O…M…G… What an Adventure Today!!!

Adventure, Just things, Motorcycle, Travel, Uncategorized

Today’s adventure was one of the best I have ever had. Ever. No… really. EVER.

I started out the day by taking a motorcycle ride. I was looking at ideas for things to do last night and I stumbled across an article about some WWII planes in Port Angeles on display so I decided to go over and see them. There was to be a B-17 Flying Fortress, a B-24 Liberator, and a P-51 Mustang brought in by The Collings Foundation as an exhibit called “Wings of Freedom”. For a mere $12 admission you could get in the Fortress and Liberator and have a look up close at the insides of these two amazing aircraft. You could also take a flight in them as well. These old planes are so cool, and the things these crewmen did to fly these things in some of the most dangerous conditions was nothing short of incredible.

The day was starting with a beautiful morning but with a chance of afternoon showers. No worries… I was going to go look at planes and come home before I would get wet. On the way over there I saw the B-24 in the distance. DAMMIT… I wanted to see it fly a little closer to me! AS I got on the west side of P.A. the Mustang went barreling overhead headed for the airport. Just behind him and to the north was the B-17. What a sight that was to be looking at flying past!

I got to the airport and there were many people there to see the planes. Very cool to see them parked on the tarmac, but the B-24 was not there yet so I was going to get to see it taxi in! There were many of us standing outside the fence and a guy came by and said to watch out for “prop wash”. The Liberator came in and circled to park. Man… did that get the adrenaline going – along with sand, grass, and a high wind that was buffeting us and all loose objects. I talked with a couple of volunteers from The Spit that I ran into outside the fence. Just before I went in they were preparing the B-17 for a flight to take some people up. We watched the plane taxi away and take off. It was headed right for The Blue Hole over The Spit.

With the rush of that experience I was fired up big time. I went in and got in the planes and looked around in amazement.

P-51C Mustang

P-51C Mustang

P-51C Mustang

P-51C Mustang

P-51C Mustang

P-51C Mustang

B-24 Liberator - "Witchcraft"

B-24 Liberator – “Witchcraft”

B-24 Liberator - "Witchcraft"

B-24 Liberator – “Witchcraft”

Catwalk though bomb bay - B-24 Liberator - "Witchcraft"

Catwalk though bomb bay – B-24 Liberator – “Witchcraft”

Side gun - B-24 Liberator - "Witchcraft"

Side gun – B-24 Liberator – “Witchcraft”

Looking forward to cockpit - B-24 Liberator - "Witchcraft"

Looking forward to cockpit – B-24 Liberator – “Witchcraft”

IMG_1004

B-24 Liberator - "Witchcraft"

B-24 Liberator – “Witchcraft”

Side guns - B-24 Liberator - "Witchcraft"

Side guns – B-24 Liberator – “Witchcraft”

Tail gun - B-17 Flying Fortress

Tail gun – B-17 Flying Fortress

Side gun - B-17 Flying Fortress

Side gun – B-17 Flying Fortress

Belly turret - B-17 Flying Fortress

Belly turret – B-17 Flying Fortress

Bombs in bomb bay - B-17 Flying Fortress

Bombs in bomb bay – B-17 Flying Fortress

B-17 Flying Fortress

B-17 Flying Fortress

B-17 Flying Fortress

B-17 Flying Fortress

Belly turret - B-17 Flying Fortress

Belly turret – B-17 Flying Fortress

Bombs in bomb bay - B-17 Flying Fortress

Bombs in bomb bay – B-17 Flying Fortress

Pretty incredible to see them up close like that. These are the planes we saw in WWII war movies and saw numerous stories about over all these years, and here I was, crawling around inside a fully functioning aircraft. Oh man… this is so neat.

B-17 Flying Fortress

B-17 Flying Fortress

B-17 Flying Fortress

B-17 Flying Fortress

B-17 Flying Fortress

B-17 Flying Fortress

With all the excitement I thought about it, and I did consider it last night as I decided to go see these planes… I can go for a flight. In a WWII bomber. Wow… I can go for a flight in a WWII bomber! When I saw the B-17 head for the Strait and then The Spit, my credit card mysteriously leapt from my wallet and it told the guy “he is powerless against the mighty Flying Fortress… sign him up!”.

I took my bike home, got my camera, hearing protection (I knew it would be loud), and a sandwich, then I hopped in the car and was quite ready to burst. I got back to the airport, took care of the final paperwork and waited to go. This was going to be exciting. Flying is a treat, The Spit is a wonderful place and getting to see The Spit from the air will be cool, and to go in one of the greatest airplanes ever built was the cherry on top.

We had a rundown on what was going to happen. Buckle in during takeoff and landing, but otherwise feel free to go anywhere in the plane except the actual cockpit, belly turret, and rear turret… that can only mean WE CAN GO IN THE NOSE GUN!!!! WOO-HOO!!! I was 3rd on the plane, and I ended up in the radio op chair and buckled in. We taxied away and started down the runway. The pilot hit the gas and it threw me back in the set with quite a bit of force. Pretty incredible power (someone told me each engine was 1200 HP). The hatch above us was left off… a sunroof on a bomber! Who’da thunk it!!! As soon as we got the sign, which was not long after we got wheels off pavement, we started milling about. I poked my head up as we banked east and could see the tail-end of the plane against the mountains.

Olympic National Park and the tail of a B-17 Flying Fortress

Olympic National Park and the tail of a B-17 Flying Fortress

How weird THIS is! It was windy as hell as you can imagine. I had my contacts in so I could not look forward unfortunately. That was amazing. I was glad I had my hearing protectors on… I pulled it away from my ears once and it was very loud inside.

I worked my way forward to get in the nose gun and check that out. With a camera, camera bag, and a jacket it was tedious to get through the tight confines of the passageways to get there. I had to go forward, squeeze through the bomb bay, duck down to get into the area behind the cockpit, then drop down and crawl then come up in to the nose gun. It sits down below and in front of the pilots in a separate area. It was bigger than I thought, and had lots of windows. I was able to get some pictures and see The Spit and my cabin from there as well. I let others have a turn and I crawled back out toward the rear of the plane and got a few other pictures and videos taken.

Base of Dungeness Spit as seen from a B-17 Flying Fortress - My house is just about in the center of the trees on the bluff in that hole!

Base of Dungeness Spit as seen from a B-17 Flying Fortress – My house is just about in the center of the trees on the bluff in that hole!

Dungeness Spit from the nose gun of a B-17 Flying Fortress

Dungeness Spit from the nose gun of a B-17 Flying Fortress

Protection Island on the left - as seen from the sunroof on a B-17 Flying Fortress

Protection Island on the left – as seen from the sunroof on a B-17 Flying Fortress

Dungeness Spit as seen from a B-17 Flying Fortress

Dungeness Spit as seen from a B-17 Flying Fortress

One of the other guys on the flight took my picture for me:

Me catching some rays in the sunroof of the B-17 Flying Fortress

Me catching some rays in the sunroof of the B-17 Flying Fortress

We got buckled back in to land. We got on the tarmac and got off the plane. What an experience we all had – everyone was grinning from ear to ear. That was an absolutely amazing experience and I would love to do it again. It was so exciting to see these planes, but to get in the air in one was beyond words.

I did take more video, but I am going to try to get it edited together into one group of clips. When I get around to doing that I will get it posted. And, case you are wondering, if some of the videos and pictures look weird where the propellors are concerned it has to do with the shutter speed on my iPhone camera. I did not think to see if that was adjustable.

My Postings Have Been Quiet…

Adventure, Just things, Music, Outdoors, Uncategorized

..but I have been busier than a one-legged man in a butt-kicking contest.

Weather has been beautiful lately, but the showers may be back this week. I am hoping to get a bike ride in and undertake an adventure this week since I have a three-day weekend. Victoria, Canada is still on my radar and I want to go over there sooner rather than later. I am told that the museum and the gardens are something to see, as well as the Parliament building. Those would be good on a day that is overcast or rainy. Guess I need to get to checking out the Canadian weather service website tonight!

With this beautiful weather comes visitors… LOTS of them on the weekends, and the weekdays are starting to get busier here at Dungeness National Wildlife Refuge. This translates into long days. I have also been to the lighthouse several times this past week, taking people out from the International Boundary Commission. They were doing some survey work on the Canada/U.S. international boundary (hence the name… clever, eh?). I made a grocery run for the lighthouse people since I was going to be out two days in a row. Out of kindness they gave me two packages of smoked steelhead they brought down from Alaska for doing that for them. Cannot wait to crack that open!

We have not seen any European Green Crab in our crab traps so far, so that is great news. We have seen many small shore crabs, some helmet crabs, Dungeness, and red rock crabs – some REALLY nice and huge Dungeness and red rock. Unfortunately, we cannot keep them since we are setting traps for research. July 1 is the open of recreational crab season and I am going to go out with a few different people to catch my own. My mouth is watering just thinking about some fresh crab and a Guinness. Gotta get my license/catch card (whatever it is that I need!) pretty shortly and have everything ready to go.

All this work has cut into my adventuring a bit, but just temporarily. My ride week before last was a really good ride and the scenery was fantastic. It had to tide me over through last week; since I had so much going on it was good to stay home and relax on Friday.

So, it looks like tonight I will be looking into some options for this week’s adventure – weather, location, things to see and do, and if I can ride or will have to drive. That 45 MPG on the bike is pretty damn nice!

I have been playing guitar nearly every night the last few weeks as well. It kinda goes in waves sometimes, with a lull that will last sometimes longer than I like but it is not good to force playing for me. I have had a dry spell for songwriting; I have some ideas but am not putting anything together quite yet – mainly just getting back into playing more regularly and getting my playing back up to speed. I also tried a different tuning and taught myself to play the guitar part John wrote for one of the earliest songs we wrote together. It actually came out sounding good! Open Mic Night is still happening weekly, and is another reason I have been practicing.

That is about all for this update. I hope to have something new to post in the next few days.

Today’s Adventure – June 6, 2013

Adventure, Motorcycle, Outdoors, Travel, Uncategorized

Today I woke up around 4:45 for some reason. I have been wanting to do a road trip and the closer the weekend got the weather looked fantastic so I decided to take a bike ride this morning – destination unknown. I took out from here about 7:15 AM and hit the road.

I stopped and got gas (yes, I remembered) in Port Angeles, then got on the open road and rode west on 101 along the shores of the turquoise waters of Lake Crescent. It is such a beautiful place (I posted pictures of it previously on my Neah Bay road trip). As I drove along I thought “Maybe I will just go around the block!”, meaning down to Aberdeen, then east, then back north to home. I wonder how long that would take?

The day was beautiful… warm and sunny. For a little while, that is. Highway 101 started to turn south toward Forks and that is when the fog rolled in. Luckily, it stayed in the trees so it was more like clouds but I saw it as I was going down the road. Needless to say, the temp dropped when the sun went away. My new mesh jacket was not keeping me warm even with the liner so I had to pull over and put on the rain shell to stop the wind and put on my riding pants while I was at it. Ahh… that was better.

US 101 - near Forks, WA

US 101 – near Forks, WA

I went past the exits for the rainforests because this day was all about riding. I also don’t want to haul my hiking gear on my bike just yet. I came up to a sign for Ruby Beach so I made the turn to have a look since I had not been there before. This is what greeted me:

Ruby Beach, Olympic National Park - Washington

Ruby Beach, Olympic National Park – Washington

Ruby Beach, Olympic National Park - Washington

Ruby Beach, Olympic National Park – Washington

I was making my way back to the trail to head back up and I ran into someone I knew… always happens in the strangest of places. It was a family from Tennessee who visited the refuge a few days ago! We recognized each other and chatted for a few, bid one another “Happy Trails!”, and I went to the parking lot as they continued on the beach.

I got back on my bike and went onwards. As I was going down the highway a squirrel ran out in front of me and just kept on going without slowing or stopping. I thought to myself “Oh shit… I wonder how bad THIS is going to end up?”. I was waiting for a bump and then the aftermath, but I had slowed down to about 45 and there was no bump OR aftermath. It seems as though the little fella timed it perfectly and he ran BETWEEN my tires right under my feet.

I continued on and soon the sun came out and it warmed up again. I stopped and took off the riding pants and the outer shell and ended up in Aberdeen, the furthest point of my journey. I stopped and topped of the tank, had a mediocre burger, and went on.

I went to highway 12, then 8, then 118, then finally back onto 101. US 101 is odd in Washington in that it splits and goes two different directions. Not sure how that came about, but it did. It really started to warm up on this leg of the trip, and it was almost hot even on the bike going down the road next to the water. As I got closer to Sequim, however, it cooled off. The wind had picked up near Shelton and when I got into the open areas you could really feel it against the bike. I got back, out the bike away, and came down to my cabin.

It was a great ride. Beautiful scenery, sun for most of the trip (and even the cloudy part was great!), warm temps, and 45-50 MPG for a road trip and I did not have to own a Prius! The total trip was 407 miles. I was gone about 10 hours door-to-door. The bike ran great and is a little more comfy after I adjusted the suspension and made it a little softer.

This is the longest ride I have ever done, and it was a good ride. I had a lot of fun even being a little saddlesore after the fact.

Planning very little is the best way to go on a trip. Go with the wind and see where it takes you!