Good Deed for the Day

Naoko found me a Japanese rugby streaming channel. This is probably bad news as I can now vegetate in front of the screen and watch rugby all the time. It has already had an influence on my social life as the graceful Arisa was singing last night but her performance clashed with All Blacks / Lions. Er, sorry Arisa.

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I don’t like sponge cake!

Anyway, I swim out to the field of antler coral as what lies close to my house. I have sailed over this wonderful place a few times recently and have noticed a big sheet of plastic that had snared on the coral.

I swim out to remove the plastic from the coral.

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The offending article.

The sun is hot, the sea is warm, the fish are amazing.

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Hello

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Sunday afternoon

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This is Okinawa

I used to be a scout.

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Coco

It is Summer in Okinawa. It is hot, the sea is warm and so all things look seaward. About 20 meters from the shore in front of my house there is a family of Clown Fish.

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When did you last see your father?

I amazed that they survive. At very low tide they are in scarcely 20 cm of water. Typhoons crash on them but there they are every year. They are my friends.

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I know how you feel.

So, to photograph them, I wait for very low tide and then lie in front of their home for hours. It is very pleasant. I have a mask and snorkel. The sun beats on my back as I lie in 50 cms of water.

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I love you

Their behavior is indeed clownish. They come out from cover and cavort and pose. Any  suspicions of danger sends them scurrying to safety with shrieks and cries.

Okinawa!

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72

 

A minute of silence for all who suffered in the Battle of Okinawa. I was honored to represent the University at the the Memorial of the end of the battle. Prime Minister Abe and his cabinet were there as was Naoko Kiyan, whose family suffered terribly.

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After the ceremony, Naoko takes me to her family shrine. Kannon Bosatsu is  the Goddess of Mercy.

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Hokulami, the University band play sad songs to mark the event.

God bless you Okinawa.

 

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Big Breast

So, I think the title of this post is a reasonable translation of Grand Teton. Well, on reflection, teton is probably more accurately translated as nipple. Nipple however sounds ruder.

Grand Teton National Park was where we were headed. We intended to watch Bear, Elk, Caribou, Elk and such.  We were also determined to camp. Grand Teton was actually a big disappointment for after 1000 miles or so on back roads, it it is very civilized with gas stations, stores, lodges and loads of people. The weather turned really bad and we could not see the famous big breasts. We tried very hard to camp.

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Nice spot, notice bear box for storing food.

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James camps

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We wait out the storm in the back of the truck.

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Storm gets worse and worse.

We have no waterproof clothes and the idea of cooking outside in driving snow to later crawl soaked into the flatbed of a truck to shiver and freeze through the night is not appealing.

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View from campsite. Hit it and quit.

We chicken and head on out to find a Motel.

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We finally see the fabled Paps

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Breakfast next morning. Pork chop,eggs over easy, hash browns, English muffin, lots of coffee.

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Somewhere in Wyoming

We head back to San Francisco down country roads.

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Potential road kill

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The real thing

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Back to the city.

Amazing trip! Thanks James for being such a good traveling companion.

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San Francisco 2017

 

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Misery and Pain

The whole point of the trip was to take amazing photographs of birds. This we did do.

We took amazing photos! Especially of Sand Hill Cranes as what are very rare.

This is where tragic misfortune stepped in.

In a a shotgun motel in Idaho I download these gems from camera to computer. I have forgotten the computer charging cord and she has little spunk. In the middle of the download the computer closes down due to loss of battery power. The photos do not reside on the computer but tragically no longer reside on the camera card.

Everything digital is wonderful until something goes wrong. I have lost all my bird and wildlife photos for the majority of the trip. Misery and pain.

America is full of wildlife and birdlife in a way that we poor, having murdered our wildlife centuries ago, Europeans can hardly imagine.

Some scraps from the end of the trip.

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Goldeneye

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Osprey

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Antelope

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Avocet

Gone, gone and never called me Mother.

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When I’m Cleaning Windows

So, these are just some photos of a drive around the Northwest.

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I feel safe

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Yeeha!

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We did a lot of this

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Don’t ask

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Safeway is a great store.

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State line

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Sure is

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You da ho

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Highly recommended

Never tire of the road.

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Got My Chips Cashed In

So, let’s talk about our truck. She is a 2013 Tacoma with about 100K miles. She appears brand new without scratch nor blemish. She is the rock bottom of the Tacoma range with a 2.7 liter 4 cylinder motor that only churns out 180 bhp, incidentally this is more than the V8 Range Rover with which I used to spend my time. She has 5 speed manual transmission and hi and low 4 wheel drive. She has no extras, meaning you wind down windows by hand. There is no GPS, no backing up screen, no TV, no massage parlor, nor spa. All of this I love, I mean she is a truck, not a lowdown, yankee, tenderfoot limousine. What really made it impossible for me not to buy her is her bench seat. Bench seats are the best. You wind down the window, push your elbow out into the wind and roll on down the highway, as your best girl snuggles up against you singing Joni Mitchell songs.

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Inside the truck. You cannot really see the bench seat because it is covered in stuff, which is what it is for.

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By the Snake River in Oregon

She drives like a truck. The gear stick is long and thick, the clutch is heavy, she exudes tractor like solidity. 1st gear is very low indeed, which is perfect for towing and difficult off road terrain. 2nd  is  also a working gear, low and grunting. However 3rd, 4th and 5th are traveling gears, 5th in particular is an overdrive for those high plain dead straight highways with a storm rolling in from behind.

She does not accelerate but rather just gets faster. Forget flooring the pedal and roaring past big trailer trucks carrying feed from Wyoming. You can buy trucks that do that, trucks with 300 bhp motors but these do not interest me. Trucks should not go fast. They are strong, honest, reliable and love a load of goats in the flatbed. That said our truck will go 75 mph all day at 2,300rpm. James and I have just done 2.400 miles in 5 days without ever taking the motor above 3,000 rpm.

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Truck in Gran Teton National Park

So why do Americans love pick up trucks? As we drove around the wide open lands of Oregon, Idaho, Wyoming, Utah and Nevada we took truck data. We counted the number of trucks that came the other way down the long and lonesome highway towards us compared to the number of like saloon cars. It came out that 55% of vehicles were trucks. Clearly a lot of these folks do not use their trucks for farming, ranching, hunting and that kind of stuff. However there is clearly a strong identification with the land. An identification with a way of life that has been recent in their family and above all it is a statement of outdoorishness. The problem is that trucks, especially ours, are brutish yet people like comfort. This has led to double cab trucks that are luxury saloons with a flatbed.

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Double cab truck but this one is a true work truck. Winnamuca Nevada.

Why are there very few trucks in Europe? I suppose it has something to do with history. People on the land were serfs and peasants you know, that sort of thing, on small plots with thousand of years of same, same, engendering a different relationship with the land than your average cowpoke on wide open range.

However the killer app is the big motor. A truck needs a big motor, a grumble, rumble V8 if possible. Mine has a tiny 2.7 liter motor and I can only drive her because I am old and have come to terms with my masculinity. Nevertheless, this size of motor is very large in Europe. A truck with a 1.2 liter high revving motor does not work.

Most of the the trip is devoted to birdwatching and here is another truck virtue. You are seated high and our Tacoma has a very large window that allows the photographer to lean out and capture.

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Antelope on the western plains.

Our truck also has a camper shell, which I am ambivalent about. It takes away from truckishness as you cannot see the flat bed but it is very practical. This trip saw a lot of rain, hail and snow and without the shell all our stuff would have been drenched. It also allows snuggy camping.

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Supplies

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View from flatbed into driving hail

Anyway I love my truck. Soon I will retire and take her to Alaska!

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Well deserved pamper back in San Francisco

 

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