Finally back in the air!

August 23rd - Back home: No sooner did I get home from the pain shop and the spring 99s meeting than COVID-19 hit us all. Although we had a couple good local flights including our WASP Honor Flight on June 14th, seeing our 99s sisters, aviation friends, awesome scenery and just having flying fun was pretty much a bust. So I decided it was time for an extensive annual and fortunately Vern was able to accomodate me. This weekend Vern brought Wild Mama back home all ship shape and ready for the next adventure. I will be departing for the cabin in TN mid-September with the hope of taking a few minor excursions in the mean time. As usual .... stay tuned!

September 15: Belly of the Beast: My planned departure was for tomorrow but Mother Nature has her way of making you change plans ... kind of like my cat, Stubby deciding when she thinks it is time for me to wake up and pet her. Hurrican Sally changed my plans. After taking the Keys by surprise by dumping 12.21" of rains on us in 24 hours, she meandered her way through the Gulf of Mexico. I thought she would get with the program and move on but nooooo. She hung around just long enough to put a small kink in my plans.
 
Today was my final doctor appointment for my foot. Everything has healed perfectly and I was released to do anything I wanted ... except fall down the stairs again. The doctor got me in and out in record time with the only "restricton" being to "be careful." I can handle that. I had my friend Anne standing by to get me to the airport and in a flash I was loaded and rolling down the runway at LaBelle for a quick VFR flight to Williston for an early fuel stop. Normally, I land in middle GA for a fuel stop but with the storm and low ceilings I thought it best to stop early, tank up and give myself lots of options for ariving in Middle Tennessee. As I neared Williason, the weather was threatening so I put Wild Mama in racing mode, fueled quickly, filed my flight plan to KSRB and launched.
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I picked up ATC pretty quickly on the climb out and was able to stay VFR through 2000' where the scattered clouds became more numerous and difficult to avoid. I settled in at 4000' with the best tailwind available and watched the reds, browns and purples in the NEXRAD image courtesy of SiriusXM. I was far enough away that the ride was relatively smooth but I knew I had to pay attention. Rogue cells were popping up all around me. My flight plan took me to the east of Valdosta and kept me at bay from the storms. But ATC had other ideas: they vectored me to the west and pointing straight at the belly of the beast. I kindly suggested that routing would not work. I got the polite ATC version of "Tough". I flew on. Again, I suggested that the preent heading was going to cause me some difficulties. I was told the MOA was active. Another ATC version of "Tough". At 30 nm from the beast I was fully prepared to make the request again then declare an emergency if they did not offer me a turn to the NE. "I have 30 miled before I run out of clear blue sky and I am NOT going in there. Request VADMN-TIF-HEFIN." ATC finally responds: "Are you aware of the restricted area?" I was and told them I would remain clear of the restricted area. After a rather pregnant pause, I was given HAAWG-TIF and told the restricted area was not a problem at 4000' if I could stay there. Hot dog: out of danger!
 
Unfortunately the path put me closer to the storms and I rode the ragged edges in some of the thickest, wettest clouds ever. Wild Mama "sings" in the clouds. She make a whirring sound the increases in intensity as the clouds get wetter and thicker. She was singing at her maximum volume! It was not a bad ride, but I had to pay attention. I was happy to have The Highway on SiriusXM radio to keep me company. Fortunately I had a great tailwind and landed in record time in KSRB. Sarah was right there with my rental car, tie down assistance, a kind word and a smile. I love coming here!
 
September 17th - Burgess Falls:  After a solid day and a half of selling furniture and packing, my friend, Inger Anderson, came to visit while she was vacationing in Middle TN. We took the day and went hiking in 
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Burgess Fall for some relaxation and to give my foot a great work-out. All is still well. Burgess Falls State Park is one of 10 state parks in the area boasting spectacular waterfalls. Fall Creek Falls State Park get the most visitors but Burgess and Rock Island Twin Falls are my favorites. It was good to relax as the flight and packing had me whipped. 
 
I have 2 weeks to sell the furniture, pack the small stuff and prepare the cabin for an October 1st closing. The sale is bitter-sweet. I built this cabin in 2008. I had plans for a second cabin on this property. The view is am amazing bluff view and I own the waterfalls on the property. It has been a successful vacation rental since them but as I inch my way toward "retirement age" I do not want to keep managing the vacation rentals so they are all up for sale. This Stone Creek Cabin was the first to sell, being purchased by one of my llong time guests.
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I am happy to have this last 2 weeks at a place that is so beautiful and peaceful. It is so quiet at night that it is loud with nocturnal creatures. It is dark. It is isolated. It is beautiful. I have little to no phone service. If it were not for the great wifi I would have no connection to the outside world. It has been a great place to vacation. But with the passage of time, we must all change, evolve and move onward. It is time.