Greek Trek 2017: Mykonos

The time has come to leave Athens.  At 8:30 in the morning it was onto a bus and off to the port of Piraeus to board the Cylestia Olympia, my chariot to Mykonos.  It was as if I was back in the military again as I did a lot of “hurry up and wait.”  I was at the port by 9:00 in the morning to board a ship that wasn’t due to leave till noon.  The passage to Mykonos took 6 hours, but to be honest, I slept for 3 of those hours in a lounge.  Arrival at Mykonos was around 6:00 in the evening and was met by Dimitrius and Jenny from the San Marco Hotel. My hat’s off to Dimitrius, who navigated the narrow road in that small bus.  The San Marco Hotel is an hour walk from Mykonos Town but they do provide bus service to town.  It is beautiful and well worth the stay.

The island of Mykonos is known for two things: Partying and cats.  This is the party island with clothing optional and gay beaches and a hopping bar scene during the summer months.  In the winter the place becomes a ghost town.  Even the shop keepers and hotel staffs are seasonal.  Talking to the staff at the San Marco, they said they reside at the hotel during the high season and then return home during the off season.  Believe me, they work hard for their money.  Take the dining area crew for example.  Amalia and her staff, Xenia, Effie, and Joanne, have to be present for breakfast which starts at 6 in the morning.  It ends at 11:00 at which time they get a break for the afternoon.  Then they have to set up for the dinner hours and that can extend well into the night.  They do this day in and day out.  I have been told that this is the case all over the islands.

I did not explore the party or beach scene as that is amply covered by other websites.  The place I explored was a section of Mykonos Town known as Little Venice.  Why is it called Little Venice?  It is a jumble of narrow streets you can easily get lost in, kind of like the Venice canal system. As with the Plaka, some shops were high end while others sold tourist souvenirs.

Oh, and one last thing.  I mentioned above and in my Athens post about cats.  The one thing that you see, especially on the islands, is the cat.  These cats are not skittish like cats in America.  And they serve a purpose.  The presence of cats keeps the vermin population down.  On Mykonos you can even buy a calendar entitled “The Cats of Mykonos.”  They have a revered place in the culture and community.

The trip to the port of Piraeus presented us with more graffiti.

The port itself is divided into sections with cargo ships on one side and passenger ship is another.

This is just two of the many cargo ships that were headed for Piraeus.

While the port at Mykonos is small and nondescript, the yachts in the harbor show that this is the playground of the rich and famous.

You can take a stroll along the waterfront and enjoy the view.

One of the hotels in the main town of Mykonos even has a small (very small) beach in front.  Most people have to walk from the port to the hotels due to the limited taxi service.

This gives you an idea of how small the beach is outside the hotel.  You need to take a bus to the main beaches.

All along the waterfront there are tavernas to get a delicious repast.

You can’t get sea food any fresher than this.

Little chapels and shrines are all around Mykonos City.  I guess that is so you can pray that you find your way out of Little Venice.

This is an entrance into Little Venice and it is one of the wider streets in the area.

A boutique gift shop which was closed at the time.

I guess that is what you need after you buy jewelry from this shop. 

Some streets had souvenirs aimed at the tourists.  The ever present Mykonos cat is catching some shade.

Streets in Little Venice are about this size.  It is hard to walk two abreast on these streets.

To my amazement, there is at least one hotel within the labyrinth of Little Venice.  I saw two people doing the dreaded bag-drag to get here.

This is about the only motorized vehicle that can get down the streets.

This clothing shop posted a mannequin at the door to model a dress.  Makes it look like someone is standing in the door.

Of course, nearby is another of the cats of Mykonos.

The Piano Bar is hidden within the labyrinth as well.

Mykonos is also known for its windmills.  They sit on the far side of the town. They can be reached by either going through Little Venice or. .

. . . by walking along the waterfront on this very narrow pathway.

Believe it or not, this is a public bathroom along the waterfront.  Blends right in with the rest of the town.

The San Marco Hotel, while away from town, offers a pretty spectacular view.

The lobby has an inviting feel to it.

George is the general manager of the hotel.  He takes an interest in all his guests.

The hotel is very open and is built on a hillside so it has four different levels.  This is the lobby level.

Every room has a small patio area where one can just sit and enjoy the day.  This is the second level.  The staff, who stay at the hotel through the tourist season reside at the highest level.

The gentleman on the right is Lucus.  He is a former member of the Greek army.  He and I (as I am a veteran as well) talked about the different militaries and equipment.  I hope the other receptionist will forgive me for not remembering his name.

This is Valia, the bartender.  She is friendly, vivacious and attentive.  You would think she is Greek but you would be wrong.  She is Albanian.  I met hotel workers and shopkeepers who were from elsewhere in Europe including England and Ireland.  They spend 6 to 9 months on the resort areas of Greece and then return home over the winter. 

This looks like a good place to end my visit to Mykonos.  How better to end this visit than to show two more of the ever present Cats of Mykonos enjoying the shade.

On to the cruise ship to be whisked away to other islands of Greece.  First stop: Patmos.



Copyright © 2017  John J Campo


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Greek Trek 2017: Athens – Lost Luster

As a young Sergeant in the Air Force, I was sent on temporary assignment from my base in England to Athens.  The reason is not important, but I was in Athens for five months.  Flying into Athens I was presented with an expanse of white buildings and a decided lack of high rises like you see in large American or English cities.  Once on the ground I saw that the buildings were whitewashed, well kept and beautiful.  Many years have passed and I once again find myself in Athens.  Flying in I saw much of the same picture I saw all those years ago.  However, on the ground, I was shocked by a decidedly different reality.  The once proud buildings were dull and dilapidated.  Graffiti defaced many of the now forlorn structures.  Financial difficulties brought on by government mismanagement and changes demanded by the European Union have caused Greece to become the pauper of Europe.  But, either despite or because of these difficulties, the Greek people are still proud, bold and hospitable.

This trip to Athens was only over three nights but a lot was packed into that time.  I spent a majority of my time exploring an area called “The Plaka.”  It is an area below the Acropolis with narrow streets lined with shops and eateries.  There is very little vehicular traffic in this area.  The shops sell just about any trinket a tourist could desire from “evil eye” pendants and bracelets to fend off evil to flokati (sheep skin) rugs.  The eateries, better known as tavernas, provided the taste buds with delicious dishes and equally delightful drink to wash it all down. 

The Acropolis

I went to the Acropolis as it was part of the tour package.  I have included a couple of old pictures from my first trip to show some changes.  If you want more photos along with detailed information I suggest you go to Matt Barrett’s excellent site.

This photo I took when I was sent to Athens as a young Sergeant.  Most people think this is the Acropolis.  Actually this is the Parthenon, a temple dedicated to the Goddess Athena, which sits atop the Acropolis.  Back then, there were no paved walkways or stairs.  It was also pretty devoid of people.

Today, the way up to the Acropolis is now nicely paved with steps where needed.

Back then you pretty much had the run of the place with few visitors.

Nearly the same spot today.  Some of the temple has been restored but, as you can see, it is a sea of humanity.  This was as far as I went this trip.  The site was packed!

The Theater of Dionysos back then shows how much the city backs up to the Acropolis.

Today, you can see the reconstruction taking place and some of the modern buildings are gone.

The police patrol the area and these two officers are making sure the street vendors have proper permits to sell their wares.  The other thing I noticed is that, unlike police in an American town who ride the same brand motorcycle, here one is riding a Honda and the other a Suzuki.  The other thing I noticed is that sometimes I would see two policemen per motorcycle.

You can always hire a horse drawn carriage to take you to the base of the Acropolis in style.

And just because you are not in America doesn’t mean you escape seeing Segway tourists.

From the Acropolis you can look out and see other ruins that surround this sacred rock.

The Acropolis Museum, which was not even built the last time I was here, is built over other ancient ruins of an Athenian neighborhood.

Inside there are many artifacts found at the Acropolis. 

This statue, once part of an Acropolis temple shows the toll suffered from decades of pollution and erosion.

The statue shows how the arm is connected to the rest of the sculpture.  According to archeologists, square wooden pegs were used so that the arm stayed in the prescribed position.

All in all, a visit to this ancient site is well worth braving the madding crowds. 

The Plaka

The Plaka District is an area of Athens with narrow streets lined with shops.  There are shops of every kind here.  Some are there selling trinkets to the tourists while others are high end stores catering to the rich and famous.  Intermingled with these shops are tavernas, places that serve delicious Greek cuisine and drink. 

The Plaka is maze of narrow streets where you can easily get lost.  There are maps around to tell you where you are.

Tavernas in the Plaka offer good food and drink with inside and outside seating.

From the hanging birdcage there is no mistaking this for anything but an ice cream shop.

The streets are narrow and packed with tourists shopping for souvenirs.

This is one of the more interesting offerings in the Plaka.  The name was the thing that caught my eye.

Inside you can get the most interesting foot treatment.  These fish eat away your dead skin.  Some say it tickles while others say it feels like tiny nips on the feet.

Need food? Shops have it by the ton.  The plastic sealed packages to the left are olives.

Fine leather goods are readily available.

This building has the remains of a mural.  But you can also see the neglect and decay along with some graffiti.

Graffiti defaced many of the buildings in Athens.

A vintage BMW motorcycle was parked on one street in front of a fence covered in graffiti.

This taverna had a beautiful mosaic on the wall.

Another taverna on the Plaka with plenty of outside seating and across from graffiti.

A honey shop with the freshest honey you can buy.  You can even watch the honey makers at work.

No shopping area is complete unless it has a bakery.

There were many souvenir shops with tee shirts for sale.  I saw some that I liked but due to what was printed on them, I doubt I would be able to wear them anywhere.

This church in the middle of the Plaka. . .

. . .with a beautify mosaic of the Blessed Mother and child.  Churches seemed to be the only buildings devoid of graffiti.

These awnings in the Plaka district show the diversity of the shops.  A cheesy souvenir shop can be next to a high end watch shop.

Do you see the cat amongst the ruins?  Cats will be a recurring theme in this and the posts to come.

My time in Athens is done.  Now it is time to head to the port to catch a boat to the next destination: Mykonos.


Copyright © 2017 John J Campo


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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?


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. 



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. 


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.


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


Cowgirl creamery

cowgirl creamery2











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. 

OJ Stand 1

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. 


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.


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.


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


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.


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


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


He even has a surplus tracked snow vehicle. 


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.


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. 


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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