October 11, 2006
I was rudely awoken at the horrible hour of 4:00 this morning, but that was OK. We were going on a road trip. My stuff was all packed and ready to go, so all I had to do was throw it in the car and slither into the back seat, ready to go back to sleep. The next thing I knew, we were deep into Illinois and the sun was coming up.
We stopped at a Big Boy for breakfast, gassed up, and continued onward to Indiana. Just like in Wisconsin, the trees were full of color, so it was a scenic drive. By mid-afternoon, we had arrived at our destination for the day, Dayton, Ohio.
I originally met Dr. Turk in Antarctica during my cruise on the Marco Polo. Dayton is right in the middle of the drive from Wisconsin and Washington DC, so stopping for a visit made perfect sense. And what a visit it turned out to be.
We quickly unpacked our stuff and Dr. Turk shuffled us to the Air Force Museum. It was a huge place and we only had a few hours before it closed. The first exhibits we saw were of former presidents' planes, including those of FDR (the first president to fly), Truman, Eisenhower, and Kennedy. Even back in the 1940's, the planes were luxurious, with the presidential suite located far from the roaring propellers and equipped with beds, couches, tables, and a movie projector. Kennedy's plane was quite modern. It had televisions, several telephones, and a large den area to get some hard work done. Unfortunately, it became Johnson's plane when Kennedy was assassinated. Several rows of seats had to be removed to transport his coffin home.
The next area we saw was of experimental aircrafts. They ranged from fighter jets that were used extensively in the Cold War to wastes of money that also cost dozens of lives, like a cargo plane whose propellers could shift vertically so it could hover like a helicopter. There were also unique aircraft like the YF-12A, a high-altitude Mach 3 interceptor for defense against supersonic bombers, and a few personal helicopters.
We still had a little time left, so we drove over to the other part of the museum, located in a massive three-hanger structure which showed off the Air Force's ever-evolving logo. We spent our time looking at the modern aircraft that have been used in Vietnam and Iraq, including some impressive jets that were both supersonic and stealth. Along the way, there were some interesting exhibits showcasing a Russian military base, the fall of the Berlin Wall, and even a dog parachute. I was amazed by Dr. Turk's knowledge of the aircraft on display. He was a colonel during the Vietnam War, so he offered us a wealth of knowledge. Too bad we didn't have more time. We only scratched the surface of what the massive museum has to offer.
Next on the agenda was a tour of the "Turk Museum," as Dr. Turk's house has become affectionately known. He traveled all around the world in the military, and continues to do so today, so he has accumulated an amazing collection of artifacts from every continent. The centerpiece is a beautiful hand carved cabinet from Spain with stories from ancient Rome to medieval Europe. He also has a large collection of chess sets, statues, spears, clubs, swords, and furniture from his travels. I was quite impressed and overwhelmed with the site of it all.
Later, we went out to dinner and learned more about Dr. Turk. He was a colonel in Vietnam where he worked as a flight surgeon. He was stationed in many places around the world until he retired and went into trauma surgery. Occasionally, he would go on medical missions to places like Haiti with new doctors. Later, he became a professor, and he continues to lecture medical students. The job is great for him because he can take a lot of time off to travel. This year alone, he has been to Antarctica, the Galapagos Islands, Greenland, and France, and he plans to go on an African safari in November.
After dinner, Dr. Turk showed us his African room and we shared some more travel stories. Reuniting with someone who has traveled so extensively was the perfect way to start my new trip. I am now even more exited to continue my journey through South America.
The photo album for this entry is here.