Downtown Dayton, Ohio

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National Museum of the U.S. Air Force — Cold War and Beyond

We did the Cold War hangar even quicker than we did Korea and Vietnam. We had a long drive home ahead of us and still wanted to visit the Wright Brothers Bicycle Shop downtown (which, it turned out, was closed).

Mark 41 Thermonuclear Bomb — Designed to be carried by B-47, B-52 and B-70 aircraft, it was to be released at high-altitude, using parachutes to retard its fall, thereby permitting the releasing plane to escape from the target area safely.

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Convair B-36J Peacemaker — Intercontinental strategic bomber

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Lockheed F-94C Starfire (left) — Rocket-firing interceptor

Avro CF-100 Mk IV Canuck (right) — Canadian-built fighter.

Grumman OA-12 Duck (right, above, the yellow one) — Used during WWII and afterwards for rescue missions.

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Sikorsky MH-53M Pave Low IV — Used for long-range, low-level missions to insert, extract, and resupply special operations forces. This particular helicopter was assigned to the 20th Expeditionary Special Operations Squadron. Its last flight was a combat mission in Iraq on March 28, 2008

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Lockheed F-117A Nighthawk (background) — The world’s first operational stealth aircraft. This was the second one built and was used for testing.

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Lockheed SR-71A Blackbird — long-range, advanced, strategic reconnaissance aircraft. During its career, this aircraft accumulated 2,981 flying hours and flew 942 total sorties (more than any other SR-71), including 257 operational missions, from Beale Air Force Base, Calif., Palmdale, Calif., Kadena Air Base, Okinawa, and RAF (Base), Mildenhall, England.

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Convair F-102A Delta Dagger (center) — The world’s first supersonic all-weather jet interceptor. This particular plane served the 57th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron in Iceland. On occasion, it encountered Soviet aircraft flying reconnaissance missions over the arctic

Martin RB-57D (right) — a strategic reconnaissance aircraft that could fly high enough to avoid interception.

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North American F-86H (left, foreground) — fighter-bomber with its skin removed to show structure

Boeing KC-97L Stratofreighter (left, background) — tanker for mid-air refueling

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Martin CGM-13B Mace — Tactical surface-launched missile designed to destroy ground targets.

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Boeing WB-50D Superfortress (left) — The last propeller-drive bomber

Cessna LC-126A (above, center) — Used for Arctic rescue.

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North American F-86D Sabre — Rocket-firing interceptor

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Northrop B-2 Spirit — Long-range stealth bomber

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Lockheed Martin F-22A Raptor — The world’s first stealthy air dominance fighter.

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General Atomics YMQ-9 Reaper — Long-range remotely piloted aircraft used for locating and destroying time-critical and highly mobile targets.

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Apollo 15 Command Module Endeavor — Apollo 15 was the fourth mission to land astronauts on the moon and the only Apollo mission with an all-Air Force crew. Col. David R. Scott, Lt. Col. James B. Irwin and Maj. Alfred M. Worden flew this command module to the moon in 1971.

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Douglas SM-75/PGM-17A Thor (left) — Intermediate range ballistic missile

Martin Marietta SM-68B/LGM-25C Titan II (center) — Intercontinental ballistic missile.

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There were other exhibits outside the museum, but the wind chill was below zero, so we only glanced briefly at a few of them.

Replica of the 8th Air Force Control Tower used in England during WWII,

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Lockheed C-141C Starlifter “Hanoi Taxi” — jet troop and cargo carrier. This particular plane airlifted the first American prisoners of war to freedom from Gia Lam Airport in Hanoi, North Vietnam, on Feb. 12, 1973. The Hanoi Taxi flew two missions into Hanoi, carrying out 78 POWs and two civilian returnees to the Philippines, and four missions from the Philippines to the United States, carrying 76 ex-POWs.

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National Museum of the U.S. Air Force — Korea and Vietnam

By the time we got to the second hangar, we were suffering from information overload. Sally sat down and watched a video on Bob Hope and the USO while I made a quick pass through the two sections.

Douglas C-124C Globemaster — cargo and troop carrier capable of handling tanks, field guns, bulldozers and trucks. It could also be converted into a transport capable of carrying 200 fully-equipped soldiers or 127 litter patients and their attendants in its double-decked cabin.  

Sikorsky YH-5A Dragonfly (upper right, yellow) — Used to rescue pilots shot down behind enemy lines and to evacuate wounded soldiers.

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Republic F-84 Thunderjet — Long-range escort and interdiction (attacking the enemy’s transportation) fighter with tactical nuclear bomber capabilities.

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Lockheed F-94A Starfire (left) — Interceptor with radar-tracking capability, used as a night-bombing escort.

North American B-45C Tornado (right) — the first jet bomber

North American L-17A Navion (upper background) — Used for liaison, reconnaissance, light cargo carrying and forward air control.

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Douglas B-26C (A-26C) Invader — Used for night bombing and interdiction.

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Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-15bis — Soviet fighter used by North Korea. This particular airplane was flown by a defecting North Korean pilot to Kimpo Air Base in South Korea on Sept. 21, 1953.

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North American F-86A Sabre — The first U.S. swept-wing fighter. In Korea, F-86 pilots had shot down 792 MiGs, with a kill ratio of about 8:1. 

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Boeing B-52D Stratofortress — Long-range heavy bomber. This particular plane saw extensive service in Southeast Asia and was severely damaged by an enemy surface-to-air missile on April 9, 1972. In December 1972, after being repaired, it flew four additional missions over North Vietnam.

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Bell UH-1P Iroquois — The “Huey” escort and gunship. This particular helicopter served in South Vietnam with the 20th Special Operations Squadron flying dangerous, highly-classified missions carrying special operations personnel into Laos and Cambodia.

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Sikorsky HH-3E Jolly Green Giant — Used for combat search and rescue.

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Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-17F — Soviet fighter. This particular plane was used by the Egyptian Air Force.

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Republic F-105D Thunderchief — Supersonic tactical fighter-bomber. This particular plane served in the 357th Tactical Fighter Squadron, 355th Tactical Fighter Wing, based at Takhli Royal Thai Air Base in Thailand. The nickname Memphis Belle II refers to the B-17F that carried the same artwork during WWII.

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Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21PF “Fishbed-D” — Soviet jet fighter. This particular plane carried air-to-air missiles but no guns.

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General Dynamics F-111A Aardvark — Tactical fighter-bomber. This particular plane was used in 1972-1973 by the 474th Tactical Fighter Wing during Linebacker II (night strikes against North Vietnam).

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National Museum of the U.S. Air Force — World War II

This is the part of the museum I found the most interesting and the part in which we spent the most time, but even so, we only saw a fraction of what there was to see.

Curtiss P-36A Hawk — Fighter used by the United States, England and France at the beginning of the war but quickly replaced by better planes. This is the first one delivered to the Air Corps and is decorated like one that saw action at Pearl Harbor.

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A variety of items used by the Japanese during the war.

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Link Trainer — Created during the 1930s to train pilots, but used primarily by amusement parks until the war began.

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Curtiss P-40E Warhawk — Fighter used by many nations throughout the war. This one is painted to represent the Fighting Tigers.

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North American B-25B Mitchell (foreground) — Medium bomber painted to represent the Doolittle Raid on Tokyo

Douglas B-18 Bolo (background) — Bomber used early in the war.

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Bell P-63E Kingcobra (left) — American-built fighter used mostly by Russia.

Beech AT-11 Kansan (right) — American bomber trainer used by most bomber pilots.

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Bristol Beaufighter — British night fighter used extensively during the Blitz.

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Supermarine Spitfire Mk.Vc — British fighter. This particular plane was used during the war by the Royal Australian Air Force.

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Vultee BT-13B Valiant(left foreground, blue with yellow wings) — Trainer used for pilots who had passed the first level of training.

Laister-Kauffmann TG-4A (left background, blue with yellow wings) — Glider trainer

Curtiss AT-9 Jeep/Fledgling (right foreground) — Twin-engine trainer

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Consolidated B-24D Liberator (the big one) — Long-range bomber used in the raid from North Africa against the oil industry at Ploesti, Rumania. This particular plane flew combat missions from North Africa in 1943-1944 with the 512th Bomb Squadron.

Culver PQ-14 (upper right) — Radio-controlled target aircraft for training anti-aircraft artillery gunners.

Macchi MC.200 Saetta (lower right) — Italian fighter captured by the British at Banghazi airfield following the battle of El Alamein and later displayed around the United States to sell war bonds.

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Lockheed P-38L Lightning — Dive bomber and long-range fighter.

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Republic P-47D — fighter used throughout the war by several nations. This particular plane was built in the late 1940s and used by the Peruvian Air Force.

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Waco CG-4A Hadrian (above) — Glider built of wood and metal covered with fabric, used in Sicily and on D-Day.

Douglas C-47D Skytrain (below) — Called the “Gooney Bird.” Used as a troop and cargo carrier and to tow gliders. This particular plane was the last C-47D in regular use by the Air Force.

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The A-2 flying jacket, scarf and gauntlets worn by Phillip R. Taylor of Alameda, Calif., a waist gunner in a B-17 of the 91st Bomb Group during the Schweinfurt mission. The 8th Air Force attack on Oct. 14, 1943, against the ball bearing factories at Schweinfurt, Germany, resulted in the greatest air battle in history. The firing pin is from the .50-cal. machine gun used by Taylor to shoot down an enemy Fw 190 fighter plane that attacked his B-17. Taylor’s plane had more than 200 holes in it upon landing in England, and it never flew again.

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Boeing B-17G Flying Fortress — Daylight bomber. In March 1944 this particular B-17G was assigned to the 91st Bomb Group — “The Ragged Irregulars” — and based at Bassingbourn, England. There its crew named it Shoo Shoo Shoo Baby, after a popular song. It flew 24 combat missions in WWII, receiving flak damage seven times. Its first mission (Frankfurt, Germany) was on March 24, 1944, and last mission (Posen, Poland) on May 29, 1944, when engine problems forced a landing in neutral Sweden where the airplane and crew were interned.

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V-2 on Meilerwagen — The first practical modern ballistic missile, built by Germany and launched at England and Belgium. This particular rocket was damaged in an air attack by allied forces before it could be launched.

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Trombone played by Major Glenn Miller in the Maj. Glenn Miller Army Air Force Band. It was also used by Jimmy Stewart in the movie The Glenn Miller Story.

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Ronald Reagan’s overcoat worn while serving in active duty with the 1st Motion Picture Unit and the 18th AAFBU, Reagan served as Personnel Officer, Post Adjutant, Executive Officer, and Commanding Officer. By the end of the war, his military units had produced 400 training films for the AAF.

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Messerschmitt Me 163B Komet — Rocket-powered fighter built by Germany, used sparingly. This particular plane had some issues that may have been cased by sabotage by the French forced laborers.

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Messerschmitt Me 262A Schwalbe — The first operational jet fighter. It proved very effective in combat but few made it to production due to allied bombing, lack of fuel and other problems. This particular one was captured when the war ended.

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Stinson L-5 Sentinel (foreground, above) — Used for reconnaissance, front-line medical evacuation, delivering supplies, laying communications wire, spotting enemy targets, personnel transport, rescue and even as a light bomber.

Cessna UC-78B Bobcat (background, above) — Used for personnel transport

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French “Forty and Eight” boxcar — These cars received their names because they could carry 40 men or eight horses — sometimes as many as 90 prisoners of war were forced into each boxcar. This particular car operated between France and Germany and likely carried P.O.W.s.

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Sikorsky R-4B Hoverfly — The first production helicopter, used for the first time in combat in May, 1944.

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Douglas A-20G Havoc — Bomber also used on low-level strafing attacks in almost every theater.

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Curtiss C-46D Commando — Troop and cargo carrier of the type used to fly supplies over the “Hump” from India to China.

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Consolidated OA-10 Catalina — Flying boat with retractable wheels for landing on land. Used primarily for sea rescue.

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Boeing B-29 Superfortress— Long-range bomber. This particular plane, Bockscar, dropped the Fat Man atomic bomb on Nagasaki on Aug. 9, 1945.

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Replica of the “Fat Man” bomb dropped over Nagasaki, Japan, on Aug. 9, 1945.

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Items carried by Lt. Fred Olivi, third pilot on the Bockscar when it dropped the bomb on Nagasaki.

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Mk I bomb, nicknamed “Little Boy,” the first nuclear weapon used in warfare. It was dropped by the B-29 Enola Gay on Hiroshima, Japan, on Aug. 6, 1945. This particular one was an operational bomb when built.

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Northrop P-61C Black Widow — Night fighter

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National Museum of the U.S. Air Force — Early Years

We visited Dayton to see the National Park sites commemorating the Wright Brothers, but in spite of what the web page said, they were closed. This museum was right across the road from our hotel, so we went for Plan B — and were glad we did.

The place was huge and fascinating. It would have taken us two or three days to see everything. We were there for three hours. The museum fills four huge hangers, two other large rooms and a large outdoor space.

Bicycle from the Wright Bicycle Co.

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Pieces from the original Wright Brothers plane that flew for the first time in 1903.

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Wright 1909 Military Flyer — This is an exact replica of the first military airplane, although the engine and other hardware were made by the Wrights. The original is in the Smithsonian

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Spad VII — Used by the Lafayette Escadrille beginning in 1916.

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Avro 504K — Used by British and American pilots as a trainer during WWI.

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The cross from Quentin Roosevelt’s grave, placed by German troops after they shot down his plane.

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Fokker Dr. 1 — A replica of the German dogfighter, the type used by Manfred von Richthofen, the Red Baron.

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Sopwith Camel F.1 — A replica of the premiere British fighter during WWI, built from original plans.

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Caquot Type R Observation Balloon — Used throughout WWI for combat observation and into WWII in non-combat situations. This one, built in 1944, is believed to be the only original balloon still in existence.

Packard LePere LUSAC 11 — An American-built fighter that didn’t make it into combat during WWI. This is the only original one still in existence.

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Fokker D.VII — Replica of a German fighter

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Caproni Ca. 36 — WWI heavy bomber. This plane served in the Italian Air Force.

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Martin MB-2 — Replica of the first American-built bomber from 1920.

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Boeing P-12E — U.S. fighter used between the wars. This particular plane served with the 6th Pursuit Squadron in Hawaii during the 1930s.

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Kellet K-2/K-3 Autogiro — Built for short take-offs and landings and slow-moving military observation. This one was built in 1931 and tested at Wright Field.

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Curtiss O-52 Owl — Built as an observation plane just before WWII but used only for coastal submarine patrols.

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Hawker Hurricane MKIIA — WWII British fighter used most famously during the Battle of Britain. This one was built in Canada between 1940 and 1942.

The “crashed” plane in the background is a North American BT-14, used during WWII as a trainer. The diorama demonstrates what happens when a pilot braked too hard with a tail wind.

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North American O-47B (on the right) — Observation plane with windows in the belly, decorated in the colors of the 112th Observation Squadron of the Ohio National Guard.

Fairchild PT-19A Cornell (on the left with the yellow “47”) — Trainer used during WWII.

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Ted Drewes

Our final fun stop on our quick trip to Missouri was at Ted Drewes Frozen Custard in St. Louis. We ate dessert first — I got a chocolate chip and raspberry concrete and Sally got a turtle sundae (of course).

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Vacuum Cleaner Museum

When we planned our trip to visit Andrew and Lindy, I checked the Internet for interesting things to do along the way. That’s how I found the Vacuum Cleaner Museum in St. James, Missouri.

I wanted to stop just because it was silly, but I had a hard time convincing my wife. But it turned out to be really interesting, and Sally even wants to go back!

The woman at the desk said we could go through on our own or get a tour from her. We opted for the tour, and it was fun. The museum is set up as a series of rooms, each featuring vacuums, accessories and advertisements from a particular decade.

The 1910s, with several models that aren’t electric. Suction is created by turning a crank or pumping the canister.

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The sign on the wall asks why vacuums have headlights. The answer: because a lot of houses didn’t have outlets, so vacuums were powered by unscrewing light bulbs and screwing the vacuum cord into the socket. Therefore, no light — therefore, headlights.

The woman in the advertisement is demonstrating.

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Here’s one of those vacuums, with an adapter.

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The 1920s. The vacuum on the right could be reversed so the suction draw through the handle so you could lift it to reach along the ceiling. It also had an accessory that you could attach to your pillow. It would suck out the feathers and clean and fluff them. You could then reverse it to blow the feathers back in.

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The 1930s and 40s

“I want $4.50, and I want it now!”

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The 1950s. Our guide kept referring to the “hassocks,” the boxes built as furniture and to hold accessories. But she had us confused for a bit because she kept pronouncing it as “has socks.”

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The 1960s

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The first wet-vac. It didn’t last long because it wasn’t grounded and people kept getting shocked.

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The 1970s

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There were more modern ones too, but we didn’t find them as interesting. We had to listen to a short sales pitch at the end, of course, but we didn’t mind. The woman showed us one vacuum that could sense dirt. When the carpet was clean, the headlights would turn off. It also had a coating that looked copper, green or red, depending on the light. It retailed for $1,500. We didn’t buy one.

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Miller Cave and the Big Piney River

There are several caves on Fort Leonard Wood, but Miller is the only one open to the public. We drove down several base roads and then up onto a ridge on a dirt track where we found a tiny parking area and a rough trail that led down the hill for maybe 100 yards to the cave entrance.

The part of the cave that we saw consists of two rooms connected by a small opening. Other openings looked out over the Big Piney River and a stretch of farmland in the river valley. It was the most beautiful view from a cave I’ve ever seen.

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Sally and Lindy hammed it up a bit.

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There are more pictures of the cave on Red Chair Road Trip.

Just above the cave there was a ledge that gave even better views of the river and the valley.

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More views from the ledge

We drove a short way to a picnic area on the base named Happy Hollow.

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Andrew and Lindy

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Fort Leonard Wood

Andrew is an M.P. stationed at Fort Leonard Wood. We drove down to southern Missouri to see him and Lindy and their apartment.

On Sunday afternoon, they gave us a tour of the post. The museum was closed, but we wandered around looking at the military equipment, the World War II buildings and the memorial garden.

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This one is a mobile flame-thrower.

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The post was built in 1941 as part of the build-up for World War II. There were hundreds of barracks, mess halls, supply sheds and other buildings put up in a very short time (one site I saw said that a building was completed every 40 minutes). Not many of the buildings remain, and those that do have been modernized and covered with metal siding. These have been restored to their original appearance.

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Lindy at the M.P. Memorial Garden

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Storm

Andrew and Lindy’s kitten, which for the moment, is cute.

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