Another travel day. We started by visiting the Air Force Museum. After that, we escorted the guava cake to Kathy and Irland in Toledo.
John left early for work, so we had said our goodbyes to him the night before. After we got up, Arleen also made sure we had a good breakfast, and we had a nice time talking some more. Before we knew, it was 10am, and we thought it would be good to start gathering our things.
With the guava cake safely in the car, we found our way to the museum.
National Museum of the U.S. Air Force
The National Museum of the U.S. Air Force is at the Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, and is, as John warned us, very large. There are three large aircraft hangars for exhibits, and they're building a fourth to house the Presidential Gallery.
As we entered, we went through a security checkpoint, which is someone checking bags, then we walked through a metal detector. Since they didn't ask us to empty our pockets, or even hand our bags around, the detector beeped as everyone went through.
Because of the sheer size of the museum, we narrowed down which galleries we would visit. We also thought that the large size would work in our favor, helping us to get a good walk in. While at the Dayton Library, we had downloaded a few audio tours of things that looked interesting. Getting our bearings in the first hangar, we started from the beginning of flight.
The Early Years Gallery started at the Wright Brothers and went through the years after World War I. It was fun to see a lot of classic planes, such as the Fokkor Dr. I (like what the Red Baron flew) and the Sopwith Camel F.1 (what Snoopy pretended to fly in Peanuts). We got the hang of the audio tour, which gave good background information.
Going past the center passageway, we went into the World War II Gallery, but we hadn't loaded the audio tour for that gallery. It did look interesting, so we went through anyway. The most notable item was the Bockscar, the Boeing B-29 Superfortress which dropped the nuclear bomb “Fat Man” on Nagasaki. The Enola Gay, which dropped “Little Boy” on Nagasaki, was also a B-29. Also on display was a Mitsubishi A6M2 Zero, the kind of plane Japan used on Pearl Harbor.
Knowing we couldn't continue at the pace we were going at, we decided to head straight for the Missile & Space Gallery at the far end of the third hangar, but did slow down to look at the exhibit about Berlin and the Wall.
We started walking through the Cold War Gallery and it was obvious that we had to look around. We decided to look at one half now and think about the other half on our way back towards the exit. The item which catches your eye first is the Northrop Grumman B-2 Spirit, the stealth bomber. It's impressively large, and was fun to be able to walk right up to it and take a look. Since we were on the floor, however, it was hard to get a good look at the top (later on there were some platforms which helped a bit).
While the B-2 was impressive, to me the Lockheed SR-71A “Blackbird” was even more so. The sleekly black reconnaissance aircraft is the stuff of legends, able to fly over Mach 3 and could survey from 80,000 feet.
The Space Shuttle Crew Compartment Trainer caught our eye, so we took a look around. The volunteers were very chatty and knowledgable, making sure we saw various parts. I mentioned to one of them that I grew up in Downey where Rockwell was located, and had toured the plant when the shuttle was still being designed. I got the feeling he didn't recognize the Rockwell name, but it could have been that had I mentioned the name North American, that would have run a bell.
On to the Missile & Space Gallery, where one of the audio tours we had downloaded contained some tracks about the gallery. At one point I heard the narrator mention a couple mice which had been in space, and that they were on display. Roaming around, I didn't see them, so continued to listen. A few seconds later, I saw Melody looking around rather intently, asking, “Mice?” She nodded, but didn't see them either.
Upstairs, one of the exhibits was about how food in space had progressed. I remember convincing my mom to buy the space food sticks, which were individually wrapped in a foil which hinted at space materials. Of course they were just larger, less sweet versions of tootsie rolls, but my friends and I still enjoyed thinking we were getting nutritious meals.
Winding our way back to the entrance, we decided to bypass the rest of the Cold War Gallery, and went looking for the Presidential Gallery. Until the new hangar is completed, that gallery was at a different location, and you had to take a bus over. Thinking we didn't want to spend quite that much time, we went outside to the Air Park.
Part of the audio tour covered the Air Park, so we listened to that. Unfortunately, a good part was about the Lockheed C-141C Starlifter “Hanoi Taxi”, but the plane wasn't there that day.
The last stop was to take a look at the McDonnell Douglas F-15A Eagle, prominently located near the front of the museum. After that, we were ready for lunch. Rather than looking for a place to eat, we decided to finish up the snacks that Janet had set along with us, combined with what Arleen sent (not the guava cake!) and other things we had. We sat in Memorial Park near the car while we ate, watching and listening to all the kids who were there. It looked like we were a bit ahead of time, so I let Kathy know, and she said it would be fine if we showed up a bit early.
With the Tashimas
We once again ran into a bit of construction along the way, but since we had plenty of time, we didn't worry about it. As it ends up, we still had time to fill up the car (where we found we were getting about 40mpg) and find our way to the Tashima home. There was still quite a bit of time before we needed to leave for our dinner reservations, so we relaxed and caught up with each other. We had actually seen Kathy and Irland only a few weeks before when they were in Seattle, so not much had really changed, but we never seem to have trouble finding something to talk about.
We were shown to our table, and before too long the waiter came out and introduced himself. He said he would come back later to answer questions and give his opinion of his personal favorites on the menu. Looking things over, it was hard to tell what everything was, but Melody and I had narrowed down the dishes.
Appetizers came, a pea/basil hummus with crackers and elotes (baby corn) covered with queso fresco and other flavorings. The waiter came to talk about entrées, and ended up having a lot to say about each thing. Kathy and Irland ordered a couple salads, a cress/napa salad and what was called a Knife & Fork BLT (bacon, lettuce, and tomato as a salad, not a sandwich). For the main meals, we all went with little neck clams (Melody), a rabbit & duck cassoulet (me), halibut topped with brioche (Kathy), and grilled pork (Irland). Melody and I split our dishes, of course, and needless to say, we enjoyed both. The clams were tender and fresh, while the cassoulet had very interesting flavors and textures.
The Tashimas were up for splitting a dessert, so they had a chocolate tart with ice cream, while Melody and I split a plate of macarons. I'm not sure where we found room to eat all that food, but we managed. Of course, I took photos of most of the dishes, and we wondered if Janet would try to guess who had what.
We then wandered through the rest of the building, since there was artwork on several floors. We started on the main floor, and also took a peek into the banquet room. We were ready to go upstairs, so we found the elevator which was quite rickety. We exited on one floor, which didn't seem to have much art. Up to the next floor, where we did find things hanging on the walls. We also heard loud music, and looking out the window, we saw that the Toledo Mud Hens were playing a game, but the music didn't seem to be connected with that. One floor up, and the music was even louder. While we examined the artwork on that floor, we were able to figure out which room the band was in, and they finished up the one song by the time we got back to the elevator.
After exiting the Secor building, we dropped by Fifth Third Field to glance at the Mud Hens game. The stands weren't full, but there was still a good crowd. We then went down to the Maumee River, where the Tashimas pointed out several things that were in sight, including the Anthony Wayne Bridge, which was undergoing repairs; a large section of the bridge deck was completely missing.
We got back to the house, and somehow found room for a small bit of guava cake, which was just as good as the day before.
Kathy was doing a bunch of cooking for all the people who were going to show up the next day (Dave, Kara, and Brian, along with their families), and she always seems in her element when getting ready to put a spread of food out for people. It was fun watching her prepare things while we chatted and lost track of how late it was getting.