Archive for the ‘Travel’ Category

Local Aliens   Leave a comment

Alien Fest - Mispelled sign

Humans Escape, Aliens Esape…Got It?

Tomorrow is the umpteenth Pine Bush UFO Fair, located in the northern edge of Orange County, New York. It’s a town that seemed to be plagued (or blessed) by an unusual amount of UFOs in the mid 1980s into the 1990s, although they’ve been spotted forever. Although I’m going to miss it this year (and I’m upset about that!), thousands will descend upon the place, seeking out stories from locals who’ve witnessed all sorts of strange happenings. There’s also a cosplay contest, live music, lectures from UFOlogists, authors and more.

What I like about this festival is it celebrates the incredible and unbelievable. I don’t doubt for one moment that the townsfolk have seen something, even aliens. But many others are skeptics, wondering what in the universe do all these aliens crave here? The Shawangunk Mountains? Horse farms? Corn fields? The Cup and Saucer Diner‘s coffee?

Who really cares.

What’s great is every nerd from miles around descends upon this quaint village and supports all the businesses, buys books from local authors, listens to good music played on Main Street and eats in its restaurants. And so should you.

Alien Fest - Star Trek Fans

Yours truly with a tribble and some like-minded folk

Alien Fest - Porch Aliens

House Guests

Alien Fest - Green Kiddies

Local Aliens

Alien Fest - T-Shirts for Sale

Neat Merch!

These days, reality is so hard on us humans. Every day we’re battered by news headlines that grow worse by the minute. When’s the last time you glanced at the paper or news app and didn’t cringe? So in a way, discovering that aliens are snooping through our hills kind of seems normal. I mean, it’s pretty hard to digest what’s happening to the United States these days, so why should the possibility of E.T. looking for a decent phone connection be out of the ordinary?

So if you find yourself driving on NY State Road 17 West, go on Exit 119 and head north on Route 302 until you hit Pine Bush. Even if you can’t make the festival, you never know what awaits you on your way there.

Or watches.

Just look out for those flying boomerangs at night. From what I hear, they’re pretty amazing.

2015 New York Air Show!   Leave a comment

NY Air Show 2015

 

I’ll admit I’m the first person who hates flying, but I do it anyway.  That doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate the vessels that transport people from A to B.  However, the winged method of transportation I’m talking about here are joyrides of a different kind – military style.

Yes, this past weekend Stewart Airport hosted the New York Air Show, a parade of the latest and vintage military aerial vehicles dating back to World War II.  My husband, Andrew Chattaway, a photographer, shot all of the pictures you will see (except the one above – I did that).  Andrew, me and our son Matt braved the heat and crowds of 15,000 people to get up close to classic planes and helicopters.  I even had the chance to go inside a Chinook and sit in the pilot’s seat.  Despite $3.00 bottles of water, parking about a two days’ journey away and standing the entire four hours we were there, we had a magnificent time.

Here, let me show you some of the sights of this fantastic show.  And if anyone’s looking to do research for space vehicles, you’ll find plenty of inspiration here!

DSC_4198 copy copyDSC_4218 copyDSC_4922 copy copy

Credit: Andrew Chattaway

DSC_4253 copy copy

Credit: Andrew Chattaway

This is a beautiful example of a B-Class Bomber from World War II with its payload doors open.

DSC_4346 copy copyDSC_4359 copy copyDSC_4391 copy copy

Credit: Andrew Chattaway

Here’s a U.S. Marine Corps AV-88 Harrier.  This bad boy’s totally cool feature is that it hovered over the runway for what seemed like ever, much to the crowd’s appreciation.

DSC_4469 copy copyDSC_4474 copy copy DSC_4478 copy copy

Credit: Andrew Chattaway

U.S. Army helicopter rescue demonstration, achieved in mere moments.

DSC_4527 copy copy DSC_4559 copy copy DSC_4562 copy copy

Credit: Andrew Chattaway

Geico Skytypers do an amazing job of scrolling trails and daredevil stunts

DSC_4604 copy copy DSC_4598 copy copy DSC_4633 copy copy

Credit: Andrew Chattaway

Old-fashioned stunt flying that made everyone, us included, hold our breath.

DSC_4664 copy copy DSC_4731 copy copy DSC_4832 copy copy

Credit: Andrew Chattaway

The U.S. Navy F-18 Super Hornet flies gracefully in just about any direction – straight, sideways or upside down.

DSC_4941 copy copy DSC_5019 copy copy DSC_5042 copy copy

Credit: Andrew Chattaway

Here’s a U.S. Air Force F-22 Raptor really showed everyone that it pretty much could do anything, including blast out our eardrums.  It went past us at 700 miles per hour and left such a retort that my ear, blocked by my hands, banged anyway.  Take a look at this thing – it really seems like some kind of alien attack vessel, you know, the kind that comes down by the millions from the mother ship hovering just above our atmosphere.

DSC_5161 copy copy DSC_5234 copy copy DSC_5202 copy copy

Credit: Andrew Chattaway

At the end of the show flew a top-of-the-line WWII fighter plane next to the F-22 Raptor.  At first glance, it doesn’t seem like much of a comparison.  Yet both flew proudly and with such grace, it really was a marvel to watch.  The F-22 slowed to keep in time with its much older companion, but it didn’t take away from the fact that both protected our nation and allies.

Well, I hope  Andrew’s photos  inspire you to write some really good speculative sci-fi, military sci-fi, what your father did during the war (any) or present you with the opportunity just to marvel at some really incredible feats of aviation engineering.  Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Adventurer Returneth…   2 comments

US & Canada Flags

I’ve been back for a week, yet I’m struggling to figure out what to write in this blog.  I’ve so much to say about Pluto, the near miss up in the ISS and Ant-Man, but my thoughts keep drifting back to my recent vacation.  So why not blog about that?  It was, after all, the last subject of my blog.

Andrew and I took a trip that amounted to 4000+ miles/6437+ kilometers, driving through New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Maine, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland, all in 15 days.  For those of you who are unfamiliar with such places, check it out on a map.  Looks doable, right?  That’s what we said.  And sure, it is.  However, possibilities always come with caveats and, in our case, ambition met with reality.  Our car ate up the miles and burned through its recent oil change all in one journey, but it didn’t complain once.

I have to tell you, it was an AMAZING adventure that I hope to repeat…just not all at once.  Be that as it may…

We started out one early morning and drove clear up to Maine in one shot – nine hours – and settled in Freeport, Maine, home of L.L. Bean and their grammatically incorrect sign, unless you really don’t want people kissing outside your store:

LL Bean

It’s a charming town, so we stayed overnight, shopped a bit at the 24-hour L.L. Bean, then continued on the next morning through the vast expanse that is Maine.  Traveling along State Highway 9, we discovered its beauty – and its remoteness.  Feeling hungry and needing a pit stop, there wasn’t a single place to pull over and eat.  Sure, there were a few convenience stores with take-out menus, but no toilets.  Luckily, we found a place just when our bladders and stomachs nearly gave up hope.  About an hour and a half later we arrived at Lubec, where we crossed into Canada.

Up until relatively recently, Americans and Canadians had to show only a driver’s license to cross the border.  Now, we need passports or an enhanced license, which contains much of the same information one has on its driver’s license embedded in it.  But that doesn’t stop anyone from enjoying each other’s nation’s treasures.

Our goal was Campobello Island, where Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt had a summer cottage (a term I’ll use loosely) and also the location where he caught crippling polio that prevented him from walking for the rest of his life…but didn’t stop him from becoming the greatest American president ever.

Campobello 1Campobello 2Gretchen at Campobello

From there, we took a tiny ferry across to Deer Island, and because the tide wasn’t going the right way, we missed the world’s largest natural whirlpool – looks like a sink draining.  Another ferry put us into St. John, NB, and quite possibly the worst motel room we’ve ever had, ever.  But it was only for one night and the drive to it was quite beautiful – saw a moose! – and then it was up to Moncton.

We eventually wound up at Confederation Bridge, a bridge so long it took three songs playing on the radio to keep us entertained while we crossed.  It was totally cool, though.  PEI is one of these magical places that you trip upon at some point in your life and swear you’re coming back.  Lucy Maud Montgomery felt sufficiently inspired to write “Ann of Green Gables,” and we were lucky enough to stay across the street from the home that inspired her to write said book.

Gretchen at House 1

 

The next day, we rode horses on some Martian-red sand and hopped a ferry from PEI to Nova Scotia, just in time to celebrate Canada Day.

PEI Lighthouse

Tides are insaaaaaane!  Check out the below photo:

Nova Scotia Tides

Now this is a low tide!  Andrew’s in the lower right hand corner, crouching as he snaps a photo.  That’ll give you some perspective on how empty the beach becomes after the water ebbs.

After Nova Scotia we drove north and headed to Newfoundland.  We took the 8-hour ferry to Port-aux-Basques, giving me ample time to finish “The Caves of Steel” by Isaac Asimov, nap, eat and take artful selfies.

G&A Selfie

Hey, we were bored…

Newfoundland’s AMAZING.  Nothing short of.  However, take my advice – DO NOT plan to drive from Port-aux-Basques to St. John’s in one day.  It’s something like 570 miles/913 km/12 hours in one go.  Andrew and I are idiots.  We said f*** it, let’s go.  So we did.  Along the way, we saw this:

Moose Alert

…which led to this:

Moose 2

Yes, he boldly went where many moose dare to go – in the middle of the highway – and I was driving, but luckily he chose to run back into the woods and not total our car, but not before Andrew took his incriminating photo.

Because Newfoundland is packed with pristine beauty, we stopped frequently.  Even took the time to nip into Terra Nova Provincial Park.

Terra Nova 1  Terra Nova 2

Finally, we came to St. John’s, saddle sore but relieved.  Loved that city the moment I stepped into it, not because it was the end of the road (finally), but because it’s a happening town all lit up like an Easter basket under a Christmas tree.

St. Johns 1  St. Johns 2

However, we had a mission: icebergs.  We were not disappointed.

Gretchen and Iceberg   Iceberg 1  Iceberg 2

There are no words to describe that iceberg that accurately conveys its size or majesty.  That’s the ice field an iceberg leaves behind – just as dangerous as the iceberg itself.  Later on our tour, Andrew and I were screeched – listened to a Newfie recite the history of the province, taught us a saying in Newfie tongue, we had to repeat said (incomprehensible) phrase, kiss a frozen cod and take a shot of rum.  Afterwards, we received a certificate declaring us Screeched and honorary Newfoundlanders.

Alas, we turned around and headed back towards the ferry (another 13-hour drive) and over to Nova Scotia once more to enjoy Bras d’Or Lake and a coastal assortment of lighthouses, then a fun-filled evening in Halifax, only to have lunch in Moncton once again and depart Canada over a very friendly crossing at St. Stephen, New Brunswick to Calais, Maine.  In fact, both towns are so close you see license plates from both New Brunswick and Maine in each town’s streets.

A quick stop in Bar Harbor, Maine and Sturbridge, Massachusetts over the next two days ended with our arrival at home.

Whew!  Took two days to write this!

Oh yeah…we certainly DID have fun!

Next post – back to work!  Sci-fi and space await…

 

%d bloggers like this: