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15 June 2016 @ 06:18 pm
The Trip To Georgia 2016  
[Edited to add pictures
-- Me.]

Thursday, June 9 – Travel Day (OAK to ATL)

Nice and normal, the way it should be. Yeah, read on.
We flew out of Oakland, with a connection & change of plane in LAX, to Atlanta to visit the Lt. Colonel while she’s still stationed in Georgia. She’s actually at Fort Benning. The base is where the Army’s infantry is trained, including armor (tanks) and Ranger training. Airborne also trains here. You know, the people who jump out of perfectly good airplanes? Yeah. It’s located about 100 miles south of Atlanta in Columbus, Georgia, on the border with Alabama.

I am happy to say that checking in, security, making our connection, even getting the rental car all went smoothly. As I said above, nice and normal, the way it should be.

To answer some questions before y’all ask: The Lt. Colonel is doing well. She’s about to change commands again in a few months. She got an unexpected opportunity to move to Virginia, to a job that might/should help with a promotions board next year to full Colonel. She expects to be there for a couple of years. Her husband, a JAG lawyer, was also asked by name to go to the same Virginia posting while we were there, so yay good news! He’s currently in Germany, where she thought she would be going, but things had changed. His boss is currently working on getting him to Virginia sooner than his orders normally would have been done, because the Virginia post asked for him specifically. So yeah, things are coming together nicely there. Yay! More than that, you would have to talk to them.

DSCN1854A - Above The Clouds DSCN1857A - Kidlet The Traveler

Friday, June 10 – Morning Walk, Infantry Museum, Silk Aerials, Meritage
Friday morning, the Lt. Col. and I went for a morning walk of about three miles or so around her neighborhood. She lives in an area of town where within maybe a dozen blocks or so, or a little over half a mile, you go from very nice, upper class (near) mansions all the way to Section 8 project housing, with stylistic changes happening along the way. It was interesting to see. It was also a good walk, for the rolling hills gave me some terrain that my flatlander home doesn’t provide.

When we got back, the girls were awake. We ate a light breakfast, and then headed out to see the National Infantry Museum at the base. That took the better part of the late morning and early afternoon. Since Fort Benning is the home of the infantry, it makes sense. It highlights the many historical aspects, and training of, the military from the American Revolution to now.

Across the late afternoon, the girls got to go to their first silks aerials class. The Lt. Colonel had recently taken up the sport a couple of months ago, and well, we were in town. They had a terrific time, and yes, they later complained at how much their muscles hurt afterwards. Monkey Child especially had a good time with that. We’re going to have to look for a local equivalent, I think.

For dinner that evening, we went to a really good restaurant called Meritage. It’s a little more upscale than we’re used to, but it was absolutely enjoyable. The Lt. Colonel, well, gets to know people, including the owner, Faye. Faye made a point to come out to the table to say hello. Kidlet had the lamb. Great food to finish a great day.

DSC_3735A-Alisa-Aerials DSC_3758A-Kidlet-Aerials DSC_3848A-Estela-Aerials

Saturday, June 11 - Farmers Market, Antiquing, Lighting Test, Epic
Saturday morning, we walked down to the farmers market, and wandered, wandered some more, ambulated, sauntered a little bit, and maybe perused a couple of city blocks’ worth of vendor pop-up booths. Yeah, vendor crys don’t change much from faire to there… We ate lunch in a coffee house before heading back to the house. I was kind of tired, so the girls left me there while they went antiquing.

When they got back, I did a lighting test to concept-check an idea or two before Sunday in front of people. I’ll explain that below. Suffice to say that I wanted to practice before going into a real shoot, and I had that chance. Then we got cleaned up, and went to a restaurant called Epic.

Epic is hoity-toity fine dining, but the food is amazing, and the service matches it. My Goodwife and I each ended up with the lobster bisque as a soup, followed by the scallops over risotto. Kidlet had beef done to perfection, and the Lt. Colonel had the lamb. Then we ordered desserts – Crème Brulee, I had the chocolate mousse, raspberry sorbet, and deep fried strawberries. As a special treat, we asked, and were allowed into the kitchen. Kidlet wanted to talk to the pastry chef, since she still has an interest in that. That topped the evening for her.

DSCN1889A - At The Farmer's Market DSCN1894A - In The Kitchen At Epic

Sunday, June 12 - Rafting, Zip-Line, Anatomy Photos, Dinner At Home
Sunday was an adventure in the best sense of the word. Columbus sits on the Chattahoochee River. The flow of the river is controlled by Georgia Power. There’s a company called Whitewater Express that has taken full advantage of this. They run whitewater rafting trips along a 2.5-mile stretch of the river. Depending on the day, and time of day, the river and rapids run everything from Class 1 (calm/easy) to Class 5 (expert). We went in the morning, before the spillway flood control gates were opened for the afternoon. That meant that the river was running at a Class 1 easy level. Perfect for us. After that, we stayed at the company. The girls went for the other adventure that the company offered: zip-line.

They set up a zip-line the runs across the river, and actually ends in Alabama on the other side. Because I’m too heavy to ride, I chose to grab my camera and meet them on the far side of the river. Kidlet was so light that she got stuck. Fortunately, the staff were really good, and quickly got her to the end of the line and on to the next part of the course. Yes, I said course. The zip-line across the river is actually step two of a larger obstacle course. This obstacle course involved a ranger jump, a vertical jump with an auto-belaying gear, the zip-line, across, and several platform walk-from-here-to-there-on-rope-attached-platform challenges, a rope challenge, and a second zip-line of a couple-hundred yards.

DSCN1898A - Ellen, Sarah, and Alisa In the Raft DSCN1936A - Whitewater Rapids DSC_3931A - Sarah Zipline DSC_3959A - Ellen Zipline DSC_4002A - Sarah Obstacle Course DSC_4064A - Alisa Obstacle Course DSC_4079A - Sarah Obstacle Course DSC_4089A - Ellen Obstacle Course DSC_4099A - Sarah Zipline

When that adventure was over, we quickly headed back to change clothes, and headed out to the base to meet a few of the Lt. Colonel’s soldiers who had volunteered to help my goodwife with a special project across the afternoon. As most of you know, my Goodwife teaches Anatomy as well as Human Physiology at the college level. She inherited at her college a set of photographs for the purpose of identifying Superior / Inferior, Median, Medial / Lateral, Adduction / Abduction, Dorsiflex / Plantar Flex, Flex / Extension, and Inversion / Eversion. This set of photos came from, apparently, the hippy 1970s. They feature a set of kids in the nude; nothing torrid or sexualized, but also something that people in today’s world would look at askance first, critically second. She’s been looking for a while to replace them for that reason. Today was that opportunity.

We set up in a 15’x30’ conference room. I had brought my camera gear across the country knowing today was happening. I’m glad that I had practiced the day before. The girls helped me get the background cloth onto the walls (Yay, gaffer’s tape), while I set up and tested the lights as fast as I could so that people were not just hanging around doing nothing but waiting on me. Then it was go, go, go for the next couple of hours.

My Project 52 colleagues will laugh knowingly at this: My Goodwife Professor played the part of the Artistic Director, calling out what shots she needed and me pulling the photographic skills needed to make what she needed in terms of positioning and composition happen in camera. She approved each shot as we went, and we worked through four people in two hours. We spent another hour doing any shots that the models wanted also because they helped us out. So we did a set of shots for one volunteer/model who was preparing for a body building competition early next month, and a family photo (he had brought his kids along), and a superhero group shot for the lady models, because we could. That was fun.

When all was said and done, we packed down, and headed back to the house. We ate a simple dinner of chicken and vegetables, having just come off of two days of really rich food, and dropped to sleep.

DSC_2970Comp-Anatomy-Photos-Michaelangelo-Man DSC_3138Comp-Muscles-For-Fun-(1200)

Monday, June 13 – Quiet Day, Zumba and Silk Aerials #2, Dinner (Chinese)
Since each day was planned with a lot of activities, today was a day to just be. The girls went antiquing for part of the day, while I got a chance to get my first look through some of the pictures I had taken across the past few days. Near the end of the afternoon they came back, and then we headed out to the gym the Lt. Colonel uses to a Zumba class and a second silks aerials class. On the way back, we decided on Chinese for dinner. Simple, but good. We knew we’d be having leftovers, so we ordered for tastes to share around the table. Nice.

Tuesday, June 14 – Travel Day (SNAFU to FUBAR)

DSC_3175Comp - Lightning In Atlanta

We did everything right. We got snacks for the plane that morning. We traveled the 100 miles to the airport, and arrived more than three hours early. We turned in the rental car. We checked in, then went through TSA screening. The wait time was actually about only 15 minutes or so. That was nice. We found our gate, and we waited. Our flight was scheduled for a 3:30 departure, arriving into LAX about 5 PM, so that we could catch our 6:30 connection home. Then 2:30 arrived, and with it, a thunderstorm.

The thunderstorm was an intense set of cells. It had lightning every ten to fifteen seconds or so. It was intense enough to shut down the airport for about 45 minutes to an hour. The ground crew were told not to move anything and shelter-in-place until the system cleared. That backed up the airport, and our flight along with it, for an extra hour while the airport operations started back up again. That included little things, like the airport fuel trucks being delayed in getting fuel to our plane before we could leave the gate, because there were others in line ahead of us. Our plane left two hours late from Atlanta.

For those of you who didn’t do the math above already, yes, that meant that our connecting flight out of LAX took off without us a half hour before we arrived into town. At least we’re on a common run -- LAX to Oakland – so there were more flights that evening for us to transfer onto. The first available flight, and you can probably hear this warming up already, closed the boarding gates just we arrived at the help desk. We watched them close the door as we were walking up to the desk. They were helpful enough, transferring our flight and printing new boarding passes, for the next flight, another two hours away, or about 9 PM. That plane was also delayed by a different thunderstorm system, this time coming out of Milwaukee. Oy.

So, that plane eventually arrives into LAX, and we got from LA to Oakland about 10:30-11 PM…along with one of our four checked bags. One. The CPAP was not in the one bag. Sleeping without it could be interesting.


Off we go to the baggage counter to start a system search for our bags. While we’re there, another person comes into the baggage office. On the leg from LAX to Oakland, we were on the same flight as Sylvie Gil, an award-winning professional photographer. (I looked that part up this morning.) She came in to make a report because her really nice camera case had a notice from TSA inside that they inspected the bag in LA, but by the time it got to Oakland, every slot in the case was empty, except for the inspection notice. There were two camera bodies (D800 & D810), a pair of 24-70 lenses, a 70-200, another couple of lenses, all gone from the case. It’s safe to say that there was easily about $20,000 worth of camera equipment in that case. To say she was livid is something of an understatement. Yes, she filed a report, but I doubt she'll ever see any of that equipment again…

From there, we headed out to the car. The airline said that there was one more flight arriving in another 45 minutes, but that would put us after midnight, and there was no guarantee that our bags would be on that flight. We decided to let them deliver our bags the next day and just have done. So we found the shuttle, nicely still running at what at this point was 11:30-11:45 at night, and got out to our car. As we’re approaching the car, we noticed that one tire was noticeably low. Yeah, yet even still one more thing… Looking at the tire, it’s still holding air, and I figured we could make it to a gas station and put air into the tire to keep going. If not, we’d call AAA. We stopped at a gas station just outside the airport. I am happy to say that their air compressor not only worked, but was also free. Yay! It’s now midnight.

I asked, since the last flight was landing in ten minutes anyway, if we wanted to at least try to see if the luggage made this flight. She said, “Yeah, go ahead.” So, back into the airport we went. I dropped Her off at the baggage claim area, and then I took a couple of laps to find the Park & Call area. Lo and behold, some good news! The remaining three bags were, indeed, on this flight. Yay!

The tire pressure held all the way home, and we pulled into the house about 1:45 AM. We should have been all the way home by 9 PM. I know, I know: Waaah. But still. (*Grin*) We’re home safe and sound. It was a terrific trip.

[EDIT: Pictures have now been uploaded. You can find the entire set here. Enjoy!]