Saturday, December 28, 2019

April 1st: Off to Florida!

A while ago, my buddy Dave had asked me if I might want to go back to Sun N Fun again. I'm not really one to turn down the chance to drool on lots of airplanes, so in early April, we packed up his plane and headed south.

He has a Cessna 210, which is a bit faster than my C172.

We had a bit of an interesting departure from HWY; right after takeoff we had traffic in our face, then Dave had a hard time getting the landing gear to retract, but we eventually got it all sorted out and were on our way.

Visibility was great once we cleared the scattered cloud layer, but we wound up stuck in a mountain wave and Dave (or more accurately, the autopilot) had a hard time holding altitude. At least it was a smooth ride!

We continued south...

...and after a little while, landed at Lowcountry Regional (RBW) in SC.

We took a short break to grab a snack. There were some pretty cool planes in their hangar (including a C140)!

Dave was already in a great mood...he spent the whole time grumbling about how lazy the line guys were there and how he had to top off his own plane. I had to keep reminding him that he manages HWY, not RBW.

Dave eventually got his plane topped off and stopped grumbling, and we were off to Florida.

Bye, RBW!

There was plenty to see on the next leg of the trip. We passed a few big fires...

...some neat looking marshy rivers...

...a really interesting shipping facility in Georgia...

...and then flew directly over a jet on final for Savannah (SAV).

After a while, though, the clouds started creeping in.

I was really looking forward to this part...I don't fly in weather like this very often!

Right after I took the picture of my iPad, we went into the clouds. I always like flying actual's so neat!

The further we got into the weather, the bumpier it got. One of the controllers climbed us from 4,000' to 6,000' to avoid some slower traffic, and it got even bumpier. (And of course, the traffic wound up being just close enough to our speed that we weren't able to ever really pass them and descend back down for a better ride.)

As we got closer to Kissimmee, the clouds started to break up below us.

They vectored us right over one of the Disney parks, which was pretty neat.

They lined us up on final...

...and a few minutes later, we were on the ground in Kissimmee (ISM).

They had the rental car ready for us, so we unloaded the plane, then drove over to visit Dave's daughter-in-law and granddaughter for a few minutes since they live so close to the airport. After that, we checked into the hotel, spent a few minutes settling in, then went back out to grab dinner.

There was a Steak n Shake nearby, so we went there. It's one of my favorite burger places, and the one near us recently closed, so I try not to pass up any chance I get to have some! After dinner we went back to the hotel and split up; I grabbed a shower and headed to bed. I wanted to make sure I was ready to go for the first day of Sun N Fun!

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Quick PA/NJ Trip

Earlier this year, we found out that J.R. Richards was going to be doing a couple shows on the East Coast. He's one of my favorite musicians; he used to be the lead singer for Dishwalla. I maybe got a little overenthusiastic when tickets went on sale and immediately bought us tickets to see him in Easton, PA, without really thinking through the logistics, so in mid-March...

...we packed our things and drove to PA.

Mark managed to find a cool pet friendly hotel just a couple blocks from the venue, so we were able to bring the doggies. The room was basically a one bedroom apartment, complete with a kitchen. It was a pretty neat setup!

It also had a cool view of one of the main streets right from the room.

After getting the doggies settled down, we walked down the street to catch the show.  :)

It was a pretty cool venue; it was fairly small, so you were pretty close to the stage, which was cool.

And of course, the show was excellent. I've sometimes joked that if I ever won the lottery, my one ridiculous purchase would be to hire him to follow me around and just sing. Anyway, Mark had to leave for a little bit because the hotel called and claimed that our dogs were barking (which we're not sure was true...), but he was able to catch most of the show, too, before it eventually ended and we went back to the room.

The next morning, we ordered some tasty breakfast to the room...

...before taking the doggies for a walk down by the river.

There were several bridges all in the same area, so there was a lot to see as we walked along the water.

We walked through town for a couple minutes, too...

...and found this in the middle of a small park in a traffic circle, before heading back to the hotel to check out.

Since we were kind of in the area and it was close to Mark's birthday, our next stop was NJ.

I snuck out for a little while with Zach, and we went to a nearby nursery to see what kinds of plants they had.

They had a lot! It was actually one of the best succulent selections I've seen in a while.

I eventually wound up at Mark's parents' house, where there was cake and tasty drinks and a couple rounds of games.

The next morning, we grabbed breakfast at the Liberty Diner...

...before saying goodbye and heading back to VA. It had been a fun short weekend away!

Friday, November 8, 2019

March 6th: Why Did I Eat All The Things? And Home

I slept suuuuper bad that night and woke up with an angry belly. Which really wasn't a huge surprise, since I'd spent the past two days absolutely stuffing myself. I dragged myself out of bed while Mark went out and picked up some breakfast and coffee.

After breakfast, we finished packing and said goodbye to our room. It had been a really nice place to stay! We still had some time before our flight was scheduled to leave, though, so we left our bags with the building's office, then went to check out a couple more things with our last few hours.

We started at the Umlauf Sculpture Garden. There were a lot of neat pieces scattered around the grounds.

I especially liked this piece in their indoor display.

After checking out the sculpture garden, we wandered over to Barton Springs to check out some of their trails.

Some of the trails followed the water; at one point we saw a guy in a thong doing a weird exercise routine on one of the paths that crossed the water. I guess he was helping Keep Austin Weird?

I thought these leaves looked really cool.

We made our way down to the water, and started to follow the path back toward downtown.

These rental scooters were aaaaalllll over the city. It did not surprise me at all to find one in an very wooded part of the trail.

We followed the path along the water for a while...

...and eventually wound up near the middle of the city again.

After hanging out for a bit, we eventually grabbed an Uber, picked up our bags, and made our way to the airport.

It didn't take long to check in and make it through security, so we had plenty of time to grab lunch. This salad was really tasty (and the veggies were a welcome thing after everything I had stuffed in my belly the past few days).

There were some neat art pieces hanging in one section of the terminal.

We wandered around a bit longer, then made our way to the gate to board our flight.

I had been a bit worried about what TSA might think about me bringing plants as a carry on, but it turns out they didn't care! I sent the box through the x-ray machine and was fully expecting to have to unpack everything, dump out the dirt, and bring the plants home without their pots. They didn't bat an eye when my plants made their way down the conveyor belt. If I had known it would be so easy to get them through security, I might have bought more!

We got a pretty sweet view of the race track on departure. This is where they have the Formula One race; it would be fun to go to that someday.

We climbed over the cloud layer...

...and got to take in a pretty sunset on the way home. It had been a fun trip - Austin was very delicious!   :)