Archive for October, 2009

Hello Ben!

October 20, 2009

e-Thanks (BF)


Balta 39!

October 20, 2009


Many thanks to the Freyermuths for a memorable 39th reunion in Ruidoso, NM.  And a heads-up for next year.  Tom Forrest has stepped up to host it around Austin, Texas in October.  The actual location will be New Braunfels, Texas! (I had a ‘senior moment’  when I first composed this and named it at Luckenbach. Thanks for the correction, Hog!)

Also, for all Baltans, I will soon begin to update your contact info for a new updated Balta list, so expect to receive an email from me.  Please take time to look at it, correct info if needed and send it back to me in good time.  Thanks.    dee


Many many thanks to the Dog family (and pups) for a really great time!  Good to see a few new Baltan faces, too. for those of you who didn’t/couldn’t make it… too bad.  You missed a good one.

BTW, I know that a lot of people were taking pics.  If any of you have some nice ones of me and The Squirt, please forward.
Best to all,
Just a quick note to say that my daughter, Dari, sent an email saying she
was in Ireland on her way home from Iraq!

Great news!  Tears in my eyes.

Hugs to all, Brian

Trip report from Doug Gitt
(Several BALTAN’s wanted to hear how my return to PA aboard AMTRAK went.)

First leg: The Southwest Chief (LA to Chicago) – boarded at 1:00pm on Monday afternoon. My accommodations were a “roomette”, only 3’ 6” wide, with two semi-reclining seats facing each other with controls for air, a power outlet, etc. The two seats are moved flat and a mattress placed on top to form one bed. The second comes down from the ceiling. The toilet and shower were elsewhere in the car, but this turned out to be a minor inconvenience. It was very comfortable for one person. Two can be accommodated, though movements must be coordinated. Experienced traveling couples don’t shy away from them. Four meals; the one breakfast, two lunches, one dinner (included in the price of a ticket) were adequate-to-fairly good. I slept well. The rocking and the few bumps and sways became relaxing. As the train was consistently going between 88mph and 90mph, this could be expected. The drivers were experts at smoothly stopping and starting at stations. The noise of the train whistles, blown at all grade crossing, were not intrusive. This is a great way to cross Kansas and much of Missouri; asleep.

The train was barely late, arriving at about 3:00pm

Second leg: The Capitol Limited (Chicago to DC) – boarded at 7:20pm, get off in Pittsburgh at 5:00am.

Again, I stayed in a “roomette”, allowing me to get to bed right after dinner and get a night’s sleep.

A major part of training is socialization, meeting other travelers. One is almost always seated in the dining car with others, almost requiring conversation, no matter how small. (The lounge/observation car is the real hotspot for meeting people.) At dinner, Major Patrick C. Roe, USMC (retired) was seated with me. He was an intelligence officer during the Korean War. He was on his way to Laurel MD (i.e. Ft. Meade/NSA area) to speak at the 2009 Cryptologic History Symposium. His topic: “The Ghost Armies of Manchuria: Chinese COMINT Deception during the Korean War.” We talked shop all during the meal! Sometimes the coincidences are eerie!

Third leg: The Pennsylvanian (Pittsburg – Philadelphia – NYC) – board at 7:20am, arrive in Harrisburg at 12:55pm. I rode in coach class. The regular seats were surprisingly comfortable, recliners with leg support and a foot rest. A club car was attached for sandwiches, snacks and drinks. This route is railroad history. It includes the world famous Horseshoe Curve, Tunnel Hill, Altoona locomotive/car repair shops and the Rockville Bridge just north of Harrisburg, the longest stone bridge in the world. Of course the Harrisburg station goes back to the glory days of the Pennsylvania Railroad.

Traveling by train is much less stressful than flying. The sleeping car attendants and dining car waitstaff gave excellent service. (Tipping well does help.) One gets to know people. My train ride lasted almost exactly 48 hours. The plane would have taken most of one day anyway. In my mind it was worth it.


October 2, 2009


My lovely daughter, Megan is able to join us this year and is flying into ABQ on Thursday 10/8 at 2:20pm. If her arrival synchs with anyone else, she’d sure love to catch a ride to Ruidoso. BTW, she’s small and doesn’t take up much room.

Please let me know ASAP.

Can’t wait to see you all…