Saturday, August 27, 2016

July 22nd Off to Oshkosh!!

I had been keeping an eye on a weather system that was moving in over the past couple days, and I was a little worried that it was going to be in our way when we wanted to leave Friday morning. Turns out I had nothing to worry about...the whole line of storms was just east of us when we woke up Friday morning. It was time to head west!

We had breakfast at the hotel, settled up with the FBO at PCW, then hopped in the plane. Port Clinton was a great stop...I'll definitely be back someday!

There was a scattered layer of clouds just a couple thousand feet up, so we stayed low and flew underneath. Aside from a little bit of haze and a few bumps the weather was fine, and we passed the time by looking at the exciting scenery along the way.

Mark took this picture...these people had so many ponds in their yard!

We made pretty good time and it was still pretty early when we reached our first fuel stop: Warsaw, Indiana (ASW).

There were only three of us on the ramp, but there was a lot of variety!   :)

ASW was another great fuel stop with cheap gas. We checked the weather, Mark updated my iPad (turns out you need to download maps for each state...oops), and we were back in the plane in less than an hour.

Getting closer! You can just make out Chicago in the distance. There was more traffic along this leg, though nothing crazy. We got permission to cut through Aurora's Class D airspace on the way to our next stop...

...DeKalb, Illinois (DKB)! It's such a good pre-Oshkosh stop that I'll probably always stop here before making the final hop north. This day was no exception; they were grilling hot dogs for all of the pilots passing through, and we had fun hanging out and talking with other pilots who were heading to OSH. While I had originally thought about spending the night here, it was only noon by the time we arrived and the weather was gorgeous, so it made the most sense to keep going and finish the trip all in one day. We topped off, wished the other pilots a good trip, and hopped back in the plane.

This was somewhere just over the Wisconsin border. Getting closer!! Mark and I had briefed the arrival procedures ahead of time, and having Foreflight made falling in line with everyone else especially easy since I could see where the other planes were. We fell in line, asked for Runway 27, and a few minutes of following the railroad tracks later...

...we were setting up to enter the downwind. Yay!!!

Downwind for Runway 27. I've never seen OSH so empty!

We were cleared to land on the green dot, and a crazy steep/short approach later...

...we were on final. I wound up touching down just past the dot. So close!

We taxied off the runway into the grass, popped the GAC (General Aviation Camping) sign in the windshield, and followed the flag people to parking. We made it!!

After we landed we checked in, paid for our camping spot, and bought tie downs from the local EAA chapter to secure the plane. Then, the fun part...setting up camp. It was pretty darn hot by this point.

We did wind up with an awesome campsite, though. We were only a couple rows back from the airshow entrance (and some porta potties), and the shower and cafe weren't very far, either. It pays to fly in early!

We walked down to the shower house so I could show Mark where to find everything. This was the North 40. It looked like a giant soccer field! It would look much different in a couple days.   :)

We eventually got our campsite all set up and hung out for a little while under the wing. We were starting to get hungry, so we decided to head to an Oshkosh favorite...Friar Tuck's. It's on the other side of the runway, though, so we started walking.

We only made it about halfway, though, before we were offered a ride in one of the sweet little VW convertibles! The volunteers drive these around through the week to get around the airshow grounds, and it's not often that they give rides, so it was a really cool treat.

He even let us sit in the front when we got to the restaurant! Too cool.   :)

Friar Tuck's was super tasty (and packed!), and we somehow managed to get there just in time for happy hour. We had a couple drinks to celebrate, then eventually wandered back to the campsite, took showers, and passed out. It had been a really good day!   :)

Thursday, August 25, 2016

July 21st: Cedar Point

Mark and I wanted to make the most of our one full day in Ohio, so we didn't sleep too late.

The Tin Goose Diner was so tasty and close that we decided to go back for breakfast. I could see my plane from the diner, and it was fun to watch a handful of arrivals and departures while we hung out.

We didn't stay too long, though...there were roller coasters waiting!

Ahh, Top Thrill Dragster. That one's so good.   :)

Mark and I got pretty frustrated watching everyone with the Fast Pass things zip past us in line he night before, so we decided to make the most of our one full day in the park and get Fast Passes, too. What a difference! We were able to get right on most of the coasters, and I think the longest we waited was about 20 minutes.

We came across a petting zoo while wandering from coaster to coaster. This turkey was just a little creepy.

Mark liked the camel, and we got to pet some tiny goats that kept jumping all over everything.

We spent most of the morning and early afternoon going on as many coasters as possible, sometimes twice in a row. At one point, we had to wait forever to get on their newest coaster because some idiot girl was trying to use a GoPro on the ride while it was running. She was eventually pulled off the ride and possibly arrested, which was pretty funny to watch. Everyone booed her like crazy for holding things up.

We were starting to fade a bit after a while, so we wandered around and found a TGI Fridays for lunch.

I'm not sure what was better...the watermelon tasty drink, the salad and fries, or the delicious air conditioning. It was ridiculously hot outside. The bartender was awesome, though, and gave us big to-go cups of ice water to take with.   :)

We made good use of the hot weather, though, and spent the afternoon in the water park. We skipped the slides, but spent some time in the lazy river and the not-so-lazy river before making our way over to the swim-up bar for a drink.

I managed to collect all the hand stamps and wristbands...that's how you know it's been a good day.   :)

We ended the day with a trip to the little beach to take a quick dip in Lake Erie. It looked like there was weather building in the distance, plus we were beat from a long day of heat and roller coasters, so we decided to head back to the hotel.

We did go back out for dinner later, though. Ciao Bella was a really tasty Italian restaurant close to the hotel. Everything was really good! We had dinner, watched the giant fish in the koi pond for a few minutes, then went back to the hotel to get some sleep. We had a long day ahead of us!

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

July 20th: Off We Go!

After I got back from Oshkosh a couple years ago, I told Mark that he had to get out there at least once to see what it was all about (and see why I love it so much). We were lucky enough to get the time off for an Oshkosh trip this summer, so this was his lucky year!

I knew we were going to be close to max gross weight, so I did a very thorough weight and balance. It sure was fun stepping on and off of the bathroom scale repeatedly in my 90+ degree hangar to get exact weights of everything in the plane, but it was worth it to know we were legal and safe. We wound up 115 pounds under the limit (and had the option to free up a few more pounds by taking some old camping gear we could toss if needed), so we could buy plenty of stuff on the trip!

We decided to leave a day later than we originally planned to make sure that the flight planning, packing, and weather were all good to go. I spent most of the day getting things ready for the trip, but we took a short break in the afternoon for a glass of wine at Molon Lave. Wembles got to come with, too.   :)

The weather was beautiful the next morning, so I did a short test hop to flight check my new main tires, then we finished loading up the plane. Time to head west!

The weather was pretty good, though it was a little hazy and bumpy in spots. There were lots of wind turbines on some of the ridges in West Virginia.

We made it to our first stop in a little over two hours: Cambridge, Ohio (CDI). Dave and I stopped here a couple years ago when we flew to Oshkosh, and since it worked well with our flight this year I decided to use it again. We had a couple snacks, checked weather, topped off, and hopped back in the plane for the second leg of the day.

The next flight was pretty short - about an hour and a half - but it was pretty bumpy. Mark flew for a little while so I could take a break before we got to our next stop.

If it was up to me, our next stop would have been Griffing-Sandusky (SKY), right on Lake Erie. Dave and I have taken numerous trips here, and it was always a great stop when we wanted to go to Cedar Point. Not anymore, though...they closed the airport, sold it, and turned it into baseball fields!! Not cool. You could still tell where the old runways were.

We did fly past Cedar Point, though. We had a few extra days before we planned to fly into Oshkosh, so we'd be spending some time here! I was really looking forward to it; I hadn't been here in years and they had added some cool new roller coasters since then.

SKY might have been closed, but that just meant I got to add another new airport to my list: Port Clinton, Ohio (PCW). It was only a half hour drive from Cedar Point, had several bigger runways, and was really easy to fly into. We landed, got the airplane put away, picked up our rental car from the FBO, and were off!

PCW is also home to the Tin Goose Diner and the Liberty Aviation Museum. We didn't have time to check out the museum, but we did grab lunch at the diner. It was delicious; it would be worth flying here for the food (and I'm sure the museum) alone.

After lunch we checked in at our hotel (which you could almost walk to from the airport), then hopped back in the car for the drive over to Cedar Point. There were roller coasters to ride!

Oh Wicked Twister, I've missed you.   :)

Mark took this picture of Gatekeeper, which was one of my favorites. It's big and loopy and sometimes get so slow that you don't know how it'll make it over the next hill, plus it has a really nice view of the lake. We went on this one twice.

We didn't go on the ferris wheel, but I still thought it looked neat.   :)

I also didn't go on this spinny swing thing (I always skip the swing rides - I was on one that broke when I was a kid), but it looked pretty neat once it got dark.

The hotels were having some weird light-up-inflatable dance party thing on the beach, so we watched that for a little while. They were showing a movie on the beach a little further down, too. We were getting pretty tired, though, so we eventually left, went to Steak N Shake for dinner (which took foreeeeever), then went back to the hotel for the night. It had been a good start to the trip!

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Women Can Fly at HWY

Remember how I mentioned event planning a few posts ago? That doesn't even scratch the surface on how I spent a large amount of my free time this spring! For a few years now, my home airport has hosted a Women Can Fly event designed to get more girls interested in aviation. (Girls make up only 6% of pilots in the US, and I can't count how often I'm the only girl around when I go to different airports. We definitely need more ladies in aviation!) I've been lucky enough to help out as an exhibitor in the past, but this year I was given the chance to step up and run the whole thing.

I luckily had some of the contact information from previous years, as well as a rough idea of how everything was set up, but it was definitely a learning experience. I had to almost start from scratch on a few aspects of the event (including marketing, which was a big ball of fun), but I kept really good notes, so next year should be much easier. There were some hiccups along the way (including the food falling through a week before the event, which was fixed by an incredibly generous airport buddy), but a pile of volunteers came out of the woodwork at the last minute and the day of the event finally arrived.

Getting started in the morning up at the flight line. We were lucky enough to have the Air Boss from the Flying Circus running the flight operations, and we had some fantastic volunteers keeping the pilots and passengers organized and safe. We really lucked out with the weather, too...the clouds were a bit low in the morning, but high enough to fly, which somehow kept all of the transient traffic away for a few hours. We basically had the airport to ourselves for the morning!

My friend Naomi was manning the ATC table in the exhibitor hangar. I grabbed her for a little while so she could check out the flight line. She put this on the table while she was away.   :)     (Huge pet peeve of controllers - making a transmission, only to hear "BLOCKED" in return, meaning someone transmitted right on top of you and nobody heard what you said.)

For as much as I pulled my hair out in the weeks leading up to the event, it was a huge success. I honestly couldn't have asked for it to go any better, and I have all of the fantastic volunteers to thank for that. I didn't fly during the event, since I figured it would be better for me to be on the ground to deal with issues as they popped up, but there really were no issues. I spent most of the day going back and forth between the hangars and the flight line, checking to see if people needed anything, and the answer was almost always, "No, we're good!". By the end of the day we had 134 people show up to attend the preflight briefing, but actually wound up giving nearly 160 rides because we had such good capacity and a wide variety of aircraft that some girls got to fly in a couple types of planes (and we snuck a few of our volunteers up on flights, too!).

Mark stopped by after work, and I was able to end the day by getting him his first helicopter ride. Banu had spent the day flying rides in her R44 (which was really popular!), and offered to take us up before she went home.

We did a loop right over our house, then came back to the airport. It was really fun to be just above the trees, then come back in to the ramp at such an unusual (for me!) angle.   :)

Our event photographer, Alex, was taking pictures all day and generously donated them all for us to use however we wanted. I made an online album that I shared with all of the volunteers; you can check out the pictures by clicking here. It was really cool to get the chance to put together an event like that, and I can't wait to do it again next year! (Especially since now I actually know what I'm doing.)    :)

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Goodbye, Canada...Hello Happy Puppy

I slept good enough for how much stuff we did the day before, and we decided to head back to Le Couteau for more coffee and croissants.

Mmm...giant croissant...   :)

I had to fly back home later in the day, but I at least had a little while to hang out and explore. We spent most of the morning checking out some of the quirky shops near the condo...

...before eventually stopping at a bakery for some snacks.

We eventually wandered back to the condo. It was still a little cloudy...

... but I wasn't about to give up my last chance to hang out in the hot tub and drink port.

We eventually got cleaned up, I packed a bit, then we went to a very tasty fancy grilled cheese place down the street for lunch. I forget everything that was on mine but it was really good. One of the options was mac and cheese...I may have to try that next time.

I wasn't sure how bad traffic was going to be getting to the airport, so I left a little earlier than I probably had to. Mark rode the Metro with me to the bus stop, then we said goodbye and I took the bus to the airport (which was standing room only in rush hour. Fun fun!). Things went really fast once I got to the airport (they even have Global Entry kiosks there), and I wound up with nearly 2 hours to kill before my flight. Darn it!

I eventually boarded the flight. It sucked to be leaving alone, but I knew Mark would have fun and he'd be home in a few days, too.

Bye, Canada!

The flight wasn't full, which was a nice change of pace. I even got bonus snacks.

It didn't take long to get to Virginia. We landed just fine, I hopped in my car, and made it home somewhere around 11pm.

 I was a bit bummed to be back when Mark was still in Montreal, but at least someone was happy to see me!   :)

Mark enjoyed the rest of his trip and wound up finding a few new cool bars and restaurants before he eventually came home. I jokingly told him that we needed to go back again so that I could go to them, too (I mean, a hot dog with mac and cheese on it. I love hot dogs and mac and cheese and there's a place that puts them together?!), and that turned into 'no, really, let's go back again', so we will be heading back to Montreal in a few weeks. We even managed to get the same Airbnb condo, so I can't wait to spend some more time exploring the neighborhood (and eating more croissants and poutine and drinking more wine in the hot tub). I'm looking forward to it!   :)