Wednesday, June 5, 2019

What used to be normal, isn't any more

I live in the Appalachian Mountains of western Virginia.  Our Air Force and Navy like to practice their defensive maneuvers in our area.  They fly a variety of planes among our mountains and valleys executing dramatic ascents, descents, and sharp turns.  This has been going on for decades.

About the year 2000, I wrote a letter to then Virginia Senator John Warner about a huge C-130 cargo plane that had disappeared behind the 1,500 foot hill in front of my home (which is at about 1,400 feet ASL).  The valley floor beneath the plane is 1,200 feet ASL; the rear stabilizer on the plane is about 70 feet high.

Three members of our armed forces responded to my query to Senator Warner.  All three assured me that it wasn't their airplane.

I concluded that it had been the Russians.

Now when I hear the jets, I look up and wonder if Donald Trump has started World War Three.

Sunday, June 2, 2019

Arctic Circle Golf

Years ago, my wife and I were driving north on the
highway out of Fairbanks, Alaska that eventually
goes to Prudhoe Bay and the Arctic Wildlife Preserve 
inevitably crossing the Arctic Circle
which is well marked and is ofcourse
an iconic stopping point for tourists.
We arrived there at an hour when we knew we
should stop and sleep.  I won’t say stop for
the night because it was sunshine 24/7 on 
that date in early July.  The campsites were
obvious even though this was not an officially
designated campground and we found a place to
put our tent up out of view of the few other
people who were there.  We went for a walk to
check out how many neighbors we’d have for the
Alaska has plenty of gnarly weather, so smart travelers
are sure to have good rain suits; jackets and pants
are a must.  I had purchased a good set for the
trip and before leaving home in Virginia, had recently 
worn it to play golf in a "tournament" the week
before we left for Alaska.  I happened to
have a single golf ball and a courtesy "gold" tee
in my pocket. Chris and I were walking on the vehicle
tracks (don’t call them roads) through the head
high alders occasionally spying a truck or an
SUV.  Then we came around a bend and saw a Japanese
gentleman practicing his golf swing.  He had his
clubs and his bag out and he was hitting “air drives”
with his big club.  
We waved to him and started to return to our camp when
I felt the ball in my pocket.  I turned around, walked up
to him and handed him the ball and the golden tee.
I didn’t know if he spoke English, so I just said:

              “This is for you.”
We turned around and walked away, I told Chris not
to look back in case he decided to hit the ball off into
the brush.  didn’t want to make him nervous or
intrude on his solitude.  

I often wonder what he may have told his family and
friends about this when he got home.