Of shoes — and ships — and sealing wax
Of cabbages — and kings
And why the sea is boiling hot —
And whether pigs have wings.
This is to say that this is the last article (but one) which will be posted on Pacific Voyages. This is the 116th article and I guess I’ve had my say. A bold new project has arisen that demands my full attention and one final article I will explain. And I hope many of you will come along to be part of the antics there. Believe me it is a BIG deal and I will be looking for your opinions and some of you might join us in our effort to preserve and protect this pale blue dot. Once more this link to my favorite tone poem.
But before I wander off I’ll recall some of my favorite articles. The selection is tough as they are all my favorites so I’ll highlight some of the more exotic ones.
A few of the articles talked about islands that never existed like the Lands of Mu, a vast continent in the Pacific that never existed.
This is solid proof that there have always been folks whose conjectures don’t line up with the mainstream. Take flat Earthers. Don’t they notice the Rockies or the Alps? Not so flat. They should be called flattish Earthers in my opinion.
There are famous incidents that have become the stuff of legends but have a basis in fact. https://pacificvoyages.net/robinson-crusoe/ like Robinson Crusoe Island or the Lord of the Flies Island. The Lord of the Flies Island is unusual because this familiar story was a popular book in the 50s and then a big film in the 60s. But it wasn’t until the 1970s that the incident happened (more or less) It’s as if history ran backwards. https://pacificvoyages.net/lord-of-the-flies-island/
There are countless stories I didn’t get to. I’m fascinated by deep ocean geothermal vents. Some scientists conjecture that life on earth started at these vents. Maybe I should have written about the TV show Lost but instead I opted for the much more compelling story of Gilligan’s Island which was actually far more memorable. Try humming the theme song from Lost.
We talked about the tragic life of of the Pitcairn islanders which is said to be the most remote inhabited place on earth. There they are partial to Spam, Kit Kat bars and incest. More cheerfully, I brought you Ball’s Pyramid with this amazing, lyrical video.
We explored the Japanese island overrun with harmless cats but I never covered Snake Island https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oa1Tu6BRFxU which is so full of deadly snakes that almost no one dares to go there.
We talked about the fact that Magellan was the first person to sail (but for 150 miles or so) around the world but died in the Philippines. How is it possible that he was the the first but died half-way around? Not so simple. https://pacificvoyages.net/ferdinand-magellan/
And how about the exploding whale on the Oregon Beach?
Then there’s The Bridge to nowhere? https://pacificvoyages.net/gravina-island/ This was back during the Sarah Palin governorship. Remember how crazy she looked. Now…er not so crazy.
Who doesn’t love the wretched excess of the Sultan of Brunei, the one person in modern times who has spent more money attempting to have a good time than anyone else I’ve ever come across. In fact, my autobiography is dedicated to him. https://pacificvoyages.net/the-island-of-borneos-crown-jewel-brunei/
I touched down mainly in the Pacific but did go further afield when I told you about Rosie Round the World a slight Englishwoman who ran around the world by herself. And this included running all the way across Russia in the winter. https://pacificvoyages.net/round-the-world-rosie/
Lope Martin was the first skipper to circumnavigate the Pacific and this he accomplished this in a tiny 30-foot ship which was actually a glorified rowboat. https://pacificvoyages.net/the-impossible-voyage/ And this in 1556!
I was crazy for the guy who lives with a polar bear. https://pacificvoyages.net/amazing-amimals/
Doing the research for these articles made me feel as if we were voyaging through time and was a great personal relief during the past few plague years. I sailed with Ahab on the Pequod and many of you came aboard with me and we traveled to “places we will never go.”
Along the way I uncovered stories that are not true but what is true is that people thought they actually happened and are passed along as fact. I was speaking once with the California State historian, Kevin Starr, and he verified the following story as fact. He said that some Gold Rush Argonauts landed in San Francisco and before leaving for the gold fields would ship shirts to China to be washed and ironed before being sent back. First, this supposed that they valued clean, pressed shirts. And one has to assume that they had an abundance of shirts and were also careful planners as the laundry would not return for at least eight months. This clearly never happened but Kevin said it was so. I happened to find the source of this tall tale in Bayard Taylor’s first person account in his masterwork, Eldorado, where he reports that in 1849, when he was as at the waterfront in San Francisco, a sailor told him this. His leg was clearly being pulled and as a result our legs are still getting longer.
One of my favorite discoveries is the path of Mankind in the New World https://pacificvoyages.net/new-world-homo/ When I was in school, the earliest humans were thought to have arrived in the Western Hemisphere about 12,500 years ago. Over time we pushed this back to about 20,000 years. But a curious discovery in San Diego has upset this notion in that there appears to be a mammoth kill site that is considerably older. In fact, it predates homo sapiens coming out of Africa. Who were these humans? Neanderthals perhaps or some other subspecies?
And then there’s the history of shanghaiing (the term comes from San Francisco) where men were drunked, drugged and enslaved on ships after the 1849 Gold Rush. A Committee of Vigilance was formed to curtail this practice and the term vigilante comes from San Francisco. https://pacificvoyages.net/shanghaiing/
And who doesn’t love the story of Effie and Ava Hotchkiss https://pacificvoyages.net/effie-and-avis-hotchkiss/ a mother and daughter who rode a motorcycle and sidecar across the United States back in 1915.
I’ve had fun telling you about https://pacificvoyages.net/bellosguardo-beautiful-view/ and the unusual life of Huguette Clark. Her house in Santa Barbara was fully at the ready to receive her since the 1940s until she died in 2011at 104 years old. though she never came. It even had flowers on the tables kept fresh through generations of caretakers.
I liked discovering the Gili Islands in Indonesia where they have restaurants and bars selling magic mushrooms while dodging the country’s death penalty for drugs. Make up your mind Indonesia. https://pacificvoyages.net/the-gilis/
And yes the bikini bathing suit is actually named for the place where we tested atomic weapons because the bathing suit was meant to make a BIG impact.
As I cruise through the articles I feel a bit sad that I’m leaving this behind because it has been such fun to write and I also got a chance to work with my stalwart editors and spell checkers. Jim Warren, Janice (she made me a better writer for sure) and my wife Margaret who has always made me a better man.
My costar in this has been the webmaster and designer Ryan Sport who created the look and made the back end look so upfront.
And of course the readers who left comments and support. Sure, I could have done it without you…but what would be the point, right?
If you stomach a further dose of me you can read my autobiography here: https://archive.org/details/breakfastatbucks0000macn_s8u2