Expedition Unknown – City of Gold – S01E05

image For this adventure we are heading out to Peru to look for the Incan Lost City of Gold. Back in 1532 Spanish Conquistadors cut and slashed their way through the Incan empire looking for gold and silver, lead by Francisco Pizarro. He wanted to fill rooms with gold and would stop at nothing to make it a reality. Hearing of his thirst for blood and gold, the Incas disappeared into the mountains and took their precious metals with them. But the question remains, is the City of Gold a myth, nothing more than the stuff of legend or is there really an ancient city out there in the mountains with vast stores of gold?

As with any good adventure you need to hit the market and stock up on supplies. And as with any good market there are some unusual things to try. Josh samples something which looks to be related to the guinea pig. No no, no need to take the meat off the bone and make it look presentable, just cook the rascal whole, leave the head on and eat it with your bare hands. Gadzooks, it looks shocking! Can’t say I would do it.

After the market, Josh meets up with Greg Deyermenjian, who’s been looking for Incan ruins for the past 30 years. He’s documented multiple previously undiscovered sites and firmly believes there are still many more to uncover. Greg has assembled a team and they will follow the ancient footpaths the Incas left behind. These paths extend up into Ecuador and down into Chile, nearly 10,000 miles of roads to follow.

While Greg puts together his team, Josh makes a side trip to the mysterious ruins of Machu Pichu. Unlike other explorations, he takes a luxurious train ride up to the site. It’s a glorious train with catered meals, fine dining and a wonderful observation car. Too bad getting to ruined cities can always be like that. He does however go back to his roots and in the market samples one of the local soups, a spicy blend of meats that includes bull penis.

But that’s not all you can get in the market. In order to scale the mountain and handle the thin air, they need to buy bags of coca leaves. These are the same leaves that make up the chief ingredient of cocaine. It is still used as stimulant and the team is going to need it.

With the team assembled, Josh heads up the mountain in some 4×4’s. The road is treacherous and narrow with severe cliffs off to the side. The journey is slowed by the oncoming rainstorm which forces them to take shelter in a local church. It is rough accommodations, but it has a foosball table and a 12 year old hustler that beats Josh soundly. It’s always so wonderfully strange to see people open up their homes to complete strangers. Ok sure, maybe handfuls of bills trade hands behind the scenes, but let’s not let that shatter the illusion.

They follow the road to the end of the line and then go by foot. Legend says the Incas threw away a lot of their supplies so they could make better progress over the mountains. To support the legend they dig around in Lake Pumacocha and find ancient potatoes from the Incan supplies. It appears they’re on the right path and so they continue up through the heavy jungle and find an ancient set of ruins to spend the night in.

As they continue their progression in the morning, they find rock paintings of llamas that further support the Incas followed this path. As they get ready to make a dangerous river crossing, they accidentally stir up a hornets nest, literally, and get stung on the face, legs and hands. And it’s time to cross the cold waters of the river. A river that nearly sweeps Josh away. These explorations of Incan mountain top ruins are dangerous!

But they are rewarded for their effort and find several Incan buildings that look to be houses or perhaps an outpost of some sort. They are completely overgrown but they are clearly well made structures. They even find a piece of pottery or art in what looks to be a window of one of the buildings. Greg definitely believes this is part of the Incan ruins. They don’t have the right tools or enough supplies so they mark where they are and Greg works to set up a team to head out to the same site later that year.

So no treasure rooms filled with gold, but there are definitely more Incan buildings and ruins out there. And the path they are following is thousands of miles long. If there is a Lost City of Gold, it could easily hide out there in the harsh mountains, covered in moss, trees and roots. So much of that area is unexplored so who knows what’s hiding behind the next ridge. No gold bars this trip, but who knows what the next one will bring.

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Expedition Unknown – Jesse James – S01E04

image For our latest outing in adventure travel, we head out to Oklahoma to take a look at the legend of Jesse James and the gold he left behind. We’ve certainly all heard the name Jesse James and we may even be familiar with some of his deeds. He is famous for his gold robberies and of course the men he shot down. But there is one stash in particular that has Josh’s interest. Supposedly, there is millions of dollars worth of gold coins still buried out there.

Jesse James stole millions of dollars worth of Mexican gold, loaded it up onto 18 mules and made his way into Oklahoma. He was stopped by a blizzard and decided to bury the gold and mark it so he could return later to claim it. Before he could do that, he was killed by a member of his own gang, Robert Ford.

The gold is supposedly marked by some bullet holes he put in a tree and some other cryptic signs. With the help of some historians and treasure hunters, Josh will see what he can find. But first, it’s time to take in the local color with a spot of ribs and some fancy duds at the cowboy store. No Josh, put the chaps back where you found them.

The first stop is to visit the house where Jesse James was born and to get a bit of insight into why he became an outlaw. His father died when he was 3 and he saw plenty of violence and death and the outbreak of the civil war. Seems he had a taste for revenge and violence from the early days.

With that in mind, Josh tries to confirm if it was even possible for Jesse to make the journey with mules loaded down with gold. While it would be slow going, it is possible he made it to Oklahoma in the time allotted.

He then meets up with a treasure hunter who has been researching Jesse James for 40 years. He believes there is treasure still left behind in Robber’s Cave. He is able to show Josh markers that have been carved into the rocks that point the way to treasure. Bud Hardcastle uses dowsing rods to help locate items, but alas, all they have for their efforts on this outing is the lid to a tin can. Oh well, better luck next time. At least the scenery was nice.

Not discouraged, Josh heads to Cement, Oklahoma where another treasure hunter uses some more sophisticated equipment to find items. He meets with Jamie Dodson who says he has put together clues to the location of the treasure and he has a map outlining the area they need to search. While the legend speaks of finding "Jack", Jamie believes Jack isn’t really a person or grave marker, but a word spelled out on the ground. His photo does indeed show Jack spelled out with rocks in an area that matches a description in a note left behind by Jesse. While not giving away too much, Jamie appears to have a specific area he wants to investigate and uses a much more sophisticated metal detector to get the job done.

Josh helps with the search and they get an interesting set of beeps. Indeed, something is buried beneath the rocks. And it’s a metal bar. But Josh’s hopes of striking it rich are dashed as we learn it’s a lead bar and those are worth pretty much nothing.

So, no gold this time around, but let’s keep in mind there are indeed items still buried out there. Josh may have found lead this time, but what else is hiding out there? A California couple recently found a large stash of gold buried on their property worth a few million. So while searching for gold may seem fanciful, the loot Jesse James robbed has been found in a couple different places and it been worth a small fortune. If you happen to be down in Mexico and some guy is selling maps, don’t dismiss too quickly, there might be something to it.

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Da Vinici’s Demons – Season 2 Finale

We catch back up with Da Vinci in a most unusual predicament. It seems he’s been captured by the Mayan’s or a culture that seems very similar to the Mayan’s and it’s believed they have the Book of Leaves. Oh my goodness, oh my damn, Da Vinci has to put his life in the hands of Riario for them to work together to snag the book and make their daring getaway, get back to Florence and find Da Vinci’s mother. And they have to do it before Florence collapses because Lorenzo Medici has been cut off by the Pope and the city now faces turmoil and bankrupcty. But here comes the bastard son, Carlo de’ Medici to help out his long last family and to help himself to, Clarice, the long lost wife or Lorenzo. Quite a bit of bed hopping we’ve got going on here.

But don’t feel back for Lorenzo, he’s seems to have found comfort in the arms of his own lost love, Ippolita, who just happens to be the wife of the crazed Alfonso, the guy who wants to kill Lorenzo at the dinner table. They’re a bit of a mad family that’s for sure. Their idea of entertainment leaves a little something to be desired. The game of the smack the horse in the ass and shoot the rope before it breaks your neck doesn’t seem all that fun.

The thing that’s interesting is the character of Riario. We learn he killed his own mother in the name of the Pope. He had no qualms with slaying her in the street, but yet he is utterly in love with Zita, the woman that offers herself to him while they’re at sea. Up to this point, Riario has been utterly heartless with a stern conviction to his cause and his beliefs. He has no room in life for anything else. But then we see his seemingly total commitment to Zita. When her life is put in danger, Riario stops at nothing to get her back. And when he’s faced with yet another challenge that puts her life in jeopardy, it appears to crush him both physically and emotionally. I wasn’t expecting that!

And we see that he and Da Vinci work very well together. They are strong will, smart and determined. Together it seems they will overcome the trials put before them. But, nothing last forever and once they find themselves back in Florence they realize they must once again be at odds with each other. But Riario finds himself in a desperate place. He has lost his love, his faith and his will to continue on with a quest he doesn’t believe in. But in the midst of his desperate act he is saved by a strange group that bring him into the fold and around to their way of thinking. Curse the bad luck, it’s the same group that Carlo is apart of and their goal is to bring down the Medici’s. Oh dear, back where we started from.

And it would be a season finale unless there was a cliffhanger so we present Lucrezia being sent as the messenger as the Turks line up to invade Alfonso, Lorenzo and of course Da Vinci himself. But Da Vinci has devised a plan and some cannons and he’s ready to light this candle when he makes the startling discover of who the mysterious prophet on the boat happens to be. Oh dear, he has a gun pointed a mom. This does not bode well.

I quite like Da Vinci’s Demons, it’s an interesting look, albeit quite fictionalized, at Da Vinci and the world in which his inventions and ideas took place. They’ve added some nice drama and made some interesting plot twists. Not all of them make sense I’ll admit, but they’re still fun to watch. I’m curious to see how Da Vinci deals with the impending attack and how he’s going to handle this strange new visitor. The person he’s been looking for in his grasp, but he might have just blown them up. Talk about bad timing.

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Hannibal – Tome-Wan – S02E12

So we’re now just one episode away from the season finale of Hannibal and things took a grizzly and unexpected turn. Not only are Hannibal and Will playing a dangerous game, but we see hints that Jack may be pulling the strings and intends to risk everything to get what we wants. Dr Du Maurier has resurfaced and offers some shocking insight into both Will and Hannibal. And there is more to the attack on her from a patient than we previously knew. While Hannibal may be sympathetic to the incident, there are a few more details.

Hannibal has also grown tired of Mason Verger and feels that it would be in everyone’s best interest if he and Will took care of the problem. Hannibal thinks Mason’s behavior toward Margot is quite terrible, but the way Mason treats his desk and furniture simply can’t be tolerated. The physical torture and abuse is one thing, but putting your feet on a desk is taking things too damn far.

Of course everything is spiraling out of control as to who gets caught first, Hannibal or Will. Which murder is each one guilty of? Is Will a protégé of Hannibal or simply being manipulated? What the devil is going on around here? I can already tell that the last episode is going to make me throw things at the TV. I damn glad there is a Season 3 to explain all this.

I will also say this is by far the most graphics and violent episode in the series. I thought sewing a bird into a man’s chest and then sewing that man into the cavity of a horse was over the top, but the scrimshaw to the face was pretty brutal. The team at NBC is dreaming up some pretty wild and scary plot lines these days.

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