Archive for the 'Travel' Category
As you read this, I am attempting to summit Everest.
Via the North Face.
This is the first in a series posts dispatched from the slopes of Mt. Everest, leading to his planned ascent on or about May 19th.
April 19, 2010:
Sorry for the delay in getting the first dispatch out, but we just got our internet working. We arrived at Everest Base Camp (Northside) on Friday morning. It had been a long 8 day trip from Kathmandu across Tibet and we are glad to be here. To say that transportation, lodging and food had been “poor” while in Tibet would be a gross understatement. The physical/ natural beauty of Tibet is truly awe inspiring, but infrastructure is nonexistent. We mostly slept in our sleeping bags and had been eating steamed cabbage, mushrooms and some type of meat…(I haven’t seen a cat since entering the country, but that is just an observation, of course…).
We arrived in Kathmandu (elevation 4,429’) on Thursday, April 8th and spent three days getting all of our climbing paperwork, permits and China (Tibet) visas squared away. We also did a day of mountain biking in the Himalayan foothills which was challenging, to say the least. Kathmandu is a typical 3rd world city: overcrowded, too many cars, too much smog, trash, poverty etc, but it still manages to have enough 1st world services that make it truly enjoyable to spend a few days exploring.
We left Kathmandu on Sunday and took a bus along the Friendship Highway to Kodari, Nepal where we passed through Nepalese customs, walked across The Friendship Bridge into China (Tibet) and spent the night in Zhangmu, on the Nepal- Tibet border (elevation 7,874’). We woke up the following day and drove to Nyalam, Tibet (elevation 12,303’). Due to the severe changes in elevation, we were forced to spend 2 days in Nyalam hiking the surrounding hills and allowing our bodies to acclimatize.
We awoke early Wednesday morning and drove to Tingri, Tibet (elevation 14,108’) crossing the main Himalayan range and driving over the Lalung La (elevation 16,896’) where the views of Cho Oyu (6thtallest mountain the world), Shishapangma (14th tallest mountain the world) and the Tibetan plateau were spectacular. An hour outside of Tingri, we saw Everest for the first time. Even though it is situated amongst the tallest mountains in the world, Everest still towers above. Unlike after the winning goal of an athletic contest when the athletes and fans scream, yell and cheer, we could only stare in silence at Chomolungma (Tibetan name for Mt. Everest meaning “Goddess Mother of the Earth”) and the sheer immense size of it.
After 2 days in Tingri, more cabbage, more day hikes and more acclimatization, we arrived early Friday afternoon into Base Camp (BC; elevation 16’896’). We have spent the last few days acclimatizing on the hills that surround base camp as well as doing a day hike to the Rongbuk Monastery (approx 4 miles away from BC). We will continue to acclimatize and then begin our initial ascent of the mountain.
Our current plan is to depart BC on Wednesday and hike to Advanced Base Camp (ABC- a 12 mile climb to 20,997’) where we will spend three- four days acclimatizing. We will then depart ABC and climb to the North Col/ Camp 1 (elevation 23,031’) where we will stay for at least three nights prior to returning to ABC for 1-2 more nights and then all the way back to BC. We will then eat, sleep and physically and mentally recover and then prepare for the first 5- 7 day window of good (read “good enough”) weather to make our summit attempt (anytime between the 2nd and 4th week of May, we hope).
I have attached a few photos of the trip so far, in case you were interested. I will send my next dispatch as time, climbing schedule and internet availability permits. I hope everyone is doing (1) well… and (2) “One More!”
“I will not spend my days in trying to prolong them… I will use my time.” – Jack London
By Jim Dolbow
Savannah, GA is one of my favorite cities and so it was a real treat to e-interview Tony Cope about his book, On The Swing Shift: Building Liberty Ships in Savannah.
What inspired you to write On the Swing Shift: Building Liberty Ships in Savannah?
I am a native of Savannah and was a child during World War II. I never saw the shipyard, but remember hearing the various whistles during the day and seeing the lights from my second story bedroom windows at night. The yard closed just after the war and the site remained basically derelict for many years. As an adult I drove past the site twice a day on the way to work with no recollection of what took place there. In the late 1980s, I was asked to chair a local committee established to develop some interest in establishing a museum to commemorate the Mighty Eighth Air Force which was created in Savannah and then moved to Britain to fight the air war against Germany. To create this interest, I wanted to come up with a slide show to use for talks to civic clubs and other groups and asked a friend at the local paper to run a request in his column for wartime photographs of Savannah. I received a call from a woman who had a set of six photos of her mother christening one of the Libertys launched by the yard in Savannah. That got me thinking about the yard and wondering that if I had forgotten what happened there maybe most other Savannahians had as well. That assumption was correct…the only people who remembered it were the people who had worked there or sailed on the ships. I just thought that there was a great story there and those people ought to be remembered.
What were some of your more insightful sources for On the Swing Swift?
The most insightful sources were certainly the people involved…the 120 shipyard workers, merchant seamen, Navy and Coast Guard personnel that I was able to interview. All were so excited to talk about their experiences and that someone was taking an interest in what they had done. Some were people that I had known in other circumstances, but never knew anything about this part of their lives. All were fascinating, but one early interview stands out. A friend who worked at the Georgia Ports told me of a retired Merchant captain who had sunk a U-boat, but warned me that he didn’t suffer fools gladly. I had a great two hour interview with Capt. Clifford Thomas who was master of a number of Libertys after the war, but was Third Mate on the S. S. James Jackson when it did fire on a U-boat, but was not credited with its sinking. Captain Thomas not only related his own experiences, but also gave me many names of other merchant seamen who could help with my project. It was a really enlightening and enjoyable interview and contrary to my friend’s warning, we got along splendidly. Unfortunately, when I got home, I found that I had failed to punch the record button on my brand new tape recorder. It was with great fear and trepidation that I called Capt.Thomas and asked if he could do the interview over again. He understood perfectly and we did the two hours again the next night. After I moved to Ireland, we talked by phone a number of times and he wrote very detailed accounts of situations that I asked him about. Unfortunately, he died before the book was published.
Can you tell us a little bit about a day in the life of a shipyard worker?
From the various interviews that I conducted with workers, a typical day at Southeastern was exciting and often very dull. The assembly line method of building Libertys meant that much of the work was repetitious; doing the same job over and over. Many of these workers had never seen a ship before much less built one and had to be trained to be welders, shipwrights and the various other skills necessary to building a ship. It was hot…over 100 degrees in the summer made even hotter by working on and around so much steel. It was freezing in the winter with any bare skin sticking to frozen steel. Then there were the bugs, swarms of mosquitoes and deer flies that bred in the marshes close by the yard in the summer. It was dangerous work; banging, cutting, shaping steel, huge ship parts being carried overhead by gantries. It was exciting though…to see a completed hull slide down the ways or a fully loaded Liberty sail down the river past the yard on its way to a war zone, to know that they were part of the effort to defeat the Axis powers.
Savannah has such a proud history. Can you tell us a little bit more about the city’s contribution to the war effort?
Savannah’s contribution to the war effort was certainly great. Southeastern was one of three shipyards building ships during the war and many other industries produced ammunition, trailers, boxes and bags for military use and many other products vital to the war effort. Many of its sons and daughters went to war and many never returned. As school children we participated in scrap drives, war bond drives, collecting Bundles For Britain and tending Victory gardens. There are monuments dedicated to the dead of that war and The Mighty Eighth Air Force Museum is now a very successful reality in Savannah. There is no monument to commemorate the shipyard and those who worked there. There are displays in the Savannah History Museum and the Ships of the Sea museum. There was a monument to Merchant Marine seamen killed in that war and the other prior wars that our nation has been involved in, but it was taken down and replaced with a monument to commemorate the Viet Nam War dead. The bronze plaques from the Merchant Marine monument are in storage somewhere in Savannah and it is my hope that “On The Swing Shift” will help to develop interest in restoring that monument and recognizing the workers at Southeastern, some of whom died or were injured doing very dangerous work there.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
The research for and the writing of this book was an amazing experience for me; meeting the people and hearing their stories, trying to find information from a variety of sources in an attempt to be as accurate as possible in telling the story of this shipyard. It was a bit like a detective trying to find pieces of evidence in different places and putting it all together to solve a case. For me, some of that evidence came from across the continent and across the Atlantic Ocean. I have been fortunate in that I have had the opportunity to do a lot of very interesting things during my lifetime. This ranks right up there.
If you need additional information, I have a website, http://ontheswingshift.wordpress.com which gives a description of the book, my bio and some reviews.
Nice art work onboard the SS John W. Brown, an operational World War II Liberty Ship.
For information about tours and cruises of the John W. Brown, click here.
As part of summer training, midshipmen spend time out in the Fleet, my past two summers were spent in Pearl Harbor on a submarine and a destroyer; however, this summer I was assigned to Camp Lejeune, North Carolina attached to the II Marine Expeditionary Force Public Communication Team (II MEF PCT).
Marine Corps Public Affairs, the community’s guiding publication, opens with the following quotation from Major General Lejeune, 13th Commandant of the Marine Corps:
“The future success of the Marine Corps depends on two factors: first, an efficient performance of all duties to which its officers and men may be assigned; second, promptly bringing the efficiency to the attention of the proper officials of the Government, and the American people.”
On our first day with the team, MAJ Gilmore, the team’s director, gave us more than an hour and a half of his time to talk about Marine Corps public communication, emphasizing the importance of training Marines to think of communication as a two-way process of information sharing. As no public affairs team can (or wants to) completely control who says what to whom, proper training allows Marines to express themselves more effectively to friends, families, or anyone with whom they communicate.
While public affairs offices are generally perceived as providing information and assistance to the media, the II MEF PCT prefers a different approach. Understanding that the media is another party in the public domain, the II MEF PCT focuses its attention on getting its message to its “key publics,” members of the community who share an interest in II MEF-related issues. For the II MEF PCT, this means Marines, their families, and the surrounding community. Thus, the main focus of the team is not trying to target or “handle” the media, but establishing dialogue with the key publics.
This dialogue with key publics is central to II MEF PCT. For instance, the PCT responds the same way to questions from MEF family members and friends as it does with civilian media representatives. Furthermore, by calling and informing the interested parties of the press releases, the team builds connections with the community.
Blogging is a trend with some units, such as the 10th Mountain Division. Due to limitations of current policy as well the time and manpower requirements, the II MEF PCT does not operate one. However, the team does engage readers in the discussion section of blogs belonging to other groups including civilian media organizations.
The Marine Corps public affairs community only includes around 150 officers. Capt. Patrick, the team’s deputy director, served as an enlisted infantryman before accepting a commission. Coming out of The Basic School with any MOS open to him, he chose public affairs much to his peers’ surprise. “I had been reading and studying about fourth-generation warfare,” he explained, “and it was apparent that communicating information was incredibly important…Besides just basic leading Marines, I’ve never had such a broad impact.”
The Internet and “new media,” such as blogs, enable readers to draw information from sources outside the traditional media filter. How can the military and public affairs teams better adapt to these developments?
By Jim Dolbow
I highly recommend a tour of the USS Hornet if you are in the neighborhood. AS a firm believer of the maxim “one cannot tour enough aircraft carriers,” I enjoyed my visit on the Hornet and think you will too.
The USS Hornet CV-12, CVA-12, CVS-12 is one of the 24 legendary Essex-class aircraft carriers built during and after World War II. Decommissioned in 1970, the Hornet is a floating museum and available for tours. See www.uss-hornet.org
To view the rest of my photos, click here.
By Jim Dolbow
The USS Midway Museum in San Diego, CA is a must-see in my book. It is by far one of the best preserved ships in our museum fleet. It also has more planes than many third world air forces. Here are a few of my pics:
To view the rest of my photos, click here. Have you toured the USS Midway? If so, what did you think?