Monday, October 17, 2011

A flight in a 1941 open cockpit biplane

On Sunday Dinah & I drove to the Santa Teresa, NM airport where we had arranged for flights in a 1941 Boeing Stearman open cockpit biplane at Far West Aviation.
Far West Aviation's 1941 Boeing Stearman biplane

Since the plane only seats two, and it is advisable that one of them know how to fly the plane, Dinah and I went up separately with Steve, the pilot and owner of the plane, in control from the rear seat.
Steve adjusts Dinah's microphone prior to the flight
Clear! Steve prepares to start the engine for Dinah's flight

The dry Rio Grande as seen from the air

We flew east from the airport across the Rio Grande into Texas, then north along the Franklin Mountains, then back west where we were given a chance to fly the plane, and to experience some mild acrobatic maneuvers.  The weather was great and the view from the open cockpit was superb!

Steve, the pilot, as seen from the front seat, reflected in a mirror

Dinah & Allen with Tillie, the biplane

Friday, October 7, 2011

A ride on Amtrak from Boston to El Paso

Passengers stretch their legs during a station stop in Texas
I flew east, but decided to return home by train, just for the experience.  I arrived in Boston with a backpack full of food to last the three plus days it would take to get to El Paso. We got off to a bad start when the train left Boston late, and stayed behind schedule all the way to Chicago.
Union Station, Chicago
Motorized self cleaning toilet seat
I had a couple of hours to kill in Union Station where I saw my first motorized toilet seat. The seat is encased in a continuous plastic sleeve which is advanced to a new, clean section after each use.  Cool!

I was to transfer to the Texas Eagle which would take me to San Antonio, Texas where we would join with another train heading to Los Angeles.  The Texas Eagle was late leaving Chicago, but we had a scheduled 8 hour layover in San Antonio, TX, and we left there on time.
View of a new bridge being constructed along the rail route
 From Boston to San Antonio, most of the views were of trees along the tracks, but from here on we were in desert with expansive views, sometimes allowing us to see into Mexico.
A view of the city (Dallas, I think) from the station platform

We crossed the Pecos River on what we were told was once the highest railroad bridge in the US, and 3rd highest in the world.
The Pecos River as seen from what was at one time the highest railroad bridge in the US
During my time on the train I got little sleep, and developed some saddle sores from spending about 22 hours per day, for more than three days, sitting in a seat. I did do a lot of reading! We arrived in El Paso a little ahead of schedule, and I hustled to the bus terminal to catch the bus to Las Cruces.  Great trip, but good to be home.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Visiting Family & Friends in New England

Three old Downses - Allen, Bev, & Dave
I flew east in late September to attend my 50th High School reunion, and also to visit with family and friends.  Here are some pictures from those visits.

Brother Dave Downs performing his Colonial Medicine show

Sister Bev Morissette, Dave Downs, & Andre Morissette at Bev & Andre's summer home
Bob & Sister Lois DeRusha in their home
Allen with Aunt Thelma                                             Allen, Bev, Cousin Janice, & husband Paul
Elizabeth Van and John Pratt (right)  at their new home

Dave & Vi Pratt in the flesh

And Dave in stone

Dave & I also visited with Cousin Barb and her husband Fred Blankinship (sorry, no pictures), and of course, no New England visit is complete without a stop at Kimball Farms for a Kimball Special - three large scoops of ice cream, strawberry, pineapple, and chocolate sauce, whipped cream, and nuts!
Allen holding his Kimball Special