Hey Hank, great update! You're starting to see how a beard behaves as it gets a bit of length. It's so good to hear you say it feels like progress, because it is for sure. This is really what this board is all about, encouraging guys to give growing a beard a try, and to help them keep going until they can see their full potential.
You say there's a bit of a white/gray patch starting, but I can't see it in your photos. Gray is okay, but you should be able to enjoy your youthful dark color for a long time to come.
You're going to have a real trophy of a beard in a few more weeks, so I, too, am glad you decided to continue down this path. I said it before, and I'll say it again, I'm super envious of those big, strong sideburns of yours. You have great bearding genes, so enjoy it to the fullest. Onward!