Friday, October 30, 2009

I salute our Troops

I have decided to break the theme here (hiking and hockey) to address something more important--our troops. When I say that I mean our soldiers, sailors, airman and marines that fight for our freedom every day. I attended a luncheon yesterday that the National Homeland Defense Foundation ( and the Chamber of Commerce in Colorado Springs sponsored. They started inviting returning commanders from Iraq to come and brief the community on their activity in Iraq--usually 12-18 month tours. Yesterday, Col Col Henry Kievenarr III briefed us on the 2nd BCT/4ID activities in Iraq. When we started this war, we had conventional ideas--we were trained to beat the Russians. As time went by we somehow learned that these are people, just like us that want to live their lives to their fullest. The military evolved. We became friends with the people in Iraq. We became involved in their well being, so much that when we rotated out of there---people cried-both Americans and Iraqis because they became life long friends. We found that to win this war, we needed to win over the people--show them that there is a better way to live. We cleaned up their streets, fixed their sewers, water supplies, electrical grids, and we built them schools. Our soldiers became foster parents to their children. We became their friends. We did what everyone said could not be done in a thousand years--stop the war in this region. Why? Because we did it with love. We learned to love these people as if they were us--our friends our relatives. Is everything fixed? No there are still problems, but we learned a valuable lesson. People cherish their freedoms. They want to be able to live, learn, thrive, and multiply in a secure environment. That's how we became a great nation. We have differences, but one thing we share is a Constitution that allows for everyone the right to seek their goals without impediments. I can see now that there are some in Washington that want to take that away. I used to be worried. Then I met the soldiers of the 4th ID. I attended AUSA, the largest military symposium on the planet and met the young solders that learned first hand what freedom means. Go ahead Obama, fill your czar positions with communists. Get your far left Congressional members to pass bills that take away our fundamental rights. While your were sleeping we were building American patriots that sacrificed their lives, limbs and who knows what to help oppressed people. Don't think for one minute that you have us fooled. We now have our own greatest generation that see that freedom is not free. That open free markets are what build a society-they teach the Iraqis how to build their economy on free market principals. They see it working. Tax the hell out of us and you know what you will get? Millions of Airmen, Sailors, Soldiers, Marines, and their families, friends and associations telling you to go back to Chicago--because they know that does not work. They see that in just 9 months your have quadrupled the national debt. You have driven the unemployment rate from 5 percent to 10 and then you have lied saying the depression is over, but we need to spend more money. 75% of the American people are against you now. By this time next year, unless you change drastically and start following the Constitution,,, 90% will be asking for your removal. We are tired of Acorn. We are tired of the Apollo Alliance. We have seen through them and realize they are the same type of people that backed Hitler. Parties mean nothing, principals are what rule. Principals brought us from cave dwelling status to the most powerful nation on earth---and your protege, the idiot Van Johnson had the gall to ask "how is that capitalism working for you?" Quite well thank you now go back to Siberia and work in the Salt mines where your belong. I have used to be very pessimistic on our future. Then I met and talked to these soldiers, and I ask myself "Where did they come from?" They have more courage and fundamental understanding of our freedoms than anyone I have ever met. They are are the future, and you know what Obama? They don't particularly like you. You have yet to make a decision on Afghanistan. You have not served a day and you are lecturing people that have fought, lost life, limb and family over how to fight this war. I am embarrassed that we even considered you eligible for election. Where were you born anyway? Lets see the certificate and get on with it. You don't have it do you? Another lie. Well one thing for sure, the tide is turning and people are waking up to the lies from you and the corrupt politicians in Congress, both Democratic and Republican. Your days are numbered. Now is the time for the second rising of the Americas as our Founding Fathers envisioned and time to throw you and your communist friends out in the cold.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Bears--Hikers beware?

For the past several years I have been hiking the Ramparts behind the Air Force Academy. I like it there because its close, generally I can to the base of each trail in 5 min, and because these trails are less traveled by others. I like to discover new routes, new trails new places to explore. A year ago my "girls" (my two dogs) took me up a new trail behind an area the Cadets do their Global Engagement exercise. There were signs that they were doing war games and camping out. We found one trail and started to follow it--who knows maybe we would run into another cadet built outpost or tree house. We went quite a ways, then I started to notice that the logs were splintered (were cadets chopping them up for some reason?). After stepping over one I found my answer--there was bear scat. It was filled with tin foil, bits and pieces of paper--probably paper plates. We were on a bear trail. My "girls" were more than happy to pick up the sent and continue--I was not so enthusiastic as the scat was fresh. Heading back we found this bears main food source--a large trash container outside the fenced compound. The grounds were littered with food items, wrappers, foil, cans--you name it. This was a bear feasting ground. Fast forward a year later. Same trail, only this time we pulled off and walked up a ridge and looped back. Same trash container--only this time it was locked down. The bear was not getting his dinner from that anymore. Just before the end of our good weather this September, I was walking the "girls" on a short hike down behind the firing range on an access road. We came across several fresh scats, some broken branches and some fresh trails through the high grass that had grown this summer with all the rain. I heard the thrashing of a tree off about 20 yards. We stopped. I then spied a bear about 7 feet tall stripping the limbs off of some tree (Male Black Bears can get up to 7 feet on their hind legs). We backed away. I was curious the next day, so headed back up the trail only to get some of these shots that our bear was no little Boo Boo or Yogi for that matter, He or She was huge. This was the imprint that was not there the day before. You can clearly see the claws on this sucker. This was about the size of my foot. We did some more scouting and hunting in the days and weeks to follow and found more evidence that our favorite trail is also the stomping grounds of a bear--or two--or three. We have been seeing fresh signs of scat, trails through the tall grass, and trees stripped of bark by claws. I included one such tree here that was pretty fresh. I have been seeing trees stripped or clawed like this for 2 years on this trail and wondered why bears do that. Well I finally looked it up in Harper's "The Complete Guide to North American Wildlife". I was curious if black bears could get so big (yes) and if this could be a Grizzly--in which case I would probably not use that trail anymore. Black bears claw trees to mark their territory from other bears, so we have been hiking in the middle of marked territory. Grizzles don't do this. There are Grissly bears in Colorado--but few and mostly up in the high country. So what are they eating and when they run out will we look like food? Well If you look at the scat you can see its is full of seeds. I did some more poking around and found some type of small black berries stripped off of their shrub--I think that's what they are eating. With the rain we have had this year the eating was good. They could not get into the trash can so went back to the basics. In the Spring and Fall we get out the bear bells and I now carry bear mace--but looking a the size of that bear and that claw, I am wondering if that is enough. So far I think they have been more scared of us than we have been of him--or her or they. We make a lot of noise on purpose. I find it encouraging that in Wikipedia it says "Like many animals, they seldom attack unless cornered, threatened, or wounded. It will also attack to protect its young. They are less likely to attack humans than grizzly bears and typically flee for cover as soon as they identify a human visitor. Deaths by black bear, though, are most often predatory, while the more numerous grizzly fatalities on humans are often defensive." Okay will have to remember that. In the mean time I know the signs now. Scat, clawed trees, fallen branches with berries, and now I know why we have been seeing so many "trails" through the tall grass--bears. You can just make out one of the trails in this last picture. I am thinking they are creatures of habit. Once they find some food source they like, they take the same path--why not? That's what I would do.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

So this morning we decided to go 1/2 way up Stanley Canyon for traning, It is actually the hardest part because its the uphill part. Once you clear the steep areas, it flattens out into what I call the swamp aspen forest and it becomes a very nice walk in the woods. The turn around point for us is what I call the twisted log. As you can see it's an old hollowed out tree that looks twisted. This is a nice 45 min training hike if you don't have much time. Here are a few shots I took:

Sunday, October 18, 2009

October Hikes In Colorado are like Summer

With the temperature approaching 70 at 10am we set off for one of our spots. It was dry and windy but well worth the hike. Once we started the climb it cooled off and we were blocked by the wind. We headed up a hill behind the Academy shooting range up to a valley we know. Came across one other hiker, I have met him and his dog before. They come up from a different route. We headed into the valley then up on top of the highest outlook. I took a picture looking down at the valley where the stream goes over a cliff down below. Eventually the stream feeds Deadman's lake on the Academy. Zamboni was like a cat trying to get every little squirrel. Seems that the bears have taken to either hibernating or up farther into the hills. Did not see any fresh signs. Did see a few trees that they clawed (why do they do that anyway?). One good thing is that the park ranger cut of access to our area from vehicles. We came across barbed wire and cut trees to stop any more vehicle traffic in "our" area. There were signs posted forbidding vehicles past a certain point. That's great! I think they need to limit those dirt bikes and ATVs to a small area. They do a lot of damage, and what's the point? If you can't get in on foot, or horse, then just stay in town driving around.