seattle, Washington. From Seattle we flew to Los Angeles. Unfortunately we had to claim our baggage and check-in again in Los Angeles. From there we finally flew to Honolulu, Hawaii. 10 hours sitting in a plane plus 6 hours around them. I used partly of this time when making a song about our trip! Because of time difference we arrived 4PM local time so we had some time to see surroundings. But travelling 16 hours took its toll and early to sleep.

  • 4 May 2014 - Scarface and Bison Chili

    4 May 2014 - Scarface and Bison Chili

    Today it was time to say farewell to Yellowstone. During our bus travel we stopped in some places and explored wildlife. We saw a Grizzly Bear again and a lot of bisons and other wildlife. It was easy to identify animals as people were watching them beside road. Suddenly a ranger stopped our bus and told us about Scarface. They do not give names for Grizzly Bears but have named this one because of its scars. Scarface was an old bear with poor teeth. It was really big, estimated weight 350 pounds ( 158 kg).

    After Yellowstone we came to Bozeman and Hotel Holiday Inn. We had a wonderful home hospitality at Laura Fedro's home, togethe with her husband Cliff and their son Gus.  We enjoyed a superb dinner, bison chili and vegane chili  and icecream and strawberries for dessert. I really enjoyed this meeting and our conversations. And Gus played guitar after dinner while I performed an old song by the Eagles. Laura brought us to hotel and showed us main street of Bozeman. This family uses organic farm products, very recommendable and good example to other people!

    Now its time to go to sleep because of an early drive at 4AM to the airport. Heading to Hawaii.

    Ranger and his story about Scarface, an old Grizzly Bear in Yellowstone.

    At Laura Fedro's home. Thank you!

  • 3 May 2014 - O Come You, Old Faithful!

    3 May 2014 - O Come You, Old Faithful!

    Today we explored Yellowstone in a guided bus tour. Temperature was low in the morning but got warmer during the day. We managed to see birds, elks, bisons and a grizzly bear, amongst other interesting species and breathtaking views. One of them was a big herd of bisons walking towards us on the road. A memorable day for all of us.

    A view from my breakfast table.

  • 2 May 2014 - to Yellowstone

    2 May 2014 - to Yellowstone

    Due to our late arrival at Bozeman, I only had time to participate one meeting at Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks. A wolf Management Specialist told us about their efforts to remove the wolf from the endangered species list. The wolf team works throughout the state monitoring the wolf population, investigating wolf reports, working with landowners, and doing public outreach to support wolf conservation.

    Then we headed to Yellowstone, one of highlights for many of us. We met mr Al Nash, Nationsl Park Service Ranger. He made an excellent presentation about the unique ecosystem of this natural park underscoring the various governmental initiatives to sustain the ecology of this place. We checked in at Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel, an old and idyllic hotel inside the park. Elks were having dinner underneath my room windiow. We explored hot springs in the evening and made a group meeting where we shared our reflections between two teams. And were getting ready for the next day in Yellowstone.

     Mr Nash and his presentation in Yellowstone.

    Old style at hotel.

  • 1 May 2014: Travelin band

    1 May 2014: Travelin band

    Originally we were to arrive Bozeman (Montana) in 16 hours from Tallahassee. It took 61 hours. But we had a great car drive from Salt Lake City (Utah)  to Bozeman. Beautiful scenery with mountains was great. We also passed Idaho during our 7 hour drive. Before arriving at hotel Holiday Inn we had to get our luggage from the airport. Fortunately we found them from there. 

    After arriving hotel I did quick arrangements and hurried to a jazz concert (that turned out be country rock), called taxi and went to concert together with Jablani and Gilbert. The concert took place at Peach St Studios, owned by Jason Wickens, a local entrepreneur who welcomed us and introduced his studio, including Gibson guitars that were made just across the street!

    Band was called Copper Mountain Band. They played traditional music based on their own songs. The gig was recorded simultaneously and will be out in several radio stations in Alaska and locally. Gig was very good and people enjoyed. We were overwhelmed for the hospitality and organisers even drove us to our hotel and showed some of their city. Thank you Bozeman!