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.

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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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Eben-Emael Plus 40 Years

This year we celebrated the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II. The coverage of this event got me thinking back to when I was stationed in Germany. It was 1980 and I was in the Air Force stationed in Germany. My friend Chris and I had just gotten back from a temporary assignment. We were given a couple of compensation days off so we decided to go on a spur of the moment road trip. We journeyed to the site of one of the pivotal historical moments 40 years prior at the start of WWII. We went to the one place that could have stopped the German drive into Europe dead in its tracks. It was the Belgian fortress of Eben-Emael. This position with its 120mm and 75mm cannons defended both the junction of the Albert Canal and the Maas River and could deny the Germans the strategic road junctions and bridges at Maastricht. Here, in an audacious attack, Germany unveiled a secret weapon. Instead of trying to attack the fortress in a classic ground assault, for the first time ever, Germany landed 81 parachute engineers via glider onto the roof of Eben-Emael at dawn. On May 10, 1940, a total of 8 gliders landed on the roof. 7 landed together while the 8th landed some time later. (The tow rope on this glider broke. Ironically, it carried the commander of the attack. However, the paratroopers were so well trained that the sergeant took over and led the attack.) These 81 troops captured a fortress manned by 1,500 Belgian troops. They used specially designed explosives called “shaped charges” to put the 120mm and 75mm guns out of commission. This allowed the main body of the German army in that sector to enter Maastricht and cross the Maas River and Albert Canal unmolested.
40 years later, on a cold fall day, Chris and I found Eben-Emael. I scanned in the photos from the original negative film.

EbenEmael 14The brooding entrance of Eben-Emael shows the scars of battle and the ravages of time.

EbenEmael 11The main gate into the fortress with its plaque to the fallen also shows the damage from battle and the ravages of time. From here we followed a path that led us to the top of the fortress.

EbenEmael 02This vast expanse of field on the top of the fortress is where the German gliders landed. There were few antiaircraft guns and they were unmanned.

EbenEmael 21A rise in the center of the field caught our eyes. We had to explore. 

EbenEmael 03Closer inspection shows a path leading through 40 years of overgrown vegetation.

EbenEmael 04Within that rise are the remains of the main prize: the 120mm cannons that could have stopped the Germans from taking the strategic town of Maastricht.

EbenEmael 20The top of the cupola shows the damage inflicted by the specially designed “shaped explosive charges” on May 10, 1940. They were designed to use a jet of molten copper to sear a hole through the armor. 

EbenEmael 17The fortress has several triple 75mm canon casements for close-in artillery support. They too were knocked out of action.

EbenEmael 18A single canon within the casement shows the rust and the ravages of time.  

EbenEmael 01Chris examines one of the false cupolas on the top of the fortress. These were designed to emulate actual gun positions and would show up on aerial photos so the position looked stronger than it really was. It also meant that the attacker had to consider these positions in any attack plan and divert resources for their elimination.

EbenEmael 06A view of the strategic junction of the Maas River and the Albert Canal that the Germans had to capture intact as seen from the top of the fortress.

EbenEmael 07This is one of the actual manned cupolas defending the fortress and the vital water junction showing the rust and ravages of 40 years of decay.

EbenEmael 08view of the vital water junction of the Maas River and Albert canal from the perspective of the defenders of Eben-Emael would have seen it.

EbenEmael 09down on the Albert Canal from the antitank ditch and cliff the Germans would need to scale if they attacked Eben-Emael in the conventional way.  

EbenEmael 23Chris and I left Eben-Emael to continue its brooding over the countryside. It was a lonely and silent sentinel of the past and reminder to the future. Now 75 years have passed since men fought a desperate battle here. Europe has remained at peace. Eben-Emael can slumber in peace.  

 

P.S.  Since my visit in 1980, and with the celebrations for the 70th anniversary of WWII, Belgian authorities has made Eben-Emael available for tours.  They have cleaned up the old fortress and have a website: http://www.fort-eben-emael.be/en/  .   Some parts are still under construction but pay it a visit anyway.

 

Copyright © 2015  John J Campo

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Drought and Fire in California

I know that this is my second post, and this site is supposed to showcase my photography. However, there are times when other things become more important. The western states are on fire. So far at least six firefighters in two states have lost their lives fighting these fires. And while the news agencies do an excellent job reporting from the fire lines, rarely do they venture further away to show that the area for many miles around is affected.


2015 is the fourth year of drought here in California. Fire season has been especially bad. The big 3 so far this fire season are the Wragg Fire, the Jerusalem Fire and the Rocky Fire. All 3 were in the same general vicinity. The Rocky Fire was the biggest burning through more than 69, 400 acres and stretched across Lake, Yolo and Colusa counties. The Jerusalem Fire has burned through 25,146 acres through Lake and Napa Counties and is 78% contained as of August 15, 2015. The Wragg Fire burned 8,051 acres through Napa and Solano County.


The Wragg Fire was 23 miles away from my home. That did not spare the people in my area from the effects of the fire. These photos were taken at my home on the first day of the Wragg Fire. I have lived in the area for over 15 years and never seen the smoke this bad.

Wragg Fire 1This was the scene that greeted me outside my office window. Talk about an apocalyptic scene.

Wragg Fire 2This is all we saw of the sun. Looked like a nuclear winter outside.

Wragg Fire 4And it didn’t get any better as time went on.

Wragg Fire 5The smoke spread all over the valley. This is looking east as it spread to Sacramento and as far north as Yuba City
Not long after this picture was taken, the owner of the trailer hooked up and took off. We were left to wonder if he knew something we didn’t.  Turns out he had returned from a camping trip and was going to a dump station to clean the trailer.

Truckee
Made a trip to the town of Truckee near the Donner Pass and Lake Tahoe in the Sierras to see what effect the drought was having in that region. Normally, the Truckee River is flowing fast down the eastern slope of the Sierras to Reno and then on Pyramid Lake in the Great Basin. That was not the case on this trip. The Truckee River was a trickle. Lake Tahoe has gone down to levels not seen in decades.

Truckee Drought 2Lake Tahoe has receded from the natural shoreline. In a normal year the concentric ring artwork would be underwater.

Truckee Drought 7This is the same area in a normal year when the water comes up to the beach.

Truckee Drought 6This part of the Truckee River usually has rafters, tubers and kayakers competing for space on the river. Now the river is so shallow, no one competes for room.

Truckee Drought 4It is hard to believe that the river is this low. It is now a creek, and a tiny one at that.


It is still 3 months away from the start of the rainy season here. Those who prognosticate about the weather are saying that a “once in a generation” El Niño event will hit the west coast. News agencies are reporting this constantly which causes me to fear even more. Am I afraid that there will be record rain to break the drought and finally douse the fires? No. Given the press’ track record, I fear we may be headed into another year of drought and not record rain. I pray that I’m wrong. Either way, we still have at least three more months of fire season. And let’s all say a little prayer for the firefighters.

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Ford Trimotor

Few people today realize that the Ford Motor Company dabbled in aviation as well. To compete with Boeing and others, the Ford Tri-motor, also known as “The Tin Goose” was produced from 1928 to 1933. It had a corrugated metal skin, control cables mounted outside the aircraft and 3 Pratt & Whitney R985 engines for power. It was had a crew of 3: pilot, copilot and stewardess.  The stewardess was there for more than just handing out sandwiches and drinks.  In the early days of flight, she also had to be a registered nurse to handle any emergencies inflight.

The Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) flies a 1929 model of the aircraft. They offer 12 minute flights for $70.00. It is a chance to fly in an original aircraft and enjoy 1920’s and 30’s state of the art transportation.

Queen of the skies in 1929, the Ford Trimotor airliner.

Queen of the skies in 1929, the Ford Trimotor airliner.

If not for the modern dress and aircraft in the background, this could be 1929 again.

Ford Trimotor03The true meaning of “fly-by-wire”

Ford Trimotor04Yep, those are the control cables running along the outside of the aircraft. Made for easy inspection for fraying cables.

Ford Trimotor12One of the three Pratt and Whitney R985 engine that powers this proud, old bird.

Ford Trimotor06State-of-the-art, spacious and comfortable seating.  Every seat is a window seat.  Every seat is an aisle seat.  No one gets stuck in the middle seat.

Ford Trimotor05A cockpit with second-to-none avionics and control features.  The nifty, thrifty Cessna 150 has more avionics than this.

Ford Trimotor07Boarding is quick and easy.  No TSA hassles here.

Ford Trimotor08Engine start is a little smoky.

Ford Trimotor09The proud bird takes again to the skies.

Ford Trimotor10Back on terra firma. Taxing back to the parking spot.

Ford Trimotor11Okay 747 jockeys, let’s see you fly your plane with your arm out the window.

I hope you enjoyed seeing this fine old aircraft. A look at this aircraft shows how brave and intrepid not just the pilots, but the passengers were to fly in these planes.  For the day, it was state-of-the-art and the height of chic to travel in.  To see it still flying is wonderful.

Just a note, the EAA has a great museum and hosts one of the largest airshows in Oshkosh, Wi. every summer.  Their website is full of nice pictures of their aircraft and a calendar of when some of their aircraft might be in your area.

Copyright © 2015  John J Campo

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