May 2015 Virginia

1-2 May 2015

I failed to mention that on Wednesday after I left Arlington National Cemetery I stopped at Gina’s apartment and as I was talking with her friend, which was also staying with her, I looked down and found a 4 leaf clover. Maybe General Greene gave me a thumbs up signal after visiting him! I spent the day getting stuff ready for the Afghan service reunion to be held on Saturday and just chillin out!

Saturday morning at 0930 I left Andrews AFB for Occoquan Regional Park. Minimal traffic and by 1000 I was unpacking the car with much excitement as I was going to get to meet up with others that I had worked with in Kabul. The morning was perfect for a meeting outdoors as the sun was shining, children playing. The gazebo sits on the Occoquan River and I watched as kayaks and small motor boats made their way up and down the River. While cleaning up in the Gazebo I found a penny that I later gave to Maile as she begins this next phase in her life. Before everyone arrived I had the chance to talk with Robin, my niece as I was walking under a cherry tree. Based on her suggestion I made a short video of the blossoms falling to the sidewalk before continuing my walk along the Baseball fields and gazebos at the Occoquan Park.IMG_1126

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Dana Pennell, Liz Graham, John Gruehl, Gina Parker, Maile Parker, Steve Mackey and Don Sheehan came and spent a few moments at the park celebrating our return. John’s leg is healing well and he tells me the doctors feel that by the end of July he will have 100% mobility of motion in his leg. I’m happy for him.

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I’m hopeful that some of these people who served us so well in Afghanistan will keep up some kind of periodic meeting where we can share time with each other as well as introduce the family to those we worked so closely with. The older I get the more I realize it is the relationships built on shared experiences that allows us to bond in other environments and appreciate life.

3 May 2015

My last day in Andrews AFB. Maile and Steve’s wedding is at 1400 near where we had our cookout yesterday. I failed to mention that my freezer is now full of hamburgers and hotdogs!!

Maile and Steve have a bright full moon to celebrate their first night of marriage. It was a wonderful wedding. I was able to meet many more people I worked with in Afghanistan that would probably have enjoyed the cookout yesterday. When I get to a good internet location I’ll upload to facebook the photos from the wedding. Here are just a small sampling of the folks I worked with in Afghanistan.

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Paula, Maile and Bob Kelly’s wife

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Steve Mackey, ? , Maile Parker

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Maile Parker, Steve Mackey, ?

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Ladies of the wedding

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? Camacho, Gina Parker

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Stating their Wedding Vows – Steve and Maile

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The speech before the Vows! JP, Steve Mackey, Maile Parker, Steve Coonan

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Brigette Coonan, Steve Coonan, Maile Parker Mackey

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Tracy Taylor Kelly, ?, Maile, ?, Paula

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4-15 May 2015

I departed Andrews Air Force Base FAMCAMP on the 4th after returning my rental car. I called Enterprise on Andrews AFB and the attendant told me to wait until 1000 to return the car. I did as he asked and waited for over a half hour without anyone being in the office. Andrews had extra security for everyone entering the terminal this day and finally I departed the terminal to walk the four miles back to the RV FAMCAMP. A beautiful day for a stroll through Base housing and across the golf course.

I arrived at Cheryl’s home in Alexandria in yard working clothes as the backyard was to be attacked today. Recall that I had already visited her and helped her clean up the front yard, sow grass seeds and plant some bushes. This kind of workout is far more appealing to me than working out in a gym or running/walking on a track! On the 5th we began working in the basement. Our original intention was to move everything away from the outer walls as she has a contractor coming in to rip out the floor near the walls to install French Drains. Half of the basement area was carpet and half is tile. Due to the water damage and mold in the carpet we decided to remove it. Parts of the carpet and padding was soaked completely so we decided to remove the vinyl tiles that were underneath the carpet. Much of the tack strip was molded and rotten so I worked to remove much of the tack strip also. Cheryl’s brother is a manager at Home Depot and he brought one of his team to the house to pick up an old dresser and they also removed all the carpet and pad from the house.

The 6th was my time to take the RV to a local Thor Motor Coach dealer to get my tires looked at. They refused to help me and referred me to a tire dealer a few miles away. Next door to the RV dealership I filled up the propane tank at a Tractor Supply Store. I learned from this exercise that they have the least expensive propane. Good to know info! I arrived at the tire dealer and Robert took the time to remove the rear wheel covers and found that the air valve extension running from the inner tire was bad. He did fill up my tires to 70 PSI (Door tag states 75 front/65 rear) all around as each was only inflated to 50 PSI. The tire shop did not have a new extension so I drove back to the RV dealership. They had one that almost fits so I bought it as better than nothing until I can get it replaced.  I also purchased a vent cover to install while at Shenandoah. This will allow me to keep a ceiling vent open when it rains to circulate air.

The 7th found Cheryl and I traveling to Shenandoah National Park, Big Meadows campground where I had made reservations until May 15th. I had received in my new Good Sam’s Rand McNally 7” RV specific GPS and set it to ‘No highways – No toll roads’ and we took some back roads from Alexandria, VA to the North Starting point of the Skyline Drive and Shenandoah National Park boundary. We each filled up our vehicles before beginning the trip into the park and ate at a local restaurant. So off we go! Oops, there is a tunnel that is closed at mile marker 30 something so we’ll have to take a circuitous route off the mountain and back up again to finally make mile marker 50 where the Big Meadows campground is. Nice countryside scenery so all is good. Just more of Virginia back country that I get to enjoy. I learned that there are 35 camp sites in Big Meadows that are ‘first come, first serve’. I only have reservations for 7-8, 10-15. Cheryl and I stopped at one of these where I kept the rig until the 10th. The lesson I learned from this is that the awning should be facing east when possible because the evening hours when you are relaxing outside the RV will then be shaded and much more comfortable. So on the 10th I relocated to a spot across the street from me that gave me the added bonus of a much more level site.

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Upon arrival at the campground and setting up the RV we went to the camp store and visitor center. Missed our opportunities at the visitor center to obtain trail maps as it was too late in the afternoon and they closed on us. I grilled pork chops and we opened a can of Bush’s grilling beans for dinner. We shared a bottle of red wine as we played Cribbage and UNO. While Cheryl was rusty at cribbage she proved a worthy opponent.

After a repast of bacon and eggs for breakfast on the 8th Cheryl and I went hiking. We took a 2.6 mile hike to the 67’ Rose River Falls and continued on the Rose River Loop Trail to complete a 4 mile circuit on this moderate, shady trail with stream, cascades and waterfall. A nice hike where we stopped often along the way to sit on the rocks of the Rose River where we enjoyed the view and solitude. Gemina – Cheryl’s African dog, enjoyed the hike as much as we did, at one point we took our shoes off and waded in the water – it was COLD! Gemina was not a fan either! I prepared a meal of grilled Salmon and asparagus with a shared ear of corn for dinner. Of course we also enjoyed glasses of red wine as we again played Cribbage and UNO.

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There were many small cascading falls along this river path.

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So nice and peaceful!

A light breakfast on the 9th and then we went to South River Falls for another 2.6 mile hike. This one kicked my butt as it was 1.3 miles down a steep trail and 1.3 miles back up that same trail. But we ate a sandwich lunch at the falls to replenish our energy and rested a few minutes before coming back up.  I think the payday candy bar may have been the real winner here! Gemina was mostly a nice puppy on this hike and was much more sociable with others, both human and dog. Sadly Cheryl had to return to Alexandria and prepare for her contractors coming on the 11th to demo her basement and implace the French Drains. I found the campsite very, very quiet after Cheryl and Gemina left.

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At one stop on the hike we noticed the fauna growing out of the rocks, much like air plants.

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And growing from the wood with moss.

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I noticed my fresh water tank just about empty and began to look for water. I was going to drive to the sewage dump site but one of my neighbors tells me about a water faucet just off the trail beside my RV. I realize that I don’t have a long enough water hose I approach my neighbors to obtain 2 ½ other hoses to reach my tank and fill it up! This gave me a chance to meet and greet my neighbors. One of the neighbors is a Viet Nam vet who served as a Navy Corpsman with the Marines and then later as a Registered Nurse in Desert Storm. He has prostate cancer as a result of Agent Orange and the cancer has now spread to other organs. He married his partner of 10 years only 2 weeks ago. Another neighbor wants to retire in a year and would like to travel with another couple for 6 or so months to visit National Parks throughout the western states. Another couple next to me spent years traveling in a 1979 class C motorhome much like mine and worked as camp hosts with the National Park system but settled down for a period to enjoy their grandchildren. They are looking for another Class C RV, probably a Minnie Winnie, to begin their travels anew next year. They were very informative regarding travel in Maine and Canada. He even broke out maps to show me routes and lakes to camp at.

The 10th was a lazy day of recuperation and visiting with my new neighbors as I moved from C132 to C140 across the street.  The advantage of this move is the position of the sun. At site C132 the afternoon/evening sun was not stopped with the awning out. Even my tent camping neighbors would get on the other side of their car to enjoy sitting out reading and talking. So I am now a little closer to the tent campers and nearer to a toilet facility but almost everyone left during the day and the park is very, very quiet. My neighbor is a retired Navy Lieutenant Commander who after retiring in 1988 with 22 years’ service worked for Lockheed Martin in secure communications. He and his wife are both now retired and enjoying their grandchildren as much as possible. They have a lake house near Richmond, VA and their family comes during the summer to enjoy that environment. I steamed my snow crab legs and roasted an ear of corn for dinner. I realized that while I could probably eat all 4 clusters of crab that I should invite this nice couple to join me and share in my crab leg dinner.  They brought their beanie weenies over and joined me for conversation and the crab legs.

I must admit to some concern about a bus load of Muslim students. The girls were dressed with their skin covered except their hands and face as they passed a football around among themselves. Of course the young men were in shorts and t-shirts while they played volleyball. I was cautious around this group. I guess I carry a sense of distrust in my heart for the Muslim practicing people.

I woke on the morning of the 11th ready to take another hike. I left out of my campsite and headed toward the Visitors Center to get a map specific to the Dark Hollow Falls Trail. This proved to be a .7 mile trek on its own. I learned that the tunnel is now open so I’ll be able to return to Alexandria via Skyline Drive rather than via the detour.  Armed with a map of the 1.4 round trip, very steep trail to the 70’ falls I set off on my adventure. I stopped at a few of the crystal clear ponds on the way to observe the brown stream trout. I kept looking for salamanders too but I never saw one. Deer, squirrels, knats and ants is all I saw other than the trout. The falls were beautiful though and on the way back I followed the 1.8 mile easy circuit ‘Story of the Forest Trail’. While on this trail I took it upon myself to remove some of the fallen trees that lay across the trail so that the children walking the trail will have it easier.

Dark Hollow Falls!

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The beauty of the Dark Hollow Falls.

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Looking away from Dark Hollow Falls.

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The bottom of Dark Hollow Falls.

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This is the scene from the very bottom of the falls. I trekked an additional .2 miles down a very steep trail to sit on a bridge for this photo of what is not even the main falls.

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A tree blooming on the Story of the Forest Trail.

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Back at the campground I find myself surrounded by deer. Notice that one has an antennae around its neck.

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This is the end of my RV and I’m sitting typing this entry as the deer just meanders around.

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So nice that the deer don’t run away but just keep grazing. I watched several dandelion heads disappear as this deer hung around my RV site.

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One of my neighbors came by asking to borrow cinnamon to make French Toast for her husband and I guess we were talking too long because her husband shows up after 15 or so minutes. These are one of the couples that loaned me a hose to fill up my fresh water tank the other day. I didn’t have cinnamon but he tells me that he has internet on his phone at the lodge front door. I thank him for the info and in the afternoon trekked up to the lodge and not only did they have internet but I found this particular spot that also has cell phone coverage!  Yah! I sent out two journal entries so people wouldn’t think I’d fallen off the face of the earth – Thanks Betty for checking in on me! And I was able to call Alexis and speak with her and I could hear Emily in the background telling me hi too. Of the 148 emails I downloaded I immediately trashed 68 of them and will peruse the others later. I need to determine what I want for dinner and take a shower. Another great workout hiking to the falls. Cheryl, you will be proud of me as I picked up my pace coming up from the Dark Hollow Falls pretending that you were leading me! I think I’m in for rain later this evening and many of the tent campers have placed tarps over their tents. Smart folks. Oh, my vivo fit is very happy with me too as I have exceeded all the goals set for me!

Last night the wind picked up and the rain fell upon us in sporadic bursts of heavy pounding that must’ve kept the tent campers awake more than me and with the rain hitting the top of the RV with such force I was awake much of the night. Because of the rain I felt it best to rest today, the 12th and let the trails dry out.

The winds blew again last night but no rain, just cooler weather. A perfect day for making the Lewis Falls trail hike. Cheryl and I had been told by one of the ladies at the Visitor’s Center that this trail wasn’t as good as the others. I beg to differ with that woman as I’ve now completed the hike. I started off from my campsite wearing a jacket as the air temperature was only in the 50’s.  I began the trek at the amphitheater located on the edge of the campground and only .1 mile from the Appalachian Trail. I followed the Appalachian Trail for a mile before turning onto the Lewis Falls trail that is described as passing through a thick and beautiful forest that is sometimes quite rocky, and has several switchbacks. As the trail nears the falls, the trail gets rougher and the sound of the stream on the left grew louder. After crossing a stream (on rocks) at the top of the falls you continue on a rough but short route to a rock walled observation point. The falls are 81 feet total as the falls thunder down in two streams onto a large rock, then divide again and continue to drop. For the return trip I took a trail that runs parallel to the Appalachian Trail, just slightly lower down the mountain. This trail meets back up at the Appalachian Trail to make a complete circuit of 3.3 miles. While on the Appalachian Trail near the lodge I discovered that I had internet and cell phone service. I called Robin to say Hi! And see how she was doing. The round trip from my campsite was only 3.5 miles but the falls dropped 1,000 feet in elevation – and back up!

There are several lessons I learned today while hiking on the Lewis Falls Trail and the Appalachian Trail. First it was totally awesome to be hiking on the Appalachian Trail, if only for a short distance, and think of the thousands of hikers that have chosen to accept the challenge of hiking this trail alone. Just in the mile I was on it I met three hikers with all their gear on their backs. I was impressed. OK, so I learned that the Appalachian Trail is a developed trail. The edges had been shorn up with rock walls to support travelers. I imagine the reinforcements date back to the 1930’s when the Shenandoah Park was first established. Second I learned that shoes are a choice. My Merrill hiking shoes are light and easy to walk in but lack the ankle support and thickness of my Keen hiking boots. Hmm, light or sturdy? I learned that no matter which shoe you have on if you want to enjoy the forest and views around you, then you must stop and look around. If you don’t keep your eye on the Trail you will stumble over rocks and roots!  I learned that there is lots of color in the forest. There are purple, pink, yellow and blue flowers scattered throughout the Forest floor. I learned that getting up these mountain trails is all about attitude more than physical stamina. The more trails I walk, the less strenuous they are! Go figure! I’m hoping that when Jeff and the girls are 62 I’ll still be able to hike with them!

After this hike I visited the shower trailer to shower and wash my hair in preparation of the nights venture to the lodge. The showers are being renovated so there is a trailer in the parking lot for campers to shower. This building supports a laundry, showers and the purchase of wood and ice but is closed at the moment with a contracted agent supplying the shower facility. Imagine my surprise as I am prepared for the shower and step in to find there is no water! I get dressed in the clothes I came in and test each of the other showers to find that there is no water. I make contact with one of the workers who tells me that the guy responsible is taking wood to the main store and will return in 15 or so minutes. I ask if there is a valve that may have been turned off but he didn’t know of one. After 25 minutes I went to the check in station and asked the ranger about the water. It just happens that the camp host was there and went to investigate for himself. Guess what? Yep, no water in the showers. While I don’t think this gentleman is the sharpest tool in the shed and doesn’t have much of a personality he did trace the water lines and discover that someone had turned off the spigot as it was leaking around the building. With a great deal of satisfaction he announced that he had resolved the problem! After a long hot shower I stopped by the rangers’ office to thank them as I made my way back down the hill to my camp site. Another victory!

Below are views from the Appalachian Trail:

Flowers create a carpet over the Forest floor giving a colorful accent to the background of green leaves.

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Even the fallen petals provide color against the brown earth as I hike this historic trail.

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The Appalachian Trail marker near Big Meadows Campground and Lewis Falls.

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The Appalachian Trail. I’ll admit that I never imagined that I would be on it.

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Can you imagine walking 500+ miles on the Appalachian Trail with views like this? Of course there is an almost sheer cliff just the other side of these trees.

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These two deer didn’t seem to have any problem with me walking by.

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The hike varied from seeing the beauty of nature in bloom to the scene below where the distant mountain ranges call.

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It almost looks like basil.

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Then I make it to the falls after passing downed trees that were gratefully moved off the trail and other flowers in bloom. I feel blessed to have taken this hike today and will enjoy dinner and wine at the lodge while thinking of you.

It’s hard to tell just how rocky and steep this trail is. Just beautiful scenery!

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Don’t think these are too boring but by looking at them while walking the rocky path I almost went over the edge!

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I couldn’t resist these photos of the flowers.

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I was standing on top of the rock wall to get this photo of the falls splashing down on the rocks then separating again to another falls. There was another trail that had been forged precariously on the edge where I’m certain the view would have been more spectacular. Just call me chicken as this was as much risk as I was willing to assume.

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Mark, you’ll appreciate that I have attached to my camel backpack the British brass whistle that we picked up in the Afghan bazaar. I have it available in the event I am disabled or lost. I also have a small compass, first aid kit, flashlight with signal capability, snacks and of course water in the camel. I hope that all I ever need is the water and snacks!

The lodge opened tonight and I went about 1700 to enjoy dinner and wanted to hear the live music too but it didn’t start until 2100. Before I left for dinner I began to drool for a pasta dish. My first stop in the Big Meadows Lodge was the Tap Room. Their menu was a normal pub style sandwich menu. The dining room touted a gourmet menu and that it was. The night’s special was Salmon with asparagus, soup of the day and a rice pilaf for only $27. I thought about it then sighted a pasta dish. Penne pasta in a Basil Pesto sauce with roasted vegetables: zucchini, yellow squash, red bell pepper, onion, grape tomato, mushrooms, and pinion nuts. I had chicken added as well as garlic toast. So much on the plate that I now have lunch for tomorrow in my refrigerator. I didn’t get to take advantage of the cell phone reception as there were too many people and the reception was bad and the internet could not connect to my mail account!

20 May 2015

I left the beauty of the Shenandoah National Forest on the morning of the 15th to return to Alexandria where I could help Cheryl with her home renovation. Two hands are always better than one! We demo’d the basement, placed studs on the wall, painted in the kitchen and living room areas, cleaned construction gear out, mowed lawns and did I say anything about all the trips up and down stairs carrying heavy tiles out to the trash bins?

Time passed quickly and we even managed to clean up for dinner every once in a while. Cheryl has departed for Belize and I’m keeping her dog company or vice versa. 5 loads of laundry and I’m all caught up. Stinky, sweaty work clothes – ewe!

Mowing the lawn and cleaning the house and then Don’s birthday party was a success. Today I’ve put a vent cover over the back vent so I’ll always have fresh air available even in the rain! Yah! So now I’m trying to contact an RV dealer that will work on my RV where the paneling has come loose near the refrigerator.

Tomorrow I have to settle down and rewrite the first few chapters of my book.  All is good.

25 May 2015

Today is Memorial Day. Saturday night I was honored to have my friend Don Sheehan over for dinner. Before dinner we were able to catch the class VI store (liquor store) on Ft Belvoir before it closed and Don was able to stock up on some wine that saved him some money. Then I grilled ribeye steak and shrimp with a Vidalia onion and Don made a great salad. We talked for a long time and made a date to visit Mount Vernon on Sunday.  We couldn’t have picked a better day or better time to visit Mount Vernon as the weather was perfect with the sun shining and the crowd not yet too dense. Of course we were not able to have lunch at the Mt Vernon restaurant as it was closed for a private event. They seem to be closed a lot! But Don did get a souvenir wine and I got a Mt Vernon bottle opener for the RV.

The front of the George Washington mansion at Mt Vernon.

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A view of the Potomac through the portico at Mt Vernon Mansion.

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We saw the coach that carried our first President!

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A view of the Potomac from the porch on the Mt Vernon Mansion

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Slaves quarters on the Washington 8,000 acre plantation.

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The tomb of George and Martha Washington is on the left where the flags are.

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We learned the importance of spinning wool into thread for clothes and the value of clothing during this period of history.

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A sixteen sided barn used to separate grain from the stalks to be used at the Grist Mill to make flour. Bread and Clothing were necessities.

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Shearing sheep the old fashioned way.

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Washington only wanted to be a farmer, never the General or President!

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Mount Vernon has its own pier!

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My battle buddy Don Sheehan

After breakfast on Monday I took Gemina, Cheryl’s puppy dog, on a walk to Mount Vernon and onward on the bike trail next to the George Washington Parkway. The parking lot was completely full and the trail was very busy with bicycle riders, dog walkers and walkers! We joined this group and walked to the Riverside Park and then an additional half mile before turning around. An outstanding day for a walk and Gemina was so well behaved! As it is only about ¼ mile from Cheryl’s house to Mt Vernon we were able to get about 3 ½ miles walk in before 2pm when I showered. Of all the people that I passed today not one person recognized my ‘Viet Nam Veteran’ hat and said anything. I don’t expect everyone to say ‘thank you for your service’ but I would have thought that at least one person out of the hundred or so that I saw today would have said something. Oh well, this day is for those that did not return from the war, not those that did.

Hamburgers on the grill, watching the Dirty Dozen and Kelly Hero’s and sipping on a beer. Life doesn’t get much better.

In a way of tribute to my time in Viet Nam I have extracted a short history of the USS Oriskany CVA-34 for your reading pleasure.

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Cease fire 1/28/1973

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Oriskany underwent a restricted availability at Hunter’s Point Naval Shipyard in San Francisco during January 1971, receiving a much looked-for upgrade in the SPN-41 all-weather carrier landing system. Refresher training passed uneventfully in March, and on 14 May the aircraft carrier departed Alameda for her sixth Vietnam deployment. During this 1971 deployment, the main mission remained to strike operations in Laos; and while there were no combat losses, CVW-19 did lose four aircraft to operational accidents. Two cases were fatal, with Cdr. Charles P. Metzler killed when his Crusader inverted and splashed while in a landing holding pattern on 21 June and Cdr. Thomas P. Frank drowned after ejecting from his stricken Corsair II following a catapult launch failure on 1 November. A week later, Oriskany aircraft took part in Operation Proud Deep, the successful 7–8 November strike (the largest in three years) against three North Vietnamese airfields whose fighters were beginning to worry Air Force planners. Following these last missions, Oriskany sailed south to Singapore for eight days of upkeep – eventually crossing the equator and adding 2,000 more Shellbacks to the realm of King Neptunus Rex. Oriskany departed Singapore on 3 December 1971, and crossed the Pacific to arrive at Alameda via Subic Bay on 18 December. As per her custom, Oriskany entered Hunters Point Naval Shipyard, San Francisco, on 17 January 1972 for her winter restricted availability. Refresher training followed in April, 1972 and she embarked CVW-19 for qualifications in May. Events in Vietnam meanwhile, forced the warship into feverish preparations for deployment; and she sailed for her seventh Vietnam tour on 5 June. Following refueling stops at Pearl Harbor and Guam, the aircraft carrier arrived at Subic Bay on 21 June. The 1972 deployment was met with various problems, including a collision with ammunition ship Nitro (AE-23) during an underway replenishment, the death of Lt. Leon F. Haas, and lose of two screws (propellers) and one shaft, which required the ship much of August and November in Yokosuka, Japan to make repairs.[8]

With peace talks in Paris stalled, Oriskany‍ ’​s aircraft returned to Yankee Station and continued to pound communist targets in South Vietnam. Later, she joined the “Christmas bombing” campaign, for her sixth line period, 27 December – 30 January 1973. Attacks were then restricted to enemy targets south of the 20th parallel for the first two weeks of January and then below the 17th parallel starting on the 16th. With the Paris Peace Accords signed on 27 January, Oriskany‍ ’​s aviators finished up their last strikes over South Vietnam that same day. After a short rest period at Cubi Point in early February the aircraft carrier conducted one final combat line period, 11–22 February, when CVW-19 bombed enemy targets in Laos in a last effort to assist indigenous allies there against Communist infiltration. Following upkeep at Cubi Point 8–14 March, Oriskany sailed for home, arriving at Alameda on 30 March after completing 169 days on the line, her longest – and what proved to be her last combat tour; all-in-all receiving ten battle stars for its Vietnamese service.[8]

After her usual fast-paced refit and training cycle, Oriskany got underway for the Far East on 18 October 1973. After arrival at Subic Bay on 5 November, the aircraft carrier began preparations for operations in the Indian Ocean, a change of pace from her last seven tours off Vietnam. The aircraft carrier sailed south, transited the Straits of Malacca and rendezvoused with Hancock (CV-19) in the Indian Ocean. The two carriers conducted training operations there, and Oriskany visited Mombasa, Kenya, 22–27 December, before returning to the South China Sea in January 1974. The carrier then conducted various type training exercises out of Subic Bay in February and March, primarily concentrating on day and night flight operations in conjunction with other 7th Fleet units. Following a series of three Fleet exercises in April, the warship visited Manila in May before sailing for home, arriving at Alameda on 5 June 1974. Two months later, the warship entered Long Beach Naval Shipyard on 15 August for an extended availability that lasted until 9 April 1975. Following refresher operations with CVW-19, Oriskany sailed on her fifteenth and final western Pacific deployment on 16 September 1975. The carrier conducted war at sea and other exercises out of Subic Bay before returning home on 3 March 1976.[11] Owing to defense budget cuts, as well as wear and tear on the old carrier, Oriskany was tapped for inactivation on 15 April 1976.

29 May 2015

Today I sat and thought about the things I’ve learned on my journey so far. There really are too many great lessons learned but here a few that are poignant enough to share.

  • Your health is truly more valuable than riches. Even though my muscles seem to ache a lot I just know that this walking and work is helping to keep me healthy.
  • I know that my aches and pains cannot compare to what my daughter Alexis is going through or to what my niece Robin is going through. On a daily basis I can say that I’m ‘healthy as a worm’ but that Alexis has undergone surgery twice, chemotherapy twice and radiation to eradicate her body of cancer and she is only 29 years old. Robin suffers from Chronic Pancreatitis and has been given notice that her life expectancy has been reduced. I am healthy and grateful!
  • Alexis and Emily appeared on TV in Seattle Washington to share her story of surviving cancer in preparation for running the Puget Sound Komen race for the cure.

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Susan G. Komen Puget Sound

6 down, 6 more to go. Komen Puget Sound volunteer Alexis Coffer was first diagnosed with breast cancer when she was only 23 years old. She was recently diagnosed a second time at age 29. Let’s show Alexis some Komen family love and support as she starts the second half of her chemo treatments tomorrow. We heart emoticon you, Alexis! #survivorstrong

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I know that I can’t support her myself and that the prayers and show of love from everyone is what makes her such a special person. Help her by doing what you can at: http://www.gofundme.com/AlexisKC

  • I have learned that on a hot, muggy day the dog and I give out at about mile 2 and have to call it quits! Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate
  • I have learned that by installing 3 MaxxAir Vent covers on my RV that cross circulation of the air is possible without rain entering the RV and that was a good investment on my part.
  • I’ve learned that friends are valuable assets that are always there just ‘lurking’ to be your friend. It is wonderful to reach out and to be reached out to. Life is good!
  • Dick called me during the Memorial Day Weekend to let me know that he had been thinking about me. What a wonderful surprise! I thanked him for appreciating all that I have done but honestly I am only a memory. Those that are doing now, protecting our great nation or whatever it is that they are doing is much more relevant than a past I lived that is only a memory now.
  • I’ve learned that life is so very precious and that it all can change in an instant. Rod, Cheryl’s brother had a motorcycle accident last Monday and now has a metal pin inserted in his leg from the knee to the ankle. He can’t drive or work for a month.

o   Gwen, my cousin was admitted to the hospital last night in Austin, TX and now has a pace maker inserted to keep her heart beating.

  • I’ve learned that the power of relationships can keep inspiring others. MG Greene will have a memorial at Aberdeen Proving Ground on Jun 4th that I will attend and share how he inspired me.
  • I’ve learned that cherries are addictive.
  • Learned that cooking on an induction plate with a cast iron griddle works when it is raining outside!
  • I’ve learned that having a dog sleep beside you provides warmth in the heart as much as warmth in temperature.
  • I’ve learned that I should say thank you to each of you and wish you well today because, well we just don’t know what tomorrow brings.

believe

30 May 2015

Another beautiful day in Paradise!

Yesterday I installed the last 2 of 3 vent covers and what a wonderful difference it makes in the RV. Having an outlet for the super hot air that collects when a vehicle is just sitting there makes it very comfortable entering the RV. The vents can stay open during a rain storm also as they are now covered. At any rate I’m sure it was a cheap thrill for Cheryl’s neighbors to watch me climb on top of my RV and scoot around with my tools during installation. My legs were cramping by the time I finished, but finish I did! After a shower I was laying on the sofa for a nap and Don called to ask if I wanted to come over to his place for dinner. I had also promised him I’d help him to get his gas grill to grilling as he has been using a very small charcoal grill since last fall. Of course I said yes and headed out into heavy Friday afternoon traffic. Much to my pleasure though the traffic was leaving town, not going into town so my drive wasn’t too bad. Gasoline prices in Alexandria are $2.79 to $2.91 so when I saw the price in Arlington of $2.59 I pulled in and filled up the Jeep Rubicon that I’m driving. What I’ve learned about this Jeep is that without a running board I have difficulty getting up into it! Also the 6 speed manual transmission isn’t something that I want, I’ll keep using an automatic! So Don isn’t at his house when I arrive but the door is open. I had been thinking about his gas grill and wanted to see if the hose was connected tightly to the propane tank as sometimes unless it is really tight then the propane doesn’t enter the hose.  I was right! I called Don to let him know that I was at his home and told him that the grill had been repaired and was ready to use. All is good! I shouldn’t have driven home after dinner and wine but I had a 0900 walking appointment with a friend and Gemina would never understand being alone overnight!

This morning I was up early and ate a breakfast of cottage cheese and a banana before hooking Gemina up to the leash and heading out for Mount Vernon.  We arrived early at the Mount Vernon parking lot and the trail head for the Potomac walking trail. It is a muggy July in May here in Alexandria! I couldn’t get Gemina to drink water but she knows herself best! Melissa arrived and we began what turned out to be a 5.5 mile walk. Melissa has a really nice Class B super van that she travels in and paid me the courtesy of coming by to view my ‘rig’ before taking off to record grades and other administrative chores as she is a teacher at the end of the school year. I was appreciative that she took out the time to walk and visit with me.

I am toying with the idea of returning to Indianapolis after Cheryl returns and selling my Nissan Pathfinder to CarMax and purchasing a TOAD – towed car for my RV. Then I can take off for New Jersey for the Rock, Ribs and Ridges festival with Jennifer. I have a salesman in Indy looking at towable vehicles for me and we talked for a long time about what I wanted and what price I was willing to pay. If I’m going to pay cash, then I should be able to find one fairly quickly.

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