Tarmac ribbons criss-crossing the landscape, dusty back roads twisting between the cool shadows of ancient pines, and less traveled pathways connecting present to past, all I wander, seeking, seeing, with my keyboard and camera capturing scenes and stories to share with you.

Now in its seventh year, this venue has become an important part of my life, a place where I can express my thoughts and feelings about the things I see and do, hoping the process brings me a bit closer to friends and family who enjoy sharing my sometimes chaotic and often nonlinear observations and ideas. A journal, I suppose, but one with which I find pleasure in thinking others are alongside me on my journey.

Comments, thoughts, or just a friendly chat, use the response box below or email me at patrickgroleau@gmail.com.

April 12, 2012

ON THE ROAD - "OH, THE HUMANITY"


... the final stop on our itinerary was a visit with adrien's uncle philip, who lives next door to mcguire air force base in new jersey ... retired from the u.s.a.f. after serving america for almost 10,000 hours flying in a c-141 starlifter, he is now the manager of a firm that provides services for the military ... what services ... near as i can tell, they get stuff, big honking expensive things, pile 'em up, then arrange to have them delivered to all sorts of strange faraway places* ... phil's office is inside "hanger number one," which once enclosed mighty dirigibles, one of which was the ill-fated hindenberg ...

*if i'm way off, phil, just drop me the corrected description



... phil drove us into the hanger to see where he works ...


... it is difficult to convey the scale of this building ... if you parked the titanic inside of it you'd still have unused floor space ... each half-door ways over 1,300 tons, more than a world war one navy destroyer ... it is almost eight-hundred feet from where i stood taking this picture to the other end of the building ... there is over 210,000 square feet of clear floor area ... simply, it is gianourmous ...

... we got to play around with the machines and examine all sorts of wonderful toys, then, after warning us about "looking down" and "stepping on rotten boards," phil led us on our ascent of the huge structure ...


... it's obviously been some time since the hanger was painted, hopefully someone will find funds to spruce it up a bit for it's one-hundreth anniversary, which is fast approaching ...


... how large, you ask ... well, sitting on the floor of the hanger, used for training purposes, is a 1/4-sized aircraft carrier ... !!! ... look closely and you'll spy the tail of a phantom jet fighter parked on hanger's spark proof floor ...


... adrien and her cousin, at the top ... hillary and norgay, finally astride the summit of everest, could've been no prouder, and, i imagine, equally winded ...


... portable building air conditioners, pallets of "meals ready to eat," tents big enough to do a baptist revival minister proud, these are some of the things philip "makes arrangements" for ... large air-tight aluminum "shipping containers," too, with the word "head" stenciled at one end ... how efficient, how practical, how sad, because, when all is done and said and written, that's all it's ever really about ...

... we shared a delightful but far-too-short visit with phil and his family, then, leaving jon at the air base to connect up with some work he had been assigned while we were on the road, adrien and i completed our little road trip with a leisurely drive to rhode island, arriving just in time for a most excellent easter supper ... after that it was back to new hampshire for her, then on to maine for me ... fifteen days, 4,985 miles ... what great fun ...


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ON THE ROAD - "REACHED OUT MY HAND"


... this is just one section of the national air and space museum's steven f. udvar-hazy center at dulles international airport outside of washington d.c. ... truthfully, after countless visits to the air and space museum on the mall, and considering that at the beginning of trip i'd made another pilgrimage to the united states air force museum at wright-patterson a.f.b. in dayton, i fully expected our stop here to be rather anticlimactic ... instead, i was wonderfully surprised to find this extensive assemblage of flying machines to be both informative and excitingly entertaining ... the highest praise i can give it is that upon leaving i accepted it is going be many, many more visits before i can even begin to fully appreciate the size, scale and scope of this collection ...



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ON THE ROAD - LET'S GO FISHIN', PA


... another result of adrien and jon's excellent navigation, we ended up in ... hmmm, well, in a state someplace between georgia and virginia, i wasn't paying attention ... it seems that andy griffith has not only a "childhood home" (sign read:  "quiet, please, guests are living in the house"), a museum, a theater, but there is also a really nice statue honoring the man who portrayed the small-town sheriff who is still one of the top-ten all-time-great television/movie dads ... (atticus, as far as i'm concerned, still heads the list) ...


... to top off our visit, due to the most delightful way history has of twisting together lives, events, and places, next door to andy's shrine is the "siamese twin" museum, an entire room devoted to the lives of chang and eng bunker ... (how odd, that in their birthplace, siam, due to the fact that their father was thai-chinese and their mother was chinese-malay they were known as the "chinese twins") ... after touring with the circus, they settled in the south, where they owned slaves, were well respected as honorable businessmen, fathered twenty-one children, and lived to what was then the senior citizen age of sixty-three years ...


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ON THE ROAD - IT'S THE REAL THING


... in atlanta we visited the coke-cola headquarters ... enjoyable, in a touristy sort of way, especially all the hype about the "secret formula" ... of course, there was no mention of what was originally coke's "active" ingredient ... the "tasting room" was quite fun, even if it did end up costing me a supper after i lost the bet that jon would swig down a full glass of what has to be the most absolutely horrible soft drink in the world, some sort of italian beverage that tastes like quinine water laced with black pepper ...


... adrien, it seems, was deeply moved by the whole experience ...


... we had a good time visiting stone mountain ... the park is wonderful, a place where city people can bring their children for repeated excursions to enjoy the outdoors ... while the mountain is clearly not as advertised, "the largest exposed piece of granite in the world," the towering carving of jefferson davis, robert e. lee, and stonewall jackson, which took forty-nine years to complete, is the world's largest bas relief sculpture ... while this tremendous artistic effort was conceived as a monument to the confederacy, and in great part funded with the support of the kkk, it is a sign of the progress our nation struggles to maintain that all sorts of colors of people seem to have no problem mingling together on the great lawn below the carving, snacking from picnic baskets and playing catch with their children as they all await the nightly laser show ... as for the klan, it seems that it's been thirty years since they gathered to do their thing on the top of the mountain ... 


NIKON D200 & OLYMPUS E-PL1



ON THE ROAD - I NEED AN ORANGE



... new orleans to atlanta turned out to being our "too-long-crammed-together-in-a-car" day ... this, plus the fact that i was heading into a total hay-fever-nasty-germ exploding brain cold, so i let adrien and jon take over the trip while i curled up in the back seat and practiced my road napping skills ... i awoke to find that the two of them had abandoned the interstate in search of florida, which, according to their calculations, was someplace nearby right alongside the road ... broken tarmac lanes, plus a few red dirt paths along which i could hear distinctly the sounds of dueling banjos, but in the end we snuck a few feet into florida so that adrien could mark off yet another state ... luckily, the tornadoes which seemed to only a few hours behind us gave up the chase and we enjoyed nice weather in "the sunshine state" ...


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ON THE ROAD - WATER, WATER EVERYWHERE


... in new orleans we visited the world war 2 museum ... for what it is it's a very informative offering, but i think it's mostly a "tom hanks' 'band of brothers' and 'pacific' museum" ... i'll reserve judgement, however, since the current building is merely a temporary presentation meant to fill the time until a couple of years from now when the huge multiple city block sized structure is completed and open for business ... we also strolled the streets of the french quarter ... adrien was enthusiastic, but i have to admit that neither jon nor i found much enjoyment in pushing through the hordes of "final four" fans which were clogging the sidewalks ... 

... we left new orleans via the lake pontchartrain causeway, at 23.79 miles the "world's longest bridge continuously over water" ... the newer of the spans is 45 feet longer than the original ... me, if i'd been the one to design the thing i'd have taken the time to make them come out even ... no place to stop, so adrien hung out the window to snap a picture ...

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