The first Adventure. It is nineteen forty six, world-war two is just a few months over, my mother, sister and I have just returned home to Hamburg from our forced evacuation in Bavaria,. We have spent over three years on a farm & guesthouse helping with the chores, feeding the animals and herding cows in the mountains. One of the very first things wanted to do was to go with my grandfather to the daily fish auction by the Elbe river. Lord knows, how much I missed the smell of saltwater, the tar from the docks, the noise of the boat and ship traffic and yes the smell of fresh fish,. I was finally HOME again! Hamburg had changed dramatically. Most of the city was bombed and lay in ruins, only very few buildings were undamaged, the river was full of sunken ships and boats of every description and the port was particularly damaged from the bombings. The few vessels that were moving were involved in salvage or clean up operations. The ship yards were only a mass of twisted steel and the huge floating dry-docks were gone, they had been towed to England. Still, it was better than herding cows. My grandfathers very old fishing trawler was one of a very few working boats that was not confiscated as a war trophy. It was roughly 80 feet in length of heavy wooden construction, a gaff- rigged ketch. The auxiliary was a single cylinder diesel engine that was used to assist in bringing in the big trawl nets and anchor winch via hydraulic motors, it could not used for propulsion, likely the reason he was allowed to keep it.
I had just been presented a full set of oil cloth complete with a sou’wester so I could keep dry during the trips to the waterfront and the boat. Because of this new "professional" attire I felt totally grown up at my eleven years of age. Now, if I could only convince opa, oma (grandfather, grandma) and mom to allow me to go along on a fishing trip, I would have been in heaven.
But despite all the begging that was not happening.
Since these trips typically lasted from four to seven days and longer. The main reason I was not allowed to go, was that I would have missed school and of course;
"you’re too young". Yet, I knew some boys my age, or even younger, that had been on trips with their fathers, although these boats were much smaller and actually river fishing motor boats that set traps for eels or hand-lined for bottom fish. Not at all like the ocean going trawler that worked the cold and rough North Sea and was a true sailing vessel. Spring vacation was coming up. That coincided with the fishing trips for plaice, the small flounder like bottom fish that was a traditional spring meal in northern Germany, Holland and Denmark.
This was my time to take action. I secretly packed my gear and took the subway down to the port. My mother thought I was staying at my grandmother and so I was not missed. As luck would have it, when I arrived at the boat the crew was sound asleep and so I was able to sneak aboard and hide in the gear and rope locker.
Hours later the boat came alive, they had been waiting for the outgoing tide for the first part of the trip. I knew that I had to hide for a long time, at least the first 40 miles of the roughly 75 mile trip to the open sea, because roughly halfway there was a pilot station that sometimes sent messages back to the city and it was the one place where I could have been put ashore and be sent home. In the meantime the foul air from the bilge water, ropes and nets, along with the darkness and the motion of the vessel worked on my stomach, and I fell very sea sick. Down past the pilot station where the river gets nearly a mile wide the slow rolling motion got to be unbearable. I had to get out on the fresh air. To say my opa was surprised when I was presented to him, after feeding the fish over the railing, is a gross understatement, actually it was the only time I had ever seen him angry. In the wheel house he had me eat a substantial chunk of dry pumpernickel and had me wash it down with two fingers of pure rum. He then told me to lie down in the pilot berth after telling me that this medicine would cure my seasickness, if it did not;
"I’ll throw you overboard". It actually worked, I have never been seasick again, but I am not certain if that first time was actually the "medicine" or the fear of further angering him. So now that nothing else could be done, I was assigned tasks aboard like helping in the galley, cleaning and working on the large nets. The third day out we were at the fishing grounds in the relatively shallow waters along the coast of Schleswig Holstein.. We set our first bottom trawls and after a few hours hauled in the net over the side. Once the net was emptied, I literally stood in living fish up to my chest. Half of the crew reset the net and the other half including me shoveled most of the fish into the live tanks while sorting out some of the larger varieties like halibut, ocean-catfish or cod.. This routine was continued until the holds were full for two days. Then began the return trip which was a lot harder than I ever imagined. Naturally the sails had to be worked and the nets had to be dried and stored but the hardest job was to sort all the fish by type and size. as well as gutting the larger fish and cooling them on ice constantly cleaning the decks of other critters that were brought up like small crabs, jellyfish, shrimp and more. We had a large swarm of seagulls following us all the time we were cleaning. When we arrived at the mouth of the river the tide was ebbing so we anchored until slack tide,. While the sorting and cleaning continues. Then as soon as the bow swung around from the flooding tide we set sails again to follow the tide home. We had light winds and the progress was very slow with the fully loaded boat. We made good about 20 miles or less than one third of the distance home before the tide turned and we had to anchor again so we would not drift back in the ebbing tide. During this time at anchor, the cleaning and sorting was finally finished, a full fresh meal was prepared that was enjoyed be the entire crew of 6 plus captain and me. The main topic at the table was what to do about me, the stowaway. One of the options was to stop at the pilot station if we could reach it the next tide but most of the crew preferred to keep me aboard for the entire trip. That turned out to be the final decision. Next flood brought a little better wind and we made the pilot station and while we passed hailed the pilot and asked him to report my being safe and sound aboard the "Irma HF 1766" to the Family at home. As a thank you they received a bucket of plaice. It would take two more flood tides and a tow from a friendly coastal freighter, again for a bucket of delicasies for the crew, to get us back home to Hamburg. Then came another hard day’s work, unloading the cargo at the auction hall, stripping all the bedding and packing all the clothes, towels etc. for washing and leaving them ashore, followed by a tow across the river to put Irma at it’s mooring. Now it was time to "face the music" at home. Actually that turned out to be a lot milder than I had anticipated, in large part because opa announced that from now on I was going fishing with him whenever I did not have school and that further more I was to receive one half of a regular crew-members share for my good work. Well that was easier than I had hoped for, and now I just had to wait for the long summer vacation and the next trip. Heaven! I later found out, that the reason for the change of hart and generosity of my opa was that: 1st . The entire crew believed that I brought them luck on that trip,.because of the exceptionally good catch we had. 2nd .Because of the quality of the catch everyone’s share was exceptionally large.
It is summer vacation, six weeks of freedom from school. I had been helping in getting the boat ready for the first herring run of the year.
This time we had wooden barrels and lots of salt aboard instead of the wooden boxes that were used for the near shore fishing... I was greeted with almost exuberant, friendly handshakes and pats on the back by the crew of six. They had been working on "Irma" for years and welcomed me "the new addition" and their "talisman". This after the first trip I made with them, that turned out to be exceptionally profitable. We left before sunrise with the ebbing tide with a nice breeze on the beam, and so with the tide and river flow helping, we made very good time down-stream. I had been assigned the pilot berth in the wheelhouse for the trip, which was of course a lot nicer than the rope locker, this allowed me to see the many obstacles of sunken and partially sunken vessels along both sides of the river, although most of the main navigation channel had been cleared. Next sunrise found us well offshore in the North Sea in the company of several other trawlers, some of which were already dragging their nets. The crew was getting restless and anxious. Were they missing out? The captain kept on going. “Not yet...Not yet".
This went on for another few hours, when finally he had the large purse seine net launched, he had found a large school. The large net filled in a very short time, and after the bottom of the net was hauled in and attached to the side of the hold the tail end or tip was hoisted towards the mast with the assist of the hydraulic winch. The net was totally full and again I was standing up to my chest in living fish, althoug most of the catch went into the hold. After the net was cleaned it was hung up to dry, it was late afternoon and the next set would have to wait until the morning and daylight. The rest of the daylight hours were used to clean herrings and place them into the large barrels with salt and sea water, which were then tightly sealed. These barrels were the "extra" money on the herring runs, because of the salt curing, they would be sold directly to retail fish houses, canneries or to smoke houses, while the fresh fish in the hold would be sold at auction. While the crew continued cleaning and salting the catch. I was helping in the galley and later cleaning and filling the navigation, deck and interior lanterns with kerosene. The next morning again my opa was again searching for just the right spot to pay out the net. Finally he found what he was looking for. I have never learned what he was looking for or how he determined just when to spring into action, but when he finally did we had a repeat of the first set, again a full net almost exclusively herring in a short time. The single cylinder diesel was thumping along, as it was used to drive the sea water pump that kept the fish in the hold alive as long as possible. The cleaning of the fish continued until all the barrels were full. Not only was the price of salted cargo higher, but also by leaving the entrails at sea, opa was "taking care" of HIS fishing grounds and quite by accident making the gulls happy. The following day we filled both of the holds to capacity Now, because we were far from land on this trip, we trolled several lines astern with live herrings as bait with which we boarded some large halibut, sharks and several cod which were all cleaned as soon as they came aboard. This trip we were exceptionally lucky, as we accepted a tow, near the mouth of the river from a freighter, all the way to the fishery docks at the auction. This saved at least two days sailing time with our heavily laden vessel. It seems the captain/owner and opa were long time friends, they had the system of towing alongside down to an art-form... Once all the towing lines were secure opa and I visited on the freighter and delivered a bucket of fresh herring and several halibut chunks, which were gratefully accepted. Because the freighter had a radio the auction and smoke houses could be notified of our expected arrival time and our type and size of catch. This would make unloading a lot faster, by having notified the auction workers, who would shovel the fresh catch into the auction boxes and the barrels would be picked up by delivery trucks directly from the docks. There were a lot of smiles aboard at the end of this trip and it seems I full-filled my expected duty of bringing good luck. And another exceptional payday. I made two more trips with my grandfather after which he was hospitalized with a stomach ailment, which eventually was diagnosed as incurable. He checked himself out of the hospital and returned home and after a few weeks asked two of his most trusted crew members to help him to take him and his beloved boat to the pilot station halfway down the river. From there he continued alone on his last voyage. He was discovered dead in the wheelhouse, adrift near the coast of Norway two weeks later.
Florida a nice place to visit but........ Be aware of the near insane traffic....and try to stay out of the hospitals.
It was a very nice day in May, and one of those summer like sunny days in the mid 80's with just a very light breeze. I needed to make a short trip into town and being a shorts and light shirt person decided that in addition only my protective helmet was required for the half hour trip on my 50cc Honda scooter.
Having done the grocery shopping I am heading back to the RV-park, it is 11:30 shortly before lunch time. This was the time specifically chosen to miss the usually busy lunch time traffic and be out of town ahead of the crowd. After making the turn onto the final stretch of two lane, asphalt county highway, I am roughly 100 yards from the intersection when I hear tires screaming and see a pick up truck in my mirrors. It seems that he is either out of control or does not see me.
As a defensive move, because I did not want to be hit by the truck, and because of the speed the distance between us was closing, I had to get off the road without being able to slow down, even though there is no shoulder on the road. What happened after that is a distant blur in my memory.
Shortly after, I have no concept of time, a truck stops and offers help, they helped collect some of the groceries which were deposited over a fairly large area in or near the ditch running along that side of the road. They left with the promise to send some help. I am able to move and do not seem to have any broken bones but I am bleeding everywhere, my vision is blurred partly because of bleeding and partly because I have lost my eyeglasses.
Another trucker, a large log hauler, stops to check on my condition and tells me “I’ll call for help”. Again I have very little reference as to elapsed time and no idea as to the extent of my injuries. At some point I decide to attempt to ride the short distance to the RV-park, when I was pulled over by an unmarked police car, the officer told me an ambulance was on it’s way and they were taking me to an emergency clinic for treatment. While the emergency technicians prepared me for transport another truck arrived, I believed from the first people that stopped, and they offered to take my scooter and the groceries to my sister, who was in our motor-home at the RV-park we were staying.. Naturally when my scooter arrived on the truck accompanied by a police car, my sister nearly went into shock. She was advised that I was on my way to an emergency hospital, seemed to be okay but had a lot of bruises and bleeding “road scratches.”
Now begins the most amazing part of the entire experience. After I was delivered to the emergency room my wounds were surface cleaned of road and ditch debris but were left otherwise untreated. I then had two x-rays taken one of the elbow on which the bone was exposed and another of the deep cut above my left eye. The attending doctor called a doctor in another city because she was not certain about the treatment for elbow damage or the cut above the eye. She stated it would require a plastic surgeon.
After I had finally been able to communicate with my sister to inform her where I was, and that I would be okay but needed to be transferred to another hospital an hours drive away. The hosts of the RV-park we were staying stopped by for a visit to check on my condition.
When Hal and Sylvia, the RV-park hosts arrived, I was still lying in the emergency room virtually untreated and bleeding from wounds to both legs, both arms and the head. It was when I finally was able to see the extent of the “road scratches” that I could understand why everyone that saw me was extremely concerned. I was literally covered in blood from head to toe.
Finally, I was to be transferred after about five hours or more.
A newly arrived a shift nurse, after some discussion with the doctor, insisted in bandaging my still open wounds with wet and dry bandages to get me ready for the next ambulance ride. She said something like, “we can’t send him out of here, bleeding like that.”
After I was checked into the next hospital additional x-rays and an MRI was taken of my head and I was prepared for surgery on my elbow and while waiting for the anaesthesia to take effect, my wound above the eye was stitched and covered.
As I awoke in the room after the surgery, my right arm covered from above the elbow to slightly above my wrist with a drain tube attached to a suction draining device. All other wounds were still slightly bleeding but were left untreated or bandaged. Several requests to the nursing staff to get some bandages went unanswered for the entire night and the next day.
Early the next morning the operating doctor’s medical assistant arrived, removed and changed the bandage on my arm and told me I was ready to be released after another MRI. There was some concern as to the effectiveness of a disc replacement surgery that I had done a year and a half before, in Hawaii.
I made arrangements to be picked up from the hospital and was released before noon that day, with an order for a home health nursing company to change the bandages.
When the nurse arrived at the RV the next morning, she arrived with an order to change the dressing on my arm and head. She was totally surprised by the so far untreated wounds and had to spend extra time to measure and document all the open wounds, which were from six to ten inches long and varied in depth, before cleaning and bandaging ALL of them. I was given saline solution, bandaging materials and instructions for daily bandaging and arrangements were made for follow up visits. None of this presented a problem since I have had some training in first aid procedures before. After slightly more than two weeks I had the stitches removed by the doctor and have been discharged from professional care.
I have since healed pretty well and experience only minor irritations from the final healing and some deeper muscle soreness.
Thanks to the excellent Home Health Care Service nothing got infected and I am fine. Now, more than two moths later I still occasionally pick dirt out of the scabs, as they are healing on my legs and arms.
Thankfully most of the medical care was covered by medicare insurance.
Total cost...?Not sure yet, but I am up to more than $17.000.00 covered by insurance plus my co-payments for which I have not yet received bills.
Stay out of Florida Hospitals...... Do not ride a scooter in shorts and shirt.....! And by all means wear head protection....!
We are leaving for another overnight sailing charter on South Florida’s Biscayne Bay.
I am on board with two couples from Canada one from Ontario the other from Nova Scotia.
The departure time was set to be at 16:00hrs., having cleaned and provisioned the boat early in the morning I was ready to go hours before the departure time.
They arrived early shortly before noon and since it was a very hot and humid day I suggested that we should leave early and enjoy the nice weather on the bay.
So, after a short familiarization of the boat and it’s safety equipment and procedures we are heading out of the channel into the bay shortly before 14:00hrs.
The breeze on the bay was a comfortable 15 knots coming from the east. Under those nearly ideal conditions we soon traversed the entire bay and were in the narrow channel connecting Card Sound with Biscayne Bay because of the nice breeze out of the right direction we could actually sail this channel, a pleasure I did not have very often.
Being that this was mid week and not a weekend with much more boat traffic was also helpful.
Now, barely into Card Sound we are greeted by good size pod of Dolphins, they often play here because of the Angel Creek access from the Ocean. I counted a dozen or so as they played around the boat, coming up from astern then diving under the boat and jumping out of the water just in front of the bow over and over again. All that of course fascinated my guests and then as quickly as they arrived the dolphins were gone again. All the conversation was around dolphins, trained dolphins, swimming with dolphins and so on. My contribution to that was that swimming with dolphins, as advertised by some organizations, was okay if the were trained dolphins that were used to be around people, but that contact with dolphins in the wild should definitely be avoided.
By now it is getting late afternoon and I am heading for the shallows on the eastern shore where we’ll get the breeze of the ocean to drive of the flies and mosquitos, and have the protection of the barrier island, Key Largo for a quiet anchorage.
I have lowered all the sails except the small mizzen and am getting ready to lower the anchor.
Then I hear the shouting.... two more dolphins are coming toward the boat, now no longer moving and just slowly drifting, it was a female and her very young still pink colored calf. I was on the foredeck getting ready to lower the anchor, when suddenly one of the women stripped of her clothes and dove off the afterdeck and started swimming toward the dolphins. Almost immediately the baby dolphin swam over to the woman and came close enough for them to touch.
The female dolphin however kept at a distance. I was back in the cockpit and was motioning for the woman to return to the boat without response from her.
Naturally I was afraid of how the female dolphin would react and was unsure of what action I should take; Should I start the engine? Should I call the marine patrol?
How will the adult dolphin react? Will it charge the woman?
Those and other questions are racing through my mind.
We were slowly drifting further apart and the woman and baby dolphin seemed to enjoy exploring each other, rolling over and over and circling around each other.
The adult dolphin in the meantime did not appear to be threatening but swam around the nude and the baby in slowly closing circles calling for her young, then suddenly she seemed to charge toward them, the baby instantly moved away from the woman and the adult placed herself between the two. Game over....!
After a few more minutes and the dolphins moved away.
With a big sigh of relief, now out of that potentially dangerous situation, I started the engine and maneuvered the boat in order to pick up my passenger by now a good 75 yards away. As soon as she was safely aboard I powered over towards the shore and let down the anchor.
Naturally I was more than a little annoyed about things that had happened so I stayed busy in the galley collecting my thoughts and calming down while my guests where having appetizers and wine before dinner. Then later during dinner we discussed the swimming incident and the dangers that it could have presented, that it might have ended the charter right then.
Both, the women and her husband apologized.
Later the woman explained that the baby dolphin had incredibly soft skin and had been rubbing against her large breasts. Was it tying to nurse?
Anyway that experience, which lasted only about 15 minutes, became the topic of discussion and jokes for the night and in fact the entire trip.
We spent a quiet night at anchor and had a planned swimming party while I prepared breakfast the next morning we then had another nice sail into Barnes sound after which we turned around toward Miami and so ended the charter.
I must add with another apology from the woman and her husband, and......
A very generous tip plus a 7 day charter booking for a week later.
We are leaving Missoula, Montana. The pretty red, yellow and golden colors have left the trees, which are now bare for the most part. Daytime temperatures are still in the comfortable range but the nights are cold and damp. We had a few sun-less days which started me hunting for thermal underwear but then it moderated again, at least in the valley. The surrounding mountains however tell a different story as the white snow line creeps lower at a steady rate. Since we have to drive over those mountains prudence urges us to leave this friendly town and follow the sun to more moderate climes east and south.
We are taking Hwy 141 which follows the Blackfoot river south and east towards Helena, of course we are still very much in the Rocky Mountains and our mean elevation is around 4000 to 5000 feet, with a few 7000 to 8000' passes between as we are heading toward the headwaters of the Missouri and Madison rivers in the Madison Rocky mountain range, we are still following in the footsteps of Lewis and Clark.
We stayed overnight at Ennis MT., a hunting and fishing town of one street and a half dozen outfitters along the Madison river and Ennis Lake. It remains only a few hours drive to West Yellowstone, the western entrance to Yellowstone National Park, which we accomplished the following morning.
As we enter the National Park, we discover that we actually are left with only one route choice which is to head towards Cody Wyoming. This is in part because of our size, seasonal road closures ( we are one day too late) and ongoing road construction plus there is no overnight parking available, so because of this we only got to spend only part of one day in the park and prepared to drive through and head for Cody, Wyoming. The scenery in the park was awesome and wildlife could be observed in abundance, we saw moose, elk and bison and even grizzly bears stalking a bison herd. The bears however had to be pointed out to me and could only be seen through very powerful binoculars, even the bison herd was far removed from the road, with the exception of the one bull that crossed the road literally within feet of our vehicle as he slowly ambled towards the rest of the large herd.
Once out of Yellowstone Park we encountered the massive road construction project we had been warned about, several hours very slowly by way of temporary sand and mud road in a convoy following a pilot car to guide us. Having negotiated the construction zone, back on the highway after a short few miles we turn right onto the Chief Joseph Memorial scenic highway. The highway started out along fairly flat through Indian reservation land which then lead into the Dead Indian Valley and Pass, the beauty of this valley defies my descriptive powers. Turn after turn, after turn there are abrupt changes in the views and scenery with many places to stop and take in the view, something I was thankful for because even though most of the switchbacks had to be negotiated at 20 mph or less, taking in the view while driving was not possible.
A short summary of the drive: From 4000' elevation down to near sea-level and then to the top of the pass at over 8200' in an area of less than ten miles, then down again to Cody at near 5000' elevation.
We arrived in Cody, WY shortly before sunset and because of the lateness of the day and the fact that the brakes on MyHoney were protesting loudly we overnighted at the Cody Wal Mart Super-center.
The next morning was spent replacing the brake pads a job that was expertly completed within hours at the Cody Rim Rock Tire center.
Next day , “on the road again” downhill towards Thermopolis witch boasts the worlds largest mineral hot springs, just outside of which is the Wind River Canyon another very scenic drive but a torture to drive due to strong wind sheers passing through the canyon. Then on through Casper Wyoming and towards Wheatland, an city aptly named because it lies within miles and miles of high plains wheat farms and cattle as well as antelope grazing land. We continue thru Casper and Cheyenne Wyoming with minimal landscape changes and enter Colorado near Fort Collins and continue on to Denver where we had a maintenance stop. Continuing along the edge of the Rockies down past Colorado Springs, Pikes Peak down to Pueblo for an overnight stop we begin to head east. The terrain gets flatter and there are no more high mountain passes to negotiate which are replaced by large areas of flat farming and grazing land nestled between gentle rolling hills. We are following the Arkansas River on its eastern journey. And yes, we still read about Lewis and Clark here in Colorado, along the river.
Our next stop is Dodge City, Kansas the first impression is like many of the other cities in Colorado and Kansas we passed through, but then as you read the names of the businesses, restaurants, bars and liquor stores you begin to feel like having been transported onto a set of the TV series “Gun Smoke”. There is the cemetery: Boot Hill, Dock Holidays bar, Wyatt Earp’s liquor store, Miss Kitty’s saloon it never ends. In fact one of the local advertisements for Wyatt Earp liquor store reads “ Doc Says: There’s Nothing Slicker Than Wyatt Earp Liquor !”.
After a couple of days rest we continue on to Wellington KS a small Kansas town in the seemingly endless the Kansas plains.
I get to experience the strong winds of some local thunderstorms that seem to materialize out of nowhere. A reminder of why the nickname “Tornado Alley”was given to this area. I had to drive through a very suddenly appearing thunderstorm, even though I had heard reports earlier that suggested possibilities of thunderstorms forming.
The next two days are spent in the gentle rolling hills of Kansas and the beginning of Missouri, from where we will head in a somewhat more southerly direction toward Georgia and Florida.
Still cruising along aboard MyHoney.
Having crossed the border back into the U.S. we are heading South towards Montana on the interstate highway system to just south of Tacoma Washington. We stopped at Washington state rest stops and are anxious to do a little exploring along the Columbia and Snake rivers and retracing the trails of Lewis & Clark.
We picked up the trail on the Columbia just north of Portland Oregon, near Fisher in Washington state. There we picked up Washington state highway #14 which follows the river on the northern bank, interstate 84 runs along the opposite bank in Oregon, the Columbia is the borderline here.
All along the highway there are markers about Lewis and Clark and it seems that this part of the journey was relatively easy with the exception of some falls which have now become hydro electric dams and locks to allow shipping to the upper reaches of the river..Most of the descriptions on the many roadside plaques deal with inter actions of Indian tribes on the water.
Since the river in this area is very wide and the current not very strong and still affected by the Pacific tides it is easy to understand that it was then the best choice for travel, communication and trade between the different groups or tribes of natives and later for settlers.
Traveling along the river banks would have been very difficult on the steep cliffs as is now evident by the many tunnels for both the railroad and road tunnels, although in many places the highway leads over hills, inclines that would not be acceptable for the railroad which winds along the rivers edge.
At Plymouth WA near the Mc Nary Dam & lock the highway crosses into Oregon and follows the river on the south bank for a few miles and then returns to WA where it becomes Hwy.12 which heads east towards Walla Walla again many informational wayside stops about L&C who traveled across country at this part of the journey. Looking at the terrain today, 200 years of civilization later it is difficult to imagine what kind of hardships that expedition had to endure.
At Lewiston, Idaho ( Clarkston, Oregon is on the other side of the river), we drive along the Snake river and then cross over into Idaho, from where we follow the Clearwater river and later the Lochsa river to near its origin in the Bitterroot National Forest. The L&C expedition followed along here as well and judging by the size of the river and the many rocks in its bed canoeing here would have been all but impossible. To the right side of the highway is the Sellway-Bitterroot wilderness area with the Sellway, Moose and Meadow rivers and Big Rock Mountain at 7424' and Hunter Peak at 8742', we drive over the Lolo pass at 5236' and enter Missoula county Montana.. From there it is only a few miles to Missoula where we will spend a few days and do some further exploring.
The next trip was to explore the many lakes as well as the Bitterroot and Flathead rivers along the Mission mountain range of the Rockies. The peaks of the Swan and Mission mountain ranges have their first dusting of snow.
Although the weather did not cooperate for the most part, the drive presented some awesome sights. Being the later part of September the boating activity was limited to a few fishermen on the many lakes with names like Salmon, Turquoise, Swan and many more until we circled around the very large Flathead lake.
Sailing, waterskiing, or power boating in the Rockies? You bet! I counted at least five large marinas on our trip around the roughly 30 mile long lake which is connected by the wide Flathead river and navigable for many miles on both ends.
On the return trip to Missoula we drove through the more gently rolling hills of the Flathead Indian reservation and the national bison range and wildlife refuge and some open range cattle ranches.
We return to Missoula our temporary summer residence.
After flying most of the night we arrived in Phoenix
Arizona and are anxious to check out our new motor home. Since we had a large amount of luggage in addition to the wheelchair, normal ground transportation was out of the question, so arranging a ride took the better part of 90 minutes.
At 7:30 in the morning it was already very hot, nearing 95 degrees, and very, very dry. Not at all like the weather we were used to coming from Hilo.
After a few minutes of checking in at the LaQuinta Inn and securing our luggage, cooling off and several long drinks of water, we called the dealer and were nearly instantly picked up to inspect and take delivery of our new home. Our 38' 1988 Honey. By 1:30 in the afternoon it was filled with gasoline and sitting in front of the hotel with our boxes stored inside and the moving aboard, clean up and system check could begin.
I spent the next day having the tires replaced, oil changes on engine and generator plus buying all kinds of incidentals at Camping World, we were ready for a final clean up (greatly assisted by Merry Maids) and the first serious road trip. It was already very hot, nearing 100 degrees, when we left at 10:30 in the morning heading north with the a/c going full blast plus climbing to over 7000' elevation near Flagstaff Honey performed well, without a problem.
We drove through the beautiful Arizona desert and experienced the amazing colors of the "Painted Desert". Unfortunately stopping for pictures was not possible directly off the highway and we left the exploring of that area for another time.
Near Tuba City, a small Indian tribal village, just outside the painted desert, the gas gauge reading 1/4 tank I decided it would be best to stop even with a several mile side trip to the local gas station. The next one on the highway was listed at 90 miles distant. On the way to the station about 2 miles from the station, on the top of a rise the engine started to sputter and died. I ran out of gas. After filling up, I now know the tank holds 55 gallons, the Indian girl behind the counter of the gas station-store told me " I can see the halo from the Angel riding on your shoulder" when I told her about barely coasting in there. What a piece of luck! Running out of gas in that desolate area would not have been fun and might even have been dangerous, the road was narrow and the area seemed deserted.
Staying in or near Tuba City was not advisable according to advice from the gas station attendant, so northward we continued on to Lake Powell AZ, actually the city of Page, where we stayed at Lake Powell RV park.
The next day was a maintenance and rest day and in the afternoon I discovered dead starting battery during the engine check. I called Sunwest Auto Marine & RV Repairs , conveniently located just across from the RV park and got near instant service. After jump starting Honey and taking it over to the garage, I had both 4 year old batteries replaced. When leaving at quitting time, I discovered an oil leak on the floor under the engine, I thought it was a transmission line going to the oil cooler. I then made an appointment for repairs the next morning. It turned out to be an engine oil cooler line that had chafed and was replaced with a new one. While in the hands of real experts, I also had the transmission serviced (change oil and filter), the air filter cleaned and gasoline filter changed as well, because of the running from the very bottom of the tank the day before.
The repairs being done, gas and fuel tank filled, we left for the next stop at 11:00 Heading North to hopefully cooler climate. We actually found much more comfortable temperatures shortly after leaving the Lake Powell area, no need for air conditioning all day. After a gas and lunch stop at Kanab, UT we drove through the very beautiful Bryce Canyon and on to Circleville, UT and overnighted at Circleville RV park . Circleville, is a very old historic town famous for its trout fishing on the Sevier river which runs along the highway for many miles as well as being the famous outlaw Butch Cassidies hideout.
A look at the surrounding area will easily explain why this was a chosen spot to hide out, one could easily spend weeks here exploring all the side canyons and gulches and still not see all there is to explore. Next morning we left for Salt Lake City and the Great Salt Lake where we plan to spend some time at the next Camping World.
Nearing the Salt Lake and the city bearing its name we encountered some very hot weather and just about the worst air pollution I have ever experienced. This was due to some large forest fires that had been burning in the surrounding mountains and some were actually still burning. Because of this we chose to continue on the highway and bypass that area. Instead we rolled on to Potacello, Idaho, via highway 89 plus a section of Interstate15 and after 432 miles rolled into Potacello, Idaho where we stayed at Cowboys RV park. Not much to be said about Cowboys place, but stopping at Paul's Café a restaurant turned "private club"was a different story. It seems Paul's café lost most of its business due to enforced non smoking regulations and was now in business again after becoming a members only club.
We were issued a daily pass and enjoyed an excellent breakfast before we continued north and after another long driving day arrived in Missoula, Montana. We parked at the Missoula Wal Mart super-center.
The next few days we stayed at Jim & Mary's RV park in Missoula it was by far the nicest park we have visited since leaving on our trip. We established mailing address, bank account, title transfer and registration of Honey and basically explored our new summer residence. Missoula proved to be all we expected and much more. After having some repairs made to address a gasoline leak and repair a short in the brake light circuits we made ready to head to Vancouver B.C. where we needed to conduct some personal business..
After a little over half a century on the Island of Hawaii, it is time to leave.
Having bought a 1988 38' motorhome in Mesa Arizona, the plan is to re-explore the North American continent from the "inside". We picked up the "Land Yacht" which I had purchased on the Internet without a problem. Karin my sister and I stayed at the La Quinta Inn, Mesa East, and did our initial moving aboard and familiarization.
Not much different from a floating Yacht and just like it’s sea going cousin, it needed to have it’s bottom re-done, in the form of new tires instead of scraping barnacles and applying new bottom paint.
But I am getting ahead of myself.
Once the decision was made to leave most of our possessions behind, including the 33' Ranger sailboat, furniture, art collections and most of the personal belongings, a diesel fuel polishing business and my trusty old '76 MB touring sedan, turning into cash what we could and actually giving many things away, I was actually looking forward to getting back to the mainland and cruise the continent where I plan to visit old familiar and many new places.
The hardest part of leaving was to leave behind old and trusted and some new dear friends and of course the beautiful Puna area of the Big Island, that had been my home for so long.
Many memories and a new photo journal will be constant reminders for us and a pleasure to view for those that have not been fortunate enough to be " Lucky you live Hawaii ".
I am certain I will miss the rough lava landscapes, the rich green rainforest, the waves crashing onto the rough coastline as well as the tall mountains and of course Madam Pele’s fiery pit near the summit of Kilauea and black sand, actually lava, beaches that make up part of the Island.
The last few days were spent at the Nani Loa hotel in Hilo during not so nice weather because of the remnants of a storm that dominated all the Hawaiian Islands.
The morning of our departure day, also my birthday, the trade wind returned and offered us a spectacular view of Hilo bay with a colorful rainbow where Mauna Kea should have been visible on a clear day.
I took that to mean that Hawaii and Hilo were bidding Aloha oy .
And now, last but not least a great big mahalo to all those that helped along in my departure.
Special Thanks to:
Bobby & Debie, John Luchau, John Teehee, Lynn & Scott from the Healing Arts Alliance, the staff at Nani Loa and Percy’s transportation service.
The ticket reads: Pick up 20 passengers at Hilo airport with their luggage and transport them to Kailua, Kona after touring part of the east side of the Island. Another tour dreamed up by someone in an office, somewhere in Germany, that has no idea about time requirements and distances of the Big Island of Hawaii, or how small a 25 passenger bus actually is.
I needed to fit 20 passengers and their luggage into a 25 pax. mini bus, not a small chore.
As soon as I identified my group I spot my trouble maker, as nearly every group has one or sometimes more persons that require constant attention. This time it is a father and his two sons ages roughly 10 and 12 years.
The boys are riding around on the luggage carousel in the airport....
After calling "Dad’s" attention to the boys behavior, I am immediately informed that boys will after all be boys. A security guard notices the boys and steps in and the matter is resolved, without further involvement on my part.
We’re all loaded up and off on our long days trip. While explaining the sights of the area and giving a little history and also explaining how the rest of the day will progress I am constantly interrupted and yes, even corrected by the boys and the father, he has read a book about Hawaii.. Looks like a fun day coming up!
The close by Hilo attractions went without much trouble although the boys confused the free samples at the macadamia nut farm with meal time. On the way up to the Volcano National Park I entertained most of the guests with telling them about Hawaii’s creation, the active volcano as well as several of the many stories about Madam Pele, Hawaii’s legendary Fire Goddess.
Of course I got interrupted again by dad or the boys but I allowed the rest of the passengers to quiet them, by stopping my presentation when the boys or dad interrupted.
As almost always there was a lot of interest in Pele’s legends and in the paintings, carvings or the ever burning fireplace at the Volcano House Hotel and also the next stop, the Jagger Museum.
Dad and the boys chose not to come along into the museum but rather stayed outside collecting lava rocks. I then told the story of bad luck that will follow when lava is taken from Pele’s home and the fact that it is against the law to take lava from the National Park.
It took a lot of convincing to get them to leave the lava rocks behind.
At the next stop, Halemaumau crater, behind my back the boys and dad went under the safety line and were standing on the very edge of the crater throwing rocks into it. This was brought to my attention by another person. Anyway I called them to get behind the safety fence and after a lot of backtalk, something like do not tell me anymore nonsense about the dumb Hawaiian stories, Pele and that nonsense. After tossing a few more pieces of rock into the crater when they finally started to return behind the safety line and rejoin to the group, a very large piece of the crater rim collapsed with a lot of noise and dust and fell into the crater some 80 feet below!
It broke off very near the place where they had been standing.
The rest of the group was standing in awe, some holding onto the wooden safety fence, exclaiming :" now it is starting". Of course only a few minutes before I had explained and had shown them in the museums seismographs, about the many daily earthquakes in the area.
After that dad and the boys were strangely quiet and did not even leave the bus during the next 3 stops in the National park. In fact I did not hear anything out of them until we got to the PunaLu’u blacksand beach about an hours drive later. I gave safety instructions and informed the group of the regulations for visiting the sea turtle habitat, the danger of slipping, and not to walk on the rocks in the water, because the tide was out and they are covered by algae.
The group enjoyed a walk along the beach and sighting some sea turtles. And where are the boys and dad? Yes, they were on the slippery lava in the water.
Shortly before our announced departure time, dad slips and falls backwards and receives a nasty cut on the back of his head and some fairly deep scratches on his hands and arms..
After an emergency bandage, dad refused to go to the nearby emergency medical center.
In fact he insisted on continuing as normal with the tour even having been told the next stop was the end of the tour and was more than an hours drive away.
After we arrived at the destination hotel, dad was taken to the emergency room at the nearby hospital by taxi and was treated for the cuts, some large bruises, a severe headache and a concussion. Because of this, for safety reasons, he was denied to rejoin the group who was flying on to the Island of Maui the following afternoon.
It was later that evening that dad had the boys unpack several lava rocks that they had taken, along with the request that I return them. A request which I did not comply with.
Of course there was a lot of talk about the things happening on the previous day, and about Pele’s involvement.
My response to all those inquiries and comments was that there was no way that Madam Pele could be blamed for this one person's total disregard of safety rules and regulations... plus a total lack of common sense.
Further more, it's doubtful that the Goddess of Fire, who is said to be all powerful, and can create or take away acres of land or destroy entire villages, would really get angry at this man and his boys.
Is a little bump on the head the best she could do?
The final outcome was that the group got to do the rest of the trip to Maui and later to Kauai without the constant disruption of the three.
Also the souvenir shops in Kailua sold a lot of extra books, pictures and memorabilia about the legendary Fire Goddess Madam Pele.