The Adventures of DoBell and Pyama

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Location: Minneapolis, MN

Dempsey is a Golden Retriever puppy who is in training to become a Helping Paws service dog for an individual with a physical disability. He lives with his parents Doreen and Paul, and Bailey the cat. None has ever trained a puppy before. These are their adventures. The views and opinions expressed in this blog are strictly those of the blog author. The contents of this blog have not been reviewed or approved by Helping Paws, Inc.

Friday, September 08, 2006

North Dakota

Doreen and I took a road trip last week, looking for a moose and some French folks, and we drove through North Dakota because, well, it’s there.

You probably won’t be surprised to learn there isn’t much in North Dakota. When I was looking at our road atlas, I only found only two sites listed as tourist attractions: the Lawrence Welk Birthplace and the World’s Tallest Structure, which turns out to be a TV antenna. It was a tough choice, but I decided the World’s Tallest Structure would be more interesting.

It was a little underwhelming, truth be told. Although it’s 2,063 feet tall – taller than the Eiffel Tower, the Washington Monument, and the Great Pyramid at Giza combined – it’s set in a cornfield, so you really don’t have a sense of scale. About the only thing that could give it perspective was the World’s Second Tallest Structure, which also turns out to be a TV antenna. Unfortunately, it’s 2,060 feet tall and located a few miles away, so all you can see were two antennas rising from a cornfield.

Lest you think we’re the only people in the world to go look for this, let me point you to this page which has a message from Herr Nikolaus Heusler, of Munich, Germany: “Hi, these photos are really exciting. I plan to visit these towers some day, too. Can anyone tell me how close one can actually get to the towers to make pictures? Best regards from Munich, Germany, Nikolaus Heusler.”

Herr Heusler, you can walk right up to the base of the antenna. The only other fun factoid I can give you is that the Federal Aviation Administration issued a rule after the antenna was built decreeing that no structure in the U.S. can be taller than 2,063 feet. So this will be forevermore the tallest thing you can see in America.

Actually, we did make one other stop in North Dakota: the Fargo Air Museum. They don’t have a super extensive collection, but they did have two planes I wanted to see: the Chance Vought F4U Corsair and the Mitsubishi A6M Zero. Most of their other planes look like glorified Cessnas, but we did see some other interesting stuff:

  • A Grumman TBM Avenger, perhaps best known as the plane that President George H.W. Bush piloted in World War II.
  • A cute, flyable half scale model of a Focke Wulf 190.
  • A Pratt and Whitney R-4360 Wasp Major Engine. This 69.2L, 28-cylinder engine was the last of the fabled Wasp line, and it powered such famous aircraft as the B-36 “Peacemaker,” a gigantic strategic bomber powered by both jets and propellers; and the Hughes H-4, better known as the Spruce Goose.

Ok, enough on geeky plane talk. You’re probably wondering if we saw a moose. Stay tuned!

It's taller than corn. Posted by Picasa

It looked like tornado weather near the antenna. Posted by Picasa

The World's Tallest Structure. Technically, it is a "mast" (supported by guy wires) and not a "tower" (self-supporting). Posted by Picasa

Paul by the politically correct half scale replica of the Focke Wulf 190.  Posted by Picasa

The Pratt and Whitney Wasp Major engine in front of the Mitsubishi Zero. Posted by Picasa

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Fireworks over the Mall with the Indonesian embassy in the foreground. Posted by Picasa

Doreen basking in the glow of the fireworks. Posted by Picasa

Washington Fourth

It seems like everyone in Washington who isn't at the beach goes to watch the fireworks on the Mall. Doreen and I have done that a couple of times, attending the free concert they usually have by the Washington Monument. But this year, instead of Alison Krauss or Tito Puente as the headliner, the National Park Service booked a decidedly B-list act: "Sesame Street's Elmo will join dazzling singer and actress Vanessa Williams for a patriotic medley." It reminded me a bit too much of Long Island University's commencement a few years ago, when they gave an honorary doctorate to Kermit the Frog. Who wants to see a glorified sock sing?

Since Doreen is still a DC insider, we decided to do an insider thing: a picnic at her office. Now, I know that doesn't sound fun, but it really was. Her office is in an old Victorian mansion on Embassy Row, and there's a rooftop patio where we had a view of the Al Gore's boyhood home. Ok, I guess looking at Al Gore's boyhood home doesn't sound like fun, either. Guess you just had to be there.