Homer's Travels: September 2009

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Travels, Day 18, On The Way To Guatemala

Mom's travelogue continues:
Date: July 6, 1972
Place: Plaza Motel
"Today we drove out to Bob M. farm. He was there alone. Betty was in the city. He drove us to a farm on shore of Pacific Ocean that is reported to be for sale. No house. Only a sand dune between ocean and headquarters.
We ate lunch with Bob - pork, cucumbers, mashed potatoes, black beans + lettuce w/hot dressing - lots of lemonade. He has a man cook - very good. Hot on farm - so dusty. They need rain. Cotton is about up 3 inches."
When I started this series, I was asked why we went to Guatemala. This entry deals with the reason. My dad was the only one of three brothers who did not farm. Before the move my parents ran a resort on the Lake of the Ozarks in Missouri. At my Uncles' suggestion, my parents decided to go to Guatemala to farm. Bob M. was a friend of the family and I believe he was instrumental in convincing my Uncles and my dad about the opportunities that existed back then in Guatemala.

While most of my family - Grandparents, Uncles - were farmers, I never was interested in that stuff. I think it was a little too physically demanding for me. Farming takes a very special type of person. I think my lack of interest in the family farm contributed to the gulf that opened between me and my dad.

Monday, September 28, 2009

What Makes A Great Weekend? Saturated Fat!

This weekend was really delightful. It was highlighted with the visit of the Matron of Honor (MoH) and Best Man (BM). They drove down on Friday to get away from stuff at home - notably all the construction noise at their condo. It's nice to be the pressure release valve every once and a while.

The highlight of their visit was a trip back to
Brownville, NE to attend the biannual "World's Almost Largest Flea Market" and "Animal Swap." We were accompanied by my Mom, garage sale and flea market enthusiast. The flea market was pretty impressive. Several blocks of vendors selling old stuff, rusty stuff, junky stuff, and all manners of cool stuff. We really didn't see any of the animal swap - disappointing. Maybe next time.

The day was a little drizzly at the start which kept the crowds down a bit but most of the vendors, probably over 200, were open for business. Since we wanted to look at it all we started with an early lunch at the Lyceum Bookstore and Cafe. I had a BBQ beef sandwich with chips. This is where it started. 49% of my daily allowance of saturated fat. It was yummy.

With our bodies refueled, we walked through the vendors and ended up buying some cool stuff for the house including an old ring of barn keys, an old rusty egg basket, a deep red
mum to set in the rusty egg basket, and a framed set of old yard sticks. This last item is the neatest. It sounds, and is, a little odd. 10 Yardsticks stacked and framed like a picture. It will probably get hung up in our mildly eclectic living room.

After we got all shopped out, we headed over to the Dredge Meriweather Lewis just to find it closed. That's too bad since I think the BM would have liked the tour.

We headed out of town ... slowly. The bridge over the Missouri is being restored and it was down to one lane. As we crawled over the high bridge we didn't see any cars on the road ahead but we still moved forward. It was like some space-time anomaly. We couldn't figure out how we were moving ahead when there were no cars moving on the road ahead of us. We finally decided that a truck going into town must have jumped the light and had started up the bridge, stopped, then backed back down. Of course for the truck to back up the cars behind it had to back up as well so it took us a while to squeeze by the truck. I was a little disappointed that there wasn't some wormhole or time vortex involved.

We stopped at a truck stop for some snacks. Jumbo Milky Way bar. 61% of my daily allowance of saturated fat.

The evening was reserved for Notre Dame football. Dinner was steaks on the grill, mashed potatoes, and peas. 59% of my daily allowance of saturated fat.

The last straw for my diet was a trip to Dairy Queen. I had a medium Chocolate Extreme Blizzard. 130% of my daily allowance of saturated fat.

So for Saturday, I ended up with these numbers (percentages of my daily allowances):

Saturated Fat: 316%

Cholesterol: 168%
Calories: 146%

I'm surprised I survived. Was I more careful on Sunday you ask? Burger Lust with the brother in law, TE, and family. 110% daily allowance of saturated fat. 129% for the entire day. I did stay away from chocolate and ice cream so I consider it a success.

The weekend was just right. It was one of those weekends where you smile contentedly when you reflect back upon it. The BM and MoH can visit any time. They're a great excuse to eat crap, talk politics, and to have a great time with great company. They just can't come right before my next blood test.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Travels, Day 17, On The Way To Guatemala

Mom's log continues:
Date:  July 5, 1972
Place:  Plaza Motel
"[Dad + Brother] took Bike to Kawasaki place.  $5.00 for complete service check.  We went to Grocery store + market.  Got fruit + potatoes.  After dinner Linda + Sharon took us around the city to look at houses.  We saw one that was terribly dirty.  Another nice one but sort of crampy feeling.  We saw the one yesterday again.  Looked the nicest.  Also saw a 2 bedroom apartment - Nice but small.
Sharon is very nice - from Des Moines, Iowa.  She + [Aunt] write to each other."
House hunting is a difficult job.  There are so many things to consider when searching for the perfect house.  Now, imagine looking for a house in a foreign country and not knowing the language.  I have renewed respect for my parents.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Book: Davis Haward Bain's "The Old Iron Road"

David Haward Bain's "The Old Iron Road: An Epic of Rails, Roads, and the Urge to Go West" was recommended to me by my blog-friend GeekHiker. The book follows the author's family vacation tracing several trails (Mormon, California, Oregon, Pony Express, Stagecoach), the Lincoln Highway, and the first intercontinental railroad. The story begins near Kansas City before going through Omaha-Council Bluffs and towards the west ending in San Francisco.

In the beginning the book piqued my interest mainly because of the my familiarity with the Omaha-Council Bluffs area. It's always fun to read about places you've been, especially if they are offbeat and not well known. In Council Bluffs they eat at Duncan's Cafe, the same place
we had lunch with the "J" a few months ago. When they drive through Grand Island they eat at the Coney Island Cafe, a place we tried to eat at and failed when we found it closed.

As they drive west they pass places we have visited in the last few months with the "J" and on Vacation:
Red Cloud, Chimney Rock, Scott's Bluff. Nice to be able to see what he was writing about in my mind's eye.

As I dug deeper into the book I started to see his style. Early in the book he mentions other travelogue writers including
Colin Thubron whom I've read. Thubron's book was a travelogue punctuated with history. Bain's style is the opposite really: A book of history punctuated with travel narratives. Not a history book mind you but a book of histories, a book of historical stories and anecdotes mixed together in a history geek's stew.

Bain is a history geek through and through. You can tell in his writing. History excites and thrills him. He is not only a History Geek but he is a member of that sub-genre: the Railroad Geek. I like history to a certain extent, I even like railroads on occasion, but I am not a history or railroad geek. I was very interested in the history of Thubron's book but Bain's book was history overload. I know some of you may think that you can never have enough history. I once thought that but this book changed my mind.

Maybe it's not the history overload. There is another possibility. I may be biased against United States history. Thubron's book was the history of China, South Asia, and the Middle East. I find this more exotic than the Cowboys, Indians, Pioneers, and Railroads history that is the meat of this book. When it comes to history, I seem to have a more exotic taste.

Despite it not being exactly to my liking, I did have moments of pleasure reading this book and I don't regret reading it. The GodSon bought this book while in Wall, SD. He's a history teacher and I believe he will appreciate the book more than I did.

Recommended ... if you are a U.S. history Geek.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Travels, Day 16, On The Way To Guatemala

Mom continues:
Date: July 4, 1972
Place: Guatemala City, Guat.
"Moved trailer to Plaza Motel in city. [Dad + Brother] went to see Francisco I. - man who works for bank of America.
We went to look at a house and some used furniture. Was a pretty house: big 4 bedrooms 2 baths, big yard.
[Dad + Brother] rode motorcycle around block. Isn't running right.
We stopped to see Linda I."
This was the first day we actually were in Guatemala City. The trailer was parked in the hotel parking lot not far from the swimming pool. This was probably more important for me than the fact we were in a foreign country. I grew up swimming and, back then, swimming was very important to me.

Riding motorcycles was important for my brother. That was never as important for me but I do remember enjoying a ride or two when I was a teenager. As an adult, I have no interest in them. If he were alive today, I'm sure my brother would still have a motorcycle or two in his garage.

I was pretty oblivious of the whole house hunting thing. That's understandable as I was so young.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Don't Graffiti My Trail, Bro

I don't care if you love or hate President Obama. It's a free country. What I do care about is all the political graffiti splattered along the public bike trails in Omaha. I ride my bike in part for exercise and in part to get away from the world for a couple hours. That's hard to do when the benches, signs, and the trail itself proclaim that "Obama is a nut (acorn)" and "Obama is a joker" not to mention the ones that can't be repeated in a family blog.

Do us all a favor. If you hate him or love him, it really doesn't matter, paint your slogans and propaganda on your front door. Paint them on your house walls. Hell, paint them in big, florescent letters on your roof. Just keep them off our public bike trails.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Travels, Day 15, On The Way To Guatemala

Mom's travelogue continues:
Date: July 3, 1972
Place: Guatemala City, Guat.
"We arrived at the border at noon - stopped at Guatemala Consulate for our visas the to border for car permit. We were delayed at the border while they made us unpack everything in the car. They also looked the trailer over thoroughly. Then we had to prove to them we had $200.00 with us. They inspected all baggage & chests. After passing the border we had a flat tire on the trailer which delayed us some more.
It rained a shower on us. We arrived at 'Monkey River Ranch Trailer Park' about 7:30. Everything is so green + flowers are beautiful. Milton S. runs the trailer park - born in U.S. [Dad + Uncle] stayed here a few weeks."
My third country in a week and my second new country. Our crossing into Guatemala was a bumpy one. Again, I have no recollection of any of it except for where we ended up. You would think all the hullabaloo at the border crossing would have left some memory, but alas, no.

What I do remember makes sense since I was a little boy. We ended this day at the "Monkey River Ranch Trailer Park." The owner had a pet spider monkey. It was attached to a long chain and the chain was attached to a tree. I was fascinated by it. I watched it jump around and swing by its tail. I think I even fed it some fruit. It may have been the first monkey I'd ever seen and the memory of it stuck in my mind. I thought we'd stayed here for a few days but actually we were here only for a night. I guess it was a few days in monkey-child time.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Travels, Day 14, On The Way To Guatemala

Mom Continues:
Date: July 2, 1972
Place: Road-side in Mexico
"Not much to tell today - We drove all day till 7:00 we then ate supper and drove more. We parked beside the road and didn't spend a very pleasant night - trucks roared past all night as well as a few mosquitos."
I can't add a map as I don't know exactly where we were. Somewhere in Mexico four or five hours from the Mexico-Guatemala border. We were on the home stretch. A few more days and we would be in Guatemala City.

I find it interesting that we would have no issues with stopping along the road in Mexico. I never realized my parents were that adventuresome. If it were me, would I do what they did? I'm not the boldest person in the world. I often take the safe way. Was Mexico safer in 1972 than it is today? Is it really that risky? All I know is our 21st century world doesn't feel as safe as it was back in 1972.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Bee Is For Bicycle

What are the odds. I was enjoying a great bike ride along the Keystone, West Papio, Halleck Park, and Walnut Creek trails. I was heading back home and *SMACK* something hits me in the forehead. I reach up and brush at the spot and came back with a bee on my hand (I was wearing bike gloves). I waved my hand around and felt around the left side of my forehead. The area stung a bit. I must of looked a little crazy as a lady walking her kids and dogs nearby looked at me a little funny.

When I got home there was a nice red blotch on my forehead. I thought the bee might have stung me but, while the stinging feeling is still there, the red blotch had faded away and there is no swelling. I guess with my speed (10 MPH) combined with the speed of the bee resulted in a hard smack to my head. I doubt now that the bee had enough of its senses to sting me. I was lucky.

Besides the bee incident, I had a pretty good bike ride. My goal was the Walnut Creek area. The creek is dammed up, part of the area flood control system, making a small lake. The Walnut Creek trail is a three mile loop around the lake and through the tall grass meadows in the area. I'm going to have to drive back and walk around this scenic trail. It begged for my camera which was sitting on the kitchen table. There are also six geocaches in the area that need to be discovered.

I did manage to find three geocaches along the 26.55 mile round trip ride. I found "
Jupiter's Acorn", a standard ammo can cache; "Pole Vault", a tube shaped container hidden under a pole cap on a bridge; and "Welcome To LaVista", a micro, log only cache. I'm not sure I like to geocache on a bike. I worry about dropping the GPS and, if the cache is off the trail, I worry about someone coming along and swiping my bike.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Wasting Away For Good Numbers

Last May I had a blood test that wasn't so good. High cholesterol, high triglycerides, high blood glucose. After I returned from vacation I put myself on a diet.

I kept track of my food intake using a free program called Cron-O-Meter. I didn't really starve myself. I just watched my fats and carbs. Lots of chicken and pork. Goodbye beef and ice cream. Candy, I hardly knew you. Cakes, cookies, sayonara. This diet has resulted in me losing about ten pounds which is a little disconcerting as I thought I didn't need to lose weight, just change where my calories were coming from. I've had to cinch my belt a little tighter to keep my pants up. Then again, several sites on the intertubes say that my new lower weight is in the 'normal' range.

The diet has payed off. I received my latest test results from the Doctor today and all my numbers, all of them except HDL, are in the normal range. As usual my HDL, good cholesterol, is low. Now the struggle is to maintain my weight and not lose any more.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Travels, Day 13, On The Way To Guatemala

Mom continues her travelogue:
Date: 7-1-72
Place: Mex City, Mex - same as yesterday
"We toured Mexico City today. Visited University of Mexico which is beautiful - supposed to be a million students. We visited Museum of Anthropology. A hugh place but interesting. We visited Mexican Markets, National Museum + Maximillion's Castle. We visited parks + then home to the trailer.
Everyone is tired tonight - Walked miles it seemed. Got lost coming back to trailer park."

Mexico City is an an interesting city full of history with a European feel (I've never been to Europe but the Wife thinks it has the right feel and she's been there many times). I remember the murals at the University of Mexico and the Museum of Anthropology. It was one of the last places we went in the city and I remember being tired ... very tired. I don't think I appreciated it as much as I should have.

The Wife and I went back to Mexico City in 2003. We went to many of the places I'd been to thirty-one years earlier. I'm sure things had changed a bit. The museum didn't feel the same at all. The 2003 museum felt smaller than the one I went to. Of course, I was smaller in 1972 so everything felt bigger then. I also appreciated the city more even if I was not feeling well while I was there.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Travels, Day 12, On The Way To Guatemala

Mom continues:
Date: 6-30-72
Place: Mexico City, Mexico - Guadalupe Del Lago Trailer Park
"Would you believe we got stuck in a hailstorm on a mountain top in Mexico. It was hailing + raining so bad [Dad] stopped on a mountain curve (we were at 9,000 ft). When the hail stopped we started going and the tires just spun. We sat there for awhile and the hail melted + we were on our way.
We drove through beautiful mountain country most of the day.
Tonight we parked beside a Kansas man who says he stayed at Rock Village resort for years. As I said - small world! Lions Club convention is being held here now."

Click here for a larger map.

This sounds like an eventful day. Too bad I don't remember it. Did I sleep through it all? Was I not impressed by hail and rain up in the Mexican mountains? I have no idea. Strange I can remember a tiny little thermometer but I can't remember the awesome forces of nature.

Rock Village is a resort not far from the one my parents used to own. When we left Missouri, I left my two turtles and their little bowl with the awesome fake palm tree (I think their names were Jack and Charles) with the Rock Village owner's kids. I also got some cool quartz crystals from those guys but I can't remember what I traded them for. Maybe stickers. When I was a kid stickers were like gold. I still have some packed away somewhere.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

August Boston.com Top 50 Finalist

I managed to get another picture into the top fifty in the Boston.com photography contest. This August's theme was Architecture. I submitted a picture of the Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge. Here's my submission:

If you like it, please take time to vote for it. You can vote HERE. Voting ends Tomorrow at 4PM eastern. They only gave us 24 hours to vote.

September is going to be a tough contest month for me. The theme is "Jobs". I'm uncomfortable taking pictures of people. I always feel like I'm intruding on someone's privacy.

Monday, September 07, 2009

The Quest For Cambria: Brownville, Nebraska

Since we moved back to the Midwest just over fourteen months ago, I have been searching for a replacement for the town of Cambria, CA. You may remember that the quest started last year with a trip to Walnut, IA. While Walnut, an antique-centric little town, holds promise, it doesn't have the artist colony feel that I was looking for. On Sunday we went to another possible Cambria replacement, Brownville, NE.

Brownville is a small, quaint little town located an hour and a half south of Omaha along the bank of the Missouri River. The town, population 150-200 souls, looks just like it did at its founding in 1854. We pulled onto mainstreet and found what I believe is the only restaurant in town, the Lyceum Bookstore & Cafe. Fortunately for this tiny town, the food is pretty good.

After lunch we walked around the town exploring the bookstores, antique stores, and art galleries. The main business of Brownville seems to be used bookstores. There are five listed on the town's web site. The most interesting one, and the only one we went in to, is the Antiquarium & Bill Farmer Gallery. Located in an old brick school building, the kind I went to school in back in the 60s, the placed in packed with room after room of dusty books, Squeezed in all the corners, crevasses, and recesses are all types of artwork. The place is a mess. It looks like most of the junk from the school days is still in there with the books and artwork. It's like everyone's junk drawer expanded into a whole building. When we came in, the owner, I presume it was Bill Farmer, was leaning back in his chair snoring. While we didn't buy anything, I could have browsed through the books, art, and junk all day.

We made our way back to the car stopping at the Wheel Museum on the way. The Wheel museum was full of even more interesting junk such as a covered wagon, several other types of horse drawn carriages, and a cannon (A sign described it as "made in 1846, bought by the town in 1862 for protection from the slave state of Missouri ..."). It was an interesting little display of eclectic antiques punctuated by the dead bird that appeared to have been lying on the floor for quite awhile.

We drove south looking for our next stop, the Spirit of Brownville riverboat. We found it moored next to the River Inn Resort. We were planning to take the riverboat out on a river cruise. We were a little early so we drove back to the nearby Meriwether Lewis dredge. The dredge, built in 1931, helped dredge a navigable channel up the Missouri. We paid our three dollars apiece for our guided tour. The volunteer, an 88 year old old fart, was extremely knowledgeable, extremely witty, full of stories, and not very tolerant of stupid questions as the other couple who went on the tour with us found out. After receiving his first stupid question, he was pretty relentless in making fun of the couple. In a gentle but obvious way he told them they were as stupid as their questions. I just kept my mouth shut except when I explained something to the couple. I liked the guy. If you had an afternoon, he could probably talk your arm off and then some, and it would all be fascinating.

We ended our day in Brownville with a one hour cruise in a simulated paddle boat down the Missouri River. The ride was slow
and peaceful. I can't say the river is a pretty one. They don't call it the Muddy Mo for nothing. The excursion was capped by the Brownville bridge on the north end and the Cooper Nuclear Power Plant at the other.

Brownville isn't quite Cambria. It's a little too small but it is definitely trying. There is an active art movement with several galleries. What's missing for us is the eclectic stores that made Cambria the destination. We will be going back when more stuff is open (is was labor day weekend and some places were closed) and there are several historic homes that are waiting for us to tour. While we walked through the town we were making a long list of people we will have to bring here. We'll probably go back in a couple weeks to attend the big two day flea market on the 26th of September.

Brownville, besides being a nice place to visit, has a personal interest for me- it is the southern end of the Steamboat Trace (I thought it was the northern end but I was set straight on this trip - I was all bass ackwards). The Steamboat Trace, a trail that follows an old railroad right-of-way, goes twenty-one miles north, ending near Nebraska City. Next spring I intend to walk this trail, starting in Nebraska City, spending the night in Brownville, and returning to Nebraska City the next day. This is going to be a big test for me. My longest hike so far has been just over 15 miles. I will be attempting to do two 21 mile hikes back to back. I also intend to do this with a light pack on my back, the first time I've ever done this. I'd been concerned about how far I would have to walk to find a hotel once I reached the end of the trail (I'm not a camper, GeekHiker). Adding more miles to a 21 mile hike didn't sound too appealing. This Sunday trip solved that problem as the trace goes right by the River Inn Resort. This is perfect. Walk 21 miles, eat dinner on the Spirit of Brownville on one of their dinner cruises, and fall asleep to the sound of the flowing Missouri River. The River Inn Resort even includes a full breakfast with your room.

UPDATE: Forgot the link to the pictures. The Pictures are here.

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Travels, Day 11, On The Way To Guatemala

Mom continues her log:
Date: 6-29-72
Place: Guadalajara, Mexico
"We drove most of the day. Uneventful. The road was bad since they were repairing all the bridges along the way. We didn't make good time at all. We intended driving farther tonight but we got lost on a detour through town + finally wound up here - Del Sol Trailer Park - new."

A larger map can be seen here.

Guadalajara. I've been to Guadalajara?!? I guess I've been in more of Mexico than I thought.

This appears to be an uneventful day with uneventful memories. Not all of our days can be memorable.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Our View ... In 58 Seconds

Our house has something that I would never expect to find in Nebraska - a view. To me Nebraska is synonymous with flat and often boring rolling hills. In the year or so since we moved, I have discovered that Nebraska has some awesome scenery that, at times, ranks up there with the mountains and the oceans. Heck, the Sand Hills in western Nebraska are like green undulating ocean waves frozen in time. The view off our deck, a view of farm fields and distant forested hills still amazes me. Some mornings the fog settles in the Papio Creek bottom, the trees and power poles raising above the mist.

A year ago I decided to start a photography project. Every day I would take a picture off our deck. I started taking pictures two hours before sunset, adjusting the picture taking time as the sunset time shifted, but, for the last few months, I just started to take the pictures at 5:00PM no matter when sunset was. In other words, I became a little lazy. I don't think it diminishes the results. Earlier this week I completed the project having taken pictures for one year.

I used Picasa (now replaced by Google Photos) to create a movie of the pictures. The video, which runs for about 58 seconds at six frames per second, consists of 336 pictures. I don't have 365 pictures because of vacations and weekends out of town, activities in the late afternoon preventing picture taking, and, frankly, forgetting to take the daily picture. Never the less, I did manage to take pictures 92% of the time. I set the camera on the deck railing to steady the camera but, as you'll see, the camera is never aligned the same way. My umbrella got caught in a couple pictures when it was raining. I think these quirks give it character.

The view changes with the seasons. Leaves come and go. Last winter was a little bereft of snow - a disappointment especially after I got snow shoes for Christmas. The farmer who had planted corn last year planted soy beans this year. The dead tree on the left of of the view lost half of itself during a wind storm. The world changes and the view lives on.

The video and the pictures that it's made off doesn't really do justice to our view but it should give you some idea of what we see every afternoon.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Travels, Day 10, On The Way To Guatemala

Mom's travelogue continues:
Date: 6-28-72
Place: Mazatlan, Mexico
"We drove 12 hours today - seemed a long ride. While we ate lunch in the trailer on the roadside, [Dad] put a thermometer outside and it registered 138°. [Brother] said 'How can those guys stand the heat?' when he saw Mexican men shoveling gravel on the road sides. Tonight we are at the Pacific Ocean. The sound of the surf is real clear - give me the ocean any day rather than mountains. {Homer-Dog, Dad] + I waded in the surf. [Brother] fell asleep out in lawn chair by trailer. Was 11:30 before we got to bed. We haven't been getting up very early but did this morning."

Click here for a larger map.

I remember that thermometer. A little, 1 inch square plastic thing with a magnet so you could stick it to your dash. At least that's what I remember. For some reason, once again, I thought this was done on another trip somewhere in the U.S. My mind doesn't associate it with Mexico.

I don't remember Mazatlan or seeing the Pacific ocean for the first time. I'm not too surprised as I'd already seen an ocean before (the Atlantic ocean during one of our two Florida vacations). The second time is rarely as memorable as the first. Even so, when I read this entry, I have flashes of ocean waves splashing my legs. I may remember more than I think.

My preference is for the mountains. This could be because I lived near an ocean for almost 21 years. Maybe it's because I worked on the ocean for several of those years. Maybe the novelty ran its course. Then again, it took almost ten years for me to actually get in the ocean in California. Yep, I lived in California ten years before I actually got in - at the urging of the Wife if I recall correctly. For the first eight years of my life, I lived in the water - at least when it was warm enough to get in the lake. Somewhere between eight years old and adulthood the allure of water dried up ... so to speak. I suppose that will become a whole different post some day.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Offutt Air Show 2009

I've been to a couple of air shows in my life and on Saturday I went to number three. My first was the Naval Base Ventura County (NBVC) air show and my second was the Red Bull Air Races in San Diego. I always go in thinking it will be meh! and it turns out to be be pretty good. Offutt's air show didn't disappoint.

The Offutt show was very similar to the NBVC show. Military aircraft - this time of the Air Force variety instead of the Navy kind - and civilian aerobatics. It was so similar to the NBVC one that I bet they use the same military standard operating procedures manual. Similar food. Similar souvenirs. Similar static displays. Similarly good.

The star attraction this year were the Blue Angels. Kind of ironic that we saw the Air Force's Thunderbirds at a Navy air show and the Navy's Blue Angels at an Air Force air show. They were pretty impressive.

Along with the Blue Angels there were the heritage flights where airplanes of different eras fly together. Offutt had two such flights - Combat air craft and Cargo air craft. Looking Glass, the flying command center stationed at Offutt, did a few flybys. The Army, not to be left out, demonstrated their parachuting prowess with the Golden Knights.

I ended up with almost 300 pictures. A small sample of the good ones can be found here.

There was one more similarity with the NBVC show. Offutt was smart to have various satellite parking lots with shuttle buses to take people to the base. The issue was at the end of the day when everyone flooded to the bus pickup to go back to their cars. Like the Navy, the Air Force knows nothing about traffic control. A serpentine line started forming and stretched for quite a ways. Every one was playing nice until two buses pulled up at the same time. When the second bus opened its doors, inconsiderate jerks, displaying terrible examples for their children, jumped out of line and ran to the second bus. Before you know it people in the original line were booing the people in the newly formed dumbass line. After complaining to some airmen, who had appeared too late to be of any good, we were shocked when the airmen told people to form two lines. A near riot broke out before the crowd gave in to the inevitable. People who had been in line for less than thirty minutes ended up on the bus before people who had been in line for almost two hours. Not fair.

To top it off, I burned my face and thighs to a crisp. Despite this and the lack of sensible crowd control, it was a very good air show. The Wife and I have decided though, unless there is something spectacular, this will be our last air show for awhile.