Saturday, September 26, 2015

OT: Europe Trip--Where we Stayed.

Here's a look at some of our hotel rooms during the trip.

Hotel Adelante-Berlin

Ramada Liege

Hotel du Printemps-Paris

Rheine Mathilde-Bayeux

Archway Lodge Hotel-Stevenage.

Royal National LifeGuard Institute (RNLI)--Poole.

OT: Europe Trip--Day Last--Poole-London/Heathrow

Boy did we pick the right day to go to Tank Fest! Today is cloudy with drizzle. It would not have been fun to have been walking out in the rain.

We had breakfast, said our good-byes and were on the road to London. Traffic was light until we got closer to the airport but not bad. We found a gas station close by, refueled and with Sky keeping me heading the right direction, soon found ourselves in the Hertz parking lot.

The return employee gave a quick walk-around and gave us our ticket. Man was I relieved to not have to drive in England any more. Driving on the wrong side of the car, on the wrong side of the road and shifting with the wrong hand takes a lot of concentration and I was glad it was over.

We caught the shuttle bus to the terminal and he dropped us right besides where the hotel shuttle was to pick us up. We had a nice conversations with another shuttle driver while waiting for our shuttle.

A quick ride to the hotel, which being a Sunday, didn't seem very busy. We checked in, went to our room and promptly fell asleep on our beds. As we were laying there, I asked Sky if there was anything more he wanted to see. "I'm good," was all he could say. Phew...what a journey!

We had made dinner reservations for 5:30 which we made feeling refreshed. The restaurant was slow and since it was Happy Hour, the Manager let us 2-for-1 a beer and a coke. Great menu, lots of choices. We had an appetizer, the main course and then we had to have the double-chocolate sundae!

We went back to our room and layed down. Stuffed.

Tomorrow was the flight home...

Thursday, September 24, 2015

OT: Europe Trip--Day 15--Bovington Tank Fest

We woke up excited...and early. Today was the first day of Bovington Tank Fest and we had tickets. One of the better/bigger Tank Museums in the world, a visit was the top of Skys' Wish List for this trip. He was worried that I'd be bored, would want to leave, wouldn't have fun etc. I had promised him that this day was totally his, he could look around all he wanted to and if I got bored, I'd just go grab a coffee and sit in the museum while he looked at the collection. Thankfully, I never got bored.

It was only a half-hour ride from Poole to Bovington and we were soon there. Traffic wasn't bad at all. As we parked, I noticed an "Event Sold Out" sign. Good thing I had purchased our tickets months before online. 

They parked us very quickly, it was a beautiful day and we bounced like "Tiggers" up to the admissions gate. A quick look at our tickets and we were in. "Okay Sky, it's your day. Lead the way."

A Soviet reencactor with a PTRS-41 anti-tank rifle. Much bigger than I had imagined.

We walked up and down a couple rows of vendors then went over to the "trenches" to see the reenactors. These guys/gals are hard core serious about their role but they would take the time to talk about the soldiers lives, their weapons and themselves. 

We then went over to the outside display and saw Bovingtons' Prize Possession--the worlds only operational Tiger Tank. If you saw the movie "Fury" last fall, this was the Tiger (as well as the American Shermans used in the film) that Brad Pitt outmaneuvered. 

Sky stands by the Tiger. Does he look happy? ;-)

There were a lot of people looking at the Tanks, it was hard to get a good shot/good look at them so we decided to go into the Museum to look around there.

Sky stands on a staircase overlooking Bovingtons Storage Area.

We walked into the storage area, it was huge! I had to go to the restroom so we went and found that conveniently located next to an overlook. Sky went up to grab a couple shots while I just went. After, when I joined him up top, I had an incredible view before me. Tanks and armoured vehicles dating back to World War II were neatly parked in front of me. 

We walked into the Museum, it was just as huge. Sky was in awe at all the tanks.
After that, we went out and bought lunch from the vendors and sat in the shade eating it. The show was about to start, so we found a place to stand where we could get a good view/pictures and watched.

American Reenactors scour the forest for the German Tiger.

A Russian T-34--built in large numbers, this tank was as good 
as or better than the German Tigers.

Sky shooting pictures during Tank Fest.

sight many American Infantrymen feared...A German Tiger!

A Spitfire had flown over while we were in the Museum and a C-47 was scheduled to make a few passes by the crowd. The narrator announced that the C-47 had a mechanical issue and wouldn't be able to make it but since one of the other aircraft was already airborne and had plenty of gas, he would make a pass.

Right then a Hawker Hurricane roared by! I felt chills and the hair on my arms stood up.

Hurricane makes a pass over the crowd

He came from behind then and once he was over some farmland east of the field,

He did a Victory Roll!

The show ended with the Tiger taking out two American Sherman Tanks but being overwhelmed by sheer numbers, a third Sherman snuck up and blasted him. Just like the movie...
The Tiger fires and takes out a Sherman.

It was the end of a great show. Sky got to see his tanks, I got to see a Hurricane.
Sky got some models, we met some nice folks and got to see the English countryside.

We drove back to our hotel in Poole and went for a nice dinner at a local Pub; 

Great dinner at The Queen Mary pub.

We walked the few blocks back to our hotel...stuffed, weary and tired.
As we walked into our room, we were treated to this view...

I downloaded the days pictures while Sky sent some pictures he took with his phone to friends.

All we had planned for tomorrow was to drive back to London to Heathrow to return the car and go to our hotel and rest.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Greg Vallero gives a Sunset Flight in his T-6.

Early Morning Fog and Departure from Creve Coeur.

Andrew King stopped by with a Bucker!

Friend Andrew King stopped by Sunday night at Creve Coeur on his way from San Diego to Virginia with a Bucker "Pucker" Jungmann.

Sky and I took him to the hotel and then had dinner with him at a local restaurant. It was fun discussing his adventures, our trip to Europe and the o-so-hot nachos that Sky and I ordered. Another IBC Root Beer to put out these flames please!

Picked him up early and out to the airport for a dawn departure headed eastbound.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Skys' Senior Pictures with a friends airplane.

Shot some pictures of my son with our new car tonight. 

Then friend Doug Gardner made a low pass and gave us more ideas!


Tuesday, September 15, 2015

OT: Europe Trip--Day 14--Abbey Road, Hendon and Poole.

The night before in Stevenage, I had expressed our disappointment in not being able to go see everything we had wanted to see to the desk clerk at the hotel. I told him about our being stuck in Paris and that we'd hoped we'd get to London a day earlier. Something had to give in our schedule and that "Something" was Abbey Road home recording studios, where the Beatles had recorded all their hits.
We told him that we were going straight to Hendon to the RAF Museum.

"You can still do both, they're only 4 miles apart," he replied. "I used to work in London, down in that area actually. You'll have to fight London traffic either way, so why not? Here, I'll map it out for you."

We were astonished at our good fortune. We are both huge Beatle fans and to go to see the studio they recorded in, to walk across the crosswalk made famous on their album cover, it was like going to Macca, er Mecca.

The gentlemen even came to our door that night and delivered us Mapquest print-outs for the route and suggested which way we go. Turns out he was a Beatle fan too, which I found out when I saw a picture of the band hanging behind him on the wall at the top of the stairs.

We got up the next morning and headed out. "It Won't Be Long" until we hit London traffic and slowed to a crawl. Oh well, he warned us. We just creeped along until we came up to the point where we needed to make the turn onto Abbey Road proper and then Zoom! I could tell Sky was excited too, we were both grinning like idiots. We drove down the street, past the studio, looking for a place to park. The streets were packed! Not looking good. We went around the block and circled back. Those dang English, driving on the wrong side of the road, made it very difficult to find ourselves.

We squeezed in between two cars about four blocks down from the studio and walked up to the crosswalk. There were about fifteen fans there at any point in time, milling around, taking pictures, walking across the street. I don't know how the drivers stand it! We respected the studios wishes and stayed out of the car park, taking our pictures out in front of and thru the gate.

The place has tremendous aura around it.

Sky in front of the Studio.

Don in front of the studio.

Sky makes the famous walk across the crosswalk.

We both did the crosswalk, I almost got run over by a double-decker bus! This is not the crosswalk they used, the city moved it a while ago down the street but it's still close enough.

Satisfied, we headed back to our car. Sky fired up the GPS and we headed out for Hendon. It took us about 30 minutes to get to Hendon, which we both felt wasn't bad. We went inside and looked around this great airplane museum. If you go to London and like airplanes, Hendon is a must see! I walked into the Battle of Britain hangar, went down around a corner and bumped into this....

A Fairey Battle--a real Fairey Battle!

turned around and saw this...

Boulton-Paul Defiant

Ultra-rare 2-seat FW-190!

Hawker Tempest

Junkers JU87 Stuka!


The Big room: ME-110, JU-88, HE-111. Spitfire and Hurrican to the right.
(Not in picture.)

Me-110 Nightfighter.

American B-24 Liberator

ME-262 Schwalbe

Sky in front of a HE-162 Volksjager.

The Museum just blew us away with its awesome collection. It a must-see for any WWII aviation buff. We spent four hours there just marveling at the entire collection.

Grabbing a bite to eat, we went out to our car to find a parking ticket! I'd made it a point to put enough coins into the slot, it wasn't yet expired when I returned to put more coins into it. I read the ticket and was shocked--it was from Abbey Road. Dang it! Hadn't had a parking ticket in years and I get one four blocks from Abbey Road. I put the ticket into my carry bag, mumbling that I hadn't seen any signs and went back to see the WW I collection with Skyler.

Deciding it was time to hit the road, we got on the motorway and the gps promptly got me lost. We ended up driving around the north side of London instead of out to the west. The trip, with our unintended detour and London Traffic, took us four hours instead of two. 

We were headed down to city of Poole on the southern coast of England for our stay at the  Royal National Lifeguard Institute (RNLI). The reason we selected to stay in Poole was that it was the closest city to the town of Bovington, our destination, with available hotel rooms. Bovington is home to the Bovington Tank Museum and they were holding "Tank Fest" over the weekend. We had tickets for Saturday and this was the one 'Must-see" as far as Sky was concerned.  

We found the RNLI right on the edge of town, as advertised and parked the car. We checked in, threw our bags on the floor and table and headed down to get dinner as it was now 8 PM. It had been a great day (ticket notwithstanding) and we decided to splurge and ordered steaks. I had a big beer and Sky had a Coke.

Heading back up to our room, I downloaded the days photos to our travel tablet while he got his clothes ready for the next day and surfed the web. (This hotel had pretty good internet service.)

Tomorrow was to be an exciting day for us.

Monday, September 7, 2015

Blakesburg 2015--A Great Time!

AAA Fly-In at Blakesburg!

Aerial Photo taken Saturday evening by Skyler Parsons.

 Scott Johansson returns after giving a ride in John Cournoyers' Waco.

Jeff Womack makes a pass in his pre-war Fairchild 24.

David Mars gets a good-luck kiss from his wife Ann.

David Mars takes off in Terry Bowdens' Curtiss Robin.

 Chuck Doyle makes a pass in his Travel Air E4000.

AAA President Brent Taylor watching departures.

AAA Founder Robert Taylor makes a point while talking to Scott Johansson, l, and son Brent Taylor.