the journal

Archive for November, 2008


Day 2 – Granada, Nicaragua

Filed Under international travel

Granada, Nicaragua – November 28, 2008

I really cannot believe that I have only been in Nicaragua for about 36 hours. I have seen so much and met so many other travelers that it feels like I have been here for a week. I hoped to have taken it easy yesterday, but Granada is a walking city and the sights must be seen. I haven´t been traveling alone since I got off the plane (among my growing group of travel friends is a Dutch guy who was on my flight from Atlanta). Traveling with others is a plus as well as a negative. It is nice to explore the area with company, but I hope to find solitude for a while on this trip. I find it hard to say no to exploring different places with excited backpackers. Being a just-shy-of 33-year old guy hanging out with those who are 5 to 10 years younger makes me feel my age. Most have become fit with weeks – sometimes months – of backpacking through Central and South America. They have come here by way of crossing the border by bus on their journey north or south and very few are just here for Nicaragua. Those I have talked to have been pleasantly surprised by the country and find it becoming one of their favorite American countries. I too have fallen for Nicaragua. This second trip is more comfortable and my Spanish skills, although not neccesary due to being with better speakers, are strong enough to talk with locals and ask to take their photo. I have started a collection of portraits and I can´t wait to share them with you when I return.

I underestimated the difficulty in dealing with the heat and humidity, which side effects include constant sweating and a endless desire for water, but I know my body will adapt soon. I hope it is soon. I´m starting to sweat now and it is only 830 in the morning!

Today I have organized a group trip to Laguna de Apoyo. 5 to 6 of us are taking public transportation to Caipirinha to check out the markets around noon, then heading down to the lake to stay at The Monkey Hut hostel for a night before heading back here tomorrow. The Monkey Hut is owned by the same people as this hostel, The Bearded Monkey.

If the events of my first 36 hours in the country are any indication of how the rest of my trip will go, then I feel I´ve made the right decision to come back to Nicaragua.

Talk to you again soon



Filed Under kahunna.net, local travel, photography, retrotravels.net, YouTube

A night of thick fog is rare here in Arcadia. So when it rolls in, I roll out with my camera and a full tank of gas.  Here are the results.

Fog 2008 1

Fog 2008 3

Fog 2008 2

Playground in Fog

Beam Me Up

Fog 2008 4


Returning to Nicaragua

Filed Under international travel

I’m leaving for Nicaragua on Wednesday, where I’ll be backpacking through the country for three weeks.  Yes, three weeks!  I would have never thought since entering the corporate world that I could travel for that amount of time while still holding down a full-time job, but I’m fortunate to work for a great company and have fantastic bosses (hi Gian and Heather!).

I’ve been to Nicaragua before back in December, 2006.  It was a wonderful trip and I knew at the time that I’d have to come back.  Honestly, I thought I wouldn’t be back for many years, so I’m very excited to have the opportunity to explore the “land of lakes and volcanoes” for nineteen days.

I might check in from time to time while in the country, but expect most of my photos and stories to appear sometime after my return on December 15th.  Have a happy Turkey Day!  I’ll be spending mine in a plane.

To read my fancy-shmancy blog on my first trip to Nicaragua, click here.

Nicaragua 2006 Main Menu


Bend, Oregon Weekend Trip

Filed Under local travel, photography

For a joint birthday present (mine and my Mom’s), I got to fly up to Bend, Oregon to spend the weekend with my parents. With the wildfires burning up hundreds of homes in Southern California, causing the air quality to drop to levels normally found in coal mines, I could not have chosen a better weekend to escape to the high desert of Central Oregon.

I had a fantastic time with my parents, where we went for hikes, watched the sunrises and sunsets, and relaxed in their nice house. I even was able to see my 92-year old grandmother, who has lived in Bend since my father was born. Although many strokes have slowed her down physically, she’s as mentally spry and clear-eyed as someone half her age. She is a wonderful storyteller and it seems like I hear a new story from her younger days – when she was a painter, alpine hiker, actress, balsa-wood plane maker, waitress, and renowned Native American weaver – every time I see her. I wish I could see her more often.

I came home to Los Angeles on a Monday, where I learned that the air was so bad, they had to cancel the Pasadena Marathon. My friends and co-workers tried to spend as little as possible outside, where the smoke from the fires lingered in the air like tulle fog.

Here are a few photos of the fire I took from the air flying north on Saturday.

Sayre Fire

Sayre Fire

My 92-Year Old Grandmother

My 92-year old Grandmother

Sunset on the Deschutes

Mt. Hood Sunset

Deschutes and De Feet

Deschutes River Calm


Winter Colors at The Huntington

Filed Under local travel, photography

There are still vivid colors about at The Huntington Gardens. In fact, the weather was so nice, it was easy to imagine that this was spring rather than winter.

Flowers Upon Flowers




My First Journal

Filed Under entomology, graphic design, photography

Do you remember your first notebook?  The first time you kept a journal or diary? Notebookism.com asked their readers to share the roots of their obsession of notebooks.  This has inspired me to find my first notebook/journal and rediscover what interests I had when I was much younger.

It didn’t take long to find the dusty book and when I sat down and perused the pages, I was surprised to discover that many obsessions I have now took root in this 13-year-old journal:  astronomy, zoology, entomology, travel, exploration, art, to name a few.

I’d like to share a few pages and talk about them.


I bought this notebook from Barnes & Noble in the summer of 1995. I would have been 19 years old at the time. The bookplate in the rear of the book tells me that the type of notebook is a “Wire Bound” by Michael Roger Press, Inc. out of New York and it was printed in 1992.


I glued on a collapsible folder I’m pretty sure I designed and made myself to hold the newspaper clippings, postcards, letters, and other papers I thought might be interesting to hold on to.

The first entry, from August 8th, 1995, starts with:

As you can see, today I decided to start a diary or journal. I wanted to actually get onto paper my goals, plans, thoughts & feelings of archaeology and the role it will play (or how I would like it to play) in my life.

Although I didn’t finish my studies as an archaeologist, it did open the door to related fields I pursue today.


August 5th, 1995, I wrote:

I, Kolby Kirk, plan on being out of the Continental US by the summer of 1996. I will be able to send a postcard back to my parents showing that I am on an archaeological dig. Signed: Kolby Kirk

I eventually made it out of the country and visited an archaeological dig… in 2001.


In 1995, before the Internet and instant knowledge, I invented something I called the “VRchaeology”. According to the entry, it would be able to translate any language, “lost, dead, ect.”, with the help of video equipment and virtual reality. I based the prototype off of a Nintendo Gameboy. I wonder if the technology exists yet to make this thing?

The page on the right is a drawing of Mount Vesuvius eruption of 79 AD, an event that I read about at an early age and started my fascination with archaeology. I fulfilled my childhood dream of visiting the ruins of Pompeii and hiking to the top of the volcano in 2001.


The page above is a record of my first trip to Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA). It looks like the map on the right page is of the museum’s multi-building campus, and the map on the left is of the Egyptian exhibit on display there at the time (November, 1995).


I wrote very neat and small at nineteen years old. If you’ve seen any of my more recent journals, you can see that I still write this small (but probably not as neat).


I obsessively collected National Geographic Magazines in my late teens and early 20s, which I’ve talked about here on this blog before. I wrote about my bookstore discoveries like I just found some ancient artifact in the jungles of Peru. My obsession with the magazine peaked around 1997, when I owned all but sixteen issues from 1913 to 1997. Now I just own a few shelves of just the oldest ones, but I still subscribe to the magazine’s sister publications (NG Traveler Magazine, NG Adventure Magazine).


To help figure out how rare a National Geographic Magazine was, I graphed out the number of NGS members. Looks like I made a graph with Microsoft Excel for Windows 95. I was such a geek! Wait – I still am, but the only difference is now I get paid to graph out stuff in Excel.


The history of National Geographic maps during World War II in one page. Looking at the size of that writing, I could have made some money writing people’s names on grains of rice.


I’m surprised to discover in this journal that I followed the war in Bosnia pretty closely. Here, on the right, is a sketch of the Dayton Peace Agreement signing, ending the three year war in Eastern Europe. I did a quick search and found the photograph I used for the sketch.


On the left, a newspaper cutout from November, 1995 of the estimated number of Bosnian refugees per 100,000 population in Europe. According to the map, there’s over 500 in Sweden, more than any other European country. I commented, “Only one thing I want to know: WHAT’S IN SWEDEN!?” I have since visited Bosnia and I’m sure one day I’ll see what’s in Sweden.

The left shows a representation of how much potable water there is in the world based on a fact in National Geographic Magazine: “If all Earth’s water fit in a gallon jug, available fresh water would equal just over a tablespoon.


I loved bugs all my life, it seems. Here on the left, in December of 1995, I drew a cicada and a Jerusalem cricket I had found on an archaeological dig. (More on this over at my other site, bugshutterbug.com.)

On the left is a sketch of Mount Pinatubo erupting in The Philippines. It had erupted in June of that year. A few facts I wrote down about the eruption:

  • It was one hundred times more powerful than the eruption of Mt. Saint Helens in 1980.
  • Typhoon Yunya was just starting to hit the island at the same time.
  • The release of the volcano will lower the temperature of the earth one degree for the next five years.
  • It was so big, it created its own weather, including lightning.
  • 1.4 million people were dispursed, 50,000 homeless, 560,000 jobless, and 900 dead.


A page dedicated to the Galileo spacecraft, which had arrived at Jupiter in December, 1995, completing it’s 6-year journey. According to Wikipedia, it lived another seven years orbiting the planet.


On the left, a drawing of an ad for a National Geographic television special on sharks. I wonder, what year did Discovery’s “Shark Week” begin? On the right, an entry on the “weather weirdness” that occurred that January (1996). Apparently, it was unusually warm in Los Angeles while New York was experiencing “the worst storm of the century.”


I met a family from Perth in late 1996, starting an interest in the eastern Australian city. On the left is a map of the city I drew, most likely based off of a map produced by the National Geographic Society. (This was still a time before the Internet). On the right is a something I drew based off of a Fox Trot comic strip. I looked forward to reading Fox Trot when I read the newspaper. I think I drew this based on the recent news that the comic’s creator, Bill Amend, was retiring.


An ode to Stonehenge. I don’t know how I had the patience or the skill to draw everything on this page in negative with permanent marker.


Speaking of things that I did for fun that I’m now being paid to do: here’s a map of the languages in the Caucasus Region (Georgia, Armenia, Russia, Chechnia, Azerbaijan). I’m creating a similar map for a project I’m working on today!


4-year-old Sonam Wangdu recognized by the Tibetan Buddhists as the Reincarnation of Lama Deshung Rinpoche III, a beloved scholar and teacher, who died here (in Seattle, WA) in 1987 at the age of 81. Before he died, Deshung told two students he would be reborn in Seattle. And on November 12, 1991, according to dreams and other auspicious signs, he was. The boy was born as Sonam Wangdu to an American mother and Tibetan father. He leaves for the Tharlam Monastery near Kathmandu, Nepal, for a life of celibacy and study.


I remember my Mom let me stay home to watch the launch of the Space Shuttle Challenger. It was so devastating to see, on live television, the explosion of the shuttle and the deaths of seven astronauts. On this page, I drew the sequence of events leading up to the tragic event.


Giant Squids! Still a major fascination of mine. There such mysterious creatures. If something so large could “hide” from scientists for this long, imagine what other creatures are out there that has yet to cross paths with humans?


During the summer of 1996, I taught archaeology and astronomy to children at a YMCA camp in the local mountains. The idea of teaching astronomy came in a pow-wow meeting earlier in the year, but little did I know at the time that I’d be the one teaching it. I knew nothing about astronomy beyond the introductory class I took in college, but soon I could spend an hour pointing out constellations and telling stories of their name’s origins. I still love sitting out under the stars any chance I can get. Even though some of the names and stories have slipped from memory, the vastness of the sky is awesome to look upon.


On the left here is a map of the camp I worked at. This was the summer of Comet Hale-Bopp, the most famous comet since Haley in 1983. I was lucky enough to live in an area without light pollution, allowing us to see the fuzzy comet (with the help of a telescope).


My first night at camp and I was almost attacked by a mother raccoon protecting its four kits (babies). They had broke into the cabin where I was sleeping on the living room couch. I woke up to see the big mama staring me down just 2 feet from my face. I fell in love with the Great Outdoors that night.


More astronomy-related entries during that great summer living in the mountains.


A page spread dedicated to meteors and the damage they cause when they strike earth. There’s nothing like learning to appreciate life by scaring the bejesus out of kids with stories of mass destruction and possible human extinction.


Sunday, September 1st, 1996: A journal entry dedicated to the recent eruption of the twin volcanoes, Vulcan and Tavurvur, in the South Pacific.


Sunday, September 2nd, 1996: A journal entry dedicated to “space weather”, which some believe caused the blackout of 1996.


Sunday, September 3rd, 1996: A journal entry dedicated to Easter Island and its mysterious statues.


Some information on the volcanic activity in Yellowstone National Park.


Have you ever heard of the stratosphere balloon called The Explorer? If not, you should read about it in the October 1934 issue of National Geographic. If you don’t happen to have that issue laying around, take a look around the web for more details. It’s really fascinating stuff! I thought so and it inspired me to draw this picture.

Also drawn based on a National Geographic story is the tarantula. (More on this over at my other site, bugshutterbug.com.)


I got to witness a lunar eclipse while living in Irivine, CA. This spread records my viewing of the phenomenon. I still take time to watch lunar eclipses, but now I usually record the event with my camera rather than with a notebook.


In the Autumn of 1996, I worked as a security guard at a computer chip company in Tustin, California. Across the street from the company’s campus was a large field where hawks would sit atop light poles or trees, intently watching the strawberry fields for prey. I was fascinated with these intelligent birds and their amazing eyesight and spent many days at work watching them survey the ground or soaring gracefully over the land, occasionally picking off rabbits and mice with their sharp talons. In this entry, I write how I rollerbladed to this field and watched the hawks armed with binoculars and a disposable camera (my camera of choice for many years). Although I didn’t write about it here, reading the entry brings back a thought I had about the future of the birds. I wondered how long they would be winged kings of this large swath of land before the city covered it with more buildings. I haven’t been back to Tustin for many years, but I do think these strawberry fields have been replaced by buildings. I wonder if the hawks have adapted to the change or have they moved away. On the map above, I highlighted in blue the range of the hawks, according to my observations.


When the English Patient came out in November of 1996, it quickly became my favorite movie of all time. I ended up seeing it over six times in the theater, read the book, met the author, and owned it on VHS and DVD. I saw it recently and it still holds up as a great film about archaeology, geography, romance and adventure. I still listen to the soundtrack from time to time on my iPod.


I walked into an old wooden bench and was impaled by the largest sliver I’ve ever received. It took thirty minutes for a nurse to remove it. She showed no mercy in doing so. I don’t know if I had intentionally taped up the actual sliver on the same spread as a photo of a rhinoceros, but the coincidence is humorous.


Photos from my days as an archaeologist. Again my camera of choice is a disposable Kodak camera. I didn’t start using a “real” camera until 2001 and purchased my first SLR in 2006.


The collapsible pocket I attached to the back of the journal has an eerie resemblance to the (much smaller) pocket found on Moleskine journals. Maybe that’s a subliminal reason why the notebooks became a journal of choice since 2004?

To see more scanned pages, head on over to my other site, bugshutterbug.com.



Filed Under bugshutterbug.com, entomology

When asked to tell their worst nightmares, most Americans will mention insects or spiders. Some estimate that up to 35% of Americans have an irrational fear of insects (entomophobia) or spiders (arachniphobia). I have a friend who is so fearful of insects, she has difficulty looking at my photos without feeling uneasy.

It is every photographer’s hope that someone will have an emotional reaction to their work. Many of the recent posts on this blog have been about insects and, although my passion for entomology photography is strong, I understand how someone might not care to see any of the hundreds of travel photos I’ve taken because of one insect photo.

I have decided to move my insect photos to a new place on the web:


I welcome you to visit this new site dedicated to my insect photography.  If not, you can rest assured that photos posted here on kolbykirk.com will rarely show anything with more than four legs.  Maybe I should post more kitten and baby photos to balance out my insect photos? Here’s a few Moroccan cat photos and pics of my niece:

Black Cat Among Boueys

Moroccan Cat 6

Moroccan Cat 5

Moroccan Cat 4

Moroccan Cats 3

Moroccan Cat 2

Moroccan Cat 1

Serene Siena

Christmas Siena 1

Christmas Siena 4