Status of Caddie… So, after two hail storms and torrential downfalls at the campground near Hill City, SD our concerns turned toward the plane which was at the airport in Rapid City (KRAP). The weather map on the iPad had the storm that was on top of us heading straight to the airport. After limited sleep, we popped up early and drove straight to the airport to lay eyes on Caddie. She was fine! The tie downs were secure, the Bruce’s Custom Cover was a little askew, but there was no water inside or hail dings to be found. The folks at the FBO said it had not rained that much there, apparently it is usually much more severe in the hills than down on the plains where the airport is.
Road Trip… So, with our fears of damage to the plane put to rest, we decided today would be a good day for a road trip. We had 200 miles per day allowance on the rental car and had only driven a hundred or so. We decided to head north and then west to Wyoming to see the Devils Tower.
Almost Rally Time… Our first stop, up I-90, was the infamous town of Sturgis, SD, home of the annual bike rally. The rally was still two weeks away, but this little town was preparing for the arrival of thousands of biker dudes and babes! A lot of them come up early and were cruising the hills on “Softails”, “Fatboys” and choppers. We stopped at one of the large T-shirt vendors and ran into a couple of guys from Birmingham that were running the business. We bought a couple of T-shirts just to proclaim we had been to Sturgis and continued west.
Close Encounter… After nearly an hour of driving, we went over a hill and “WOW”, there it was. Just rising up from the plains was this large rock formation unlike anything we have ever seen. As we got closer, I could see how this site held such a spiritual significance to the local tribes. It was one of those “goose bump” moments as we arrived at the monument welcome center. The goose bumps got a little bigger when I realized there were people scaling the sides of this thing at varying elevations. I did not realize that, not only did the Park Service allow climbing on the monument, but promoted it also. While listening to a ranger give a talk about the turkey vultures (we call ’em buzzards) that were circling the monument, I heard someone behind me make a comment about “being caught in a storm in a tent the night before”. I turned around only to see Jason and his family, our new friends from North Dakota that we camped next to. What a small world… we were over a hundred miles from the camp and they had pulled up stakes that morning to head home by way of Wyoming.
“What an incredible Cinderella story!”… “Licensed to kill gophers by the government of the United Nations.”, Caddyshack’s, Carl Spackler (Bill Murray) would have come unglued at the sight of the area leaving the monument. Hundred of prairie dogs infested the grounds with warning signs not to feed them. The warning didn’t keep us from stopping and “shooting” them with a camera, nor did it stop them from coming right up to you to beg. These little buggers had holes dug everywhere and kept popping up at random as far as the eye could see.
More Beautiful Views… On our trek back to camp, we took the Spearfish Canyon Highway route. Once again we found ourselves looking up to some of the most beautiful bluffs and scenery we have ever seen. At the end of this road was the town of Deadwood. Besides the HBO TV series, Deadwood was best known as a gold rush town that saw the likes of Wild Bill Hickok and Calamity Jane. Now, this clean looking town has lots of saloons and gaming establishments, but would justify further investigation at a later date… we were tired!
There’s Goats in Them There Hills… We didn’t see any gold but we did see the local heard of bighorn sheep just outside of Hill City. Most of the sheep had collars around their necks, which I suspect is what set off the flashing lights on the highway when they get near. This area is such a photo trap for us tourists, that they have paved “pull over” lanes to protect us from crashing into each other. So after several hundred miles on the road, we arrived at the KOA to find that their workers had done an incredible job of rebuilding the roads from the prior storms. With more bad weather forecast for the next afternoon, we decided that we should probably cut a day off of our stay in the Black Hills and head out early the next morning toward Oshkosh. So we had a nice dinner at the camp restaurant, washed up some clothes and packed the car for an early departure…
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.
See Spot Run… or better yet, see Paul & Beth fly! We have had our Spot Satellite Messenger in the plane since our first flight almost two years ago. While we rarely use the tracking feature, it is nice to have the peace of mind that we could get a message through to the authorities from a remote location if needed. This handy little device keeps up with where you are and has the ability to transmit your location automatically for tracking purposes or in the case of an emergency, we can push the red help button and the unit will contact search and rescue, giving them your exact coordinates for a speedy rescue. Spot’s website boasts almost 2,000 rescues initiated by the device with 314 rescues in 2012 alone. I hope we don’t need it, but like insurance, it is a good thing to have, especially since our trip will take us over “The Badlands” – not a place I want to spend much time in.
New “TRACK US” Link… If you’ll notice at the top of the page, I have put a “TRACK US” tab. This will take you directly to our Spot Messenger publicly shared page. I will “try” to remember to turn the unit on when we take off (yes, it is on the checklist) so that those interested can see where we are and where we have been. Just a note… if you see it just stop tracking in mid-air, don’t be alarmed, it runs on 3 little AAA lithium batteries that will die without warning and I do have a handful of replacements. I had hoped to embed the linked page into our site, but apparently WordPress does not allow embedded links due to web security concerns, so for now you will just have to hit the “TRACK US” link and be routed to Spot’s shared site.
The plane is packed… the GPS databases are updated, the oil has been changed and we are ready to go! Plans now are to leave after work on Thursday, weather permitting and fly to Flippin, AR and stay in the camper Thursday night. Friday morning, we will head to Rapid City, SD with probably one stop around Grand Island, NE for fuel and a potty break. After a few days tent camping in the Black Hills near Mt. Rushmore, we will head on over to Oshkosh to enjoy the rest of the week at AIRVENTURE! – can’t wait…
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Let the packing begin… We have started getting things ready for our annual trip to Airventure in Oshkosh, WI. For 5 years we pulled our camper for the 2,000 mile round trip to the mecca of aviation and last year we were able to fly our newly built RV-9A. This year we are planning a little “side trip” to the Black Hills area of western South Dakota to see Mt. Rushmore and the Custer National Forest.
Dining room table overload… So, about two weeks before we take a big trip, we start setting things on the dining room table, “so we don’t forget anything”. Yes, we do have a list, but this just seems to work well in organizing the packing. First a few towels and hats, then the sleeping bags, mats, tent, rain gear… you get the point. We figure, once the table is full, thats it – it probably will not fit in the plane! Luckily, most of the stuff we have is VERY light weight and we only carry five days worth of clothes since we plan to hit the laundry mat when we transit from Rapid City to Oshkosh. Our biggest issue is the volume of stuff that goes in the plane not the weight… the baggage area in a RV-9A is not very big!
Wall of Fire… Two years ago, while at Airventure, I took the short video below on my iPhone. It was very exciting and since it was the first night airshow at Oshkosh, I’m not sure any of us were prepared for what we saw – enjoy, and I apologize in advance for the “S” word and yea, I know I sound a little like Larry the Cable Guy…
Tracking our progress… In an effort to keep family and friends up-to-date with where we are and how things are going, I plan to put a link on the blog next week to our SPOT emergency locator tracking page. I just bought $20 worth of the required Lithium batteries to keep it going while we are moving around. We also plan to “live blog” with the iPhone & iPad and will try to push a few postcard pictures up when we get near some wifi. So, to keep up with the trip’s progress, please enter your e-mail address in the box to the right of the page or “LIKE” our Face book page at https://www.facebook.com/2FlyAmerica.
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)…
PAUL’s first rant…
It’s only a matter of time… before one of these UAV’s comes into contact with another airplane. Don’t get me wrong, I’m as big of a “technologist” as anyone, but the level of technology required to keep these things separated from “the rest of us” is NOT THERE YET! Most of the UAV’s of the world are piloted by a guy in a mountain cave in Colorada in front of a computer screen with a joystick. Some, are flown locally from an inconspicuous trailer in the Walmart parking lot, but they all require a radio signal to the UAV via a satellite data link… that is where the problem starts! The system latency of a long distance, point to point satellite signal can be several seconds AT BEST… imagine a 400 MPH vehicle being controlled by someone who only knows where it was 3 or 4 seconds ago.
Skin in the game… When we are flying the RV-9A around, we are always looking for other planes, even if we are on an instrument flight plan. The most basic rule of flying is “see and avoid”… I don’t think this can be done as effectively from a cushy seat in the Colorado “bat cave”… what does he have to lose? If the drone, Captain America is “flying”, “scrapes paint” with my little plane or God forbid a 737 with 184 souls on board, he goes home a little upset and the rest of us get shipped back in a pine box!
LANDED – WTF???… Details of todays incident in Maryland can be found at this link on USA Today. You gotta love the mainstream media’s view of what happened. Look about 2/3 of the way down and see the quote “CNN says the drone landed in a marshy area near Salisbury Md.”…. LANDED!!!, I was always taught that a great landing was one you could walk away from and a good landing was one that you could still fly the plane after. Apparently, CNN thinks that any drone in a SMOKING HOLE has landed!
Time and a Place… Don’t get me wrong – I think these things have a place “in theater” during war time and “off shore” for for testing. But, PLEASE don’t put me face-to-face with this 176 Million dollar RC plane operated by Captain America until his seat is rigged with a little C-4 plastic explosive that is set to go off when we make contact!
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Every Year, About This Time… Aviation enthusiasts around the world start planning a trip to Oshkosh Wisconsin and Airventure — we are no different. The stats are incredible, 10,000 plus airplanes, 30, 000 plus camping and over a half million folks will visit the hallowed grounds of KOSH, making it the busiest airport in the world for a week. We pulled our 5th wheel camper to Oshkosh for 5 years before we were able to fly-in last year, in our freshly home-built RV-9A. Trust me, if you like airplanes and have not been to Airventure, you need to put this on your “bucket list”. It is truly impossible to take it all in, in three or four days!
Side Trip… This year, we are planning a side trip to Rapid City, SD (KRAP) to tent camp in the Black Hills and visit Mt. Rushmore for a few days. We intend to visit Wyoming, North Dakota and Minnesota, if the weather allows, and roll into Oshkosh near the middle of the week. We may even try to fly fish while we are there, just to see what they do differently. We will be in a tent for probably 9 of the 10 nights on the road (thank GOD for a wonderful wife!) and will wash clothes the night we spend in the hotel. I am currently researching campgrounds in the Black Hills around Mt. Rushmore, so if anyone has any ideas about places to stay, please, let me know.
Last Year’s Video… While were planning this year’s trip, I ran across a video I made from the approach to KOSH last year. It was a fun ride; we had made it to an airport about an hour south before we hit bad weather. After waiting it out all day, we found a nice opening that allowed us to make it in before dark on Sunday. It was very busy, with planes coming in from every direction, but we made it in safely and saw a friend of ours from Mississippi before we even got out of the plane – Only at OSHKOSH! So, check out the video below 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.
Windy Ride… The wind always seems to blow in the Ozarks and rarely down the runway, but we decided to wait until late in the afternoon to fly up, thinking if we get there about dark the winds will have died down a bit. This time our thinking was right, the afternoon winds had been gusting to over 25 knots and mostly a crosswind at KFLP, but had now calmed down to 8 to 14 or so. The ride to Flippin was uneventful and when we got there, the car cranked and we were on our way to the camper, waders & fly rods in hand!
Low Water!… After years of high water and flooding conditions on the White River, things appear to have returned to normal. Several weeks of low or no power generation has made the river safely wadable again and now we have nice new breathable waders (see old wader post!) and are ready to put them to the test. I had called our fly fishing instructor, Ron McQuay before we left, to check his schedule for the weekend and was able to arrange an outing with him on Saturday morning, but tomorrow was Friday and we were going fishing! We started at a familiar location just up from the camper, Wildcat Shoals. Wow, we have never seen it this way, we waded completely to the other side of the river and never got in over 2 feet of water. After fly fishing for hours without any bites, we had our usual picnic lunch next to the river. We decided to pull out out spin fishing equipment when we returned to the water and still had no luck. We could see dozens of fish just under the surface, but could not get them to bite. I even saw a very large brown trout and was able to get so close to him that I took a picture of him with my waterproof camera. We fished for a couple of more hours and gave into the hope of catching fish with Ron in the morning.
Beth’s Second Baptism… We met Ron for breakfast and discussed the water conditions and decided to start our fishing for the day down at Rim Shoals. The outfitter down there offers a water taxi service so we went up the river to where a creek enters the river. As we prepared to enter the water, Ron pulls out this jointed “stick-like” device and starts putting it together. “Hmmm, what is that?” I said, Ron’s reply was “a wading staff, they are nice to have…”. I’m thinking yea, well we waded all around yesterday without incident, so that should not be a problem.
We moved into the water, fly rods in hand and just as we got above knee deep, I hear Kuplush… I turned around to see Beth, my lovely bride of 30+ years, with her fly rod held high in her right hand and her whole left arm, up to her neck in the frigid water. I’m thinking, good girl, don’t drop that new L.L. Bean rod & reel into the water… only GOD knows what she was thinking. The good news is that the new, properly fitted, waders didn’t let a drop of water in and that fancy new fishing shirt she had on would dry out in a flash and we now have matching wading staffs on order…
First Trout… I had caught my first trout on a fly the last time we were on the White River with Ron (story here). Ron did not totally like the look of the water where we were, but we started casting, stripping & mending (cool fly fishing words, huh – only one of those words had anything to do with fishing before we met Ron). Soon, the fight was on… Beth had her first trout on a fly and it was a good one! After a few minutes of wearing him down, Ron netted the rainbow, pictures were taken & the fish was released. Just as I had been hooked by this sport a few weeks ago, Beth too, was being taken in by trout fever. We continued to fish Rim Shoals and Beth & I both caught another fish, but we left the island with Beth up two fish to my one.
Let’s Go, The Water is Coming!… Since the water at Rim Shoals was not exactly like Ron wanted, we decided to drive down to the Norfork River below the dam. The generators were shut down and the only water flowing was from dam and generator leakage. Wading in this area was simple, but Ron warned us of the very little notice we would get if/when they turned on the generators. So we waded upstream several hundred yards in mostly ankle deep water to find some nice looking pools that had fish that we could see. Ok… there she goes again, catching fish. Beth quickly caught a couple of rainbows in the pool of slow moving water while I was just casting away. We had been fishing for an hour & a half or so when something changed. I noticed the slightest change in the sound of the rapids just above us, so I picked out a rock to watch just to see if the water was coming up, then I heard Ron yell, “It’s a BROWN!” Beth had her first brown trout ever and it was on a fly rod! So, I moved down to where they were to take some pictures. About the time I got to them, one of the fellows fishing down stream from us yelled, “Let’s go, the water is rising”. As Beth and Ron took care of releasing the brown trout, I started the trek back to the access point. I was amazed at how fast the water rises when they turn on the generators. What had been a gravel bar when we walked upstream was now under a foot of water in just a few minutes, a great lesson to learn for future outings to the Norfork… at the first sign of changing water – get moving! When we got ready to leave the parking area, Ron invited us to a pot luck fish fry up at Copper Johns Lodge on Sunday night. That sounded like a good idea, especially since all of the fish Beth had caught had been in the catch & release areas and we had no fish to eat. So, we took the beautiful drive back to Cotter with more great memories in our rearview mirror and another day of fishing ahead.
Watch Video Below…
Beth’s turn to talk… Part 2 will come in the next few days and will be written by Beth about our fist successful day, fly fishing by ourselves…
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. Once again, I would like to thank Ron McQuay for taking an interest in us. Ron is a very patient teacher and is very knowledgable of the White River fishery. Ron’s website is ronsflyfishingforbeginners.com.
$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.
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.
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. 🙂
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.