06 February 2016

Dateline: Hampton, Georgia

I can walk through two doors and put my hands on a UH-1.
Sitting next to that Huey are two AH-1 Cobras. Step through a clear plastic barrier designed to keep heat in one part of this big hangar, and feast your eyes on two more Hueys, two more Cobras, an OH-58, and an O-1 BirdDog.
Think I'm in heaven here? :)

I spent the day yesterday attaching covers to the many inspection panels on a Huey just coming out of a major inspection. Having completed that job several of us installed all the canvas seats in the cargo compartment of the aircraft. All of this was harder than I expected, and made me realize I should have thanked my maintenance personnel for the good work they did MUCH more often than I did.

Ground schooling finished and written tests all complete, tomorrow I take what they here call the "Nickel Ride" to show the folks that keep these neat old birds flying I'm not a total idiot at the controls. It's my first step to getting completely qualified to fly the machines from one point to another. Eventually I'll be at the controls when we buckle folks willing to pay for the experience of actually flying in this Viet Nam icon into the rear to take them for a spin.
It's exciting.

There are 11 guys in this class.
Other than the instructor I'm the only guy in the class that flew this machine in combat.
We're ALL having a ball, working hard... playing hard.

I'll give ya an after-action report soon as I come down off this "high".

03 February 2016

3 Feb 16- Open Letter From Destin, Florida:

Sometimes you get something in your head and it won't go away until you tell someone about it and clear it out-
If I asked you to "hum a few bars" of "The 59th Street Bridge Song", you might look at me cross-eyed and think you don't know it. But I bet you'd be mistaken!

We've now been here three months, minus the three weeks over Christmas and New Year's that we spent with our son in Phoenix. Weather here has been palatable, but except for a few "brass monkey" days weather back home has been pretty decent too. The view out our picture window here, however, makes the extra expense of being here more than worthwhile.

Update on "Little Harley"-
It HAS turned out to be a perfect little errand vehicle. Bread, milk, a dozen eggs, and a 2-liter bottle of soda? Most of that will fit beneath the seat. Really small stuff will fit in the topcase.
Need more room? There's a hook on the front leg shield behind the handlebars to accommodate a plastic grocery bag... between your legs.
I'm still having a ball riding the little sucker. Last week my GPS indicated I actually hit 41 mph with a slight tailwind. I have not yet had to refuel... three months and the fuel gauge is just now hitting the quarter-full mark, so the "100 miles per gallon" estimation is probably pretty close.
My only complaint with it? I have to be careful to plan my trips across town and stay on the feeder streets because of the scoot's speed limitations. The little bike has been an education...
Next year I'll trade Little Harley for a 150cc machine so I can ride to Ft. Walton Beach and move with traffic. (More room for Sara Jean on the back, too.)

Tomorrow I depart for Atlanta.
I'll be spending a few days there putting in "sweat equity" with the Army Aviation Heritage Foundation in hopes of getting current in the UH-1 Huey, and eventually the AH-1G Cobra.
Several of us back home have a dream of taking a couple surplus Bell helicopters and making them flyable so we can do demonstration flights at Veteran's events and fly-ins.
I'll keep you posted on progress... this weekend and in the future.

We are blessed.
I had a birthday last week and I've decided to emulate Jack Benny...
I'll be "Holding" at this age. I don't like the sound of any additional birthdays!

Be safe and well everyone.

21 January 2016

Big Brother Loves You

I'm pedaling fast as I can to get away from the "trouble".
To get to safety it sure would be nice to know how far, and which direction to pedal.
But even experts are confused. How the heck do you and I prepare?

Let me pose a hypothetical scenario-
Our president decides to follow FDR's "solution" from the 1930's and issues an executive order:
"It is now illegal to own precious metal coins or bullion. Turn in all your Gold and Silver".
Would you comply?
What if our government mandated all of a certain class of people had to be interred in concentration camps...
Would a chunk of our fellow citizens smile and march willingly into camps?
In today's world, I don't think so.


I think we really are entering uncharted waters.
If you're getting as queasy as I am, do yourself a favor and try to digest this article. Read the comments too.

Water.
Food.
Shelter.
Some form of "currency" for trade.
And enough guns and ammunition to defend you and yours.
Be prepared, or be a victim.


15 January 2016

We are going to see it today.
If you are sick and tired of lies and corruption, you should too.

14 January 2016

Zucchini

Once again I find I'm disgusted with myself.
I'm very nearly as heavy as I've been in my life.
When I reach this point, I take drastic measures-
I (we) resort to "The Sacred Heart Soup Diet". (Lazy this morning... you'll have to google it.)


This diet works for us. We both lose 10 pounds in one week when we adhere to it.
We've modified the diet in this way...
We add more vegetables, figuring that more variety and more color add vitamins, minerals, texture, eye appeal, and fiber. We add cabbage, yellow squash, water chestnuts, bamboo shoots, and zucchini.

Yesterday I went shopping for soup ingredients and found everything I needed... EXCEPT the zukes.
I'm looking at a produce section with all we've come to expect... apples, oranges, onions, spuds, etc. in the section that does not require refrigeration. I'm also reviewing a "cool" produce section about 40 feet in length with all sorts of green, red, orange, and yellow stuff that gets "spritzed" down with cool water every few minutes.
I find NO zukes.
And I'm slightly pissed.
Where the heck are the zucchinis?!!

I ask an "associate"...
"We don't have any right now".
Frustrating.
And then it hits me like a 2X4 upside the head...
Unbelievable!

I live in a world where people stand for HOURS, hoping there will still be a loaf of bread available  by the time they reach the head of the line to purchase one, and I'm upset there are no zucchinis available to add to the thirteen other veggies I'm gonna add to my soup.
(And I'm at least 25 pounds overweight.)
God forgive me, please.
I/we are SO blessed.

Now, where is the arugula?


08 January 2016

Natural Born Citizen

Something I wish someone would ask-
What is the difference between a "citizen", and a "Natural Born Citizen", and why did the Founding Fathers use the latter term as regards eligibility to be president?

06 January 2016

Our Tombstone, AZ Visit:

26 Dec 15-
We drove South to Fort Huachuca, AZ the night before our visit. On the Post, not a creature was stirring, not even the mice. It was obvious most of the troops based there were home for the holidays.
Reservations I made a week earlier were upgraded to suites at no cost to us. We were in tall cotton.

We woke Sunday the 27th and ate the "free" breakfast, then got on the road to Tombstone just before Noon. Temp was about 50 F., but the sun was shining and there was no wind, so we were comfy in light jackets.

Yeah, it's a "tourist trap". Sara Jean and I both commented how much Tombstone felt like Skagway, Alaska... lots of junk to sell to rubes, much of it made in China. Unlike Skagway, the main street was blocked to vehicle traffic (other than those pulled by horses), so pedestrians can freely walk the boardwalks and cross from one side of the street to the other without fear of being clobbered.

Research indicated the thing we needed to do first was to see the "Historama", a combined movie and diorama telling the history of Tombstone. For $10 you can buy a packet of tickets including the Historama, the re-enactment of the Gunfight at the OK Corral, and a replica of the "Tombstone Epitaph" newspaper devoted to the gunfight and the testimonies given at the following trial.
The packet was worth the cost.


We learned a few things at the Historama-
Obviously, silver attracted prospectors to Tombstone. Those prospectors needed supplies and entertainment. "Entertainment" to a man coming in from the mines with his pockets full of silver means wine/women/song and gambling. The town grew exponentially when word of the silver strike went public.

Fire destroyed much of the town twice, but so much money was flowing out of Tombstone the damaged areas were quickly rebuilt. But fire finally defeated the town in an odd way...
The mines struck water at a certain point and HUGE pumps were needed to keep the water at bay so the silver could be extracted. One of the big pumps caught fire and was destroyed and all the mines filled with water. There are still tons of silver down there waiting to be mined, but the price of silver will have to soar before it will be worthwhile to pump the water out to mine it.
(That day may come soon.)


The first thing the folks at the Historama want you to know is that the Kurt Russell movie is a bunch of hooey. The "Cowboys" didn't wear easily identifiable red sashes.
But one thing about Hollywood's version of the town is true... it was difficult to differentiate the Good Guys from the Bad Guys. Doc Holiday and the Earps were making a fortune from gambling interests, and that was maybe their main reason for keeping Tombstone relatively safe for folks to walk the streets.


About the gunfight-
It DID NOT happen at the OK Corral.
The actual altercation happened on Fremont St. between 3rd and 4th streets. When news spread of the fight news outlets wanted to know where it happened. "Near the OK Corral" was the response.

Testimony from the living participants is interesting to read. The following is my opinion based solely on my gut from reading the different descriptions:
The Clantons and McLowrys were bad dudes... horse and cattle thieves. Their gang, the "Cowboys" was a thorn in the Earps and Holiday's side. Over time, MUCH bad blood developed between them.
The night before the big gunfight Holiday and Ike Clanton had a heated verbal meeting. I think Doc Holiday made the decision then that something had to be done.
The next day that chance to do "something" presented itself...
There were reports that the Cowboys were carrying arms, in defiance of town ordinances. Virgil, Wyatt, Morgan, and Doc Holiday intended to disarm these men. From testimony it seems pretty obvious that (drunk and sick with not much to lose) Doc Holiday fired the first shot. Ike Clanton was not armed. Tom McLowry was apparently shot trying to remove his rifle from the scabbard carried on his horse. He was NOT carrying a sidearm.

The other thing that surprised me that I had never heard before reading the "Epitaph"?
"Billy the Kid" was there.
According to his testimony, when the shooting commenced he wisely laid on the ground and watched, having no "dog in the fight".

The area around Tombstone is beautiful. It's an hour South of Tucson, about three hours South of Phoenix. It's a nice drive and a fun place.
I recommend it.




30 December 2015

That 3 A.M. Phone Call

Back when we had a "hard-line" phone, you could at least pray it was a wrong number.
Cell phones have narrowed that likelihood to nearly zero.
Now when that little irritator wakes you, your heartrate doubles as you reach for it.

Sara Jean had run her phone completely dead, so it was OFF and being charged downstairs.
He tried to call her phone three times before he dialed me up.
I ALWAYS leave my phone downstairs because she ALWAYS has her phone upstairs within arm's reach. That's how we found ourselves with both devices downstairs.

0300 hours. My phone rang.

I knew it was my phone because my ring tone is Guns and Roses "Sweet Child of Mine".
Drowsy, I ignored it.
It stopped ringing, then IMMEDIATELY rang again.
Again, I ignored it.
When it instantly rang again I rolled outta the sack and went downstairs to grab it. (See "heartrate" comment above).
"Dad, I wrecked the bike."
Okay, now I'm AWAKE. Thankfully, he doesn't sound like he's in a great deal of pain...
"Are you hurt?"
"I'm a little banged up, but nothing serious."
He was riding tired. He needed gas. It was dark. He misjudged the entryway to the gas station and hit a curb a glancing blow. He high-sided. He's worried about how I'll react to the fact the new Yamaha Super Tenere is lying on its right side, wounded, with oil dripping out of the engine.


"I'm about two miles from home. Would it be safe to ride that distance?"
I felt like a Doctor being asked to diagnose an illness over the phone.
"Absolutely not. Park it. Find a way home. We'll deal with this tomorrow after a good night's sleep."

I was worried the engine block was cracked. As it turned out, he had holed the clutch cover on the engine... still a $$$$$ repair, but nowhere near the cost of repairing/replacing the engine.
For my son, the worst part was the time it took the dealership to make the repair.

Fast forward to this week-
We're here in Phoenix visiting him.
He mounted the now slightly dinged/scratched Super Ten to go to work.
Fifteen minutes later Sara Jean's phone rang...
"I've been involved in an accident".

He's okay.
He stopped to allow a Fire Engine to proceed through an intersection. The 17-year old girl in the new Mustang behind him had her stereo blaring and didn't hear the siren... saw the stopped motorcycle too late. Slamming on her brakes, she thankfully was only going about 5 mph when she rear-ended him and sent him flying.
The bike is now dinged in the rear and on the opposite side from his first incident. It's really beginning to look like an "off-road" motorcycle.


We thank God he's not seriously hurt.
But that's two "incidents" in three months now.
Our thoughts are, naturally, "Should he be on two wheels?"
He's 32. I'm not at all sure he'd quit motorcycling no matter how much we cajoled.
It's his decision.
He's the one with the aches and pains this morning.


29 December 2015

Headline Writing

Okay, I'm a little fuzzy this morning, so bear with me.
Check out two headlines from "Drudgereport":

"Number of Journalists Killed Balloons to 110 This Year"...
"Emergency room visits from distracted walking skyrocket"

Why are journalists killing these poor balloons?
And how is it "distracted walking skyrockets" are being allowed to enter our emergency rooms?

27 December 2015

Dateline: Fort Huachuca, Arizona

People move here to escape cold weather, don't they?
It was 24 degrees F when we woke this morning. (Cold enough to freeze a Winnebago, for you "Muppets Family Christmas" fans.)
We spent the night here on Ft. H. with the intent of checking off one of my "Bucket List" items today-
We're going to Tombstone.

Yep... I'm your huckleberry!