Friday, March 30, 2012

Cal Expo Harness Racing

                   Went for a walk in a grass field nearby with my two buddies and met a guy walking his horse who liked my dogs. I complimented  his horse "Goose" and then laughed while "Goose" continued to grab John Walker's jacket and throw it on the ground. (That's his name, Johnny Walker, how cool!)Then Goose would grab Johns sweater and do the same thing, over and over again. This horse was the epitome of our typical teenagers of today...very feisty.

I gathered Johnny Walker was "Goose's" trainer, he talked about Goose "breaking" the last two races and he would ride him in the upcoming one. Johnny Walker also invited Donna and I to come to the race on Friday night and he would put us in the start car.

             Being that this was our first time at a harness race we found the betting crowd to be a grade or two below poker players...don't tell Johnny I said that, but it's true. Riding in the start car was awesome, Donna got the premium seat looking back on the horses as she shot the video of the whole race. Unfortunaly, I am having trouble uploading the vidoe so until such time I learn to upload the stills will have to do.

These horses are beautiful and powerful but very different from horse racing thoroughbreds. They are bred because of their trotting ability which requires longer bodies and shorter legs. In a harness race a "break" means a horse broke out of the trot to a full stride and that immediately disqualifies the horse from that race.

On a sad note..while Goose did not break, he did end up 5th out of the six horses in the race but I still love him.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

California State Railroad Museum in Sacramento

                    Wonderful museum dedicated to the early California railroad industry and industry giants such as Stanford, Crocker, Hopkins and Huntington's. They relay just how powerful some of these giants were and the contribution of the Irish and Chinese in building the railroad over the Sierra's to Provo, Ut.

This is the #1 which was renamed in honor of 1862  California's governor L. Stanford.

These first two locomotive's are 4-4-0 engines. The numbers correspond to leading wheels, power wheels and trailing wheels. There are many combinations of locomotive's.

The coach for every day people was still a beautiful coach. I did not get a photo of one of the private railroad cars, only the rich the private jets of today, but they were so luxurious.

Donna doing her impression of a "whistle stop campaign".

The kitchen in a dining car was fully equipped for its time.

Well of course if something has a moon in it we have to photograph it. (my wife's maiden name)


The ice refrigerator car in the later 1800's provided an outlet for the crops of California to the rest of the nation.

This engine, electric-diesel combo, is and has always been my favorite locomotive to watch, they are just sooo cool! And, the colors are great...called Southern Pacific "daylight" of orange and scarlet. This engine went into service in 1954.

I take it not too many big, or heavy people were a regular riders in the 1900's.

                          Southern Pacific #4294 was the last steam engine ordered by the company. This locomotive is a 4-8-8-2 forward cab engine. The engine and tender weigh over 1 million pounds and nearly broke the locomotive turntable that put #4294 in the building.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

California's Capital

             Even though it has been 35 years since I was a citizen of this state (born in L.A.) I was impressed not only by the beautiful capital building (you all paid for it) but by the openness of them allowing us to just wonder through the rooms.

Side view

                    Governor Schwarzenegger commissioned this bear for the front of his office and the current governor likes it so much he left it in place.

           This is a reproduction of an office in 1906, the year of the big earthquake. This reminded me of my fathers office when he worked for the state of California in 1990's...he still had a rotary phone!


      This is the California Assembly Floor. If you look closely there are three high back chairs in the third row. I asked the docent why those chairs were different.  He wasn't sure, no one had asked that question before, but his lame answer was, maybe they have back problems. BS! If that was the case, they'd all be coming in with a doctors prescription for a high back chair.

Don't even go there!...ha ha

Sacramento has it's own "Golden Gate Bridge" right out in  front of the capital.

This is so "California", I love it. This painting of Governor Brown from the seventies is so iconic to the times....glad he kept it.

The Benjamin Franklin Turkey

                        As the story goes, Ben Franklin wanted the America turkey to be the national bird because he thought the Golden Eagle was just a scavenger. I usually see the smaller, thinner black turkeys around, this is the first time I ever saw a huge Tom with a beard that flowed down to the ground.
                                     Near Folsom, Ca.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

California Delta 2

                   It was to nice of a day to sit in the motorhome and watch TV, so this is delta #2.

You should know that the California delta land for the most part is lower than the rivers that feed it. Because of this, the delta is overlaid with roads that were built on top of the levees. If you look down the center of the road you'll see the land on the right is lower than the river on the left.

As long as the levees hold, then the boats will stay floating.

Believe it or not the towns on the delta, although small, are always under the threat of flooding. Even though I have not lived in the area for a long time, I can remember a number of levee breaks while going to school in Chico.

While not politically correct, Al the Wop's is a semi famous bar and diner in the Chinese town of Locke

There were some cool looking brick buildings just off the road, so I went over to check it out. It was originally a sugar beet factory from the later 1900's to around 1960 when it closed. A winery bought it and turned it into a beautiful tasting and bottling plant. Old Sugar Mill.

Some of the factory has been left in its natural state, either on purpose or maybe a lack of money.

More of the undeveloped part of the winery.


Seems that this room is storing wine barrels.

         This was a covered area that had train tracks running right down the middle. The cars would deliver and unload the sugar beets. Now it's a beautiful passage way separating the winery from the shops and tasting room.

         I been called, and rightly so, a tree hugger many times by my brother but even I will admit that the pear trees in winter are unattractive trees!

From such a tree comes a very delicate blossom.

        Four towers, one being 2007 foot tall and another at the same general height, 2000 feet, loaded with TV relay equipment. 

This one was the closest I could is 1549 feet tall.

The Aerospace Museum of California

                                     What to do on a rainy weekday in Sacramento?
How about going to the best museum on aircraft from the beginning to present day that I have ever seen. Other than some great aircraft on the floor and outside they have the best aircraft engine exhibit I have ever witnessed.

              The Pratt & Whitney Wasp Major air-cooled R-4360...was the largest production piston engine in the world...ever. I am trying to give you an idea of its size.

Here it is from the side. This brute has 28...yes 28, cylinders arranged like corn on the cob so the back cylinders get some of the cooling air. Besides aircraft like the "Spruce Goose", the engine was the main component of many of the biggest aircraft of the 50's such as the Boeing KC-97 Stratotanker, B-50 Superfortress and the B-36 Peacemaker. What killed the big piston engines is the weight. More power equates to more weight, 3600 lbs each, where as the jet has more power and less weight.

Cut view of engine shows the arrangement of the pistons.

The docent that followed me around explained a lot about the piston vs the rotary engine. The first rotary engines meant that the engine turned at the same speed as the prop. I was curious as to how they fed fuel to the piston if it was spinning that was thru the center of the crank. Also, with the rotary engine there was no adjusting the speed, it was either on (full power) or they coasted with engine off.

This is an English version of the Pratt & Whitney R-2800, which is a 18 cylinder engine.

The odd thing about this English piston engine is that it has no valves. Instead of valves, the piston is surrounded with another sleeve which if you look closely has opening in it. As the sleeve turns around the piston its holes line up to to do the job of valves.Weird, I know!

On the other hand...the American version of this same engine with valves shows valves almost twice as big as a silver dollar.

This unusual beast is a 30 year old remote control helicopter with counter rotating blades so no tail assembly was needed. It carried two torpedo's (orange tips) and had a range of 80 miles. The docent mentioned that even today, few Navy personnel even knew it was part of their arsenal.

The Pratt & Whitney J-58, developed in 1958, is the engine that powered the still (classified) world speed record holder in the SR-71 Blackbird. Mach 3 plus, how far "plus" is anyone's guess."'

I've added the Fairchild-Republic A-10A Thunderbolt ll, commonly know by it's affectionately known  name of "Warthog" because it's my brothers favorite plane...I like it too.

The Allison V-3420, a 24-cylinder turbosupercharged double V- liquid-cooled piston engine, which pretty much mated two twelve cylinder Allison engines (on their own were awesome) together to form a 24 cylinder monster. Two large crankshafts into a huge gearbox then feed twin counter rotating propellers.