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Santa Maria Pirate Weekend, September 2012 - Columbus, OH

Dragging the body
Photo: Mission
Introduction: The further adventures of the Pirate Surgeon Author in Columbus, Ohio and what happene while he was aboard the Santa Maria. Speaking of the interesting displays put together by the pirate invaders; The battles; What happens when you load a smallish 15th century vessel with a bunch of Dufrenses; Dinner out and Whatever other random stuff occurs to the author while he's writing.

Prologue: Arriving at the ship and waiting with the large Dufrense family for Mark and Jennie Gist to arrive and unlock the vessel; Some adventures there aboard; A look into the pirating life of Captain J. Gallia; The revelation of Mission's Pirates of the Caribbean Models as painted by Dan Needham; Taking it to the streets and Finding out what happens when you let Mission make your hotel reservations for you.

I arrived at the Santa Maria with my surgical box in tow just as the Dufrense family came tornadoing down the stairs from the street. Trudi and Dennis have six kids and when they arrive, you know it. The two young boys Zeke and Zach had been riding patiently (so I was told) in a car for six hours and upon being released from they were full of ginger. Ruth on the Santa Maria
Photo: Dolphin Danie
Ruth on the stairs of the Santa Maria
Unfortunately they Santa Maria's gangplank was raised when we reached it. I surmised that Mark and Jennie had gone out to dinner with Captain J. Gallia, who had arrived earlier in the afternoon. Luckily there was a whole park for the boys to run wild through, so they proceeded to do that.

The rest of us sat around on the park benches and chatted about things that were so interesting that I don't remember most of them. The one I do remember is that 11 year old Ruth has to do exercises where she puts her toes on a slightly raised surface (like a curb) and lean forward. This is to regain flexibility in her feet or something. (What do I know? I'm just the ship's surgeon.) Ruth was in the hospital for several weeks not so long ago which resulted in her being in bed for an extended period. This is the reason she has to do those exercises. She didn't like them because she said they hurt. So the boys and Danie helped out by doing the exercises with her. This is how the Dufrense family operates. It is wondrous to behold.

When Mark and Jennie showed up after their dinner with Captain J., they lowered the gangplank. As we were boarding, Mark told me I had missed an important Surgeon's Journal Moment. Fortunately, he got a photo of it for me - you will find it below right. It seems that this group of girls showed up dressed in outrageous wigs and costumes on their way to... well, I don't know what they were on their way to do. Probably have dinner. I mean, they're not old enough to drink, although you could hardly tell them apart from the strange bachelorette parties that infest the Arena District in Columbus. Anyhow, Mark got the photo, so we can all enjoy the moment I missed.

Zach in the park
Photo: Mission
Zach looks for his contact lens
Zeke in the park
Photo: Mission
Zeke striding in the park
Girls Night Out
Photo: Mark Gist
I can't abide people wearing odd costumes in Columbus

Once we were aboard, the boys were free to take all their energy onto the ship and apply it to wrestling with each other. (I don't have any photos of it, but they were wrestling in the park as well.) It may look a bit rough and tumble, but it seemed to be all in good fun. And while Zach - in black (Zach in black!) seems to be getting the better of Zeke in the photos below, it actually went both ways depending on when you happened to be watching. [Note: I have been informed that I somehow I confused Zach with Zeke here, even though I have there names correct in the previous photos, but the Zach in Black comment is too good to remove. So note that incorrect reference, enjoy the joke as is.]

The adults continued to talk. Someone left the gate at the end of the gangplank open and a small group of tourists with heavy foreign accents appeared on the ship. (I don't know what kind of accents - let's say they were Latvians because that name sounds slightly amusing.) Mark was preparing to shoo them off because the ship was closed, but they asked if they could pose for photos. Since they were here on holiday, Mark and Jennie did the honors.

Zach and Zeke wrestling 1
Photo: Mission
Zach and Zeke wrestling in the hold
Zach and Zeke wrestling 2
Photo: Mission
Zach seems to be getting the better of it
Mark and Jennie pose with tourists
Photo: Mark Gist
Mark and Jennie pose with the Latvians

Captain J.
Photo: Dolphin Danie
Captain J.
As I mentioned before, Captain J. Gallia had flown to Columbus from St. Louis to join us for the weekend. He explained that it was either that or start working on his 'Honey Do' list while his wife was away at a Sewing Convention. What would you do? (He was sort of punished for this decision as we'll discuss in another chapter.)

Captain J. has been reenacting since 2002. He told me that his father introduced him to pirates as a young boy, sparking his interest in all things buccaneer, although he began his reenactor career as a French settler/farmer. He combined the two interests when he saw the first Pirates of the Caribbean movie in 2003, deciding to reenact a certain pirate captain with whom you might be familiar. He likes the camaraderie of pirate reenactors and also enjoys hanging around with the interesting mix of people that pirate reenacting attracts. He noted that in addition to allowing him to learn about history, pirate reenacting "also keeps me young."

When not playing pirate he is an engineering project manager for a mechanical contractor. He's also a certified airline transport pilot. He told me he is interested in historical weaponry, art, engineering and culture from the 14th - 17th centuries, which fits well with his career background.

Capt. J wrestles the ropes
Photo: Dolphin Danie
Wrestling with ropes
Capt. J. Gallia
Photo: Not Sure
Capt. J. Gallia - Sept. 2011
Capt. J. at the rail
Photo: Dolphin Danie
Capt. J. at the rail of the Santa Maria

George making a cameo
Photo: Mission
George making his cameo
Photo: Mission
Mission's Sweatshirt - backwards
George aka. Ken made a brief cameo shipboard on Friday. (He was not to appear again because he had to clean his room. Seriously. I can't make stuff like that up.)

His primary contribution to the weekend as far as I was concerned was to point out that I had put my sweatshirt on backwards. This was to be the first of several 'Mission needs a keeper' moments.

The Fate of the Mutineers
Photo: Mission
Mission's POTC model The Fate of the Mutineers
There was a box of models on the ship which Dan Needham had painted for me. My intention was to leave them in the boxes so that they didn't get damaged. This intention lasted until about 5 seconds after I saw the box. (Naturally, upon removing the models from the very carefully packaged box, the first thing I did was break the head off one of the skeletons.)

My introduction to pirates was through the 1970s MPC Pirates of the Caribbean models of Snap-Action! skeletons and there were certain ones I had always wanted but had never gotten when I was a kid for various reasons like a lack of opportunity or money. (Yes, I know, I'm showing my age here.) eBay has provided the opportunity and savings the money, so I set about acquiring the ones I'd always wanted with the idea that I would set them up on a sheet of blue glass (representing water) in my pirate-themed living room.

I stuck with ones that were partially built or painted so that they didn't cost too much. Over the course of time I acquired the ones I wanted most: Dead Man's Raft, Fate of the Mutineers and Freed in the Nick of Time.

Mission admiring his models
Photo: Mark Gist
A kid in a candy store? Christmas?
People talking around models
Photo: Mission
Zeke admires the models while everyone else ignores them
Mission with the mermaid model
Photo: Mark Gist
Mission - clueless?

Dan painting the Fate of the Mutineers
Photo: Cathy Needham
Dan with The Fate of the Mutineers
Of course, acquiring them and finishing them were two different things. I had been putting them away for the day when I would become a good modeler. (Which was never. You have to know what you're good it and what you're not.) When I acquired the last one I wanted - Freed in the Nick of Time - I decided to take action on my collection. That's where Dan came in.

Regular readers may recall that Dan had reworked a life-sized resin model of Mohawk Gremlin into the Brain Gremlin for me, which showed up a year ago at the Santa Maria. He had done such nice work on it that when I decided to hire out the painting of my little Pirates of the Caribbean Model collection, I thought of him.

While the Brain Gremlin had been a bit outside of the norm for Dan, these were right up his alley. I shipped them to him in the Spring and he had finished all of them for me in time for the Santa Maria. They were lovely to behold. The sand bases were dusted with real, glued-on sand, some skeletons wore leather scabbards, the Mercury flag had been painted onto one of the models and details like the parrot seen hanging around on the foliage of the Fate of the Mutineers model were added. These photos do not nearly do them justice, trust me.

The Mission and Mermaid POTC models
Photo: Mission
The custom models with Mission and
the skeleton mermaid
In addition to the packaged sets, Dan had reworked one of my original model set bases - a pile of treasure from the model Dead Men Tell No Tales - into a base for a skeleton mermaid that he created from another skeleton model set he bought specifically for that purpose. He also took one of my more complete POTC model kits that had survived the years - Ghost of the Treasure Guard - and modified the guard so that he looked like your ship's surgeon in authentic Bagley garb! Truly a masterpiece. (And I'm not just saying that because it looks like me.) (Although that certainly doesn't hurt the model's masterpiece-iness.)

Everyone oohed and aahed appropriately and then when on chatting. Everyone except the boys, of course, who were fascinated... In fact, it reminded me of the way I acted when I first saw the models in the pages of comic books and on the wooden shelves of the local General Store. (Yep, a real, honest-to-gosh General Store with creaky wooden floors and big glass bowls of penny candy at the counter. It burned down in 1976, no doubt taking some Pirates of the Caribbean models with it. *Sniff*)

Mission's POTC model collection
Photo: Mission
The collection of models on the surgeon's table.
Dead Man's Raft
Photo: Dan Needham
Dan's paint job on the Dead Man's Raft
Freed in the Nick of Time
Photo: Dan Needham
Freed in the Nick of Time

I carefully packed the models away and we all left the ship. Dennis Dufrense, Danie and the boys Zeke and Zach had intended to sleep on the ship, but Dennis only managed to pack two sleeping bags. (He claimed that this was so that he could fit all of his kids in the van, but I think he just forgot. Sure, blame the kids, Dennis.) Since the Dufrenses had a hotel room which I had booked for them using Priceline, they decided to all sleep in the room. (Two adults and six kids in one hotel room! This is yet another reason that your author is decidedly childless.)

They hadn't eaten, so I told them I would check in to the hotel and meet them after they went to grab some grub. Now, Priceline has put me at the Columbus Hyatt Regency the last couple of times I've booked Danie and the boys walk the curb
Photo: Mission
Danie and the boys walk the curb. Danie is extraordinarily
cool as you'll learn later.
downtown Columbus through them. So I naturally assumed (without actually looking at my reservations) that they had once again stuck me in the Hyatt. Off I toddled, rolly bag Phydeaux in tow, down the six or so blocks to the Hyatt Regency. (See, if I don't park at the hotel, I save the $20 a night parking fee. This allows me to save my money for truly stupid things like fragile 1970s pirate models.)

The only problem was that the Columbus Hyatt Regency had no reservation for me. Zip. They did have access to free Wi-Fi in the lobby, however. (This came from the convention center across the street, curiously enough. The more expensive the hotel, the less likely you are to get nice fringe benefits like free Wi-Fi. Go fig.) Logging on to Priceline, I learned that I was actually booked at the Holiday Inn... on the other side of town (see the map below center.) So off I went, rolly bag Phydeaux in tow, striding the twelve or thirteen blocks required to get to the Holiday Inn. (Seriously, I need a keeper.)

The Dufrenses (remember them?) called me when they arrived in the lobby of the Hyatt. I explained the situation. Dennis asked for directions. As those of you who have read these Journals may recall, following Mission's directions usually gets you into trouble. I tried to explain the problems with following directions determined by the Mission Dead Reckoning System™ to Dennis. He finally (wisely) gave up on me and decided to use the GPS in his smart phone. He found his way and we all got checked in.

I will say this for the HI Columbus - they have free Wi-Fi in the rooms. So the trouble was actually worth it in a way. They also have shower heads that are higher than the top of my head, which is another hotel bonus point in my book. And the curtains could be gathered closed in a way that blocked out all external light which is multi-bonus points. (I probably shouldn't put that in print or the officious Hotel Buddies and Pals Club will revoke their membership. They have stern rules about light-blocking curtains.)

Hotel 1
Photo: 'Borrowed'
The Hyatt Columbus Regency
The map
Photo: 'Borrowed' again
Not a Mission Dead Reckoning route. Not even close.
The other hotel
Photo: And again
The Holiday Inn Columbus


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