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Spirit Boat Myth & Lore

Jane & Babazulu's Boat

story and photos by Keith Bjorkman


Jane Grossenbacher passed away at age 57 on September 16, 2008 after a 1000 day battle with ovarian cancer.

Babazulu, her beloved kitty, passed away of old age on January 18, 2009 at age 14 1/2.

Her 16th anniversary with Keith Bjorkman was August 9th, 2008, a few weeks before her passing.

They went to Lake Tahoe first, and intended to go to Yosemite and Tuolomne Meadows for the second half of their trip. Unfortunately a big fire in Yosemite prevented that part of the trip from happening.

Plans had been made to spread her ashes in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains outside of Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Keith asked if he could put a small amount of her ashes somewhere in Tuolomne Meadows on the way to Santa Fe.

She had mentioned her admiration of the parks in California. So Keith got the idea to put a spoonful of her and another spoonful of Babazulu in a boat and launch it in the Tuolomne River to float to the sea and “bless” all the parks and wildlands on the way.

Two friends, Sam Sullivan from Artaud and Russ Steffens from Iowa, joined Keith on a 16-day, 4098-mile roadtrip to make this happen.

Roadtrip Day 2
Sunday, August 2, 2009
Tuolomne Meadows, Yosemite National Park. Elevation 8600 feet.



Double Heart made of sugar pine, with a spoonful of Jane inside one heart, and a spoonful of Babazulu inside the other. Sealed with wax and wrapped with one of Jane’s favorite scarves.


Close view of Tuolomne Meadows and River location. Keith with the boat beside the Tuolomne River. The Cathedral Range is in the distance.


The boat got stuck in eddies on the first three tries. On the fourth try the boat reached the flowing current and headed out to sea.


I figure the water was too cold and it took a few “dips” to get used to it. Or, Babazulu hated the water and took him a few tries to adjust. I got drenched fetching the stuck boat in swirling rapids and slipping around on mossy rocks!


To the sea...

First stop will be right around the “corner” to bless over 1000 firefighters fighting a huge fire in Hetch Hetchy Canyon...

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