Talladega, Alabama

For every motoring enthusiast and especially those of motor racing, NASCAR, and more, then a visit to the Talladega Speedway and International Motorsports Hall of Fame is a ‘got to do it at least once!’ deal that you don’t want to miss.

There is an abundance of cars from all eras of motor racing within the museum.

There are many cabinets with memorabilia from drivers photos, race suits, flags, helmets, collector cars, you name it! They probably have it there.

Three large connecting buildings house cars that are restored, some are still original and unrestored. There are a few wrecks from one of the largest NASCAR race accidents in history involving 14 cars in 1996. There are dirt track cars, drag cars and midgets. Throw in a few motor bikes just for good measure.

The Hall of fame honors men and women from motor sports with a cabinet holding a trophy and lit description of their racing career. Around the walls are drawings of recipients, spectacular paintings of race cars and outside there is even one of the ocean racing boats, Dale Earnhardt’s tour bus, Richard Petty’s plane. It’s wild!

Do you remember the movie with Will Ferrell as Ricky Bobby in, Talladega Nights? The museum also has Ricky Bobby’s Wonder Bread car used in the film! I need to watch that movie again now.

Next we took the tour bus over to the track. Bobby 😂😉 (not Ricky Bobby) was our host and as Bobby drove us around I tried to capture as much information as fast as my fingers could type.

Talladega is the biggest and most competitive track in the US for NASCAR racing.

The track is 2.6 miles long, 188 laps will give you a full 500 mile radius.

During race week it is estimated some 200,000 people would be here between fans, officials, drivers, crew, law enforcement, first responders, vendors, workers etc!

We entered the North tunnel that takes you under the track and into the infield where during a race some 50,000 people can be found camping!

The track has its own care facility/hospital for race days. The garages house up to 62 vehicles. Goodyear has its own building for tyres/tires changing and balancing any of the race cars where needed.

There are some specialty seating areas where you can join a club for a premium price to enjoy air conditioned restrooms, special food pavilion and covered seating with its own tv screens to enjoy the race on the whole track. This ‘club’ sits near the checkered line.

Moving right along and we didn’t get to drive round the track in the bus or get out to experience it.

Around the top of the stadium, in special booths, each team can have two spotters watching the race and feeding info back to the garage.

The track was built on a WWII air base. The two airstrips remain on the infield and are now RV hookup spaces.

Near the ‘front line’ there is a motor home hook up area called Front Runners club, Also pay a premium price for these spots. They have a view of a 4 stories high wall, where cars are going to be hanging on sideways above the yellow line!

There you have it, would lovvvve to see a race there but can at least say we have visited and taken in the sheer size of this famous speedway.

Shake ‘n’ bake!

Kat xo

P.S. there was no Lightning McQueen or Hudson Hornet kidlets 😉

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The Great Spaghetti Western

Jack and I are headed off this morning down to Leonard, Texas and The Texas Ten Horns annual match – The Great Spaghetti Western.

What better way to start the weekend with rubbish on tv last night, we got to watching Sergio Leone’s all time greatest Spaghetti Western trilogy starring Clint Eastwood – A Fistful of Dollars, A Few Dollars More and The Good, The Bad and The Ugly.

We got through the first two and will have to watch the other one later.

Wherever you may be this weekend and if you are shooting, tear it up!, have fun! and stay safe!

Kat xo

Airside

Jack and I are ready for our next adventure.

We are through security and sitting ready for boarding at Brisbane.

To all our family and friends, take care, love and hugs and all that jazz!

To all our friends on the other side of the world – see you on a range real soon!!!

Kat xo

Off to Santa Monica

This morning we headed for Santa Monica, taking in the sights of Venice Beach along the way.

The Hop On and Hop Off Bus service is great and we were able to pick it up not far from the hotel.

Marina del Rey has lots of money tied up in yachts and luxury motorboats. It is the largest small boat marina in the US. When it was first built and dredged by the Army Corp Engineers in the 1940’s it was the largest small boat marina in the world. The county owns all the land in this area and receives rent for all the properties developed here. This keeps it viable and profitable.

This stop we change buses and started the next leg from the marina to the coast.

Driving through the streets of Venice to Santa Monica you’d be forgiven for thinking we were somewhere like Byron Bay (on steroids). It’s an eclectic mix of shops and street art, people walking their dogs, exercising, bike riding, skateboards etc

I imagine this place would be packed during the summer months and would be very limited on parking areas. Unlike the almost empty car parks at the moment.

Next stop Santa Monica Pier and the end of Route 66.

September 1909, after 16 months, the first West Coast concrete pier was opened for public access.

The Merry Go Round has since been designated a National Historic Landmark, the building itself is old and beautiful but the Wurlitzer player and merry-go-round are exquisitely preserved!

We then walked from here along the pedestrian path all the way to Venice Beach, this we did not enjoy so much. Full of interesting people selling unusual and for the most part ‘crap’ wares. There were some who had really decent artworks though. I do however understand their need for trying to make some money and for that I give them credit for.

We didn’t even make it down as far as the ‘muscle’ Beach for which we have seen in movies. We decided to get up off the strip and onto the main road to catch the bus and were thankful for where we had got to with the bus approaching the stop as we arrived!

We were ready to get back to the hotel, retrieve our luggage and relax for the afternoon.

For now, we are resting easy in the lounge, having checked in, a few drinks and showered waiting for our flight.

Aahhhh life is good! What another fabulous day with my darling Jack, filled with adventures at many a twist and turn!

Kat xo

And We’re Off

Had a casual afternoon at the Will Rogers World Airport only to have our flight (leg 1) delayed to Phoenix.

Eventually it’s boarding, time, the plane is packed and people assume there is goi h to be space for them not to have anyone sit between them.

Think again sunshine! Plane is packed, Jack and I are split up for this leg.

Thank you for flying Southwest this evening and we apologize again for the delay.

Kat xo

Colditz Castle, Germany

With a side trip via Dresden on Saturday afternoon August 19th, we wound our way through the German countryside to Colditz.

Arriving late afternoon, the very helpful tourist information girl rang around countless hotels and pension’s (pronounced pensh-ee-on) to no avail. Jack wandered off down around the corner to one he had stayed at 12 years ago and found the same guy running it with a room available.

Done! We were checked in and the room, I will add, was white walled, rather large and fresh compared to the burgundy wallpapered tiny room of Prague.

Being beer o’clock we took a short walk back into the square to find no pubs!?? Back to the Pension and asked about a watering hole.

He told us there was a pub up a side street, which I had seen outside umbrellas that were down. Odd for a Saturday afternoon but he assured us it would be open at 5pm.

Off we trot to find that it doesn’t open until 6pm!!!?? What is this place? Lol!

Okay so we decide to take a casual stroll up to the castle and then see a sign for another pub. Well it’s not like we don’t have time to find it and see if it is open.

Walking uphill and earning that Weiss Bier we found the little hidden pub and yes our best Little amount of German ordered a couple and went out to the Biergarten. Prost!

Two rounds later and we headed back down the hill to the first pub.

It’s bustling (lol!) with 5 patrons watching soccer. We take a corner booth under the screen and have a Guinness limited choices here and that’s when I spy the Four Roses Bourbon in the corner shelf from Kentucky!! Schnitzel followed with the next round before returning to the room.

Sunday morning we are up to the castle for a tour and our guide Alex is a mix of U.K., Polish and living in Germany.

Colditz Castle in the saxony state of Germany had begun construction in 1046 and was burnt down twice.

Colditz has a long Royal history before it was otherwise used as an asylum, a children’s home, an old people’s home and during 1939-1945 was a concentration camp.

The more modern part of the building was added in the 1800’s and is now the Jugendhergeege Youth Hostel and to the right of it is the music school where students, orchestras and performers from many countries come to play.

Jack recognizes a section has changed and asks Alex about it. In 2006 they removed one section to reveal what would have been the Royal baths with tiered gardens behind.

Back to the War period and many of you may know some of the Colditz story or have seen the documentary regarding the attempted escape with the plane.

During this time 320 escapes were attempted, 28 were successful with the intended route into Switzerland some 640km away.

Around 5-600 prisoners were held here at any one time with numbers increasing towards the end of the war. Interestingly of those, 21 Australians and 12 New Zealanders were held captive here.

Through the castle to the back section and we can see the back of the building to the officers quarters and the prisoners quarters to the right. Over the wall behind us is forest and a grass field where prisoners used to play soccer.

As you can see, a great place to escape but there would have been machine guns and barbwire.

A partial wall left in the trees is where two escapees got out. One stole a bike and made it to Switzerland in just 8 days! The other walked his way there in 5 months!

In 1939, 700 Polish prisoners were in Colditz and was then changed to imprison high profile prisoners.

These prisoners were VIP’s with some related to Churchill or the Queen and other high profile families or ranking.

The Castle used to be a drab grey which the Germans saw as formidable and the Captain in charge thought that being built on 30m of solid rock that it could not be escaped from let alone tunneled out of!

The French created a tunnel below and through Colditz taking them just a mere 9 months to do so.

There were 150 guards at the beginning and by the end 300 – 1 guard to every 2 prisoners.

As this was(?) run under the Geneva Convention, prisoners were allowed to be punished with solitary confinement. This just gave most of them more time to dream up escapes and ways to keep the guards busy. They were able to time the guards movements and use the information for their plans. Guards were tied up 4 times a day with roll calls and keeping track of where all the prisoners were.

An Englishman and a Dutchman were the first to attempt escape from Colditz.

Art Neive cut a German uniform from a Polish one which was supposed to be dyed the correct colour. Being a little impatient he escapes anyway and nearly blew his cover by taking a piece of chocolate from his pocket to which the Germans had not seen such luxury in more than 2 years.

He had escaped with another prisoner through the back of the opera theatre past 4 guards unnoticed. He escapes 9 times during that period and was killed years later in and IRA bombing. He was your original 007 and was with a Belgium woman who was considered the original ‘Q’. It is said that this is where Ian Fleming got the ideas for his James Bond books.

We headed up the spiral staircase to the loft and watched a shortened version of the very same documentary that Jack and I had happened across on tv just a few months earlier!

The guy in the documentary with some aerodynamic experts recreated the glider and launching that had taken place by a couple of British Air Force pilots during their Colditz internment.

It really is impressive to think they they actually built a glider hidden away behind a false wall right under the guards noses! They found books on aerodynamics in the prison library and set about to build it with stuff just laying around.

The two airmen had said it wasn’t that hard there were supplies in hallways and other areas just for the taking that wouldn’t be noticed if gone.

They used their gingham bedsheets and made a dope from porridge to coat it with so the fabric would be taute.

The only photo of proof it actually existed was taken by a journalist that was with the Americans when they liberated Colditz.

Behind the wall where the photo display board, was where they built the glider in just 1 year.

The replica in the attic has been made using the exact plans the airmen came up with.

Lastly we went into the 1623 chapel. It was renovated much later and the back wall has only just been opened up to reveal the French tunnel work.

When the French discovered the gap at the back, they started creating a tunnel whilst the French organist played and the French choir would sing all day.

The mousetrap we saw in the first museum would sit underneath an organ pedal and if the guards were around it could turn off the power to the tunnel and the diggers would go silent.

The tunnel we saw in the cellar was just short of 46m. It is said that a young electrician was sent down to the cellar at the same time 3 French Officers landed in there. Of course they were caught and were made cement the hole back in (now removed again for their display purposes).

Also the rubble that they had taken out of the tunnels was deposited on the roof of the Chapel which later collapsed and they were made pay for the repairs.

Finally we were shown the section of roof the glider was launched from and the field in which it landed and indeed could possibly have landed if they had had the chance to attempt the escape in the glider.

A great experience to see it after seeing the history documentary.

Onto Freising we went for our final stop before departing Munich.

Cheers

Kat xo