Flying Heritage

It was on the Ducati, over the border and down to Everett, WA where the Flying Heritage Museum lives in a couple of hangers next to Boeing.

The majority of the planes in the collection are airworthy and it shows. A lot of WWII hardware can actually take to the skies. When I visited, the fleet was at rest and it was wonderful to roam around a diverse collection of mainly US, German and British planes with a smattering of Japanese and Russian aircraft for good measure.

To add to the spectacle, the museum also has a number of armoured vehicles that are also able to break free of the hanger confines and strut their stuff outside.

This private collection of Paul Allen (Microsoft co-founder) has been growing since 1998. The desire to have fully operational artifacts rather than static museum pieces whenever possible really sets the collection apart. There's a short 'bio' of each artifact that feeds the imagination making it easy to close one's eyes and visualise that Spitfire or Mustang in the air. The exhibits are simply meticulously prepared and I could have watched the guys working on a ME109 for a long time.  

Whilst getting a shot of the SCUD carrier tracks (I was trying to capture the hardware from different perspectives) I had an impromptu chat with Vince from Montana, an older guy visiting the collection. It was a pleasure to meet someone, know the area where he lives and then head off, never to see him again. A small slice of life where journeys meet, paths cross and then go their own way.

It's difficult to pinpoint a favourite exhibit, although I will say that I have a soft spot for the de Havilland Mosquito, maybe because it was such an accomplished all-rounder. Yes, it is possible to do many things to a high standard!

I'm not a military buff, I don't get a romantic kick from armed conflict, it's the design aesthetic of the machinery that attracts me. I also appreciate how innovation can be fast-tracked by the immediate needs of the time. The museums artifacts act as a reminder of testing times for the world, surely times that as a species we do not want to revisit, whilst coincidentally bringing a real appreciation of design and ingenuity. I thoroughly enjoyed my visit to FHCAM and will be making a return visit on one of their flying days.

On the photographic side, I had my PEN-F with me and the 14-42 pancake lens along with my 25 (nifty 50). I'm currently finding the 25mm, 1.8 so versatile and most of the images I've posted were made using this lens. Rather than try to capture the complete aircraft or armoured vehicle, I was looking for unique views to showcase different elements of the design. I've recognised that the results are not that dissimilar to some of the stills in the closing shots on old Thunderbirds shows, my memories are being raided for inspiration.

Sunny Seattle

AmeriVespa may have left town but Seattle is still close to my heart.

Nice ride, shame about the hot pants

It’s really about how we choose to react.

A couple of Sundays ago the sun was shining. It was a beautiful, late summer day. The kind of day two-wheel enthusiasts lap up, and, being one of those two-wheel types (self-propelled or motorized) I decided that being out on my Ducati would be a great way for to relax. However, I didn’t get the ride I expected.

Rather than settle for a local coffee shop ride I thought I’d go for lunch in Port Townsend, Washington, a 340 Km return trip. As the forecast was good I didn’t pack rain gear, however, I did add a fleece, a lower base layer and warmer gloves as I wasn’t sure what time I’d be returning. It was a good decision.

Port Townsend lies on the north-eastern tip of the Olympic Peninsula and I’d previously visited this gorgeous artsy community a couple of years ago. Rather than ride down past Seattle and back up the peninsula, I could head to Whidbey Island and take a short ferry to my destination. The ride was everything I hoped for, light traffic and effortless cruising. I arrived in Port Townsend and headed to the wonderful Better Living Through Coffee, a local, organic, fair trade coffee-house. Highly recommended.

This is where my self-coaching began.

Feeling rather at one with myself I headed back to the Ducati. Horror. When removing the ignition key I’d not noticed that I’d taken the lock to the rear parking light position. The lamp was glowing dimly. My old battery was likely too flat to start the bike, and that was the case; not even a click or whir. I was south of the border at 4pm with a non-starter of a Ducati.

First learning. Forward planning. Although I can be more of a ‘spur of the moment’ person, a little forward planning certainly helps. I had BCAA membership and within an hour was back on the road. How many times have you been too spontaneous and been tripped up?

Second learning. Don’t ignore the obvious signs. I knew my battery was old and the bike had failed to start a few weeks prior. The battery needed replacing and I didn’t do it. How often do you ignore clear warning signs and continue without considering the consequences of your actions?

Third and most significant learning. I couldn’t take the Port Townsend to Whidbey Island ferry back as the battery needed to be charged enough to start the bike again, and that meant riding for around thirty minutes. I had to head south and think about rounding the Puget Sound, coming back through via Tacoma. As I hit the road I considered my state of mind and realised that even though I couldn’t change the circumstances I found myself in, I could choose how to react. My choices were feeling hard done by, being a victim or rising to the challenge and enjoying the ride. I chose the latter. My head cleared and I planned on the fly, taking the Bainbridge ferry to Seattle and reducing my ride time significantly. When faced with difficult circumstances, you can still choose how to react and your choice will shape your response.

Rather than being relaxing my ride turned in to more of a challenge, even more so when I ended up with overflowing petrol drenching my lap whilst refuelling. Leaping off the bike hoping the fuel wasn’t running down a very hot engine and realizing that, well, let’s say that my ‘lap’ area was stinging, one of those moments that, being a Brit, I could only laugh at. I must have looked very odd waddling back to the bike after I’d washed down and stuffed copious amounts of toilet roll between me and the base layer as well as the base layer and my jeans. Quite the posing pouch!

I finally arrived home some thirteen hours after leaving, having ridden around 550Km. Despite everything, I enjoyed the ride, and I learned a little more about me. Never too old to learn.

How have you risen to the challenge and enjoyed the ride that is life?

Seaside wrap up

The excitement of Cannon Beach was obviously too much. Thoughts of activity slipped away to be replaced by thoughts of, well, nothing. Having said that the holiday culture need was satisfied by paying a visit to the Seaside museum. As with past walking tours and museum visits, a familiar pattern to the history of the town emerged.

Hardy pioneers, entrepreneurs, and fierce fires all stepped forward to take their bow. I may have to abstain from west coast culture for a while as its becoming a single story with highlights that can be swapped in and out of any of the towns or cities. The museum was actually full of informative exhibits. As Seaside is such a small place it was interesting to thumb through the old school photos. The growth of the town was very visible through the expanding grad class.

A lazy morning turned in to a slow lunch. A perfect holiday pace that continued in to the afternoon with another visit to bygone days, this time courtesy of a wander around the antiques and collectables mall. Maybe it’s an ageing thing. There’s just something comforting about unearthing artefacts from ones childhood. Simpler days. One great fund was an original Life Magazine from the actual day I was born. A must purchase if ever there was.

The day wound down with a slightly energetic walk along Seaside promenade. It’s a lot narrower than some of the marketing pics make it look, however it’s a good long walk. Combine the prom with a beach stroll and you have a great way to close off the day.

After a déjà vu final day it was time to head back north. The weather was turning and the Megler Bridge across the Columbia had an air of mystery about it as the far side was shrouded in mist. Once back in Washington, Dismal Nitch provided the perfect photo opportunity for an end of holiday snap.1308-Seaside-06

To spice up the drive home, lets face it, who wants to sit on I5 when there are alternatives, we decided to head across country to Bremerton and take the ferry to Seattle. Excellent choice.

The Puget Sound was a millpond, the sun was shining and the sights coming in to Seattle were sumptuous.

1308-Seaside-20So that was it. An Oregon coast break. As wonderful as living in the Lower Mainland is there’s something very special about walking mile long, almost deserted beaches. The beaches absolutely lived up to their reputation of being stunning. I’m certain that I’ll be beside the seaside again.

Back to reality

A relaxed breakfast, final wander around the town and on the road. Time to head for home.

1308-Winthrop-01The traffic was certainly heavier than Friday. Driving felt more pressured, I had to keep up, the pace was faster. Consequently, the ride back through the Cascades was not as enjoyable. However, the horizontal relaxed state returned at he first pit stop. At the western side of the mountain range you’ll find the North Cascades Visitor Centre and whether one is entering or leaving the range, it’s worth stopping off. The exhibits, 3D map, film show and short hikes are informative and restorative. We followed a trail to a viewing point and were totally awestruck. The Picket Range, some ten miles in the distance appeared like painted scenery in and old movie. Breathtaking and yet so tranquil. The impromptu stop had certainly restored the sense of serenity that the weekend had instilled.

A final zip up I5 and the long weekend was over. Winthrop can be a great escape in the summer. Yes, it’s touristy, but if one puts aside that view and maybe treats the town as somewhere to lodge whilst taking in the surrounding beauty , the place makes sense.

1308-Winthrop-04Although good things can come to an end, the great thing about living in the Pacific Northwest is that the good thing can be revisited easily, it’s not a one off, holiday experience. Not only that but there are also many more ‘good things ‘ just waiting to be explored. One of the aims of relocation was to change my quality of life. Some might say that an 8000+ mile change wasn’t needed to do that. In my case, swapping the built environment of Europe for the outstanding natural environment of Cascadia has been worth every mile.