When we went into the Chiricaua hike we went close to the rock formations. There was 2 hikes, a 7.5 mile and a 4.5 mile. I went on the 7.5. We got to see the different mountains from the top of Coronado Peak. We also got to see some rock formations named duck on a rock, and Punch and Judy up close in the heart of the rocks loop. Towards the end of the hike we heard a Black-tailed rattle snakes tail. I had a great time.
Dawson, age 14
When our boy scout troop went on a tour of the Predator airport, I was very interested. They showed us videos of different immigrant groups smuggling drugs (marijuana) across the border. Afterwards, they showed us the drones and explained how they have good lift and speed because they were so light.
When we entered the first hangar, we looked at some helicopters and looked around inside of it. One of the helo’s had its mechanics on the outside and we learned (sort of) how the “basic” engine works. We walked to the next hangar and they had one of the drones and explained how it would respond if the link was disconnected and it would fly to different points.
We then went to where they flew the drones. It was pretty much just a bunch of computers and satellites which tracked the plane, and after that he answered questions and it was over. It was very interesting to see how people used unmanned probes.
Tyler, age 13
April 14, 2014
Today we toured the area of the base that is in control of the Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS), which are otherwise known as Predator Drones. They started the tour with what all the jobs were and what they used the drones for most of the time, which is detecting illegal immigrants. Then we went out to the hangar where we saw one of the drones take off and do touch and go’s.
We were able to get up close and touch it and see how light it was. We touched a piece of it that is worth $1.5 million. One of the pilots of the helecopters in the other hangar showed us around the helicopters and how they work
Last we went inside one of the control centers for the drones where we saw a lot of the controls that they have for them. I felt that that was one of the coolest things yet to happen on the trip because not many people can say that they hiked Cochise Stronghold, but even fewer can say they touched a Predator drone.
Nick age 17.
Today Boy Scout Troop 40 toured the famous ghost town of Tombstone. The sun beat down on our necks when we first arrived; it was blazing hot. Everyone put on sunscreen and we were off… off to an excellent reenactment of the gunfight at the O.K. Corral. Walking into the shop, it was a toursist trap and we were trapped. Many of the boys were eying up cap guns. Especially those of Doc Holiday.
Three of the actors came out and asked for a fourth companion, pointing to Tyler. They asked him to join them. “How many horses have you stolen” they asked. “Zero” Tyler replied sheepishly. “Well how many banks have you robbed?” they asked again. “Nine.” Tyler said. “Ah, you’re no good. Have a nice day.” They said, and that was that.
The show was amazing and the actors were grat. Right after we went back into the store. Austin and I bought Mr. Parks a shirt that had his catch phrase on it. “It’s a Dry Heat”. In that same store, for some reason that escapes me, many of the scouts bought cap guns. Well, whatever floats your boat, or shoots your gun.
Right after we walked over to another show; one with a turn table and a diorama for each part. Every so often a screen would drop down the show a picture of this man or that man. Once this show was over we walked straight over to the longhorn Saloon to eat a burger, fries, and a drink. Afterwards our troop drove over to Mr. Yaisers property to watch the movie tombstone with Kurt Russell. It became extremely cold that night. To warm up (after the movie) we drove to the barracks to sleep.
Jon, age 17
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.
I am writing this post sitting on the banks of the San Pedro River, about 2.25 miles north of the ghost town of Fairbank AZ. Fairbank was the town that served as train station for the town of Tombstone back in the mining days.
We began our day at 6:00am. Everyone dressed, brushed their teeth, and we were away to the mess hall for breakfast. We are staying in the Garden Canyon picnic area on post at Fort Huachuca. It is about a 15 minute drive to the mess hall. The road isn’t too good, and instead of bridges, they put in concrete washes that you drive through. Very slowly, or you do damage to your vehicle and its contents.
On the way back from mess, we came upon a reserve unit doing their training on the firing range. We got to see them firing a 50 cal. Very loud. Very impressive. There were a lot of soldiers crawling and walking through the bush with their AR15 rifles. It was so movie like.
We packed our backpacks and loaded up the suburbans for the drive to Fairbank. The boys toured the city. Everything was gone at one time, and they are trying to re-create it one building at a time. Its more like a museum than a city.
The hike to our campsite was uneventful. Everyone made it without redistribution of gear. Some young boys needed a little rest and encouragement along the way. This was work; the kind of work not every young boy gets in his life. The dads loaded up with tents, rations, and lots of water.
We just finished out supper. It was kind of a smorgasbord of freeze dried backpacking food. Everyone got to pick one entrée, then find someone else to split it with and share what they had. Chicken and noodles proved to be most popular. The packages had 2.5 servings, so some of the smaller boys had leftovers, which were gobbled up my Mr. Parks and I. For dessert we had a raspberry crumble, which was very tasty. We used more water than we thought, so a couple of dads collected empty water bottles and trekked back to the trail head to fill them up. The day wasn’t too hot, maybe 80, but then sun was hot, Some got a little sunburn, but most everyone did well.
Our campsite sits right on the river, in the shade of some very big trees. Real green trees. Not oversized bushes like you see everywhere else around here. The San Pedro is an oasis in the dessert. From either side of the valley you can see the line of green that is the San Pedro.
Across the river from our site is a sheer wall some 30 feet high where the river has cut its path.
Since I began to write this till now, I’ve moved into my hammock for the night. Its just beginning to get dark. The boys are scrambling to collect fire wood. It’s been windy, so we weren’t sure if it was safe to have a fire. Someone must have decided that it is. I’ll post this when I have internet access. No 4GLTE in my hammock.
On the 2nd and 3rd day in Arizona, we went on a hike. The hike ws about two miles to get where we were going. On the way there Tim and I were talking and singing songs. When we arrived, Tim, Tyler and I set up our tent that I carried. When we had set up our tent, we were free to do whatever we wanted to do.
For dinner we had a variety of food that were in packages. I had noodles and chicken. It reminded me of ramen noodles that I would eat back home. After dinner I played a game of magic the gathering with Jon and Marc. Jon won the first game, then Marc won the second game. After that, all the other boys and adults made a fire on the beach. Mr. Bauerlein played his harmonica, which he was really good at. We were camping in a river wash, San Pedro River. At night, Marc, Tim, Charlie, Tyler and I played Dungeons and Dragons. The next morning, Tim, Tyler, and I disassembled our tent and we went to get breakfast. For breakfast we had Pop Tarts, Oreos, and a discontinued supply of Tang that Mr. Brounscheidel found on E-Bay. When we hiked back to the cars in Fairbank, again Timand I sang more songs. In total, the hike was wonderful.
Zack, age 13
It was Friday, our first full day in AZ. After eating breakfast at the hotel, we drove to Kartchner Caverns. Our tour started with a movie on the history of the cave. After a maddening 15 minutes of listening to the sound of water dripping, the movie finally started. Between the movie and the information panels located throughout the visitors center, we learned a lot about the caverns. The caves were discovered by two college students who kept it a secret for 14 years. Kartchner Caverns is on the list of the top 10 most mineralistic caves in the world. The only one in North America open to the public. The result is an abundance of colors. It was the most colorful cave I’ve ever been in. The caverns contain 3 large rooms: the big room, the rotunda, and the throne room. The tour we went on took us therough the rotunda and the throne room. In some areas you can still see where the people who discovered it walked. Iwas really cool to be in a place where the majority of the cave has never been touched by humans. Ath the end of the tour was the throne room and Kubla Kahn. The throne room is full of unique columns and strange formations. The room is dominated by a massive column called Kubl Kahn. When we got to the end of the throne room we sat on a series of benches and turned the lights out. Then began a rather impressive light and music show that helped us truly appreciate Kubla Kahn. The Kartchner Caverns are a truly unique experience that I’m not about to forget any time soon.
Marc, age 16
When I went to Kartchner Caverns, I saw that people have been preserving it for years. It was an amazing experience. You could see all sorts of minerals in the stalactites and stalagmites and halectites. There was also an interesting cave formation called “cave bacon”. When we reached the throne room we finally saw Kubla Kahn, a 58” stalactite. Kubla Kahna was one of the most amazing things that I have ever seen in my life. I think that Kartchner Caverns are incredible.
Matt, age 11
The Plane Trip
My first plane ride was fun. When we took off it was like a roller coaster. I ate peanus and pretzels. The plane went up to 30,000 feet and we were above the clouds. When we came back down it was night. It was cool because we could see thousands of houses with their lights on. What was weird was that someone built a quarry in the middle of the city.
The seats were reasonably comfortable.There was a mysterious button on the seats, and we didn’t know what it was. We spent a while pressing it, then gave up. Turns out it reclines your seat, but it only works when you are at cruising altitude. After that we made fun of the Skymall magazine. One of the products was the “worlds best chair” for $8,000 US. We landed smoothly and our bags were unpacked fine. We flew from Buffalo NY to Chicago Illinois to Pheonix AZ.
Tim Mrowka Age 15
My first plane flight was an extraordinary experience. When I got on the plane, I was a little nervous, but that got over when the plane started going down the runway at 150 MPH. I was in the back, so the roar of the giant engines made me get excited. The palne going in the air made me feel a tickle in my stomach, and my head went dizzy for a short while.
When we got above the clouds, it was neat seeing the sunshine and the clouds below me. I think that being in the air was the best part because I got this very happy feeling. Not once did I get angry. I was just very happy. I can’t wait until my next flight.
Chase Baker, age 13