Friday, August 30, 2013

A Visit from the Walter J. McCarthy

I decided to give my mom a little tour around the area.  I started with Crosswinds Marsh but I didn't really feel like wandering around there.  Then I decided to give AIS a check to see if there was anything in the area and it turned out that the Saginaw was heading upbound.
 So you look at this picture and say, "That doesn't look like the Saginaw or even like Saginaw the city."  And I will agree with you.  The Saginaw ended up docking somewhere and as I leaving Detroit, I caught the McCarthy heading upbound.  So after a quick turnaround, I headed back to Belle Isle.
 It took me a little bit but I caught up with her.  Sadly, my light was waning so I couldn't use any of the other lenses but still.
 I just love the look of 1000 feet.
 And slowly she heads into the night towards Lake St. Clair and the rest.
I take one more picture but sadly, there was  fisherman nearby so it looked like I had a nice crack going down the lens or something like that.

This wasn't quite was I was hoping to catch but a thousand footer is still pretty cool.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

A Rainy Night in Depot Town

I kind of like the way the lights were reflecting off the slightly wet pavement, so  I decided to head out and do a little photography.  Given the fact that it's been a while since I've really updated, this was a good opportunity to do so.
 I decided to head down to Depot Town.  I was going to start with the Chick Inn but their lights were off, so I just went to Depot Town.  My first building was the City Body Building.  I kind of liked the way the lights were refecting.  While the building was interesting, I was looking for something else.
 As I was walking to the Hudson place, I kind of liked the way its sign was reflecting in this window.  Little did I realize, there was a bit more to this picture.
 Probably one of my favorite nighttime shots in Depot Town.  The Hudson under the neon sign.
 So I was trying that building from different angles.
 Looking down the street.  I kind of liked this angle.
 But I liked this angle more, especially with the sign reflecting in the window of the car.
 So I decided for a closer shot of that.  I think I like this one a little more.
 A shot down Cross Street.
 Another shot of the Hudson Building.
 Sadly, water was starting to get on my lens...but I kind of like the effect.
 I really like this shot of the building especially with the neon in the puddles.
 So I decided to go for a tighter shot.
 One of Sidetracks and what not.
 From another angle.
 So then I wanted a shot looking down the other direction of Cross Street.  Sadly the droplets didn't help.
I wanted a shot of the clock, but it may have been overexposed a bit.

Sailor's Delight

I decided to go see Planes tonight but as I was heading out to the car I looked up at the sky and thought that it looked pretty cool.  It was almost a nice red color and I remembered the saying, "Red sky in the morning, sailor's take sky at night...sailor's delight".
 There is actually a reason for this saying.  Typically weather moves from west to the east. Clear skies to the east in the morning show red to the clouds coming from the west and vice versa.
But anyway, I thought the sky itself looks pretty cool.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Once in a Blue Moon

I'm not sure if tonight actually counted as a blue moon or if that would have been last night but the moon did look pretty cool.
 Like I did with the pictures from Sunday night, I tried different exposures on my camera.  This was hte one that would have let in the least amount of light and I think it was the best of the three.  The moon is crisp enough.
This one is a slight adjustment and is okay.
For this one I changed both the shutter speed and f-stop.  I think it is okay but a little fuzzy.

Michigan Exposures Top Ten Boats

If you've followed this blog for any length of time, you know that I love ships (or boats).  Some people may say I love them too much at the expense of other things and I tend to agree with them.  At any rate, after some careful thought, I've decided to list my 10 favorites (and a couple that could make the list).
 Starting at Number 10 is the Paul R. Tregurtha.  I figure that I have to put the current Queen of the Lakes somewhere in this list but there are ships that I like more, so I'll put her at 10.
 Number 9 is kind of a surprise candidate in the Algorail.  She is a pretty neat looking boat and there are some funny stories that surround her.
 I'm not a fan of the rear pilothouse ships but I do like the Kaministiqua.  For as long as I've watched her, she's had the appearance of a tramp freighter.  Some don't like the look but I do because it gives her character.
 At number 7 is the Michipicoten.  She's a nice looking ship and has a pretty cool name.
 At number 6, we have the first 1000 footer of the Great Lakes and also the only 1000 footer that has the classic laker configuration.  This of course is the Stewart J. Cort.
 Number 5 is the classic freighter Algosteel.  I just love her looks.
 At number 4 is the ship that was built in my home town, the Ojibway.
 Number 3 brings us the war veteran, the Lee A. Tregurtha.
 At number 2, we have the ship that stayed behind....the Arthur M. Anderson.
 And was anyone surprised what ship would be number 1?
 I'll give an honorable mention to the Gott.  It was tough choosing between her and the Tregurtha because I like this style of 1000 footer more but the Tregurtha won out on points.
Another honorable mention has to go out to the oldest freighter on the lakes, the St. Mary's Challenger.  She would rank higher but I've only seen her in person once.

Captain Harley H. Hall - MIA

The US Involvement in the Vietnam War ended over 40 years ago and you would think that some issues would have been settled in that time but there is still the issue of some of the people that were declared as Missing In Action.  One of those people was Commander Harley H. Hall.
Out of all the people that are still listed as Missing In Action in Vietnam, how did I become acquainted with this name?  Well, it all started a few years ago when I was visiting Washington D.C. to see the Star Wars exhibit at the Air and Space Museum.  I only spent a day to see that exhibit, but I spent a couple of days in Washington.  On one of those days, I decided to take a walk around the Mall and that of course led me to the Vietnam Memorial.
After viewing the memorial and being more awed than the first time I saw it, I noticed that there were a few tents of people selling MIA bracelets.  I'd heard of MIA bracelets but I never saw one but I figured that if the money was going towards locating these people I would get a bracelet.  I looked through the stack of bracelets and picked one of the Navy guys.  I figured that he would have been an aviator and anyone who has followed this blog for any length of time knows that I like Naval Aviators.
There was a little piece of paper that came with the bracelet and it explained the circumstances of the person's capture but little about the person.  One day I decided to do a little poking around the internet to found out more about the person behind the name on the bracelet.
Well it turns out that the person on my bracelet was named Harley H. Hall.   He was a Naval Aviator of the highest regard.  He was born in Broken Bow, Nebraska but attended in Vancouver, Washington.  At the age of 32, he became the youngest man to hold the rank of Commander.  He served as the Commander of the Blue Angels for two tours and was an astronaut candidate.  Chances are very good that he would have gone pretty far had he not been shot down and captured.

His last position in the Navy was as the Commanding Officer of Fighter Squadron 143 (The Pukin' Dogs, so called because their logo looked like a puking dog).  On January 27, 1973, he took off in his F-4J from the deck of the USS Enterprise (CVN-65) with his Radar Intercept Officer Lt. Commander Philip R. Kientzler to attack North Vietnamese supply vehicles.  His aircraft came under intense anti-aircraft fire and he tried to escape to the safety of the sea but his aircraft caught fire on the left wing and fuselage.

He and his RIO ejected and were seen to land.  Commander Hall was seen to move away from his landing sight but no radio contact was established.  It was considered that he and his RIO were captured.  Lt. Commander Kientzler was returned later in the year during Operation Homecoming.  Kientzler told his guards that his pilot was killed and no other POWs established contact with Commander Hall.  However, the Pentagon maintained him in POW status for six years.  Interestingly enough, the peace accords between North Vietnam and the United States would go into effect about six hours after Hall was shot down.  As such, he was considered the last Navy casualty of the War and he was also considered as the last American POW of the war.  He would later be promoted to Captain while his status as a POW was maintained.

Normally this would be where the story would end but there are some pretty abnormal circumstances surrounding the capture of Commander Hall.  In 1988, a Joint American and Vietnamese team was trying to repatriate the remains of people that were considered as missing in action.  They visited the site where it was believed that Captain Hall was buried but they could not locate the missing remains.  It was unusual for their to be no records of the burial because the North Vietnamese kept fairly meticulous records of known American gravesites and it's likely that this was known site if he were buried there.

There are records from Naval Intelligence and other sources that Captain Hall may have been captured alive.  There are also reports from villagers that tell of a big Blue Angel that was paraded around.  There are some that believe he was taken to the Soviet Union.

In 1993, three of his teeth and some bones were returned by the Vietnamese Government to Captain Hall's wife.  The teeth were verified as his but they also showed the effects of long mistreatment and malnourishment and that indicates that he was in captivity at some point.  The bones were never really verified.  There are also some records that indicate he was moved through different POW camps and may have been interrogated by the Soviets but like the other things surrounding his death or capture there are contradictions.

It is now over 40 years after he was shot down (that was the last verifiable action that happened to him).  I would hate to think what his physical and mental state would be after that length of time in captivity but I honestly have to believe that he is dead by now.  In that time, we've had Vietnam move towards more of a market economy and the Soviet Union has collapsed.  You would think both would come clean about his status so that his final chapter can be concluded. 

You would think the US government would demand some sort of accountibility but given the other bits of shameful US actions surrounding the Vietnam War, that seems highly unlikely.  I guess all that we can do is make sure that people remember the man and hope that things come to light in the future.

It was pure chance that I would find the bracelet of this man but I'm glad that I did.  For the most part, I thought the MIA issue was settled but I have to believe that Captain Hall is not the only MIA who is cloaked in mystery.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Moon Shots...

These are shots over two nights.
 Last night as I was heading home from my mom's, I looked up and I liked the look of the moon.  So I took a picture of it.

 And I really liked the look of the moon tonight.  The three different pictures are at different exposures.  This was the slowest shutter speed.
 I bumped it up a notch.
And one more notch.  I think I like this one the best.

The Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge

After the boat ride, I went up to my mom's and she took me to the Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge.  It's a place that we've been meaning to go to for a while but never really gone.  After being there, I would like to go back at some point.
 The Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge was established in 1953 under the Migratory Bird Conservation Act.  It contains more the 9,500 acres of marsh, bottomland hardwood forest and grasslands.  It serves as a stop for some migratory birds.  I think the above is a heron or crane.
 A sparrow that was resting on a stump.
 Another crane.
 In June of this year, they opened an auto tour drive.  It is about 6.5 miles long and circles through the park.  If you look closely, you can see a raccoon.
 I'll have to say there are some pretty nice views.
 Some of the grassland.
 I think this is a heron.
 A fawn peeking over the brush.
 And doing more than peeking.
 Another heron, I think.
 Some of the marshland.  I kind of liked this picture because of the still water and the moon.
 A tree.
 Same tree from a different angle.
 An egret.
 A shot of the moon.
 Just an overall view of the area.  I may have to try hiking here someday.
 As you can see, it is quite expansive.
 Another shot with the moon.
 Another egret.
 And he takes off.
 But he didn't fly too far away.
 A different style of marshland.

 My mom liked the purples in this one.

 Another egret.
 A family of deer.
 I'm surprised they stuck around as long as they did.  But they were pretty far away.
And one more shot as we were leaving.  As you can see, the leaves are starting to change.