Quote of the day—NRA @NRA

[Or just have an honest relationship with your spouse and put the gun you want on your wish list.—Joe]

Franklin ghost town

Yesterday I had to deliver a simple, homemade Christmas gift which the local UPS refused to accept. Barb agreed to come with me and found a hike we could go on which was fairly close to our gift delivery route. It was Franklin Ghost Town. It was short enough that we could delivery the gift and complete the hike before the heavy rain forecast for the afternoon hit. It didn’t include any stunning views but it was interesting enough and had excellent trail conditions.

First a clue about the simple homemade gift:

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And on to the trail and the ghost town:

20201219_102839The area used to be the site of a coal mine and small town. At the peak the town population was 1,100 people.Over the course of over 100 years the mine produced over 4 million tons of coal.

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The number 2 shaft was over 1,300 feet deep and went 500 feet below sea level:

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You could see as deep into the mine as you had enough light for:

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I found it odd that there was an obvious “vein” of coal left in plain sight. I have never seen coal in nature before but close examination convinced me the dark patch just above and to the right of center in this picture is the real thing:

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We didn’t really see anything we could imagine was part of the town. We found this which I image to be a filled in mine shaft:

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It was a pleasant, short, hike for a somewhat dreary December day.

It is 2020 after all

Seven year-old grandson Bryce shared this in his parents Christmas letter:

Q: What’s the worst vision to have?
A: 2020!

Barb and I know we have been extremely fortunate compared to a lot of people. Still, there are some things that have been depressing to me in the last month or so.

I’ve lost three former classmates:

  • Verl Presnall was a good friend throughout most of grade school. He was also on the board of directors and past president of the East End Rod & Gun Club in Milton Freewater, Oregon. He died of prostrate cancer on October 14th.
  • Kathy (Fargo) Deyo was a high school classmate. We were never close but with a class of only 125 everyone knew everyone else. And she was always such a happy person. It was always a pleasure to be around her. She was one of those people who you think, “Life is so unfair that he/she should die so young.” She died November 13th.
  • Terry Thornton was also a high school classmate. Again we weren’t close but we had a lot of connections in the last 15 years or so. And he was another one of those people that you think shouldn’t have been one to leave us so early. Terry died December 1st of COVID.

I didn’t know it until a couple days ago but Eric Engstrom died on the same day as Terry.

Eric had a larger impact on my professional life than anyone in the world. The impact was huge. I would never have gone to work for Microsoft if it hadn’t been at Eric’s urging. He knew I had written tons of assembly language code for various graphics boards. Eric needed people to write video drivers for Direct Video (as it was called in May of 1995) for Windows 95. It had to be done by August so game developers could have games ready for Christmas. That was the wildest ride I have ever been on. Read Renegades of the Empire. Whenever you read something in there that sounds too far out to be believable double the “far out” quotient and you will be in the ball park of reality. I saw a hole kicked in a wall when I reported a bug I had found and fixed. I didn’t create the bug, it was from the manufacture of the video board. It was extremely obscure and absolutely deadly when it showed up. And it wasn’t found until after the code had been “frozen”. I was there when a keyboard was repeatedly bashed against a desk at 3:00 AM. From my office the key tops falling to the desktop sounded like broken glass. The motorcycle, spinning it’s tire in the hallway, burned a hole through the carpet all the way to the concrete. There was the illegal fireworks on campus, the Humvee driven across the grass field on campus (and getting stuck there), and the persistent thief who kept stealing RAM out of our computers in the middle of the night making it problematic as to whether we would be able to work when we came in the next morning.

That was just the first few months of my time at Microsoft and with Eric in “full bloom”. After a few years I was his first employee for his first startup, Chromium Communications.

That path changed my life forever. I made at least twice as much, if not three times as much, money because of Eric. Working with Eric and others at Microsoft was an alternate reality for me. I had never met such smart people before. I was used to frustration at explaining the same things over and over to co-workers. During those first years at MS people would “get it” before I had finished my first sentence. That changed my standards for the type of working environment I was willing to be in.

On a personal level Eric was so incredibly funny and happy and could even find humor on the darkest of days when his companies were imploding during the dot com bubble implosion. His probably (you frequently couldn’t tell) insane ideas and ambitions were amazing. When I was working in Richland, WA I would drive 200 miles, one way, to have dinner with him in Kirkland, then drive back to Richland to go to work the next day. It was more than worth the drive.

I’m certain I thought of him at least once a week even though I hadn’t had contact with him for years. I kept putting “things on the list” I want to share with him. My accomplishments and bits of news or inside knowledge about things I knew he had an interest in.

Eric had a personality (and ego) which could fill the largest ballroom in the largest hotel. He could make you believe the impossible was not only plausible but he was going to do it and it was going to be FUN! He planned to live forever and I though he probably would succeed. He failed and the shock will be with me for a long time.

2020 sucks.

Then this morning, this is just minor punctuation mark on the 2020 ledge, some thief stole the presents from our font steps. Daughter Jaime had Amazon ship them to us and we didn’t notice they had been delivered last night. Amazon didn’t put them in the package box. I checked the video this morning and saw this:

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Package theft in Bellevue is up 72% last month compared to last year. We just contributed to the statistics for December.

It is 2020 after all.

I did get some good news late yesterday. Dad tried to buy a particular piece of prime properties to add to the farm on August 16, 1978. He was not successful. My brothers and I tried again in the early 1980s without success (the owner would barely talk to us).

In 2008 there was a verbal agreement between brother Doug and a third party. The third party wanted some of our land. Doug agreed that we would trade it for the land we really wanted. We knew the land we wanted was for sale but the owners wouldn’t have anything to do with us.

In May of this year, yes 12 years after the verbal agreement, they FINALLY, signed a contract to follow through with their verbal agreement. The contract said the deal would closed by November 29th. Uhh.. okay. That seems like an awfully long time to sign a few papers. We signed our papers in the middle of November. Wow! That took a long time (almost all of the hold up was on the side of the other party). But at least we are going to make the deadline. The other party still took what seemed like forever. Twice they sent papers to the title company without the signatures being notarized.

Yesterday the title company sent an email saying the papers had been recorded at the local courthouse.

It took over 42 years, but now we own that property. Maybe we can close out 2020 on a happy note.

Update: 12/15/2020 was also a good for another reason. I did the final review on a new patent application from the lawyer. I’ve solved tougher problems but I’m more proud of this patent application than any of the others. I thought of Eric a lot when working on this. Last January through March I worked an average 16 hours a day 7 days a week (except for a week in Hawaii for our first wedding anniversary) to find the solution and demonstrate its validity. I really wanted to tell Eric about this accomplishment.

Eric Engstrom

This morning I received an email telling me Eric Enstrom died.

I probably spent an hour staring off into space thinking about him. I thought about all the things I would say in my blog post. Then I realized I didn’t have enough time in the day to write everything I would need to say. I have too many other things that must be done today. Maybe next weekend I’ll have the time.

Read some of the things I have written about him in the past to get a flavor of my view of him. And know this, he had a tremendous influence on my life. My life would have been unbelievably different without him. I last saw him in March of 2011. I’ve been wanting to “catch up” with him for years and always put it off. Now, it’s too late.

Eric once told me:

I will consider myself rich when I’m standing on the moon with the sunlight reflecting off my visor as I’m looking at my initials carved into the soil. They will be big enough and deep enough that when people on the earth look up they can see I was there.

He wanted me to do that for him because of my experience with explosives. I did the calculations on the line width needed for the font. IIRC it was seven miles. I told Eric it was impractical and his immediate response was, “You just need more explosives.”

That’s just one of dozens of stories I could tell about Eric. And no matter how many stories I told it wouldn’t begin to capture the reality of his personality and genius.

The man who planned to live forever and had plausible visions (as well as crazy ideas) of how to make that happen died from medical complications after dropping a monitor on his foot.

Lost classmates

Long time Boomershooters didn’t know him but they had plenty of reason to appreciate him. Terry Thornton owned Portogo Portable Toilets and delivered them to Boomershoot until 2017 when he sold the business.

We weren’t close but we had a fair number of connections. I went to High School with Terry and when I lived in Moscow Idaho he lived about a 100 yards down the street from me. I would occasionally see him at the grocery store and other places around town. His wife was a chemistry teacher at the high school and taught all my kids. One time she called me about Xenia. 

On December 1st Terry died:

Terrance “Terry” Thornton passed away Tuesday, Dec. 1, 2020, in Yuma, Ariz., from complications of COVID-19.

He met his wife in Moscow, and he and MaryAnn Kallas were married March 4, 1979, in Spokane. They enjoyed traveling, watching their daughters play sports, watching their son ride in motorcycle races, riding their side-by-side, hunting, boating, golfing and gambling at their favorite casinos. He also had a love for riding motorcycles, dirt bikes and his Harley-Davidson. He was always in search of Bigfoot, and we wish him well on his quest to find “The Foot.” He was happiest when he and MaryAnn were traveling and his theme song was “On The Road Again,” which he sang loudly and off tune.

Terry never met a stranger. He would say hi and wave to everyone. His friends and family described him as funny, charming, the kindest soul you could ever meet, he lit up a room wherever he went and always had a smile on his face, kindhearted, good man, excellent husband and father, one of the good ones, wonderful laugh and warm hugs, caring and loving and hero to many. He could go into a room of deaf and blind people and come out with friends.

This is the second former classmate I’ve lost in the last month. Kathy (Farbo) Deyo died November 13th:

Kathy attended the one-room school at the Yaak until the family moved to Butte and then later to Orofino when she was in the third grade. Kathy made lifelong friends while attending school in Orofino, graduating as a proud Maniac in 1973. Kathy was the editor of the high school newsletter, editor of the annual and instrumental in organizing class reunions that are held every five years.

Quote of the day—Gad Saad @GadSaad

On a personal level, I’m a free thinker who is allergic go along, get along, group think. The ideals that drive my life are freedom and truth and any attack on these ideals represents an existential threat to all that I hold dear.

Gad Saad
2020
The Parasitic Mind: How Infectious Ideas Are Killing Common Sense
[From Amazon:

“Read this book, strengthen your resolve, and help us all return to reason.”  JORDAN PETERSON

This could be said of me from the time I was in the first grade. My grade school experience was hell because of this. Two of the three teachers I had in my first eight years of formal schooling tried to make me believe absurd things. Example include such as three doubled was nine, and the letter ‘y’ is always marked as a long ‘i’ when marking up a word by its sounds. The third teacher had her faults as well but non compliance was not so harshly punished. The absurdities extended from the classroom to the playground with rule interpretations that met with the teacher’s desired outcome instead of the written word of the rule book.

Classmates, my parents, and at least one younger brother for the most part advised me to not let it bother me and just go along with it even though it was wrong. That does not appear to be in my nature and it has never been a characteristic I had an interest in changing about myself. I’d rather attempt to change the world and fail than change myself to conform with a false view of reality to avoid punishment for wrong think.

I think I’m going to like this book.—Joe]

Spider webs

I was visiting my property in Idaho last weekend and saw something that brought back memories. If you look closely enough at the pictures below you will see spider webs between the straw:

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Those weren’t specially chosen views to see the webs. The entire field, as far as you could see was covered with similar webs, not just between the straw bu, between every clod that stuck up more than a few inches. This is a 160 acre field.

It brought back memories of when I was probably 12 to 14 years old and working on the fall plowing. One evening I was driving the Caterpillar D4 with a John Deer five-bottom moldboard plow. The sun was just right to highlight the millions of tiny creatures taking advantage of a gentle breeze..As far as you could see the air was filled with spiders “paragliding” across the field.

Microsoft Gun Club member and Boomershooter wrote a novel

When I first met Sean Flynn he was a member of the Microsoft Gun Club. He has attended many Boomershoots and volunteered many hours to making Boomershoot a great event. I’ve traveled to Olympia with him to attend gun rights rallies. I’ve quoted him on this blog 16 times. He has commented on here many times as well.

Now he has given us a novel, Raether’s Enzyme (web site here):

Brother Doug’s fire story

This complements my story from the same day.

From brother Doug:

From: Doug Huffman

Sent:
Saturday, September 12, 2020 6:48 AM

Subject:
Fire

We have had a busy fire season in recent days.

On August 30, we had the, “White Tail” fire, which didn’t threaten our home, but I was involved in fighting it.  Things were just getting back to normal on Labor Day, September 7, when we had a major cold front come in with very windy conditions.  We had cut a sample of garbanzo beans and determined they were dry enough to cut, but we decided to shut down harvest for the rest of the day due to wind.  Combines often start fires and even though we usually keep our 1300 gallon water truck on hand to fight fire, a windy day isn’t a good time to have a fire.  We went home and I was doing a few chores around the house.  The wind started taking down trees and of course, some of those trees went down across power lines.  When our power went off about 2 PM, I told Julie the power lines may have started a fire when they went down.  I am with Evergreen Fire and so Julie retrieved my fire radio from the bedroom and kept it close.  She looked out the front window and realized the top had blown out of a tree and fallen on our Caterpillar D6C, which was hooked to a plow and parked out front to fight fire in the fields.  I took a chain saw and after assessing the damage, I started cutting the tree off the tractor and plow.  I was mostly done when Julie came out of the house with the fire radio and told me there was a fire on Clover Road, which branches off Cavendish Grade about 1/2 mile east of the Sunny Side Fire Department.  It isn’t in our district, but the folks at Sunny Side knew with the very dry conditions and high winds, they would be overwhelmed almost immediately and they were.  They called for mutual aid from all surrounding Fire Departments including Evergreen.

I drove to the Evergreen Fire Department and met with several other people.  We knew Clover Road was very close to the south side of our district and in fact is just down hill from us.  The wind was driving the fire westward across the slope, but fire goes up hill very rapidly, so we didn’t want to send all our resources to help Sunny Side when we knew the fire would be in our district very soon.  The strong wind was out of the east and would essentially drive the fire along the boundary between Evergreen and Sunny Side fire districts taking out houses in both districts.  We sent one 4000 gallon tender and a brush truck to assist Sunny Side and kept our remaining resources with the intention of staging at the intersection of South Road and Cavendish Highway to protect the homes in our own district.  While most of our fire fighters went directly to the intersection, I took engine 31 (a brush truck) and drove to the eastern end of South Road and then drove full length of South Road assessing the situation.  It was obvious from the smoke that our most immediate threat was near Meridian Road and Havlock Road.  We were also hearing on the radio that the Sunny Side fire station itself was endangered and nearly surrounded by flames.  We sent one more brush truck to assist Sunny Side and the rest of us (one brush truck, one pumper and one 4000 gallon tender with only three people total) headed east on South Road where we expected the threat to hit our district first.  At Lansings place, we met a husband and wife who had just evacuated their home on Havelock Road.  The husband wanted to show me their house,which they felt was in imminent danger.  We followed him to the top of Havelock Road (on the east side of the Lansing property), which is a one lane, very rough gravel road.  I really didn’t want to commit the 4000 gallon tender to that road just yet, so I instructed the tender driver to wait at the top of Havelock while the pumper and myself in the brush truck went down to scout out the situation.  We drove down to the intersection with Valley View Road, which goes east from Havelock.  We were very close to the fire by this point with smoke coming up just down the hill from us.  I instructed the pumper driver to turn around and prepare to leave.  The pumper is a slow and awkward vehicle and I was already concerned about having it down there.  I drove the brush truck out Valley View Road with the home owner where I believe we saw four homes.  Yes, they were in serious danger.  I thought about it and suspected we could probably save any one of those houses if we had the tender, the pumper, the brush truck and had our lines laid and were ready.  I knew we couldn’t save all of them.  The fire was coming at us hard.  it was about to cut off our only exit, which was Havelock. 
I have taken a few wildland fire fighting classes, but it has been several years ago.  They taught us a lot of safety rules and I was violating every safety rule I could think of just scouting this area. 
You are never supposed to get uphill from a wild land fire, yet our DISTRICT was uphill from the fire.  You are supposed to “have one foot in the black” at all times, meaning you are supposed to work at controlling the fire from the side that is already burned so you can retreat to the burned area for protection.  You are supposed to have a lookout posted who watches the big picture while those fighting the fire focus on the nearby issues.  You are suppose to have safety zones, like a large gravel parking lot, a dirt field or some other fire proof area you can retreat to when things go bad.  You are supposed to have communications with incident command at all times.  The incident commander for this fire was with Sunny Side fire and based on the radio traffic, he was completely overwhelmed as the fire was growing much
faster than could be dealt with.   Thus he didn’t even know we existed. 
We are supposed to maintain escape routes, but I knew our only escape route (Havelock) was rapidly being over taken by the fire.  I sized up the situation and made the only decision I could.  We needed to pull back.  Initially, I pulled back to the intersection of Valley View and Havelock where the smoke was getting thicker.  While I had been away, a homeowner from further down Havelock had come fleeing up the hill with his wife in the car.  The husband had burns on one side of his head. 
They had smashed the car into a tree that had fallen across the road. 
The car was gushing antifreeze, but still running.  They were already gone to safety by the time I got back to the intersection.  I was explaining my view of the situation to the pumper driver when the homeowner from Valley View drove by and left for safety.  He wanted us to stay and save his home, but he was leaving.  I decided to cautiously check down Havelock just in case there was a nearby house, surrounded by a large gravel area or large green grass area that might be defendable. 

I drove the brush truck a couple hundred feet further down Havelock until I could see fire.  There was no place to turn around, nothing we could defend.  I backed all the way back up the hill to the intersection where the pumper driver was getting nervous.  I radioed the tender driver and told him we were pulling out.  I took the lead and told the pumper driver if things got bad, to abandon the pumper and get in with me.  The brush truck is faster and more agile than the pumper.  I would rather make a run for things in the brush truck than any of our other equipment.  We drove up out of Havelock with no problems.  We were abandoning all the aforementioned homes and they would all later burn. 
I have never had to make that judgment call as a fire fighter before. 
(Deciding to abandon undamaged homes and allowing them to burn)

We went back to South Road and drove a little further east and successfully defended a home directly south of Meridian Road.  At some point I turned the Evergreen brush truck over to another fire fighter who had shown up.  He took me over to the Sullivan place where our (Huffman Brothers) 1300 gallon water truck was parked.  I took that back to keep an eye on the home south of Meridian Road and I sent the rest of the fire fighters to the next two homes west of that including the Sevastianova residence and the Dennis Weaver residence.  In addition to blowing west, the fire kept coming uphill to the north into my brother Gary’s property on what we call the Sullivan Place (which was once the Frederiksen place).  It came north onto that property and then the strong east wind drove it westwards towards the residence South of Meridian Road.  I got on the radio and called the guys I had just sent away and one of them came back to help, along with another Evergreen fire fighter who had shown up later.  At one point I did a, “pump and roll” with our water truck, which means I was spraying water out a fire nozzle on the driver’s side while driving.  This way, one person can cover a lot of ground on a field fire and get a lot of fire put out.  We stopped it on that occasion and then saved a small building south of Gary’s property which was threatened.  The outhouse and all the miscellaneous things around the little building burned, but we saved the main building ( a tiny vacation cabin).  The other fire fighters again left and went westward to engage various threats while I stayed alone and monitored the situation south of Meridian Road.  The fire was creeping up the canyon on Gary’s property and it eventually jumped a fire break (a neighbor had used a disk to put a fire break around Gary’s field).  Once the field was on fire, I drove out the driveway to South Road and turned our water truck around to get the fire nozzle on the east side facing the fire.  The wind was driving the fire across the field and gaining momentum.  My plan was to do a pump and roll on the driveway and stop it from crossing the driveway.  Meanwhile two other fire fighters showed up.  One was the guy with the brush truck.  The other was an Evergreen Fire fighter with a 3000 gallon tender.  They both drove around me and went in to directly deal with the fire.  We didn’t have time to discuss our plans.  The guy with the tender drove into Gary’s field and started trying to put the fire out doing a pump and roll maneuver.  It wasn’t working well.  He didn’t have a well defined line where he was trying to stop it.  He was just sort of randomly chasing the fire around in the field spraying water and things weren’t going well.  I waited until the fire was nearly at the driveway and started my maneuver.  I was driving along about 5 or 6 mph spraying water out my left side wetting everything down on that side of the driveway.  By the time I got to the really heavy part of the fire, the smoke reduced my visibility to almost zero.  I had my windows rolled up and was struggling to see where I was going.  I was afraid I might go off the edge of the driveway and there are some places with a pretty bad bank where I might get stuck or possibly even roll the truck.  Just as I was getting out of the thickest smoke so I could see something, I suddenly saw the grill of a huge truck right at the end of my hood.  The guy with the 3000 gallon tender (Jim Kramer) had decided his pump and roll maneuver in the field  wasn’t working, so he drove through a bared wire fence to get on the driveway and was attempting to do a pump and roll on the driveway like I was doing, only he was coming from the other direction.  We almost had a head on collision in the heavy smoke.  I hit the brakes, slammed the truck in reverse and started backing out.  This was even more difficult trying to get back through all that heavy smoke without running off the driveway, but it gave everything a second coat of water because I was still pumping.  Jim Kramer continued out with his tender, also pumping and so we kept the fire from jumping the driveway and the house south of Meridian Road was ultimately saved.

Initially it was too windy for air support, but before the day was over, we had a helicopter dropping water and a four engine aircraft dropping fire retardant.  Julie had alerted Gary in regards to the fire.  Gary finished removing the tree top from the D6C and plowed fire breaks around the fields by our houses.  Julie packed the car with clothing, important papers and more and was prepared to evacuate.  I was mostly ignoring my cell phone, but a couple days later I was checking my voicemails and found a message from the Clearwater County Sheriff’s office at 4:36 PM the day of the fire, ordering us to evacuate.  Our land line was down by that point, so they called my cell phone, but they didn’t have Julie’s cell phone number, thus Julie didn’t get the message.  We had farmers from several miles away show up and plow fire breaks around all the fields adjacent to South Road.  Gary and I went back to the Sullivan place that night and stayed out until about 10:30 PM spraying water around the edges of the fire with our water truck.  By that time, we had help from all over northern Idaho, including Lewiston, Clarkston, Troy and Clearwater Paper (located in Lewiston).  Clearwater Potlatch Timber Protective Association was there in force along with a whole lot of professional fire fighters I didn’t identify.

When Julie and I went to bed, there was fire was about 500 yards directly south of our house.  It was held in check by a fire break in a field, South Road and a lot of fire fighters.  I went upstairs and went to bed.  No power, no water and no shower.  Julie was frightened and slept on the couch in the living room where she could sit up and look at the fire across the road to assure herself it wasn’t getting any closer.  Most of the devastation was on Cavendish Highway and Sunny Side Bench Road.  The fire eventually crept up to and touched the road bank on the south side of South Road about 1.2 miles east of our house.  It covered over 1600 acres, consumed 13 homes and is the largest fire in this community in my life time.  I believe there were only two homes destroyed in our district.  Most of the homes on Havelock were actually in Sunny Side’s district.  The power came back on after 47 hours.  The phone came back on after four days.

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Well, it is 2020 you know

On Monday Barb and I were headed north from McCall to the Boomershoot site to do a little work on things. Between Grangeville and Kamiah we saw clouds which could have come from a biblical painting:

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I didn’t think those type of scenes were real. It must be very rare. Another item for strange things in 2020 we told each other. Little did we know this was not the most unusual thing to happen to us on this day.

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Grandpa Huffman and the international incident

Brother Doug has been doing some research on our grandfather Huffman. During WWI Grandpa was in the U.S. Army and was sent to Russia. Here is the latest story related to that deployment.


I bought a couple more books on the American Expeditionary Force Siberia.  One called, “The Russian Sideshow” by Robert Willet is particularly interesting.  I have been able to correlate things he said in the book to things my grandfather, Cecil Huffman wrote home to his parents about.  In particular, the trip to Vladivostok is of interest.

Cecil sailed to Vladivostok on the Sheridan, leaving San Francisco on September 2, 1918.  They were accompanied by another troop ship called the Logan.  The ships stopped at Japan to take on coal.  They stopped at Hakodate on the northern island of Hokkaido, which unfortunately didn’t have any coal.

From the book:

As the two ships anchored outside Hakodate on the northern island of Hokkaido, it was decided to let the doughboys get off the ship, visit the city, and stretch their legs.  It was not a wise decision.  The ships arrived unannounced, and very soon, unwelcomed.  As the thirty seven hundred doughboys, unsteady from weeks at sea, descended on the city, they immediately looked for bars and ladies of the evening…

It soon became apparent that Japanese whiskey had a power that affected the men far more than they anticipated.  Johnson described the problem to Roberts: 

“All the cheap bars have Scotch whiskey made in Japan, “ he told us, “If you come across any, don’t touch it.  It’s called Queen George, and it’s sublimate proof, because thirty-five hundred enlisted men were stinko fifteen minutes after they got ashore.  I never saw so many get so drunk so fast.”

Johnson enlisted Roberts and a few others to round up the men and get them back aboard the two transports.  Roberts described the challenge:

“Intoxicated soldiers seemed to have the flowing qualities of water, able to seep through doorways, down chimneys, up through floors.  When we slowly edged a score of khaki-clad tosspots from a dive and started them toward the ships, then turned to see whether we had overlooked anyone, the room would unbelievably be filled with unsteady doughboys, sprung from God knows where, drunkenly negotiating for the change of American money or the purchase of juss one more boll of Queen George.”

It was not just the enlisted men; officers joined in the orgy and later paid the price.  Eventually, order was restored, and the two ships lumbered out of port, still without coal.

Cecil wrote his parents (This is his punctuation, spelling and sentence structure):

                                                                                                 On Japan Sea
                                                                                                  September 28, 1918:
Dear Father + Mother,

Well I wonder how you are tonight I am fine and dandy.  We stopped in Japan got to go ashore one after noon had more fun than I ever had in the same length of time.  They just follow you around in droves some of them can talk a little English my bunch ran onto some boys that were talking English in high school they said, could talk pretty good had them show us to a resturant we went in and ordered ham + eggs they brought us bread and butter on plates we told them we wanted ham and eggs so she went back and brought us some raw eggs in the shell then one of the boys went in the kitchen and showed them what we wanted so after so long a time we got them they were sure good when we got them.  There was one thing right after another happening all the time we were there.  The town was a dirty place they had no sewers or anything like we have at home they had street cars but the tracks are not kept up are awfully rough.  They are about a hundred years behind the U. S. in everything…

The ships sailed north about 150 miles to Otaru to get coal.  Only a few men were allowed to go ashore at Otaru, but those few managed to convince the locals that gilded Philippine one-centave coins were pure gold coins.  They were passing the coins off to the locals when the fraud was discovered and the police got involved.  One of the soldiers smashed a liquor bottle over the head of a police officer and it created what was described as a true international incident.  The ships were held in port until the fraud and assault charges were resolved.  While they were being held in port a typhoon came in and blew the Logan ashore damaging it slightly.  (Cecil was on board the Sheridan)

Cecil mentioned the typhoon in his letter of September 28:

Had a real storm while we were in the harbor I never saw the wind blow so hard the water or spray blew through the air just like the snow flies in a bad snow storm.  Was glad we were in the harbor it would have been awfully rough on the sea.

The ships arrived in Vladivostok on September 29 at 8:30 PM, the day after Cecil wrote the letter to his parents.  He didn’t mention any of the conflict the soldiers had with the Japanese in his letter.

It is interesting to note that Dad told me Uncle Walt and Grandpa didn’t drink, while Uncle Claude was a heavy drinker.  I have no idea if Grandpa was involved in the drunken behavior in Japan or not.  He was 31 years old at the time, older and possibly more mature than most of his fellow soldiers, but who knows what part he played in the unruly scene in Japan.

The book mentions all three skirmishes Cecil was involved in.  Previously, I could only find information on the skirmish at Novo Nezhino.  The book downplays the significance of the skirmish at Novo Nezhino compared to the description I found in the book entitled, “The history of the 31st.”  I will write about the skirmishes at Maihe and Knevichi at a later date.

Lakes trail

We arrived at Mount Rainier National Park on Thursday. Our first hike on the way into the park was thwarted by closed gate on a Forest Service road:

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We found a different trail nearby and walked in about a mile or so and crossed a small stream. We found a log to sit on and ate our lunch. It was a hot day and snuggled down in the bottom of the ravine with the creek a few feet from us made it a lot more pleasant.

After lunch we continued on to our campground, set up camp, then ventured out to a nearby trail which promised great views of Mount Rainier and multiple lakes. The temperature climbed to 98F. And we were going to be climbing up a mountain trail. Hmmm… Well, the hiking is what we came for. And it wasn’t going to be any cooler at our campsite.

The view of the mountain from Reflection Lake was nice and was visible from the parking area:

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The mountain has a hat

In the last few months I’ve occasionally posted about Mount Rainier 50 miles to the south of where Barb and I live. Last year at this time we went camping and hiking on the mountain. Last Thursday went back to the same campground for more camping and hiking in Mount Rainier National Park. We returned home yesterday.

One of our big joys was to see Mount Rainier up close with a “hat’”: Over 30% of the pictures Barb took are of this “hat”. Although my percentage is lower I took 27 pictures of the mountain with its “hat”.

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Living in a bubble

Early yesterday Alien asked:

Random thought: Joe, are you and Barb giving any consideration to relocating?

I mentioned this to Barb as we were getting up and received the expected answer, “No.”

That’s a little more strongly worded than the reality and also deserves a bit of an explanation. Barb and I talked about it some as we went on our morning walk and I took a few pictures to help explain. As we walked along I was struck by the alternate reality she and I are living in compared to downtown Seattle only a few miles away. Barb elaborated with, “We are living in bubble.”

In this picture, a short walk from our house, you can see the U.S. flag on the left edge of the image:

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Below is an expanded snip of another flag near the car on the right in the image above:

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It’s extremely rare to see a U.S. flag in downtown Seattle. Unless, of course, if someone is burning it.

Here is a common view on our walk:

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In the distance to the south you see Mount Rainier which is over 50 miles away. The air is frequently that clear. My cell phone camera doesn’t do it justice but you can almost as frequently Mount Baker 80 miles to the north from another location on our walk.

In the picture below you can see Seattle (click to get higher resolution and see the Space Needle) in the distance the night after the most recent “peaceful protests”. I imagine the couple on their deck reading about the riot in the newspaper as if it had happened 1000 miles away instead of 10.

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Our reality is much different from downtown Seattle. The streets and air are clean, the neighbors are polite, the police are responsive, the views in all directions with only a short hike are a joy to behold. There is a lot of territory between us and ground zero of the riots. There are thousands of homes and a large lake between us and the terrorists. The roads into our neighborhood are few with lots of cover and concealment along the sides. It is my belief that there will be a lot of warning and a heck of a lot of “vigorous”  resistance to the terrorists migrating out of their turf into ours. And the primary resistance will be supplied by the local police department who has not been shackled like the Seattle Police.Department. When I was shooting matches I frequently had a Bellevue police officer on my squad. The next chance I get I will ask a few questions about how he thinks an attempt at a riot migration to our side of the lake might turn out.

That said, daughter Jaime asked that Barb and I take a look at houses “out in the country” with her and her spouse last Saturday. They live in Bellevue near where the nearly completed light rail from downtown Seattle terminates near Microsoft. She tends a bit toward the neurotic side of normal and her location near easy access from the communist infected downtown Seattle bothers her. She received permission from “all the way up the management chain” at Microsoft to work from home “forever”. Barb and I looked at homes with them for several hours which were an hour drive from her current location. They made an offer on a place with a one acre lot next door to a home with a “Trump 2020” sign in the yard. That might as well be an alternate universe from downtown Seattle.

Also, I have accelerated my plans to buy or build a home in Idaho. A good part of our visit over the 4th of July weekend was to look at three different homes near Boomershoot we expect to be on the market soon. In this neighborhood property seldom gets formally “listed”. It’s almost always via word of mouth that you find out something is for sale or someone is interested in buying. We drove by the homes and told my brothers and sister-in-law that we are interested. We also looked at three different potential sites on my property to build. We chose one and have contacted a potential builder/architect. Then yesterday I completed a tentative floor plan. This would be small “summer home” or bugout location if things get too dangerous or politically intolerable in our current location.

So, to answer Alien’s question in something more than one word and less than a page, we feel pretty safe where we are for now and really like what we have here. We won’t be moving unless there is some pretty drastic changes happening a lot closer to home. However, we and others, are implementing plans to deal with that scenario.

4th of July visit to Idaho

Over the 4th of July weekend Barb and I visited Idaho. The plan was to visit Elk Butte Lookout, watch the fireworks show in Orofino, and maybe do some hiking. We drove over on the 3rd, fixed the weather station at Boomershoot shooting line, inspected the top of the shipping container at Boomershoot Mecca, and did a few other odds and ends before checking in at the Konkolville motel in Orofino.

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Lopez Island

On June 5th Barb and I took the day off work and went for a drive to Lopez Island. Lopez is the third largest of the San Juan Island archipelago. A map is here.

We had been there together before (and here) in 2015 and camped. This time it was just for the day. Going earlier in the year resulted in the temperature being a little cooler. With a little bit of wind it was occasionally on the cool side of comfortable but with a flannel shirt or sweatshirt it was still nice.

We saw many of the same things and hiked many of the same trails. It was our first real excursion together since the COVID-19 outbreak. The lack of traffic, both on the highways and the ferries, reflected the current situation. It seemed that we almost had the island to ourselves. It was a wonderful vacation from the lockdown.

The trails were wonderful. The views were wonderful. And the companionship was awesome.

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