It looks like the wx is going to cooperate today, blue skies, a bit nip but a gorgeous day to fly. The final decision to go was held until I woke up this morning (that's a good start) and if I was feeling up to snuff. The chest felt clear and the sinus/sore throat was feeling much better, maybe it was the chance to fly that made for the miracle cure.
Most of the parade shots are pretty bad since we were stuck in traffic trying to steal a glance or picture when we could from such a poor vantage point.
I was up and ready to get started around 7am and Mary soon followed. I grabbed a shower, layered up the clothes and double checked my bag before heading out the door. Mary was going to pick up her Mom and then meet me around 8:30- 8:45 at the plane for a 9am departure. Well, the plan sounded good. Mary was nice enough to stop at Dunkin Donut for my favorite hot tea with extra sugar and an everything bagel with cream cheese. My co-pilot and passenger walked through the gate past 9am. While Mary made the pick up and donut stop I had the plane untied, uncovered, preflight completed and the Red Dragon heater blowing hot air under the cowl. Temps were close to freezing this morning but without all the wind from the last few days it didn't feel to bad. I kept a close eye on the bottom cowl where the duct was venting hot air and opened up the oil door to check the top end. I gave the Red dragon a good thirty minutes and then shut it down so it could cool enough to lock up in the back of the SUV. I pulled the dip stick and the oil was running off the end so I felt she was ready to go.
I climbed aboard 08Romeo and completed my cockpit preflight and primed for a start. Eight squirts of primer, full rich mixture and just crack the throttle open and in a spin Julie roars to life. Wow, I should get started so easy on a cold morning. Oil pressure looked fine and the oil temp was just up in the yellow, not to bad. I sat at low idle maybe 700 RPM watching the Cylinder Head Temps (CHT) and when they all held a steady temp I taxied to the front of Red Eagle, close to the gate where Mary would come in. I copied the ATIS, thought about hooking up the XM radio but passed and got the cockpit squared away. Mary and her Mom came through the gate and I shut down so they could climb aboard. I forgot to mention I had the heat on in the cabin, the Sundowner has a blower for ground Op's, it makes it toasty.
Ok everyone is buckled in and I call for taxi instructions. Winds are 280 at 8 knots so I am ready for runway two seven. As expected taxi to runway two seven via Kilo hold short at Mike. Done deal, we're off. After my run up and final checks we are cleared to take off. Good power today in the cold air and I really wanted to concentrate on holding my climb to just under 500 ft/mn. I am still learning the sight picture on this plane and each flight I feel more in tune. I picked up flight following with Dover approach then got the hand off to Potomac Approach. Today Potomac asked me what my final destination was going to be. Approach final destination is Echo Sierra November, Easton, zero eight Romeo. The return from approach was where are you stopping first. What did he just ask? Approach one stop only, final destination Echo Sierra November, zero eight Romeo. This time he got it....he must have been busy I guess.
Once we had the field in sight I was told to squawk VFR and so we did. I made contact with the Easton Tower advising seven north east, inbound for full stop, with information Charlie. I was directed to enter and report a three mile right base runway three three. Acknowledged. There was a red Pitts flying in the area and he was number two to land and made a 360 degree turn for spacing, heck he was having fun out there. Ok back to my landing, short final, runway made and I add in the last notch of flaps. A tad high, some float but a smooth touchdown and long roll out and even longer taxi back to Maryland Air at the Terminal.
Let the adventure begin. We walked inside and you could smell the restaurant cooking up breakfast, oh yeah it smelled great. I secured the rental car for around $55 since the taxi was a bit more when you add up each way and a tip not to mention having to wait. We loaded up and headed into town trying to beat the 10:30 road closure for the Parade. I didn't miss a single turn, I swear I don't remember all the signs being there last year, well, it's my story and I'm sticking to it. We passed the flashing message board that said ROAD CLOSED - 10:30 -11:30, it was 10:26 and we still ahd a few miles to go. We made it to within maybe 5-8 cars and had to sit in traffic for one hour, I was not walking into and back out of town.
Once we were allowed in we made our way to last years parking area behind the PNC bank in the Church parking lot, a great spot. We walked up one side and down the other side of Talbut street taking in all the sights and sounds of Christmas in St. Michael's. There was a pretty good size crowd and even after the parade the shoppers had turned out to take advantage of the wx and posted sales. Bee's to honey just add the magic word sale and they all come. Mary and her Mom hit all the favorites and I kept a watchful eye outside soaking up the sun and looking for anyone with an AOPA hat or something else related to flying. I bumped into Doug and Beth from Millville, NJ (Owners of Big Sky at MIV and WWD)they were out enjoying the wx and had their son tucked away nice and snug in a stroller, great to see them! We passed last year's lunch stop and continued on when I bumped into Lee(fellow POA forum member) and his wife Lynn. They too were making the rounds in and out of each store and enjoying the wx.
We finished off the north side of the street in pretty good time and with out any lapse crossed the street and picked back up on the south side. Our first stop on the south side is Flying Fred's dog shop, everything for any dog from treats to collars, sweaters, stickers, you name it, they got it. I must report a bit of sad news, the store mascot (Fred - Jack Russell) passed this year at the age of 15 while on vacation in Vermont, he was cute lil bugger. The owners now share their home and store with Fifi Larue a Schnauzer/poodle mix.
There is no rest when ladies are shopping, we were soon off to the next store back on track. I didn't want to break the momentum they had going but I have to say I was getting hungry, it was closing in on 1pm and I had but a bagel and hot tea. Both Mary and her Mom decided it was time to look for eats and I was in agreement. We made our way up the street and decided to try Characters Cafe' located at 200 North Talbot Street. The place was packed so we kept looking for a spot. We made our way east and headed back towards the center of town and even gave the Carpenter Street Saloon a glance. Music way to loud and the place was packed with all the parade folks, we kept looking. We gave the Harbor Inn a thought but it too was full. It was time to load up and drive, we would find someplace to have lunch.
We headed west towards Tilghman Island and found the Chesapeake Landing, they had seating and we were hungry, a perfect match. We each order cold drinks and had the Crab dip appetizer, plenty of old bay on this one, it was salty but we cleaned the dish. I ordered the crab cake lunch platter, Mary had the fried oyster sandwich and Mom had a Turkey club, all very good. No desert this trip I was full. Mary took a pass too and hinted that she would be doing the just fed puppy nap on the flight home, I had no doubt. We made our way back to the airport and turned in the rental.
I went out to preflight and waved to the ladies waiting in the warm terminal, the temps were starting to dip. I once again forgot to install the cowl plugs when we got in, not sure if they would have helped all that much but next time I'll make note to use them. I packed away the booty from today's trip and helped both of my favorite ladies up on the wing and into the plane. It was great, I walked around the other side, opened MY door and climbed in, I like it. I completed my in cockpit preflight and got 08Romeo started. It took a few minutes for the oil temps to come up but I wasn't in any rush. I noted the ATIS and tuned the radios along with plugging in the flight plan in the Garmin 530 and 496. The easy way home was dialing in the DuPont VOR and just tracking that. The Collins Nav radio has a neat little feature for an oldie but once in the air you dial in the VOR and can flip to either the TO or FROM setting to check the radial. The 530 also provides the radial info on screen along with the DME.
We were cleared to take off runway two two and make right turn on course, acknowledged and complete, we're on our way home. No flight following today on the way home although I did have Potomac and Dover dialed in so I could monitor. About 15 out of Wilmington I picked up the ATIS report and made my call about 10 south as I crossed the C&D canal. Visibility was almost endless today so it made for a nice hop. Wilmington directed me to report 3 mile left base runway Three Two and I continued in. I made my call to report and was cleared to land adding the second notch of flaps as I turned final. Speed looked good and I had the runway made so I pulled in the last notch of falps and looked down the runway. I got a little slow as I settled in and as I started to flair ( all be it late) I kerplunked one in flat. Yikes! I hate that and in the same instant held the yoke back and wheelied a bit then sat it back down. No, that surely was no save but I was rolling out on center. We taxied off and made it over to red Eagle to get 08Romeo secured. A good days work and a fun flight.