Planes, Trains, and Swimming Pools…

Thursday, June 23rd, 2011 | Entertainment, Family

…in which I talk about a fantastic Saturday out with the family.

So, this post is a day late, and if I ever received any money from my single Google Ad over there, it would be a dollar short. Nevertheless, here is my weekly update.

This past Saturday, the city of Denton offered innumerable activities that laid before us great temptation. The first and foremost of these was the annual Denton Air Show, followed very closely by the inaugural celebrations for the DCTA A-Train, and lastly an invitation to go to the Denton Water Works. With all these choices, we weren’t sure how to make the most of our Saturday, so we started off trying to do just about everything!

Ansel at the Denton Air Show
Standing with the lead plane of the Texas Twisters

Actually, to be more specific, we started out trying to do more than that even. Early on, a couple of weeks ago, Heather and I had both, independently, received invitations to volunteer with the DCTA Rock-N-Rail celebrations and, having been anticipating the arrival of the commuter train for eight years, we were more than happy to help out. Of course, I decided to sign up to volunteer even before realizing that the DCTA celebration was on the same day, and pretty much the same time as the air show. As soon as Heather informed me that the two events were on the same day, I worked out that we could help with the setup for the DCTA event and then head straight over to the air show. We would, however, have to get someone to watch Ansel at that time.

So, after a couple of days of deliberation, we finally decided we should back out of the volunteer work and just try to attend everything on our plate. We decided to go to the air show first, and got there around 11:30am, giving us about a half an hour to walk around and look at some of the planes on the ground before the show actually took to the air. This was our second time out at the air show, we went last year and Ansel had a blast. I had no idea how much he would have remembered since his last visit. Even before we got to the airport, he was already talking about the planes and helicopters he had seen last year and how he wanted to see them all again, describing specific aircraft. When we got through the gates, he immediately spotted his favorite squad of planes from last year and wanted to go see them. We headed over to see them and, where last year it had taken prodding and encouragement to even get close, this year, he charged over and immediately put his hands on the propeller. One of the pilots even asked if he wanted to stand up on the wing to get his picture taken. That was a line he was not willing to cross, however.

We had a great time and got to see a lot of really cool flying. I swear some of the aerobatics, were even more astounding than last time. At one point, the announcer proudly stated that this year, due to an extension of the runway, was the first year that we could have supersonic jets at the show. And thus, this year, the show would include an F18 flight and an F16 aerobatic performance. The show was great, but the day was blisteringly hot and amazingly sunny, so waiting until 3:30 for the F16 performance was seeming less and less likely. We finally decided we couldn’t hang out in the sun and the wind any longer and got ready to leave just as it was announced that the F18 would be flying next. We were willing to hang out for that, and I’m glad we did.

It wasn’t simply an F18 flying, though. What was on the agenda was what they called a “legacy flight” where they were going to pair up the F18 Hornet with a V4U Corsair. The Hornet was only weeks off of the assembly line, representing the latest in Naval air force. The Corsair, on the other hand, was 70 years old, perfectly restored, and represented the peak of Naval air force from the 1940’s. The Corsair went up first and did a few passes over the airfield, alone. Unlike the aerobatic planes that had flown earlier in the show, this was a heavy, powerful, and impressive aircraft. The announcer mentioned many times of how menacing it was when used as a ground attack plane. I believe it. For 70 year old technology, it was a monster. During one wide pass of the field, however, the Hornet warmed up and prepared for takeoff. The announcer warned that it would be loud and advised that parents cover the ears of their infants and toddlers.

I admit that I’ve not ever been this close to a supersonic jet at takeoff, but I knew that they were quite loud from anecdotal experience. The thing is, no amount of second hand experience can prepare you for the awe inspiring, body crushing force of an F18 taking flight less than 50 yards in front of you. Nothing. Whats worse, and this I also knew ahead of time but it still caught me off guard, is that the sound doesn’t hit you until the plane is already past you. The thundering waves of sound that slam into you just after it has raced past is enough to force the tears right out of your eyes. Yes. It was the force of the shock wave. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

Legacy Flight – 70 Years of Aviation

Heather, on the other hand, was not expecting it at all and leaped forward to cover Ansel’s ears as she realized what was happening. Ansel had already covered his ears though, and seemed fairly at ease with the deafening engine roar. It really was a fantastic, and impressive sight. I was both awed, and disappointed that we’d already decided not to stay for the F16 flight. It took a couple of passes for the F18 and the V4U to fall into formation, but once they did, the managed to hold the formation tight and made several passes of the airfield. It was amazing and inspiring to see them flying together. Once upon a time, I wanted to be a pilot, but my eyesight kept it from being a reality. I felt that yearning again as they both cruised the skies over Denton.

Anyway, we had a good time at the air show, but we also had other things to do, so we made haste to a quick lunch at Mi Casita and discussed the rest of our day. It was while we sat there that we realized, despite slathering ourselves with sun screen before leaving the house, Heather and I had burned ourselves pretty badly in a couple of spots. Thankfully, Ansel was perfectly fine. Sore, and fearing too much sun exposure, we decided to skip out on the Denton Water Works and choose the UNT Rec Center indoor leisure pool instead. We also decided that rather than try to ride the train, we’d just check out the station and maybe see the train roll by.

After a quick stop off at the house to get changed into swim gear, we went back out to the DCTA station and only had to sit in the car for about 15 minutes before hearing the “hoot hoot” of the train pulling into the station. In all actuality, it was nothing special. A series of commuter cars from the 1960’s rolling up. But to actually see the culmination of off these hopes and dreams was very satisfying. As I said before, we’ve been looking forward to the Dallas commuter rail for going on eight years now, but to see it operating gave us such a good feeling.  I will vehemently admit that I hate driving through Dallas, absolutely and unequivocally, but there’s so much to do down there, I feel like I’m cheating myself by not going. The commuter rail gives us the opportunity to experience more of what Dallas has to offer without the hassle of driving down there. Monday, we will be trying it out for the first time by riding the rails down to the Dallas Zoo.

We were only at the A-Train station for maybe 30 minutes, and we managed to stay in the shade the whole time, before we headed over to UNT to hit the pool. We decided the UNT pool was the perfect choice for us for a few reasons. First, it was indoor and away from the sun. I really wanted to get in the water and sooth my burns, but I didn’t want to be in the sun any more than I had to to do it. Secondly, Ansel is still really scared of swimming pools, and the thought of a popular water park on a hot summer Saturday was not very encouraging. We correctly assumed that the UNT pool would be pretty desolate and deserted. There were about six people in the leisure pool when we arrived, which was about as perfect a situation as we can get for Ansel.

At first, he was happy enough to just sit on the edge of the pool and dangle his feet in while Heather and I submerged ourselves in the cool, refreshing waters. Soon he started splashing us, which gives us the right to splash him back. Finally, I swam off for a little bit, and that opened up an opportunity for Heather to coax him all the way into the water so they could “find Daddy.” For the rest of the time we were there, he was pretty happy being in the water, holding on to us. After two years of intermittent visits to various pools, this was the most adventurous he’d ever been. I’m proud of my little scaredy cat.

We don’t have a lot of big days like that, and in a way I’m thankful for it. When we finally got home, we were flat exhausted. I’m surprised the three of us didn’t just crawl into bed and sleep for 15 hours straight. I love that even here in little ol’ Denton, we can find so much to do in a day, and have a great family outing for just the three of us. Weeks and weeks go by where I feel like I’m dying of boredom, and then a day like this comes along and we realize that Denton is a pretty great place to be.

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3 Comments to Planes, Trains, and Swimming Pools…

June 24, 2011

Let us know how the ride to the zoo goes. We’re looking forward to taking Phoebe back once it cools down but I’ve heard some complaining about the initial A train schedule.

June 24, 2011

We definitely will! I’m really looking forward to it!

I need to look up how much the DART Trains will cost us, since the DCTA is still free for the rest of the month.

[…] as I may have mentioned previously, we got a new commuter train in Denton, and while we were able to stop by and see it on it’s […]

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June 2011