You would think that the answer to a title like that would be, “GREAT!” But in this case, things were supposed to go ‘BOOM’ and we were to have a front row seat for the action.
The Forest Service had a field trip to the Pinecastle Bombing Range today. There is an 85 foot tower there that we were supposed to climb so that we could watch the F-18’s blow stuff up.
Let’s back up a bit…
We gave ourselves plenty of time to get there. Even had time to run a quick test on the carburetor (been evaluating a few things). Then off we go on a beautiful, windows down sort of day. We were a bit low on gas but thought for sure we had enough to get to our destination and then to the station afterward. Of course, the station we planned to go to was not where we had remembered it to be but we continued toward the bombing range anyway and figured we’d find one later.
We were getting close. Apparently, REALLY close! When all of a sudden Darlene starts spitting and yeching all over the place. Then Nicole realizes what happened. An Asian Beetle had flown into her mouth and instinctively, she closed it in such a way as to pinch him or her. And in return the beetle promptly peed (perhaps not the official term but its yellow so we call it pee). If you recall, their pee smells really bad and apparently it tastes pretty dang nasty too. This sent Darlene into a fit similar to that of when a kid doesn’t like what they ate and starts wiping their tongue and bleching all over the place. Well, this sent Nicole into a very sympathetic fit of extreme laughter.
A little while later things had calmed down and we realized that all of the excitement must have happened at the exact time we were passing the sign for our turn. A few seconds after that we realized that we were lower than we thought on gas and the van started limping. A quick check on the GPS said there may be gas eight miles ahead. So, we soldiered on and fumed into the station to fill up. By the time we got back and saw the very large sign for our turn we were definitely running late. Probably not the best idea for the military but it appears that Pinecastle is a non-military contract facility so they were a little more relaxed and let us in anyway.
It is then that we learned we would only be getting a tour of the place. No planes. No things going boom. No climbing the highest thing these rock climbers have seen in a good while!
So, they gave us some talks and showed us the operations centers.
Cameras, cameras, everywhere.
Grid layout of the range and numbered boxes of strike zones.
All of the aircraft in the area (in yellow). Bombing areas are outlined in thick blue.
Only one of them allows live rounds.
So, it wasn’t what we thought we’d be doing but it was alright and not something everyone gets to see. They invited us back in March when the ‘Bush’ (aircraft carrier) docks and does their turn on the range.
Oh… and as to why we didn’t get to see any active bombing today. It seems that yesterday someone lost one of these…
… and no one gets to have any fun until it is found!
All was not entirely lost though. As we were heading home we saw Billy on the side of the road. Figured he had broken down but instead he thought it was a great place to give us a spontaneous ‘come to lunch’ invitation. So, off we went to spend some time with Billy and Bobbie. We arrived at their campsite and Billy informed us that he didn’t have anything they could feed us. Given the spontaneity of the invite we decided not to hold it against him… this time. Great conversation, as always, and on our way out we introduced them to Geocaching bagging two more not far from their campground. One day we will remember to stop enjoying their company long enough to take a picture of the really cool school bus that they live and travel in full-time with their two kitty kids. This is their second school bus adventure. Their first was back in the 80’s when their kids were little. Sure hope we are still kicking around being cool like these guys after we’ve been (as Bobbie says) ‘around for a while’.
Ah and along the lines of things going (or not going) boom. Nicole watched the new bathrooms and showers being brought into our compound the other day. It went off without incident and nothing was lost. So, we’re pretty sure these guys were allowed to play with potties the next day but we didn’t sign up to watch.
Since we are on the topic of flying things, we’ll end with this shot of a winged fellow on a blade of grass.