The Adventure Continues–Remembering KI Sawyer AFB, My Window of Opportunity

Jun 26, 2010 by

The girls and I once again are in Northern Indiana back at my dad’s and my grandma’s.   I hated rolling out of Marquette, MI once again yesterday.  There were just a swirl of emotions clinging to me as we drove south on US Highway 41.

I spent a good part of my childhood in the Upper Peninsula.  I never became a “Yupper” but at a young age I fell in love with the protected world in which I roamed the trails and woods without fear of weirdos, poisonous snakes or things that would have been a bad influence.

My Window of Opportunity

Times before, I’ve mentioned sitting at a particular downstairs window in our home at 208 Fortress on what was KI Sawyer AFB and writing.  When I was in second and third grade, I would use a kid’s typewriter and wrote much like I do now. 

One of my most vivid memories of writing came from sitting on the other side of the window you see to the right.  I sat there at the now very antique kidney bean-shaped desk I have in my Texas living room.  This was my creative space, even before the age of 10.  Outside the window, was where I acted out those dreams.  Thoughts of being a bomber pilot like my dad.  Thoughts of being a fireman, like Randolph Mantooth, one of the first TV paramedics.

This was my window of opportunity.  This is where I dreamed of what could be and didn’t worry about the things that were.

We played baseball in our tiny front yard, with each corner of the yard being a base.  That meant I pitched from the middle of the yard, and yes, if thrown the right way and hard enough, the baseball did go through the bathroom window.

That bathroom, mom once painted yellow.  For some reason, which neither of us understand, even to this day, I once wrote the word “elephant” in ink pen on the freshly painted wall.

The garage you see wasn’t there when I was a kid.  The air force put them in later.  I don’t think I’ve ever mentioned this before, but I always heard as a kid that KI’s base housing, located in Northern Michigan, was designed by someone who lived in Florida.  Yeah, government in action.

The point of all of this is that this is where my imagination and my quests for adventure came to be.  We’d get up in the morning, head out into the woods behind our house, build tree forts, climb hills, and out the hole in the fence, past the two ski hills and off to the south east was a lake I only made it to three times.  We had a great name for it, too, “The Lost Lake.”  And the name was fitting because there was no path to it.  And for what it was, it was indeed, lost.

My suspicion of it being lost today remains.  between the garage and the garage on the other side of the parking lot, once was a well-traveled trail right into the heart of the woods.  Thursday, that trail was overgrown.  Even the trail that ran parallel to our house a good 50 yards back was overgrown.

I’ve heard the quote before that “the past is like a foreign country, they do things different there.”   Today, that has new meaning for me.

What’s Left of KI Sawyer AFB

And different is what KI is today.  The BRAC at the end of the Cold War closed it all down.  The 644th Bomb Squadron building, the Tanker Alert Facility, the gym, BX and commissary all stand empty today with no use.  My old school, Leo P. McDonald Elementary School, has been taken over by a company that’s ripped many of the walls out and put in garage doors.  The windows of the classrooms I learned to read and write in are now boarded up.  Some of the windows have had rocks thrown into them.  It was painful to see. 

Half of what was a robust area of base housing is now in ruins.  I took a picture of the house my friends Michelle and Renee lived in.  I took a photo of Kim Casey and Kevin Casey’s.  I’ve tried to find them since we were kids, but have never heard from them since they took off for the Air Force Academy in Colorado with their dad, an F-106 pilot.  

We couldn’t get out to the Alert Facility where the B-52s on alert used to park.  Thursday what appeared to be Michigan State Trooper cars were doing reverse J-turns and obstacle courses where once there were guards who would have shot you on the spot for trying to get to.

We were going to spend another day in the UP yesterday, but by noon it was clear it was going to rain all day and we knew we didn’t want to sit around in a hotel room.  So we headed back south.

Before leaving Marquette, we took the girls down to Presque Isle.   It was raining lightly on and off.  I initially gave up and began heading off the isle.  But then it stopped raining and I decided we were going to go back and try again.  As though an answer to a prayer, it did.  We got out and I got new video of the twins playing in the same spot where I also have video of my brother Richard and I doing the same back in 1970.  To me, it was almost critical to get that video.  A once in a lifetime sort of moment.

So when I get the chance to sit still, I’m going to build the next video featuring then and now.

More Adventures To Come

Okay, time to wrap up the thoughts from today’s adventures.  The 2010 Chevy Traverse has been a great car for this trip.  It rides so smoothly.  I’ve been highly impressed with it’s comfort and yesterday, driving south, I let dad drive for a couple hours and I got in the third row and laid down side ways so I could take a nap.  Yes, a big guy like me can get his body in a comfy enough position to be able to sleep. And I enjoyed it.

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Me in a 2010 Corvette, yes, I know, I do look good in that car

Apr 21, 2010 by

Saturday, courtesy of GM Texas, I was invited to the Texas Motor Speedway as a blogging dad to check out the new products GM has on the market.  I've already noted how impressed I was with the Chevy Traverse.

Here's a complimentary photo they took of me in the 2010 silver convertible Corvette.  I had a nice time in this ride.  And there's also a funny video to go along with it.

(Photo by AEJE Event Photography)

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Chevy 2010 Traverse: I want one. My day at the races. #ChevyTMS

Apr 17, 2010 by

Courtesy of the kind fokes @GMTexas today, I went to the Texas Motor Speedway for what was planned to be a great day at the races.  Being a social media Daddy Blogger, this was my first chance of working with a major car company and I have to say, after seeing that the Chevy 2010 Traverse will hold 30 percent more than the Honda Pilot; has a third row perfect for a dad with three girls who love to travel; and just looks darn good with myself in it–I want one.   Chevrolet_traverse

I'd never heard of this car before today.  But I'm all about it now.  I looked at the GM specs and it's a cool ride.  It's got more horsepower than the Honda Pilot, Toyota Highlander and the Ford Flex

It also has more space: 116.4 cubic feet v. the 87 of the Honda Pilot–hence the 30 percent comparison.  I got to watch people put odd shaped boxes in one just to show how much stuff you can pack into this car and again, I want one.  (See photo below)

Remember when I moved my stuff a few weeks ago in the Chrysler Sebring convertible?  I could have cut the number of trips in half with a Traverse.   Photo

And then something that's immensely important to any dad–safety.  The Traverse has a 5-Star crash safety rating.  That's the highest there is.  It has six standard air bags, and head-curtain side air bags in each of the three rows.  As a dad, that's critical to me and something I just don't have in the convertible.  Not to mention On-Star.

Other cool features include the built-in DVD, Bluetooth and even a Flash connection you can plug in with music files.  And if you're really wanting it, you can also add the rear view back up camera and screen.

My situation in life has seemed pretty grim over the past couple of months.  So far 2010 has brought some fairly significant changes in my life–and while at times it's felt like I was getting lemons, I'm starting to make some sweet, sweet lemonade. 

Dads and moms, you really should go visit a GM dealer near you and take a look at this car.  I think you're going to be surprised at the product selection at a GM dealership. 

I got into that Traverse this morning and I felt like I was sitting in the lap of luxury, all the while feeling like I was in a solid vehicle.  GM has taken a lot of hits on their chin just like I have in the past couple of years.  For me, they're now an inspiration because even as they were in the midst of financial stress and despair, struggling for survival, they, too, pulled it all together and are now turning out a far superior product.   Images-1

In a few months, certainly by this time next year, I'm hoping to be in a more sound place, just like GM is today. 

But for today, I now have a new dream to chase, thanks to GM.  I had a great time today.  It even rained so I didn't see the first race car going around the track.  But that's okay.  I have a new appreciation for a car company that my dad only used to buy when I was a kid.  I have a reason to come back to GM now, too.  And now I have a new journey in which to traverse.

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