A Funny Thing Happened on the way to the Airport

Boy, I bet you’re curious after that title, ain’t ya?  Well, I just gotta get your attention, one way or another.

First, I have a few new images to show you.  Several birds and more, and some of them even co-operated this morning.

Red-tailed Hawk in tree

Red-tailed Hawk in tree

This Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis) was across the river about 200 yards away.  I didn’t think I had a prayer of getting a usable photo, but as you can see, I was wrong.  I pulled my vehicle close to the river bank and turned off the engine.  Any small vibration can throw the focus off on long shots.  I used my 500mm lens with a 1.4 tele-converter on my Canon EOS 7d for the shot.  I steadied the set-up on my side window and made the shot.  The image was severely cropped.

Ruby-crowned Kinglet

Ruby-crowned Kinglet

We also spotted this Ruby-crowned Kinglet, (Regulus calendula).  He was more in the open than the one that I photographed a few days ago.  Today he was in a ‘leaf-less tree’, one that lost it’s leaves for the winter.  Pretty high off of the ground, but still made a decent photograph.

Wilson's Snipe

Wilson’s Snipe

Later as we crept along a shallow area, inches from the edge, I spotted this Wilson’s Snipe, (Gallinaga delicata), laying at the edge of the water.  He sensed our presence and froze in position, thinking, and rightly so, that he was camoflaged enough to make himself invisible.  He was only about 7 inches long and was very difficult to spot.  A cute little fellow.

C-17 Globemaster III

C-17 Globemaster III

During our birding tour a fairly large bird, was making practice approaches to the nearby Mathis Field airport.  It turned out to be a C-117 Globemaster III, (Aeroplanus gigantus), one of the largest aircraft in the United State Air Force inventory.  I decided to see if I could get a meaningful photograph of it.  We decided to head to the airport to see what I could come up with.  I stationed ourselves near a ditch at the end of the runway, on Knickerbocker Road.  I wanted to get the aircraft just as it went directly overhead, just before it touched down.  Wow!!  What an experience.  In the viewfinder, it looked like it was right on me.  I stayed with it and fired off a sequence of photos.  Then I ducked!!  Of course, it was probably only 50 feet over my head, but it certainly felt closer.  I hope you like the image.  I like the way the camera exposed the clouds behind the plane and darkened the sky above.

Click on any image to see an enlargement.

A time to be thankful


A friend of mine asked me a couple of days ago, “Do you have your Christmas shopping done yet?”  I replied, “I sure do, and tomorrow I am going to shop for my wife.”  A little humor there, but in reality I am thankful for my wife, Ann.  She has put up with a lot of stuff from me in our 52 years of marriage.

It all started those 52 years ago, of course.   I am going to relate this story because I was inspired by this story http://threestatesplusone.blogspot.com/2010/11/some-things-to-be-grateful-for.html.  It was written by my friend, Toby, up there in Maine.  His story is about how he met his then wife-t0-be on line.  A great read.  Just click on that link, then come back and catch the rest of my story.

My story is similar except it was done the old-fashioned way, i.e. thru the United States Postal Service.  Now how can that be, you may ask.  Well, it all started 52 years ago, as I said before.

I was 23, and in the Air Force stationed at Ardmore AFB, Oklahoma.  I was dating a few local girls off and on, plus writing to a few girls.  Ann, age 19, had moved to Muskegon, Michigan,  from Beulah, Michigan.  Beulah is 150 miles north of Muskegon, and famous for the annual Smelt run in the creek that runs through town.  You can dip the Smelt out of the creek by the bucket full, literally.  I know, because I”ve done it.

Anyway, the reason for her moving to my hometown of Muskegon, was to go to business school there.  With a stroke of luck, for me, anyway, was that she rented a room on the second floor of my grandma’s house.  Now, my 80 year old grandma wished to be a match-maker, so she wrote me that I should write to this cute girl that was living upstairs.   She may also have said that she had great legs, but I don’t remember that for sure.  🙂

I dropped her a line.  It must have been a great line because she answered me immediately.  Curious, I guess.  That was on March 21, 1958.  I answered her, she answered me, I answered her, etc., etc.  I think that within a month or less, we were writing everyday.  I had dropped dating the local girls and destroyed my mailing list.  Well, we really got to know each other through these daily letters.  About two months later,and I don’t remember this important date, but I wrote and asked her to marry me.  Five days later I got the answer.  “Bob, I don’t know how to tell you this”…………(Uh Oh, what’s this)……..”but I’d be honored to be your wife”.

Oh, my God, what do I do now??  🙂

I thought I had better call her so we could talk and set a date.  This was going to be really something, because I had never talked to her in person, nor of course, had I ever seen her.  She had previously sent me two pictures, (Yes, she did have great legs).  I sent her a bunch of me, ‘cuz I wanted for her to see what she was getting into.

Problem.  My grandma didn’t have a phone.  Ann didn’t have a car.  I called my Dad, asked him to go pick up Ann, bring him home, and I would call back later.  Talk about awkward.  My folks had one phone and it sat on a litle stand right next to my Dad’s favorite armchair. 

Now, before I called, I went over the calendar so I could check out when I would be getting paid, etc., so I could afford to come home to get married.  I had decided that August 18, 1958 would be a good date.  I would get paid on Friday morning, then I could take a Greyhoud bus and meet her at the bus station on Saturday.

So I made the call.  She thought that the plan was great.  That way, people wouldn’t think we were rushing into it.  Yeah, right…..  She said that she would line up the church, the preacher, etc., and every thing that goes with a wedding.

So during tht two and a half months interim, we just wrote more letters.  At one point I though I would try to fly home one weekend.  It would be a tight schedule, and I would probably be able to just meet for an hour or two before I would try to fly back.  My plan was to hitch-hike to Tinker AFB, in Oklahoma City and get a free hop on a cargo plane to maybe Detroit, then get a bus to Muskegon, then turn around and do it all in reverse.

I called my Dad to tell him to go tell her that I was coming.  I hitch-hiked to Oklahoma City.  But alas, a huge thundrstorm came in, grounding all flights.  I couldn’t fly out.  So I called Dad and told him the news, and he had to go tell Ann.  She was understandably devastated.  I was pretty disappointed my self.

We never did talk again on the phone.  So on Saturday August 16, at 2:00 PM I met my lovely wife-to-be for the first time.  It was like we had known each other for years.  There never was any doubts about what we were doing.  The wedding rehearsal was at 4:00 PM.  We were married on Monday night August 18.  My Dad led Ann down the aisle.

There is more.  I didn’t have enough money for a bus ticket back for her.  I had expected to get a bit cash for wedding presents.  But not.  I had an old alto saxophone that I had left with my parents, so I took it to a local music store and managed to get enough money for her ticket.  We packed all of her belongings into seven suitcases and put them on the bus and shipped them as luggage.

Before I had left Ardmore OK, I had put a deposit on a little garage apartment, and bought a week’s supplies of groceries.  The day after we got back, Ann got a Civil Service job at the air base.  A day after that, our landlord’s son said he would sell his 1953 cream-puff Buick Roadmaster, and he financed it for us. 

So you can say that the the Lord was definitely looking after us.  And he has been looking over us ever since.  Sometimes I say to myself, why me?  I am not anything special, I never did anything special, but I am blessed with a great wife, great friends, great health for my age, a good  sense of humor, and enough money to pay the bills.


So I am continually thankful.