Sunday, October 21, 2018

Two Airports--One Very Lively and One Dead

Casa Grande, Arizona

Friday was a very long day for us.  We had tickets for Trump's Rally and had a few stops to make before we went to Mesa airport.  We were going to stop at Grimaldi's for lunch and couldn't find a parking spot so ended up at a Arriba's.  Lunch wasn't great but we wanted to get something fast and head over to the airport.  
As I turned into the airport road I was surprised that we didn't see any signs or police.  This was about 2:30.  The doors were to open at 3:30 for the 6:30 rally.  

It took us about 15 minutes in line to get to the parking lot.  They started a new section that was very close to the road.

You can't describe the lines to anyone that wasn't there but it took us 30 minutes to walk to the back of the line.  Neither Bill nor I like crowds, but this was so different.  Everyone was very polite.  No pushing or shoving.  Everyone was excited to see the President.  

I can't believe we stood in line over 3 hours, but it went quickly.  Everyone was very patient.  We inched along for awhile and then the line started moving a little faster.  As it turned out the hangar was full, but the outside of the hangar had a big screen TV.  

Kudos go out to everyone that was involved in putting this event together.  It was well organized.  I can't even begin to imagine what was involved on such short notice.  Even though there were no trash receptacles until you got near the hangar there wasn't one piece of trash anywhere.

The TV stations reported different estimates of the crowd.  One said 40,000 and then another said Mesa PD estimated 20,000.  It was an experience of a lifetime and I'd do it again in a heartbeat.

Yesterday we had reservations for the a tour of the Pinal County Airpark.  If you've ever traveled from Tucson to Casa Grande on I 10 you've passed it.  We've always wanted to take a tour so when they had the open house and tours we signed up.

I was surprised when we pulled up to the Flightline Grill that the parking lot wasn't completely full.  Our tour was scheduled for 11:30 and we had planned to stop for lunch afterwards.  Were we ever surprised to find out that the free tour included lunch.  

There were about 8 people in our group.  We were driven out to the boneyard in a van.  After all the walking yesterday we were pleased that we were driven around.

The Marana Army Airfield began in 1942 as a training site for pilots and the first class graduated in 1943.  In 1948 the War Assets Administration quit claimed the airport to Pinal County.  In the 50's it was once again used to train pilots.  In 1974 Evergreen Helicopters leases the facility until 2012.  The following year, Pinal County started managing the airport.

This TWA airplane is the oldest one at the park.  It has been sitting there for 21 years.

A large percent of the aircraft are recycled back into planes.

The engines are removed first and then it's a waiting game to see if it is worth waiting around for the metal prices to go up and when to scrap the rest of the plane.  

I thought we have seen a lot of different airlines in our travels, but I now  know there's a lot more out there.  There were 83 planes at the airpark yesterday but they have had up to 257.

We didn't go close enough to the AH-64 Helicopters to get a photo.  

After the tour we were invited inside to get more to eat and view the photos of the airpark.  We found it interesting that the CIA used the airpark.  I'm sure a lot of things were discussed in the bar.  

We were given hats and insulated coffee mugs as souvenirs.  It was a great tour, and we plan to return next year.

Turtle Safely..........

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Our Final Days

Casa Grande, Arizona

The Royal Yacht was on our agenda for our final day in Edinburgh.  This was my favorite place we visited while in Scotland.

The Royal Yacht Britannia sailed over 1,000,000 miles around the world.  Probably the most famous use of the the yacht was for the honeymoon of Prince Charles and Lady Diana.

I realize I've forgotten a lot of the details but this was where the guards slept.  

Her Majesty, the Queen had many gifts given to the Royal Family.

There was a lot of lavish entertaining on the yacht.

While the rooms were very functional, I was surprised that they were so modest.  The Queen actually has a single twin bed.

You would see a nice cozy room.

Right next to a very nice modest room, you'd see a grand ballroom style. Modesty to elegance.

This is the Queen's office where she worked while she was at sea.

We had headsets for this tour.  Some of the group had  enough time to have tea in the Royal Deck Tea Room.  I'm sorry to say, we were still looking at rooms and didn't have enough time.

The laundry was amazing and I wish I could remember the facts and figures about how much they did.  It was said that some of the personnel changed uniforms up to 9 times a day.

The Royal Family went to shore in this craft.

I have more photos of the Royal Yacht, but I promised myself I'd finish this blog.

Our second tour included a visit to Palace of Holyrood House.

"It's carefully designed addition over the centuries have made it one of the most admired buildings in the British Isles.

The palace was completed in 1501 and was the site of the marriage of Mary, Queen of Scots and Lord Darnley in 1565, and of much subsequent intrigue.  Less than a year later, the jealous Darnley had Mary's private secretary murdered here in her presence."  

We arrived back to our hotel in time to pack our luggage before our farewell dinner.  This was the best farewell dinner in all the 10 trips we've taken with this company.

Of course we couldn't leave Scotland with hearing a piper play the bagpipes.

This wasn't just any piper.  John told us he was a member of the Royal Guard and also the police department.

He answered all kinds of questions about the plaid, the hats, and badges.  No one asked what was under the kilt.

Virginia assisted John, the Piper, for bringing in the Haggis ceremony.  If there was one thing we learned on this trip it was to like Haggis.  

This trip wouldn't have been nearly as good, without our excellent program director, Anita Mclaughlin.

The evening lasted much later than the usual farewell dinners.  I think there was a lot of wine consumed.  Some of the group had to leave the hotel as early as 3 am for their flights home.  We were lucky that we didn't leave until 7:30.  Hurricane Florence was expected to have 80 mph winds just as everyone's flights were leaving.  

We were about an hour late leaving Edinburgh as the planes were having trouble with the winds landing in Heathrow.  Our flight was quite rough taking off and landing but other than that no problems.  We had to change terminals in Heathrow but everything went smoothly.  In all of our travels, it was the first time we've ever had to go through customs in Phoenix.  The Global Entry card is worth every penny.

We are now less than a month before our next journey.  I hope it's as great as this trip was.

Turtle Safely......

Saturday, October 6, 2018

Edinburgh Higlights

Casa Grande, AZ

A panoramic tour of Scotland's capital is how we began our adventure in Edinburgh.  We traveled along the Royal Mile and I must say the government building was a huge disappointment with its modern architecture.  

My only disappointment of the entire trip was Edinburgh Castle.  It wasn't the castle it was all the pushy shovey tourists.  There were two cruise ships in town and of course they were limited on time so naturally the Edinburgh Castle was the main attraction in town.   

I guess I'm just not normal, no way would I enjoy touring a place that you wait in line for 30 minutes to get inside a building.  These tourists didn't seem to mind, I guess their sightseeing trip is that way and they are used to it.  

I want to spend a couple of hours touring the castle and have time to visit some of the other sights during the day.

It doesn't look crowded in this photo but trust me there are lots of people here.

After seeing the Crown Jewels in London at the Tower Museum these jewels were a huge disappointment. Photos were not allowed. We waited in line for 30 minutes before we entered the building.  I almost had a panic attack with everyone so close.

The workment were taking the bleachers down from the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo.  Molly and Bob Pinner were lucky enough to attend.  Sure wish we could have seen it.

The lines were also hard to see where they ended.  We had no lines whatsoever to see England's jewels.

The Edinburgh Castle had a royal cemetery for their royal dogs.  Nothing was said about cats.

We decided to walk back to the hotel on the Royal Mile rather than take our tour bus. Look at what Bill found.

I have to say in all of our travels we've never seen a Masonic store before.

By the time we returned to the hotel it was almost time to leave for the Prestonfield House.  The house was built in 1688 and Benjamin Franklin and Samuel Johnson were guests.  

We had so much fun at this Scottish entertainment show.  I think I enjoyed it more than the Cabaret in Paris.  

Our waiter asked us whether we wanted red or white wine.  They brought a bottle for everyone at our table. Our meal was delicious and of course included haggis. 

The program began with the Addressing of the Haggis.

The singing and dancing was wonderful and we especially liked the young children performing. 

I have to say I didn't care much for bagpipe music but somehow my tastes have changed since we've been in Scotland.  

Turtle Safely........

Thursday, October 4, 2018

Greeted by a Piper

Casa Grande, AZ

Our last travel day took us traveling north where we saw Bassenthwaite Lake, the only lake in the expensive Lake District and Penrith where the last battle on English soil was fought.  We also discovered the stone circles and henges.

Anita had told us that the weather near Hadrian's Wall was usually the worst in Great Britain but once again the weather gods were with us.  

Hadrian's Wall was the Roman border with the barbaric country of Picts to the north.  We saw Birdoswald Fort and then travelled back and forth between Roman Britain and Scotland.

Our bus stopped along the narrow road and backed into a clearing.  Anita wanted to celebrate our arriving in Scotland.

Well there's a reason I didn't get the group photo of everyone as we entered Scotland.  Anita had a bottle of Scotch to toast our journey.  She also had Iron Bru for a non-alcoholic drink.  She told us Iron Bru outsells Coke.

The next stop was Gretna Green, the home of the run-away marriages.  If anyone is a fan of Downton Abbey, you'd love this place.  There was a wedding just finishing up when we arrived.  

I was told that, Wellsburg, WV served as the Gretna Green for the Ohio, Pennsylvania, Maryland areas  at one time in it's history and had taxis that would pick up couples who wanted a quick wedding and take them to individuals who were licensed to perform marriages for a fee.

What a fun and happy place this was.  Bagpipes were playing everywhere.  

After our stop in Gretna Green we travelled to Moffat.  It was Sunday and we had a traditional Sunday lunch in a hotel.  There was roast beef, Yorkshire pudding, and veggies.  We were both stuffed but somehow managed to "lick the plate clean" when our bread and butter pudding and custard was served for dessert.

I do believe a few people took a nap on the bus after that meal.  Edinburgh was our next stop and the Hilton Edinburgh Carlton was our last hotel of the tour.  It is located in  central  Edinburgh on the Royal Mile.  

After we arrived, Anita led a walking tour of the area.  Needless to say everyone went on the tour.  Anita led us for a walk along South Bridge, Chambers Street, George VI Bridge and onto the Royal Mile.  We decided to return to the hotel and just veg the rest of the evening as there was a lot on the schedule for the following day.  We must have been tired as there was a Wetherspoon's pub nearby. It served as our "come down" location.

Turtle Safely.......