Saturday, December 30, 2000

U.S.A., California, San Francisco

On one of the final days of December 2000, I was standing in the sunshine on a greened hill looking at the Golden Gate Bridge and talking to my brother, who was in his trailer house in the North Star Trailer Park in Minot, North Dakota.

Wednesday, November 1, 2000

U.S.A., Minnesota, Minneapolis

Last evening was warm for the trick-or-treaters. Then it thunderstormed after midnight.

It's raining beautifully outside.

Wednesday, August 9, 2000

U.K., Bermuda, Royal Naval Dockyards

Dove on three wrecks today in two dives. The first dive, we descended to the Constellation. According to Bermuda Shipwrecks by Daniel and Denise Berg, the Constellation was built in 1918, later refitted to be a school, and finally converted back to a freighter in 1942 for the war effort. On its first voyage from New York across the Atlantic, it wrecked on the reef at Bermuda. Its cargo consisted of cement, drugs, and whiskey. The U.S. Navy salvaged the whiskey. Upon descent, we could see the cement, stacked and scattered on the sea floor like pillows. The bags had decomposed and the cement had hardened. At the stern is a windlass and at the bow, a large metal box. Near the bow lies the wreck of the Nola, a.k.a. the Montana, a U.S. Civil War Confederate blockade runner. Its paddle wheels are easily identifiable. I took a slate down with me to write on, but the pencil didn’t work. On the Nola and Constellation, we encountered another group of divers – middle-aged, probably sport divers. They were picking among the litter of the Constellation, picking up and discarding or keeping drug ampules, broken bottles, and such. We surfaced, ate lunch, then dived on the wreck of the Lartington, an English ship wrecked in 1879. Here we could see the two large boilers amidships. I followed the propeller shaft halfway through the wreck, but could not see it clear to the boilers. I also could not see where or how the boilers were attached to anything. I surfaced once during the dive to clear my right ear. On the bow of the Lartington, we could read, “LARTIN.”

Tuesday, August 8, 2000

U.K., Bermuda, Royal Naval Dockyards

Went out on the boat to view three wrecks. Snorkelled on the first one, the Pollockshields. Wreckage spread over a large area – boilers, shells. A German-built ship captured by the British in WW I and used to haul supplies. Then went to two other wrecks, the Minie Breslauer and the Mari Celeste. Another intern arrived yesterday, Sam from Sydney, Australia. (When I first arrived at the hostel, I had concluded that it was not a real hostel, because it was missing the obligatory Aussie. But then he showed up the next day.) Sunburned my face and hands on the boat. At night, I went up to the front of the Commissioner’s House here in the keep. A ship’s mast there perpetually flies tattered Bermudian, Canadian, U.S., and British flags between two well-painted cannons pointing at the sea. A large cruise ship, the Nordic Princess, is docked at the Dockyards. This is Bermuda, the Royal Navy, the Atlantic Trade, the history – but it doesn’t feel like it in the streets. Coke is sold in cans measured to “12 US fl oz.”

Sunday, August 6, 2000

U.K., Bermuda, Royal Naval Dockyards

Arrived in Bermuda today. Arrived at eight p.m. Took a taxi to the Maritime Museum, clear on the other side of the island. The museum is inside the keep of an old British fort. The gate of the keep was locked. I hid my bags in an alcove in the fort wall, took off my shoes and socks, and climbed the gate. The hostel was empty. Found Brian, the old caretaker, sitting outside in his underwear, smelling of liquor. He said he was watching the stars. He apologized for being in his underwear. He opened the gate for me and I retrieved my bags.

Sunday, July 2, 2000

U.S.A., South Dakota

It’s nearly the Fourth of July weekend. Americans love their flags. They’re everywhere. Saw a pick-up on the Interstate with min-American flags duct-taped to it, flapping in the 75-mph breeze. I even have an American flag sticker in the corner of the windshield of my Buick. It was there when I bought the car. Which is a good thing; otherwise I would have had to find a flag sticker myself.

I rolled through Kansas City at twilight in the last hours of June, 2000. I listened to a KC radio station deejaying and broadcasting live from a club in the city. They were also being simultaneously web-cast. So people watching the web-cast would e-mail in stuff like, “Who’s that girl in the pink dress?” And I blasted on through those bright Kansas City lights into the plain, listened to the club scene till I lost it, flipped the radio and on it was Elvis Presley.

A Greyhound bus passed me and I was glad not to be in it and instead in my own little futuristic highway module. A mile later the bus was pulled over on the side of the Interstate; someone must have been raising a ruckus.

Riding through the wheat here, I can clearly see the stars of the Northern Hemisphere.