Since Rick and I are still here tending to business which is neither exciting nor photogenic, I thought we would take a look back at the beginning of our journey together many years ago.
Once upon a time in the fall of 1979. . .
A young couple were married. Three weeks later, the young husband went off to the Air Force. His basic training was at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas.
At the completion of his six weeks of basic training, his even younger bride joined him in San Antonio. She was given the standard warm military welcome. She was told “If the Air Force had wanted him to have a wife, they would have issued him one. There is no place for you here, you should go home.” She was not the sort to give up easily, so she got out her map (this was way before the days of cell phones, GPS and OnStar) found Wichita Falls, Texas and drove there alone. She also found Sheppard Air Force Base where her husband had been assigned for his technical training.
Once there, after being interviewed by the First Sergeant and showing him their marriage certificate, the bride was allowed to stay and the young couple lived together off base during technical school. Their first home together was a lovely one bedroom efficiency which was a recently converted run-down motel. They considered themselves very fortunate to find it however, as a tornado had blown through about six months before and wiped out large sections of the town and housing of any kind was hard to come by.
Living in a state where the only people they knew were each other was a very good way for the young couple to begin their married life. They learned to work together and rely on each other. It was a new adventure for both of them and they learned many things.
They learned that winter in the Texas panhandle is a LOT colder than winter in southern California. They learned that icicles eighteen inches long can form outside your window. On his way to the base one morning at 5:30 am, the young man learned about driving on black ice. It is as dangerous as he had heard; he remembered this after he did a 360 in the middle of a bridge. Luckily, he and the car were not hurt and he continued on his way to the base.
The young couple had hardly any money but this did not bother them. They were able to celebrate their three month wedding anniversary by going out to dinner at a Mexican restaurant and ordering one entree which they split because they only had $10. Life was good!
The young man did very well in tech school, graduated and was ready to be a crew chief on fighter jets. He loved the speed and power of the fighters and was hoping to be assigned to crew a T-38 or F-15 or maybe an F-16. The Air Force had other ideas. He was assigned to Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Tucson, Arizona. DM as it is called was the home of the 355th Tactical Fighter Training Wing and pilots were being trained there on the newest fighter in the Air Force inventory.
The A-10 Thunderbolt II, affectionately known as the Warthog.
Sleek and fast it is not.
The young man was one of the very first crew chiefs trained on the A-10 as it was a brand new aircraft.
He learned to love the ungainly looking but very reliable, and very deadly bird.
He enjoyed working on the flight line and being up close and personal with the aircraft.
Being in charge of a multi-million dollar aircraft is a lot of responsibility for any young person.
Our young man did very well, being promoted and assigned as the personal crew chief of the commanding general of the base.
He won an award for outstanding performance and his reward was a flight in a T-38.
Our bride meanwhile spent much of her time at The Arizona Inn, a lovely historic resort hotel in Tucson; perennially listed in the top hotels in the nation.
She was the manager of the catering department, and organized many weddings, receptions, luncheons, dinners and a couple of balls.
She sometimes worked with the rich and famous of the day who made their way to the Inn.
Though she worked many nights and weekends on various events, it was a fun job and a lovely place to work and she learned a lot about scheduling, details and organization.
While in Tucson in 1981 the young couple purchased their first home.
Ironically, a mobile home which is almost identical to the one at the ranch today! It was set up on base, in a very scenic location overlooking the abandoned runway.
There was a water shortage in Tucson at the time, and they were only allowed to water their lawn (what there was of it) one day per week. One evening as they were sitting down to dinner, they looked out the window as a freak windstorm blew through and completely demolished the house next door.
The mobile home was literally turned upside down in seconds. Luckily the woman and her little boy inside escaped unhurt.
The young couple and their home was spared except for a couple of pieces of skirting blown off.
About this time, the young couple witnessed a devastating motorcycle accident where the rider was killed in front of them. Again, they were spared, but the young man decided to sell his motorcycle and get something a little safer.
A jeep was still fun and much easier for the couple to enjoy together. While they never learned to love the arid desert landscape, they and their friends had a lot of fun exploring the area.
Desert scenery with saguaro cactus.
At the end of his four year enlistment, the young man was offered a promotion and a guaranteed base of his choice as an incentive to re-enlist. He loved working on the flight line and with the aircraft, but he was not so thrilled with the idea of the military controlling his life.
So he turned down the offer and was honorably discharged from the Air Force. His wife resigned her position at the Arizona Inn and they went home to California to start the rest of their life.
And they have lived happily ever after.