Archive for January, 2017

I have been cursed!

Someone has enchanted me with promises of untold treasure and solutions to mysteries that are centuries old.  It’s like a real life National Treasure, one of my all-time favorite movies.  Curiosity and greed pull me in to their tangled web of clues, false hopes and commercials, week after week.

Curse you Oak Island.


In case you don’t know, the Curse of Oak Island is a History Channel series chronicling the adventures of a band of brothers (Marty and Rick Lagina) in search of a mythical treasure buried on Oak Island, a small island off the coast of Nova Scotia.


Apparently, centuries ago, someone stumbled onto a depression in the ground on this island.  This was odd enough that they started digging.  They found several platforms of logs at various levels.  Some levels had coconut fibers.  (There are no coconut trees on the island.)  At ninety feet, someone found a stone inscribed with strange symbols.  Someone else apparently “decoded it” and the stone reads, “Forty feet below, two million pounds are buried.”  I hope it was etched by a Britain!  Otherwise it begs the question, two million pounds of what?  Rock?  Coconut fibers?


Hypotheses range from just a sinkhole, to perhaps the buried treasure of Captain Kidd, the Templar Knights, or the lost crown jewels of Marie Antoinette, among others.  Some think it is an elaborate hoax.  The whole thing has been dubbed the money pit.  Millions have been spent trying to find the treasure–often thwarted by traps set to flood the tunnels with sea water–and at least six people have died in the course of these treasure hunting expeditions.  John Wayne apparently invested at one point, and Franklin Delano Roosevelt was photographed as part of an expedition to solve the mystery as well.

And while evidence that any treasure actually exists is sparse, I am intrigued.  A natural sink hole would not have layers of wood at various levels, nor an inscribed stone which is obviously man-made (assuming that the history is correct and this stone was actually uncovered in the pit and not part of some hoax.)   At some point coconut fibers were found deep in the hole where they would not be naturally found.  And at the risk of offending Monty Python fans, I do not think coconuts migrate, nor can they be carried by swallows:

It’s not a question of where he grips it! It’s a simple question of weight ratios! A five ounce bird could not carry a 1 pound coconut. . . Oh, yeah, an African swallow maybe, but not a European swallow, that’s my point . . . But then of course African swallows are not migratory. . . Wait a minute — supposing two swallows carried it together?

If there are coconut fibers in that hole, then it is not natural.  It is a game changer, to quote Marty (or Rick, I often confuse them) Lagina.  And a hoax?  We can’t uncover this damned thing with 21st century technology.  Who in bloody blazes would be able to construct such an elaborate hoax 200 years ago?  Aliens?  Sorry, but that is a different History Channel addiction. And why?   Such a hoax would mean there must be something else in the area incredibly valuable to warrant such a complex diversion, right?

So I’m addicted.  I sit there each week riveted to this program that spends 45 minutes rehashing what we already know and have seen just so we can be taunted with 15 minutes of new revelations . . .

Look, it’s a piece of wood.

I think it’s a rock.

The wood looks carved–by man.

We dredged up a bone.

There’s a plank in the swamp that could be part of a boat.

We got more rocks.


Charlie Brown on Oak Island

There’s a Templar Cross etched into a stone miles away from Oak Island.

At one point, they sent a camera down shaft 10X (not the money pit, but another shaft to a watery cavern that they believe connects to the money pit) and it showed murky, muddy water, but then there was a bright shiny gold object.


Now we’re talking!

That was three freaking weeks ago and we still haven’t found it yet, despite three or four dives into the cavern.  And what looked like a chest on sonar?  It’s apparently a rock. Shaped like a chest.

One recent episode they traveled 130 miles away to look at a boulder that seemed like it had a face carved in it.  (I could see it, but not well.  Kind of like looking at a baby’s face on old ultrasounds.  Frankly, I’m more impressed by the coconut fibers and the inscribed stone.)  The boulder faces toward Oak Island.  Sure it does.  The boulder wants to know what that shiny object is too!

Now they’re off to the Roosevelt Presidential Library to do research (data mining is just as important as actual mining my ass) because some producer thinks watching them data mine through old papers is more exciting than actually finding that shiny gold object.  Show me the damned gold object!  That’s what we want to see!  I don’t care if Roosevelt himself put the damned gold there.  Show me the money!


If that’s NOT a rock, then this is game changing data.  Game changer!

The opening credits talk about the legend and how six men have died and how a seventh must die before the mystery will be solved.  All right already.  Let’s shoot somebody and get this treasure found!

It’s excruciating and fascinating at the same time.  Scholarly and conspiracy theory simultaneously.  Mesmerizing.  Of course, they may be making more money from the series than they’ll ever recoup from the watery depths of Oak Island.

But I’m going to watch this week nonetheless.  They’re so close.  I can feel it!  Maybe we’ll get to see that gold object tomorrow night!

Or probably not.

Too many commercials to show and not enough shiny gold objects.


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It was supposed to be the trip of a lifetime.  A trip to remember.  And remember it we will.

We fly to Peru.  We hike the Salkantay Trail through the Andes Mountains, and arrive at Macchu Picchu.  What could possibly go wrong?

Never ask a question you don’t want to know the answer to.

We flew out of Baltimore to Miami via American Airlines.  From Miami we flew to Lima, Peru.  From Lima we flew to Cuzco, Peru, from which our (mis)adventure would begin.

Unfortunately, the airline did not tell us that we had to retrieve our luggage in Lima to go through customs before heading on to Cuzco.  The Cuzco airport is a domestic airport, and does not have customs.  While my girlfriend has had some experience in world travelling, this was my first time out of the land of E. Pluribus Unum (unless you count a driving day trip to Canada via Maine back in the early nineties when you didn’t need a passport to cross the border.)  I have never flown outside of the United States before so how would I be expected to know this.  Dammit, Jim!  I’m just a doctor!

As we waited in Cuzco for our luggage which never came, the error of our ways became apparent.  A few phone calls confirmed that our luggage–along with most of our hiking equipment, was enjoying the scenery in Lima, not Cuzco.

Here is the view as we left the airport in Cuzco:


Now, I don’t know about you, but this is not what I would consider a “vacation view.”  This is a vacation:


Fortunately,  our tour company flies masochists hikers in a couple of days ahead of the trek to allow them to acclimate to the altitude.  So we had from Sunday afternoon to Tuesday morning to somehow retrieve our luggage.  Paperwork was reluctantly completed.  In Spanish.   People frowned. In Spanish.  We tried to keep smiling.  The travel agency put in a good word for us.  Apparently, we are not the first pioneers to show up without luggage.

It’s not as though we couldn’t rent equipment. We could.  But we had already invested money in new sleeping bags, backpacks and air mattresses prior to leaving on this trip.  It made no sense that they sit in Lima having a better time than we were.  This was a matter of principle.

So we tried to enjoy some tours of Cuzco and learn about the ancient Incas, while the airline industry took their good old time saving our trip of a lifetime.  Most of my clothes were on the checked luggage because I hate toting heavy carry-ons through an airport.  I paid dearly for my laziness.

I had to wear one of my girlfriend’s coats, as my outer gear was in the lost luggage.  It wasn’t pink, but a brighter purple than I would have ordinarily opted for. And her hiking pants were a little tighter than socially acceptable I suppose.  People kept asking her who her muchacha (Spanish for young lady or maybe cross dresser I’m not really sure) was.  I was apparently abused but not amused.

The hotel we lodged at was quaint and had a European flair.  Don’t ask me how I know since I’ve never been to Europe, but dammit I do watch movies.  It’s probably the Spanish influence.  But I was somewhat confused by the fact that you couldn’t throw toilet paper in the toilet.


Each bathroom had a little trashcan sitting on the floor to dispose of toilet tissue, etc.  Seriously?  Help us protect the environment?  Did you just see what I flushed out of my system?  And you’re worried about some paper?

Time ticked by and at nine o’clock Monday night we finally get our luggage and hiking gear.  We were scheduled to leave at 3 am the next morning because they apparently close the only road that leads to the base of the trail at 7 am for road construction and we have to get past checkpoint Charlie before the window of opportunity closes.

Only ONE road in . . .


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