Thursday, July 16, 2015

A mis-adventure at Sunny Brook Park.

On this beautiful day with a break in the humidity, we decided to go for a walk. I had found a newspaper article that I had saved from 2009 (yeah, it's true) about a neat looking place to walk in Torrington. It didn't sound strenuous or long, so we thought we could give it a try as long as George's knees could hold out. I also looked on line and found that this has been a good hiding place for letterboxes. So, we printed out the clues and took them along.

When we got there, it seemed like a pretty harmless looking trail, but you never know. There was a picture of the trail map, but none to take, so we were on our own--George armed with his walking stick, a water bottle and smelling like bug repellant. I braved it without the repellant as I cannot stand  the smell. I was armed with the lettering boxing clues and my trusty camera.

The trails were pretty well marked, so that was not a problem. Our memory of the trail map thought we would go around the pond which hinted that we may see a heron. Sadly, none of that but I did get startled more than once by frogs. We did see a beaver dam too.

We stayed to the right of the trail avoiding all the rocks in the path.

This is a bridge completed as part of an Eagle Scout project.

Brook that the Boy Scout bridge went over.

There were several remains of stone walls and some old farm equipment

Most of the trails were nice and flat and as you can see by the orange blaze, well marked.

I liked looking at the many rocks--each one different. George noted that this one was splitting horizontally instead of vertically.

Hard to see but the rock in back was quite flat and the front looked like an animal's face.

The pond with frogs that liked to startle me! Maybe I startled them first but they croaked, jumped and splashed getting quite even with me.

A beaver dam.
I'm sure this was the large pine tree that was mentioned in our clues with the boulder to the right, though we never found a stump. We just could not find the letter box. Hate when that happens.

Perhaps it was the moss, but this is about where I regretted having not worn bug spray. I donated blood to the mosquitos and one seemed to relentlessly buzz my head. I told George I knew it was the same one because he sounded the same. (just kidding). I swatted with my wadded up clues, but he was persistent. I have a feeling they don't get fed much on this trail. They were thrilled to have us as their "all you can bite buffet".
After we got out of the bug jungle, I put hand sanitizer on my bites and it does seem to take away the itch. We carry hand sanitizer because letterboxing involves ink and can be messy.

Such neat rock formations covered with moss--probably what made it so buggy.
There is a bridge, which I believe I read, goes over the Naugatuck River.

View of the other side of the bridge.

When we almost got back to the parking area, I realized there were clues for a letter box across the street in the John Muir trail which sounded pretty close and we figured could try. The clue said to crawl over the guard rail and take the steps 30 feet to a monument. That sounded like a pretty easy start and the clues after that mentioned another tree and rock.

Being aware of George's knees, I suggested that I go on ahead and see if I could find it, but he decided to be a trooper and keep on plugging. Well, sure enough the stairway was easy to find, however it looked like this....

I clung to the railing on the right and so very carefully inched my way all the way to the bottom. Now at the bottom, there is no more railing but a pile of rocks to walk on. George was able to follow but smartly found a way through the brush to avoid the rock pile. I was almost off it when I lost my footing and catching myself injured my calf. I could have almost cried from the pain. George suggested I sit on a rock while he went on ahead. A pointy rock to sit on did not help a lot!

George found the monument just a few feet from me. I tried to walk and felt shooting pain--yet, the die hard I am, I took two pictures of the monument and river.

George followed the remaining clues and once again couldn't find the letter box. Lesson learned here (that we knew but forgot) always go for letter boxes that were planted this year or that someone had said they had found recently.

I truly wondered if I were going to make it back up those stairs. I borrowed George's walking stick and slowly and painfully made it to the top. George went to the parking lot to get the car.

So this adventure was not our rewarding feeling of finding a letterbox, and my injury but we did enjoy the views and the exercise and I am so thankful I did not hurt myself deep in the woods--especially at the mosquito blood donation section!

I hope we can find some easy and more recent letterboxes in the future to get back to this hobby that we once loved. 

Saturday, July 11, 2015

50th Vietnam Veteran Commemeration

Today we had the honor and pleasure of attending the 50th Anniversary Commemoration Event on the Connecticut National Guard grounds in Windsor Locks, CT. After we got off the shuttle bus and went through the security gates, we were warmly welcomed by all who I assume, volunteered their time to make this a very special thank you to the Vietnam Vets of New England. The event was made possible by Central Connecticut State University Veterans History Project.

I got teary eyed at the welcome booth when George was presented with the following special pin and a sincere welcome home and thanks. This alone was worth the day.

This is the back of the pin.
We attended the opening ceremony with short speeches by Governor Malloy; a veteran who was a POW for six years; another general and an author on the Vietnam conflict who is also a medal of honor recipient. All speeches were sincere and heartfelt.

The following are pictures of the ceremony.

Governor Malloy

You can't see George but he went up to welcome home and thank the POW veteran (on the left with his hand out).
After the ceremonies, we went to the various booths offering info about services for veterans, souvenirs for sale and a couple of book authors.

George bought a book from this author, James F. Jordan. It is entitled, "Over and Out", his retelling of his thirteen months as a Marine in Vietnam in a battalion that the North Vietnamese referred to as the Ghost Battalion.


As George was buying the book, Mr. Jordan handed me two of these, which are much smaller than they appear in the picture. Being patriotic people, this touched us. I am honored to carry a small piece of our American flag with me.

From there we went to the aircraft display. It was an awesome collection of historic aircraft.

Of all the aircraft, this one below was the most special. It gave George the opportunity to sit in a plane just like the one he rode on from Pleiku to Cameron Bay Air Force base on his way home. It's a C-130. He said he sat in the back and the tail was open on the flight. He never thought he'd sit in one again and he sat where he was sitting on that plane so I could take a picture.

 After that we visited one of the food vendors and after lunch, we saw the remaining exhibits.

142nd ASMC

Pleiku, where George was stationed.

This shirt serves as a reminder of a time in history when people were far from politically correct with the way they treated our veterans. As I heard the speeches today, I realized that nothing will ever be enough to make up for how they were treated by their own country not to mention the Agent Orange and conditions of war. It is a bitter part of our American heritage that we should be embarrassed by. May we never be so cruel to our veterans again.


We also learned that they are planning on making a wall for just Connecticut veterans with pictures of the fallen soldiers. The booth had a book of the names and were looking for people who could provide pictures of the men or women who lost their lives in Vietnam. George lost a friend and is going to try and see if he has a picture. If you know of someone, please see to help them with this project. There were many pictures missing.

George was also given the form for DMV to have a flag designating that he is a veteran put on his license.

We have been to other welcome home ceremonies and veteran activities, but I feel this one was the best that I have ever seen. It was informative, heart felt and well organized--a job well done by all.