Tag Archives: road trip

Road Trip to Nuts

Screen shot of the website for the museum in Bastogne

Screen shot of the website for the museum in Bastogne

One of the most memorable road trips was 1990. I was stationed in Germany in the late 80’s and early 90’s. The cold war was in flux, we still had Soviet tanks ready to rush the Fulda Gap, Checkpoint Charlie was the gate from the Island of Freedom known as West Berlin, and Aircraft stood on alert ready to respond to what was sure to be the end of mankind as we know it.
There were still numerous living vets from WWII who would talk about the war, mostly the moments outside of combat. Didn’t matter if it was an American, German, patriotic citizen of Luxembourg, or friendly Belgian, I could even get arrogant French vets to open up a bit. My interest had grown about the history of the war and since I had a grandfather who had fought and was wounded at the Battle of the Bulge, I really wanted to see the battle grounds in Luxembourg and Belgium.
I headed out early on a rare day off with a buddy Kent Wilkinson. Kent was a Senior NCO and I had just made NCO status. The respect was there. I have always had the ability to keep professional relationships and private life separate. He was a great leader who would later make Chief. The road trip would be the last time I would see him for several years. I did serve under his brother on a QRT (quick reaction team) in Desert Storm, but I would run into Kent many years later when I was playing drums for Narrow Road.
We cleaned off chow at the mess hall early and headed towards Luxembourg in my Suzuki Samurai. Our first stop was in the tiny museum dedicated to General George S. Patton. It was honestly one of the best collections of WWII history I have ever seen. Both Kent and I took our time and quietly walked through the museum, stopping every few moments to discuss the displays.
Out of know where in accented, but very good English a man approached us as were looking over a set of German machine guns, “You want to see the weapons?”
Not sure of his intent I politely answered back, “Yes we see them”.
“No, no, no…you want to see them? I’ll take you to see them”
Kent and I both went on alert. Both of us were having flashbacks to all those Armed Forces Network commercials about terrorism and the movies we were forced to watch in the base theater every year emphasizing the danger of militant extremist kidnapping us and then leaving us for dead in some barn in the middle of the Eifel Mountains.
“Sure” I responded, probably surprising Kent. I was in the middle of a horrible divorce and really didn’t have anything to lose. Kent was single, so he had a whole life ahead of him. I figured that balanced us out.
Over the next few hours we were given the “behind-the-scenes” tour of the whole museum. It turned out the man taking us around was the owner and curator of the museum. He knew every weapon, canteen, vehicle, etc of the place. Most of it he had collected on his own. When he found out my grandfather was a t Bastogne, the day got even better.
We spent the rest of the day going to small unknown battle fields, visiting with locals, and checking out farms that had old tanks he was still trying to buy from farmers (many had been transformed into farm equipment.)
We eventually made it to the “Nuts” Museum, where we received first class treatment and had a guided tour. The Bastogne War Museum covers the Second World War, from the fall of 1944, and then focuses on the Battle of the Bulge.I found it interesting that not only key events of the battle were covered, but also the day in the life of the men who endured the harsh conditions with death constantly knocking on the door. In addition, the museum also provides a forgotten element, how the civilians lived during the German occupation, then the battle itself, and post hostilities.
After the tour we then left to see a few more battlefields and then treated to a feast in a local gaust haus/ tavern/ pub. On tap was a local wine from the monastery and on the table was horse. Yes, horse and being the polite guest I consumed. Not sure what the big deal is about eating horse meat, it was pretty good.
Having a local guide that isn’t going to kill you, traveling with someone who has an equal level of interest in learning, and having the desire to see new things is the perfect ingredient for day trips like this. I wish I had pictures from the journey, but they have been lost or destroyed (the ex) along the way, but I still have my memories and experience of the adventure. I haven’t spoken to Kent in years, but think of this trip often.
Please check out the website for the Museum in Bastogne http://www.bastognewarmuseum.be/page,Bastogne-War-Museum-General-introduction,94.html

Five Games to Keep You Sane

We have all been on that trip.

A camping trip where it rains the entire weekend and you have hours to spend in a trailer, camper, or tent. The Christmas road trip where you get stuck in a hotel for multiple days because roads and passes are closed. The vacation that has you pent up for hours at an airport due to missed or cancelled flights. I started carrying miniature versions of games with me when I was deploying around the globe in support of my military occupation. They were great for keeping me entertained, and sometimes meeting new people.

When the DS or Gameboy batteries or adventures become stale, the internet has been surfed to its end point, one can’t possibly look at another paragraph in that awesome book bought along, and when the boredom monster strikes, we have an arsenal of games we pull out to keep us connected as a family, occupy time, and combat the temptation to flame each other. These are the five games to keep you sane on a road trip, adventure, or vacation.

Uno
This is an old standby that gets overlooked. Don’t worry about buying the mini-version and if you already have the updated Uno Spin, just ditch the wheel and grab the cards. Probably better known here in the U.S., Uno is card game which is played with a specially printed deck. since 1992. The game is similar to Crazy Eights that my Grandpa Turner would play with me as a kid.

The Uno deck has 112 cards. There are 26 of each color (blue, green, red, yellow) each color having two of each number except 0, and 4 blank cards. The numbers in each color are 0 to 9. There are also cards directing the actions of “Skip”, “Draw Two” and “Reverse” Finally, the deck contains four each of “Wild” and “Wild Draw Four” cards.
It’s a fairly simple game to play and we started Abby on it around when she was 8 or 9 years old.

Zombie Dice
I’m just not into the whole Zombie thing. I don’t have a Zombie bug out bag. My rig doesn’t have anything that is Zombie proof. I don’t even have a Zombie hunting permit. But I do have Zombie Dice!

I like Zombie Dice because it is more than luck, you have to take risk with your luck…probably much like a real zombie apocalypse. Each player on their turn has to shake a cup (we use a Crown Royal bag) containing 13 dice and randomly select 3 of them without looking into the cup/bag and then roll them.

The faces of the dice represent brains, shotgun blasts or “runners”. There are various colors of the dice, green, red, yellow. Each color has a its own distribution of faces, the green dice have 3 brains, 1 shotgun and 2 runners, the yellow dice have 2 of each and the red dice have 1 brain, 3 shotguns and 2 runners.

The object of the game is to roll 13 brains. If a player rolls 3 shotgun blasts their turn ends and they lose the brains they have accumulated so far that turn. A winner is determined if a player rolls 13 brains and all other players have taken at least one more turn without reaching 13 brains.

Story Cubes
I have presented these before in our videos and podcast and have even used them to interrupt writer’s block. The idea is to roll the images on these story cubes to make up your own once-upon-a-time type story. We like this game because even though it is simple, it requires someone to think out of the box and be creative.

There are several variations we use other than one person rolling and telling the whole story, we also will have someone roll, and then each takes a turn in telling the story. I also use this as a tool in my presentation skills workshop when working with a team that is highly technical and very little conceptual in their Emergenetics profile.

Timeline
This is one of our latest editions. I was actually a tester for this at a conference awhile back. I like it because we use it to learn more about historical events, inventions, and other interesting happenings of the past.

With Timeline you have to make decisions if the mouse was invented before or after the laptop computer or did the Crusades happen before or after the Black Plague? This game takes up a bit more space and needs a flat surface.

There are several kits including Inventions, History, and Diversity. We like to mix and match the sets. If you have Internet, keep an iPad or other device close by to look up and learn more about an event or invention.
At the beginning of the game, players all get the same number of cards representing monuments, inventions, etc. On the back of each card is a date.

To begin, one card is randomly drawn from the deck. This card is placed in the middle of the table, date-side up and is the starting point of a chronological line which will slowly be built by the players. The first player then chooses one of their cards (they cannot look at the date).
If the player thinks that the invention on their card came before that of the initial card, the player places their card to the left of the initial card. If they feel that the invention on their card was created after, it is placed to the right of the initial card.

Once placed, the player’s card is then turned date-side up. If the player was right, it remains on the table. Otherwise, the card is discarded and a new one must be drawn to replace it. The first player to get rid of their cards wins.

Flash
Another rookie to our game roster. This is allot like Yatzee, only way cooler and not as time consuming. Flash is a lightning fast dice game. Players work to rack up the most points as they race through 8 dice challenges. Everybody rolls for a specific set chosen and any player could score.

Flash has several game variations you can play. If it’s an adult party, it could easily become a drinking game.

It comes with its own travel pouch which makes it a game on the go.

You Can Help Support Free Survival and Outdoor Training
Every year we provide free survival seminars to kids and adults. This year we will teach close to 1200 individuals how to comeback alive should they find themselves in a backcountry emergency at no charge. Be sure to check out our website for these games and use any of our Amazon links from there to purchase. All your Amazon purchases go for gear we use in our free survival seminars.

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Mission to Atlanta

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MOre than a home–its a gateway to the Sawtooths

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Mission Accomplished! Brad and his very sweet mother standing in Atlanta! I know I do trips with just me and my pup- but I really enjoyed having them along.

Atlanta was the first Idaho ghost town we went to shortly after moving to the gem state in early 2005. I have hunted the area with friends, taken several trips in the winter and early spring “trying” to get to the town, and have flown in there with a fellow pilot a few times. This last weekend I had a chance to take a good buddy and his mother out with me. She has lived in Idaho her entire life and has never seen it…so this mission had a purpose.

Placed on the head waters of the Boise River, Atlanta was founded by John Stanley’s prospecting party when they discovered gold in the area somewhere between 1863 and 1864.  The Stanley team had come through Bear Valley and the Stanley Basin before striking over to the head of the middle fork of the Boise. Though Idaho was not directly involved in the Civil War, Confederate sympathizers named the load “The Atlanta” after the Civil War battle of its namesake.  In 1865, the streets of Atlanta City were laid out and by 1867 it had a Post Office. Still working today is the Hydro-electric dam, though the aerial tramline used during a period of re-growth from 1904-1912 is no longer there.

IMG_0640From its beginning, the highly remote location of the Atlanta lode made difficult to develop the district and to bring in the necessary equipment. However, the extremely high-grade ore available in quantity in made it easy in 1868 to interest a large number of British investors in the area. Through this investment, technical equipment and expensive machinery was brought in, increasing attention to the Atlanta lode.

Before major operations ended in 1953, Atlanta produced some 18 million dollars ranking it as Idaho’s major hard-rock gold producer. Periodically through the years, several investors have looked at mining the area, even using chemically dependent strip mining.

IMG_0615Atlanta is about 100 miles from our base camp in Meridian and 60 of that is on the barley improved Middle Fork Road built to solve the transportation problems of the mine. The road includes loose gravel and sand, shale rock and miles of washboard that will rattle any fillings you have in your teeth. This is the only access in the winter and the road becomes treacherous with ice and snow.

From Boise, we take Highway 21 to the Lucky Peak turn-off, which becomes the Middle Fork Road. You skirt along both Lucky Peak and Arrow Rock reservoirs, the Middle Fork of the Boise River, and see dramatic scenery from high desert plains to Ponderosa Pines. You can catch glimpse of Elk, Deer, Antelope, and Moose. Be sure to use caution of the road due to oncoming traffic, loose rocks and soil, and on occasion, deadfall on the roads.IMG_0621

The other route is to drive past Idaho City and over Moore’s Creek Summit. Here you can take the Edna Creek Road. Take a solid set of maps, use an app such as Topo Maps for the iPad, and check where you are often. Roads and tails change names and while going straight on one road, it can change names with a slight curve. An example is how coming out of Atlanta, turning on Swan Hold, becoming the Owl Creek Road, and then eventually after a few other detours you are on Edna Creek. Granted, all different roads, just be aware that a single road does not take you on a single shot to your intended destination.

IMG_0644Take plenty of water with you, shovel, hi-lift jack, repair equipment and tools, and your survival pack. I have been stuck overnight in this area and if you are far enough back in, help is not going to be driving by. A licensed HAM operator with long-range gear can hit Schaffer Butte for comm. Since cell phone service can be up to a 60 mile walk if you break down. These roads on summer weekends are populated with all kinds of recreationist, on Sunday evening in early May, you won’t find help passing by. As for fuel, Going Lucky Peak/ Middle Fork Road, your last chance for gas is on I-84 and Highway 21. If going Edna Creek, top off in Idaho City. HIGHLY recommend at least an extra two-gallons of go-juice. On another note, be aware that there are active mining claims on this road. Please do not mess with the equipment, and don’t start turning rocks or soil looking for “stuff”. Last, don’t look like a typical yuppy tourist. These are hard-working folks that live up in the area. Don’t be a geek, you ruin it for the rest of us.

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Hard to see, but those are prospectors down there working their claim.

We enjoy taking our time to stop for pictures of wildlife, historical relics, and scenery. A good hearty picnic lunch and even dinner can make it a great trip.

In Search of Jean Baptiste Charbonneau

This weekend’s road trip was focused around the fascination we have recently developed for all things Lewis and Clark. Specifically my daughter Abeni’s interest in “Pomp”. The baby born of Sacajawea during the Lewis and Clark expedition. In fourth grade she did a report on him for social studies, but never gave much thought beyond him being a baby.

Recently she and I have been sitting down and looking over topo and recreational maps. The weekend before last I noticed a tiny marking on one of our maps, indicating it was the burial place of Jean Baptiste Charbonneau.

I asked Abby if she knew who that was and she immediately related it to her report on “Pomp”.

“JBC” as we called him during the mission planning had become pretty vacant after his joining the Corp of Discovery through his birth while on the trail. Not much is discussed about him in history. Unless you really do some searching, you forget about a highly intelligent man who not only was the youngest member of a great expedition, but someone who spoke several languages, understood art, business, philosophy, was a mayor, and was an example of how overlanding is used as he traveled not only throughout the west but also in Europe.

To find his last resting spot we had to travel through Jordan Valley, Oregon.

Jordan Valley began its history in 1863 as a party of prospectors with about 60 horses and mules discovered a favorable camping spot, and so it was agreed to go no further. Before unpacking his gear, one man scooped up some loose gravel, examined it in his prospector’s pan and saw the magic that makes men into prospectors.

In moments every man was digging and panning, and in one hour, all had good exhibits. Within two weeks, claims had been marked and located, and the creek was named Jordan after one member of the traveling party, Michael Jordan. Unfortunately as like other miners, Jordan was scalped by the Indians on the banks of this same stream.

Like many parts of southwest Idaho and southeast Oregon, the area is made up of rough volcanic rocks in the desert and surrounded by picturesque snowcapped mountains that surround the various valleys.

We started out early from Boise (with females all debating the start time) and made our way first down the back roads that lead to the Jordan Craters. We were not able to go down the final section leading to the craters since we were in our Xterra—a high clearance – non 4×4 vehicle that has left us stranded to many times to count. We are heading back soon with the Jeep. There are too many back trails to discover that require a good 4×4.

We happened across one of the many (still active) corrals in the area. These are used for rounding up sheep and cattle to transport from the range area. Many of these old corrals date back to the mid 1800’s. For some reason I am just drawn to these spots in the BLM areas.

After we hiked around a bit and let the pups run around we proceeded on through Jordan Valley – and then out to search for JBC’s final resting spot. We kept asking ourselves how he would have gotten back to this part of the country.

We know that Clark offered to take “Pomp” with him at the end of the expedition in 1806, but the offer was not taken up until several years later, possibly due to the death of his mother, Sacajawea. Records do indicate that JBC had attended a private school paid for by Clark and that later in life he did travel to tour Europe.

In October 1846, Charbonneau, was hired as a scout, probably because of his experience with military movements and his fluency in several languages. JBC joined an 1,100 mile overlanding movement from Santa Fe, New Mexico, to San Diego, California. Their mission was to guide 20 huge Murphy supply wagons to California for the military during the Mexican-American War.

Later in history he pops up as a fur trapper, mayor, and prospector. Its not apparent what caused JBC to contract pneumonia and die. Though there was a stage line in the area at the time, it is possible he may have been on horseback and fallen during one of his river crossings into the water. We have been in the same area as his accident several times and know that not only is it freezing cold, but the Owyhee River in the spring has snowmelt that often turns into whitewater.

Charbonneau was taken to Inskip Station in Danner, Oregon. This small yet fortified outpost was built in 1865, and is about 30 miles from the river and west of Jordan Valley. It is now a ghost town. Here, JBC died on May 16, 1866.

We were truly blessed on this trip and not only were we surprised at what we found at his grave side- but also had the opportunity to see three Golden Eagles in two different areas.

We finished up the day with a visit into the town of Jordan Valley where we feasted on a “traditional” Basque meal of Tots and Fries…

Weekend Adventure with my Bride

So i will have to catch you up on how I finally finished up my pilot training and earned my Private Pilot Certificate. In the mean time I want to share this weeks adventure. Road tripping with my wife. It started out as an aviation adventure. But after having a plane on hold for a month, buying all the charts and AFDs needed, and getting additional training in a Cessna 172 the weather didn’t hold for us

Instead of bagging our trip we rented (at a very well negotiated price) a new Chevy Camaro, threw our travel bag in the trunk and sped off for then West Coast of Oregon. So over the next few blogs I will share our stops and adventures….including an awesome stay at the Columbia Gorge Hotel at Hood River….stay tuned….
….from the road on my ipad…