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To see an archive of our personal artifacts,
as another way to peek into our history,
go to: mholtby.blogspot.com
Helen Keller described life as "a grand adventure or nothing at all". This blog is about my own grand adventures over more than seven decades. I could tell you about my family, friends and loves; or my experience with loss, death, divorce, betrayal, and other life tragedies. But life remains a grand adventure, and its those experiences I'll pass along to you. LIVE LARGE & LONG!
"Yesterday is already a dream, and tomorrow is only a vision; but today well lived, makes every yesterday a dream of happiness and every tomorrow a vision of hope."
Pamela and I did a getaway weekend in Sequim staying in a B&B which was a caboose. It was great fun, but Sequim itself wasn't particularly unique. It has a reputation of getting the least rain in the Northwest, and has become a retirement community - with no particular character. It has a Costco, and Home Depot and looks like suburbs anywhere in the USA. We much prefer the Victorian homes and architecture of Port Townsend.
When I moved to Whidbey Island my brothers said there were two things I'd need: a chainsaw, and a generator. On November 4th at 10pm I needed both.
We had a terrific windstorm, preceded by softening the ground with rain. The 60mph wind came in the opposite direction from usual, and trees were pulled up by the roots. The truck pictured here fortunately wasn't mine. The owner also lost 42 trees.
Dylan with his large chainsaw making short work of the fallen tree.
This was my third trip to Papua New Guinea, and it will be my last. For a number of reasons this was one of the worst trips I've done:
1. I didn't receive my visa until literally the day before I was due to leave.
2. It involved 12 flights and the trip cost was twice what I had paid before. With long layovers, two cancellations and the rebooking involved I spent more time waiting in airports and on planes that I did actually at my destination.
3. Myself, Anny a woman from France, and Sandy a veteran traveler from New Zealand found ourselves lumped in with eleven people from Poland who treated us like we were invisible. After an initial confrontation with them where they kept an entire village waiting for them for two hours while they insisted on a hot meal for a second lunch, we spent the rest of the trip trying to avoid them. That meant constantly changing our itinerary, and them bumping us from the best accommodations.
4. We encountered "civil unrest" which closed down the airport for most of a day on our return trip, and the sound of gunshots. Sandy experienced even more violence when he returned from the post-trip scuba diving on the coast where there were riots in the town of Kimbe, and he needed a police escort to get to the airport with roads blocked by burning trash, and then the airport there was also closed for most of a day.
The highlights of the trip involved my travel companions Anny and Sandy, my reunion with Big Man Ronnie and his son Jonah in their village Kuminabit, and the primary reason I went: to attend the Goroka Sing-Sing.
On my first trip to PNG I photographed Jonah when he was eight years old in 2015. You can see that photo by going to that post. He is standing buck naked with a crocodile over his shoulder. When I returned in 2017 he knew I was one of his favorites, despite being deaf since birth, and when I left the village he presented me with a penis gourd. This time the gift was a crocodile skull wrapped in a woven enclosure.
Here is Jonah, now fifteen years old. He has learned to read and write by attending school and just being very observant despite the fact that he can't hear or talk. He has developed his own sign language. His name for me is rubbing his arm, referring to my white skin, and then stroking his chin, referring to my beard.
The other highlight was the Goroka Sing-Sing. In 2015 I attended the Mount Hagen Sing-Sing and this was similar, although with some different tribes. They all spend hours putting on their makeup and costumes, then march, dance, drum, and sing their way into the arena. They don't stop once there and it ends up a cacophony of sounds, and a profusion of colors. At first only tourists (mostly with cameras) are admitted - which prove difficult to keep out of the background of my own photos - until 2pm when they let the locals into the arena. At that point it is packed with people. It is a two-day event and due to a plane cancellation, we were late arrivals on the first day. The total number of trip photos I came home with were a fraction of my usual.
I stayed at a hotel actually in the shopping mall adjacent to the airport that is a convenient walk. It is called Yotelair, and provides very small rooms where you hardly need to get out of bed to go to the bathroom. But it is clean, the bed is motorized so you can sit up, and the shower is deluxe. The mall is called Jewel and is five floors built around a giant fountain that spews water from the top, and is lit in different colors in the evening.
The bird park itself is going to be combined with the Singapore Zoo in the next few months. It has two great shows with birds that fly around the audience. One is primarily parrots and macaws, and the other is raptors.
This "Vietnam Veteran" turned out to be too young to be in the War in Vietnam, and actually had never been to the country. He was homeless and this was his hustle. It was creative but wouldn't be appreciated by vets who were in Nam.
This trip was postponed for a year due to the COVID pandemic. Even so, with the Delta variant, I was uneasy about the travel portion, as were some of my fellow travelers.
A mountain lion is charging through the water right at us
but I was shooting with a long lens.
In October, 2020 I moved to Whidbey Island, closer to my family. My two brothers are ten minutes away, and my oldest sister is about 15 minutes away. My daughter, son-in-law, grandson, younger sister, and lots of nieces and nephews are all here in the Northwest.
I have two acres with a pond, some great landscaping, and regular visits from black tailed deer. I also have two very busy bird feeds, and hummingbirds year around.