The Official Site of Author Joseph Heywood
JoeRoads.com: The Official Blog of Author Joe Heywood
08 Nov

More from Pileated Forest

These would, for reasons only the cockamamie computer knows (or doesn’t) would not load yesterday. So we try again. For artists interested in shapes and  hues, there is nothing like a long slow walk in the woods on a crispy fall day..

For the odd sign department. I know art requires taste, but I didn't know you could taste art. Anything to market wine, I guess.

For the odd sign department. I know art requires taste, but I didn’t know you could taste art. Anything to market wine, I guess.

There is something about the glow and bounce of neon that I find stimulating.

There is something about the glow and bounce of neon that I find stimulating. I think this may well end up as a painting.

Quck stop for greek pizza to go from Asiago in Texas Corners.

Quck stop for greek pizza to go from Asiago in Texas Corners.

Da road out.

Da road out.

More lichens

More lichens

Green-green

Green-green

Rainman

Rainman

 

Tallness

Tallness

Shredding like an Ozzie gum tree

Shredding like an Ozzie gum tree

Another colony in moss

Another colony in moss

 

 

Roots

Rooted

Shapes overhead

Shapes overhead

Paths to nowhere.

Among the oaks.
.

Grapevine clingeything curleques.

Grapevine clingeything curleques.

Things are looking up.

Things are looking up.

The light approacheth the colony.

The light approacheth the colony.

Colony in green

Colony in green

Totally random color and shapes.

Totally random color and shapes.

Symmetry of sorts.

Symmetry of sorts.

The road to natural raisinhood.

The road to natural raisinhood.

Pelvic girdle on grapevine.

Pelvic girdle on grapevine.

High style in suburban woods.

High style in suburban woods.

Twisty Tree #3

Twisty Tree #3

Twisty Tree #2

Twisty Tree #2

Twisty Tree #1

Twisty Tree #1

Ms. Smiley

Ms. Smiley

Mickey Mouse?

Mickey Mouse?

07 Nov

Facing Forward

Getting reacquainted with life BTB. Walking the mutt in the Pileated Forest Every day. Beautiful and peaceful and filled with turkeys. Photos follow. Over.

 

Look carefully. Maskirovka.

Look carefully. Maskirovka.

 

 

The vineyard outside the Pileated Forest

The vineyard outside the Pileated Forest

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Grapes in repose.

04 Nov

BTB: The Annual Readjustment

We are  BTB (below the bridge) in our  “winter quarters.” The usual culture shock, natch:  so damn many people, so many vehicles  and most drivers competing for Most Reckless/ Thoughtless/Clueless Award. It is the same experience , ever year. It is not a pleasant feeling to drive in traffic after six months where you pretty regularly drive 35 miles and se a single vehicle. But tizwhadiz and we press on. Dog seems glad to he home. We have to drive him 7-8 miles to the Pileated Forest for his extended freedom runs.  Will be off to work with DNR officers in the not-too-distant future and prolly won’t post until  after I return late in the month. Photos of recent days follow. Rained all the way from Deer Park to Portage. Spent night en route at Gates Lodge east of Grayling on the Holy Water. Go to visit with Joe Guild, Sam Surrey, and Josh Greenberg, then   a quick visit with CO Mark Papineau in Clare on the way Sud. Pictures follow in no particular order. Over.

Destination for 2014.

Destination for 2014.

Last look at Muskallonge Lake.

Last look at Muskallonge Lake.

Ready to roll.

Ready to roll.

Last look at five years.

Last look at five years.

Beauty Close

Beauty Close

Rest Stop beauty. Leaves still in color all the way south.

Rest Stop beauty. Leaves still in color all the way south.

Stripped apples.

Stripped apples.

Enough in the vehicle. We need OUT!

Enough in the vehicle. We need OUT!

Holiday Tree farm.

Holiday Tree farm.

The fog remained with us all the way south to around Alma.

The fog remained with us all the way south to around Alma.

Close up color.

Close up color.

Beauty = color and shape and how it is arranged for the eye.

Beauty = color and shape and how it is arranged for the eye.

Green Streamer filled with Stuff.

Green Streamer filled with Stuff.

The Holy Water is shallow but runs deep.

The Holy Water is shallow but runs deep.

Edington Sunset

Edington Sunset

Backyard

Backyard

Leaf Deck

Leaf Deck

View from the studio window.

View from the studio window.

04 Nov

More History From the Air

November 2013

                                     

Thud 1

Editor’s note: I like this photo just because it displays the Thud’s distinctive silhouette so well. Note that the KC-135 still has the original J-57 engines with the signature black smoke stains on the flaps from those interminable takeoff rolls with water injection howling and all the crew pushing. One day at Hill AFB, a KC-135 from the SAC satellite alert force took off to rotate back home to Beale. He rolled all the way south down the 13,500′ runway, rotated within the last 1000′, managed to avoid the ILS localizer antenna but took down the perimeter fence 1500′ beyond, as well as a stop sign on the civilian street outside. Fortunately the ground sloped away toward the town of Layton & the Great Salt Lake and he was able to get it going. I’d love to know what the drivers had to say to each other afterwards…


After the advance copy of this issue was sent to our Tech Advisors, Jim Webster provided this remarkably similar later view he took of Marty Noel’s loaded-for-bear Weasel “G” somewhere over Laos carrying a Standard Arm and 2 Shrikes. The wingtip vortex streamers indicate we’re talking heavy iron here… The tanker has gotten a lot dirtier and more scabrous over the years.

 

Thud (F-105) refueling somewhere over Laos enroute to North Vietnam


Published by email for the enjoyment of all those associated in any significant way with the Republic F-105 Thunderchief a.k.a. Thud, Ultrahog, & Squashbomber; and the Lockheed/Martin F-16 Fighting Falcon a.k.a. Viper, Electric Jet, & Lawn Dart, hereafter know in this publication as “Thud” & “Viper” respectively.This includes, but is not limited to, Pilots, Bears, Maintainers, Armorers, Flight Surgeons, & Tech Reps. We solicit stories of your adventures, combat or otherwise, to keep alive the memories & legends of these outstanding fighter aircraft. Bits of trivia about them that might be of interest to fellow aviators are also welcome.

Dedicated to all those who have flown west to join up with that Great Rendezvous in the sky.

 

There are no dues to receive this letter, we only ask that you support this effort by contributing such stories of adventures/misadventures as you care to share.

Address your stories, suggestions, queries, or complaints to your editor, Norm Powell at sywitchcraft@peoplepc.com

Please submit your items for publication as a text email, not an attachment, in your choice of easily-read 12-point font. We will edit them only as necessary for clarity or to correct spelling/grammar. Slang & euphemisms (YGBSM) are accepted & welcome. If for any reason I deem your submission unsuitable for dissemination, I will contact the author privately to see if we can work it out.

The intent is to compile and publish your submissions at least monthly, or more often if the volume of material warrants. An advance copy of each issue will be reviewed by our Technical Advisors: pilots Jim Miholick, Bane Lyle, Greg “Blotto” Garrett, Jim Webster, and myself to correct any possible technical misinformation. Having said that, this is not a pure historical document, but a forum for our veteran members to tell their stories as they remember them. We recognize that memories are fallible and when combined with the infamous “Fog of War” may result in different accounts of the same event.


Here’s one final account of the intercepts of supersonic Thuds by English Electric Lightnings of the RAF in the early ’60s.

Lightning-Thud Intercept – John Heron

Thud was one of the few aircraft which could provide a genuine supersonic threat during exercises. I’ve checked my log book and on 15 Jan 1964 I was scrambled in a Lightning F2 to engage a single F-105D which was approaching the coast at Mach 1.4 about 100 miles east of Lincolnshire. As I closed he turned left on to a heading of about 140 at around 34,000 ft. I was concentrating on the radar and missile acquisition with my head in the radar sun visor, and not paying attention to speed. On a cold Winter’s day at the troposphere there was power to spare and inadvertently I reached Mach 2.0 as I passed the Thud, just off his right wing. Who was he I wonder?

Sixteen months later I was at Nellis appreciating the merits of that fine fighter bomber and some years later at least two of our students on the 4526th were exchange pilots with the RAF flying the Lightning. Happy memories!


Barracuda Two is down – Gordon Jenkins

Note: This is written as an addendum to the article “The Best Job I ever had (the rescue of Maj. R. E. Stone) giving the perspective of the Navy rescueman published in the previous edition of the MIG SWEEP.

I was among the second class of First Lieutenants to be checked out in the Thud at Nellis and shipped out directly to Thailand to bomb the North. Among my group were Bob Lodge, Jim Shively, Gary Smith (all USAFA grads) and Bob Abbott, Bob Weskamp, Ken Matthews, and Paul Sheehy.

Thud 3

Lodge was a very interesting fellow, himself shot down trying to get his third Mig on a second tour in F-4s. Bob Lodge had a photographic memory, most aptly demonstrated during our 100th mission, when I had a hung 750-pounder on the centerline MER. Bob joined up and advised me of the situation, then transmitted “250, 1g, no flaps” reciting the limitations from the manual as though he had the page in front of him. Without his astute input, I’d have toggled the rack at 400 knots – after all I am an LSU graduate. Shively and Abbott were shot down after 50 missions and spent 7 years as POWs in Hanoi. Bob Weskamp was shot down while inbound to a target near Hanoi and never bailed out. Matthews, Sheehy, Smith, Lodge and I were able to complete 100 missions over North Vietnam. Our group of 8 actually beat the odds, as upon our arrival at Takhli Royal Thai Air Force Base in December, 1966, we were ushered into the lobby at Base Operations awaiting representatives from the three squadrons to ‘divvy up’ the eight Lieutenants. On the wall in Base Ops were two 4X8 pieces of plywood with titles “100 Missions” and “POW/MIA/KIA”. There were an equal number of small nametags on each board, showing us that this was a 50/50 proposition!

My most challenging mission was flown on July 2, 1967. This was my 96th mission and flown the day after my 37th one to the Hanoi area (Route Pack VI). This was my first flight as lead, having been approved for this status by Col Bob White of X-15 fame, who was the Wing Director of Operations. Bob Lodge and I were the first lieutenants placed on flight lead orders at Takhli, as the Wing Commander, Col Bob Scott, thought only senior officers could be trusted with this position.

Thud 4

On this date, I was Baracuda One, with Major Bob Stone as two. This was a mission to Route Pack II, with our fragged target being a river crossing on the “Black Route”, the designation of a 50 mile stretch of river leading from the Laotian Border to the Gulf of Tonkin. We had an uneventful refueling and, as I had learned from some really fine fighter pilots, flew the entire length of Black Route hoping to see some ‘movers’ so we could drop our six 750 pound bombs on a visual target of opportunity. Nothing was moving that day as we weaved back and forth at 8,000 feet eastbound over the river. We reached the coast and I determined that the best we could do that day was to hit the fragged river crossing which was about thirty miles inland.

We headed back west and approached the target from the northeast. I pulled up to 12,000 to dive bomb the river crossing, with Major Stone taking spacing outside my climbing turn. I released bombs at the standard 5,000 ft AGL in a 45 degree dive and 540 knots. Pulling up and turning left, I saw my bombs hit just on the south side of the river at the underwater crossing point and observed a new ‘cloud’ appear below me at about 6,000 feet. This was 37mm anti-aircraft fire that had been fused to explode at that altitude. Unfortunately for Bob Stone, he flew directly into the metal overcast and suffered major damage. His aircraft was shedding parts and burning. I transmitted “head west” because I didn’t think he could make it to the Gulf with that much damage — and heading west would take him into mountainous terrain from which a rescue would be possible. He leveled off at 8,000 ft heading west, going fast. I saw more and more of his aircraft falling away and told him to ‘bailout’, which he did. Unfortunately he was doing 500 knots and the windblast from an ejection at that airspeed can cause major whiplash to neck, arms, and legs. I watched as his chute landed in a tree covered hillside. The chute appeared to hang up in the topmost branches of a tree canopy that I estimated to be 100 feet above the ground. I tried to reach him on ‘guard’, but got no response. I immediately contacted Red Crown, the controlling agency for search and rescue, advising them that “Baracuda Two is down” and transmitted the Doppler lat/long position to aid in the rescue. They asked if I had a visual of his location and if I had radio contact with him. I lied. I said I had a visual and had spoken to him on the radio, so “send a chopper to get him out”. They said a rescue force was on the way.

I needed gas, so after doing a ‘fix’ on my doppler navigation system I headed for the nearest tanker. Folks were most helpful in arranging for my much needed poststrike refueling. I then returned to the area of Bob’s chute and contacted Red Crown to determine the rescue status. They replied that the chopper was inbound over the coast and taking heavy fire from the ground – and were about to abort the rescue. This would not do! I had already lost my wingman on the first mission I had been trusted to lead, and I wasn’t about to let them turn back. I got the chopper pilot to give me a ‘hold down’ so I could use my UHF radio direction-finding feature to locate him. I flew out to them, circled the chopper, now about 2,000 feet above the flats east of the mountains. I said “follow me” and lowered half flaps, slowed to 250 knots to stay within sight of the slow moving chopper, then S-turned southwest bound over the flats of North Vietnam just south of Vinh to lead him to the parachute hanging in the trees. I don’t know to this day why I didn’t get shot down during this highly risky maneuver at 2500 feet over a highly defended area of North Vietnam. I was just above traffic pattern altitude! Someone was watching out for me.

We made it to the hills and his chute and they said that he was not responding to the tree penetrator they had dropped near him. I said “send a PJ down to help him” and they did so. The chopper was hovering for some minutes just above the chute and they moved to a clearing where the PJ was able to descend and get Bob secured and lifted aboard. The chopper pilot advised that he was unconscious and had multiple broken bones. They returned to their ship in the Gulf of Tonkin and I returned to Takhli logging 3 hours and 20 minutes of combat.

Bob Lodge was our awards and decorations officer and he attended the debriefing. I never knew he had written a citation for my second Silver Star until it was presented to me at Laughlin AFB in Del Rio, Texas.

On July 8th I was again flight lead for my 100th mission with Bob Lodge on my wing. TSGT J. J. Smith, who was my crewchief during five assignments in the Thud, launched me in “Darlin Dianne“.

Thud 5

 

Bob and I changed positions after dropping our ordnance so I could be on the wing (as we had practiced on the previous mission) and we beat up the airfield with four passes – first in fingertip at 100 feet AGL and 550 knots, followed by a slow-speed pass with the probes extended (giving the guys the ‘finger’), then a high speed pass leading to a vertical pullup midfield where I split from Bob and we flew an opposing pass down either side of the runway at 500 knots, crossing directly in front of our squadron. I then rejoined Bob and we ended our airshow with a 200 foot, 400 knot initial followed by each pulling up and doing a 360 degree roll and turning left to downwind for landing. Col Scott met us after engine shutdown for photos and shook our hands. I understand that he changed the rules for flybys that same day.

I returned to Korat RTAFB as a Wild Weasel pilot for my second tour but only got eight more combat missions before they cancelled the war on me.

 


 

F-16 iraq

Flaming Beer Cans….Operation Iraqi Freedom, March 2003′ – Rob “Smokey” Ray

Our Mission was fragged as a standard (if there is such a thing) Search and destroy patrol with a 4 hour Vul (vulnerability) time, (6.5 hour mission). “Potsi” and I would launch as a 2 ship from BASE-X, fly through a narrow exit gate, refuel and enter Iraqi airspace. Our loadout was 2 GBU-12’s and one 2000# JDAM (GPS guided MK 84), 2 Aim 120 Amraam’s and 510 rounds of HEI 20MM plus an ECM pod and 2-370 gal wing tanks, chaff and flares. The mission would be 1/2 Day and night, NVG’s would be worn for most of the patrol time. Start taxi and takeoff from our bare base was fairly standard, taxiing through a FOD nightmare and middle eastern Min Comm procedures. The Runway at Base-X was pockmarked from repairs of attacks from Israeli jets many years before, and Lawrence of Arabia had camped nearby on one of his campaigns. The historic landscape had many warriors pass by over the past 2000 years, us included. As Potsi lines up next to me I can’t help but notice the brown tinge our normally grey jets had taken after living in this dusty land for 3 months. Every leak or grease spot now had caked earth attached. I suppose we carried a little bit of our host country around with us wherever we went. My left hand eases the large meat cleaver-like throttle handle forward and my GE F-110 comes to life. I move the handle past the forward stop and with a left outward motion slide into afterburner. Soon thereafter 60,000 pounds per hour of kerosene and noise transfers itself into 27000 lbs of thrust. Acceleration is brisk and even with the full load underneath me I am airborne by mid field and climbing quickly. Ten seconds later Potsi is right behind, dodging jet wash and watching the stucco buildings surrounding the base zip past. Wonder if anybody down there has a cellphone and is passing our launch times to their brothers downrange? Soon I turn us East and start getting our systems on and working. Without a Targeting pod, ECM pod, working RWR or NVG’s you might as well not even refuel, you’re going home. So, all of those items are checked prior to refueling and the eventual FENCE check. My Jet’s good to go and I echo the same to Potsi on VHF. We perform a “stare” (targeting pod lock on and lase) on the last corner of friendly ground before heading to the tanker. Our SADL (data link display) is happily showing little symbols where everybody is, including our tanker. With a click of my pinkie on the nosewheel steering button I see everybody’s fuel and weapon status who is airborne. The flight in front of us is fairly skosh (low fuel) so I give them a wide berth as we silently join on the KC-135R’s left wing. The last rays of daylight fade and I lower my goggles to peer at the tanker, “good to go, back to stow”. Soon the flight ahead has left and I smoothly slide into position, the Tanker’s boom extends as I wonder how many times this old 707 has refueled fighters? All the R’s are converted A’s, maybe it was doing this in Viet Nam…hard to say. I reach back and flick my intercom switch on, even though this is a single seat Jet. When the boom connects, I will be able to chat with the boom operator like sitting at Starbucks. Through one eye I can see the boomer in his lair moving the probe to the right and out of my way, the other spies the director lights under the Tanker’s nose, beckoning me closer. Moving forward at a walking pace less than 15 feet below the KC-135;s belly I see the UHF antenna potruding from the 135’s enormous belly lined up with his nose wheel door and know I’m there, director lights or no. I stop my forward motion. The pregnant pause subsides when my Jet moves slightly and a clunk sound is heard and suddenly a giant hand seems to hold my airplane against my will. The fuel gauge increases, life is good. I say “howdy” to the boomer and the rest of the crew chimes in. The Tanker pilots comment that it’s already been a busy day, several SAM’s seen and AAA around Hadithah Dam, right where we are headed. Looks like a long night ahead. Minutes go by as I chit chat with the crew and ask them how their 8 hour day has gone. The fuel gauge finally reads full of JP8 as I simultaneously say “see ya” to the boomer, click the disconnect button and slide aft, down and over to the Tankers right wing while my left hand reaches down behind me to close the refueling door. The flight controls feel sprightly again as takeoff and landing gains are cancelled with the door closed. Eventually Potsi has refueled and I call for the FENCE check/Ops check/post AAR/go “active.” A switch to “active” translated means to switch to UHF frequency and go to active Have Quick (anti jam) UHF. Suddenly the airwaves are alive with a Brit accent from Bondo, our AWACS and several of our Bros getting tasked to support Special Operator teams in Kill Boxes. I turn my ECM pod to auto, switch my exterior lights to covert, arm my chaff flares and check my IFF in auto. I check us in and Bondo calmly gives us our tasking as if he was taking our order for a pint of Guinness back in the UK. “Honcho 21, proceed to 88 Alpha Romeo and contact Striker 14 on Grape Three” I respond with a simple “Honcho 21”. Western Iraq is the Wild West as far as de-confliction of aircraft and airspace goes, with literally hundreds of aircraft on separate frequencies droning around lights out. Rule number one is to stay in your assigned block and everybody is happy. Stray high or low and you might hit something, simple as that. It’s dark out here and only the narrow view in your NVG’s brings the dark world into and eerie green hue. Potsi’s covert tail strobe is happily blinking a double blink, mine set in “1” giving me a single flash and if there was a Honcho three or four, theirs would blink appropriately. Potsi’s colored covert wingtip lights flash away making him look like he is sitting still under the quarter moon. To make sure his lights are covert I lift my Goggs slightly and look at him with my naked eye, nothing but dark. Amazing thing that visible light spectrum!

We are heading Northeast across the vast wasteland of Southwestern Iraq towards Mesopotamia, the Euphrates river and a huge Dam holding back it’s waters, the Hadithah. I send us to a discreet Have Quick UHF and we switch to Grape Three on VHF secure. “Striker 14, Honcho 21 as fragged” A far away voice answers “Striker 14 copy, standby 9 line” After a few seconds I see out of the corner of my eye a message on my up front control and a digital text appears on my HUD. Striker’s 9-line CAS brief is here. My Targeting pod and INS/GPS has already received the coordinates and my Pod view is showing the target area. I dare not get caught up in the “green stuff” yet as my job is to first make sure we don’t get shot, hopefully and not kill friendlies. Striker 14, our JTAC is probably an Air Force enlisted specialist attached to Special Ops and working with the best of the best. The teams working with us in Western Iraq are a Dream team of special operators, hand picked to perform the mission at hand: Counter-TBM or more simply, SCUD Killing. Striker has apparently located a cache of munitions he wants us to take out, the weapon of choice tonight is the GBU-12. I set up my SMS for GBU-12 and glance at the 9-line brief. The target is less than 1 mile from Striker’s position, nothing new for Special Ops. There are enemy forces near the cache and AAA has been seen nearby. Our patrol altitude block of 15-19K above Earth is well within the range of most anti aircraft guns and nearly every type of SAM. I nudge the throttle slightly forward to achieve 400 KIAS and turn away from the target. I quickly calculate a 12 mile run in for the attack with Potsi as cover while I drop and self-lase. The familiar scenario repeated from habit, practiced to ad nausea back home in our MOA literally hundreds of times. “Honcho 21 laser arm, one is arm hot” Potsi simply answers “Two”. I center the locator line in the HUD, see that the “ARM” is showing and I have a single GBU-12 selected. I acclerate to 450 Knots Calibrated at 17K AGL with my ground speed approaching 600 Knots. I check to see if Potsi is with me. He;s right where he is supposed to be, checking my 6. The miles click away as I stare into the 6 inch square world of the FLIR in our Litening Targeting Pod. The target gets very clear as I get closer and in no time it seems a blinking circle in the HUD appears, I am in range to drop. My crosshairs are centered on the target, and Striker has already cleared me “hot” 12 miles back, a trusting soul for sure. I ease my right thumb off the laser designator on the stick and onto the release (pickle) button. With a press and hold on the button I feel a slight shake in the airframe and a release cue in the SMS shows a 500-pound laser guided bomb is headed for it’s destiny. The laser is locked on and I watch the seconds slowly tick down as I ease into a 30 degree left bank, careful not to gimbal the Targeting Pod mounted on the right side of the Fuselage. Then simultaneously as the seconds tick to zero, a bright flash appears in the Pod, target destroyed. Seemingly an instant later a very calm voice comes on the radio “Smokey, break left.” For all the seemingly millions of times I have practiced reacting to that unavoidable call for action, all the times I wondered what it would be like for real, there it was, when I least expected it. With a flick of my wrist I simultaneously pull the Jet into a harder descending left bank, apply full throttle, pop chaff and flares and look outside. What I see seems in slow motion and odd, large fiery balls or even what appears to be flaming aerial beer cans right outside my canopy sailing past my tail. I feel a slight ripple of turbulence as I fly through where the projectiles just were. Then, through my goggles I see a flash and what looks like Christmas tree Tensile flying outwards. So this is AAA…My brain jumps back into real time and I make a simple call “Defending AAA”. Potsi immediately and very calmly echos “copy defending, airburst behind you” After a full 180 degree turn back towards Syria I continue to accelerate away from the AAA site and switch to Air to Air radar clearing our flightpath North. I pop more chaff as Potsi makes the call “AAA ceased fire.” Striker chimes in “Honcho, you are taking fire” I think to myself, no sh—t Sherlock but silently thank him for his vigilance. “Webe” a flight of 2 A-10’s holding nearby chimes in “Tally AAA site, request suppression” Striker immediately responds, “Target in sight, cleared hot”. As I pass over the A10’s a thousand feet above and opposite direction I tell Potsi “Hook Left” and execute a 180 degree turn back toward the AAA site. We are 3 miles behind and slightly above the A-10’s providing mutual support for their “Gun Run.” One mile from the site I see fire spew forth from Webe 1’s nose as he delivers 30 MM cannon rounds downrange. The tracers arc upwards and then back to Earth, sparkling the ground as they impact the AAA site. My targeting pod records the event as bright flashes of light and explosions. As quickly as he has fired his big gun Webe and his wingman execute a 180 degree about face as secondary explosions erupt around the former AAA emplacement. I echo his tactic and call “hook left” once again. We cover Webe’s egress and I pass along, “Nice shootin Tex” to them on VHF. With two targets burning and fuel becoming scarce, I tell Striker “Honcho is Texaco, Webe, cleared in”. We then safe our switches and head South for more JP8, a quick breather and re-tasking. Potsi performs his best night battle damage check and I confirm there seems to be nothing leaking. The trip to the tanker takes almost 20 minutes with an amazing panorama of Iraq at night through my NVG’s. In the distance I can see Baghdad under fire, explosions going off in the distant North and lightning over Saudi Arabia, 200 miles away. Our little world at war…

We would later support 2 more CAS taskings that night and then drop our JDAM’s on a telecommunications facility as the Eastern horizon was glowing with the pending sunrise. Our targeting pods recorded the direct hits with pinpoint accuracy from our cruising height “well above” 20,000 feet. We continued our trip West and home passing through several friendly SAM gauntlets and tiptoe down the Syrian border once again…Denny’s (our chow tent) awaits.

V/R

Smokey

29 Oct

Adieu Deer Park

This morning's sun, hot with passion. Two wakeups to go.

This morning’s sun, hot with passion. Two wakeups to go.

This is probably the last blog from Deer Park. This is our fifth year here, with the blessings and help of Max and Brenda Stinson, landlords, fellow agate hunter-addicts (we event hunted the big lake at night!) and friends. We’ve had great fun and many blessings from all the fine folks and neighbors up here and all will be missed and fondly remembered. Next year we’ll be in Baraga County, May through October, but we will be back over here to visit and will look forward to it. If you are looking for a place to stay, we can’t recommend this enough. It’s small, but perfect and the location unsurpassed.  Brenda and Max aren’t sure yet whether they will advertise on the internet, but you still may want to drop them a note at antbj10@aol.com to inquire abo0ut availability. Their phone number is 906-658-3598, and their address Max and Brenda Stinson,l 30840 Muskalonge Trail, Newberry MI49868. They have two cabins right on Muskallonge Lake, a mile from the state park on CR 407 (the road to Grand Marais) and the cabins are 300 yards south of Lake Superior. The fishing for smallmouth is excellent in spring and there are brook trout in nearby Trout Lake and Trout Creek. It’s been a blessing and a heap of fun.  Thanks, Max and Brenda, and George and Gen and the three  grandkids from California, and Mattie their granddaughter from  BTB.

Loading the truck today, and this may be the  last posting until we are back in Portage.

Dinner last night with Mike Brown. (We missed you Monica!) and thanks to both of you for all your help. Dinner of grilled sockeye, and venison tenderloin with taties, a cabernet, a fresh bread loaf from the oven, and blueberry cobbler. Yowzser. As poet T.S. Eliot put it in another context. No hollow men up here, but sometime changes begin with an end, not marked by  a bang, but with a sigh of satisfaction, and a whimper.

Some near-final photos follow. Over.

Closeup.

Closeup.

Jambe Longue with an agate in the Oh-Shit, Jar Class.

Jambe Longue with an agate in the Oh-Shit, Jar Class.

Brown's warm and  cosy cabin.

Brown’s warm and cosy cabin.

Plated sockeye.

Plated sockeye.

The table is set.

The table is set.

Sockeye on the grill.

Sockeye on the grill.

Venison tenderloin in the pan

Venison tenderloin in the pan

 

 

28 Oct

Venue Change for 2014

Monday sunrise.

Monday sunrise.

DAY 162, Monday, October 28, DEER PARK — 28 degrees and ice on the storage bins this morning. Sprinkling of snow in Newberry. Big news when I got back this morning. We may very will be in Baragastan in 2014, May through October. Specifics when we know for sure. I took time coming back from a haircut this morning to admire the tamaracks (Tammies) and some of the things I love  about the U.P. Photos follow. Oh, yesterday we had a very good day finding agates. Too much surf today. Over.

One mile from da place, for the past five years.

One mile from da place, for the past five years.

This stone is bright red, not rust color. Lighting was bad for photos.

This stone is bright red, not rust color. Lighting was bad for photos.

Howzah!

Howzah!

One for the jar.

One for the jar.

A portion of yesterday's agate finds

A portion of yesterday’s agate finds

Tammy Gold

Tammy Gold

The time of tamarack glory

The time of tamarack glory

Dem bells, dem  bells, dem dead-as-doonail birch tree bells.

Dem bells, dem bells, dem dead-as-doonail birch tree bells.

Pileated Pecker Poketree.

Pileated Pecker Poketree.

This great organization walks the talk -- for all of us.

This great organization walks the talk — for all of us.

Coming soon.

Coming soon.

Decisions.

Decisions.

 

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Even fungus finds fall colors.

 

26 Oct

Little By Little, We Have Less and Less

Five wakeups remain until we sortie south. The neighborhood beaver visited today and more stories accumulate for the collection EXTEME GROUND. “The Gulf of Goth.” / “Heads, Tails, and Other Vague Body Parts.” / “Felony Forest.” This is fun. Truck loading begins Monday after a haircut.  Shakspere spent several hours hunting red squirrels by the lake, it was a draw (a victory from their viewpoint?). Over.

Maybe I can see better from THIS side.

Maybe I can see better from THIS side.

Patience I a virtue.

Patience I a virtue.

Mumbling to yourself is part of hunting.

Mumbling to yourself is part of hunting.

Deep breath, eyes HUP!

Deep breath, eyes HUP!

Da neighbeave.

Da neighbeave.

Yooper traffic signage.

Yooper traffic signage.

25 Oct

Little By Little and Less And Less

Friday, October 25, DAY 159, DEER PARK –Happy Birthday to son Troy. Snowing this morning. No idea if it will stick, but the stories are continuing and three more in the bank, Like Hymens and Soap Bubbles, Balloons Can Pop With Unpredictable Results; Fishing For Glory; and, this morning  I wrote, Even the Queen Mother. And I have titles for  7 more, which may or may not work out. Won’t know until they come out of my head. Lonnie heads for a hair appointment in NOOBS today and Shaksper and I get to hold down the fort. Expecting NW gusts to 45 mph today, so lake vizzie  is out. Yesterday the winds were too  severe and we drove several miles out Coastguard Road and found  several agates, on the road, right in the middle hump . Weird. The stones are everywhere in this area once you accustom your eye to the patterns. Over.

Teensy agate

Teensy agate

23 Oct

Writing in the Time of Snow

Nothing focuses the mind like winter and staying warm. Snow hit here today in earnest and I am in a writing frenzy, knowing I have to call it off in a week or so before we head south and that I won’t be able to really pick it up again until December because of DNR work all through November. This has been a productive summer of writing.  The second Bapat story is drafted, MOUNTAIN OF THE MISBEGOTTEN. More than Twenty poems of varied subjects. And more recently a new set of short stories has begun for my next collection, which I am tentatively calling  EXTREME GROUND, STORIES FROM THE DISTAFF STAR. All stories focus on women in difficult situations and circumstances. Fun to write so far, and no doubt this has been brewing for a long time because I sat down a week ago and wrote the first story and have written nine more since, 86 handwritten pages. I hesitate to talk about how fast I write, but reality is what it is. This stuff brews for a long time and when I sit down finally to get it on paper, it just flows out. This, or course just starts the process. Editing and shaping will change a lot of substance, but it helps to have a preliminary form complete.  Some people struggle for weeks with a sentence. Normally I don’t have to and I’m glad I am the way I am.  I can’t speak for others: In this writing game process, there is no right or wrong, no magic formula, and the only test is, Do the words on paper work for the reader?  So I will continue writing until we leave, hoping to get at least 15 stories drafted, but it will be what it will be.  Meanwhile, we exercise the dog and us daily in the snow and await the wind abating and switching to the south so we can get in another agate hunt, or two.  Last three days have been a moderate NW howler.  Short Story titles so far: First Day of the Last Day of the World; Gravy; Working The Problem; The Roadrunner Should Make You Laugh; Static Line; Poachers in the Deli; Scenario; FTO; Midsummer’ Day; Tom-Mary-Robert-Frank.  Local color photos follow. Over.

At what point, narcissism?

At what point, narcissism?

Selfie #3

Selfie #3

Selfie #2

Selfie #2

Selfie #1

Selfie #1

 

Auteur dans la neige

Auteur dans la neige

Happy Woman

Happy Woman

Snowshrooms (Not for Thy Feet)

Snowshrooms (Not for Thy Feet)

Waiting for Shaksper

Waiting for Shaksper

What a Difference Two Days Maketh

What a Difference Two Days Maketh

Midday Squalls on Seven Mile Fire Road

Midday Squalls on Seven Mile Fire Road

First Light, Second Look

First Light, Second Look

First Light, First View

First Light, First View

Ere First Light

Ere First Light

22 Oct

Sunrise/Sunset Kaleidoscope

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Glowsky splendor.

Glowsky splendor.

This morning's sunrise.

This morning’s sunrise.

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Morning in Full Glory

Morning in Full Glory

The sun comes up.

The sun comes up.

Sunday sunrise.

Sunday sunrise.

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