Wednesday, September 27, 2017

More vacation...

While visiting at our son's place, he and I were out walking in his neighborhood, and one of the male neighbors was walking his dog.  The dog took a real fancy to me, and was enthusiastically friendly.   As son talked,, the neighbor tried to get the dog more under control.  "Hey Rover (insert actual dog name here), the lady doesn't need so many kisses..."   Said twice more.  Our son was cool with it and said nothing to correct the neighbor about my gender.   I later told my son that it's an everyday occurrence for me.

He added that it's rare for him to be identified as female when approached from the front due to his facial hair.  But very common from the back, and he simply turns around, saying "pardon me?"  When folks see his beard and mustache, ample apologies flow forth.  "Growing a beard helps."  I thanked him, but said "I answer to anything, and don't plan to grow facial hair.  My father did, and it made him look 10 years older than his actual age."  "No problem - whatever floats your boat.  But be prepared - you may be seen as a woman."  My response was: "Whenever it happens, so be it."  And the subject drifted away...

This is as close as I have come to talking to anyone I know (family or otherwise) about that side of me.   He probably already has "TG" figured out...but I don't plan to take it further.  At least, not at this time.

While in Nashville, we stopped at the Lane Motor Museum, a collection of interesting equipment consisting of predominantly foreign cars.  One of the displays was the LARC-LX.   From the museum's website comes the following description of the vehicle...

An example of the U.S. military’s largest amphibious craft, the LARC-LX (lighter, amphibious, resupply, cargo) came in three sizes, ranging in size from 5 ton (LARC v) to the LX, capable of transporting 60 tons from ocean to inland, across heavy seas and up inclines as steep as 60 degrees. It remains the only amphibian in the current inventory able to enter and exit the shore through breaking surf. Outfitted with 4 Detroit Diesel engines, twin props, and four wheel drive with two or four wheel steering, the LARC-LX could go just about anywhere and carry whatever could fit in its cavernous cargo bay. The only real limitation was its immense size - length is over 62', width is 26', and height is almost 20'! The tires are 9' high. With a 75' turning radius, the LARC is surprisingly agile, and this particular example was driven here in January 2005 from the Port of Nashville. 

To give you a better idea of its immense size, I parked my antique car in front of it.  Above and the following illustrate to you its huge dimensions.

Before you ask, the weather in Nashville had cooled off and turned drizzly, necessitating a change to my fall wardrobe of stirrup pants, tights, flats and generic polo shirts (the few men's shirts I have left.)  A sweater was comfortable on cool mornings.   Simply not very feminine.  :-(  I'd have rather been wearing a skirt...LOL!
We went sightseeing in Lebanon, TN on our way to Nashville.   And found that until 1986 there was military prep school there.  From various sources, including Wikipedia:  originally founded in 1902 as Castle Heights School, it was initially a coed school.   It became a military prep school for boys (Castle Heights Military Academy) in 1918 as a result of World War I.
By 1928, the school was in financial trouble, and it was sold to MacFadden Foundation, which operated till 1974.  Cadet living conditions were strict - Macfadden required the m to eat salads every day, they were not to use condiments or pillows, they were required to participate in sports, and to drink so much milk that the school actually acquired a dairy.  Students' height and weight appeared on monthly report cards to the parents.  By 1954 enrollment had grown to almost 500 students, and the campus had grown to 150 acres, included a hospital, and operated a summer camp.
Despite a return to coeducation in 1970, declining enrollment eventually doomed the school, and it ceased operation in 1986.

Remaining buildings on the campus have been restored, and one now serves as the Lebanon City Hall, and Lebanon Museum and History Center.  Other small businesses inhabit other nearby building.  Previously undeveloped areas of campus have been subdivided, and now feature businesses such as banks and nursing homes.  Records and other school memorabilia are maintained by Cumberland University.   The Mitchell House (a beautiful mansion on the main road) served as headquarters of the holding company for Cracker Barrel Old Country Store froom 1998 to 2013.  It was then purchased by Sigma Pi fraternity and now serves as the fraternity's international headquarters.

Above is a picture of the castle-like edifice of the main campus building, which has been turned into the City of Lebanon's office building.  In the basement is a fabulous museum of documents, pictures and artifacts from the city's history.

More later...


Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Just Another Excursion...

This one was  to visit our son and family, plus meet some friends for sightseeing.  The trip south was uneventful.   Well except for a couple things...

With my wife present, I traveled in women's shorts and a short sleeve tunic, flats (no pantyhose), my necklace, and purse.    (As well as, the ever present pink nails and long hair - of course.)

At a gas/convenience stop in Maryland, my wife went in to use the potty while I filled the car's gas tank.  She returned and said nothing about anything being amiss.  So I moved the car to a parking place and went in to use the restroom.   Both men's and women's rooms were in the same hallway, with the men's room further down.   Four fat, bearded and mustachioed "stereotypical bubbas" were standing there by the women's room door, waiting in line for men's room, which was being cleaned. 

My need to use the restroom was very, very urgent.  Strangely enough, with my purse over my shoulder, I didn't give it a second thought...   Four pairs of eyes were watching me as I tapped on the women's room door.  Hearing no answer, I entered.  (Luckily it was a one-holer.)   I used the facilities as a woman, and came out in an appropriate length of time, to find the "bubbas" still waiting in line.   I said to them..."Have a good day, guys."  Their response:  "You too, Ma'am."

Though I don't do something that brazen very often (and specifically avoid it as much as possible), it was rather uneventful...considering that so many things could have gone wrong.   (Like a fight with the "bubbas", or soaking wet shorts...) 

Back at the car:  "I thought you'd take a lot longer than that, with the line for the men's room.  Do we need to stop at the next place with a restroom?"    "No, I used the women's room."  "Oh.  Well, at least you look the part."  Then, the subject was changed.

Surprising, right?

We stopped for lunch enroute - at a Cracker Barrel.  There, we were addressed as "ladies" as we were escorted to seats.  And the same situation existed all through dinner...   Hmmmmm -  I didn't think I looked all that feminine.   Guess I was wrong!

Among friends, who already know my gender, there is no confusion.  During our trip, I did hear a comment from one male friend.  He commented..."I can tell that you don't work on your antique car yourself."  I already knew the reason he would I replied "And why might that be?"   His response: "Those pretty nails wouldn't survive if you did."  From there, I led the subject off the nails path and into a discussion of my mechanic, and it never came up again.  (Incidentally, this guy was the same one who joked "Hey, nice skirt" when I had my sweater tied around my waist last year.  At least he doesn't pursue it further.)

My typical traveling outfit,...this was taken during a historic house tour on one of our sightseeing days:

Guess I look a bit more feminine than I thought....


Sunday, September 10, 2017

Trip finale...

By that time, I was getting hungry, and ready for dinner.   And,  I chose to avoid the crowds elsewhere by eating in the "dining car."  It worked, and I beat the rush.  Folks were too busy with the fun things in the area and hadn't stopped to eat yet.

From the window pattern on the side of the restaurant, it appeared to be a former coach, converted to food service.  But whatever it was "back in the day," it looked nice inside.    And the food was good.

Obviously, I managed to get there before it got too busy.

Walking around the venue after my meal, I spotted this unusual vehicle.  It looked more like a kiddie toy than a real car, but it had a right-hand drive and looked capable of on-road use, so it must be European.  And it has the VW emblem on it.  Could it be the new version of the venerable old Microbus that VW is allegedly bringing out?  I looked up on the internet...but it just seemed too small (inside and out) to be a real car.   Those wheels and tires are simply tiny.  

So I'll ask the question of the day:  "Does anyone know what it really is?"

What finer way to cap a long day, than with a pretty sunset?   Visible right from my room was this beauty:

The second (and  final) day of my excursion dawned sunny and clear (after some overnight showers), and I decided to visit the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania, a short drive (three minutes) away.  After checking out of the motel the next morning, and before heading home,  I dropped in.  Having been there before, I concentrated my visit on the outside display areas, which had been closed on the previous visit.

Seen above are a former Lehigh Valley rail diesel car - a self-contained passenger car, complete with traction motors and a diesel engine on board, and cab controls in the vestibules, so it can run in either direction without a separate engine - and a former Reading Railroad observation car which ran on their streamliner "The Crusader."   There were many more historic pieces in the yard, including a former Amtrak AEM-7 electric locomotive, recently retired - the most modern exhibit.

"Take a ride on the Reading..."     That was a slogan the railroad used in its ads, "back in the day."  But automobiles and airlines took became darlings of the travel industry, and the Reading (along with other historic passenger railroad names) became part of US Transportation History.    At least we still have Amtrak, and I hope it continues to operate...for a long time to come.

With the museum's location (just across the street from the Strasburg Railroad), it was easy to walk over there and do some sightseeing as the first train of the day was assembled and prepared for departure.

From there, I pointed the front of the car toward home.   No cornfield changing needed this time!
And yes, as you can tell, I had a wonderful excursion!

Even without the added attraction of the Tri-motor, the Strasburg area is great for families...if you ever get a chance to visit, be sure to take the whole gang.  There is plenty to do in the area...


Friday, September 1, 2017

"Red Cabooses" - which aren't all red!

My "home away from home" for this short visit was the Red Caboose Motel.  Pictured below, the cabooses are all lettered for different railroads, and thus aren't all red.  But they're in decent shape, the bed was comfortable, everything worked properly, and the room was clean.  What more does a girl need?

After a walk around the property, I headed for a nearby airport to see the other "object of my desire" - a 1929 model airplane designed by William Bushnell Stout (following some principles copied from the work of Professor Hugo Junkers, noted German all-metal aircraft design pioneer.)   Ford bought out Stout's "Stout Metal Airplane Company" in 1925, thus the aircraft was truly manufactured by Ford, with 3 Curtiss-Wright radial engines.  And aptly called a "Ford Tri-motor.  In its day, it won success as a dependable cargo plane/early commercial airliner, which had 8 or 9 removable seats.   And these planes ultimately participated in an early air-mail arrangement with the Post Office.

The last Tri-motor was built in 1933, but that wasn't to be the end of Ford's aviation adventures.  During WW II, the largest aircraft manufacturing plant in the world was built at the Willow Run, Michigan plant, where Ford produced thousands of the B-24 Liberator bombers under license from Consolidated Aircraft.

Maybe someday I'll get a chance to ride in one of those...

Here I am, standing next to the Tri-motor.

And an interior shot:

Rather luxurious digs, much nicer than some of today's aircraft, IMHO.  And the windows are huge, large enough to actually let the occupants see the passing scenery.  With a ceiling of just over 16,000' and a cruising speed in the vicinity of 110 mph, this plane stayed low and slow, for fantastic viewing of the countryside.

Above is an in-flight picture...

This plane was lettered for the Transcontinental Air Transport (TAT), an airline founded in 1928 and merged in 1930 with Western Air Express to form Transcontinental and Western Air, which ultimately became TWA (now defunct.)   It initially offered a 51 hour train/plane trip for just over $300 including sleeping car berths) from NYC to Columbus on the train, Columbus to Waynoka, OK, by plane, and train again from Waynoka to Clovis, NM.  (At the time, there were no sophisticated naviagtional aids in aircraft...thus no long distance night flight.)  There they would board another Tri-motor to finish the trip to Los Angeles in the daytime.

After the flight....

Stay tuned for more...