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A site about memories, thoughts, photos, and unrepentant opinions about motorcycles and motorcycling after four decades of twisting the throttle.

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

The Plunge

Satellite view via GoogleEarth

Sunday I hopped on the V-Strom and went for my usual ride. It was the first time since probably March that it was cool enough to wear my leather jacket. I made my usual stop at Coolidge Airport, a former WWII military transit field. The airport was nearly abandoned, but is now coming back to life as a haven for interesting antique, vintage, and old military planes.  Photos from the field have turned up here a number of times in the past and probably will again.  I love the place.

The big hanger is one of the last of the old wooden WWII hangers that is still usable. It doesn't look this good at the moment, the photo is one I shot in 2010. The wood structure is in poor shape from age and storms so the hanger is slowly being restored now by people who value it's history and feel it is important to keep it around (it is).  Cost is $500,000 and work is proceeding as funds become available.

I almost always find something interesting to photograph out there, whether it's an airplane or some rustic feature of the old place. This time, out in the desert a bit and just off my usual path, I found the old base swimming pool or "plunge" as they used to be called in the old days. I'd never found it before because it required a bit of dirt road work to spot it amongst the tall desert brush.   From a distance the raised earthwork of the pool just looks like another desert "stock tank" for cattle, stock tanks are common around here.

Long abandoned now and behind it a rough stone building that I presume was the changing rooms for the swimmers, it was a bit of surprise to find.  It's fun to stumble upon something like that and imagine how it might have been in the 1940s during the war, people splashing about and laughing, B17 bombers or P51 Mustangs flying overhead while someone plays Benny Goodman records by the pool. Noise, fun, laughter, and the cloud of war hanging over it all.

The "castle" changing rooms aren't quite as impressive when you get some scale to them.  Anyway, so begins my winter riding season.  For the other photo geeks, the camera was my Oly E-PL1 with a Panasonic 20mm F1.7 lens. The hanger shot was done with my Nikon D90.


Anonymous said...

Nice photos, and the old airbase seems like a cool riding destination.

Also, I'm pretty sure the winter riding season in Arizona is different from the winter riding season in Colorado.

mq01 said...

fabulous pics doug! the colors clouds and contrasts are really outstanding! looks like a great season to ride :)

Unknown said...


those are really nice warm colours on your photos. I knew you had the PL1 but not the D90. I had a D70, then D80 but then I switched over to Canon T2i, and today I bought a NEX-5n 18-55, and 16mm combo. Can't play with it yet as the battery is charging. I wished our riding season was starting, instead of ending

Riding the Wet Coast

Jac Brown said...

Taking a motorcycle on a dirt road! Oh no !

I like the old WW II places as well. Nicely imagined. Our Yucca proving grounds is on an old WW II Air Corp base. We still use the runways, aircraft parking pads, and have preserved the tower. I always give a little salute to the tower as I pass and think of my dad.

On another note, I'm glad you got your Oly when you did. It looks like there are in trouble and might not be around long.

Doug Klassen said...

NoName, Yeah, it's a little warmer here in the winter than Colorado. Same in the summer!

MQ, Thanks, your comments are always enjoyed. Winter really is THE time to ride here except for the northern part of the state where it snows.

Bobskoot, The afternoon sun here always has a very warm cast to it and often comes across as too warm unless I fiddle with the white balance in the image a little. I bought the D90 back in '08 and love it but the Oly is much easier to carry on the bike. I'll be interested to see photos from your new NEX5.

Jac, I've taken my full on street bikes down dirt roads at various times over the years, some where better at it than others. The big Kaw 1600 was pretty much a pig on anything but pavement and very low to the ground, too. The V-Strom seems to be just the right balance of on-road / off-road for me. Yes, Olympus is in some deep doo-doo right now. I expect to see the company broken up and the divisions sold off as with Minolta some years back and as is happening slowly right now with Kodak.

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