Saturday, November 17, 2012

USAFA 40th Reunion!

posted by Bill....

After a brief stay in Santa Fe where we had time to go on a hike and hit the local brewery, we hit the road to my 40th Air Force Academy reunion.

This event, and getting to Idaho before Raz left, were the two things that determined our travel schedule for the summer and now we were finally on our way to Colorado. First, however, we wanted to stop at the Ojo Caliente Hot Springs, about an hour north of Santa Fe and only a little out of our way. Ojo Caliente has an RV park that can handle a few big rigs and it only cost $20.00 a day, so we were in. Getting in and out was a bit of a challenge due to the condition of the roads, but the sites were large and private and close to the resort. This is a relatively large resort with lots of soaking pools and even a mud bath for those so inclined. The pools have different minerals in the water, including arsenic, iron, and soda. We lounged around the large pool all day, trying to figure out where the sun was going to set so we could get the last bit of afternoon sun. That evening we had dinner at the spa restaurant and were able to find some yummy vegan meals to complete the experience. This place is definitely worth a return trip.

The next morning we headed out to Colorado Springs, bucking 30 mph crosswinds the whole way. I don’t know why, but it seems that every time I get behind the wheel in Bebe, the winds pick up just to make the drive more challenging. We had reservations at the Garden of the Gods campground where we stayed for the Doane family reunion two years earlier. It was a bit late in the season so the campground was pretty empty and we were able to get a premium pull-through site in a newly developed section of the park.

The next day, Bruce Aaron Rasmussen (Raz) came by and he and I played pool at the campground while Debby went out to get her hair done. We had a great time and I was able to get even for the spanking I got from Raz on the ping pong table in Coeur d’Alene. That evening we went to the Marriott for the reunion check in and had a great time reconnecting with folks I hadn't seen in years. This reunion was a bit different from previous ones in that I had seen a lot of my best friends during our travels.

Friday morning I played in the golf tournament with Raz, Chuck Winter, and Mike Romito. Chuck set the tone by getting a round of Bloody Mary’s before we took off to go to our starting hole for the shotgun start. We all had a great time, even if the scores weren't all that impressive. What was impressive, was the number of golf balls Raz left in the woods. He was wearing pants with pockets like Captain Kangaroo and kept pulling out balls and spraying them all over the course until he got one in the fairway. I think he really understands how the game should be played.

That evening was the formal get together at the hotel. Debby and I had reserved a room for the night so we wouldn't have to worry about driving home. This was the first time we’d slept outside of the RV since our last burning man, and it was a nice change, until around 2:00 a.m. We were just about to get ready for bed, when the alarm sounded in the room and we were told to evacuate the building. It seems the Academy football team was also staying in the hotel, and apparently a fan of the New Mexico team we were playing the next day thought it would be fun to disrupt their sleep. It wasn't a big deal for us since we hadn't gone to bed yet, but we did get to climb the stairs back to our room on the fifth floor a couple of times and got just a bit disoriented because they had closed the fire doors to the elevators and things did not look at all like they should.

Debby had never been to an Air Force football game, so she was quite impressed by all the pomp and circumstance that goes on there. We had cadets parachuting onto the field, a flyby by two F-4 fighters, the cadet wing marching onto the field and running into the stands, cadets running onto the field after every score to do push-ups  and the falcon putting on a show at halftime. There’s really nothing quite like it. We split early with the Falcons well ahead to avoid the traffic and get warm. All in all, it was a great experience.

With the reunion over, it was time to visit with my cousins. On Sunday we went for a hike with my cousin Mike and his wife Gaye. My cousin Rick joined us after the hike and we enjoyed a yummy vegan dinner that Gaye prepared for us. On Monday we met up with Rick and Mike at the Phantom Canyon brewery to shoot pool and enjoy some local beer.

By coincidence, my cousin Rebecca was in town for work and we were able to get together with her and Rick for dinner. We went to a place called the Rabbit Hole, where we enjoyed a vegan feast that any self-respecting rabbit would die for. This place is really unique and has an incredible menu. The entrance looks like a telephone booth or subway station entrance in the middle of the sidewalk and you go downstairs from there into the restaurant (down the Rabbit Hole).

Izzy, a friend from Tahoe, was now living in Colorado Springs and we found some time to meet him for a beer and catch up, but mostly to reminisce about the people and the beer from Mt. Tallac Brewery. Special is the word that comes to every way.

The whole time we were in the Springs, the weather was beautiful, but a storm was brewing and we needed to get out of town before we got snowed in for the winter like the Donner Party. So we packed up and headed back to Santa Fe just in time to get blasted by 30 mph crosswinds the whole way back.

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