Fire Cloud...
An irregular marking on the exterior of Native American pottery: usually resulting from burning fuel coming in direct contact with the vessel during firing

Wednesday, 19 August 2009

The Flatlands

John Martin State Park, Colorado

We're heading east on US 50. The highway and terrain have been fairly flat for the last 100 miles since leaving Colorado Springs. The terrain looks more like Kansas than Colorado.

In 1965, I was flying my last mission as a navigator trainee out of Colorado Springs. We had to wait on the runway for the air to cool so that our T-39 had enough lift to be able to takeoff. It was my last training Mission and my first of 40 eight-hour training flights without a navigator instructor. We flew south for 30 minutes and I told the pilot to turn east in the morning toward California. I was checking my maps frantically, looking for the Rockies and seeing only flatlands and the early morning sun dead ahead. The pilot kept asking me if I had any extra maps because the morning sun was in his eyes and he wanted to use them to cover his window. Eventually, the other student navigator whispered to me that we were heading toward Florida so I told the pilot to do a 180.

I regret very much telling Mrs. Phred this story. Whenever we argue about directions and I point out that I am a very highly trained Air Force navigator and scored a 99th percentile on my Navigator's aptitude test...she snorts, "Right, Wrong-Way!"

We stopped early at an almost empty State park on a reservoir. We lay back reading some great new novels by Michael Connelly and Vince Flynn. I offer to make Phred's Rockfish Royal for dinner and Mrs. Phred says what about we just bread and fry it?

"You turn down Mr. Phred's Rockfish Royal?", Mr Phred asks. "Mr. Phred is not offended". he says,...if one prefers to ruin the fine Oregon Rockfish with grease and breadcrumbs, what is it to Mr. Phred?", he fumes..."Mr. Phred does not care how the fish is cooked", he says to her and crosses his arms and looks skyward...

Mrs Phred decides, after some thought, that she prefers Rockfish Royale (1)

We spent the last two days in Colorado Springs. We drove up Pike's Peak to an altitude of 14,110 feet. We ran over two snow leopards and a yeti on the last mile.

The next day viewed Seven Falls and we spent $18 for the privilege of viewing those puny nothing falls. They are nothing to write home about. In Ithaca, New York, one can view gorges with mighty falls cutting strange falls for miles for nothing and get a great workout climbing up and down the canyons. What a rip.

It looks like we might be looking at water park in Dodge City, a night in Wichita, another lake in a Kansas State Park and then cooking fish dinner for an online friend named Hypatia in Missouri. After that two or three weeks in Arkansas...maybe I'll find a home there...

(1) Rockfish Royale

1 cup dry white wine
2 tsp. salt
1 lb. rockfish fillets
¼ cup fine dry bread crumbs
½ cup each sour cream & mayonnaise
¼ cup minced green onions

Combine wine and salt; pour over Rockfish. Marinate in refrigerator at least 1 hour. Drain Rockfish on paper towels; dip both sides in breadcrumbs. Place Rockfish in shallow buttered baking dish. Combine sour cream, mayonnaise and green onions; spread over Rockfish. Sprinkle with paprika. Bake at 400°F for 10 minutes per inch of thickness, measured at the thickest part, or until Rockfish flakes when tested with a fork.


  1. Great commentary, wondering if the altitude at pikes peak affects the engine performance of your vehicle. Good day to you. Respectfully, David

  2. Hi David,

    No problem with the Toyota engine. It zipped right up the mountain. It's surprisingly responsive for a gas-sipping little four cylinder.

    I was a little worried about the brakes on the way down. They're making funny noises after 120,000 miles of driving and towing...

    Kept it mostly in 1st or 2nd gear on the way down and tried to avoid using them...

    With the C-124, the flight engineer would throw four big levers to kick in the superchargers above 10,000 feet.