Day 48

Trip Start Dec 24, 2011
Trip End Feb 27, 2012

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Flag of United States  , Virginia
Saturday, February 11, 2012

Day48 Udvar Hazy
I think that staying in one place causes you to think you need a rest, and probably we do. So today is a slow day. I turned the alarm off and woke up 'late'. Had a lazy breakfast- have sussed out the waffle machine, goodbye muffin, and we finally get away about 10:30. We are off to the Udvar Hazy aeronautical and space musem. Its biggest
draw card is the 'Enola Gay', the B29 that Col Tibbets flew and dropped the bomb over Hiroshima. This is quite a bird. The weather forecast isn't great. It will be very cold, wet and windy and they were pretty much on. We start out at -1deg C which slowly progresses to -2. The winds are about 25-30 knotts, which makes the temp about -8degC. Yep, it's cold. The rain is very much like sleet and on the way it turns to snow for about a kilometre and turns back to sleet. We pull into the carpark, it's about 11:30, and battle the elements over the two hundred odd metres to the door. The wind is howling and the rain is now lighter. Oddly the musem is free but to park the car is $15.00. The musem is huge, with an observation deck that allows you to watch the planes take off and land from Dulles airport.
Through the doors and a quick security check and we are in. I ask for a map which he gives and then explains how the musem is laid out. Lockers are provided and we stow our jackets there. Back out into the main entrance and there is a photo graph at every step. The museum has two levels above the ground floor which are viewing levels. There are planes on the ground, planes in various attitudes of manoeuvre, planes vertical, upside down and they are all over the place. This museum is packed to the gills. Out comes the camera and as we wander through the first exhibits, I look through the view finder and see-'Card Full'! Oh No! I have managed to fill up a 32GB sdcard. It would have been better had it not happened then but after the visit, but such is life. I should have checked and removed some of the pics. Off to the souvenir shop to see if I could buy another card, and yes they have them. The largest they have is 2GB and at $32.00, it stays on their shelf. I understand the 'captive market', but that is just highway robbery. The camera goes into the locker and the phone will have to do.
The museum is divided into the eras of development / wars. Development, bi-planes, mono wing, piston, jet, rocket, rocket ships and finally the shuttle. I see my old favorite- F86, and we spend nearly five and a half hours looking at the planes. I come across the T56 Allison that I use to assemble for the Hercules in another life. Boeing's first pressurised passenger aircraft sits, polished within an inch of its life exhibiting the double riverting on its outside skin. All of the displays are immaculate. The SR71 drips a little, which is to be expected as its gaps don't close till it is in the air approaching mach2. The heat from the friction with the air makes its skin expand and then seals its joints. What a way to build a craft. A Concord sits off in a very large corner. Ungainly as it looks, it is magnificent. I won't go on and describe each of the planes in the exhibit except to say each has been restored to a level that is better than the day they rolled out of the factory.
I forgot to mention that today is Super Science Saturday. This meant kids. There are people staked out all over the place with little booths with a topic or demonstration or experiment to do that has some connection to flight. There are kids every and ballons, paper planes, parachutes and did I say lots of kids! It is wonderful to see them so interested in something other than facebook.
We came across one exhibit in the space section. It was great. In 'Close Encounters, -with Richard Dreyfuss, who coincidently narrated the 1st Manassas civil war film we saw, the mother ship had a few extras included that weren't very obvious in the movie. We started looking for them and then recruited a number of onlookers to help look. Included on the mothership, is a US post box, a submarine, a grave yard complete with headstones, aeroplanes on a launch ramp, R2D2 and a combi bus. We found all but the combi. As we were leaving that exhibit there were other people becoming involved trying to find the things. There must have been nearly a dozen people trying to find the oddities.
While I was in the ladies, I overheard a little girl talking to her friend. She said 'These people sure do have such big, fancy bathrooms.' in a very strong southern accent. Followed by 'What!? no flush. Ohh, you just have to wave your hand.' It loses a lot in the re-telling, but it was really funny at the time. Sounded like this little girl didn't get out much and it makes you wonder what the bathroom is like at home.
The day flew. It was five pm and we needed to go. It was still overcast, the wind was still blowing very strong and the temp had hit -3C and the wind chill sets it about -26C. It takes ages for a car to warm up from that temp and about 30 minutes for frostbite to start. The drive home is quiet and even though it has been an easy day, the cold takes it out of you. Hot chocolate for me and tea for Carmen help warm us up as we start the evenings process of backing up photos and having them ready for Carmen to upload to the blog.
Dinner is so so. We went to the Outback Steak house. When we walked in, there were pictures of Australia, a copper map hung from the ceiling with east and west on the incorrect coasts- that should have been a clue, and a looped video showing Frazier Island. It had Australian beers and Americanised Aussie food. Much like the Black Stump at home - as at home, very busy. This kind of restaurant seems to be the norm for this area. It is very much working class and we have a first hand look into the lives of the every day person. We watched an altercation between a mother, whose son was climbing all over everyone else who was waiting for a table - we all had buzzers - and a couple who objected to being climbed on - the mother said 'He's not responsible. He don't know no better. He's just a child.' To which the man replied 'That's what parents are for.' Finally, she pulled her ugg boots back on and went over to get her child. Coincidence that this family and this couple were seated near each other for their meals. Watching the other diners was interesting. Just as we had finished dessert - some warm brownie, with ice cream and cream thing - Peter's choice - we saw a couple coming to their table - sartorial elegance - he wore a three piece grey pin-stripe shiny suit, with a red, with big white polka dots, cravat held in place with an ornate pin, and a fur coat, with sun glasses. Just a little over-dressed for the Outback Steak house. Dinner is over and we head back home. I need to transfer pics from my card to USB. We get home at about 10:30pm. The weather hasn't changed so hot chocolate and tea again before we go to sleep.
I get my stuff arranged and start the process. What was 10:30 pm is now 1:00am. I have only transferred 400 photos, but this gives me enough room to take another 400 photos. I call it quits for the night and pack my stuff away. Ready for bed I glance out the window. It has just started to snow. It isn't heavy- it is almost fairy like. The wind is blowing as hard as it was this afternoon. I switch the lights off and open the curtains. The carpark which we look over is very well lit. I set myself up in bed, sitting up- Carmen is asleep, and I watch nature at her best. The wind turns and swirls the snow. It flies up in mini spirials only to fall again and get thrown across the carpark only to be picked up again for another pummeling. The individual flakes catch the light and provide an endless light show. It is so peaceful to watch. I could do it for hours. I manage to watch for about twenty minutes and with an early start ahead I fall asleep before I would like. As simple as it was, this will be a memory I will not forget.
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