Monday, March 27, 2023

Vero Beach 2023

It's vacation time and we're headed back to Vero Beach Florida. Mary and I really enjoyed our vacation in Vero last year. The beach was perfect, the restaurants provided quite the choice in cuisine, and it was quiet.

This year we plan on returning to the same beach front hotel, this time with an ocean view. We locked in on a room, rental car, and arranged for hangar space at KVRB, Vero Beach Regional with Sun Aviation

The Weather Watch

Departure day was scheduled for March 13th but the weather wasn't looking good and the weekly forecast was showing lower temps then we would like for beach time. 

Friday morning we rescheduled our hotel reservation, rental car, doggie boarding, and our cat sitter. I also had to contact my brother to cancel our planned Mets game and our Wednesday excursion and lunch with our brides. Whew, way too much phone time but we are good to go.

Take Two

Our travel weather is looking much better for Monday 3/20, despite showers upon arrival into Vero.  

Lucy was dropped off at the vet/boarding facility on Saturday and our cat sitter will be here Tuesday through Friday. Smoke and Binx get to play without being harassed by Lucy, it’s their vacation too. 


My plan is to fly the same first leg route to KLRO - Mt. Pleasant as our previous flight in March 2022. 

It’s a very early start for our travel day. Mary and I were up early and arrived at the airport by 6:30am. Together we had preflighted Sunday, and I sumped fuel to complete the process.  Baggage was weighed on Saturday which allowed me to add seven gallons of fuel to bring 3 Tango Charlie to 55 gallons total. 

I picked up my clearance with Patuxent and launched from runway three-two. It was a perfect day to fly, climbing to six thousand and enjoying the view down the Penninsula. 
We crossed the Chesapeake Bay and noticed the Navy docks were empty, that was a first. I pointed us toward Grand Stand and then hugged the coast, passing over Myrtle Beach and eventually making our first stop at Mt. Pleasant SC. The crew at LRO always provides great service and a quick turn for the upcoming last leg. 

I departed runway three-five following the coast and remaining clear of the class Charlie space of Charleston. I picked up my clearance in the air, as filed, and proceeded south. 

We got a nice look at Saint Simons Island, more investigation to follow for a future four day get-away. 
I was handed off to Jacksonville Center then multiple Jacksonville approach sectors.
Traffic was pretty busy and the last Jack approach either forgot me or I ran past their radio range. I would have been handed off to Daytona, or so I thought, but Daytona quickly handed me off to another Jacksonville sector. The new sector dumped me on Orlando. I felt like the proverbial hot potato. 

Once the ATC issue worked out I continued south for Vero. Approach vectored me for traffic and then handed me off to Palm Beach approach. The remainder of the flight was vectors leading me to the left base for a visual runway four. I made a nice landing at taxied for Sun Aviation. 

We’re on vacation!
The weather had cleared and the sun was shining , although the wind was brutal. 

First things first, fuel the plane. Mary went to secure the rental SUV, I unloaded the baggage and monitored the fueling.  The lineman said he would get 3 Tango Charlie in a hangar so I did not cover or install the window sunscreens. Once the plane was secure and everything paid for we headed out in search of food.

Lunch and Hotel Check-in

Casey’s Place is outdoor dining only for this American fair food selection. I ordered a cheeseburger with bacon, Mary had a Ruben, we spilt some cheese fries.  
While we enjoyed a late lunch/dinner we had to listen to a furry little dog that barked every minute demanding a taste of the couples lunch. Right on que the lady immediately rewarded this bad behavior with a piece of cheeseburger. Ughhh… yes everyone enjoying the outdoor dining had to listen to this little PIA. 

The funny part was when they finished and got up to leave they left a tiny dog bowl under the table. My immediate response was going to be, you left your barky dog bowl. Mary cut me off and gave the lady a heads up about the bowl. My bride is such a good person, me, not so much.
After getting settled in our room we had to make one more run for water and snacks. I’m beat, legs are sore, and we are calling it a day. 


Good morning Vero Beach!

It’s an early start for a vacation day but I’m scheduled to file for a concealed carry in Florida.  Might as well get it completed while we’re here. Does anything go as planned? The answer this morning is heck no. The building lost power so I rescheduled for 10:20, giving us plenty of time for eats.

Our breakfast choice is the lemon tree. We enjoyed our breakfast here last year so why not go with a sure thing. After our tummies were full Mary visited her friends shop, Lily Pad, just two doors down.

It was nice to catch up with Jen and I know it made Mary very happy. The time was now showing ten of ten so we headed back across the Merrial P Barber bridge and back to the tax office to complete the permit process. Yes, I called, the power was back on. I guess it took twenty minutes and I was now $120 lighter in the pocket. The physical card will be mailed and should arrive in four to five weeks. 

While on the west side of the Indian River we hit 21st Street Publix for a box of Smuckers PB&J uncrustables for our beach time consumption. I also noticed a six pack of black Cherry hard seltzer coolers in the bag. 

The beach was perfect today, a slight breeze to keep cool while toasting in the sun. We headed back to the room around 4pm to clean up for dinner. I think tonight will be Italian at Station 49. We loved this place the last time here and we wanted to go back. 
We started off dinner with the Arancini, a plate of three crispy risotto balls with a tomato dipping sauce. They were excellent. 

For dinner Mary had the spaghetti carbonara and I had the pappardelle with Bolognese sauce. Again, both entrees were excellent.

For dessert to go I ordered cannolis and my bride ordered donut holes with a caramel dipping sauce. We’ll kick back on the deck listening to the waves crash and enjoy our after dinner treats. Mary’s selection was way better so in this case take the gun, leave the cannoli's.


Rise and shine! We did sleep in a bit later than normal and missed the sunrise. The sound of the waves crashing from the balcony provided the perfect background sound as we got ready for breakfast. The lemon tree is only a block south so we returned today. Good eats and service, this place never disappoints. 

I wanted to locate the RV park and get some info in case we go that route. We used the motorhome to get a foothold in Ocean City almost nine years ago before buying our home.

We decided to cross the mid island bridge at 17th street and head over to check out the RV park I found. The park was small and there were no lots open. 
Next up was an age qualified community just past the airport. I read that age qualified right off the sign. We really liked the properties, some older places for sale along with new construction mixed in. Best feature was pet friendly. After checking out a few places we made a call to the listing agent to confirm my suspicion this was a lot lease set up, sadly, it was. Mary found an another place close by so we drove a short distance to check it out. This place was not as nice as the first stop and we noticed a no pet policy. 

So much for winter house shopping. Mary did say we have no real ties to OCMD and she would consider moving here full time. I would be on board IF I could find a hangar for 3 Tango Charlie. 
We headed for the hotel to change for the beach. Mary packed all the beach items and I packed lunch munchies and cold drinks. Time to relax. 
The young lady that is taking care of our two cats also works at the vets office where Lucy is boarded. Cassie brought her dog to work and had Lucy out with him playing in the dog walk area. Cassie sent us this picture and I think Lucy is actually smiling. 
Tonight’s dinner selection is the Polo Grill. The restaurant was very nicely decorated as a throw back upper crust steak house with polo memorabilia scattered about. 
Our waiter was an older gentleman and his service was excellent. I had a shrimp cocktail for starters with a rum and coke, Mary had an extra dirty martini with a blue cheese stuffed olives. 
Our waiter brought out a pimento cheese ball with chips made in house. The chips and cheese were good, I could care less about pimentos. 
Mary and I each had the 7oz filet mignon with truffle au gratin potatoes. Steaks were excellent and the potatoes could have been dinner on their own, they were that good. 
For dessert I ordered key lime pie to go and Mary had some balloon chocolate filled with mousse and berries. 

With full tummies we headed back to our room and hung out on the balcony watching the waves break on the beach. Life is good, let’s see what tomorrow brings.

Another beautiful sunrise to start our day. The beach is busy with joggers and those folks wanting to see the sunrise. I should mention there are a few people out with their dogs. You can tell the newer to the beach dogs, they tip toe into the surf as it washes up the beach. The experienced pups race against the waters edge as the waves exchange, the waves charging in and the previous wave backpedaling back out to sea. 

Once again we visit Lemon Tree for breakfast before the property search begins. We headed north towards Sebastion to check out another RV park which was an immediate oh hell no. 

Mary wanted to make a stop at a chain store so we took the scenic route to the destination. I found my way back across the Indian river and to our vacation home base without the help of GPS. 

I think naps are in order before we head to the beach. Actually Mary is taking a nap and I’m watching the Phillies play Detroit. 

I ended up passing out and we both woke up around 3pm. It looks like a pass on the beach today, instead we’ll hang out until five then head over to Bobby’s for dinner. 
Bobby’s is located just two buildings north of our hotel so we enjoyed a nice walk to dinner. Once inside I noticed a picture commemorating Superbowl XXI in New Orleans, Packers vs Patriots. Go Pack Go!
I had a good feeling right from the start. We were quickly seated and the service was very good. Mary placed her order and I asked if they had chicken piccata since they had veal piccata. Our waitress said that would be no problem so Mary changed her order and we sat and enjoyed our drinks. 

The chicken piccata was excellent and the angel hair pasta was a perfect addition to the dish. We will return here next year for dinner. Thanks Charles G for the recommendation. Time to call it a night and relax on the balcony with a cold drink enjoying the waves and cool breeze.


Our last full day of vacation. We made the short walk to the south side of the hotel and entered the attached restaurant, Mulligans. Breakfast was tasty and the service very good.
The plan is to head to the beach for a few hours then come back and clean up before heading to a late lunch early dinner with my brother.

The beach was crowded and the chairs/umbrella guy was really busy. We thought we wanted a set up then decided to go back to our room and enjoy the sun from our balcony. Mary got toasty, I covered my legs so my lasting airplane accident incision area did not burn. Thankfully I turned on the room air conditioning for the first time this week, we needed it. 
We are heading south to meet halfway for dinner at Crabby’s Dockside in North Fort Pierce. Mary and I quickly found a parking spot just a short walk to the restaurant. We asked for seating for four as my brother and his wife walked in, perfect timing. We were quickly seated and placed our drink order. Mary had a mojito I had sweet tea, I’m driving. 

I finally had the chance to enjoy conch fritters, it’s been a year. I shared the appetizer around the table. For dinner Mary had panko sea scallops baked with a panko parmesan crust and topped with beurre blanc sauce. I selected the New England hot and cold dish. A large bowl of clam chowder with a lobster roll sandwich. Both dinners were very good. 

We sat and chatted for a while and then made room for the incoming crowd. It was really good to see my brother tonight. After we said our goodbyes and headed out Mary said why didn’t we get pictures. Crap! It didn’t cross my mind. 

The return to the hotel was thirty minutes, retracing our path now north up A1A to Vero. Mary and I settled in and packed up for home. Tentative departure is for 10am, trying to get into ocean city after three. The weather looks good except for getting into Ocean City.  

Saturday, Departure Day?
…Or maybe not. Weather update after dinner shows Ocean City socked in until after 8pm. While I am current I don’t like the idea of not being able to use the best wind runway, instead landing with a tail wind component down to 260’ minimums to get in. 

Mary and I went through plan B and C scenarios.  

Plan B - Fly tomorrow as far north as possible, that would be Norfolk KPHF. We would need transportation and a hotel room for one night.

Plan C - extend our room one more night, can’t do, it’s booked. Book another room here, no ocean view. We need to keep the car rental one more day and advise the FBO we need to hangar one more night.
Plan C it was!  Hotel room locked in, rental and hangar done deal. We will bug out Sunday morning and still enjoy great tailwinds heading home. For now another day in paradise. Off to bed, we’re beat. 


I’m up around 5:30 and yes, I’m checking weather. Mt. Pleasant looks doable with the possibility of shooting an approach to get in. Newport news looks good for our stop and weather assessment for home. 

Plan B is back on the table so I make call to secure a rental from Rick Aviation at Newport News. I also canceled the additional room for a night here in Vero.
Newport News was looking good as long as it was an afternoon arrival, which it would be. Salisbury was looking like it may go MVFR and even VFR later in the afternoon. For now we launch for Mt. Pleasant, KLRO and our fuel stop.
The plan was shooting the GPS 17, getting vectors from Approach. This was working until controllers switched then I was given Direct GINNE. Ughhh...I never use VTF because it always comes back to bite you, but I did, and it got me. I reloaded the approach and was on my way to GINNE as instructed. Once I broke out on the approach I had a traffic call out. I was hand flying and busted my altitude climbing above the 2000' just about to turn to the final approach fix FESJY. ATC called me out and I quickly descended. 

I made a good landing and taxied to the ramp for fuel. I kept the fuel load a bit lighter since it was warm, and we were only going two hours to Newport News.  I did have enough fuel on board to make it home to Ocean City if the weather cleared. We got back in the air ASAP and ended up flying in the clag for over and hour and a half north to Newport News. 

My plan was to assess the weather as we approached Newport News, KPHF and then decide. My go airport at Salisbury KSBY was drifting back and forth most of the morning between LIFR and MVFR. As I approached my decision point SBY went VFR. I also kept a close watch on our back up airport, Delaware Coastal which fell from MVFR to LIFR as we approached the decision point. All the other airports were LIFR so without a viable back up we decided to continue on to Newport News and spend the night. 
The ride north saw winds from the west 60-68 knots. At times I had a twenty five degree cut to fly my course. Every now and then we got a good tailwind push seeing ground speeds of 165 plus knots. 

I was cleared into PHF for the visual runway two-five, to join the downwind, report midfield. I was then asked to enter on a left base for additional traffic. The rudder dance on final was something to be appreciated. Some how I rolled it on and complied with the LAHS request from the tower. Both two-zero and two- five were active. Mary said that was one wild landing.

I took on twenty six gallons and arranged for an overnight hangar stay for 3 Tango Charlie. Our rental was waiting, yikes, a car. Never easy in or out of a car for us. 

The Hampton was only a mile or two away and we stopped for Five Guy burgers and fries for dinner on the way. 

Sunday - The last Leg Home

The weather was as forecast, it's going to be a good ride home. Once the plane was loaded with our baggage I did my preflight and checked the fuel. I picked up my clearance; Henry Three departure, Radar vectors to Cape Charles, join V1, then as filed. 

Mary took a nap as we crossed the bay and made our way north - north east. Winds favored runway three-two and I joined the downwind to continue my way in. 3 Tango Charlie was tucked in her hangar, baggage unloaded with clean up to be done tomorrow. We had to pick up Lucy between 9-10am or have to wait until 4pm. We were right on time and our little demon spawn was happy to see us. 

Another fun trip to Vero beach, we really love this place. Beach and food, that was our plan. It all worked out and we'll be headed back next year. 

Sunday, March 12, 2023

Breakfast Flight to N81

I swapped a few posts with Bob C on the North East Flyers Facebook group.  Bob was flying to Hammonton and his friend Matt was coming with him.  Once Bob’s Cessna 09 Lima was frost free he filed for a special TFR squawk code and launched.  I had 3 Tango Charlie already at the hold short for runway two-zero at Ocean City. 

I launched and headed for the Delaware Bay crossing and then on to Hammonton, N81.  The ride was smooth and it felt good to be in the air once again. I monitored Dover approach and once on the Jersey side I switched to Atlantic City approach.  At the ten mile out point I switched to CTAF to set the mental picture of the current area traffic.  A Bonanza landed ahead of me and then I rolled one on clearing the runway at the midway taxiway Charlie. 

The restaurant was busy and I had to get in line for seating. Waiting in line worked out as I was tracking Bob on his way in to land.  The wait was maybe fifteen minutes and it moved along quick and orderly. 

Bob had an issue with his Cessna 172 and ended up calling for a ride home. I offered my ride but I only had room for one additional passenger since I removed my back seat. I did let Bob know to call me when he needs a shuttle flight back to N81 to pick up his plane. I'm home all this week and weekend but we will be heading out on vacation next week. 

With some sort of plan made, I left Bob and Matt on the ramp walking towards the restaurant. I launched for home and made another nice landing to end my flying day.