brad's blog

Too old for Tik-Tok. Too lazy for YouTube.


Maps!

06/21/24 - I love maps! I'm not anti tech, I use Google Maps, I have a GPS, and I've used Waves with a lot of my travel buddies, but I really dig using old school paper maps. Maps help me visualize the entire trip , allow me to write on them, and will never need a charge. They are, however, becoming harder to find. I get mine from bookstores or from tourist information centers that I encounter while traveling. Parentetically, I also use Mapquest. I think I am their last user, but as long as it is out there, I'll be using it.

An atlas and a folding paper map, closed.

One of the things I like about a map is the ability to look at the bigger picture. If I am traveling from Goodyear to Kingman, I get to see the route, but I get to see the entire state. Sometimes the bigger picture leads you to an adventure. Like yea, I could get there this way, but I've never been to Needles, so how much of a detour would that be? Another thing is that when you zoom out on a computer or phone, you lose a lot of detail. If you zoom out with a map, you just change your point of view. All of the detail is still there. Another thing is that it makes me more thoughtful about my travels. I'm not just waiting for my GPS or phone to tell me where to go. I am actively tracking my mileage and waiting for the next directional change. It makes me a more engaged traveler, and I enjoy that.

An opened atlas showing Kingman, FLagstaff, and Phoenix AZ

None of this is meant to discount the GPS or apps that we now have access to. One of the things that I love about the apps is the ability to calculate time. Wether it is driving, biking, or walking, that detail is invaluable as I switch through different travel modes. One of the things about the GPS is that I can go out and get lost and just hit the HOME favorite to get be home in the fastest way possible. I like having all of these tools at my disposal. But, if you are planning a road trip, consider using a map or an atlas as your navigational too. You may be surprise at how it enhances your trip.

An opened folding map showing Santa Fe, Albuquerque and Las Vegas, NM

Montreal

06/14/24 - Formula 1 racing comes to North America three times per year and I and some friends go to the Grand Prix in Montreal each year. I've gotten into F1 since going to my first race in 2004. Now we have an annual trip that not only lets me see a race, but takes me to one of my favorite cities in North America. Montreal was founded in 1642 and very much has an old world feel in certain parts of the city. It's bilingual so the Francophile in me enjoys that. (And the people seem to be tolerant of my limited French) It's easy to get to from the US via car. We drive there every year. It's not the most car friendly city, in my opinion, but we park our car and take advantage of their wonderful metro system to get around the city. We have our favorite haunts in Old City but seem to find something new each year too.

View of Old City Montreal in the evening with crowds in the street Interior of a bar named Yer Mad in Montreal.

But the main reason for going there is the race. The Grand Prix du Canada runs on a purpose built road course, Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, on Notre Dame Island in Parc Jean-Drapeau. The metro takes you right to the island so parking is not an issue, but the queues can be large. The track is 2.710 mi (4.361 km) and has 14 turns. My group sits at the hairpin (turn 10) which is one of the better places for overtaking. There are big video monitors to show you the action around other places on the track and full audio commentary in both French and English. In addition to the F1 races there is usually a group of support races to fill up the weekend which runs Friday through Sunday. This year it was the Ferrari Challenge and the Porsche Carrera Cup North America. It can vary from year to year, but these two are some of my favorite support races.

Porsches racing at Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve in Montreal in 2024. Ferarris racing at Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve in Montreal in 2024.

The race this year was a bit of a banger. With questionable weather throughout the weekend, some uncertainty was in the cards and for the race and the weather did not disappoint in that respect. The track was wet to start and that made for some interesting strategies. Several lead changes, safety cars, tire strategies, made for a race where the outcome was not a foregone conclusion. If you just look at the final results, you would have no idea how exciting this year's race was. I have not yet watched the replay to see things that I might have missed at the track. One of the great things about my F1 Pro subscription is that I have access to replays of the races. While I know the outcome, watching the race on replay fills in a lot of gaps that I might have from seeing the race in person. There are 4 North American options to see F1. Miami, Montreal, Austin, and Las Vegas. I've been to Montreal and Austin and will probably go to Vegas soon. Montreal will probably remain my go to race. It sells out each year, but tickets are available on the secondary market and they were reasonable this year. If you are thinking about attending an F1 race, consider Montreal.

Crowd in the stands at Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve in Montreal in 2024. Formula 1 racing at Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve in Montreal in 2024.

Titan Missle Museum

06/07/24 - In the 1960's, the Cold War was a big thing and the idea that there could be a nuclear war between the USSR and the US was a real threat to most people. One of the tenants of the Cold War was the idea of Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD) or that if one side attacked, the other would counter with proportionate force (or more) and since both sides would be obliterate, no one would initiate a nuclear war. Part of the US having the second strike capability was the series of underground missile silos in Arizona, Arkansas, and Kansas. There is conflicting information about why specifically these sites were decommissioned. As told on the tour, it was because of a weapons reduction treaty but other sources, including the museum website indicate that these missiles just outlived their prime. I'm going to go with a combination of both without having a definite source. Either way, as the old facilities were decommissioned and destroyed, this one was spared and preserved as a museum.

Control Room

The first part of the tour takes place in a briefing room in the main museum building. There is a short video telling you a little bit about the site and what to expect. Then your tour guide takes you outside to the entrance way and reviews the process that a crew would follow to enter the silo. After you go through the 6,000 lb. door that seals the silo from the outside world, you descend the 55 steps to the main floor where you go into the control room. A good portion of the tour takes place here. The guide shows the 1960's technology that ran the site and reviews the staffing and the protocol for day to day operations. It would have been a 24 hour shift for a crew of 4. They were allowed 4 hours per person of off time (in the silo) but at no point was there to only be one person in the control room. The tour guide then selects two volunteers to go through the launch sequence and it ends with them turning the keys and initiating a simulated launch.

Hallway connecting control room to main silo

After the control room you are taken to the main silo. It is 140' deep and has an (inert) Titan missile on display through three plexiglass windows. The missile itself is 103' high and has a diameter of 10'. You can see most of it from the windows and you can look down from the top when you go outside. The missile on display is not armed and has no propellant. It was used for training at a different location and was given to the museum for this display. The tour guide goes over the actual process that would happen had the launch actually occurred. The time from launch initiation to actual launch is under 60 seconds. The guided part of the tour ends here and you go back up the 55 steps and exit the same way you came in. At this point you can tour topside and see engines, support vehicles, security devices, and through a plexiglass window, look down at the missile from the top. This is a fascinating look at a period of time where these threats were real and part of day to day life as well as a chance to see the real life version of what you may have seen in the movies.

View of missile from above
titanmissilemuseum.org
Silo diagram at themilitarystandard.com

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