Sunday, September 25, 2016

Even More Things

I did so much in August and early September that I needed another post just to fit in all the randomness!

The week after Zach came down, Mark and I decided to see how Bacon liked kayaking. This time we got smart; we only took one kayak, and my job was to hold her. It seemed much more manageable that way. She wasn't completely sold on the whole boat thing at first, but once we got going enough to get a breeze in her ears she seemed pretty happy.

She kept wanting to climb back to sit with Mark, though, which was tricky because she had to walk on the edge of the kayak to get back there. We managed to keep her dry, at least...no unexpected puppy swimming.   :)

Remember how I said my fig tree was going crazy? I wasn't kidding. I'm bringing in this many figs two to three times a week! Luckily one of my friends at work likes figs, too, so I've been keeping her well supplied.

Our friend Scott has lived in Virginia longer than we have and had never been hiking in Shenandoah. All three of us had the mid going into Labor Day, so after some short naps we met up and drove up to Skyline Drive. Visibility was amazing!

We decided to do one of our favorite hikes, Rose River Loop. It snakes back through the woods, follows a stream, and has several waterfalls along the way.

We stopped at one of the waterfalls and climbed down near the water. Mark and Scott spent a few minutes skipping rocks before we moved on.

After a little while, the hike moves on to a different trail and gets a lot harder. Mark and I were slowly making our way through one of the steep bits when we heard something scratching nearby.

It was a little bear! It was only a little way off the trail, and was scratching at a fallen tree (I'm guessing it was looking for tasty bugs to eat). It completely ignored us and did its own thing, so we watched it for a couple minutes before moving on.

The hike may have been kicking my butt, but at least it was pretty.   :)

After the hard part, the hike moves on to a fire road that takes you back to the parking lot. That is, unless you want to hike an even steeper section that takes you up to Dark Hollow Falls. I think Scott is part mountain goat because he disappeared up the trail for a little while. I sat on some rocks near the waterfall and waited instead.

A couple days later, Bob invited me over to his shop again. This time, I was going to help him on his actual project!

I'm a bit jealous of his basement shop; it's really nice to be able to just go downstairs and jump right in. We spent the afternoon building the floor of the front baggage compartment for his fuselage.

Bob got a couple pictures of me for his builder's log. He actually trusted me to drill holes in the side of his plane!! (They turned out just fine haha.)

It's definitely handy to have an extra set of hands sometimes. By the end of the afternoon, we had finished the section we were working on and I'd learned a ton more. (Then immediately went home and ordered even more tools hahaha.) It was really fun!   :)

Friday, September 23, 2016

Things, Things, and More Things

I know I've been out of town a lot lately, but I have been doing things other than traveling! The next post or two might be a little disjointed and random, but it's been a very disjointed and random couple of months.

In early August, Mark and I spent an afternoon at Monticello. He had been there before but I hadn't, so it was nice to finally go! That is one cool thing about Virginia...there are a lot of presidents' houses around here.   :)

Jefferson had a pretty sweet view, even if the clouds were a bit low. We started with a tour inside, then spent some time wandering around the gardens and grounds.

I couldn't take any pictures inside, but one of my favorite things was his library. It was three rooms and even had a bed! I wouldn't mind a library like that, After wrapping up the tour, we stopped at a nearby winery for a tasting, then went to Charlottesville's Downtown Mall for some shopping, dinner, and drinks. It was a really nice afternoon!

I also said goodbye to my student, Abby, in early August. She was heading to Virginia Tech for their ROTC program, but we were at least able to end the summer with a very pretty flight over the mountains. It was sad to see her go, but I know she'll do really well down there.

The day after I said goodbye to Abby, I had a very large box delivered to my hangar. Let the homebuilding adventure begin!

Our fig tree has had a ton of figs on it for a while, but they were all little and green. The figs finally started to ripen, so Mark and I had some fancy snacks and wine to use some of them up. The tree's been going crazy lately and we've gone from no figs to too many figs, but there are certainly worse problems to have. (And it's a good excuse to put my dehydrator to good use! They're really good cut in half and dehydrated.)

After we got back from Maine, I set aside some time to do inventory on my kit. Mark helped me crack open the crate, then ran away before I put him to work (kidding!).

It took a while to make sure all the pieces were there, but the good thing is that instead of feeling intimidated, I'm actually really excited to get started. I still have some work to do to get my shop all set up, but I'm making progress and having fun.   :)

A couple weeks ago, I got to give a flight review in this beauty! This RV-8 was a former Bronze Lindy Winner at Oshkosh, and was a lot of fun to fly.

We started with some airwork, then went to Culpeper (CJR) for some landings.

This was the great visibility I had on final: my buddy Bob's head. Ah, taildraggers. The runway's out there somewhere!

If I didn't want four seats so much I'd be tempted to build one of these instead; it's aerobatic and really fun.

One of the best parts of doing Bob's flight review was getting to know him a bit better. This is his friend's RV-8 but Bob is building his own, and aside from being an FAA FSDO guy, he's also a mechanic! Turns out he lives five minutes from me and has a full shop set up in his basement. He invited me over after the flight, and we spent a couple hours playing around with power tools and sheet metal in his basement. He offered to mentor me if I needed it as I build my plane, and he's already been a huge help in getting me off on the right foot with my project. I'm really glad I randomly bumped into him in the FBO a couple months ago!   :)

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Another Zach Visit!

The week after we snuck up to Maine, we got to host a visitor ourselves...my brother Zach came back! We decided to take advantage of the good weather and do some stuff outside this time.

 We started by heading up to the southern part of Shenandoah National Park. We stopped at a few overlooks along the way, and eventually stopped for lunch at one of the little cafes.

I think those trees may have been burned in the big fire they had earlier in the year. There were a bunch of burned trees in this section, and you could see random spots on the mountains where other patches of trees had burned, too. We drove a little further and eventually reached the parking area for our hike. Time to check out Blackrock Summit!

This is one of my favorite hikes when people come to visit. It's short and sweet (one of the options is a fairly flat 1 mile loop), and the views are fantastic.

We all stopped to take pictures when we reached the opening in the trees.

There's no way I was going to hike without my giant camera!

Visibility was pretty good, and the view toward the valley was really cool.

One trail branched off to the side, so we decided to make the hike a little longer and go check it out.

There were more great views that way, too.


The trail eventually went back into the woods and met up with a wider trail that looped back to the parking lot. It may have been wider, but that didn't mean it was easier...it was so steep that we had to stop for a few breaks. We hiked back to the car, then drove down to Charlottesville for dinner before heading back to our house.

Zach was supposed to have a video interview the next afternoon, but we wanted to squeeze something fun into the morning first. We decided to take the inflatable kayaks to the park near our house for a little kayaking.

Zach and I shared a kayak, and Mark shared his with Giz. We hadn't taken any of the dogs kayaking before, so it was definitely interesting! Giz seemed kind of ok with it...

...though he did try to test the limits of how far he could lean out of the boat a few times.

Mark let him try to swim a bit after we made it back to the dock. Giz didn't seem very impressed. We packed up the kayaks and had a nice lazy afternoon at home, then eventually had dinner and drinks. Zach made his way back home the next morning. It had been nice to have him visit again!

Sunday, September 18, 2016

August 17th and 18th: More Beach, Then Home

Mark and I still had a little time left before we had to head back to Portland, so Uncle Robert took us to see the small beach they'd found near the rental house.

I had no idea that Totman Cove even existed! Turns out, we could have gone here when we stayed at the other rental house a few years ago, too. Oh well.

We wandered around a little bit. It was low tide, so the water was really far out and pretty shallow.


The sand had neat ripples from the waves.

You could walk pretty far out and still only be in up to your knees.


Some of the little pools of water were really calm and almost perfectly reflected the trees and sky.


After a little while we went back to the house, said our goodbyes, and drove back to Portland. It would have been nice to stay longer, but we had to get back home early the next morning. At least we got to spend a little time in Maine this year!

We stopped at Otto's to grab some pizza when we got back to Portland, then hung out, watched some Olympics, finished packing, and went to bed. We managed to get to bed at a fairly reasonable hour, which made the early (4am!) alarm a little easier to deal with. Thankfully, our Airbnb was only a few minutes from the airport. We dropped off the rental car, zipped through security, and by 6am...

...we were already on the airplane, ready to go home.

Turns out the key to success with American Airlines is leaving at butt o'clock in the morning, before they have a chance to mess everything up. We pushed back on time and taxied to the runway.

I had to smile when we passed this C172 in the runup area.  :)

We were first in line for takeoff. Goodbye, Maine!

It seemed like we stayed pretty low for a while after we departed. I remembered flying past this inlet thing last year in my own plane when we flew home.

I had a super tasty airplane breakfast...

...then started to doze off right as we flew into the clouds.

The flight was only about an hour, and I woke up again as we were coming up on the Chesapeake Bay.

The final at DCA wasn't very long, and we didn't have to fly very far south to join the river for the approach. I tell planes to 'join the river south of the bridge' all the time, so it's always fun to actually see it in person.   :)

A whole bunch of crazy S-turns later (I have no idea what the tower was doing!), we were on the ground.

Hello, DCA!

We made it back on time, and I even had time for another nap after we got home and before I had to be at work that afternoon. Working 3-11 after getting up at 4am made for a very long day, but the extra sleep definitely helped. Aside from the frustrating start, it had been a very fun weekend!