Sunday, February 26, 2012

Belt Sander Races

Yes, you read the title correctly!  Belt Sander Races originated in, as near as I can tell, Point Roberts, Washington and there are not one, but TWO organizations, IBSDR and BSRA , governing the races.  We had heard of the races here in Port Aransas from some people we met and decided it was a "must-see."  The races are held at a local bar called The Gaff.

The Gaff

Everyone was welcome, but...

A point of pride

There was fun to be had even before we entered the bar.

Me and my matey
Nancy and some dirty old man she picked up :)

And the inside was just as interesting as the outside.

Inside The Gaff

We had to have something to eat before the races.  The beer was served in mason jars, the plates were paper, the napkins were paper towels on a roll but the pizza was really good.

Pre race party

The place was fairly empty when we arrived, but the people kept coming and by race time, the arena (the back yard of the bar)  was packed.
The excited crowd

Setting the stage for the event, we have:

The starting line up

Owner of The Gaff and Race Official

The track

End of the track

Timmy, the line judge.

Timmy was hilarious.  He was over 3 sheets to the wind and had a hard time remembering which was track one and which was track two.  His commentary on the races was limited to "Arrrgh" (a pirate sound) and "Hot rod, hot rod!"  Also, easily bribed with beer!

As with any officially sanctioned event, everyone stood for the National Anthem.

Respecting the National Anthem

And then, it was race time!  Two sander ran the best two out of three races in an single elimination format.  The order of the racers was determined by random draw.  Quarter finals, semi-finals and finals also used the best two out of three.

Now, for a blog first, some live video of the racing event!

A racing video
You would not believe how fast some of these belt sanders ran!  It was next to impossible to get still pictures.  Most of them stopped when hitting the stuffing at the end of the track, but, as in any high-speed racing event, there were a few crashes.  Luckily, no one and no sanders were hurt.

I'm sure by this point you are holding your breath to see some of the racers themselves.  So, without further ado, I present some of the favorites:

Pussy Power
Boobs Bunny - my personal favorite

The cowboy from Toy Story

The Gaffinator

Total Wreck (top) and Winter Texan

There was the usual pit crews at the starting line:

Pit crew at work

Making necessary adjustments

There was an occasional, unauthorized fraternization with officials,

Winter Texan softening up a judge

And necessary track maintenance.

Track maintenance

Competition was hot and heavy, but at the end of the day, standings were:

Total Wreck

Boobs Bunny

and FIRST PLACE went to....



The Gaffinator!

After the event conclusion, we were all invited to an official meet and greet.  I got a picture with the sander and driver that was my favorite.

Me and Boobs Bunny

And so ends another great day on the Grand Adventure!!!!

Saturday, February 25, 2012

USS Lexington

Once we finished with the Texas State Aquarium, it was a short walk over to the USS Lexington, a World War II vintage aircraft carrier.  It sits permanently now in Corpus Christi bay and is referred to as the "Museum on the Bay." 

The propeller displayed by the entry wasn't taken from the Lexington, but is 11 feet in diameter.  The propellers on the Lexington are 15 feet in diameter and there are 4 of them.

USS Lexington

Blue Angel plane


Cyndi as a gunner

You walk up a loooooong concrete ramp to get to the ship itself.  It's very large and impressive.  There are signs everywhere along the way, explaining what you are seeing.  The Hangar deck, into which you enter, is where the planes we garaged when not on the flight deck.  Today, it hosts all kinds of exhibits.

Sid as a gunner
Memorial to all the sailors buried at sea
George Bush Sr's plane, flown in WWII

Cyndi in the brig
There were a lot of "model" ships, scale models built and donated by various people.  Many artifacts from WWII and multiple other ships were included throughout the ship.  Also on the Hangar deck was an IMAX theater, which showed a really interesting movie about a pilot participating in a Red Flag exercise out of Nellis AFB, Nevada.  It said that a fighter pilot's chances of survival rise dramatically if they survive the first ten missions of their career.  The Red Flag exercise is designed to simulate, very realistically, those first ten missions.
We got to go from the top of the ship (the bridge, where the captain does captain things!) to the very bowels in the engine room and many places in between.   The ship is like a self contained city, with all the services necessary to maintain over 1500 crew.  Here are some of the highlights.

Captain's living/dining room.  This is where he entertains heads of state and other important people.

Captain's kitchen

Junior officer's quarters

Looking out one of the portholes


Mural in barbershop

Japanese Rising Sun flag.  There are signatures of 92 Kamikaze pilots that were penned during their funeral rites performed prior to the attack on Pearl Harbor.

Female quarters.  Of course, during WWII and after, women were prohibited from serving aboard a warship.  After Vietnam, the ship was used as a training vessel and women were then allowed aboard.
The galley
Everything in the galley - well, on the whole ship, really - was labeled with black stencils.  I would think a cook could tell the difference between a freezer and a stove, but I guess you never know!

Dental office

All this brass was kept highly polished, in the day.

WWII ready room where pilots were briefed on the mission and waited to begin.

Full steam ahead! on the bridge
Looking from the bridge down to the flight deck
This picture of the stairs doesn't really represent how narrow and STEEP they really were.

Machine shop
An escalator was installed in the 50's because the pilots uniform and gear became so heavy it was easier for them to get to the flight deck this way.
The original ship's bell
The runway on the flight deck
About midway into the self-guided tour we ate lunch on the ship - just a snack bar, really.
The ship's restaurant
There was lots and lots more to see and, even though we spent about 3 hours on board, we didn't get to read about everything that was displayed.  We were so tired from walking around all day at the Aquarium and the Lexington that we took a shuttle back to the street.

Shuttle from ship to street

That was it for the day.  We headed back to the trailer.  I had put something in the crockpot for dinner and it's a good thing, because I was too tired to cook.

'Til next time.....