Saturday, May 28, 2016

Among the Camelids

A cousin and her husband have seventy alpacas and a few llamas. Today was the start of shearing season and they asked me to take some photos with their camera. Of course, I also took some with mine.

Sonny, the boss.



The shearing.







Socks on the noses stop them from biting. Alpacas aren't happy campers when they are being sheared.

The product


The herd











My cousin "cowboying up"

In her mobility scooter with her "grabber" working along with everyone else.

Shasa, the Great Pyrenese. She never leaves the alpacas. Along with the llamas, protects the alpacas from coyotes and feral dogs.


Bernese mountain dogs. Protect the farmstead from two legged scavengers. A big problem in the area.



A Pyerenese/St Bernard mix, Shasa's future  replacement.

From this

To this

Never forget the weather.


Hope you enjoyed these. Format is wonky as Blogger and I seem to be having "issues". Tis a poor workman who blames his tools.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Travels with NXXXXX

Old AFSarge likes airplane stories. While I can’t compete with OldNFO,  juvat, and Tuna in flying hours and sophisticated airplanes perhaps some will find my experience with a Cessna 170A amusing. Long blog - you have been warned.

There I was with a fresh Private ticket and the need to build flying hours, as a civilian (out of my pocket, you understand). So off I go to see Dirty Dick Nolan, the used airplane dealer in Greeley, CO. Dick bought and sold airplanes over the telephone (we are talking 1960’s). He would finance anyone with a good enough down payment. Since all of his paper was full recourse, he would repo that plane if you didn’t tote the note. How to staff his business?

Bring in time builders. Pay for the gas and oil and a bus ticket back. If you were a time builder that was way cheaper than renting airplanes.

He liked me for two reasons. I had enough in savings to commit full time. Second, I had far more conventional gear time than his average time builder. He kept me busy.

One day he assigned me a Cessna 182 to take to Newport News and pick up a C 170. Oh yeah, the buyer was on vacation in North Carolina. Go see him, get a check and keys, then take the 182 to Newport News. With a few glitches that went down and I parked his new plane next to the trade.

First thing I noticed were two nearly flat tires. Opening the oil check access revealed an engine compartment filled with bird nests. OK, lets drain a little fuel from the wing sumps. Oh, great, water and crud. Flip on the master. Surprise! Dead battery. The next few hours were spent taking off the cowl (always carried a few simple tools) and letting the sumps drain (here we see the shocked faces of Air Force ramp types aghast that raw gasoline is being dumped on the ground).

 The FBO sent the fuel truck over along with an air tank so the tires were inflated and the tanks filled. By the time I got the cowl back on it was getting dark. Dick Nolan had one inviolate rule – NO flying at night. As was the usual RON procedure, rolled out my down filled Army surplus fart sack in an empty hanger and went to sleep.

Next morning after tying down the tail wheel, propped the 170 to life. Off we went heading North. Funny, the damn road kept going under water then reappearing. Not an inviting forced landing site. What is this Chesapeake Bay everyone is talking about? Well, I’ve nearly enough altitude to glide to shore so onward. Approaching Dover, DE,   the weather is going sour fast. Sat down on a grass strip at Wyoming, DE to wait it out. Two days of sitting it out. The airport operator found some work for me to perform and actually paid me so it wasn’t a total loss. The clouds finally cleared but the wind was hellish. Took off but only made it to the very South end of New Jersey before setting down. Another night in a hanger with the wind howling and the hanger doors banging. Since the hanger was empty, parked the 170 in it and shut the doors.

Next morning with full tanks took off and promptly got lost. The wind was 40+ knots from the West.  Not to worry, to the West is a big river, to the East the Atlantic Ocean. Just keep heading North and someplace you can recognize will turn up. Radio navigation you say? Yep, if you have a OMNI receiver that works. Do you know there are places in New Jersey that are as barren as Wyoming? Eventually a mountain range started showing on the horizon. WTF? A few minutes later the New York City skyline became the mountains or the mountains became the skyline; take your pick.

 My instructions were to pick up two pilots at Roosevelt Field on Long Island. By this time I’d located my ground position and could see on my Sectional map I had a shit load of water to cross. Climbing to 4500 AGL I started across. The ATC people were quite cross with me but, due to an intermittent radio problem I couldn’t understand what they wanted so, being ever helpful, I kept them informed of my position. Seems the transmitter was fine but the receiver had issues. Soon I was able to talk to the Roosevelt Field tower and made my approach to land.

I believe I mentioned wind? 30 knots right down the runway. Over the threshold started reducing power only to see the runway numbers again appear. Needed somewhere around 1600 rpm just to keep from going backwards. Taxing to the tie down area was a challenge as was tying down the bird. Next problem, where are the passengers? Turns out they are in Connecticut. (Never let it be said Nolan Aviation was an organized business). Getting to the runway was again a challenge.

 Once in the air, there was another largish body of water to cross. Damn it, I’m a mountain pilot. What is with all this wet stuff? On the ground in CN, passengers located, but we are running out of daylight. The wusses had already rented a motel room. Next morning we head West. First fuel stop, instructed to pickup another passenger in Jackson, MI. OK, but I’m not flying over any water to get there. On final at Jackson you fly over a prison.  What torture it must be for the inmates to be constantly reminded of other people’s freedom.

Now with four aboard we are aviagating to Colorado. By the by, the cabin heater is inoperable. No problem, extra clothes, wrap sleeping bags around you and keep on going.

Grand Island, NE had an FBO that literally rolled out a red carpet after you parked. They nearly rolled up back up when they saw the four scruffy ruffians climbing out of the 170. Next stop, Greeley.

Two weeks later I had just returned in an Aircoupe from Tennessee when Nolan calls me into his office.

    “Yeah, got that 170 you picked up in Virginia sold to a man        in Anchorage. Want you to deliver it”.

   “Dick, I’m in no way qualified to do that.”

   “Nah, you will be fine”.

   “What about customs”.

   “Fuck’em. You go to Oroville (WA). Take off at first light, stay low. Lots of mountains around there. We will plot you a route. Do not, I repeat, do not leave the highways even if it is a shorter distance. You should make it with two fuel stops”.

“Do our credit numbers work there?”

“For this trip we will give you some cash, both Canadian and American. And, we will pay for your meals and an airline ticket back from Alaska”.

   “Is the heater fixed?”

   “Hell yes, and the radio, and a new battery”.

The trip went just as he described it until I got to Northway. There I started asking questions about the route to Anchorage. The locals told me in no uncertain terms that there was only one way, it was hard to spot, and many a pilot hadn’t made it. I believed them. Called the customer in Anchorage (damn expensive phone call, by the by). He told me to stay put and he would come over the next day. So it was and I was quite content to be a passenger on that leg. Awesome geography and I had the luxury to enjoy it instead of sweating buckets.

Back to Seattle, a bus ride to Ellensburg where I picked up a TriPacer and brought it back to Greeley.

I built up enough time with Nolan to qualify for a Commercial ticket. Eventually he started paying me when I did repos. Got to fly a lot of single engine fixed gear. Dick was picky about who flew retractable but had me deliver a couple of Mooneys and reposses a Navion. Flew most of the high wing Pipers, a few of the Indians, Taylorcraft, Lucombe, Eurcoupe and Aircoupe, C120, 140, 170 172, 182, a couple of Stinsons, and probably others I’ve forgotten. One of the carefree moments in my workaholic life. Finally ran out of money and had to find a real job then start college.

Hope you weren’t too bored. By far the longest flying story I’ve put on this blog.

My favorite airplane of those I’ve flown? A simple two control Eurcoupe/Aircoupe on a warm spring or summer day. An airplane without any vices I ever found excepting one with bad maintenance. Had a rubber fuel line break in the cockpit and pour an eight gallon tank’s worth of avgas on my left leg. Shallow climb, let the fuel drain out the condensation holes in the tail and not touch anything electrical. Interesting hour that was. For something with 75-90 hp, it is an eager performer. You actually drive it off and back on the runway. If I ever get a ton of money (hey, it could happen) I will get one and go the LSA route, pacemaker be damned.




I'm a Doper

Colorado has legal marijuana. The legal locations seem to be in the 1890’s bordello sections, those small incorporated area next to larger incorporated area, that are much more “flexible” toward businesses frowned on by the local movers and shakers.

My sister recommended a salve offered by the local emporium.

Bought some ($40 for about 4 oz) and used it on my knees. It is helping. Long term may  better than my daily 10,000 mg of MSM and two tablespoons of coconut oil  although I will continue those.

The quacks keep talking about knee replacements. Yeah, when I’m reduced to crawling.


The place is exceptional clean. The armed security and controlled access isn’t something you see elsewhere. Two checks of my photo idea. Cash only, please.

http://naturesherbsandwellness.com/medical-marijuana-greeley-co/

The last time I smoked some herb was around 1970 so I’m not up to date on pricing. The place offers from grams to ounces. Prices on an ounce was $250 to $350. That money would buy a nice quantity of quality sour mash, just saying.

Good thing the place is isolated from the surrounding area. The smell is noticeable. I could visualize long term LEOs sniffing and frowning.

During my short time there, I noticed a mix of customers you might see at Wal-Mart. They did seem to have enough sense to leave the premises before firing up.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

#1,000

What to do for the 1,000th  blog posting, other than amazement  I’ve kept doing it, and a few people keep reading it? Instead of some epic rant, decided to do something for my late Dad.

When I returned from the Army, the dormant flying bug became full blown. With some bucks in the bank, decided it was now or never. Snagged a job with a meteorology company that had a contract to study snowfall patterns. Great  job. We worked when it was storming and were off when the weather was nice. My coworkers went skiing. I went flying.

My Dad always had the flying bug and used me as an excuse to start lessons. We went in on a 1939 Piper J-4, somewhere around 75 hp, operating off a 7,000 AGL runway. As my father was known to say, “You by God learned what flying was all about”. The J-4 is a forgiving airplane at reasonable altitudes but hasn’t much margin for error at the altitude we operated.


We put many hours on that bird. Later, after earning his Private ticket, Dad bought a Cessna 182. He had become involved in Real Estate and that airplane helped put together several ranch sales in the region. He always said the ranch deals payed for the plane.


My Dad was one hell of a stick but was careless. He didn’t appreciate his son pointing out his lapses. Since he had such a domineering personality, I was about the only person who would speak up. He intimidated flight instructors. While he never bent one, I know he scared himself a few times.

We had a strained relationship all the years. He and my mother divorced after 33 years. Family joke. My sister and I tell people we are the result of a mixed marriage. My Dad was cows, my Mom sheep. My sister adds their marriage was a range war.

Around age 60, my Dad started to reinvent himself, for lack of a better description. He started examining his beliefs and ways of dealing with things. I’ve always admired that. He died in his sleep when he was 64, probably from complications of undiagnosed sleep apnea.

Two things I regret about his death. First, my sons never got to know him as they grew up. He was terrific with kids, just not his own. Second, we were starting to patch up our differences and we probably would have had a much better relationship. It was hard as I inherited his temper and my mother’s stubbornness, not to mention she was often a bitch on steroids, and I am sometimes my mother’s son.

I do have to cut my parents some slack. They grew up in the Great Depression in a Grapes of Wrath environment. Their drive to succeed was undoubtedly fueled by what my parents described as, “The belly flapping principal”.

In summary, if you have made it this far, thank you for reading this.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Justice Served



You read of long drawn out court cases with criminals escaping justice for years. So I was pleased to read of this mope getting convicted 17 months after the deed. 

http://www.denverpost.com/news/ci_29918277/man-convicted-shooting-at-evans-police-officer-man

This is lightning fast compared to many places in the country.

Sometimes it happens faster.

http://kdvr.com/2016/05/12/suspect-fatally-shot-by-police-after-attempted-robbery-chase/

The dog was found and reunited with the owner. The perp was a known gang member.

A lot of crime flows through LaSalle, Evans, and Greeley on US 85. Since Weld County Deputy Brownlee was killed a few years ago trying to take into custody a mope instead of just shooting the asshole, the LEOs in the area don't take chances.

http://www.odmp.org/officer/20571-deputy-sheriff-samuel-kent-brownlee

Several police involved shootings have demonstrated excellent marksmanship.

http://www.greeleytribune.com/news/16881942-113/greeley-police-shot-kill-man-who-shot-wife

http://www.thedenverchannel.com/news/local-news/highway-85-closed-in-greeley-due-to-police-activity

http://kdvr.com/2016/01/25/armed-man-shot-by-greeley-police-after-tasers-dont-stop-him/

This one stick in my mind. 

http://www.greeleytribune.com/news/11822434-113/police-greeley-gunfire-injured

A Weld County officer calls my sister "Mom". We had breakfast with the couple that morning. The restaurant is next to the crime scene. A cleared firearm was still lying in the alley. Of course, the scene was enclosed with crime scene tape and an officer was guarding the crime scene.


Overall, the LEO community in this area is competent and professional. As always, there are a few badge heavy assholes who should be working merchant security instead of law enforcement.

One thing is certain. Show a firearm and they will shot you. More power to them.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Jowl Shaker

Car fire, Mile Marker 77 I-25 just South of Wheatland, WY. Cell phone photo - sorry for the quality.

Passed the scene around 0520. Dry road, daybreak, no wind. Skid marks indicated heavy breaking and a swerve to the right, across the breakdown lane and into the borrow pit. The car was on it's right side and totally engulfed in flame. Best guess? They were trying to avoid an animal. The other route driver and I have both hit a deer on that stretch of highway within two miles of this wreck.

My stop was at the hospital where I learned everyone got out and refused medical assistance. Good news.

People just won't condition themselves to take a hit instead of swerving and braking. Kind of like an airplane. If a crash is unavoidable, get the nose up and the wings level. You need to mentally prepare.

When I'm driving I do a lot of "what if".  What if that semi gets blown into my lane? What if that oncoming driver can't make the curve and takes his half out of the middle? You get the picture.

So WSF, you are the poster boy for safe driving? Hell no. I drive too fast most of the time, to the point even stalwarts like my sister ask me to slow down. I've had a drivers license for 57 years and I've been off the road a few times. Always, the shiny side has stayed upright. Never have bent one to the point I couldn't keep driving it.

The point here is to encourage all of you not to drive in condition "White".