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April 14, 2014 – Tombstone

I enjoyed Tombstone very much. We got to see a reenactment of the shootout at the O.K. Corral.  The old buildings and saloons were very interesting.  We got to see a historical showabout Tombstone which was also fun.

I learned a lot about Tombstone and the people who lived there.  The best part of Tomstone was the gun fight.  We ate in a saloon and the food was delicious.  I felt like I was in the year 1900.  I really look forward to going back again some day.

Charlie age 15

April 13, 2014 – Prospecting

About gold mining: like we had to dig a hole or use a hole that is already dug and have dirt in a bucket to sift the big stuff like big rocks.  Then we went to the guys house to clean out the dirt to get the gold pieces.  Then we had to clean out the dirt with water to get the gold.

When my group was out there we had to dig out dirt and crack rocks with the pick axe.  We had to switch out to other people because it was hot and humid out and we also got tired as well.  When we got it to the guy’s house we cleaned out the dirt wth a tube of water flowing into a trapto have gold fall into it.  It took quite a while for it to be done. Lastly we cleaned out the trap and start ed to clean out the dirt to find gold.

Nathan, age 12 

April 15, 2014 – Unmanned Aircraft System Flight Center Tour

Today we toured the Border patrol  Predator Drone flight center.  They have 3 predator drones that they use primarily to look for illegal alien activity in the southwest.  The tour was fantastic.  Our tour guide was Steve, a retired Air Force fighter pilot, who works as a contractor managing operations of the center.  He brought both passion and knowledge, and spoke very well.  He really made our tour a hit. 

The flight center is not huge.  A couple of hangers, and a collection of trailers.  Everything appeard to be very mobile, although they’ve not moved anything since they started operations about 10 years ago.  They used to have 4 Predators, but they lost one in a crash due to pilot error, and it hasn’t been replaced.

The Predators are the Predator B model.  The tail fins slope upwards.  The other model is the Predator A, which is smaller and the tail fins slope down.  They fly the same planes as the Army does, only without armaments.  They actually put lead weights in the front of the plane so that the center of gravity is the same as the planes designed to carry weapons systems.

The planes are expensive, but the sensor pod on the front belly of the plane is just as expensive.  It has visual, infrared, and radar sensors.  It also has a laser to light up targets so other resources can engage them.  Steve likened their view from the sky to looking down through a soda straw.  They rely on ground sensors and tips to direct their searches.  They fly high to avoid detection, and look out rather than down to further avoid detection.

They showed us some videos of convoys of drug mules carrying backpacks full of marijuana.  They were shot at 5 and 7 miles away and you could easily make out the people’s heads, the packs, and their legs from their heat signature.  The predator doesn’t do anything to detain, or direct the illegals, they just provide the information for helicopters and ground personnel to do that.

The FCS is the “cockpit” for the predator.  It takes to guys to fly the plane.  One to be pilot, and one to control the sensor pod.  They rotate, so any pilot can do either job.  Flights can be up to 30 hours, so they cycle through pilots.  They fly by satellite, so they even fly drones from North Dakota and Corpus Chisti where the other border patrol flight centers are. (and vice versa). 

The planes are carbon fiber, with a 66 ft wingspan.  They can’t fly in adverse conditions.   They can’t land in a cross wind greater than 13 miles an hour, can’t fly in the rain, and can’t handle ice at all.  They are a fair weather plane.

An interesting note is that they were flying drones to help direct activities to fight the fire that is raging in the Huachuca Mountains (and drove us out of our campsite)

After we got our introduction presentation and saw the movies they had for us, we headed out to the flight deck, and almost on queue a Predator started up an began to taxi to the runway.   We got to watch it take off and do several touch and go’s.

I am sure that many of the boys will say that this is their favorite part of the trip.

Tim Brounscheidel

 

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Wildfire

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Tombstone

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Tang Anyone?

Tang anyone? I promise that I didn't feed your kids discontinued food purchased on E-bay

I promise that I didn’t feed your kids discontinued food purchased on E-bay

April 14, 2014

It’s just about midnight and the boys are settling into bed after a long day full of activities.  We started the day at the hotel, well rested from sleeping on a bed.  After a complimentary breakfast buffet, the kids all hopped into the pool and swam to their hearts content.  We checked out all clean and rested and fueled up all the vehicles.   Luke stopped at a pawn shop and bought a mandolin, which we hope to hear around a campfire soon.  Then back to the fort for lunch at the mess and to check into our new digs in an army barracks.  We have the entire third floor, of which we are using about 1/3.  We have our own laundry, which we plan on getting into heavy tomorrow.  We pretty much just dropped our gear and left to head for Tombstone.

At Tombstone the boys did the show that re-inacted the gunfight at the O.K. Corral.  This included some other displays and such, but I didn’t attend that portion of the activities so we’ll have to hope that one of the boys writes about it tomorrow.  After the show, we all headed to the Longhorn Saloon for dinner.  We negotiated a half pound burger, fries, and pop for $5.  It was good food and a good value.

We got to Mr Yaiser’s property at about 6:30 and set up for our movie show.  Brian Yaiser is a former troop 40 scouter and father or Brian Yaiser Jr. a troop 40 eagle scout from a few years back.  He introduced troop 40 to southeast Arizona back in 2006.   We’ve camped on his property 3 times in previous Arizona trips.

After a beautiful Arizona sunset behind the Huachuca Mountains, we fired up the projector, unfolded all our 6$ Walmart chairs, and settled in to view the Tombstone, best western movie of all time.  We used a bed sheet hung between 2 tent poles for a screen, and hooked an inverter up to a truck for a power source.  It is a great experience to watch a movie about historical events that you just learned of, in the place that they happened, in the dessert just 10 miles from where they took place.

Brian’s property is about 15 miles from Sierra Vista, directly across the San Pedro river valley.  From his property there is a gentle slope some miles long down to the river, followed on the other side by a gentle slope up to the Huachuca Mountains.  Just in front of the mountains is the city of Sierra Vista, and the lights spanning most of the horizon are really breathtaking.  Pictures cannot do it justice.

Both scout and scouter enjoyed the film.  It got a little chilly by the end, but not enough to suck the fun out of it.

The wild fire that forced us out of our campsite is still going.  It is still impacting our itinerary as well.  When we packed up the site, we had to empty the tents in a hurry.  Of course every tent was neatly organized, so this was a simple task.  Except for all the tents that weren’t neatly organized.  These tents got gear stuffed in bags.  Whose gear in which bag no one knew.  How could you.  Now we get back to the barracks and Johnny’s underpants are in Herbie’s duffle bag.  A big mess that will take some time to figure out.  Due to this, we are going to skip one of our overnight hiking excursions (Cochise Stronghold or Chiricaua National Monument, to be decided tomorrow).

First thing tomorrow morning (after chow) we are headed to the Border Patrol Flight Center to see where they fly the Predator drones.  Should be very interesting.  Afterwards we have an exciting laundry detail, lunch, and another trip to Tombstone to do some souvenir shopping, and some more time in the dessert at Yaisers.  We’ll stay in the barracks that night, and venture out for an overnight camp and hike the following day.  Then its back to Phoenix and home to our loved ones.

Tim Brounscheidel

Video

50 Cal

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Gold Miners

 

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Backpackers

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Evacuation!

We got back to Fort Huachuca after our very successful overnight on the San Pedro.  Our plan was to gather everything we need for the rest of the day, head to lunch at the mess, shower and swim at the pool, then go to a mining claim to dig up some earth and run it thorugh a sluice to look for gold. After evening mess, we planned on going to Mr. Yaisers property, have a campfire, and watch the movie Tombstone.  

Lunch went well, but we lost track of time and didn’t have time to do the swimming.  Showers were not optional after 24 hours in the dessert.  We showered and headed to the claim in a canyon about a half hour south of the fort.  Our host, Mr. Bramwell, showed us the mining ropes and we got 2 5 gallon pails of sifted sand.  We hauled these to Mr. Bramwell’s home where he had a sluice set up.  We ran it all through, and the boys panned through the sediment.  We did find gold, but not enough to amount to anything.  From there we headed back to the mess for dinner.  After we got most of the way through the meal, Ken got a call from the Fort Huachuca Police. There had been a fire burning all day in the mountains.  It turned out to be fairly close to our camp, although there was no immediate danger.  They also set up their firefighting command post in our campsite area.  They were running a helicopter water pickup right in our campsite, and they wanted us out.  We left the boys in the mess with a couple of adults and everyone else hopped into the vehicles to evacuate our site.  

With no place to stay, we opted to get a hotel room for the night.  We’re at the Sierra Suites, just outside the fort.  The boys are all swimming.  We’ll be checking into a barracks tomorrow.  We’ve decided no to do Paler Canyon Lake and Coronado peak tomorrow.  We’re going to spend the time in Tombstone.

 

Tim Brounscheidel