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SpaceBadger's Blog: BBCodes stopped working in this Blog Description, so I moved my Links down to a Blog Entry and made it Sticky, so the latest new Blog Entries will actually be below (following) the Links entry.
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In Moot Member Blogs Quick Trip to Oklahoma Entry Tools Rate This Entry
  #46 New April 10th, 2014 07:44 PM
Quick Trip to Oklahoma

Just got back... well, actually is was about 2am yesterday, but we've been busy the whole time so... Purpose of the trip was to be there for one of our sons, Cody Moon, graduating from AIT at Fort Sill. But my wife had some places she wanted to see on the way, and my Dad's family was from that corner of Oklahoma, so we added a few sidetrips.

So my wife and youngest daughter and I packed up and left Rolla at 4:30am Monday so that we could get to OKC by 11-ish to visit the...

Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in OKC: Formerly known as the Cowboy Hall of Fame, we have probably driven past this place more than 100 times over the years, passing through OKC on our way to other places, but never had time to stop. I wish we could have had more time there on this trip, and that I had been feeling well enough to walk around more; as it was, my wife and daughter did lots of exploring while I found benches to sit on. The museum has a fine collection of Western art, plus topical exhibits on working cowboys, rodeo cowboys, buffalo hunting, the Indian wars, the US Cavalry, a late-1800s small Western town, and probably more that I am forgetting. Since I am currently playing in two PbP games here of Space: 1889, it was kinda cool to immerse for a bit in 19th century history, and see examples of some of the weapons, tools, and other paraphernalia that we use in that game.

Then it was onward, only a couple miles travel, to the...

Oklahoma City Zoo: Again, I did more sitting on benches while the ladies explored, but I still walked enough to get awful tired. The first animal that made much impression on me was a Pygmy Hippopotamus; it was just laying there in the sun, not moving, and as far as we could tell not even breathing. We were sure it was dead, and trying to decide how best to report this to the zoo-keepers, when we moved on a bit and had a closer view and could just barely detect his ribs moving slightly as he breathed. Later, on our way back out of the Zoo, this guy was still lying there in the same spot as we approached, but then got to his feet and walked around, did his business, and went for a swim in his little pond. Also got some ideas for Traveller critters; different species of monitor lizards fill different niches: Pouncers, Killers, Hijackers, even Chasers (although solo, not in packs).

Then it was onward to Fort Sill, finding and getting checked in at the IHG Hotel (actually nice apartments more often used as BOQ for visiting officers on short stays), ordering out for pizza, and crashing in exhaustion. (Plus my wife doing minor surgery on my ingrown big toenail, using nail clippers and tweezers and what felt like One Big Darn Screwdriver. I had to bite on a pillow as pain levels spiked up to at least 7 (and believe me, I have become quite precise on pain levels over the past year!), but she said it was for my own good to prevent infection. )

The next morning we rolled out bright and not-so-early to head 40 miles west on Hwy 62 to the Family Farm that had been homesteaded by my great-great-Grandfather about 1900. As an Army brat, this was one of two places that I considered "Home" during the first ten years of my life while we were moving to new posts every year or so, and I continued to visit my grandparents there pretty often even after my Dad reached his retirement post and we quit moving around. The farmhouse had been built in 1903 and lived in by four generations of my family, including my Dad while he was growing up.

Sadly, in the early 1990s after my Grandpa had remarried and was living more in town than on the farm, vandals broke in, stole everything of value, and trashed the rest. Grandpa never moved back out there after that, and more vandals and partiers took their toll. After Grandpa died one of my second-cousins bought the place to keep it in the family, but hasn't done much with it other than leasing out the pastures and melon fields.

My wife had never been there before, and my youngest daughter only when she was a baby, so I showed them around, pointing out where various things used to be or where certain events had happened: the chicken house, the storm cellar, various favorite play areas, my shooting range, rooms I used to sleep in, etc. My Dad and his brothers had chipped in for a new roof on the house not too long before Grandpa died, so the house was still structurally sound and we could walk around inside; it was just painful to see all of the wanton vandalism and everything that should be there missing. The highlight was finding a porcupine living in my Grandpa's old skinning shed; I don't know whether he was sick, or timid, or just coming out of winter lethargy, but he sat in the back corner and we were careful not to get too close, especially after he erected his quills.

Back to Fort Sill, and just in time to check out of the hotel/apartment and get over to the Headquarters of the 1st Battalion, 78th Field Artillery, for the AIT graduation ceremony. The graduates were all members of Alpha Battery, assigned here for Advanced Individual Training for MOS 13-Romeo, Field Artillery Firefinder Radar Operator, and MOS 13-Delta, Field Artillery Tactical Data Systems Specialist. My son, PV2 Cody Moon, was among 12 who had completed training as a 13-R. After a brief speech to the graduates about what they had gotten themselves into, each received his Field Artillery crossed-cannons pin and the pronouncement that after all their training, they were now full active duty soldiers of the US Army. A couple of Cody's roomies helped carry all his gear down to the car, since he would be driving cross-country to Fort Drum, while they would not be leaving until the next day to fly out to other duty stations.

We wished we had time to visit the US Army Field Artillery Museum, but we were all tired and Cody needed to get moving - first back to Rolla to pick up his car, then two days cross-country to Fort Drum - so we'll save that for a future trip, if any.

It was an emotional trip for me: not only seeing the old farm all torn up and worn down, pecan trees and my Grandma's orchard trees all dead, then seeing Cody graduate and become an active duty US Army soldier, but also because of all of the associations with my Dad, who died of cancer in Sept 2011. My Dad also started out in Field Artillery, and Fort Sill was where he got his training after Basic. Then later on, after OCS and Flight School, he came back as a Lieutenant flying a helicopter transporting surveyors all over the firing ranges and other new areas as Fort Sill expanded in the late 1950s. Then later again, around the time he transferred from Field Artillery to Aerial Rocket Artillery, Fort Sill was his first duty station after he and my Mom were married, before I was born. Plus, when I was a kid, every time we went to Snyder to visit my grandparents there would usually be some Army families that we knew from other places to visit at Fort Sill, too. Lots of memories.

Now it is good to be home, and we are keeping track of Cody as he makes his way for the first time on a cross-country drive to his new duty station, with the 10th Mountain Division. Almost there; he should be checking in at the Welcome Center any time now.

EDIT 2014/04/13: Cody's new unit is the 3rd Battalion of the 6th Field Artillery Regiment, attached as an element of the 1st Brigade Combat Team of the 10th Mountain Division. His section is composed entirely of the nine soldiers of his FireFinder Radar team; I'm still not clear on whether they are attached to a specific battery, or to the HQ company of the battalion.
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