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.