Summer 2017, Day 8: Ronald Reagan Minuteman Missile SHS (8/2/17)

We’re back to our RVing tradition of great breakfasts:

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We packed up to head out.  B made a poster for her cousin:

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Ready to go:

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Saying goodbye to my parents:

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We drove north and west into North Dakota.  It’s the first time the four of us have visited the state, our 48th state.  Only Kentucky remains:

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We got off the freeway and passed through fields of sunflowers:

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We arrived at Ronald Reagan Minuteman Missile State Historic Site:

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The Minuteman Missile is a nuclear ICBM still in use by the US Air Force.  The facilities in this area were dismantled as part of the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty in the early 90s.  Each missile alert facility controlled ten launch facilities dispersed throughout the countryside.  The only facilities remaining are the Oscar-Zero Missile Alert Facility and the nearby November-33 Launch Facility.  The map below shows the location of the two remaining facilities in green:

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The launch facility is little more than an underground missile silo surrounded by a chain link fence.  The Missile Alert Facility which we visited is composed of an above-ground support building and an underground facility composed of a machine room and a control room in which two Air Force officers were always ready to direct their ten silos to launch:

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Our tour began in the above-ground structure, which provided housing for the facility’s manager, cook, and security team:

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This is the guard room, from which the main gate was watched.  The red doughnut is made of concrete with a coffee can in the center.  When visitors checked in their firearms, they would be unloaded and test fired into the can to insure the weapon did not have a round chambered:

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Modem and RS232 interface for the weather station.  Ah, the good old days:

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This escape ladder allows personnel to travel between the underground and above-ground facilities should the elevator fail:

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Thankfully the elevator did work, and we took it 60 feet down to the underground complex, which is composed of a pair of spherical reinforced structures, each with a massive door.  The machine room was to the right:

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The missile control room was to the left:

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We checked out the machine room first:

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The equipment room floor is suspended from the walls by a suspension system designed to allow the equipment to survive the shock of a nearby nuclear attack:

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When the facility was decommissioned, the departing personnel signed the wall:

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We next toured the control room from where the missiles would be launched:

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The key that launches the missiles:

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From this chair, civilization could be destroyed with the turn of a key:

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One of the two Air Force officers would sleep here while the other waited for the launch command:

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We left the historic site and continued west and south.  Late afternoon brought a magical light:

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Tonight we’re overnighting at Chain of Lakes Recreation Area.  After getting the RV set up for the night we discovered that we were in the day use area and that there are individual camping areas ringing the lakes here:

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We decided to stay put for the night:

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See the alternating light blue line on the trip map for today’s drive.

Summer 2017, Day 3: Shabbos in Wisconsin (7/28/17)

Trish photographed the RV this morning:

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We left the Walmart in Van Wert, Ohio, and continued west into Indiana:

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And on into Illinois:

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And on into Wisconsin:

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We’re spending Shabbos parked next door to Tricia’s sister’s house in a neighbor’s yard:

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Tricia’s sister has a dog, and B took her for a walk:

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Good Shabbos from Brodhead, Wisconsin!  See the alternating light blue line on the trip map for today’s drive.

Summer 2017, Day 2: Batter Up (7/27/17)

This morning we had some equine neighbors:

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Trish caught me chatting with the neighbors on her way back from shopping at “our” Walmart.  The horse trailer was being driven by a woman from Grants Pass, Oregon, and the fifth-wheel hitched to the red truck was a family from Dutchess County, New York, about an hour north of our house:

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We continued East and visited baseball bat manufacturer BWP Bats for a factory tour:

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Their office featured memorabilia from players who use (or used) their bats:

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The first step of the process uses a computerized CNC lathe to convert a cylinder of wood, called a billet, into a bat in about 3 minutes:

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We learned that baseball bats have a fixed relationship between length and weight (called bad drop) that is determined by whether the bat is used for professional, college, or little league play.  We also learned about “cupping”, which is drilling out the end of a bat to make it slightly lighter. The handle end of the bat can be terminated in a variety of shapes depending on the player’s preference:

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Once the bat is formed, it’s sanded and the ends are cut off:

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Next we went downstairs and saw the painting process which involves dipping the bats into paint one or more times depending on the color scheme.  After being hung to dry, the BWP sticker is applied and the bat is dipped multiple times into a clear polyurethane finish before it’s finished:

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This machine applies a narrow band of black paint over the seam between two colors added during the dipping process:

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We continued east to overnight at the Walmart of Van Wert, Ohio.  Getting gas is always a tricky affair when you’re 62 feet long and 13 feet, 6 inches tall: 

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There were plenty of trucks in the parking lot and it was another loud night as the trucks were running their APUs to power their air conditioners to keep the sleeper units in the trucks cool. It was 75 degrees and 99% humidity, so it was pretty uncomfortable. We decided to put out our generator so we could run the air conditioner overnight. It was no problem, since the trucks were making so much noise that generator just Blended right in:

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See the alternating light blue line on the trip map for today’s drive.