Tuesday morning, I was reading the conflicting updates about Hawaii. There were six different versions about what had taken place there with the storm. To top it all off, the scientific community was filing more lawsuits for access.
NASA, NOAA, the UN and the EU were all wanting unlimited access for scientific study and had sent detailed reports and demands.
I called General Ingram to come to my office.
‘’I want a spy plane to take me a complete video and still pictures of the Hawaii and Oahu Islands and I want it on my desk by noon time,’’ I said.
My meetings were to start at 1300 with all the screaming parties and agencies. I wanted to be sure of my position before I dropped the hammer on them.
What should have been a quiet morning went down the tubes pretty quickly. All the Japanese rescue ships that had transported victims of the volcano to the mainland were leaving California, now that the storm was gone.
The Kobayashi Maru and the Nippon Maru had left at 0100 Pacific time. The Akagi Maru and the Diamond Princess left the California coast at 0300. At 0500 the Kobayashi Maru and the Nippon collided in fog one hundred and twenty miles from California.
Just how in the hell did two nine hundred foot ships that had plied most of the western Pacific, around the thousands of islands that made up Japan, the Philippines and even the treacherous waters of Australia and equipped with the latest radar collide in what was described as light fog?
But no matter, the Nippon was taking on a thousand gallons of sea water a minute. The pumps were keeping up with it and the captain was wanting to continue the voyage home for repairs. The Coast Guard was going to deliver extra pumps.
I was opposed to it continuing on even if the pumps were keeping up, a thousand gallon a minute was a big hole and the sea had a habit of making holes bigger. I called my Navy and Coast Guard representatives for a briefing. After an hour on the phone to Japanese officials, the Nippon was returning to California to the BAE shipyard to allow divers to inspect the damage and the shipyard to plan temporary repairs. BAE had a floating drydock large enough, if it was necessary. Engineers hired by the company were flying to the US as were investigators representing the ship owner.
The Kobayashi Maru was said to have some damage, but was not taking on water and was going back to Japan after the Coast Guard investigation. It was just one more distraction in the day.
I had intended to look at the budget again and was waiting on the OMG to come forward with the cost so far with the Hawaiian mess – even though we were just beginning – but they should have had two weeks’ worth of numbers to work with.
To my dismay they said it would take two months before they would get and could tabulate the numbers.
‘’Federal agencies are in no hurry to get the data to OMB because they don’t want the bean counters to know too closely what they are doing,’’ Derrick Shaw – the director of OMB – said when I questioned him on the cost.
OMG had spent billions last year upgrading the systems for faster and more accurate data. I wondered what the money had actually been spent on?
I issued an executive order for all agencies involved with the Hawaiian effort to submit daily manpower and material cost to OMB with special notations of the charges that were outside their normal budget. I knew – without a doubt – the agencies were doing it on their own, even if they delayed sending to OMB. Without accountability, they were going to wait until some point and then scream they needed emergency funding because they were broke.
I wondered how Marcy would feel about cracking her whip at OMB.
Lunch was a salad – I was eating alone today. Marcy was at the office trying to catch up from our vacation and was sending me emails she thought I may want to have input on.
There were growing issues with the property we owned in Montana that we got in the Black Bear takeover. B&B used it for mountain warfare training – visions of Afghanistan, Iran, and Pakistan. We had no contracts for mountain training and therefore had no need to continue mountain warfare training there.
It had been a huge cattle ranch and there were fifty thousand on the rolling hill – flat land southern portion of the property. After reviewing the property and discussions with the farm manager there, we let it continue as a cattle ranch.
They were selling eight to ten thousand head a year, depending on growth and the breeding cycle.
The ranch portion was on eight hundred thousand acres with two hundred thousand acres mountainous terrain, scrub timber and some old growth. At the time, we wondered why B&B never sold the old growth timber, it was worth a fortune even then. It was certainly a missed opportunity for a company that was desperate for money.
The issues now were wild life, moose, elk, grizzly bear, black bear, big horn sheep, mule deer, white tail deer – and now with reintroduction of the gray wolf – wolf packs.
There had been no commercial hunts since we bought it, we just didn’t have the time and we weren’t really interested in hunting at the time. We ordered the two hunting lodges closed and winterized but to be maintained. The guides that worked the lodges were also the ranch hands.
With no hunts except natural predators, all those species were getting out of control and several of them were actively bothering or hunting the cattle herds. We were losing several hundred cattle to the bears, wolves and coyotes packs each year. The cows and their young offspring were no match for the varmints. The ranch hands were allowed to shoot them if they caught them in the herds.
Now the moose, elk, bear and deer populations were exploding as well. The moose, elk and deer were raiding the cattle feeders and hay feeders in the pastures.
Every year Dad and Jason with the farming operations were under them, purchased thousands of bales of hay from Pennsylvania and Ohio and had it shipped to Montana and stored in the hay sheds. It was used to feed the cattle when the heavy snows made finding enough grass under the snow impossible and we always came up short as the herds were growing.
We had learned that lesson the first year. There had been a monstrous snow and then another one just days after. A thousand cattle had perished to starvation.
Dad and Jason had the hay sheds expanded and ordered two big diesel snow cats with flat bodies to carry hay into the pastures and a Bell helicopter to scout out where the groups of cattle were stranded.
The solution to some of those problems was to begin operating the hunting lodges again. With all the family – including my mates – bitten with the outdoors bug including hunting it was easy. Then there was the gun club we owned that still booked hunts worldwide along with camera hunts for many places in Africa. Real hunts where it was allowed, if one had enough money for the permits that cost thousands.
The club was now offering hunts to south Africa, Cameroon and Nigeria. They offered guided hunts to all the western states and Canada. It was only logical to add Montana hunts to the gun club.
Last summer when the problems became obvious, Jason, Dad and James Clown – the gun club manager – made a special trip to the ranch to set the wheels in motion. After reviewing the condition of the two enormous lodges, Dad ordered the ranch manager to locate contractors to upgrade the lodges to first class accommodations.
James was going to handle all the legal issues with Montana Game and Fish to get the commercial hunting permits and everything else needed. When completed, the club would be able issue Montana hunting licenses and everything else needed for the package, including the necessary firearms safety course required by Montana.
The four took a helicopter inspection of the proposed hunt area. In just a couple hours they counted over one hundred different moose, elk, bighorn sheep and mountain goat herds. Bear, mountain lion, cougar and other predators were too numerous to count. The men were ready to go hunting; wherever they looked, wild game was very abundant.
It was on this trip that Jason learned that there were two other massive ranches that joined our property were up for sale. Jason collected the information and met with the realtors, made inspections of the properties and forwarded the information to Pam Westfield in Lorrie’s property division with the recommendation to buy immediately.
One property was six hundred thousand acres, the other seven hundred thousand acres. Both were similar properties like the one we already owned, ranch with fair grazing and high elevation brush and timber, a perfect fit for what we already owned and were planning to do. An investor in Atlanta owned both parcels.
My staff was already going through the logistics needed for an official visit to Mexico City for the Americas’ anti-drug collation kickoff. This was going to be the first summit meeting of the anti-drug collation that I had started while JBG was working on the first pipeline contract.
All the countries of the Americas had signed on to participate in the anti-drug push. I was scheduled to be there a week, three days for the drug meeting and then four days with meetings with all the different leaders of the nations of the Americas.
There was a list of proposed new international regulations to meet new illegal drug challenges. Asian countries were still sending all kinds of drugs and ingredients to make drugs in shipping containers to every port on the Pacific coast, hoping some of it would get through and some did. But things were going to change. New tracking methods and new pressures on those arrested would lead to the source.
At noon General Ingram was in with video and the pictures I wanted of Hawaii while I was eating lunch at my desk. With all my mates away, I always ate and piddled at work in the Oval Office, even though the White House wanted me to eat in the formal dining room.
Hawaii was still a disaster, the storm did little with all the ash other than pack it tight. Near the shore, the rivers and streams it was determined some was washed away by comparing some of the earlier pictures. There were areas that the ash looked a lot deeper from the eruption during the storm on Hawaii proper. Oahu looked to be spared from additional ash. The General, Troy and I looked over the pictures and video until it was near 1300.
At 1300 I went to the big executive meeting room with the fancy chairs and all the MTAC screens. A dozen of the participants were already there as the MTAC screens lit up.
For two hours we chased the topic around the table about letting groups onto the Hawaiian Islands. It ended with NO for now, but we would reevaluate in ninety days. That would give the military time to remove most weapons systems, if it came down to that.
The meeting had just ended when my phone blasted out a burst of tones announcing multiple texts.
‘’I still don’t like it when your phone does that,’’ Ben said.
I read all the texts then called Vicky.
‘’WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON?’’
Edit by Alfmeister
Proof read by Bob W.