Tuesday, December 2, 2014

90th Birthday Party

Saturday was the big day.  I hosted a party celebrating my mom's 90th birthday.  The festivities were held at the Parkway Chateau, near Kenosha, WI.  Thanks to my Aunt Audrey and Cousin Sue for doing the legwork for the party.  . 

.My mom has a large group of mall walkers.  We also had many members of the family and assorted friends of my mom.  Weather was perfect - in the upper 40s and sunny.  We were expecting 70-80 guests but planned for 100.  Mom counted in her guest book and came up with 103. 

Greeting folks, visiting friends and relatives,  and shooting photos, I barely had time to eat.  By the end of the 3 hour party, I had a good head ache and exhausted.  It was only a couple blocks to my hotel.  I crashed into bed.

Later in the evening, I started processing photos from the party.  Sunday morning I met mom and a couple relatives for breakfast.  Then it was off to mom's apartment to look at the photos and order picture she wanted.  Selected the photos and went to Walgreens to print them.

Missed a couple of the photos getting them sorting for printing.  Will have to send them to mom l;ater this week.  Early Monday I was on the road back home.  Uneventful drive.  Facebook photos are up.  Still working on the photo web site. link to the web site page is:

 http://tomwinfield.com/pictures/family/mom90.html

Thanksgiving 2014

Had some nasty driving conditions during my trip to Wisconsin for Thanksgiving.  Started light fog and damp roads at 37 deg.  The temperature kept dropping.  Hit snow during rush hour in Des Moines Wednesday.  A little snow flurring at about 200 miles.  Rest of the route was just overcast and chilly.

I was staying in a hotel instead of sleeping on my mom's sofa.  No way I could do that for 4-5 nights.  Anyway, I picked up my mom for Thanksgiving.  Had a nice dinner and went to the bowling alley for the annual outing.

Black Friday I slept in and made a quick trip to the outlet mall to pick up some Levis. While out, I drove by my old grammar school building.  Wanted a photo for my memoirs.   Later in the afternoon, I joined my Aunt Audry and Mom for a birthday dinner.  Called it a day. 

Friday, November 14, 2014

The Boonie Hat Incident

This is from the draft of my memoirs - Son of a Sharecropper. 

Coming from the 199th Light Infantry Brigade, I was a bit of an oddity at IIFFV. There weren't that many of us from line units. I remember one morning formation (Yeah - I had to start going to morning formations) the 1st Sgt was reiterating that IIFFV personnel were required to wear baseball caps. Boonie hats were unauthorized attire. 

One guy pointed at me in my boonie hat and said "what about him." The 1st Sgt said "You see that patch on his right shoulder - that's an infantry unit. He can wear a bonnie hat here if he wants to." From that day, I wore my boonie hat with a bit more pride.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Lake Manawa Trail Volunteer Appreciation Feed

Was a blustery afternoon at Lake Manawa mountain bike trail.  Nine of the volunteers that have maintained the trail gathered for food and refreshments.  The Lake Manawa Trailleader hosted the appreciation feed.  Thanks for food supplied by Hy-Vee on West Broadway.

Most of the volunteers rode that trail before and after the feed. 

Monday, October 27, 2014

Almost Home

Got the room packed up Saturday evening.  Loaded the car in the morning. I was loaded an had checked out of the room when breakfast opened.  While I only had about 500 miles to drive and would pick up an hour with the time zone, I wanted to get and early start.

Goal was minimize the time off of the Ohio and Indiana Toll-roads.  Drove up to the lake and drove I-90 and US 2 to Port Clinton..  Then took the Ohio Turnpike to the West end.

Drove UP 20 to Angola, IN then North to the Outlet Mall.  Did a little shopping.  Wanted a map for Indiana, so got on the Indiana Toll-road to the first service area.  Picked up a map and exited at the next interchange.  Drove up to US 12 and ended up driving it all the way to I-94, across the bottom of Michigan.  Once on I-94, it was across the bottom of Lake Michigan.  Took a bee-line across I-80 to Bettendorf, Iowa. 

Checked into my hotel and looked for food.  Last night was the only time I are at a chain restaurand during the trip.  Was not excited to look for a local place to eat, the were an Applebees just down the road.  A burger there washed down water and a pint of Far Tire was all I needed.

Photo:  Across the bottom of Michigan had some of the best colors during the trip.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Cleveland

A light day planned for today.  Breakfast at the hotel.  Gonna be a nice day, so wore shorts and t-shirt.

Drove up to Cleveland.  Found my way to Bellflower Rd and the old Sigma Chi house.  It was the house we (the chapter) moved into in the summer of 1968.  The house before was a short block away on Bellflower, but is not a parking lot.

For a Saturday, there was a log of traffic in the University Circle area.  That, and many new, larger building, I did not dally in the area.  I was not interested in walking up on campus.

Headed downtown, finding my way to E. 9th St.  Parked on the pier (a block from the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.  Walked around the pier and little park there.  Took a couple photos.  Nothing that I really needed to see. 

The low tire pressure light came on.  Started looking for a place to check the tire/  Found a closed aute dealer and garage that was working and helped me.  Just aired up the tires.  For some reason, the tire pressure were way out of whack.  Left side were high (in the upper 30s) and the right were low (in the upper 20s).  Got lost a couple times getting back to the interstate and hotel.  The tires held pressure on the way back to the hotel.

Worked on packing the room and stretched my legs a little.  Then time for some food.  At the hotel desk they suggested Winking Lizard Tavern for a brew and burger.  They had a large selection of craft beers on tap, but it seemed that they were out of the ones I were interested in.  Settled for the Great Lakes Dortmunder Gold Lager.  It was a palatable beer.  Not as good as the amber ales I prefer.  I had good timing. I was seated right away when I arrived.  When I left, there was a long wiating line.

Now going to settle in for the night.  Hopefully a good night's sleep.  500 miles to drive tomorrow.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Ohio & Erie Canal

When I woke up this morning, it was a bit chilly - about 35 degrees.  No big hurry to get out for a bike ride.  Went over to have breakfast.  Visited with a couple from Indiana (with roots in Naperville, IL).  After breakfast, i spent some time working on the web site paged for the reunion trip.

About noon, it was in the mid to upper 50s.  Bright sunshine and almost no wind.  Time to head over to Boston Store Visitor's Center Towpath trailhead.  Grabbed the hybrid off the bike rack, topped off the tires, and headed out South.

My fraternity suggested that it would be more scenic riding South from Boston Store than North.  The trail surface is mostly hard packed crushed stone.  There are some paved section (mostly at intersections).  The trail takes you to some of the ruins of the locks.  Other places you just see where the canal used to be.  Often, on one side of the trail you have the canal, the other side is the Cuyahoga River.

There lots to see and photograph.  In my 9 mile ride, I ended ip with about 45 HDR photos.  Obviously, I was not setting any speed records!  It was just an enjoyable ride exploring this section of the Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath Trail.  More about the trail will be written in the web site page.

Back at the hotel, I processed the bike ride photos.  Soon, it was time to drive down to Akron the check out "Locktoberfest".  Had a little finding the location as the wrote down the address as East North St.  But it was West North St - I was off by a couple blocks.

The festival was a small community function.  Could not go wrong as the donation to the Cascade Locks Park Association was $10 and I got 2 cups of local craft beer and a large brat.  I probably could have had another brat if I wanted.  For food there also hot dogs for the kids, baked beans, and chips.

Visited with the folks from the brewery.  Can got to a brewery tour at 2pm tomorrow.  For the record, the brewery is Thirsty Dog Brewing Co.  On tap for the festival they had their "Labrador Lager".

Kids were carving pumpkins and a group of fraternity members from the local Lambda Chi Alpha (Lambda Chi) were throwing bean bags.  Others were visiting.  Now, I did not know anyone at the festival.  Thankfully, I was wearing my Green Bay Packers jacket.  It was the ice-breaker.

One of the Lambda Chi brothers stopped to talk - he is a Bears fan and from Chicago.  His older brother is a Sigma Chi from DePaul. The Lambda Chi chapter were helping for the festival as a community service project!  Had another conservation with a local originally from Cudahay, Wis.  I ended up spending almost 2 hours there, about an hour longer than I had planned.

Was a very enjoyable day!

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Cuyahoga Valley National Park

The hotel has a complimentary breakfast for guest.  So I started the day off with some eggs, sausage, potatoes, sweet roll and coffee.  I was not in a hurry this morning as the park Visitor's Center did not open until 9:30.  Waitress at breakfast gave me directions to Brandywine Falls.  Looked at my maps and charted my planned route for the day.

As I recall hearing, Brandywine Falls (pictured here) is the second tallest waterfall in Ohio.  I walked to the upper viewing platform and further to stone building ruins.  Took a few photos there and backtracked to the boardwalk to the lower viewing deck.  Did not go all the way down to the lower deck (I had lots of more walking to do today).  Got a couple photos and headed to the Boston Store.

There, I watched the movie about the Park and its inception.  The big take-a-way I got from the video is that addition of the Towpath Trail was huge in the development of Cuyahoga Valley NP.  Previously, it was just an urban National Park.

Next stop was Peninsula, OH and Lock 29.  I did not find the lock, but could see this would be an interesting spot to ride my bike.  I continued South find the Everett Covered Bridge.  More walking to get to the bridge.  I could not find a reasonable spot to photograph the bridge span over the river.

Since I had not found Lock 29, I headed North to the Canal Visitor's Center.  There. I was able to see the old, manual canal lock.  More canal memorabilia in a museum at this location.  While in the area, I drove the Tinkers Creek Gorge Parkway.  Here, I saw the best Fall colors of the trip.  Was going to photograph Bridal Veil Falls, but I did not see it.  Walked the boardwalk a bit, but i was getting tired, did not to climb the steps back up from the river, so called it an afternoon.

Back to the hotel.  Started processing photos from the day.  I was getting tired, so got horizontal, stretching my legs.  Finished the photos and changed for dinner.

I had dinner plans with a Case classmate and fraternity brother.  Another fraternity messaged about getting to get this evening - we made it a threesome.  Had Mexican food at Marcelita's (I had not eaten Mexican yet on this trip, so it was a nice change from burgers). 

Had great conversation over dinner (and well after).  Lots of reminiscing. We basically closed the place.  Thanks for an enjoyable evening, Dave K and Dave R.  in hoc.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Maine to Ohio

The last 2 days have been mostly just driving. The weather was the pits for doing other than the drive, so not minding it.  Overcast both days.  Sprinkling of rain also both days. Good shower over night in Danbury, CT.

The Super 8 in Danbury was a pretty good room.  It was a second floor room 2 doors down the hall from the elevator.  Dinner was a Philly Cheese Steak at the Windmill Diner.  Decent food but nothing to write home about.

Found my hotel at Exit 180 of the Ohio Turnpike.  I am not impressed with the hotel.  The assigned me a room that is 2 doors from the opposite corner of the hotel from the lobby, Bar/Restaurant, and Breakfast.  When I went to looking for the ice machine (the hotel map shows just down the hall from my room) there was no ice machine. 

Had a coupon for $3 on beverage, and was tired, so figured to had a brew and burger the the hotel.  That was a mistake.  Took forever to get my burger.  The fries were "limp" - not crisp at all.
beer was decent - one from Yuengling, Americas oldest brewery.

Sent message to fraternity brothers that I arrived town.  One has contacted me to meet tomorrow evening.  Now its time to get horizontal, watch TV and plan my visit to the Cleveland area.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Acadia National Park

Today was my full day to explore Acadia National Park.  With the problems betting up/down from my room, I planned my day's need so there would just be one trip down to the car and back to the room at the end of the day.

Cameras and water were the main requirements.  From descent to the car drove over to breakfast.  The hot breakfast was OK.  Scrambled eggs, sausage patties, home fry potatoes, waffles.  Poor selection of pasties.  Opts for small portions of eggs, spuds (they were cold) and sausage.  A cup of coffee and I was about ready to head out to the park.

Had to bundle up this morning to get out to the park.  The car was showing temperatures in the upper 30s when i headed out.  Don't think it broke 50 all day. 

While at the hotel, I stopped to fill my water cup with ice and found where the Post Office is (so i could get stamps and mail post cards.  Got 10 stamps and off to the park.  Drove the one-way loop road.  Wanted to make it to Thunder Hole at high tide/  The surf was pretty calm today, so the thunder was about a whimper.

Took lots of photos along the coast during the drive.  Turned North to Jordon Pond.  Stopped there and found a recommended bike riding spot.  Problem was that it was too cold yet.   Took some photos.  Will debate later about riding in the afternoon.

Yesterday was overcast.  So, I drove back up Cadillac Mountain to see the view on a clear day.  Back in town, I decided to check out the scenery on Route 3.  Drove down to Seal Harbor.  On up route  to junction with 233, heading back into Bar Harbor.  Along Route  233, I happened upon the 4-unit generator site that Bangor Hydro (they were the owners at that time) had.  One time I made the trip to Bar Harbor (and even all the way to Eastport) with the power company representative.  Stopped and had a brief conversation with a worker that happened to be there at the gen-sets.  He told me they were working to decommision the sit and remove them.  He had worked to the railroad, so familiar with the engines.  Glad I happened to take that road!

Soon after that, near the park headquarters, I found a parking lot where others were loading and unloading bicycles.  There was a junction of a couple carriage roads and the highway.  Had to check out the carriage road for possible riding.

It looked good.  Not wearing my cycling kit, I rolled up my right BDU pant-leg.  Got the hybrid off the rack.  I knew I did not have the computer on the bike and not up to changing shoes.  So, grabbed my gloves and helmet and rode on down the carriage road in my sneakers. 

Guessing I rode about a mile.  Too bad I did not have the time and the weather was warmer.  These carriage roads are a great place to ride,  The crushed rock is packed almost like pavement.

On the morning drive on the one-way loop road, I went again to check out Sand Beach.  A pretty beach.  On into town.  I was getting hungry. Found a parking space downtown Bar Harbor.  Selected the Dog & Pony Tavern (had noticed the place last night) for brew and burger.  I had their Real Ale Beef Burger with chips.  the bartender suggested the Bar Harbor Blueberry Ale.  I had shied away from these ales in Portland.  But the bartender told me the ale is not a fruity beer.  I tried it and enjoyed a pint.

Back at the hotel, I grabbed ice for my water cup and climbed to my room.  Copied files from camera cards to a portable hard drive.  By this time (with a full stomach) I was getting tired,  Took a nap for about 2-3 hours.  Woke up and processed the photo from today.

It won't take me long to load the car in the morning. Just worrying about the 2 trips down the steps (more so the one trip UP).   Early morning start heading West.

Next Stop - Bar Harbor

Was up early to load the car and head towards Bar Harbor.  Had breakfast in the Clarion restaurant.  Gave my final "good-bye" to a couple folks.  Took me longer than planned to get out of Portland.  It was almost 9am before I got on the road.

Played tourist on the way to Bar Harbor.  Took coastal Hwy 1 to Ellsworth,  When I got to Bar Harbor, instead of looking for my hotel, I spent some time getting orientated with Mt Desert Island.  Drove up Cadillac Mountain.  Shot some photos.  Was a chilly, overcast afternoon. 

Stopped in at the gift shop at the "summit".  By this, it was time to find my room.  the Quality Inn in Bar Harbor is on Route 3 and you near the main retail area of the town.  Unfortuately, the assigned me a room way down the hotel (actually in one of the extra little building). The room is not convenient to the office or breakfast.  Worse, yet, it was a climb up from the parking lot up the drive and up several steps to get to my room. 

I complained that they should not put "Seniors" into such inconvenient rooms.  The only thing they said they could do might move me to a second floor room.  They gave me a song and dance about the reservation system does not give them sufficient information about me until day of arrival to plan.  No accommodation for a 67 year old, unless I had requested a handicap room in advance, it seams.  Well, I do not qualify for handicap sticker.  Leaving me a very bitter taste in my mouth about Quality Inn and Bar Harbor.

Lower photo is the view from the door on my room looking down to the parking area.

Drove down the the Main Street area.  Picked up a couple souvenirs.  Did not find a book about riding a bicycle on the carriage roads (and more importantly, a relatively flat road) to ride. On of the shopkeepers gave me a recommendation. Being after 5 on a Sunday evening, did not think the bicycle shop in town would not be open.

Across Main Street was the Bar Harbor Beerworks.  Looks like a good place to have a pint and a burger.  I asked for an amber or red ale.  The sever suggested Bar Harbor Brewing "Leafpeeper" Oktoberfest beer.  A nice way to end the day.  The burger was served with sea salt kettle chips (a lot of them).  I was able tp eat the burger, but too much food to finish the chips.

Stopped by at the office to get ice for my water.  Of course, its up stairs or at the far end of the building.  Ihe desk clerk said she would get some for my drink cup.  She came back with th 20ox cup only half-filled with ice.  Damn, they can't ever getting a cup of ice right!  Back to the room and struggled up to my room.  While tired, I could not sleep.  Processed photos drive to Bar Harbor.



Last Day of the Reunion

I have been getting aa little behind in my blogging the last couple days.  Saturday was the last full day of the Echo Company Reunion.

Normally, Saturday early morning those in the fishing tournament would head to boats (or in I case, the river).  In the Portland, Maine area, all of the fishing boats had moved south (where the fish had moved to).  So, organizers came up with an alternative.

Some of the ladies cut out construction paper "fish".  There was a "weight" of the fish is assigned to each of the fish.  The weight was not revealed until the fish was "caught".   There was one person behind a draped sheet where she would attached a fish.

The fisherman (fisherwoman) would sit in a chair sitting with the fishing rod.  "Cast" over the sheet and dangle the "hook".  Behind the sheet, a paper fish would be attached.

Lastly the fish would be reeled in and shown the re judge,  The weight was revealed.  Ended up being a popular indoor activity.  The upper photo shows a joke pulled on one of the wives,

Normally, on Saturday during fishing i would head out for a bicycle ride.  With the late fishing start and and my need to fishing packing, I opted to go to the room and work on packing my bags.  At 3pm were had the reunion business reunion.  this is where we talk about the next year's reunion.  Unfortunately, our 2015 reunion hosts could not make it,  We were advised that Echo Reunion will be in Highland, California during the week of October 12-18, 2015.

Time to dress for the banquet.  The banquet is a busy time for me.  As attendees arrive, and get thier refreshments, I take photos of the Echo Company member and then on of him and his wife/partner.  If there were additional families in attendance, another photo is taken of the family.

We were treated to a short concert by the Maine Public Safety Pipe and Drum Corps.  The corps also posted the colors for the start of the banquet.  The lower photo is of the corps in the banquet.

After invocation and greetings, it was time to eat.  Good, simple menu of salad, green beans, mashed potatoes, steak tips, and haddock, hard roll, and butter.  Several of us went back for seconds!

At each of the reunions, we take time to remember those killed in action or missing.  We also remember those who have passed in the last year.  There were a few door prized.  Then it was time to award plaques and trophies for the tournaments.  Lastly, there were the raffle prizes.

The banquet concluded with thanks and a benediction.  Last,hugs as as the folks slowly left the room.  See you next year!

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Shooting Tournament

I understand we got a good amount of rain Thursday night.  Skies were forecast to clear later in the morning.  For this reason, the shooting tournament was delayed until noon.

This made it a lost morning.  Had coffee and a muffin in the hospitality room.  Back up to the room for a little nap.  Then it was time to board the hotel van.

At the Scarborough Fish & Game Assoc. facility, we met Roy, who served as out range supervisor.  Shooters signed releases and Roy gave a range safety presentation.  The first rank of shooters took their position on the firing line.  Each shot 5 shells at each of 5 locations.

The second rank followed suit.  At the end "Dead-Eve" Don won the tournament with Merv coming in second.

Bach to the hotel where Eric had his presentation "Revisiting Viet Nan" ready.  I had seen the presentation, so I went to the room for a quick nap.  In no time, it was dinner time.  Everyone was on their on.  I did not want to go too far, so wend a couple block the road to Espo's for some Italian food.  Had spaghetti and sausage with a pint of Sam Adam's seasonal beer (guessing Octoberfest).  Good food and been, just too much food than I could eat.

Back at the hospitality room, I learned some of our group were leaving in the morning.  Got their "mug" shots taken.  Then I was ready for bed.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Golf and a Brewery

 The hospitality opened about 7:30am.  Weather was dreary - foggy, threatening rain, and windy.

Thursday was supposed to be the day for the golfing tournament.  Unfortunately, the weather was not conducive to being out on the links.  The "tournament" was moved inside  The golf pro at our host's club brought a portable "putting green".  It was not as photogenic than the normal outside tournament. 

The tournament consisted of putting 5 balls.  I stroke per ball.  Most balls in the hole won the contest.  The was a financial portion of the contest.  Playing cost $5.  Winner would win $25 of Maine lottery tickets.

Time took much less than playing 9 holes.  the "green fee" was less that playing the course.  More of the attendees played.

The upper photo is of one of the reunion attendees getting a lesson from the course golf pro.

I needed a rest, to went to the room.  Got "horizontal" for a little.  Change clothes from shorts to jeans for the afternoon.

We loaded into the hotel van and a couple of private vehicles for the drive to Shipyard Brewery.  Shipyard is the largest craft brewery in Maine.  The tour started with a video about the history of the brewery.  This year it is celebrating 20 years.

Next, we were lead into the brewery.  Bruce (our guide) described the brewing processes as we toured the brewery.  We were not able to see the brew-house where the actually brewing process happens - the are doing modification/repairs in that location.

In the lower photo here, Bruce is explaining the bottling room and equipment.

The brewery also makes root beer and some other fruit "beers". The tour ended with the tasting room.  Over 10 of their brews were on tap for us to sample and enjoy.  They also had a bunch of pizza for the group.  Don't know if they do the pizza for all over their tours.  I was able to each enough pizza that I did not need to go out for dinner tonight.

I liked the Costo Bat Octoberfest  beer.  One of our group bought a case of one of their beers and put them in the cooler for others to sample.  i picked ip a couple this in the gift shop - post cards, t-shirt, and cap.  The cap has a bottle opened mounted on the bill of the cap!

Thanks for the great tour, Bruce.  Congratulations for 20 years to the founders and employes of the brewery.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

A Great Birthday

Slow start today.  Was at the hospitality room about 7am (before it was open).  Coffee and muffins were being delivered to the room.  As folks drifted in to the room, we visited for a while.  About 10 am, it was about time for me to kit up for my birthday ride.

Headed to Portland's Back Cove.  Got lost getting there.  Poor signing.  Eventually found the parking lot.  Unloaded the bike off the car.  Rode the 3.75 mile loop around the cove.   Surprising, the Back Cove Trail surface is crushed stone.  I thought it would be pavement.  That's why I had brought the hybrid.  Luckily, the trail surface was well packed, and nearly solid as pavement. Though there were very few bicycles in the trail today.  Most users were jogging.

Back at the hotel, I brought the bike back up to the room.  The refrigerator in the room had not been working.  Maintenance came up and replaced the fridge.Showered and back to the hospitality room.  Found out another of the group enjoys riding bikes (road and mountain). We talked about our bikes and rides.   He's also big into photography/ 

The group was planning dinner.  I was concerned about if the places had a lighter fare and something other than fish/seafood.   ! could get a burger at the place about 25 of us were going. So, I signed up for dinner - besides, I was not looking forward to eating by my self on my birthday.

Changed clothes for dinner.  I ate with the group at Saltwater Grille.  The 1/2 pound burger, fries, and cole slaw ended up being more than I could eat.  Was washing down the food with water and a bottle of local beer - Geary's Autumn Ale. 

Was a beautiful evening when I finished eating.  Some of us we outside on the deck for some air and enjoy the weather.  Took a couple of photos and it was time to laod into the hotel van back.  Visited a little after back at the hotel.  Took some more photos.  As I was getting ready to leave to my room, three of the wives started at chorus of "Happy Birthday".  Some of the others joined in before they were done.  Awesome end to a great birthday.

Upper photo is me on my birthday ride.  Lower photo is view from the deck at Saltwater Grille.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

An Orientational Day in Portland

With a full meal last night, I did not need a breakfast.  Had coffee and muffin in the hospitality room.  It was a day on our own.  Some when to Freeport to shop at LL Bean.  Another couple went to Kennebuckport to see the Bush's home.  Sam (our reunion host) took me on a tour of Portland. 

I wanted to the the Portland Head lighthouse (reported to be the most photographed lighthouse in the country and perhaps the world).  At the same location are the ruins of Fort Williams.  The tour continued to a couple other lighthouse in South Portland.

Sam took me to the Maine Military Museum, a private en devour.  He was  interested in my feeling about suggesting the place to folks from the reunion.  It is an interesting museum - artifacts from Spanish & American War to Afghanistan.  All donated, nothing purchased.  The owner/curator could describe each piece, who gate it to him, and the history of the piece.

From the tour, I was able to identify a couple places I could ride.  Unfortunately, all of the trails are paved - I was told it is about 30 minute drive to get to some wide singletrack.

Stopped for some lunch (I sprung for lunch - least I could do for the private tour!)  Finished up with a tour around the Portland peninsula. By the time we returned, I was getting time for the group heading for dinner.  I did not need any more food, to wet up to the room and processed my photos for the tour.

It was also the day to get my blood draw.  Orders had been faxed from the doctor's office.  The hotel van took me to a local hospital for the draw.

When the groups (there were now 2 groups out for dinner) returned, chatting with the guys and gals.  Took some photos of the attendees, and called it a night. 

Upper photos is if the reunion banner.  Lower photo is ruins at Fort Willams

Monday, October 13, 2014

Arrived at the Reunion

With only about 50 miles to drive today, I soent some time touring the Portsmouth, NH area.  Drove coastal 1B.  Had driven that routh yesterday, but too much traffic.   Was great to not have someone right on my tail.

The upper photo here is of the Portsmouth VFW post.  I spent a lot of time at the post.  While living there, I climbed up to Sr. Vice Commander of the post. the same year. I was Seam Squirrel of the MOC Pup tent.  Traveled all around of the state of New Hampshire as State Public Relationship Officer.  Lots on memories.

Time to head North.  Stopped at the Maine Visitors Center.  Picked up a state map and some local information.  Wanted directions to Nubble Light - York ME.  Was able to find it.  Lots of folks at this location climbing the rocks and photograph the lighthouse.  Lower photo is of Nubble Light, York, ME

Arrived at the Portland hotel about 2pm.  Checked into the room.  My room is on the 4th floor, middle of the hall.  At least, had I been in the end of the hall, it could have shortened my walk to the car (elevators on both ends of the building).  As it is, have to trek through the lobby, up the elevator, and half way down the hall to my room.  At least the room is big enough that ! am not cramped with 2 bicycles in the room.

Sam, our host, was walking into the hotel.  Stopped to great him.  Another of our group and his wife were checking in at the hotel.  Met them and took my leave (I had one of my bikes with me to bring it up the elevator).  Finished moving into the room and checked in at the hospitality room and pick up my name badge. greeted Maggie and Joe (NY - don remember the name), The Longs were there.  Visited with Linda and Clark.

They and I were both looking for some food.  Menu at the hotel restaurant looks pretty good.  The hotel was offering a 15% discount at the restaurant.  It was a deal!  Went to pay my bill.  Linda told me it was their treat - for my birthday and thanks for what I do for the reunion.  I had no mentioned my birthday to the reunion host, but Facebook spilled the beans about my birthday this week.

Called it a early night.  Processed photos from the day and napped.  Had to go back down ot the car for my pill caddy.   Time to get some sleep.  Continental breakfast in the hospitality room starting 7:30.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Old Stomping Grounds


I had a great night's sleep last night.  Crashed into bed about 10pm.  Up for a little about 4am, back to bed and finally got up about 7am!  Moved the couple things I had brought into the room, back into the car. 

"Breakfast" at the Super 8 was pretty sparse - packaged cinnamon roll, toaster waffle, or cereal.  Also coffee and/or juice.  Not what i had been accustomed at the Niagara Falls Quality Inn.  On the road towards Portsmouth, NH before 9am.

East driving day - about 200 miles.  Took Hyw 9 across Vermont and New Hampshire.  I was surprised the trees were not showing more color.  (see upper photo).

Missed a couple turns.  I did not get a Vermont map (no place to get one on the route) and did not find a place to get NH map until i was near Manchester.  Took the coastal route when i got into New Hampshire.  Wanted to spend more time shooting photos, but traffic was terrible and everyone was in a big hurry.

I noticed that Hampton Beach is constructing a seawall.   Can't see the beach from route 1A.  Some big, expensive houses.  Saw very large "Scott Brown" sign - not surprising with the big money along the beach!  Many more Jeanne Shaheen signs in the yards of more moderate homes.

Eventually found my hotel in Kittery, Maine.  got my bags into the room and waited Ellie (friend the 70s  when I lived there).  We tried to contact another long-time friend (DeeDee) but attempts failed.  One phome # I had for her went to NFG mumber box.  The other got us a message that her mailbox was full.  Well, last i was able to talk with here, I told here where I would be and what night.  Figures if she wanted to contact me, I tried.  Its now in her court.

Ellie and I went to downtown Portsmouth.  Were able to get a table at the Portsmouth Brewery.  Each had a beer and awesome conversation. Many memories of my time in New Hampshire.  Eventually, decided on some food and a second beer.  Both of us liked "Herb's Herbs" beer.  On the way back to my hotel, we took a little tour - past my old house (my first place I purchased). The lower photo is of Portsmouth Market Street near the Portsmouth Brewery.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Heading East

Started loading the car before breakfast.  Had the normal fare for this hotel (it would be great if they changed the hot entree - sausage and scrambled eggs can get old),  I reminded the desk clerk that the phote in my room STILL did work this morning.  Had never worked during my 4 night stay.  Was on the road a little before 9am.

Was a zoo getting across the bridge to USA. Think all of the Canadians in that area where heading to New York for their holiday (Canadian Thanksgiving) weekend.  Construction and detour getting out of Niagara Falls, New York to the Thruway.

Started driving on the NY Thruway.  Stopped at the first rest area and picked up a New York state map.  Decided to get off the highway.  Just East of Rochester, I dropped down to US-20 and took this all the way to Albany.  US 20 is tagged as a Scenic Byway in New York!  There were sections in the Finger Lakes region where I thought I was riding a rollercoaster!.

On top of that, there was  a back-up on US-20.  Some kind of festival (strawberry or some such) in on of the valleys.  State police directing traffic (that is never a plus).  To me, it looked like they were justing traffic out of the festival as fast as they could - at the expense to through traffic.

I was getting tired and thinking of moving back onto the Thruway.  Then I started watching the building as I drove past -- there were lots of old building and lots of them abandoned.  Stopped to  take photos (where the road and traffic allowed). 

Checked into the hotel and processed my photos.  Was debating if I should eat or just call it a night.  The desk clerk suggested a place for brew and sandwiches less than a block from the hotel.  Not sure how my knee/leg would deal with the walk, I drove to Smokey Bones.  They were featuring theor own beer (Bones Brew - a red ale) as a special for $2.75!  Used a pint to wash down a burger and fries.

Last Day at Niagara Falls

Finally, the winds died dow to a reasonable level.  Cooler weather was accompanying the change.  This was "do-or-die" day for getting in a bike ride while in the area.

After breakfast, I pulled clothes out of the bag for this section of the trip.  Repacked the small gag for the next couple days.  It helped that I had a better idea what I would actually use.

Kitted up for a bike ride.  Stopped by the hotel office inquiring about where I retrieve one of my bikes.  Loaded the hybrid on the car and headed to the Welland Canal.

Plan was to check out the triple lock system, just South of Lock 3 which I head visited Wednesday.  There was not a spot to get a good photo.  Did  what I could.  The multi-use trail past these locks are pretty steep.  Steeper than I want to tackle.

On down to Lock 3 and the viewing area.  Packed the car and unloaded the bike.  The path is closes South from the museum for about a mile riding the street - I opted to explore down-canal on the trail.  As the upper photos, you can see the trail takes a good drop.  That would been fun to ride, but not sure about riding back up. i think I picked the worst section of the trail to ride -- where the canal climbs the Niagara Escarpment!

Next, changed gear, loaded the bike on the car and drove to the Floral Clock at the Niagara River.  This trail was better to ride - at least this section.  Rode mostly South on the Niagara Rive Trail - to the horticulture school.  It was a nice, 3+ mile ride.  At least i got out and rode and got some photos.

Back at the room, I finished packing the bags.  Rested and prepared the evening photo shoot - lights on the falls and the fireworks show.  I was not looking forward to the walk (actually, it was the hike back up the hill to the hotel I despise).  Drove to a place little further down-river, but it looked too far to see the falls week.

Ended up walking from the hotel/  I picked my spot to view the Falls, and hopefully the fireworks.  Did not want to do a lot of walking.  Took some shot of the colored lights on the falls.  Got a nice photo of the near--full moon over the American Falls.  (The shot is the lower photo with this posting).

Sat along the stone fence, waiting for the fireworks show.  I thought I would see fireworks over the falls, but they shoot the rockets just down-river from my location, about across from the Americal Falls.  While I did not get shots of fireworks over the Falls, I had a change to learn about shooting fireworks with my Canon 60D.

Back at the room, I dropped the camera and walked next door to Coco's for a "good bye" glass of Barking Squirrel.  It was a great way to end my stay in Niagara Falls. Onward and Eastward!

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Rest and an Afternoon at the Falls

Felt good to get off my legs last night.  Still did not get in a full 8 hours of sleep.  Difficult to change my sleep schedule.  Anyway, got up and wrote blog posting for yesterday and them off to breakfast,  Timed breakfast right - only a couple others in the room.

Stuck my head out of the doorm was a little chilly to ride.  Waiting for some heat, the winds picked up a bit.  Gusting tp 20mph (at least better than yesterday's 30-40mph)!  I was not feeling up to a bike ride, anyway.  Likely because I got myself dehydrated.

Spent most of the morning and early afternoon laying in bed or starting creating the web site pages for this trip.  Decided it would be a good day to walk the couple blocks from my hotel to the Falls.  Spent several hours walking along the path and photographing the Falls.

Had a crazy thought while I watched Maid of the Mist boats running from either side of the river up to the bottom of the Horseshoe Falls.  The folks riding a boat from the Canadian side were all decked out in red slickers,  On the American side, the were wearing blue slickers.  Do you think that this is so if someone goes overboard, they know which country he/she belongs to?

Temperature was that crazy range.  If the sun was shining had to open my jacket and sweating a bit.  When the sun was under a cloud, I was chilly and needing to zip up the jacket.  When I had had enough, I was across the Edgewater's Tap & Grill.  It was getting close to dinner time and i needed to get off my feet.

Checking the menu, I noticed the restaurant is run/owned by Niagara Parks.  While the prices were a little higher than Coco's patronizing the establishment would mean I was supporting the parks.  Besides it was there (on my way to the hotel) or Coco's (next to my hotel).  I did not have the energy or legs to go further.

Settle in on the patio.  They had Barking Squirrel lager, but I was looking to try something else.  The menu suggests Oast's Barn Raiser Country Ale (by Niagara Oast House Brewers).  It is a beer from oats.  Color was a little lighter then the Barking Squirrel.  While it is palatable, I still prefer the Barking Squirrel.  Used the beer to wash down a burger and fries,

Ate too much.  It was rough "waddling" up the hill to my hotel.  Had to stop to rest, even sit down once, before I got back.  Got horizontal stretching my tired legs for a while.  Got up to process my photos.  Back to bed for a nap. 

Now that I have written this blog posting, it's about time to sleep.  Upper photo was taken with my circular fisheye lens - showing Rainbow Bridge, American Falls, and Horseshoe Falls.  The lower photo was my view while having my food and beer.

A Windy Day in Canada

First, I need to comment about finding your way in the area.  There are good streets on a grid - no problem.  Its the angle streets and those that suddenly end.  Thankfully, the local populace are friendly with directions and there are lots of free maps in tourist brochures.

Quality Inn breakfast room was busy.  Know when in a tourist town - hotel breakfast is 8-11am.  The fare was more than just continental breakfast.  The breakfast included scrambled eggs and sausage links.

Off to find Mac's Bikes to get some riding information.  Missed the place the first drive through.  Mac's in not a typical bike shop.  Its two containers in a lot.  They rent bicycles from the location (just a couple blocks from the falls)..  The young man suggested riding the trail up and down the river.  There is also a multi-use path along the Welland Canal.  Asking about singletrack, he said that dirt riding was ab 30 mile drive.

Winds were supposed to pick up in the afternoon (up to 30-40mph).  Not a good day touring on a bicycle.  Headed ti the Welland Canal to play "tourist".  I had good timing as there was a bulk carrier just tieing up into Lock 3.  Once the ship had been raised in the lock and on its way, I checked out the little museum,  Picked up a book about the canal in the book store.  Chatting there, I commented that I was looking for what else to see while I am out.  The little town Niagara-on-the-Lake was on option.  Fort George (in the same area) was also recommended.

Fort George it was.  Did not need to go shopping.  Ft. George in on the Niagara River near its origin at Lake Ontario.  It was a chilly and windy afternoon when I toured the fort.  When I went to pay for parking (would get back with fort entrance fee), it looked like I had left one of my credit cards at the canal.  As Iwas heading back to the canal, I noticed that I had just put the card in the other side of my wallet.  Panic avoided.

The War of 1812 was a big part large part in the fort's history. Much of the day-to-day life of the soldier in those 19th century are not different that others - regardless of the threat. It was interesting to the other side of the was.  Canadians (as British subjects) were fighting for The Crown and against the Americans.  Big different was the building material.  With trees plentiful, the structures are wood with some massive beams.

There were a couple of folks in period dress to explain the fort and life at the fort.  Most entertaining was the guy demonstrating loading and firing the musket of the day. Stopped in the gift shop and bought a book about the fort.

Decided to drive along the river as I head back to Niagara Falls.  Found the Floral Clock along route.  Importantly, I recognized the bike path - it generally followed the road I was on (even near the entrance to Ft. George).

Unloading the pockets of my BDU pants, I could not find the SD card with most of the photos i had taken today.  I had changed the card near the end of my tour of Fort George.  Drove back up to the fort.  It was almost 5pm and the Visitors Center.  talked with one of the employees as he was walking to his car -- I could get back into the fort if I needed.  Walking back to the fort, I remembered that I had stopped to sit at a bench between the Visitor;s Center and the fort entrance - and there was my SD card.  Problem resolved.

By this time, I was getting hungry!  On my way to Fort George (in the town of Virgil) I had seen Lawrenceville Restaurant which looked busy at the end of lunch.  Stopped there on my way back to my hotel.  Had a very good cheeseburger, fries, and a pint of Backing Squirrel Lager.  My beer was served in a Barking Squirrel glass.  From that, I leaned the beer is crafted by Hop City Brewing Co.  I can't tell you where it is brewed.  The brewery web site is pretty sparse on such information.

Photos from yesterday:
Bulk ship in Lock 3 on the Welland Canal
Musket firing demonstration at Fort George
Niagara Parks' Floral Clock at the power station

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Arrived Niagara Falls, ON

Tried to sleep in, but the time change screwed me up.  Had my waggle & sausage breakfast in the hotel and grabbed my stuff out of the room.  The sky was starting to get some light when I headed out towards Niagara Falls, ON. 

I-94 past Battle Creek, then I=69 North and East to Port Huron.  At Port Huron, I missed a turn at I-69 and I-94, ending up getting a tour of downtown Port Huron, MI.  Crossed the bridge to Canada.  More questions than I had been getting at the boarder into Canada.  Addition to the normal questions, he wanted to know why I had 2 bicycles id I was the only one in the car..  Answered - "one for riding ride, and one for riding pavement".

Uneventful drive across SW Ontario.  I did not have a Ontario map, so a couple times I was concerned missed a turn.  Turned off 401 onto 403 towards Naigarga falls, but the signs kept showing distance to Toronto!.  Finallt, when I got one the QEW, I knew I was on the right track.

Had some problems finding the hotel once I got into Niagara Falls.  It was 3pm, when i should have been able to check in - but they did not have my room ready - and until 5:30-6pm.  Desk clerk offered me a meal, but was not that hungry.  We got the bicycles off the car into hotel storage.  He gave me to a pass to the Skylon observation tower and 3D-4D movie.  He held my laptop behind the desk and I headed out to play tourist.

Grabbed my camera and headed to the tower.  Got some good photos.  Was getting tired by the time i got to the movie (lots of walking).  When I got out of the movie, I was trying to rain.  When i got back, my room was ready.  Stopped at the car to get my bag of clothes packed for this section of the trip.  Fired up the laptop and processed the day's photos. Had a little rain while in the room.  Phone is the room is dead.  Desk clerk said they knew that, and hoping it would be fixed tomorrow.

By this time, I was craving a good beer.  Next door to my hotel is Coco's Bar and Grill (in the Holiday Inn). Told the bartender I was looking for a pint of good, local beer.  He suggested "Barking Squirrel", an amber, red beer.  It was just want I wanted.  Ended up with 2 "pints' (actually 20oz glasses) and a bowl of French Onion soup.  It all hit the spot.  Was a bit more than I planned to spend.  $30 for the soup, 2 beers, and tip!

Today's photos - The Falls from the Skylon and Skylon at night.

Monday, October 6, 2014

600 Miles on the Road

Got an early start this morning - out of the house just before 4am.  First stop was Perkins at Newton, IA.  Normally, I would not stop at a chain restaurant, but it was early and i needed some coffee and a bit of breakfast.  I had not eaten recently at a Perkins.  I was happy to see they have an  expanded "Over 55" menu.  An egg, sausages, pancakes and coffee.

Weather was mostly clean and a bit chilling until about noon.  Half-way across Illinois I took off my sweatshirt and track pants.  Beat traffic around the bottom of Lake Michigan.  Of course, there was construction there -- as it usually is the case.

About 20 miles before Kalamazoo, I started watching a storm brewing.  I had torrential downpour through Kalamazoo.  Of course, i had an idiot in a pick-up tail-gating me.  i could hard to see, the wipers could not keep up, but he was right on my bumper.

As I got to my hotel, the storm was dissipating.  Watching the TV, I heard that Paw Paw (20 miles  down the road) had hail.  Checked into the room.  Logged into the internet and checked mail.  Had an order for a photo file from Bike Bash.  Processed that photo and sent the file before heading for dinner.

Hotel desk clerk suggested Nob Hill Bar & Grill.  Enjoyed a pint of Sam Adams Octoberfest beer.  For food, had their Philly steak sandwich with fries.  Actually had too much to eat.  Now, getting ready to get horizontal in from of the TV.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Bike Bash - 2014

Saturday was a busy day for the local mountain bike community.  There was a race over in SouthCentral Iowa.  Early in the afternoon, THOR (Trails Have Our Repect) hosted its annual Bring Your Own Kid Mountain Biking.  Im the evening,  In the evening, there was the Pyscowpath Mounttain Bike Racing Series banquet and awards party (AKA - Bike Bash).

Bike Bash was held at Papillion Fun Park.  Party turnout was lower than previous years.  I think the chilly weather (the function was held in a tent, with one fire in the center and one end open.  Add in the Mullet Classic race which many Pyscopwath racers attend.  It still was a good party.  Thanks R&R for your work promoting the race series.

My photos of Bike Bash are at:  http"//win-photo.photoreflect.com

Bring Your Own Kid Mountain Biking

Saturday, October 14th was IMBA's Bring a Kid Mountain Biking.  THOR (the local dirt trail group in Western Nebraska/Eastern Iowa)  re-branded the day as Bring Your Own Kib Mountain Biking.  The function was held at Walnut Creek Recreation Area, Papillion, NE.  Walnut Creek is the newest trail in the Trails Have Our Respect system.

Before the function got underway, representatives of Canfield Sporting Good Store (Omaha), presented THOR a check as proceeds to their mountain bike film night.

The temperature was a little chilly, so turn-out was not as good as expected.  The kids and parents had a good time.  There was a skills course to teach the basics of mountain biking (today's photos shows a dad helping a kid over the teeter-totter).

The group then headed down the trail to ride some singletrack goodness.  When they were back to the pavilion, waiting were makings of S moor's.

Photos I took during the function are at: http://win-photo.photoreflect.com

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Choke People


Thanks to a facebook ad, I saw this t-shirt and just HAD to order one.  A few years ago when I was having problems with my speech and frustrations from health problems I could not stand some of the groups I belong to.  Then I have had enough of them, I would disappear to ride my bike.  It has had a great calming effect.

I don't need it so much these days, but the base feeling is the same.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Trail Closed

Headed out for a bike ride yesterday.  Had signs showing the trail from Wabash Trace to Lake Manawa is closed.  Rode that way anyway to see the situation. 

The trail going under the railroad (through the wire cage) is mud.  Can see that some folks tried to walk/ride though it.  Most riders bypasses by using the gravel over the tracks.

Little water under the tunnel.  Rest of the trail clear and dry.  Rode as far as the Manawa Nature Trail. Rode around that and back to the Trace trailhead.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Jeep Driving in Vietnam

After an exhaustive survey of jeep drivers in Vietnam, we have compiled an amazing mountain of facts and myths about driving in Vietnam.

Here is but a sample of the nuggets of wisdom drawn from that vast legion of the most professional jeep drivers in the world.

  1. If you forget to unlock the chain on the steering wheel, there is a good chance you won’t make the first turn.

  1. If you are driving your First Sergeant around and you run out of gas, he is likely to get mad.

  1. If you put it in reverse, floor it, and pop the clutch, you will lay a patch.

  1. If Top sees you do this, you will likely be taking the ankle express from now on.

  1. During the monsoons, it will rain when the canvas top is down.

  1. During the monsoons, it will rain when the canvas top is up.

  1. During the monsoons, you are going to get wet.

  1. MPs can appear from nowhere.

  1. MPs will not go away if you ignore them.

  1.  You should always give tanks the right-of-way.  Courtesy pays.

  1. If you are constantly driving on the left side of the road and you are not in Australia, you are going to be surprised one of these days.

  1. If you signal for a left turn in Saigon, there is a good chance you will lose your wristwatch.

Monday, September 15, 2014

A Sunday Ride

Had to get out for a bike ride yesterday afternoon.  It was a cool morning, upper 40s when I headed into town for coffee. 

It was near 3 pm when I headed out for a ride.  The hybrid is in the shop for tune-up, so aired up the tires of the road bike.

When I climbed on the saddle of the bike, I was surprised how much higher the ride seems to be from the hybrid.  I had not ridden the Rail for nearly a year.  As usual, the Rail seemed to push me for riding faster.  Had the bike up into 12 along the Lake Manawa Trail - had not done that in a while. 

I had parked at the Lake Manawa Nature Trail lot.  When I got to Indian Creek, I was debating to turn back or ride around the lake.  After a rest and slug of water, I headed up Indian Creek Trail for a loop around the lake. Stopped along the golf course to take this photo.  Had not noticed previously but someone had created a fallen soldier/MIA memorial in their front yard.

Finished up my 7 mile ride.  Was tired but felt good.  spent the rest of the afternoon and evening writing in my memoirs and selecting photos for them.

Monday, September 8, 2014

In the Army Now


Continuing my memoirs - Son of a Sharecropper.  This chapter explores being drafted,  Basic Training, and Army schools to deployment to Viet Nam.

In the Army Now

Greetings...

My draft board caught up with me in 1969. Early that year I dropped out of Case Tech. I had hoped to take courses at a community college in the Cleveland, OH area until I could get back into Case. During that Spring, I worked at Harshsaw Chemical as a lab assistant. At that same time, I was called for my draft physical exam.

It was obvious, the draft board was not going to give me a deferment for attending the community college. I hired on as a trainee at Avco Electronics near Cincinnati, OH. They were designing NASA satellites. They assured me they could get me an employment deferment. For the first few weeks, I lived at the Sigma Chi House at U of Cincinnati.

The deferment did not come through on the Ohio Science Review Board. Word was that a secretary did not file the papers. Not sure if that was true – or of the company did not want to fight it. Anyway, living in Cincinnati, I received my induction letter with 1 week one week notice!. The US Postal Service had not properly forwarded the letter. I had filed all of the proper “change of address”, the Post Office just ignored it and returned the draft notice and finally forwarded again by my draft board.

So, I found a fraternity brother at U of C that helped me pack up my apartment and move me to parents house in Wisconsin. As this was taking place, I got word that my maternal grandfather had died. His funeral scheduled for the day before my induction.

As you can imagine, I did not have time to think much about pending military service. Neither did my parents have any time to realize that their son was off to the Army. But, then, like most major events in my life, I rolled with the punches, did what I had to do, and get on with things.

Basic Training

On July 1, 1969, I boarded a bus from Kenosha to the Milwaukee induction center. I don't remember much about that day in Milwaukee. We were sworn into the military. The highlight of the day was being told that the Marines were not drafting that month and all of us were on our way to Fort Campbell for basic training.

That day was also the first day the military started using Social Security Number as our service number. There was also a 2 letter designation with the service number. For the Army – US were draftees, RA for Regular Army (enlistees), NG was for National Guard, and AR was for Army Reserve.

I had no idea what to wear for induction. I was way overdressed in a jacket & tie. Unfortunately, this was the only clothes I had for nearly a week. One of the early lessons in the Army is there are things called “Zero-Week”. That's when you are kept doing busy work until your training begins. Zero-Week at Fort Campbell including things like tests, PT, lots of forms, uniform issue, and getting your dog tags.

I had a problem with my dog tags. The ones they first issued me showed my blood type of “O+”. Having donating blood, I knew that was wrong – that my blood is “O-”. This could cause a big problem for me. My Drill Sargent first said it was no problem – they would eventually get the error corrected. I told him that it needed to be changed immediately because if given blood of anything other than O- could kill me. They quickly made the changes.

I was assigned to 4th Platoon, Alpha Company, 9th Battalion, Second Training Brigade. Our Drill Sargent was Sgt Blackshear. As far as Drill Sargents went, he was a pretty good one. We had guys from 18 to 24 years old. The younger ones seemed to cause more of the problems. At almost 22, I was one of the older guys. Do remember we had at least one “blanket party” to straighten out one of the troublemakers in our platoon.

No matter how good you kept your nose clean, someone in the platoon or company screwed up – just enough for a Drill Sargent ordering punishment. Favorite one was low-crawling under our barracks, generally following a heavy rain so we were crawling in mud. Adding insult to injury, the next day we had to wear the same uniform!

If you feared shots (immunizations) Basic Training cured you of that. At least it did for me. Whether you had received immunizations previously, the Army made sure by hitting you again. We all had our international immunization record book. One time we got 3 at once! One Corp-man hit one arm with a needle. Another hit you with two immunization guns. Of course, right from that, it was time for PT so that your muscles did not get stiff!

I was “selected” as a road guard for my platoon. My position for marching was front row, right flank. That meant that when the platoon ahead of us passed, I had to double time up ahead to the end of the previous platoon. Then, I stood blocking cross traffic until my platoon passed. Port Arms most of the time. Had to bring the rifle up to “”Order Arms” if an officer vehicle was at the crossing. I persevered as my Drill Sargent promised me E-2 out of Basic Training if I stuck with it.

Another important item in Basic Training was the talk given by the Chaplain. He was recruiting for future Chaplain Assistants. During his presentation, he outlined the duties of and requirements for Army Chaplain Assistant. I had not told ANYONE about my ham radio license – I did not want to carry a radio in the jungles. Rumors were that the Army liked to assign college graduates (and those nearly graduated) assigned to the infantry, hoping to get them to sign up of OCS (Officer Candidate School). I did not see myself as an infantry office. The job of Chaplain Assistant sounded pretty good. I could be service my fellow soldiers, and not be out hunting an “enemy”.

Chaplain Assistant was the only MOS that we had to ASK for assignment. The Chaplain cautioned that the while there were many benefits of being a Chaplain Assistant, It was also nearly a guarantee that you serve a tour in Viet Nam.

I joined the company “Drill and Ceremony” team. At basic, we carried the M-14 rifle – great for D&C, heavy for carrying during training. All M-16s all went to Viet Nam. Qualified “Sharpshooter” in my rifle test. Tried to be the model trainee.
The first moon landing was a special day for us in Basic Training. The day room was opened and training suspended so we could watch the landing!

Graduated basic training. My orders indicated that I was on course to becoming a Chaplain Assistant. Promoted to Private E-2 and “shipped” out to Fort Dix, NJ for clerk school.
 
Uniforms

This seems to be a good place to talk about the uniforms we were issued. They basically were fatigues, khakis, and dress greens. Underwear was white t-shirt and white boxer drawers.
Fatigues were OD (olive drab) long sleeve shirts, 4-pocket work pants, black cloth belt with brass buckle, black leather boots, and OD ball cap. Only if category 1 heat was called, we could roll up our sleeves and “un-blouse” shirts and pants. Un-blousing meant shirt tails were allow un-tucked and the pant legs were un-tucked from the boots. During basic training, “blousing rubbers” were not allowed. Once past basic, they were allowed.

Khakis were a summer-weight uniform often worn in place of dress uniform. Short sleeve khaki shirt, flat front khaki pants, black belt with brass buckle, dress black socks and dress black shoes.
(Sometimes, this uniform was worn with bloused boots.)  Head gear could be the garrison cap or the service cap (we called it the saucer cap).

Dress Greens were our Class A uniform. Green tunic (suit coat), green dress pants, khaki/green dress shirt, narrow black tie, black belt with brass buckle, black socks and black dress shoes. Once again, head cover could be garrison cap or service cap.

There were a couple of things that were key about uniform inspections (in addition to the cleanliness and press of the uniform). Shoe/boot polish was a bit item. Shine of the brass belt buckle and insignia, and the “gig line”. The gig line was the line of your shirt placket, belt buckle, and pants fly. The gig line was so crucial, almost 45 years later, I seem to try lining up my shirt, belt, and fly!

Advanced Training

My time at Fort Dix (which we affectionately called “Fort Ding-a-ling”) was 4 week school to learn the Army forms, proper letter layouts, and regular typing exercises and test. I never took typing in high school. In college I developed my own method of typing. It was a combination of touch-typing and “hunt-and-peck”. One of the first days at clerk school, the instructor stopped and watch me typing. There was a typing test and I passed with my system. The instructor told me “I have no idea how you are typing – there is no system I know of. But since you could pass Army proficiency test, I am not going to try to change you”.

Clerk school (10A20? – cannot find this code in Google search) was pretty routine and boring. Part of clerk school including jeep driving class – including driving in convoy. As the driver, we were schooled on how to perform routing maintenance on our jeep. Being on the Chaplain Assistant program, I was exempt from extra duties. Our spare time was spent at the chapel.

Most of the time, we marched to/from class under the direction of a Corporal. I guess we were talking to much in ranks, Our Corporal yelled “Drop it”. Being just out of basic, we though he meant dropped to the ground and assume the push-up position. He ask “What the $%^# are you doing? Trying to get me in trouble? He did not have authority to order “calisthenics”.

Looking through my slides, I found a photo of me in uniform with my cousin Mike Zvoda. Apparently I had a overnight or weekend pass from school at Fort Dix. I visited my Aunt & Uncle in Gettysburg, PA. It would have been the first time any of my family had seen me since induction.

On to Chaplain Assistant School 71M20) in Fort Hamilton, NY. The fort entrance was under the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge in New York City. This was pretty good duty. Almost any night we wanted, specially weekends, we could got into the city a pick up movie or theater tickets. I was able to watch “1776” (SRO), “You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown” (off Broadway), “Mame”, and others.

At Fort Hamilton, we were told that the top half of our class would get a double promotion out of Chaplain Assistant school. That was an incentive to do well in school! I graduated in the top 10% of my class. Remember that I left basic Training as E-2. After Chaplain Assistant school I was promoted to PFC E3 for one day. The next day I got orders for Specialist 4 E-4.

Here comes another of those “zero weeks”. My orders out of Chaplain Assistant School was to Viet Nam. After a week “chilling” at Fort Hamilton, I went down to Fort Dix for a week of RVN (Republic of Viet Nam) training. This was supposed to prepare us for special problems with posting at a war zone. During that week, we trained with the AR16 – which would be out firearm in 'Nam. I qualified “Expert” with the auto-rifle.

The day I was returning to Fort Hamilton prior to leave, was a national day of protest against the Viet Nam war. We were cautioned to stay in the subway system from the bus station to Fort Hamilton – and did not dally.

Finally, in November, I went home to Wisconsin for leave.

2 weeks+ of leave

I don't remember much of the details of that 2 week+ leave. I just remember that it was filled with visits with family, photos in my uniforms, and a few evenings at Klondike Korners for beers and games of Uker.

One thing I did NOT do was to go out to the bar in uniform. A high school friend of mine had made that mistake. He suffered a beating at one of the area “beer bars” at the hands of his “friends” because of his uniform.

My parents and I did not dwell on the topic of me heading off to war. I think it helped that one of my my dad's brother had served in WWII and a brother of my mom served in Korea. Me, I was rolling with the punches accepted it my duty to serve.

Next stop was Oakland Army Base for processing and shipment to Viet Nam. Only spent a couple nights at Oakland. At Oakland, we were issued our jungle fatigues. Once again I was spared any routine duty – assigned to the chaplain. On the evening of December 11th, I boarded a plane from Travis Air Force Base bound for Viet Nam with refueling stops in Hawaii and Japan.

PHOTOS:  

Top - my graduation class in Basic Training,  I think I am the one on the top row next to the right end. 

Drawing - military uniform "gig line".

Middle - In my Class A uniform.  I was visiting my Aunt & Uncle in Gettysburg, PA. Overnight or weekend pass from Fort Dix.  With me is my cousin Mike Zvoda and his dog (Charlie?)

Bottom - In my fatigues with the farm dog "Trixie" at home in Wisconsin. I was on leave before deployment to Viet Nam