my #5 brother jeremiah graduated college this spring and fulfilled his life-long dream of getting paid to wear camo and sneak around by joining the air force (which i did mention ever so quickly, when it happened). although he's in communications so that might limit his sneaking around sniping opportunities somewhat.
the ceremony was mercifully rather short, with about 20 ROTC graduates taking their oaths.
my mom and dad got to pin the officer bars on jeremiah. after being sworn in and getting their new rank, each graduate could say a few words. many thanked family. my brother simply said "lock and load."
the last bit was the traditional silver dollar salute. the first enlisted person to salute a newly sworn-in officer is given a silver dollar. no one really said why, but it was kind of cool. jeremiah had asked his high school ROTC colonel to swear him in, and his high school ROTC commander gave him his first salute. chuck couldn't resist saluting him after as well - after 22 years in the navy i think that was the best way chuck knew to show jeremiah he respected his choice.
i was very proud of jeremiah for doing something so crazy as joining the air force, simply because that was his dream all these years.
we also, not coincidentally, got to meet his girlfriend. she's the red head in the middle of my family (not my whole family, but it's some of us).
while in massachusetts we went to one of my favoritest places on earth: the windsor jambs at windsor state forest. our family vacations always consisted of camping for a week in july when the factory my dad worked at shut down for inventory. it was probably the cheapest vacation for a family with 8 kids, but we loved it. building fires, hiking, playing in mountain streams, and of course harassing each other. we never liked camping at windsor (the sites are small, close together and very dark) but we'd always drive there to hike the jambs. the offical site i linked to says one may not hike the jambs as dangerous conditions exist. um, oops. we never looked at that website.
the jambs were formed by some stream wearing through bedrock to create an (apparently) 80 foot gorge. there's a trail from the top of the jambs down to the bottom. normally we follow the trail to the bottom1. trail at top of bedrock to right, 2. a waterfall from above, 3. once this waterfall was low enough for me to climb up the middle of it, 4. bottom of the trail where the jambs flatten out
and then hike up through waterfalls, around fallen trees, clinging to rock ledges until we reach the top.as i've gone back over the years, i've wondered what my parents were smoking to let us climb that thing as kids. my dad just shrugged when i asked him. the first time i was maybe 10 with at least one younger brother trailing behind. it probably isn't the safest thing in the world to do (and this last time i realized how long it's been since i did something like that - my confidence isn't what it was, but we still made it), but man is it fun.
we can't ever resist taking tons of pictures. the water, the rocks, and the still sparkling pools (some shallow, some so deep you can't see the bottom) are mesmerizing, and never quite the same twice depending on what storms have blown through and how much meltwater the spring brought. but still we know it like the back of our hands, always looking for our special landmarks.
there's the mermaid's seat , in a pool we always say we'll stop and swim in, but never do,
and nature flipping the bird to the sky.
i love the huge bedrock slabs, slowly eroded down, the falling boulders that shift so slowly over the years
with the blog in mind i even took a shot of our hand and foot holds
i look at that and think: what was i smoking to go trusting my life to that narrow edge of stone? we put our fingers in the cracks and hope the mossy rock will hold as we pull ourselves up, and that our feet won't slip when we have to balance on that edge.
chuck did look as if he thought i was mad when i wanted to climb, but gamely followed me through the jambs. he must have seen the gleam in my eye and known i would have gone with or without him.
after the jambs we went driving around a bit, looking for another elusive waterfall we had vague memories of visiting near the jambs (which turned out to be bashbish falls and nowhere near the jambs), and passing some very small signs that said craft festival. i was entrigued, but lured by the waterfall and mindful of everyone else, i let it go. i sure wish i hadn't and that i'd been reading blogs on vacation. turns out we were driving through west cummington, the home of the MA fiber festival. arg! i could have went to my first fiber festival........
the last highlight of our trip was a jaunt over the border to new york with my dad and brother andy to watch some drag races. sadly, i have no photographic evidence of the awesome cars (or the sunburn we all got there) but it was loads of fun. my dad loves old cars, which has rubbed off on some of us. there was a mini-car show in the parking lot, and seeing those gems along with the pumped up race cars was great. if i still lived in the area, i would be tempted to race my 74 catalina some weekend just for fun. and speed without getting a ticket of course :)