Disaster in the Desert and Victory !

In my last message I gave everyone an idea of our three day flight from the old grey ship into the Great Salt Lake.  The thing that made this trip not too bad was the strong constant tail wind, but more about that later.

When we arrived on Antelope Island and found my grand daughter, Ceci Gull, we settled down for the night and got up in the morning to tour the area.  It turns out that part of the year there are lots of small shrimp in the lake and part of the year the flock survives by scavenging out of the land fills.  Ceci Gull is very proud of the rookery and all her friends offered to show us around.  We took off and flew to the mainland where they took us to a GIANT garbage dump.  Normally we would not lower ourselves to eat at such a place, but we did not want to offend Ceci and her friends so we landed and looked around.  There were lots of big yellow machines and men working around there moving the garbage around, and that was my downfall.

Gull legs are thin and not very muscular. Thus they are subject to damage and we see many ‘gimpy’ birds walking on the wharf.

All Gulls have three ways of getting around:  We can fly, we can float and we can walk.  I have a gimpy leg and I get along pretty much OK walking when I am on the flat hard surfaces on board the old ship and around the wharf, but the garbage dump is lumpy and there are lots of soft spots.  While I was trying to get my footing one of the men working there with a big water hose squirted me and knocked me off my feet right into the path of one of the big yellow machines. Before I knew what was happening the big yellow machine ran me over and hurt my leg. Fortunately one of the other men working there scooped me up and I ended up in a bird hospital for treatment. I was stunned and didn’t know where I was.

They kept me in the bird hospital for a couple days before they took me outside and let me go.  I can fly just fine and float and paddle in the lake, but I still have trouble walking.  I flew back to the rookery on the island to find my grand daughter.  We hung around there for a couple days resting while we made plans to get back to the ocean and the old ship.

We tried to start flying toward the setting sun, but the strong winds that pushed us over the mountains were blowing even harder and we soon realized that we were trapped and that we could not fight the wind.  I thought about all my old friends by the ocean and wondered if I was ever going to get back.  About that time a gull who looked even older than I am came up to me and told me ‘The Secret’.  I turns out that there is a railroad that goes from the Great Salt Lake toward the setting sun and ends up by the ocean.  He showed us the place to find the railroad and we landed in an open car just about sundown.  We stayed there all night and in the morning we were in the area by the big mountains and the small fish.  We tried to get out and fly but the winds were just too strong so we got back in the railroad car and it carried us over the mountains into the area near the ocean.  We made it all the way back in less than one day.  That was an adventure, and we are very glad to be back at the grey old ship.

Editorial Note:  Bob and his friends have arrived safely at the Great Salt Lake and have located his grand daughter.  The shrimp Bob mentioned are Brine Shrimp which populate the lake. 

When Bob and the rest of the birds flew to the garbage dump, or landfill, they followed a pattern of many gulls who traditionally feed in these areas. Bob was lucky to have a kind person rescue him from the ‘big yellow machine’, and we are grateful for his actions. It is likely that they took Bob to the local bird sanctuary  for treatment.  There is a very large refuge facility at the place where the Bear River enters the Great Salt Lake.

When Bob was released from the refuge and returned to the rookery he discovered the fact that the jet stream that blows from west to east would prevent him from returning to California.  Fortunately he found the main transcontinental railroad line that runs from Salt Lake City to California and became a bird hobo for a day. 

The SS Jeremiah O’Brien with her new paint job.

We are very glad to have Bob back on board the ship.  For more information about the ship and a chance to see ‘Traveler Bob’ himself please visit us and learn more.  The SS Jeremiah O’Brien welcomes visitors every day. 

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2 comments on “Disaster in the Desert and Victory !

  1. Sarah says:

    Bob, I’m glad your leg is on the mend. Now that crab season is here maybe you’ll remain in the Bay Area. Just find a dry place to sleep at night!

  2. Lyle C Leitch says:

    I would appreciate seeing pictures of the top deck and mid-ship quarters of the galley, messhall, and focsle quarters where I spent a lot of my time in 1945-46 on the SS Thomas Hyde. We held the Atlantic crossing record from London to New York. Seems like yesterday.

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