CoffeeCrew Blog

Eat, Drink and Love
Like there's no tomorrow.
Because, hey, You never know!.

Sea to Sky series Chapter 1 - with Bush pilot Ryan from Papua New Guinea · 7.09.20 by colin newell

I’ve often thought that God has to have a sense of humour. Moments after creation, the supreme being paused for a moment, and during a millisecond of pique, created Papua New Guinea as an exercise in extremes.

For Papua New Guinea is a land of unapologetic beauty, impossibly isolated mountain ranges, with waterfalls emptying into valleys of inexhaustible fertility.

Bush Pilot Ryan with happy passengers

Ryan Farran was fascinated by aviation while growing up in Papua New Guinea. The child of missionaries, it was during adolescence he decided that a life of service to the people of PNG, from sea to sky, would be his career choice.
His work for Ethnos360 Aviation, a non-profit organization, assists tribal church planning missionaries, running MedEvac missions and supplying safe water projects, to name a few.

We asked Ryan where his interest began, “I have had the itch to be a pilot since probably first grade. It’s always been an interest, but it wasn’t until about 11th grade that I made the decision that being a pilot is what I wanted to do. More specifically, a missionary pilot. Flying with the airlines looks too monotonous and boring. I like the fast pace, single pilot aspect of my job.”

We reflected, how “a kid from the United States…” would adapt to a cultural mosaic that could not be more diverse and separate from his own.

The actual answer is likely more complex. Papua New Guinea is, on geography alone, a place so exquisitely secluded, that a 25 minute flight between villages is a 4 day trip through impenetrable jungle. This is where the benefit of bush flying comes in. However dangerous this job might be, and not without a myriad of challenges, a skilled pilot makes the difference between getting supplies to an isolated community a reliable option versus, well, not at all.

Ryan continued, “I was born in Missouri, but grew up everywhere. My parents went into missions when I was 5, so we moved around a lot for that. We lived in Papua New Guinea in the late 80’s and early 90’s for 4 years. That is where I got my first introduction to bush pilots. From 6th grade on, we lived in the States, mainly in Michigan where I finished off high school and started my flight training at age 19.”

Ryan discovered, early on, that the people of Papua New Guinea are easy going and friendly. Guests in this country must be mindful that this is a paradise where time and distance are not measured in quite the way we are familiar with.

Today, tomorrow or next week all can mean the very same thing. On some primordial level, this is simply the way things get done.

For Ryan, this sense of time suits him just fine. His greatest joy is planning out his day, making all of the important decisions and completing his mission safely, “on time” in a World where time is often meaningless.

Ryan again, “We live, on a missionary center, and it’s kind of like raising your kids back in the 1950’s in a small town where everyone knows one everyone else. We live on a 35 acre village with about 250 other missionaries.
There are a ton of kids for our kids to play with, and a school that has K-12. It really is great when one finds his purpose in life doing what he loves, and having eternal value while doing it. It’s definitely a rewarding and fulfilling life.”

Bush Pilot Kodiak Cockpit - 2020

Ryan’s company aircraft is the Kodiak. Purpose built in Sandpoint, Idaho, the Kodiak is considered one of the more robust STOL (Short take-off and landing) aircraft seemingly destined for the most efficient humanitarian workloads. With a cargo capacity approaching 1000 kg, it’s a lifeline to communities that are separated by the most rugged of countryside.

For those seeking a career in bush pilot flying, be advised, the training is a long haul, 10 years or so according to Ryan. If our readers think there is anything routine about this line of work, Ryan offers…

“Yes, my most memorable flight days have been usually linked around bad weather.
Coming to the field with Very little IFR (instrument ) experience, it has made me learn it very well and fast.
PNG’s weather can change in a blink of an eye, keeping you on your toes at all times.
That aspect of the ever changing weather can be challenging at times, and fun other times.

Even though we fly a lot of the same routes to different bush locations, no two flights are ever the same. Cloudy or rainy weather can make the area look completely foreign.

I wind down with my hobbies. I love riding my dirtbike through the local mountains. I’ve probably put on 8000 miles over the past 4 years. I’ve always had a passion for photography, and it’s only been in the past 6 years that I’ve started getting into videography, and actually enjoy it even more.”

Ryan’s Missionary Bush Pilot YouTube channel is a delight to watch if you are interested in aviation and rugged terrain.

Comment [4]

American Falernum and the continuing rise of artisanal spirits · 29.05.20 by colin newell

California Falernum

A long, long time ago (before COVID19) Andrea and I sat at Don the Beachcomber, the legendary Kona, Hawaii bar at The Royal Kona Resort off of Alii Drive.

Between sips of Mai Tai and savoury nibbles out of a bucket of shrimp, we were regaled by a passionate and knowledgeable bartender on the subject of Tiki drinks.

I quickly learned about the finer points of what makes a great Orgeat syrup (the simple roasted almond syrup that gives the Mai Tai its nutty and warming bite) and a Falernum – the sweet, spicy and mysterious building block for the classic cocktail called the “Corn n’ Oil.”

This discovery of warming spice, citrus and roast nut infusions of simple syrups started me on a journey that has led me to a home bar that has dozens of bottles of aromatic bitters and exotic syrups.

Martin Geijer (pronounced “yay-er”) of San Francisco, California’s Geijer Spirits, walked me through a master-class of 21st Century artisanal spirits. “I have a family history of Swedish spirit making that goes back four generations,” and continues, “My grandmother had a still in her backyard for making moonshine!”

Martin’s Swedish Gran also created a beloved seasonal liqueur known as Glögg that was popular around Christmas for its “warming properties.” Glögg has found its way into numerous cocktails in the west. But first, some backstory!

​Glögg liqueur is based on a 19th Century Swedish family recipe. Spice notes include cardamom, cloves and cinnamon, while hints of almond and bitter orange harmonize to create a flavour profile recognizable from the beach bars of Trinidad, Tobago and Jamaica. These profiles form the foundation of many “Tiki” drinks.
Martin Geijer reminds us of the importance of family history, the integrity and purity of recipes handed lovingly through time and the importance of being mindful of their origins while being playful or, dare I say, whimsical about re-interpretation.

Martin could have rested on the initial success of his Glögg, but he listened to his friends and industry insiders and challenged the boundaries that exist between simple bar syrups and classic aperitif and digestif liqueurs.

California Falernum is a superb example of this re-thinking process. Take a classic warm-spice infused syrup and supercharge it with a finely crafted California-interpretation of a proprietary Jamaican rum. So finessed are the warming notes of allspice with hints of lime, so delicate a bouquet, that the California Falernum stands alone and proudly in a brandy glass or snifter. Don’t be afraid to mix it into your favorite Tiki recipes or cook up your own signature drinks.

Lesson learned: Liqueur, aromatic bitters and syrup selections have a long and colourful history that warrant study.

Our recipe: The classic Southern cocktail, the “Corn n’ oil”.

2 ounces Blackstrap rum (preferably Cruzan)
1/2 ounce California Falernum
1/2 ounce lime juice
3 dashes Angostura bitters

Shaken or stirred, it’s best served in your best vintage rocks glass on a single large ice cube.

Garnish with a lime wedge.

We declared after the first sip: “Well hello Stranger!”

Don’t take my word for it – you can track down some of this good stuff at Vision Wine and Spirits

Have a listen to our interview –

Download – California-FALERNUM-final-cut-2020.mp3


Colin Newell is a resident of Victoria B.C. Canada and has been writing about food, coffee and cocktail culture for over 25 years.

Comment

Last call from Amelia Earhart · 27.07.18 by colin newell

Amelia Earhart 1937

Amelia Earhart waded into the Pacific Ocean and climbed into her downed and disabled Lockheed Electra.

She started the engine, turned on the two-way radio and sent out a plea for help, one more desperate than previous messages.

The high tide was getting higher, she had realized. Soon it would suck the plane into deeper water, cutting Earhart off from civilization — and any chance of rescue.

Across the world, a 15-year-old girl listening to the radio in St. Petersburg, Fla., transcribed some of the desperate phrases she heard: “waters high,” “water’s knee deep — let me out” and “help us quick.”

A housewife in Toronto heard a shorter message, but it was no less dire: “We have taken in water . . . we can’t hold on much longer.”

That harrowing scene, the International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery (TIGHAR) believes, was probably one of the final moments of Earhart’s life. The group put forth the theory in a paper that analyzes radio distress calls heard in the days after Earhart disappeared.

PostLostRadioAnalysis.pdf

In the summer of 1937, she had sought to become the first woman to circumnavigate the globe. Instead, TIGHAR’s theory holds, she ended up marooned on a desert island, radioing for help.

Earhart and her navigator, Fred Noonan, could only call for help when the tide was so low it wouldn’t flood the engine, TIGHAR theorized. That limited their pleas for help to a few hours each night.

It wasn’t enough, TIGHAR director Ric Gillespie told The Washington Post, and the pair died as castaways.

But those radio messages form a historical record — evidence that Gillespie says runs counter to the U.S. Navy’s official conclusion that Earhart and Noonan died shortly after crashing into the Pacific Ocean.

On July 2, 1937, just after Earhart’s plane disappeared, the U.S. Navy put out an “all ships, all stations” bulletin, TIGHAR wrote. Authorities asked anyone with a radio and a trained ear to listen in to the frequencies she had been using on her trip, 3105 and 6210 kilohertz.

It was not an easy task. The Electra’s radio was designed to communicate only within a few hundred miles. The Pacific Ocean is much bigger.

The searchers listening to Earhart’s frequencies heard a carrier wave, which indicated that someone was speaking, but most heard nothing more than that. Others heard what they interpreted to be a crude attempt at Morse code.

But thanks to the scientific principle of harmonics, TIGHAR says, others heard much more. In addition to the primary frequencies, “the transmitter also put out ‘harmonics (multiples)’ of those wavelengths,” the paper says. “High harmonic frequencies ‘skip’ off the ionosphere and can carry great distances, but clear reception is unpredictable.”

That means Earhart’s cries for help were heard by people who just happened to be listening to their radios at the right time.

According to TIGHAR’s paper:

Scattered across North America and unknown to each other, each listener was astonished to suddenly hear Amelia Earhart pleading for help. They alerted family members, local authorities or local newspapers. Some were investigated by government authorities and found to be believable. Others were dismissed at the time and only recognized many years later. Although few in number, the harmonic receptions provide an important glimpse into the desperate scene that played out on the reef at Gardner Island.

The tide probably forced Earhart and Noonan to hold to a schedule. Seek shelter, shade and food during the sweltering day, then venture out to the craft at low tide, to try the radio again.

Back in the United States, people heard things, tidbits that pointed at trouble.

On July 3, for example, Nina Paxton, an Ashland, Ky., woman, said she heard Earhart say “KHAQQ calling,” and say she was “on or near little island at a point near” … “then she said something about a storm and that the wind was blowing.”

“Will have to get out of here,” she says at one point. “We can’t stay here long.”

What happened to Earhart after that has vexed the world for nearly 81 years, and TIGHAR is not the only group to try to explain the mystery.

Washington Post Link

Comment

Book review - Straddling the Hound - The Curious Charms of Long-Distance Bus Travel · 30.08.16 by colin newell

2016 Book Review Straddling the Hound

When humanity first put one foot in front of the other and locked its gaze on the horizon, the force of curiosity and exploration would inevitably build nations.

Without a curious nature and desire to follow the sun, we would be an entirely different people living in an entirely different world.

Retired medical doctor, Trevor Watson, is one such 21st-century explorer who finds the attraction of the open road impossible to resist. At a very early age, Trevor would sit in his bedroom and gaze at a large full colour Mercator map; he would imagine ocean journeys between tropical outposts. These junkets would often involve ingenious plans to avoid pirates, bandits, and encounters with malarial mosquitos.

Responsibility and practical demands of life in the adult world settled in and Trevor (in a candid and wry admittance) reluctantly decided on a career in family medicine. It would be a wise choice since it created an opportunity to meet his lovely wife of 46 years and travel and work in some interesting corners of the globe. Being a family physician also led him to write a column dealing with health issues for several Canadian newspapers in the 1990s.

In Trevor Watson’s debut release, Straddling the Hound he takes us on a series of explorations into the American hinterland. He frequently integrates etymological and linguistic analysis of place names, regional personalities and the very industry and infrastructure of the open road.

The book has more substance and surprises than what you would expect at first glance. Straddling the Hound is a very satisfying reading experience – as page after page of first person travel observations reveals unflinchingly detailed explanations of place names, people and the regional origins of successful businesses that ultimately thrived because of travel.

As you would expect, a book about bus travel in North America is not all about smiling faces. This is not the simpler times of the 1950’s and 1960’s. A journey on a trans continental bus is as much about discovering something new as it is seeing the seedier side of the American experience:

One chap particularly caught my eye; he was as stocky as can be; his neck must have been 20” around. He was, I imagined, Carlos “Chopper” Ramirez, out on weekend parole. He had cryptic messages tattooed on his neck and bald scalp. His head actually seemed suffused, as though it was about to explode. Oddly enough, he had – of all things – a huge golden polo medal hanging around his neck. I’ll bet you anything it was stolen, or maybe won in a knife fight.

I found myself drawing the curtains on my suburban home as I fell deeper and deeper into Dr. Watson’s first person dystopian vision of downtown America. That feeling would pass as the writing gave way to a folksier and journalistic treatise on the very fabric of America’s open road, its people, the itinerant among us and the many meanings of our journey.

Straddling the Hound is not just about the bricks, mortar, concrete and blacktop of our interconnecting matrix of highways that connect all the people in their varied splendour. Its also a fearless gaze at the strata of society. Dr. Watson takes us on a sojourn under the soiled fingernails and into the duffle bags of the every day people that ride the bus – heading home, leaving home, and often away from a temporary home. He flirts with often acerbic descriptions of frustrated employees and drivers of Greyhound. He explains the origins of highway-byway diners like Denny’s:

Denny’s was founded in 1953, in Lakewood, California, by Richard Jezak and Harold Butler. The original name was Danny’s Donuts, but a few years later was changed to Denny’s to distinguish itself from a competing chain called Doughnut Dan’s.

Trevor Watson of Straddling the HoundMore than anything else Trevor Watson wants to achieve his mission; to find out about the very essence of the people that he encounters; to understand them and their history and their place in the modern world. It is, I think, the thirst for knowledge that powers, in part, the motivation of the (as Trevor describes himself) hodophiliacsomeone who’s fond of or loves traveling.

Dr. Watson (Photo above) takes us on a dusty road trip leaving us significantly more curious about the world around us. I am very confident that readers of this blog would definitely enjoy putting on their traveling shoes and taking a ride on this bus. Copies of “Straddling the Hound” are available on Amazon.ca and also at Tanners Books in beautiful Sidney, British Columbia, Bolen Books at the Hillside Mall and Ivy’s Books in Oak Bay.


Colin Newell is a Victoria resident, on the southern tip of Vancouver Island, who is constantly in search of a great cup of coffee and a good book to read.

Comment [1]

Americans and their guns at the Canadian border. · 9.08.16 by colin newell

Dopey Americans bring guns over the border

Americans love their guns… so… much…
And as an article on Vice.Com
reveals: “Peter Thorn, a lawyer from Hampton, New Brunswick, told the Canadian Press Americans continue to sneak their guns into Canada with “alarming frequency during the summer months.”

Gun seizures at the border have increased over the last few years, with 671 guns seized in 2015 and 413 seized in the first half of 2016. But why? I have an idea. Americans don’t think they are visiting Canada – they figure that they are visiting a place. It is different than the place that they live in – a subtly different place. Sorta similar to the place that they live but slightly different. You know, like the difference between New York and Los Angeles or Chicago… just less crazy violent.

Here are some of my thoughts:

While travelling with University of Victoria student recruiters in Washington and Oregon between 2000 and 2003, it was not uncommon for potential recruits and their parents to ask about which wing of the U.S. military offered ROTC at our Canadian schools – and students would often enquire “which region we were in” to determine where we were in the competitive cheerleading squad standings.

When our reps pointed out that Canada was an independent country that flew their own flag and had their own “Prime minister”, we were almost always greeted with puzzled expressions and gasps of disbelief.

Most of the time, they had zero idea of where Canada was on a map – but their parents were steering their kids to Canada – particularly after 9/11 – Here… Canada… North of 49… because they felt that their kids would be “safe”.

Safe from gunshot wounds likely but not really safer from terrorism, lightning strikes, lottery wins and sky falling pianos.

Canucks and Americans differ: Canadians look outward and seek to embrace diversity. America seeks to assimilate and create uniformity. Neither concept is superior to the other but it can, in part, explain some of the unique challenges when Americans come for a visit.

So – when you do come for a visit, brothers and sisters of America: Leave your guns, bullets, fear and paranoia at home. And maybe look at a map… at least occasionally.

Thank you from you peace loving Northern neighbours and often apologizers. No really, thank you!

Comment

Previous