Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Cool Campers and Big and Little Flyers

Rachel is on a camping trip out west with friends. She takes her camping seriously as do the others she's with and it shows in their preparation. But for all of the planning they've done they've had to "go rogue" as they're referring to it because of high bear activity warnings along their intended route in addition to more snow and cold than they anticipated this early in the fall season. So, they're making it up as they go.

Tammy and I were never ones to want to camp. My parents used to own 40 acres of land in Webster, Wisconsin when I was in my teens and they would routinely make the 2 hour trip up there on Friday afternoons with my younger brothers Keith and Tim when the weather allowed.

They would pull a trailer home behind my dad's 1971 lime green/yellow Ford F150 pickup truck and park it up on top of a hill in the middle of the forest of land they owned. I would occasionally accompany them but for the most part I would remain behind at our home in Bloomington and try to not get in trouble. I was mostly successful. I do recall one spring melt when several Tall Boy beer cans made their presence known, scattered throughout the backyard, and my dad questioning me about how they got there or the cigarette butts in the fish tank (left there by friends after a night of partying) that I'd failed to notice before they did. Like I said -- I was mostly successful. Why they would leave me behind is a mystery to me. I must've been a real PIA is all I can figure.

Rachel recently talked to me about a trip to the Boundary Waters with her next summer. I'd like to think I'd do okay roughing it but I suppose I won't know for sure how it appeals to me until I try.

Rachel just posted an update on Facebook as I write this. They're in Moab, Utah today.

I got a text on Sunday morning from my neighbor, Bob.
Bob: "What u doing. Wanna fly at 11:00?"
Me: "Of course. Where to?"
Bob: "Maybe mason city for lunch"

And so we did. Bob has been a pilot for 50 years and has all sorts of ratings and experience.

There was some low level turbulence but otherwise the flight went well. I have to admit that while I very much trust Bob and his piloting skills, the thought did cross my mind while we were up there: what if Bob suffers some sort of stroke or heart attack? What then? He offered to let me fly the plane and after hesitating at first I jumped at the chance the second time he asked. I needed to have at least a fighting chance at getting us down safely should it be necessary.

And getting us on the ground was most definitely tricky. We had a 60ยบ crosswind with gusts to 25 mph. Bob commented once we got on the ground that he couldn't recall a more difficult landing in his last 20 years of flying and that he had the rudder deflected fully trying to keep the Piper Archer lined up with the runway. It's a much more exciting experience than, say, Power Tower at Valley Fair. You know you're going to safely come off that ride so there's really no danger involved. You can never really say that about a flight in a single engine plane. It adds to the excitement! At least that's how I see it.

This blog post continues after the video below.

Our hummingbird feeders are busier than they've been all year as the little guys bulk up to soon make the long journey south. I change out the nectar solution every other day in our feeders and had to laugh yesterday as I was trying to hang the bottle because there was one brave, thirsty little guy who was drinking from the feeder while it was still in my hand.

I'm sitting on our deck as I write this and they're buzzing past me chasing one another like miniature fighter jets. One hit a window the other day and lay unconscious on our deck for a few seconds before getting up and flying away. I'd have felt terrible if it had died.

And of course I've got video of them from my GoPro mounted just above them as they fed. I'll miss these little guys when they're gone and hope that my prayers bring them back safely next spring.

1 comment:

David Bryan Gilmore said...

I was curious where Rachel was camping. Some of those photos look familiar but lots of places here in the West look like that too.
Your flight reminded my of some of the light aircraft flights I've made over the years.
Sue got me a training flight for my birthday once. I was able to take off and fly the plane about 75% of the time. We flew up the Columbia river and back down to the Troutdale airport.
I was given the instructions for landing... keeping the runway numbers in the center of the windshield as I recall and then about 200 feet above the glide path the instructor too control. Taking off is simple but landings are tricky.
I once flew a fairly strong thunderstorm with a pilot that know what he was doing in a Cessna as he was a flight instructor for Eastern Airlines back in the 70's & 80's before they went out of business but even still I was quite nervous about that.