Another June, Another Sac Comic Con

As usual, June has arrived and so has the Sacramento Wizard World Comic Con.  I decided since last year I went on the first day, I would go on the last day this year.  Different from last year was the amount of star power that was here.  Last year, to refresh your memory, we had William Shatner, Dean Cain and Michael Cudlitz.  This year Val Kilmer, Kate Beckinsale, Edward James Olmos, Nichelle Nichols, Jon Heder, Kevin Sorbo and Lou Ferrigno, just to name a few.  And, as a real blast from the past, Kato Kaelin of the OJ Simpson Trial fame was there to MC some of the cosplay shows.  Alas, I have no pictures of the celebrities because their autograph section was posted “No Photography” and was heavily patrolled by security.  So, if you wanted a picture you had to pay uo.  As for autographs, Val Kilmer and Kate Beckinsale cost $90 and the prices went down from there depending on your celebrity.

 This Comic Con also was cursed with the worst heat wave ever in June as well.  On the day I went it got to 107o outside.  The theme song for Sacramento this week is from Smash Mouth called “Walking on the Sun.”  That is what it felt like.  In fact, the refrain “you might as well be walking on the sun,” kept going through my head.  When I told out-of-state attendees that just 7 days earlier it was in the 60’s, with wind, rain and hail for the Sacramento region with snow in the high country, they couldn’t believe it.  This is probably why attendance was down.

The first person I saw was this random woman just standing in the shade outside the Sacramento Convention Center. She had on a wedding dress, a paper crown that said Israel and a staff with the Star of David on it.  No one else was around.  I started to worry that the show was over. 

 

Normally, this area would be packed with people.  However, the temperatures were so high no one dawdled waiting for friends.

These lovely ladies were the first costumed attendees I saw once inside the air conditioned splendor of the Convention Center.  I’m sure Hugh Hefner would be afraid of this bunny.

Spider Woman, sans mask, with sidekick, was just inside the Convention Hall.

Trek Mystery Backpacks for sale.  Would you pay $90 for a pack filled with who-knows-what?

A young Belle was there with her father and big brother.

This young girl, along with her dad, was trying to decide whether to approach the ladies to have a photo taken.

Decision made and she has nice photo to remember this year’s Comic Con.

This booth was all about talking to your Angel and psychic readings.  Bet he wishes she was his angel.

The Sacramento Ghostbusters made an appearance at this year’s convention.  I did not see them at last year’s convention.

They even brought their Buster mobile and a big blow-up of the Stay Puff Marshmallow Man.  It ain’t the cool ambulance but it works.

If you need a mask, this is the place to come and buy.

Even Barnes & Noble was there with plenty of wares to show.

As the Photo Op board shows, there were plenty of stars at this year’s convention.

These two formidable looking women were walking around the floor.

They were actually advertising for a sci-fi speed dating site.

But I doubt their services will help this guy.

Not even hanging out by the Batmobile got him a date.

Professional Cosplayer and glamour model Ivy Doomkitty was there with her sister.  The one thing I really like about both the professional and amateur cosplayers is their willingness to pose for pictures.

These were the only two trekkies that came out in full costume.

The 4th Doctor put in an appearance.

Jasmine made an appearance without Aladdin.

The Pumpkin Geek was there with his beautifully made forever pumpkins.

Get your custom made light sabers here.

A group of super heroes walked the floor.

Along with a well armed Pikachu.

And Merlin came to escape the heat.

Would you look for spiritual guidance from this gentleman?

Ray said that even though she is from a desert planet, Sacramento was like walking on the sun it was so hot!

And these three formidable people came loaded.

The comic book artist Ruben Rosas was on hand.

A husband and wife cosplay team showed their stuff.

The Sacramento Zombie Club was there recruiting new members.  Zombies can’t stand still for a moment!

And finally, the masked gentleman on the hoverboard arrived with his wagon and bulldog in tow.  The dog escaped the heat while the hoverboader had a chic magnet. 

And the Hulk says to come back next year.  Maybe the heat will be gone.

 

 

Copyright © 2017 John J Campo

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The Luau

This winter has been particularly long, dreary, wet and cold in California.  After five years of drought, we needed the rain and snow but hated the gloomy, clammy weather.  To add to the gloom I had to have eye surgery.  But, I recovered quickly and the weather has turned the corner to summer.  This has me remembering Hawaii and the Luau.  The Luau is almost an obligatory event for travelers when they go to Hawaii.  A luau, for the few who never heard of one, is a Hawaiian gathering that includes food and entertainment.  On the island of Oahu there are at least 7 places that offer this event.  Perhaps the best known is at the Polynesian Cultural Center.  A trip there is usually an all day affair allowing you to walk through different areas that showcase the different cultures that make up the Polynesian Pacific.  However, if you don’t have all day, you can go to the other luaus which offer an evening of food and entertainment.

The one we attended was the Paradise Cove Luau which was 10 minutes walking time from the Aulani Resort in Ko Olina.   In an idyllic setting with its own cove, this is considered one of the better luaus on Oahu.  Upon entering the Paradise Cove grounds you follow a path to an area with a photo station for the obligatory souvenir picture a male and female cast member. (Of course the guy is buff and the girl is beautiful.)   Once past this, there are craftsmen, dance exhibits and a small amphitheater on the grounds.  I will say that the entertainment was good and the food was great. 

The Paradise Cove Luau is situated on the leeward side of Oahu.

Backlit by the setting sun, a young lady demonstrates a Polynesian dance.

After adjusting for the backlight, you can now see the beautiful dancer in a paradise setting.

Woodworkers are there making items on the spot.

And yes, some Polynesian men are heavily tattooed.  It is a cultural tradition for them.

This is the main stage where all the night’s entertainment will take place.  As you can see from the seating, the venue can accommodate a lot of people.  They said there were 500 people there this night.

Demonstrations of different Polynesian styles of fishing are showcased in the cove.

Even at this demonstration they have beautiful women and buff guys for the guests to look at.  You will see both of these dancers later.

And, of course, what luau would be complete without tourists being, well, tourists.

Remember, this is done in good fun and to demonstrate some of the Polynesian culture. 

But the cove is also beautiful and in the sunset offers up more of the idyllic setting.

In the small amphitheater there is more dance demonstrations going on.  In the foreground are roasting pits.

This is where they roast at least one of the pigs served for the feast.

The “guest of honor” is revealed.  Yes, that is a whole pig that was roasted in that pit.

This is another of the beautiful ladies that works at the luau.  You see a lovely smile but may think her eyes are closed.

Closer inspection of the picture shows her eyes aren’t closed but she is giving you a beautiful smile with a playful wink.

Elsewhere around the cove people are having their photos taken with cast members.  Here is the Samoan fire dancer posing with two guests.

Finally, the call goes out that dinner is served.  So we trot off and join the line.  These dinners are buffet style but, if you want to pay extra, they will bring you your dinner.  I am a lover of pork so I want to serve myself and get plenty of the roasted pork.

After you eat, the dance demonstration begins on the main stage.

They make it a family affair and make sure to include the children in the show.

Of course there has to be two lovers singing the Hawaiian Wedding Song.

No luau would be complete without the Samoan Fire Torch dancer.

He can even twirl two torches at once.  I say this because I would probably incinerate myself.

Then comes the Tahitian dancers.  As you can see from the blur, the dancer is really moving those hips!

Once again the audience members are brought up to dance this time with the Tahitian dancers.  Yes, even children are included.  As I said, they make this a family affair.

Now we come to what I call the DOH! part of the show.  The MC bring out a male tourist I will call “the Mark,” dressed in grass skirt and coconut bra and the following transpired.  First, as you can see, they place him opposite of an extremely beautiful dancer.  After asking the Mark’s name, where he was from and so forth, the conversation went like this:

MC:  Are you married?

Mark:  Yes.

MC:  How long?

Mark:  49 Years

MC:  My, that is a long time.  Okay, what I want you to do.  You see this beautiful woman across from you?  I want you to look deep into her eyes.  Look very deep into her eyes.  Concentrate and look very deep into her eyes and….um, what did you say your wife’s name was?

Mark:  Who?

DOH!

An interesting postscript to this story came when I told it to a friend of mine and his wife.  My friend’s response was, “What an idiot!”   His wife had a different take on the story.  Her reaction was, “We don’t stand a chance against those Polynesian women.”  Just interesting to see the two very different reactions as the female reaction I didn’t expect.

Finally, there is one last dance to say goodbye.  And so, with bellies full of food and the show still playing in our heads, it is time to leave.  Some board busses back to Waikiki while those staying in Ko Olina are able to amble back to our hotels.  Would I go back again?  Why yes, yes I would. 

Aloha!

 

Copyright © 2017  John J Campo

 

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Pearl Harbor: December 7, 1941 Plus 75 Years

“We interrupt this broadcast to bring you this important bulletin from the United Press.  FLASH: Washington: The White House announces Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.”

WOR radio in New York made that report at 2:26 pm, interrupting the broadcast of a New York Giants baseball game.  At or near the same time, all other radio stations across the United States announced the attack to a stunned nation.  Suddenly the nation was plunged into war.  Everyone knows the speech given by President Franklin Roosevelt the following day asking Congress for a declaration of war.  Until December 7th, the United States was a spectator of a war raging in Europe and Asia.  We supplied arms and food to our allies, but we were not active participants.  Now we were completely immersed in the war we tried so hard not to enter.

The attack on December 7th destroyed much of the Pacific fleet at anchor.  The pride of the Navy, the USS Arizona, was destroyed.  An armor piercing bomb touched off the forward powder magazine causing an explosion that took the lives of 1,177 of its crew.   The Arizona was never fully salvaged.  The Navy recovered some of the dead, who are buried at the Punchbowl National Cemetery, but had to leave many more entombed in the Arizona. The remains of the Arizona were left as a war grave. 

It was not just naval base at Pearl Harbor that was attacked.  The Japanese attacked Wheeler, Kaneohe, Bellows and Hickam air fields, Schofield Barracks, Ford Island and Barber Point.  The objective was to destroy America’s ability to stop Japanese expansion.  As we know, that did not happen.  Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto, the architect of the attack, was against war with America. He had been stationed in America, attended Harvard, and admired America.  He knew our industrial might.  He was given assurances by his government that America would have some official notice of war before the attack.  When he later found out it was a surprise attack he was quoted as saying, “I fear all we have done is awakened a sleeping giant and filled him with a terrible resolve.”  He knew Japan could not win a war with America. 

America suffered 2,403 dead, including 68 civilians in the December 7th surprise attack.  It will not be until September 11, 2001 that America will suffer even greater loss of life in a surprise terror attack on the World Trade Center in New York City, the Pentagon and 4 hijacked passenger planes.  That totaled 2,996 dead. 

The Arizona Memorial was built on the remains of the USS Arizona and was opened on May 30, 1962. The Pearl Harbor Memorial Sites include the battleship USS Missouri (representing the end of the war), the WWII submarine USS Bowfin, the Pacific Aviation Museum on Ford Island, memorials to the USS Utah and Oklahoma, which were also left as war graves, and additional exhibits at the Visitors Center.  December 7, 2016 marked the 75th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor. 

Your first view of the memorial is through the trees at the drop-off point outside the entrance to the memorial grounds.

The main entrance sign that shows that this is more than a memorial for the USS Arizona, but for two other ships that were lost and left where they sank.

This map shows the memorial center and what is on Ford Island. 

At the visitors center you can buy tickets to go aboard the USS Bowfin, a submarine that survived the war.

They have added a museum in the visitor’s center with items about the attack.  Here is memorabilia from the USS Arizona.

The entrance to building 2 of the museum has this painting showing a Kate torpedo plane attacking Battleship Row.

But when you turn around and look up, you see a model of the Kate bomber suspended overhead.

More memorabilia from December 7th is preserved on display.

A small piece of the salvaged portion of the USS Arizona.

The salvaged remains of one of the torpedoes dropped by the Japanese on December 7th.

Two of the anchors of the Arizona were blown completely off the ship.  This one is at the memorial visitor’s center.  The other is on display in Phoenix, the state capitol of Arizona.

Boats transport you from the Visitors Center to the actual Arizona Memorial, built upon the remains of the USS Arizona.

From shore or on the transport boat, you can view the beginning and the end of World War II.   It started on December 7, 1941 with the destruction of the Arizona and ended on the battleship moored behind it, the USS Missouri, where the Japanese signed the surrender documents on September 2, 1945.  Tours are available for the Missouri as well.

The most striking image a visitor sees of the memorial is how amazingly simple and elegant it is.

You can view a portion of the remains of the Arizona looking down through two openings, like this one.

The survivors of the Arizona made a pact that when they died, they would have their cremated remains returned to the Arizona to sleep eternally with their shipmates.  This, the Parks Service does with great reverence.

At the back of the memorial are the names of those who died on the Arizona on December 7th.  If you look to the lower left forward of the wall, you will see other names.  These are the names of the survivors who have been returned for their eternal slumber.

You may be lucky enough to see little globs of bunker fuel rise to the surface from the Arizona.  Not all the bunker fuel could be removed from the ship.  What remains slowly rises to the surface.  These, as you see above, are referred to as “the tears of the Arizona.”  This oil does not go very far as the Parks Service has a system to catch and recycle the oil before it can drift into the ocean.  There is enough fuel on board for the Arizona to mourn its dead for many decades to come.

“Old Glory” is raised over the remains of the Arizona every morning.

But if you look behind the flagpole, you will see a portion of the Arizona quietly rusting with a ladder leading down into her interior.

On any given day you may meet a Pearl Harbor survivor at the memorial.  This day Herb Weatherwax, a native Hawaiian and stationed at Schofield Barracks at the time of the attack, was there greeting visitors.  He was there selling his book, “Counting My Blessings.”  He is at the age where he uses a stamp with his signature to autograph the books.

There was a news report a few days before December 7th of this year on the veterans going to Pearl Harbor for the 75th Memorial.  That report said, if I heard correctly, there are few than 200 Pearl Harbor survivors left alive and only 2 survivors from the Arizona alive today.  In just 5 short years when we celebrate the 80th anniversary, there may be no one alive who was there on that fateful day.  Hopefully, we will continue to honor this day despite the fact that no participants will be alive to jog our collective memory.

 

Copyright © 2017  John J Campo

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The Air Force Boys of Summer

We are halfway through summer and therefore rapidly approaching the close to the air show season.  One of the premier draws to these air show events is the appearance of the Air Force aerobatics team: The Thunderbirds.  They thrill crowds every year with their precision formation and solo flying maneuvers.  The Travis Air Force Base air show allowed the team to be observed from the manning of their aircraft to landing.  Most shows, due to security, only allow the crowd to see the team either taking off or already in flight. 

And in the interest of full disclosure, I admit to a bias as a former member of the Air Force. 

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Because this is on Travis AFB, the commander of the T-Birds swears in new recruits.  This is considered an honor in the Air Force.

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After the swearing in, the obligatory photograph.

 

 

 

Keywords: Thunderbirds

Let the show begin.

Keywords: Thunderbirds

Keywords: Thunderbirds

Keywords: Thunderbirds

Keywords: Thunderbirds

Keywords: Thunderbirds

Keywords: Thunderbirds

Keywords: Thunderbirds

Keywords: Thunderbirds

Keywords: Thunderbirds

Keywords: Thunderbirds

Keywords: Thunderbirds

Keywords: Thunderbirds

Keywords: Thunderbirds

Keywords: Thunderbirds

Keywords: Thunderbirds

Keywords: Thunderbirds

Keywords: Thunderbirds

Last plane down safely and the airshow is over.

Copyright © 2016  John J Campo

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Comiccon Sacramento 2016

Summer is about to begin and right on schedule, Wizard World Sacramento ComicCon arrived at the Convention Center.  From a small beginning Sacramento ComicCon has become a must-see venue for the anime and comic aficionados.  Bigger celebrities are coming to the Capital City to be a part of the action.  This year William Shatner, Billy Boyd (“Lord of the Rings”), Ray Park (Darth Maul), and Dean Cain were just a few of the attending celebrities. 

I attended the first day with a friend not knowing what to expect.  I took my Olympus T-2 camera because I knew security would be tight after the Orlando attack.  Anything larger in equipment would entail having security going through my gear.  So, I went minimal for this event.  However, I was pleasantly surprised to find I had entered a target rich environment for a photographer.  To top it all off, the cosplayers who were attending that day were nothing put polite and accommodating when asked to be photographed.  (Note, as stated in the rules, cosplay is not consent.  Always ask before photographing.  Besides, it is also the polite thing to do.)  In addition, two of the Sacramento Kings Cheer Leaders were there.  My friend is friends with a gentleman who works for the Kings organization.  He was there to do some filming of the cheerleaders’ interaction in a battle with a few of the cosplayers.  These “battles” will be seen on the jumbotron during the Kings games next season.

This year I only attended the opening day.  Got up Saturday and turned on the TV.  To my dismay, the morning show personality was with a person dressed as the predator.  That person was not there opening day.  Note to self, next year it will be all three days.

P6170002Here is just a small portion of the very long line waiting to enter the convention.

P6170003Just a small part a much larger show floor.

steampunk ladysteampunk mandThe first two cosplayers I saw were from the Steampunk genre.

P6170015P6170033And you didn’t have to be young to dress the part.

P6170012It could also be a family affair.

P6170017You could have a scary costume.

P6170026Be a young Gandalf from Lord of the Rings.

P6170028An anime vampire visited the show.  Yes, she does have fangs.

P6170039On hand was a very tall, Nimoy look alike

P6170035A Dalek from Dr. Who was making the rounds looking for work.

P6170064Edward Scissorhands was there as well.  He stated it took him two months to make his costume.

P6170055Lilo and Stitch made the scene.

P6170068So did Waldo.

mario bros.As did the Super Mario Gang.

P6170042A femme fatale fighter from COBRA put in an appearance.

P6170071And not one. . .

P6170075. . .but two Tardis dressed ladies were there.

P6170049Even school teachers cosplay.  These are two middle school teachers.

P6170050And they can strike a pose!

P6170062Even Sacramento Kings cheerleaders were there.

P6170023Vendors were there as well.

P6170031One had young ladies to hand out fliers.

P6170010You could buy shoes. . .

P6170036. . .or costumes . . .

P6170032. . . or pictures of your favorite super hero.

P6170019The posted price list for meeting the stars.

P6170020William Shatner’s area was set in an area marked “No Photography.”  Oh, and his autograph costs $80.00.

P6170065But Dean Cain was more accessible.

P6170080All in all, everyone had fun and enjoyed the show.  And may the force be with you.

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More than a Ferry Terminal

Since 1875, San Francisco has had a ferry building.  It was a prominent part of the San Francisco waterfront for decades.  Today it is a fine building with eateries, shops and offices.  However, that was not always the case.  After the completion of the Bay and Golden Gate bridges in the 1930’s, as well as the building of the Embarcadero double-decker freeway, there was little use for the aging building.  Yes, ferry service continued, but it seemed that such services were headed the way of the Dodo bird.  Why take a ferry when you could drive your own car? 

Suddenly, on October 17, 1989 at 5:04p.m., an earthquake originating near Loma Prieta Peak in the Santa Cruz Mountains shook the entire Bay Area.  Part of the upper deck of the Bay Bridge fell onto the lower deck.  In the East Bay, the Cypress Street Viaduct pancakes onto the Nimitz Freeway killing 42 motorists.  According to the U.S. Geological Survey office the quake was registered as a 6.8 in magnitude.  With the Bay Bridge out of service, and many damaged roadways or, as in the case of the Cypress Street Viaduct and Nimitz Freeway, destroyed, traffic was all but stopped.  Now, to access San Francisco and the Peninsula road traffic had to divert to either the Golden Gate Bridge from the north, or travel further south to the San Mateo or Dumbarton bridges.  Access within San Francisco was suddenly impeded as well.  Double-decker freeways were deemed unsafe and the Embarcadero Freeway was demolished.  Suddenly, the Ferry Building with its terminal was back in major service.  People who drove were now taking the ferries from the East Bay and North Bay into San Francisco.  (Although BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) trains were still running, they did not have the capacity to handle the sudden influx of riders.)

Once again, the Ferry Building was relevant.  City leaders decided it was time to give the Ferry Building some tender loving care.   In 1999, renovation work was started on the building and was finally completed enough in 2003 to warrant reopening the building.  Today, it is a shining example of how a historic but neglected building can be renovated and an area revitalized after tragedy.  It is more than just a terminal; it is a market place and destination.  To learn more just follow the link to the Ferry Building.

  ferry building

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Cowgirl creamery

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And for those who need it, there is a Starbucks just a stone’s throw away from the Ferry Building.

 

Copyright © 2016  John J Campo

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By the Side of the Road

The time has come to shake off the winter lethargy and get back to work.

Welcome to the modern era of Western Civilization.  We are a fast-paced people who are forever rushing hither and yon in our cars, trucks and SUV’s.  We rush to appointments, work endless hours, and even rush around on our vacations.  We are always in such a rush that we never take the time to really see what is around us.

I decided long ago I didn’t like living like that.  I made the decision to take the time to document things we tend to miss on the side of the road.  Some of this “stuff” still exists while others have disappeared into the mists of time. 

This will be a continuing post of things that are seen yet not seen.  These things are visible yet all but invisible to the naked eye as we rush about our business. 

Lunch Time at the Irrigation Canal

Egrets and other birds gathering for a free feast of fish.

People were rushing by on this rural road in Yolo County paying no heed to the congregation just on the side of the road.  A farmer was filling the irrigation ditch with water from either Putah Creek or the Sacramento River.  The Egrets and other birds gathered for the free lunch of small fish brought in from the main water source.  The only thing the birds needed to do was don their bibs and eat.  Life is good.

The Orange Stand

In the era before interstates and air conditioned cars, people traveled 2 and 4 lane highways.  Roads such as Route 66 meandered across the country and through towns and cities.  When traveling up Highway 99, 40, or 101 in California in the summer, it can get very hot.  The ever resourceful farmers along these highways saw a niche that needed to be filled.  What could be better on a hot summer day than an ice cold glass of orange juice?  After all, at that time, California was a major orange grower.  Many farmers set up their stands and a lot were built in the shape of an orange.  One could stop at these stands and get that nice cold drink while your car cooled down, as radiator water was offered for free as well.  Remember, these were the days before McDonalds and cars with coolant recovery systems and air conditioning.

As time went by, some of these roadside stands expanded.  They started offering food and produce along with orange juice.  Rather than tear down the original orange stand, they just added to the existing structure. 

But alas, all good things must come to an end.  President Eisenhower, impressed by the German autobahns, commissioned the building of the interstate highway system, bypassing towns and the stands.  Cars got better cooling systems for the engines and air conditioning was added and improved. All this new technology eliminated the need for stops to cool down the car and passengers.  The little roadside orange stand was no longer needed and slowly disappeared.  Well, almost all.  Sitting at the exit to A Street in Dixon, off Interstate 80, sits one on the last 3 remaining orange stands I know of in Central and Northern California. 

One of the last for the orange juice stands that use to dot Highways 101, 99, and 40 from the 30's to the 60's.

It sits alone and, for the most part, forgotten by travelers.  It is painted and cared for. It should be a historic site.  It is the only one left on what was Highway 40 before overtaken by Interstate 80 and Dixon was bypassed. 

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It was still vibrant and in use until about 2009.  Today it sits on the side of the road barely noticed, if at all, by the travelers on the interstate. 

Pepperbelly’s

The city of Fairfield sits along Interstate 80 almost half way between San Francisco and Sacramento.  It is the county seat for Solano County.   At the corner of Jackson and Texas Streets is the burned out shell of Pepperbelly’s.  This was once a movie theater that shut down.  It was reincarnated as Pepperbelly’s.  It became a comedy club, small concert venue, and live theater venue.  People noticed the venue for its entertainment, but nobody really noticed its mural.

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PepperBelly’s mural, on the Jackson Street side of the building, showed Fairfield and its history.  Travis Air Force Base is here and represented with the C-131 Samaritan.  Solano County is named after Chief Solano of the Suisun tribe.  A depiction of his statue that stands in front of the old county building at the corner of Texas and Union Streets can be seen to the left.

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Hardly noticed is the man down in the corner by the names of the artists.

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And equally unnoticed is the GI dancing with his lady to the music of a jazz band.  While the walls and marquee of Pepperbelly’s still stands, they are all that remains of this once proud venue.  The mural is still in place.  Stop some time and admire it before it is all torn down.

In the Middle of Nowhere

On a lonely stretch of I-80 from Vallejo to Fairfield, just past the American Canyon exit sits an empty field along the old frontage road.  Today, it is just that: empty.  But once upon a time the owner decided to brighten up the place.

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He decided to display his collection of vintage tractors.  He lined them up in a neat row.

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He not only had tractors but a horse drawn wagon from a bygone era to display.

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He even has a surplus tracked snow vehicle. 

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Not to mention a nice surrey buggy.  They were all there to go unnoticed by the travelers flying by.  Today, the display is gone.  Another roadside curiosity lost to history.

The Museum that Never Was

Along the frontage road next to I-80 going from Fairfield to Vacaville, sat the beginnings of a museum.  It was to be a farm museum.

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On the faded marquee of a dilapidated produce stand are the words “Museum – Produce and Fruit Stand.”  In the field in front of the stand were pieces of rusting farm machinery. 

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This quasi museum has been on the side of the road for as long as I can remember.  Today, it has vanished.  It has become just another curiosity along the side of the road that has vanished into the mists of time.

So, when you are out and about, take the time to see what is along the road.  There are curiosities, monuments, historical sites, and just plain weird things to see.  Also, take the time to photograph them.

Copyright © 2016  John J Campo

 

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Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays

Just want to wish everyone a happy holiday season.  I am posting one photo of Rothenburg ob der Tauber, a beautiful walled city in Germany and two of Peterborough England.  All engender the holiday spirit.  Hope you enjoy them.  Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays.

Peterborough Cathedral Choir  Peterborough Corn ExchangeRothenburgobderTauberCopyright © 2015  John J Campo

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Veterans Day

November 11 is Veterans Day. For some it is a day off work. For others it is that holiday that moves around instead of being always on Monday. But to some of us, it has a deeper meaning: the meaning of Freedom.


Veterans Day was originally known as Armistice Day. Why? Combat in World War I ceased on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918. That was when the armistice took effect in Europe but a peace treaty was not signed until 1919. However, November 11 has always been considered the last day of World War I. (Ironically, it is also considered the beginning of the countdown to World War II.) President Woodrow Wilson declared November 11 as a holiday in 1919. In 1954 a bill was passed through Congress in order to give the holiday congressional sanction. Congress made one change to that bill. They replaced the word “Armistice” with the word “Veterans.” Hence Armistice Day became Veterans Day. In 1971, Congress passed another bill called Uniform Monday Holiday Act pinning all Federal holidays to a Monday and to comply, Veterans Day was moved to the 4th Monday in October. In 1978 Veterans Day was moved back to, fittingly, November 11th the day World War I ended.


Veterans Day has special meaning to me. I am a veteran and I worked for the Department of Veterans Affairs in the Veterans Benefits Administration. Being stationed in Europe I was able to visit battlefields and go to the American Cemeteries in Cambridge, England and Hamm, Luxembourg. I also went to the Deutscher Soldatenfriedhof in Sanweiler which is only 1.5 kilometers from the American Cemetery.

I hauled out the negative files and scanned in the photos from Hamm, Sanweiler and Cambridge. I apologize in advance as I could only locate 3 pictures for the cemetery in Cambridge. I am still looking for the negative files. Lots of moves over the years so I hope the negatives didn’t get lost in the move. But I hope they move you as my visit to these sites moved me. It brought home to me the cost of freedom and the price paid by those who died so that I may live in a country where liberty reigns. It also renewed my commitment to my country to help maintain that liberty.


American Cemetery Hamm0014The American Cemetery at Hamm, Luxembourg is bright and white. It is situated along one of the main highways inviting people to visit and pay their respects.

American Cemetery Hamm0019The chapel, while not large, still looms up like a giant column.

American Cemetery Hamm0020The interior is simple but elegant.

American Cemetery Hamm0015General George S Patton is buried separate from the others. His untimely death and burial caused a great controversy at the time. The Army policy for burial was that everyone was buried in alphabetical order no matter their rank. The Patton family asked that he be buried separate from the other graves. They felt that there would be a great many visitors to the General’s grave. To follow the Army’s policy would mean that the graves surrounding the General’s plot would be trampled on and desecrated. The Army denied the request. The citizens of Luxembourg considered the General a national hero and thought the Army was being unreasonable. The government of Luxembourg approached the family stating that the country of Luxembourg would consider it a great honor if they could bury the General in a place of honor in Luxembourg City Cathedral. Faced with having egg all over its proverbial face, the Army decided to reconsider its ruling and would bury the General in a separate plot away from the other graves. As the Patton family predicted, there are many who visit Hamm to pay their respects to the General. Many stopped by his grave when I was there. But the Army did one more thing. . .

American Cemetery Hamm0013They buried General Patton at the head of the troops. His grave looks out over the rest of Hamm. There are 5,076 graves at Hamm. The majority are casualties of the Battle of the Bulge. There are 101 unknowns buried here.

cambridge1The American Cemetery at Cambridge, England contains 3,812 burials. Most of these are either casualties of the Battle of the Atlantic or brought back dead or dying in bombers from the air war over Germany. This cemetery is also along a major highway and is bright and white.

sealThe chapel windows contain the seals for all the States in America.

wallThe great wall contains the names of the many missing in action, mostly from the Battle of the Atlantic.

Both of these cemeteries contain the remains of those who, as Abraham Lincoln said at Gettysburg, gave that last full measure of devotion. They rest in the surreal calm of their respective countrysides, visited by their surviving brethren, who are getting fewer and fewer each day.


While at the cemetery at Hamm, looking at the grandeur of this place, made me begin to wonder, “What of the vanquished?” What of the many German soldiers who fought and died, be it willingly or unwillingly, for their country. I say unwillingly because some were conscripts who were drafted into service. For the German conscript there was no “Hell no, we won’t go!” To not go brought punishment down on their whole family. So they went and died. 

But the question of the fate of the vanquished still played on my mind. My answer was only 1.5 kilometers away from Hamm in Sanweiler, Luxembourg. Located here is the Deutscher Soldatenfriedhof.

German Cemetery Luxembourgl 04Unlike the American cemetery, the German cemetery is set back off the road. You must follow the signs to the parking lot and then walk a further 200 yards into the wood to the actual cemetery.

German Cemetery Luxembourgl 05Unlike the American cemetery, this is a cold and dark place.

German Cemetery Luxembourgl 02The quiet here is eerie. No clean white headstones here. It contains the remains of 10,913 dead from the Battle of the Bulge.

German Cemetery Luxembourgl 03German Cemetery Luxembourgl 08And unlike the American cemetery where each cross represents one U.S. serviceman’s final resting place, there are four German servicemen per cross. And the crosses are a grey/black granite as opposed to the American white marble. Unlike the American cemetery, which is a monument to freedom and our willingness to defend others, the German cemetery is a monument to the folly of one man’s dream of the super race.

Let us remember those who gave their lives that we may live free, as well as those who live among us, on this Veterans Day. But let us also pray for the soles of the vanquished, that their deaths were not in vain. Their deaths should remind us that when we give away our freedom and liberty to a government, political party, or politician, we become nothing more than peasants subject to the whims of that government. Each cross in the German cemetery should also remind us how Benjamin Franklin cautioned that any people who were willing to give up liberty for safety deserved neither. Adolf Hitler was ELECTED! The German people gave up liberty and paid the price.

The white crosses and Stars of David at the American cemeteries in Luxembourg and England should remind us of the cost of freedom and liberty. Remember, freedom isn’t free.

Copyright © 2015  John J Campo

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A Funny Thing Happened at the Greek Food Festival

Ah yes! The Labor Day Weekend heralds the official end of summer. In Sacramento it also means that Gold Rush Days will be going on in Old Sacramento and the Greek Food Festival will be going on at the Convention Center. Yes, you can go from 1800’s shoot-outs to eating great Greek food in about 10 minutes. Gold Rush Days is a yearly event with several sponsors.  The Greek Food Festival is put on every year by the Greek Orthodox Church of Sacramento.


We got together with a friend and his wife (and child) to go to the Gold Rush Days on the Saturday. His wife is from the Philippines so what screams Americana more (and introduces her to our local history) than cowboy shootouts and the Wild West? She got a kick out of the festivities. Then we decided to go to the Greek Food Festival to enjoy Greek food and watch Greek dancing. After all, it is just 10 minutes away.


Now I understand that convention centers, fairgrounds and the like will schedule two events on the same day. After all, there is a ton of room. I have even seen some very well matched events scheduled together. The one that comes to my mind took place at the Cow Palace in San Francisco. In this venue they scheduled a tattoo expo and a beer fest over the same weekend. I mean, they go together like bread and butter. Let’s go get rip-snorting drunk then get a tattoo. This was NOT the case in Sacramento. We did not know that another event was scheduled at the Convention Center along with the Greek Food Festival. When we pulled up to the Convention Center, we were greeted by, well, I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves.

DSCF0394DSCF0396cosplay1Yes, the Sacramento Anime Convention was also being held at the Convention Center.

DSCF0395DSCF0391DSCF0398DSCF0399doeAnd, of course, these folks needed to eat too. What better place than the Greek Food Festival going on right there?

DSCF0410And this doe gladly posed for pictures with the patrons.

Needless to say, my friend’s wife was just wide-eyed and amused at what she saw. Welcome to America.

Because I was with a group, I could not attend the Anime Convention. I would have liked to because of all the photo ops that are there. The attendees of these conventions are as passionate about their art as say, a historical reenactor. Believe me, it is art when you consider the time and effort put into each costume and persona. I am already marking my calendar for next year’s convention. By the way, does anyone know who the doe is?

Copyright © 2015  John J Campo

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