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October 11, 2012

Back from Vacation…

Certainly with less money than I departed with… Vegas will do that to you… but with great memories of fun with friends!

A few items…

  1. The Cosmopolitan Hotel is the BOMB!
  2. I am glad Colorado does not have an “In and Out Burger” else, I would be fat… wait what?
  3. Don’t sit Karyn near the light switches in an Italian Restaurant…
  4. KA is good… Mystere and Love are still better, in my book
  5. Emeril’s place at MGM is still some of the best food around!
  6. Blackjack Dealers sure have a knack of having a 7 hole card when they have a 4 showing!
  7. Downtown has really gone downhill!  Not that it was ever too Up Hill…
  8. Hugos has lost its mojo… Time to find a new, hidden gem in Vegas
  9. Play the Red Rocks Arroyo Course… Pass on the Sienna Course… But no matter what, playing golf in Vegas is probably the best spent $100.00… it certainly lasts the longest!
  10. D-Bott is hilarious at broken escalators, and very photogenic!
  11. 5 and a half days is not too long in Vegas… so long as you play two rounds of golf, and catch a show!

Now time for the pics… you didn’t think I went without my camera did you?

To begin, this is the view Ginger and I had from our “Wrap Around Suite” at the Cosmopolitan… Stunning!

Cosmopolitan Balcony View 2

The inside was none too shabby either…

Cosmopolitan Suite Interior

But as night fell upon “The Strip”… it got better!

Vegas Strip at Night 3 Pano

Vegas Strip at Night 2

And of course there was the Bellagio Fountains to watch!

Dusk on the strip

Now a few of our fellow travelers!

On “Day One” coincidentally our buddy and pool teammate, John Neuhalfen was in Vegas (for a Grateful Dead Concert) so we joined up at Mon Ami Gabi at the base of the Eifel Tower for a Anniversary Lunch.  It was the first time John has ever tried Escargot!  I think he is hooked now… and is seriously contemplating becoming a Snail Rancher!

Newie Gin and John

D-Bott, the character!

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Karyn and Bob, liv’n and laughing it up at Hugos!

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And Pam and Cliff enjoying the spectacle!

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There was a lot of laughter this trip.  Actually how all vacations should be in my mind!

John and Ginger at Caesars

The scenes from the trip were a photographer’s playground…

Bellagio pond fog

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And finally, the trip was made all that much better by enjoying my and Ginger’s 5th Anniversary!  She’s more beautiful to me now than ever!

Ginger lounge chair

Ginger Balcony

And there you have it… Now, GET BACK TO WORK!

October 11, 2012 in Biographical, Photo, Travel | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

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October 02, 2012

The 2012 Grand Junction Airshow

This post is part 1 of a 2 part article… This initial post will focus on the Airshow in Grand Junction Colorado… Part 2, will focus more on the “Cattle Baron’s BBQ and Tailhook Gathering.

The weekend of September 21-23 I found myself on the western side of the Rocky Mountains to attend the Grand Junction Airshow.  I had received a “Media Pass” to the event due to my affiliation with The Tailhook Association as the Editor of “The Tailhook Daily Briefing”, the association’s online blog presence.  Now, ‘Media Passes’ sound all glamorous and preferential and all… but in reality all they do is allow for access to the field on the Practice Day and then grant me early access to the field on the Show days with preferred parking.  (hmm maybe that is preferential…)

B-17Art

As a certified “Aviation Geek”, I look forward to this event every 3 to 4 years, it is really too bad this is not an annual event because the venue is fantastic!  Grand Junction Airport is nestled up against the “Bookcliffs” Mesa, with Mt Garfield providing an appropriate bookend to the range.  These cliffs provide for an excellent backdrop to photos taken at the show.

Also, Grand Junction’s Airshow is still small enough to have that wonderful ‘Down Home’ feel to it. It is reminiscent of the older style of airshows, much more intimate with attendance measured in the thousands instead of the 100’s of thousands like Miramar.  Never the less, it was still quite beneficial for an aviation photographer like me to have access to the flight line the day before the crowds align the rails.

Friday morning, Ginger, Ken Schoeni (who had flown in the day before from his home in Seattle) and I all piled into the GMC and began our roughly 4 hour trek west along I-70 over the Rockies.  The drive was splendid… Vail Pass was decked out in all of its Autumn Glory, the aspens presenting explosions of gold among a sea of evergreens.  We arrived at the Hotel in Grand Junction right on time, checked in and headed to the room to deposit our bags.  Ginger had some work to follow up on so she took the opportunity to hole up in the room and catch up.  Ken and I headed over to the Airport.  Actually, since we were close enough, we walked the mile from the hotel to the West Star Aviation Terminal where I had been told my Media Pass would await.

Inside the terminal lounge, a variety of people were milling about.  Many were West Star employees trying to finish preparations for the show, coordinating everything from fuel for the birds to beer for the spectators.  But also loitering were the various airshow performers including a couple of the ‘civilian’ acts, the Navy Super Hornet Tactical Demonstration guys of VFA-106 outta Oceana, and the V-22 Osprey folks from VMM-166 “The Sea Elks” from Miramar.  I took a few minutes to introduce myself to the crews, toss about some casual conversation and then proceeded to the counter to inquire about my media credentials.

The young lady (fresh outta high school by my estimates) behind the counter greeted me politely, but then her look rapidly turned to one of confusion.  Apparently not an uncommon look these past few days.  They seemed to embrace their disorganization more as the status quo than the exception.

“Um… What Media list?” was the response I received from young blonde…

Rather than try to explain what should have been there behind the counter, and apparently wasn’t (…I’ve tried that pointless action before only to end up right back where I started, shorter on patience and 5 minutes closer to my death than I had been…), I simply excused myself for a brief moment to make a phone call.  To the Director of Marketing for the show.  Within five minutes, the media list was delivered to the girls behind the counter, with my name clearly in attendance.  “Sorry for the mix up Mr. Carmichael, please go right ahead…”  And off to the flight line, camera gear slung over my shoulder I went.  I had Airplanes to photograph!

There is something very surreal about walking onto a flight line that is fully decked out in preparation for the masses to attend, yet few people are about.  A photographer’s dream, not having to muscle your way to the front, fighting for a vantage point without obstacles, like speaker stands, trash cans, umbrellas, kids!  Nirvana I’m tell’n you! 

V-22On the apron static displays abound.  Dominating the landscape is one of VMM-166’s V-22 Osprey Tilt Rotor Aircraft.  In its shadow, a WWII vintage TBM, looking very well preserved considering her age, a great testament to the love and care provided by her owner.  I crawled all through that TBM and with the exception of an oil leak from the cowling… which in these aircraft simply means, “She ain’t Empty!” it was immaculate!

TBM Cockpit HDR

Further down the line were many more aircraft and helicopters, like this CH-53E pictured below. DSC_0304a

But alas, I was here for the flying!

The first to go for the Friday practice sessions was VFA-106’s US Navy’s Super Hornet Flight Demonstration crewed by, LT Tony “Neon” Rizio and LT Jacob “Rooney” Lerner.  And I had front row seats!  --- of course, in hindsight, that might have been poor planning on my part!

Neon and Rooney

Ya see… their crew chief directed them out for what was to be a "Right Turn Out"... Which, woulda been fine with me...

What none of us expected was the 170 degree right turn! As I was filming, I realized in a classic "Ahhhhh Craaaap" moment that the Blowers were about to point right at me, just as the "Need for Speed" - (Taxi Speed anyway) came upon the crew. Lemme tell ya, that zephyr is hot! And quite gusty!

F-18 cans

I maintained my stance amazingly enough (well, I took a knee actually!), but the VIP folding chairs behind me got blasted all over the Grand Junction Apron! Oh and so did the rest of my camera gear including 2 lenses that happened to be sitting on one of the now "Gone With the Wind" chairs!

Yard Sale Yard sale 2

I captured and assembled a little video (amateur as it is...) that shows the initial taxi, the turn , and then some stills of the after... The video concludes with stills from the debrief where 'Neon' and 'Rooney' are told of the carnage.  [Link]

Ah well, the hazards of Naval Aviation!

The only real casualty of having that big blow dryer pointing at me is that my big lens, the 70-300mm, took a tumble and pretty much has given up the ghost.  I know what is now on my Christmas list!

DSC_8675The crew chiefs of VFA-106 were really cool however, and after “Neon” and “Rooney” were well on their way down the taxiway, they came over to help reset the chairs and pick up my yard sale of lenses and other photographer paraphernalia.  Also, when the second crew taxied out for their practice hop, the Crew Chief had already briefed them of “Hurricane Neon” and recommended they keep the right turn to 90 degrees… “Grippy” and “Trig” obliged. 

VFA -106 Grippy and Trig taxib

The rest of the day was uneventful… well except for the Sound of Freedom from the Super Hornets, the V-22 Osprey, and oh yeah… the Blue Angels!

VFA -106 Grippy and Trig low transition touch n go

VFA -106 Grippy and Trig low transition touch n go 4

VMM-166 Sea Elks V-22 Taxi-a V-22 Forward Flight

Fat Albert

Fat Albert Landing  Fat Albert Banana Pass

Blue Angel #1 Greg Mcwherter 2

Blue Angel #1 Crew Chief  Blue Angel #1 Greg Mcwherter Smoke Check

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Blue Angel Diamond Practice 1

Blue Angel Fortus

Blues #5 Sneak Pass

Blue Angel #5 Min Rad Turn

Blue Angel #5 high speed

Blues Crossing

More images from the show can be found on my Smugmug pages here: [Link]

Part 2 Soon to come… The Party!

October 2, 2012 in Aviation, Navy, Photo, Travel | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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October 01, 2012

When September Ends…

You’d think I’d lost the keys to Carmichael’s Position with the scarcity of posts…

Actually it is simply a function of having been exceptionally busy these past few weeks.  September was a blur!

NYC- Early in September, I was back in Manhattan (Brooklyn, Queens, Newburg, Staten Island, Poughkeepsie, and White Plains) New York for my customary business meetings.  I happened to be there September 11.  So I took the opportunity to head down to Jersey City, directly across the Hudson from the Manhattan “Financial District” to snap a few images of the “Missing Towers” commemorative lights.  It was quite impactful.

Manhattan Lights 9-11-12 a

Looking north, I was afforded a spectacular view of Mid-Town as well.

manhattan night 9-11-12

I spent a couple of hours along the walkway just absorbing the enormity of what took place eleven years ago, and what has transpired since.

The next day I had a couple of meetings on Staten Island, and while usually I drive to the island, this day’s schedule precluded any chance of that.  So I had to take the Staten Island Ferry.  Fortunately, unlike my last adventure with the Ferry, this day was beautiful, and… there was not a herd of misunderstood youth thugs boisterously bragging about their female conquests, and pugilistic accomplishments.  (I was thankful).  The views afforded of New York Harbor were spectacular.

Clear day Lower Manhattan2 

statue of Liberty

I recommend, if you find yourself in Manhattan with a couple of hours to spare, head down to the southern tip of the island and jump a ferry ride.  It’s FREE!!! By the way!  Seriously it is easily the best ticket in town for views of the harbor.  (On a clear day… that is…).

The Oven - Upon my return to Casa de Carmichael, I was treated to a new oven!  Ya see whist I was off in NYC doing my part to Bring Home the Bacon… my lovely bride was doing her part to insure we could cook the bacon!  Our (came with the house) nearly 20 year old oven decided to give up the ghost!  So Ginger went and acquired a fancy-schmancy stainless steel glass top job.  Hey, as long as it gets used… I ‘m good with it.  And considering, Ginger cooks an average of 5 nights a week, it’s getting a workout.

Golf League - The weekend of my return from NYC, we also played in our Golf League’s year end tournament.  I played poorly in the tourney, BUT!… I did come in first in the league.  What was a little awkward was we had a side competition in the league where each player submitted an entry stating who you thought would win the league and what you thought that person’s final cumulative score would be… Eh…er… uhm… I won that too… Very fun tourney and banquet never the less, and a great group of people!  I am already looking forward to next May when we crank it up again.

Airshow - And finally, the weekend of the 21-23 I found myself in Grand Junction, Colorado for the (not often enough) Grand Junction Airshow and Tailhook get-together.  More on that in the next article… It’s a bit involved…

October 1, 2012 in Biographical, Current Affairs, Photo, Travel | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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