Sunday, July 18, 2010

Internet Strife and Raleigh North Carolina

We are at Brad (Shirley's brother) and Heather, with kids Meghan and Braden. The excellent wireless internet connection was not so excellent all afternoon but now finally things are better again. We were taken out to a typical Southern restaurant for breakfast yesterday. Grits and gravy, biscuits and eggs (aigs) a-plenty. We saw the North Carolina state capital building and marvelled at a statue of George Washington depicted as a Roman Soldier (no kidding) complete with breast-plate, short skirt and Centurion's dagger. The sculpture was commissioned to an Italian sculptor who had never been to America or seen the first U.S. President. He used a real-life bust of George's face and a healthy dose of symbolism when asked to depict George as a 'leader'.
We had a free tour of the building and then ended up at an excellent natural history museum which had several full-size whale skeletons hanging from the ceiling. For some of us the greatest appeal was the air-conditioning inside the public buildings. North Carolina knows all about heat.
Here are more shots from Washington and N.Carolina.

Meghan Taylor tagging her uncle on Facebook.

The Vietnam Memorial

A model of the Bell X-15 in which Chuck Yeager broke the sound barrier

The morning will bring an early start and a trip to the Outer Banks and the beautiful sandy beaches and sand dunes there. While we are there we will visit Kitty Hawk, which was the closest postal address to where Wilbur and Orville Wright made their first powered flights and helped begin an amazing century of manned flight. There are more replicas of their first 'flyer' like you see in the photo below from the Smithsonian. The interesting thing is that at the time scientists were so convinced powered flight was impossible, or unmanageable, that what the Wright brothers did wasn't taken seriously. The U.S. government did not think it had much practical benefit, and the brothers went on to France to work with some aviation pioneers there. Similarly Alexander Graham Bell's work in testing Canada's first flying machine at Baddeck Nova Scotia was also considered foolishness at the time.

A replica Wright Flyer at the Smithsonian

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