All photos and text are property of Dave Forney and may not be used without express permission.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Kodiak Training.

In about eight hours I'll be leaving Tarakan, bound for the good ol' U.S. of A!  I'm already beginning to shiver, thinking about all that snow and wind and cold!  I'll be spending about two and a half weeks in Spokane, WA at STC (Spokane Turbine Center) learning all about the Quest Kodiak.

After that, I'll be swinging through PA on my way back to Indonesia.  On Sunday morning, March 13th, I'll be sharing at Calvary Bible Church in Greencastle, PA on the first day of their annual missions conference.  I'd love to see you there!  I'll post more on the details as we get closer to the date.

In the meantime, please keep my family and me in your prayers.  I'll be gone almost a month all together!    Joy and the kids will be holding the fort down in small task!  Thanks so much, we really appreciate each one of you!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Family Trip to Lalut Birai (Part 3 of 3)

Sunday morning dawned bright and sunny, though much of that sunshine never makes it to the jungle floor!  Flowing right through the middle of the Lalut Birai research station is a small babbling brook, perfect for frogs, insects and kids to play in.

Here's a view of the part of the Enggeng River where the kids enjoyed swimming.

Tanner loves wearing his cammo hat!

Butterflies and moths were commonly "caught" inside the screened-in building where we ate our meals. A light bulb, which got it's "juice" from a battery (charged by a solar panel in the central clearing), stayed on all night there, proving irresistible to passing moths.   After looking at them, the kids (and Joy) always set them free.

Of course, there are millions of ants in the jungle.  Everywhere you look there are ants of all varieties.  Some ants are over an inch long, but don't seem interested in biting (thankfully)!  Others, like the fire ants will latch on and not let go, delivering a very painful, bee-sting-like bit!  Some travel in groups by the thousands--probably even millions--going from somewhere to somewhere else, but always in a a continuously moving, snaking, line five to 20 rows wide.  In front of our cabin was a herd (what do you call a huge group of moving ants???)  of tiny little ants that were moving continuously for over two days.  In fact, they were still going when we left, and for all I know the line may still be moving past that same spot now!  They were very small, only about 1/8 inch, but fascinating to watch.  Many were carrying stuff in their jaws...though that was barely visible without the aid of the macro lens.

We also discovered a fuzzy, wuzzy caterpillar right near our cabin.  Any caterpillar that's this colorful and especially this hairy is usually NOT a good one to touch!

Remember I said that the kids weren't the only ones that liked to swing on the vine?  Well, I wasn't kidding.  Joy and I had our turns too...but fortunately I was the one with the camera.  :)  Those fashionable shoes are the jungle STANDARD footwear attire in this part of Borneo.  They cost about $2.00 and are made out of floppy, molded one-piece rubber.  There's no arch support or cushioning are anything, but on the bottom are softish, rubber cleats (think soccer shoes) that grip onto everything.  They wear out fast, but hey, they're cheap and indispensable on the slippery jungle trails!

Hudson also has a cammo hat!

On our way back to the airstrip, we stopped at the estuary of the Enggeng River, where it feeds into the much larger Bahau River, and my friend, the village Elder, Bapak Anyi Apui, gave Britton (known locally as "Laweh") a lesson on shooting a locally-made slingshot.

It was a great trip, thanks to the help of many of our friends from Long Alango!  When we took the group shot, several of them had already left, so aren't pictured.  In truth, I think it would have only taken a few people to help us out, but hey, it was an opportunity for all of us to hang out and visit and relax bersama (together) in God's beautiful creation--an opportunity to strengthen some existing friendships and build some new ones!

But all that relaxing and friendship-making takes a real toll!  Hey, somebody's gotta do it!  At least one person in the plane is still awake, can you guess who?

Hope you enjoyed the re-telling of our adventure at Lalut Birai.  Perhaps if you come visit us sometime, we could arrange for you to experience the jungle there as well.  You wouldn't be disappointed!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Family Trip to Lalut Birai (Part 2 of 3)

Just below the research station is the Sungai Enggeng (Sungai River).  As you can see, it's more of a large creek, a great place for the kids to play and swim!  That tree hanging out over the river is huge!  There's a picture from our last trip in 2009, where Britton and I are about 15' up in the roots, and it really gives you a size perspective.  Everything in this photo looks smaller and flattened out because of the ultra-wide lens I'm using.  (And if you look closely, you can see the vine hanging down that we like to swing on.)

About mid-morning Saturday we took a hike through the jungle, this time on a much smaller, slipperier and steeper trail.

Check out the size of that leaf!  Oh, and before you start making fun of the jungle fashion--socks pulled up high over the pants--remember the voracious leeches that love to suck the blood of white-skinned foreigners!  You might think it's a bit silly, until you've spent five minutes on a wet trail in the jungles of Borneo, and then you'd be looking for the thickest, tallest socks you could find! :)

Thank goodness for our friends and guides!  They carried Tyler most of the time and helped Hudson and Hannah through the steeper areas.  Tanner rode on my shoulders.

We wound up arriving at a HUGE tree that stretched far above the rest of the jungle canopy, with a fragile looking bamboo ladder clinging precariously to it's side and ascending into the very tippy-top, till it was barely visible.  These bamboo "spikes" are hammered into the outer bit of bark (only about an inch deep as the wood is very hard), and then lashed together on the outside with a vine to a bamboo pole.  That's it. There's no rope or vine tying it all the way around the tree.  No safety mechanisms.  Nothing else.

Our reaction was instant and simultaneous!  WOOOOWWWWW!!!  It stretched probably 200' high, and then went even further out to the end of one of those branches at the very top!  Why?  Because there's honey up there!  And honey is very valuable here.  They can sell honey in town for the equivalent of about $10-$12 per liter.  And so far they've retrieved about 300 liters from this tree!  I've flown a lot of honey over the past couple years from several different villages, but I've never seen a tree like this where they've gotten it from.  It was pretty shocking to see the effort and lengths that they go to, in order to get that oh-so-sweet, pure, organic, jungle honey.  And I can testify to it's unique and wonderful taste, as I've often been given a little honey as a "thank you" after a medevac flight or church flying.  I think now I'll appreciate it even more!  By the way, one of the other prime places for honeybees to make their hives/honey here, is in the holes and cracks high up in the vertical face of rock cliffs.  Oh, and they always retrieve the honey at night, when it's totally dark--an exciting prospect!

Later that day we found some time to do some fishing.  Congrats to Joy and Hudson, who caught the only fish! Last time we were here the guides yanked out a bunch of big fish, AND a huge eel!  (Check out the posts from 2009 to see pics).  But I guess like fishing anywhere else in the world, it's always hit or miss!  And this time it was mostly a miss.  But we had fun anyway.  It probably didn't help that we had five kids jumping and splashing around in the water.

And of course, there was the vine to swing on!  Nothing makes memories like swinging on a jungle vine in the heart of Borneo!

The kids loved the vine!  But they weren't the only ones, as you'll see in the next post. :)

The water right down below the research station is shallow and clear, perfect for the little kids.  They stayed busy for hours playing here.

It was a great day--certainly one that the kids won't soon forget!

Check back soon for the final post on our trip to the Lalut Birai research station.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Family Trip to Lalut Birai (Part 1 of 3)

In case you're wondering, Tanner's lip is doing much better now.  

Two weeks ago our whole family (yes, including Joy and the younger ones) spent the weekend at Lalut Birai, the WWF (World Wildlife Fund) research station deep in the jungle, downriver from Long Alango.  You may remember way back in early 2009, when Britton and I and a couple other guys from MAF spent a few nights there.  I did four blog posts about that trip which you can checkout here (part 1), here (part 2)here (part 3), and here (part 4).

It's a fantastic and beautiful place where, back in it's hay-day, scientists from Indonesia and around the world spent quite a few years living here, studying and researching the plethora of flora and fauna that led to the creation of the vast Kayan Mentarang National Park.  Today the research station is abandoned, but the good folks in Long Alango are always more than excited to help arrange for an enjoyable jungle get-a-way for the adventurous tourist!

Of course, being a pilot with MAF, I know most of these folks, and consider many of them good friends.    So perhaps that puts us in a bit of a different category than the "average tourist."  Indeed, no less than about 30 people from Long Alango came along to make sure we were well taken care of, and had plenty of friends and fellowship.  That's how they do it here! :)

Well, after flying into the village airstrip, taking a 10 minute boat ride downriver to the village and stopping for coffee, and then another 25 minutes downriver, we arrived at the mouth of the little Enggeng River.

From there we began the hike into the research station, first by crossing the suspension bridge.

Of all the places I've hiked in the jungles of Borneo (and I've covered a lot of miles), this is by far the nicest trail.  It reminds me of the Appalachian trail, only with more leeches! 

After a 45 minute hike we arrived at the old research station.  This is the little building that our family slept in, overlooking the little Enggeng river out the back, and the rest of the property out the front.

Like the last time we were there, this time we also brought along a jug of butterfly bait...which is basically rotting bananas, sugar, molasses and a few other "special" ingredients.  And sure enough, we drew in a bunch of ants, bees and moths that evening.  Here's a few.

Oh, and I have a special UV flashlight, which works great for hunting scorpions (you can see a picture of that in one of the posts from 2009).  But this time I used it to shine on a white towel, b/c apparently moths like the intensity of UV light better than regular incandescent light.  To the human eye, it just has a bluish-purplish look as seen below.  (If you do this at home, be careful!  UV light is harmful to your eyeballs!)

Switching from UV light to regular flashlight, here's the exact same moth, sporting it's pretty green color.

Well, there's a whole lot more to show and tell, but I'll save some for the next time.  Check back in a few days to see what else we saw and did.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Tanner Knievel

So yesterday Tanner decided it would be cool to try to ride his tricycle down the stairs in our back yard.  These aren't just your average stairs mind you.  They're quite steep and made out of hard, dense wood with sharp edges, and concrete at the bottom.  So how did it turn out?  Well, he sliced a nice 3/4 inch gap clean through the top side of his upper lip.  That section of lip was sort of hanging free and required stitches on the outside and the inside.  I'm thinking we could make this into the next verse on the veggie tales song about the lips--you know the one.  Well, o.k, maybe you don't, but I know Peter and Carrie know it. :)

Anyway, poor little Tanner has been taking it easy since then, unable to eat much food or talk, or give us his big toothy smile.  But the little guy is tougher than woodpecker lips!  He never cried even once (didn't even flinch for that matter) during the whole traumatic process at the local emergency room.  The doctor thought we drugged him, but he's always that way--tries hard not to cry.  Even when he's not feeling well he's cute, don't you think?

I would never have done something like that--trying to ride my tricycle down stairs--when I was a kid. :)  Where in the world does he get ideas like that from?  Mom, keep your comments to yourself. :)

Here's what he looked like just a few days ago, with that big, toothy smile BEFORE his big debut on the stunt scene.