Monday, June 29, 2009

It Was a Dark and Stormy Night

I have had a lot of time to think about things in the last week or so. I decided to paraphrase Snoopy for the title of this blog, although it should read "It was a dark, stormy, and cold several days" in Spearfish, South Dakota. We drug the toyhauler out there with the idea of a peaceful week with lots of riding and reunions and family time. 2/3rds of our family set up tents next to the trailer in a great KOA kampground. One problem, I think that it rained at least 5 days out of 7. Eli, Lindsey and their kiddos gave up and moved to a motel for a couple of nights and Steve, Gen and their boys moved into one of the cabins nearby. Oh, did I mention it was also cold? Most nights it was in the 30s and barely 50 during the day. We did get one nice morning picnic up at Roughlock Falls in Spearfish Canyon with a short hike afterwards. Gen, Steve and the boys headed off to Colorado on Tuesday to stay with friends and Eli, Lindsey and theirs headed home about the same time. Right after they left two of my Air Force buddies and their wives came to the door. Bill Peck and his wife Sarah drove from Atlanta for the first return to the area in 43 years and John Wilson and his wife Kris ( I hope that I'm getting the spelling right here) came from Gettysburg, South Dakota. I haven't seen them in 24 years either. We had a long talk and went to dinner in town, dodging rain all the time. The next day we met Bill and Sarah at the museum at Ellsworth, naturally it was raining so we had to inspect the B-52D that they have on display. Bill wanted to know the tail number and we managed to find it under a coat of paint. It was 657, an aircraft that we had worked on during our time there. It is kind of cool to look at an aircraft on display and think that I used to spent time in there working on our systems. I was in Electronic Warfare systems and Bill was Bomb-Nav systems, so I am sure that we both spent plenty of time in there over the years. I think that maybe Bill is a bigger airplane freak than I am, if that is possible. We were comparing notes on military aircraft museums, and there are a lot of them that we need to visit in the future. After we parted Bill and Sarah headed up to Mount Rushmore to view the heads and guess what?, they were clouded over. They did go back the next day and they were visible then. After seeing Mount Rushmore they were able to head back to Atlanta. It is too bad that the weather was so nasty for their first return trip as the Hills can be beautiful. This year they have gotten so much moisture that they looked like a rain forest and all of the reservoirs are full, so that is a good thing. Rachel recently sent me the movie " Taking Chance", about a Marine officer escorting Lcpl Chance Phelps' body home to Dubois, Wyoming for burial. Chance was KIA in Iraq in 2005 I believe. We had been thinking about a bike ride to Red Lodge,Montana, but after seeing the movie we decided to visit Dubois instead, kind of a pilgrimage I guess. With the bad weather we took the pickup for an 850 mile day trip. His grave site at the Dubois cemetary is quite nice with green grass and trees it overlooks Dubois. I had looked the cemetery up on " Google Earth" and expected it to be very dry. I left a Patriot Guard pin on the headstone along with several other mementos other visitors had left, threw him a salute and left. It was a good day for a trip. Friday morning dawned clear! Jan and I took a ride up in the Hills south of Spearfish and after dinner I ran out north to Buffalo, South Dakota and down to Bear Butte. Saturday morning it was hook up and head home. Every time we run out to the Hills we always wish that it was closer, although today with the Interstate hiways it is closer time wise than it was 40 years ago. I will throw on some pictures here to illustrate our time there. I will have a new blog coming shortly on my bike trip out west that I just got back from, so stay tuned.