September 11th: For the first time in months it has rained in Spencer, TN . . . and a real soaking rain it was. We had lots of outside stuff to do which, fortunately, we got mostly done before the rains hit; but we are still left
with a few errands. Of course, we had to stop at Muddy Pond.
I was a good day for the birds, and in the spirit of Mario's pet turkey, "Wee-Wee", we found some kin-folk as we meandered through the countryside.
The Upper Cumberland plateau is such a beautiful area, and the towns - Sparta and Spencer - are quite quaint and picturesque.
After our errands, we spent the remainder of the day doing inside repairs. The cabin is doing very well. www.vrbo.com/104177 The rental activity is brisk and our guests have been good; but like any house, there are always little
projects: loose handles, change the look of the rooms, add accents, change light bulbs and the like. We actually got finished enough in time to kick back, relax and enjoy the house for a bit.
. . and by days' end, the sun came out, just in time to set.
|Sunset over Spencer, TN
|September 12: What a difference a day makes! Seems to be the theme of all travels. The morning brought a light fog in the valley below
the house but an otherwise glorious morning. The perfect day to fly! The rains had washed away the haze that a been persistent
over the area and the brilliant blue sky remained cloudless.
I had promised Ruby a flight over the area so she
could get a birds' eye view of some property she was selling. Today was a great day - light winds and clear. It was funny
as another individual was orbiting around the same farm: must be a hot property!
We departed the area shortly
before 11 a.m. enroute to visit the family in Maryland. As we had run this route on many occasions, I decided it was time
to look elsewhere for a view so we diverted through Ohio to get to Maryland. We had not headed out to the north from Sparta
before so the whole route was new to me. The rolling foothills to the north were speckled with the colors of an impending
fall. Most of this area is largely uninhabited: several houses dot the hillsides and peek through the trees. The mountain ledges spread out like the paws of a lion laying sentry on his perch over looking the valley below. There
are many streams and rivers meandering through the hills with a lone railway defiantly cut through the hills allowing a long
freight train to snake its way through. The lack of rain has given some of the rivers the appearange of being outlined like a child would do when coloring with crayons.
As we moved deeper into the central part of Kentucky, the subtle hue and color changes began to blanket the area. We pressed on toward my first glimps of Ohio as a pilot. I am working on making a landing in every state in the Lower 48;
Ohio is on the list yet but will be checked off in a few minutes. I turned down the volume of the radio and listeded to the
MP3 player and began thinking about all sorts of crazy things. I remember dreaming of flying as a kid - not in an airplane
but just by flapping my arms. The scenes just above the treetops took me back to those arm-flapping moments. I began to chuckle,
thinking that maybe sometimes we are given hints of things to come. I had never anticipated that my flight would be in an
Cessna but the feeling must be the same.
We finally cross the Ohio River from Kentucky to Ohio and the scenery
changes from a wooded wonderland to the industrial north, especially along the river. We are minutes from landing. We approach
KGAS and the scenery is really pretty: a neat little airport tucked in the "Y" of the Rivers. Three bridges criss-cross
the rivers; there are small ridges on either side. I snap a few pictures and continue to turn my base leg.
|View on downwind of KGAS
|We land and meet Butch, a nice older gentlemen manning
the counter. I need a Washington Sectional as I had not had the time to collect one before departure and I know all the ADIZ
has just changed. I certainly do not want to venture in a strange area without a paper chart even though I have everything
electronically in the cockpit. Now I have landed in Ohio, but Butch has no sectional so we head to KPKB in West Virginia to collect the needed
chart, then press on to get to MD before the FBO closes. We climbed to 5,500' over the plush green carpet of rolling hills
beneath us. There are multiple little bridges criss-crossing the rivers giving the appearance that the bridges are holding
the river within its banks. We pass more picturesque towns and on to Western Maryland where the colors of fall give way to trees which have already passed their fall
prime. We are almost here.
All day, I have not gone at break-neck speed to get here. It has been another day about the journey: the destination being
purely an excuse to fly. The journey is ending for the day. We land, get the car and call friends and family to let them know
we are here. I manage to catch Janet and family before dinner and we head to one of my favorite spots: Silver Spring Inn,
for some Sour Beef and Dumplings! Here, I got a treat within a treat: Janet and I have been best friends since high school, along with Gail. The three of us have not all been together in more than 20 year. Just as we finished dinner,
Gail called and came by so the three amigos got together again. How fun! A great end to a wonderful journey for the day. More
adventures await us tomorrow.
September 13th: Another glorious day to fly. . . and, if you think of it, barring a hurricane or the like, when isn't is a glorious day to fly? The project for today was a trip to Delaware: another state on the "have
not landed there yet" list. Done. An old friend whom I have not seen in over 20 years tracked me down. I promised to
visit next time I was anywhere near the area and today was the day.
Now that the ADIZ is not longer Mickey Mouse shaped, you can get by the area in simple VFR form without the necessity of all the special requirements
and flight plan. A quick little meander around the restricted areas and a southeasterly departure is now quite pleasant. Sussex
Co. (KGED) was the targeted airport as it has a small restaurant called Flight Line right there on the field. We
met my friend, Jane there and chatted up a storm. It was so good to see her after so much time. We talked about all the crazy
things she did (you know I was always an angel and never did such things as try to soap the Henlopen Hotel fountain in the dark of the
night or race my motorcycle through the streets of Rehoboth).
After a good crab cake lunch, we wandered out to see
some airplanes. Seems they are trying to do some restoration and I heard someone say "museum". They certainly had
lots of exhibits outside and it would be nice to have something on the field as it certainly is roomy enough.
I used to work for Jane at the police department in Rehoboth Beach, DE. It was just up the road from the larger beach resort cousin, Ocean City, MD. Jane told me the place has changed; I guess like any other. But
since I was so close and could see the skyline of Ocean City from KGED, it was a definite do.
We departed to the
southeast and headed out over Assateague Island, home of the famous pony swim. We avoided the Ocean City airprt as there were
many jumpers coming in and I was not familiar with their landing procedures, so it was best avoided. We doubled back and flew up the coast line. Wow! Not only has OC bloomed; but Rehoboth - once a sleepy
family beach community- has exploded. I could not believe the growth. It was amazing.
Our flight back home was a bit windier - we got a good push from the sea breeze. We cut up a bit farther north
just to see more stuff and give a bit more room to the ADIZ. Still a glorious day, but starting to get a few dedorative fluffy
clouds overhead; just enought to keep the day a cool 78 degrees.
We arrive back in Westminster in time to do some more family visitation. The next couple of days are not to be
the most stellar flying days as parts of the Humberto front will be bumping into the area.
With Wild Mama
tied safely in her spot, we headed off. . . tomorrow will be another day.
|Quarry in northern Maryland
September 14th: Although the sun was hiding most
of the day, it was still quite pleasant today; but it was not a day to be flying. We came to Maryland to see family. Our visits
today were cheery and full of old stories and lots of laughter followed by lots of food. My other favorite place in Maryland
is the G & M Restaurant where you will eat THE best crab cakes - I mean real jumbo lump crab cakes. Then after waddling
out, we headed off to the Amish Village Market for fresh baked goods. Since I do not eat chocolate anymore, I have been more
drawn to pumpkin: cakes, cookies, rolls, etc. I also found fresh baked cheese bread. My friend, Tom, coined the phrase about
the cheese bread that every bite gets duct taped directly to the hips. Very true for me.
We have lost our local
hotel room with the high speed internet connection as the Carroll County Wine Festival runs this weekend,. Although departure
is emmanent, I think a stop at the festival is a must before hand, so sights and sounds of Maryland tomorrow.
September 15th: Mario was ready to go home today,
as he usually is after being out for a few days, but the weather was not the best for an early morning departure. Maryland
experienced a nice rain storm last night, leaving behind high humidity and low winds and fog for the morning hours. My sister, Michelle, called to ask us to go to the Carroll County Wine Festival with her until the noon-ish hour. Sounds
good. Although I grew up in this area, I never thought of Maryland as being wine country but over the last several years I
have discovered quite a few wineries which produce the more fruity and sweet wines which are quite tasty.
As I was flying out in a few hours, the wine tasting part of the experience was out. Even if I were not flying, I could
not drink and drive, anyway. But Mario and Michelle were more than eager to make the samples and offer their opinion of which
wines I should buy for the house.
After my companions had their fill and the skies cleared off, we packed . . . and packed . . . and packed Wild Mama
until she could hold no more. Fortunately, we were only 2 flying so we had the extra room and weight. All nooks and
crannies were packed full of goodies - wine, fresh baked goods from the Amish country, and odds, ends and treasures picked
up along the way. The afternoon had turned quite windy and a local who flew for the Civil Air Patrol advised against
out departure. I checked the winds: 18 kts.gusting to 25 kts; and once I made the turn southward past the ADIZ, a tailwind.
I politely thanked him for his concern, turned tail to the wind and set sail. It was a bit of a ride over the
mountains, the ground speed wildly fluxuating from 120 kts. to 180 kts. as Wild Mama got pushed from up-draft to
down-draft and back again. All and all, we still managed an average of 150+ kts. so I was pleased. While enroute to
Barnwell, and somewhere just south of Greenville VOR, I crossed my 800th hour as a pilot. I was very content thinking
how far I had come in less than 2-1/2 years.
As we came in to Barnwell, SC, I started checking the long range weather in Florida to see how the standard afternoon
thunderstorms had blown up. I paused to admire Lake Barnwell with its raged edges and its waters brimming with surprisingly
large yachts. The plan was to make the "go/no-go" decision once in Barnwell as there was a hotel there and it was
the half-way point in the trip. It was still relatively early and I felt great; the weather was not bad and Wild Mama
was in her flying mood. Let's go! I filed IFR because I knew I would have some storms to pick through and it is really
difficult to wait for the lightening flashes to see where you do NOT want to go. It was much better to use the
MX20 to avoid the bad cells and fly through the light greens and clouds.
There was no doubt where the Florida line was located: directly beneath the line of storms. The cloud formations were
beautiful . . . from the outside. I slipped in between 2 rather large cells, bumped around for a few minutes and exited the
otherside without even a minor bug wash. We dropped from 6,000' to 5,000' as we turned on the final legs of our course. From
there we caught the sunset peeking through the clouds above us. While the storms in the summer can be quite nasty, they really do produce some spectacular scenery.
darkness now upon us, I could see numerous lightening flashes up ahead. Nothing was directly in the path but close enough
that I did not want to continue on straight. "4-Whisky-Mike: deviate as necessary for build-ups." Ahhh, he read my mind. A slight sache to the left and I was clear. I strained to
see the horizon to see if the clouds were before me, but I was approaching a naturally dark area. Suddenly, the lighteneing
came from within: I hit a cloud and all I could see were the strobe flashes reflecting back at me. Not good. I shut off the
strobes untilI I could emerge below the clouds and down to 3,000'. Now it is clear. I see the beacon from LaBelle nearly 25
miles out. "I have the airport in sight." Words we long to say. With a "chirp, chirp", we are home
safe and sound.