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 sixth 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.

May 30, 2015

OF STEEL FULL-FRAMES AND CARBURETORS

 ... roger is a docent at the owls head transportation museum, and he invited me to to visit during this year's "spring auto show" ... he had to arrive quite early because he had gate duty, so it was after a restful saturday sleeping-in and a nice mid-morning visit with liz that i hopped upon my motorcycle and enjoyed a rather pleasant ride over to the coast ... the centerpiece exhibit was a collection of lincoln motor cars from the 1920-1940 era, a period when it was required that the hood ("bonnet," if you're from the other side of the pond) of a proper automobile be adorned with serious artwork ...



... on display was the museum's 1930 curtiss-wright travel air d-4000 speedwing biplane ...

... it was $250 to take a flight around the airport—i decided that on this particular day snapping pictures was as close as would get to soaring with the birds ...

... strolling the grounds, as usual i was fascinated with the engines ...

... i found myself almost disbelieving my own memory as i recalled that there was a time i would have felt at least minimally competent in working on such machinery, days of long ago when a playing card could be used to do a quick mixture adjustment and in a pinch a cigarette paper would suffice to set the point gap "close enough to get 'er running" ...

... the fokker C.IVa was designed to establish commercially viable air service from tacoma to tokyo ... due to the limited range of the aircraft, the route was to be via the southern coast of alaska and the aleutian island chain ... the passenger seats were stripped out and replaced with a huge fuel tank ... a hole was cut in the fuselage just above the letter "o" in tokyo, there a crew member would sit and hand pump the fuselage fuel up into the wing tank, where it would then flow by gravity to the engine ...

... the feature i liked most was the radiator ... it was mounted on a set of slides, so that when the engine was cold, as at take-off or in cruising at high altitude, the entire unit could be retracted into the fuselage ... when the engine temperature gauges warned the pilot that it was begin to overheat, the radiator would be cranked out into the cooling air of the slipstream ...

... unfortunately, only 100 miles into the flight the plane crashed ... the wreckage was stored in a barn for years, where it was further destroyed in a fire ... the remains of the fokker were discovered in 1970, restored to flying certification, and then donated to the museum ...

... there were many automobiles being displayed, this was one of my favorites ...

... at the end of the day i met this couple as they were leaving the exhibit area ... she was sitting in the backseat while he drove their huge car ... i leaned into the window and asked her, "your name wouldn't happen to be 'daisy,' would it" ... they both laughed ...

... i asked him, "so, are you still courting your sweetheart" ... he had a great chuckle at that, "no, no girlfriend for me, she's my sister" ... ever quick to cover, i responded, "well, you can never go wrong with a pretty girl to chauffeur" ...

... he introduced himself, "reuben," to which i noted, "easy to remember, a sandwich" ... she said, "i'm catherine," and i countered with, "ah, a great woman, catherine the great" ... she burst into laughter even as i tried to apologize, "oooops ... oh, my ... perhaps that wasn't such a good choice," but the twinkle in her eyes told me that i was in the presence of a woman who is charming, fun, and, and impression of which i've absolutely no doubt, a truly great person ...

... reuben said, "look at the right rear fender, you'll see an example of 'stupid' and 'arrogant' to take a picture of" ...

... apparently at some time during the car show he had managed to brush against another vehicle ... he was as much chagrined at what he considered to be a display of poor driving as he was that they hadn't been able to find other car ... i said, "you know, if the day this car left the factory you had said to the mechanics who built it, 'hopefully it'll never get scratched or dented or covered with mud,' they'd have quite emphatically responded, 'no ... no, we built this motor car to transport you in style. but we made it rugged, strong, and powerful so that it could carry you safely through the worst of conditions'" ... "it's a car," i said, "it's meant to be driven, to be used ... for a car, that dent, it's simply proof of life" ... i think reuben liked hearing that ...

... reuben and catherine then took the time to tell me that they were the grandchildren of charlie taylor ... if you've no knowledge of aviation history, taylor is the man who put the wright brothers into the air ... at the turn-of-the-century dozens and dozens of people "invented" the airplane, many, in fact, offered much better designs than that of the boys from ohio ... the wright brothers knew that in order to be first to achieve "sustained controllable flight" they needed an extremely lightweight engine that produced 8 horsepower ... at that time no such motor existed, or, at least, there were none until they hired charles taylor ... in six weeks he constructed the 1903 wright engine, the rest, as they say, is history, although it's a history that seriously neglected ol' charlie's role ...

... i'm so glad, so lucky, that i met reuben and catherine ...

... roger and i took the long way home ... back roads, wandering ... we stopped at a little country store, where we sat on the porch, he enjoying a grape soda, me a mountain dew, both beverages flavored with natural cane sugar ... we are in agreement that it wasn't "progress" when soda companies began to use other substances to sweeten their products ...

... reuben and catherine, cruising in their old car, me and my friend, drinking pop as we watched the cars go by ... life is good, indeed ...