Friday, January 28, 2011

My First Bikes

I finally got a scanner hooked up so I can now start scanning many of my old photos! So..... get ready for some "blast from the past" pictures from the dusty attic of my life :)

To start things off, I thought I'd post a few pictures of the first bikes in my life.........

This is my very first "bike", my little red tricycle. That's me, and I'm guessing I'm about 2 years old.

This is my first "Real" bicycle....... my green Huffy "stingray" bike! This bike was great. It had ape hanger handle bars, a tall sissy bar in the back, big slick rear race tire, banana seat and very cool flared chrome fenders. I latter "modernized" it with a battery operated turn signal that mounted on the back with a remote switch on the handle bars.

This is me checking out the new bike, age 6 , at our house in Pismo Beach, CA. The second photo is of my Grandpa Bill showing me how to ride it.

Now here's a bike that wasn't actually mine, but almost ended up being mine, as I recall....... This is my sister on her first bike........ a hand-me-down Schwinn girls bike, in front of our house in Pismo Beach.

Now here's the story about my sister's bike and how I almost ended up with it.......

When I was in 6th grade, we lived near Muir Beach and Muir Woods National Monument, over on the coast at the base of Mount Tamalpais (the ancestral home of modern mountain biking!). Our house was part of an old dairy ranch that had been donated to the California State Parks. Well, to get on with the story....... I made a bike jump - ramp out of piled up wood, but didn't want to risk damaging my bike, so I used my sisters bike to catch some air. Well, I ended up cracking the frame of her bike nearly in half! I got in a bit of trouble over that one and was threatened with having to give my bike to my sister and take her bike as my own! I ended up keeping my bike and my sister ended up with a really ugly welded frame with a scrap metal gusset, oh yes and some baby blue touch up paint that didn't quite match........... sorry sis!

Hope you enjoyed the little ride down the old bike path of my past.........

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Sussex Police Custodian Helmet

Here is another helmet from my collection........... an old English, Sussex Police Custodian Helmet.
I picked this helmet up from a company down in Chico, California about 15 years ago, while visiting family. It is an original issued helmet that had been removed from service. I'm not sure about the age.

Sweet Pea and I have been watching the BBC series, Foyles War, on DVD, and really enjoying it. We are on season two. The story is about a British police officer, Detective Chief Superintendent Christopher Foyle of the Hastings police department. The story blends great detective stories with real stories of the English Home Front during WW2. I highly recommend the series! Since I like the "immersion experience" when I watch a movie or series, I figured it would be a good time to get out the old Sussex helmet and show it off a bit!

Here's a link to the BBC series "Foyle's War" web page:

The helmet is constructed of a very heavy, thermo-formed plastic shell covered with a sewn, two piece wool cloth. The badge and top rose are chromed metal attached with tabs. The chin strap is a woven cotton webbing with a snap type buckle. These helmets are officially known as "Home Office Pattern Helmets". Here's a bit of British police trivia........ British police officers are known as "Bobbies" or "Peelers", named after the founder of the original London Metropolitan Police back in 1829. His name was Sir Robert Peel, hence the nick names of "Bobbie" and "Peeler".

I'll let the photos of the helmet speak for themselves:

And as usual, here are some great historical pictures of these helmets in use by various British officers:

I even found a few photos of "Bobbies on Bikes" !!!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

USCG Henry Blake WLM-563

Just after sunrise this morning I spotted another US Coast Guard ship working out in Port Townsend Bay, the buoy tender Henry Blake WLM-563. The Henry Blake had a green buoy on deck and was just "milling" about while they worked on it. A bit later, she cruised over towards the mill and I had a great view from the upper lab window.

The Henry Blake is the 13th out of 14 Keeper Class USCG Coastal Buoy Tenders. She was commissioned on October 27, 2000. She operates out of Everett, Washington and has an active duty crew of 25.

The Keeper Class tenders are each named after a famous US lighthouse keeper. Henry Blake was the first light house keeper of the New Dungeness Light on Dungeness Spit, over in Port Angeles, Washington (just down the road from us).

Swiss Bicycle Infantry / Schweizer Radfahr-Soldaten

I ran across this great video clip that ran on an old episode of Bicycling TV back in 1992. It is a segment on the famous Swiss Bicycle Infantry. It shows a group of Swiss infantry soldiers "out on patrol" and then "engaging the enemy". Great shots of the old M05 Condor bicycles in action with a closer look at the new M93 Condor mountain bike that has now replaced the old "push bikes".

The photo at the top of the page is a copy of an old post card showing the old M05 Condor bicycle in use by the infantry and the photo below is of the modern Swiss bicycle infantry riding the new M93 mountain bikes. Notice the how the lead bicyclist is carrying the Swiss flag....... there must be a custom mount for the flag pole to set in. Very interesting. This shot is from a military parade in Austria.

Here's another shot of the new Swiss M93 Condor. Continuing the tradition!

Here is the video. Enjoy the clip!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Foggy Day On The Bay with USCG Patrol Boat

I just had the chance to take a quick look out the window of my office here at work, and spotted a USCG Patrol boat at anchor out in the bay. We woke up this morning to some pretty wet fog, and as it lifted, we were graced with one of those wonderful gray and glassy mornings. I guess you could say this is one of those "classic" day on the bay moments!

The USCG patrol boat was a bit too far away to read the number or stern name (I don't have my binoculars here at work), but it is an 87 foot "Marine Protector" class patrol boat. We have one of these stationed here in Port Townsend, and we usually have several transient boats from Port Angeles in the area for escort duty to the submarines and ships from Indian Island across the bay.

Here's a shot of Port Townsend's patrol boat, the USCG Cutter Osprey, WPB87307.

USCG Archive Photo

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Best DIY Bike Lighting System Ever!

Good morning from the Under Town Coffee House in quiet downtown Port Townsend!

Since I'm still in the dark for my Winter morning commutes, up here in the dark Pacific North West, I figured I'd put up a post on the "BEST DIY Bike Light System EVER! that I came up with a number of years ago and have been using on my bikes ever since........

This system has the benefit of costing "hundreds of dollars" less than the "pro" rechargeable lighting systems and yet it still puts out the same amount of light (you can always use rechargeable batteries if you want)! It is quick and easy to install, can be removed in a snap, and takes standard AA batteries which are easy to replace when you're out on the road (if your rechargeable "pro" light goes dead, you're literally left "in the dark"). You can use one light for use on the bike and in camp for those of you who do bike trekking. If your light goes bad, you can adapt any type of flashlight at hand using the same method. I'm sure there are tons of other reasons to use this lighting system, but these reasons pop right out, ........

Here' s how it works.......... I take a Pelican Light flashlight and attach a length of mountain bike inner tube as a strap. I then strap the light around the steering tube-stem of the bike and away I go!

Here are the details:

1. Pelican Light flashlights work the very best. They are very bright, waterproof, dependable, take standard AA batteries and have a squared profile with flat sides on the body.

2. Use a couple of short "tube" pieces of inner tube to go around the flashlight body to give it grip and to protect the bike stem.

3. Cut your holes in the tube "strap" very cleanly so the tubing does not tear out when it is stretched. Be sure to make the strap tight enough so that it keeps the light snug when it's on the bike... this will allow you to adjust the beam direction and hold it there through the rough sections of the trail.

4. Leave a "tail" of tubing at the loose end of the tube "strap" so you have something to pull on when stretching the strap around the stem to attach the light.

You can run with a second light (that's what I do), by using a length of bungee cord to attach a second Pelican Light to the other side of the stem using the first light as the anchor point..... just look close at the double light photo and I think you'll get the idea.

Now get out there and RIDE!

Friday, January 21, 2011

The Dresden Dolls, Yes Virginia

It's been awhile since I let everyone know what's been on my "play list"............. I've been listing to The Dresden Dolls quite a bit lately..... all their albums, but this one in particular:

Yes Virginia

Here's a link to their website:

Give this band a try! Great stuff!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

US Air Force Camo BDU Jackets

This last weekend Sweet Pea and I swung by the Port Townsend Goodwill for their Sunday .99 cent tag sale and I picked up a pair of US Air Force M81 Woodland camo BDU jackets........ one for Sweet Pea and one for myself :) The date code shows that they were made in 1999. They both have Airman 2nd Class shoulder patches on each sleeve and US Air Force name strips. The original soldier's name strips have been removed.

$2.00 for a couple of "like new" camo jackets made the trip worth it!
Here are a few pictures of the new jackets:

And here's a photo of an US Air Force Airman 1st Class riding a bicycle in a village in Ghana back in 2006 while they were there providing civil assistance to the villagers of Tampiong.

And here's a shot of two US Air Force Combat Controllers from the USAF 21st Special Tactics Squadron. Notice that they are both Airman 2nd Class and are wearing the same BDU jacket and stripes as the two I picked up!

M83 Swiss Alpenflage Shirts

I picked up a couple of brand new, never issued, Swiss military shirts in the famous and distinctive Alpenflage camo pattern the other day. These shirts are great! I'll use them as mountain biking jackets and as components of my ever expanding collection. I already had a Swiss alpenfage hat that has been one of my favorites for years, now I have a "set".

These shirts have a front zipper and zipper cuffs, double reinforcements all the way around the sleeves at the elbows, and a couple of really cool "belt loops" on each side. The "belt loops have a snap at one end that let them ride flat against the shirt, or they can be lowered to form a sort of "hanging loop". I'm not sure how they were used in the field, but I'm sure I'll find some great use for this feature. Oh yes, and they have a small "cell phone" pocket on the left sleeve. There does not appear to be any date stamps on the shirts, but they are the M83 uniform style, so I would assume that these shirts fall somewhere between 1983 and 1993.

Here are a couple of pictures showing the "belt loops" in the upper and lower positions:

Here's a little history on the Swiss "Alpenflage" camo.

Officially this camo pattern is known as 1955 Swiss Liebermuster, but is better known as "Alpenflage" by collectors. This pattern was based on the German Waffen-SS-Liebermuster camo pattern that saw very limited use at the end of WW2 in Germany (1945). The colors were inspired by the mid 1950's Czechoslovakian Liebermuster camo patern. The Swiss Alpenflage camo was officially adopted in 1957 and was discontinued in 1993 and replaced with a new camo that is nearly the same pattern, but based on woodland colors, without the white flecks.
The Alpenflage pattern uniforms are still in use by the Swiss Reserve Army, while the regular army uses the new woodland style camo uniforms.

Here are a few "historic" pictures of these uniforms in use: