Fort Smith, Arkansas sat on the border of Indian Territory in 1875. It was a rowdy place filled with brothels, saloons, and outlaws. It was said that there was ‘no law west of Arkansas’ and not much in Fort Smith. That changed when Judge Isaac Parker was appointed to the bench. Known as ‘the hanging judge’, Judge Parker was stern and unbending in his application of the law… his court often referred to as the ‘court of the damned’. The jail at Fort Smith where outlaws were held awaiting trial wasn’t a pleasant place to be and was considered to be ‘hell on the border’.
When Judge Parker issued a warrant for a man, it was up to the U. S. Marshalls to bring him in to stand trial. It was a dangerous job and required the toughest of men. Among these men was Matthew Kelso, a former bounty hunter who Judge Parker convinced to become a Deputy U. S. Marshall. Judge Parker wanted outlaws brought back alive for trial so their misdeeds and punishment would provide an example for others. Bringing outlaws back alive was something Deputy Kelso often had difficulty in doing.
On a return from a failed assignment where he had to kill two outlaws, Deputy Kelso has a chance meeting with Calib Bixby when he stops at his small ranch to water his horse. Calib lives alone in Indian Territory… over 70,000 square miles of hostile terrain and has a close relationship with the Osage Chief, Yellow Dog. Calib relates a story of an unwelcome visitor to his ranch and gives Matt a gold watch that belonged to a friend of his. The watch and story of how it came into Calib’s possession leads Matt to an investigation of a murder, a corrupt Sheriff, a power-hungry landowner, and the lynching of an innocent man… the lynching at Stone Creek.
The wreck of the Hilma Hooker is one of the best wreck dive sites in the Caribbean. The story of how the 235 foot long by 36 foot beam Colombian cargo ship was sunk is a good story and a nice piece of history.
In 1984 the ship arrived in Bonaire and anchored close to Klein Bonaire in a little inlet on the leeward side of the island. This was unusual behavior as normally ships would dock at the Kralendeck harbor. The Customs Officials deemed this as suspicious behavior and proceeded to board the ship for an inspection. The captain protested the boarding and as the officials began their search, he pulled anchor so the ship would drift into international waters. The officials got wise to this and at that point seized the ship and had it towed to port. They did a thorough inspection of the ship, going so far as to bring in specialists from Miami to help, yet they found nothing. The captain further tried to swart their efforts by opening a valve allowing water into the ship trying to sink it.
Into the picture enters Captain Don Stewart (1925-2014) an American navigator and avid diver who moved to Bonaire in 1962. Captain Don was hired to inspect the bottom of the ship. He located a metal plate welded to the bottom of the ship that didn’t look right… in the hidden hold twelve tons of cocaine and marijuana were found. The ship’s captain was jailed, the ship seized but the ship’s owners couldn’t be located.
Now the ship was at the dock, in a bad state of repair and listing because of the water that had entered. While no water was still entering, the ship had to be moved off the dock to make room for other ships. It was anchored offshore while the authorities decided what they would do. Captain Stewart and the local dive community wanted to sink the vessel and make it a dive site but were not given permission. Somehow, the ship was moved and mysteriously sunk on September 12, 1984. It now lies perfectly positioned on its side in 100 feet in a sandy spot between two coral reefs. It is a short swim from shore and couldn’t be better positioned if Captain Stewart sunk it himself (which I suspect he did!).
The Kansas/Missouri border was a dangerous place during the Civil War and in the years that followed. Kansas entered the Union as an anti-slavery State only months before the war started and was bordered by the Pro-slavery State of Missouri. ‘Border Ruffians’ like William Quantrill fought for the Confederacy while ‘Free Staters’ and ‘Jayhawkers’ fought for the Union. They were all guerrilla fighters led by men of often questionable morality. There was only some measure of legitimacy given to them by the Confederate and Union governments respectively because they claimed they were fighting for the same cause. The results on both sides was the same… people killed while towns were sacked and burned.
The Ranger is the prequel to the novel Texas Jack!
This brand new adventure follows the story of a young man named Britt Logan who is a member of a wagon train on the way to Oregon in 1852. He and his parents are among just a few non-Mormons in a Mormon wagon train heading to the Salt Lake Valley. Their plan was to leave the train at the South Pass and head to Oregon with another train, but when Britt’s parents are killed by an influential member of the church, Britt finds himself on the run.
Back when I started diving… 50+ years ago, my primary interest other than exploring the undersea world was hunting. Spearfishing, lobster, abalone and scallop hunting were my main focus. As years went by I had visions of becoming a great underwater photographer. I’ve won a few awards for underwater photography over the years but back then it was a very difficult skill to master, which I never really did. I started with a Kodak Instamatic camera in a plastic box before moving up to a Nikonos camera and then 35 mm SLR cameras with large bulky housings. Strobe lights attached to the cameras made using them difficult to do sometimes and a complete underwater camera setup was an expensive investment.
As the name suggests, the Catalina Goby (Lythrypnus dalli) lives around Santa Catalina Island. It’s about 1/2 – 3/4-inch-long and can be found among the crevasses of rocks down to about 75 meters. It’s considered a nano fish and lives in the west coast waters from California to Peru. They remain gender neutral until they establish dominance within the harem. The most dominant will then become male and grow a longer dorsal fin.
These sharks lay on the bottom and mind their own business… until someone like me comes along. They have two very sharp needle-like spines at the dorsal fins and they will hurt! Trust me, I know. They also have several rows of teeth and a crushing bite.