Tag Archives: Boring Personal History

Stories – My First Time in New Orleans Years Ago

I have a lot of stories. Just ask the people I work with and if I am around watch them slink away if there is the slightest possibility that I am going to tell another one like I am about to now.

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Audubon Park

I just got back from New Orleans from a convention. My first trip was in 1977 when I was graduating with an Engineering Degree from the University of the New Mexico. (aka “Harvard on the Rio Ground” or “MIT on the Mesa” as it is known, at least to me.) You may remember 1977. Oil prices were heading out the roof and I had sixteen job offers including a blind offer from Gulf Oil Corporation. Yep, they sent me a job offer by mail with my choice of location.

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MIssissippi River at New Orleans

They had locations all over the place and I sure wanted to avoid west Texas so they sent me to New Orleans for a tour there. I flew in from Albuquerque and stayed at a downtown hotel and the next morning went to their office and talked to an engineering manager and he told me what the deal was. The deal was that I would spend a year or two working out of the office in Quarantine Bay in the Gulf of Mexico. The thing was that I would live in New Orleans and drive down there in a company care with three other engineers. So I said,”….uh okay….” not that I was agreeing. So he said that I was going to go down there and tour the areas.

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I was wearing my finest (and only) polyester sport coat, tie, and slacks and said “….uh okay….” and he introduced me to an engineer who had been doing this and so we went to the parking garage and off we went. Going down he was all professional and all that. I am not sure how far we drove but memory (which is very unreliable) tells me it was about 40 miles or south of New Orleans. We were driving along the main channel of the river and after a while noticed that the ships in the river were above where we were and my guide said, yep. We were below sea level.

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So we went to our destination and got out of the car and onto a workboat and traveled further down the river. It was February, if memory serves me,and quite foggy and I was like really interested in the radar and all that. The Cajun crew was smirking at me in my finest polyester duds but there was nothing I could do about that. So we went down the river and through a lock off the river into Quarantine Bay and then motored over to the Gulf’s office which was basically an elevated barge run up on a mudbar in the bay.

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The water was only a few feet deep and there were dozens of oil wells scattered here and about. They were just basically well casings sticking out the the water with wooden guards surrounding them. This was Gulf’s oil field in the area. So we climbed the stairs up to the office and had some coffee and talked about what was going on and then we walked down the stairs to a smaller boat and motored around to a workout rig working on one of the wells. A wire line crew was working on the rig replacing gas lift mandrels (don’t ask, doesn’t matter) and they were all Cajuns with blue jumpsuits being very polite with the guy from New Mexico with his polyester duds and tie.

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This is the Dauphin field in Mobile Bay, Alabama

So we went back to the office where the crew had cooked some red beans and rice. They gave me a bunch of crap but I had worked three summers in the oilfields of the Permian Basin and had realized that the best way to handle crap is just to take it gracefully and so I took it and everything went okay and they all shook my hand when it come time to leave and I think I made an okay impression with these guys.

Street Car Street Scene

So the time came to go back to New Orleans and off we went and here was where the surprise came, or at least the first surprise. My guide and I stopped about every fifteen minutes on the way back at various beer joints. And the bartenders knew my guide, and he knew them!! So we drank a beer there at the bar and took one to go and off we went to the next joint. He said that this was part of the training program. So we stopped at at three or four places so as we drove across the big bridge into New Orleans I had a pretty good buzz on.

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I was thinking we were going on to the airport but no. The second surprise was that management wanted to talk to me. Uh!!! Uh oh!!! So we went back to the office and I got to talk to the big cheese engineering manager and he talked and talked and droned on and on and then he yapped some more and I had reverted to the polite guy from New Mexico with the polyester duds and tie and then FINALLLLLLLY he asked if I had any more questions. I did! I asked if I could use the restroom.

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So I made a big impression with Gulf Oil. I had worked summers though with Mobil and they agreed to let me work on the Gulf Coast instead of Permian Basin. So it all worked out. I still remember my day with the Cajuns in the bay and how exotic it was to this guy in his polyester sport coat, slacks, and tie.

Quarentine Bay Screenshot

Screen shot showing New Orleans at the top and Quarantine Bay at the bottom.

Running Hills Where There Are No Hills

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Last week I had a lot of fun running hills at Turkey Mountain with Trail Zombie, Clint,and Lea. This week I couldn’t run there because by the time I get off work it is dark and I don’t like to run hills by my lonesome in the dark. The days are getting longer though and daylight savings time starts March 13 so it won’t be long.

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So I went running on the flat lighted trails of Arkansas River Trails system. So I used whatever hills I could find and looped back around them. Places like bridges, overpasses, and underpasses and whatever small hills were available.

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So I didn’t get 900 feet of elevation, I only got 41 feet but it is making me think how I can add a lot more elevation to my river runs. One thing is that you can see from the photo above that downtown is elevated quite a bit above the river so I might figure out a loop up and back. Tulsa’s infamous “Crybaby Hill” loop for the Tulsa Tough bicycle race is a loop that starts on the opposite bank above and goes behind the light colored condos just to the right. 

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That ought to add some elevation.


What about you, are you looking for any hills to climb?

Wish me luck I’m running my first trail race Sunday morning, the quarter marathon segment of the Post Oak Challenge,  since I banged up my knee last September running the Escape From Turkey Mountain Race.  Check out my 2015 Post Oak Challenge. The quarter marathon is kind of kiddy race because we won’t go up Holmes Peak like the other races do. That is today (Saturday) and I am helping out on Turkey Mountain Cleanup this morning and Heather is teaching a class today at the gym and Logan needs to get to and from his musical rehearsal. You folks with families know all about shuffling things around.

The Homeless Guy said “Not Everybody Can Carry That Look Off”

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Wednesday night I was at my liquor store downtown waiting in line to buy some craft beer as a reward for the run I was about to do. The guy ahead of me in line had a bottle of vodka in one hand and a ten dollar bill in the other. He was a homeless guy that I have seen in and around downtown for years. He turned to me and said, “You know you look just like those guys in the old time photographs. That cap and a sportcoat and khaki slacks. You know not everybody can carry that look off but you can.” So I said thank you very much. He asked, “So what kind of cap is that?” and I said that it was called flat cap and a friend from Uruguay got it for me and I love it because it was pretty darn warm.”

So he said “Really” and asked to look at it and so I handed it to him and he said, “No wonder it is warm, it is wool felt.” And I said, “sure is” and he handed it back to me and turned his attention to the clerk as it was his turn.

In a genial manner he told the clerk “Hey, that woman working here this morning said that I can only buy something once a day from you guys.” The clerk said, “That’s right sir we aren’t allowed to sell to the same person twice in a day.” So my new friend said, “Well you know that makes it kind of hard on me because I go through two of these a day” as he held up the bottle, “and I don’t want to be carrying one around all day. You know what I mean?” The clerk said, “I am sorry about that sir.”

And then the clerk said, “You want this in your backpack sir?” and the my guy said “Sure lets put it in there” and while they are doing that he says, “I haven’t decided what I’m going to do yet. My daughter,  I haven’t seen her in 17 years is flying in and said she is going to find me and I don’t know whether I should meet her or just go get drunk. What do you think?” The clerk said “I think you should go meet your daughter.” And I said, “I vote for that plan.”

The guy laughed and said, “Well we’ll see what happens, you guys take care.” And off he went out of the store.

For some strange reason, the guy made me feel good and bad at the same time. I have not met very many people so open, direct, and non-defensive as this guy.

Have you ever had a homeless guy make you feel good about yourself?

USS Missouri now at Pearl Harbor, back then in San Francisco

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One of the highlights of our trip to Hawaii was Pearl Harbor. The old battleship, the USS Missouri is not berthed there and serves as a floating museum just down the harbor from the USS Arizona memorial. I would have loved to tour the Missouri but we were on a tour and didn’t have enough time. So maybe next time.

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Brother Bob – all dressed up and the Mighty Mo’

I had actually been on the deck of the Missouri before. Way back in 1986 when it was recommissioned in San Francisco after being modernized with cruise missiles and other modern armament. You see my brother Bob was on the original crew after the refitting. I got to walk across the teak deck and view the plaque commemorating the exact spot where Japan signed the surrender of World War II. I think Bob served on the ship for three or four years and went around the world several times. I don’t think he was on the ship when it served in the first Gulf War. He was and is proud to have served on such a famous ship.

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Sorry for the tilt

So, it was kind of nice to see the ship preserved and not salvaged and used to make Kias and Walmart trinkets. Instead it looks to me that it is guarding the USS Arizona Memorial.

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Here’s me all dressed up and about 30 pounds lighter.

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Uncle Bob again

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So, I hope to see it up close and personal next time.

 

Easter and a True Confession about the Day

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Almighty God, who through your only‑begotten Son Jesus Christ overcame death and opened to us the gate of everlasting life:

Grant that we, who celebrate with joy the day of the Lord’s resurrection, may be raised from the death of sin by your life‑giving Spirit;

through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one
God, now and for ever.
Amen.

Anglican Prayer for Easter Sunday
Book of Common Prayer, 1979 version,
Protestant Episcopal Church in the USA.

Easter - Coyote, New Mexico

Dad, me (the little one), and brother Bob, Coyote Ranger Station, New Mexico, Easter late 1950’s

It is true confessions time today. Easter makes me uncomfortable. I mean really uncomfortable. What a confession for somebody who says they are a Christian isn’t it. It is not the theology that bothers me. What bothers me is my memories of Easter’s past. Some of my earliest memories of church are of a Lutheran Church in Santa Fe, New Mexico. My dad was a Forest Ranger on the Santa Fe National Forest and we lived in the little town of Coyote. Every now and then we would make the long trip to Santa Fe and go to church. In the days before there was good air conditioning it could be hot and stuffy in the church and I would pass out. Not from a state of religious exhilaration but from a lack of air. I would wake up laying down in the grass outside the church. I think it happened twice when I was a preschooler and once again when I was 16 and just visiting.

So, I just quit going to church on Easter for decades. I think that I was in my forties before I went back on Easter again. Now I go to Easter but I do have to subdue a little panic feeling because the building is generally packed and the weather is warm so if I have to get up and go to the lobby for a little cooler air and to get some space between me and others please excuse me.

So I know that Easter is the big day in Christianity, bigger than Christmas, bigger even than the Super Bowl!! But I’ve never really liked it very much personally.

But, Happy Easter to those of you who observe it, and are better Christians than I, and if you don’t observe it, have a good day anyway!

Song-ography – White Christmas Edition

The theme on Songography is “Any Christmas Song.” I picked White Christmas because to Christmas is very nostalgic for me and White Christmas is a very nostalgic song. And a big part of my childhood was spent in Forest Service Ranger Stations up in the mountains. That was back when when snow was kind of magical and not the pain in the butt that it is now.  I’m using my  father’s old photographs so I don’t know if that is cheating or not because I didn’t take them.

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I think that is my brother, Bob, taking a photo of me and my little sister Ellen at the Payson Ranger Station on the Tonto National Forest in Arizona. My sister was born in Payson and we moved to Utah soon thereafter. I think this was on a visit back to Payson. The Forest Service was very tight knit socially and everybody moved around a lot so we knew somebody almost everywhere. I love the old school jeep and truck and the galoshes. Does anybody wear those any more? Those buckles would get iced over and they would be hare to take off.

I’m dreaming of a white Christmas
Just like the ones I used to know
Where the tree tops glisten
And children listen
To hear sleigh bells in the snow

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I’m guessing that this is northern Arizona in the early 1960’s.

I’m dreaming of a white Christmas
With every Christmas card I write
May your days be merry and bright
And may all
Your Christmases be white

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This is the old Payson Ranger Station in Arizona. The building on the left was the Assistant Ranger’s Residence. It is now a museum. The building on the right was the Ranger’s office. It is part of the museum. We lived across the street in in a cinder block house owned by the Forest Service.

I’m dreaming of a white Christmas
Just like the ones I used to know
Where the tree tops glisten
And children listen
To hear sleigh bells in the snow

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This is my Mother at their Forest Service owned house in Happy Jack, Arizona on the Coconino National Forest (I think). This was after my parents were first married and several years before I was born.

I’m dreaming of a white Christmas
With every Christmas card I write
May your days be merry and bright
And may all your Christmases
May all your Christmases
May all your Christmases
May all your Christmases be white

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I think this is another scene from northern Arizona.

I’m dreaming of a white
Christmas with you
Jingle Bells
All the way, all the way

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A road through the forest. We used to do the Griswold thing and go cut our own tree (with a permit to do so of course). It was always an adventure to go find the tree. Dad was an expert at “improving the tree.”

The movie White Christmas came out in 1954 and I was born in 1955. I find the movie fascinating because to me it shows how the “Greatest Generation” thought of themselves. The old can do if we just pull together and work together spirit.

Santa Fe Ski Area late 1950's or early 60's

Dad tells me that this is the Santa Fe ski area way back when. It is a lot different now. I love the guy rocking the red ski sweater and what looks like a tow rope in the background and the shack which may have been the “lodge.”

And here is a clip from the movie. Everything is cool until you get some dialog and it is in a language I couldn’t understand. Oh well!!

Things are a lot different. Everybody is kind of spinning in their own orbit these days.

But hey, I still love Christmas for a bunch of different reasons and I still love snow, when I don’t have to go anywhere in it. Have a Merry Christmas!!

Linking to Song-ography

Happy Birthday Mom

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It’s my mother’s birthday. She has been gone for while but I think about her every day. Above is Mom with my brother Bob and me at the Ranger Station in Coyote, New Mexico. Once a month or so we would dress up and load up and head out of the mountains and into Santa Fe for church. Notice my brother Bob rocking the high waisted jeans and my bald head whiting out the whole pic.

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I think that is my sister, Ellen in this picture. Mom loved children.  Notice the mountain in the background. She always said she would never live anywhere where she couldn’t see the mountains. She was a true Forest Ranger’s wife.

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Here she is with Logan in Idaho. They both seem pretty happy with each other.

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Mom, the smallest, was part of a huge family. When Dad retired they moved back to Mom’s native Idaho where many of her brothers and sisters lived. She loved getting together with them, and their many kids and grand-kids.

The Damn Dam of Flandreau

The Dam

The Damn Dam spans the Big Sioux River just outside the small town of Flandreau, South Dakota where my dad spent his boyhood. He and his brothers and another friend all went in together and bought a canoe and lived what sounded like the Tom Sawyer life on the lake behind the dam. Fishing, camping, canoeing, and “hanging out.”  It still looks like a good place to hang out.

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It was called the Damn Dam by my mother and my Aunt who were very tired of visiting the dam every year and never missed an opportunity to not go. It was all in good fun though. My Dad and his brother still like to go and I like to go because they like to go and they have great stories. The stories get better ever year. I’m much to polite to say anything about that though.

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Cousin Robert, Dad, and his brother at the Damn Dam.

Of Grain Elevators, Courthouses, and Bars

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I was in the tiny little town of Flandreau, South Dakota. Flandreau, like lots of other small towns across the Midwest USA has grain elevators. They look simultaneously timeless and recently unused. They seem to be the tallest structures in town.

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The grounds are neat and tidy though. Everything in the upper midwest seems neat and tidy.

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Near the grain elevators is one of the largest quonset huts I’ve ever seen. It also didn’t look to be used but the grass is neatly mowed. The morning that I took all these pics the sky was as gray as the metal on the structures.

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This is the Moody County Courthouse. Moody County had its few days in the national news early in 2004 when a jury sitting in this courthouse sent South Dakota’s Governor Bill Janklow to jail for manslaughter for killing a motorcyclist while speeding and running a stoplight. They are still talking about it in town. You don’t want to mess around with the citizens of the rural midwest. If you do they’ll send you somewhere where you can reflect on your actions, for a good long while.

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Bars in South Dakota are serious business. You go there to drink. If you want to eat you go to you a restaurant. And no, your kids are definitely not welcome here. Here in Oklahoma if you want to have a bar you have to serve food also. The Bar-X Lounge in Flandreau is a bar’s bar. If you want to buy decent beer in Flandreau (no, Bud Light is NOT decent beer) you go the Bar-X Lounge and stand in a little alcove and get your beer. No unmasculine browsing or looking at a lists or anything, you stand up like a man and see if they got what you want. If you have a problem with that I think it best you don’t say anything about it. Not that I’m trying to tell you what to do or anything.

The best part of the Bar-X is that my Dad and his brother are friends with the owner (or one of the owners or a former owner, I’m not really sure.) Eddie is his name and he is a heck of a guy. I’ve been hearing stories about him all my life and finally got to meet him for a few minutes.

 

 

Hey, have you ever wandered around a small town early on a Sunday morning?

Check out the action in Flandreau here.

InSPIREd Sunday – Sioux Valley Baptist Church

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Sioux Valley Baptist Church is a small clapboard church sitting on a dirt road a few miles from Trent, South Dakota and right across the Big Sioux River from my Great Great Grandfather’s original homestead. He donated the land the church sits on. The church was dedicated in 1888 and has been in service ever since. It is a tradition in my Dad’s family that they attend services in connection with the annual reunion. It is pretty cool to see the church still holding services and knowing that my ancestors had a hand in getting it started.

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The service is simple and heartfelt. The music is great. The prayers and praises concern thankfulness for a safe rodeo season and livestock showings at the County Fair, concerns about illnesses. Somehow the pastor, Rita Webber remembers everything and mentions it during the prayers. The sermon is likewise great.

Somehow this is all accomplished without powerpoint slides, amplified guitars, video segments and all that. Totally Old School and relaxing.

InSPIREd Sunday