Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Best LA Trip Ever!


Got to JFK in record time. Got on jetBlue Flight 291 on a newer Airbus A320 "Blue Fox", with nonstop service to Burbank. Awesome flight, as usual the service rocks and the 36 channels of live Direct TV and comfortable leather seat make flying very easy. Arrived in Burbank a little early, got my baggage, and met up with my good friend and host for the weekend, Orlando. We then traveled to his house in the Antelope Valley in LA County. Along the way, we stopped at Albertsons, which has to be the most awesome food store I have ever seen, to pick up items for a BBQ. At his house, I met Orlando's awesome wife Star and little truckie son Hunter. We then BBQ, and chilled by the fire pit relaxing before what would be a very busy weekend.


We awoke early on the morning of day two, and went to Crazy Otto's for breakfast. Great selection, good food, big portion, and reasonable prices. We were supposed to fly with the LA County Sherriffs, but I declined due to my not flying very easy. So off we went to LA, and stopped by Station 41 to photograph my favorite city Engine and Rescue. We then proceeded to LA City Station 27 , where we photographed every piece of apparatus in the big, beautiful new station. We then went next door to the old LA Fire Station 27, which is now the fire museum. What an awesome place and awesome collection of historic LAFD pieces with a friendly staff to answer your questions. We had lunch with the staff, which was a delicious Sloppy Joe sandwich, something I had not had in a long time. It was really good.

After leaving the Fire Musuem, we headed back to Orlando's house where we changed and headed to Lancaster to ride along with LAFD Engine 33, which according to Firehouse Magazines Run Survey and other sources, is the third busiest engine in the country. Station 33 serves the City Of Lancaster, which is very inner-urban in the middle of the desert. It's quite common to see prostitutes walking down the street, and gang violence.
The firehouse is huge and brand new, built in 2000. It houses an Paramedic Engine, Tiller Quint, Paramedic Sqaud, Battalion Chief, Spare Squad, and a Utility. Shortly after touring the station, we recieved our first run, with the squad for chest pain. It would be one of the many runs we went on during the evening, including runs for a TC (Traffic Collision) and a shooting. I really like the way LACoFD dispatches. It goes "Engine 33, Squad 33, Shooting, Avenue L-14 by M-18 ". The rest of the information is obtained from the mobile data terminal found in each rig, as are unit status. The crew on duty that night was awesome. They are among some of the best, freindliest, most positive and professional firefighters I have ever met. T I feel really privledged to have been able to ride along there, and am very inspired by them. With the volume they handle, especially the volume of BS EMS calls, their attitude was really professional and refreshing, consistent no matter what the call. The whole LA area is lucky to have such a consistent and professional fire and EMS service. We also had a great meal consisiting of hamburgers, beans, corn on the cob and for desert, fresh brownies with ice cream. And how could I forget, it was so awesome to ride to a call with the Q going, the headsets on (how could anyone have a fire apparatus without headsets? They rock!) and a paramedic squad leading us in. Very Johhny and Roy! My favorite quote, after responding to a 19 y/o male with testicle pain at 4 in the morning, was "Johhny and Roy Didn't do this".


Well, after no sleep the night before, we left Station 33 and headed to pick up our friend John G. in Brentwood. We then headed down to Fireboat 2, the most powerful fireboat in the world. Fireboat 2 is stationed at 112. Placed into service in 2003, this fireboat which was built on a modified tug scheme, is capable of flowing 38,000 gallons per minute. It can move in any direction, with its "eggbeater" type propulsion system. On board, this carries everything a regular fire engine or truck does, including hoses, chainsaws, rescue equipment etc. The boat has many awesome features, look for a profile coming soon to, and a model from Code 3 of this boat. We ended our visit to Fireboat 2-Station 112 with a great lunch of Shrimp Tacos, Guacomole, and beans.

After the boat tour and ride, we headed to LAX Airport, LAFD Station 80. We looked over and photographed their awesome airport crash rescue trucks. We then went over to the other side of the aiport, and visited Station 51. They have an awesome, and unique lime green 1996 Seagrave Engine, and a Chrome Yellow Seagrave spare, along with a white-over-lime RA. These are the only lime apparatus in the city, besides the ARFF trucks, since they serve the airport. After visiting the airport stations, we traveled to downtown LA and the City shops, which were huge and AWESOME!!! Probaly the cleanest, most organized and self suffcient fire apparatus shops I have ever seen. They have an Triple (Engine) shop, Rescue Ambulance and Light Apparatus shop, Aerial Shop, Body Shop, Paint Shop, Parts Department, Tool Department, "Turnout World", Wood Shop, Metal Shop, Engine Shop, Transmission Shop, Small Engine Shop, Apparatus Engineering Office, SCBA repair shop, etc etc etc. While there, I got to see some cool apparatus, including the brand new Pierce Arrow XT USAR, Heavy Rescue 56 and Spare Heavy Rescue 56, an LAFD Van Ambulance, an LAFD Freightliner Ambulance, and a whole ton of other stuff I had been wanting to see. After salivating over the awesomeness of the shops, we then headed to our final stop, the Frank Hodgkins Training Center, where we got to photograph the beautiful LAFD Engine 209, a 2004 Seagrave. Tired from a busy weekend, we then headed back to Orlando's to rest.


Day four started with me parting ways with Orlando, who was off to work, and me renting a car. I then headed to NBC Studios, where I wanted to get tickets for Jay Leno's Tonight Show that evening. Since Jay is on vacation, no tickets were available. I did however, decide to take the NBC Studio Tour, of which I was the only one on the tour, so the tour was customized to me. Since it was a copyrighted studio, no photographs were allowed. But it was awesome to see a real live studio, and go up onto the Tonight Show stage. Did you know that couch that Jay's guests sit on a $55,000 dollar couch loaded with features, such as the ability to hydraulically raise/lower itself based on the guests height? After NBC, I drove around for a while, exploring the city. I checked into my hotel, went for a swim, went walking around Sunset Blvd. for about 2 hours, had dinner, and went for another swim. My hotel, the Best Western Sunset Plaza, was far from what you would imagine a Best Western to be. It was expensive, but totally worth it. The rooms were huge, beds comfortable, layout awesome, and pool amazing.


Day five began with a swim, then it was off to Nate and Al's in Beverly Hills for an great breakfast. I then explored some more, before it was time to head to Burbank Airport (an awesome airport by the way....everybody at the small airport is so freindly!) to catch my flight on jetBlue Flight 292 with nonstop direct service to JFK. As usual, jetBlue was an awesome time.

There were many other elements to my trip that I'm probaly forgetting, so that's just a breif overview. Don't forget to check out the photos!

I'd like to thankmy good friend Orlando from for hosting me and taking me around, and using his many,many LAFD hooks to show me around. I had an awesome time, to say the least. I had probaly the best vacation of my adult life, and the best buffing trip ever. I can't wait for my next visit!

Please feel free to ask me any questions you may have about the photos or the trip, and I'd be more than happy to answer them.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Back From Fort Lauderdale!!

Well, I'm back from Fort Lauderdale and I had an awesome time. I went from Tuesday, June 14th till Friday, June 17th 2005. The weather, for the most part, was nice. It was actually cooler than NY!

The flight on jetBlue was awesome, as usual. I flew on a newer Airbus A320, "True Blue". On time, comfortable leather seats, and live 36 channel Direct TV, plus awesome service at a great price. Really can't beat it. Got into FLL on time, what a nice airport. The rental car facility was really nice and convenient, a short inside walk from my terminal. And as usual with Enterprise, I got a free upgrade from a mid size car to a Ford Explorer.

The hotel, the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in nearby Hollywood, was awesome. I've never been to a place quite like it. It's a 4-star hotel. Everything is musically-themed. Lots of rock-and-roll memorbilia throughout. All the doors have guitar shaped pulls. The room in the Hotel was AWESOME! Huge room. Extremely luxurious and comfortable bed with really nice mattress, soft sheets and comforter, and lots of soft plump pillows. Huge bathroom with double sink and HUGE shower and bathtub, with tons of soaps and bathroom accesories. Awesome Tivoli stereo system/DVD player in the room with large TV. Very well stocked minibar with snacks and such. Awesome view of the pool area from the room. In room safe and lots of cabinets and drawers. Nice bathrobe. Very well appointed and very nicely decorated room. The casino was nice, but all gaming machines and a poker pit. That's OK though, I don't know how to play the table games. Watched some of a Texas Hold 'Em Tourney, which was interesting. The one thing I didn't like about the Casino was the overwhelming cigarette smoke and odor that was present. There were tons of chain smoking old ladies, and old ladies that would push you aside with their walkers (literally!). But the casino was a good time.....I lost overall first time playing slots, and I learned when you are up, get out!! I was up, thought I could do even better, and lost. Still fun, my machine that I chose was firefighter-themed. And the other one I played was EMS themed! Very cool!! Outside the casino area is a large area with some nice bars and restaurants in a really nice plaza overlooking a lake.

The pool was HUGE, and AWESOME!! I spent most of my time just relaxing there. Very clean and warm water. It is horseshoe shaped like a lake/lagoon with waterfalls, hot tubs, and waterslides integrated throughout. You can rent a float to float around on. You can hear the music playing underwater. And in the middle of the pool, on an "Island", is a really cool bar/restaurant and all the waitresses are in bikini's. One notch up on the drink lady's of the casino!!

On Wednesday, a friend who lives down there who is a retired FDNY FF and Kitbashing celebrity (FFMartin) was nice enough to spend the day showing me around and taking me on a photo hunt, the awesome results can be seen in the posted photos. There sure are tons of nice apparatus in the Broward County area! I was really impressed by the Fort Lauderdale Quantum's, very well spec'd and very nice looking as well. I like the newly-redesigned Quantum's. The Broward County USAR/TRT Unit was AWESOME!! Has every tool imaginable, and very nicely laid out as well. All the work on that was done by the Broward Sheriff Fire-Rescue Firefighters. Yes, Broward Sheriff Fire Rescue. The FD is part of the Sheriff's Department. The same Broward Sheriff's that were featured on many episodes of "Cops" was cool to see the actual department in person. I got every photo I wanted to get while I was down there!! Didn't make it to Miami, but there's always a next time!

Fort Lauderdale and area itself is a nice city. There are some really nice homes that have a waterway in their backyards for their boats. Kind of Venice-like. And the yachts down there are huge and amazing!! The beachs are really cool, very nicely kept and the water is so blue, I've never seen blue-r water!!!

On the way back, after we landed at JFK, I got to see on the runway at JFK an Embraer 190 Demo plane, which was at JFK doing some things with jetBlue. jetBlue is the E190's launch customer, and it is a 100-seater jet that jetBlue will begin taking delivery of soon. They have options to purchase up to 100, 7 will be delivered this year. It looks like an awesome plane. I wonder what new routes will be launched due to it's arrival? The E190 will compliment the A320's, and will free up the A320's from shorter routes for newer destinations and increased frequencies.

That's about it. Spent most of my time just relaxing and enjoying myself at the hotel. Overall, I had a really good time. Nice place to visit. It was a nice time which rejuvinated me. But as usual, I got a cold again now. Seems to happen every time I fly, lol. But after I get over the cold, it's back to my love of Paramedicine and pursuit of getting on as a career Firefighter.

And I actually managed to stay off the internet for 4 whole consecutive days!!!

The photos can be viewed at:

If you want to know anything more about the hotel or jetBlue, feel free to email me anytime at

So far this year, I've been to Los Angeles, San Diego, Boston, Baltimore, Washington DC, and Fort Lauderdale. I wonder where I will go next???