Saturday, July 20, 2024

Hillbilly Coffee, Littlerock, Washington

Yes, coffee is always a good idea

After a few hours of hiking or mountain biking in the Capitol State Forest and you are in serious need of a coffee, what to do? If you have come out of the hills via Waddell Creek Road SW or Mima Road SW, turn east onto 128th Street SW, drive about three quarters of a mile, and you come upon Hillbilly Beans, the "Cawfee Shack in Littlerock, WA." Look for the "Espresso Bar" sign, an old Dodge truck, various signs, and wood cows. Good stuff!

Was this once a neon sign?
The Hillbilly Cawfee truck 
Pull up to the cow and order your espresso
Yup, coffee makes friends

Trail to Fuzzy Top mountain in the Capital State Forest. This may be old growth (i.e., never logged).

The Capital Forest is criss-crossed with gravel roads suitable for mountain biking. And a select number of trails take the hiker to various peaks. It is a nice resource just a few miles southwest of Olympia. 

I took the coffee pictures on Fuji Acros 100 film with my Leica M2 and the terrific 4th generation 35mm ƒ/2 Summicron lens (the last pre-aspherical design). The view of the trail to Fuzzy Top mountain was with my brand new Zeiss Biogon 21mm ƒ/4.5 ZM lens. It is a Leica M mount lens based on the famous Zeiss Biogons of the 1960s (such as the 38mm version used on the Hasselblad SWC camera). Praus Productions in Rochester, NY, developed the film, and I scanned it with my Nikon Coolscan 5000 film scanner.. 

Friday, July 12, 2024

At The Vintage - Hot Springs, North Carolina

Every year (except during the pandemic), BMW lovers from far and wide converge in western North Carolina to attend The Vintage. The event is held in the town of Hot Springs, a few miles north of Asheville. It is a fun time to share stories, gaze and admire your friends' antique BMWs, and admire how much they must have spent on the meticulous paint jobs and reupholstering (using the correct type of paint, leather, etc.). And you can swap parts and tell tall tales. 

I attended The Vintage in 2017 and 2018. My little car chugged along happily and did very well on the twists and turns of the Blue Ridge Parkway. Running over 2000 miles with some aggressive driving blasted out carbon and other gunk from the cylinders and fuel injectors.

Here is a small sampling of the cars gathered at Hot Springs and at the venue motel, the Hampton Inn & Suites in Fletcher. 

Hot Springs

Rare Baur TopCabriolet version of the E21 body, 1978-1981. Probably not officially imported to USA.

Baur was a German company that modified BMW sedans into convertibles or semi-convertibles. The E21 body had only been designed as a hardtop, so it was not rigid enough to remove the entire top. Therefore, you see this unusual partial open top.
Beautiful clean US model 320i (note the 5 mph bumpers), 1975-1983

The E21 was the first 3-series. It followed the famous 2002 model in 1975 and was in production until 1983.

BMW 700 Saloon, minus its bumpers, 1959-1965, 30 hp.
BMW Isetta (1955-1962), with one-cylinder, four-stroke, 247 cc motorcycle engine
BMW 600 Saloon, with single rear door and 582 cc boxer engine, 1957-1959
Paint an Isetta - show your artistic talents

Fletcher, NC

Bauer TopCabriolet version of the famous 2002 coupe (1971-1974?). The wheels are modern.
2002 Touring (1971-1974), a fastback version of the 2002 sedan. This was rare and possibly not officially imported to USA.
The gorgeous 3.0 CSI version of the E9 body (1971-1975; this one probably 1974)
The ever-popular 2002 sedan, this one pre-1972 or 1973
Another 2002 sedan without front bumper and with modern wheels. Note the swing-out quarter window.
E-28 4-door sedan (1981-1988), possibly a European model (note small bumpers)

Heading Home

The Blue Ridge Parkway is a fun way to head west out of Asheville. My little car has nimble steering with excellent feedback for the winding roadway, and had no power issues despite its little 1800cc engine. I did not notice any obvious loss of power even at 6000 ft elevation. This car has Bosch K-Jetronic fuel injection, which may adjust the fuel mixture for changing altitude.

My E21 320i, purchased new in Houston, Texas. Richard Balsam Overlook.
Where did that fog and freezing rain come from? 

I bought this little car in Houston, a year after moving there with a brown non-air conditioned Buick. Summer of 1980 was just unbearable in the city, and so was the Buick.

April 1981, Houston, Texas (badly exposed Kodachrome slide). This grass strip is now the Westpark Tollway. 

This ends our short visit to The Vintage. I wrote about the Blue Ridge Parkway in 2021 and the road to Hot Springs in 2018. I will most likely not return to The Vintage. It is a long drive from the Pacific Northwest to North Carolina. Thanks for riding along!

Thursday, July 4, 2024

From the Archives: July 4, 1944, celebrations, Post Island, Massachusetts

The family beach cottage (house), Post Island, Quincy, Massachusetts, USA

My dad spent part of World War II in Puerto Rico working for the US Navy. He was a civilian engineer, and when the project ended, he returned home to Boston. His sister and brother-in-law owned a cottage (house) on the shore at Post Island, a section of the Hough's Neck Peninsula that projects out into Massachusetts Bay. He joined them and the other beach residents for old-fashioned 4th of July celebrations.

Uncle Cliff and the horseshoes
The Penny search in the sand
Aunt Mary at the potato race
Watermelon consumption contest
Costume contest
Tennis champions with non-tennis shoes
Enjoying a short one in a genuine woody station wagon
Dianne enjoying a mackerel
Dulcie, Aunt Mary, and Joe on the beach

These Kodachromes record a world that looks so ordinary, so Americana. Children are enjoying a holiday at the beach. The gents are building an addition to a house. Girls are playing tennis. The very innocence of these scenes is the point. 

War was waging on three continents. Terrific battles were being waged on the Pacific Islands, in France and China, and on the horrifying Eastern Front. Civilians in China and Russia were starving. Most families in these pictures had a relative or neighbor overseas or on the oceans. 

But in Massachusetts on this sunny July day, life looked so normal. There was no destruction, hunger, or fear. The houses were neat and intact. The lights were on. By 1944, civilians could buy butter, sugar, coffee, and gasoline, although the latter may have still been rationed. The miseries of war seemed far away.

In a total contrast, in 1944, my mother was a child in Berlin. Life there was much more brutal.

My dad was able to afford and buy 35mm Kodachrome film and use it for family snapshots. Possibly he had bought the rolls at the navy post exchange on Puerto Rico before he returned to the mainland, but regardless, he felt secure enough in its availability to use it for casual photographs. It underscores the amazing capability of our industrial output. 

These photographs are the original 35mm Kodachrome. I think the film speed was Weston 8 or approximately ASA 10. I am not sure if my dad used an electronic light meter then. The camera might have been his Perfex, made by the Candid Camera Corporation of Chicago, Illinois, with unknown 50mm lens. I scanned these slides on my Nikon CoolScan 5000 film scanner, operated by NikonScan software on a Windows 7 computer.

Friday, June 28, 2024

Dinosaurs and Toilets of Olympia (Oly 09)

Welcome to my Jaws (100 mm ƒ/3.5 Planar lens)

There are dinosaurs in Olympia! They live (and eat?) at Eastside Big Tom. Tom is a fried food emporium of the healthiest, most calorific treats one could imagine. According to Experience Olympia & Beyond,

Hungry dinosaurs, milkshakes featuring deep-fried bacon and maple, and a mouthwatering smashed burger dripping with goop sauce - Eastside Big Tom is a direct ticket straight back to the best parts of your childhood.

We could stop now and it would be enough. The dinosaurs, the ambiance that takes you back to the best parts of your childhood, the smashed-burger dripping with sauce that runs down your chin and you don’t even care who sees it. But there are delights like the Bellicose Badger shake (featuring deep-fried bacon and maple) and the Birthday Cake soft-serve ice cream cone waiting in the wings. Customers wait with baited breath for Michael to share the monthly special shake, named after an animal (not the ingredients) in alphabetical order. Prior to the Bellicose Badger he featured the Aggravated Aardvark (peanut butter and pickle juice). These shakes may sound a bit odd, but for the life of me I can’t understand why everyone isn’t putting deep fried bacon in their shakes. It’s amazing.
Bacon milkshake?? I may need to try this one. 

Form two lines and order your treats. You can also sit behind the main building. (50mm Distagon lens)
Nice decorated potties (50mm Distagon ƒ/4 lens)

This is American folk art of the best type, hand painted with care and creativity. There is much more in and around Olympia, so I want to explore and record.

I took these photographs with my Hasselblad 501CM camera using Fuji NPS160 film, tripod-mounted. This was long-expired film, but it had been frozen for 20 years.

Sunday, June 23, 2024

The Giant Duck (Crow?) of Chehalis, Washington (Abandoned Films 14)

They grow them big in Washington State. Sadly, I think this big fellow does not host visitors any more nor quack or caw. 

The Yard Birds Swap Meet was a staple of the Centralia-Chehalis community for decades. According to the Yard Birds web page, which, as of May 2024, was still online,

Welcome to the �most unique� Yard Birds Mall! Seven acres of shopping under one giant roof! Yard Birds has a rich history of being a one stop shopping destination, and this reputation holds true today. With over 60 independent merchants on both floors selling everything from antiques, toys, clothes, video games, music, furniture, jewelry, steampunk accessories, as well as services such as hair styling, auto repair, custom stone countertops, and guitar lessons. We�re more than a Mall, we�re a family of merchants. Whatever you�re looking for, chances are you�ll find it at Yard Birds!

The last tenants and businesses were evicted from Yard Birds mall in November of 2022. Since then, it is unclear what the owners of the property have been doing or renovating.

Later, I will post some black and white pictures from Chehalis. 

I took these photographs on my Hasselblad 501CM camera with the 50mm ƒ/4 Distagon lens using long-expired Fujicolor NPS160 film. It had been in my freezer for over 20 years, but certainly was not fresh. I gave it extra exposure and used EI=80. A polarizing filter emphasized the blue of the brilliant clear sky. 


Sunday, June 16, 2024

On the Boat to Dover - from the Archives, 1979

On 20-21 March of 1969, I completed my train trip across Europe, taking the sleeper from Munich to London. The train left at dusk, and I slept through Stuttgart, Frankfurt, Köln, and other German cities, awakening in Belgium. My companion in the compartment was an American anthropologist en route to USA. He had hominid teeth in a briefcase that was hand-cuffed to his wrist. I can't recall if he slept with his teeth, but he took them to Abendessen und Frühstück. In Ostend, we boarded a ferry boat for a comfortable and remarkably warm crossing of the English Channel to Dover.

White Cliffs of Dover (Tri-X film, Nikkormat FTn camera, 105mm ƒ/2.5 Nikkor lens, orange filter)

The winter light was spectacular, and I recall the White Cliffs of Dover glowing in the morning sun. The cliffs are composed of Late Cretaceous chalk streaked with lenses of flint. I used an orange filter to enhance the clouds and glowing cliffs. 

Approaching Dover
The English Channel

Today, most travelers take the Channel Tunnel (Chunnel) with no need to change trains. It may be direct, quick, and efficient, but you lose there romance of the sea crossing.  

We finished our journey with the train into London St. Pancras station. I checked into a cheap hotel (note the repeated theme of cheap) and spent two days exploring London. In James Park, a flying duck deposited a dump on my wool coat. I bought a couple of souvenirs at Selfridges. 

When it was time to leave, I bought a TWA ticket to Boston for $63. That was the period when TWA and Pan Am were matching (trying to destroy) Sir Freddie Laker's no frills Laker Airways with cheap cross-Atlantic flights. In 1982, Laker went into bankruptcy, and Pan Am and TWA promptly raised their ticket prices. 

To buy the cheap TWA ticket, you had to go to the downtown ticket office and check if one of the bargain seats was available. It was mid-week in winter, so I ended up with three seats to myself. It was modestly civilized to fly in that era, although people smoked onboard. Thus ended my seven months in Europe. 

Thank you, Dear Readers, for riding along.

Sunday, June 9, 2024

Where Evil Reigned: the Bürgerbräukeller and Dachau (Munich) - from the Archives 1979

The Bürgerbräukeller

Bürgerbräukeller (no longer extant)

In 1923, Adolf Hitler and his closest followers and cronies gathered in the Bürgerbräukeller, a huge beer hall in the Haidhausen district of Munich. It had been one of the main gathering places of the Nazi Party in the early 1920s. On 8-9 November of 1923, he and his closest followers marched to the Bürgerbräukeller and declared a putsch, or a coup d'état, to overthrow the Bavarian government. The march to the beer hall was inspired by Mussolini's March to Rome. The police were ready and crushed the putsch, resulting in 19 deaths among the police and putschists. Adolf Hitler was arrested two days later and tried for treason. 

Hitler brilliantly used the trial as a propaganda mouthpiece rather than a defense of his actions. He claimed he was being persecuted, that the judges were corrupt, and that he was a German patriot. The trial thrust this minor figure and his evil Nazi party into the country's consciousness. The rest is gruesome history. Compare with a certain trial that recently ended in Manhattan for another demagog, who claims he is being politically persecuted.

Hitler was convicted to five years in the Landsberg prison, of which he served five months. There, he wrote his infamous political autobiography, Mein Kampf (“My Struggle”), which later became obligatory reading for Germans. Compare and contrast with "Agenda 47" and the Heritage Foundation's "Project 2025," both radical blueprints to reshape American government and society. They clearly outline how they plan to impose authoritative government and eliminate many of the checks and balances of our current political system.. 

My friends took me to the  Bürgerbräukeller on Saturday evening, a good way to get a taste of authentic Bavarian beer hall culture. The crowd was mellow, and the obligatory stein of beer was 1-litre. After two of them, I was buzzy. The pretzels and sausages were similarly ponderous. The cig smoke rose to the ceiling, adding to the fog of stale air and aroma of spilled beer. The entertainment early in the evening was very Bavarian. Strong gents tried to pull each other over using rings attached to one finger. They also carried big rocks around the stage using a rope in their teeth. Finally, pretty Bavarian ladies sang ballads and high-stepped.  

The Bürgerbräukeller no longer exists. It was demolished in 1979 as part of a redevelopment program in Munich. I am glad I had the opportunity to see the infamous beer hall.


The National Socialist (Nazi) government established the Dachau concentration camp in March 1933 at an old munitions plant in the town of Dachau, about 10 miles northwest of Munich. The camp remained in operation during the entire time of the Nazi government. American troops finally liberated the camp on April 29, 1945. 

 "Arbeit macht frei" ("work sets you free") gate

This infamous gate was stolen in 2014 and recovered near Bergen, Norway, in 2016. The mysterious thieves were never found. This slogan is one of the more cynical and cruel examples of Nazi propaganda. Most prisoners found freedom in death.

Dachau was ominous and horrifying, especially on a gloomy March day. I had never been to a site like this before. How could this happen? A few months before, I read William Shirer's The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, possibly the definitive record of the 20th century's darkest years. But this monumental record of the dark years does not give answers.

Long-term readers may remember I visited Auschwitz-Birkenau in Poland. Please click the link to see these pictures. 

This ended my short visit to Munich. Next: the train ride to London. 

Sunday, June 2, 2024

Winter Stopover in Munich, Germany - from the Archives 1979

En route to the UK and my eventual flight back to USA, my next stop after Salzburg was Munich, Germany. I had visited Munich many times when I was a child, but do not remember much from these earlier trips. A childhood friend lived in Munich, but his apartment was too cramped to accommodate me, so I booked a modest (= cheap) room in a pension. Winter travel in Europe was very convenient in this way in the old days. 

The Munich Haupbanhof is a bustling transportation center with trains coming and going all day and through much of the night. You can catch a train to almost any city in even the furthest corner of Europe, although connections into the Balkans can be a bit sketchy. The bahnhof is a mixture of add-ons and reconstructions, without a coordinated architectural look. I do not know if the main platforms still look like my 1979 photograph.

If World War II had resulted in a different outcome, we might have seen a totally different station and rail network. Adolf Hitler envisioned an incredibly ambitious Breitspurbahn (broad-gauge railway) network using 3,000 mm (9 ft 10⅛ in) track. The system would connect the far reaches of the Reich, with lines leading to India (!), Baku (= oil), and even to Fairbanks. The railroad stations for these new super trains would be enormous ornate domed buildings, with gigantism being the overall motif, similar to the plans to rebuild Berlin. The double decker rail cars would be equipped with lounges, a cinema, and luxury restaurants (similar to ocean liners). Railroad engineers and economists knew the plan was utterly hopeless, but nevertheless, some 200 engineers and officials worked on plans during the war. They were the lucky ones, because this job kept them out of the Eastern Front. 

View from the Rathaus of the Frauenkirche (Nikkor 28mm ƒ/3.5 lens with orange filter)

Whenever I visit an unfamiliar city, I try to find a high tower or hill from which to see the setting. Marienplatz is the historic center of Munich, a gathering place since Henry the Lion founded the city in 1158. I love visiting cities where history engulfs you. Most tourists come to Marienplatz when they first arrive.

Chilling out at the Rathaus

A nice day in the sun. As I recall, old ladies in Germany always wore thick heavy coats, even on comfortable days with sun.

Unhappy Greeks wondering what happened to their bodies

Leo von Klenze (1784–1864), architect to the court of Ludwig I, built the Munich Glyptothek. Unhappy Greek, Roman and Etruscan heads and bodies hang around. Will these guys will ever return to their original homes? Are their bodies still back home?

Chinesischer Turm at the Englischer Garten. 1-litre beer steins?
Angel of Peace (Friedensengel)

One could spend weeks in Munich taking in the art, architecture, and culture. Well, that applies to most of Europe. Definitely go there - watch, absorb, eat, enjoy, live life.

To be continued next week.