Free Crash Dad Updates! Want to receive the latest musings of Crash Dad sent directly to your email inbox? You know you want to! Sign up and get the latest and greatest Crash Dad Updates for FREE!

Living the Dream in Alaska

Posted on August 23, 2016 I Written By

Crash Uncle is father to three amazing kids, a C-130 Navigator in the USAF, and Crash Dad's favorite brother.

No picture can ever do justice to the wonder that is Alaska.

No picture can ever do justice to the wonder that is Alaska.

Often times when someone asks me how I am doing I give the response that I am living the dream.  Oftentimes that is interpreted as a negative thing, and while sometimes that is exactly what I am trying to say, most of the time it is really just something quick to say in response than an actual indicator of how I am doing.  However, this last few weeks has been quite the opposite.

As I have mentioned in the past, by job often takes me to some pretty cool places.  As much fun as I have had in the Philippines, Thailand, and Guam, there is nothing that could really compare to my most recent adventure.  Alaska is just the perfect mix of so may of the things that I totally love.  I have literally been living the dream.

Watching the ground rush past you with another plane out in front of you is such a rush.

Watching the ground rush past you with another plane out in front of you is such a rush.

On the work side of things, the flying has been amazing.  I could do without the full day mission planning, but that is just part of the deal if you want to operate legally and safely.  It has been incredible to get back down to flying at only 300 feet above the ground at 250 knots raging through the mountains of Alaska.  I have been able to see moose and bears, and some of the most scenic views I have seen in my entire life.

Sometimes it is nice to take it slow and just enjoy the moment.

Sometimes it is nice to take it slow and just enjoy the moment.

On the flip side of flying, I had the opportunity to go out and explore more of Alaska in a Cessna 172 at a much slower speed and really just enjoy the wonder that is Alaska.  It was a sort of pleasure cruise in the air with a great aviator who made the experience that much better.  As someone who just loves everything about airplanes, it was amazing to explore this dream destination with my friend Chris, who is even more passionate about aviation.

One of the most spectacular things about flying in Alaska is the massive glaciers that are all over the place.  It is truly something to behold how immense these glaciers are.  They are so dynamic in their shape and color providing the bluest blues I may have ever seen, along with huge ice cliffs, and deep, sharp valleys.  There really are not words good enough to describe how incredible they are.

There are no words for the majesty of Alaska's glaciers.

There are no words for the majesty of Alaska’s glaciers.

To cap off this dream, I had the opportunity to get in some Alaskan fishing which was really the sprinkles on top of the icing on the cake.  Then I got to eat the cake, because what good is cake if you can’t eat it?  My first day down at the confluence of the Kenai River and Russian River started out great grabbing a couple of sockeye salmon for the first time, and then a couple of trout.  Unfortunately, one of those trout snapped my brand new rod and my day was pretty much over.

With an opportunity to see the silver lining on a very, very dark cloud, we were delayed from returning to our families (which totally sucked) I was able to make another trip down to the river with a much more amazing experience.  Having already literally snagged a few salmon, I returned to my favorite pastime and went after some trout.

Few things are more serene than a fly fisherman executing his craft.

Few things are more serene than a fly fisherman executing his craft.

It started out a little rough losing the first few through poor execution on my part.  Thanks to a couple of crucial tips from my fishing partners, I was able to start landing some gorgeous rainbow trout and dolly vardens.  I felt like a little kid reeling in the biggest fish that I have ever caught in my life.  There are few things more beautiful than a stunningly colored rainbow trout in the midst of a the majestically forested Alaskan mountains.

In recent months I have come to realize how much more important pursuing my dreams and having experiences is when compared with having things or other status.  That is why this trip to Alaska will always be one of my fondest memories.  I don’t know that I have ever been more honest than right now when I say I was living the dream.

How Do You Talk To Kids About Hard Things?

Posted on October 2, 2015 I Written By

Crash Uncle is father to three amazing kids, a C-130 Navigator in the USAF, and Crash Dad's favorite brother.

You may see this picture of the squadron patch on Facebook to honor those who lost their lives today.  To those we lost, a toast...

This is a picture of the patch from the squadron that lost 6 of their own today with the black stripe in memorial.

I really do mean that as a question because I don’t know the answer.

In case you were wondering what brought on this somber topic, let me tell you.  I have no idea how much coverage it is getting in the states right now, but a C-130J crashed in Afghanistan this morning near the city of Jalalabad.  Many of the details are unclear at this time but it seems pretty clear from the reports that the entire crew of 6 lost their lives in the crash.

Now this would make me pause no matter what as every life that is lost in the defense of our country is special to me, but this one really strikes a lot closer to home for a number of reasons.  The most obvious reason is that I fly on the C-130, though an older model, and it is likely that I either know some of the crew, or at least have close friends that do.  The second reason is that I have been to the place where this happened multiple times while I was deployed.

Maybe the biggest reason this is striking me so hard is that this was the first time I have had to explain something like this to my kids, and I have no idea how to do it.  My wife actually told them about it before I got home, and who really knows how much they understand, but it is just something that I am finding challenging to think about, let alone explain to my kids.  They know that I fly airplanes and even that it is the C-130, which makes me super proud that they know what it is, and they even understand that it can be dangerous if I’m not careful.

When I deployed we were very clear with them about how daddy need to go away from home for a little while to try and help people who needed it.  It was hard on them but they were pretty tough most of the time.  Even with all of that, how do you explain to them that some other kids will never see their daddy again because of an accident doing the same job that you do every day?

Just to be clear I think it is important to talk about things like this because it is reality.  The nature of my work is a dangerous one, and there are inherent risks.  We do an amazing job mitigating those risks, but tragedies like this still happen.  If we allow our kids to live in a bubble where they think everything is flowers and fairies then I don’t think they will be able to deal with the tragedies that ultimately do happen.  On the other hand, we also don’t want to scare them to the point that they never want to take risks or make mistakes because then we are only selling them short of their full potential.

The more I think about this I don’t think there really is a good answer because every kid and every situation is different.  But what I do think is important is to talk to our kids when tragedies happen so that they aren’t just left to wonder.  It is not easy to deal with tragedy, but learning to cope is an essential life skill that can easily get overlooked if we don’t do our jobs as parents.

In closing I would ask you to take a moment to think about those who lost their lives today in defense of our freedoms.  If you are a religious person I am sure their families can use all of the prayers you can spare.  If you aren’t, take an extra moment to hug your family today because your ability to do so is exactly why so many of us do what we do.

To those we lost, a toast…