P-MAN VI Update #2
14-15 January 2004

The adventure has begun!

Pat Scannon and I (Reid Joyce) are now officially the first wave of P-MAN VI in Palau.

Pat flew from San Francisco to Los Angeles on Monday evening, then left for Hawaii on Tuesday morning. I left the house just after 3:00 Tuesday morning, flew from Pittsburgh to Houston, then Houston to Honolulu, where Pat and I met up for the last two legs - Honolulu to Guam and Guam to Palau.

We were met at the Koror airport by master guide Joe Maldangesang and his wife Esther, and Josie Minon (Joe and Josie work for Neco Marine, which has provided excellent support to BentProp teams for several years), and Lenny Oberg, who seems to be connected in some way to just about everything that happens around here. His business card identifies him as "International Man of Mystery." We exchanged pleasantries, and received enough leis to cover the whole team - the majority of whom obviously did NOT arrive with us.

We rented a car and headed into town. On the way to the hotel we stopped at the "Truck Stop" (formally called Bem Ermii) for burgers and milkshakes, and actually started to feel right at home. Then at the hotel, the food-induced euphoria ratcheted down a couple of notches when we learned that all of our rooms except a 2-bedroom suite had been cancelled. We're still working on exactly what the lesson-learned is for that transaction. But we managed to reinstate singles for Pat and me, and enough rooms in the future to cover the rest of the team on their weird schedule, despite the fact that for the next several days the rest of the rooms will be occupied by a teen-age baseball team from Australia. We expect them to be as quiet and well-behaved as a troupe of rock stars with baseball bats.

My pretty typical first night: sleep like a log from 11:00 to 3:00. Wake up and feel like getting up. Rat around and unpack a bit. Crash again at 4:00 and sleep till 6:00. Hopelessly awake for the rest of the day. Pat turned out to have been on exactly the same schedule.

We met Lenny for breakfast, then ran some errands that included a trip to the local hacker shop, where they're trying to break the lock code on an old Sprint cell phone that I brought from home and will get activated here if they can crack it.

The rest of the day included courtesy visits to Sam's and Neco, a trip to say hello to Senator Surangel Whipps and two of his sons, and a supply stop at Surangel's grocery store.

But the big excitement came early in the afternoon, when we discovered that the JPAC team's C-17 cargo plane had arrived at the airport. We wanted to be there to greet the team when they arrived, so we sprinted out to the airport, only to discover that the aircraft was still sitting out on the runway. Some SeaBees with a huge forklift and a flatbed truck arrived shortly after we got there, and began offloading a collection of equipment on pallets that appear to be roughly enough to set up a town about the size of the one where I live in Pennsylvania. Turns out that the ramp area at the terminal isn't designed for an aircraft as heavy as the C-17, so the SeaBees had to drive the forklift out to the runway, offload pallets, trundle them back to the ramp, and deposit them on the flatbed. They may not have to use everything on the pallets - just like to be prepared. Hey - when you've got access to your own C-17, why not bring, as Karnak the Magnificent used to say, EVERYthing you might ever need on Palau?

Fame-and-fortune highlight of the trip so far: the SeaBee Chief in charge of transporting this huge collection of stuff came walking over to where we were standing on the ramp and asked, "Are you the BentProp guys?" It sounded like he thought we were some kind of celebrities and Pat was delighted with that thought. Turned out, though, that he thought we were responsible for the short notice he'd gotten to come over with his gear and offload it on the ramp. Still, fame of a sort.

While we were waiting for the unloading to finish and the JPAC crew to deplane and come over to clear customs, we visited with Matt, the Aussie pilot of the Islander, the twin-engine airplane that makes regular passenger runs from Koror to Peleliu. We discovered that he'd be glad to have us charter the plane for some aerial surveys of selected spots on the reef. For a breathtaking price. But his alternative recommendation was that we simply buy a couple of round-trip tickets for the 20-minute flight to Peleliu, and let him choose the route, which is at his discretion, to cover the areas that we want to explore. For a LOT less money than chartering the plane for the same purpose. We waited until the time he said he'd be leaving this afternoon, only to discover that he'd left early. We'll be here for 6 weeks, so it's not like we've missed the last chance.

This first evening we went to dinner with the JPAC crowd, which seems to be a capable, likable, energetic group.

Onward and upward! Strength through joy!

- Reid


  • Watch Pat every second, or he'll lose the car keys.
  • If you let several people get involved in making hotel reservations for a group this size, with a schedule this complicated, one possibility is that someone will get hopelessly confused and inadvertently cancel them all. And that person will be the last one to contact the hotel before you arrive.
  • Even if you watch Pat, he'll lose the car keys.
  • Somewhere near the Lehns motel, there's a rooster who is on duty 24/7.