Wizards of Oz

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


[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:


[CART09] Sophie & Pups II

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


[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.


[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.



[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!


[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.


[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....


[CART09] D-Cubed & KD2

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



[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.


[CART09] Backhoe'ing

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



[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?


[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".


[CART09] Three Sisters

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



[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'.


[CART09] Sophie loves whipped cream

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



[CART09] Old Faithful

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


[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.


[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.


[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!


[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.



[CART09] Lonesome Highway

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


[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.



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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[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.....


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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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.



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.



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.


[Moblog] Buff Sunrise


[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.


[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.


[Moblog] Eldest & the Godfather ...

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