Wizards of Oz

"Life is fraughtless ... when you're thoughtless."

31.7.09

[CART09] Swimming & Sculpting


Sophie and Shelby hung out in the water for most of the afternoon...


... while Jarrett sculpted his own little "Mount Shasta". He used the wet sand as the granite, and the lighter colored gravel as the snow. His end result bore a striking resemblance to his model:


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[CART09] Sophie & Pups II


Sophie does not seem nearly as amused as Cha Cha Loca....

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[CART09] Sophie & the pups

Sophie's Grandmama & Grandpa Bill brought the two poodle puppies, LuLu and ChaCha, to our campsite. Today we'll swim & kayak in the lake, and have dinner with friends who are staying in a cabin by the lake shore.

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[CART09] Lightning Strike!



The night before last, we drove to "Finn Rock Grill" (with a deck overlooking the MacKenzie River) for dinner with D-Cubed and Kathlyn. When we returned to A Way Back, the driveway was blocked by two fire trucks -- and an interagency fire team with federal (U.S. Forest Service), state and local teams responding to a lightning strike.

This was about 100 yards from D-Cubed's retreat, and the strike melted the phone (and internet) lines on a nearby pole. With temperatures in the triple digits for more than a week now, and much of the underbrush very dry, it was fortunate a neighbor was working in their yard when the lightning hit -- and quickly called 911 while taking their shovel to start dousing the burning moss and ground cover.

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30.7.09

[CART09] Mt Shasta

Mount Shasta, an extinct shield-style volcano, has a summit that is 14,166' above sea level - more than 50 feet taller than Pikes Peak!

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[CART09] Lake Siskiyou

Tent Mahal has risen again - this time in the shadow of Mt Shasta (a 14'er that is even taller than Pikes Peak!) at Lake Siskiyou Camp Resort. Tonight we rendezvous with my parents, who have been visiting nearby Shasta City this week.

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[CART09] Apocalypse?

I knew economic conditions in California were dire, but we never expected to see a mushroom cloud in the direction of Sacramento as we arrived in the Golden State this afternoon....

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[CART09] D-Cubed & KD2

Our gracious hosts at A Way Back. Now on to California!

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29.7.09

[CART09] Photos from the Road

Now that I have access to a WiFi network (thanks to D-Cubed's superior infrastructure at 'A Way Back'), here are some photos from our trek through Wyoming to Oregon:

First, The Mother of All Road Construction Projects. US-287 in west-central Wyoming has several five-mile-long stretches with flag men on either side, and "guide trucks" leading drivers across the expanse that once held a road. Complete and total replacement -- meaning drivers and motorcyclists alike had to navigate dirt stretches alongside graders, track excavators and giant dump trucks:


The delays set us back nearly an hour, so we didn't actually reach Grand Teton National Park until close to sunset. But the peak is striking regardless of the time of day:

Once on the grounds of Yellowstone (with our campsite near Madison Junction, nearly 100 miles from the entrance to Grand Teton), we were a short walk from the pastures of Yellowstone's Madison Elk Herd:


Closer to the west entrance to the park (and the Montana border) is a "rehabitation project" where a bald eagle eaglet is being reintroduced to the wild. His nest is easily visible from the road:


At the park's Midway Basin, a few miles north of Old Faithful, the unpredictable Crater Geyser gushes out more than 4,000 gallons of scalding hot water each hour into the Firehole River. Jarrett decided to test the water in the creek (far enough from the hot springs that it's cooled to somewhere between 130° F. and 140° F.).... The red and green colors are from different forms of algae that thrive in the hot water.


West Yellowstone, in addition to being home to the Madison Elk Herd, also has several families of bison. Despite repeated warnings about these giant creatures, there was a story in the West Yellowstone newspaper about a 55-year-old park visitor who was recently gored by a charging bull while taking its picture from less than 10-feet away.



After blazing across Idaho, then taking a more leisurely trek across eastern Oregon, we arrived at 'A Way Back' early yesterday afternoon:



Next stop: Lake Siskiyou in the shadow of Mount Shasta in northern California -- where we will join my parents for the remainder of CART-09 and caravan through the Sierra Nevada, Death Valley, Las Vegas, Bryce Canyon, Four Corners, Durango Colorado, then the San Juan Skyway to home.

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[CART09] Backhoe'ing

J-man works the backhoe at 'A Way Back'.

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28.7.09

[CART09] Shoe Tree

On US-26, east of the Cascade Range, we saw this curious tree -- curious because to the best of our knowledge, the closest university is over a hundred miles away. So who knows who the culprits could be?

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[CART09] ATV'ing

The Chaplain has a Grizzly 660 for motoring around 'A Way Back'. J-man and I made some laps, taking this beast off-road and off-shore (splashing through West Fork Horse Creek). The Man-Cub even did some driving (with me riding astern), taking it up to 32mph on the gravel roads.

BTW: the co-pilot in the front basket is the Chaplain's schipperke "Skeeter".

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[CART09] Three Sisters

A gorgeous day for driving in central Oregon! We're now on the eastern approach of the Cascade Range.

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27.7.09

[CART09] Eastern Oregon

Another 'Lonesome Highway', this time US-26 toward Dixie Summit and the Three Sisters. After crossing Idaho (and the southwest tip of Montana), we are now resting in the town of John Day. Tomorrow we'll cross the Sisters and head into Blue River, where Chaplain Don "D-Cubed" den Dulk has a retreat called 'A Way Back'.

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[CART09] Sophie loves whipped cream

... Especially Starbucks whipped cream! "I'll have a short 'espresso con panna', hold the espresso!" :-)

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26.7.09

[CART09] Old Faithful

... Right on schedule. Prediction was 17:13 local time (+/- 10 minutes). That guess was right on the mark!

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[CART09] Fountain Paint Pots & Spasm Geyser

Fountain Paint Pots is my favorite area at Yellowstone. Not as tumultuous as Firehole Falls, nor as predictable as Old Faithful - but idyllic in its serene splendor, with all varieties of 'geologic' features: geysers, hot springs, fumaroles and mudpots. And the most striking variety of colors throughout this oldest of National Parks.

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[CART09] Firehole Falls

My uncle Tom (a newly-minted Senior Master Sergeant in the Air Force, on his family move to Air Mobility Command) and his family met us for lunch today in West Yellowstone, Montana. We're taking our caravan through Yellowstone, down toward Old Faithful.

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[CART09] Jackelope

Near the Grand Teton National Park, and prior to the Mother of All Road Work delays, the kids got to meet a real Jackelope. Honest. They *do* exist! And here are the pix to prove it!

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[CART09] Tent Mahal

Traveling with a family of five, including 3 kids across roughly a dozen years' spread, requires ample space to stretch out. Thankfully the 'Group Sites' at Yellowstone's Madison Campground are *very* spacious -- with ample room to spare, even after we erected this monster of a tent.

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25.7.09

[CART09] Lonesome Highway

.... Near the Granite Mountains in central Wyoming.

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[CART09] Filled up....

Think we have enough? Today begins California Road Trip 2009 (CART-09), with scenic stops in Yellowstone, Shasta, Mammoth Lakes & Bryce Canyon.

We should pass my uncle (an Air Force Sr Master Sgt on his move to Illinois) in the northwest, and see many other friends and family along the way.

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22.7.09

2nd Blogiversary


Wizards of Oz is now two years old! Thanks for continuing to follow and indulge my sporadic musings -- more than 75,000 visits in the past year, nearly double the total for year one.

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21.7.09

[Moblog] Kent Girls

I'm in Suffolk, Virginia this week for a battery of meetings at my old employer. Stopping by the new Harbour View Starbucks to cash in my pastry coupon, I ran into all four of the Kent girls. KK (on the right) thought it was really cool of me to come all the way to Suffolk to see them at Starbucks.....

20.7.09

Moon + 40

40 years ago today, I was a toddler living in southwest Michigan with a second birthday coming up. My first recollection of our nation's space program was watching the APOLLO-SOYUZ linkup as an almost-seven-year-old waiting in a hospital lobby in Jacksonville, Florida for my 2nd major ear surgery.

The APOLLO 11 landing was the culmination of an ambitious vision laid out by President Kennedy some seven years prior -- a speech asking imponderable questions like "Why climb the highest mountain?" and "Why does Rice play Texas?"

While Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin deserve all of the accolades of being the first humans to walk on another celestial body, my personal hero is Michael Collins: the pilot of the Command Module COLUMBIA and designer of the mission patch who could only watch from above as his two colleagues' names became forever etched in the nation's memory.

And why was he stuck in the Command Module? One reason: to perform unscheduled maintenance. That, and his personal disdain for geology.

Congratulations to the entire crew of APOLLO 11 for inspiring our world, and making the Universe seem just a little bit smaller!

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19.7.09

Goin' Up!


Today is the 87th running of the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb - the second oldest motor sports race in the nation, second only to the Indy 500. Two years ago, Nobuhiro "Monster" Tajima (in the photo above) set a world record time with his 10:01.41 ascent of the 12-1/2 mile, 5,000 vertical foot course. Maybe today someone will break the "10 minute" mark....

UPDATE: "Monster" Tajima did win the day -- but his 10:15.37 time means that the 10-minute threshold will stand for another year.

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18.7.09

Falcon Trail


Falcon Trail is a 13-mile single-track loop on the grounds of the U.S. Air Force Academy with some nice climbs, even nicer descents, and spectacular scenery.


Colleagues Bob and Bob joined me for the ride. After the biggest ascent (past the Stanley Canyon trailhead), we passed through a high meadow in front of the Rampart Range.

But before we could get here, we had to navigate some switchbacks and loose-gravel ascents. Some we navigated by simply downshifting; others, well....


Somewhere along the way (I think when we tried to ride three-abreast as a "collision avoidance" strategy on one of the steeper "baby head" rock field descents) some of the local flora decided to come along for the ride:


Overall, an excellent ride -- even on an old school "hard tail"! Now to build up to where I can manage the 1,924' of vertical without having to stop and walk.

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15.7.09

Movie Night

Eldest is 'resident assisting' a Girl Scout 'Hermione Granger' camp this week, and (as the Prefect for Hufflepuff) is accompanying her girls to the show. Unlimited soda and popcorn.

So he won't be left out, I'm now with the Man-Cub at another showing of The Half-Blood Prince. Albeit without the unlimited soda and popcorn.

12.7.09

[Moblog] Buff Sunrise

11.7.09

[Moblog] Buff Sunset

B-52G as the sun sinks behind the Rampart Range.

[Moblog] Falcon Trail

..
After setting up camp by the Academy's "Buff on a Stick" (static display of a B-52G bomber) and our "opening ceremony" honoring the flag, we had the kids mix up their own trail mix and have embarked on a hike along the Falcon Trail. Eldest and J-man are leading the pack, with 29 scouts, siblings and parents in tow.

[Moblog] FOB-Cub Scout

Pack 165 of the Pikes Peak Council (Jamboree District) is camping tonight at the Air Force Academy. Pack Committee Chair Mike Cleary has brought his retirement flag to grace our opening ceremonies - here suspended between two Ponderosa pines.

7.7.09

[Moblog] SkyBar Martinis

In DC, I caught up with a dear friend from Tennessee. Desiree Fox is visiting the Capitol with her family, so we met for martinis at the Sky Bar - atop the Beacon Hotel near Dupont Circle.

6.7.09

[Moblog] Eldest & the Godfather ...

... by the Blue River in Breckenridge, Colorado.


5.7.09

Shelf Road Ride

Fellow MDA'er Bob Prouhet clued me in to the Air Force Academy's excellent "Outdoor Adventure Program". This weekend's outing was a 27-mile ride from Cripple Creek (in the Colorado high country, one of the biggest gold rush boom towns in the west) down to Cañon City -- an elevation decrease of more than 3,600' (from nearly 9,500' above sea level to about 6,800').

The Outdoor Rec crew (led by Bill Coble, an excellent guide and triathlete, along with Smitty and Millie -- celebrating their 50th anniversary!) tuned our bikes before loading them onto the roof of the 15-pax van. My Moab really needed that, with Bill counseling me to avoid any serious air on account of my 10-year-old back rim....


The scenery was stunning -- as were the precipices on our left.... Cripple Creek ultimately flows into the Arkansas River, then into the Mississippi and the Gulf of Mexico.



The bighorn sheep thought we were nuts, since they knew a spell o' weather was comin' in....


So we paused regularly on the ride -- but only took shelter in the van when lightning was spotted on two sides of our group.



Cripple Creek in summer, with wild roses on the bank.


After reaching Cañon City, we shared a six-pack of Breckenridge Brewing Company's Avalanche Ale. Bob also introduced me to "Geo-Caching" earlier in the ride, with my first discovery in a pile of boulders not far off our trail:


Next month, I may join Bill and the crew for the Pikes Peak Descent. 7,000 vertical feet of momentum!

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4.7.09

[Moblog] Pool Day!



Shelby & Sophie at great aunt Helen's place in south Denver. BBQ next, then fireworks later! Thanks to the record rainfall during the past month in central Colorado, I may be able to (legally) launch the Carolina mortars we brought during our move from SEC country!

After a while splashing around in her turtle float, Sophie thought it was nap time and dozed off....


Sophie (9 months) and cousin Alli (age 5):

Happy Independence Day!


IN CONGRESS, July 4, 1776.

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.--Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.
He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.
He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.
He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.
He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.
He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.
He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.
He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.
He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.
He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.
He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.
He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.
He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:
For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:
For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:
For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:
For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:
For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:
For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences
For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:
For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:
For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.
He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.
He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.
He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.
He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.
He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our Brittish brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

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2.7.09

General Orders, July 2nd 1776

"...The time is now near at hand which must probably determine, whether Americans are to be, Freemen, or Slaves; whether they are to have any property they can call their own; whether their Houses, and Farms, are to be pillaged and destroyed, and they consigned to a State of Wretchedness from which no human efforts will probably deliver them. The fate of unborn Millions will now depend, under God, on the Courage and Conduct of this army -- Our cruel and unrelenting Enemy leaves us no choice but a brave resistance, or the most abject submission; this is all we can expect -- We have therefore to resolve to conquer or die: Our own Country's Honor, all call upon us for a vigorous and manly exertion, and if we now shamefully fail, we shall become infamous to the whole world. Let us therefore rely upon the goodness of the Cause, and the aid of the supreme Being, in whose hands Victory is, to animate and encourage us to great and noble Actions -- The Eyes of all our Countrymen are now upon us, and we shall have their blessings, and praises, if happily we are the instruments of saving them from the Tyranny meditated against them. Let us therefore animate and encourage each other, and shew the whole world, that a Freeman contending for LIBERTY on his own ground is superior to any slavish mercenary on earth."

General George Washington
General Orders Head Quarters, New York, July 2, 1776

(The sketch above is from July 9, 1776, when General Washington directed his officers to read the newly-signed Declaration of Independence to his troops -- assembled near modern day City Hall in New York, as they awaited the combined British forces.)

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1.7.09

[Moblog] Top o' the Incline

First ascent of the Incline: 2,200' vertical over the course of a mile (or 2800 railroad ties) to 9,300' above sea level. 52:15 on the ascent; now about that descent....

One photo shows the way up from about mid-way (with Lin and Matt ahead of me); the other is looking down from the crest with yours truly looking worn out!

[Moblog] The Incline

Looking up from the bottom of The Incline. Going up....

Happy Birthday, Carl!

229 years ago today, Carl Philipp Gottleib von Clausewitz was born in Burg bei Magdeburg in the Kingdom of Prussia. In addition to being a noted reformer in the Prussian Army during the Napoleonic Wars, he is also one of the most significant military theorists of our modern age. His magnum opus, On War, is required reading at nearly every intermediate service school in the world -- though his work is frequently misinterpreted, or only partially read. (Thankfully, the Chicago Boyz blog recently hosted a "roundtable" on Carl von's tome -- and Nimble Books will soon publish those proceedings in book form.)

Happy Birthday, Carl von!

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