Sunday, May 15, 2022

Float Bridge Destroyed in Ukraine

 Viewing this YouTube video of a Russian float bridge destroyed by artillery, I find myself puzzled.

For background, mid 1960’s I was an enlisted man in the 814th Engineer Company (Float Bridge), Pioneer Kaserne, Hanau, Germany. We were assigned to V Corps. During that assignment I participated in many exercises building both float bridges and float ferries.

These are old scanned black and white pictures from that time.

First rule we operated under. No construction where we would be under direct artillery fire.

The long bridge in one photo was across the Rhine River near the site Patton’s Army crossed in WWII. The shorter bridge was across the Donau (Danube) in the dead of winter. This was under a smoke screen.

All of the pictures show some of the complexity of a float bridge operation. In our one company we had some 112 vehicles.

The Russian were using what we called mobile ferries or a variant.

Just the short bridge across the Donau was a 16 hour exercise. A mobile ferry company should have been able to do it in an hour or less if they have their shit together.

Back to the day. Not under direct artillery fire. Armor and infantry standing by to immediately cross the bridge to seize and control the terrain on the enemy side was the order of the day.

The realities of military bridging cannot have changed much. The Romans built a floating bridge across the Rhine. All that has changed is speed.

Saturday, May 14, 2022

Auto Recycling

 My son’s 2002 Ford Focus needed a  throttle cable. Due to the age of the car, no new were available.

A young man who rents from my sister graciously pulled one from the local auto salvage yard. Cost? $6 and some cash for the young man.

The shop that installed it charged my son $154 and tweaked son's car. He reports it is running better than ever.

With the current soaring prices for used cars and the shortage of new, I’m glad my son can keep driving his beater. He has never been into cars. If it starts when he turns the key and moves when he shifts into drive, he is content.

This salvage yard has survived for years with a business model that doesn’t change. They don’t pull parts and don’t recommend anyone who will. Their inventory? Walk the 3 acres behind high voltage electric fences and look. The do sort by make (domestic). Foreign? Go look. Tool boxes are inspected going in and coming out. That said, the staff is polite and respectful. There is little trash and no weeds but the lot is dirt and muddy when wet.

They don’t keep cars around too long. The crusher/chopper is running all business hours.

At my age with stiff numb fingers I do little mechanical work. I miss it.

Thursday, May 12, 2022


My sister was recently honored. This from the local rag.

For her, this is a passion. She has never received any money for her work other than the occasional reimbursement for expenses.

The Salud organization is now fifty years old and where I go for most of my medical and dental needs. The care is first rate.

I’m beyond proud of this remarkable woman.

Wednesday, May 11, 2022

Hard Times Ahead

 My recent visit to Maybell, and talking with my aunts (88 and 84), brought back memories of growing much up easier than my parents. Still, my sister and I weren’t born with a silver spoon in our mouths.

A mobile home similar to the one in the picture was our home for awhile.

 My father was hired by the Denver and Rio Grande railroad as a laborer. At times we lived in boxcars converted to living quarters. Some were somewhat plush while others were stark. He eventually became a section foreman. On the side he shod horses.

 The D&RG kept cutting back on maintenance and consolidated sections. The senior would “bump” the junior and the domino effect went down the line. In ten years my father was never more than one step above the bottom of the seniority list. When he got “bumped” in Steamboat Springs, he found other employment and my parents bought a small 35 acre place outside Steamboat using a VA loan.

 With both parents working “town jobs” most of the ranch work was done by me. My sister helped, but was nine years my junior. After I left after graduating high school, more of the burden fell on my sister.

 The point, if there is one, we as a species have lasted because of the tenacity of the species. When I look at the world my grandchildren, and ultimately great grandchildren will live in, I am in despair. I fear extreme hard times will be their lot. They will survive, but why must they endure such conditions? Fuck Joe Biden and all the elites sucking the lifeblood out of this country!

 Those urban “homeless” camps springing up everywhere aren’t filled with just dopers.

Tuesday, May 10, 2022

Great American Horse Drive AAR

Preparing for weather in May, plan on 75° or snow, or something between. We had clouds and some sprinkles but overall weather wasn’t a problem.

The far Northwest Corner of Colorado is Browns Park, or Browns Hole to some old timers, that is open range and has more temperate winters than the surround area. The Sombrero Ranch is a big dude operation with 500+ horses that they winter in Browns Park. In May, they round up the horses and move them to a ranch west of Craig, CO where they prepare them for the summer season at their various locations, principally Estes Park at the entrance to Rocky Mountain National Park and Trail Ridge Road. The route takes the horses through Maybell, CO (population 60-80).

Maybell is a sort of epicenter for four to five generations on my father’s side.

On the day of the horse drive, the population probably exceeds 1,000.

Some relatives had good seats.
Maybell has a nice park, about 5 acres, with RV parking and restrooms. Vendors can set up for free during the horse drive so long as they clean up after themselves.

Labor problems are everywhere. This year only about 100 horses  were in the drive as the horses must be shod and there is a shortage of farriers.

After the horses come the dudes.

The old homesteads of the brothers Leonard and Frank White are still in family hands. The land is no longer worked but a portion is now a private cemetery and is some twelve miles west of Maybell across from Cross Mountain. Due to COVID the horse drive was cancelled for two years. Usually, there is a family gathering (we are way too disorganized to call it a reunion) Saturday at the cemetery. This year two cremains were interred or scattered.

Every male is an “ace” mechanic so when cousin Danny’s starter didn’t work, many hands were available to check every wire and to display vast knowledge. One bright idea was to finally check fuses. Yep, the 30 amp to the starter was blown. A 30 amp fuse from a Jeep was used, the truck started and left running as the fuse was returned to the Jeep.

Later, the wipers on my car jammed. As we all contemplated the task of removing cowlings, cousin Dorland gave one arm a sharp tug. The wipers now work. All it took was a Wyoming truck driver’s finesse.

Craig, CO is a coal mining town, a ranch supply town, and an oilfield town. The town’s way of life is under assault by the trust fund snots who want to close coal fired power plants and end strip mining.

There is much irony in these pictures. One wonders what the ROI is on those charging stations. A clerk inside says they get about one customer every other day.

Banner and I stopped by the Ed Johnson house. He and his wife came to Colorado for their health. Both were suffering from consumption, as it was called in those days. My grandmother nursed both and helped them adapt to the then wild west. They became lifelong friends.

Going to the event I drove to Laramie then on I-80 to Creston Junction. From there via Baggs, WY to Craig. I wanted to pass by Fortification Creek.

Along the route were many Pronghorn herds, and numerous dead deer and elk. There was one small herd of feral horses.

One amusing site was a ranch with interesting “stuff”. Please, I don’t know anything about the owners.


I returned via Walden,CO where I stopped to pay my respects to my maternal relatives.

At the south city limits was a dead moose alongside the  road.

Looking for a retirement location? Built in 1895, the Victory Hotel in Maybell is for sale.

It comes with a detached two car garage.

While I enjoyed catching up with everyone, Banner had a splendid time being petted, fed behind my back, and sleeping with me on the motel king sized bed. Lucky I brought ear plugs.

A dead elk Banner did not get to investigate (or roll in).