Pacheco Valle with Michael of the South Seas – 25 November 2013

Not every naturalist leader has just returned from Palau and Yap so we were the lucky ones to have Michael back on board with us for our hike just before Thanksgiving. He described a remarkable time there of spectacular skin diving off coral reefs, meeting native peoples, facing a flu epidemic and dodging the Typhoon Haiyan.

Pretty impressive after just arriving the day before – going though how many time zones on his 14 hour flight?

The trailhead is just across the freeway overpass bridge at the Nave Drive exit north.

Hamilton Field area has been developed into a large southern suburban extension of Novato. It was named for 1st Lt. Lloyd Andrews Hamilton who was a WW1 flying hero who died in action near Lagnicourt, France on August 13, 1918. The huge old airstrip is being reclaimed by the bay now and has a long walking path overlooking the area. You can see the former hangers to the left of the tall orange tank. The museum Facebook page gives some flavor of the base when it was active. The B-17’s that were flying into Hawaii on Dec. 7, 1941 were flying from Hamilton Field. In an early episode of Cold War intrigue on May 16, 1946, a B-17 bomber with probable nuclear material for the Bikini tests crashed into White’s Hill while on its way to Hamilton Field.,_California_B-17_Crash

Landon is a 4th grader from Portland, Oregon who was visiting his grandfather, Tom King who lives in Danville. They went on Michael’s Lakes Trip. Landon co-stars in this edition.

Was this the discussion of true noon? True grit we know but true noon intrigued.

Landon has a firm hold on the sun while Michael’s earth revolves around him. Here’s a very cool video that includes some of the material that Michael was describing and perhaps, a few more details.

Michael on the prow of his ship definitely has our attention.

The quick quiz, what was he talking about? Was this the time he mentioned tropisms?

Madrone berries attracting “cedar waxwings, band tailed pigeons, hermit thrushes, American Robins” and fourth graders.

Madrone berries close up. The Wiki entry mentions that when they dry up, they have “hooked barbs that latch onto larger animals for migration.” Wiki goes on to say that the Native Americans chewed the astringent berries (they have high tannin content) or made them into cider. Michael had Landon feel the cool bark of the tree earlier on.

An up part of the up and down Pacheco Valle Trail.

Cresting and heading for lunch

It’s a very dry moment in the year and we were likewise dry and hungry. Michael had a terrific lunch discussion at our picnic spot about the stone money of Yap. He spoke of the remarkable nautical traditions of Yap and how Yap sailors would get the stones on Palau. This was a trip across the open ocean of 240 nautical miles in an outrigger canoe and then came the trip back with the stone. Michael said that the value of the stone was proportionate to the sacrifice of voyage, of injury, of important people involved, of lives lost all adding to it’s intrinsic value. Remarkably in one instance the stone didn’t make it back to Yap but still had great value for them at the bottom of the ocean. It enjoyed the protection of a kind of marine Ft. Knox.

The stone money was for large value transactions like obtaining property. The Yapese used pearl shells, turmeric, banana fiber mats in more everyday transactions. Michael added that in our own cultural context a 19th century a deerskin had a certain value, a buckskin from which comes our word for a dollar. You recall the sign on Harry Truman’s desk.

Landon helps Louise give the dogs a drink after their snacks.

Holding steady

At the end of our hike Michael continued to share, this time the big picture of the earth’s oceans:

Until next week, oh, that’s this week. Lew

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