By Christina Wilkie - 10/12/09 04:00 AM EDT
For seven days this past summer, Rep. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) survived on an uninhabited tropical island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.
He had been planning the trip for more than two years, describing it as a chance to “test [his] outdoor survival skills.”
Subsisting entirely on coconuts and fish he speared himself, the 46-year-old father of five made fire from dry branches, purified his own water and slept in a hammock on the beach. He also kept a daily diary and shot dozens of pictures, which were recently obtained by The Hill.
While Flake didn’t talk to a volleyball, like the character Tom Hanks played in “Castaway,” he numbered more than 100 hermit crabs and grew fond of at least a couple of them.
Excerpts from the 23-page journal are printed below and the entire text is available here.
As for the photos, there is at least one that could go viral on the Internet. The photo, apparently taken via a tripod, reveals a bare-chested Flake on the beach at sunset.
The release of this photo could be damaging to a certain GOP lawmaker. But that lawmaker won't be Jeff Flake.
Rep. Aaron Schock (Ill.) currently holds the very unofficial title of "biggest hunk" in Congress.
But Schock’s title could be in jeopardy after Americans view Flake's tanned and sculpted torso.
Notes from Flake's journal:
"No food, just salt and pepper."
"Before leaving home I ... picked up a suture kit. I didn’t know if I’d have the guts to stitch myself up, but the prospect sounded better than [needing to be] rescued. That sounded like a career killer for a politician."
"I brought along a small headlamp ... there was no one to see that I looked like a complete dork."
"I was paid a visit by man-sized black tip shark ... [then] another shark appeared, just a little smaller than the first ... by the time a third shark appeared I became a little spooked. Two’s company, three’s a crowd."
"If I encountered sharks, [the Marshalese told me to] 'Look them in the eye.' Yeah, right. Not unless I have eyes in the back of my head while I’m swimming away."
"Lovely dream ... the family was at an Arizona Diamondbacks game and my son Austin was working at a concessions stand. He [made me] a specialty hamburger that ... covered the entire plate. Just before I was about to take my first bite, I woke up."
LATER: "Well, no dreams about hamburgers last night. I did dream about the congressional baseball game, but the action was on the field rather than at the concessions stand. Darn."
On hermit crabs:
"I picked up a hermit crab, and wrote a #1 on the back of his shell. I repeated this act whenever I felt a bit lonely ... and kept a tally on a tree in the camp. When #12 climbed on my foot and pinched my big toe, ‘he bit me’ was written next to his number."
LATER: "I’ve labeled 102 at this point. I just saw #1 again today. He remains one of my favorites, as is #12, long since forgiven for pinching my toe."
On his last day:
"After pumping my LAST gallon of water at around 5:30 pm, I let out the loudest ‘yippee’ the island of Jabonwod has ever heard ... It’s my last night in a hammock. I’ll yell ‘yippee’ when I wake up, which will be at least fifteen times tonight…"