In July 1986, a convoy of dark green jeeps, deuce and half trucks, and Dodge Ram trucks rumbled down Interstate 80 through Nebraska at a steady 55 mph clip; it’s destination – the Fort Carson Military Reserve near Colorado Springs, Colorado. I sat in one of the lead vehicles. On my left, behind the wheel of a Ram, sat Staff Sergeant Ray Schmidt. Schmidt was the head of the battalion’s S1, or administrative section. I worked for Schmidt. I liked Schmidt. I respected him. He was a good man.
Behind us, in another Ram, were two other members of the S1 section, a private and a specialist four. I don’t remember the names of either one of them. But I do remember some of their personal attributes. So I will refer to them as Private Rocker and Specialist Slacker. Continue Reading »
Tagged Army Corps of Engineers, Cheyenne Mountain, Colorado, Colorado Springs, Containment, Detente, Fort Carson, James E. Carter, Neo Cold War, NORAD, Peaceful Coexistence, Ronald Reagan
In late May 2003, Todd Siefker and I pushed our sixteen-and-a-half-foot, cherry red Bell Canoe Works canoe into the Missouri River at Fort Benton, Montana. From there (the traditional head of Missouri River steamboat traffic) we planned on canoeing all the way to Sioux City, Iowa, a total river distance of 1,344 miles. Oh, it was a grand, bold, and in hindsight, absolutely unrealistic, plan. But we were confident in our skills as outdoorsmen, in prime physical condition, and neither one of us was tied down by a mortgage, a cubicle job, or any dependent children. In our minds, the trip appeared not only possible – but also incredibly adventurous. As a matter of fact, it was going to be a blast, a hoot, a hell of a lot of fun. Tackling hundreds of miles of winding, capricious river and six of the world’s largest reservoirs – no problem. Confronting rain, wind, cold, and heat – no problem. Facing the possibility of death by drowning, injury by odd accident, or a bullet wound from an armed, xenophobic, rural Montanan – no problemo. We’d deal with the challenges as they arose. We’d overcome, we’d make it to goddamn Sioux City (or as only those with roots there have a right to call it – Sewer City). We’d arrive in that cow town triumphant, modern-day explorers – heralded by the local media as men of daring. Continue Reading »