We’re boondocking in an Ohio state park a little north of Dayton. This state park, unlike NC and TN campgrounds, is all green grass under gorgeous maples, oaks, ash, and elm trees. We picked a primitive campsite (no water/sewer/electric) for its vista and availability — who knew we are heading into a holiday weekend? The campground is all booked up starting this Friday afternoon and we hadn’t arranged a site for Memorial Day weekend, one of the three biggest camping weekends of the year. But the undeveloped site, with no gravel or concrete, and no utilities, suits us perfectly. We will try dry-camping, or boondocking, and see how we do.
No problems, we have two monster solar panels on the roof, two golf-cart batteries in the box, and candles if all that fails. We have 40 gallons of fresh water, the holding tanks are empty. But we don’t have practice at extended boondocking. How do we make our systems last without plugging into modern civilization’s powerful utilities? Our Airstream is pretty fairly equipped for a week or two, at least, of boondocking.
We didn’t turn on heat this chilly 48 degree morning because we were heading to Dayton for the day to visit the National Museum of the USAF. We toured it last week while at the Hamvention, but only spent five hours at the museum. Not nearly enough time to see it all. This museum isn’t quite as challenging to canvass as are the Cody Museums. But this is a huge set of exhibits, and then you may have only viewed the indoors parts. There are also many things to view outside including the Memorial Park and Air Park.
Speaking of Hamvention, we had a great visit to the Dayton Amateur Radio Association’s 58th annual hamfest and convention. This is one of the world’s largest ham radio conventions with attendance of approximately 20,000 people, 300 vendors, and over 2,000 flea market spaces. Despite this huge collection of hams and gear, a few things I was hunting weren’t at Hamvention. The experience, our first at Hamvention, was pretty amazing and we are glad we could attend this year. We enjoyed camping with many of the RV Service Net members at the Dayton area KOA and had a great meal at Rob’s Restaurant with the same crowd plus the International Order Of Kooks, another large national amateur radio club.
We took Saturday out from hamfesting at Hamvention to visit the National Museum of the United States Air Force. I am an Air Force brat (means I grew up a dependent, or child, of a parent serving in the Air Force) and continue to be stirred by so many things about the U.S. Air Force. This museum captivated Debbie and me and we wanted to see it all carefully and well. The exhibits are done beautifully with excellent descriptions of all displays.
While viewing an old, and gorgeously restored, airplane like the large bomber in this picture, we also could read descriptions of the plane’s origin, specifications, and performance. Some museums seem to require more knowledge or preparation by visitors than the National Museum of the USAF. And I appreciated the information. How would I have known this was a 1919 Caproni CA36 heavy bomber used by Italy’s air force until 1929?
I was almost nauseated while viewing the Holocaust Exhibit. Photgraphs depicted Jewish prisoners, as found by the liberating forces in 1945, in Dachau, Ebensee, and Auschwitz. We watched a series of filmed interviews of U.S. servicemen, including physicians, who were among the first Americans to witness the horrible conditions and devastating impacts upon the victims.
Two things were hammering in my head while viewing the photographs and film clips — my own first-hand viewing of the Dachau concentration camp during my family’s visit in 1962, and my disappointment and disbelief at the late twentieth century proclaimed denials of the Holocaust. While it remains unbelievable we could do this to each other there is ample evidence, both physical and by first-hand witnesses, the horrors of the Holocaust occurred. This powerful exhibit at the National Museum of the USAF re-awakened all the worst feelings I’ve had about this terrible tragedy.
We returned this morning to see what we could of the remainder of the museum. Today we viewed the Modern Flight Gallery, the Presidential Gallery, and the National Aviation Hall of Fame, and we finished the WWII Gallery. The Hall of Fame provided us an insight into who’s who in aviation history. The exhibits are interesting and wonderfully done. The Presidential Gallery provided us a peek at, and into, some of our past Presidents’ planes like President Kennedy’s Air Force One, Truman’s Independence, and Roosevelt’s Sacred Cow. We closed the museum down after finishing the exhibits featuring the U.S. military’s air wars in Vietnam and Laos.
Late today we returned to our Airstream suite on wheels. We’ve had a run of great weather, we’re in a really pretty park on a fine grassy site, and we’re trying out our boondocking skills as we park this week and perhaps next without electricity, water, or sewer. We know we’re fortunate to have all this and our many other blessings. And we’re enjoying it very, very much.