Saturday, October 07, 2006

Autumn River Run

I'm sure I've mentioned this before, but if it wasn't for the fact that it precedes my least favorite season, Fall would be my unqualified favorite time of year. It's days like today, where the temperature is down to 'very comfortable' and the visibility is nearly unlimited, that call for an invigorating drive through the country.

Two birds, one stone. Or in this case, would it be two stones, one bird? But then one of the stones would be a bird, wouldn't it? Oh, whatever. Point is, I just wanted to fly, and with the top down on the Miata I also enjoyed the brief drive to the airport.

I've always wanted to head down to the Ohio River and just follow its path back to the east for awhile and see what I could see. Today seemed like a good opportunity for that - I wasn't really interested in going anywhere with the OSU game coming on at 3:30, so I planned on heading straight to the edge of the Cincinnati Class B and heading south from there until I hit the river, then heading east along the river to Portsmouth. At Portsmouth I'd north, flying up the nice hilly wooded acres southeast of Columbus. The combined MOAs around that area made a convenient path to use to follow on the GPS without dealing with waypoints and the like.

I've been wanting to drop in to Sportys to pick up an AOPA hat for the missus. I continue to be amazed at how much you can save on shipping if you have your own plane - I swear, you can hardly afford to be without one! If you're not sold, consider this: not only did I not have to pay shipping, I was offered an all-you-can-eat-before-getting-into-a-bumpy-airplane deal on Cincinnati hot dogs, brats, and those white things they call also call brats down there, all for free. I only had half of a brat (keeping in mind the "getting-into-a-bumpy-airplane" part of the deal), but the retail value (in consideration of making my case) could easily be $9.95 and you really have to double that since I certainly would have picked up the tab for my guest too.

We got a great parking spot right in front of the store:

They do this hotdog thing every Saturday (probably not year round, though). I imagine it gets pretty hectic during the prime summer months but it was pretty tame today. Three or four planes in the pattern when we got there, but we slotted in easily enough. I'm here to tellya, having an easy 140 knots on tap can really help in getting yourself merged in with the traffic.

It takes a lot to drag Rick away from building his -9A, but a hot brat on a great autumn day did the trick:

I caught this by pausing a half step as we were walking back to the plane - I really like it:

We made a southerly departure from Clermont Co. and headed for the river. This being the sight seeing part of the trip, I throttled back to 2100 rpm and cruised along at an economical 120 knots. I didn't make any effort to record the location of each picture I took, so here's a temporally random collection of the more distinctive sights along the river:

I can't figure out what the silos on this barge are for. I initially leapt to the conclusion that they were intended to haul grain, but even though I have no idea of what the costs associated with shipping by barge are, my guess is that there are more economical ways to move grain:

[Update: From Wikipedia:

Barges are still used today for low value bulk items, as the cost of hauling goods by barge is very low.] Well, there ya go.

I had to stooge around a bit waiting for these two to meet and pass, and I spent most of that time wondering if/how they wave as they pass:

This was the most colorful barge that we saw:

I wonder why this guy wasn't down river at the Tall Stacks Festival in Cincinnati:

[Update: the large building next to the river boat is the French Quarter Inn, in Maysville, KY. Nothing on their web site refers to the boat, so I'm not sure if my working theory, which is that this is a gambling boat, is correct.]

Portsmouth was the checkpoint for the turn back to the north.

Weird landing back at Bolton. First, the plane just fell away from me on the flare. Not dangerously so, and I easily caught it and managed to touch down fairly smoothly, but it left me wondering what caused it to drop like that. No biggy, just curious. It was a tad gusty, so that may have had something to do with it.

Next up was the tower controller who, for the first time in the years that I've been flying into and out of Bolton, had me stop just over the stop-short line and call Ground for clearance to taxi back to the hangar. That was very out of the ordinary, and I think he must have done the same thing to an arriving 172 because as we were taxiing out, the arriving 172 turned off the runway and appeared to be heading directly and unabashedly to a piece of taxiway I had intended to call my own. The Cessna stopped short once he saw us, and the tower finally chimed in with directions. Thing is, for right or wrong we get in the habit of doing things a certain way at the home airport, and these little wrinkles now and then can keep things interesting.


  1. Your blog is the next-best-thing to actually flying. Since I'm not flying right now, though, it's the BEST thing.

    Don't get to close to those nuke plants.

  2. Oh, I forgot. One barge can hold more grain than 20 railroad cars. It's a pretty cheap way to go. That said, I've never seen grain -- and a lot of it leaves the upper Midwest here -- in those things.

  3. Well, if nothing else, if my writing helps keep your motivation up for building, I consider it part of my RV penance for having taken the short cut and buying mine already built.

    Speaking of the plants, I was surprised at how many of them there are. And I was surprised at the number coal-bearing barges too, until I put 2 and 2 together and figured out that the coal barges were probably feeding the power plants. I'm fascinated by river commerce for some reason, and I'm always curious as to what kind of products are shipped that way, and what types of things go down river versus what comes up. I've always thought it would be fun to hop a ride on a river barge some day. Must be from reading Mark Twain so much when I was a teenager.

    There are only 2 nuke plants in Ohio, and both of them are up in the northern part of the state, so other than some other areas that have permanent restricted zones around them, there isn't much to worry about down on the river except for large radio/TV towers on hilltops. There was at least one of those that we saw that was higher than 2000'. Wow!

  4. I'm with you. I love the river traffic. There's a spot in St. Paul where the Mississippi takes a hard 180 turn, right around the St. Paul downtown airport....with the main rail spur to Chicago and Kansas City and points south running along it...and a real nice scenic road next to both.

    Sometimes you're in your car and there's a train chugging the othre way, a plane landing overheard, and a towboat pushing 12 barges ...all at the same location. It's a cool spot.

    My youngest son and I used to like travelling down the Mississippi...finding trains..and then "strafing" them on a bombing run.

    Good times.