NFL fans in a couple of cities are still mourning the loss of their teams to Los Angeles. With the Rams and the Chargers both now based in LA, a new stadium is being built to accommodate them. Meanwhile, they are playing in existing stadiums. The new stadium, when it is finished, will be one of the most extravagant designs and will be used for other tasks including the future Olympics. Right now, construction work is underway. I saw the work site from my plane as I came in to LAX but didn’t have the camera to hand. However, when flying above LAX in the helicopter, I was able to get some shots at a bit of a distance of the work in progress.
Since I didn’t grow up in the US, a lot of the older cars in museums are not ones that I knew about as a kid. However, a Lotus Esprit is one right out of my childhood. I fell in love with this car as a result of The Spy Who Loved Me when Bond’s Esprit morphed into a submarine. From then on, I dreamed of owning this car. The America’s Car Museum has an example of the pre-turbo Esprit in its collection and, while it certainly is dated by the styling, I still think it is a great looking car. Just don’t pay attention to the switches and knobs pinched from the parts bins of the major car manufacturers of the time!
For the serious skier, nothing should get in the way of your sport – not even a lack of snow. We were in Squaw Valley at the end of the skiing season. The weather was lovely and warm with loads of sun. Shorts and t-shirts were the order of the day for many. However, in the final days of the skiing season, there was still snow on the higher parts of the mountains. We took a trip to High peak on the aerial tram and the last two days of skiing were being exploited by the faithful.
People rode to the top and then walked across the rock to get to the edge of the snow. The snow certainly wasn’t looking too great and the gentler slopes required more effort to get moving. However, you could then get across to other lifts and get higher up on the slopes. There were a lot of people making use of the few runs and lifts still open. I guess they will have to wait until the snows return so the last moments must be worth it. Watching them tromping through the town in their ski gear when others were strolling in warm weather clothes was pretty funny to see.
Another throwback sports event today. The Chicago Fire MLS team opened their stadium at Toyota Park shortly after we moved to the city. We only went to watch one game so I don’t have a whole bunch of pictures of them playing. I did not know what their policy was for cameras being allowed in to the stadium so I took a long zoom in case they didn’t object. It turned out they really didn’t care at all!
I was watching the game rather than trying to cover it so I didn’t take a lot of shots. However, I did happen to have the camera up a couple of times when the play got exciting and these shots were the best that I got.
If you are going to have a museum to cars, why not include a tribute to the thing that makes them go? While fuel itself is not terribly suitable for an exhibit, the pumps that provide it prove to be a surprisingly good idea. Blackhawk Automotive Museum has a bunch of different gas pumps from through the years on display. They are all restored to pristine condition and probably look far better than they did when they were new.
The pumps cover a number of years and a variety of gas companies. The evolution of the pump designs is quite clear as you go through the years. I am not sure I fully understand how they worked but they seem to have involved filling up a clear vessel at the top of the pump with fuel. This filling process allowed you to work out exactly how much fuel was to be provided. Then, when the amount was worked out, the hose would allow you to drain the fuel down to the vehicle.
The early versions seem to be quite simple in layout and, as the years pass, the systems seem to become a bit more complex. A modern pump is way more complex but also severely lacking when it comes to styling. These old pumps look like they had some artists involved in styling them and the colors of the companies were similarly intricate. I guess that is how things worked in those days. Now efficiency, maintainability and functionality will win out over style.
Aston Martin is not a company that has varied the styling of its cars significantly over the years. There are several shapes that have formed the basis of their designs but they have been quite effective at making the most of a concept. This is not a criticism in any way. There are few cars from the company that I haven’t liked although some have worked better for me than others. However, when compared to other marques that have had a wide variety of styles and designs in a given timeframe, Aston has been quite simple with its approach.
Consequently, it isn’t tricky to recognize the Astons on display at Blackhawk. The models on show are some older types but they are some good looking machines. One of them is a racing model which has a slightly more aggressive look to it. They had variations on the green that Aston is known for. I suspect a couple of my family members would like to have seen them!
I am certainly partial to a modern Ferrari. In recent years, Maranello has turned out some really gorgeous looking cars and I wouldn’t mind having the chance to play with one or two of them if the opportunity were to present itself. However, if you go back in time, they came up with some cars that, for their time, were really quite special. It is this vintage of Ferrari that you find in the Blackhawk Automotive Museum.
The variation is styles is quite marked. Some are simple looking roadsters but you also have some touring cars that, without a badge might not be obviously a Ferrari to those who are not experts of the marque. The choice of colors for some of them is also a little different from what you would see now. There are a number of cars in the main exhibition area but there are also a couple that are in the entrance foyer to the museum. I guess Ferrari is a brand that has earned to be given a prime spot in any collection.
Aside from the basketball game at Wichita State, there was plenty of entertainment between the plays, Various competitions were held for people to try and win prizes and the cheering squad were there too. The cheerleaders did their thing and a section of guys spent a lot of time lifting the cheerleaders into the air, throwing them up and (fortunately) catching them again. Fun stuff to watch.
A work trip had me in Oklahoma City one week and needing to be back the next. I did have the option to fly home and then come back again. However, the length of the trip meant that I would get back and then quickly be back on my way again. Instead, I decided to stay over for the weekend. This was because I had a Plan B. My good friends Steve and Alysia live in Wichita Kansas which is just over two hours north of Oklahoma City so, after work on Friday, I headed up to see them for the weekend.
We had a fun time for the weekend, parts of which will appear in the blog in due course. One thing they had planned was to go and see a Wichita State basketball game. The Shockers were at home and a packed crowd was there to see them. We had to do some research to find out whether taking a camera in was allowed or not and it was so I dragged the camera along. I wasn’t shooting the game really. I just wanted to get some shots to see how they came out.
The stadium appeared bright until you looked at a light meter. I needed to ramp the ISO up quite a bit which I did by switching to manual mode and then using Auto ISO. It worked pretty well. A couple of shots were a bit dark but that will be the case with any shooting mode if the metering gets confused. (My bodies are of a previous generation which does not have the ability to input exposure compensation in this mode. The 1DX does allow that. No idea why it took so long to show up but that is a different story.)
I did manage to get a few action shots. There was not a huge amount of dunking going on but I did catch a couple of more dramatic drives to the hoop. More importantly, I had a great time with Steve and Alysia. Thanks guys for setting up a great day out.
Our run up the Pacific Coast Highway included a brief stop at one of the beaches as we passed by. We had a dinner reservation in Half Moon Bay and had some time in hand so standing on the shore for a little while watching the ocean was going to fit. One of the beaches had a few people kiteboarding just offshore. There was a strong breeze so they were able to get some speed up.
There was some surf rolling in but they weren’t getting the big airs you sometime see when the boarders can combine the wind angles with the direction of the surf. Even so, they seemed to be having some fun.