Your Pilot, Mark? Really??

Geez, Mark you really are full of yourself, aren’t you…  Are you just trying to impress Abbey, or what?  Your pilot?  Please. In the span of an afternoon, Cal has not become yours…  Abbey Powell, breathless in the presence of The Trail, isn’t helping with all this…

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And what’s with all the sudden vegetation?  Fully grown palm trees and flowers?  This was a rocky, volcanic outcropping until you showed up and then poof!  Cue the Palms!

As the rotor spins…

With various forms of wildlife enjoying cameo roles (hearkening back to the Trailverse of old) we see the long-shot approach and the eager anticipation that is meant to create a modicum of expectation for this story.

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With the island not shaking anymore, and Abbey back on her feet with her glasses on, Mark makes his grand entrance (with Cal’s help, of course…)

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I will say it again- what’s missing in all this is the bad guy (or gal) that threatens to lay waste to fragile ecosystems, to poach rapaciously the innocent fauna that might be hanging by a thread.  While I should probably care about invasive species and man’s role in spreading them around, there’s no story line in it.  At least not for me.  Bring back Big Mike, or the corrupt Senator’s aid, or Dirty Dyer the Rhino Horn trafficker,  or that skinny milquetoast who wanted to mine titanium oxide from the Great Dismal Swamp…    anything… please…

…sigh…

OK, kids,  we’ve seen this before…  Abbey Powell taking a bad step, and a random earthquake RRRUUUUMMMMMBBBBBLLLLLEEEE…  at least this is more plausible here than in the cave story.  Appears that Earthquakes are a daily thing in Hawaii, although registering only 1.0 – 2.0  on the Richter scale…

Abbey Powell needs to have a word with James Allen.  If he going to feature her (a real person with a life, presumably with ambitions,) she can’t allow him to continue to portray her as a stumbling oaf…  Hey, I mean, I have daughter, probably about Abbey’s age, trying to make her way in the world of science, and this kind of portrayal helps no one…

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So pick yourself up and dust yourself off, Abbey… blow the coral dust out of your nose and pretend this never happened, right??

Coral Atoll?

According to TC, I mean Cal, this is an unstable volcanic formation… shows what Abbey might know… or the Narrator for that matter.  And Abbey, to whom exactly are you speaking?  The Horseshoe Crab in the foreground?  But it’s comforting in its own way to have her talking aloud to herself, in time-honored Mark Trail fashion…

So as Abbey waits patiently for Mark to arrive, apparently leaving the details to take care of themselves, (Today?  Does that mean morning, afternoon, or evening? Did Abbey stay there guarding the island in the meantime?) we are left to wonder how she made a positive ID on the type of ant they are dealing with… and whether, ultimately, this is going to call for the inestimable resources of the USDA to mount an offensive against it…

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And by “scour the island” you mean what?  Oh, OK, probably just what it sounds like…  in my search for meaning and inspiration I will grab at any possible double-entendre that might appear…

Enter, stage left, the CRB…

…like the EAB (Emerald Ash Borer) this little terror (the Coconut Rhinoceros Beetle) has wreaked havoc on the Hawaiian ecosystem by threatening a necessary and iconic feature- coconut and date palm trees…

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Ugly little thing, ain’t it??  What is it about invasive species, at least these two, that are reduced to three letter acronyms??  Does James Allen get all his story ideas from the USDA website?  I think he must…

And why haven’t the Rhinoceros lovers of the world risen up and filed an anti-defamation suit against the naming of this pest?  While it has a vague likeness, the two aren’t even in the same league as it pertains to what role they play, one a victim of its own physiology, the other a destroyer of economies!

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Red Imported Fire Ants?  as opposed to the domestic, home grown variety?  I guess it’s a real thing…  Never doubt the Trail, Dennis, never doubt the Trail…

Careful Mark…

Your natural, trusting instincts can get you in trouble… you don’t know whose side Cal is on- yours or the invasive species’…  so best you make up a back story that seems plausible but doesn’t give away the true nature of your mission…  although that invasive species line would be the perfect cover for another, more nefarious plot of your own, so by now Cal must be thinking that you are full of it…

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But soft!  Do I detect foreshadowing?  As in, “The island has been quiet for several years now…”  I’ll bet you dollars to donut holes that we are in for a doozy!  But really? Where’s the story here?  This atoll is completely segregated from other islands, and unless ants learn to build rafts and migrate I think that the problem is solved…  or at least contained…

Thanks to everyone who weighed in on ant reproductive cycle and methods… very entertaining.  For the record, I have to believe that Mark and Cherry have yet to consummate their marriage.  To think otherwise would shatter all notions we hold dear in the Trailverse…