Monday, June 20, 2011

Growing up in Minnesota

Too funny!
Don't know who wrote this, but he has a way with words that makes one visualize being right there beside him. Good read

"Life as a kid growing up in Minnesota"

Around age 10, my dad got me one of those little badass compound bow beginner kits. Of course, the first month I went around our land sticking arrows in anything that could get stuck by an arrow. Did you know that a 1955 40-horse Farmall tractor tire will take 6 rounds before it goes down?

They are Tough.

That got boring, so being the 10 yr. old Dukes of Hazard fan that I was, I quickly advanced to taking strips of cut up T-shirt doused in chainsaw gas, tied around the end and was sending flaming arrows all over the place.

One summer afternoon, I was shooting flaming arrows into a large rotten oak stump in our backyard. I looked over under the carport and see a shiny brand new can of starting fluid (Ether). The light bulb went off in my head.

I grabbed the can and set it on the stump. I thought that it would probably just spray out in a disappointing manner. Lets face it, to a 10 yr old mouth-breather like myself, Ether really doesn't "sound" flammable (more like sleepy).

So, I went back into the house and got a 1 pound can of Pyrodex (black powder for muzzle loader rifles).

At this point, I set the can of ether on the stump and opened up the can of black powder. My intentions were to sprinkle a little bit around the Ether can but it all sorta dumped out on me. No biggie, a 1 lb. Pyrodex and 16 oz of Ether should make a loud pop, kinda like a firecracker you know?

You know what? I'm going back in the house for the other can.

Yes, I got a second can of Pyrodex and dumped it too. Now we're cookin'.

I stepped back about 15 ft and lit the '2 stroke soaked' arrow. I drew the nock to my cheek and took aim. As I released I heard a clunk as the arrow launched from my bow. In a slow motion time frame, I turned to see my dad getting out of the truck... OH SHOOT! He just got home from work. So help me God, it took 10 minutes for that arrow to go from my bow to the can.

My dad was walking towards me in slow motion with a WTH look in his eyes. I turned back towards my target just in time to see the arrow pierce the starting fluid can right at the bottom. Right through the main pile of Pyrodex and into the Ether can. Oh shoot!

When the shock wave hit, it knocked me off my feet. I don't know if it was the actual compression wave that threw me back, or just reflex jerk back from 235 decibels of sound. I caught a half a millisecond glimpse of the violence during the initial explosion, and I will tell you there was dust, grass, and bugs all hovering 1 ft above the ground as far as I could see. It was like a little low to the ground, layer of dust fog, full of grasshoppers, spiders, and a worm or two.

The daylight turned purple. Let me repeat this... THE DAYLIGHT ACTUALLY TURNED PURPLE...

There was a big sweetgum tree out by the gate going into the pasture. Notice I said "was". That tree got up and ran off.

So here I am, on the ground blown completely out of my shoes with my 'Thundercats' T-Shirt shredded, my dad is on the other side of the carport having what I can only assume is a Vietnam flashback: ECHO BRAVO CHARLIE YOU'RE BRINGIN' EM IN TOO CLOSE!! CEASE FIRE. DAMN IT, CEASE FIRE!!!!!

His hat has blown off and is 30 ft behind him in the driveway. All windows on the north side of the house are blown out, and there is a slow rolling mushroom cloud about 2000 ft. over our backyard. There is a Honda 185 3 wheeler parked on the other side of the yard and the fenders are drooped down and are now touching the tires.

I wish I knew what I said to my dad at this moment. I don't know - I know I said something. I couldn't hear. I couldn't hear inside my own head. I don't think he heard me either... not that it would really matter. I don't remember much from this point on. I said something, felt a sharp pain, and then woke up later. I felt a sharp pain, blacked out, woke later....repeat this process for an hour or so and you get the idea. I remember at one point my mom had to give me CPR. and Dad screaming, "Bring him back to life so I can kill him again". Thanks Mom.

One thing is for sure... I never had to mow around that stump again, Mom had been complaining about that old thing for years and dad had never removed it. I stepped up to the plate and handled business.

Dad sold his muzzle loader a week or so later. I still have some sort of bone growth abnormality, either from the blast or the beating, or both.

I guess what I'm trying to say is, get your kids into Archery. It's good discipline and will teach them skills they can use later on in life.

Author Unknown

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Ruidoso New Mexico RV Camp trip

After prepping the Whistling Thunder Pig with a few provisions and tying the Jeep on the back, we set out to remove ourselves from the Albuquerque NM haze of the Arizona 'Wallow' Fire. The southern Arizona 'Horshoe' fire is also wafting smoke eastward across NM.

The coming Jemez Springs and Concha Fires near the Los Alamos National Labs area, is reportedly following the nearby path of destruction of Los Alamos in it's last great fire. Well over 150,000 acres have been engulfed in flames as noted to date.

Interesting that the US Forest Service over the last 60 years or so of enlightened environmental wisdom, has been adapting a view of.... 'No Logging, No lease Grazing of Cattle'.... which had previously maintained the forest profitably and safely for a century. (centuries if the Spanish are included).

Any Profitable enterprise possibly uililizng the forest resources is No longer easily permitted in National Forests. A quite noble gesture Dictated by the obviously powerful environmentalists and followed to the letter by 'their' drones, the 'new' US Forest Service.

We now have created an unnatural, ourageously dense fuel load with no open and log road accessable areas to form a maintainable fire break. Like Yellowstone Nat Park's devastation years ago, This govt follows the exact same paths to destruction.

The predictable results are inevitable as well as bank breaking financially. Thousands of fire fighters, as well as countless aircraft, slurry bombers, and support base camps with in town lodging, are copiously fed by taxpayer dollars.

So.. as once loudly proclaimed by yet another Leftist faction of society bent on seeing the destruction of America, the new US Forest Service now dutifully follows 'their' Secretary of the Interior ordered agenda of.....
... 'Burn Baby Burn'.

The new US govt is now reportedly setting up college courses on, get this, 'Managing and Fighting... Forest Fires'. This new govt visualizes a positive, in ever more taxpayer funded govt workers... dependent on ever more fires.... (possibly controlled vote Unionized??)

This is the reason for our travels. We are desperate to see the last conservative vestiges of our Great Nation, while escaping from the new world and it's omnipresent Insanity.

Finishing our Carl's Jr turkey burgers, and top off of Jeep fuel at local Smith's (discounted), we headed up I-40 through Tjeras canyon east out of ABQ. Moriarty NM over 20 miles (32km) away, is the southern turn off toward Ruidoso NM if taking the eastern route south around the Manzano Mountains. A few miles south of Moriarty is Estancia, the Correctional Facility town.

Because political figures drive on them, the state highways are nicely maintained.... until that point. After that they become paved and patched washboards for 100 miles (160km) at a stretch, due to the previous Gov Bill Richardson Administration spending the tax money on political Democrat corruption. Good thing they kept some funds in the prison system, a few of Bill Richardson's closest confidantes and political appointees, due to the FBI's vigilance, are still incarcerated there. Bill (ran for President in '08) himself, is coated with current Presidential Teflon..

As we drive south across the desolation of the high plains, we pass through tiny old Willard with it's main attraction, The 'Willard Canteena' touting it's 'Chile with an Attitude'. Motorcyclists parked in front seem to enjoy that stuff...and the beer of course. ..

..Turn south at the Canteena and cross the double main line railroad tracks. Lots of interstate freight moving at any one time. Moving East that is. Maersk containers (China) are always 'importing' to the USA through the California ports. Seldom see any actual US product exported, or ever heading west.

Further down the washboard state highway is ghost town Cedarvale with it's long abandoned school. It was quite modern when I first saw it being left to decomposition about 50 years ago. Too bad that weather patterns change. No longer is the land able to support dry land farming like in the past.

Cedarvale is in the vicinity of the stretch of Cedars across the somewhat higher terrain. This stretch is the route of migrating Deer... and occasional African Oryx wandering north from White Sands Missile Range. Rolling down this lightly traveled state highway, you do see the occasional, but rare 18 wheeler. Upon approach to Corona NM are the more heavily wooded hills and rocky canyons, where the Golden Eagles migrate along at certain times of the years.

Corona is the place to buy loads of firewood for the winter. The old 'Blue Ribbon Bar' got it's name and sign from Pabst bottling company. The bar owner from those days, told me that Pabst gave him the fancy lighted sign...and a hundred cases of beer, to change the name from the Corona bar. Sign is now gone and bar looks abandoned.

Corona was where the young rancher Mack Brazil came to report the Flying Saucer
  • that had crashed on his remote ranch. Roswell got all of the credit though, because the Airforce base located there was assigned to investigate.

    More washboard highway and a series of ten to twelve 100 yard (91m) washboard patches. Guess the state road crews out of Corona are amatures in paving? Approaching distant Carrizozo on the long downslope leading down into the Tularosa Basin, shows what western panorama looks like. They even have a somewhat barren golf course.

    The crossing highway is also The Valley of The Fires
  • route west.
    On another trip, Interesting to sometimes take the alternate route westward back to Albuquerque, just seeing the rolling Malpais (volcanic flows from the last relatively recent eruptions ten to fifeteen hundreds of years ago). New Mexico is very geologically active.

    If you do cross the interesting Malpaise desolation (there is a campground), stop in at the little bar at the west end of the highway in San Antonio (boyhood home of 'Conrad Hilton') across from the Owl. Their hamburgers are much better than at the Owl, since the Owl's owner was murdered by migrating Mexican 'Illegals' he was helping, many years ago.

    The Valley of the Fires (northern edge of the White Sands Missile Range) highway comes out onto I-25 (NS from El Paso to ABQ.) It is a short drive north to Socorro (where the US Lunar Lander once mistakenly settled in for a few minutes back in 1964)
  • and back north to ABQ from there.

    At Carrizozo we now turn east a short distance to our Nogal turn then south on the shortcut bypassing Capitan. It's steep two mile climb over the pass is somewhat time consuming in first gear. Following traffic loves us. From there it is lots of downhill first gear and uphill first and second gear all of the way around the eastern flank of (White Mountain) Sierra Blanca into Ruidoso, an hour away.

    The little mountain town of Ruidoso is always changing somewhat, but in ways still recognizeable like an old friend.
    Our favorite 'Twin Spruce' RV Park
  • was open and nightly fee approx $35 US for full hookups, was acceptable. The pool was open (grandkids enjoyed it on a couple of trips years back when they were young) Breakfast on weekends and a few evening meals are offered for a low fee. The gathering shelter even holds a little church service on Sunday.

    Kay recognised us, remembered the grandkids and had a selection of nice sites. I picked a nice level pull-through under a tree near the office, rather than the high scenic mountainside pads. They also own a home in Florida that was roughed up a bit in their last big hurricane a few years ago.

    Kay mentioned the latest Ruidoso Flood of 2008 that washed out a lot of homes and RV's near the river. The old concrete rock bridge in town was destroyed, and is just now being replaced with a steel span.

    Kay mentioned the April forest fire
  • that burned about a 20 mile swath of mountain on the north side of Ruidoso. It supposedly only caught one horse, which was fortunate as the racetrack (All American Futurity, Ruidoso Downs)
  • was threatened enough to herd all of the animals across the road into the Super Walmart lot on the hill.

    Late breaking news KRQE:
  • reports the 16 Jun 2011 fire behind the Walmart contained. 8 homes were destroyed. This is close to Twin Spruce RV Park. Poor Kay, if I know her, she was plenty worried..

    Afternote: The Donaldson ranch Fire is running near Hondo NM. Yep 'The' Sam Donaldson of TV news fame.

    The flood in '08 also swamped the racetrack, but it was back in business within another few weeks. This last winter was record breaking 'Freeze' time. The pipes broke all over town, lowering water pressure for weeks as they thawed. Kay referred to the misfortunes as the three 'F's.

    Our first day was spent touring around the old neighborhood where the internet famous Cougar was killed two weeks ago. It would not stay away from one home's yard, it had killed a Deer and buried it there under a pile of pine needles and dirt. Years ago we often visited my mother and father in law, on special family occasions at their mountain home near that site.

    Winter skiing is excellent and sunny at Ski Apache (formerly Sierra Blanca Ski area. A little drive up over the ridge into the area of the newer Sierra Blanca Airport (old one is now a golf course) and the Spencer Theater of the Performing Arts took most of the morning. ...mention: Mountain Annie's in town is also a theater, hopefully a dinner theater in the near future..

    Nice new homes intertwined with golf courses are plentiful as far as the horizon up on top the surrounding ridges and into the valleys. Ruidoso is a haven for flat land Texans that like to bet on the ponies. Nearby is the Inn of the Mountain Gods Casino, that also likes their money. The other days we spent checking out the local antique shops and thrift stores. Touristy stuff is plentiful in Ruidoso, Kids love the adventures, even a little water park.

    Breakfast at the shiny metal diner, Denny's was great, Jeff our excellent waiter, took extra cares to ensure our satisfaction. He enjoys flying and also works at K Bob's evenings. To actually live in Ruidoso you have to hustle to survive.

    'Ole Taco' is a great little tiny drive-up and dine-in Mexican Food cafe on Sudderth next to the Kentucky Fried Chicken. Don't miss their great prices and good enchiladas with other selections, while visiting Ruidoso.

    The rest of our time was just casually driving around and seeing the changes taking place along the main drag to 'The Downs'. New hotels and restaurants are starting to line the street. My generous boss from years ago, often treated all of his employees to an enjoyable weeekend retreat in Ruidoso.

    Boom or Bust is the economy around this mountain town, always steady in that respect. :>) Mescalero Apache Inn of the Mountain Gods is not immune to the cycle and some of the original structure shows it. Their lake is low this time of year, but still beautiful. Lots of kayaks and rafts with peddle-boats, kept all of the kids happy on it's deep blue surface.

    Scenic Cloudcroft is just up the highway a bit. Check out the photogenic old rail trestle seen in many movies, which is being restored, then stop in the lodge with the green eyed ghost Rebecca. She was killed by a jealous suitor. Continue on to Alamagordo and White Sands for a complete postcard tour. Internationally famous Carlsbad Caverns is just another tour stop away.. enjoy the entire loop.

    Each evening I prowled the hillsides and trails around the Twin Spruce RV park for exercise and relaxation. When the grandkids were young, we hiked to the top of the RV park roads, all of the way to the water tank on The DEAD End. Grandkids liked that spooky annotation during our evening hikes.

    One evening several people were standing and watching something go up the hill across the road. A large Black Bear had wandered into and through our RV park on it's nightly tour of the 'fast-food' circuit. Bears and Cougars happen by often in these mountains just to keep the tourists alert. The Lincoln National Forest is where national icon, 'Smoky The Bear' was found after a fire many years ago near Capitan.

    Lincoln (named after Abraham Lincoln) 'County' was the largest in the USA back in the 1800's. No wonder it developed it's reputation of 'The Lincoln County Range Wars. 'Billy the Kid' was noteworthy of the time and had a laundry in the town of Lincoln.

    A small vistor center near 'The Downs' has some stories pertaining to his exploits. The friendly lady managing the desk was helpfull with area info and several illustrated books including some hitherto unknown pictures of 'Billy'.. The original Tintype is selling at auction for around $500,000 according to guestimates.

    'Billy the Kid' Tintype sold at auction for over 2 million dollars US. Too bad he didn't ever get to enjoy his wealth. Whacking the Sheriff and deputy were his main public relations issues. The others were greatly exagerated and trumped up by politics. You would also get angry if the boss that treated you well, was killed in a politically Greed motivated battle.

    The last night in the Twin Spruce RV park was spent surfing their nearly 100 cable channels for a good 'flikker' to watch. Kay's computer in the office was free, as is the WIFI. Morning came quick and I was busy dumping the holding tanks while prepping the coach for travel. Thoughtful Co-pilot gathers all of our 'offloads' into plastic bags for ease in packing to the house when we get home. Tying the Jeep behind us, like a tail, we pulled out for home.

    We left Ruidoso this Sunday morning just after 11 of the clock. Arrived home at just after 3 of the clock (two hundred miles). No stopping, just a slow crawl out of the Ruidoso mountain canyon where we camped at Twin Spruce RV Park. We slowly clawed our way up over the Nogal Pass back to Carrizozo, about an hour of lower gears with Whistling Thunder Pig wagging it's Jeep tail.

    The fire haze in the distance was barely noticible as we drove back across our return route. This time the wind was actually helping us along. Good thing for fuel economy. We made it to Ruidoso and back on approxiximately 60 gallons. At avg $3.57 a gal, it was a fun trip.
    A Carl's Jr Turkey burger was our late lunch with a fuel re-fill at Smith's nearby. No discount this time..

    The smoke from the Arizona fires is just starting it's late afternoon light accumulation in ABQ. Nowhere as bad as the 'crisis' media portends every day on their 'news'. Even their 'unprecented'? heat wave as they are constantly raving about, is like in years past. Nothing new, but the crisis 'news' is sure trying to build something out of a molehill.... Hmmmm Wonder why.?

    The Lincoln National Forest is dry like usual in early summer, and Closed until the 'monsoon' (gulf moisture) rains start in July or August. For some reason there are always some campers (?) that will not obey the Rangers. They light fires that they don't extinguish.. Sooo the entire forest is closed to the sensible campers as well. That is life isn't it... The majority pays dearly for the predictable folly of the minority foolish...

    Story from the past:
    One time we were walking through a forest campground where a large hispanic family and their friends (the usual way they socialize), were drinking beer (Cerveza) around a big fire on the ground (illegal). The pickup trucks and cars were late model. They were playing their loud radios and whooping it up to their Mexican music. The barefoot kids were happily dancing through the smoke, roasting hotdogs and marshmallows over the fire...

    ....of a Gasolene soaked, fiercely Burning TIRE... still on it's wheel.

    The acrid black smoke was making the entire campground downright toxic. The white marshmallows became coal black instantly from the thick black soot smoke deposited on them. The kids happily ate the blackened 'Carcinogenic' puffballs...... and kept 'roasting' more of them. Their hotdogs immediately looked like sooty black greasy pieces of rubber hose. Of course they were being eaten just as fast. The Gene Pool in this family could possibly be draining?

    We stopped and talked with the very nice regular park host ranger (also hispanic). She told us that the group was very loud, disorderly and foolish, but she could not get them to stop.... or even pay to enter the campground. She said 'stuff' like that happens all of the time in her section of the forest, nothing new. She tries to tell them to behave intelligently, but as she said to us quote:
    "They all Throw Me, with beer bottles"... :>)

    Cycles of Life in the Greatest Nation the world has ever seen, The United States of America, "One Nation Under God"
  • Saturday, June 04, 2011

    Flying with a BANSHEE

    As a single young man with USAF in my past, I thought that maybe a hot date would come out of a nice Saturday morning flight back in 1967. I called 'Brother Burke'.. He was a young preacher and US Air Force noncom officer friend. Our other friend was USAF Sergeant 'Larry'. We three often enjoyed going up on the weekends... if we could scrounge enough money. I was flush with cash that weekend, so we rented a low winger with four seats.. and a larger engine.. Brand spanking new, still had the thin plastic film on the seats. We were impressed.

    We four all excitedly piled into this brand new plane, Burke at the controls, with Larry in right seat. Myself and the newly found potential girlfriend in back. 'She was sitting behind pilot Burke'. I was behind Larry (this is important, as you will read later).

    Beautiful cool morning in NM with light breeze, perfect visual flying conditions. In light traffic, clearance from tower, we happily taxied to position and lifted off after a short roll. We banked and headed up around northwest of the 10,500 ft (3,200m) Sandia Mountain Crest, still towering over us. Following the Rio Grande (river) north toward Santa Fe while gaining altitude, we anticipated a great day of flying like always. Flight plan was to also include a stopover with lunch in Santa Fe before cruising the always interesting mountains. With the larger engine, high altitude mountain flying with substantial airspeed is much more enjoyable.

    Along the way of our sight seeing plan, Burke spotted the New Mexico state prison off to the south. It was still used as a state prison back then. The deadly Santa Fe Penitentiary Riot
  • was in the future. The daring Helicopter escape from the 'prison yard'
  • had not happened yet, so no flight restrictions were in place. Burke put us into a right wing low, circle to look into the prison yard. We were at substantial altitude, did one or two circles looking at the prison far below, then leveled off to head north for SF.

    Like an uncaged animal, that girl unbuckled and instantly climbed over top of Burke...our pilot. She twisted and unlatched the ceiling door handle, saying "I'm Getting out of here". The door was sucked up and the wind roar was incredible as it lifted from the airflow. Our charts were racing around in a tornado in that cockpit. With her full body weight and strength on top of him, Burke was pressured forward onto the yoke.... We were forced into a spiral dive..... and inverted.

    Burke was hollering "Get her off me, Get her off". Larry grabbed her throat and started choking her. He had no leverage from the right seat. I just yanked her hair back and with full adrenalin clenched fist, started rapidly punching the right side of her head with all my force, until I knocked her senseless. Larry pushed her limp body back off Burke as we rapidly spiraled in toward the mesa.

    I do recall the strange view from the inside of the cockpit. Like a wild inverted amusement park ride where you are seeing spinning earth upward through the plexiglass, brief glimpse of spinning horizon you can't focus on, and not any sky where it should normally be. Seat belt felt like it was tightening like a vice in the negative G's. Girl was pressed against the cabin ceiling, wedged above Burke..

    Just barely in time, Burke expertly regained control from the inverted spin and pulled out.... with pucker bushes in close proximity to our wing tip. Using the incredibly heavy G's, I then used a choke hold and forced that girl down into the floor, locking her down with my entire body. Larry reached up, grabbed the handle as burke flared, and we began climbing back out of the hair raising Kamikazi dive. Larry got the door re-locked and now with a clean airflow at very low altitude, we turned back to ABQ.

    In Dead silence.....

    Once Larry and I got her off his back, and the young preacher 'Burke' somehow pulled us out of it, things calmed down in the cockpit. Burke told us later, he Never Ever did anything remotely like that recovery in all his hours of flying,... and never desired to try it again.

    Gradually regaining all of that lost altitude, we followed the Rio Grande back south. That Banshee had finally recovered her composure, she said from the floor, "I'm feeling sick". I replied "deal with it, I'm Not letting you up". She said calmly from the floor, do you have a bag? Larry found the now crumpled chart at his feet and handed it to me. I formed it into a bag and clamped it down around her head. She then 'ralphed' until she was dry heaving. Larry fully opened the ventilation to release the fragrance.

    Silence.... Burke and Larry noticed that wind had come up over ABQ since we left there earlier. We watched as large hot air dust devils were forming on the south mesa somewhat near the airport far below us. Burke got tower instructions to come in from the east due to the now warm, prevailing west wind shift, so we circled out over the Manzano mountains and in through the east mountain Tjeras canyon for descent.

    As we were on final, the canyon buffeting got pretty rough. I had by then, reseated her and refastened tightly, the Banshee's seat belt and covered the lock with my gripped hand. We were about one hundred feet above the pavement, on straight and level approach, with required throttle for conditions..... Out of nowhere, with no warning we were caught in an invisible whirlwind over the paved runway. A big one...

    It hit the right wing from below, fast and without warning, standing us right wing up. Burke instantly gave full right aleron to level out and the tornado pressure reversed as we flew through the center of it. The right wing immediately went straight down in a cartwheel position toward the runway as Burke the preacher said loudly... 'SHIT'. He immediately corrected us flat again and we pancaked tricycle onto the runway with a loud 'Scrunch' that instantly put our chins on our chests.

    Rollout was smooth and we hurried back to the tie down before another whirlwind got us, turned in that now thouroughly tested new plane with it's newly adjusted door, and some definetly loosened gear suspension and wing fittings. I never dated that Banshee
  • again, but found out later that I worked with her brother. An experienced cross country ferry pilot...... He told me that his sister had always been hesitant of planes and had never flown before in her life. I told him she will probably never ever fly again, but if she does, watch her like a hawk. It's one thing to act suicidal, but others may not feel like participating at that time thank you.

    Just one more Blogengeezer story from life in the USA. The greatest Nation the World has ever seen. "One Nation Under God"