Category Archives: Family

Veterans Appreciation Weekend at Angel Fire Resort 20-22 Feb 2015

This will be a magical ski weekend in beautiful Angel Fire, NM! — Sponsored by Not Forgotten Outreach of Taos, the National Veterans Wellness and Healing Center, and Angel Fire Resort.

Come visit with your fellow vets! Offer is good for all vets, active duty and retired, National Guard, and families.

IMG_1521

A portion of the crowd at the Taos Ski Valley event last month!

The Good Deal includes:

  • $25.00 Full Day Lift Ticket
  • ½ Price Rental Ski/Board Equipment
  • ½ Price Group Ski/Ride Lessons
  • $83/night at the Lodge at Angel Fire Resort (844-218-4107)
  • Free Adaptive Ski Lessons (2-weeks adv. reservation, angelfireresort.com/adaptive-lesson-request)
  • Free Adaptive Ski Equipment (Courtesy of Adaptive Sports Program New Mexico)
  • Free Dinner for 230 Military Family Members
  • Live Music following Dinner
  • Free Hot Drinks and Snacks at Base
  • Non-Ski Events: Tubing, Sledding, Snowshoeing

Special Appearance by:

dana smaller

Dana Bowman, former US Army Golden Knight and Double Amputee

Dana will kick off Saturday morning with an American flag parachute entry! His website is at: http://www.danabowman.com/

http://www.angelfireresort.com/event/forgotten-outreach-appreciate-weekend/

Learn about the National Veterans Wellness and Healing Center, located in Angel Fire: http://veteranswellnessandhealing.org/

Don’t miss it! The Taos Ski Valley event hosted over 750 vets and family members from Florida to Washington State! See you there!

Advertisements

Veterans Appreciation Weekend at Taos Ski Valley

During the weekend of 24-25 January 2015, some 750 veterans, active duty and retired military, families and friends gathered at the Taos Ski Valley to feast, celebrate and recreate. Organized by disabled veteran Don Peters, founder of Not Forgotten, an organization dedicated motivate injured vets to participate in recreational activities to promote healing, and aided by the Taos Ski Valley (TSV), the Town of Taos, local VFW Post 3259, the Taos Milagro Rotary and others, the weekend was a smashing success. Here’s the full article and photos:

http://www.taosnews.com/sports/article_52fb2422-a896-11e4-854e-bf362f331e7b.html

IMG_1519

Vets and families arrived from as far away as Florida and Washington State to engage in winter sports and camaraderie with fellow vets. TSV provided discounted lift tickets, lessons and free equipment rentals. The Grand Junction (Colorado) VA provided special adaptive ski equipment for the disabled vets.

IMG_1521

Don Peters, seated, in the foreground

The success of the Not Forgotten/TSV Veterans Appreciation Weekend program is spawning other similar initiatives. Neighboring Village of Angel Fire is hosting its own version of the Appreciation Weekend on February 20-21-22 in Angel Fire, partnering with the Angel Fire Resort and local businesses and organizations. All veterans, families, and friends will be welcomed. Here is the info for that weekend. Come on up/down/or over from wherever you are now and meet and play with fellow vets:

http://www.angelfireresort.com/event/forgotten-outreach-appreciate-weekend/

My Sons Almost Died Yesterday

This was originally written in August 2005

My sons almost died yesterday.

Boys at the time of the accident

Boys at the time of the accident

On a routine drive through the Taos canyon to our home, Grandma missed a turn and totaled our car. If not for a barbed wire fence, they would have flipped over and rolled down a bank. The gas tank was ruptured and only because the engine quit, there was no explosion. Lots of shattered glass, twisted metal, and bruised boys. Seat belts and the grace of God saved my kids.

I was called to the site. I collected the boys and calmed their fears. I was Dad and I fixed everything, like Dad is supposed to do.

Last night at midnight, I lost all vestiges of self control. As I stared into the darkness, my over-active imagination kicked in. In my mind, I buried my young sons over and over, just as I had in reality buried my own father two months before. All the details were gone over, down to the clothing they were buried in. Jake wore his precious soccer shoes. Josh had his science books. Cameron couldn’t sleep for eternity without his stuffed Froggy.

Sleep was impossible. I went downstairs and watched my sons sleeping. I sat on their beds and talked to each one, stroking his head and telling him how much he meant to me. I could see them all in my mind’s eye. Jake, with his delightfully crooked smile and flashing black eyes. Mister Work Ethic, struggling through fifth grade with tutors and late night homework. I remembered the pride in his face when he brought home his final report card: four A’s and four B’s.

Josh, the scientist who aced second grade and was reading at the fifth grade level. I remembered having to drag him to ski team practice two years ago. This past season, Josh and I raced head-to-head in a timed race in front of the entire team and spectators. He beat me by a gate and a half.

Cameron. Irrepressible Cameron, the happiest person I have ever known. Three times state snowboard champion, nationally ranked. The kid who called me at the office every afternoon during the summer to ask if I could pleeease take him golfing. The boy who still thinks his dad is a hero.

I talked to them all. I wondered if my father had come into my room and sat on my bed after one of my near-death experiences. After the time I fell out of our moving car. Or the time we were night fishing when I fell off the dock and he had to dive in to save me. Or the time I climbed out of a pickup truck, caught my sleeve in the tailgate and was dragged blocks before my shirt ripped. Or the time at Niagara Falls when I climbed up the fence and fell over on the Falls’ side. Now I can never talk with him again.

I cried. I cried a lot. About what could have been, what I almost lost.

I’m a strict father, determined to raise responsible, capable boys to adulthood. Sometimes strictness runs into over-seriousness. Not enough jokes, not enough hugs.

In the words of the famous American philosopher, James Taylor, “Shower the ones that you love with love. Show them the way that you care.” Now. Not tomorrow. Not next week. Now. I will not be too serious, I will smile more. I will be silly. I will love them out loud, not just in my heart.

Boyz in 2010-- Still Alive!

Da Boyz in 2010– Still Alive!

Author’s Note: This article originally appeared in Tyler Hayden’s wonderful anthology “Father’s Message in a Bottle,” which you can find on his website at www.tylerhayden.com 

Musings on Costa Rica

A Quick Trip To Costa Rica – June 2013

A few observations are in order;

1. Costa Rica is a beautiful country;
2. Ticos are lovely people;
3. There are great opportunities here for retired or retiring people;
4. There seems to be a dearth of tennis courts.

Shortly after our arrival, we made a spectacularly great, momentous even, decision by deciding to spend the extra eight dollars per day to rent a GPS…it has saved us numerous times, including helping to find our hotel right after leaving the rent-a-car place…I was totally lost driving out the gate and would have gone 180 degrees in the wrong direction…good save… We have to program it in Spanish…my spelling is a bit cumbersome but adequate. We will also buy a GPS when we return to the States…I learned my lesson.

We named the GPS “Rita,” after our hostess who squired us around San Jose and environs the first two days…the human Rita is knowledgeable, fun and vivacious.

Rita the GPS is knowledgeable and imperious.

Linda and the Human Rita

Linda and the Human Rita

It is the rainy season, hot and muggy except when it is pouring down rain. In the tropics, a downpour can be so intense it almost drops you to your knees. Umbrellas are great except the rain can be so fierce that nylon is too flimsy—what you need is an umbrella made of cloth the thickness of a circus tent. You have to stand straight up and down—if you tilt, the weight of the water will tip you over, knock you to your knees, and pound you into the pavement.

IMG_0814

Wandering the rain forest

I remember flying in storms while in Bolivia where the noise level in the cockpit was so loud as to be nearly maddening. I put one of those episodes in my book but it happened a lot in the summer storms in January and February.

Water is not much of an issue down here—certainly not like it is in drought-ridden New Mexico and Colorado. On the roads that have shoulders, the Ticos build concrete slabs that direct water run-off into concrete ditches. The ditches effectively sluice the excess away to prevent cars hydroplaning on the roads. In only a few places were these ditches overwhelmed by the rain. House driveways are four inch-thick concrete slabs over the ditch. The problem is that if you drive off the road, you drop into a concrete ditch eighteen inches deep or smash into concrete driveway slab. We did not see any such accidents but we weren’t here on many Saturday  mornings after Friday night blow-outs.

It is also cicada season down here. The cicadas try to mate in the early evening—even a massive tropical thunderstorm doesn’t seem to abate the lust of these horny little bugs…I guess seventeen years is long enough to wait…

IMG_0829We spent three days in and around the Lake Arenal, the largest artificial lake in Central America. It runs northwest to southeast with the Arenal volcano at the southeast end. National forests/parks (jungles actually) wrap around the southeast section of the lake. During our time here, we have glimpsed the entire volcano through its shroud of clouds one time. When we visited here in 1998, the volcano was burping all night; the boys were fascinated by the lava “fireworks” show. We stayed in a small town called Tilaran on the west side of the lake. The volcano is on the southeast side near a town named La Fortuna where we stayed in 1968. The owner of our B&B says that it rain two meters per year at his place; on the eastern shore of the lake in the village of Arenal it rains four meters/year; and at La Fortuna it rains six meters a year. That’s over eighteen feet of rain in twelve months, though concentrated in the five month rainy season! Taos averages twelve inches of rain/year. I guess that’s why the climate in Taos is classified as semi-arid instead of tropical rain forest.

All decked out

All decked out

We did a zip line through the jungle near the volcano. It was great! We had six separate lines, five of which were longer than the longest one in Angel Fire as well as much higher. Zip lines are a real kick—if you are searching for a rush and come across a zip line opportunity, try it.

This may not be news to you but Costa Rican coffee is superb! I normally only drink coffee in the morning but after sampling the local fresh beverage, I made excuses all day to stop in one of the local coffee shops that seemed to be everywhere.

 

Coffee fincas were all over the place!

Coffee fincas were all over the place!

This is a great country with wonderful people!

A Quick Bio

DSC02068

The Whole Gang, including Desi– The Wonder Dog.

People have asked me about my background. Here is a brief summary.

Pre-Linda

US Air Force Academy, B.S. Political Science. All Academy grads receive a bachelor of science degree because the core curriculum is science based; majors are extra. So, like everyone else, I took physics, chemistry, electrical engineering, aeronautical engineering, mechanical engineering, astro, and way too much math.

-Air Force pilot
-Flew missions in South East Asia/Vietnam
-Flight instructor with the German and Dutch Air Forces at Sheppard AFB, Wichita Falls, Texas
-Exchange Qualified Flight Instructor with the Royal Air Force, RAF Linton-0n-Ouse, Yorkshire, England.fighterpilot

-Met and married Linda, who was assigned to the U.K. as a Russian linguist/analyst with the US Government. 

With Linda

-Graduate School of Business, University of Oklahoma, Norman. I squeezed a master’s in economics and a MBA into two years while Linda completed her MA in Soviet Studies in three semesters… loved it there…ran in a lot of races, including my one and only marathon.

Office of Plans, USAF Space Division, El Segundo, Los Angeles. I was officially a cost analyst officer and a deputy director in the Office of Plans, working on strategic planning for space projects. Some of the classified programs I worked on are only now showing up—the still-secret X-37B currently orbiting the earth is similar to one of them.

Base Commander, Antigua Air Station, Antigua, West Indies. Antigua Air Station is a USAF space-tracking and communications facility with 160 civilian employees, both American and Antiguan. The base was effectively a semi-self contained American island within the island nation of Antigua. We generated our own electricity and processed our own water.  We operated and maintained our own dining facility, two separate sewer systems (one fresh water, one salt water); communications systems (including an underwater cable back to the US in those emerging-satellite days), our own airline transit facility, ship off-loading dock, tracking systems and computers, and enormous fields of HF radio towers. I featured the air station in my first novel.

As the ranking (and only) Air Force officer in the Caribbean south of Puerto Rico, I was called upon to do things not normally assigned to majors. I met the Prime Ministers of three different countries, routinely worked and socialized with ministerial level officials, was a member of the Country Team of the US Embassy, and was occasionally given jobs by the USAF that were out of the ordinary. I was introduced to working with special operations people (SEALs, Special Forces). Did a lot of windsurfing and traveled the Caribbean and South America.

-Air Force Section Chief, US Military Group-Bolivia within the US Embassy-La Paz. Our budget ballooned from essentially zero to $50 million overnight. I wrote a strategic plan and spend/implementation plan of about $34/35 million for Bolivian Air Force programs (because airplanes and parts are more expensive than rifles or motor boats). I had to work this through the competing interests within the Embassy (e.g. State/USAID) and then with the Bolivian military (and in Spanish—now that was hard). I spent some time working with special ops people, as well as flying the Embassy Beechcraft C-12 Super King aircraft. I flew into places Bolivians didn’t even go—Linda flew along with me on many trips. Lots of operational stuff, more than your normal staff job.

I routinely worked with the US Ambassador and high ranking members of the US and Bolivian governments (the Bolivian Minister of Defense had a PhD from the University of Maryland. He and the Bolivian Air Force commanding general would sometimes give me Spanish lessons)…

After adopting Jake and leaving Bolivia, I was selected as one of 14 officers to attend a post-graduate fellowship program at prestigious universities around the country. My program was an academic year as a Fellow at the Hoover Institution think-tank at Stanford University. A Fellow is granted faculty status. I had a couple articles published in professional journals and got to hang out with some really smart people.  While I was there, Hoover was designated the Best Think Tank in the World by The Economist magazine (obviously I missed the day when they were reviewing staff).

Thence to Washington DC to be Deputy, Congressional Affairs division of the On-Site Inspection Agency (OSIA). I moved up to Acting Director after one year. As such, I routinely interacted with Congressional staffers and wrote testimony for the OSIA commander to give to DoD and even Congress. I spent my last year as a treaty implementation officer for the Conventional Forces in Europe (CFE) treaty. I flew to NATO headquarters in Brussels many times (for a while, every three weeks) to help hammer out a NATO position on various aspects of CFE treaty implementations. I also went to Vienna to work for a month at the headquarters of the 56 nation Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) where NATO would negotiate with the former Warsaw Pact countries. I participated in lots of behind the scenes negotiating with officials of foreign governments

We moved to Angel Fire in 1995, sold the land we owned on the Back Basin Road and bought a house near Monte Verde Lake and the golf course. I took a job as a real estate puke. I am now a broker so I am a real estate super-puke.  This enables me to make a living and still have a flexible schedule in order to maximize my time living the role I most cherished: Mr. Mom to Jake, Josh, and Cameron.

I am an aspiring writer with one published novel to my name; number two is off to the publisher this month with numbers three and four in the works. Linda tried her hand at real estate then turned to starting a private school here in Angel Fire. She ended up as part of the staff at the Moreno Valley High School (MVHS) as a Spanish teacher. Now she teaches Spanish, Latin, English, and supervises students doing independent study in several other languages. Our three boys had their schooling in the Moreno Valley from kindergarten through graduating from MVHS. Jake spent three of his high school summers snowboarding in Chile. Josh spent a semester in Chile and a year in Germany. Cameron had a high school semester studying and competing in Italy and another semester at the University of Torino. Jake is now a certified snowboard coach/instructor for Team Angel Fire; Josh is a junior at Appalachian State University in North Carolina; and Cameron is a senior at Sierra Nevada College in Lake Tahoe.