It was an immensely busy weekend.
Chris drove down from NYC to spend a couple of days and kill three birds with one stone: to go to a fellow intern's birthday, see my place, and go to the NASM out in Virginia.
It was Restaurant Week in DC over the past week, so most of us at the birthday dinner on Friday evening ordered from the set menus. We were at The Oceanaire, a classy art deco style seafood room only a couple of blocks from the White House.
I ordered a glass of Chilean Chardonnay and for starters I chose Caesar salad.
This was followed by a main course of grilled Arctic charr in a citrus soy sauce with sesame chili cucumber.
[Arctic charr is a very respectable, richly-colored cousin of salmon. It is extremely moist and tender in texture, contains much less mercury, and is palpably high in heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids. A favorite with the Inuit, it is generally consumed in Canada, the US, Iceland, and Scandinavia but is rare in Britain. It seems like an excellent fish to eat once a week.]
For dessert I ordered the warm cookies and whole milk, which I drank but was too full to eat the cookies, so they were boxed up for me on a doily in a reusable dish.
There were about 15 people at the dinner. I met the birthday girl N, and quite a few other people. Z who promises to invite me to see plays and performances which she seems to attend quite often, along with C who is in the army but is a dancer and very elegant. L who wants to know all about what to do on a trip to Europe, and E who shares a fine taste in food.
Chris and I went to a diner near my place for breakfast, and I won a bet. He ordered bacon with his breakfast, and I ordered sausages. After he ordered, I sat there going "bacon bacon bacon" like the dog in the Beggin' Strips commercial. After our server left, all of a sudden somehow he was sure he'd ordered sausage and I knew for a fact I'd heard him say bacon. So I said, "No, you ordered bacon" and he said, "No, I ordered sausage" and it went back and forth like this a few times. Eventually he asked, "What do you want to bet?" I replied, "I bet.....breakfast!" Both smugly nodded in agreement.
The plates came and sure enough, he had bacon. I crowed, "See? See? You got bacon! He's paying!" The poor server thought she'd made the mistake and kindly offered to take the bacon back and bring sausages, but Chris honestly conceded he must have ordered bacon, so we told her the story and she had a good old laugh.
N couldn't wake up in time for breakfast but when she did finally join us, we got into Chris's car and headed out. It took nearly an hour, as the National Air and Space Museum's Udvar-Hazy Center is in Chantilly, Virginia, right next to the airport.
Consisting of giant hangars and an observation tower for watching takeoffs from the airport next door, there are views south towards Prince William county, west towards the Blue Ridge Mountains, east over Fairfax county towards Washington, and north to Dulles International airport and Maryland.
Today's installment is dedicated to the jet of all jets, the legendary SR-71 Blackbird. It is the very first aircraft I fell in love with as a teenager. The Vangelis in the background is the perfect accompaniment to such a magical sky flyer.
A thing of beauty - 45 years after its creation, the SR-71 Blackbird is still the highest and fastest aircraft that has yet taken to the air, even though it was decommissioned in 1991. Pilots had to wear high pressure suits, very much like spacesuits.
Think about other things designed in the 1960s. They look nothing like this, do they?
The skin is approximately 85% titanium. I got braces when I was 12 and remember thinking, "Oh wow, this is the stuff the Blackbird is made of!" Titanium is light yet strong, and has a memory for shape. The cones move back and forth to control airflow through the engines.
The great afterburners. It is the only aircraft that can fly solely on afterburn but becomes more efficient at higher speed.
The Blackbird carried no weapons or anti-aircraft missiles. It flew so high it was invisible to radar, and flew so fast nothing could catch it.
Flying over Mach 3, it took 1 hour and 54 minutes from New York to London
After that, who wants to look at bread and butter helicopters? Well, here are a couple....
Both look as though they served in Vietnam, but since I didn't make it down there to read the plaques I can only guess.
There was an afternoon talk with four of the original Tuskegee Airmen, America's first black military pilots. Navigators, gunnery crews, and bombardiers were trained at other bases around the nation, but the pilots came out of Tuskegee Army Airfield in Alabama - nearly 1,000 between 1941 and 1946.
There was an activity for kids, but we joined in and designed our own Mission Patches.
1) This represents my life in the USA. The top is the flag of the District of Columbia. Below that is a failed attempt at clasped hands of friendship, which I modified into a dove (coincidentally columba is Latin for dove). So the dove of my dreams is shown flying into the sunrise of new beginnings. At the bottom is the Lone Star flag of Texas because that's the state that made me an American, and once a Texan, always a Texan.
(Heyyyy, anyone see some potential blog titles in there...?)
2) Chris being Chris drew a dinosaur with its eyes closed beside the accidentally misspelled slogan "Dino-surs Unite!" which is still making me laugh.
3) We had just walked out of the fantastic IMAX presentation "Blue Planet", so inspired by this amazing film, N. drew our planet.
4) In honor of two pairs of old friends reuniting and one pair of new friends being made, Chris designed a mission patch with our three names at the bottom.
Stay tuned for a second installation. Teaser: the word Enterprise.