The AS Lemon Tiger
I had a dream the other night. Oh it was an awesome dream. In telling about it, I feel like I am living out the song “Spill the Wine” by War mixed with “Yellow Submarine” by the Beatles.
I dreamed that we, my many friends and I, built a great rigid frame airship. The gas bag of the airship was painted pearlized deep rich bright yellow. Overlaid on the yellow, we took lace and masked off zebra stripes before painting the stripes with a very dark metallic purple. From a distance, this looked like a solid stripe. It was not until you got closer that you could see the lace pattern in the stripe. On the epinoage (tail cone), the yellow faded into near white as it did on the belly of the gas bag. We painted the leading edge of the control surfaces with the same purple as the stripes but from there, the the color was gradiated out until the elevator and rudder were the same blue as the gondola.
The nose of the gas bag was was painted as a big purple cat nose with purple and teal eyes. The lips are red and smiling.
The gondola looked like a cross between a Victorian sailing ship and an Art and Crafts Moment house. She was made out of a mix of wood and wicker. The gondola was painted a bright fiery orange with royal blue and dark orange trim. She had an open top deck with a many spoked wheel tied to the rudder. The wheel was blue and orange with mermaids carved as the spokes. Next to the wheel was a huge lever that ran the elevator. The ship’s compass was mounted in a carving of Neptune.
On the aft of the top deck was a geodesic dome glass house for a green house. In it grew dwarf banana trees, orchids and vegetables.
The bow had a figure head. It was a pink flamingo wearing a WW II style bomber helmet and holding binoculars to it eyes. Its tail formed the root of the bow sprint that allowed the airship to use a Genoa jib type sail to supplement engine power.
Amidships of the open deck is an ornate spiral stairway that extends from the big doors in the lowest deck of the gondola all the way up and into the 3 deck buried inside the gasbag. In the bow of the gondola’s lowest floor was an axillary control cabin for landing and bad weather.
Most of the crew quarters, the mess hall, and kitchen are up in the gas bag.
Her 2 engine cars are just behind the gondola and below the gasbag. There is an open air catwalk from both the gondola and the superstructure. Each of the engine nacelles hold an alcohol burning V-16 engine, huge radiator and room so a mechanic can work on the engine in flight if need be.
At her Stern and hanging off the ground floor of the Lemon Tiger's transom is a narrow open deck that the crew merrily calls the back pouch. Here are stored all the crew’s fishing poles, surfboards, kayaks, and a 20 foot day sailer used to get ashore on islands that do not have adequate landing facilities.
The Lemon Tiger can drop down to just a few feet above the wave, adjust her ballast and drop a sea anchor or ships anchor to fish or such.
While the Lemon Tiger is a craft of exploration she has her own defenses in case of pirates or other unsavories. Just above the axillary bridge was mounted a huge bicycle crank powered chain gun that fired a round the size and length of your thumb. This gun lives in a ball mount that allows the gun to rotate 180 degrees on the horizontal and has lock outs so you could not shoot the airbag. Mounted aft were 2 hand cranked gatling guns that had similar safe guards. She had a gatling gun in the tail too. Plus most of the crew carries weapons.
Her crew (60 strong plus 38 non crew family members) was made up of real friends and some dream characters that exist only in my mind. Most of the crew was either belly dancers or drummers and some were both. And a few played other instruments like the flute.
The lady who is the captain of the airship we play with in real life was my first mate. Her husband was the ships blacksmith/engineer/astronomer. Her sister was the seamstress that not only sewed our sails but helped everyone make their own uniforms.
My real wife was the ship’s counselor, animal trainer and mistress of the belly dancers. If not in her jodphurs and utility belt, she would be found in either a sensible skirt and blouse or psychedelic salwar and ghawazee.
Cook was a purely fictitious character. She (we all assume she but no one really knows and everyone is afraid to ask) is about 4 foot 8 inches tall (but once again no is sure and everyone is so very afraid to ask). She looks Asian but no one knows where she comes from. She was in the war but everyone is afraid to ask which one. No one knows her name, we all just call her Cook.
Her hair is still mostly black and hangs in a massive braid down her back to near her knees.
Her favorite recipes include a large number of Mongolian dishes, Hunan-Style anything, curried something or other, and some things that have their origins in the south Pacific. She also makes a mean pot roast, fantastic Mexican food and truly wicked Old-fashioned, Viennese Apple Strudel ("Altwiener Apfelstrudel") We eat well on the Airship Lemon Tiger.
Cook’s weapon of choice was a very large meat cleaver. One of the crews many stories about Cook was the day the Lemon Tiger’s blacksmith/engineer/astronomer made the mistake of asking if Cook could use less rum in the altwiener apfelstrudel and maybe she could use black cherries instead of raisins. Cook chased him all around for hours brandishing her cleaver and cursing in several dozen languages.
The Lemon Tiger set sail for Tahiti but she went the long way around. She left Amarillo and the crew stopped to soak in the Boquillas Hot Springs in Big Bend.
From there she drifted down to Kokomo, Montego and the Florida Keys to go tarpan fishing. Then island hopping Aruba, Jamaica, Key Largo, and across to Panama. Through the Panama Canal. up the west coast to the Aleutian islands and from there island hopping south to Tahiti.
Along the way we ate lots of fish and dined with mermaids. We rode mammoths across the glaciers and hunted orchids in the jungles. And we danced and played and danced our way along.