Saturday, April 30, 2005

Navy Aviation

TC-12B on approach to Mathis field, San Angelo

It took me a bit to rundown this airplane and its mission, but here it is:

Aircraft Type: TC-12B Huron built by Beech aircraft. Very similar in appearence to the T-44.

Unit: VT-35 "Stinging Stingrays", TRAWING 4 NAS Corpus Christi. The interesting things about VT-35 is that it a jointly operated unit between the Navy and the Air Force. It is the only Navy command that was organized by an Air Force officer. The unit's mission is to train multi-place, multi-engine aviators in preparation for flying the C-130 and P-3 aircraft.

The squadron contracts its maintenance requirements through Raytheon.

I flew in one of these aircraft once on a trip to Fort Huachuca, in Arizona. A crew of Naval reservists from the Dallas/Ft. Worth NAS gave us a lift. They are neat little airplanes!

Friday, April 29, 2005

"Deep Enough for Ivory Bills"

With all the news that is fit to print, it seems we are rarely regaled with a story of hope and inspiration. That is not the case today, today we learned the Ivory-billed Woodpecker is still with us. This news may mean little to many people, but it is nothing short of earth-shattering for many amateur birders and ornithologists alike.

Photo circa 1930s linked from Cornell University's Ivory-bill pages

Cornell's awesome Ivory Bill pages are here

The last reliable sighting of an Ivory-bill in North America occured in 1948 at the Singer tract, an old-growth forest in the bottomlands of Louisiana. The last expedition to photograph and document the bird happened before my father was born, and when my grandfather was only 27 years old, in 1935. The bird was already known as being very dispersed, requiring 16 square kilometers per breeding pair.

For as long as I've been interested in birds, the Ivory-bill has always been mentioned in studies as a bird that was probably extinct. Numerous eyewitness sightings have occured over the years in places like Louisiana, Florida and even Cuba, but they were never substantiated with hard evidence. My feeling now is that there are probably Ivory-bill populations, even if miniscule, in some of those areas where hunters and others have reported seeing them.

After this confirmed sighting in Arkansas by a kayaker and amatuer birder, much secrecy surrounded the investigation by Cornell and the Nature Conservancy, and for good reason. If information about the bird had leaked, no doubt thousands of birding pilgrims would be on the steps of the Cache River and White River National Wildlife Refuges in Arkansas, looking to add the Ivory-bill to their life-list. Still, two reasearchers spotted the bird on the second day of their excursion, and several others later saw the bird. Videotape of the woodpecker, although short and blurry, was also captured.

The Ivory-bill was a ghost, a phantom, a bird sighted over the years by locals and hunters, but never substantied with hard evidence. I'm sure some reports were treated very skeptically, maybe too skeptically. Its legend and aura, starting with its impressive size (one of the largest woodpeckers in North America, and one of the largest on the planet) and the penchant the native Americans had for Ivory-bill remnants, traded all the way into the northern territories, served to make the bird a cryptozoologic enigma.

Today it seems that maybe a few of those folks that saw the bird weren't crazy after all! If we see and substantiate a sighting of the Ivory-bill today, it makes obvious the fact that there were birds that survived, bred and procreated between the time of the last reliable sightings and today. In other words, they've been there all along.

I hope that we can preserve some habitat for this amazing woodpecker, and that it may continue to inhabit our forests. The news today that the Ivory-bill is not dead is nothing short of incredible.

Post script: The title of the thread refers to a novel written by South Carolinian James Kilgo about his experiences hunting and spending time in the natural world, and once going deep enough to hear the misanthropic sounds of the Ivory-bill in the deep woods of South Carolina...

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Florida Past

Florida may well be the most misunderstood state in the union. As a vacation destination, it is internationally known. It is hard to imagine a more sought after retirement destination than the beckoning, planned communities around central Florida, retirement communities attracting thousands upon thousands of new residents annually. Retirees moving to the Sunshine State is nothing new, but the efficiency of the newer developments offer a glimpse of the machine-like development of former pastoral and forest land, and the veritable explosion of new construction, along with the development of infrastructure that it necesitates.

Palmettos and pines, you can still find them if you know where to look

Still, Florida has a rural and agricultural past. As a state in the very eastern part of the lower 48, Florida has a young history compared to those states on the Atlantic seaboard and those in New England , as well as with those in the deep-south colonies. Access to Florida as far as lines of communication was difficult in the 1800s, and nearly all economic activity was limited by transportation. Coastal cities, like Miami, were accessible by steamers, and developed accordingly. Florida developed along a timeline very similar to that of West Texas, and even shared the same malady of hostile natives.

As the land in Florida was slowly settled, and trains and roads found access, the state started to develop economically. Of course, the history is rich and varied, but the state's economic output hinged on agriculture and marine products. Culturally, the state was firmly rooted in the deep south, although many would not believe that today. The link between Florida and its neighboring states was firm, Florida seceded from the union on January 10th, 1861, Alabama seceded the next day. Compare the flag of Florida and the Flag of Alabama. Notice the similarities. Of the states to secede from the union, Florida was third only behind South Carolina and Mississippi.

The Rainbow river, near Dunnellon. It is a river so clear, you can see my shadow on the sandy bottom when I photographed it...

Florida's treasure is its natural beauty. Of course, this is a two-edged sword. Since Ponce DeLeon, settlers have been smitten with the beauty of the Sunshine State. It is a beauty not defined by its granduer, however, for Florida has a very flat topography. Florida's beauty is found in the small, secret places. Crystal clear spring-fed rivers. Live Oaks and Spanish moss, thousands upon thousands of acres of piney-woods. Pristine coastlines stretching for miles and miles, and bayous and lakes teeming with life. Palmetto flats and hammocks. Florida is singular in its beauty, and it is its beauty that may be its very undoing.

Cypress and crystal clear waters

Advertising their wares near Chiefland, Fl

Agrictulture continues to play a major role in Florida's economy, although it now competes heavily with urbanization. Florida is a citrus powerhouse, of course, but it also harvest strawberries, melons, cataloupes and other truck crops. South Florida has a very active tomato harvest and squash and other gourds grow easily in the well-drained soil. Florida is not well-known to people outside of the cattle industry as a cattle producer, but it is. My friend who runs a large feedlot operation (a big one!) in San Angelo, Texas has the utmost respect for Florida's cattle. He regularly buys cattle from a rancher in Bonifay, in the panhandle. The word is that these cattle outperform others in the feedlot, have less disease (are more hearty), and are cheaper to buy. I'm so convinced they are good, I may start investing in them myself.

Levy county Florida crossbreds doing what they do best: making money

I'm perpetually fascinated by the post-WWII years, and I love stuff from that era. Florida was a destination then, as well, and in that simpler time catered to families that were road-tripping from up north or from other places. It wasn't the pure-perfect environment offered by a Disney resort, but it was just as cool...

Perry, Fl's Motor Lodge, long since gone away

The Putnam Lodge near Cross City

Click here to learn more about the role the Putnam Lodge played in Dixie county history.

The picture-perfect Two Rivers motel in Dunnellon, Fl

Can you go wrong staying at the Cadillac? Near Fanning Springs, Fl

Florida is now slated to displace New York in population by the year 2025. I expect lots of the old places to go away, and a lot of the memories to go with them. Change is our old friend. The indians I'm sure bemoaned the changes brought by the Spanish, and the Spanish bemoaned the changes brought by the settlers, and so on and so on. Nonetheless, it is difficult to look back, as a guy who grew up in Florida, and see the old places going away. The old, secret, quiet places. The tube floating down the Rainbow or the Ichetucknee rivers, the cow pastures, the melon patches, the morning dew on the squash before a ten-hour day of picking. The towering live oaks, the sun filtering through the long-leaf pines on a perfect October afternoon. Working cows back when central Florida had some cattle, bailing hay, putting it up in a tin roofed pole barn.

Florida really is a paradise, she is all that she is claimed to be. Ironically, her charm may never be known by the throngs that flock to her, because they can't see past their neighbor's privacy fence. I'm very, very happy that I got to know her the way I did.

A common sight in central Florida, Sable palms in a pasture

Show barn

Aftermath of a Hurricane, a sailboat grounded on a shoal near Ft. Walton Beach

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

West Texas Color

Sure, we lack lots of the refined things in life. A good example: busy interstates. Still, we have grocery stores and even a Wal-Mart, and someone has been spreading the rumor that the fine folks in Bentonville are going to build a Sam's store here in our town. That's good news to me, because I've been missing being able to buy the fifty-pound sack of grits, or the actual "barrel of oil" we've been hearing all the newsfolk talk about.

Recently we were graced with the presence of a Home Depot, a scenario that caused the manager at Lowe's much apprehension. Still, our Home Depot was new for a good while, so they never marked anything down. Since I am my Mother's son, I don't buy hardly a thing unless I can save a buck or twenty. Now that the Home Depot has been here a few months, I can find the mark-down stickers on that bastard file I've been waiting months to buy, for example. They also had the "ladder transporter kit" on sale, something that I really don't need, because I don't own a large, extending aluminum ladder, but if I ever need to strap one down on the top of Debbie's car, I have the kit, and I only paid a buck seventy-five for it. It is taking up some space in my garage as I type this. And how about those sinks and toilets that are always on markdown? I am tempted everytime I walk by one to buy it, but Debbie smacks the notion right out of my head.

For groceries, well, it is hard to beat the home-town favorite, HEB. They have an excellent selection of fresh produce, and they have a complete selection of canned goods and other sundries to please the most discriminating gourmet... and they are not the high-priced leader, either. If you want to pay the most outrageous prices for groceries, go no farther than Albertson's. Holy cow, if you thought paying 1/3 again the asking price for a given item is a good deal, then Albertson's is your store. Freebie tip: if you are in a real big hurry, then Albertson's is your place, because there is nary a soul in there to impede your quest for groceries...

Still, HEB is the best, but not for meat. If you need a 28 ounce can of San Marzano tomatoes for grandma's spaghetti sauce, ding ding ding! But, if you want a good porterhouse, can I suggest, gulp, the commissary on Goodfellow? Yes, the commissary's vegetable and produce selection is very sad. Still, where else can you get a packer cut brisket for a mere $.98 a pound? On base! Goodfellow's meat market is top-notch, offering excellent cuts at a very, very good price. Besides, it is pretty convenient!

I admit, however, that Wally-world is pretty attractive at times, because you can buy TC-W3 outboard motor oil and eggs at the same time. You can buy Romex electrical cable and sausage. You can buy a pressure cooker and cinnamon, you get the idea. Wal-Mart has tons of stuff, but after about six times, you're gonna know what all is in there.

What does this all have to do with West Texas Color? Nothing.

But I offer you this picture of a West Texas sunset. Captivating...

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Emily's Trailer

Em has figured out that if you need to move it, you need at least a pick-up, and hopefully you have a trailer.

She's set up her own trailer with her dolly stroller, and she gets along pretty good with it:

If you really want to see what it is all about, click this. This is an Apple quicktime made by my camera. Most browsers have a quicktime plug-in available. If you do have Quicktime, and you are able to view the clip, that slappin' sound is the autofocus on my camera. My camera is
not a motion camera, but it does take movie shots and it renders them into Quicktime format.

I think soon we'll consider a digital handi-cam. Yikes, I hate to think about that buying adventure with all the technology available.


Sunday, April 24, 2005

Water Sports and the Fly-by of the Chariot of Glory

It all started at around 0900 (that's nine in the morning for you civilian types) when I finally mustered the requisite gumption to go out and start wrenching on the Yamaha 90 on my boat. The outboard has been in need of serious attention for some time now. I've known for months that the impeller in the outboard's water pump had long since departed for greener pastures, it had, in fact, imploded upon itself, as I would discover during the tear-down.

A problem with the "foot"? Yes, indeed...

No worries, the podiatrist is in. The arrow points to the pump housing which contains the failed impeller.

Still, as I have had my mind on repairing this problem for some months now, my lovely bride has fancied the idea of trying out a kayak, yes, a kayak I say! Deb has been shopping in kayak-land for some time, and had commiserated with a kayak seller and had set up a veritable kayak rendezvous. The lady in our town who sells the smallish boats had received her Old Town Loon 111 from another customer, and it was available for Deb to try, the gig was on!

Here's a shot of my truck with, gulp, kayaks in the bed. I'll be the first to tell you, the green one, an Old Town Loon, is far and away a better boat then the red one, a Dimension Spirit.

Because the weather in the morning was a little skosh (raining), and Emily's cheerleading event was cut short by the rain, I was thinking a kayak trial wasn't in the cards, but I was wrong. The weather cleared and Deb wanted to go give it a whirl. I dropped my wrenches and we went and retrieved the kayaks to put them through their paces.

While paddling along the South Concho river, I saw lots of turtles, and then I saw a C-130 lining up on Mathis Field, the civilian airport in San Angelo that occasionally hosts military aircraft. I mentioned something to Deb about the speck in the sky looking like a 130, and she agreed. We finished our paddling and loaded up the kayaks so Deb could take the loaners back to the kayak lady.

When we got to our house (200 yards from the river, he he) I asked Deb if she would mind taking the boats back herself, I strapped them down and made sure everything was good, I needed to finish the work on my boat!. She agreed, and took off.

So I'm in the garage, when I hear the unmistakeable sound of a 130 flying over my house. The same crew that had flown over the river were obviously doing some training on approaches, etc. I had my Nikon digital out, and I tried to get a good photo, but that camera takes a few seconds to boot up, so I miss my chance. I stop, and go in and get my big gun, my Canon EOS 300D digital SLR. It is soooo much faster. If I see a unique or unusual aircraft, I'll take a picture of it. So I took a few shots.

Chariot of Glory

I first thought this crew was from nearby Dyess AFB, in Abilene, which hosts an airlift wing of C-130s. I was wrong. I didn't know until after I scrutinized the photos that the aircraft was not from Dyess, and was not even from the Air Force! This C-130 belongs to our brothers and sisters in the Corps.

I immediately noticed that their fin-flashes and paint scheme was not Air Force. At first I thought it might have been reserves or guard, but we haven't used this paint scheme in many years, most of them had since upgraded. I also noticed the numbering and the tail ID just didn't seem Air Force, and I was right.

This aircraft, with a tail ID of GR (it was tough to see, and the low-res pics I'm posting don't show it) is from Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, North Carolina. They hail from VMGRT-253, a schoolhouse squadron for aircrews for the Marine Corps. The aircraft is either a KC-130T or KC-130F/R.

So, the marines came a long, long way to do some touch-and-goes at Mathis field. Of course, I was proud to see them!

If I had a nickel for every hour I've spent on a 130, I'd have a couple of hundred bucks!


I've worked the image a little more to show what I think is proof positive that this aircraft is not USAF:

If you squint real hard, you'll see the GR on the vertical stabilizer, and look at those rondelles, although it is faint, you'll see a giant US rondelle on the airplane. We (USAF), haven't used rondelle's like that since Viet-Nam. Another note of interest, the AF has very few C-130s that do air-to-air refueling. This one certainly does, but all USAF 130s that do are special ops. The kind of refueling C-130s do is chute and drogue, not hard-boom like a KC-135 or KC-10. Most C-130s refuel rotary winged aircraft. Still, there is a strange cross-over point, where some Navy fixed-wing aircraft could refuel from a C-130. Crazy, I tell ya!

Bluegrass, New-grass

While I'm not the most up-to-speed cat with the issues concerning bluegrass music today, I know I like it! I really like Allison Krauss and Union Station, and I also like Nickel Creek.

I heard this artist, Rhonda Vincent, while wasting a little time watching CMT.

I really like her single, "I've Forgotten You".

You can hear her tunes by clicking the video link on her CMT page here.

She's worth a listen!

Friday, April 22, 2005

Glimpses of Spain

Last year I was fortunate enough to rate a four-week training temporary duty assignment (TDY) to the Andalucia region of Spain. I'm here to tell you Spain is very beautiful and very cool.

Seeing Spain makes me ponder the Spanish colonial legacy in our hemisphere. When visiting sites in Mexico, Colombia, or nearly anywhere in Latin America, one sees flashes of Spain. Parts of Buenos Aires are so Spain-like, if you squint your eyes just right, you'd swear you were in the patria madre, complete with colonial faros on the street corners and the verandas and balconies.

Although Spain has more-or-less completely withdrawn from its colonial conquests, and the body-politic of the country is one with a modern european outlook (royal parlimentary democracy, more socialist rather than nationionalist, and with a hearty dislike of conservatism due to their endurance of a perverted state of nationalist/facist rule under Franco), Spain continues to enjoy cultural influence, to a good degree, in most of Latin America. One may find many Argentines and other people from America working in the Spanish service industry, and of course there is a cultural exchange with Africa, as Morocco is right across the straight.

In this glimpse of Spain, I offer a twist with a look at the British prefecture of Gibraltar. Gibraltar has been in British hands since the War of Spanish Succession, and attempts were made by Spain in the 18th century, with seiges and battles, to recapture the island and rock. It is fascinating to wander the area, with ancient battlements and gun positions, along with garrisons and look-outs literally covering the strategic point on the Straights of Gibraltar, just mere miles from Africa.

A view of the rock and the adjacent RAF airfield with a runway that intersects the main road onto the island

Looking around Gibraltar, you are literally looking back in time. The Moors were on the rock in the century VIII, the Castillians in the 14th, and the British since the 18th. Walking around on a strategic point that has been hotly in play for over 1000 years contrasts the relatively short history our people enjoy in this hemisphere.

Of course, the Queen's best still guard the island with their most high-tech accoutrements

This crazy cable-car ride saves you a long, long walk to the top of "El Pi~non", some 1400 feet above sea-level

This breathtaking view from a look-out shows the sheer wall of the rock

The "rock apes" as known by the Brits are the only primates known to roam wild on the European continent

The rock apes are very fascinating apes, and are also known as Barbary Apes. They are tail-less monkeys native to North Africa, and were probably imported during the time of the old British garrison. After a serious decline due to natural causes, Winston Churchill took an interest in their well-being and had more imported from Africa. Today the apes have a solid foot-hold on Gibraltar, and are usually around for toursists to photograph and perhaps play some games. They were jumping on people's shoulders and the like while I was visiting, but I kept my distance. No apes on my shoulders, thanks.

Some national pride, perhaps?

The British, while mostly subdued sorts, can occasionally get a patriotic streak that will rival the most patriotic of us here in the states. While I visited the rock, Gibraltar was celebrating its 300th year of British rule. While open signs of patriotism were discouraged somewhat due to the tensions between Britain and Spain over the rock, you could find displays if you looked closely. I found this courtyard, not visible from outside of the apartment complex, by chance. Quite the display of the ole' Union Jack. I was proud of the Brits for at least showing a little bit of emotion.

Finally, I leave you with this juxtaposition:

You cannot escape the Golden Arches

No matter where you go, we are there, baby! It took a little doing, but I managed this shot with the symbol of America's passion for nutritious and delicious food co-mingled with the very Rock of Gibraltar itself. Technically speaking it wasn't that tough of a shot, because the rock dominates the landscape for miles around. That is the most interesting thing about the rock, it is this relief of terrain with no equal for miles and miles. Just how did this geological oddity come to be? I don't know the answer, but I do know that if you are in the south of Spain, you must put it on your list of places to visit. You actually have to clear British immigration to come on board, but with a U.S. passport, they wave you right in.

Asi es el pi~non de Gibraltar!

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

My Daughter, the Capitalist...

I was wandering back up the driveway yesterday from the mailbox when I noticed this sign pasted to the back of my wife's buggy, complete with a phone number (Deb's cell phone number, which I photo-shopped out to protect her number).

That's right, she had captured some poor, unknowing rollie-pollies, and she had put them up for sale. My daughter seems to have entered into the isopod flesh-trade. Yes, the rollie-pollie, for as much as you may think it is an insect, it is actually more like a shrimp. So perhaps my daughter qualifies more as a fish-monger. Armadillium vulgare, or the common pillbug, breathes through gills and has crustacean-like features which means you will only find them in shady, dark and wet type places. You'll find them more or less in exactly the kind of places that kids dig around.

Although I'm extremely proud of Em's hunter/gatherer instincts, and I'm especially proud of her enterprise, I think I might have to explain to her a bit about markets. Although the rollie-pollie is extrememly handsome, I could only desribe its demand on the market as a pet or a foodstuff as "niche". There are some other bugs that would be interested in eating the rollie-pollie, but I would expect them to balk at the quarter-dollar price, and I would never extend any sort of insect credit. That's just a heartbreak waiting to happen...

My Cat Sits in Everything

Why does my cat have to annoint anything I bring home by sitting in it? Is this some sort of feline ritual to which I am not privy? Is her relaxing in my possesions a tacit feline approval? Must I vet all things through my very demanding and very discriminating feline? What of her tastes? What of the things that I bring home that she does not sit in? Should those things be discarded?

My cat quickly sat in this exquisite hammered copper pot from the Mexican state of Oaxaca. Thank goodness she liked it, now I guess we can keep it.

"Excuse me, sir, I ordered the extra-large brushguard..."

Holy cow, when I went and picked up my truck from Orig-Equip I could not have been more delighted with the monstrosity that they appended to my front bumper. No sir, you should not ride around in a truck that's stripped, you should get that baby Orig-Equipped!

When I showed my new brushguard to my friend Mark, a hunter, naturalist, taxidermist, and more or less all around cowboy three years in a row, he asked, "Mark, did you get that for the two or three days a year you ride through some weeds?" I answered, "No sir, I got that for pure vanity, whaddyathink?" He cried, "well, I like it!"

As the frenchman in Monty Python's Holy Grail said, "Outrageous!"

I could tell you the whole story behind the brushguard, about how we only get cool brushguards like that from Texas manufacturers, and how a fancy, west coast brushguard like a WAAG or Westin could only hope to grow up big and strong like a Texas-made Frontier-Gear Rover, but that would be boring. It has been only recently that a real, no-kidding Texas brushguard manufacturer figured out there are lots of Tundras on the road that need some front-end lovin'. Ranch Hand brushguards still haven't figured that out, and there is one called Central States I believe, in Junction, TX that builds for the Tundra, but the guy that sold me this one said they are a hard fit. I had to wait three weeks for the piece, but I'm real happy with the results.

Honestly, the reason why brushguards are so popular here can be summed up in one word: deer. Anyone hates to hit a deer, but we are so heavy with whitetails, one good shot across the bow will make the $500 or so cost of the brushguard worth the ounce of prevention, for a hard deer-strike on a dark, West Texas highway will probably end up costing a lot more for an unprotected vehicle. There is a late-model Toyota Avalon riding around town here that has a color-coded front end protector real similar to the one on my truck, maybe a bit more petite. During the rut, go to any body shop and see the wrecked cars and trucks awaiting repair, and see the deer hair wedged into the broken side markers, mirrors and grilles. The only thing worse than a deer-strike:

Mr. Hailstorm from hell...

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Back from Mexico

A salute to Brody

It took a while for me to post, because I've been running around like the veritable chicken with its head cut off. Shortly before I departed for Mexico, I learned that a beloved friend and former director of operations from the 25th Information Operations Squadron (Hurlburt Field, FL), Colonel Gregory N. Brodman, died suddenly of a heart attack at the too young age of 43. It was all the more of a shock because the colonel was in excellent physical condition. He was a great role model for all of his troops, and we admired him immensely. We learned on Friday that his funeral and burial would be at Randolph AFB and Fort Sam Houston respectively, so Debbie and I made arrangements to go and pay our respects to his widow, Diane, wife of 22 years, and to his family. I pray that Diane finds the strength and courage to emerge from this tragedy steeled for what life now brings her. The service was moving, and we were left with that empty feeling, knowing that a true advocate of the enlisted and officers alike, and a great leader and patriot, was no longer in our midst. May Colonel Brodman rest in peace. All the way, sir. You will be sorely missed.

Mexico in a Flash

I built a flash slide show of our trip to Mexico, it can be found here. Be advised, however, that I think the Flash is about four megs, so if you are dialing in, it might take a bit to load up. If you are on broadband, however, fire away.

I'll include a couple of stills from our mission to Mexico, which was two-pronged. One of our church members, Andy, invited his brother, a physician, Wayland, to come down and help some of the poor and downtrodden. I was brought along, not for my linguistic ability, but to paint a roof (on the girl's orphanage)! I loved doing it. The person who led this group, el "Don" Glenn, is nothing less than a real hero to the people of Cuauhtemoc, and a very, very nice person. He is also a great speaker of Spanish and a master of Mexican immigration, customs and traffic norms. Glenn, hats off to you, sir, for all that you do.

Wayland and Andy heading for the dispensary

An older gentleman waiting for his visit (good thing Wayland specializes in geriatrics!)

They saw some young ones, too. As a matter of fact, they saw all comers, seeing around 100 patients in two days.

"Don" Glenn also arranged and paid for prescription medication for all that needed it, set up in advance from a neighborhood pharmacy.

All in all, a very worthwhile and valuable experience, both for us and for the good people of Cuauhtemoc.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Off to Mexico...

Yep, going to Mexico (Chihuahua, more specifically Cuauahtemoc) with some members of my church. My 3-day assault pack is full of kit, got my batteries for my Nikon 4500 digital camera charged up, wish me luck...

See you all Saturday!

Sunday, April 10, 2005

Ancient Iron

There are lots of vintage cars and trucks around San Angelo. I think there are a couple of reasons for that. The climate here is such that they really don't need to salt the roads (on rare occasion they do), and the relative humidity is very dry. This leads to sheet metal and rolling parts lasting a very long time. Combine that with the cultural ideals of West Texans, the fact that they value machinery and such that they just can't seem to let it go even when it is has served its purpose and it is spent. Many times it seems that people may have a personal reason to keep an old car around . For whatever reason, I always notice them. Here are a few of my favorites:

Heavy Trucks

How long has this old GMC been chugging along? I think it is about a '63...

I think this Studebaker truck is at most a model from the Forties, maybe even the Thirties. If anyone knows, feel free to comment.

Old Cars and light trucks

This old Chevy was tip-top, someone had either restored her (not obvious) or had taken really good care of her for a few decades. She has a "PowerGlide" emblem on the back. This car was obviously a sweet machine in its day, and it still is.

Here's an old '52 Chevy pick-up, long-wheel base, step-side. This old girl is in good shape, but she's seen new paint recently. She was last legally roadworthy in 2002. She could use a new wood bed floor, but she seems pretty solid. Asking price: $7500.

Here's an old Buick Special. What seemed obvious to me is that this car has its original paint. Awesome. Maybe someone will get around to restoring her, she's behind a fence, so she belongs to someone.

How about this baby. Hurst/Olds. Straight from the mid-80s, this girl could do some thumping back in the day. This car is definitely collectible, but she sits in a dilapidated used car lot. Caution, however, she's wearing racing slicks which may mean she's been run hard and put up wet. Still, I'm strangely attracted to the spoiler on the trunklid...

How about some Mopar action:

I don't know much about them, but this Coronet 440 seems like a good candidate for a restore.

Here's a meaty looking pair of Mopars:

I think the one to the left is a Duster, I don't know exactly what the one on the right is, I'd guess a Charger. Awesome.

As for the Fords...
Here's an old Falcon:

They made Falcons just like these in Argentina until only a couple of years ago...

I'd bet my third lugnut that this a Thunderbird. I couldn't guess the year, so if anyone knows, feel free to comment.

The follwing car is a Studebaker Hawk:

Anyone have a guess at the year?

Jeeps, etc.

Whoa, this ole flatfender is ancient, probably late Forties, early Fifties:

Admire those massive front locking hubs...

How about this one?

I don't have a guess as to its vintage, but I know its old. Notice the bonus Jeepster...

Throw the top back and enjoy some post-war prosperity. Gotta love the old Jeepsters.

If anyone has any input about any of these old gals, fire at will...