Before I get into day two of my Air Force trip I thought I'd mention that the painting above was done for Art 180's Change for a Ten. It's a celebration and benefit for Art 180's Tenth Anniversary. Definitely a good cause.
Now back to the trip. Many times the adventure lies in the journey. This can certainly be said when you pack five sobering artist into a Dodge caravan at 7:30 in the morning. While in the lobby we discussed who found the most ticks the previous night from our time at the obstacle course. I think three was the max. We headed to Walmart to pick up a few nic nacks. As to be expected we arrived at the base late again but this time it wasn't due to making any wrong turns.
We went back to the USAF Expeditionary Center to recap on what Jim and Bill missed the previous day. It gave us a chance to take photos of anything that we missed the previous day.
From the Expeditionary Center we went to the shooting range (live ammo). We only needed to be told once that this was live ammo and to place yourself anywhere except in front of the line. Can do. Maybe I'm picky but I've got this slight hang up about being shot (don't want to be shot, don't need to be shot). The instructor in the tower would yell out "Gun" the soldiers would turn to the targets and fire like...well a lot of guns. I was allowed to get within a couple of feet of the soldiers while they were shooting. A couple of times shells flew right past my head. My sketches were much better than the previous day since the soldiers weren't running all over the field I had a little longer to capture them. At one point I thought it started to rain but I realized that it was my own sweat dripping on the sketchbook. The sun that day was "hotter than a Times Square Rolex."
Again, TSgt. Sturkol took us for a great lunch. After one helping (a really big helping) at the Chinese buffet we went to the Dollar Tree next door. Tatiana sold us on going because "Every thing's a dollar!" We found some great deals and were off to see the convoy training exercises.
The convoy training exercise was suppose to simulate if the convoy was attacked while en route. We got there a little early and saw the instructors setting up the booby trap. The soldiers would have no idea where the trap was set up so we had to make sure that we were out of sight. This would have been easy for me if I weren't wearing my bright red "Ain't no party like a Scranton party" t-shirt but I was able to find a really big tree to duck behind. Since the convoy was running a little late I decided to call my good friend, and fellow illustrator, David. We were in mid conversation when I saw the convoy coming and had to cut the call short.
BOOM! A big baby powder bomb went off and "the enemy" started firing. All of the artists moved in to catch as much of the action as possible. Guns a blazin', green smoke, shattering booms and a convoy springing into action. This team was pretty good. They moved the injured maintained cover and got out of there. The instructors/the enemy in this exercise went the extra mile as I spotted one instructor shooting in a tree about twenty feet up.
Our time until 4:30pm was spent at the obstacle course. The obstacle course was the same as yesterday but included the canine unit. Not only were the soldiers responsible for moving the injured sergeant but the dogs as well. I didn't even know that the Air Force had a canine unit. These dogs were far more obedient than my dog. They would stay still while the soldiers applied first aid to them. One of the soldiers in charge of the canine unit inquired as to who we were. After explaining that we'd be creating paintings based on our trip he urged us to do something with the dogs because "no one ever does anything about the dogs."
This would end our "official" day but there was much more to come as we were headed to Princeton, per TSgt. Sturkol's suggestion for good places to eat. This is where all of those crazy stories you hear about five artists in a caravan in New Jersey start.
More to come after a word from our sponsors...
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Fredericksburg Show opening reception July 5th from 6 to 8:30pm
Show dates: June 30-July 26
813 Sophia Street, Fredericksburg, VA 22401