Summer break is nearly over but we were able to squeeze in an impromptu trip to Cannon Range, in Fort Leonard Wood, MO. This place is special because it is where Heath has some of his most favorite memories from his childhood in the mid-1980's. Cannon Range is an aerial gunning and bombing range that is open to the public. After some coordination to ensure there would be missions flying that day we gathered the families and traveled down there. Not much has changed in the thirty years since Heath lived down there when his dad was the Commander of the Range. There are new targets and a more automated way of measuring the accuracy but the the experience is just as thrilling as it was growing-up. After an introduction to the Range staff and a thorough pre-brief we donned our protective glasses, climbed the tower, and awaited the arrival of the A-10's from Whiteman AFB. There were two missions of two A-10 that practiced dropping bombs from 7000 feet, shooting rockets from a high altitude as well, then the more exciting close strafing runs just above the treetops. After they completed their training they gave a nice fly-by on their way back to Whitman AFB.
After the Range we went to see the Gasconade river near where Heath lived. Here we caught a frog and baby snake, we skipped rocks, splashed the cousins, walked across to the other side, hurt our feet on the rocks, watched the fish, and enjoyed being in nature. I didn't think anything else that day would have been able to top the excitement of the Range, but everyone left with great memories from the fun we had at the river.
On the way home we stopped in St. James, Missouri at Ruby's, Grampa's favorite ice cream stop that was around back in the 80's. The ice cream was delicious and was a great treat. It was the perfect way to finish off the day being able to talk about what we just saw and explain the feelings we felt. We were able to talk about childhood memories and what the highlights of the trip had been. Before we got home we were already planning the next trip back for the others that weren't able to make it this time.