July 1st - the Adventure begins: I huess when
I think,of adventure, I did not have this exact adventure in mind. All ended well but the first landing was interesting. We
departed Hollywood, Fl on schedule at 0600. The goal today was to get to Niagara Falls before the slow moving storms hit in
mid afternoon. We got off on time, we filed just to be sure that some of the pesky remenants of yesterdays storms did not
rain on our parade, and we sported a nice tailwind. METAR on our first stop was low IFR but it was forecast to improve long
before we got there and all of the reporting stations tomthe east, south and north were VFR. a) I should kow better than to
rely on a forecast. b) I should know better than to think any stop in the morning in Charlotte are will be clear. But we did
not worry because there were so many airports with decent weather that getting in somewhere would be easy.
we got closer to landing, Stanley Comwas not getting better so we decided to divert to an airport reporting VFR. Once we made
the turn, we watch in disbelief as all of the airports in the area suddenly started turned to MVFR then IFR right before our
eyes. Our target remained VFR. At 10 miles out, there was no sign of the airport - just a seemingly impenetrable layer of
clouds below us. At 5 miles out, ATC asked if we had the airport and offered to veector us on a downwind so we could find
it. Solid clouds with the AWOS reporting "few". We asked for vectors for the GPS 32 approach. No worries on this
one. We set up the approach and were cleared for the approach. Just as we started the descent both GPSs flagged yellow with
a big warning: lost integrity, discontinue approach. I had live needles but were they accurate? What was below us? Were we
really where we thought we were? How would the accident report read in the paper?
I stopped the
descent with the belly of Wild Mama kissing the cloud tops and asked Myra to radio for the nearest VFR airport that we had
a dual GPS failure. I started a climb and turned toward the east to Fayetteville. Once firmly out of the clouds and back under
ATC conrrol, the GPS units came alive again.
Once on the ground we tried to figure our options.
Niagara Falls was out with approaching storms and an unreliable GPS. Vern suggested filing airways and navigating the old
fashioned way with the VORs and looking for airports with an ILS approach. Good idea but severely limiting our options with
storms already moving across our path. We could park and drive. It would not be the first time but 50 hours of driving was
not our first choice. We decided to go back and test the GPS units to load an approach and see what happened. I lit up the
panel. Neither GPS would acquire satellites. Vern suggested shitting off the 430 and get the 530 up since it drives all other
avionics. No go. We tried shuttin off the 530 and getting the 430 so we could have something. Success. Now we have one working
unit. We are feeling a bit better about this. Cautiously, I turn on the 530 and we have a satellite lock. Back in business
but do I want to trust it for an approach? Myra and I have to assess our options.
By this time,
the storms that were moving across the Carolinas were dissipating although Niagara Falls was covered in yellows, oranges and
reds. We did not was to head toward the front. We needed to stay ahead of it. We did nt want to do a full 3.5 hour leg only
to get stuck and be looking for landing options with only 1-1 1/2 hours of fuel left. (I am a bit conservative in that respect.)
We grabbed some snacks and pondered. We snapped the "direct to" line to Bar Harbor, our final destination formthe
next day. It ran darn close to Frederick, MD. I have been there. They have an ILS and we know 99s in the area. I texted Lin
Caywood to see if she had a spare room for unexpected guests and she eagerly said to come on over. The weather was at least
MVFR the whole way now to KFDK. I still did not trust the GPSs but I trusted my eyeballs.
departed VFR and remained at 2000', under the layer that remained somewhat broken above us. It was hazy but clear enough to
see. We caught our little tailwind and scooted along until we had to climb to 3000' to clear the low mountains west of Washington
DC. Myra called for flight following through the DC area and we arrived in Frederick with ease. Lin met us immediately and
ushered us to her house. We invited her to dinner for her hospitality and chatted away for the better part of 5 hours.
99s are awesome!
July 2nd - Bar Harbor or bust: We slept like
the dead at Lin's house and got some quality kitty time in the morning with Maberick and Goose. Lin's other half, Carlo, is
an IA. He and Vern chatted in the morning and devised a possible solution tomthe GPS issue. With Bar Harbor fogged in, we
had plenty of time to let Carlo workmon the solution before departing. We lifted off near 0930 to beautiful blue skies over
Forecasts were for a solid crosswind low so we climbed to get over all of the Class
C airspace and look for a smidgenof tailwinds. We were well rewarded at 7500' with a quartering tailwind that turned to a
more direct tailwind as we headed farther to the northeast. By the time we reached Maine, we were sporting a cruise ground
speed of 180 kts and hated to come down. We had been scooting along over mostly cloudy skies watching for holes tomremain
open somwe could get down. As we broke the coastline, the whole bequtiful expanse of the Maine coastline came to view. We
put Wild Mama into a dive and headed to the airport that now sat under sunny skies. We listened on the radio as we heard discussion
of parking clogs at Bar Harbor. I hope,they have room for us.
Upon landing we were directed
to the lower lot where only 3 spota remained. Our assigned spot was number 11!!! They were getting full and were expecting
to start tying down in the grass soon. We got unloaded, grabbed rhe car and headed tomthe camp ground. Hadleys was a great
spot: close to everything, quiet and meeting all of our needs. We set up camp and headed into town for our first lobster
dinner and blueberry pie. Mmmmmm! We wandered about town for a bit and headed back to camp for an early night. We had flown
9 hours in the last 2 days and with the GPS failure on the mind, we were, apparently, more tired than we thought.
July 3rd - Acadia National Park: Tick off my 6th National Park visit for this summer so far.
Our day started with an early morning visit to Acadia National Park, only a couple mles from the campground. After
checking in to the park we headed off to see the peregrin falcons nesting high upon the cliff. The rangers had telescopes
trained on the birds so as not to disturb them. All the trails in the nesting area were closed. We had a nice ranger chat
about the birds and headed to sand beach. The tide was full high at about +11.5' and the water glistened against the morning
sun. The sand was darker and more coarse than our Florida sand and the rocks made quite a picturesque backdrop. We hiked along
the seaside for a bit before turning back amidst mounting traffic.
We were warned that the crowds
would be thick and the parking impossible. We decided to make the drive around the loop stopping at places where we could
park and taking scenic site hikes as we could. We drove up Cadillac Mountain for a breath taking view and a wind to rival
Mount Washington. We hike the sieur de Mon trails, boardwalk and historical native American museum. With the traffic mounting,
we headed back to Bar Harbor for an early dinner and a walk around town.
Our Tuesday plan was to
tour the island, we decided to catch a few towns starting with Northeast Harbor. This is a quaint village with lots of artists
shops and few tourists compared to Bar Harbor. Most shops were closing so we put that back on our revisit list for Tuesday.
On the way home, we stopped for some firewood for our campfire tonight. It was a bit cool for us FL gals so a warm fire
would be welcome. Being the fire goddess, I knew it was not an issue to get the fire started. My problem was keeping it relatively
small as I can usually birn a rick of wood in a short day. After some effort, I got the fire at just the right size: large
enough to enjoy, small enough to put out in short order. Tomorrow is the big Independence Day celebration starting wi blueberry
pancake breakfast, a parade, lobster races and Maine lobster lunch, craft show and an evening concert and fireworks. It will
be a full day, indeed.
Independence Day - Bar Harbor style: It was an early day at camp. We wanted
to get a full day parking spot downtown and they were few and far between. The Rotary Club was hosting a blueberry pancake
breakfast at 0600 so we were aiming to be there early formparking and pancakes. We were successful on both counts, fetching
THE last highly coveted parking spot and joining hundreds of others for wild blueberry pancakes. Mmmm.
highlight of the Maine 4th festival is the local hometown parade. The streets were lines with chairs by the time we were eating
our pancakes and the crowds on,y got thicker when the parade started at 10:00 am. It was an hour long parade withnlocal
dignitaries and lots of floats 100thnbirthdaynof Acadia National Park. There were lots of lobster themes, kids, dogs and a
host of entertaining characters. The Shriners zipped by in all sorts of minature motorized vehicles and lots threw candy and
small toys to the kids along the parade path.
With the parade over, the masses headed back to the Rotary park for lobster
lunches. We had broiled lobster, fries and yummy corn on the cob with blueberry pie. No dieting today. With bellies full,
it was time to walk off some calories around town. We had scoped out lots of shops with local artists displaying their wares.
There were the typical souvenier shops and all sorts of things. We wandered out on the boardwalk on West Street and decided
to make the snadbar crossing to Bar Island at low tide. The 12' drop in tide exposes the rocky bottom allowing all ofmthe
folks to cross and get a view of the town with the mountains in the backdrop. We had to wait until about 3:30 pm to cross.
We were thirsty and stopped in a local restaurant for a quick beverage and to relax. We struck up a conversation with the
fellow sitting next to us. He was looking for hotels for a large family. I suggested VRBO and asked him about an interesting
tatoo on his arm. He said it was a tribute to his grandmother who encouraged him into hismcurrent line of work as a singer.
Come to find out, it was Billie Gilman, a country singer with a #1 hit called One Voice.mwe chatted about music and airplanes
for the better part of the afternoon before it was time for us to head to the sandbar.
We crossed the sandbar
and climbed to the summit of Bar Island for the breathtaking view of the village. On the way down, Myra twisted her knee and
could not walk back to the car. I grabbed the car and fetched Myra to head back to camp for some leg propping and icing. The
evening is reserved for fireworks with fellow 99, Marilyn Shafer and her travel buddy, Melody.
July 5th - Mount Desert Island: Our day began at 0330 with a wake up call
to Cadillac Mountain where we planned to have breakfast and watch thensun rise. We figured it would be relatively peaceful
on top of the mountain with few people remaining from the throngs of tourists who jammed into Bar Harbor and the Park over
the weekend. Well, not so much.
As we drove the 6 miles toward the Park entrance and the Mountain turn
off, we became entangled in a line of cars heading the same direction. Could they all be THAT crazy? Apparently so. By the
time we arrived at Cadillac Mountain - a full 30 minutes before sunrise - much of the parking lot was full and many of the
choice rocks for viewing were taken. We stayed close to the parking lot on a rock of our choosing opting to save Myra's knee
for hiking later. The sunrise was spectacular: the orange red fireball peeking through the clouds, then electrifying them
with sunlit streaks as it finally rose above the hazy backdrop. We were not disappointed. It was well worth the early call.
As the masses descended off the mountain, we remained for a sunrise breakfast and coffee.
We headed west to explore
the remainder of the island. It was not long before we looked at the map scale and realized that our full day excursion would
not take but half a day. It was just 0530. We drove salovly, savoring every little nook and cranny of the Island. The streets
were still filled with patriotic pride, flags displayed everywhere. It was the quintesential fishing village kind of look
often seen in movies and aptly described in novels.
There were 2 short, easy hikes toward the southnside of the
island plus the lighthouse, all of which we could visit before the respectable business hours of 0900. The Bass Point Lighthouse
was our first stop. Clinging to the craggy rocks, the lighthouse with its bright red beacon humbly sits t warn mariners of
the dangers beneath. The tide had been low and was not turning to come back in, creating a rush of water through the relatively
narrower inlet. Lobstermen were pulling traps. The morning air was so still that the sounds of the laboring diesel engines
carried for miles. The lobster balls straining agains the onrushing tide created small wakes behind them and we watched mesmerized
for quite some time. We selected a rock to see it slowly disappear beneath the water, evidence to us that the tide was rushing
in faster and more furiously than it appeared. The tides range 12' in this area. We have witnessed the emergence and disappearance
ofmrhe sand bar and of much ofmthe rocky shoreline.
With the morning full ablaze with sunshine, we headed to hiking
destinations to the south. The shore walk was pretty and peaceful. Myra walked more slowly so I wnet on ahead enjoying the
solitude. The sound of my footsteps was the cadence to the chorus of songbirds and the drone of the diesel engines in the
distance. Wonderland Trail was a shorter trail heading directly to the mostly exposed beach. There was a small tide pool that
I explored to see what got trapped with the receeding tide. It was mostly barren except for healthy green seawed clinging
to the rocks. I found a piece of sea glass like we had seen advertised in the shops around town...except THIS glass was real,
pull straight from the rugged shores. It was not remenant glass that was tumbled to resemble the real thing.
9:00 hour now upon us, we could head into the small towns dotting the southwest part of the Island. We wandered in and
out of the shops, looking at the wares of local artists before calling it time for lunch and heading back to Bar Harbor for
a more varied selection. We stopped back at Stewmans for lobster salad. Looking out over the water, we could feel and smell
the sea fog rolling in, and see a distant island sitting patiently, waiting to be enveloped in the misty white shroud. We
watched for a bit to see the fog creep ever closer to our shore line, then retreat and give up its grip on the distant island.
Tomorrow morning we may have a delayed departure. Heaving a heavy sign, we headed back to camp for chores. We will be departing
the area sometime in the morning so we have to have everything ready to pack for the next leg to Canada.
We had one
last stop before leaving Acadia: we wanted a horse and carrage ride through the carriage trails. The Rockefeller's build some
57 miles of carriage trails which remain today to be free of vehicular traffic. Our driver, Romane, expertly drove the horse
team of Shamoo and Shorty around Day Mountain. We could still see that undulating fog off in the distance.
June 6th - Canada, eh: I was up at the usual 0430ish looking at the weather. We got a new camping neighbor last
night who,was less tahn neighborly as he pounded in tent stakes well after the 10:00 pm quiet time. There was also many people
walking on the raod and it sounded like in our camping area. This did not allow me to sleep as well as I would have liked.
As I expected, KBHB was fogged in solid this morning with no change forecast until 8:00 pm. Well, that is not good. I kept
a watch on the METARs and kept looking skyward. I could initially see the overcast layer but it seemed to be breaking up giving
me some hope for a flight out some time during the day. Around 0630 the skies cleared and the METAR showed VFR. I got Myta
moving at the speed of light and we packed camp and headed out to the airport to make sure we did not miss the departure window.
We were in the air by 7:30 am.
The flight near Mount Washington and over the Aderondacs was quite nice. The rolling
hills were blanketed with luch green forrests and upsloping fog rolled up the hillsides. We headed a bit south of our
intended course since the winds on Mount Washington were over 30 kts and shrouded in clouds. We flew over Ticonderoga and
looked out to see Caroline Baldwin paddling her canoe across Lake George.
in short order we landed at Watertown, NY,
grabbed our rental car and headed across the Canadian border on the way to Ottawa for the 99s Conference. It was good to arrive
to see our friends but we were tired as it had been a long day. We ran off to grab a bite and headed back to the hotel for
some quiet time and a nights sleep in a real bed.
July 8th - Down to Business:
While many of the conference participants head off on tours, I have opted to attend meeting. It is not that the tours are
bad; to the contrary, they are quite interesting. But since I was elected to serve the 99s International Board as a Director
for the next 2 years, I figured that I better hit as many meetings as I can to het up to speed on the parts of the organization
with which I am not familiar.
The Delta Ottawa City Center Hotel is nice and right in the heart of downtown Ottawa.
There is a nice pedestrian walking area 2 blocks from the hotel in addition to many other local attractions. The Canadian
99s have done an awesome job with signage and in all the other preparations - tasteful, professional and all are very accommodating.
The business meeting is tomorrow so credentials check is today and the AE Banquet this evening. Today also marks the day that
Mary, Minnetta and I give our Air Race Classic seminar for ladies who are looking to race or volunteer. I made a quick power
point presentation that should help keep us on track moving through the material.
...and before I forget: huge
congratulations to the newest chapter in the SE Section 99s. Yesterday at the Board meeting, Treasure Coast Chapter 99s received
July 11th - It's a wrap!: Somehow I always get too busy to do anything
but business and visit with my 99s sisters at these conferences. The whole conference went well. We have seminars - I was
one of the presenters for the Air Racing seminar - great speakers, the usual business meetings and an awesome awards banquet.
Listening tomthe accomplishments of my sisters make me often feel like I have accomplished nothing in my lifetime. What an
amazing group of women. I was installed as an International BOD Director to serve a term of 2 years. President, Jan McKenzie
was quick to issue tasks and assignments to all members and we had the opportunity to get to work on one of mine: redesigning
the membership brochure.
With all of the business finished it was time to head home yesterday. We had planned a Statue
of Liberty fly by but the ceilings were too low. We filed to get out of Watertown, leaving just as fellow racer and 99s sister,
Mary Wunder was arriving, and spent the bulk of the flight in the clouds.mwe finally broke free on the descent in to Blue
Ridge. Our bonus was sporting a nice little tailwind the whole leg.
our last leg for the day found us not so lucky.
We stayed relatively lower to combat rhe 10-12 kt headwinds and not fight with the clouds. Our 2:15 leg took us over 3 hours
as we landed in St Augustine, FL. Myra and I chose this spot because it is a great town, nice airport and is only 1:30 to
her house. We figured afternoon thunderstorms might be popping by the time we arrived and we wanted a nice place if we had
to spend the night. As we figured, the storms started forming and we were really roo tired to comtinue. When I keep,asking
myself "are we there yet?", it is time to quit.
The Hilton Bayfront is right on the bay and nicely sandwiched
between the bay and historic district filled with shops, restaurants and a nice place to walk. This was well appreciated after
6 flying hours. We had nice salads for dinner and wandered about the shops, picking up a few trinkets for each of us. Dead
to the world, we were in bed and asleep by 8:30 - an exciting lot are we!!!
i am right back on schedule with a 4 am
wake up. After traveling so much, I forgot how late the sun rises in FL. We have been accustomed to the sun being up before
5 am. Here it is 6:30. I let Myra sleep in and I grabbed my coffee and walked out tomthe bayfront. I am, once again, enjoying
the warmth and humidity of FL. I truly live in the best place for me. The early morning found St Augustine streets relatively
quiet with the occasional,passing car or truck. There were a half dozen or so sailboats moored in front of the causway drawbridge.
I am not sure if they got stuck or just selected this spot for its beauty and safety. I somlove the peace of the morning.
another 45 minutes the sun will rise and the rest of the town will start coming to life. Myra and I will head back to the
airport for, hopefully, an uneventful leg to her house and a short last leg to the Keys. This is the end of nearly 6 weeks
of travel for me and I am anxious to be home again and go back to work. It has been another great adventure. I will be home
working all summer while the mosquitoes terrorize the Keys. This will give me lots of time to unpack, recuperate and
plan the next great adventure.