Weekend Adventure Highlights: Enjoying Freedom in Nature

Weekend Adventure Highlights: Enjoying Freedom in Nature

A photo journal (and several video clips thanks to the iPhone live photo mode!) from last weekend’s adventure to the Airport Tide Pools here in American Samoa.

I was elated to find that we had a new federal holiday, and in honor of Juneteenth, I wanted to celebrate my everyday freedoms by going outside!

Weekend Adventure Highlights:

The sun shone after a week of blustery weather, so it was a perfect day for an island adventure.

Ian, Creighton, and I paddled from our house to the airport strip, and Yodi dog came with us! She swam the entire way to the airport — she’s such a champ.

We hiked over to the ‘pools’ and immediately spotted several baby black tip reef sharks cruising by.

While we were snorkeling, we saw a cloud of sand about 15 feet beneath us, and when it had settled, we saw it was a large stingray getting cozy in the sand.

There were tons of fish… mostly small ones… but I was so happy still to be surrounded by lots of fish. Oh, and the coral looked good as well… not great, but there was still decent live coral coverage, which is good to see after the severe bleaching event several years ago.

I speared a fish! This was my second time ever catching a fish… it was small but larger than my first fish, so hey, that’s progress!

We snorkeled for probably like two hours, then hung out on the rocky beach talking stories. The guys talked mostly… I kept getting back in the water because it was a hot day and there was no shade; plus, I was having an absolute blast jumping off the steep slope and practicing my freediving.


Plus some extra video clips

Weekend Reel — Paddling in the Lagoon

Weekend Reel — Paddling in the Lagoon

It was a sunny day in mid-May. I had gotten up early and was feeling restless.

I cleared the drying rack, washed the dishes, and worked on repotting some plants and mixing soil for the balcony garden.

Ian and I chatted with his parents on FaceTime.

Then it was high tide, around 11ish in the morning.

Ian, sensing my restlessness, suggested we go for a paddle to the lagoon mangroves out back, and I immediately brightened up.

We would normally go to the beach in the front, but the trade winds were blowing extra strong which would make paddling with momentum nearly impossible. Besides, we hadn’t hung out in the mangroves in a long time.

I was getting hungry—we hadn’t eaten anything all morning—and started making an egg omelette (or a disheveled scramble, really) with onions, cheese, turkey sausage, and mushrooms. We packed the omelette in containers with a wooden spork, tobasco hot sauce, a bag of chips, a bowl of homemade hummus, a flask of juice and rum, and another flask with water. And we were ready to go.

Ian grabbed our stand up paddleboards from the rack behind the house while I lathered up in sunblock and changed into a bikini and lavalava and we got our boards in the water.

We saddled our boards next to each other to share our brunch picnic, then explored the maze-like mangroves, watching birds and laying on our backs to look up at the sky.

It felt good to get out of my routine and do something different.

When we paddled back home, I thought to myself: how lucky am I to live in such a beautiful place, have this sweet hunk of a man as my husband, and to be able to feel so free outside?! I truly am…

Here’s a reel I put together from that little morning adventure.

Photo journal compilation from off the camera roll…

FAPAC  ava ceremony demonstration

FAPAC ava ceremony demonstration

Some photos I snapped at a little gathering for the first American Samoa chapter of Federal Asian Pacific American Council (FAPAC).

There was an ava ceremony demonstration, a taualuga by the cutest taupou, and of course, no event is without food in American Samoa!

Thanks to Dora for the invite!



A couple weeks ago I caught my very first fish on my new JBL three-prong pole spear.

I’ve been wanting to learn how to spearfish for a while now because I’m literally surrounded by ocean, and yet I’ve only ever bought fish at the store—sometimes locally caught fish, but most times imported fish because they don’t always have local/fresh fish in stores—or when I’m lucky, my husband or friends will catch fish and share their bounty.

I’d like to be less reliant on pre-packaged food full of who knows what kinds of ingredients that I can’t even pronounce… and more reliant on fresh foods harvested straight from the source in a sustainable way.

Enter: fishing… specifically, spearfishing.

My neighbors have been doing a lot more spearfishing lately, and while I was out snorkeling a few times, they lent me their pole spear to get a feel for it. I’ve only ever tried using a three-prong pole spear once when I was in Hawaii with a friend of a friend… and two things: 1) I was not good at it because at the time I was uncomfortable in the water, and 2) there were basically no fish there, just lots of urchins. I haven’t been interested in spearfishing at all since then.

However, since watching Seaspiracy and learning about how bad the commercial seafood industry really is… I wanted to integrate more sustainable living practices.

My husband surprised me with my very first pole spear for our 7-year relationship anniversary (which is also exactly our 6-month wedding anniversary). It’s an aluminum JBL travel three-prong travel spear. It can be broken apart into three pieces so it’s great for travel and camping, and fully extended, it gets up to 6ft tall, or I can opt to only use two pieces for a shorter ~4ft pole spear.

I took it out for a spin a few weeks ago at our beach out front. I didn’t try to shoot anything, I just tested out my aim on some algae and tried to stretch out the band. I made a valiant effort though when we went camping a couple weekends ago and I was so close, but so far away to actually catching anything.

Last week, Ian and I went snorkeling out front and I brought my three-prong. I was in the water for about an hour and after many attempts at some manini (convict tang), and poge (striated surgeonfish), I was about to give up. I turned and saw from the corner of my eye a fish staring straight at me. I reloaded the band and turned to face it and let my pole spear fly without really even aiming, thinking I was going to miss again… but as my pole hit the sand I saw at the tip of the three-prong, a red fish… I got it!

It was unfortunately a little guy – a bloodspot squirrelfish (Neoniphon sammara). It looked so much bigger underwater! I splashed around and squealed for Ian to come over, and when he raised the pole out of the water to “brain it” (literally, bite the brains… ew), I got very sad as I understood I had taken a life. I said thank you to the fish, and we went home and prepped it for dinner.

And with that I wanted to share some initial lessons learned…

1. Be patient – spearfishing is not a speed sport

Don’t chase the fish – Let the fish come to you. I chased after a few fish thinking I could catch up to them but I actually ended up scaring them away with my thrashing. Plus, all the fish in the area could hear me coming and were like ‘peace out’.

2. Look where you’re spearing – Don’t spear onto living reef

It’s very uncool to kill a fish and their fish habitat, so pay attention to where you’re aiming to shoot, and avoid spearing onto living reef. If you break off a piece of living reef, that section may die and not grow back. And as you know, reefs are super important and we need them, so let’s take care of them.

3. Pay attention to what fish are on your reef – be selective of what you catch

This is a specific example, but I’ve known for a while now that parrotfish are extremely important fish species for reef health, and they are unfortunately overfished in my area. I’d suggest looking up size guides and fish stocks beforehand to get a better sense of different species’ reproductive sizes and what fish are abundant or rare in your area so you can make better fishing decisions.

4. Learn which fish are good to eat – and which are bad

Some fish are extra bony and may not be pleasant to eat, while others may have very little meat to begin with. I’m also learning which fish are likely to cause ciguatera toxin poisoning so I can avoid those completely.

5. Gut the fish right away – otherwise, it’ll spoil

This is something I just learned – The guts and innards will start to rot as soon as the fish dies and because they contain nasty bile and worms (ew), those will permeate onto the rest of the fish meat, making it unsafe to eat.

6. Fish sustainably – don’t catch more than you can consume

I’ve noticed many people fishing everyday or every other day for sport and catching way more fish than they need so they can store in their freezers or give away or sell for profit, but I’m learning that can easily become unsustainable.

7. Respect the circle of life – be grateful

This goes hand in hand with the previous lesson learned, but worth mentioning on its own. Fish, like humans, are part of the circle of life. Be grateful for what it means to take a life.