By: Beth Hardy Duff
FIRST DAY OF THE BRITISH OPEN… (okay, sooo…) It is Thursday, late afternoon on July 18th. We are sitting in front of the TV watching the recap of the first day of the British Open. The weather there looks to have been pretty good for the first round. Exceptionally good… as opposed to our own weather in Madison which was host to the Sanderson Farms Championship. It treated our entrants and spectators to a spectacular display of Mississippi weather in July at its finest.
EARLIER IN THE DAY… When I finally crawled out of bed this morning and went outside to complete a long put-off chore of cleaning out the gutters on the back of the house, it was as oppressive and humid as Junior Samples’ shorts! I got the ladder up and dug out all sorts of dirt, leaves, shingle dust and the occasional displaced skinks. All finished, I swept off the 50 pounds (or so it appeared) of stuff I had pulled out of the gutter and sacked it up for the “garbage fairies” to haul off. Garbage Fairies are my term for the garbage men who come to my house on Mondays & Thursdays and magically make my garbage disappear…. I LOVE them!
Shortly thereafter, it began to thunder, then it rained, then it poured. I LOVED the fact that the deck was getting a freebie wash-job and that the gutters were operating correctly and getting a great hosing out. As I turned my back, a bolt of lightning plunged into the ground somewhere very close and I ducked and almost ran for cover. This continued on long after the rain ended providing a special viewing of Mississippi lightning in July in the daytime. Those imported spectators visiting our area were now fully versed in the bizarre weather Mississippi can sport and probably headed straight to Wal-Mart to replace their now soiled undies!
So after that, I went back to the TV… I planned to watch the day’s recap of the Sanderson Farm Championship, however, there wasn’t much to show as the rain and lightning scared off everyone including the Golf Gods and forced not just a “rain delay”, but a “rain postponement til the next day”. Better luck tomorrow, guys.
WHERE ‘YA BEEN? You haven’t heard much from us in a long time and it’s not because we have forgotten about you or have abandoned the blog. Frankly, we had no idea that anybody really REAALLLY paid that much attention to us….but we found out differently! Recently, everywhere Paul and I have been, one or both of us have been politely chastised for being so delinquent in our writings. If we didn’t run into you telling us this, we actually got emails from you! What a boon to our egos! You like us! YOU REALLY DO LIKE US!! (Move over, Sallie Field, we’re good too!) So, we will try to do better. We have both endured our fair (and very unfair) share of family sicknesses and woes over the past several months and that does a lot to kill the flow from the writer’s fingers. It just doesn’t flow at all. A couple of weeks ago, Paul mentioned that he intended to sit down & write a few things for the blog and that he sat at his computer, fingers poised and nothing….just nothing happened. Nothing except Miaow hopping into his lap and loving on him as she has learned to do when I’m gone. She has quickly become Paul’s cat as I am no longer her favorite. She’s Daddy’s girl and she knows it and plays it to the hilt. Perhaps she has forgotten who feeds her, changes her litter, bought her the $30 S-Curve upholstered cat recliner and a zillion dollars’ worth of assorted toys. When I do come home, she twines around my ankles until I pick her up and then she bites me in a somewhat playful and somewhat Freddy Kruege-like manner. Somehow, Ialways forgive her.
PACKING FOR OSHKOSH… While I was at my parents’ house, tending to them, I asked Paul if he would start getting out stuff for OSH and just put it on the dining room table. He said he’d be glad to. In fact, it was exciting to think of packing up for our annual fun cross-country trip and would help get his mind off things too. When I finally got home, dead on my feet, I expected to come in to a view of the tent, sleeping bags and other assorted stuff piled high in the middle of the dining room table. Instead, I caught sight of the paperback Notam and a single sheet report from AV Lab of our oil analysis and that was all…except cat hair and dust. I asked what happened and I never got a real precise answer other than, “I wasn’t sure where the tent and sleeping bags were”, “Uh, I never got a good start on it”, “Uh, well, I needed your help.” For all you other married pilots out there, number three is the proper answer. After 31 years of marriage, floundering around until you cough up, “Uh….I needed your help” or something related to this greatly aids your case immensely. All is instantly forgiven and packing immediately gets underway.
More to come as we continue to pack this week.
“LIKE US”… if you have not done so yet, please go to our Facebook page and click “LIKE” – THANKS!
Plan A… Yesterday we had signed up for the civilian fly-in at the Columbus Air Force Base. We had our standard government paperwork filed to land at CAFB and we were excited about spending the day around the jets on base and spending some time in the simulators. The weather was looking good until we arrived at the Raymond Airport to depart… heavy fog. We waited as long as we could for it to clear, but no luck and our time ran out. In order to land at CAFB, we had a designated slot time for arrivals and if we were not “wheels up” by 0715 from Raymond, we would not make the slot. At this point we threw up our hands and drove to Starbucks for coffee and a muffin and to come up with Plan B.
Plan B… One of the things you learn as a pilot is to always have an alternate plan. Our Plan B, was to go to the fly-in and camp out down at Pineville, LA (2L0) and check out the planes and eat lunch. We have been to Pineville for their monthly breakfast several times, but not to the fall fly-in. I started looking at the weather south of here only to see that it was still socked in near Pineville. 1/2 mile visability and 200 foot ceilings still plagued south Louisiana, so we decided to rub on the plane for a while until the weather broke at our destination. 2 hours later and a call to the automated weather system at Alexandria confirmed the poor computer reports… It’s still low IFR. Now we are getting stir crazy and ready to go somewhere.
Plan C… We had been invited to fly to Starkville with some friends to watch Mississippi State play Tennessee, but had decided that flying home after an 8:00 game was not for me. But, this is the south and 90% of the fun of college football is the pre-game campus environment. So, Plan C turned out to be flying to Starkville, MS (KSTF), eat lunch at our old favorite place, Oby’s, and walk campus before the game. This was perfect, after a great lunch, we spent some time shopping in the book store, visiting the Student Union, watching other college games on various TV’s and tailgating with friends. After walking miles and covering the beautiful MSU campus we flew home to just in time to catch our Bulldogs on ESPN.
#HAILSTATE… After waking up at 0500, this had been a long day… We were tired, but wide awake in front of the TV until 2330 when our beloved MSU Bulldogs defeated The Tennessee Volunteers 41 to 31. Our now 15th ranked Bulldogs are 6 & 0 for the first time in many years and should be 7 & 0 when they roll into Tuscaloosa on the 27th of October to play the #1 ranked Crimson Tide of Alabama – GO DAWGS!
“LIKE US”… if you have not done so yet, please go to our Facebook page and click “LIKE” – THANKS!
Slow to Post… Since returning from Oshkosh, things have been a little hectic and not allowed time for much writing. It has been fun to run into friends and family that have asked what we were going to write about next. It is cool to know that folks DO read this stuff – THANKS!
Washington DC… Our most recent trip was one for work and unfortunately did not involve our airplane, but was very interesting anyway. The company I work for, Delta Industries, is active in the National Ready Mixed Concrete Association (NRMCA) and I was able to make a national meeting this past week in Washington, DC. Beth nor I had never been to DC, so we decided to go up a day early and try to see some sites. Little did we know that one extra day was not going to allow us to see much more of this VERY interesting city.
You Can Feel the History… Final approach into Reagan National Airport put us right over the Pentagon and my immediate thoughts went to the tragedy of 9/11. Then, I saw the Arlington National Cemetery just beyond the Pentagon and my thoughts turned to those who have died for my freedom. At that point, I knew this was going to be a special, thought provoking, trip. I don’t think there is anywhere else in this country that you can go stand in one place and be surrounded by so much history and walk the paths of some of the most brilliant (and not so) makers of that history.
Need a Plan… After settling in at our hotel just south of town, I purchased a three day pass for the shuttle to downtown. Most of my meetings for the first two days were in the afternoon and at night so we could get up early and shuttle in for some sightseeing. This afternoon was open though, so we decided to get to it and head in for as long as we could and at least look around and come up with a plan for the next two mornings. The shuttle dropped us off north of the Capitol building at Union Station. We started our walk to the south to see the Capitol and then to the west along the National Mall area. The first thing we noticed was how spread out this place is! It is a long way from the Capitol to the White House and there is a lot of stuff to see in between. We continued our walk to the Washington monument and then north to the White House. This brought us close to the Old Post Office which was the last place we could catch the shuttle back to the hotel at 8:30pm. Wow, what a walk! We did get an idea of where things were and what we wanted to see the next morning.
The Best Stuff is FREE… Early the next morning we were back on the shuttle, headed into town – first stop – the Smithsonian Air & Space Museum. We figured we could cover it in a half day and see something else later that day – WRONG, this place was huge and we ended up spending the entire day there! Besides being an aviation nut, I have always been a space program nut, it was all here and we could have spent two days going through it in detail. Most all of the displays were the real thing when possible, not just models or mock-ups. The highlight of the day was seeing the ORIGINAL Wright Flyer that Orville and Wilbur managed to get in the air over a hundred years ago. The really great thing about the Smithsonian Museums and the government buildings was that there was no charge for admission.
Ruby Slippers, First Lady Dresses & the Constitution… The next morning we were back at it again, this time at the Smithsonian Museum of American History. If only we could have learned about history in school by visiting these places (I guess the smart kids did). Beth wanted to see the Ruby Slippers worn by Judy Garland in The Wizard of Oz along with the dresses worn by the First Ladies collection. Not the most interesting things to me, BUT, there were tons of cars, electrical motors, steam engines, guns, trains and other cool stuff invented by Americans on display. I think the highlight of this museum was seeing the original US flag that inspired Francis Scott Key to write the Star-Spangled Banner during the war of 1812. After spending the morning soaking up history at the museum, we walked over to the National Archives building which houses The Constitution, The Declaration of Independence and The Bill of Rights. I was amazed that you could put your eyes 6 inches away from these historic documents – this was a goose bump moment! The room was darkly lit to preserve the documents and no cameras were allowed, but this experience will live with us forever.
007 & Spies Like Us… When we were done at the archives building, we had a few more hours before we had to catch the shuttle so we decided to stay in the area and visit the International Spy Museum. This museum did charge 20 bucks each to visit, but it was also well worth it. We only had 2.5 hours to spend and needed 3 times that! Their massive collection of spy devices, memorabilia and video presentations was impressive and interesting to a kid that grew up during the “cold war era”, and like most museums, you finish the tour at the gift shop. This was not your average gift shop though, they had all kinds of knock-off spy devices and more T-shirts than Disney World.
Slide Show – Photos were taken with Samsung S3 Phone…
More Time Here… While, the rest of the trip for me was spent in meetings, Beth was able to take a tour of President Lincoln’s cottage with the ladies one day and then it was time to fly home. While some BAD weather got in the way of us getting home on time, we did make it home safely and longing to return to DC. I would love to spend 5 or 6 days just visiting the museums downtown along with the monuments and the Arlington National Cemetery. Looks like I need to familiarize myself with the Washington area ADIZ (Air Defense Identification Zone) and fly Caddie up to Manassas, VA… I guess we’ll have to put that on the list!
And as always… You can subscribe to our blog by entering your e-mail address in the box to the right or “LIKE” our Face book page at https://www.facebook.com/2FlyAmerica and now you can “TRACK US” by clicking on the tab at the top of the page.