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Monday, July 18, 2011

Bigfoot Huntin’ with the Grandkids

A couple of weeks back, while attending the grandkids’ (Alison – 8 and Gavin – 5; 26th and 22nd of May respectively) birthday party in McKinney, both of them were so excited about a movie they recently seen. I men real excited! They couldn’t stop talking about it. As best as I could tell the movie centered on a young girl that encountered Bigfoot in some way or another; I never really understood the actual connection. I just couldn’t get to the why-she-tried-to-catch-Bigfoot reasoning.

All the way to the farm where their party was taking place, all they could talk about was how they would go about capturing Bigfoot. Gavin’s imagination completely ran away from him; I mean completely. What stuck out to me most was that the bait just had to be peanut butter—nothing else would do.

Alison ask me on the way back from the party if they could try to catch Bigfoot in the park near my house the next time they came to visit. My response was: “Of course we can. I heard that he has been seen many times right in that area.”

Every phone call from that date forward contained a short discussion about our up-coming expedition.—tactics, provisions, safety equipment and who would perform which task. Still, catching Bigfoot was the entire desire—planning the adventure was supreme. When I talked to them early in the week, I reminded them to be sure to bring hunting clothes; ya know, stuff that would blend in. As you might expect their mother didn’t follow the plan. These kids stuck out like sore thumbs—no camouflage considerations taken into account whatsoever.

I really didn’t put much effort into the plan until they arrived on Wednesday afternoon and I saw just how excited they were about the expectation of capturing Bigfoot. I knew then I was in for some trouble if I didn’t do it up as right as possible. My plan prior to their arrival included only ropes, binoculars, a sturdy wagon (old, extremely loud and squeaky from their uncle’s childhood) and a half used jar of peanut butter. My boast that after capture, we would haul it back to the house, clean it up, lock away in PupLand and charge a nominal price to view just prolonged their excitement.

My other grandson, Dilin (19) called Wednesday afternoon and ask if he could come down Friday for a week’s stay. Of course this just added to my need to make the hunting event all that it could be.

Wednesday afternoon after arriving, I told the kids that Dilin was coming Friday and we should plan to conduct a dry run on Saturday morning with all our tools and equipment. This way we would be well prepared for a full scale daybreak hunt on Sunday morning.

I happened to mention that a hunt was gonna take place on Facebook and soon had responses like: “How fun...good luck on the hunt.” or “Good luck on the hunt—that’s a very important mission you are going on.. Love those grandkids---“ or “Don't forget the little men in white suits w butterfly nets.” I had backed myself into a corner that was gonna be impossible to escape from.

After the kids and I finished our Friday morning constitutional I updated my Facebook page with news of our planning trek in the park area I had selected for our loop snare location. I almost immediately received more responses like: “Creating memories...good for you. Let us know the ‘rest of the story.’” My ability to extract myself from the corner was getting narrower all the time.

Alison and Gavin kept asking what our chances were of catching Bigfoot. Not having any real answers of substance I volunteered that “Bigfoot has been determined to have a fancy for Popeye’s chicken and is seen at the Manchaca Popeye’s several times a week. He is also been known to be sighted walking down the pipeline right-of-way carrying a tub of Popeye’s chicken munching on a wing or a leg while paying absolutely zero attention to the other inhabitants of the park: kids on the play-scape, women and men with dogs on leash and people just there for the morning or afternoon.”

We waited on Dilin’s arrival Friday evening to take supper and resume our discussing and planning for the morn’s adventure.

There’s no way out. I’m in for it and I now realize that fact.

Early Saturday morning, we awoke and eventually gathered for breakfast. Time was getting away from us, but I paid no attention at the time—a mistake I would later pay for. We casually sat and discussed what we were to do and before we realized what was happening, Little Gus and Little Otis were performing their morning routine of it’s-time-to-walk-nothing-else-will-do. The decibel level reaches a rating that one will even take them for a walk just for the peace that it will return.

Patsy, my wife, has been on the sideline for the entire time and has now only begun to show any desire to be part of the troubles. I grant her the position of photo journalist. For this she is grateful and prepares for her participation. I give her, once again, a short tutorage on taking pictures with my camera—a device we have had now going on four years. Oh, she has used it many times but each requires the same tutelage for the required operation. She probably wanted to join us all along.

Off we went. Trooping down the road to the park. The pups out front followed by Alison; the disinterested teenager (DIT), Dilin, on the opposite sidewalk; our photo journalist working her way around the entire procession taking pictures here and then there and all of us trailed by Gavin pulling the loud and squeaky wagon with our provisions—including the all important peanut butter.

Soon we arrive at the designated huntin’ grounds and eventually Gavin and the provisions make their way into our midst. I direct Gavin where I want him to stage the wagon and eventually we are ready to deploy our equipment.

To satisfy matters as best as possible, I deploy Gavin to his post in the tree and have him practice his alert call” “Ca – Caw-w-w, Ca – Caw-w-w.” He has it down; he must have practiced all night. Before walking away, Gavin ask me what he should do if Bigfoot comes after him. I responded with his question turned back on him: “What do you think you should do?”

Gavin, without loosing a breath came right back with: “I’ll smack him in the face.” his answer accented with a swift right cross. I nearly fell over as I stumbled over to the hide and tug area where Alison and I would position ourselves for the loop reduction phase of the capture. There I retrieved the mountain rope I had dug outta my duffle bag in the garage. I hadn’t had this out since I had last used it on Mount McKinley sometime back, maybe late 1972. As I strung it out, I had forgotten that it was 250 feet long and had to have Alison run off up the hill with one end so we could make sure it was kink-less; ya know there’s nothing worse than a kinky rope. Waiting on Ali to reach the top of the hill with her end, I noticed the danger associated with Gavin straddling the tree limb he was perched on and ask Dilin (the DIT) to position himself up there with Gavin to insure his safety. This he did immediately.

I tied a knot in my end of the really long rope and ask Ali to start back with her end. Upon her arrival we slid her end of the rope through my loop and started stretching out our BIG loop for our manual snare. I figured about twenty-five feet in diameter would do the trick—we didn’t want to take much of a chance with the stride of Bigfoot figuring he might be able to retrieve the peanut butter without being very near the jar. The rope being so far from the center of the capture area the need for camouflaging it was negated; this saved a lot of set-up time.

Now with the lookout in place and the loop deployed, it was time for Alison and I to discuss our loop retrieval and closure tactics (known throughout the Bigfoot hunting and capture world as the LRCT). We figured out the best positioning of the two of us in our hiding area and the exact method we would use in insuring the swift and efficient retrieval of the capture rope. With most everything worked out our final decision was to have my capture partner: (1) on my signal, (2) leap to their feet, (3) turn north, and (4) run as fast as they can while taking up as much slack as possible—get the picture?

Our biggest fear at this point was that Bigfoot would gain his feet and escape his bindings. We decided that the best recourse was for the DIT to leap from the tree at this juncture and swiftly begin wrapping tight loops of the capture rope around Bigfoot’s feet—holding him tight and immobile. DIT voted against this step but was solidly out voted by the other members of the capture team—outvoted as he was, he acquiesced to the plan.

Every thing was now in place and we then opened the jar of peanut butter and sat back to wait out our dry run simulation. Soon I realized that I was loosing attention with those of the shorter span—this could not be allowed to happen. It would mean total disaster.

Gavin seemed to be loosing attention despite our best efforts; even after being reminded that there was no whining (or crying) in baseball. Alison, having the best knowledge of what makes Gavin tick (or un-tick) suggested that she and he trade places. We move from behind our defilade spot and switch the two out at the lookout tree. Before you can say Bigfoot stinks, Gavin and I were back behind our log with both hands on the rope.

Realizing that we might drag on a little too long if we continue without action, I ask the photo journalist member of the team if she could possibly act as a stand-in for our prey. She reluctantly accepted and took position next to the peanut butter jar at ground zero.

Gavin and I started retrieving rope as fast as we could. Arriving at the point where I knew we need speed now more than stealth, I signaled Gavin to get up and run. He responded and off he went; north and then east (east not in the plan but his improvisation worked just the same). Before you can say: “We got fake-Bigfoot.” The loop was tight around the stand-ins ankles. While it went against our dry run rules, we decided that the DIT need not practice his leap and loop (L&L) technique. This quiet possibly could come back and haunt us tomorrow morning when we attempt a real capture but this is what we did.

While we retrieved and recoiled the capture rope we lost concentration on our tracking pups. Finally realizing what we were doing, I noticed the pups had found the jar of peanut butter and had consumed over half of it. This also just might put us in a bind for the Sunday morning capture attempt—we’ll have to just wait and see.

Some time later I downloaded the photo journalist pictures and posted a group of them on-line thereby soliciting comments like: “Looks like Bigfoot is in for it” and “ any sightings?”

Alison checked back on Facebook and read the comments and decided that we needed to respond to the question: “ any sightings?” to which we posted: “He's been spotted at the Popeye's several time in the past few weeks and the word is that he travels down the pipeline right-a-way that we intend to trap him on tomorrow morning. It has been so hot that we don't know how long we will be able to wait him out.”

That brought additional comments such as: “love it !! :)” and “You have officially lost it!” and “What a hoot!! I know your grandkids love being with you.” Later added to the fray was: “And just what would it be like to be the grandchild of HH? Exciting to say the least. Cute kids and Pups too-their old man isn't bad either.”

Coincidentally as I peck this out, the Animal Planet just happens to be broadcasting “Finding Bigfoot” with footage highlighting some of Bigfoot’s close realities like the Skunk Ape in the Florida panhandle. All things taken into account; ya might think the Animal Planet would have taken my needs into consideration just a bit more than they have and televised these segments prior to our expeditions. One of these days the powers that be are gonna hire me to be part of these type telecasts. They really, really need somebody that stands there when those guys say something like: “Did you hear that?” or “Did you see that?” when they experience typical Bigfoot behavior. I could be the guy that responds: “No-o-o-o-o. I didn’t hear anything! There was nothing out there. You guys are crazy; c-r-a-z-y!” But No, they haven’t called—at least not yet.

Sunday morning Patsy woke me about 0630 and asks if I was still going to follow through with the hunt. “Of course,” I responded. “The kids are expecting to hunt Bigfoot this morning and I’m not agonna be the one to disappoint them.” We hurried up with the upstairs prep. I went into the kid’s room and awakened Alison who was bright eyed almost immediately. Now Gavin took just a bit longer—some thirty-seven seconds. I went back to wash my face and turned around and the kids were standing there fully dressed with shoes and socks on—an unusual situation to say the least. With kids attached to one hand and pups attached to the other I made my way down stairs to wake the DIT.

All gathered in the kitchen I told them straight off: “If we’re going huntin’, we need to be off right now—we’re burning daylight.” Everybody responded in the affirmative and as I gathered some provisions: treats for the pups and three baggies of Honey Nut Cheerios for whomever; the assemblage headed for the front door—having to wait just a bit for the DIT who wasn’t quiet as fast as the remaining others. I cut through the garage to insure we had the loud and squeaky wagon, the jar of peanut butter bait, the capture rope and the capture team laying-on towels—after all, we aren’t roughing it all that bad—those towels are important.

Looking over the troops as we moved toward the huntin’ grounds, I complimented the entire group on their stick-to-itiveness and courage for their undertaking—a real fine lookin’ group. We made it through two or three courses of “A-hunting we will go” on the way to the grounds of skill and treachery. Practiced as they were, it took hardly any time at all for the team to set up the capture loop and make the remainder of the camp ready. Before ya can say “We gotcha Bigfoot” we were in place and hunkered down ready for what came our way—large, small, hairy, stinky, whatever and the clock still having reached only 0630 hrs.

An hour later and still no Bigfoot, I decided to ask the DIT if he would kindly stand in for the capture ape. He responded in the affirmative and moved from the tree to ground zero and took up a submissive position awaiting the tightening loop. While this was taking place, I remembered to get the half full jar of peanut butter just in case we need it for future endeavors—like a skunk ape, a chupacabra, an abominable snowman, a yeti, or anything big, hairy and stinky.

Ali and I started retrieving rope and when I gave the signal, she took off like a dear—man can that kid run? The DIT was bound in the loop faster than you can say “gotcha Bigfoot.” Alison started back with the rope and all started braking camp for the return trip home. The DIT even volunteered to coil the 250 foot rope, a task I was not looking forward to at all.

We gathered at ground zero and discussed whether or not our efforts were worthwhile and ask and answered the question: Did we have a good time? Yes. I agreed and told the team that the best part of huntin’ and coming away without a trophy was that we didn’t have to clean it—whe-e-e-w, I am glad we didn’t have to clean a Bigfoot.

After reaching home, downloading the new pictures, posting them on-line and recounting our adventure the comments started to roll in:

- “I love how you are teaching your not need Toys-R-Us or Best-Buy to have fun!!”

- “Most is out of that crazy Hatfield Brain. No kidding aside, I agree you don't have to spend a fortune at the toy store for kids to have fun and to learn valuable life lessons.”

- “I think you caught lots of memories, and they last a lifetime...”

- “What fun! You are truly creative to have thought up such engaging entertainment for your grands!”

Isn’t that what it’s all about?

Monday, July 11, 2011

Quality BBQ – 2 - 11 Jul 11

Back on the trail of Quality BBQ this past weekend, we found ourselves, wife, son and I, in Llano at Cooper’s Old Time Bar-B-Que. You can find Cooper’s on Hy 29 West, crossing Hy 71. easy to get there, only about an hour out of Austin.

This is different from the Lockhart BBQ I reported on a few weeks ago—real different. Oh, you still pay by the pound all right, but their method is not the smoking method utilized down in Lockhart or over in Taylor. These guy cook BBQ like my Dad taught me some fifty-five years or so ago.

The first difference you will notice prior to ever getting inside the establishment—you don’t. The pit is outside and that’s where the line forms also. There is some sixty feet of covered area for the line to snake around on days when it’s real busy. We were lucky and hit there mid-afternoon and didn’t have to wait long at all. Like Smitty’s in Lockhart, you order from the guy currently cooking—that’s the last similarity to Lockhart.

There was the usual selection: beef ribs, pork loin, sausage and chicken. The main difference here was the thickest and biggest pork chop I have ever seen—affectionately known as the Big Chop. If you go for pork, who wouldn’t in their right mind, and believe you brought at least enough family members to cove a baseball field—a basketball team will not do the trick—the pork chop is the way to go. Upon making your selection, the cook will ask if you want it sauce dipped—I recommend fully that you take this option.

While I am a stickler for sauce and I far prefer my own, Cooper’s was better than most commercial I have had at these establishments. On a scale of 1 to 5 with 5 being the best: Cooper’s comes in at a sound 4 while Smitty’s places at a high 2 and maybe a low 3 at best. I take my recipe from my Dad and it still remains the only solid 5 I have ever tasted.

BBQ sauce should be stick-to-your-ribs thick. That’s right. It should drip off like water when you dip a rib, a piece of brisket, or even, if you happen to lean toward the yard bird fancy, a piece of chicken in it. I was brought up in a Southern family and gravy was always part of the meal. BBQ sauce should be like thickening gravy. It has to have the viscosity of 60 weight motor oil and old 60 weight motor oil at that.

My Dad taught my Mom to make his recipe not long, I am told, after they were married. He had picked it up in the late 1920s while working at a pig stand in south east Oklahoma. I stole it from watching her make it. I had to steal it as I wasn’t allowed in the house much at all when the pit was fired. It actually took me several years of passing through and stealing glances while she was putting it together before I ever decided I could make it on my own. But I got it after a while.

If its not a gravy, don’t call it BBQ sauce. I don’t know what it should be called, but it’s not BBQ sauce. If you have a name for it, leave me a comment.

The desert selection was better than Smitty’s also. That bowl of blackberry cobbler was outta this world—just like my Mom used to make.

Before I forget it; the pickles, bread and beans were free—that’s right, free. And beside that, they were good and you could go back for as many seconds as you could consume.

Our choices consisted of: two inch section of pork loin, 8 beef ribs, 4 sausage rounds, ½ chicken (somebody snuck it in, I didn’t notice it) and some slices of brisket (I don’t remember how many).

Because the meat is cooked over mesquite and the rubs they use are different than those in smoking BBQ, I enjoyed the flavors better at Cooper’s than the Lockhart versions. This is the way BBQ is supposed to be done—over a wood fire.

As a side note: that guy that didn’t like the plastic used in Lockhart will be glad to know that there were real silverware although the silver content was about as low as I have ever seen—but silverware nonetheless.

The Lockhart BBQs take their place near the top rung of Texas BBQ as much for the quantity of establishments located there as for the quality of their product and longevity. I have sampled two of the top three in Lockhart and do plan to finish off my third in the near future.

If I remember right, I gave Smitty’s a rating of 8.9 on a scale of 10. I would have to say that Cooper’s comes in just above that, somewhere around a 9.3 maybe.

All the way home, my son just kept saying: "That was good stuff." Over and over he repeated' "Good stuff."

There you have it. If you have a suggestion for an establishment you would like to see rated, please leave me a comment. If you don’t agree with the ratings recorded her; please provide your feedback. I would love to discuss them with you.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Airport Privacy and Pat-downs 06 Jul 11

I can’t remember the last time I wasn’t patted-down when trying to board a flight to anywhere in the last seven years. There may have been one; but for the life of me, I can’t remember it.

I started thinking about this non-rare occurrence when I read a letter to the editor in the local fish-wrap this past Sunday. The letter’s author was bemoaning the hoop-de-do in relation to the just withered-on-the-vine Texas Legislature bill to make it a state crime for the TSA agents in airport security stations to grope the privates of potential passengers just trying to get from point A to point B.

His (or her point—he//she signed their name with initials only) was that “Those of us who have replacement joints are singled out for the intrusive pat-down procedure, whereas members of the general public only suffer this indignity on a very random and infrequent basis. So instead of conducting a search of those who might harm us, we who have had metal inserted in our body must continually take the humiliating burden of being pummeled every time we go through security.” Will, in my experience he//she has a valid point. Take it from one who has been continually pummeled and humiliated, I know from experience. That humiliated may be a stretch, but all the same, it gets old.

I have undergone shoulder replacement operations on both, that’s right both, shoulders. While I have some of the most suffocated titanium devices installed in my shoulders and upper arms. There has been no relief at the airports of the world. In fact, I make the buzzer sound off, am waned and patted-down every time I go through the detector device. This has become so routine that I try my best to be prepared for the adventure prior to ever leaving for the airport. It doesn’t always work. Lucky for me, I am usually traveling with another and they become my help-mate: gathering my belongings, re-belting my pants, finding my shoes and the such. I wish to publicly thank my wife, my son and my son-in-law for their assistance over the years.

All those devices have a fineness setting; some more critical of replacement joints than others. I even have a card issued by the medical facility with a picture of the x-ray showing the replacement device—this does absolutely no good at all. Well, maybe the card isn’t that great an idea at all. I guess if one wanted to there would be some way of falsifying this type of media. But, nobody wants to even see the card.

Let me relate to you how disconcerting this can be. Oh, not coming outta Austin or passing through DFW or even leaving Las Vegas or Jackson Hole; but some place where it was just a bit more threatening than those events.

A couple of years back, I was fortunate enough to afford a trip with the Traveling Aggies to St Petersburg and Moscow, Russia. The real troubles started early the morning of our departure for home. My adventure went something like this:

2:30 AM - 0230 Sun (Russia time) 5:30 PM - 1730 Sat (TX time) There’s a knock at the Command Center door, that’s what I called our room on the riverboat we had resided on for the past twelve days. Patsy, my wife, hollers back, “Thank you.” The knocker acknowledges our answer and go on to the next room. We scramble up and begin getting cleaned up for the day and our departure. Both of us move about the Command Center with a proficiency developed over the past two (2) weeks; accomplishing what needs to be done and making sure everything gets into the correct bag and//or carry-on; lots of souvenirs to get home with.

3:15 AM - 0315 Sun (Russia time) 6:15 PM - 1815 Sat (TX time) We have our bags are outside the door and are patiently waiting pick-up. Each of our bags are identified with a green ribbon tied around the handle to signify which bus and departure time they are designated for. Looking up and down the passageway, we note lots of green ribbon in the hall as we make our way to coffee and morning chow. I really hope this goes correctly.

3:30 AM - 0330 Sun (Russia time) 6:30 PM - 1830 Sat (TX time) Breakfast is served, buffet style as usual. This is the last chance for chef to offer up some eggs; but, no eggs this morning—twelve days without eggs. There must be a real shortage of chickens in Russia—I know they are here; I’ve seen them at the farms we have visited. Maybe there will be eggs in Texas?

I start to wonder if we have to watch out for gypsies at the airport; especially those with young children. Nobody has said anything about them today. Every day in the past, the gypsies have been mentioned. Won’t there be any gypsies at the airport? It’s their last chance to take us for everything we have.

4 AM - 0400 Sun (Russia time) 7 PM - 1900 Sat (TX time) The busses roll in and we board our bus early; not taking any chances—don’t have much desire to spend my remaining days in a foreign land; especially Russia.

4:15 AM - 0415 Sun (Russia time) 7:15 PM - 1915 Sat (TX time) Our bus departs for the airport. Not much of the area of Moscow we are passing through is moving or shaking at this time of day, but there are a few hearty souls out and about.

5 AM - 0500 Sun (Russia time) 8 PM - 2000 Sat (TX time) We arrive at the airport and start the task of getting to the right gate. Bags are on the bus—I saw them come off; lucky for us.

5:30 AM - 0530 Sun (Russia time) 8:30 PM - 2030 Sat (TX time) Starting through passport control, Patsy experiences her worst nightmare; the Russian big-haired-mole-faced-army-uniformed-female-guard mans her selected window... We had inadvertently mixed our customs forms; actually I had her copy and on top of that, we hadn’t completely filled them out correctly. The Russian big-haired-mole-faced-army-uniformed-female-guard let her know about the discrepancy right away. We very quickly found a table and got to fixin’ our discrepancies like a flash. We evidently weren’t the only ones with this problem. Maybe half of our bus had their papers out justa fixin’ ‘em. Some of the confusion had resulted from the way the process was described by one of the Gretas on the Lufthansa flight we had coming to Russia.

After we successfully negotiate this obstacle, moving through the Moscow airport to baggage check went fairly smooth; of course we got in the line that turned out to be the most time consuming. It would have been really OK, except an airline official cut a blind guy in front of us so our line automatically became the slow line. His papers were a little confused and then he got separated from his baggage. Now everything was fouled up. This caused big Russian type problems—you can only imagine. Finally, we were signaled to proceed and were processed straight through without a problem. I thought we just might be in the clear—whoa, John Howard, not to quick there.

Next in the process flow was the security check. I started getting ready: pulling off my belt, getting everything out of my pockets. Shoes are ready to slip off and I have my medical card out of my bill fold to show the guys at the gate—that one I mentioned earlier. What was I thinking? Here I am trying to get outta Russia and I’m thinkin’ a card with a fuzzy x-ray picture is gonna do the trick. I might as well have been showing them my AARP membership card.

It doesn’t matter; I set off the buzzers, the bells and every whistle in the airport you would think. I believe I can faintly hear some of those sirens off in the distance, you know the ones—like you see and hear in the James Bond movies—he ones that sound like Charles De Gaulle and half of the French police are after you.

Everybody with a uniform is down on me like the vultures on the MOPAC power towers on a Sunday morning. Arms out, feet spread, hands turned up—there are several guys with the wands going over me from head to toe. Out of the corner of my right eye, I think I see some more of those Russian secret police guys coming from every possible door that I can see in the area—these are very sinister looking characters. Out of the corner of my left eye I can see the uniformed baggage handlers pulling my bags off the trolley that they had previously resided on; soon to be ripped open and searched for the planted stash I imagine they carry for just this purpose.

I still have my medical card in my hand and am trying to get somebody with a uniform to acknowledge that I have some proof of innocence. All of a sudden; there is not an English speaking person within all of Moscow County. Wands are beeping at both shoulders. I can see more guards headed our way. I am hoping beyond hope that these plain uniform guys are carrying a CHL permit; the level of excitement is running just a bit high.

Up front, Patsy is trapped and she can’t help one little bit—by-the-way, her Russian is no better than mine—dosvandawnya. Some guy looking like he wants to take control wants to see what’s under my shirt. I am being pushed off to the side behind what looks like a lead-lined screen. They remove my shirt and find nothing. I try again to show them my card but no one cares to see or hear anything from me.

Finally a young girl in an army uniform strolls back in and comes to my aid. She speaks English. She looks over my card, and tells the supervisor-like guard guy that I have shoulder replacements. The bells, buzzers and whistles still ringing in everyone’s ears are finally shut down and a new set of the Russian Peace Accords begin once again. Soon, all is again OK in Moscow County.

I make my way up to Patsy and join her and the small group of my fellow travelers; most of them have now experienced this twice at least; first at the ZOO in Frankfurt and now in the Mother Russia. The entire group had a good laugh at my expense and the word makes it around the entire gate area that World War III has been averted.

6:30 AM - 0630 Sun (Russia time) 9:30 PM - 2130 Sat (TX time) We start loading on Lufthansa flight LH 3189 scheduled to depart at 0705 hours.

7:10 AM - 0710 Sun (Russia time) 10:10 PM - 2210 Sat (TX time) Colonel Klink starts rolling away from the terminal, only five (5) minutes late. Soon we are in the air and on our way to the Frankfurt ZOO. Before you know it, Greta is bringing us our second breakfast of the morning. Finally I get some eggs! I didn’t have to wait until we arrive in Texas. These Germans know what breakfast is, eggs and a recognizable meat. I check the monitor; up, you are right – second breakfast and second time zone already.

I think they were on to me for this picture I had taken in front of Vlad Putin's office building.