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Comments for An Eclectic Mind

Web site and blog for Maria Langer, commercial helicopter pilot, freelance writer, beekeeper, and serious amateur photographer.

Last Build Date: Fri, 09 Dec 2016 17:28:24 +0000


Comment on When Home Isn’t Home Anymore by Maria Langer

Fri, 09 Dec 2016 17:28:24 +0000

I'm glad to report that I haven't dreamed at all about my old life. It doesn't haunt me like that -- even after seeing my old house. This is the first house I've ever revisited -- and it really wasn't by choice. It just sort of happened. I have no desire to see any of the places I lived. The house I grew up in has been torn down with two McMansions taking its place on the 3/4 acre lot. I don't think I'd like to see that at all.

Comment on When Home Isn’t Home Anymore by Bob F.

Fri, 09 Dec 2016 17:15:54 +0000

It is strange 'going back' like that. I don't have a place carrying quite so much emotion as your once (briefly) shared marital home but I have an understanding of what time can do to a memory. A few years ago my American cousin and his wife came over for an extended stay and he wanted to go to the house (my home as a kid) where we first met when my aunt brought him over by Boeing 707 to see her dear sister. The house was still there, deeply rural, next to a large pond. We knocked and asked if we look around, having given a brief biography. The owners were justifiably freaked but let us look at the garden. The trees were now huge yet the house itself had shrunk, like some dark Harry Potter scene. In the back garden I discovered the remains of a trench system I had spent two weeks digging with my first pal. Dad had been furious. My cousin was delighted and felt far more at home than me. He took lots of photos. His wife (New Jersey) found the whole place 'cute'. I just cringed at the embarrassment of having forced our way in. Yet, for several weeks later I had the most detailed dreams of my youth, my time in that house (15 years) and old neighbours from the surrounding farming community.

Comment on How I Became a Snowbird by Maria Langer

Fri, 09 Dec 2016 13:45:32 +0000

Cabins like that are pretty easy to find in the American west. Many lots have a bunch of models on display. There's one here in Wickenburg (where I am for a few weeks this winter) with about 20 different styles, some which look more like tiny houses than sheds. We bought it in Wickenburg, they had it made wherever they're made, and they delivered it to Howard Mesa on a trailer. At 12-feet wide, it was considered a "wide load" and there were some delivery restrictions. It cost about $6K and included an ill-fitting door, seven windows, and a loft. Completely unfinished inside and the windows were drafty! It was very nice when done, but was later abandoned. The Realtor who sold it for us claims the pack rats had moved in and trashed the whole place -- that ill-fitting door had likely let them in. Very sad.

Comment on How I Became a Snowbird by Maria Langer

Fri, 09 Dec 2016 13:40:21 +0000

I saw that on the map and wondered if it was a place worth visiting. I suspect it's the wrong time of the year, though. Getting into the 30s there at night.

Comment on How I Became a Snowbird by Bob F.

Fri, 09 Dec 2016 13:10:52 +0000

I really liked the look of the Howard Mesa cabin. Seems to be a very versatile 'summer house' / storage shed. Do you still have the name of the supplier?

Comment on How I Became a Snowbird by Sean C.

Thu, 08 Dec 2016 20:26:08 +0000

If you're sticking to the eastern part of the state, the Bosque Del Apache wildlife refuge can be an awesome place to visit when the migratory flock of geese and sandhill cranes are passing though. There's a good chance of spotting the endangered Whooping Cranes with the Sandhill Crane flocks, they're regular visitors. Of course, when the birds aren't there, there isn't much to see, so timing is key.

Comment on How I Became a Snowbird by Maria Langer

Thu, 08 Dec 2016 20:22:41 +0000

That sounds VERY cool. And I know they're serious; the website for the park says they actually close down the park periodically because of testing.

Comment on How I Became a Snowbird by Sean C.

Thu, 08 Dec 2016 20:20:03 +0000

Seeing White Sands from the air is particularly impressive, the caverns of course, not so much. :) If you do get a chance to fly in the area, keep in mind that the restricted areas over White Sands Missile Range are serious business, and huge. It's the premier area for testing and training for air-defense weapons systems in the U.S., and military units come from all over the world for live-fire training with anti-aircraft missiles and such. Even with the priority of a Lifeguard aircraft we usually had to go around rather than through the area, as it can be difficult and time consuming to contact Range Control even with the proper radios and frequencies. They also used to do a lot of GPS jamming in the area, which made navigation at night a bit more challenging. When I was stationed at Ft. Bliss in El Paso we used to fly over the range areas quite a bit, and some parts of it are otherworldly. They've been shooting various drones and missiles there literally since the earliest days of aviation, and there are pieces scattered all over. While there are several mountain chains on the periphery, much of it is of course flat, white sand, so the various crashed bits of hardware stand out like sore thumbs. There's a couple spots that look like a giants dartboard, with numerous tail fins and missile bodies sticking out of the featureless white plain. The downside is that it's all considered un-exploded ordinance, so you can't land or touch any of it despite how cool looking you think it would look in your den.

Comment on How I Became a Snowbird by Maria Langer

Thu, 08 Dec 2016 18:49:43 +0000

You're right about that. I was hoping it was all on the west side of the state, but it's farther east. Heck, the caves are farther east that El Paso. Maybe I need to take the helicopter when it comes out of overhaul. A sort of shake-down tour. The Trinity Site sounds interesting, too, although I don't think I'll ever be in the area in either April or October. I'm on a frost contract near Sacramento in April and I really like October at home. But who knows? Never say never, eh?

Comment on How I Became a Snowbird by Sean C.

Thu, 08 Dec 2016 18:39:42 +0000

Well, close is a relative term when it comes to southern NM, and all of the southwest in general. I'll admit that my perspective on distance is a bit distorted since I did most of my recent travelling through the area at 130 knots in an A Star. Going point to point at 150 mph sort of spoils you compared to crawling around on a road at a mile a minute. ;) If you were going to be there through the spring, I'd also recommend visiting the Trinity Site, the place where the very first atomic bomb was detonated. It's only open twice a year for visits from the public, once in April and again in October.

Comment on The Odd Thing about My Old Eyes by Bob F.

Thu, 08 Dec 2016 10:10:57 +0000

Correction to above. I'm muddling my Huxley's. 'The Doors of Perception' (which advocates the use of mescaline) was written by Aldous Huxley, not T.H. Huxley. T.H. Huxley was Aldous's grandad, the Victorian scientist and supporter of Charles Darwin who debated the theory of evolution with a bishop.

Comment on How I Became a Snowbird by Maria Langer

Thu, 08 Dec 2016 01:34:54 +0000

Well, I looked them both up. White Sands is 7+ hours, Carlsbad is 9+ hours. Need to give this some thought.

Comment on How I Became a Snowbird by Maria Langer

Wed, 07 Dec 2016 23:52:42 +0000

Oh, jeez, I didn't realize they were that close to each other. Now I need to start making a plan to see if it's feasible. Thanks so much for the suggestion.

Comment on How I Became a Snowbird by Sean C.

Wed, 07 Dec 2016 21:52:11 +0000

Sound like fun, and what a beautiful place to stay while house sitting! If you do end up going down to southern NM to see White Sands, definitely make the time to head a few more miles south and see Carlsbad Caverns. If you haven't been to it before it's worth a side trip. There's a couple of new caves there too that are harder to get into, but are a lot less developed, not sure how you'd go about seeing them but it might be possible. I'm also not sure if this is the season where all the bats fly out of the cave but if it is that's worth seeing as well. There's literally a river of bats leaving the cave come evenings, tens of thousands of them, quite the sight.

Comment on On Irresponsible and Inconsiderate People by Sean C.

Wed, 07 Dec 2016 21:37:10 +0000

Pretty much every time I've done a cross country ferry trip in a helicopter, it was solo. Most of those have been for EMS companies, so there's no provision for dual controls anyway. It would be nice to have another pilot along, even if it's just for keeping the aircraft upright when refolding a sectional or grabbing a drink. Like all helicopter pilots I've flown a fair amount with the cyclic clamped between my knees as I've fumbled with one thing or another, but it's not really a good substitute for another set of hands. Autopilots are rare as hens teeth in the helicopter world (a fact which is often a surprise to airplane pilots), an unfortunate consequence of how much control authority helicopters need even for mundane tasks. Having finally flown a couple of twin turbine models that did have the full autopilot set up, I'd have a hard time going back to flying without one, especially on long ferry flights. It's too bad that you got burned by that flake, hopefully his karma will reflect. :)