Crown Vicky FORD

We averaged between 25 and 28 MPG in a full size car on our trip. It is the way to go on the highway.



Please forgive me if I use any of Barb's pictures for Bryce as my camera had an equipment failure right after the evening shoot at Bryce. I think the loose nut behind the lens caused the card to be jammed in and a pin bent for the CF card. We went to Sunset point and the view is stunning. The features are called HooDoos and look like someone had stacked beautiful rocks to make an endless collection of things that your eye can make up things when you look at them. After the looking up at Zion, it was kind of strange to be looking down. This is really the edge of a Plateau not a canyon.

Someone named this feature "Grottos" as it kind of does look like caves in the side of the hill. I'm pretty sure that it would be almost impossible to live in any of them. Hell, it would be tough for a scared cat like me to even repel down to the openings any more. I will just try to remember how interesting they were.
Yesterday I went downtown to have a new windshield put in the FORD. It was kind of fun to watch the process. I found out that they wanted me to let it set for an hour after they finished to let the adhesive set. I walked over to the camera shop and talked to the camera repairman. He had no way to straighten out the bent pin.
On the way home I stopped and bought some tools at harbor freight and spent the next half hour trying different combinations of ways to get the one bent pin straight. I think I have it OK for now. I am trying to decide if I want to buy a used D-70 and use parts to try to fix my camera or try to deal Wolfe's out of the D-80 they took in as a trade. There is always E-Bay with a bunch of cameras. What ever I do, I will probably stay with NIKON as we have such a great lens collection. Even if Barb has the wrong lens when she see's something neat.
OH well, Mowing calls so I had better get the mowers sharp and running.


Mind Fog

As I anticipate traveling, I have that feeling like I had when I wanted a cold beer on a hot day. Need isn't enough to describe the feeling of want, anticipation, pent up energy I have before a trip. After two weeks on the road, I have what I can only describe as a mind fog that feels like my battery is about 10 or 11 volts in a 12 volt system. So far all I have been able to do is make a list and work off the items that I need to accomplish. Old retired guys should not have to work off a "TO DO" list.

Perhaps what I really need to do is drink a beer, take a nap and remember all the great stuff I saw on the trip.



Splain it to me Lucy!

I am having trouble understanding a couple of things.

FIRST - There are many people that want to have bigger government to guarantee that the less privileged people have their fair share. They don't seem to mind that as you look at the current social experiments, Centralized Health Care, more Governmental Control, Subsidized Housing and less Local Control, these are mostly failing in the places they have been tried. Europe comes to mind and some of the Health Care issues in Canada. If you need an emergency appendectomy you can generally get in there, but Carol from B.C. said her knee replacement is at least a year away even though she really needs it now. Even the Conservative left want Government to jump in and ban abortion.

SECOND - In Cuba, the centralized control of the value of the dollar is failing fast. One of our Road Scholar friends said that she and a group of friends went on a trip to Cuba. To get approval from both Governments, they each had to take 15 lbs of Medical or Educational Supplies with them as they traveled to Cuba last year. She reported that many of the people that are working in the tourist trades in Cuba can earn tips in a "Convertible Peso" and with that can buy more than is available on the ration system with the Peso available to other workers. Yes, the red beans and rice is fairly cheap, but the pork to go in the beans is rationed and if you want more than a taste, you have to buy it with the convertible Peso. There are Doctors and Engineers working as bell boys to earn enough to feed their family. There is almost nothing in the Capital investment pool in Cuba to allow any building of new homes. Yet, we find Our Government moving towards the most massive debts and central control of the economy.

If you want free medicine, go to Canada. If you want cheap red beans and rice, Go to Cuba. If you really want to be a success, get a good education, work hard, save a little right here in the Good old USA... You might even be able to be the President in Washington, D.C. and make things better but don't send your kids to the Public Schools there.


Zion National Park

Because I wasn't driving, I didn't realize just how easy it was to get to Zion National Park. When I looked at the map later on, I saw just how close to I-15 and civilization it really was. For the first 2 1/2 days we shot Zion in all its glory and splendor. I wish we had spent more time there and that I didn't walk as far the first day. I think my tired legs kept me from walking farther the second day. At the end of the first day there was a walk down the Virgin River walkway that I should have skipped. This is by far my vote for a park to see.

You can go from one great view to another. There isn't a bad shot unless you have a loose nut behind the lens.

Because the other motel was full, we were staying in the Majestic View Best Western. There were three or as many as four buses from Road Scholar groups there and we got by far the best of the deal. The view from the front porch there was almost as good as in the park.
I'm not sure if you break down the price per person, that you could have done our trip much cheaper. I'm sure that our host, Nancy and our two photography instructors were worth almost the cost by themselves. They opened our eyes to things we might have missed.
I have a trick for anyone traveling to an area. Look at the transportation routes and see if there is a shuttle that goes across the park. If there is, get the map and take the shuttle to see if you can really find your way around. On the shuttle, form an overall impression of each area and see if there is any difference to you. Then go back and see the pieces. The shuttle in Zion is free and it would allow you to get off at each stop as another shuttle was soon to come there and take you to the next stop.
Of Zion, Bryce Canyon, and the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, I vote Zion the best. I wish we had a week to just go there and enjoy. Perhaps next time.



As I went out on the photo shoots each day last week, I would bring my camera in each day and download the new photos. As I went out on the third day at Bryce Canyon, my CF card died. I lost about 30 evening shots of the beautiful rock formations. I had all the other photos on the card downloaded but that card is dead. The Instructor said that I should down load the pictures each day but then format the card. He said that some of the pictures tend to leave remnants on the card and makes the pictures have blemishes on them. I had close to 300 pictures on the card.

To add insult to injury, I bought a new 2GB card and tested it in the motel room prior to going out to the sunrise shoot. I shot three shots in the Motel room and deleted them. I got out on the morning shoot and for some reason the card "lost" its formatting. I sat there in the pre dawn light and tried to find out how to format the card in the camera. There is no relationship to the real way it formats and what the camera menu said. Reading the fine print in almost no light was a real pain. Add to that the fact that at 8000 Feet, it was about 30 degrees. I did finally get it working but it was at best a pain in the butt. I had the D70 booklet in the camera bag but no light to read with.

We are now home and glad to be in off the road. Most of the trip way fine except the I-70 traffic from Vail to Denver. What should have been at the most a 45 minute drive was well over two hours. It was bumper to bumper at anywhere from 8 to 24 miles per hour. It wasn't until we got into Denver that the roads cleared up and I could drive anywhere near the speed limit.



New Stuff

This is a video of Kolob Canyon taken yesterday evening. ( if it works)



Zion Pictures

OK, the Deer was Barb's picture. She was at the right place with the right lens and did a great job.

The following pictures don't do justice to the magnificent views here in Zion National Park. They are a taste and imagine that you could turn in any direction and take a great picture here.
This is a Kansas Sky that formed in Utah.
What Kansas Kid could resist this sky

Virgin River Waterfall

Nuts, they have them here too, Bushy Tailed rodents

MUD & Barb on the river
Yesterday we walked 7.5 miles in the canyon and my feet, legs and mind are worn out. I have exactly 2 hours to take a nap and go to our next class. They say the river is called the virgin river because it runs just fast enough.
More tomorrow...


Zion National Park

Can You guess which picture Barb Took?

We are in the Zion national Park in Southern Utah. This is one of the most spectacular places I have ever been. More Landscape photo's tomorrow.


On The Road Again

Million of years ago, lava flowed out of rifts in Central Idaho as North America caused plates to be subducted and all that rock just had to come out somewhere. It covered an area 20X60 miles with a layer of lava. It was not a volcano, just molten rock that escaped and covered what is now Craters of the Moon national park with layers of lava up to 6 feet deep. On the surface much of the rock has weathered down into what is almost a black sand with a few bigger rocks.

In the cracks and crevices, the ubiquitous Sage Brush is growing and now is the season when it blossoms. The yellow blossoms just pops against the black rocks.

A little south of the park, there was an overlook with a big sage brush and I just couldn't help but snap a picture of it.

We spent a few days working on the floor at Mom's and hopefully she thinks the hassle is worth the results. I hope that Mom knows that my brother-in-law did the lion's share of the work and I played helper to hand him tools and fetch things. The even great news is that in the end Ken is still speaking to me. I know that as long as Grissy welcomes me, Ken will to.
We are spending the night in Jackpot, Nevada and will wind up in St George, Utah to start our five day photography workshop. I hope to have more pictures then.


Twin Falls and the Snake River Canyon

Gee Honey, it is a beautiful evening so lets go for a walk. Sure we are only a few blocks from the Snake river and the Perrine Bridge across the Snake River Canyon.

Looks like a beautiful place to snap off a few shots of the beautiful scenery.

After taking a couple of pictures looking West, I turned my attention to , "Holy Shit is that guy going to jump off that bridge?
Yes but he had a parachute and there is a designated landing zone on the side of the river. Looks like a small marker with flowers for someone who didn't make it.

Our Jumper made it down safely but I wonder just how many big guys it would have taken to throw me off that bridge.

I guess this a daily thing and the base jumpers go off the bridge all the time.


Views from the Road Day two

Wake up in Wyoming and the first thing you will notice is the wind. Drive across the State and you will see hundreds of giant wind generators sweeping the sky. To me they are beautiful.
The first rest area we stopped at is on top of the most windy hill any where. 60 degrees with a 25 MPH wind was like 50 and way too cold to stay outside long.

I didn't know that I-80 is the Purple Heart Trail. I am proud on my friends who were awarded the medal for wounds received. Me, I am glad I don't have one. Just lucky I guess.

One rest area was entirely run with passive Solar. Great idea. Wish I had time to really stop and look at all the parts and pieces.

In case you didn't notice, Wyoming is covered with Sage brush. Tonight my head is completely stopped up from the sage brush pollen and dust. I guess I am not really a Wyoming pioneer.

Just north of Provo is one of the rest areas with the most scenic view. Nice shelters and nicely mowed grass. Barb thought the toilet was too dirty but it was OK for me.

As you go north into Idaho there is a sign that tells you about the lake that covered the southern half of Idaho and most of Utah.
Just a Hawk picture for Barb. Didn't see a Hawk anywhere. When I tried to call one in, it upset the hell out of the caretakers dog.

Yes, I took a lot of pictures from Rest Areas. If you were my age and loved coffee and bottled water like I do, you would have to stop often too. I'll put up some really great pictures when the class starts next week. Bye


Views From the Road

Did I mention that I am a proud resident of Kansas? I walked past this sign and just couldn't pass up a chance to share the details of my State with you

In Topeka a lot of people make a pretty big deal out of Junteenth. I'm not sure exactly what it is but every time someone mentions it, it gets tied to the little town of Nicodemus in Western Kansas. For 30 years in Topeka I have been told about Nicodemus and never had a chance to go near it. Well, these pictures show you that even a blind pig can find an acorn now and then.

The Museum host shared with us that in the 1860's and 1870's many black people were lured out to Kansas with the promise of free land. By 1870, 400 former slaves settled in Nicodemus and continued to live there until like a lot of small towns, the town started to fade away. It was one of the few all black cities in Kansas.
In 1955, they had to close the school and many people just moved away. Today out of the 40 people in the town, 25 are decendents of the origional settlers. She said the average age of the members is 76. The Hostess and I had a long talk about how many people didn't know that a lot of the cowboys that brought cows up to Abilene and Dodge City were black and many hispanic. We laughed that the Movies and TV would lead you to believe it was a lilly white world. She talked about that there were a lot of blacks in Kansas prior to the Civil war that were free men. We also talked about the fact that past Kansas City, the Civil War was not a real factor in the lives out west. She said there was a battle in New Mexico and one near Kansas City but many people farmed out west and were just left alone.
Hope you are all well. After about 10 hours behind the wheel, I'm ready for a shower and sleep. Oh, these pictures are from my I-Phone.


Its a Game, Not Life

Many of our friends live in Texas and are all angry that the Cowboys lost their game yesterday. One of the National Sports Networks showed the highlights of the game and one referee made most of the tough calls. The good part was that they showed the play and what caught the line judge's attention. Good Calls ref. Tonight our KC Chumps will play a "Big Monday" night game and we'll see if there is a chance in hell that they will be worth watching the rest of the season. I know the coaches are playing everyone in preseason so I try to not judge them from that record. But to everyone out there I am reminded of a wonderful saying from a former member of the National rowing team and the current Juniors Coach of the KC Rowing Club- "Athletes row, everyone else plays games!" JJ Jewett

This morning it was a wonderful mid 60's as I went out to gather in the paper. For several mornings, big dog met me at the door as he had achieved freedom from the electrified fence. I went out and rebuilt that sucker yesterday and today, he was in the pen all secure. I took him out and we played fetch for about half an hour. There is a stone fence between the patio and the driveway that is about a foot and a half high. Big dog is too fat to jump over so he has to run around it to get the stick. He kind of runs out but walks back. he pretends he has to stop and pee on every tree but I'm pretty sure that it is a stalling tactic to cut down on the repetitions of run then waddle back. Taco is one of the sweetest dogs I have ever had and it breaks my heart to see him just getting fat and not getting out to play as often as he deserves.

I think Barb is going over to the KS Natural History Museum today to help them clean up the Kansas Wildflower garden. I will make a run down to the County Court House and get our car tags renewed. I have Dave's info and will replace his tag also. He didn't renew his personalized plate so he will just be another number in the 123ABC type. He said that this year Kansas issued directions that there would not be the same tags in different counties. There will no longer be KUHawk in multiple counties. Only one per state.

As I downloaded all of my CD's to my I-Phone, step one was to load them into my computer. I now get to listen tom as I write on my blog or wear out the mouse playing solitaire. I have a really varied collection and it is just great when the songs play alphabetically. I will have a song from Tommy followed by something from Roy Orbison followed by the Theme from Star Wars. Somewhere the 1812 Overture is also in the list but it is at the end so unless I start there I don't hear it often. It is one of my favorite pieces so I do try to hear it at least once a week.

Better get rolling.



Say What?

Did you hear the rumor that KU won? Nah after getting their butts kicked last week, it 'Tain't possible is it? I have said that Turner Gill is a great guy and will be a great coach over and over. Good On him! The rest of the team didn't do a bad job either.

The Topeka paper put the story about the Westborough Baptist Church burning a Koran on the front page and then reported that it wasn't much of a story. If something is hardly worth reporting and that paper runs it on the front page does that mean the paper is hardly worth reading? I have been a fan of newspapers all of my life and that allure is fading fast. I have stopped watching the news on TV and soon may give up the paper.

Dave had been having a problem with the driver's side brakes on his car. Seems like we have redone that side twice and both times the pad was worn down to the rotor. So far, we have replaced the caliper, flexible brake line and the pads and rotors twice. Anyone got any ideas?

Sometime today I am going out to work on the dog pen. That big old stupid dog has so much fur that the electric fence doesn't seem to keep him in very well. I guess I am going to go back to Hard wire not that electrical horse tape.

This morning I read that there is a component in happiness that includes money. The funny part is that it said that if the family income is under $75,000 money is a dissatisfier and makes people unhappy and stressed. Above $75,000, additional money doesn't make you happy, it only makes you less unhappy. That reminds me of a leadership lesson I once shared with a General when he made a stupid remark. He said that soldiers were made happy by having nice looking mess halls. His quote was, "Soldiers eat with their eyes and that motivates them". I called BS on that and referrred him to the FM on Leadership that made the point that bad food was a dissatisfier and good food wasn't a motivator. The things that motivate soldiers are the common things like recognition, clear goals and a sense of belonging. I guess that's a lot like the money thing. If you can self recognize your successes, reward yourself and feel like a part of the rest of the people you might be on your way to finding happiness.




I have told the tale of how impressed with Barb's seeming ability to manage as one of the reasons I asked her to marry me as I went off to Vietnam. I repeated that yesterday at the breakfast table she said, "Nice Try but you really just liked my cute butt." Correction noted...

I find it noteworthy that tales well told in a repeated manner become more factual based on the time passing since the event and number of times the tale is told. It is not a "damned bold face lie", just an enhanced version embellished to make it more fun.

I'm sure that many tales told by the older set are based on facts without the benefit of a fact checker (Unless they are married to Barb). Most of the time she will let minor alterations slip by but alone, she will edit the story back to the base facts. Mostly when we are alone, to spare me embarrassment.

Oh well, lots to do today so I'll move on.




A person near and dear to us said that she had not had a merry Christmas in 11 years. I began to think about what it was that makes people happy. I guess that led me to looking at myself in the mirror and trying to describe what makes me happy.

Let me say that I know there are people out there that have had traumatic events happen to them in life. I have been shot at with the best of them and had life drain out of a friend as he died in my arms. I spent a year right in the middle of the prime of my life in Vietnam and away from the arms of my loving wife. I guess I could probably fall into that blue funk if I allowed it to overtake me.

In 1975 I was a probation officer in Leavenworth. One day a local bar tender called me and said that one of my probationers was just on the cusp of having his ass hauled in for being drunk and angry. That bar was just down the street from the courthouse where I worked so I walked down to see what the problem was. My friend, a Marine in WWII was standing by the bar waiving a beer mug telling everyone that he got a raw deal because he was on Guadalcanal and had to fight hard to stay alive. I walked over and told him to sit down and shut up while I shared with him a few things. I was back from Vietnam just a short 5 years earlier and I had dedicated my life to those friends I had died there in the jungle. He wasn't the only poor dumb son of a bitch that had to fight and he needed to find a way to deal with it. Hell, his war had been over for 30 years and if he couldn't deal with it he needed to trot his ass down to VA and get some help. He damned sure wasn't going to find the answer at the bottom of a Beer Mug. Later on that week his wife and I drove him to Valley Hope for their alcohol program. They came to my office and thanked me for that blinding flash of the obvious. Do what you did and you get what you got.

One of the first steps for me was to stop drinking. I was dealing with stress with a beer chaser. WRONG! I decided that the dose of reality I needed was that happiness started and stopped with me. If I couldn't get over being the "poor me" I would be trapped in a lifetime of sadness. I have worked hard to work hard and stay that way. I read books, listen to music, work on old cars and cook. Man if that isn't enough, I just find something else to do on the long list of things that could be done. I will admit that my loving wife and great finances makes it all better, but that alone is not the answer. Mom had a poster on the back of the bathroom door that said, "Happiness is not getting what you want, but wanting what you have." It is a blinding flash of the obvious that things just won't cure what ails us.

What makes you happy?



Bird Dogs

Village in Vietnam
Artillery Smoke Round

View from the back seat of a Bird Dog

No, not the kind that my grandfather had to hunt pheasant with in north central Kansas, but those itty bitty fly slow, fixed wing Cessna aircraft that the Army Flew. There was a front seat for the pilot and a back seat for an observer. The front seat had all the gauges and controls. There was a set of pedals that folded down and laid on the floor and a joy stick on the bulkhead that was held on with nylon straps and snaps. With a couple of minutes work, you could fly From the back seat but I sure as hell would not want to try to land one from back there. If you were very tall, you probably could reach the engine controls and the trim wheel but neither one very well. They would take off and land on short little airstrips all over the place and even though it took hours to get there, they seemed to have enough fuel to fly all over the place.

If you were assigned to a position that authorized flight pay, you got an extra $100 bucks a month more pay for being there in the back seat. More often than not, I wound up in the back seat of a bird dog without the benefit of extra pay. I got pretty good at reading a map from whatever altitude we flew at and even had a little "stick time" when one of the pilots had been up late the night before and we were going long distances to do a job. Most of the time, we would fly out and see where there was a river on the map that had an easy spot to locate. A lot of the time it was where two rivers came together. We would shoot artillery units at those points to help them improve their accuracy. That was called a registration mission and we would shoot by trying to bracket the target and hitting the target as close as we could. Most of the time it was pretty accurate fire unless it was a 175mm unit. If they got within 500 meters of a junction we called it target and moved on. When I was at Fort Irwin, CA I safetied one of those 175 units and the damned powder was re-bagged stuff from the USS New Jersey and bagged somewhere in the mid 50's. It was so varied in quality that you were lucky to have two shells hit in the same 1000 meter grid square from guns fired almost side by side.

On east out of Dakto, the road at one time went over to the border where Vietnam met Laos and Cambodia. All along that border was a beaten patch about 1000 meters wide where the Air Force would bomb the "Ho Chi Min trail". I had never seen the area and one of the bird dog pilots decided to show me where it was and what it looked like. About three miles west of the border area there is a small ridge of mountains running parallel to the border. The pilot flew up to the ridge parallel to the small peaks and was going to slip up and over the tops to then be parallel to the border. Just as we cleared the point where he would give some right rudder and fly over, we saw a North Vietnamese convoy with a ZSU-4 front and back. I'm sure that we caught them just as off guard as we were.

The pilot said in a calm voice"Don't do anything" he managed to have enough airspeed for us to fly back up and over that ridge out of the line of fire of those quad 51mm guns. With radar control, they could and should have just blown us out of the sky. There is just no way to explain how an aluminum aircraft escaped being blown away but luck was on our side. I think we were so slow and quiet that they didn't see us until it was too late to slew their guns back our direction and shoot us in the butt as we dodged death.

It took me all of just a few seconds to call the nearest artillery unit and start firing at that area. I know that they weren't supposed to shoot across the border but I gave them a grid 500 meters on our side and then added 500 meters to that. Soon after that, an Air Force Forward Air Controller (FAC) came up on station and every plane in about 200 miles came and flew up and down that area.

I managed to escape death that time and next time I'll tell you how I managed to cheat death in a later post.



Loadin' Joe's
Waitin' at the Convoy Control Point

When I was assigned as the battalion Ammunition Officer for the 1st battalion, 92nd Field Artillery based in Pleiku, RVN, I was often assigned the duty to fly convoy cover for our attempts to restock the Ammunition Supply Point (ASP) that had been emptied during TET 1968. We ran daily, 10 truck convoys up the highway through Kontum to Dak to. We would take our trucks over to the ASP by Camp Inari in Pleiku and load them overnight and get back to the convoy start point about breakfast. If we were lucky, there would be time to catch a hot breakfast and load up a C-ration lunch. If we were lucky, we all managed to catch a couple of hours of sleep there in our jeep or in the truck.

A little over half the time, I would get in the back seat of a bird dog and fly convoy cover for the entire convoy. Those times I didn't fly, I rode in a jeep with our trucks and talked to the local Artillery units as we went north. It didn't take very long for the guys to notice that when I was with them in a jeep, the convoy didn't get ambushed where I was. The convoy was shot up in the lead and we were in the back. When we were near the front, they hit the back. I'm sure that it was more luck than anything. One time I was flying and our unit was right in the kill zone when the ambush blew down. I called for artillery and it was bedlam for about an hour as I put up an artillery blocking fire and the gun trucks attacked right into the ambush.

Where my troubles were was the fact that every damned fast mover in the entire area wanted to get up and drop some ordinance. Every time one would show up, I would have to stop the Artillery and allow them to work over the enemy soldiers. If you haven't ever flown in a single engine airplane at about 90 miles per hour, you don't realize how slow it seems. The silver and green tracers are pretty as they are streaming up past you until you think that they are only about every 5th round and you are in a thin aluminum skinned aircraft. In case you haven't been so informed, the US tracers are red.

I managed to spot a position up on top of the mountain near the ambush site. It looked like a command post the VC had to control the entire time. One good thing about the check fire for the fast movers was it gave me a chance to look around and we spotted the command post. I was able to fire on the mountain top and shortly there was no one moving there. We continued to fire behind the ambush site and there were many enemy soldiers moving away from the ambush site and trying to escape through the blocking artillery fire. We were able to move the fire deeper into the jungle and I'm sure that they paid a pretty heavy price for getting to blow up a couple of trucks. The only wounded guy from my unit was an idiot that was way back from the kill zone where there was interlocking machine gun fire from the enemy. He got out and ran up to the point of impact where a 7.62 (or close) bullet tore through his thigh. No broken bones but he did have a pretty scar to show when he got back home. In fact he was back with us in a short couple of weeks. My unit had orders to never stop in the middle of an ambush and had continued to drive forward through the worst of it. One of the trucks that had been shot up was ours and the crew had jumped out of the truck when the engine was hit.

I am not sure how many days later, I was flying convoy cover and our unit got hit again. After the fire stopped, the guys reported that one of our trucks was again hit and someone had seen it being towed towards Kontum. I asked what they had in the truck and the guys said that there were five or six mail sacks for all the units in Dak To as well as mail for our forward batteries. We had landed there in Dak to, refuel and eat. My jeep was waiting there by the ASP for the other trucks to unload. I asked the pilot if he needed me for the return trip and he agreed that there was never an ambush in the morning and the afternoon on the way back. I jumped in the jeep and took off towards Kontum to locate the mail sacks. It was probably dumb as I look back on it as we could have been ambushed anywhere along the road but I didn't care. The trucks had been unloaded and they followed me back down the road. Momma duck and her ducklings following me.

About five miles north of Kontum, I found a wrecker towing our five ton truck. The bed was covered with a poncho or a tarp and the wrecker driver was not very happy to have me stop him and look in the truck. I climbed up in the back of the truck and threw back the tarp. Shit oh dear, someone had put the bodies of three soldiers from another unit in the back of our truck. No mail bags but there were those bodies to deal with.

I knew that at LZ Mary Lou there was a graves registration unit. We pulled the truck there and it was time to unload the bodies. I told a couple of my guys to get up there and hand down the bodies. It just happened that both of those soldiers were black. No way LT, they weren't going to handle no dead bodies. I didn't think about the fact that some of the soldiers might be spooked by dead bodies. About that time one of the guys from the graves registration unit came out and had a cart to move the bodies with. He and I unloaded the bodies. A quick check was made and it was fairly clear that the three soldiers had been killed by the concussion of a rocket propelled grenade (RPG) Not a pretty day for us.

That night when we returned to our base camp at Artillery Hill, our Battery Commander cancelled the night load at the ASP. We got a chance to eat a hot supper, take a shower and sleep in our own beds. I never did find out what happened to those mail bags. We took our wrecker to Kontum the next day and drug that truck home.

I tell people that I have been shot at and missed and shit on and hit. Mortars, machine guns and a rocket have been fired at me and not a thing ever hit me. Just luck.


Route 66

As a brand new 2nd Lieutenant, I drove from Wichita to Barstow, CA in 1967. I drove part of the way west on US-54, but at Tucumcari I picked up what was the last remnants of Route, US-66. It was mostly a two lane highway and had pieces of the new Interstate thrown in where it was convenient to just pave out a four lane quickly. Back then, the economy of some of the small towns in Arizona and New Mexico were so fragile that the Interstate came to a halt and you were forced off and made to drive through towns to put money into the small businesses.

For a kid from Kansas, it had to be one of the most beautiful trips I had ever taken. It was a trip where the green of Kansas transformed into the semi arid landscape with honest to god background scenes from the cowboy movies of my youth. Across the painted desert and by the Petrified Forest exit on the highway it was one pretty place after another. The only thing missing was having someone to drive part of the time so I could really enjoy the scenery.

Nearer to the California line, there was one small section that just dismayed me. Somehow a stretch of the old highway had been newly paved and went along a river through some of the prettiest gulches and bluffs I had ever seen. The most amazing thing to me was the fact that there was almost no traffic and I drove for what seemed an hour and was the only car out there.

By the time I got home from Vietnam in early 1969, most of the old Highway out in the west was replaced by that Super slab I-40. It got you there fast, but it just didn't take you through the small towns and things just rushed by and took all of the fun out of seeing "Genuine Indian Jewelry/Pots along the side of the road.

The most amazing thing to me was the fact that for most of my life we drove 70 on those little two lane roads and out there in California the four lane was limited to 65. It was a precursor to the 55 MPH speeds imposed later on.

In a week or so, Barb and I will drive out to the west and visit some of the scenery you don't see today. I hope to see some of the small two lane roads out across no where and back (I Hope).

have a great week.



NO, Seriously

This is just a few of those things that cross my mind in the middle of the night:

Every once in a while, you hear about spelunkers that get themselves trapped in some cave in the middle of now where and die. I can't imagine any scenario that would get me inside some little cave or make me want to climb in a hole that I didn't have 100% reliability built in.

I see guys riding on those rice rocket Jap bikes and a lot of the time they really drive fast in and out of traffic. Now that I am an old man, I realize just how poorly old people see and slow they respond. Why is all that's good and holy would someone on a fast little bike ride really fast without a helmet and gloves? I swear I saw a kid riding like an idiot weaving in and out of traffic without a helmet wearing shorts and sandals the other day. Hell, i wear my helmet riding my bike.

Where is the break-over on the price of tools that makes the additional cost too much? For the most part, the Snap-On tools I see in those big old trucks are sure fancy, but I wouldn't pay a hundred dollars for a set of open end wrenches even if they were gold plated. One time I needed a tool to take off the fender on the old Chevy. The bolts have a strange pattern on the back side that requires a special screw driver or a socket with a special bit in it. The only place I could find one was the Snap On guy. As I remember, that one socket cost more than the entire metric set I bought at Harbor Freight. I know that good tools are worth a little more but not a lot more, at least to me.

Well, Kansas finally gave in to the pressure from Washington (I think it was 10 Million Highway repair funds dollars we would have lost) and passed a law that you can be stopped and given a ticket if you don't wear a seat belt. If you read the paper, 90% of those people killed in wrecks here in Kansas aren't wearing their seat belt. Those not injured or with minor injuries mostly are. Why doesn't everyone?

Why does congress get to pass a bill that they don't understand? Why don't they have to pass a written test on each piece of Legislation they vote affirmative on? If it is too complicated, it is written poorly and will, not may contain things that are loopholes written in by the guys paid to write fancy legislation. hell, about half of the time, you hear that they use the excuse that they haven't been briefed on something let alone read it.

I think we need to have a new sayin'. Congress needs to ask WBJPD. That is, "What would Barbara Jean Petty Do?" I'll bet they would shape up soon. Works for me.



Cool Weather

This morning I went out to gather in the paper and it was only 51 degrees. I was wearing a pair of shorts, a T-shirt and sandals with no socks. Not near enough clothes. Throw in the heavy dew on the paper and it was darn near cold. It was lovely after a summer of 100 degree heat like we had as a kid.

Back when I (with the help of Kenny) put the new rack and pinion steering and disk brakes on the 53 Chevy pick-up, I bought a kit from one of the stores that brags about their mustang front ends for hot rods. There was only one problem with my kit. It was out of a 75 mustang that probably weighed in about what the front end of the Chevy weighed. Throw in a 350 engine, a 700-R transmission and the springs were just not enough to support the weight. It did look kind of cool lowered but after a short while, one side got lower and lower and lower until it drove down the road looking like a punch drunk fighter. I bought the replacement springs and in short order, the front looked goofy again. I searched for an answer and finally one of the guys at an Auto Parts house said how about using the springs out of the V-8 model and for the heaviest Mustang, the convertible. I ordered a set and it set up pretty on the right side. Yesterday I had to replace the left spring to make it all even. It now sits up pretty as a pup and I have an appointment to have the front end aligned next week. It took me most of two days to do the right side and a little over two hours to do the left side. Sure would hate to make a living doing that.

We have a glut of Asian Pears here at Rabbit Run. Barbara mentioned that on the net and we got an order from New York and Morocco. As both wanted them delivered, that is fairly out of the question. Now, if San Antonio were to speak up, I might be convinced to head that way. I'm sure that we would have to make a trip through Tulsa to meet Rick's new Great-Grand Son, Dexter Thompson. It is Mel's first and she is a proud parent if there ever was one.

Oh well, life's short and I have places to go , things to do and people to see...




After our ride today we went to McAlesters Deli in Lawrence and the girls from Chattanooga, TN were there in their uniforms. I spoke with a couple of them and asked why they were in lawrence. Duh Dennis, to play volleyball! There is a four team tournament at KU today.

After Barb and I sat down to eat, I mentioned that I played volleyball a lot as a kid. Barb actually had not heard the following two stories. Here goes...

In the 8th grade, there was a Volleyball team from Minneha Junior High that was the select team picked by the coach. No tryouts, just his hand picked kids and yes, they were good but so were a lot of us because we played a lot of volleyball. Well, the team was at their first tournament and instead of staying in the gym like they were told, they snuck out and went to the DQ just up the street. The coach went looking for them and blew his gasket when he found out what they did. He fired that team and the next day picked out what he thought were the next best 8 or 9 players. I got picked for that team and we went to the tournament and won the rest of the games we played. As near as I know, we never lost a game that season or the next year. I loved to play volleyball and would play today if I could find a place that just enjoyed good old goofing around. I dearly love to play volleyball in a hand ball court - Wally Ball is just so much fun you can't believe how fast and fun it is.

Second story. In OCS, there was a flyer put out to ask us to put together a Volleyball team to play at the Post level. There were about 10 of us that answered the call and for three Wednesday nights in a row met and practiced. Then on the next Thursday, we all went to the Main Post gym for the start of the Post Double elimination tournament. We played Friday evening, Saturday and Sunday right into the final game for the post championship. I don't recall ever losing a game as we were pretty damned good. Finally after winning the Championship, it dawned on whoever put the tournament together that we were a bunch of young men about to be commissioned and sent all over the Unites States. Instead of getting to play in the All Army Championship, the number two team was picked to represent Fort Sill. Dang I hate it when that happens. Never did hear how that worked out.

It is funny that of all the stories Barb has listened to over the years, she never had those two told to her. Guess I'd better dust off some of the other tales of the trails I have rode, er ridden.


Screw Part Three...

Am I the only one that thinks something needs Changed

No one really cares about the ongoing People, Places and Names blogs so I am going to unload something a lot more important. Here goes:

It all happened before breakfast today as again we tried to discuss the current economic problems in the United States. I think we have a pretty good agreement on what's bad but not on the way to fix our problems. Unemployment is high which keeps tax revenues down and because of the high unemployment rate, the military spending and support to those without jobs. The Government is looking for ways to spend us out of our problems. The only thing we really agreed on was the quote in the paper: "If you laid all the economists end to end you might have trouble reaching a conclusion."

Some of the easy answers are to tell all those people that are importing the glut of things into our country is that we want equal access to their markets. Send us a TV, you must buy a steer or a bunch of wheat. Not a perfect solution, but one that is a good place to start. Send me a barrel of oil, and you must buy some wheat. Yes, I know that right now we can't drive our cars on wheat so we must import oil. Even if we tell everyone to sit down and shut up about where to drill, the oil will run out one of these days and we will all have to have some reserves or a damn good way to power up our vehicles. Talk about the economy coming to a halt, stop the flow of diesel.

My feelings is that there are two things really wrong. First there needs to be more taxpayers not new taxes. Second the people telling congress to spend money of their "pet" projects need to be told that when the income is greater than outgo, we will start paying off the National debt and when that is fixed, the Congress might have money to build things that should be paid for at the Local and State level. No more good ideas until the reality of life is faced by the President and the Congress. No one will get any raises in Government until they figure out how to spend less and start facing the reality of the fact that there just isn't enough to support the current spending let alone face the debt we owe. I would put Barbara in charge and let them explain to her why they need to travel to some exotic place for a "Fact Finding." I'll bet a few times facing Mrs. , "Not with my money you don't" and I'm pretty sure that they will begin to understand.
With that said, if the Air Force is flying a cargo plane to a war zone, the Congressmen should be allowed to ride along with the cargo. Air Force One would be flying our soldiers home from all the world wide bases and not until we have our soldiers home and our borders secure could the President fly in that critter.

It is as plain as the nose on my face that at least half of the people out there in the US are not willing to admit that the road we are on leads to a debtors prison. I say we need to declare war on the Poverty our Country is headed for and start to fix what is wrong! Making Washington more rich isn't the answer.

If Dennis Petty has to explain why he needs to buy something, so should congress.

MUD Speaks


People Places and Names part 2

Do you get lost often? I don't get lost, I just find myself in places I have never been. If I have driven to a place once, I can almost always find my way back there without having to back up in a driveway to turn around. If you grew up in Kansas, you would come to realize that almost all the roads run east and west or north and south. It is only when you get into the small rolling hills in extreme northeast Kansas that roads just go in a general direction. If you see a sign that says K-4 west, you will wind from north east to southwest of Topeka. Take US-81 south from Wichita and you had better want to run into San Antonio, TX.

A few years ago, a niece of mine had a travel trailer in Southern Georgia and the truck she had used to take the trailer out there was no longer able to make the trip pulling one of those big white wind sails that you can sleep in. Being newly retired and bored out of my mind, I volunteered to borrow a truck and bring that thing home all the way to Sacramento, CA. Now, realize I started and ended in Kansas and you will have an idea that I drove across the United States and back during that week long period. I had visions of being an over the road traveler, not so much after that trip. I definitely got over the idea that it would be fun to pull a travel trailer. I want to point out that that trip was prior to our owning a Garvin Nuvi to direct my travel. I would stop to get gas, pee and consult the map about once an hour. Yes, I spent over a thousand dollars on gas from Georgia to Sacramento. I didn't charge my niece for the gas from Here to Georgia and back from California as I was really on my trip and that truck just zipped down the road at 20 MPG without that damned trailer.

I don't give a damn what you drive! I have driven clear to Oregon in a Damn Chevy Vega so I don't have pride about the car I drive. What I do have is a sense of what my butt can endure. No more itty bitty little cars for me. I have a Ford Crown Victoria that gets over 20 MPG and I get to my destination not feeling like I have been beat up with an ugly stick. After almost 60 years of owning GM cars, I found a Ford on sale from a private owner and love that silver behemoth chewing up miles on the road. Some lady had to put her father in a nursing home and he had only 18,000 miles on a six year old car. It was like new and drives that way. He had every ticket for every service it had even had.

We will light out soon for places west. I can hardly wait. I won't need a map for the first part of the trip unless I look for another new way to get between I-70 and I-80. There are a lot of roads that run north from Kansas into Nebraska. It is driving into southern Utah that I am looking forward to.



People Places and Names, Pt 1

So the interview starts out with, "I'm a people person." All my life I have aspired to be the leader, the boss, El Supremo when dealing with people. It might have something to do with the fact that I love people and the never ending saga of situations they present. I am a lot more binary than I would like to admit in dealing with people but I hope in my heart of hearts that I tend to err on the side of positive. I do have one thing that I hope puts me in good stead with people in that I truly love to see people succeed. I have spent my life trying to come to grips with the fact that there is enough room for most of the people who work hard to succeed. It might start with the fact that we were poor growing up and we had what we had and that was mostly enough.
Hardly a trip goes by out in the City where someone comes up to Barb or me and says, "Hello, do you remember me?" After Barb's teaching for over 25 years and my involvement with the Guard for over 25 years there is a whole bunch of people out there in the Topeka Metro area we have met. Add to that the teaching a new class of 25 students for three years for 6 weeks at a time and I don't even have a clue the number of people I like to stop and talk to. Just yesterday we were at one of the Optical stores and a young woman asked her mother where do we know that lady (Barb) from? It turned out that she had taken some cake decorating classes from Barb.
Another thing I love to do is go to Wal-Mart just to see what people are wearing. The eclectic collection of clothes thrown on just makes me smile. The other day there was a young girl wearing what looked like her sleeping attire with a pair of those sheep wool lined boots. She could have not had any idea how silly she looked or she would be permanently mortified. The amount of amply endowed people that waddle into Wal-Mart with clothes that are stretched beyond belief amazes me. It takes me back to my counter drug training and I want to shout, "Say No to Crack" Not the drug, but the fact that people don't seem to notice the air blowing down their butt crack is just a hilarity. Once stretch pants become stretched pants, something gets lost in their fashion statement.
Hang on, there's more

Stormy Weather

Here in the Heartland we are having scattered thunderstorms and slightly cooler weather. I guess the first day of September should be the start of the end of summer. I did notice that about 8 PM last night it was pretty dark outside. The days get shorter as we head to the Winter solstice.

The paper this morning was filled with cooking ideas for apples and pork. I think I will try to do something with the Asian pears and pork chops. For some reason they recommend heavy cream as it is less likely to curdle or break when cooking. I may substitute a thickened (Corn Starch) gravy for the cream based sauce to cut the calories. They used Couscous as the grain and I think I am currently out of it. I do have some Quinoa that is a grain and while the texture is different, the taste is similar. We have a glut of Asian pears right now and I think people here in the midwest don't realize how well they produce. As a bonus, they have a heavy skin and almost nothing tried to put their larvae in them. We spray our apples and regular pears and have to be careful to cut out the bad parts of those fruits. Oh well, the deer will eat well shortly.

Dang I hate to read about food in the morning paper. I'll be hungry all day and just want to snack away. I even got out my master Foods Volunteer training book and looked up Couscous and Quinoa to make sure I spelled it right. the spell checker I use doesn't pick up many of the foreign foods and offered some really strange spellings most of which I didn't recognize. The program here on blogger doesn't allow for adding things so forever it will continue to not recognize stuff. At least my spell checker on Word will.

Barb has one of those old fashioned apple peelers. It first scrapes off the peeling and then spiral cuts the flesh and cores the seeds out. It is kind of fun to make strips of peels and then have the core pushed out of the middle of the strange cut fruit. The good thing is that it all tastes fresh and is good. The bad news is that out freezer died ugly this week and we have only about half as much storage space. That will be something I'll take care of after we get back from our trip. One year we had a storm hit while we were gone and the freezer clicked off the GFI switch on the wall and we had a freezer of stuff that died ugly and stayed that way for almost two weeks. The smell would have gagged a maggot.

See you all later on....