Monday, July 31, 2006

A Review Of A Moment In Time

We drove a black, 2006, Chrysler PT Cruiser north from Los Angeles on the busy San Diego Freeway (Interstate 405) to highway 101 north (Ventura Highway) to Simi Valley, California.

There, we invested four hours to experience the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library. It was an uplifting day as we reviewed the life history and political times of this former president.

The top picture is me standing in front of a giant flag in the Pavilion.

The middle picture shows retired Air Force One 27000 that was placed into service in August 1972 and decommissioned in September 2001. This plane flew seven U. S. presidents - Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, H. W. Bush, Clinton, W. Bush. We toured this plane in the Air Force One Pavilion after experiencing memorabilia, pictures, film clips, and much more about the life of Ronald Reagan.

A Boeing 747 now serves as Air Force One 28000.

The bottom picture is Ronald Wilson Reagan's final resting place which is on the grounds of the library. There are many people from around the world who visit this interesting place.

Notice Mr. Reagan's summary message contained in twenty-seven words:

"I know in my heart that man is good

That what is right will eventually triumph

And there is purpose and worth to each and every life"

Return here on Wednesday, August 2 for a blog update.

Have a good day!

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Mount Rainier

The landscape around Seattle is generally 20 to 600 feet above sea level. On a clear day if you look to the southeast of that city you will see a 14,000' high mountain on the horizon. Mount Rainier is a focal point when traveling within the city area. This mountain is always capped by snow, ice, and glaciers. The annual snowfall on the mountain top can be as much as one thousand feet. A view of the total mountain is rare during winter months due to clouds, rain, or high moisture in the air.

The top picture is one I took while we drove the roads in Mount Rainier National Park. This photo was taken from the parking lot of Henry M. Jackson Memorial Visitor Center at elevation of 5,400 feet. There are miles and miles of hiking and walking trails around and up this mountain. It took us several hours to drive half-way around this mountain as we stopped along the way to sight-see the waterfalls, flowers, canyons, rivers, and forest.

There is one area at the mountain base that has trees up to one thousand years old. Among the standing and living old growth trees, there are uprooted and fallen giant trees. Those trees take dozens of years to decay. Ferns and green plants cover the ground under this forest. The bottom picture shows some old growth trees that are about 8 feet in diameter and about 200 feet tall.

Return here on Monday July 31 for an update.

Have a good day!


Thursday, July 27, 2006


It was, perhaps, the most impressive cultural event I have attended. We were in Seattle the weekend of the Annual Seafair Indian Days Powwow which was held in Discovery Park.

The handout we were given at the park entrance describes a powwow as, " intertribal gathering of song, dance and culture for Native Peoples of North America."

The top picture shows Indians in full regalia dancing to the drum beat and chanting of Indians in the first picture below.

We were there for the opening ceremony and the grand entry of Indians dressed like the man in the second picture below.

We ate salmon that was grilled on a wood-fired open pit as shown in the bottom picture.

It was a great event that I'm happy to have attended.

Return here on Saturday, July 29 for an update.

Have a good day!


Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Pacific Northwest

We departed Charlotte and arrived five hours later in Seattle on 7/19/06.

We enjoyed dinner at duke's Chowderhouse ( small "d" correct) along Alki Beach of Puget Sound as shown in the first below picture.

Another day we visited Pike's Market where we experienced this downtown fish, produce, flowers, and crafts marketplace.

We rode the city bus system to meet the Argosy Cruise's Champagne Lady at AGC-E Dock. There, we boarded this boat and cruised the sights around Union Lake and Lake Washington.

Later, an elevator ride to the top of the Space Needle (520 feet) gave us a 360 degree view of Seattle on the clear day. The Space Needle was built in 1962 for The World's Fair held in Seattle that year. See below pictures.

Return here on Thursday, July 27 for an update.

Have a good day!


Sunday, July 23, 2006

A Memory

The picture of me below was taken the first week in January 1966. I was age 18, 5' 11" tall, and 165 pounds. I had recently arrived at the 101st Airborne Division's base camp in Phan Rang, South Vietnam. My journey to this place began in Pfafftown where I was on leave (vacation), to San Francisco two days before Christmas 1965.

I worked that Saturday, December 25, 1965 in the Army's Oakland Processing Center on "kitchen police" duty. "KP" was a 16-hour day of hard labor in a mess hall to feed fellow soldiers, clean the kitchen, and restore the dining room after each meal. KP was an exhausting and dreaded detail that soldiers of low rank were assigned to help the mess sergeant with food preparation.

Between Christmas and New Year's Day, 1965, I flew from San Franscisco to Hawaii to Saigon.
After a couple days of processing near Saigon, I was flown north a couple hundred miles to a base camp where I joined my assigned combat unit Troop A, 17th Cavalry of the 1st Brigade, 101st Airborne Division.

During the months leading up to this point, I completed Basic Training and Advanced Infantry Training at Fort Gordon near Augusta, Georgia and Paratrooper Training at Ft. Benning, also in Georgia.

After I arrived in San Francisco by commercial airliner from Atlanta, I called home and was told by my parents that the Department of Defense in Washington, DC had sent a telegram instructing me to stay there for the Christmas holidays and report later to Oakland for processing to Vietnam.

It was too late. I had already said my goodbyes and traveled across the country to Oakland, California as directed by my original orders.

I volunteered for military service and was proud to be a soldier. I completed training that many soldiers attempted, but dropped out due to stress, fear or physical exhaustion.

I remember the view from the airplane window on the tarmac of Smith Reynolds Airport in Winston-Salem, NC around 12/21/65. My family stood behind the short chain-link fence waving as the airplane pulled away. Only a few passengers were on the plane with me as my father, mother, sister, and brother were the lone people standing there waving that cold, winter day.

It was a sad day for them and me as the propeller driven plane pulled away from the parked position on the tarmac.

I was now in Vietnam, a world away from life, as I had known it.

I will report here periodically in the weeks ahead about how I felt, some of my experiences, some places our missions took us, some people I worked and fought along side, and the environment of guerrilla warfare from a low- rank infantryman's view.

Return here Tuesday, July 25 for an update.

Have a good day!


Friday, July 21, 2006

Tomato Update

The top picture date was April 9 when I transplanted two tomato plants into a 5 gallon bucket.

The first below picture date was May 25 when I buried the bucket in a mulch pile to prevent the dirt from getting too warm.

The bottom photo was taken on July 13. I harvested the first vine ripened tomato beginning on July 2. There are many more tomatoes to be harvestd as the green ones ripen.

I hope your gardening efforts have been fruitful.

Return here on Sunday, July 23 for another blog post.

Have a good day!

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Spring To River

I wondered about the route this spring water flows after leaving my property.

Since my property is east of the Eastern Continental Divide and in the Yadkin River Basin, this spring water will flow to the Yadkin River, continue to the Pee Dee River near Cheraw, South Carolina and eventually empty into the Atlantic Ocean at Georgetown, South Carolina.

I was curious about the route this headwater flows to the Yadkin River. I logged onto the GIS site of the city of Winston-Salem and located my spring and then followed its route all the way to the river. Below are landmarks and elevations as this water flow meanders to the Yadkin River.

The top picture is the stream flowing across my property and entering the woods. The elevation at the spring is 850'.

Next, it crosses under Balsom Road where the elevation is 807'.

Then under Kilmurray Hill Road, 759' elevation.

Next, it passes under Vienna-Dozier Road at 749' elevation.

The last major road it flows under is River Ridge Road where the elevation is 735'.

It continues its winding course from there and empties into the river south of the end of Woosley Road.

The first below picture is at the bridge on Kilmurray Hill Road and the bottom picture is from the bridge on Vienna-Dozier Road.

Several tributaries have combined to form a creek at the places in the below pictures. This stream is known as Bashavia Creek.

Return here Friday, July 21 for an update.

Have a good day!

Monday, July 17, 2006

Spring Flow

My father built this enclosure over the spring using mortar and cobblestones (top picture). The date embedded in the top cement slab was March 25, 1975. This structure was built to keep animals and leaves out as well as to prevent surface water from flowing into this fresh water supply.

The next picture is a view inside the spring from the top looking down. A 4 feet diameter concrete pipe open at both ends was positioned upright on the water vein. A 3 inch hole was bored through the side of the pipe near the top to allow the incoming water to exit the reservoir when full. This overflow drains through a 2 inch aluminum tube a distance of several feet and spills into another concrete pipe. This pipe can be seen in pictures on the previous post.

The bottom photo is a view inside this concrete pipe. The overflow from the spring spills here. The flow continues through a 6" diameter PCV pipe a distance of about 70' to a small branch. This branch originates from other springs further up the valley. This is the way creeks, streams, and rivers are formed. Groundwater comes to the earth's surface and begins to flow, meets other streams, combines, and eventually forms large creeks or rivers. This headwater joins other headwaters to become Bashavia Creek further downstream. My next blog post will describe and show the route this water takes to the Yadkin River.

The hose in the top picture extends to the reservoir's bottom to the inside of a white 5-gallon bucket with large holes bored into its side. The bucket helps prevent gravel and dirt from being sucked from the spring bottom when the pump is in operation.

The hose above ground is attached to a gasoline powered trash pump. The pump can remove this volume in less than five minutes as four 55 gallon drums are filled.

Return here on Wednesday, July 19 for another blog post.

Have a good day!

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Shelter Over Spring

The top picture shows the start of rebuilding a shelter over a spring which is located behind my house.

A spring is a small flow of fresh, clean groundwater coming to the surface naturally. This particular spring supplied drinking water for some of my ancestors as far back as the 1880's. They dipped water from a small basin and carried filled buckets up a hill to their house over two hundred feet away. This was their only water supply for all home and personal needs.

During long dry periods, this spring water flow diminishes only slightly. I measured the normal flow at around two gallons per minute when the reservoir is full and around 15 gallons per minute after I power-pumped the reservoir down to near empty. I can pump around 200 gallons into barrels before the suction hose begins to slurp air. It takes about twenty minutes for the natural flow to refill the spring storage space. I use this water supply to pour onto plants and to wet a mulch pile.

The last roof over this spring area was built by my father around 32 years ago. He used locust posts to support the roof. Those posts lasted around 10 to 12 years before they decayed. I replaced them by raising the roof off those rickety locust posts and installed 5" X 5" treated posts. I lowered the old roof onto the newly planted posts. The treated-pine posts I used lasted about 15 years in the constant wet ground. About 5 years ago, I accidentally hit one corner support post with a tractor implement and the rotting post broke which caused the old roof to collapse. I hauled the resulting rubble to the landfill.

This summer I committed to rebuild the semi-shelter structure. I milled eastern red cedar logs into 6" X 6" dimensions for support posts as shown in the top photo. My wife helped me get them plumb and near square before I permanently secured them in the wet ground with cement. I say "near square" because the structure is "out-of-square" by 8" when the diagonals are measured. I know this is not quality building, but I could not feasibly move three holes to correct this condition. Only critical eyes can notice this error as it reveals its effect on the underneath side of the roof.

My wife helped cut the posts level, raise two 3" X 6" beams between each pair of posts, measure, saw and nail rafters. The time to complete this part was 5 hours spread over two days (early mornings). See completed rafters in photo below. My pneumatic nail gun and compound miter saw enabled this efficiency. I used white pine to construct the beams, rafters, and braces from logs I milled into full sized lumber.

Unpainted Galvalume metal and one skylight were used for the roof covering. We attached these materials in place with screws after lunch one 90 degree day. My wife was not enthusiastic about helping as she assisted in that heat. The current status of the shelter is shown in the bottom photo.

The next step will be to nail face-boards to the rafter ends, fill-in the gables with woodwork, and paint exposed wood. This can wait until cooler times.

I expect these cedar posts to last from 50 to 100 years.

The out of pocket expense for this project was $146.38.

Return here Monday, July 17 for an update about the water flow into and out of this spring.

Have a good day!


Thursday, July 13, 2006

Memorial Day Weekend

Our families gathered at New Bern, North Carolina for Memorial Day weekend 2006.

One day we toured historic downtown New Bern and learned about the early history of the first permanent capitol building of our state (Tryon Palace). We grilled and picnicked in Riverfront Park beside Comfort Suites along the Neuse River in the top picture (also notice the nice Silverado pickup in background).

Another day we drove 45 minutes to Swansboro, North Carolina to visit Hammocks Beach State Park where we rode a North Carolina State Park service ferry to Bear Island. The island's name should be Bare, not Bear but that's another story. This island's beach is a protected area for loggerhead turtles to lay eggs. The first below picture is the boardwalk to the unspoiled beaches of Bear Island. We spent a couple hours walking the beaches and playing in the water. We ate lunch from a cooler packed with cheese, fruit, and cold-cuts. When we returned to the park after a few hours, we toured the visitor center and ate watermelon on the grounds of this facility.

On Monday, Memorial Day, we prepared to drive or fly to our respective homes, but first, we drove to the National Cemetery in New Bern (bottom picture). There, with clipboard, paper and pencil for each person, we set out to locate a grave marker with a date of death closest to our personal date of birth.

The idea behind this exercise was to have each of us read grave markers of persons who were patriots before us. The purpose was to think about people who helped create and build our country to what it is today. As we spread out among the graves to find the closest death date to our birth date, instructions were to write that person's name, birth date, death date, service, rank, spouse name , etc from the grave marker.

Later we re-grouped and compared our findings and noted the one who found the closest date.

Again, the idea is to think about contributions of past citizens and contemplate what each of us does as a current citizen and patriot to perpetuate the greatness of our country.

I'm sure you have your way of acknowledging this national holiday. This is the way our family observed Memorial Day, 2006.

We departed the cemetery and traveled to Seattle, Chapel Hill, or Pfafftown.

Return here on Saturday, July 15 for another update.

Have a good day!


Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Friday Before Memorial Day

On Friday May 26, 2006 the All American Week events continued at the Sicily Drop Zone in boondocks near Fort Bragg. The 82nd Airborne paratroopers were set for demonstrations called Joint Readiness Training Exercises.

This is a place where I made parachute jumps in 1968 near the end of my active-duty military service.

As I return to these places and events, I recall with pride the years I served in uniform. The service personnel I see today are much better soldiers than we were back then.

Soldiers of today are specimens of fitness, intelligent, well trained, highly respectful and disciplined. Their equipment and uniforms are the best public money can buy. Each infantry paratrooper has night-vision goggles that flip down from their helmet for night action. The troopers have knee and elbow padding, sun glasses, new M-4 assault rifles, unit patches and rank insignia attach to new flame retardant Advanced Combat Uniforms with velcro for easy and quick change. Their new boots need no spit- shining as mine did in the past. When I think about it now, what a waste of time shining boots when that time could have been spent on training.

The picture above is me practice-shooting at a live target using an M-4 with laser sighting. The target was wearing a sensor on his chest that detected simulated hits.

Three infantrymen posed for a picture in the below snapshot.

Further below are grandchildren getting a sense of how it feels to be suited in a parachute harness. Next is my brother posing with a female soldier.

I observed lots of females in uniform who appeared fit and committed.

After these photos were taken, everyone moved into bleachers to observe demonstrations by attack helicopters, heavy-equipment drops by parachute from Air Force C-17 Globemaster III airlifters, and a paratrooper-infantry squad assault on a simulated enemy bunker.

Three C-17's loaded with troopers approached the drop zone for a planned jump to fill the sky with several hundred parachutes, but, the ground wind-speed exceeded safe conditions for demonstration purposes. The approaching giant planes veered away at the last second to abort the plan. The crowd was disappointed but understood that safety of individual soldiers is paramount.

I am very proud of all service personnel and appreciate all they do for us.

Return here on Thursday, July 13 for another blog post.

Have a good day!


Sunday, July 09, 2006

All American Week

The voice on the public address system said the tradition dates back to the Crusades.

The tradition the announcer referred to is the military commanding officers' review of the troops. This is a ceremonial inspection of the troops to confirm they are battle ready. The date was May 25, 2006 when I attended this ceremony at Pike Field on Fort Bragg near Fayetteville, North Carolina. This annual event occurs the week before Memorial Day and is known as All American Week by the U. S. Army's elite 82nd Airborne Division.

See the link here for the official news of the event.

Dr. Francis J. Harvey, Secretary of the Army, reviewed the 12,000 paratroopers on the parade field with Major General, David M. Rodriguez. Both men delivered speeches to troops and guests.

There were military equipment displays like the Boeing AH-64 Apache Helicopter I'm standing beside in the bottom picture.

Military skydivers started the event with a parachute landing in front of the viewing stands.

Return here on Tuesday, July 11 for an update.

Have a good day!


Friday, July 07, 2006


In the above picture is a large white oak tree that must be 150 fifty years old.
The coordinates of its location are

N 36 degrees 11.021 minutes

W 80 degrees 23.041 minutes

923 feet elevation

The unusual things about this tree is found at its base. See the below pictures and notice the young cedar tree growing next to this giant trunk.

As I pass this tree almost daily, I've started watching this young cedar and wonder about its future and how growth started so close the this huge oak. I think, "most likely a bird deposited a seed there only a few years ago and as it grew the lawn mower couldn't get close enough to cut it."

It will be interesting to see how long this cedar can grow in the shade of this great white oak. I can only imagine what will happen when this cedar grows larger with its foliage reaching higher into the limbs of the neighboring hardwood. Will there be enough water to support the root system of the developing cedar? Is there enough direct sunlight to sustain life and make it grow big? Will birds find this cedar a good place to nest or roost?

It's fascinating to watch nature and be instructed by her wonder.

Return here Sunday, July 9 for another update to this blog.

Have a good day!

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

A Great Book!

The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson, 2003, is an outstanding nonfiction book I enjoyed very much.

The white city is the nickname of the World's Fair in Chicago in 1893 and the devil was a serial killer in the city during that time.

There is a lot of history to be learned from reading this book. Its about how leading architects of the period in the United States and the city of Chicago tried to outdo the worlds fair in Paris, France when the Eiffel Tower was built.

This book should be a must read. Enjoy!

Return here on Friday, July 7 for another post.

Have a good day!