Category Archives: Louisianna

ROAD TRIP WEEKEND! (Well, SKY TRIP, really)

By Beth Hardy Duff

HUMAN MAILING TUBE.. After having returned from a wonderful trip to Washington, DC on Tuesday, we were chomping at the bit to get in Caddie and go somewhere – ANYWHERE!  Caddie came into existence for a number of reasons, one of which being my (our) dislike of traveling via commercial airlines.  Human Mailing Tube, as it is lovingly referred to by the aviation community, is far from my favorite means of transportation – right on up there with bareback bronco riding – in summer – with hemorrhoids!  Anyhow, I digress, once again, our experience with the commercial airline wasn’t exactly grand, but I can’t really blame them this time (much).  It was weather related – ugly weather.  We had already boarded the plane in DC headed to Atlanta and even pushed back from the gate at which point the captain came on the intercom and stated, “Bad news, folks, we’re going back to the gate.  Atlanta has closed due to bad weather and they are not accepting any incoming flights.  We expect the delay to be about an hour.”  The transmission ended with the abrupt click of his microphone.  Now we know the REAL reason the cockpit crew stays behind locked doors!  He did tell people that they could disembark and go get something to eat, that they had about an hour.  It seemed the minute everyone left that wanted to leave, he then came back on and announced, “Well, it might not be quite an hour, looks like the weather is clearing up and Atlanta will open shortly.”  Thankfully, Paul & I didn’t fall for theget off the plane if you want to trick and stayed put.  Think this was a dirty trick to cure an overbooking problem?  Hmmm…Surely enough, not 35 minutes later, we were cleared to once again leave the gate.  A few calls were made for “missing passengers” for those who had decided to disembark, then we pushed back from the gate.  I can’t imagine who we left and how ticked they were when the passengers (former passengers) returned from standing in a very long line at McDonald’s for a delicious McRib to find their plane had “left home without them”.  Heh heh, it’s funny if it doesn’t happen to you.

LONGING FOR LULU’S… Friday afternoon, Paul began making some calls to see if we could scrounge up some friends to make a “Lulu Run” down to Gulf Shores, AL on Saturday.  This is one of our “most fa-vor-ri-tist things” in the world to do.  Getting a bunch of pilots and (normal people too) together and all flying down to KJKA (Jack Edwards) in Gulf Shores, hopping in their courtesy car (which is always a very nice vehicle) and heading off to Lulu’s for lunch and non-alcoholic beverages – BUUURRPP!!  The weather was going to be beautiful and we were about to DIE to go somewhere!  Call after call came up empty, one of our friends even told us that they had made a Lulu run while we were gone to DC and that they just couldn’t go again right then.  WHAT? I can’t BELIEVE they went without us!  Well, I can, actually.  We’ve been gone a lot lately.  Anyhow, Saturday morning rolled around and we did scrounge up a couple of takers, but by time to depart, we were once again down to 3 of us, Paul, myself, and Mike Dalton.  It would have been fun to fly our own plane, but it just didn’t make sense to take two separate planes when Mike’s Bonanza E-33 could easily carry the 3 of us — in a cushy ride I might add, and our plane could only take the two of us.  So, a deal was struck between Mike and Paul and we headed southeast for Lulu’s in Gulf Shores.  Nice trip down, and in about an hour, we were getting out of Mike’s plane when he recognized the Baron belonging to Bob, a friend of his.  Next thing we knew, Mike was on the phone with his friend, Bob, and we changed our Lulu plans to meet up with Bob and his fiancee at Shipp’s Harbor Grill in Orange Beach.

WHAT A RIDE!… Now KJKA is known to have pretty snazzy courtesy cars as Paul and I had found out in the past when we were handed the keys to a very new, bright and shiny yellow Camaro!  We were expecting something pretty great this time as well, when we were handed the keys to the courtesy vehicle.  Paul and I went to get the car while Mike was finishing up some business inside.  While we were indeed happy to have a courtesy car at our disposal for about an hour, we were a little disappointed that this was not the usual “status quo” courtesy car we had come to expect from Jack Edwards.  Although it was parked right next to a bright, shiny red Corvette, that’s as close as it came to being “snazzy”.   A bright white van decorated with the words, “Shrimp Basket”, “Mikee’s – A Place for Seafood” and “the Steamer” proudly awaited us!  The look on Mike’s face was priceless as he walked out of the FBO and saw us waiting for him in the van.  Immediately, he yanked out his phone & snapped a picture of “Driver Paul” in the Van, while not even trying to conceal his fits of laughter.  Regardless, we found our way to the Harbor Grill and enjoyed a fantastic meal while making new friends to boot on our day trip to the LA Riviera.  Paul and Mike had the grouper sandwich, (I think) and Angel, Bob’s fiancee  convinced me that if I really loved a wedge salad, that this was the best one to be found anywhere in the US.  I have to admit I wholeheartedly agree and that this might also be the LARGEST one also, as I boxed up half of it.  You gotta admit, that was some “well traveled lettuce” that accompanied me on the flight back home that day.

WELL, WHAT DO WE DO NOW?… The next day was Sunday.  Paul and I got up and went to church as usual, got back home and noticed once again, it was a perfect 10 out of 10 day.  “Well, where do we fly today?” was the question.  The real question was, “Why didn’t we start giving this a little more thought earlier in the week?”  We thought and thought, surfed the web, dug through the logbook and did nearly everything we could think of to come up with a good idea on where to go.  Didn’t want to go too far, that just gets into too much expense.  Couldn’t just sit on the ground on a beautiful day like today.  We had already finished painting the deck (that only took 3 weeks) and so, we were due a reward!  We were already hungry so wherever we decided to go, had to have food within reach.  Well, after a great deal of thought, we decided to go back over to Monroe, LA.  We had taken 4AE, our former, shared ownership Cessna 172 there to have the transponder repaired at their radio shop and while there, had eaten at the restaurant inside the airport terminal.  It was good food and decently priced, so we decided we would just do that again.  Deal?  Deal!   Hmmm…note to self, things change, call next time before you go.

MONROE BOUND… So we took off from Raymond in our plane, since it was just the two of us this time and headed on over to Monroe for food, since by this time it was about 1:00pm and we were about ready to eat the seats out of the 9A.  Paul took off and then handed the controls over to me.  He’s been doing this a lot lately and I’ve been loving it!  In fact, so has Paul.  It gives him a chance to look around and enjoy the ride, while still keeping an eye on me and allowing me to have a little fun too.  I’m still not proficient at taking off or landing, but that will come with practice and more practice.  For now, I can definitely get us there  while being pointed in the right direction and staying at the right altitude while following a route and that makes me very happy.

FIVE GUYS… Landing at Monroe, we taxied to our appointed spot and parked.  As we were getting out we were assisted by 5, yep, count em’ 5, linemen – obviously a slow day at the airport and a tad bit of curiosity.  I can truly say we NEVER get tired of questions and compliments on our airplane. “WOW, nice plane, is that a 7A?”  “No, it’s a 9A”  “Cool, did you build it yourself?” Paul’s reply is always, “Yep, WE built it OURSELVES.”  “Cool, how long did it take you?”  Our reply in unison is, “3 years and 3000 hours.”  By that time, it has usually sunk into someone’s head that Paul meant me and not some invisible “man” standing in front of me, that I am the other half of this project.  “Oh, YOU helped him build this plane?”  To which, Paul usually replies, “Yes, she shot all the rivets in it – 18,000 of them.”  Now, to tell you the truth, I have not counted (well recently anyhow) the exact number of rivets in our airplane.  Back when we were building, I could have given you an exact count of how many were in the piece that we worked on that day.  Not that I wanted to count them, but it’s just one of those things.  ANYHOW, after all the oohing and aahing is said and done, Paul asked, “So, the restaurant over at the terminal, is it still open?”  To which, the reply was, “No sir, they aren’t open on Sunday.  In fact, the restaurant you’re talking about is gone.  The lady that owned it, died and it closed and was replaced by a more or less snack shop.”  Paul’s reply was, “Oh….well, do you have a courtesy car?” and Thank Goodness, the reply was , “Yes sir, we sure do.”  This was another nice courtesy car, not a Camaro or Mercedes and certainly not a Jeep Wagoneer with the blown out back window, but a very decent blue Ford Edge SUV.  The deal was, you could take it for two hours (hmm…very VERY nice), but after two hours, its $10 for every 30 minutes over that.  Fair enough, 2 hours is ample time to go somewhere and eat.  We were lucky enough to find one of our favorite restaurants still alive and doing quite well in Monroe and that was Copeland’s.  It was in the Pecanland Mall and virtually no distance from the airport – I think it was 3 miles, but don’t quote me on that one.  Fantastic food once again and great service.  Paul had the Shrimp Ducky and I had the Apple Almond Bleu salad with Honey Balsamic Vinaigrette.  At 510 calories, it’s probably the lowest caloric content of anything on their menu and absolutely divine!

The flight back home was fun as always, Paul let me fly again and we arrived safely back home at KJVW after another fun filled day of experiencing the $100 Hamburger.  Only now the $100 part doesn’t include fuel!  Ah well, that’s why we do make sacrifices to continue with our guilty pleasure of “flying for food”.  You give up here and you give up there and then you get to enjoy for a while.  Not so very different from anything else in life, really, is it?

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Breakfast at Concordia

“Caddie” @ Concordia

This Last Weekend… we wanted to make a short trip Saturday morning just to get in some flying because we were going to drive to Laurel Saturday afternoon and visit family for Father’s Day and attend a benefit for a friend who was hurt in a motorcycle accident.  Friday night, while we were trying to decide on where to fly the next morning, I received an e-mail about a fly-in breakfast at the Concordia Parish Airport (0R4) in Vidalia, LA, just across the river from Natchez.  We had been to their breakfast events sevreal times in the past and always enjoyed the food and fellowship, so this was a perfect trip that allowed us to get our flying “fix” for the weekend and get a great meal too.

Short Trip… Concordia is only about a 30 minute flight in the 9A, so we went “wheels up” at about 7:45 to be sure we were there by 8:30 when breakfast is served.  As we arrived, we heard one plane in the pattern doing touch & go’s and several more in-bound for a meal.  The usual “landing judges” were standing at the back door of the FBO building and greeted us as we climbed out of “Caddie”.

Great Food and Conversation… Turn out for this morning’s breakfast was a little light, but that did not stop Mike McCrory and crew from fix’n up a nice assortment of breakfast foods ranging from the usual biscuits, bacon and eggs to fancy wraps.  Throw in some homemade jams and jellies, some STRONG Louisiana coffee and this was a diet busters delight.  Of course, when more than one pilot enters a room, talk of all things aviation ensues.  This has to be the best part about breakfast events like this, the sharing of information and stories will keep us coming back time and again.

“I’ll show you mine”…  Soon after all of the bellies are filled, most folks walk out to admire each other’s planes and talk about Lycomings vs Continentals and fuel injection vs carburetors and any number of other “mechanical” topics.  Some take advantage of the cheap fuel ($5.00 / gal) at the pump and others go on their way to their next stop for the day.  We hopped in and “hot started” the fuel injected Lycoming and took off into the clouds, a little heavier and a lot happier that we had our flying “fix” for the day.

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Panoramic view at Concordia a few months ago when 12 RV’s were on the filed at once (click to enlarge)…

New Orleans Day Trip, What Diet??

$100 Beignets??… In the spirit of the $100 hamburger, we set out for the land of sugar & spice and red beans & rice – New Orleans!  With a lot of long distance travel days ahead of us in the next few weeks, we decided to make a short hop, Saturday day trip to the Crescent City.  Years ago, when we lived in Laurel, MS, we went to New Orleans on a regular basis… Saint’s games, concerts, boat shows and even the occasional monster truck rally (yep, we are rednecks at heart – I really liked the “Grave Digger”). Since we moved to Madison, the 3 plus hour drive made it a less attractive destination and then Katrina came along, and well, you know….  Now it’s 2012 and things seem to be a little different in NOLA.

A friend of mine had told me that they had a cabdriver that they would call and he would pick them up at the Lakefront Airport and take he & his wife downtown and then pick them up when they were done exploring for the day.  So before we went “wheels up” at KJVW for KNEW we called Henry the cabbie. Henry was not sure if he could pick us up, but would make sure someone was at the FBO when we arrived.

Caddy on the Ramp @ Flightline First

A little IMC…   We left the Raymond Airport (KJVW), for the +/- 60 minute flight to Lakefront (KNEW) in great weather.  As we approached Lake Pontchartrain, the clouds below us thickened and the likelihood of an instrument approach looked pretty good… not what was forecast, but, no problem.  “24G, descend and maintain 3,000”, this put us right in the middle of the clouds.  For the next fifteen minutes or so, we were in and out of the layer “over the lake”.  Finally, we saw Lakefront through the broken clouds and were given a visual to RW36L.  After landing, we taxied to the Flightline First FBO building and started to unload.  The line guy was very nice and allowed our cab to drive right up to the plane.  This was “red carpet” service for a couple of Mississippi rednecks!  He asked if we needed fuel and I said no… we only burnt 8 gallons getting here, it wasn’t worth bringing out the truck.  So we threw our backpacks in the cab and off we went to the Vieux Carré.

Irma Thomas’ Drummer… I asked the cabbie if he was Henry and he said no, his name was Larry and that Henry was on another “gig”.  As we chit-chatted our way downtown, Larry was telling us a story about running out of gas in the everglades and fending off alligators with guitars and drum sticks… OK, I’ll admit, I had not really been listening up until this point.  “So you play music?”, I asked, “Yep, I’m the drummer for grammy award winning artist, Irma Thomas”, he replied.  Cool, now thats a real story to tell…   Larry “Choo” Campbell went on to tell us about his travels in cars, busses and now airplanes!  He has been to many countries playing the drums for Irma and will be headed to Japan soon.  We enjoyed the rest of our ride into town with Larry and soon we were in the middle of the French Quarter where we parted company for our day of adventure. (BTW… I am now friends with “Choo” on Facebook, this guy is real cool!)

First Thought – FOOD!… So, what is the first thing you think of when you hit New Orleans on an empty stomach?  FOOD!  I “Googled” Cafe Du Monde to see how far away it was from where “Choo” dropped us off.  Not too far and Beth agreed with my plan – Cafe au lait and beignets for brunch and then a late lunch of cajun faire later in the afternoon.  We decided to split an order of beignets (Beth’s idea, if it had been up to me, we would have split three orders) to go with our coffee… It was as good as I remembered!  After our brunch, we started our photo walk.

St. Louis Cathedral

Taking Pictures… One of the things I wanted to do was to make this day into a photo assignment to take a lot of pictures to enhance my skills.  This was fun and Beth enjoyed it to.  I set up my tripod in a few locations and snapped some HDR shots and even tried a time lapse sequence.  I also got some interesting shots of street performers and the normal New Orleans targets.  We spent most of the day walking around, camera in hand, trying to look at things from a photographic perspective.  Later in the day, we even decided to take a horse drawn carriage tour that was very enjoyable and gave us an hour or so off of our feet.  I will be creating a separate post with some of the photos I took in the next few days…

More Food!…  After hours of taking pictures & walking in the quarter, we decided to get some  creole food before we flew home.  We were close to the Market Cafe on Decatur Street when hunger set in, so we worked our way into the outside porch seating area.  Nice shade and cool Jazz being played, set the stage for a great meal.  We had an order of boiled crawfish and the “Taste of New Orleans”, a sampling of seafood gumbo, crawfish etouffee, jambalaya and red beans & rice.  The only thing missing was a mimosa or a glass of cab, but since we were flying, that will have to wait until we got home.

After our meal we caught a cab back to KNEW and loaded Caddy up for the ride home.  The line guy at Flightline First thanked us for “prettying up” their ramp with Caddy! With a few late afternoon “boomers” on the horizon, we had to alter our route a little to the west, but eventually made it home safely at about dark with a camera full of memories and full stomachs. 🙂

Barnstormers’ Air Festival – Jennings, LA

Air Festival… So we got up early Saturday morning to head to the Jennings, LA Airport (3R7) to fly into the Barnstormers Air Festival.  We intended to be “wheels-up” at around 08:00 with us in “Caddie” and our friends Charlie & Tupper England in their RV-4, but the weather at the destination was 100′ and overcast.   The forecast was for it to clear out to VFR around 10:00 or so, so we decided to wait around until about 09:30 to leave.  After an hour & 15 minute flight down, we found some holes in the clouds to descend into Jennings.  This is a BIG airport covering lots of acreage with two paved runways and one grass strip.  Runway 13/31 was closed by NOTAM and was being used by the car show folks, so we landed on 08 and taxied into parking.  After securing the plane and meeting up with Charlie & Tupper, we headed to show center to see the what there was to see.  There were only a handful of airplanes at this time and most were “spam cans” with a few RV’s and other homebuilts.  There was one food vendor and a lemonade stand next to a stage and that was about it for food.  At noon or so, the band cranked up and they were very good.  Unfortunately, they just did not have much of an audience to listen to what they were playing.

Cars, Cars, Cars… Lots of cars, I actually think there were more cars there than airplanes.  There were a lot of good looking classic and antique cars along with several chopped up rods…  There was plenty to look at and I took a bunch of pictures.  But, after a couple of hours in the spring sun and not a lot of airplanes to look at, we decided to head back home.  Charlie had told us about the Jazz Festival in Ridgeland, MS that was featuring some folks he was interested in hearing, so off we went…

Final Thoughts…  While we were a little disappointed in the turnout at Jennings, it was understandable due to the low IFR conditions that plagued the area up until 10:00 AM.   Most folks just aren’t going to file IFR to go to a casual Saturday event or “Scud Run” at 800 feet to get there.  So, take a look at the car photos (click them for larger view) and don’t forget to subscribe to the blog by entering your e-mail address in the box in the right hand column.  You can also “Like” us on Facebook in the right hand column.

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