On day twenty, we commenced our journey back home. It was the last journey between two points of accommodation before we fly back to Australia. The distance between the two cities is approximately 270 miles, but we decided to do something different and visit Blackbird Air Park in Palmdale, California and visit a friend Sal and his lovely wife Carmen in the San Fernando along the way. The drive was fairly uneventful, we have actually been on the highway between Los Angeles and Las Vegas four times now, but still the majestic long straights and beautiful desert mountains still captivate me.
Along the way, we also stopped at Barstow, California which is an oft-visited stop for people travelling between the two cities. As you know (and I'm sure you do), Barstow is famous for being close to the crash site of the XB-70 Valkyrie following a mid-air collision with a USAF F-104 Starfighter. Unfortunately, we didn't get out to the crash sites (blame my lack of prior research), so instead we stopped for lunch and for some shopping at the main Factory Outlet.
After refueling (see pic below), we headed on our way to Blackbird Air Park.
|A very non-descript picture of me walking to the car at a Service Station in Barstow, California.|
The drive to Blackbird Air Park, was probably another three-quarters of an hour further on, following a mountain range (with some snow on top) to our East as we travelled North. As we drove through Palmdale and got close to Blackbird Air Park, I saw something I never expected to see. It was one of the two NASA Boeing 747 Shuttle Carrying Aircraft (or B747-SCA). Even better was the fact that it was parked near a fence in the main (unsecured) car park. Here's some pics:
|Left-hand Rear Attachment Point.|
|Forward Attachment Point.|
|Right Hand Stabilizer.|
Here's what the B747-SCA looks like in action:
Just a very short distance up the road was Blackbird Air Park. There were some great aircraft there including two Blackbirds, a U2, an F-117 Stealth Fighter and a host of other great aircraft, BUT, unfortunately it was closed. So, here's my effort taken through the fence line:
About three-quarters of an hour further on is Sal and Carmen's home in the San Fernando Valley. Sal is an ex-USAF technician who has had a life that most can only dream of. He was part of the preparations for the Apollo 16 mission to the Moon, was a keyboard player for the singer Debbie Gibson, knows Hugh Hefner personally, and knows more Playboy Bunnies than most guys dream of. At Sal and Carmen's we caught up on news since we last saw each other two and a half years ago. Sal showed me his amazing aircraft model collection, which would easily be the largest I have ever seen.
We didn't stay too long, because unfortunately, four out of the five of us has managed to catch a pretty bad Cold. First was Kyle, then Maureen, Joshua and Schuyler. I also seem to be coming down with some symptoms, which, dare I say was inevitable.
We arrived at our Hotel, The Airport Best Western and quickly went out for dinner at a TGIF or Thank God it's Friday Restaurant which is owned by none other than Magic Johnson. Kyle was impressed.