Sunday, March 25, 2007
Two Weeks in Los Angeles, Edwards AFB, and Tuscon Arizona
Going to the West Coast for fun is something I've always looked forward to. It's where I'm from, where most of my family is, and it helps re-energize the soul. Don't get me wrong, Ohio is not too shabby of a place to live. I just always feel better out West, near the beaches, deserts, redwood forests, In-n-Out burger, Freaks & Geeks, Fruits and Nuts, etc etc.
Kalyssa and her doll ready to fly out West.
Trevi and her doll both fell asleep minutes after we left to the airport.
I headed out west this time because of work, but I was lucky enough to bring along the wife and kids. My wife can't stand being anywhere west of San Antonio, so it the week was pure hell for her. My girls on the other hand had a blast. They love going to where their Daddy grew up.
After flying into LAX close to midnight, we drove to our hotel near Long Beach. I had to work early the next day... all day... so everyone just kicked back at the hotel while I was gone. The next day we made it to Edwards Air Force Base for the second half of my meeting. I don't care how many times I've been there, it never gets old. One of my twenty uncles works at NASA's Dryden Test Flight Center, so he got to finally meet the wife and kids while giving us a behind the scenes tour of the NASA facilities. We checked out the Space Shuttle facilities, the dozens of experimental aircraft and hangers, and got to see what the replacement for the shuttle is going to be. Basically, it's a space plane that sits on top of a rocket. Simple design, and hopefully safer than the shuttle.
One of the coolest places on earth.
The X-15... the fastest plane ever. She deserves more than being put up on a stick.
The lifting body test aircraft was the forerunner to the Space Shuttle.
The drive back to LA from the desert is long, but while driving through Pasadena we decided to take a risk and call my family. In a nutshell, the wife and parents don't get along that well, but my brothers and sister have always been great. We ended up having dinner with my two younger brothers and sister at Benihana's in Ontario. It was the first time my youngest daughters have really met any of my siblings, and they all enjoyed their time together.
The Bros, the Sis, and the girls all meet for the first time.
Quality time between the kids and the family... Mission Accomplished.
We headed to the beach the next day. My luck, it was a cold, gray, and dreary day, but we still walked away with a bucket of shells and the girls had a great time. Later on that night we headed to 'Downtown Disneyland', located just outside of the overpacked, overpriced Disneyland park. Thankfully this place was free, and we still got to watch the fireworks show from the park next door.
Legoland at Downtown Disneyland.
If only I had $600 bones to waste!
Quality time at the beach... Misson Accomplished.
The next day we spent half the time walking around the 3rd largest mall in America, called Ontario Mills. The place is massive, yet it was still packed wall to wall with people. While the wife shopped at the Abercrombie and Hollister Outlets, I just relaxed and ate mall junk with the girls.
Quality shopping in Southern California for the wife... Mission Accomplished.
That night we took yet another risk and called my parents to invite them to dinner. We ended up meeting them at The Melting Pot in Pasadena. It was the very fist time my parents have ever met my daughters, so it was a pretty big step for all of us. Everyone seemed to get along fine, and the food was great as always. Of course I forgot the camera for this event to have proof that they all actually met (I still can't believe it). The waiter offered my wife lots of wine to help with the situation, but the free desert worked even better. You can't argue over chocolate fondue and strawberries.
Parents and wife coexisting in the same state and my daughters meeting their grandparents for the first time... Mission Accomplished.
The next day we drove to the Hilton at LAX because my wife and girls had to get home. I had to head back to Edwards that night, and then to Tuscon Arizona the next day. That morning we heard that the Airbus 380, the newest and biggest airliner in the world, was landing at LAX for the first time. Since we had time to kill we went and watched it. Honestly the thing is ugly and it doesn't look that big, but other folks were ready to hump the landing gear in front of the news cameras. They thought it was the best thing since sliced bread. To me it's just a $300M death trap. I've had some engineers tell me about how dangerous the wiring is on that thing. But hey, it has a massage parlor, so I guess that makes it all worth it.
Baby's got back.
I'm sure it's fun to fly in. I just don't want to.
Oh, and I have a bone to pick with Ms. Paris Hilton. Your hotel parking garage was great, but the rest of it stunk. We had more amenities at the Residence Inn by Marriot than we did at the Hilton. That's the last time I throw them any of my money. Unless of course they want to give me a free upgrade to the Presidential Suite.
After I said my goodbyes I headed back to the desert, and to Edwards Air Force Base. I forgot just how nice the desert was... especially at night. When the road you're on is straight for 20 miles, it's always interesting to turn off your headlights and look at the billions of stars surrounding you. No kidding, the road to the base off the highway is the only place I've ever worried about being upducted by UFOs. It's that dark, desolate, and uninhabited. Can't wait to go back.
Leaving the Valley going East to the Desert.
So nice to see this when walking into my room. I triple checked the bedding.
Beautiful Desert morning.
Heading to work. You can see a B1 in the background.
Rain approaching in the distance.
A B-52 on the left. The new Airborne Laser on the right. It's a freak'n "Laser."
The Space Shuttle's 747 Transport flew by a few times.
This road went on forever. One of those things about the Desert.
A dry lake bed, which is why this base is out here. Lots of places to land.
Spent the day at Edwards AFB, and then headed back to LAX to fly out to Tuscon. I stopped off at an In-n-Out Burger because it's a legal and moral requirement for any California ex-patriots who return for a few days.
The world is good again. I'll take two of everything.
A 4x4 with fries. Impossible to drive with.
Losing another year of life by enjoying an In-n-Out 4x4 burger with fries and a shake... Mission Accomplished.
Once I arrived in Tuscon I drove to Davis-Montham Air Force Base, home of AMARC... aka The Bone Yard. I had never been to the bone yard before, and it was everything I expected it to be. Absolutely amazing. If you're a history/airplane buff like me, this place is the holy grail of aviation history. Aircraft from every era stretch as far as the eye can see in all directions. Some of them are in good shape, others like the B-52s have been sliced up to make the Russkies happy, and others are completely sealed up and ready for use again if ever called upon.
Sweet. Kill 'em all!
C-5s, F-14s, and F-4s in their final resting place.
A buff in the buff. It's like a camero on blocks in a trailer park.
Hundreds of F-18s.
More Buffs that are sliced and diced. What a waste.
More cameros on blocks. The only thing missing was the sound of banjos.
My favorite fighter, the F-14 Tomcat, is the newest visitor to the place. Nearly every F-14 has been shipped for flown there to waste away in the dry desert air. Sad to see those things out there. They were the tip of the spear for projecting the strength of our nation for decades, and now their the homes of rattle snakes and desert birds.
This F-18 had the Soviet Aggressor paint scheme.
Never heard of this test plane. A YC-15? Short version of the C-17.
Even stranger, a YC-14. Very short body, strange engine placement.
The original A-10s with their forest camo, ready to kill some Soviet Tanks in Europe.
After a few days of meetings and schlepping for money, people, and ramp space on the base, I spent my last few hours at a MLB Spring Training baseball game between the Chicago White Sox and Seattle Mariners. Three words... Out-Freak'n-Standing. I had a great time, drank some Flat Tire Amber Ale while sitting field level just behind 3rd base, and I even pissed off #28 (Ibanez) from Seattle. The guy was a prick, so kindly let him know, and we all had fun doing it. In the end Seattle beat out Chicago 11 to 6, yet it was worth every penny for the $8 ticket and $6 Amber Ale.
Doesn't get much better than this.
The Flat Tire was pretty damn good.
A White Sox hit... one of many good plays.
The game was close until the 7th, when the White Sox brought in their second stringers and forgot to include a pitcher. I hope they find a good pitcher before the season starts.
Watching a good baseball game, drinking quality brew, and harassing the other team... Mission Accomplished.
The next morning it took 12 hours to get back to Dayton. The trip was well worth the time because of the mission I was able to accomplish for work. It's the first program I've ever been on where we're putting 'toys' on the stuff they're flying now to directly suupport the guys in the air and on the ground in Iraq and Afghanistan. I can't wait to see it in action.
The trip paid off in other ways as well. Spending quality time with the wife and kids, and seeing my parents meet their grandkids for the first time was priceless. I wouldn't trade it for the world. I hope we're lucky enough to do it again some day soon.
posted by El Capitan at 2:43 PM
OK dude, I need to know how you did this. I am a SoCal native as well and I can't believe you pulled this off. You fly into LAX at midnight and head to Long Beach. It takes at least half an hour to 45 min for them to even start getting your baggage to the carousel. Then it is a 30-45 min drive to Long Beach, I'm being generous since it is midnight on the 405. Then you have to work the next day? Did you sleep at all? Did you have to go to Edwards the 1st day? That's a 2.5 hour drive from Long Beach.
Then you take the family to Edwards and then dinner in Ontario and back to Long Beach. Depending on what time of the day you attempt this, you may spend 4 hours on the freeways. You must have gotten back pretty late.
Then you went to the beach, then to Downtown Disney. Those are only about an hour away from each other.
The next day you went to Ontario Mills. From Long Beach that is maybe an hour driving on a good day. Then it takes half an hour to find parking there. Then dinner in Pasadena, again another hour of driving, then back to Long Beach, maybe 30-45 min if you're lucky.
Then you head to LAX to send the family home and then head to Edwards, about a 2 .5 hour drive.
Again, I have to ask, how do you pull this off with kids in tow to boot? Do you sleep anymore? The times I have listed above are based upon my personal experiences of driving SoCal. I have to say, I'm glad you got to go to Edwards. It is a really cool place and there is always something neat flying around. I'd be pretty stoked to have a flying job of some sort over there.
You mean you went to Cali and didn't go to Jamba Juice? What's wrong with you, man!!!!
Looked like a blast, though. Sometimes I miss California - even the fishy smell that hangs over the Monterey area.
Outstanding! I have a friend who lives in southern California, and I had a great time when I went out to visit her.
She introduced me to In-n-Out Burger - and that place is THE best ever!!!!
Glad y'all had a fun trip and everything went well...and thanks for all of the "insider" pictures of the military stuff too.
Great pix - great trip! Thanks for sharing some of the details.
Ah, Edwards...very fond memories -- grades 8, 9, 10 (Forbes Jr High and Desert High - go Scorps!).
5318 Palo Verde Drive. 805-258-5827.
Still remember the address and phone number from 1982!
Good AAR, EC. Sounds like fun was had by all (would love to visit that Lego place). I'm sure your CA family was as delighted to have y'all visit as you were. Terrific pics - have seen awesome shots of that boneyard taken from the air, but none like these.
I kinda miss the desert occasionally.
Nice photos! Glad to hear that everything worked out with the family. That stuff gets complicated. I loved the photos of the bone-yard. Maybe someday I will get the high honor of visiting such a place.
I think your buddy Tumbleweed is off on his figures. I got my luggage 15-20 minutes after I deplaned yesterday at LAX (Delta)…and we drove to San Diego in about 1 hour 20 minutes (speed = interesting), so I guess our time to Longbeach traveling down 405 wasn’t more than 25 minutes or so. I don’t know…our guy was driving so fast it bent the light around our rental car. I wanted to take a photo of the Marine Recruit Depot as we passed, but by the time the camera booted up I could barely make out the word “Honor” on the giant wall facing 405.
Anyways…good post, nice photos, welcome back!
Loved the photos... I'm surprised Blogger let you do so many successfully. And I would love to visit Edwards AFB.5:31 AM
I found a way to bypass the blogger picture limits. Using photobucket, you can copy your photo inbed address, and then inbed it in the HTML tab on blogspot. I can't stand the photo limitations on this site, so it was nice to find a way around it.
My friend, 20 minutes for luggage. 30 minutes to the hotel. 20 minutes from the hotel to the Boeing complex for meetings w/o traffic. I took Katella to Long Beach Airport. From LAX to Edwards is just shy of 2 hours minus traffic. With traffic would have been 3+++. I drove against traffic each time. Edwards to Ontario via the 210 is only 2 hours at the most, and that was with traffic in the carpool lane. Ontario back to the hotel near Seal Beach via the 10W to 605S was 30 minutes, no traffic. Not to shabby.
Overall I got lucky with the traffic. Your estimates were dead right on an average LA day.
David, I can still remember my childhood phone #, address, and every so often I'll look it up on Google Earth. Sad when I can't even remember my own number now, and I forget my new addess every so often.
Awesome pics! Sounds like a perfect mix of business and fun. I am amazed at how much you fit in. Glad you got to enjoy some In-N-Out while you were there...you're right, it's pretty much a moral and legal requirement for us Californians.4:27 PM
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