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Wednesday, December 6, 2017

To Yuma and Home through Joshua Tree

No Curly Fries Today at the Stone Cabin Oasis

Looking for Curly Fries

Just North of Slab City



Joshua Tree

Joshua Tree Ocotillo Patch

Every year we have been going to Yuma to buy dates from a farm there that has the best Medjhool Dates that are picked fresh in October. This is a good reason to make a photo trip and the weather was perfect the other day. FromYuma went west then up the east side of the Salton Sea. Made a brief stop at Slab City just beyond Salvation Mountain, East Jesus, and Bombay Beach on the Salton Sea. Wanted to get to Box Canyon before dark so didn't spend much time at these other locations. After Box Canyon spent the night in Indio then want up to Joshua Tree National Park the next day driving through Box Canyon on the way.

Box Canyon

Evening in Box Canyon

Collapsed  Tree in Box Canyon

Box Canyon near Indio California was the original road going East long before the freeway was built.  I was first on it almost 50 years ago when I was driving from California to Phoenix in my Bugeye Sprite. A massive flood had closed a eastbound section of the freeway but I was told about the road through Box Canyon was open so took it East until it joined up with the freeway. Even with the rain coming down I remember that curvy road through the narrow canyon. It's only lately that I have gotten back there on some photo trips.

Cloud Museum

Several times on trips to Yuma I had seen The Cloud Museum but had never stopped. Today there was time and the light was good for photography and the owner said I could bring my camera and tripod and take as many photos as I liked. The open air Cloud Museum has the largest collection of old cars I have ever seen. There were over 100 Model T's and over 50 Model A Fords among other vehicles and antique machines. Could easy spend a whole day there and not see it all.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Crawfordville to Orlando

Hampton Springs

Crawfordville is in a remote area and early in the morning several miles out of town a black panther (Jaguar) crossed the road in front of us. It was about the size of the Mountains Lions we see in Arizona and was definitely a large black cat, not a black bear.

The Hampton Springs Hotel Site is near Perry. The hotel was built in 1908 on the site of some Sulphur springs and at one time there was a Casino, Ballroom, Covered Pool, Golf and Tennis Courts, Railway Depot, Hunting and Fishing Lodge, elaborate fountains and gardens, and a bottling plant to bottle the spring water for customers around the nation. It was abandoned after burning down in 1954.

After a stop in Crystal River I was off to Orlando for another adventure in flying. It's a great way to get somewhere if you have the time.

Pensacola and Beyond

Starting at Pensacola the sand on the beach changed to white. At Mexico beach there was a long wood pier. At dusk Somewhere near Alligator Point there was a pier with numerous big white birds.


Next stop after New Orleans was Biloxi, Mississippi. It seemed like the wide beach was over twenty miles long with numerous remnants of old piers. Across from the beach was the Ohr-O'Keefe Museum with five buildings designed by Frank Gehry surrounded by large Oak trees.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Fort Macomb

Just a few miles out of New Orleans is Fort Macomb. Found it on a satellite map but would never see it driving by as it is completely covered by vegetation. This fort with wall 40 feet thick was  built in 1822 to guard the access to Lake Pontchartrain.  It had been taken over by the Confederate States at the start of the Civil War and later retaken by the Federal Army but was abandoned in 1867.

The fort is surrounded by water on three sides and closed off from the road by two fence lines topped with barb wire. The best way to see it is by boat. It is a shame it has not been kept up and opened to the public even on an occasional basis.

Fort Pike, a few miles away and identical to Fort Macomb was restored and opened as a park but the state closed it a couple years ago.

New Orleans

A friend from New Mexico was driving to Florida so we decided to make part of the trip a photo trip along the Gulf by traveling local roads, not the freeway. I met up with him in San Antonio and we took the freeway to New Orleans to start. The city streets in New Orleans were torn up for some major infrastructure project. Some of the sidewalks were blocked off.

Monday, November 13, 2017

TSA vs Rest of Us

 On the way back to Phoenix I cleared the TSA screening at the Orlando Airport a little after 4pm Saturday. After you are screened you go to the train and wait to take the train to the gates. About one hour later someone was going through with a camera in their backpack and the camera battery popped and started smoking. They set the bag down and a TSA agent moved it away. Apparently people started running and knocked over some stanchions which some thought sounded like gun shots.

At this point you would expect the owner of the bag to have to answer some questions or if TSA wanted to they could recheck passengers who had just gone through by stopping the trains and rechecking them before they left for  the gates.  Instead they went for Plan C. Planes that were taxing out were returned to their gates.  Planes that were loading were unloaded. All checked passengers in terminal, at the gates, in the restaurants, on planes that had to return to their gates, and on planes that were loading  were sent back on the train to be rechecked. Not just our terminal but all terminals at the Orlando Airport. Thousands of passengers had to be rechecked.

It took just a little over two hours to evacuate and even while this was going on the PA system kept announcing that there is no emergency, and that they were trying to get back to normal operations. None of the TSA, Police, and security guards seemed to know what was happening. One TSA person came through with a bull horn saying to check the monitors and another came through yelling for us to check with our airlines. I called my wife and she went online and found out the problem of the battery before the evacuation was done.

About four hours later they started to recheck passengers. Twenty four flights were canceled, twenty seven flights were diverted, and many more were delayed several hours. This means that many other airports had to cancel or delay flights. I was fortunately after several delays my flight left several hours later.

The rescreening was interesting. On my first time through I was patted down because the metal detecter had picked up the bits of metal in my body and my bag was set aside for inspection. Apparently a large candy bar in the bag looked like a problem. On the recheck I went through with coins in my pocket with no problem at the metal detector and I was not patted down and the bag was not set aside for any inspection.

Note to TSA
You do realize that terrorist could stop our entire air transport system but just shorting out a camera battery in the check line at several of our airports simultaneously or even worse use the chaos of  rescreening to get material through the checkpoint.

Note to Photographers
Just about all our cameras now have a battery. Turn your camera off and don't just throw spare batteries in your bag. Spare batteries should be individually packed and insulated from other batteries or metal. Also don't pack them where they can be crushed or pierced in any way. If one is damaged and pops or starts smoking don't set your bag down and run. Get it out so it can be dealt with without creating a panic. There have been 17 cases this year of battery exploding on planes and flight crews are being trained to handle them and the TSA should also be able to if they know it is a battery not a bomb.

Monitors after evacuation

Part of the waiting Crowd
8:54 about to start rescreening

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Eclipse 8-21-2017

Flew from Las Vegas to Seattle to go and see the total Eclipse. Tried to get a flight to Portland a couple months before the Eclipse but there were no seats available on any flight to Portland. An even worse sign was the lack of any hotel rooms in Portland for the Eclipse dates. Found a motel in Corvallis but was told they were $1,000 a night with a 2 night minimum. Did find a hotel in Springfield, 45 miles south of the Eclipse center, and even with all the dire traffic forecasts figured I could make it to the center by the 10:17 totality. If Hwy 5 was gridlock I had drawn up a map of all the backroad that could get there.
Secret UFO landing sight near Las Vegas or maybe a solar site

Crop circles

Lake somewhere north of Las Vegas

Mountains in Oregon

Over the Columbia River

Landing in Seattle
My friend Tom picked me up at the airport Sunday morning and we immediately left for Oregon. We were worried about traffic as the Governor of Oregon had declared an emergency and even called out the National Guard to handle traffic problems. Traffic was no problem and we made it to the motel in five hours and had plenty of time to check out where we wanted to be for the Totality. The next morning we left at 4 AM as we were warned it would take over three hours to get to Albany which was having a huge Eclipse event. Actually mad it passed Albany in less than an hour to get to the center of the Eclipse path.

The "Diamond Ring" right after Totality

Shadow on the cooler, light coming through the leaves after Totality

As we headed back north the traffic fears came true. It took eight hours to get back to Seattle. Still not as bad as expected. Maybe all the reports of gridlock kept a lot of people from coming. We saw no evidence of restaurants and stores running out of food or gas stations running out of gas.

It was definitely worth the trip. I have seen several partial eclipses but seeing the totality was indescribable. There was enormous excitement when it started "the crowd want wild", then silence durning most of the next two minutes of totality, and excitement again at the end. We had perfect weather with no clouds Monday but on the flight back to Vegas there were clouds all the way back with a few north of Las Vegas also.
Mountain somewhere in Oregon

Landing in Las Vegas