Sunday, December 25, 2016

Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah!

Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah!

I thought since I've been hearing Gene Autry sing Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer just about everyday since mid-November on the local radio stations it was time to put up a video dedicated to him. I'm not a hard core Gene Autry fan, but do own a bunch of his movies on dvd and remember him as the Angel's baseball owner when I was a kid. However, my family always had great respect for him and the goodness he portrayed on and off screen. I mentioned the Gene Autry family story in the video and got out the paperwork I was talking about while I was editing the video to make sure I still had it. As I note in the video this was done about two hours after the hike to the Lon Chaney Cabin video I showed on Halloween. I thought I had time for it on the way home so off I went.

It wasn't that easy. I mentioned in that blog that I had to wait for roadwork on Whitney Portal Road. That was one thing, but what I didn't mention is the amount of people in the Alabama Hills.There were many travel trailers in key spots I wanted to video at. I intended to have at least two videos possibly three for today, but because people were parked in the spots I needed to video at I just gave up. Keep in mind what I had faced at the Lon Chaney Cabin if you read that blog. I wanted to slam my head into the ground since I had put some mental preparation time into what I intended to video. Let's just be grateful that I was able to get this video done and leave it at that.

Which leads to this video. Even though I mentally prepared for this one I did make some mistakes in it that I had to do some major editing to make it work. I typically do a bunch of "takes" on all my videos. Then I do the editing of the clips, cut stuff out, add the movie video to it, add music, etc. Some of the clips are out of order in the way I thought I was going to present it when I was there making it. For me to watch it is slightly strange because I say something in the middle of it that I intended as the intro, but to make it work with the movie clip I had to present it as you see. It is not something you would probably know unless I told you, but if you get the idea the video has some repetitive awkward moments then maybe now you understand why.

Have a great day and enjoy the new year with family and friends. I do intend to put together a video in the next month or so that I have put off that will take a lot of work to do. I had hoped to have it for today or the new year, but I wanted to enjoy the holidays and not be in video obsession mode for this one I intend to do. So, I will see you when that one is completed.

The old blog on the Gene Autry Mule Train Waterhole

The music from used in the video is called "Fireflies and Stardust".

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Follow the Gold Leaf Trail! (Christmas Eve 2016)

Happy Christmas Eve! I hope you are done with your Christmas shopping and preparations for the big day tomorrow. Take a moment and relax with this one. It has some nice magical/fantasy moments in it:

This was done on the last day for fall colors in that area because the wind that would come that day would wipe out a good portion of the leaves you see in it. The fall colors were the main reason I did that hike to Barney Lake.

I had not been to Barney Lake in about ten years. I had been on the trail a few years ago when I took some pictures in the snow there, but I didn't get to the lake. Some of my earliest blogs from 2006 show this area back then and what is beyond Barney Lake. I would have liked to have gone further, but windy conditions that were to come would have made me miserable. I achieved the main goal which was to see some of the colors and get to this lake so I was happy.
Barney Lake Fall Colors Hike #1
There was lots of gold on this trail. On this mountainside there was a river of gold flowing through it.
Barney Lake Fall Colors Hike #5
Then this was the point I thought the elves and hobbits would show up in this enchanted forest:
Barney Lake Fall Colors Hike #12
Finally I reached Barney Lake:
Barney Lake Fall Colors Hike #18

The above picture is actually looking back, and it was the furthest I went on the trail that morning.

If you would like to see other pictures I did for this hike then go here: Follow the Gold Leaf Trail! (Flickr Album)

The music from used in the video is called "Ascending the Vale"..

Wednesday, December 07, 2016

In Remembrance of Pearl Harbor (75th Anniversary)

Today marks the 75th anniversary of the day that would live in infamy. You might remember a few months ago I posted some pictures and an unlisted video of the Planes of Fame Airshow in Chino, CA. One part I left out of the video was the tribute to Pearl Harbor they did. I decided to withhold that until today. So here we go:

There is so much out there on Pearl Harbor that I think it would be foolish of me to try to say too much on here. A google search of "Pearl Harbor" or watching the movie Tora! Tora! Tora! should do the job if you are lacking in this area. There are tons of news articles out today.
The Japanese Zero fighter is one of the main aircraft in this video. One of the Zero fighters you see was actually captured by the U.S. in 1944. It is the only one in the world that stills runs on its original engine. You can see the particular zero in the Memorial Day Blog I did.
The Curtis P-40 Warhawk was the fighter that had to intercept the Zero at Pearl Harbor. It was inferior to the Zero, but a few pilots were able to shoot down some of the Zeros.
353 Japanese aircraft were involved in the attack at Pearl Harbor. Yet the the U.S. aircraft carriers they were sent to destroy were not there. A victory for the Japanese, but not the one they needed to defeat the U.S. The element of surprise was gone from now on. The sleeping giant had awoken.

Click here for the unlisted video of the airshow.

Friday, November 25, 2016

North Lake

(GPS: N37° 13.870 W118° 36.770)

Happy Black Friday! Actually, I'm not sure if I'm supposed to be happy or wish that on anyone else on this day. I pretty much stay home on Black Friday. So, wish you well if you are one of those that braves the lines. Not my thing, but if it were a long distance hike...

From Sabrina Lake I drove back to the turnoff to North Lake. It is a dirt road that goes to the lake. Since I'm a little different to say the least, I decided to hike in instead of driving to it. I was just in the mood to explore the area and not drive back and forth. So after about twenty minutes of up hill and curves I encountered the lake:

It was very quiet. Much like Lake Sabrina, there were a few fishermen around the lake. There were a few people taking pictures around the lake. I knew this area was past prime with the fall colors before I got here. You can notice that most of the trees have lost their leaves across the lake. However, the trees on the right side of the above pictures still had some left.
So, I was happy to get this. See the tiny fisherman on the other side of the lake?

Again, like Lake Sabrina, this is another area I would like to come back to for some hiking in the canyon.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Lake Sabrina

(GPS: N37° 12.720 W118° 36.680)

I want to wish my fellow Americans a Happy Thanksgiving! If you are somewhere else then I wish you a great day as well. 

I'm going to keep things simple today. This is an area that I haven't spent much time at. About a twenty minute drive outside of Bishop, CA gets one to a couple of different areas in the High Sierra. One of these is Lake Sabrina:
I was there during the morning hours, and the sun had not quite cleared the canyon.
I zoomed across the lake for this shot. There were some fall colors there.

It's been a while since i watched Star Trek: Insurrection, but this lake was in that movie (as well as Convict Lake which is about a thirty minute drive away). In any case, I hope to return here in the future to hike some of the trails here.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Tankland! (Veteran's, Armistice, Remembrance Day)

Happy Veteran's Day! Armistice Day! Remembrance Day!

A few months ago I was at Tankland (Aka The American Military Museum) in El Monte, CA. It is a big lot of military vehicles with the emphasis on the American tanks. It was really fun to see some of these machines in person.
Two Sherman tanks.
M5 Stuart.
 M47 Patton Tank from the side.
M47 Patton Tank from the front.

Go here for more Tankland pictures I took on Flickr.

I took video too. Sometime in the future I will edit a video of this place as well. I'll link it here at that time.

I just wanted to acknowledge the Vets of the U.S. and other allied countries today. Bless you! Thanks for keeping me safe.

Recently, certain American football players have made the news in not acknowledging the American National Anthem while it is played before their games. They have every legal right to do that, but I do not believe they have the moral right to do this. Whatever past sins the U.S. has been apart of, those players have not made the sacrifices that our veterans have made. Many of which are minorities. I used to enjoy watching NFL games, but I refuse to watch anymore until those players apologize. My sacrifice is not the same as landing on Normandy, but I will not spit in the face or on the graves of those who have given me my freedoms.

Wednesday, November 09, 2016

Survival of the Fittest

I wanted to upload this video I took a few months ago. I thought it was kind of interesting. I was not sure who I was rooting for while I was watching it take place:

What I thought was “fun” about this was how prey used its environment to its advantage. Normally a predator like this would completely overwhelm the prey. However, due to the ‘smartness” of the prey it was able to do what it did. I had one of those “Bruce Lee” moments while observing nature in action. A powerful opponent can be stopped if you can find a way to neutralize its strengths.

A few thoughts on the election (really about the media):

I did want to make a few comments about yesterday’s U.S. election. As I have said in the past, I really don’t like it when entertainers or bloggers I follow that specialize in something that has nothing to do with politics feel the need to go partisan. There is a guy with a nature blog that does this to a predictable level during every election cycle that drives me nuts. So, I hesitate to do too much of this on my own blog for the same reason since this is not a political blog. However, one of the issues that comes up from time to time on here is the sources of our beliefs. What good reasons to we have to believe something?

What bothered me about this election was not the candidates involved. It was the way the media handled it. Imo, they were not even trying. Or, from a different perspective, they were trying way too hard. I would log into my e-mail everyday and before I would do that this past year I was getting “hit piece” after “hit piece” on one candidate. There was a blog earlier this year that I mentioned my frustration with the media on this issue.

I’m not a fan of conspiracy theories, but one day I was on the Reddit conspiracy message board. It was chilling to see that they had come to the same conclusion I had come to. There was one message that showed how all the news stories over a few days to a week were so anti-Trump to the point of absurdity. It actually shocked me that I’m in line with a conspiracy site. That’s aliens and UFO territory there, right?

The expectation is that the media is reporting and representing the issues the public cares about proportionally to the views of the public. The media should not be trying to create reality or influence the public this way. That is what Joseph Goebbels style Nazi propaganda did. I wonder if members of the media truly thought the way they presented the election was fair, or are they really that biased and blind? As it is, it came across like they were bought off by someone. That is what I get off of popular sites like Yahoo news where someone is just paid off by some group to promote their views.

The notion of a “fact checker” is always an interesting idea to me. Who “fact checks” the fact checkers? Especially when they have different values, assumptions, and agendas.

I need to add that Wikileaks exposed a lot of this too. CNN was shown to be colluding with the Clinton campaign. Preparing questions to Clinton before the debates, asking what questions should be asked to other candidates, asking about what they should be publishing, etc.

In any case, if there is one thing that I took pleasure in, it was seeing the public give the media a dose of reality. The media was defeated big time. Something to remember as you watch or read anything from the media in the future. Which leads to the following article:

I hope the media starts to reflect a little more like this article does.

One of these days I will talk about what I call, "Playing Psychology" when you can't win someone over with facts and good reasoning. The article hints at that on a few points.

Saturday, November 05, 2016

Big Pine Lakes #1 and #2

So this is a continuation of the last blog which was really dedicated to my return to the Lon Chaney Cabin. As I said, when I got to the cabin there were already people there which kind of ruined the moment of making the type of video I wanted there. So, somewhat demoralized, I just skipped the cabin and moved on for another forty-five minutes to an hour of uphill switchbacks in an elevated canyon. Finally, I discovered Lake #1:
Big Pine Lakes #1
That picture is looking back at it since I didn't like any of the views of it from the trail. I was always getting blocked by something that didn't really capture the beauty of it. I'm sure I could have gone off trail to get better pictures of it, but I wasn't in the mood to do that. The thing was I knew Lake #2 is connected with it, and just a matter of minutes of getting to that lake.
Big Pine Lakes #2
This was really the "payoff" lake as far as I was concerned. This was the personal goal of the hike that morning since I had hiked to the cabin before. I had seen pictures of Temple Crag in the background so I had always wanted to view this lake in person. I like the "hand" reaching toward the crag. :)
Big Pine Lake #2 (Glacial Tarn)
These are glacial lakes so that have that glacial tarn turquoise look to them. There are many more lakes back here, but I turned around at this point. I am inspired to go back and explore beyond this point. So in the future I hope to have more to say about this area.

The Lon Chaney Cabin (Flickr Pictures)

I did an alternative video for this hike that I am calling the "Majestic Edition".The area is beautiful, and I wanted something to reflect that. I cut out some footage, added the lake footage at the end, cut out the special effects, replaced spooky music with more uplifting music, and cut out the intro narrative. It is unlisted, and I don't expect many to view it, but it is okay to share with others if you want to. I just wanted to get away from the "horror" theme for this one.

The Return to Cienega Mirth (Majestic Edition)

The music used from is called Brittle Rille and Majestic Hills.

Monday, October 31, 2016

The Cabin at 7 Cienega Mirth (Halloween 2016)

Happy Halloween!

Up until about a week ago I planned to skip doing anything for Halloween. After thinking about it I thought there is one area I would not mind doing again on here. So without further ado, here is the video for The Cabin at 7 Cienega Mirth:

I’ll be doing another blog that should be up next weekend that will run a slightly different non-Halloween edit of this video with some alternative footage. I explain why when I get to that point. However, in the meantime let me go over some of my thoughts on this video and what actually happened.

Video editing thoughts:

If you have seen the original video that I put up some years back, you might remember the weather conditions with the clouds going over the mountains making it a little extra spooky. I knew there was no way I could reproduce that atmosphere in this most recent video. That is probably the main reason I will keep the old video up along with this new one.

The old video, like a lot of my old videos, is hard for me to watch. It was good for the time I did it, but it was from an older camcorder that did not have the features my latest one has. I did a bunch of things in that video that I would consider editing mistakes today. After thinking about it over time I started to get the itch to do another video of this spot.

Originally, the idea was to video the cabin all in one take right as I reached the spot. That didn’t work out as I explain below. So, I went with the backup plan. The video came out alright. There are a few moments I would have liked to have done over, but overall I am pleased. I had more special effects ready to go, but when I did some tests on Youtube the quality wasn’t working. So, I decided to cut some of them out.

Hiking thoughts:

You know how I mentioned in the video that it can’t get worse than a zombie outbreak or the Evil Deadites showing up? Well, it did!

I parked at the backpacker’s parking lot again for this one. There is a trailhead closer to Glacier Lodge in Big Pine. The trail from the backpackers parking lot is a little more exposed, seems slightly longer, but starts out a little higher. I got there around 8:30am, noticed a bunch of cars parking, and started right away.

I had the trail all to myself. It took me about an hour to get to the cabin. Then as I was making my way with the camcorder recording I spotted two people in front of the cabin. It was slight shock to seem them since I thought I would have the place to myself. I decided to skip the cabin and go to the first two Big Pine Lakes.

On returning to the cabin I started the recording again. This time I noticed some people sitting by the stream by the cabin. Oh no! I didn’t want to have any people in this video since that would ruin the mystique of what I was trying to create. No problem, I just went with the backup plan you saw in the video.

However, before I did that I shut off the recording and went to the people there in an attempt to just be High Sierra friendly and let them know what I would be doing. Oh my goodness, these people were complete “holes”. As I approached I said “hi” and then asked in a joking way, “So, are you fishing today?”  They didn’t look back at me, but just said “Huuuuhhhhhhhhhh?!?” I asked the same question and got the same response. Then I changed it to, “Are you taking pictures?” and the same response. Sigh. I understand people wanting to be left alone in the isolated High Sierra, but these people were ultra-unfriendly. I then told them that I was going to take a short video of the cabin, but not too worry I wouldn’t be getting them in the video. The guy then completely understood me and told me they were only going to be there for five more minutes anyways. I did what I said and got out of there right as others showed up. So, I never did have the cabin to myself. No big deal, but that couple really put me in a bad mood. Zombies, Evil Deadites, or unfriendly idiots made stupid by a haunted cabin seem to be all the same for me.

Other tidbits:

When I got back to the trailhead I was still a little irritated, but felt better driving back to Big Pine and HWY 395. I still had another thing I wanted to do that is…going back to the Alabama Hills! I should be feeling great when I get there! Then as I made the turn in Lone Pine to head to those rocks, and I saw a sign that said, “Roadwork ahead! 25 minute wait!” You have to be kidding me! I thought I had escaped this. Turns out on this trip at many points on HWY 395 from just past Kraemer Junction to the June Lake Loop to Lee Vining and beyond there were twenty minute stops due to roadwork. The one place I didn’t think would face this, but they were doing something on Whitney Portal Road. There was something else that was annoying about the Alabama Hills, but I leave that for some other time.

A few links:

Sunday, August 21, 2016

The Ten Year Anniversary of The Great Silence Blog

I wanted to note the ten year anniversary of the blog. My sense of time is really warped. I know it has been ten years, but in some ways it doesn't seem THAT long ago.

What I remember when I started this blog site is I was recovering from Giardia or something very close to it. I had been doing long High Sierra day hikes and was in great shape. I started to feel the symptoms, but even then I was still doing long hikes. It wasn't until the day I drove home it really hit me. For the next two weeks trips to the bathroom were quite frequent, funny, and painful. The creation of the blog was to keep my mind off my ailment.

The first five or so years I was really cranking out many things. Almost once a week at my best to once a month I would put content out. Then I announced I would go into semi-retirement mode with me occasionally putting out further content. That's kind of the way it has been for the past five years and will continue to be.

I want to thank those who have been supportive along the way. I have never been a person that has sought out for the approval of hundreds of people. Yet, it is nice to get a few people that appreciate what I have done.

Along these lines, I thought I would mention that my experiments on my original Youtube channel started almost ten years ago as well. It's interesting how that site has changed over the years. When I originally started I could put up a video and get a hundred views in a day easily without even trying. These days if I am lucky, where the quality and editing of video is so much better and easier, it takes about a month to get the same amount of views. That’s with over three to four times the amount of subscribers I have these days. There are a lot of reasons for that which I am not going into here, but it is interesting to me how the quality of something can increase dramatically and yet not get the same results. Fortunately, I don't obsess over view totals, but it is always fun to see what happens with that.

With that said, God bless and I will see you all somewhere down the road.

Monday, May 30, 2016

Remembering (Memorial Day Weekend 2016 #4)

P47 Thunderbolt (P.O.F. #20)Memorial Day in the U.S.A. was designed as a day to remember those who have died in service to the country. For the type of freedoms we have I am grateful. Something should be said for the allies too who gave their lives in support as well with similar goals. At the same time, I don’t want to deny the humanity of those who were my countries enemies.
Mitsubishi A6M Zero  (P.O.F. #33)A month or two ago there was a Japanese pilot who died who fought against the U.S. at some of the major conflicts in the Pacific. Most people were sending their condolences, but I saw someone say they could never do that because this person killed Americans. Maybe so for the time, but there has been some good-will on both sides. That is part of the forgiveness project that says the war is over, and it is time to move on. Not sure I will think this way about modern terrorists in the decades to come, but soldiers forced into conflicts are a little different.
Mitsubishi A6M Zero  (P.O.F. #34)

It has been said that the 20th century wars were fought so that those living today will never experience them. I think that is true as long as we remember them. If we forget about the quests for utopias and the wars that brought them about, then we are doomed to repeat them.
Hellcat (P.O.F. #2)
I took a bunch of pictures and video at the Chino Air Show. If you are interested the pictures are on Flickr and the video is unlisted on Youtube:

Sunday, May 29, 2016

"The Enemy" (Memorial Day Weekend 2016 #3)

Recently, I was reading Gunter Koschorrek’s book Blood Red Snow: The Memoirs of a German Soldier on the Eastern Front. He was a German machine gun soldier in Stalingrad, Italy, and returned to the Soviet Union. The quotes I use in this blog are taken from that.

“My stomach is churning, and I cannot bring myself to look at their colourless faces. Now, for the first time, when I see the lifeless bodies before me, my consciousness really grasps the meaning of death. As a young person you tend to push these thoughts far away from you, but here there is no way to escape them. These people are out enemies, but, even so, they are flesh and blood, just like us. And just as they are lying here now, so could I or some of us be lying here dead and motionless in this ice cold snow.” P. 67
Focke-Wulf Fw 190 (P.O.F. #13)
One area that I enjoy reading, watching documentaries, and movies about is the Eastern Front of World War 2. This is an area that most public school students in the U.S. probably have been ripped off on. Understandably, most U.S. history classes emphasize the U.S. parts of the war so the issues with the Germans vs. the Soviets in the east are almost a non-issue. Interesting enough I have heard people say that they have learned more about the Eastern Front part of the conflict through video games like “Call of Duty” and others that have come out over the past two decades than what they got in school.

“Revenge and retaliation! That inflammatory clarion call for revenge! That's the way all war leaders want their soldiers to be. Remorseless, and with hatred and retaliation in their hearts, men can win battles, and quite ordinary soldiers can be turned into celebrities. Fear is converted into hatred, anger and calls for retribution. In this way you are motivated to fight on even decorated with medals as a hero. But heroes have to stay alive, so that others can see their medals; they are supposed to inspire the weaker among us.” P. 227

One of the major parts of Hitler’s goals during the years of WW2 was the destruction of the Soviet Union (“The Judeo-Bolsheviks”). The ideas of invading the Soviet Union go back to his Mein Kampf autobiography. Even though a non-aggression pact was signed with the Soviet Union almost two years earlier, Operation Barbarrosa was started on June 22, 1941. It started off well for the Germans, but the problems of getting supplies over large distances of land, fierce resistance, and the bad weather (rain, and eventually snow in the upcoming winter months) to name a few of the key issues turned into a battle of attrition. This is something the Germans had not faced before with their blitzkrieg strategy used until this point.
Focke-Wulf Fw 190 (P.O.F. #14)

Over the next two years Hitler and his advisors would come up with further operations into the Soviet Union. The conflicts at Leningrad, Stalingrad, and Kursk to mention some of the important ones are legendary for the brutality. Tank battles, infantry conflict, starvation, cannibalism, atrocities, etc. all had their parts in this conflict. The Soviets held off all these conflicts and would make their offensives and send the Germans back. Millions perished on both sides.

Yakovlev Yak-3 (P.O.F. #21)“I tell Fritz about my meeting with Unteroffizier Schwarz and how, at the Rytschov bridgehead, he executed wounded Russian soldiers by shooting them in the head. He explains to me that people who kill the defenceless must have sadistic leanings, and that war provides them with the excuse to satisfy this inhuman trait under the pretext of benefiting the rest of your men. After this period in Italy we would again be fighting together in Russia for a time and would kill many of our enemies. But, even though war may sometimes cause normal human beings to become insensitive, we would never slay the helpless.” P.138

While all wars are hell there is something a little extra disturbing and creepy about this one. This is the real life version of The Walking Dead. It is much worse than what one sees in horror movies. Little hope, not much is worth redeeming about it. Who were the good guys and the bad guys in this one? It many ways it is a case of evil vs. evil. Hitler and Stalin were not nice guys, and in my book they were almost equally evil. I do think the ideas and how they implemented them were evil in their regimes. I don’t think the same way about the individual people on the ground during the conflict.

Spitfire (P.O.F. #25)
“It’s the Oberleutnant who gives me strength, so I don’t go back, but rather choose to remain with him. I feel tied to him and would go through hell with him. After you have spent some time at the front, like I have, you no longer fight for Fuhrer, Yolk undVaterland These ideals, have long gone And no one talks about National Socialism or similar political matters. From all our conversations, its quite obvious that the primary reason we fight is to stay alive and help our front-line comrades do the same. But we often fight for a superior, such as our Oberleutnant, who through his exemplary attitude manages to instil spirit into even dog-tired and almost indifferent warriors.” P.255

One thing I have learned in life is there are many situations we get stuck in that we had no choice in. Be it jobs, family, friends, school, etc. we are put in situations and expected to fulfill out duty or we are morally blamed or shamed. In the case of the soldiers above it could mean their own death if they did not follow orders, and possibly family members back home. I would like to think that if I were in some situations I would not do certain things, but I’m not sure. It was generally thought that in the trials after WW2 that saying “I didn't want to do what I did, but I was just following orders” was not a good excuse.

I’ll wrap this up tomorrow. 

Saturday, May 28, 2016

The WW2 Generation is Almost Gone (Memorial Day Weekend 2016 #2)

Sometime back I was reflecting after some major court decisions had come down and how the country I live in doesn't feel like the one I grew up in. The concerns I and others had while I was younger don’t really exist today in the same way.

A shock that really hit me not too long ago is that we are at the tail end of the World War 2 generation. Those that served in that war that are still alive are now in their mid-90’s. A lot of those people are ones that had to lie about their age in order to get into the service to fight. The reality is that the WW2 generation will be completely gone from us very soon.
P40 Warhawk (P.O.F. #9)
One of my neighbors that is no longer with us was a mechanic for a squadron bomber group during the war. He ended up being the historian for the group. I was given the book he had compiled of all the daily activities of that group for the war.

Most of the flights were B-25’s sent from their base in Great Britain to bombing targets in Europe. Later on the group was sent to Africa to give support with the fight in Italy as well as being a part of the major raid on the Ploesti oil fields on Aug. 1, 1943. Then back to Great Britain where the bombings started to finally reach the heart of Hitler’s Germany. Until D-Day, a good portion of the war for the U.S. was these types of bombings.
B-25 Mitchell (P.O.F. #39)
A portion of the entries consist of flights being scrubbed due to bad weather. Another portion were flights sent off to create a diversion for someone else…to trick the Germans into thinking the major attack would be someplace where they would commit their forces only to find out the real attack would be elsewhere. Most of the entries talk about what was known of the bombing missions. However, what I really got out of these B-25 raids to precision targets is that the ten men on each aircraft really were “dead men”. There was a good chance they would get to their target and let out their bombs, but they might not make it back to base. In their minds, their job was to get to the target and fulfill that goal. In most cases they were intercepted at some point by German aircraft. There were many entries of B-25 crew members having to either jump out with them being listed as POW’s or KIA. If they did their 25 (or later on 30) missions of the tour they could go home, but that seemed to be a rare thing.
P-51 Mustang (P.O.F. #36)
Reading through all the names on the roster that died in action is a sad thing. They are not just names, but people that did their service and died very young. The hopes and dreams of a normal life they never experienced.

Continued tomorrow...

Friday, May 27, 2016

Have We Forgotten? (Memorial Day Weekend 2016 #1)

We have hit Memorial Day Weekend in the U.S. where I am at. It’s a time where people hit the beaches, or make short vacation getaways as the “American Summer” (un)officially starts. Admittedly, I have definitely been one of those people. I suspect we do this somewhat robotically as an escape rather than a true reflection on what the day represents. Over the weekend I wanted to put out a few thoughts I have been having combined with my recent visit to the Planes of Fame Air Show in Chino, CA.
P40 Warhawk (P.O.F. #6)
I mentioned a few months back that I had gotten really sick of Twitter because of the constant political sniping that is going on. I’ve pretty much decided enough was enough and logged out. I just don’t need that in my life right now, and I have pulled that from this site.

However, the whole Internet has really become like that in that I always think I am not really getting daily news on various sites, but either someone pushing an advertisement or pushing their political narrative. Certain news items are news worthy, but many are not. What is selected or emphasized as news on some of the sites out there might not be what really matters.
Hellcat (P.O.F. #1)
What put me into a bit of despair over the past few months to a year is the push of a lot of utopia-type of thinking in articles I have read. Then we have the people that think it is American to shut down free speech by shouting people down if they have an opposing points of view. Have we forgotten what a good portion of the 20th century was about? From the total wars of WW1 and WW2, Lenin, Hitler, Stalin, Mao, the Cold War, Pol Pot, The Balkan conflict, and Rwanda to name some of the bigger ones. Utopia thinking and the use of terror have proven to go hand and hand with results that have been never good. The 20th century showed that a utopia can’t happen in this world, and we have to live with imperfection. You may not like what another person says, but you should respect their right to say it.
Hellcat (P.O.F. #4)

The following blogs I will have over the weekend are further thoughts on what Memorial Day means to me. 

Saturday, May 07, 2016

Looking at Birds in Riverside (AKA March Field Air Museum)

(GPS: N33°53.000 W117°16.000) 

The beginning of May marks the anniversary of the hike I did twice in Death Valley to the remains of the SA-16 Albatross. The first time was ten years ago, and the last time was two years ago. Two times were enough for me on that, and while I have no interest in doing that hike ever again I did want to visit the same type of aircraft in person. So, off to a museum I went.

March Field Air Museum in Riverside, CA is located right next to March Air force Base. It has an indoor museum with lots of artifacts and the outside has lots of historical aircraft. I would say a good portion of it is Cold War era aircraft. It was well worth the trip, and I spent about two hours looking around.

After entering the first thing one sees is the SR-71 which takes up a good portion of this part of the museum. I kept trying to backup so I could get the whole thing in one shot, but I had to settle for a panorama shot done in Photoshop. When I was younger I remember the SR-71 being talked about a lot at school. Sometimes with friends, but sometimes in classes I had. The aircraft was legendary in Cold War era reconnaissance missions.
So after going through the various rooms inside of the museum I went outside. After visiting some of the other aircraft I made my way to the HU-16 Albatross. This aircraft was primarily used for search and rescue missions during the Cold War era. Many lives were saved with this plane. The designation changed from SA-16 to HU-16 in the early 1960's. So, while this is a more advanced version of the aircraft, it is basically the same type as the one I visited in Death Valley. Of all the aircraft I visited I spent the most time here for obvious reasons.
The Russian MiG-15. The jet fighter that initially put the fear of God into the U.S. Air Force during the Korean War of the early 1950's. Both fighters and bombers were at a serious disadvantage with this jet. In fact, the bombing campaign strategy that was successful in World War 2 that was attempted in Korea had to be stopped because of the effectiveness of the MiG-15.
The F-86 Sabre. This is the jet that eventually countered the Russian MiG fighter in Korea. By the end of the war it had a better kill ratio compared to the MiG.
The F-4 Phantom II. The Vietnam era jet.
A head-on view.

There is no way I could possibly do this museum justice with all the artifacts and aircraft at the site. I am just showing a small fragment of what they have. In the video you will see a few of the other aircraft I visited, but even that just scratches the surface.

Looking at Birds in Riverside (Youtube Video)

If you haven't seen the hike I did in Death Valley to the SA-16 Albatross remains then the following link will get you there: Hunting a Bird in Death Valley. That will give you the video I did, further links to pictures, as well as links to the original blogs I did for the first time I visited the site ten years ago.

The music used for the Looking at Birds in Riverside video is In the West, The Descent, and Thunderbird.

The official March Field Air Museum has more information about the museum and pictures of all their aircraft.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Finding Gold at Fern Lake (Part 3)

Time to wrap this one up. This is the video I edited together for this hike. It is unlisted so it can only be seen through this blog. It is just something I wanted to do for people that come here. Hopefully, it gives you the relaxing atmosphere I felt while being there. I did saturate the colors at the lake slightly to enhance it in the video, but that was basically the way it looked.

I did move around to the eastern parts of the lake. As I mentioned last time there wasn't too much on the other side that was as interesting as the western side with all the gold.
This was about half way over. It is beautiful lake.
I did encounter some trees like this as I was making my way to the eastern side of the lake. The creek that runs out of the lake and down below comes out over this way.
A reflective look. I headed back to where the two men were, waved at them, and left. I was fortunate to get the pictures and video I did because they pretty much moved into the best spot to take pictures. Had I come after them I would have had to wait them out. Otherwise, it would have been, "Hey guys! I'm entitled. Can I have your spot!" Lol! Actually, I never do that. I have had to wait people out for very long periods.

After this hike I was grateful for what I was able to see. I said to myself that if this was all I got then it was good enough for a fall colors trip. I did get some okay fall pictures days later. However, the colors really started to turn right after I left. It depends on what area of the High Sierra you are, at what time, and what elevation. If a heavy wind kicks in then that doesn't help.

I'll be doing some opinion pieces soon where I'll post some of my other fall pictures.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Finding Gold at Fern Lake (Part 2)

(GPS: N37°44.790 W119°06.670)

When I left off last time I mentioned how after almost an hour of uphill hiking I finally leveled out for a brief period. I then had some moderate uphill through a dense forested area. It was slightly spooky in the sense that I wasn't totally sure I was alone or not. Would I encounter someone camping back here? How about some animals? Or, a random zombie encounter? I did remember the two older men I saw at the trailhead, but I figured they were working with the cut trees there. If they did go up the trail they would not be all the way up here. 

After about an hour and twenty minutes I reached Fern Lake. Sure enough there was some fall color there.
At this point it was the best I had seen. It was very gold yellow look. It was slowly turning orange. 
I went over to it across the lake shore. It was very quiet and there were some birds on the lake, but I had it all to myself. I just took in the moment and thanked the Lord for the moment I had there.
I had the lake to myself for about ten minutes. Then the two men showed up. I greeted them, mentioned the nice colors, and eventually started moving around the lake.
The sun had just rose high enough over the mountain side to light up the whole lake. This is really the highlight of the whole lake that morning. Any pictures I took toward the east side had the sun spots in my pictures so those are not really worth showing. You will see an edited version of the rest of the lake in the video, but that too had the same issue. All the major gold was over here anyways.

I'll wrap this up next time with a few more pictures around the lake and the video.

Wednesday, March 09, 2016

Finding Gold at Fern Lake (Part 1)

(GPS: N37 45.760 W119 06.790)

I wanted to do a few blog entries on a hike I did back in October. The video that will be part of this series will be an exclusive for the blog and unlisted. So the only way you will be able to see it is to follow along the next few blogs.

As I have said a bunch of times before, I love the fall season in the High Sierra. While almost anytime of the year can be relaxing there I tend to be at my most relaxed during the fall. Part of it is that most of the work I had to do in the prior months is over. Most of the tourists are gone which means you can really find that solitude if you are looking for it. Then the cool weather comes in along with the changing color of the leaves.

October, 2015 did not quite work at exactly like that though. Due to my schedule, I had the option of going either early in October or at the end of the month. I took the beginning of the month because I had read some sites that track California fall colors online saying that the time to go was "now". That was irritating because when I reached my destination the area was completely green! Not only that, but it was completely hot too! Even in the evenings it was still hot even as the sun was going down over the mountainside. I felt as if I was still in August because it was still in summer conditions there. I started referring to my short time there as "the extended summer."

I decided to do a strenuous hike that I had never done before to Fern Lake just off the June Lake Loop. I knew Fern Lake had some fall colors every year, but there is a small window of opportunity for that. I almost did this hike near the end of October a few years ago, but found out the leaves had probably dropped to the ground so I didn't do it. This year I reasoned that being at a higher elevation I might find something since everything below was green. In any case, I needed to do some sort of hike so this was it. The GPS coordinates above get you very close to the entrance to the parking for the trailhead.

I was there on a weekday at 8am. Right as I walked into the trailhead two other trucks showed up. I thought they might be workers that were taking out some of the trees in the area. I was in disbelief that they were going to hike exactly where I was going. Don't get the wrong idea. I don't dislike people, but I wasn't expecting anyone with me on this backcountry hike. On a fall weekend I expect a little more of a crowd, which is a story for another time. In any case, I started going up the trail.
When I say "up" I mean it here. The hike does have some switchbacks, but this one is just straight up for about a 1,000 ft. before it flattens out some. As I was going I had good looks of Silver Lake in the distance. If you saw some of my pictures from the previous October (2014), those were taken near Silver Lake. Last October (2015) that whole area was really green by the lake. If I were to tell someone I took this in June, July, or August I think he or she would believe me.
Zooming in down below I could see some of the homes of the locals. I did a tilt-shift effect here in Photoshop to give it the miniature look just for fun.

I'm going to say that it took me about fifty minutes from the trailhead to get here. Just behind me it started to flatten out some. I did get views of June Lake too which would be off to my right outside of the above picture, but you will see that in the video. If you remember my hike to Gem Lake during 2010, the hike that went from around Silver Lake to a tramway, Agnew Lake, and Gem Lake, then that would have taken place off to the left side of Silver Lake on the mountainside in the above picture.
From my final viewing of Silver Lake from this elevation I turned around. After all the uphill I was grateful to get in some regular level ground walking. I did start to see some patches of yellow leaves, but not a lot. I did think my chances of seeing something ahead at the lake would be good.