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USAF Museum Makeup Date: Experimental and Presidential Planes (Day 66)

September 21st, 2009 2 comments

So I went back the next day, got there before the doors were open, and was the third one to get his name on the list to take the bus out to the Experimental and Presidential Planes area. It’s a little unfair that you only get to spend an hour out there in that IMHO the experimental part is the most interesting (and essential) part of the museum.

usaf-museum_exteriorI suppose I could have included this with yesterday’s post.

usaf-museum_c47Before my 9:30 tour bus left, I went back and re-considered the museum’s WWII wing, including this C-47 Skytrain.

usaf-museum_me-262An Me-262. First second one of these I’ve ever seen in real life (and one of only three currently on display in the US).

usaf-museum_xb70-l-to-r‘Course there’s one of these in *every* flight museum, so no need to comment I figure.

usaf-museum_x-1bIt’s not the original X-1, but it’s still a pretty unique plane to have around.

usaf-museum_xb70-noseIt’s an XB-70 Valkyrie — sort of the museum’s centerpiece (even though it’s a long ways away from the rest of the table). They only ever built two and the other one crashed during a photo shoot. Here’s a photo of one not crashing.

I overhear a lot of conversations. While looking at the XB-70, I overheard:

  • “Of course, the Soviets had one of these as well.” (No they didn’t — the movie you’re thinking of is Firefox and it starred Clint Eastwood.)
  • “They were also going to build a Concorde, but they never got around to it.” (Yes they did — the plane you’re not thinking of is the Tu-144 “Concordski”.)

Some days I wish I were deaf. Moving on…

usaf-museum_experimentsI’m guessing the forever-entombed XB-70 and the YF-23 share a sort of kinship. Kind of like the one Teddy Kaczynski and Timothy McVeigh had, only without the murderous criminal aspect.

usaf-museum_x-10One of two surviving X-15 space planes. A couple of times these guys went into actual outer space (the plane was dropped from a B-52 at Pima Air Museum, although the B-52 was not at the museum at the time of the dropping). Pretty slick.

usaf-museum_x-15-windowThe cockpit window on the X-15. If you stare at it long enough, it winks at you.

usaf-museum_presidential-planesA couple of Air Force Ones before they were called that.

usaf-museum_presidential-propsAnd the props that, well, propelled them.

usaf-museum_c119And a C-119 like my dad used to fly in the USMCR.

Phew. Posting photos on here often feels like hard work. Slow-ish connection and all. You understand. Glad I went back for the second day and the other hangars, wish I’d have arrived in a more plane-centric mood the day before. And that there hadn’t been all those runners.

If anyone’s thinking of going, I thought it might be useful to assemble a list of the must-see planes there:

  • The B-29 (Bockscar) — It’s not as famous as the Enola Gay, but it’s got its place in history.
  • The Me-262.
  • The B-2 — Still not an airframe you’re used to seeing at eye level.
  • The FA-117 — Ibid.
  • The XB-70 — Worth a visit in its own right.
  • The X-15.
  • The X-1B.

So if you only got, oh, three hours or so, that’s probably the list to attack. IMHO. If you got another couple hours beyond that:

  • The Doolittle’s Raid exhibit.
  • The Vietnam POW stuff.
  • The B-36 — Not a lot of these left and it *was* the first inter-continental nuclear bomber we ever had.
  • I dunno — everything else, I guess.

It’s a good day-long museum, unless *important* running events force you to alter your plans. They made some weird choices at the museum. A lot of the plaques for planes are hard to find, which I haven’t really experienced before. I think they may also have too many airplanes for their current capacity — those hangars feel cramped and I’m guessing this may add to the plaque-finding problem.

And then I was a little baffled as to why they didn’t make a much bigger deal out of the WWII B-17 flights. That’s gotta be the most iconic thing the (Army-) Air Force has ever done, but it felt like a footnote next to Doolittle’s Raid (which was, of course, pretty cool). For that matter, more explanation of the nuclear bombings would’ve been a good inclusion. Maybe they’re just bitter they didn’t get the Enola Gay.

It’s hard to compare flight museums and say where they rank. I’ve been to all the major ones in the US now (Smithsonian, USAF, and maybe Boeing make up the Holy Trinity — feel free to suggest others) and they’re all unique enough. The USAF museum feels a little more biased than the other two — but then, it *is* the Air Force’s museum. I dunno. I think if you combine the stuff on the mall with the stuff at Dulles, the Smithsonian probably wins. But I’m not sure it’s fair to do that. I wish the USAF exhibits had been outside (granted, it’s not December) so you can walk around them more and get a better sense for the plane (the Pima museum is the champ when it comes to that). It’s a shame you can’t get a sense for the XB-70 as a whole due to all the visual and physical “clutter” in the way.

All is well, all is well.

bkd

USAF Museum Attempt #1: Scrubbed Due to Runners (Day 65)

September 21st, 2009 No comments

Eh, it wasn’t scrubbed entirely. I showed up at the general Wright-Patterson Air Force Base area around 10:15 only to find the streets clogged and cops directing traffic due to the air force base marathon that started and finished at the museum. I don’t understand the mentality that compels people to run in marathons, therefore I have little tolerance for having my museum flooded due to one.

Anyway — couldn’t park in the museum parking lot, so was directed to a parking space on the grass, right next to the sign that says not to park on the grass. From there, walked to the museum, which was packed with people wearing too-short shorts and limping slowly. Ugh. When the marathon’s over, you should go home and get off your feet. Stop ruining other people’s museum experiences by manning up for your wife and six-year-old who came to watch you jog.

The worst part, of course, is that due to the marathon the museum canceled all their morning tours of the experimental and presidential wings of the museum, which are sort of the most important parts. As a result, by the time I got through traffic, parked on the grass, waded through throngs, and stumbled onto the tour sign-up desk, the afternoon tours were filled up. As such: scrubbed.

I mean, I still looked through the rest of the museum, but — anyway. Here:

usaf-museum_bocks-carHistory’s second most-famous B-29. It’s a pretty big drop-off to #3.

usaf-museum_mig-17The MiG 17, NATO Codename: Pig Snout. Not really. It was “Fresco”.

usaf-museum_b-47-in-bubbleThe plane in the bubble. It’s a B-47 Hustler reflected in the aft bubble (window?) of a B-36 Peacemaker (six turning, four burning, none pictured here).

usaf-museum_b-2The ol’ B-2 Spirit. The flesh still seems willing.

usaf-museum_missile-gardenGot a bumper crop of missiles coming in this year!

But the runners killed this. I dunno. Maybe it was all the driving the day before and *then* the runners. I appreciated the museum more when I came back on Day 66, so I’ll do a bunch of bullet points and stuff on *that* post instead.

Maybe just one note:

  • It’s hard to photograph planes when they’re all cramped into hangars like this.

Well it is.

bkd

Welcome to Ohio, So much to Discover — State #17

September 21st, 2009 3 comments

The photos are still illegible, but at least we’re back to a prime number.

welcome_ohioPennsylvania will be legible. Promise. But hey, you can just about make out the speed limit!

Good times, overcast skies in Ohio. Stayed in hotels two nights in a row! Seventeen states means 35% of ’em down.

bkd

Categories: northern states Tags: ,

Miller’s Bar: Greatest Hamburger on Earth (So Far) (Day 64)

September 19th, 2009 3 comments

Drove from Chicago out to Dearborn, Mich. to meet with my ol’ mission buddy Jeff and his wife and to take in the #8 hamburger of all time. (I’m not sure why I never take photos of people I meet up with on this trip. And if I started now, it would seem sort of mean toward everyone I didn’t already take photos of.)

Right, so Dearborn has this bridge that I drove under and that I thought looked cool.

dearborn_bridgeBut my real cameras were packed in my backpack and it would’ve been an awkward place to get out of my car.

Then we hit Miller’s Bar. Kind of an odd neighborhood — some beautiful, old, small residential homes (like 20 of them) right behind the bar, but otherwise car dealerships and closed-up restaurants dominated. Ah well.

When we sat down the waitress came to ask what we wanted, at which point Jeff informed her that we hadn’t seen the menus, at which point she seemed a little flustered before answering: we don’t have menus, we only have hamburgers or cheeseburgers and french fries and onion rings. At which point Jeff said, “Oh”. Per the GQ list, I ordered the hamburger. They brought a cheeseburger, though, but I don’t think GQ would really disapprove.

millers-bar_burgerWith a bun that shiny it *has* to be good!

I can’t explain why exactly, but of the straight-up burgers from the list, this is my favorite so far. I don’t know.

  • It comes out with just bun, burger, melted cheese.
  • The waitress brings slices of onion on a napkin and there are pickles, ketchup, and mustard on the table.
  • You’re on your own from there.
  • Ordered medium-rare, yet the bun remained firm and true without disappearing.
  • I don’t know. I just don’t know.

It just tasted fantastic. And it wasn’t like I hadn’t eaten all day or anything. I really think it was the burger. Maybe they put good spices on it, or maybe they’ve got a meat grinder in the basement and are pulling a Sweeney Todd on us, but whatever. Simple, yet transcendent.

So of the eight I’ve eaten so far, here’s my rank order:

  1. Miller’s Bar – Dearborn (#8 in GQ)
  2. Houston’s California Burger – Santa Monica (#6)
  3. Le Parker Meridien Hotel Burger Joint Cheeseburger – New York (#9)
  4. Red Mill Double Bacon Deluxe w/ Cheese – Seattle (#17)
  5. Keller’s Drive-In #5 Burger – Dallas (#10)
  6. Poag Mahone’s – Chicago (#18)
  7. The Counter – Santa Monica (#15)
  8. Burger Joint – San Francisco (#16)

I’d say IMHO, but no: this is not a matter of opinion. This is fact.

bkd

(PS, I think I’ll only get to six more on this trip — outside shot at seven, but they get packed in pretty tightly in the tri-state area upcoming and I can’t eat more than one hamburger a day without getting sick.)

Nauvoo Is a Small City in Hancock County, Illinois (Day 63)

September 19th, 2009 5 comments

Wendesday, Telkontar and I went out to Nauvoo, Ill. If the name’s not familiar, then you’re probably not Mormon. (You can check out Nauvoo Mormon history separately if you want or here’s the two-sentence version:

Nauvoo is a city on the Mississippi River in Illinois to which the Mormon church relocated in 1839 after the state of Missouri legalized exterminating them. After eight years, mobs forced the Mormons to leave Illinois for, well, Mexico (present-day Utah), leaving behind a bunch of pretty cool old brick buildings and the sites of some key events in the church’s history, some of which have since been re-acquired and restored.)

Anyway: I gotta figure out how to take better architectural photos. Maybe next trip.

nauvoo_seventies-hallSeventies Hall, grass, fence. Back in the 1840s, there would’ve been a bunch of out-buildings on the grass.

nauvoo_heber-c-kimball-homeMy great-great-great-grandfather’s porch. And house.

bkd_ckdMy bro and I posing in front of our own grandpa, who started the restoration of Nauvoo back in 1960 (or so) and ran it for a couple of decades. Our great-great-great grandpa is in the portrait in the room behind us.

nauvoo_templeThe re-built Nauvoo Temple.

nauvoo_horses-templeJoseph and Hyrum Smith ridin’ home with the temple tower straight ahead.

nauvoo_horse-statueSame statue, other direction.

illinois_skyIllinois sky, ground.

It was a fun trip. My bro drove the whole way, which was a very welcome change. The missionaries in the homes seemed like they all had just gotten yelled at by the mission president that morning. I figure someone spouted space doctrine to a local journalist or something. It was kind of weird. Made a rope, though, which was cool. Got another prairie ring. They always seem like a good idea until you realize they don’t really fit. Oh well. Also got to introduce someone to the paradox of choice, which may or may not have been appreciated.

Nauvoo is my favorite part of the church’s history. It’s the time in church history that I best identify with — “we’re sick of getting treated like crap, so we’re going to do something about it — we don’t need you”. I kind of wish more (any?) of that spirit showed up at church on Sundays.

I also get a little choked up at seeing a portrait of my grandpa in a place that doesn’t belong to one of my relatives. And one day I’d like to claim my 1/24th of that house.

bkd

The People of IOWA Welcome You, Iowa: Fields of Opportunity (and State #16)

September 19th, 2009 2 comments

Third of the way there! Seems like midwestern states that start with the letter “I” have a lot to say when it comes to welcoming folks. Wonder how many accidents that causes. Maybe zero.

iowa_welcomeCrossin’ the tame Mississip’.

Iowa’s a disarmingly pretty state. A disarmingly pretty state that I didn’t spend much time in on this trip, but still: disarmingly pretty. It has hills and stuff and not every roadside is bracketed in corn. Go Iowa.

bkd

Categories: northern states Tags: ,

Chicago City and Hamburger #18 at Poag Mahone’s (Day 62)

September 19th, 2009 3 comments

I’m catching up. Oh yes, I’m catching up. Went to Chicago (all things go, all things go, I know) to meet up with my buddy Dayn Perry and check out burger #18. Was in Chicago sort of recently, so I didn’t make much of a day of it. And I only took my cell phone cam.

Here’s a picture I took with my phone from the train:

chicago_train-windowTaking photos in trains always makes me feel like I’m part of a Journey video — although I suppose that’s a bus rather than a train. Tja.

chicago_sunsetYep, it’s a large city at sunset alright.

chicago_beanThere should be a chili restaurant inside.

Those last two photos were not taken from the train. Ended up at Poag Mahones, the only Irish pub I’ve ever seen that closes before, I dunno, 2 AM? They were kicking us out at 8:30. Here’s the burger.

chicago_poag-mahone-burgerPretty standard.

Regarding the burger:

  • It was straightforward.
  • It was good.
  • Any burger place that will allow you to order medium-rare is good, IMHO.
  • It wasn’t spectacular.

I sort of wish the GQ list had more gimmick burgers on it. So many of them are just plain, straight-up burgers and therefore hard to differentiate. #18? Eh, sure, why not? Seemed like a nice enough bar/restaurant, didn’t think it was cool to get kicked out at 8-fetchin’-30.

  • This was the seventh I’ve eaten so far out of the 20.
  • Stay tuned to hear about the eighth, which has (in the actual now) been eaten and digested.

Always cool to hang out with old friends, btw. I’m always sort of surprised how well I always still get along with people I haven’t seen in a long, long time.

bkd

Sitting in the Basement Doing Work (Day 61)

September 19th, 2009 5 comments

Arguably the most stirring photo to date:

basement-laptop-deskNo electrons were harmed in the uploading of this photo.

One particularly good thing about last week is that I got everything done that I needed to get done.

bkd

Categories: northern states Tags: ,

“Store” = “Museum”: The Dark Underbelly of Suburban Newspeak (Day 60)

September 19th, 2009 1 comment

Spent most of Day 60 working on my grad school apps (and Days 61 and 62 — so you know what you got to look forward to!). Eventually, though, at my nephew’s insistance, went to Cabela’s with my brother and his two kids. My and his wife have trained the kids to believe that Cabela’s is a museum — handy, since it’s only 15 minutes away from the house (Chicago’s real museums are 90 minutes or so away and, IIRC, charge admission).

I was going to go with “joy” initially, then changed to “dark underbelly”. I suppose “reality” would have also worked, but it sounds less inflammatory.

cabelas-shooting-galleryAnd when you shoot the snake, it hisses at you.

My niece and nephew both like the stuffed animals best — well, not “stuffed animals”, animals that were shot, then stuffed by a taxidermist. That kind.

bkd

Categories: northern states Tags: , ,

Welcome to ILLINOIS The Land of Lincoln From the People of Illinois (State #15)

September 19th, 2009 3 comments

Right, night-time, on-freeway going 75 photograph:

IMG00082-20090913-2204

So I took a make-up photo day before yesterday. It’s a little more legible.

welcome_illinois

I ended up staying in Illinois till yesterday (Friday). I am, as you may thereby deduce, way behind on postings.

bkd

Categories: northern states Tags: ,