Sunday, November 12, 2017

On the Road and Back Again

Took a couple trips recently, to San Antonio last month to visit the patriarch, and to DC for a work trip a couple weeks ago.  Fortunately my job with the Navy doesn't have too much travel involved, maybe once every two and a half months, which is just enough.  When I do go, I usually like to take some time to visit the local sites and/or friends from the Navy.  While in that "wretched hive of scum and villainy" (h/t to Ben Kenobi), I took an afternoon before my conference started to visit the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum which I thought was great.  Not blow my mind great, but good enough.  I admit it's a little dated and could use a good cleaning, but I still enjoyed it.  According to many readers here, it's not as good as the Udvar Hazy Museum out in Chantilly VA, but I flew into Reagan National and not Dulles, so the convenience wasn't there.  I plan to visit DC with the wife in 2019 though so I'll be sure to take the trip.

I've mentioned how much I enjoy aviation art, and this place has a great collection.  I couldn't figure out how to avoid the flash and glare of the exhibit lights so my apologies for some of the crappy photography.  The glass exhibit cabinets make it even tougher to photograph.

I really love this mural "Fortress Under Fire." It's prominently displayed on the back wall of the WWII exhibit room.

This one is at the museum entrance.  My photo doesn't do it justice, but it's very impressive.  It's really just a desert scene with some rain clouds in the distance, but the lone airliner and contrail helps it deserve its place in the museum.  It's by artist Eric Sloane and titled "Realm of Flight."

There's a really nice exhibit, or is it exhibits?, on the origins of flight, including the original Wright Flyer.  It's been repaired a little, , but even so, it looks like one could take it out to the beach in North Carolina and get it airborne again.

And I used to complain about how uncomfortable the ejection seat was in the S-3B Viking. 
This was the typical Airwing when I first hit the fleet, or at least part of it.  It's missing a Hornet, Hawkeye and Prowler though.  In that first tour we went from H-3's to SH-60Fs, Tomcats to all Hornets, and the Intruders also went away, the Fighter/Attack Hornets taking their place as well.

Seeing how I flew a Lockheed product, I thought it was cool to see the old-school logo.

I suppose the USS ENTERPRISE will always have a place in aviation history

Viking in the groove!

Pretty good Carrier Aviation exhibit.  The section representing the tower, aka "Pri-Fly" or primary flight control is done well.  The video above transported me back 20 years.  The only thing missing was the Air Boss yelling at some junior officers.  Add some JP-5 fumes and it would be totally authentic.

The other trip was into the Texas Hill Country that you've heard briefly about a month or so ago.

Juvat and Tuna

I went to visit my dad, but also took a trip up to Fredericksburg TX and ran into Juvat, whom I'd never officially met.  He was a great host and will be again I'm sure.  I took a total of grand total of zero pictures of the Nimitz Museum unfortunately.  It was a really quick visit so I was in a rush.  Sorry about that.  Next trip- I promise.

My brother and a half sister joined me in a visit to the Menger Hotel.  Nice old place for sure, but it also has a place in history.  

The Menger was where Teddy Roosevelt recruited some of his Rough Riders.

They became the U.S. 1st Volunteer Cavalry, the “Rough Riders,” who won fame during the battle on San Juan Hill in the Spanish American War.  The "recruiting station" was actually in the Menger Bar of course. Where else do you begin a great fighting force than in a bar?  Roosevelt wasn't really there to recruit, most of that force had already been formed, but he was in town to train and probably signed up a few additional Texans.

Hey Sarge and Juvat, I thought we could use these for some Guinness if we all get together at some point down in Texas.  I just need you to create a diversion so I can slip them out of the locked cabinet next to the Roosevelt stuff.

The hotel also has a small shop called Kings X, which makes really high quality soldier figurines and dioramas.  

I thought the cotton and the shock of getting shot was well done.

The clerk was very knowledgeable and had an interesting perspective.  We tend to think of the battle at the Alamo as the US being overrun by Santa Ana, as though Colonels James Bowie and David Crocket were defending US territory.  He said we should keep in mind that the Alamo was part of Mexico at the time, having gained independence from Spain in 1821.  So it was more like invaders vs. defenders in a way, and we weren't playing on defense.  Shortly after the  Battle of the Alamo in 1836, the Republic of Texas was born and Texas didn't become part of the US until 1845.  This might be something Texans and real historians are better aware of, but I'm no Eagle driver or an Old AF Sarge.

The jetty in the Battle of Gallipoli

As you can see, there's a premium on the quality put into those figurines.  Nice hobby for some, but an expensive one.

Ok, that's all I've got to say about my recent travels- no Mustang upgrades, no delayed flights, just a bunch of pictures.  Here's the only one I took in Juvat's fine little town- out in front of the Nimitz Museum.  Which by the way, is on par, if not better than any Military museum I've visited.

I didn't shrink, he's larger than life.


  1. I own several Eric Sloane books. The man knew his frontier era tools and building techniques. Eric Sloane is Badger Approved! Like Tuna, you know.

  2. Good stuff Tuna.

    (Working on a diversion...)

  3. Damn, you sure look the tourist. Juvat labeled you a 'streaker' for your Nimitz Museum visit. Loved the history lesson and photos of the Menger Hotel.

    1. I always look like that! Definitely too quick of a tour.

  4. "This might be something Texans and real historians are better aware of,.." Yep, growing up in Texas and being taught Texas history via a little Illustrated, half size "comic book" in early grade school, well before Ameican or World history, we got more than a bit enculturated in Texas lore. The folks fighting for Texas independence might have been invaders to some, but they were invited there. Not sure which rallying cry was more inspirational - "Remember the Alamo!" or "Remember Goliad!" Both certainly took hold in fertile young minds, and as a result I still consider that I'm a Texan before I'm an American (the defenders of the Alamo - Santa Ana's army was doing the attacking in that case - at least had a chance to fight back. Not so much at Goliad.

    And I personally owe a lot to the Menger Hotel as well a San Antonio, since I might not be here without them. Dad was at Brook Army Medical undergoing treatment and frequent surgery for wounds he got when his Sherman was knocked out in Germany in April, 1945. Mom was working as a Red Cross employee, and they met in SA And on several occasions had drinks at the Menger, stayed there occasionally when dad could get away from Brook.

    1. Nice bit of history for you there! Beautiful hotel. Too short of a trip to truly appreciate it (and patronize the bar).

  5. One of my favorite movies---


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Can't be nice, go somewhere else...

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