Philmont – Arrival

Philmont Scount Ranch - Arrival
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Philmont – Arrival

So far I have told you a little about Philmont and about how I prepared the other two adults for my medical conditions. This week I will tell you about getting to New Mexico and the first few days in New Mexico.

We had a very early 6 a.m. flight from Baltimore so the crew decided to drive to BWI Airport and spend the night to ensure we didn’t miss our flight. We stayed at the Holiday Inn Express and had fun at Dave and Busters before hanging out in the hotel pool most of the evening. It was early to bed and up at 4 a.m. so we could make our flight. For many of the boys, this was also their first time on a plane, well enough their first time being away from their parents for any length of time.

Arriving
Sandia Peak Tram WayThe crew flew from Washington DC to Albuquerque, New Mexico via Southwest Airlines, which was the first time flying for many of the crew. The trip was rather uneventful as the leaders had been working with the boys for months on what to pack and how to pack. When we arrived in New Mexico, we were met by our tour guide from Blue Sky Adventures who took us to the bus. The tour company’s only function is actually bringing crews to and from Philmont, so they knew exactly what to do, which helped to make the trip less stressful for the adult leaders. The bus took us from the airport to the  Marriott Pyramid Hotel. The boys all room two to a room, with the adults residing with their respective sons. The hotel was not a cheap hotel either, they put us up in a nice multi-story hotel with a pool, which the boys enjoyed. We were actually in Albuquerque for two days to get accustomed to the climate and elevation. That evening we took a little hike to Blake’s Lotta’ Burger, a tasty New Mexico tradition. Then back to the hotel for some downtime by the indoor/outdoor pool.

The next morning after a hot, all-you-can-eat, full breakfast buffet at the hotel, which included waffles, eggs, sausage, bacon, Danish, cereal, juice, and fresh fruit, we boarded the tour bus for a trip to Sandia Peak. There we took the Sandia Peak Tramway which took us 2.7 miles up the Sandia Mountains. At the summit of Sandia Peak, we hiked about a mile along the mountain ridge to the “Stone Hut” built in the 1930s by the Civilian Conservation Corps. This was a fantastic hike with unparalleled vistas of the Rio Grande Valley and it provided a great way to quickly acclimate to the effects of higher elevations. We spent several hours up there allowing the boys to get further accustomed to the elevation change.

Me @ Los Alamos County Rec area We also spent several hours touring Bandelier National Monument, Bandelier National Monument is a 33,677-acre National Monument near Los Alamos in Sandoval and Los Alamos counties, New Mexico. The monument preserves the homes and territory of the Ancestral Puebloans of a later era in the Southwest. Most of the Pueblo structures date to two eras, dating between 1150 and 1600 AD.

Then it was dinner at Furr’s Fresh Buffet, which was a huge “all you can eat” buffet with soft-serve ice cream and all the toppings!

Back at the hotel, it was time for some more downtime at the hotel pool, it was time to get serious as in the morning it was off to Philmont.

In the morning after another huge breakfast, it was up early and muster in the open foyer so we can load up on the bus. There were three buses leaving in the morning taking crews to Philmont. It was a long three-plus hour trip to the Scout Ranch and as we turned the corner and headed down a long back road you could see the “Tooth of Time”. The Tooth rises prominently from the valley floor, some 2,500 feet (760 m) below, creating a sheer vertical face unable to support substantial plant life. Both its pinkish-gray color and its unusual shape make it a particularly notable geological landmark. The sight of the tooth in Time peaked the attention of all the crews and the bus quickly filled with electricity as the crews knew that it was time to start their real journey.

It wasn’t long before we could see the famed Philmont Scout Ranch sign with all the boots hanging off of it (it is a tradition that some of the hikers hang their dirty worn-out boots over the sign. We arrived at base camp at 10 a.m. and the fun and games ended and it was time to get with the program.

Base camp
Basecamp All Ready To GoBase camp is the starting and ending location for all crews at Philmont. Essentially this is Headquarters for Philmont and it is basically a little town.

We started off at base camp where the crew was assigned tents for the night. The day was spent checking in and going over all the briefings, paperwork, and gear checks and being issued crew gear. We also did final medical reviews, meet out Ranger (Aaron), attended the evening campfire and in our free time, we went to the museum and commissary. The crews will also receive their mailing address so the family can send letters to the crew members which will be delivered to the crews when they are at Staffed camps. This is also where we will pick up the first few days of food, that each crew member will carry with them.

At base camp, everything is pretty much on a schedule and the only free time is in the evening after the campfire. It is then when the boys go shower, the adults head to the leader’s shack, where we all charge our phones, hung out, and talked with all the other adults and once the boys were done, we took showers and then turned in for the night.

In the morning we would pack up all of our gear and wait to leave on our trek.

More next week

Average Joe

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Welcome to the Average Joe Weekly blog. This is basically my place on the web where I can help spread some of the knowledge that I have accumulated over the years. I served 10+ years in the Marine Corps on Active Duty, but that was some 25 years ago.

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By Average Joe

Welcome to the Average Joe Weekly blog. This is basically my place on the web where I can help spread some of the knowledge that I have accumulated over the years. I served 10+ years in the Marine Corps on Active Duty, but that was some 25 years ago.

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