Boot Camp at Cooper’s Pond
It was decided: I was off to the good old USA – to the United States of America – to fire my imagination and to blow my mind. To see grand vistas and have wonderful experiences. All of which is gilding the lily, if not telling bald-faced lies. Not that I’d knock back wonderful experiences and grand vistas, mind you. But, if the truth be told, I actually came primarily to meet Elizabeth E. – known far and wide as, Bob – and other friends I’ve made on Gather over the years. And to discover how mainstream America really is. You see, I’m foremost a people person … grand vistas without people are not really grand in my book. And how can you have wonderful experiences without people? I reckon you can’t!
Enough of that! In this ad hoc series of photo-essays I will share what my camera captured and how I saw it. Thus this series will be my very own take on the experiences I’ve had – with very few travelogue facts and even scarcer figures included, overall. (Though I will spurt out some figures in this essay.) Of course, some photos by Bob will be incorporated.
My observations hereafter will be contained within slightly long winded introductions and brief, lame-brained captions as way of commentary. Which is perhaps a cop-out way of stating the obvious: that the USA is a huge country, one that has had much written about it – and countless movies and documentaries have also been made. I won’t add much to that volume.
However, I do hope you enjoy the journey with me … with the bunch of us being guided here, there and everywhere by none other than, Bob. At times she’ll be seen trudging ahead of us. I note in passing that Bob is a route marcher extraordinaire. This now retired kindergarten teacher missed her true calling – she should have been an instructor in a boot camp of the US Marine Corps. But she’ll make up for that with us. So let’s put on our hob nailed boots and head off towards the horizon. Although my journey began in Perth, Western Australia, our collective tramping and lurching begins at Fire-base Cooper’s Pond, the headquarters of Sergeant-Major Bob.
Little did I know what I was in for when I sat in the Perth Domestic Airport, waiting for what is known locally as, The Red Eye Special – the 11:00 p.m. flight to Sydney. I’d gotten up at 5:00 a.m. but had been unable to nap during the sunny day – and thus had already been awake for 18 hours even before boarding the jet. I drank a black coffee here in the waiting lounge before presenting my boarding pass.
Having flown eastwards for some five plus hours – crossing time zones and losing track of what the time actually was – I arrived in Sydney, with 12 hours to kill before the connecting flight to San Francisco. Bernadette H., a long-term friend, met me at the airport and took me for coffee at a wind-blown cafe, from where this photo was taken. And the rain came down.
The 12 hours of cooling my heels actually sped by. Then it was time to go through the security checks and enter the departure lounge. Nursing yet another coffee, I glanced out of the window … and saw my jumbo, here getting ready for me. And soon enough I disappeared into its maw. Into its absolutely packed belly! And there I languished as a crushed sardine for the next 14 hours, flying ever eastwards, squeezed in a seat with little leg room and between two guys who snuffed themselves out with tiny bottles of free red wine.
After another two-hour waiting time in San Francisco Airport, I was bundled onto a smaller jet. Some five hours or more later, ever eastwards, I arrived at Logan Airport – it was well into the night when the jet touched down on a rain-soaked, Boston runway.
I had been in actual jet flight for some 24 plus hours, crossing umpteen time zones and the day/date line … with the Tuesday having been some 28 hours in duration. Adding it all up, I’d spent 24 plus actual flying hours on top of the 18 hours I’d been awake before the first flight – and then there had also been the 14 hours or so of waiting for connecting flights. So it was that I’d been without sleep for some 56 hours. It was all good endurance training for what lay ahead.
But there was smiling Bob, patiently waiting; and soon enough we drove the 45 minutes to her home in North Carver. The following morning, the above photo shows the sight of the garden and cranberry bogs that greeted me from the verandah of Bob’s home on Cooper’s Pond.
Please say, G’day! to Corporal Piggy. He’s Bob’s military adviser – gardener, for the use of – at Fire-base Cooper’s Pond.
Corporal Piggy reckons wheelbarrows of poo work wonders on gardens … I reckon sleep does. So does skinny flat white coffee. As do ciggies and banana smoothies. Toasted Vegemite sandwiches also help.
Okay, folks, reveille sounded two coffees ago … time to get up and face the rigors of Cooper’s Pond, named after a cooper – a maker of barrels.
See, life in boot camp is pure hell … so much tranquility to absorb, so much time.
Watching the migrating Canadian geese can be quite exhausting … yes, Sergeant-Major, another skinny flat white, pick-me-up is definitely called for! No sugar, thanks.
You’ve had a drop of rain or two at the pond, you reckon. It’s tiring just watching the jetty trying to stay afloat.
Look sharp, here comes the Sergeant-Major! She might want us to look at other exhausting things, here at boot camp.
Ah, the sheer hell of fishing … our housemates reeling in the big ones is so exhausting to watch.
Hello, what have we here? Why, it must be a limp landing craft. That means ….
That’s it, PFC Kristy! Tell rookie Dan how the inflating is done.
They must be off on military maneuvers – practicing beach landings, no doubt. And armed with nothing more than a fishing rod and beaker of coffee.
Hmmm … is that an enemy kayak in the distance, sneaking up on the unsuspecting landing craft? Should I warn them? Decisions, decisions – it just never ends.
Is she putting on a brave face while really calling for help?
There goes the Sergeant-Major to check things out. Go, Bob, go!
Hello, is this a fifth column paddling by?
The Sergeant-Major is coming back alone. What does this portend?
Grief, here I go to the rescue. The responsibility is exhausting.
How deflating it all is!
It all was sheer hell … and now I’m required to sit here on guard duty to watch the sinking end of the jetty, armed with nothing but a ciggy. What’s next, I wonder?
Sergeant-Major Bob is laying down the law to the reinforcements on how to fix the jetty.
And I’ve been given the onerous duty of supervising it all.
That’s it, Dan, walk the plank, so to speak. Don’t even think about the Loch Ness monster that might be lurking in the deep.
Now I need to reflect upon the mirror image … will this onerous training never end?
Jetties and docks all in a row … what is the wider military significance of this?
Observer duty at the boot camp’s early warning outpost could prove dangerous. I might have to sit on a collapsing chair.
Dockland security means that passing flotillas of terrorist geese might need to be repelled.
I’d better light a ciggy to lay down a smoke screen.
Bob’s unforgiving eyes near to the ground are scrutinizing how I perform. No doubt this damned spy will report back on how I’m shaping up to the requirements of the American way of life.
Good heaven, the Sergeant-Major pops up everywhere! Was she lurking in the water all of the time?
(Images by Bob and Magi.)