Thursday -Turkey Day
Mary and I awoke with no Ziva girl, our baby girl was boarded at the VCA clinic, her home away from home. We both were packed and ready for the adventure to begin as we secured our home and loaded our bags in old blue for the ride to the airport.
Today's first leg is on an American airlines Embraer 145, serviced by Piedmont, departing Salisbury, MD arriving in Philadelphia. The forecast was calling for strong gusty winds despite blue skies and typical seasonal temps. Thirty minutes on the road and I wheeled into the parking lot at the terminal. After obtaining my parking ticket and slipping under the gate we did the lot creep, searching for a parking spot. The lot was pretty much full.
The terminal was empty, except for a few couples waiting for TSA to open. The terminal was so quiet that the only noise was our luggage wheels clicking across each tile floor joint as we headed to the check in counter. Mary and I each had our electronic boarding pass so we just had to check our bags, this will lighten my wallet by $60.
Now relieved of our tag-alongs, we found two seats and joined the TSA waiting game. The screening soon opened and we all followed along like good little sheeple. Mary and I both passed through the body scanner with no issue, rare for me, but my flight bag held up the works. As the shoe-less crowd gathered on the gate side, my bag did multiple trips through the machine. I was starting to get odd looks. Eventually my bag emerged followed by shoes and belongings for everyone. I slipped on my shoes and belt, with minimum eye contact, apologizing as I collected my belongings. Yikes, that was uncomfortable.
Boarding soon followed and after almost being blown away climbing the stairway to the plane, we greeted the crew. Happy Thanksgiving, thank you for working today to get us to our destination, we appreciate you being here on the holiday. The crew responded with smiles and thanked us in return, that's how people should treat each other. We made our way to row seven and settled in.
It was a quick takeoff roll with all the winds right down the runway. The climb out was bumpy as we penetrated a few to scattered layer but soon felt smooth and comfy once on top. There was no haze layer this morning, I could see clear to Ocean City, and up the coast to the Indian River Inlet bridge. Our flight took us across the Delaware Bay, crossing over Cape Henlopen DE to Cape May NJ and directly over the Atlantic City airport.
The aircraft banked left now pointing towards Philly as I watched the New Jersey landscape pass by below. The clouds began to close up as we made our way north, but the layer did not look thick. Our crew did a very nice job in the gusty winds, landing on runway two-seven right.
It was a short walk from our gate to the shuttle bus gate in terminal F. Philly was not crowded and that made for an easy transfer to terminal C. As we passed a few food places we decided to grab a sandwich and snacks for the next flight, it beats cookies and pretzels.
The call was made for boarding to begin, and once again the lines formed and we followed the make shift corrals to the plane. The aircraft for this hop is another Embraer, this time a little larger, the 190. The seating was two seats each side of the aisle, and we were in row 25. A short walk to the bathrooms, exits and the snack and drink cart. Yes, we were in the next to the last row.
The takeoff roll was a bit longer then the first leg, and the winds were pushing the plane around pretty good in a swaying motion. Whoever was the pilot flying sure needed happy feet on the rudder pedals this morning.
The remainder of the flight was smooth and quiet until we approached our destination. We now had to descend through that layer we had climbed above, but now it was thick and bumpy over Texas. We broke out around thirteen hundred feet and the crew did a great job getting us on the runway.
Welcome to Texas!
Mary and I were the last passengers to leave the plane and welcome to Austin was the greeting we received by the ground and terminal staff. The terminal seemed rather new, very clean, and strategically laid out.
I did locate the check in for American so we'll be good to go for our return departure, unlike the Sanibel, Florida airport misadventure. The baggage claim area was busy but orderly, and the decorations for the Christmas holidays were beautiful.
We cancelled our rental and instead our friend and fellow pilot Mark picked us up. Mary and I were headed to Mark and Candy's home for Thanksgiving.
Friendsgiving doesn't cover this holiday, since we consider Mark and Candy family. We also got to meet Candy's sister, Carmen. We all hit it off and I knew right away it was going to be a fun few days.
I awoke to a low overcast sky, there would be no morning flight. The plan was for the men to head to the airport to take care of a few items on Marks Beech Sierra to do list, and as for the ladies, who knows what they had planned.
The group reconvened in the early afternoon, back at the house. The ladies scratched their shopping itch and the boys got to play with the airplane. Mark and I hope to get some airtime tomorrow, shooting some approaches for currency.
We all took some time to relax and ponder our choice for dinner. The group finally settled on Rudy's, it was Texas BBQ time. It was a bit of a drive but holy smokes, the moist brisket was unbelievable. Our order consisted of brisket, smoked turkey, chicken, and sausage. For sides we had creamed corn (to die for), baked beans, and potato salad. I could have eaten more but I didn't want to fall into a food coma. Mary and I eventually headed off to bed, tummies full, and happy little campers.
Rise and shine! Today the fog finally lifted. Candy, Carmen, and Mary made a fantastic breakfast. A quiche of sorts with sausage, eggs, onions, and cubed honey wheat bread. It was yummy for the tummy.
The men had plans of more airplane time, and Candy's sister Carmen was heading home to Nashville. Shortly after lunch, Mark and I said goodbye to Carmen since we would not be home before she left for the airport.
Goodbyes are never easy, but with a hug and promise of catching up again Mark and I headed out for the day of activities.
We started off with a stop at the UPS store, that was easy enough. Next up a Home Depot stop for some cleaning supplies and then on to the airport. Mark checked on yesterdays work to check the status of the materiel used to make a sheet metal mold. The product had not fully cured.
The next item to address was fueling the plane. It was decided that we would take flight tomorrow, since Sunday's forecast provided for much cooler temps. Mark tugged 3 5 Delta out of the hangar and quickly had the fan turning. Along with fueling, Mark wanted to heat up the oil with a run up and high speed taxi.
The plan also included a deep cycle of the McCauley prop, at least five times to help oil and set the prop hub rings. 3 5 Delta had experienced a slight weep at the three prop bases, and Lycoming addressed this issue. After hearing 3 5 Delta rumble down the runway I could only hope 3 Tango Charlie's IO 360 sounded just as bad ass.
We followed the recommended cleaning process for the prop and then cleaned the windscreen in prep for our Sunday flight.
|Muffin - Alfa kitty|
Mark and I returned to the house and together with our brides shared an evening of stories and good laughs, along with loving the fur kids, before finally calling it a night. Dinner was leftover Rudy's, life is so good.
The weather had broken, and yesterday's heat had faded away. Cooler temps prevailed and I needed my fleece pullover to feel warm enough to fly. When we arrived at Taylor airport there were planes and gyrocopters keeping the pattern busy. Mark and I completed the preflight and tugged 3 5 Delta out into the sunshine.
Mark does an excellent job with checklists and the take off briefing. We had a plan in place, and announced departing runway three two.
The Sierra climbed out with very good power as we turned for 60R, Navasota Municipal airport. This first approach was with the autopilot, the RNAV GPS 35. The Stec performed flawlessly and Mark briefed and flew a very nice approach.
Next up, after going missed at Navasota, was the RNAV GPS 34 at Brenham, 11R. This approach was all hand flown. Mark did a nice job despite gusty winds, and at minimums we were looking straight down the runway.
Wingspan 6-8' Weight 20-24lbs
I should also note as he was reviewing the approach plate, five very large Mute Swans passed under the nose, left to right, and just slipped under the right wing. It could have been real ugly, really fast.
After going missed once again, we plotted a course for KCXO, Conroe North Houston Regional. This leg was all headwind and bumpy. Although Mark tells me this is Texas, and that's not really bumpy. My back and butt thought otherwise.
Finally, some landmarks!
As we passed over Lake Conroe to enter the left down wind for runway three-two Mark selected the visual approach on the Garmin 750. I really liked the visual feature that provides an extended center-line and vertical guidance. With a smooth landing complete, we taxied clear, then turned for the Galaxy FBO. Once 3 5 Delta was secured we headed to the Black Walnut Cafe' on the second floor of the FBO.
Mark and I placed our food order then grabbed a table next to the window overlooking the runway. The food and service was very good. Mark had a steak pot pie and I had two eggs over medium and the most wonderful bowl of grits..ever!
It was time to get back in the air. After picking up our taxi clearance we made our way to the runway for departure. For this leg we were heading back to Taylor for a VOR 17 approach and a random hold along the way that would finish up our day.
Mark made a nice landing with winds gusting 20 kts. Once we taxied clear we made a beeline for the hangar. I was getting tired and needed something cool to drink. Together we tag teamed cleaning up, and closed the hangar door when we finished. let's go home!
The ladies were waiting when we returned, everyone was ready for dinner. Our selection would be a casual place, keeping it simple. Everyone wanted steak so we headed to Logan's Roadhouse. The food and service was very good. We each had steaks that were tender and cooked to perfection.
Mark drove us home and we all settled in for some Sunday night football. I made it through the first half then surrendered, the sandman was calling my name.
Mark and Candy left for the airport so Mark could catch his flight back to Blacksburg via Charlotte. When Candy returned we all sat and had our morning coffee and I had my tea.
We gave some thought to driving north to Waco. The initial plan was to sign up for the Magnolia Market tour of homes they had worked on, since it was the only item on our list we didn't do on our last visit.
I just wasn't feeling up to speed, actually I was experiencing some pain in my right lower leg. We decided to cancel the Waco trip and instead head out to explore lake Travis in Bolente, TX. Mary, Candy, and I had lunch at the Oasis restaurant, overlooking the lake. We had a fun time at the lake and checking out all the shops.
Candy gave us the local tour, noting the house they first rented when they came to Texas and where she had worked. It was a beautiful area, very well established and all gorgeous homes. It was interesting to see the different construction methods and materials for this engineer. I really liked the gas prices!
Eventually we made our way back to the house, but not before we drove past a H.E.B. supermarket. We share a running joke about grocery stores since Ocean City's selection of two absolutely sucks.
We were all still full from our late lunch so we decided on munchies to carry us through Monday night football. Now Candy is a Vikings fan and you all know I'm a Packers fan. I really wanted a Vikings loss to help the Packers playoff picture. The only bad part was I dislike the Seahawks even more.
I called it a night at halftime and turned in. I wasn't feeling great, with a bit of the chills and body ache.
We all slept in today. I know I felt much better after a good night's sleep. Mary and I packed for our flight to Charlotte, then on to Salisbury. We enjoyed our last bit of time with the fur babies before heading out the door.
Candy drove us to the Austin airport and once again we had to say our goodbyes. It's never easy leaving family. At least we will all be closer when their relocate to Blacksburg, Virginia is complete.
Our flight out of Austin departed on time and it was fun to catch a glimpse of a Cessna 172 departing in front of our Airbus 319 and behind another American Airbus 319 that just departed. I secretly gave a thumbs up, you go pilot!
The Flight was smooth and arrived in Charlotte ahead of schedule. Normally that would have been great, unfortunately our next flight, home to Ocean City, doesn't leave for four hours.
So, what do you do to keep busy? Mary and I were not really hungry and we both had snacks for the wait, and the flight. Well of course the first form of entertainment is people watching, but that doesn't last long, and it tends to freak me out. Mary decided to finish watching her movie, The Highwaymen, and I put my headset on to listen to more of Mike Rowe's book, The Way I Heard It.
I thought the headset was connected but after Mary elbowed me and said eeveryone could hear that, I shut the audio off. What's the big deal you wonder, as did I. I was listening to a chapter titled Size Matters, and it was about his TV show Dirty Jobs and working on a horse stud farm. Let's just leave this right here and move on without any further discussion or description.
Our last hop home was uneventful and the great tailwinds (28 kts) were gobbled up by waiting in the conga line for departure. Gone was the thirty-five minute get into Salisbury early potential. I listened to more of my book, this time I made sure the sound buds were connected before I opened the audio version. I did manage to pick out a few landmarks along the way, despite the wispy cloud layer we were passing through. I started to recognize Norfolk and crossing the Chesapeake Bay, now a solid black void with the opposing shorelines dotted with light. I picked out the beacon from Accomack (KMFV) and the Wallops Flight Facility launch towers on the coast, followed by the airport itself(KWAL). As we positioned for landing I could see the lights of the Ocean City skyline, as we cruised along in the clear night sky. I followed the coast line to the inlet and could actually pick out the airport beacon at KOXB. We banked slightly left to line up for runway three-two and the crew rolled it on, exiting at taxiway Alpha 1, right at the terminal.
I went out to start our SUV, pay for parking, and drive around to the terminal doors. My timing was perfect, right as Mary was walking out, actually crossing the pick up lanes. I stopped to load our bags and she said why didn't I blink the lights. I don't know, maybe I was tired, but that was a better idea then beeping the horn, which I also did not do.
Home at last, and anxious to pick up Ziva in the morning. We already miss Candy and Mark, along with their fur babies. Thanks to you both for a special Thanksgiving and sharing your home with us. We had a blast!
One of the best lines all week was Candy reminding Mary and I, that as she stated during the worst of my recovery days, is that "someday we would all be gathered together and laugh about this." This week provided that moment, that day, and from the bottom of our hearts we thank you both for ALL your support and outpouring of love. Yes, this thanksgiving we truly are thankful.