2014 BentProp Progress Report # 06

P-MAN XVI Update #06 - How a padlock can (temporarily) spoil a nice hike

20 March 2014

Casey Doyle made it in late last night from Okinawa. All of us are a bit jealous because Okinawa's in the same time zone as Palau, so Casey doesn’t have to adjust to a new time. So no need to give him time to adjust. Casey plugged right in and after briefing this morning we went to an area of jungle close to where we were yesterday, but an area yet to be explored by us. The plan was to spend about five hours moving from one point to the next. This ended up taking us about seven hours, but we made it safely and did discover some new sites, the most interesting of which is an old Japanese microbiological lab -- or what is left of it, at least. Our plan is to return to the area in the future and explore some other points of interest.

We had two vans today, which in theory made it easy to move from point to point. We dropped one van off at our planned extraction point and drove the other to the insertion point. When we finished we'd be able to pick up the first van and return to the start point to pick up the other one. Great plan, except when the first van gets locked on the wrong side of a gate after you leave it. The van we are using this year doesn’t have the same markings as last year's, and was mistaken as an unknown by the folks whose property we parked the van on. So after dragging ourselves through the jungle for most of the day we finished the hike to discover that our van was trapped. Cell coverage was sketchy, so Casey and I gathered up some water and began the trek a couple of miles up the road to where our other van was parked. We had just started to grumble on our extended hike about getting our boots wet in the river we just crossed when a nice man in a Bongo truck picked us up. Casey and I happily jumped in the back and hitched a ride to our own ride. When we finally got back to the other guys, we found out that they had managed to get through on the phone and someone would be out to unlock the gate in a few minutes.

Casey picked Krämers for dinner so after cleaning up and debriefing, off we went. Tonight Flip Colmer arrives. Pat and I are departing shortly to pick him up at the airport. Tomorrow is part administrative and part dive warm-up. Tomorrow morning Casey and I will be planning for an event on Peleliu later in the mission, while others gather things, run errands, and work. In the afternoon we're off to get a dive or two in. Most of us don’t have a chance to dive when we're not in Palau, so often it has been a year since we've used SCUBA. Tomorrow the intent will be to just reacquaint ourselves with our dive gear on relatively basic dives, which will feel nice after two long days in the jungle.

Getting ready in the lobby

Pat going over the first aid kit with Casey

Pat doing the classic "Explorer" pose.

Casey loves being back in the jungle.


Snaaaaaake, it's a snaaaaaaake!
[Note from Reid: Many Palauans are deathly afraid of snakes,
despite the absence of poisonous varieties in Palau. Most of us tend to think they're pretty cool.]

Medicinal glass containers, circa 1944

Strange goo in an ampule. Pat declined to taste it in the name of science.

Japanese electrical equipment of unknown function at the "biolab".

More petri dishes and test tubes at the "biolab"

Derek and his li'l sidekick Casey, taking a quick break in fern hell. Casey *might* be
standing in a hole...

Not exactly what you're hoping to see after 6 hours on the trail - our van is locked in, and we
can't get home. Time to give a call to our friends at Cleared Ground (they were very
very nice about it and promptly came out to unlock the gate)

Debrief in the ready room before decompressing at the watering hole.
Today's quiz question: guess which one is the active-duty Marine?

- Derek Abbey, with all photos © Sean Richardson 2014

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