Author’s Note: I’ve always been excited to write fiction and have started a few other books, but at the moment I have found it most enjoying to write in a world that I know all about. The story and chapters below are set nineteen years later in the world of Harry Potter, and will include some of the characters from Harry Potter; but the main plot will vary. Please click on the link below (which will bring you directly to the Humanities section) if you would like to read further.
Daniel’s day started off normal, but that was before his house exploded. Waking up, he walked, bleary eyed, downstairs. It was summer again, so he found no need to hurry anywhere. He shuffled downstairs and turned the corner into the two windowed room. Suddenly Daniel looked out the window as a blurry shape passed by, wait, was that an owl? He rubbed his eyes to look again, but by that time it had gone, whatever it was. As Daniel neared the corner of the stairs, he started to yearn to be an owl. His house was laid out so that as soon as Daniel got downstairs, he entered the kitchen, which was the entrance to the rest of the house.
Entering the kitchen, he heard voices talking, “Have you heard the news,” asked his Mom’s light voice from the living room, “There have been flash-fires over a part of London we didn’t know existed!”
“Yeah, I heard that all right,” Huffed his fathers voice, “Them also say ‘at there’s been owls flying everywhere, and there’s no clue as to why.”
“Yes, dear,” pondered his Mother, then hushed her voice so Daniel had to come closer to listen, “I never knew what we should do, since he had the mark and all that.”
Daniel froze and almost went off balance as he heard that, it seemed that they were talking about him! Then he crawled forward on his hands and knees to hear more.
Suddenly his father turned on the TV, and Daniel distinctly heard the reporter talking: “And here is reporter Haley, on LIVE TV. So Haley, what exactly has been going on with the freak fire in east London?”
“Well, Scott,” Haley began, “We have many witnesses reporting to Scotland Yard that they saw a flash fire go over part of east London. When the public services got to the scene, though, there was no evidence of fire at all,” Haley said, waiting for the news to sink in. “The public services themselves, though, also report seeing the fire. Scotland Yard has finally concluded that there must have been a semi-explosion that caused the fire explosion that the witnesses saw.”
“Well I’ll be, Haley. Thanks for coming on to LIVE TV,” Scott concluded.
“You too, Scott,” said Haley, “And thanks for listening.”
“And now,” continued Scott, motioning to the audience, “To John for our birdwatcher program.”
“Thank you very much, Scott,” boomed the deep, well-known voice of John.
“So John,” asked Scott, “What exactly has been happening with the owls?”
“Well, Scott,” continued John, “it appears the owls have changed their nocturnal sleep patterns, as people all over England have reported seeing thousands of them fly by! Also reported from our English bird-watchers are the people dressed in cloaks everywhere! More on that later.”
“Goodness, it’s like nineteen years ago all over again, isn’t it?” Scott noted.
“Sure is, and”-
The TV was abruptly turned off by his father Daron, who said, “Goodness gracious, hate thinking about nineteen years ago when the hurricanes hit and freak storms and fog was everywhere in summer! Sure hope that ain’t gonna happen again.”
By this point Daniel wasn’t sure whether to run away, keep listening, or go out into the open and stop the conversation. Finally, after a period of silence, his body made the choice for him.
Shifting his wait, Daniel accidentally stepped on to the creaky plank, and his mother asked, “Is that you, Daniel?”
Daniel, knowing that his parents wouldn’t talk if he was near, reluctantly stepped out into the open, faked a yawn, and replied in a sleepy voice, “Yes, Mom. I was just coming downstairs for breakfast.”
“Ah,” sighed his mother in relief. “Here,” she, said lightheartedly, pushing a bowl of cereal sludge toward him, “have some breakfast.”
The rest of the day until lunch was relatively normal, though Daniel repeatedly tried to question his parents about their morning talk. Daron and his mother Lucy, though, just acted as if they didn’t know anything about it, and periodically went deaf whenever Daniel asked a question. Daniel, though, in the time he was alone, pondered the talk himself.
He eventually concluded that they were talking about him. What Daniel didn’t know, though, was why his parents thought that he had something to do with the strange events happening around the area, and what was his “mark” as Daron and Lucy called it? And was the thing that he saw outside an actual real owl? Underneath all of his other questions, though, Daniel had a deep feeling that things were goings to get a lot more complicated.
Soon a bland lunch had ended, and Daniel was left to his own devices. Wandering through the house, Daniel eventually went to the living room and turned on the TV. The radio station was still on LIVE TV, and Scott was speaking, “We have also received news that the robber band that lit the fire has been moving toward southern London, and the”-
“Oh, don’t listen to that rubbish,” Daron huffed, gently taking the remote control and turning the TV off.
“But dad,” Daniel said, “They just said that the robbers that lit the fire are moving-“
“It’ll rot your brains out, now do something else,” said Daron, dismissing the topic.
Daniel, though, still yearning to tell his father what he had heard, wondered about it by himself. What glimpse of news he had heard said that some the thieves that lit the fire, (how’d they even figure out who lit the fire) were moving toward southern London, where they lived at the moment. Gee, Daniel thought, this day was beginning to get creepy.
Suddenly, there was a loud “Bang!” Daniel swirled around, sure that the bang was coming from right outside their house. When he saw no one, he started looking for his parents, but remembered that they went upstairs. Then suddenly, a loud “Bang!” tore through the house, louder this time.
“Mom?” Daniel asked, “I think there’s something down”-
“BANG!” A sudden explosion tore through the house, tearing down the living room wall!
Nicaragua is one of the places you’d go to surf, right along with, for some surfers at least, Hawaii and Australia. Located in Central America, Nicaragua is an awesome and fun place to surf, with waves ranging from foot high to double over head, even for my Dad. Now, as I am writing this, I am pretty sure we have surfed three beaches, but for my Dad and brother make that four. These four beaches are better than most of my entire surfing life in Dubai put together (and, yes, I just said there is surfing in the city of Dubai). Dubai is actually where I learned most of my better surfing skills, and to say that these four beaches in this far off place south of Mexico is better surfing than most of my entire surfing life in Dubai says a lot about how good this ‘far off place south of Mexico’ really is.
The first stop in our surfing tour of Nicaragua was a beach called Playa Maderas (pronounced Ply-a Ma-deh-ras). By the way, ‘playa’ is the Spanish word for beach, so in English, this would actually mean ‘Beach Maderas'. Playa Maderas was an awesome place to start surfing again for me, when it was still small, not, say, about 12 feet and barreling. Located about a 30 minute slow drive away from San Juan del Sur, the place we were staying, Playa Maderas is a beach break with outside sets that would probably be about 8-10 feet tall. The outside set is something we call a ‘clean-up set’, meaning that if you’re inside it’s breaking point it’ll wipe you off your board. That meant that most of the regular sets were about 4-6 feet, pretty nice for us to get surfing again and having lots of fun
Our second beach we went to (we’d given up surfing at Maderas for now), was called Playa Hermosa We’d gotten there after looking at six inch waves at another beach, called Playa Remanso, on the way to the playa called Hermosa. The road to Hermosa was so bumpy, it should’ve won the Bumpiest Road Award from Guiness World Records, (in fact, the whole of Nicaragua should win that award) but that fact was completely made up by the wave I saw while getting out of the taxi car. It was one of the best waves I’d ever seen: a perfect left and a perfect right, right about over twelve feet (which is about the size of a nice wave for Kelly Slater). But then, I was quickly -and very sadly- brought back to reality by sand so hot that I wouldn’t be surprised if some mystical Fire Lord (who was probably in cahoots with the mystical Sea Lord), was having a great bonfire right below the surface. Glad to get off the fire sand, but sad to leave one of the most perfect waves I saw, I hurried back to help Mom, Dad, and Grant get our stuff to the beach. After about a couple minutes, I quickly unloaded my stuff then brought it to our place, now a big wooden board raised above the sand.
After I (none to late) decided not to surf my dream wave, or its shoulder for that matter, I was left to watch and realize, yet again, that the darn Sea Lord wasn’t done yet. I saw wave after huge wave come through, each looking the about 3 times bigger than the biggest Dubai clean-up sets I had ever seen. But my family wasn’t gonna let the Sea Lord beat them with his waves. With skills made and sharpened in Dubai’s warm water, my family was killing it on the waves, not letting their surfing skills get smashed by the waves like the waves were smashing them.
And as soon as I went out, I started catching some of the best waves of my entire surfing career! I was carving on the face and pumping it across the whitewash, and when we came back to our surf shack sunburned and sun-tired, I was still ready for more. On our second part of the day at Remanso, we met a really nice man named Bob who was currently taking an adventure from Colorado to Argentina on two wheels, and I created a surf idea called Pelican Patrol. The theory behind Pelican Patrol was that since pelicans sat on the water, they would have to fly when the water got to critical an angle, so if you saw two or more pelicans taking off at the same spot at once, then go out as fast as your darn body and board allowed you. Which is exactly what I did multiple times.
But besides the pelican patrol or the extremely nice people, or the fantastically fun family waves, I finally felt like I was for once, completely at peace with the waves and the ocean and its mystical sea lord, as were they with me.
Rock Climbing is a sport unlike many others. Almost all the people who rock climb do it for the fun of it, not to win championships or prizes. It is awesome in a way that you don’t really feel elsewhere. It is similar to hiking and mountain biking in the fact that you can go for as long or as little as you want. The difference is that you are alone on the rock, and you don’t get bored of it. You’re just there, and you can do as much or as little of it as you can. We have been really lucky to have the chance to do a ton of rock climbing on this trip, and it has been spectacular to have so much time to rock climb in different locations.
Our next big climbing stop in Ol’Cali was Bishop, based out of a campground called The Pit. Bishop is a nice little town on the eastern side of the sierras, in an area known as Owens Valley. The bishop that is known to climbers is known because of the spectacular bouldering – climbing low rocks with no rope- in Happy Boulders, Sad Boulders, the Buttermilks, not to mention the sport and traditional (trad) climbing in Owens Valley River Gorge. In our five days staying at the pit, we bouldered at Happy Boulders twice, and we also had a dismal attempt at the Buttermilks due to the freezing temperatures and crazy wind. First though, we shall start out with our happy climbs at Happy Boulder as it is a awesome place to climb, and it is really what the name states, huge, happy, boulders. Happy Boulders and the Buttermilks are home to some of the hardest bouldering routes known to climbers, including Mandala, Evilution, Atari, and the on-the-verge-of-highballing climb, Grandpa Peabody. Even with all the V-13 and up climbs, we only went for V-3’s and down. Here’s why:
Next we went to Joshua Tree, which currently houses the most fabulous grip climbing in the world. Joshua Tree has huge boulders sitting on the ground, most of them looking as if giants in the sky stumbled and dropped rocks down to earth. We were lucky enough to be able to climb there so we took advantage of the situation and climbed most days we were there.
Our first stop in Joshua tree was Bell Campground. Yep, we did climb in a campground, but, weirdly enough, it wasn’t too crowded. We got some nice climbs in behind a lady’s RV before we went back home. Our next climbing spot, was on the BACKSIDE of Bell Campground. I found my niche when I completed a tight and fun 5.9, some parts pushing against both rocks, some parts twisting my arm, and some parts twisting my leg, while Grant, Mom, and Dad went for a nice corner climb. Completing some sport leads and fun climbs, we altogether had an awesome time at Bell Campground. The following day we went to Trash Can Boulders, a spectacular (if a little windy) place to climb. Even though the climbs were short and stout, we found a sweet little obstacle course to play around on. In the winter, the sun sets earlier so the day ended quickly but already very tired from the climbing I knew I would sleep well.
The last day at Joshua Tree, we climbed on the slab known as Outward Bound, a big slab with multiple climbs. We had a splendid time doing several climbs with our company being 1), ourselves, 2), a dog, and 3), two friendly people. We had a nice time climbing in their company, and we completed a couple more climbs before we walked back a couple of miles to the car in the twilight to sleep.
Red Rocks Canyon Nevada, is a spectacular place to climb with (drumroll please), red rocks! Our first and funnest stop was called The Gallery, where Grant completed his first 5.10b lead, and where I climbed a 5.10a without falling! The Gallery is the place where the picture above was taken, and besides the challenges of being on an open wall, the Desert Varnish (black stuff) is really slippery. We had a awesome time breaking our climbing limits and meeting old Gilman friends at Red Rocks Canyon, Nevada. The day after The Gallery, we had a fun but hard time climbing on 5.8's and up, but we did meet some nice people trying to crack a 5.11 a without falling. The next day we quickly made a push into southern Utah, and climbed again on fossilized sand dunes at Snow Canyon State Park, a nice fun place to climb. (Picture of Snow Canyon state Park at bottom, before Cochise Stronghold.)
Places We climbed
The Needles, South Dakota
Smith Rocks, Oregon
Joshua Tree, California
Red Rocks, Nevada
Snow Canyon, Utah
Cochise Stronghold, Arizona
One group of scientists, called project Tauros, is trying to bring back the aurochs. They are trying to create a living replica of an aurochs by mixing genes from aurochs teeth and cattle relatives. The aurochs was a creature of tremendous strength and size. As is shown by the over growth of the beech tree upon the aurochs extinction, the loss of the aurochs is another example of the fact that every plant and animal in the environment, from beetles to bears, depends on each other and needs to be saved in order for a healthy ecosystem to thrive. My hope is that project Tauros will work and enable more organizations to help bring back other extinct animals.
Sources: National Geographic July 2010, Project Tauros
Manzanar is a Japanese-American prison city and concentration camp placed in the middle of Owens Valley on the eastern side of the Sierras. Made during World War II along with ten other camps, Manzanar had 10,000 American residents of Japanese ancestry, all forced out of their homes bringing only what they could carry. Mostly American citizens born and raised in America, they were forced to leave their homes, jobs, businesses, even their pets.
Completely disrespecting the laws of America, Manzanar was a wrong and unjust piece of American history which the US must remember not to copy again.
We visited Manzanar on November 7th and I was wholly surprised about how racist some parts of America were back then, even after the Civil War. Cartoons of Japanese people were drawn with buck teeth and slanted eyes in the newspapers, and Japanese families were excluded from neighborhoods by the public. The US government also backed the public by launching exclusion acts on the Japanese and earlier on the Chinese people, not allowing them to immigrate to the US.
Surprisingly, Manzanar was like a city, with everything a city would have, from boys scouts to gardens, sports clubs to newspapers, and dance halls to temples. Sadly though, the Japanese residents were being surveyed by watch towers and guarded by barbed wire, so it was nothing less than a city of prisoners.
We quickly started loading pennies on to Grant's beetle and when his was able to go the twelve inches, we started to work on mine, but sadly, mine didn't move an inch! Soon, when mine STILL hadn't moved at all, we replaced it with another beetle, whose results were much more satisfactory. As soon as we put the second beetle down, he started running toward the edge of the paper like it was his job, and soon he was pulling six, then nine, then thirteen pennies! Grant and I were both happy with our data, and it was fun looking at how many times its own weight the beetle could pull. My particular beetle, whom we called Bingdoo II, could pull 16 times his weight! If I had the body of a beetle, myself being 95 pounds, I could pull over 1500 pounds! In addition to doing the bess beetle experiment, we also saw tons of other different insects, including so-called bird-eating spiders, and flesh-eating beetles! So if you ever pass by Missoula, remember to check out the Missoula Insectarium.
We had a really fun time at the Warrens. We arrived from Jackson Hole, and we stayed there for two days, both of which were full of spectacular and awesome activities and delicious dinners. My highlights were learning how to throw knife, use a lariat and ride a galloping horse bare back! Riding a horse was really fun, and while even being able to ride a camel and elephant in Dubai and Sri Lanka, I have to say, riding a horse is my favorite because you have so much control and can totally feel like a part of the horse.
Our hosts were Kevin and Amy who lived 7000 feet above sea level in Daniel, Wyoming. The Dad, Kevin, has four horses and is a horse shoer by profession and a real cowboy, where as Amy is a teacher and an expert dinner maker. They live on a relatively flat landscape but can see the Wind River Mountains in the distance and have a wide array of wildlife near them including wolves, pronghorn and lots of birds. The second day we were where there, we went on a beautiful hike around a sparkling glacial lake in the green lakes region. Guarding the lakes and towering above us were massive mountains that must have been there for millions of years! And then, when we were at the end of the trail, we all took a dip in the freezing water and almost froze to death before jumping on the hottest rocks we could find. Altogether, I was glad we went there. Thanks Kevin and Amy!
The landscape and animals of the West are simply outstanding! Big granite hills,next to rolling prairie hills, not to far from deserts, glaciers, mountains and the stone spires of the Black Hills, the West has it all. Also, it is surprising how unique the National Parks are. Badlands National Park has a lot so eroded rock formations and almost looks like a mini-desert. After the Badlands, we got to go on a cave tour at Wind Cave National Park. The park has 95% of all the box work formations in the world! Now that's pretty cool. Also we learned that this cave breathes. Literally. When the air pressure drops outside the cave, the cave "breathes" out to equalize the pressure, and when the air pressure increases outside, the cave "breathes" in. With the diversity of the landscape, the geography of the West is amazing, but the animals are awesome, too.
We saw a swift fox, an antlered white-tailed deer, a pale milk snake roadkill, and a bunny in the same minute! Also, we've seen bison, heard coyotes, owls and elk, and watched turkey vultures circle around Devil's Tower! An amazing trip so far.