Sunday, September 28, 2008

Travel Log: Missouri

Saturday morning, we started off with a treat the boys have been begging for since we got back on the mainland. I don't know why they don't make fresh donuts anywhere in Hawaii.

Next, we headed over to Whiteman AFB where my aunt arranged for us to go on a tour of a B-2 Spirit bomber. They also had a T-38 and an A-10 Thunderbolt out for us to check out. We were allowed to bring cameras, but we weren't allowed take pictures in certain places.

ES in front of the Spirit of America.

It was a really awesome, informative tour. I learned A LOT. Unfortunately, the boys were hot and whiney and bored - I thought they would have eaten this up.

Things I learned during the tour:

- Each of the B-2's are named after a state (Spirit of Alaska, Spirit of Washington, Spirit of Missouri, etc), with the exception of two: Spirit of America and Spirit of Kitty Hawk.

This was the view looking across the tarmac at the Spirit of Kitty Hawk peeking out of her hanger. Notice how each hanger had a painting to the left of the door with the name of the bomber and a silouette of its namesake state.

- They can only afford to fly the B-2 for proficiency about twice per month, so the pilots fly the T-38s six to eight times per month to maintain their flying skills.


Spirit Chaser (on the cockpit of the T-38)

CAPT B explains the T-38 controls to ES.

- The USAF does the same sort of dual investigation process that the Navy does following an accident (one for legal and punishment purposes and a "safety" investigation to really get down to why it happened and preventing it from ever happening again).

- As with any major accident in the submarine force, there was a major case of switch-theory involved in the B-2 crash in Guam (several things had to go wrong in series to lead up to the accident, and it's just mind boggling that they all lined up the way they did to result in the crash).

The Colonel (Wing Commander) explains how a B-2 flies and what caused the B-2 crash in Guam.

- There are no bunks or cots on the plane. The crew trains in long endurance techniques, and they have flight surgeons that plan out for them when they should take 20 minute power naps and when they should eat and what they should eat.

Self Portrait with YB on my shoulders in front of the A-10

Me and my boys by the A-10
(Picture taken by Aunt Ruth)

We also got to see two A-10's taxi in from the runway with the canopies open. The pilots waved to us and we waved back.

The tour was absolutely awesome and I learned a lot. That was a once in a lifetime opportunity. (Thank you Aunt Ruth!)

After the tour, we grabbed some lunch and then tried to find a geocache in Knob Noster State Park. We got to within about 450 feet of the cache, but the GPS was pointing across a lake, and we didn't see any easy way around it. Had to post a DNF (Did Not Find) for that one. Too bad. It was still a really pretty park.

Hmmm... to bushwhack or not to bushwhack?

We gassed up the car while we were on base. I've been getting between 23 and 25 mpg as we've been crossing the long flat stretches of highway out here.

We also found a $50 Sirius receiver in the BX, so we picked it up. It's been SO nice listening to Sirius Channel 22 First Wave and Channel 66 Spirit.

Kansas versus Missouri

Driving across Missouri was interesting. Like Kansas, it was very flat with lots of farmland. There was one big difference that stood out in my mind though. In Kansas, it seemed like there were pro-l1fe and ant1-abort1on billboards in between every exit. In Missouri, every freeway exit had your standard blue signs -

Lodging Next Exit

Gas Next Exit...

Food Next Exit...

Adu1t Bookstore / Adu1t Video Next Exit...

I'm serious! In between every exit was at least one billboard advertising the p0rn shop at the next exit, and as you got to the exit you would see big signs that just said "ADU LT" to tell you where the p0 rn shop was. What the heck?!?! I'm assuming there had to be some difference in state laws between Kansas and Missouri, because the difference was remarkable and very noticable. Is there really enough demand for p0 rn in Missouri to have a shop at EVERY freeway exit????

(Aside: There are some intentional typos above, changing a few characters here and there so I don't get a lot of weirdos coming to my blog through Google searches for p0 rn).

Missouri Rest Rooms

The other thing that really threw me for a loop in Missouri was the restrooms at the rest stops. They had automatic hand washing stations. It was a hole in the wall you just stuck your hands in. The motion sensor detected your hands were in the hole.

It squirted some liquid soap on my hands.

It turned the water on and sprayed my hands.

It stopped the water and started blowing air on my hands.

Now, here I have to pause for a second and explain that I don't like the air hand dryers. If given a choice between the paper towels or the air dryers in a restroom, I'll always take the paper towels. It's faster. The air dryers NEVER get my hands completely dry unless I stand there for like two cycles of the dryer.

Okay, resume story...

I stood there with my hands getting blown dry in the automatic hand washing station. Suddenly, the air stopped blowing, and much to my dismay, there's NO time delay after the dryer stops to allow you to pull your hands out. The dryer stopped. The motion sensor detected that my hands were still in the hole and immediately squirted soap on my hands again. Geesh! Now I gotta stand there through ANOTHER cycle of the water and then the air drying, and I got my hands even LESS dry than usual because I pulled them out early for fear of getting squirted with soap a third time.

20 Questions

One of ES's new favorite games to play in the car is Twenty Questions. We never really count the questions or stop at twenty though, so what do you call it then? "Ask-questions- until- you- give- up- because- your- 7- year- old- has- stumped- you"? He's been reading all these non-fiction DK Reader Level 3, 4, and 5 books about all sorts of things around the planet like this one. Yesterday, he really threw me a loop and stumped me with "Argentina."

St. Louis

We kinda got the feeling St. Louis didn't want us last night. The GPS told us to take I-64 east, but I-64 east was totally blocked off for construction. We got off the highway and started wandering around the city streets trying to figure out an alternate route, and the GPS just kept telling us, "Make a U-Turn... Make a U-Turn... Make a U-Turn..." and kept trying to reroute us back onto I-64 eastbound.

We finally figured out a work around and went down to I-44 and drove into St. Louis. Now the GPS told us to get off on Jefferson Street, which made sense since that's the street our hotel was on. We got off the highway and tried to turn up Jefferson Street to drive the whole two blocks to our hotel, and this is what we found...

Of course, that's a bridge going over a bunch of railroad tracks in the picture, so we had to follow a detour route several blocks down to another bridge over the railroad tracks then up a few blocks then over a few blocks and then back toward the hotel again. Of course, we got back on Jefferson and had to defy the signs telling us the street was closed and there was no outlet because our hotel was ON that street, immediately adjacent to that bridge they're working on. Aye caramba!

We finally made it to the hotel and then went over to Union Station where there are a bunch of restaurants. ES saw the Hard Rock Cafe and got excited, so we let him have his choice for dinner.

YB thought it was really cool there was a stained glass Elvis next to our table. We tried to get him to do his Elvis dance that Uncle Jon taught him, but he wouldn't perform for us.

Statistics for Saturday:

50,000 Number of pounds of ordnance the B-2 can carry.

172 Number of feet in the B-2 Spirit's wingspan.

44 Number of hours duration of the longest combat mission flown by a B-2 bomber (from Missouri to Afghanistan and back).

4 Number of feet long I would estimate the black snake was I encountered while searching for a geocache at the edge of the wilderness at a rest stop in Missouri. It was equally as startled by me as I was of it, and it slithered away faster than a lightning bolt. It was a good thing LW and the boys didn't come with me for this geocache because they would have absolutely wigged out running back to the car screaming bloody murder.

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