Sunday, June 14, 2015

500 Shades of Green

It is always wonderful, driving out to see Julie in West Virginia. Any route taken between the Hampton Roads area and the area just north of Charleston will take you through gorgeous valleys and up and down breath-taking mountains. This was my third time making the trek, and it will most likely be my last. She got married yesterday and is moving far away. I was so blessed to be able to spend her last single night with her, help her find and install her earrings, unexpectedly get to drive her to the church, and be there when she said her vows. Walking down the aisle as her bridesmaid to a bagpipe playing... that was just an extra bonus. Julie is rather in love with her family's Scottish heritage, and I am too. I've always been kinda nuts about Britain. I have English and Irish in my ancestry, so between us, we make up a great country.

I can't even describe how fun it was to drive through the forests, alternately illuminated in brilliant sunshine or clouded over in low, wispy clouds or enveloped in lighting storms and cascades of rainfalls. The worst part was on the way back, going down a 7% grade slope in torrential rain that made seeing the car in front of me nearly impossible. I don't think I've ever been more afraid! I gripped the wheel with tight fists and prayed. I had already experienced a bit of mild hydroplaning in the flat part of 64 just east of Charleston (going very carefully), so the thought of not being able to stop in time was... fresh in my mind. But after surviving the storm and nearing Charlottesville, the sun poked out and a giant, vivid rainbow filled up the sky in front of me as the many greens of the trees and fields were lit up golden-green all around. Just in case I didn't have enough weather, I was treated to a sudden and violent display of lightning straight ahead as I was homing in on Hampton Roads in the darkness of 9-10pm. Such beauty!

What made the trip there and back even more fun was the long, uninterrupted time I had to listen to Switchfoot. I have practically everything they've ever released on my phone, so I just selected them from "artists" and let it go. It was so neat to sing along... their lyrics are rather soul-searching, philosophical and sometimes satirical. Very deep feelings involved usually, since a few of their releases have coincided with certain times of my life appropriately. The angry album, just when my friends rejected me (I couldn't listen to all of that one this time... I was too happy... and I didn't like thinking about it as a yuppy word); the hopeful one just as I was joining the Navy and knowing it would be hard (Hello, Hurricane). I listened to most of it straight through... here are a few of the lesser-listened-to-favorites:

You (from The Legend of Chin) and Chem 6A and Home

The ENTIRE New Way to Be Human album

You Already Take Me There/ Playing for Keeps from Learning to Breathe

and on the newer side of things, The Sound in My Mouth (recently discovered)

All this doesn't even touch on the brand new Fading West/ The Edge of the Earth stuff that I AM IN LOVE WITH. Also, Vice Verses is pretty fantastic. Good grief. I love it all. I didn't even lose my voice! Amazed.

But what was really awesome about being there (besides seeing Julie and her family again) was that I got to meet or get to know her other best friends who were also bridesmaids. We had a GRAND time.


Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Warbirds Over the Beach: A WWII Airshow in Virgina
I really do. It's lovely to say that my ship's ballcap was blown off TWICE by a FG-1D Corsair, starting it's powerful Pratt & Whitney 2,250hp engine.

I sat on the museum's double-decker bus for a part of the first day to watch from a shady shelter. The sun was so brilliant both days.
 Biplane trainers, or in the case of the Polikarpov PO-2 Mule in the foreground... a workhorse of the Russian Night Witches. Behind it is a German Focke-Wulf, and behind that a US Navy Stearman PT-17. It was so neat to see them all fly!

 The museum's own German 88mm anti-aircraft gun that re-enactors (the 62nd FLAK Regiment - a self-titled "non-political, non-profit living history organization) fired several times at passing European theater Allied aircraft. Even though all the German uniforms were really cool (and very authentic), I still felt uncomfortable around them. Felt like a spy, walking around their tents. Once when they fired the gun, a little boy asked his mother why they were shooting at people. He was genuinely worried, poor guy. Only fake wars are fun.

The B-25 Mitchell.

 Inside the PBY-5A Catalina

The only operating C-46 in the lower 48 states, the Tinker Bell, dropped a parachute demonstration team based out of Oklahoma. And they want volunteers. !

 Above, the Junkers JU-52 liaison plane. It could take off in a hurry! Also impressive in their German collection was a ME-262 from Suffolk that flew around, but couldn't land on the little grass runway because it was a jet, and also, a 1945 V-1 pulsejet engine recovered from Southeastern Germany and built from labor supplied from Buchenwald. They warned people before they fired it up, it was so startling.

 The Tiger Moth. I was allowed to STEP ON THE WING to get the pic to the right, using the non-skid strip, of course. This little beauty has wings of fabric! Someone told me that the year before a woman in high heels stepped up on it without asking and put her heel through the fabric! I think I would rather die than hurt this little plane. Oh, my heart, when I saw it take off, circle and land.

Below, the Messerschmitt BF-108 trainer, also with fabric wings, also flying.

 Above, a P-51 Mustang's .50 caliber Browning machine guns in a wing. Below, an FM-2 Wildcat's props.

 Above, a 1941 P-40E Kittyhawk dressed up like a Flying Tiger. Below, the lovely 1943 Supermarine Spitfire MK-IXE that very unfortunately did not fly during the show due to mechanical trouble. It had flown the days before the show though.

The Hawker Hurricane flew a lot though, and that was neat! Also, they had the ONLY airworthy de Havilland DH-98 Mosquito IN THE WORLD. And I got to see it take off, circle and land. How cool it is that?! Somehow I didn't get any pictures of the Mosquito.

They were selling rides in this lovely biplane. I didn't put my name in quick enough.

There were lots of re-enactors, including women! There was a WAAF officer and a lovely girl in a French resistance group that looked rather like Miss Khan from the film Enemy of the Reich. I was too shy to ask for a picture. When some German officers walked by their exhibit, one of the men shielded their set-up, saying "Nothing to see here!" LOL! The German responded that they were not Gestapo.

 So much happiness in this picture, I can't even say. I want to ride that and that and that...

Farewell, folks. It was awesome! Looking forward to the WWI airshow in October!