After a week of watching weather it's Wednesday evening and I am refining the wx search/reports and cleaning up my final flight plans. Mary and I decided to cancel our room at Surfside last Friday and wing it when we get there. We have a car set up for the four days and I'm sure the FBO at Dare County Regional Airport can help us find a room or we can explore out and about to find something on our own.
Some of the wx planning I like to look at requires the following online charts on the AOPA wx pages. The Precipitation/Surface Level Precipitation chart forecasts rain accumulation for 24, 48, 60, 72, 96 and 120 hours from the chart generation time. This chart helps me visualize where the wx is moving and the rain intensity.
Another must read is the convective outlook chart that forecasts general thunderstorm activity for the valid period of the chart. This chart describes areas in which there is a risk of severe thunderstorms. General thunderstorm activity is identified on the chart by a solid green line with an arrowhead at one end. The area of general thunderstorm activity is expected to the right of the line from the direction of the arrowhead.
Friday 6/10- It's a Go!
We departed runway nine and climbed for two thousand feet heavy with fuel. Outside temps were plenty warm and I knew the climb to eight thousand would be slow but steady. I was handed off to Philly approach and directed to the Smyrna vor (ENO) intercept victor 29 airway. We were off on our vacation! I dialed in the country hits on xm radio and settled in for the two and a half hour flight.
I had dialed in Dover approach but instead due to altitude was handed off off to Washington center. 08romeo did a nice job maintaining six to seven hundred feet a minute in the climb. There was a distinct haze that shielded some of our view of distant ground targets that we use as landmarks on our flights. Our flight plan will have us follow v29, that means we would pass over the Symrna vor, direct to the Salisbury vor then follow v1 airway to the Jamie intersection down along the Delmarva peninsula, close to cherry point. From Jamie a slight left turn to Cape Charles (CCV)vor, then across the Chesapeake bay to Norfolk followed by the last leg, direct, Manteo -KMQI.
Washington handed us off to another Washington sector and they in turn handed us off to Oceania approach. Oceania gave us the direct Manteo just as we approached the Jamie intersection. This was a really nice short cut and would allow some nice shots as we followed the beach to our destination. As if I wasn't happy enough with the beach route change Oceania called out an F18 passing off our nose climbing from right to left through our altitude, a very cool sight. Picture did not capture the jet.As we worked our way south along the coastline we were handed back to Washington center. I was given a descent and I acknowledged, leaving eight thousand descending four thousand. I maintained a steady five hundred foot a minute which makes for no added ear pressure. From four we were given two and vectored west for traffic in the area of first flight. We were number two of three aircraft heading into Manteo this morning. I was eventually turned south pointed between the destination airport and the TFR noted in my pre-flight.
|F18's behind the wing|
|Virginia Dare memorial Bridge|
|Short final 23|
Wash center brings me back to this world and notes the first aircraft still did not cancel after arriving a manteo. I'm thinking ATC wants some help here. I advise I have the field in sight and will cancel in the air with him now. The controller updates on the jumpers over the field and traffic in the area then approves a frequency change, squawk vfr. I acknowledge and thank him for the help today.
The rental ford fusion was already cool and the lineman helped me load the remaining bags in the car. My timing was perfect as Mary walked to the ramp from the terminal and climbed in. We both chimed in at once, "we're on vacation" and made our way into downtown Manteo. Honestly, we gave some thought to a plan then tossed it as we approached Darrell's, one of our local favorites for lunch. The place was busy but we were seated in just a few minutes as we made our way to our table. I immediately ordered a sweet tea and my lovely Bride had a corona. I had the flounder with a side of cole slaw and potato salad, Mary ordered the fried oysters with pickled beets.
Mary and I headed into Nags Head and decided to check in at the Surfside before heading out to explore. Surfside was busy and our room was not ready but the man at the desk offered us beach towels and use of the pool while we wait. It sounded like a plan so we dug through our bags, grabbed swimwear and changed in the indoor pool private bathrooms. We were basking in the sun in no time flat! We settled in and enjoyed the pool, waiting for the call about the room. When the call did come I hauled the bags to the room and did some unpacking, hanging up what need to be hung and making sure everything was in order. After getting the room squared away I returned to the pool to soak up more rays.
Mary and I decided it was time to head out and explore, we wanted to find JK's for our Saturday dinner stop and make a stop at dairy queen. We decided to pass on a big dinner and opted for the reverse dinning ice cream instead, it works for me. With mile posts noted for the weekends adventure we pointed the rental to the hotel and called it a day. Mary read for a while and I surfed the flying forums. I did start my journal entry and emailed it home since the iPad does not work in the blog editor. I will need to research this further.
Mary and I immediately altered our plan and picked a place to park ourselves poolside, just in time as the chairs filled quickly. I thought the strong breeze felt great while broiling in the sun. I needed to really get some color on these legs of mine, they are blinding white. Mary sprayed some tanning stuff to help the process but I'm not sure it can help.
After a relaxing stint at the pool we packed up our stuff and made our way back to the room. I wish Mary had the camera, you should see me walking in these flip flops, what an ugly sight. I haven't worn those crazy things in many years, geezzz I hate those things stuck in my toes.
|Waterfront Restaurant, Duck NC|
Duck was a small town, not very commercialized which is plus. Plenty of mom and pop shops and restaurants. Not really sure of the beach access but we did see some roadways and small paths leading to the dunes. I don't think we would stay here but it may work for some folks who like the the out of the way places. We drove a bit more, north towards Corolla, then turned it around and headed back south for dinner. The traffic flow south was much faster and we soon were turning on to the big road and headed south for Nags Head. Along the way we made a few stops to check out a few shops; The Christmas Mouse and Forbes,the candy store. We agreed it was Time for dinner and backtracked a mile or two north to our place of choice, JK's.
|The Coach store|
The owner, John, stopped by to chat a bit about dinner and to make sure we enjoyed ourselves, we certainly did. It was good to chat and he said he remembered us from our last visit, how kind and what a perfect thing to say to your guests. John is from New Jersey and that lead to a whole different chat, a good time I assure you. We wanted to skip desert but decided to order a creme brûlée and two spoons, it was a perfect ending to a great dinner.
Sunday morning and another gorgeous sunrise, what a way to start the day. Mary and I decided on a quick light breakfast here at the hotel; cereal, fruit, coffee, juice and toast. We walked back to our room and gathered our gear for a day of hitting the shops in Manteo and a few along the main highway. First on the list was the coach store, see the happy lady in the picture above. Next up was the Cotton Gin, this place carries a little bit of everything and we managed to take a few items home with us. Next we headed across the Bridge into Manteo and made our way to the shops located along the waterfront.
|Shopping at the Cortton Gin|
The parking lot was filling fast but we were soon walking to the door. An SUV from New York pulled into the spot next to us and when they opened the door to get out all kinds of items overflowed. This poor woman was wedged in with bed linens, clothes and baskets of stuff. It was all we could do to refrain from busting a gut in laughter. Once inside, we were quickly seated overlooking the water at a cozy table for two. We ordered calamari for starters and followed up with seafood for the main course. A great lunch and excellent service made for the perfect choice.
It was time to head back to our hotel and change for the beach. Walking in the door with the bags I dropped one of the three, yep, the one with the pottery. I was really ticked but Mary said let it go, crap happens. Mary was ready to go and sit by the pool, I decided to take a nap, I promised to catch up in a short time. I cranked up the ac and read for a bit, even worked on this write up. I was soon curled up and passed out on the bed, I was beat. I didn't sleep very well last night but woke up after my nap feeling refreshed and ready to go.
I headed down to pool where I found Mary still broiling in the sun and needing to be turned over. I pulled up a chair and closed my eyes enjoying the warm sun that was working overtime to add some color to these hopeless legs. I guess we stayed out until dinner then made a beer run to the local seven-eleven. Gotta love the south, you can buy wine or beer everywhere. Mary was happy as she emerged with her corona in hand and two limes along with a phone number for a pizza place. We ordered a pizza to be delivered to the hotel and settled in for the night.
After multiple wx checks last night while watching storms, on Vans Airforce wx, pass by our home in Delaware, I felt comfortable with the flight plan for home. I am going to file direct ORF then CCV V1 SBY V29 KILG, home.
Mary and I decided on breakfast back at Grits & Grill. It's a fast turn around since it was early and we beat the regular crowd. We wanted to check out the "new" Jennette's Pier and pick up a few things for Mary's Mom before checking out of our room. We headed south just over a half mile from our hotel and pulled into the freshly paved parking area of the pier.
|Rays swimming around the pier|
On May 22, 2009, Governor Beverly Perdue led a gathering of legislators, local officials, and Aquarium leaders for a “sand-breaking” on the site of the new $25 million Jennette’s Pier, seventy years to the day from the first construction. It's an Awesome place to enjoy the beach.
It was time to get back to the hotel and the sky was starting to cloud up as you can see in the south beach views. We returned to the hotel and packed up our room then checked out. We headed north a few blocks to make a stop at Forbes for fudge and peanut brittle for Mom and we still needed to fill up the rental car. I topped the tank in Manteo then made a stop at the waterfront shops so we could replace the hand made bowl we had just purchased yesterday at Wanchese Pottery.
We rolled through the gates and readied 08Romeo for flight. Once ready for start up I ran the car back to the terminal and settled up the bill. It's a short walk to the plane and Mary had the doors open taking in the breeze. I completed my final checks and got the fan turning. I made a call to Flight Service to open my instrument flight plan. There was one change from the filed plan and that was direct ECG then as filed. No biggie, plug and chug we're ready. I advise I'm number one to go, runway five and acknowledge my void times.
|KMQI from the cross wind departure|
Oceania hands me off to Norfolk and they hand me off to patuxent. I am now in the clear at seven thousand literally hands off flying on course and altitude. Along the way I run through more IMC and it's smooth and very bright inside the clouds. Patuxent hands me off to Dover and they spoil my party directing me to descend to five thousand. I'm looking at the clouds ahead and know that I will be in the soup at five but comply. Sure enough I'm in it, it's not bright and smooth in here but getting dark and bumpy. Mary gives me the look and before I could say a word she says I don't like the bumps when I can't see around us. Without hesitation I call Dover with a request; Approach, 08Romeo request-- 08Romeo say request -- 08Romneo would like lower, I'm IMC and it's really bumpy -- 08Romeo descend 3000 -- Leaving 5000 descending 3000, 08Romeo.
Ok, I know I'll be clear but I will also be under the layer and that means bumps too. Mary's ok with that as long as we can see when riding out the rough stuff. Dover hands us off to Philly and they call out some traffic. One is VFR skimming along the bottom of the layer as he passes of our nose a few miles and a few hundred feet higher. After that we are handed off to Wilmington and cleared visual runway one. I contact Wilmington and as directed continue inbound for runway one and report 3 mile.
Just for practice I chug and plug the ILS RWY 1 and activate it. It's good practice and as long as I am eyes outside it works. Less than a mile with two notches of flaps in and just under 500 feet, looking good needles in the bubble as I glance in to confirm. Right at that very moment Mary calls out HAWK!! I am immediatly eyes out front and just see this crazy bird coming head on trying to go vertical giving us a full body view with wings spread tip to tip that I would swear spanned our prop. He looks to be going up and i nose over slightly, the hawk does a left wing over, and dip under us just to our left. I bank right then left waiting to hear the bang, nothing. He missed, we missed, my seat cushion vanished! The Hawk was between the next two photos to give an idea how close we were on final.
I'm over the numbers and getting stall horn still twenty plus feet high. Power, power, settle, more stall horn, power...it was like the first time my PPL instructor asked me to fly the runway, holding it off a couple of feet, except this was way uglier. I finally set it down about 2500 feet past the numbers. I let the tower know that one was ugly but my hands were still shaking from the near miss bird strike, they responded welcome home. We taxied to our tie down and once shut down I just sat. I was happy to be on the ramp and not in another position, one of many bad ones running through my head.
As I finish up this write up I am sipping the second of my double captain and cokes. For those of you that don't know me, well, that's a rare happening. To those of you that do know me, you know that's a reach for this guy who only enjoys ice tea. We enjoyed our short get-away vacation and have called it a second honeymoon....We are glad to be home!