Sunday, December 20, 2015

Merry Christmas!

We hope this Christmas finds you well and that you have had a great year.  2015 was a very successful year for our FIRST Robotics Competition team, The Hitchhikers.  Christian was a mentor, Carl was a co-captain, and Bethany was the business lead.  They were a Regional Finalist at the Palmetto Regional where they also won the Gracious Professionalism Award.  They were a Regional Winner at the North Carolina Regional where they also won the Engineering Inspiration Award and the Industrial Safety Award.  They qualified and competed at the Championships in St. Louis where they did not win anything but had a great time.  While in St. Louis, we also went up the Gateway Arch and toured the Anheuser-Busch Brewery.  Miriam has now joined the team, and Bethany has become a co-captain.

This summer was Miriam’s turn to go to Philmont  Scout Ranch with her Dad.  We first flew to Denver to spend a few days in the Colorado Springs area getting used to the higher altitude.  While there we enjoyed the Air Force Academy, the Garden of the Gods, going up the incline railway to Pikes Peak and biking down, the Cliff Dwellings Museum, and white water rafting on the Arkansas River.  Our 12 day trek at Philmont covered around 88 miles with the peak being climbing Baldy Mountain at 12,441 feet of elevation.  We also enjoyed climbing the Tooth of Time, throwing atlatls, spar pole climbing, shooting shot guns, and rock climbing.  Of course we also saw lots a great views along with wild flowers and animals.

In addition to joining the Hitchhikers and going to Philmont, Miriam has been very active in dance.  She is part of the dance studio’s company and danced the part of Aurora in her studio’s Sleeping Beauty recital in which she danced her first pas de deux.  Miriam also joined Venturing this year and serves as Quartermaster for the Crew.  She is a high school freshman this year.

Along with robotics, Bethany has been very active in Venturing this year serving as Crew President in the first part of the year and now as Vice President of Administration.  She serves in the same position in our council’s Venturing Officers Association.  Bethany served on staff this summer of our council’s National Youth Leadership Training.  She has been taking classes at Durham Technical Community College and is a high school senior.

Carl once again entered C-SPAN’s StudentCam competition this year earning an honorable mention which meant he won an award at every level of the competition over the years.  Carl was a lawyer on his mock trial team earning multiple Best Attorney Awards while his team was a finalist at the Fayetteville Regional.  He graduated from high school this spring and is now a freshman at North Carolina State University where he is double majoring in Computer Science and Communications.  Carl also earned a Watson Scholarship from IBM.

Christian is now a junior at East Carolina University majoring in Computer Science.  Leslie-Jean continues to enjoy homeschooling the girls.  Dan completed his first full year at Lenovo and likes the direction things are heading.

Our family’s travel destination this year was St. Louis.  Why St. Louis?  Because that was where the FIRST Championships were.  The travel destination for Joseph and Mary for the original Christmas was Bethlehem.  Why Bethlehem?  Caesar Augustus had declared a census for all to register in their own town.  This sent Joseph and Mary to Bethlehem as we are told in Luke 2:4: “So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David.”  What was the significance of Bethlehem?  It had been prophesized that the Messiah would be born there in Micah 5:2: “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from old, from ancient times.”  The birth of Jesus fulfilled that prophesy.  We celebrate Christmas as the birth of Jesus who would go on to live among us for 33 years fulfilling many more prophecies.  He then died for our sins by being crucified on a cross.  He rose from the dead after 3 days and now reigns in Heaven.   Let us all remember at Christmas the greatest gift ever given to the world: the birth of our Savior, Jesus.  We wish you a very, merry Christmas and hope 2016 will be a blessed year for you.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

2015 Philmont Adventure

Monday, June 15: To Colorado Springs

Waiting for the vans to arrive at the Denver airport
United States Air Force Academy
Garden of the Gods

Up at 5:00 AM.  Got ready and did last minute packing.  Fried eggs, toast and juice for breakfast.  Left for the airport at 6:50 and got there a bit after 7:00.  Group check in.  Security went well, but had to take Miriam’s pointe shoes out of the duffle and move them to the carry-on as the duffle was slightly overweight.  Read the paper while waiting to board.  Carl’s C-SPAN article was in it.  Called home to tell them.  Southwest flight 691 to Denver.  Sat in the back row in the right middle seat next to Miriam at the window.  Pretty good flight to Denver with some turbulence.  Mostly read “Surprised by Joy”.  Slight delay landing due to planes being backed up due to weather.  Still got in on time.  Train ride to baggage claim.  Bags showed up at 7 (instead of 9).  All bags arrived!  Lunch at Red Rocks Bar & BBQ and shared a Smokehouse Platter with Miriam: brisket, hot links, beans and corn on the cob.  Rental vans showed up and we loaded them with our stuff and us.  Had to stop right away for gas as they came empty.  Drove down to the US Air Force Academy in a slight rain.  Toured the chapel and visitor center.  Watched the movie and learned a lot.  We decided not to hike there due to the weather.  It was a bit cold and I wore my jacket.  Drove to Rudy’s for dinner: more BBQ – ribs and pulled pork.  Went to Garden of the Gods afterward and walked around taking lots of pictures.  Drove to Peterson Air Force Base and checked in.  Got organized for the next day and had a group meeting.  In bed and asleep at 10:00 PM.

Tuesday, June 16: Colorado Springs

Pikes Peak

Cliff Dwelling Museum

Miriam at one of the Manitou Springs springs
 It rained very hard last night and the snow barn leaked in spots.  Brent tried to wake me up to move some of my stuff, but I had ear plugs in and never heard him.  He wound up moving my stuff for me.  Up at 4:15 AM and got ready.  Out of the snow barn at bit after 5:45 AM.  Breakfast at the mess hall: good and very cheap.  Drove to the bicycle shop, checked in, and signed waivers.  Came up with alternative plans as it looked like the vans would not be allowed all the way up Pikes Peak.  At the last moment, the vans were allowed all the way up enabling us to take the Cog Railway to the top.  It cleared up a lot on the way up and the views were quite good, better than the conductor’s jokes.  It got increasingly cold as we rose in elevation.  It was very cold and windy at the top with a lot of snow and slush.  I had 4 layers on top, 2 on the bottom, and my hat and gloves.  It was still unbearably cold.  I let Miriam use my running tights to try to stay warm.  We took a few pictures and had a doughnut.  The wind was so strong that they did not allow the doors on one side of the gift shop to be used.  Conditions were not good enough to start biking from the top.  We drove down about a mile and started there.  It was still very cold and windy, and Miriam got blown off the road.  Soon after that we were driven further down the road (below the tree line) and restarted.  The extra van ride gave me time to set up my GoPro on my helmet and use it most of the way down.  The bike ride down was a lot of fun.  Instead of eating lunch at the Greek restaurant which was closed for vacation, we ate at Front Range BBQ.  I had a catfish sandwich and lots of lemonade.  After lunch we went to the Cave of the Winds to enjoy the views there.  Then we went to the Manitou Cliff Dwellings Museum.  It was well done though not authentic.  Then we drove to Manitou Springs to enjoy the town and have dinner on our own.  Miriam and I sampled a number of the springs.  Some were better than others, but I really did not like any of them.  We had dinner at Boodad’s Louisiana Restaurant.  I had shrimp etouffee with grilled vegetables.  We then went to a free concert in front of the library of jazz music with a flute and guitars.  We returned to Peterson AFB, got cleaned up, and went to bed at 10:00 PM.

Wednesday, June 17: Colorado Springs
Rafting Outfitter

Miriam at Garden of the Gods with Pikes Peak in the background
At Balance Rock in Garden of the Gods
Woke up at 4:45 AM and got ready for the day.  Out of the snow barn on time at 5:45 AM.  Breakfast at the mess hall: omelet, hash brown and orange juice.  Miriam’s and my breakfast together was $4.  A bit over an hour’s drive to Whitewater Adventures Outfitters in Canon City.  Downloaded and backed up my GoPro videos during the drive.  Decided to rent wet suits for rafting which turned out to be a good idea.  The water was flowing at over 5000 cubic feet per second which was the highest in 20 years.  The Royal Gorge section was closed.  The section we did was more than adequate: lots of good rapids with very little paddling.  The water was cold but felt refreshing with the wet suit.  Because of the high water flow on the Arkansas River, we did our section pretty quickly.  Changed into dry clothes and drove into Canon City for lunch.  Miriam and I ate at a kitchen supply place that sold box lunches for $5.  I had a roast beef sandwich, potato chips, a tangerine, a cookie, and a bottle of water.  All was quite good.  Drove to Walgreens for last minute supplies.  I downloaded my rafting GoPro video there.  Drove to Garden of the Gods as Seven Falls was closed for renovations.  Miriam and I hiked to Siamese Twins and took pictures through the window in the rock with Pikes Peak in the background.  We quickly returned as it looked like and then did rain.  Drove as a group to Balance Rock right before a very hard rain.  Drove to Manitou Springs for dinner.  Miriam and I ate at a Greek restaurant and had gyros and baklava.  Drove to Peterson AFB getting gas along the way.  Saw a very bright, double and very nearly full rainbow.  Got back before the van with the snow barn key and hung out outside the base watching the sun set, lightning and rainbows.  Back to the barn to get ready for the next day.  In bed at 10:30 PM.

Whitewater rafting video:
Garden of the Gods video:

Thursday, June 18 – Day 1: Base Camp
Crew Picture
Miriam and our ranger getting equipment
Equipment shakedown
Up at 4:45 AM and got ready for the day.  Out of the snow barn at 5:45 AM after signing a thank you note.  Breakfast at McDonald’s: split a big breakfast (pancakes, eggs, sausage, hash brown and biscuit) with Miriam.  Off to Philmont stopping at a rest stop along the way.  Arrived at 9:30 AM.  Greeted at the Welcome Center.  Miriam, Hazel, Mitch and I checked in.  Miriam got our passports and pack tags.  Assigned to tents starting with F-49.  Met our ranger: Becca from Philadelphia.  We were her second crew, but she had done a trek and Rayado.  Crew and expedition pictures.  Lunch.  Our signed 2011 t-shirt is still in the dining hall.  Logistics at 1:30 PM.  Medical recheck at 2:30.  All went well.  Outfitters.  Equipment shakedown.  Dinner.  Found Crew 208 kite in the dining hall.  Advisors meeting.  Chapel: whole crew and ranger went to the Protestant service.  Opening campfire actually had a fire.  Split up the food to carry.  Repacked for the trail deciding what to leave.  In bed at 11:00 PM.

Base camp video:

Friday, June 19 – Day 2: Base Camp to Anasazi
Our bus through the Philmont gateway
T-Rex track

Anasazi camp
Up at 4:15 AM.  Shaved and showered.  Finished packing.  Put stuff in the van.  Breakfast.  Decided not to try to tour the Villa Philmonte but made a reservation for after our trek.  Crew meeting after breakfast.  Brent got gas (for the stoves).  Bought carabiners at the Tooth of Time Traders for Miriam’s camera and to have some extras.  Final things not going on the trail to the van.  Took pictures before loading the bus.  Rode off around 10:00 AM.  Good, fun ride out to 6-Mile Gate: informative with jokes.  Arrived and formed a big pack line.  Had the red roof inn talk.  Formed crew pack line, and learned about using a map and compass for navigation.  Decided to eat lunch before hitting the trail.  Hit the trail and missed the first turn.  The trail was very nice with lots of flowers.  Got to the T-Rex track pretty quickly.  Lily read the information on display to us which was pretty interesting.  Hiked to Anasazi and selected camp 4.  First put up the dining fly – went well.  Put up the bear bags.  Probably cut the oops rope too short.  Got water and sanitized it.  Discovered we did not have an 8 quart pot which made the Philmont cooking method impossible.  The first pot of boiling water got spilled.  Finally got dinner finished and eaten.  More ranger training.  Leave No Trace training from Cole.  Devotional by Nolan.  Roses, thorns and buds.  In bed at 10:00 PM.

Rose: The silver on the sage meaning I was back at Philmont
Thorn: Dinner difficulties
Bud: The trek ahead

Day 2 video:

Saturday, June 20 – Day 3: Anasazi to Horse Canyon

Atl-atl throwing
Petroglyph tour
On Hart Peak
Up at 5:15 AM ahead of the crew at 5:30.  Broke camp and had breakfast.  On the trail at 7:30.  We were the first crew to reach Indian Writings and signed up to do all 3 of their programs.  We started with throwing atl-atls.  JJ (who knows the Allens) was our staff person.  Our ranger almost hit a target.  Lily did hit a target.  Chris was our tour guide for the petroglyph tour which was quite good: 4 panels and 2 excavations.  Then we helped out with an archaeological dig.  We then accepted Chris’s offer to have their staff cook our dinner to eat for lunch.  We took showers and visited the museum.  We hit the trail again around 2:00 PM up to Hart Peak.  Big climb right away with great views of where we were.  Some rain with thunder along the way.  Not safe at the peak, so we only paused briefly for pictures and moved on.  Lots of elevation gain on the rest of the trail.  Stopped at a well for water.  Had gate training at the well and then we proceeded to do it all wrong at the gate to our camp.  Got to camp around 7:00 PM.  The camp map showed no bear cable but there was one.  Set up camp and had our lunch for dinner.  Very little ranger training due to it already being quite late.  Quick devotional and RTB.  Bed at 10:00 PM.
Rose: The staff at Indian Writings and that the crew had done well on a difficult day
Thorn: My pillow leaks
Bud: The rest of the trek

Day 3 video:

Sunday, June 21 – Day 4: Horse Canyon to Sioux

Horse Canyon camp
Road to Ponil
Sioux camp

Up at 5:00 AM before the crew at 5:30.  More ranger training.  Decided to cook biscuits and gravy for breakfast.  Youth decided to skip the challenge events at Dan Beard and go straight to Sioux.  Gave a crew shirt to the ranger.  Most went to the well to get more water.  I stayed at camp with the ranger and Lily.  Wilderness Pledge time.  Hit the trail after 11:00.  Trail was a road.  It was scenic but very sunny and hot.  Stopped at a rare shady spot for lunch.  Our ranger left us at this point.  Continued down the trail at 1:30 PM.  Quickly saw a red roof that turned out to be Ponil.  Pretty quickly got to the end of the road and into Sioux.  Set up camp.  Had dinner of chicken, cranberries and stuffing: quite good.  We also ate the pound cake with apple pie filling and chocolate icing that I had carried after we decided not to eat it the night before due to lateness.  Went to Ponil for evening activities.  Got 2 root beers.  Listened to the Cantina Show from the cool breeze way.  In bed at 10:00 PM after doing RTB on the way back to Sioux from Ponil.

Rose: not going to Dan Beard which was a youth idea and decision
Thorn: not going to Dan Beard which meant not doing challenge events for the third time for me
Bud: getting our burro

Monday, June 22 – Day 5: Sioux to Pueblano

Our burro - Juan Pablo
Miriam at Conservation
Company meeting (campfire) at Pueblano
Up at 5:15 AM before the crew at 5:30.  Got ready and broke camp.  Back to Ponil.  Ate breakfast there.  Burro packing demonstration.  Crew picked out our burro and got him ready.  Took a shower and bought a new pillow while the crew got the burro ready.  Hit the trail and had numerous water crossings which we got better at getting the burro across.  Lunch at Flume Canyon where our Conservation was.  Conservation was building a new burro trail for future use.  To Pueblano, put the burro in the corral, and carried in his packs.  Set up camp and quickly did dinner to barely get to the campfire on time.  It was great.  Miriam was part of the crew leader dance off which she won winning a large rock to take up Baldy.  Bed at 10:00 PM.

Day 5 video:

Tuesday, June 23 – Day 6: Pueblano to Maxwell

Spar pole climbing
Miriam climbing the spar pole
Miriam with our burro
Got up at 5:30 AM with the crew after getting up at 4:00 to blow my nose.  The stars were great, and I could see the Milky Way.  We were a bit late for spar pole climbing at 8:00 along with most of the other crews.  Blue Nose from Asheville, NC was our instructor.  Did pretty well this time.  Ate lunch at Pueblano after packing up the burro.  The trail from Pueblano to Miranda was pretty nice.  Some rain with a little bit of hail.  Split up to send 4 to turn in Juan Pablo (the burro) and 5 to get camp setup started.  Long search for the latrine which turned out to be quite close.  Dinner.  Got ready for our big day tomorrow.  In bed at 9:30 PM.

Day 6 video:

Wednesday, June 24 – Day 7: Baldy Side Hike

Crew on Baldy
Miriam and Dan on Blady
Hiking on snow descending Baldy

Up at 4:15 AM with the alarm and crew.  Hit the trail at 5:20.  Stopped at Miranda to drop off garbage and extra food and get water.  Up the trail through Black Horse seeing lots of abandoned mining equipment and structures.  The crew did a great job going up.  Did a caterpillar to get up the summit together.  Got there at 10:30.  Took a crew photo before the other crew got there.  Walked all around the summit.  Ate lunch.  Took a combined crew photo.  Started our descent at 11:30.  Took the safest approach down the backside to the meadow and ridge and then down the switchbacks to Copper Park.  Took a road then the trail to Baldy Town.  Food pickup with fruit and strawberry milk.  Took a very cold shower and bought batteries for my headlamp that had turned on in my pack.  Filled up on water and hit the road back to Maxwell.  Everyone was tired.  Even so, dinner got made and eaten and the bear bags put up.  Got to bed at 9:30 PM.

Rose: going up Baldy as a group in great weather without much difficulty
Thorn: my feet have begun to hurt
Bud: 5 more days at Philmont

Day 7 video:

Thursday, June 25 – Day 8: Maxwell to Black Jacks

Crew before leaving Maxwell
Miriam with Baldy in the background
Sunset at Black Jacks

Up at 6:00 AM before the crew at 7:15.  Organized my equipment.  Hot breakfast.  Hit the trail at 11:00.  Back to Head of Dean.  Ate lunch there at their covered picnic table.  Rained some.  Trail to Upper Dean Cow – nice trail.  Saw 2 bucks and a turkey.  Tough, long, uphill climb into Black Jack.  Found a camp that had never been used with a great view of Baldy.  Set up tents first as it started to rain, and then set up camp.  Watched the sun set right next to Baldy while dinner was rehydrating.  Great campfire.  Bed at 10:30 PM.

Rose: Black Jack camp – we were the first to use our fire ring and sump, our tent area was great, and the sunset was spectacular
Thorn: my feet still hurt
Bud: program activities at Harlan

Day 8 video:

Friday, June 26 – Day 9: Black Jacks to Harlan

At Black Jack's hideout
About to cross under Highway 64
Miriam reloading a shotgun shell

Up at 5:00 AM before the crew at 5:30.  Barely hit the trail before 8:00.  Stopped off at Black Jack’s Hideout.  There was a cool, fossilized log inside that was turning to coal.  We had a long stop to filter and purify water from the stream in the middle of the road.  Long downhill to Turkey Creek Turnaround where we crossed under Highway 64 and over the Cimarron River.  Stopped there for a couple of liters of water which were treated during lunch along the river.  Tough climb from there.  The crew did great, but I melted in the heat and sun.  Finally got to Harlan.  Got to reload 3 shotgun shells and have a shooting safety talk, but shooting was rained out (due to very little rain) and rescheduled for the morning.  Took a while to find a camp as the one we initially selected was bad and the next one was already taken.  Set up camp and had dinner.  Burro racing right at 7:45 PM lasting only a minute or two.  Reid won!  Had hot cider at the advisors’ coffee.  Early to bed at 9:20 PM.

Rose: getting to Harlan after another long and hard day
Thorn: melting in the afternoon
Bud: getting to Cimarroncito (and the promised best showers in Scouting)

Day 9 video:

Saturday, June 27 – Day 10: Harlan to Cimarroncito

Miriam shotgun shooting
Muddy trail
Stream crossing

Woke up at 5:30 AM after a very large storm during most of the night.  We were informed that some places in Philmont had gotten 4 inches of rain, and we were held in camp until it was determined that is was safe to hike.  Had breakfast and broke camp.  Shot shotguns along with our sister crew.  Missed all 3 of my shots.  Talked to 2 Scouts from Beijing Troop 729.  We were cleared to hit the trail which we did at 11:00.  Very soon after hitting the trail, Connor noticed he had forgotten his rain jacket and went back with Cole to get it.  Played Frisbee with Nolan while waiting.  The trail was very muddy.  Had a number of stream crossings including one using a rope and wearing camp shoes right before lunch.  Miriam, Brent and I went separately to pick up food at Ute Gulch while the others continued on to Cimarroncito.  The trail there was very nice as was the one to Cimarroncito.  We were informed of a bear siting just down the trail where we had just been.  Got to Cimarroncito after the rest of the crew had checked in and gotten shower and climbing times.  Took showers from 5 to 6 which felt great: hot and clean.  Prepared dinner with Kay and Miriam while the others went to yoga.  Went to bed at 9:30 PM.  A hole in my mattress made sleeping a bit difficult.

Rose: meeting and talking to Scouts from China and surviving the storm with little trouble
Thorn: a hole in my air mattress
Bud: climbing in Cimarroncito

Day 10 video:

Sunday, June 28 – Day 11: Cimarroncito to Upper Clarks Fork

Rock climbing
View from Window Rock
Miriam and Dan at Cimarroncito Reservoir

Up at 6:00 AM before the crew at 7:00.  Broke camp and had breakfast.  Rock climbing at 9:45 AM.  Did well and enjoyed it.  Hiked through Hidden Valley and up to Window Rock with Brent, Cole, Nolan and Miriam.  Unfortunately we missed a trail due to thinking it was for Conservation only.  This cost us a lot of time and effort as we went down a series of switchbacks and had to go back up them.  Hidden Valley and Window Rock were worth the effort.  We ate lunch at Window Rock.  Unfortunately we got to Hunting Lodge so late that we did not have time to tour it.  Quickly hiked through the Demonstration Forest to Clarks Fork.  Had my hat branded on top with “TT” for the Tooth of Time.  They actually heated the branding irons with a regular fire.  Took a shower while dinner cooked at Clarks Fork.  Rained on us a bit there and on the trail to Upper Clarks Fork.  Fortunately the rain stopped, and we set up camp right next to our sister crew.  We had a combined campfire and RTBs.  In bed at 9:30 PM.

Rose: This was day 35 for me at Philmont.  I was happy to be here with Miriam enjoying the experience together and learning more about her.
Thorn: missing the trail to Hidden Valley and thus missing the Hunting Lodge tour
Bud: going home

Day 11 video:

Monday, June 29 – Day 12: Upper Clarks Fork to Base Camp

On top of the Tooth of Time
Our crew making it back to Base Camp
We All Made It!

Up at 4:30 AM with the alarm and crew.  Broke camp, had breakfast, and hit the trail a bit before 6:30.  Tough climb to Shaefers Pass where we stopped to get water from the spring.  Rocky, slow trail to the Tooth of Time after numerous false teeth.  Rock scramble up the Tooth of Time for lunch, group pictures, and great views.  Long, hot trail back to base camp.  Fortunately it was overcast.  Got in to base camp at 3:30 PM.  Checked in and dropped off the crew gear that we had borrowed.  Next to Logistics and then Registration.  Needed to pay my trail credit bill at the Tooth of Time Traders where Miriam got a belt and buckle.  Back to Registration to get our physicals, crew pictures, and arrowhead patches.  Shaved and took a shower.  Went into Cimarron for pizza and shared a large Pepperoni Pounder with Miriam eating 7/8 of it between us.  Stopped to get Advil and had an ice cream cone.  Back to Philmont for the closing campfire which was fun and entertaining.  Miriam got our “We All Made It” plaque.  Back to the tent to pack for our return home in the morning.  In bed at 11:30 PM.

Day 12 video:

Tuesday, June 30: Return to Cary

Sunrise before leaving
Up at 4:15 AM before the crew at 4:30.  Finished packing up and loading the van.  Took a few pictures.  On the road at 5:30.  Stopped at a small town for gas.  Stopped at McDonald’s in Colorado Springs for breakfast.  Arrived in good time at the Denver airport.  Checked in and went through security.  My duffle bag weighed exactly 50.0 pounds.  Ate lunch at La Casita in terminal C and had tamales.  The flight was fine and on time.  Greeted by and large and enthusiastic group at the RDU airport including Leslie-Jean and Bethany.  Handed out our crew’s physicals, crew pictures, and arrowhead patches.  Got our luggage and walked to the minivan.  Bethany drove us home.  It was a great adventure!