Runamuck In Tillamook

Tillamook blimp hangar. The rig, beneath an airplane called a Guppy and finally a workshop almost big enough for all my projects
Tillamook blimp hangar. It once housed up to nine K-class blimps each 252′ long!
The rig in front of an airplane called a Guppy and finally a workshop almost big enough for all my projects.

It is March the fourth already. The sleet is angling down and my hands are numb from being outside with the dog. I should be working on my client’s boat but first I warm up with the dregs of my morning coffee pot and this bit of finger aerobics. Did anything, as portrayed in the last few blogs, ever happen? The heaped-up bills are real enough and all I have to show are my photos and blogs and a few souvenirs. I am very tempted to put my few significant possessions up for sale, pay my debts and go south with whatever is left. Tell me why not.

You'll never find something like this driving the freeways!
You’ll never find something like this driving the freeways!
Wot! No airbag?
Wot! No airbag?
Is there a car named Darkness?
Is there a car named Darkness?

Yesterday the price of gasoline here went up twelve cents a litre, allegedly because of the unrest in the Crimea.  We have our own abundant petroleum resources and I can’t make sense of it. I joke about a chicken farmer who goes to town to buy eggs but that’s exactly what we do. I drove up the Oregon Coast where I saw Asian ships being loaded with raw logs in world-famous timber towns where the sawmills now sit idle. It’s just the same here where our raw logs are loaded into foreign vessels tied in front of more shut-down sawmills. What the hell is going on? At least in Mexico, folks eat the eggs and chickens they raise in their own front yards. Not once down there will you hear the wasting drone of a lawn mower, They have livestock.

Out behind the blimp hangar
Out behind the blimp hangar

The only way to make sense of life is to stop trying and simply get on with what works for you. What a curse to be someone who has to constantly feed their questioning mind! Sometimes I envy those who can be content with a case of inferior beer, a sack of potato chips and a television. Sometimes; for a second or two, but I just can’t say baah.

Teenage boys once flew these off aircraft carriers. They're old men now but this baby is still good to go.
Teenage boys once flew these off aircraft carriers.
They’re old men now but this baby is still good to go. This is a Chance Vought F4U-4 Corsair. In WWII over 12, 500 were built.

The last lost photograph I’ll try to describe is from the morning I awakening in my little trailer on the beach in Bandon Oregon. It had been battered by frequent squalls throughout the night. Now a sunrise back lit the crashing surf and the grey storm clouds offshore. Seagulls, fluorescent in the sunlight against grey clouds, hurtled sideways in the gusting wind. Then in the rain of the next cloudburst appeared a brilliant rainbow which framed this timeless scene.

It's all larger than life!
It’s all larger than life!

Eventually after coffee and breakfast I trundled northward toward Astoria and the Fisher Poets Gathering. It is an annual event and can be checked out through the link posted on this blog.

Brute force and ignorance. P-47 Thunderbolt
Brute force and ignorance.
P-47 Thunderbolt

Tillamook Oregon is a couple of hours south of Astoria. Perhaps most famous for it’s cheese industry it also has one of the world’s largest wooden buildings. During WWII a coastal patrol base was established here. Two monstrous blimp hangars were built. One has since burned down but the remaining hangar housed up to nine blimps! Some of the airplanes I have flown could burn off a full tank of fuel flying inside this building! 

A Stearman 17 More people have learned to fly in these than any other single type. I knew these as crop dusters when I was starting out in the flying business, late 1960s
A Stearman 17
More people have learned to fly in these than any other single type. I knew these as crop dusters when I was starting out in the flying business,
late 1960s
The basics of real flying
The basics of real flying

Essentially a monstrous quonset hut it is built as a single incredible arched truss, almost a thousand feet long. My first thought was of all that old-growth clear fir timber, air-dried for over seventy years. Its value as boat lumber is incredible!

Contact!
Contact!

I was alone and took the liberty of  a prolonged indulgence in the aircraft museum now based here. A collection of airworthy vintage aircraft, some of which I have flown many years ago, It is sobering to see icons of your youth now in a museum. Flying was once a huge a part of my life as the sea has now become. I miss flying immensely, especially the old school of flying where it was personal skill and not electronics that got you there. I understand that not everyone is passionate about aviation so I’ll try not to post too many airplane pictures.

Grumman N3N3 So ugly it's beautiful
Grumman N3N3
So ugly it’s beautiful

I was intrigued to discover a collection of derelict locomotives in a yard behind the hangar. Yes damnit! I also remember working steam trains when I was a child. I know, I know, I’m older than dirt! It was all a great photo opportunity despite the poor light. Fortunately I used my trusty Olympus T2 pocket camera. Those photos were stashed in a separate folder and so all is not lost.

1930 Bellanca Aircruiser This one was a bush machine in Northern Ontario. One snow ski sitting under port wing.
1930 Bellanca Aircruiser
This one was a bush machine in Northern Ontario. One snow ski sitting under port wing.
No inflight movies! This is how you got to your trap line and fishing camp -40 outside, -50 inside But, if you could get it loaded inside, it would fly it! Yes it IS fabric-covered.
No inflight movies!
This is how you got to your trap line and fishing camp -40 outside, -50 inside
But, if you could get it loaded inside, it would fly it! Yes it IS fabric-covered.
Fond memories
Fond memories

I confirm my previous rave about what a wonderful camera this is and I heartily recommend it as a back-up, or single travel camera capable of both great still photos and movies with excellent sound above and below water. I have proven that it is water proof and shock resistant and am confident it is  superior to competitive products.

Bell 206A Jet Ranger I was 17 years old when I began my apprenticeship on these. They were absolute civilian hi-tech at the time, obsolete junk now. this one has over 22,000 hours logged
Bell 206A Jet Ranger
I was 17 years old when I began my apprenticeship on these. They were absolute civilian hi-tech at the time, obsolete junk now. This one has over 22,000 hours logged

The Fisher Poets Gathering was the usual affirmation for me. Kindred water folk bared their souls in song, poetry and prose behind the microphones of several venues. It is uplifting and deeply inspiring to be among such incredibly talented performers. There are always some new faces and voices who manage to raise the talent bar yet another notch. This year, two nautical poets from England came to read and record us for the BBC. Then, on the last Sunday morning of February, under the brave glow of a sunrise beneath the cloud cover,  I crossed over the five-mile long bridge across the Columbia River. As I drove northward through the long miles of raped forest, the sleet and rain thickened. I was home without a doubt. But the dream is more alive than ever. Soon I’ll be gone again.

Iraq veteran
Iraq veteran
Damn! It's ugly! But it flew. This one was used to transport S-64 helicopters, which are huge themselves
Damn! It’s ugly!
But it flew. This one was used to transport S-64 helicopters, which are huge themselves
Photo of a photo
Photo of a photo
The office
The office
Leg room
Leg room
Bomber nose art
Bomber nose art
Not a way to see Europe
Not a way to see Europe
Ubiquitous Mig 15
Ubiquitous Mig 15
BORIS! Don't point that thing at me!
BORIS! Don’t point that thing at me!
1001 projects for the home handyman
1001 projects for the home handyman. The roof!
Radio room ...Roger blimp 69
Radio room
…”Roger blimp 69, where are you?”
Columbia River view Astoria Oregon
Columbia River view
Astoria Oregon
Inside the Wet Dog Café A Fisher Poets venue
Inside the Wet Dog Café
A Fisher Poets venue
Looking back to Astoria from Dismal Nitch Washington, five miles across
Looking back to Astoria from Dismal Nitch Washington, five miles across
Home from Mexico ...and planning to go again SOON!
Home from Mexico
…and planning to go again SOON!

Author: Fred Bailey

Fred is a slightly-past middle age sailor /, writer / photographer with plenty of eclectic hands-on skills and experiences. Some would describe him as the old hippy who doesn't know the war is over. He is certainly reluctant to grow up and readily admits to being the eternal dreamer. He has written several books including two novels, 'The Keeper' and 'Storm Ecstasy,' as well as 'The Water Rushing By', 'Sins Of The Fathers', 'The Magic Stick', as well as an extensive inventory of poetry, essays, short stories, anecdotes and photographs. His first passion is the ocean, sailboats, voyaging and all those people who are similarly drawn to the sea. He lived aboard and extensively cruised the BC Coast on 'Seafire' the boat he refitted to go voyaging, to explore new horizons both inner and outer. This blog was about that journey and the preparations for it. Circumstances prevailed which forced the sale of his beloved vessel. Now on a different tack, the voyage continues. If you follow this blog your interest may provide some of the energy that helps fuel the journey. Namaste Contact me at svpaxboat@gmail.com

3 thoughts on “Runamuck In Tillamook”

  1. Nice shots Fred. If I were you I’d sell what could be sold. Get a latish model F150 truck and a trailer able sailboat Compact, Nimble etc about 22 ft. Get used to things looking light. It’s all strong enough. Pay cash. Any leftover money goes into mutual funds to provide a monthly income and be FREE! Take the rig where you want. Anyone pisses you off you move. This is what I’ve done and highly recommend it. Sold the townhouse at Creekside (finally) what a crummy market. Gave away most furniture stored a tiny amount. Paid cash for the C Dory and F150 (2007) model and we’ve now been around. Warming in Kona Hi actually in Hilo this week. Lousy islands to cruise by the way. Few harbours. The little boat does everything we need. This year is BC coastal and then inland via Chilcotin and Caribou lakes. Next year across Canada and south to Florida into their lakes and loop back via Maritimes. Easy to do with a trailer able boat. Times a wast in’ dude. Giddy up. See you when we get back. Delayed till late March due to wx in BC. Cheers. George

    Sent from my IPad

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