Krokbräcke Mountain/Kina Abyss
As our tank rumbled through the gently rolling Swedish countryside, the hills opened into a welcoming valley. There was a palpable sense of anticipation, expectation, and possibility. The red houses dotted the rural landscape, punctuated by the garish yellow homes, and the strange, almost dreamlike, light blue homes. Sweden is a tension between strict adherence to form, and a loose libertarian love of freedom and nudity. The former demonstrated by a strict colour code for homes, the latter a strict enforcement of nude bathing, with tickets and an online payment system.
I was startled out of my reflection: “Tank Commander! This is Captain Lennermark of the first AutoSalt Brigade. Accompanied by Drill Seargeant Jenny Axen, reporting for duty SIR!”
“Excellent, Captain Lennermark, Sergeant Axen, it’s time for tank and injection training. May I inspect your piping?”
“SIR, Yes, SIR!” said in tandem.
“Good… Good… Captain Lennermark, The Tank, the Tank is in in good shape. ” (shown in Figure 1.) Mike was actually a tank commander in his obligatory time with the Swedish army (a more salient distinction every day). Perhaps this is demonstrated in his good-natured decisive manner, like when he asked the sobbing young girl in the streets of Norrköping, “Are you ok?! Why are you crying?! Do you need my help?!!” Whatever the reason, Mike is a ray of sunshine in an otherwise dreary day. Jenny, on the other hand, is nothing like the sun.
We arrived at Krokbräcke in the afternoon of Tuesday, May 17, 2022. I figured we’d be done within 1 day, but as Jenny said, “I don’t doubt that you’re fast at installing AutoSalt, but I think we’ll need the Thursday to teach me and Micke everything you know so we can move the device at other sites in the future… But the good news are my dad wants to take you out in the boat on Friday even though I can’t join. Sad for me, good for you. But at one condition. You have to help him to install the jib 😄”
No problem. Gabe, Jib, I’m good with whatever.
The kreek at Krockbräcke is not so turbulent. At the flow today, only 3-4lps, the salt wave takes several hours to come through. We’ve placed T-HRECS at 10m, 100m, and 170m downstream of the injection site. Between 10-100m are several large pools, likewise between 100-170m. The idea is to have a T-HRECS for each flow. This creek can flow up to 2-4 m3/s, and at that flow, the pools become riffles.
The first injection was contaminated by sediment stirred up by pumping from the creek into the tank, seen in Figure 2.. Notice how each injection afterwards is attenuated as it travels downstream, from Green to Blue, to Red. At this flow, only the probe at 10m can be used to determine the flow with any accuracy.
About halfway through the first day, when I starting to feel my jetlag again, I heard a familiar shaking sound. “Oh Gabe… look what I have?” Have you ever been so addicted to a substance that the mere sound of it’s packaging incites an allergic reaction, and an overwhelming compulsion to consume it, at the same time? You start to salivate and your heart rate increases. Your pupils dilate and you begin to sweat. You enter a fight or flight mode and feel nauseous and alive. This is how it is with Kina Puffs. These politically incorrect chocolate-coated-puffed wheat crack berries are so addictive that the Swedish military actually used them as a form of coercion, hooking their detainees and then withdrawing their sweet crunchy punch of salt and gluten, bam! Right between the eyes. So yah, Mike knew this when he introduced me to them last year in Sweden.
“Maybe if you do a good job and install the AutoSalt quickly, you can have one or two as a reward.” At this point, my heart was beating around 170-180, and I had no visible iris. I checked in my phone camera. I’m trying to control my urges and Doctor Schwartz said I need to monitor my own symptoms.
“No thanks, I’m, I’m, I’m good.” I stammered.
“Ok, then more for me and Jenny?” and he opened the bag, right..under..my…nose.. I checked my heart rate on my apple watch, 190. “You’re better than this, Gabe. You are stronger than this…”
“That’s niceeeeeeeee.” I couldn’t stop hissing..”Yah! ok! Just maybe, just maybe, one?”
When I woke up, I was in my bed at Tanumstrand, a small beachhouse community outside Fjällbacka. Meadow larks sang outside my window and I could hear the lapping of waves somewhere in the distance. A cool breeze wafted in the open window. I’d been undressed, totally, and my teeth were brushed and flossed. My clothes were folded beside my bed and I could see smears of chocolate on them. I went into the bathroom and splashed some water on my face. I then noted the chocolate and wheat dust on my face and in my stubble. “Gawd. What have you become?” I asked myself, sincerely hoping for a response, looking into my bloodshot eyes.
I made my way downstairs. Jenny and Mike were up, preparing a breakfast of Mike’s fresh sourdough bread, some cheese, muesli, yogourt, and fish-egg paste. The tube had a cartoon of a generic happy blond child sucking back on the tube and some happy mackerel egging him on. “Good Morning!” sang Mike. Jenny looked at me with a mixture of disgust and pity.
“Good morning,” I sheepishly offered.
“Quite a night for you hey?” asked Mike brightly. Jenny just looked down at her breakfast.
“Yah, I guess so. I… don’t remember.”
“Well, don’t you worry, we have more Kina puffs for you. If you can finish the job..” and he pointed the tube of mackeral paste at me menacingly, then removed the cap and sucked back on the tube. “MMmm, that’s good, you want some?”
I looked at Jenny, she quickly looked away.
“It’s good, it’s a Swedish delicacy.” He spread the paste on his bread with cheese and cucumbers. You could see little specs of mackerel that were resistant to the pink dye used to make it homogenous.
“I guess so…?”
It’s important to know yourself. “To thine ownself be thine truest,” as hamlet says to Polonius. For example, I don’t like seat warmers, makes me feel like I peed myself. I do like cold showers in the summer. Marmite: tried it, don’t like it. Salted licorice I could grow to like. But Mackerel paste, it’s strong, stronger than me, but I was able to resist its siren call. You didn’t get me there, Mike, but I admit I was still on a very short leash with the Kina puffs.
After a bracing swim in the shrink-inducing North Sea (I swear!) we headed back to site. This day we calibrated all equipment and managed to get the telemetry to connect (use a new SIM card, set the APN). Another lovely lunch of pea soup, Mike’s bread, and plenty of Mackeral paste. Mike said if I could get the flow meter calibrated within 1%, I could have another paw full of Kina Puffs. The sugar rush was not that strong today and I didn’t black out, I only experienced slight Synaesthesia, so the Mackeral paste tasted very mauve and the coffee looked like Bach’s Cello Suite played by YoYo Ma. After lunch, we got back to work… but I saw where Mike hid the Kina Puffs.
The workday was full of friendly chatter and joking. There were moments of frustration: getting the telemetry connected and LoRa in range, showing the Suede Swede Mike how to change the RTC battery (“Easy, gently now.” “No I have this, I’m quite careful!” ”No, don’t, Mike, not there, may I? No Mike, you’re going to break it!” “Oh, this broke. Hm,”) but hanging out in the subtle Swedish tones of greens and greys, grasses and water with some pretty chill chums was just fine by me.
I don’t know why I had to get into the Kina Puffs, (“I’m just going to get some tools from the van, be right back.” “Where’s Gabe? He said he was coming right back?” “No, Gabe, give me those! You can’t eat that many all at once.” (In a demon voice) “Bow down before me, I am your redeemer! The Rapture is upon us! Brgghhh, (spin head here) Mike help me, I’m locked in it’s grassss, Gabe is no longer available, I am Kina Puff, Reaper of souls and Gabe is my pledge..” ”Jenny, grab his arms..” “You did this to me Mike! You did this.. Silence pledge… You shall go forth and spread the Kina Puff doctrine, Resistance is futile!” “Mike, grab the shovel and knock him out, he’s overpowering me!” “Ok, lights out, Kina Puff Monster!”).
The waves lapped against the dock. The sounds of the colder North Sea is different than the warmer Pacific. Like the Swedish countryside, there’s a seriousness and introspection in the sound. Or maybe in the colours, possibly the smells. I can’t really tell which is which anymore.
We try juggling, the three of us, on the shores of Grebbestad. We all take pleasure in the simple physical challenges. Walking along the planks that divide the boats, meridian wrestling, stones and meals. I take each day as it comes. The drugs they prescribed are quite strong, and sometimes I just stand staring at the ocean for hours, a bit of drool glistening in the setting sun, that Jenny kindly wipes away. They have to completely deaden my sensory cortex in order to break the dependency to the Kina Puffs. Mike and Jenny lead me up stone steps, through the King’s Crack, where we enjoy a Thai takeout meal, well, they do. I only hear traffic sounds when I eat. Honk, Honk, Honk, Vroom, Swoosh, stuff like that.
Jenny thinks a day of sailing with her dad will help. Hans is a semi-retired chemical engineer and his bright smile and enthusiastic attitude speak to a life lived fully. He’d already put up his Jib, but there’s still the pesky hull-speed meter that’s not working. We say goodbye to Jenny, at least I think it was Jenny I said goodbye to. I hugged and thanked who I thought was Jenny and Hans took my hand and led me back down to the boat for a day of sailing. It was a bright windy spring day and we were happy to turn off the engine and let the horses play in the sails. When we got to North Bear Island, we parked the sailboat against the rocks. There is no tide in Sweden (!) something about being sheltered? So we can hook right up to the shore and not worry about up and down. We eat our sandwiches and chat about the world, work, family and boating. Then it’s time to tackle the hull speed sensor.
The little impellor must be a hall-sensor device, just like on the AutoSalt. While it seemed to be spinning when pulled from its pipe in the hull, no signal could be detected with the voltmeter. Hans said “Do you want to dive under?” “Sure!” With a wetsuit from the 70s, Hans says still fits him from his active lifestyle, I dive under. We determine that the impellor was just getting stuck on a stray lump of anti-fouling paint. We scrape off enough to get it going again and I’m free to go for a little swim with the mask and snorkel. There are moon jellyfish in a thick cloud around the boat. According to the Guardian article of 2014, these blooms are becoming more frequent with warmer waters, clogging cooling water intakes to nuclear power plants. The jellyfish are alien and beautiful under water. They seem totally oblivious to me, their surroundings, or their status as a nuclear threat and harbinger of a new world order where the few remaining humans bow down to their new jellyfish overlords. Do they know that they are beautiful? Do they even know what they look like, do jellyfish look in mirrors? I doubt it. What do jellyfish feel? Temperature, love, lust, jealousy, hunger, hanger, hungover after a wild party, regret as you stare at the poster of Def Leppard and wonder whose house this is, remorse for crashing the snowmobile into the tree? Do they feel climate anxiety, an urge to herd, or do they seek individuality? Or do they just swim, eat, and mate. Sounds lovely. I watch one pulsating in glowing translucent pink and blue, Bach’s Cello Suite #1 plays and I smell orchids and smile.
Bella Coola- Noosgulch AutoSalt
“I like that one,” said Jade, a young Nuxalk artist we visited in the village of Bella Coola in the Nuxalk traditional territory. She is referring to a drawing in her sketchbook that she has graciously shared with us, Shayne and Carmen and I, on our recent trip to the Bella Coola valley to move the AutoSalt system. “I was listening to a storyteller on the radio, and he was describing how a man was turned into a wolf as he listened to the shaman, when the moon was full.” Her comment seemed less self-congratulatory, but rather observational, she was merely the medium for the art and it came through her. She’s mature for her age. Far away from the mall and cineplex, high rises and chateaus of West and North Vancouver, the traditional territory of the Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh first nations.
As we look at the rest of the portfolio, I’m impressed by the adherence to the strict form of the traditional art, mixed with a playful twist and personal expression. Our gregarious host, Vince, and Jade’s mom Evangeline are watching protectively nearby, having invited the outsiders into Jade’s private studio. I mention my neighbour, Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas, a Haida artist, who’s fused Japanese Manga with Haida to create Haida-Manga. I mention Spirited Away by Studio Ghibli, and Jade nods her head. I tell her about a particular scene in the dream story where No Face is eating the various nature spirits who come to the bathhouse, and this is somehow accepted as normal. Or Haku, the white dragon, who helps our hero Chihiro battle the manipulative bathhouse owner Yubaba. I was so unsettled by this movie I never finished it.
It could be described as culture shock, when expectations of behaviour and meaning, assumptions of values and norms, such as comedy and offense, are thrown out the door and the supplant is left feeling disorientated and vulnerable.
I feel this way a little bit looking at Jade’s art. A visceral window into another world, one which I don’t have access to. Jade saw this world through the storyteller on the radio. I’ve seen other worlds through Mike’s Haida-Manga or Hayao Miyazaki’s dream/nightmare storytelling.
We drove back to the “Swinger’s House” with Vince, where the party was in full swing. Office gossip was flying, music playing, pool balls cracking. I demanded we play ping pong on the pool table and Shayne obliged. I talked myself up pretty good, how Shayne would “eat pong” and “taste the backside of my racket,” the usual ping pong smack talk. I don’t think I won a single game. After each loss, I’d say “double or nothing,” and Shayne said “look man, I don’t want your leatherman, let’s just call it a day.” So.. I guess we will call that a draw.
The move of the Nuxalk AutoSalt from Nooklikonnik to Noosgulch was a breeze: it’s the “Backpack” version, after all. And all you need is 4 strapping men and half a day to lug the tank, tools, salt, and guts of the system over hill and under mountain, along with a baker’s dozen of beer to ensure everyone goes home happy and fulfilled. So far XX measurements have been made at the new site.
Vince showed us his new cryptomining rig as it cranked out heat and “money,” Unlike most people whos eyes glaze over when the topic turns to crypto, blockchain, or nfts, Vince has embraced it as a way to burn excess power from the proposed hydropower project. Not only making revenue from the excess power, but also heat in the winter. We brought in crypto expert Micah Smith, who said “I think that combining cryptomining with hydropower is a great idea.” We will see if this pans out, but I reserve the right to tune out and drool anytime crypto is brought up.
In a doughnut surrounding Armstrong, B.C. are the peaceful fields and ditches of Spamalot, sorry, I have a hard time with the name, Spallumcheen, pronounced Spal-u-machine.. I think. Working for the municipality through my pals at Urban Systems, we were tasked with measuring flows upstream of Otter Lake and downstream to determine the gaining, or losing, of inflow from aquifer. Makes it a bit complicated when users are pumping water out of the channel.
The “plan”, was to install two AutoSalt systems, one upstream and one downstream, building the rating curves, process the stage, and off we go. But the site reconnaissance with Bruce, a local “farmer” led us down a different path…. a very different path indeed (minor note played here).
Day 1, Tues April 5.
Site Recon with Bruce. Bruce is an interesting character. A Hotel Manager by training, he “got Sun-Peaks going,” then he “went to a party” that he “wouldn’t normally go to,” and there was a hippy type guy that told him all about echinacea. So he started a farm for herbal supplements. He now seems to work for/is owned by Natural Factors. He mostly does tours, he says, and it doesn’t matter if the farm is profitable because they make so much money. It’s more about the advertising.
He was pretty keen to be part of the recon action. The group he is part of really wants to see the velocities increase in the reach to reduce flooding. This means taking out beaver dams and maybe dredging… “mitigation, don’t’ use the word dredging, it’s mitigation.” Farmland is flooded every year when the banks overflow. As we were driving around, looking for a suitable mixing reach, we avoided areas he said would overflow each year. He was supportive of our work, we were “not the enemy,” when we told him we were trying to show how much water was entering the reach via the aquifers. He showed us a pond they dug to capture the aquifer outflow, shown in Figure 3.
That white structure in the lower left is a weir, so if you want to monitor aquifer input, essentially ground water level, you could monitor this pond. I installed an EC probe at the outlet and also measured 4 Lt/s coming out. Bruce said it was pretty constant year round. I’m thinking that we can understand the aquifer input to the reach if we monitor the EC.T out of the pond as being representative of the aquifer EC.T, or at least the aquifer after running through this farmland. Bruce said when they were digging the pond, after they got through the topsoil, they hit clay, and when they went through the clay, water shot up into the air. They thought they’d hit a water main.
As I measured the EC.T at the pond, Bruce and his two golden retrievers were observing, as per usual, and I told him the EC.T was 850-900 uS/cm coming out of the pond, he said “Hm, we measure 2.2 on our irrigation water, that’s the optimal EC.T for the plants to take up the nutrients” so that’s 2.2 mS/cm. The EC.T of Deep Creek at Otter Lake Cross Road was between 491-506 uS/cm. I’m using the WQMM (below) to estimate the relative inflow from aquifer inputs. Below, Otter Lake Cross is W_US, the pond outflow is W_R, and the 3rd bridge, upstream of the pumping station, where we have our Starflow QSD, is WDS.
This initial model suggests that QR would need to be between 400 to 470 Lt/s in order to achieve an EC.T of 655-658uS/cm at the 3rd Bridge site and a flow of 1 cms. But Shayne measured 0.98 cms at the U/S site and 1.04 cms at the D/S site, a difference of only 0.06 cms, far shy of 1 cms. So, what could be happening is extraction of the lower EC.T water and then it runs back in, or is replaced by, higher EC.T runoff from the farmland in the reach between U/S and D/S.
We installed an AutoSalt upstream of Otter Lake at Otter Lake Crossing. This was not a great site for salt dilution give the non-turblent flows, however this section had several turns where the confined water could overturn.
I forgot to tell you about Mark. Mark owns the land D/S of Otter Lake Cross. Another interesting character. He sold his home in North Van and bought the property. He described in great detail how much garbage had been stored on the land, “11 walk-in dumpsters full, plus all the truck hauls! I swear, it was like that movie, with the banjos, what was it.. (Deliverance) anyways, it was just like that movie, really scary. My wife wants to move back to Vancouver.” They were building their retirement home, where they tried to encase the existing structure in the new structure, which was a mistake if they’d known how much it was to cost them. “We’ve run out of money and I’m trying to finish the house using the University of YouTube.” I later was sitting in my car on their property drinking a victory beer Shayne gave me, when his wife approached the suspicious looking car parked on their hayfield. “Oh sorry, we spoke with Mark, this is quite a project you have here!” “It’s Mark’s project,” she said bitterly.
I can certainly see the allure of the place. The meadowlarks, the grasses, the wind through the larch trees along the lazily flowing creek. The sun saunters across the sky with no apparent agenda while us wily humans fret and strut back and forth across the stage, staying busy. “The devil finds work for idle hands.” I think all that peace might get to me, and I’d snap. I like a constant barrage of crises and deadlines, ideas and whims to pursue, people to drink with, balls to chase. But the peace of this place certainly is a lovely respite from the self-imposed crazy. Maybe once I fall in a creek leaping from slippery rock to rock and bonk my head good enough to truly appreciate the peace, lord willing.
In my mind I’m going to Carolina
The Appalachian Trail, the Blue Ridge Mountains, Smoky Mountains, there’s a reason these images have a place in our collective subconscious. It’s a landscape unlike any I’ve seen. With hints of Japan, black trunked deciduous snaking their way into the sky, gentle rocky creeks, dogwood petals floating in the breeze, it has hints of a world before humans. Before the relentless pursuit of lower priced lawn furniture that can define the North American landscape. This world is time out of mind.
At the invitation of John Mazurek ‘s “SAWSC” group, I found myself driving through this prehistoric landscape and into John’s blue-green backyard, backing onto trails that lead through the AT all the way to the coast. There I met the charming John, his beguiling wife Renée, the enigmatic Lewis, liquid sunshine Jessica, the quietly witty Kaci, authentic David, Great Expectations Grayson, and of course the firecracker Scarlett, whom I call Carl. I like to try to guess people’s names, a bit of a party trick, part intuition, part body language, much like Bradley Cooper’s character in Nightmare Alley does, reading the unconscious signs, fathoming the depths of spiritus mundi, I have about an 75% success rate. I guessed Carlita, Carlotta, before defiantly sticking with Carl to cut my losses. I learned afterward, Scarlett’s nickname was Carlotta.
We had a lovely BBQ evening of cold local brews, meat, not meat, chicken, and not-chicken burgers, we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves discussing the various stratagems John and I employed in different eras to feign leadership and control over U12 soccer girls (Scarlett plays soccer and John’s elder daughter’s (get this Maia, my older daughter is named Mia) soccer team. I’m always, always pleasantly surprised at the culture, the thoughtfulness, and the sense of humour that we collectively share in this line of work. Something about splashing about in the water in the name of science. All was going well until Travis showed up with his big Florida sweaty beard and wild hair. Just kidding, Travis is a swell and dynamic fellow, having taken up the gauntlet of USGS leadership on all things hydrometric from the legendary Dave Murer and Epoch-defining Kevin Oberg. Travis leads the USGS Hydroacoustics Working Group responsible for developing SOPs and best practices of new technologies and equipment. Travis is adept at both science and programing. A singularly focused mind, he wrote code for salt dilution in the pauses between my presentation on salt dilution the next day. Travis applies a rigour and curiosity, as does John, to all matters. Like my former supervisor, Jaime Cathcart, they have the courage and confidence to ask the simple questions and take the straightforward approach. “Play it on the turf! Keep it simple!” I can hear my center back, Bestie, yelling at me.
After a pleasant evening of conversation, food, and drink, we stumbled over to John’s fluorescent blue creek to try out the QiQuac I’d muled down. I don’t want to say where the QiQuac was stashed on my transit through customs, but suffice it to say it was packed in tight. After a brief introduction to the QiQuac Highlander kit we gave Carl the honors of waking the device. “Quack!” I’ve written before how, for some unknown reason that I don’t want to know, each QiQuac has a unique quack. I like to believe it’s something to do with quantum mechanics and spaces between quantum states where free will and one’s soul resides. This QiQuac had a defiant, proud, “let’s get ‘er done!” kind of voice, much to the delight of all present. “My job on earth is complete.” I thought. However, we continued with the measurement.
We used the method of bucket-scale-stopwatch employed by Gabe 1 and his reluctant assistant Gabe 2, to measure the flow out of a culvert. The QiQuac gave a Q of 0.0904 cms (or 0.32 cfs) while the bucket-scale-stopwatch gave 0.0995 cms (0.351 cfs). This is a 9% difference and I can’t honestly explain the difference, while the scale-bucket should be accurate to 0.1%, the timing of the stopwatch is questionable, especially the transition between collecting water and removing the bucket from the flow. Also in question was how much water was bypassing the culvert, although the culvert flow was larger.
Despite these questions, 9% is not a significant difference at 95% confidence, so we lived to fight another day. Sure enough that day came the next day. We visited 3 sites over the next two days. I made the acquaintance of Bentley, one of the longest serving members of the Asheville Field Office along with Bill the “OfficeChief.” I also met Chris, who would later make me a target of his wife’s ridicule for asking what “Grits” were. More on Chris later.
We headed to Davidson River. Not an ideal stream for salt dilution, but nonetheless, we were determined to learn what works and what doesn’t. We placed the three Highlander probes about 1 km downstream of the point of injection in ~1/3 of the Q each. Although a 30% difference between the three probes, using QComp gave us Q within 5% of the concurrent ADCP measurement.
Next we headed to West Fork Pigeon, a site ideally suited to dilution gauging. The Flow Tracker 2 ADV measurement gave 61 cfs while the QiQuac gave a Grade A measurement of 66 cfs. The question of ADV accuracy came up at this time for rough bottom riffles typical of sites where Salt Dilution excels. Typically, current-metering measurements underestimate, in my experience, due to the assumption of 0.4 (from bottom) average velocity. Due to the turbulence at the bottom, the average velocity tends to be higher in reaches like this. Also coming up was the FT2 estimate of uncertainty. Using IVE is always a better, and larger, estimate of uncertainty, but what they don’t state in the FT2 manual is that both ISO and IVE uncertainty is 1-sigma, or 67% confidence. You need to multiply it by two to get the 19 times out of 20” confidence normally associated with decision making measurements. The IVE uncertainty was 6% therefore we multiplied by 2 to get the 95% confidence limit. Again, no significant difference.
And lastly we headed to the Ivy River and measured within 2% of the ADCP measurement. This was the largest flow measured at 4.39 cms (155 cfs) from Salt Dilution and 4.31 cms (152 cfs). As shown in Table 1 there is no significant difference between any of the conventional measurements and the Salt Dilution. While we generally agreed that more salt could be used, our low dosing (0.29kg/cms to 0.58kg/cms) measurements produced accurate results. Although we realized, the enigmatic Lewis was able to guess the flow to within 5% accuracy at each stream. “Why are doing any measurement at all?” wondered John aloud, to which Lewis simply smiled and kept flipping his lucky coin.
Lewis claims to belong to the Atlanta Georgia hydrometric group. He described his sites in the city as needing the removal of garbage bags from the hydraulic control before a measurement could be made. But a few of his sites are in the country, and that’s where he’s happiest. Lewis and I have a lot in common, but his comment to me on the last evening “So you your going to South Carolina, say “Yes” a few times?” stuck in my head, and lead to some of the wildest adventures of this trip.
On the first night after a grueling day of conversation and throwing salt in rivers, our deserving crew headed to the pub. There I met the dynamic duo of Amy and Brad. Brad works for USGS, but Amy seems to do something shadowy with SciCorp, a multinational consulting group specializing in syn-crude and pre-cog development… I think… I’m not sure because my policy is always to order the highest alcohol content beer on tap. This tends to encourage an unmanageable bravado that invariably ends in ordering larger than life portions of food, like Pie-zilla, shown in Figure 4.
We headed to The Eating Stop for lunch on day 2. I had the privilege of sitting next to Chris. Chris’s sharp sense of humour and wit are at odds with his molasses speed drawl. He explained that when he went to work at USGS in California, his drawl became even more mollassesy “as a defense mechanism,” I may have blocked it out, but I think at one point, his wife threatened my life via text when I innocently asked “what are grits?” This delighted Chris and frightened me.
After fond farewells to the gang, I headed southeast to the coast, Charleston, Hunting Island, and Hollywood! “Hollywood! Here I come!” I exclaimed as I drove south, listening to Patrick Watson’s new album “Better in the Shade.” Folly Beach was, well, I made an error in judgement going to, as tourists pudged from store to store, I tried to rise above, but found myself in Birkenstocks and tacky shades lying on the beach. So I clicked on the cheapest Airbnb in the area, at Hollywood! South Carolina. My “glamping” tent was 1 of 4 hastily erected tents surrounding a “water feature” in the exclusive “Airbnb community.” Despite the ruse, the tent was quite nice, the mattress firm, the granola bars a welcome snack, and the container bathhouse quite charming. After emails, I headed out for a run. After running down Coon Club road, I came upon an accident scene and a few locals chatting nearby. Saying “Yes, and” I walked respectfully towards them. Dobermans bounced off the walls of a nearby kennel. “The airbags worked” was the couples comment on the crashed 4-Runner. After several polite minutes of conversation about coffee (“I dream of going to Tim Hortons in Canada”) and donuts (“I’ve heard of Lucky’s Donuts!”) the older women went back to your trailer “Welcome to South Carolina,” she offered in her sweet southern drawl. “Make sure you see the camel and zebra at the end of the road.”
So I kept running. It was starting to get dark, and I only had soccer cleats that were a ½ size too small. “Click-clack, click-clack,” I soon came upon a woman walking her dog. “Oh yes, Quigley the camel is quite charming, but I’m not sure the zebra is still there.” “Click-clack, click-clack.” I met Ben(~30), Noah (3) and Wyatt (6) next. Noah could do some awesome jumps, and Wyatt was pretty good on his bike. “The zebra got out of his fence, it was all messed up!” Ben suggested I keep running to the end of the road, “It’s quite pretty and you can see the water,” “Click-clack, click-clack”. By the time I got back to the tent, I’d run 10k total in my cleats, in dusk/dark, but I met some lovely people, heard a few stories, and drew back the curtain of this lovely part of the world a bit.
Besides hitting a concrete meridian in the rental car going 100km/hr, the rest of the trip was relatively uneventful. Hunting Island state park was beautiful dune-salt-marsh ecosystem with stunning sunsets, reminded me of the African Savannah. I slept in my hammock, woken at 3:30 as the wind whipped by the palm trees I sheltered behind. After 25 hours, and 3 separate flights, I was back in Vancouver, as the rain drizzled down at 1am, and I limped on my sore feet the 2km to my new apartment off main street, I was thrilled and grateful for the new friends I’d made and worlds that were no longer unknown areas on the map.
A Bed and Breakfast in Odessa
Some of you may remember that I pledged to give all Fathom profits to the agencies helping the war in Ukraine. I also told you about an Airbnb I rented to support people locally. The hotel I randomly chose is/was owned by Yan Mankovskiy. I say is/was because I do not know if Yan’s hotel, the product of his savings and 10 years of hard work, still exists given the recent shelling of this peaceful seaside city. Yan wrote “Hello! Thank you so much for your help. It came as a very good surprise in these hard times. We will pass these money to the cleaning lady who works for our small hotel. She’s suffering from this war since 2014 and since she has small kids and is homeless since 2014 your aid will be a relief for her.”
However, I was also unable to transfer the funds to Yan through AirBnB because, despite the company’s pledge to assist people in Ukraine, they put a hold on Yan’s account. I was able to transfer directly to the cleaning lady, Oksana, through a new service called PaySend. AirBnB was never able to explain to me why they could not release the funds to Yan, so I had to request a refund, which I then sent to Oksana. I asked both Yan and Oksana for their stories related to this ordeal, but Oksana declined for fear of reprisal. Yan, however, was kind enough to oblige. While Yan’s passport is Russian, he has tried to convince his family and friends of the reality of the war, through phonecalls and emails. But he says, it was not possible. The police even visited his registered address in Moscow after his small political efforts. Yan now feels homeless, not wanted in Ukraine, and not wanting to be associated with Russia. I believe Yan’s story is common to many hundreds of thousands, or millions of people affected by Putin’s war on Ukraine.
This is Yan’s story.
My name is Ivan Mankovskiy, but throughout my whole life I preferred to go by the name Yan. I was born in Moscow in 1986. I received bachelor in sociology degree from a Moscow based university. However, I never enjoyed the sociology science; most interesting for me courses from the 5 years of education were connected to marketing and advertising. In 2008 I started MBA program in Oakland, California. I didn’t finish it and left back to Moscow in 2009. In early 2010 I started a trade business in Moscow, which turned out to be a success. After Russia annexed Crimea in 2014 I sold the business almost immediately and started to visit Ukraine frequently looking for an opportunity to make an investment that would be also useful for the people of Ukraine. I had up to 1 mln dollar to invest.
In 2015 I started a project which was to renovate a historical residential building in Odessa downtown. I bought out 20+ private apartments on two floors and started renovation which included replacement of wooden floor slabs and full roof reconstruction. On the way to accomplishing that I had to deal a lot with the Ukrainian corrupt governmental organizations, mafia and even their local nazis. My works consisted of two phases, one for each floor. I only finished the first one (in 2020) and I was about to complete the second phase by May 1 of 2022 when the war destroyed my plans.
It might be a curious detail that my American friend whom I’ve known since my studies in 2008 also owns a minor share in the project. He has always been curious about Russia and Russians and after I decided to move to Ukraine and do the project I convinced him to come (I think he first came in 2018). He hasn’t visited Russia though and now he probably won’t. Nor will I ever travel to Russia at least in the next decade. My biggest concern about that is my grandmother is very old and I probably won’t ever meet her again in real life.
I’ve been doing business with Airbnb since at least 2017. Super-host for three years. Their support action seemed very inspiring, even more it was uplifting morally than financially. On March 3 I found signs that they suspended my account. Contacting the support didn’t bring any answers: the support didn’t even confirm the obvious things like suspended listings. The following bot-only communication and betrayal of people in urgent need was really ruthless. Since around April 10 I don’t even have access to my account, because when I contacted the support for probably 40th time I got too nervous about their villain attitude and allowed myself to abuse the chat-bot on the other side. They immediately blocked me.
My only interaction with them which was not a bot-chat but which had some (little) feedback was initiated about a month after they suspended my listings and payouts. I was contacting news medias in California and one of the authors, correspondent of SF Chronicle agreed to help me to reach them. This way received one letter from someone in Airbnb, explaining that my account was suspended because the suspected me in doing scam. They asked me to show them proof that I had access to properties according to my listings and I did provide them such proof. 14 days later they sent me an email saying “sorry we are still working”. One month later, there’s no communication from them.
Update: with no explanation, AirBnB has released the funds to Yan. Perhaps it my persistent calls to customer service with those magic words: “Can you please escalate this matter?”
While Oksana did not provide a story, she pointed me to her brother’s story which he documented here.
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 After a relaxing sleep and eating off the counter and table, we were told that this used to be the “Swinger’s House”, apparently a libertarian group of consenting adults would hold “get-togethers” here without much embarrassment about their bare ass or what was visible through the sliding doors that looked onto the highway 15m away. After that, we looked at every surface differently. “Every surface..” was a common refrain as we stared at the counter and table, the pool table, the sticky floor, the extra puffy stained couch.
 Apparently a “Baker’s Dozen” is 13 and originated in Britain where local authorities would ascribe a beating to a baker who undersized their loafs. To avoid a beating, they’d overcompensate by including an extra loaf. Kinda like guys who drive big trucks, or coming up with an overly elaborate lie to cover up where you were last night. The real question is why a dozen was a unit of measurement at all! We may never know..
 South Atlantic Water Science Center, but really, who cares what the full name of the abbreviation is. “The media is the message,” just like QiQuac, which is a heavily contrived acronym itself designed to make the speaker uneasy and ready to smile, like this photo of the USGS SAWCI group here, who I asked to say “QiQuac”.
 “Look! A pterodactyl!”
 For some of the best modern American travel writing, see Bill Bryson’s “A Walk in the Woods”
 Whom I have the distinct honour of once being referred to by as “some guy from Canada”
 Who reminds me a lot of Andre Zimmerman, you may remember, asked me to pledge allegiance and kiss his ring, “Forget it!” I said.
 Which even YOU can own for only $12,000CAD