Sunday, 29 April 2012

Day Eighteen - San Francisco (Oakland) to Las Vegas

Day 18 involved the longest drive of our holiday between Oakland and Las Vegas a distance of around 541 miles. Nonetheless, the drive was pretty good with at least two lanes to choose from along the entire distance. Being the nerdy aircraft fan that I am, I managed to find some aircraft stuff along the way. It was also interesting to see so many wind power generators along the way. At one point, there would have been more than a thousand windmills in close proximity scattered all over a hilltop.

Wind power generators not far from the town of Mojave.

The first aircraft thing was Mojave Airport. This airport serves as a Bone yard for Commercial aircraft, it is also the home of the Virgin Galactic Spaceport. Whilst there we saw some impressive (and famous) aircraft including the Orbital Sciences Stargazer Lockheed L-1011 and a Convair 990. This aircraft was used to test the Space Shuttle's landing gear. We had lunch at Carl's Junior and headed on our way.

The Orbital Sciences Stargazer Lockheed L-1011. I actually have a model of this aircraft at home.
I never expected to see Macchis in the Mojave.
The Convair 990.
Testing my new wide angle lens adaptor with Schuyler and a Convair 990.
This aircraft sits adjacent the 990.
These pods on the back of the wing distinguish the 990 from the DC8 and B707.

Next aircraft stop was at Edwards Air Force Base's North Gate to check out the NB-52 referred to as 'Balls Eight'. You may recall from my previous report on Pima in Tucson, that I looked over 'Balls Three', well this is it's sister aircraft and was also used o support the X-15 Program and many, many more. When looking at the photos below, check out the Mission markings, there are heaps.

NB-52 'Balls Eight'.

Check out the Mission Markings. There are even F-111 Capsule drop tests noted.

Some wide-angle fun.

On our Journey we also stopped at a Pilot Service Station and brought a drink. Check it out:

Talk about a huge drink.
We finally arrived in Las Vegas at around 1630 h and immediately set out to get Maureen a show ticket. She went to see Chris Angel's show 'Believe' at the Luxor Hotel and managed o score a front row seat. 

In all it was a busy day of driving, but we got through it just fine. 

Day Seventeen - San Francisco

On Day 17 we headed out to the city of Stockton around an hour and a half East of Oakland to visit a guy who owns a Sports Card-collecting business and one of the most successful card collecting websites in the World. We did this because the boys are very much into Sports Cards (especially Basketball), and they frequent Ryan's website. We had lunch with Ryan at Buffalo Wild Wings Restaurant. Personally, I was really impressed with Ryan, he's a great guy with a very positive outlook on life and a great example of someone who has grabbed life with both hands and made a success of it. His Sports Card eBay business has an annual turnover of over $1.5M in eBay fees alone. Ryan insisted on shouting us all lunch, but we wouldn't let him. However, he would only let us pay for lunch, if he could buy the three boys Basketball Cards, which he did. The next link is Ryan's website.

Sports Card Radio Website

After this we headed straight into San Francisco to Fisherman's Wharf and Pier 39. We walked up and down the foreshore before jumping back into the car for a leisurely drive over the Golden Gate Bridge. The weather was absolutely glorious for walking around the foreshore. For dinner we had Crab Chowder in a Sourdough Bowl at the Chowder Hut, something of a tourist attraction in San Francisco. Whilst there I also purchased a wide-angle lens attachment (or adaptor) for my Camera which simply screws onto the end of my existing lenses. I have been looking for an actual wide-angle lens for a while but at a tenth of the price, this will certainly do for the while.

We arrived back home at around 2100h and planned to depart for Las Vegas early the next day.

Ryan with the boys outside Buffalo Wild Wings, Stockton with their Cards

No, it's not the Golden Gate Bridge, it's the Bay Bridge..

The Trans-America Pyramid Building, one of San Francisco's famous city landmarks.

The Chowder Hut at Fisherman's Wharf.

Kyle enjoying his Crab Chowder in a Sourdough Bowl.

This is the top of Lombard Street, the windiest street in the World.

Driving over the Golden Gate Bridge, photography by Maureen.

Saturday, 28 April 2012

Day Sixteen - Seattle to San Francisco

Day 16 involved catching Flight 884 to San Francisco on a United Airlines Boeing 757; however, due to heavy rain in San Francisco, our flight was delayed for almost two hours. To make matters worse, once we had boarded the aircraft, the Pilot instructed us that Air Traffic Control had allocated us a take-off slot in an hours time. So what we did was taxi the aircraft to a holding point at which the Pilot shut down the engines, and we waited, (and waited). So instead of getting into San Francisco at around 1000h, we got in after 1300h.

Strangely enough, there were no issues whatsoever when picking up our Rental Car. We decided to book a Hotel at Oakland, and after my taking various turns contrary to what the GPS was telling me, we eventually arrived for checking in. Earlier in the day, we came to the sudden realisation that we had a Basketball Match to attend today, rather than tomorrow as we had thought, so we hastily worked out how to get to the stadium (which is walking distance (1.3 miles) from our hotel).

So we walked to Oracle Arena for the match between the Golden State Warriors and the San Antonio Spurs. What we didn't realise was that the walk would take us through what seemed to be the gang-land area of Oakland. This was okay on the way to the Arena in daylight, but I confess to a level of anxiousness during the walk back to the Hotel. Nonetheless, we survived.

The Match was won by the Spurs with an Australian, Paddy Mills from the Spurs top scoring for the match with 32 points. Sadly, another Australian player Andrew Bogert was not playing on the Golden State side. The night was also the last game this season for Golden State, so they had a fan night where all food and beverages were 50% off. The fact that the standard stadium prices are four-times the norm makes this only slightly positive. In all honesty, I don't think this game had anywhere near the atmosphere that we experienced at the Miami Heat match a few weeks back.

Here's some pics;

Our aircraft.

Action from Sea Tac

A Boeing B747-8F taken by Kyle.


...and waiting...

Farewell Seattle.

Hello San Francisco.

Action from SFO.

Sadly, today also marks the funeral of Kevin James Seeto. Our sincere thanks to Kerry and Narelle for reading our words to the congregation.