Saturday, September 20, 2014

Musical Interlude - The Highwayman

A great poem and a beautiful musical adaptation of it by Loreena McKennitt

Adios Rake

Who knew a leaf rake would last 32 years?  Our poor, worn our rake that was purchased sometime shortly after returning to the U.S. from our stint in Germany has finally reached the retirement point.  It is the only leaf rake we have owned in our 36 years as a family but it has too many detached metal fingers and is letting too many leaves and pine needles escape when I have to rake.

I went to Lowe's today for nyjer seed for the greedy finches that we support and decided to buy a replacement rake.  An identical rake would've set me back $20, a 'good-enough' replacement was $8 and that is what I bought.  Sure, the $20 version may have lasted another 32 years but I probably won't be raking leaves when I'm 92.  If I am, I'll buy another rake.

I brought the new one home and set it beside the old rake.  I couldn't brink myself to toss it out, at least not yet.  Maybe the old one will give the youngster some tips and some family history before it leaves us.

The Grouch Heads East! - Part 5 - We head slightly west

It was time to leave Older Son and his lady friend and head west to the 'Burgh for my FIL's 80th birthday and a family reunion.  The Missus is deep into quilting and wanted to stop at two quilt shops along the turnpike at lovely Bedford, Pa.  We stopped and visited for awhile. Unfortunately one quilt shop was closed but the Missus spent time in the other so it was not a loss.  Downtown Bedford is charming and quiet and gave me thoughts of perhaps retiring there someday soon.  Of course the middle of summer is a lot easier on the body than the middle of winter and I hear that it snows a lot in Bedford.

Seen on the main drag in Bedford Pa.  George sure got around!

The Federal government has never had much of a sense of humor about taxes, home made alcohol, and firearms

We stopped for about 10 minutes here and went inside but time and cheapness prevented us from paying our entrance fee and visiting the museum.  Maybe next  time!

My nieces wanted to go shooting, so with a borrowed .22 rifle we traveled to the State Game Land range in Wexford that my father took me to as a 16 year old when he bought me my first .22 rifle.  It is improved from 40 years ago!

The Missus and I needed our retired ID cards updated so we traveled to the local ANG base to get this done.  On display are examples of most of the single engine fighters that they flew over the years.  Missing is an example of  the A7s that they had for a period of time.  This is the F-84

The F-47 and F-51 made of fiberglass.  For many years actual planes were on display but some years ago they were removed and taken to a museum

The F-102; I used to see these fly over my house as a kid in pairs.  They looked like space fighters to me!

One of my favorite things to do at the In-Law's place:  walk the Montour rails to trail path.  That's the Missus, Young Son, and Young Daughter.

Who us, tired and hot?

Seen across the street from the In-Law's estate.  Sweet view!

Sunday, September 14, 2014

The Grouch Heads East! - Part IV - a visit to Mt. Vernon

We couldn't visit the D.C. area without stopping to see George Washington's estate at Mt. Vernon.  Luckily for us it was only about 15-20 minutes from Older Son's house and our trusty GPS directed us to it without a hitch.

If you are visiting the Washington D.C. area this is a 'must-see'.   Between the Missus and I, we've visited the Kennedy, Reagan, Ford, and Nixon library-museums and Harrison's house in Louisville KY.  When we retire we hope to keep adding to our presidential visits.

I think George was accurate in this statement

It was a beautiful day to visit Mt. Vernon, not too humid or hot

The gardens

Eagerly waiting our turn to enter the main building

Almost there!  No pictures allowed inside - you have to go in person to see for yourself

An invention of George's - the horses go round and round inside the structure and their hooves sift out the grain which fell below from the rest which stayed above.  That's the Missus headed up to see the demonstration
The grain fell here and would be stored until it could be further processed.  Pretty clever!

George's riding chair - just what a gentleman needed in that time

And his carriage

The memorials to the slaves who lived and died at Mt. Vernon

The resting place of George and Martha Washington

Other Washington relatives are buried outside of the mausoleum

George's resting place

Young Son contemplates the 'necessary'  Must have been a challenge in the winter!

Three spots, no waiting needed!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

The Grouch Heads East! - Part three: a quick visit to D.C.

So, after an extensive visit at the U/H air museum I was ready to call it a day...but I was the only one.  Older son said we had time for a quick trip to D.C. to see his lady friend and hit some sights in town, so off we went.  He used his mad driving and parking skills to get us into the center of the action and find a safe place to stash the rental car.  After he parked the car he and LF joined us for a walking tour of the nearby monuments and sights.

Don't let this picture fool you.  They were good for another 5 hours of sightseeing!

Young Son shows his approval of the cake that LF offered us when she joined up with the group.  Cake!  Yummmm

The view of the Washington monument from the Lincoln Memorial

The Lincoln memorial when we were there in March.  Not as many people for some reason...


March.  It was cold!

The Korean war memorial.  Very powerful and not as well known as the Vietnam war memorial.  I wish the sculptor hadn't clad the soldiers in ponchos but I guess it saved him time from having to detail the uniforms and web gear under the ponchos

Very realistic - a 1919A4 crew, assistant gunner and gunner calling to each other
The WW2 memorial

The entrance to the memorial is lined on both sides with these tablets that tell the war history in both the Pacific and European theaters.  Very well done.

Meeting the Soviets at the Elbe river at the end of the war

Each state and territory has a free standing column

For my Dad, Corporal Grouch, USAAF

A handsome couple!

After visiting these locations we walked a good distance to a dinner spot that Older Son wanted to try.  We passed several government buildings and museums along the way.  Much to see and do and little time to do it in!

Saturday, August 23, 2014

The Grouch Heads East! - Part Two - the Air and Space museum annex aka Udvar-Hazy center

Day Two saw us traveling to the Air and Space museum annex at Dulles IAP.  This is the overflow for the main museum and in some ways even better than the 'big' museum as it is less crowded and it is easier to get close to the aircraft.  Plus there are some real 'stars' located at this facility  Here is the official website:

For this trip I invested in an up to date Tom-Tom GPS and let me say it was one of the better $100 I've spent recently.  Never wrong and easy to follow!

The family were good sports about spending as much time as we did at the museum.  Older son joined us there after a couple hours and I enjoyed walking with him to view the planes.

The gang getting their photo taken before the ordeal - I mean the visit!

Younger daughter looking lovely

Ok - here we go!

So many of my favorite aircraft are to be found here - this is the P-26 Peashotoer.  Advanced when introduced in the mid 30s but hopelessly obsolete by Pearl Harbor.

The P-40; Claire Chennault showed the Japanese in China that they were about to be in big trouble - his Flying Tigers racked up a number of victories in an earlier version of this plane.   Heavy, built like a tank, and able to take amazing punishment and still could fight on.
Looking one direction from the elevated walkway

Two technological marvels of the 20th century: the SR71 and the Space Shuttle

The plane that ended world war II

Jet combat aircraft, some actual combat veterans

The Concorde, the Boeing Stratoliner, and the Boeing 707: all three on the leading edge of aviation technology

The alien spacecraft model used in "Close Encounters of the Third Kind"   A close encounter with the model (it is huge) reveals many interesting things such as a mailbox, a WW2 fighter plane on a catapult and...

A Mercury space capsule - 'a man in a can'.  No room to move in there! 

The Discovery - it is huge!

According to Younger daughter who knows things - when the Discovery was overhauled and damaged tiles replaced, the black tiles by the cockpit glass were added as 'tears' for the lost shuttles.
You can even view the aircraft overhaul work area!  Not much was going on when we were there.