Saturday, April 6, 2019

Trinity Site 2019

A couple of months ago, we were talking at the dinner table, and I mentioned to my 16 year old daughter, Emmalee, that my wife and I had been to the Trinity Bomb Site.  In case one does not know, Trinity was the code word for the testing of the first atomic bomb.  The site is located in New Mexico and is part of the the US Army's White Sands Missile Range.  The site is only open twice a year, the first Saturday in April, and one Saturday in October.  My daughter and I are both history buffs, and she said she would like to go someday.  So I made plans for us to go on a road trip to the Trinity Site.  I decided to take the Mustang as it would give me a good test drive to prepare for the drive to California the following weekend for the Fabulous Fords Forever show.

We woke up bright and early on Saturday morning and left for New Mexico a little after 5:00am.  It's about a 5 hour drive, but also have to account for adding an additional hour for the change in time zone. 


Getting ready to hit the road

We drove into the town of Douglas for fuel, snacks, and to pickup Emmalee's wallet that she left at her Mom's house.  I think Emmalee does these things to make me drive through Douglas.  I HATE driving through Douglas.  Think of all the worse driving habits that just irritate the crap out of you and then pass them onto all the driver's in small town.  Anyway, we survived and got on the road.  Emmalee got this pretty good shot of sunrise over Douglas.



We headed northeast, and I was keeping my eyes open as this time of day is when deer like to move to go feed.  Sure enough, Emmalee tells me, "Dad, you better slow down".  A small herd of deer were crossing the road about 100 yards ahead of us.  They were being lead by two bucks.  I kept my eye open for the stragglers...they like to suddenly cross the road when you think it's clear.  No problem today.

A small herd of deer in the San Bernardino Valley northeast of Douglas, AZ

With no further incidents, we made it to New Mexico.


We went eastbound on I-10 to Deming, NM, and then took the cutoff towards Hatch and I-25.  I saw this "Muffler Man" in Hatch and had to get a picture of him threatening to drop a model RV onto my car.


A couple of stops for gas, and then we went eastbound on Highway 380 towards the Stallion Gate, which is the only access to Trinity when it's open to the public.  I've read reviews where folks get there 2 hours before the gate is opened so then can get in early.  I don't know why the rush...the site isn't going to change?!?!?!  As we were on 380, we saw lots of folks going westbound - the early birds was my guess.

I saw this sign a couple of miles in on highway 380.  Only in America do you build a highway across an active missile test area.  Ought to make some pretty interesting stories to tell, if one survives!


We finally made it to the Trinity site.  Folks, there just isn't a whole lot to see here.  Ground Zero, pictures posted on the perimeter fence, an old bunker that isn't used anymore, the cement where one of the tower legs survived the blast, etc.  There are even shuttle buses that take us visitors the two miles to the McDonald Ranch House where the plutonium components for the bomb were assembled before it was take to site to be detonated.  I like history, so it was very interesting to me.  No rides, no interactive media, and no guided tours.  You're on your own for this one.

I think I finally found a name for my car other than "the Mustang"

Should we be nervous here?

Ground Zero - the bomb was suspended in a tower about 100 feet above this spot.

The cement footing for one of the tower legs.  I have been here before and I could swear there was actually part of the leg protruding above the ground.

An overview of Ground Zero area.  As you can see, radiation creates some seriously mutated creatures.  Look at the one in the green hat!

I present to you....the BOMB!

Emmalee holding a piece of Trinitite.  Trinitite is the sand that was melted to a glass-like substance and turned green when the bomb exploded.  It is still radioactive.  You can see visitors walking around trying to find some of it laying around, but you are not allowed to remove it from the area.  I told Emmalee that after today's visit, we won't have to turn on lights in the house for a few weeks as our bodies will be enough to illuminate a dark room.  She didn't believe me.

At the MacDonald Ranch house, which is located about 2 miles from Ground Zero.  This is the room where the components were put together to prepare the bomb for detonation.

When the bomb detonated, the shockwave blew out the windows in the main house, and caved in part of the roof on the barn.  This picture of the barn shows one of the beams bent downward from the force of the blast.  This is located approximately two miles from the blast site.

I had a "Kelly moment".  I took a picture of people taking pictures of my car.  This guy is posing in front while holding a small child.  These weren't the only folks we saw doing this, but we got a good laugh out of it.

We'll head back home in the morning.  It was a good trip with no problems at all.  The weather was nice, the folks were friendly, and Emmalee and I got to spend a couple of days together talking, laughing, and making fun of each other.  We finished our day at Denny's in Truth or Consequences, NM having a milkshake and a smoothie.

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Final Thoughts on Hot August Nights 2018

Sorry that the blog for this year's event turned out to be such a mish/mash recounting of the week's activities, but I was trying to do it from the top of my head after I got home.  Anyways, here we go:

I think more people owned 64 1/2 Mustangs than were built.  I had so many folks come up to me and tell me about their 64 1/2 Mustang.

I have no idea what happened to the drag racing event at The Nugget in Sparks.  Went to go see, but nothing except the opening cruise through Sparks.

My memory is failing me.  Saw some SWAT folks hanging out in Sparks and asked if the cruise got so rowdy that SWAT needed to be on standby.  He just nodded and said you never know after what happened in Las Vegas.  I slapped myself in the forehead, and thanked him for watching out for us.

Either encouraged a future VMF'er or vintage car fan for the future.  Pulled into the parking lot at the Atlantis, and this little kid starting telling his parents that my Mustang was his favorite car in the whole show.  He came to get a closer look, and I squatted down to his level and asked him if he wanted to sit inside.  His face lit up, and he looked at his Mom and asked if it was okay.  Of course she said yes, and I let him sit in the driver's seat while his parents took photos.  Great moment for all of us.

Circling the parking lot for 1/2 hour at the Sands Regency looking for a place to park after cruising downtown Reno on Friday night.  Ended up parking in some spot near some shipping containers.  Hoped all night that the car would still be there in the morning, and not inside one of the containers!

113 degrees in Blythe...I overheated but my car didn't!

Put $20 in a video poker machine and walked away with $25.50.  Came out ahead!

Being surprised by a surprise visit from Kelly!  And then she makes the Wall Street Journal in an article about her and Jane.  She's keeping secrets from us!

Someone needs to tell the lady wrapped in a towel and standing in front of the window in her room at the Sands that the outside part of the glass is NOT reflective.  We can see everything!  :)

Going inside the casino during the hottest part of the day and grabbing a couple of glasses of cold beer is good for you.  Trust me on that one.

Hitting the road with your best friend of 45 years is awesome.  We have to do it again!

Walked around Summit Racing for about an hour and didn't buy ANYTHING?  Is that even possible...yes, I'm afraid to say.

Keep your T-5 and your Tremec - I'm sticking with my Toploader.  Best gas mileage was 21.5 mpg from Carson City, NV to Bishop, CA doing 70 mph the whole way.


The setting sun as I return home to Arizona

Friday, August 17, 2018

Hot August Nights 2018

First day of Hot August Nights was cleaning the car and going to the Grand Sierra Resort for registration.  A couple of years ago, the registration procedure was a nightmare with me standing in line for over 2 hours.  Last  year and this year, it was a breeze.  Walked in to the registration area and right up to a couple of guys from the HAN committee handling the paperwork.  Got that all taken care of, and then picked up the goodie bag.  Then it was back out to the parking lot and the heat, and started checking out all the vehicles.  I saw a few that I recognized from previous years, but this was all new to Chris.  He was especially checking out the 65 GT Mustangs to get some ideas for his car.  He paid alot of attention to tire and wheel sizes to see what would work for his car.

From the GSR we went over to Summit Racing to see what was going on over there.  Summit has their own car show going on in the parking lot, so we joined in, and then went inside the store.  Didn't buy anything though.  After Summit, it was off to the Atlantis Casino, parked, and walked around some more.  There was a cruise through the parking lot, so we kicked back and watch all the awesome vehicles cruise slowly by.  We stayed there until after dark, and then back to the Sands Regency for another night of relaxation.  The only difficult thing about HAN this year was the heat and smoke.  Kind of put a damper on things, but we managed to overcome it all.

Wednesday we drove down to Carson City to have breakfast with my father-in-law, Joe.  If you read my posts about HAN 2016, Joe was my hangout buddy.  He's getting older now, but we were hoping he could go with us.  Unfortunately, he and his wife are battling medical issues and appointments, so he couldn't get away for the day.  So we had a good breakfast with Joe, and then Chris showed him how to recharge the AC system in his Escape.  From there Chris and I went to Virginia City, walked around, chatted with people, went through a small museum that was very interesting, and just acted like tourists.  Afterwards we went to the A&W Root Beer stand in Reno for the Reno Mustang Club's "Mustangs on the Green" get together.  Found out that it was the last one to happen because on Sunday, August 12th, the A&W stand was closing its doors.  Didn't find out why, but I'm sure someone wanted that corner lot more than A&W did.  Later we went to the Peppermill and parked there, but in a sort of an out of the way area as we got there kind of late.  Lots of good looking cars, but was wondering what was up with all the reserved parking spots.  We left the Peppermill and did three cruises through downtown Reno and waved to the small crowds on Virginia Street.  I warned Chris that on Friday night, traffic was going to move a lot slower that what were experiencing at this moment.  Chris was snapping photos like crazy from inside the car, not realizing that the flash was bouncing off the headliner and not out the window.  Needless to say, those photos didn't turnout too well.  After cruising, we  we went a couple of blocks over back to the Sands and called it a day.

The next day we we went to Baldini's Casino in Sparks for the breakfast buffet and the free t-shirt.  Okay, we really went for the free t-shirt  😤😤  The HAN swipe meet, err I mean SWAP meet was going on across the street from Baldini's, so we perused what was available over there.  I managed to pickup a rotary dial telephone from 1967 for $12, and that was about it.  Sucked down a lot of lemonade and again dealt with the heat.  We went back to the GSR, walked that area for awhile, and then went inside the casino and had a few beers.  Back to the Sands, parked, and walked over to the Virginia Street venues to check out the cars there.  We went inside the Reno Event Center for the Big Boy Toy Store and bought some of those little things that are nice to have around the workshop.  Dropped our goodies off back at the hotel, got in the Mustang and did some more cruising through downtown Reno.  The crowds were just a little bit larger than the night before, but it still wasn't Friday night.

Friday night turned out to be a special day.  First it was back to the GSR to check out cars and folks.  Went inside to get some more beers and figure out our plan for the rest of the day.  I still hadn't seen the drag racing over at the Nugget in Sparks, so we decided to go check that out.  What a crazy drive...the roads were all blocked either for the Sparks Downtown Cruise, or for the numerous construction sites that sprouted all over.  We finally got to the parking area for the Nugget and parked in the upper floor of the parking garage that was set aside specifically for vintage cars.  We walked downstairs and ended up at the start of the Sparks cruise.  We didn't hear anything that sounded like cars drag racing, but the event schedule indicated that it should have been going on.  Meanwhile, I had some crazy person sending texts to my phone trying to make me guess who it was.  I was a bit frustrated as I was down below 30% of my battery capacity, so the person finally admitted to who it was...Kelly!  She was in Reno for the weekend, and had seen me and Chris drive away from the GSR while she was there getting ready for the evening's concert.  So we headed back to the GSR, and found Kelly, her Dad,  and the HAN VMF gang sitting around and telling stories.  We jumped right in, but Chris looked a bit left out as he didn't know any of the people as he is not a member of VMF.  We stayed until the HAN parking lot patrol came around to tell us we had to pack it up for the night.  We said our goodbyes, and went our separate ways.  HAN 2018 was over for Chris and I as we were leaving the next morning to go back to his place for a couple of days before I went home.

 The first car photo I took this year - a clean 65 coupe

 One of the guys I work with is in the process of restoring a VW bug.  Hey Amby, you can get to this stage!

 Interesting story behind this 69 Hurst Olds - the guy bought it many years ago, sold it, and then went shopping for another one years later.  Ended up buying his old car back.

 I wish I could remember the year and model of this car.  It's a Buick, and the owner lit up when we told him we really liked his car.  Anyone know?

 A "Star Chief" with lots and lots of chrome!

 I always thought 8 track tapes sucked....4 track must have sucked even more!

 A well done Shelby clone

 Mustang Row at the GSR

 It was nice that this family let this Black Widow spider hitch along for a ride.  The wife really freaked out when I pointed it out to her!

 Saw this AAR 'Cuda pulling into the parking lot when we arrived - nice car!

 Tastefully done car 65 Fastback.

 I didn't realize I had two pictures of this Shelby clone....here it is again!

 The "bubble gum machine" on the top of this retired cop car was HUGE!

 Mercury Meteor - hadn't seen one of these before.

 The effect of all the fire smoke on the sun.

 Downtown Virginia City

 Another view of downtown Virginia City

 This is the view out of a picture window in one of the saloons in Virginia City

 Noticed a few AMX' this year - here's one.

 And here's number two

 How would you like to be the one who has to shine up the chrome on this grill?

 And a third AMX - saw all three of these in just a few minutes at the Peppermill

 Nice Shelby  👀

 First Maverick I saw at the show this year

 Front view of same Maverick

 Saw this Shelby earlier at the A&W Root Beer stand - it was driving by on Plumb Road

 This is why one does not attempt to shoot flash photos from the inside of a car...

 Beep, beep my @$$!

 Richard Petty Blue painted Road Runner

 Nice Galaxie convertible that caught my eye

 We were revving engines with this guy during the downtown Reno cruise

 Good looking 442

 I've seen this car already featured in a couple of online galleries for this year's show

 The color pulled me to this car.  The owner says it's called "Anti-Establishment Green".  I asked if the interior color was "I Hate the Man Black".

 1967 Plymouth Satellite.

 1970 Mustang Sportsroof

 Another VW Bug to help Amby get motivated

 This 66 Coupe is powered by a 289 with a Paxton supercharger.  Don't see many of those!

 1968 Shelby GT500 KR.  This was one nice car!

 Woody!

 Chris checking out a row of Mustangs at the GSR

 This was the only Vega I saw all week.  Remember when these things were all over the place, and featured in most of the hot rod magazines in the 70's and early 80's?

A license plate with my name in it...cool!