Friday, September 21, 2012

Travel - The Wright Brothers National Memorial

Replica of Wright's planes.
      While on vacation at the beach in Nags Head, North Carolina, my wife Deb and I decided to take a side trip to visit the Wright Brother National Memorial in Kill Devils Hills. This was our first visit to the Outer Banks which included a houseful of family.
      With a total of eighteen people under one roof in a giant beach side home, it was time to get out and do a little sightseeing. The national memorial was a short ten minute drive from our rental house to Kitty Hawk along Route 158. Entrance fee to the property is $4.00 per adult and for me, well worth the money.
     I am always willing to visit a new national site around the United States and looked forward to seeing the location of the world's first engine driven air flight. A century has past since Orville Wright made the first powered flight on December 17, 1903.
Famous photo of first powered flight.
     My wife is interesting to follow around in museums that we visit. Deb will read every sign, story and piece of history hanging among the photos, artifacts and replica planes displayed. She says that while in school she never retained the U. S. history and now wants to absorb everything when we travel to these sites.
     I like to read some of the dates and important facts. And being a photographer, I'm drawn to the photographs of the first plane in flight. The photos are clean, clear and without motion blur. Conditions weren't ideal using those large format cameras. I wonder if I would have been able to capture the photo of the air bound Orville Wright. You only get one shot. There wasn't a do over if you missed the picture as there is only one first air flight.  
Markers locate flights.
     Once outside we walk to the stone markers locating the spots where the Wright Brothers completed the first four flights. Then we stood atop Kill Devil Hill at the memorial where they launched down the ninety foot hill until airborne under the power of their plane.
     Looking down from the top, I thought of Orville Wright winning the coin flip to become the first pilot to take to the air. What an intimidating view knowing the consequences of a flight gone bad.  Twelve long seconds is all that it lasted. Engine powered air flight officially began that December day.
Strick's pix with wife Deb, my sister Lisa & her husband Scott
     On the final flight Wilbur Wright took control of the plane. He traveled 852 feet in 59 seconds. The Western Union Telegraph Co. message to the Wright family in Dayton, Ohio stated "Success four flights thursday morning all against twenty one mile wind started from level with engine power alone average speed through air thirty one miles longest 57 seconds inform  Press  home #####Christmas.    Orevelle Wright     525P"
     Today, we take their accomplishments for granted as we jet across the country in only hours. Their first flights on that day one hundred years ago led to other great Americans looking to the sky like Chuck Yeager, John Glenn and Neil Armstrong. The Wright Brothers were true pioneering heroes.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

News Comes Calling

     My wife Deb and I arrived home late Saturday afternoon after a week's vacation in the Outer Banks in North Carolina along with our family. It didn't take long for duty as a Mercury photographer to begin again. The incident was a vehicle crash a block away from our West Pottsgrove Township home.
     We had finished unpacking our bags, straightened up all the beach gear and settled in to watch the night college football game when I heard a loud crash and immediately the FIOS went out. The power remained on but the television feed was gone.
      Grabbing my camera, I looked over at Deb and said someone smashed into a utility pole and headed out the door. Walking down the street I could see neighbors looking out windows and others heading over to a yard where a compact car was sitting. The front end was crumpled where it had struck the pole and the injured driver was still inside.  Light smoke rose from the engine compartment and wires were laying across the vehicle.
      The utility pole that the driver hit was in pieces with part still attached to low hanging wires. The transformer fell from the pole and was in the street.  It was a dangerous situation and those trying to help moved cautiously around the scene not to contact any of the electrified lines.
      I walked carefully around the scene also, as it was very dark without street lights to illuminate the area. I snapped photos and recorded video of the wrecked vehicle, then sent the files along with calling in details to get the story on the web.
     The injured driver was trapped inside the car for close to an hour until all power was shut down to electrical lines. Once the power was off rescue crews safely moved the driver to a waiting ambulance and transported him to the hospital.
     When I got back home the power was off so we decided to call it a night. That wasn't how I thought our first evening home from the beach would go. But on this day news came calling close to home.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Travel - Yankees vs Orioles at Camden Yards

     Back in June I purchased tickets for a major league baseball game in Baltimore to see the Yankees play the Orioles at Camden Yards. I never would have guessed that both would be locked up in a pennant race tied atop the American League East division. Apparently neither did fans as I easily bought tickets for first level seats.
The Babe
     I've been to Camden Yards before and it's a not a bad drive from Pa. to Maryland. We have found back roads and are only on Route 95 for a short time to limit the intense driving. The last time I attended a game was to see Cal Ripken play and to shoot some photos of him during his long consecutive streak starting games for the O's. At that game I was cheering for the home team enjoying the cozy park.
Camden Yards
     This time I was there for the Yankees, but you wouldn't know it from my clothing. I will never wear an opposing teams colors into a visiting stadium.  I consider Baltimore fans very friendly but with the rivalry heating up, there is no need to look for trouble. Many others don't seem to care. We were surrounded by Yankee fans all dressed in blue and white with team caps on their heads. I was in friendly company. But in between many pockets of Yankee loyalists were Oriole fans blanketing the stadium in bright orange.
     It's been a long time since they have been in a pennant race this late in the year and with their strong pitching and powerful hitting the team has kept pace with the division leading Yankees.
O's Boog Powell and Strick's Pics
     We booked a hotel only two blocks from the stadium so it was an easy walk for the start of the game from our room. I always bring a camera along wherever I go and entering through the front gate I snap a picture of the huge statue of Babe Ruth. Knowing that he's honored for his birth in Baltimore and signed by the O's before being traded, I still find it odd to see his likeness since he's one of the Yankee greats of all time.
      From there we made our way through the crowd to an area where several of the top former Oriole players are remembered with bronzed statues.  Cal Ripken's statue was unveiled the night before and fans stood next to his shining full length likeness and had their pictures snapped.
Derek Jeter
     I walked up to Boog Powell who was greeting fans near his barbeque pit. The former O's first baseman gave me a strong handshake and smile as we took a picture together. Even at his age I'd bet he could still jack a homer out of the yard.
     Walking around the stadium, we stopped near home plate and I walked down to the third row from the field to shoot a couple of photos of Derek Jeter swinging the bat warming up in the on deck circle. I also snapped some of the crowded dugout just before game time, then made our way to the seats along the third baseline.
    The pitching duel between the Yank's Phil Hughes and the O's Wei-Yin Chen lasted only three innings as New York smashed three homers to build a seven run lead by the end of the fifth inning. We were walking around the outfield standing room only area and watched as Alex Rodriguez crushed his 300th homer as a Yankee.
     I'd much rather see a lot of action on the base paths then to watch a bunch of strikeouts and I got my wish. There was a lot of hitting going on in this game by both teams.
Yankee's win.
     In the bottom of the ninth with one out, I walked to a spot behind the Yankee dugout to take a couple photos as I anticipated the Yankees celebrating a win. Along the way N.Y. closer Rafael Soriano gave up a solo shot to Manny Machado. But it was too late for the O's losing 8-5. The Yankees were in sole possession of first place for another day as the teammates congratulated each other .
    Win or lose it was a great day to be a part of America's favorite game. But it felt good walking back to the hotel with a winning smile.