I go by “WoolyFrog”, my Dad’s “handle”. He took it while camping on the edge of a canyon in what’s now “The Bears’ Ears National Monument”. There were frogs in the canyon. They didn’t go “ribbitt, ribbitt” like normal frogies. They went “Baaaa, Baaaa” like sheep. The “baaaa’s” echoed up out of the canyon and into the camp. The group spent two days trying to find the sheep. They finally figured out the frogs spoke Ovis aries and Dad made up his handle, WoolyFrog”. Mom and Dad were canyon people. They took me into the canyons when I was very young. I thank them for that. They died in 2010. I am WoolyFrog. I am also Big Chicken. While backpacking Europe with a friend in 1978, and nearly out of money, we opted to come home rather than take those “standby seats” from Athens to Johannesburg. In 1973, four of us made a break for Alaska in a 1960 Ford Falcon. Intent on bagging school and working on the Alaska Pipeline, we scaredy-catted out of Canada and came home to graduate from high school. After Banditos in Mexico vandalized Mom and Dad’s car and robbed us in 1975, I tried to go “out of body” and appear by their bedside in the middle of the night to “assure them” I was OK. Dustin Hoffman most accurately portrays my life in the movie, “Little Big Man”. Leonard Cohen best describes my aging body, “I ache in the places where I used to play”. Tim Cahill reveals my haphazard approach to things in his book, “Pecked to Death by Ducks”. Craig Childs personifies how I’d like to approach things in all of his books, and writings. I’ve never understood dancing. People go out dancing and they just do whatever they want. When I do that everyone laughs me off the floor and mocks me all the way out to the parking lot. I’ve never found solace in dancing. I’ve never failed to find it in the outdoors.

A Palace of Liquid Crystal

A Palace of Liquid Crystal One winter day I hiked to the top of the San Rafael Reef from the mouth of Black Dragon Wash. It was raining and the cloud-base was low – about halfway down the reef. I climbed into falling snow as I approached the top. Nothing to see up there but…

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The Other Point of Espionage

Storming the Castle Lyle and I watched the Sun set a mere 98 million miles beyond the Atlantic Ocean. We watched from the west coast of Portugal, where we were camping on the beach. The broken-off bow of an old ship lay grounded in the sand about 50 yards off-shore. It was June 1978. We…

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Tunneling for Education’s Sake

Tunneling for Education’s Sake We started tunneling through our Elementary School in the Fifth Grade – Mr. Adams’ class. Everyone at school knew there were rectangular holes in the top of the classroom coat closets. But it wasn’t until Fifth Grade that David and Lyle and I decided it was time to climb up through…

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Operation Desert Shield

Git ‘er Done! There we were, Desert Shield, gearing up for Desert Storm. Several States’ National Guards had deployed Air Refueling Tankers to England. We ferried and refueled a lot of go-to-war assets into the Mid-East from there. One day, as an eight-tanker flight, we ferried a large package to the Sandbox. We flew across…

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THE TACHYCARDIA TRAIL

Where Did I Leave That Fire? Neko Case I owe Brian for hiking my butt up the Tachycardia Trail. We named it after a bout of tachycardia that hit me while he and I were deployed somewhere with our Air Refueling Unit in 1999. It ended my flying career that year and my military career…

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Tuna For Lunch

TUNA FOR LUNCH August 1982 I think probably everybody who runs the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon stops to look at Crystal Rapid before running it (except maybe three certain guys in a dory in 1983 – “The Emerald Mile”). Crystal has earned that distinction. We were four kayakers. Eight others in our group…

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Afraid to Bail Out?

I answered this question on quora.com and it’s been pretty popular. So I include it here. Are USAF Pilots Afraid to Eject from the Aircraft? I’ll speak from my own experience in the F-111, which is unique in that the entire cockpit separates from the jet and the Pilot and Weapons Systems Operator, who sit…

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Stick Time in the P-51

WHEN THIS LIFE IS OVER, AMID THE GREAT THINGS YOU’VE DONE WILL YOU HAVE STICK TIME IN THE P-51? www.collingsfoundation.org My P-51 pilot’s name was Jim. A lot of pilots are named “Jim”. I know this because for some reason I’ve flown with a lot of pilots named, “Jim”. It’s a good name for a…

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