Category Archives: History

Hiking Bear Butte

Panorama view from summit of Bear Butte - looking toward the Black Hills
Panorama view from summit of Bear Butte – looking toward the Black Hills

Bear Butte

Mato Paha or “Bear Mountain” is the Lakota name given to this site. To the Cheyenne, it is “Noahvose.” This geological formation is one of several intrusions of igneous rock in the Black Hills that formed millions of years ago. The mountain is sacred to many American Indian tribes who come here to hold religious ceremonies.

A Sacred Mountain

Many American Indians see Bear Butte as a place where the creator has chosen to communicate with them through visions and prayer. During our visit, we saw many colorful pieces of cloth and small bundles or pouches hanging from the trees. These prayer cloths and tobacco ties represent prayers offered by individuals during their worship.  While no one was actively offering prayers during our climb, we admired the ones we saw from a distance and did not disturb these sacred offerings.

The Trail

The trail is a 1.8 mile one-way excursion up this laccolith that rises 1,253.5 feet above the surrounding plains.  The family and I started out on a partly cloudy morning and encountered steep steps, a rocky path and places where you could not tell the trail from the rocky skree on the slopes.  The hike to the top was warm and challenging but once at the top, it was totally worth the effort.  I had hiked Bear Butte before and was glad that the family and I got to go up to the summit together.  Once at the top, you can see why native peoples held Bear Butte in reverence.

Panorama image from the summit of Bear Butte - looking from the North to East
Panorama image from the summit of Bear Butte – looking from the North to East
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AirVenture 2011

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At the end of July every year, one of the greatest shows in aviation starts in Oshkosh, Wisconsin – EAA’s AirVenture.  This year I was hoping to have my dad along in tow, but that just didn’t work out.  Instead, I went up by myself for “Warbird Friday.”  The weather had been somewhat cloudy and rainy during the week, but Friday was a gloriously beautiful day with very few clouds in the sky, bright sunshine and unlimited visibility.  A great day to head to an airshow.

Since I was going on Warbird Friday, you can assume that I’m there primarily for the classic military aviation planes.  You’d be right, and my favorites are the WWII aircraft.  It is always a treat to see the B-25s, P-51 Mustangs, and all the other aircraft, but the excitement is seeing them fly.  As part of this year’s show, the only flying B-29 in the world would be at this year AirVenture.  FiFi (which I had seen the previous week at DuPage Airport would be flying in the Friday afternoon airshow.  That was something I wanted to see, but little did I know I would have further surprises in store for me.

P-39 Lightning>In addition to the old warbirds, there are plenty of other aircraft to take a look at – commercial, current military, homebuilt, experimental, and other aircraft types.  This year another star attraction besides FiFi was Boeing’s new 787 Dreamliner aircraft.

I spent the day looking around at the aricraft, admiring the detail that the planes carries, many of them looking like they just fly a WWII sortie.  I was awestruck by the attention that is given to these aircraft – not from a maintenance perspective because that’s a given – but from a reverence to pay homage to the machine and the men who flew them in combat.  The further surprise came later in the day when I got to witness not only FiFi fly, but also an F4 Corsair and a P-38 Lightning.  These planes had been at other AirVentures I have been to, but I never got to see either of these aircraft types fly before.  It was an additional treat for the day.

Overall, I had a great day, as evidenced by the pictures below.  If you have a chance to visit EAA’s AirVenture in the future, I would highly recommend it.  Even if you don’t fly or have no interest in flying yourself, but have interest as an “aviation enthusiast” you will have a great day (or days as AirVenture is a week long event).

Enjoy the images below.

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Flying History

Toward the end of July, the world’s only flying B-29 flew into DuPage County Airport (DPA).  FiFi – the B-29 – was making stops on its way to EAA AirVenture in Oshkosh, WI.  I was planning to go to AirVenture and hoped to see FiFi but I also know that the annual EAA event is a jam packed affair.  Due to this, I headed south to DuPage County to see FiFi.

The day started with some storms that moved through in the morning, but the weather started to clear by late morning.  When I got to the airport, FiFi was sitting on the tarmac in all her glory.  FiFi is owned and maintained by the Commemorative Air Force.  Recently, the B-29 was grounded, but she’s now flying again.  The CAF also offers rides in the WWII bomber, but they are a little rich for me – specially since I flew in Witchcraft last year.

Accompanying FiFi was the P-51 Mustang, Gunfighter.  The CAF also offers rides in the Mustang – and that’s a pretty price tag as well, but man would that be fun!  I spent the morning and early afternoon up close and personal with FiFi and Gunfighter.  I enjoyed getting the pictures you see here and seeing them fly.  It was a great precursor to my trip to EAA.  Have fun with the pictures below and be sure to check out the videos of FiFi I’ve posted on YouTube!

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New and old

So a friend of mine recently asked if I had any pictures from San Juan, and I answered – Yes, I do.  However, I've just been too lazy or busy to put them up.  Well, I'm trying to rectify that now, so here are some images from those few short days on that very pretty island.

I went down to Puerto Rico to help with an iPad deployment, and I was busy for much of the working hours.  Now while I did not have lots of time after work, I would have been able to see some sights in the evenings before the sun went down, however, it was an unusually stormy few days with lightning and thunder that reminded me of home.  Thankfully, the last full day in country I was about to visit Castillo de San Cristobal – a Spanish fort built in the 1600s to defend the landward approaches to San Juan city.  The harbor of San Juan was recognized by the Spanish as a very important anchorage for their merchant ships, so defense was needed.  This massive fort complemented the older fort protecting San Juan harbor – El Morro (built in the 1500s).  The images below show shots of both forts and some shots of old San Juan.  Hope you enjoy.