The Maiden Voyage of the Bokeh Maru – Day 7

This post has been moved to OpenChutes.com. All future postings of Powwows, Indian Relay Races, Rodeos and Rendezvous will be posted there from now on exclusively. So if you’re looking for new images and posts for all those events attended this year, plus all the old posts posted on BigShotsNow.com check out OpenChutes.com. See you there!

Day 7 Little Bighorn Battlefield

There’s a lot to tell you today. Yesterday, as you know, especially if you read yesterday’s post, was spent photographing wild horses outside of Cody, Wyoming. Because the Bokeh Maru is great at navigating down the highway but not so great running down two-lane roads and fording creeks I left her in the able hands of Big Lemon Kowalski and ExcuseMeMs while I and my trusty guide set out on our expedition.

Knowing how capable Big Lemon is in handling the crew I never gave a seconds thought that there might be a problem brewing, let alone a full-scale mutiny. Apparently making them haul the Bokeh Maru up those hills the 50 odd miles into Cody was  the last straw. They planned on hijacking the Bokeh Maru and driving her under the cover of darkness to the closest junkyard and having her shredded. Just for spite and because they are mean. Knowing I’d give the order to fire they cleverly waited until I was far enough away that the cell phones wouldn’t work and then put their nefarious plan to work.

They locked ExcuseMeMs in her cabin and jumped Big Lemon when his back was turned and took over the Bokeh Maru. Tying him tightly with barbed-wire, they put duck tape over his tooth to keep him from chewing through his bonds and escaping. Little did they know that no amount of duck tape was going to keep Big Lemon from chewing his way through the barb-wire but also the sofa bed they had hidden him under. To make a long story short, he got loose, dispatched the ones that couldn’t run fast enough, and freed ExcuseMeMs before those murderous scum had a chance to treat her badly.

The bad news though, was now we were basically crewless, not in the Japanese sense that we didn’t have a clue but that we were really crewless. Yes they’re either dead or gone, the scurvy bastards, except for our timekeeper, and we will probably have to assume all the duties of running the Bokeh Maru ourselves. This could drastically change the nature of the trip if we have to work. We decided to make the journey up to the Battlefield of the Little Bighorn National Monument, a short distance up into Montana, to see if it was possible to continue our trip with no one to man the hawsers if we needed to haul the Bokeh Maru up the hills to conserve fuel again. We would have to do it simply by relying on the innate power of igniting gasoline in our internal combustion engine to get us there.

The solution was simple but daunting to implement. It meant starting the engine and traveling on gasoline again. This sounds like an easy solution but remember gasoline in the Northern tier of the United States costs money. Sometimes a lot of money and that was something we needed to use on other more important things, such as tips for the hard-working ladies at Randy Jack’s Gentlemen’s Emporium, and bribing police officials who were threatening us with citations for going too slow in the fast lane, and for buying expensive bumper stickers to put on the outside of the Bokeh Maru saying “I Heart My Dog’s Head.” That was a particular favorite of Big Lemon and he wanted it placed right above the rear license plate. I didn’t think much about that until ExcuseMeMs told me that he really liked dog’s head. I mean really liked it, it being a delicacy in the better restaurants around the South China sea.

And there’s something else weird too. ExcuseMeMs has seemed to have undergone a change in attitude since the mutiny. She is actually nice to us now, but more specifically, nice to Big Lemon. Something happened, I don’t know what it is, but I know it did. She kind of hangs around him now, bumping into him when there is no reason to, admiring his tattoos, making wide teeth at his dumb but stupid jokes. She has even told us her real name. It’s Candace Flavours. Of course everyone calls her Candy. I was GobSmacked. A few days ago you couldn’t get her to answer a simple question and now she’s like the hostess at the Junior League Christmas party. Big Lemon has changed his shirt and even combed his face. Something’s up I just know it.

We got to the battlefield late in the afternoon and went in to take a quick look around. We knew immediately that this was going to take another day to see properly so I took a shot of the area where Custer and his men fell and we made plans to return in the morning for an in-depth study of the place.

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One of the striking features we noticed immediately was how small the major battle sites were but how big the battlefield was. This area where Custer and his unfortunate men made their final stand is an area enclosed by a wrought iron fence approximately 200+ feet long by 150+ feet wide, an area that is less than 3/4’s of an acre in size. That’s smaller than alot of your yards. If you enlarge this image the headstone with the black herald on it is Custer’s. This view looks down towards the Little Bighorn river towards the top of the image.

Dozens and Dozens of books have been written about Custer, his battles, this battle, and the people in his life. So we’re not going to reinvent that wheel. For those of you not up on your history, he lost. So when everything is said and done and you’ve read all the books and seen all the movies, the entire battle can be summed up pretty easily. Indians 1, Army 0.

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Over the years the descriptions of the event have been pretty one-sided. Even though Custer lost the battle, got his dumb ass killed along with lots of other guys, he is still thought of as some kind of misguided hero who just had a bad day. Not much has been said about the Indians who defeated him. Lately though there have been efforts to change that. They (Those people who do this kind of thing) have begun to place headstones for the Indians killed during the fight. Since there wasn’t much effort expended at the time in determining where the Indians fell that fateful day they have been placing the headstones where they were pretty sure the Indians were killed. This seems to put things in perspective a little better and made the visualization of the what must have happened much clearer. They (those same people that do this stuff) intend to place the rest of the headstones as they are able.

I mentioned earlier that the bigness, smallness thing, was startling. There are these little pockets of headstones scattered about with the headstones clustered fairly close together but then you realize that these little clusters of headstones stretch out over a distance of nearly 10 miles. When you stand on the knoll where Reno was killed you can look across and see the place where Custer and his men fell. It seems like it is less than a quarter of a mile away which is only 400 some yards. A little longer than a football field.

 

Much of the battlefield is on private land, property of the residents of the Crow Agency. They allow you to travel the road and view the various skirmish sites that took place during the battle. You begin to get a real sense of what happened. The sights, the sounds, the wind blowing through the tall grass. You can see bands of warriors attempting to creep up on the soldiers, see mounted warriors riding down the coulees to take them on in a mounted charge. The sound of rifles being fired, the screams, the battle cries of the warriors and the whinnying of their horses. It comes alive. Standing on the various sites where historical events happened makes them come alive in a way no book or movie can ever do.

As we stood there with our imaginations running wild I heard a call, then the rapid sound of hooves striking the ground. A beautiful pinto mare and her foal came running up, head raised high, the foal mimicking her mother perfectly. It was as if our imagination had produced this phenomenon to show us what the past must have looked liked. It was a surreal moment.

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Then it was time to return to the Bokeh Maru and continue our journey, our crew down to four now. Candy, I am still having trouble calling her that after days of ExcuseMeMs, Big Lemon, myself, and our timekeeper. Tomorrow we head further north to see what the day brings us.

The Maiden Voyage of the Bokeh Maru – Day 6

Day 6 Mustangs!

There isn’t much that says the West like wild horses, Mustangs, or Broomtails as they’re sometimes called. The mental image one gets upon hearing those names immediately brings to mind long rolling hills, or desert flats, or herds grouped around the only water hole for miles. I see herds of horses running free before the wind, manes flying, hooves flashing, heads thrown back in the sheer joy of being free, racing from one part of their territory to another to do whatever wild horses do.

There is a place outside of Cody, Wyoming called McCullough Peaks and it is the home of a magnificent herd of wild horses numbering over 120 or so at last count. The terrain is made-up of slight hills and huge sweeping valleys, green at this time of year, dusty and grey as summer progresses and the heat dries out the summer grass and the watering spots.

The herd is usually made up of one or more stallions, a bunch of mares, and of course the resulting colts. These are not your typical herd of horses, standing quietly, heads down, waiting for whatever use we have for them. These are independent horses, aggressive, willful, wild, doing what they want to do, totally involved in their lives, not ours. They need to be approached carefully and not too close at that, as they, especially the stallions, will not tolerate any interference or threat and will defend themselves and the rest of the herd without warning. A person on foot is at risk here.

 

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The herd was located at a water hole 10 miles or so off the highway and reached by driving over a gravel road that soon turned to two ruts with spring grass growing up between them. We forded a small stream and as we came over the rise, there they were. The herd was clustered around the water hole quietly resting and drinking and calm.

 

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Calm didn’t mean motionless however and various small groups would break off from the main herd and run great circles around the water hole, racing the wind if nothing else.

 

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There is always drama in a horse herd, especially one that has more than one stallion. This herd had at least 5, possibly more as some of the herd was behind one of the low-lying hills. Suddenly and without warning a fight would break out and two of the stallions would battle until whatever disagreement they had was settled. These fights were serious but not deadly as they can sometimes be at the height of the rut. No blood was drawn but pain was definitely inflicted.

 

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The stallions weren’t the only ones that could get up a head of steam. The mares with colts wouldn’t tolerate any other animal to approach too closely to her offspring and would lash out with a jaw-breaking kick from her rear hooves to the offender. That usually got her point across.

 

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What appeared at first to be a calm setting was in fact a continual series of altercations, dust-ups, sparring, establishing who the bull duck in the pond was, and perhaps an opportunity to refine a few tactics if the fight got really serious. There were knee-biters.

 

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Neck-biters. Kickers, chewers, bumpers, runner away-ers, chasers, loud screamers, interested observers, dis-interested observers, ignorers and winners. And also losers.

 

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After several hours that sped by in seconds the herd finally finished their morning absolutions and headed off into the distance to their next destination. Their pace was slow and steady, paced about right for the foals to keep up. One mare leading the way, the stallions bringing up the rear, sometimes racing ahead then returning to take up rear guard again. It was as magical to see them leave as it was to see them arrive. It seemed that they had the entire west to travel in. They didn’t of course, highways and train tracks and fences and ranches and every kind of man-made obstacle we have created prevented that. This isn’t a gripe with the present, we all know that the facts of life are what they are. We co-exist. But it is incredible fulfilling to think that we have horses like these still running free.

 

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Earlier I mentioned about these horses being different. These horses, although wild, are looked after by the BLM and protected from many of the dangers from the outside world. The BLM researchers have done DNA testing on this stock and found that some of them can be traced back to the Spanish explorers losing them and some of the others have been traced back to the horses that were given to Buffalo Bill Cody by the Queen of England when he toured there with his wild west show in the late 1800’s.

The most different thing for me though, is that this is what freedom looks like. Can he be any more confident and proud, his head held high, displaying the bite wounds of his previous battles on his side, looking forward to the rest of what ever comes his way. Wild and free. Hopefully forever.

 

 

The Maiden Voyage of the Bokeh Maru – Day 5

SweetgrassCountyMT7469Valley view Sweetgrass County Montana

 

Day 5 Travel Day

Today is a travel day. We are headed North by Northeast towards Cody, Wyoming. As we look back it seems that we can see a sea of waving hands, both foreign and domestic, wishing us safe travels and don’t let the screendoor hit you in the ass as you leave, behind us. It is gratifying to know we have made such an impression on so many well-wishers. As we travel up hwy 191 the scenery is changing from the high mountains and rugged cliffs to a more gentle, open, rolling landscape as in the above photo taken from the bridge this morning.

Normally it wouldn’t take a day to go the 52 miles between the park and Cody but we have had to resort to desperate measures due to the astronomically high gas prices here. As a cost cutting measure we have resorted to the age-old method of close-hauling, or in layman’s terms, dragging the boat up the river, or in this case highway, with ropes. The ropes, which are more properly known as Hawsers, are your typical 3″ diameter twisted Manila hemp ropes, or cables, strung out in front of the Bokeh Maru approximately 150′ so that the entire crew could take hold and pull the Bokeh Maru forward down the road. There are four of these hawsers and it makes for slow going but it is cheap. Even with breaks for the crew every 6-8 hours we figured we’d make Cody in a day.

Since we have some time as the crew is still fresh and making good time I thought I’d address the question many of you have written in about as to how the Bokeh Maru got her name. As has been noted many times in the past The Institute does many things. We have a department for practically any money-making situation you might dream up and some you haven’t.

Under our department of creating factual references we have a patented, nearly exclusive ‘Name Generator’. A device with extremely powerful algorithms and many flashing lights, that can generate a name for any type of situation or need. For instance, let’s say you have to go to prison for a somewhat serious crime, say, embezzling or car-jacking, nothing big like murder 1, or making fun of some touchy social group, and you need a prison bitch name. You send us your first and last name, your crime, your physical description and 250 dollars and we submit it (after your check clears of course) to our exclusive Name Generator and our powerful yet perceptive algorithms go to work and in a very short time your new prison bitch name pops out. In this case it would have been FopFace. That would be your new prison bitch name, FopFace, and it would save you a lot of time in getting acquainted in your new environment.

Or as another example, let’s say you are an ex-wife, not any specific ex-wife, but just some random, non-denominational ex-wife, that is divorced of course and you, the ex-wife, have always wanted an Indian name. Not a Mumbai based Indian name but one from one of the First Nations, a cool tribe like one of the Sioux, a Brule, or Lakota or even the Minneconjou perhaps, well, we can do that. You would need to send in your real first and last name, your real address, your choice of whether to use your married name or maiden name, the specifics of your divorce, such as did he beat you, was he rude, was he oblivious and uncaring of your needs and desires, etc., how old you are, what your prospects are for future happiness, and 28,500 dollars per name. That would be the number of words in your new Indian name. When we receive your information and the check clears of course, we submit your information into a special area of the algorithm reserved especially for ex-wives and soon out pops your new Indian name. In this case your new Indian name would be “Lies To My Face”. That’s it, simple really.

In the case of The Bokeh Maru it was the same procedure but modified to create a ships name. We fed in all the pertinent information. Her size, her weight, her intended use, who the owner was, his previous travel history, etc. And out popped her new name, The Bokeh Maru. In some cases we can retrieve the reasoning process behind the name selection, (unavailable for the ex-wife option unfortunately) and in this case we were fortunate and the complete process was explained. To sum it up as the process printed put over 160 pages before we hit the kill switch, the algorithm took in to account my travel history in the far east, my unusual good looks, and the fact that I own the machine and created The Bokeh Maru’s new name. Bokeh is a Japanese word that literally means ’round’ and Maru is roughly ‘Ship’ and there you have it. A ship that will take you to far and wonderful places and bring you safely back home again. There are many other layers that are meaningful to the name but space prohibits going into depth here.

I hope this clears up the mystery of the name selected for The Bokeh Maru. If not please send a stamped self-addressed envelope and 50 dollars, cash, check, or money order, for further clarification. We are also standing by to help you with your ex-wife and prison bitch name selections. Avoid the rush. Get your request in now.

I’ve just been informed that the slight thumping noise heard earlier was the sound of one our crew being run over by The Bokeh Maru. Apparently the strain got to him and he fell and didn’t have the strength to roll out-of-the-way. Since we are traveling so slowly there is a good to fair chance he can be recovered. I hope he wasn’t one of the strong ones. Note to self: Extend hawsers out another 50′. Set watch to avoid fallen crew.

We’re half way to Cody and it’s only 4 in the afternoon. Looks like we’ll be running through the night. Have to set the running lights and see that the Gruelmaster has the next meal ready. Have to go and see how far we have the traffic backed up behind us. Later.

 

 

 

The Maiden Voyage of the Bokeh Maru – Day 4

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Antelope fawns Yellowstone

Yellowstone Day 4

Yesterday we had a rather difficult day. Getting into the park was problematic. We lost out hot water heater and although we thought we had solved the problem by flipping the breaker switch it seems that there were other problems with the unit besides the breaker. I sent someone down into the hold, which as you know, is located way down in the bowels of the vessel, to check the water heater visually for any abnormalities. So far he has not returned. That was late last night and the debate that is raging on at this moment is whether to send someone else down there to check on the missing crewman, or to simply abandon ship and try and make their way back to civilization somehow. The fact that one of crewmen swears he heard screaming coming from down there doesn’t help any. I fear for the safety of the Bokeh Maru if any more crewmen desert.

Big Lemon has volunteered to go down into the hold to search for and perhaps rescue our missing crewman but I vetoed that idea as I need him up here to maintain order with these mutinous cutthroats I have left. I heard one of them trying to break into the strawberry locker and after sending Big Lemon to handle the situation I find I am down yet one more crewman. Things are beginning to look bleak indeed. If this keeps up I may have to take a turn at the wheel myself.

Even with the mounting problems of maintenance and low morale we have to keep focused with the task at hand which is gathering information that may be unknown to the traveling public and somehow present it in a way that pays for this trip. We’ve tried t-shirt sales with marginal success in another venture we had here in the park. We’ve tried setting up a food stand next to the highway but people began to demand to know what kind of meat we were serving and that led to disastrous results. It seemed like we had reached a stopping point when ExcuseMeMs presented what may be a trip saving solution.

“Why don’t you try taking pictures. Maybe you could sell some.” See that’s why it’s good to have more than one brain working on a problem. What a great idea. We have a camera. We have the opportunity. We have the desire. It’s like a natural solution. When you sink into the morass of your everyday life and are struggling to keep your head above water and whatever may be floating in it, you sometimes forget that the simple solutions are often the best. When it looked like we finally had a way out of our dire predicament a ragged cheer rang out from our bedraggled crew. At least what was left of them. ” Huzzah, huzzah, huzzah” rang weakly through the cabin as they attempted to lift ExcuseMeMs to their shoulders and march around in celebration. She wasn’t having any of that however and Big Lemon had to step in with his truncheon to help them regain their decorum. I’m beginning to change my opinion about ExcuseMeMs and think she may turn into a valuable member of the crew yet.

It’s easy to have a plan but difficult to implement unless you have strong leadership abilities. Where to start? What to shoot? I immediately set lookouts fore and aft to report if they saw anything alive. Soon reports began to drift down to the control room of live things that could have their pictures taken. The excitement was palpable as report after report of wild animals sighted here and there arrived. Many of them had to be discounted as they were sightings of mosquitos or road kill or people dressed in animal costumes walking along the road, but soon we hit the motherlode.

Every spring in Yellowstone National park a strange ritualistic event happens. Animal groups or more specifically female members of those groups, spontaneously begin to divide in two producing exact copies of themselves, apparently just because they can. Here is an example of this process, well, the aftermath of the process, the dividing thing has already occurred. This female is obviously experienced at this as she has been able to do it twice at the same time. The image above shows two of these clone-like small creatures doing what appears to be their main activity. They run back and forth constantly until they return to the mothership for what appears to be a refueling  operation, then they run some more until they fall exhausted to the ground to rest. Then they begin the process all over again. This is an endless occupation for them.

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antelope fawns nursing

The adult is shown cooperating in another part of the process by providing an unknown substance to the two offspring. Not much is known about this process, at first we thought this to be some kind of simple refueling process but it appears to be more than that and we intend to look into to it further at a later date, but we do know that it involves the transfer of a liquid that the young appear to accept readily. Do not be alarmed they are not hurting her. This is apparently a natural act.

We are not sure how well-known this phenomenon is but we intend to introduce it to the general public as soon as we return to the Institute to see what the reaction is. If it is favorable we’re going to slam them with a full press campaign. T-shirts, coffee mugs, mouse pads, bumper stickers (“Got Milk?” No wait that one has been used already.) Anything that will pander to their voracious need for souvenir lust.

Exhausted with our efforts of shooting these small but cute creatures we feel that we have completely exhausted the opportunities for photographs in Yellowstone National Park and are preparing to move on the morning tide to other places that may have exploitable events. Ringing the Get Aboard bell so those scavenging out in the fields can get aboard we make ready to begin a new adventure tomorrow.

P.S. As we were leaving this guy flagged us down and asked to be included in our presentation. We weren’t that excited about him but he gave us two field mice and a vole so we took his picture. He seemed so depressed we didn’t have the heart to reject his offer.

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The Maiden Voyage of the Bokeh Maru – Day 3

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Entering Yellowstone

Well listen folks. I’m pretty cheesed off right now. I thought we had a deal. You knew our primary destination was Yellowstone National Park. We talked about it before I left. The deal was that we don’t talk about Yellowstone. It’s like the rules in Fight Club.

Rule number 1. Don’t talk about Yellowstone.

Rule number 2. Don’t talk about Yellowstone.

Well some of you blabbed and I think I know who it was, but the bottom line was somebody opened their big fat mouth and told somebody who told somebody and now everybody in the whole damn world knows about Yellowstone and was there. Everybody! There were people there from Sri Lanka for cripes sake, and India and China and Massachusetts. Well all I can say at this point is “Thanks a lot blabbermouths.”

It took hours just to get in the park due to all the inconsiderate people who had gotten up early and into line ahead of us. They couldn’t just pay their money and go through though, No, they had to ask the gate attendants stuff like

“Is this the way into the park?” “Yes, That’s why the big sign there says Entrance.”

“Why does it cost so much?”  ” It doesn’t. 97.00 dollars please.”

“Where can we see the bears?” ” Over by that big tree near the river. Next Please!”

And !   I’m not done yet, because there were so many people there in the park you had to take a number to see even the small attractions like the coyote or the Marmots. Don’t even think about seeing any of the big stuff like Grizzlies or Wolves. Those were “E” ticket attractions and they had even quit posting the time it would take you from where you were, to where you might see the attraction if you didn’t faint or die of hunger before you got there. There was a grizzly at Roosevelt junction and the line to see it stretched back from there, over Tower road and Mt. Washburn, clear back to the restrooms in Canyon, a distance of like, 17 miles, and they were full. The restrooms I mean. How can an entire 80 passenger bus all have to go the bathroom at the same exact time?

This was the first time our credentials for being the premier scientific organization in the western speaking world failed us. The Institute, normally a name that stops people cold, and fills them with amazement not to mention awe, just didn’t work. Even though we have satellite operations and affiliates in the Far East those people from Sri Lanka had never heard of us and quite frankly just didn’t care. It was one of more humbling experiences of the entire trip so far.

So how’d we get the picture of the grizzly shown above then, you might ask. What happened was we blew a  gasket on the hot water heater in the Bokeh Maru, making it almost impossible to make tea so we immediately called AAA. Fortunately for us there was one of their tow trucks immediately in front of us and he hooked us up. As he was stuck in the same line to see the grizzly too, we just went along hooked to the back of his un-tuned, exhaust belching diesel, and after four grueling hours cooped up with what was left of our crew, they weren’t allowed to ride on top per usual as a safety precaution in case the bear tried to eat one of them so they had to ride inside with us, we saw the bear. We were only allowed 3 minutes to see it before the bear attendant came along and made us leave. Luckily we got a few pictures. I’m not even sure that’s a real bear but the guy in the hat said it was, so I guess we have to go with that. I wish it had moved around a little though.

The tow truck driver was bound and determined to tow us up the 73 miles to Livingston so we could get our hot water heater fixed, but it turned out that the whole problem was one of our porters had managed to kick the breaker off with his stupid bare foot and once we threw him off into the bushes and flipped the breaker back on the problem was fixed. There was a slight incident with the tow truck driver wanting to be paid some exorbitant fee for taking us passed the bear so we could get a picture, but Big Lemon sorted that out and we were on our way again.

We’re scheduled back in the park tomorrow and if conditions don’t approve and we don’t start getting shown the respect I believe we deserve, that may be our last day in Yellowstone National Park this trip. So we’re going to be up and loaded and on the road again at the crack of ten and hopefully we’ll have a more productive day. Stay tuned.

Announcement!

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The expedition is over and the Bokeh Maru and I returned home a little worse for wear. It was an eventful journey and sadly I have to relate that I lost the majority of my crew to mishap and mayhem of various kinds along the way, in fact all of them, down to the very last man. I’ll get into those events as I post the trips highlights.

One of the problems we encountered was getting the daily journal out due to technological issues that plagued us the entire trip. We had access to Wi-Fi which was the good news, but the bad news was it didn’t work well enough to post daily as I had hoped to do. The country up north was filled with bandwidth hogs who would wait until I was ready to post and then they would all jump on at the same time and the ether would fill up with their emails about” Be sure to walk the dog while we’re gone other wise he will crap in the laundry room.” and “Could you send me 1100.00 dollars there’s a really cool antique anvil that Buffalo Bill signed that I want to ship home UPS and they want 1100.00 to do it, and I spent my travel money on beer in Jackson.” and “Can you check, I don’t think I turned off the water that was filling the hot tub in the basement before I left.” and other messages that were even less interesting than these. Anyway it took so long to post the second installment that I decided to wait until I got back and post them then. So I will. Over the next few days I’ll get them out one at a time.

My email has piled up and I’ll try to get back to all of you who wrote. But first, To “Miss Lonely in Fallujah”, Yes Big Lemon is married and No, an electric toothbrush won’t help.

So there you are. For better or worse we’re back.

 

The Maiden Voyage of the Bokeh Maru – Day 2

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As we’ve made it from day 1 to day 2 I’m calling this trip a resounding success. We usually don’t have this kind of luck where we’re able to string two days together without a fatality or at least some mishap. I don’t know what we owe our good fortune to but I’m taking it.

As I predicted earlier in the voyage I thought we might lose some of our crew to one thing or another but not this early in the game. Our three resident Sherpas that we brought along to carry really heavy stuff up the sides of high mountains so we could take pictures are gone. There was special knowledge needed on the care and feeding of Sherpas that we should have had, that of course, we didn’t. Apparently Sherpas live in ridiculously high places where there is little or no air. I didn’t know that. And if you bring them down to low places like America a terrible thing happens to them. They get what is commonly called Oxygen Saturation. This is bad for them.

It’s good for us of course, Oxygen Saturation, because we do need air to breathe. They on the other hand being weird, don’t so much. So everything in their strange breathing apparatus gets super soaked with oxygen, their brain swells up to fourteen times it’s original size and their voice gets all squeaky. The only thing you can do at that point is put them on an unpressurized plane and send them back to Nepal with one transfer for Tibet, as the smaller of the three is from Tibet. We have instructed them to let us know when they get back home so we can bill them for the air fare.

I asked our Ethno-Botno-Archeologist ‘ExcuseMeMs’ why she didn’t tell me about this before it got to the critical stage and she said “you didn’t ask.” I’m a little concerned about her. I don’t think Big Lemon likes her. He’s been scratching at his tooth with his butterfly knife whenever he looks at her. We also lost a few of our bearers today. Since we got the handrails installed on the roof of the Bokeh Maru they’ve been riding up there. This morning there were nine up there and when we stopped to take on fuel later in the day two were missing.

Since the other boys don’t or won’t speak English and all we get are shrugs when we ask questions we don’t exactly know what took place up there. If we had unlimited money for fuel we’d go back and see if they were beside the road someplace but we don’t so all we can do is wish them luck. I’ve decided not to put anyone I like up there. I don’t think those boys are trustworthy. One of them had an extra loose gold tooth I hadn’t noticed before. Note to self: check all roof riders for number of gold teeth before and after each days travel.

Today’s image is a quick shot of the Grand Tetons. Tetons is a French word, literally meaning ‘wonderful things’. So Grand Tetons means in English ‘very large wonderful things’. In checking this out to see if it was accurate with ExcuseMeMs she said ‘Yeah sure’ and mumbled something unintelligible as she walked away. We have left the Grand Tetons far behind us and already we are missing them.

Tomorrow is another day and though we are fewer in number than when we started this trek I have high hopes our good fortune will continue. We must work hard tomorrow to make up for time lost so it’s entirely possible there won’t be a post, but you never know.